Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Weekly favourites

Look at me, all mixing things up. I've decided to switch up my favourites and instead of the usual monthly round up, on a Wednesday I'll now be bringing you my weekly favourite(s). Mainly because it also starts with a 'W'. I know, I know, genius idea or what... As always, shout out any feedback below, because frankly, I always get ridiculously excited when someone comments. Ahem. 

So weekly favourite! I'm going to try really hard not be smug here but frankly it's been the absolutely gorgeous weather we have been having. Blue skies, sunny days, balmy evenings, stunning sunsets, what a bloomin' week! For anyone else who lives elsewhere in the UK please don't send the lynch mob to get me, I know, I know, you have been having endless rain, but bloody heckers, it's so rare for us to have nice weather compared to everywhere else that it has to be celebrated! 

When I was at work I practically ran to the coffee shop down the road at lunchtime as they have outdoor seating - win!

When I was at home, other than doing ALL the boring chores, I was outside at every single opportunity - win!

We ate our dinner outside every single night - ding ding ding, jackpot!

And then finally, after ambling home from rehearsals at theatre, staring up at the beautiful sunsets with my mouth wide open, I got home, cracked open an ice cold beer, and sat out on the bench until bedtime - sigh. What bliss!

It's bound to rain tomorrow. But until it does, I'll be enjoying the Summer and praying that it's here to stay!

Blue skies and fluffy white clouds from the bench of joy

Monday, 27 June 2016

Turn that frown upside down

Sometimes, after spending yet more hours inside a dark theatre, working all weekend, and general working week-ness bullshizz getting you down, what is needed is some good old fashioned silliness. Yesterday afternoon we dragged ourselves away from lazing around feeling sorry for ourselves, drove to the beach, and had some Sunday funday times. Penny arcades, waffles and gelato, a stroll along the promenade hand in hand, and a fluffy / plastic snake combo - cue giggles, huge smiles, stuffed bellies, and once again all was right with the world. I wish every day could be Sunday.

PS. Yes that waffle and gelato was amazing. No I didn't finish mine. Dave valiantly finished all of his. I'll just have to go back for another attempt...

Friday, 24 June 2016

Times 3

Just popping in on a Friday to talk about Wednesday. I don't know if you've noticed but I recently decided to add another cheeky post to my normal weekly schedule and am now blogging on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. I hope you're enjoying the extra post - I'm really feeling the blog at the moment and am excited to share more stuff with you guys, my lovely readers. I have all sorts of ideas and places I want to visit and food I want to eat and exhibitions to go to - basically just more of the fun times that I enjoy so much! 

Give me a woop woop if you're liking Times 3, and of course, feel free to leave any feedback or special requests in the comments! 

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Round Our Way: Bedford Street Coffee

Me and Dave, we like our coffee. So when new places open up we always like to give them a try and see if they can beat Espresso 10 - the strange little coffee truck in the town that has somehow always stayed the winner, until now...

I'd like to introduce you to Bedford Street Coffee. Based in Bedford Street in Middlesbrough, this is one of the newest developments in town and it is absolutely stonkin'! I've yet to give anything else a try, but let's just say a walk down that road, has me salivating at all the potential tasty delights (a burrito bar?! Words cannot even!). I digress, back to the coffee. 

The coffee house is cool personified. Exposed brick, wooden floors, subdued lighting, it's everything you imagine a New York City loft to be in the shape of a coffee house. Coffee is ordered by size of cup and it is very bloody delicious! Using Rounton Coffee everything is about keeping it local and keeping it tasty. This time round I had a peanut goldie/brownie and a 10oz cappucino and Dave went for an 8oz black coffee, with an extra shot, and a chocolate and raspberry brownie. In his words: that is the best bit of brownie I have had in me, I do not need to say anything more. 

They've recently upped their foodie game even more by bringing in #projectbetty who I was delighted to discover is an old pal from art college! That was a happy reunion for a Sunday morning! They have big plans for Sunday brunch and all sorts of other tasty delights, needless to say I'll be back for more and am already looking forward to trying out some of the bagel options. And good news for any gluten-free readers as a lot of their food is GF friendly. 

If you're in the area I would highly recommend a visit. You'll probably see me there as I aim to spend much more time there trying out all the different brownie options. Find out more on their Facebook page here and I'll see ya there for coffee! 

Monday, 20 June 2016

Listen Up! - Annie Mac

I often laugh to myself about how much of a music snob I used to be. I would absolutely only listen to 'real music' with guitars and drums and no other sounds were allowed to reach my ears. These days you're more likely to find me tuning in to Absolute 90's radio and blasting out all the old school joy, but know this too - I will always and forever be a Radio 1 girl at heart. Man, it's just sooooo good! Some DJs I will happily switch off and tune out, but Annie Mac is my main gal! From her gorgeous Dublin accent to her mad curly mop, her evening show from 7pm just hits all the right notes.

