Friday, 29 April 2016

April Favourites

April was the bringer of fools, all the rain and in actual fact ALL the weather including snow! Let's see what made the winners list, shall we?

Absolute 90's Radio - the Friday Indie Disco
This has been a favourite for a couple of months now, but until a recent Friday  night when Dave was away I discovered the indie disco! Oh! My! Days! It was just like returning to the heady years of 1995-1998 when I was a student in fair London town. We would regularly hit the clubs and catch the first tube home at dawn having danced the night away to many many songs and all the CHOOOONS! I think the Absolute Indie Disco starts at 7pm. If you're a fan of the original Britpop, enjoy belting out all the words in a very loud voice, and dancing/jumping around the kitchen then I would highly recommend that you check this out. Incidentally, whilst dancing/jumping around the kitchen I snapchatted myself and let's just say that snap was immediately deleted and OMG I really look like that when I'm dancing...?!?!

Bright Shiny Morning by James Frey
I love love love James Frey's writing. He is a truly brilliant and unique voice and his two previous books, My Name is Leonard and A Million Little Pieces, both totally floored me. They were raw, brutally honest, passionate, and brilliant. I had to wait a good while to find Bright Shiny Morning and I certainly never expected to find it on the shelf of my current libraryland but there it was, right there, just waiting for me. As I expected it was also brutal and raw, weird and probably not for everyone. Having said all that, if that's the kind of thing that floats your boat in books then I would definitely recommend picking this up. It was all about Los Angeles and the weird and wonderful people who inhabit that town mixed in with lots of random facts about the history of LA and some of the laws...even my description makes it sound weird...I guess I like odd books.  

Buffy the Vampire Slayer - THE END!
Well I did it. 7 series. It's probably the most committed I've ever been to a television show since Sex and the City. I have to be honest and admit that at the beginning of series 7, I was feeling a little underwhelmed and started to wonder if it was worth it but about halfway through it picked up the pace again and I was hooked. The end coincided with Dave being away for work and I unashamedly admit to binge watching the 3 final episodes in one sitting. So good! It's been a week since I finished it and I'm still wondering what to start watching. Feel free to send any recommendations.

My shiny new phone - the Samsung S6 in gold!
With the majority of mobile phone contracts coming in at 2 years or 24 months as they like to tell you (as if that makes it sound shorter!) it's always a huge surprise when I get a phone call to tell me I am able to upgrade. This time round I knew I wanted to stick with Samsung and I wanted to pay the same and the S6 was their offering. I knew it looked nice but nothing prepared me for the beauty that it is! Oh so shiny! Oh so battery lasting longer than a few hours! Oh so totally effing amazing camera that is 16 megapixels which I am pretty sure is better than my actual camera and blimey that was a lot of words without a pause for breath. Shiny happy phone = shiny happy Claire. Sometimes I switch it on just to gaze at it longingly. Yup, I'm a phone 'ho and proud to admit it.

While we're on admitting things, I have to confess I was kinda grumpy in April quite a lot of the time. One definite non-favourite was rebuilding the greenhouse (still not finished). I tried, I did, I tried so hard to be happy about it, but it just wore me down. It was a big job that involved lots of planning and physical work and working outside in what should have been soaring Spring temperatures and was actually chuffing freezing every single weekend. The end is in sight and I cannot be more thrilled. Roll on free weekends and getting to do our jobs! I'll stop moaning now Dave...

May brings holidays! I'm already pretty sure they will feature in next month's favourites. See you there...

Monday, 25 April 2016

Roundup: #dailywalk

BB (Before Bob) I did used to walk about quite a bit, cos it's a free way to get exercise, but since Bob (SB?) the #dailywalk is a thing. Each and every day, come rain or shine (usually rain) we trot on out for either a couple of shorter walks or one really big walk. It's become my favourite time of day. Sometimes it's really early in the morning and there's no-one else about and I get to see the pretty sunrise...this is from a person who has never ever been a morning person, nu-uh, not in the slightest...I can really see why people do that whole early morning thing now though, you can get so much done! Or it's late in the evening when it's dark and you get to nosy into cosy looking houses, or it's the afternoon, or, well, you get the idea. Walk walk walk walk, at all times of the day.