I don't know what it is about it as the music is nothing like my usual choice, but as soon as I get in the car after the zombie shift I am car-dancing like nobody's business! It's hard to describe as well as the content is just so diverse, from rock to indie to is it hip-hop? See? I don't even know the right name for the genre, I just know that I love it! There's sessions and interviews and hottest records - oh me, oh my! It very much pleases my ears. It's almost too cool. 

Find out more here. And if you have access to Radio 1 I would absolutely recommend a listen. Especially after a zombie shift. It'll help to restore your soul - no lie. 

Friday, 17 June 2016

Bob the Dog is 1 year old!

Happy birthday to Bobbo! 1 year old today and the size of a small horse. I could pretty much wax lyrical for hours on end about how brilliant he is, how much fun it is to be a dog owner, and all sorts of other amusing stories that are probably only funny to me...but you don't need to hear all that. Suffice it to say that the last year has been awesome and I look forward to many more to come! 

I can't believe now, that he was ever so small that he only took up one tile in the kitchen, and could fit into his little crate. These days he is almost as big as the rug he sleeps on!

And he's as wide as the hallway! He loves nothing better than clambering up to join his humans - he likes football but I think rugby is his game of choice...

...basically he's a total dude and a big part of our little family. Happy birthday Bobbo - let's eat cake - woop woop!  

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Style talk: strutty pants

For a while back there when I was working at the college that shall not be named, I lost my style way completely and utterly. The notion of biz-ness dress was one that I had never had to consider, and I had absolutely no clue. For the first time in a long time I looked at what my work colleagues were wearing and tried on their style for a while. It wasn't too surprising that I never felt quite like me and much of what I bought ended up going to the charity shop, along with the significant pennies spent to buy it all in the first place. By the end of it, I think I was getting there and was slowly moving it away from the idea of biz-ness and more towards Claire-ness, then I got a job where I worked from home every day and basically wore shorts if it was hot and jeans if it wasn't - result! Weekly meetings were my chance to bring back the Claire of old and I really enjoyed mixing it all up again. 

Which brings us to now: the return to libraryland and 100% the return to full on Claire-ness - woop woop! Step, or should I say strut, forward: the strutty pants!

The strutty pants are magical! They are floral on a black background, they cling in all the right places, are super stretchy for all that shelving malarkey, and I absolutely love 'em! Each time I have worn them for work they have received many an admiring glance and I am happy to say that a couple of my co-workers love them so much they have bought some for themselves - strutty pants for the win!

As the photo above demonstrates, I like to mix them up with some stripes and my 'fugly' shoes. I might wear a plain top sometimes, but most of the time, there's pattern clashing going on. Add in some jewellery choices, and a funky 'do in my slightly shorter hair and I am libraryland ready with a huge smile on my face. Claire-ness is back! 

It doesn't look as if they have my pair in stock now, but if you fancy your own strutty pants you can find all the options from New Look here. Happy shopping! 

Monday, 13 June 2016


Endings are haaaaaaard. Way back in March my temporary project contract that I was working on came to an end, and I can honestly say, hand on heart, that I have never been so sad about anything work related coming to an end. Man I LOVED that project - it might have been small in length but it was big on inspiration. 

I was hired for a research and consultation exercise, and the research side of it was the usual kind of stuff: lots of internet searching, lots of putting reports together, lots of facts and figures and statistics. But the consulting was what really made it for me. I got to go to all these amazing groups and meet people with differing levels of visual impairment, some members were totally blind and had been since birth, and talk to them about art and their perceptions of art and how they felt about visiting galleries and museums. More often than not the talk would turn to other topics and general chit-chat and each and every time I came out of those consultation meetings feeling both humbled and inspired by the amazing people, still working hard to tackle everyday life despite the massive obstacle of zero/failing sight facing them. 

I even helped to run an art workshop, where working with these same people, we all worked together to create some fabulous artwork using all sorts of different materials. In that session, I blindfolded myself and painted a tree using string and blu-tack and touch to feel the outline and splodge the paint - trust me when I say that was a pretty amazing experience! 

So why am I just talking about this now? Well, recently, I met my boss to return the equipment and say goodbye I guess, even though I know we will keep in touch. The project is absolutely over and therefore our working relationship is too. As with the project ending, I felt the same way about this boss too. In all my working life I've never worked for anyone that I truly respected, admired, and felt inspired by, until this project. It's tough to not get too soppy about it all, but I'll tell you a little secret: we did that already! I miss working with her very much, and our weekly meetings where we talked about all kinds of everything. It's all kinds of awesome to work for someone who you feel is that kind of awesome. It's like, ohhhh, so that's what that feels like!

We had a lovely coffee and catch up, we visited an art gallery which was just like being back at work again cos we did lots of that when I worked on the project, and we said our goodbyes. Waaaaahhh, endings suck! There's no point wishing for things that didn't happen, we didn't get the funding, the end. I'm keeping the faith though, you never know what's round the corner and maybe we'll get to work together again. Until then we have coffee and catch ups and very, very fond memories. A fitting ending to an end I think.  

Friday, 10 June 2016


I've spoken before about my love of Snapchat, and today, because I still love it, I'm sharing five snaps to show you why you should get yourself on it. While you're there come and follow me. My username is clairejens - trust me, you won't regret it! 

Snap 1: I'm always posting foodie delights, and I often snap the cooking process too. Here is some ice-cream drool-worthy-ness to demonstrate.

Snap 2: hilarious filters take 1.

Snap 3: hilarious filters take 2 (my personal favourite and I believe the most accurate representation of myself as I do have very chubby cheeks...).

Snap 4: if there's an internet signal I'll be sharing some of my day wherever I might be!

Snap 5: Rose-gold hair delights. Need I say more?!

Sooooooo? You gonna come and join me? See you on a Snap sometime! 

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

The airbag made me do it

Have you seen any good films lately? I have not, no way, not at all, nope. I absolutely did not LAUGH MY HEAD OFF at several scenes from Bad Neighbours, and there is no way on earth that I actually handed across almost ten pounds of my hard earned money to go and watch the sequel at the cinema...erm, okay those last two statements are complete lies. I did do both of those things. 

Oh dear, what has become of me? I used to be such a film snob, I was all about the indie flicks that were a little bit weird, a little bit odd, and often even a little bit off. I would also sneak in the odd blockbuster here and there, usually during the summer when it would be kind of acceptable to my inner film snobbiness, but Bad Neighbours nonsense type film would never cross my path, I wouldn't let it dare! Until now. I'm blaming the ironing. 

The ironing pile, as per the usual, was bordering on Mount Everest style and when I know I'm going all in, tackling the mountain, I have to have something crap to watch. Something that requires no concentration and doesn't even really need to be watched as I focus on the shirt sleeves (ugh, I HATE ironing shirts!). I came across Bad Neighbours. I hit play and I got sucked in, like all the way in. 

First of all, the characters are just so likeable! Second of all, the scene with the airbags was so funny that I had to stop ironing so I could bend over, I was laughing that hard. Dave came back at around this time and I tried to explain it to him but I was still laughing so much that I couldn't tell it without tears rolling down my face. Ironing hysterics...? I immediately had to text my fellow crap-film lover D to tell her about the airbags. Turns out she had also just watched it and had to rewind that scene several times just to get through it! See, not just me! The text chat carried on and all of a sudden we had made a date to go and see the second one at the cinema. 

Oh dear. Former film snob curls up into a tiny ball inside. 

Of course there were airbags. Of course I nearly stopped breathing I was laughing so hard. And of course it was so awful it was funny.

So the moral of this tale? Banish your inner film snob, embrace the awful, and enjoy those big belly laughs. The airbag scenes alone are worth it! 

Monday, 6 June 2016

Easy like Sunday morning

Last week was well and truly an arse-kicker kind of week. Work felt long, despite it being a 4 day week, and was scattered with frustrations and zombie-shifts. Plus, we watched miserably out of the window as each day we woke up to yet more grey skies and chilly weather whilst everyone else in the UK enjoyed blue skies and soaring temperatures. You can only imagine our delight waking up on Sunday morning to a bright blue sky and sunshine - can I hear a woop woop! Cue lazy strolls along the river, coffee in the sunshine, and an ice-cream for good measure. Ahh, happy days...

Friday, 3 June 2016

Flick the busy switch on

You remember that time last year when I was all kinds of busy because I foolishly agreed to be the Production Assistant at my theatre group, and I did a whole load of whining about it? I do believe I also said that if you ever heard me say those words again then you could punch me? Well, get your boxing gloves out kids because guess what? I'm a Production Assistant again! I know, right? Even I tried to bop myself but it didn't work and I just ended up with another bruise. In a pitiful attempt to try to defend myself the director did ask for me in person...and apparently he is super thrilled that I agreed...and he might only need me one night a week, or maybe two, or actually can you just come to all the rehearsals? Arrrgggghhhh!

So here we are again. Busy all the nights, busy all the days. I've also recently added to my libraryland job by joining what they call the temporary register - basically they can call you up and ask you to work at any of the branches across the borough. I'm very happy about this cos I've been asking for a really long time, and those extra hours are already starting to clock up. Big woop for the extra pennies - 1, housework/housewifey duties - big fat epic zero. The ironing pile is mountainous, the washing pile is beginning to look the same, there may even be dishes left in the sink from last night, and the whole house needs cleaning...yep that busy switch is well and truly flicked on!

In other news, the sun has finally decided to come back out to play.

My car may or may not be on its last legs (wheels?) He's going to the garage this week for the diagnosis, send positive thoughts! 

I've finally stopped eating all the chocolate. That holiday vibe went on a really looooong time, like since Christmas. Oopsy.

Bob the Dog is almost 1 year old!

I think that's probably it for now. I have to go and download Kiss by Tom Jones now as part of my good little PA duties. See you on the other side!