I was always a fan of the changing seasons, especially coming out of Winter into Spring, when the plants are beginning to bud and everything is creeping back to life, but this year more than ever I am appreciating it so much more. I've seen the seasons change from late summer (Bob came into our lives in August last year), into the beauty of Autumn, the cold dark and soggy Winter, and the cold and soggy Spring - come on you sunshine! I usually stop and take a photo when I see something really nice, so here's a little roundup of some beautiful Spring walking. I'm already looking forward to Summer!

Friday, 22 April 2016


I want to start this post by saying this is not yet another whiney post from some jaded blogger who is not feeling the blah and not inspired to do the blah blah and generally just down in the dumps because I'm not (delete as appropriate) cool/beautiful/skinny/glamorous/rich as all the other bloggers. This is not any of that.  

In the past few weeks I have unfollowed quite a significant number of bloggers - from their blogs and all their social media stuff - they are gone from my life. This makes me both sad and happy. Sad, because I am a massive fan of all things internet. I think it's amazing that people have been able to turn this into their full time job and are doing it really well, creating interesting content that is inspiring and informative and not wholly commercially driven so allows the opportunity for real and honest feedback on stuff you can buy...or presents the opportunity to totally sell out thus alienating the majority of your audience. The reason I'm happy is because I have made the decision to remove them from my radar so that I don't get bogged down in feeling the sad. Does that make sense?

Don't get me wrong, I am well aware that to many of them a 41 year old, part-time worker with a sadly small salary is not exactly their target audience. They really wouldn't give two hoots to know that I have unfollowed them. However, I can't be the only person who feels like the life they are portraying is beyond attainable, or even desirable. That there are a significant number of people in this country who cannot afford to feed their families, much less buy a bag that will be featured in one outfit post that cost more than double my monthly salary. It truly is all kinds of barmy.

I'm not going to name names as that doesn't achieve anything, but I will say I have unfollowed for lots of different reasons, a few examples being changing all blog posts to include some ridiculous pyramid marketing shampoo buying bullshizz, and people who totally love themselves with all their pouting and holding my hand just so in this outfit picture to show off aforementioned bag in the hope that you might become a model. I'm so disappointed! Their content became totally sucky and it all feels like a massive sell out. So the best thing to do is walk away, or the virtual equivalent, via the unfollow.

It feels good to click that button. Be gone with all your sell-out ways. Best of luck and all that jazz but I don't need you in my feed. Now my feed is full of just the cool people, with tasty food and career inspiration and outfits that don't cost the earth and funny tales from life. Yay!

I think it was reading that book that did it you know. The one about not giving all the f**ks? Since then I've slowly but surely been eliminating all the bullshizz stuff out of my life. So long, farewell, auf know the drill. Byeeeeee!

Monday, 18 April 2016


I love the arrivals lounge at the airport. I say lounge but really in our local teeny airport it's more of an arrivals hallway, which looks very much look a school hall and even smells kinda like one too. It's not glamorous at all, but it's still cool, because arrivals have this really excited vibe about them. You're waiting for someone to arrive! Usually you're really looking forward to that person arriving so there's excitement and that kind of happy bubbly feeling inside when you've got good anticipation going on. There's also the jaded people, who are probably at the airport all the time and are just like yeah, whatever. And there's the drivers with their little cardboard signs with names. So much good people watching!

I don't often get to pick Dave up from the arrivals hallway as he often flies from a different airport but this past week, I was one of the excited people waiting for my arrival. Each time the doors slid open, I was ready with my big cheesy welcome home smile. Those doors are mad, it's like something out of Stars in Your Eyes - tonight Matthew, I will be...Mr Jaded Businessman, with a scowl on my face because no-one is here to meet me. Or maybe I'll be Mrs I've Only Got My Handbag with me as I have a huge apartment in Amsterdam where I keep all my expensive clothes (I had to stop using capitals there...too much!). I love waiting and trying to decide what everyone's back story is and why they are flying into our dinky little airport.

It took quite a while for my arrival to arrive as there was some sort of problem with the luggage. So all the I only fly with hand luggage people came through the magic Stars in Your Eyes doors pretty quickly. Then there was a really long wait before all of a sudden a flurry of people started coming through. There were hugs and kisses, grumpy faces, one little girl was excitedly waiting for her dad and when he emerged through the door and saw her, they simultaneously broke out into a massive shit eating grin (him) and shouted "Daddy!" and started running at top speed to reach him (her) - oh I love it all, such a heart warming place to be.

I'm getting ready to do it all over again next week. I already can't wait, and not only because Dave will be home after yet another week away for work. More people watching, more tall tales to make up to pass the time away, more heart warming greetings and general delight - arrivals are the best!

Friday, 15 April 2016

Big arse jeans shopping

I briefly considered calling this post something much more professional sounding, but then I thought nope, I'm telling it like it is, which is shopping for jeans when you have a big arse.

I firmly believe that shopping for jeans could be introduced as a new method of torture. It's truly beyond, and in the past I have been known to end up very close to tears with sheer frustration. I also believe that this torture applies to anyone of any size, shape, and gender. Unless you have hundreds of pounds to spend to have your jeans made to fit your own unique shape, trying to find a pair that fits perfectly is hellish and stressful and I'll bet has caused a real tear or two to be shed. But shed those tears no more! If like me, you are ample of arse, then I have a couple of pairs that could solve your problems.

First of all though I think we need to talk shape. As in my shape. I've mentioned above that I am ample of arse, it's a true statement. It's not hugely wide, but it is more booty than botty, in that it sticks out. Pair this with some womanly hips, chunky thighs, and slimmer waist, and therein lies your jeans dilemma. I like a skinny jean, and I like a boyfriend style also, but mostly I just wanted something that wasn't covered in dog drool and actually looked good to leave the house in. It's been a long search and I've tried on everything from the famous-on-the-internets Topshop Jamie jean, which was frankly like wearing sausage skin and how do you breathe/move/sit down in them? No thank you. I also tried all my usual haunts such as New Look, Dorothy Perkins, M&S, hell I even tried good old BHS! But enough chitchat, onto the jeans.

The first successful mission was online in the form of the River Island Ashley jeans They are boyfriend jeans, so straight leg rather than skinny, but I like a looser fit for wearing with tees and kicks in the warmer months. I have to wear a belt with them as they're too big round the waist but they fit perfectly everywhere else. I would recommend opting for your true size (I'm a UK 16), and if you're a shorty it might be worth checking if they come in petite, but the bottoms are designed to be rolled up anyway, so maybe you could just roll them up further. They're pretty dark at the moment, which I am liking, but I know I'll also love them as they get washed more and begin to take on the older, faded look. At £40, they're definitely a higher price bracket than your New Look etc. but I still think they are very reasonably priced. I've had River Island jeans in the past and loved them until they fell apart so definitely worth the extra few pounds.

The second successful mission was in TK Maxx. This isn't a shop I spend a lot of time in as I think it's a weird kind of hybrid between high street and charity shop. You need the charity shop browsing skills combined with your high street wallet, and the odd high end/designer item makes my eyes boggle. Anyhow I digress. I can't actually find a link to the jeans on the website, but the brand of the jeans is Blue Fire which it turns out is a German brand. The pair I successfully found are skinny fit (or tight fit as per the website) and were a bargainous £12! They are also a size 13, which made me assume that they were a brand from the US, but maybe they have that kind of sizing in Germany too? Either way, they fit like a glove. They're high rise which means no belt (woop!) and are supersoft yet still feel like they might last a while. I almost whooped out loud in the dressing room when I tried them on as I immediately didn't want to ever take them off! I wore them out on Sunday and definitely did a bit of strutting - yeah baby!

Mission accomplished, twice! I feel so chuffed as now I won't need to jeans shop for a good long while which is always good news.

I do have one other option for you that I have been living in for the past few months, but it all depends on how you feel about 'jeggings'. This is a word I never imagined would be in my 'style' vocabulary, as I used to think they were actually very short on style. Which is probably true, but they are big on comfort (elasticated waists for the win!) and the beauty of them is that no matter how many washes they always go back to their original shape. I have two pairs of the Eden jeggings from Dorothy Perkins and they are all kinds of wondrous. When I first got them I never imagined I would leave the house in them, but the denim quality is actually really good and is just like wearing a really tight pair of jeans, with an elasticated waist (still winning); I would even go so far as to say that with a funky ankle boot and a good top I have even done some jeggings strutting, and been complimented on looking 'leggy' which I will kindly take, thank you very much. I'd definitely recommend them, and might even get a new pair as they're currently on sale with 25% off - Brucey bonus time!

I hope this post has been a big help if you're of the big arse persuasion. Or just taken you to some new places for jeans inspiration. If you've got any recommendations of your own, share them below - let's stop the crying over ripped jeans (and by ripped I mean rrrrriiiiippppp as you try to squeeze yourself into a pair that are too small - ooopsy...)

Over and out.

Monday, 11 April 2016


I have to admit, I've been in a bit of a funk of late. I can't pinpoint exactly what started it but I think it was a combination of finishing my other part time job (which I LOVED) to be left with libraryland as my only job, the endless task of rebuilding a greenhouse that is 16 foot by 10 foot large and more like a garage than a small building to warm your plants, the crappy pouring rain, and all round general blah-ness. Maybe one by one it wouldn't be too bad but all together? Funky.

Libraryland isn't awful. But it's not entirely great either. It feels very much like taking a massive step backwards, which wasn't my plan at all when leaving libraryland version 1. It's only 18.5 hours which means part time salary which is never really all that great. There are many other factors which don't need to be discussed on the internets that all go into me feeling not so great about it. I'm not alone in this feeling so a lot of conversations revolve around this, which is definitely not helping with the funk and again feels very much like being back where I was. I'm trying to have a word with myself everyday but so far...funky.

The greenhouse rebuild is something that we have to do. It's probably going to take the whole month. If it was glorious sunshine with the warmth beating on my back I might feel okay about it, but so far it's been chuffing freezing and I've been chilled to the bone! It's hard not to feel resentful about the time...but then I feel guilty and try to do the word thing with myself again...funky.

Crappy pouring rain? Ain't nothing we can do about that. April showers and all that jazz...funky.

All round general blah-ness? What I need is a holiday. Good job we have one booked then, ha! (not) funky.

But I'm here to say it's not all doom and gloom and funkiness. My faith was restored. By a 4 year old boy with the sweetest ginger hair no less. Anyone who knows me knows that I am not a littles person, but this little ginger stole my heart. He came in to libraryland to ask for a book about leaves because he loves trees and nature (be still my heart!) I took him to the general location and found a couple of possible books and he immediately sat on the floor and asked me which book was the best. Nothing for it but to join him.

Both sat on the floor (with grandma comfortably on the chairs) we looked through the books talking about wriggly worms and how birds make nests in cacti and he picked out a couple that he liked the look of. Oh and have you got a book about pirates for my homework, he asked. Safely armed with his book loot I took him to the machines and helped him to issue his books. 'What do you say to the lady?' asked grandma. A shy thank you followed. I headed back to the desk and he followed along with me. 'What's your name?' he asked me so I told him. 'Thank you Claire' he replied and trotted off out the door with his carrier bag nearly hitting the floor, basically taking my heart with him. So. Cute!

Sometimes I guess you just need some wide eyed innocence to make you believe that you're doing a good job. Thanks little ginger, you helped this old cynic out of her mopey funk.

Friday, 8 April 2016

Listen Up! - Louis Berry

Ooh it's been a while since we've had a Listen Up! This is mainly because I have been obsessively listening to Absolute 90's Radio with zero shame. All the choons and happy kitchen dancing!

But fear not, there will always be new music and right now I have an absolute belter for you. Louis Berry has 25 Reasons why you should listen to his little ditty - I have just one: it's bloody brilliant! You know the drill, press that play button and let your ears be filled with the joy...

Monday, 4 April 2016

Off Grid

I have this friend who is completely and utterly offline. She has absolutely zero presence on the internets - nothing, nada, nil- and I think she's a better person for it. She doesn't get caught up in it all, you know? Any photos that she takes are strictly for her eyes only, well, you get it, she's just not interested. I find myself being envious of that innocence. I'm currently having a break from Facebook as yet again it was all just starting to get a bit too much. I even, and I'm ashamed to admit this, threw my phone across the living room one day in total rage/helplessness over the stupidity of something that was going on. You don't need to hear the whys or wherefores, just have the knowledge that I threw my phone in a paddy. Like I was 3 or something. The shame. Total and utter shame.

This online world that we live in now is a really long, pointy, and sharp double edged sword. On the one hand I want to be totally cool about posting something and not care if it gets likes or comments, and on the other I'm looking at my phone and waiting for pings or alerts. I don't like this side of myself and it's why I take a break every now and then. I've done it once before and it was like taking a deep cleansing breath. When I went places I was just there, not thinking about taking a photo for this and doing a sneaky check-in, every moment was just lived, without any record of it happening other than in my head, my memories. It was a good place to be and a little part of me felt like I let myself down when I got caught back up in it all.

I think of all the social medias, Facebook is definitely the worst - the most frustrating place to be. The constant changes that they make seem to mean that you end up seeing more of what you don't want to see and less of what might be interesting or funny or happy. And even when you unfollow someone or a page, somehow there is a way that it will show up again. So much frustration! There also doesn't seem to be a great deal of checking oneself before something goes out - foul swearing, vile comments, spouting of bile, it is deeply unattractive and I often find myself shocked by it.

I don't know about the future of all this social media that isn't really social, and that's a discussion that probably needs a whole research paper and not a tiddly blog post. Suffice it to say, me and Facebook are on a break. Maybe one day I will pluck up the courage and go entirely off grid just like my friend. Perhaps I should try it for a period of time and just see how I get along. What's the worst that could happen? Total ignorance and bliss away from all the nonsense? Or radio silence as everyone lives their amazing online lives? Now there's an intriguing thought...

Friday, 1 April 2016

Resolve Version 2 - The Revisit

At the beginning of the month I set about doing some more resolving which you can revisit via this link Being all grown up and everything I decided to revisit it for myself and see how well I got on.

#1: to see more people - I most certainly did do that! I met up with people for walks, for coffee, for general chitchat, and to go to the cinema, which ties in nicely to resolving number 2.

#2: to finally get to the cinema - by fulfilling number 1, I successfully achieved this! I met up with Debs and we saw How to be Single which I absolutely loved. It was funny and light, there was lots of fashion inspiration and fringe (bangs) envy, and New York looked all kinds of cool and dreamy. Yay to cinema. More to come!

#3: to be better at making a decent lunch - Ummm, can I say kind of? I really did do my very best and made a really decent attempt but there were still a couple of days when laziness won out and it was a toast up whatever is in the cupboard even if it's two hot cross buns kind of moment. File this one in the 'ongoing' folder I think.

#4: to apply the same to dinners - This one was better, definitely better. Even when Dave was away for a week I had a really good dinner every night, that usually involved either veggies or salad on the side. Woop! It's somehow easier to be more organised about dinners than lunches, what's that all about I wonder?

#5: to get through series 5 of Buffy - Waaaaaahhhhh why didn't anyone tell me that this was the series where I would basically cry like a big baby at every episode? So. Much. Sadness. Even now just thinking about it gives me a lump in my throat. I'm well on my way into series 6 now which will only leave one more series before the end. I can't imagine how I'll fill my spare moments when it's all over...

#6: to go somewhere I haven't been in my local area - this one is for the did not achieve folder. As per usual, all kinds of life stuff got in the way, such as a massive greenhouse re-building project that took up most of our spare weekends...less said about that the better! Hopefully I will get to do this in April. I have got somewhere in mind, it's just finding the time to actually get there.

5 out of 6 isn't too bad. And to be honest, the above are all resolves that I'll be working on throughout the year/rest of my life - well maybe not watching Buffy as clearly that would just be crazy times...