Friday, 29 July 2016


Actually that title up there is a bit misleading as I'm really not that big a hoarder. I'm all kinds of good about going through my wardrobe on the regular, and anything that hasn't been worn for 6 months goes to the charity shop; I even give books away now! You just can't keep everything I guess. BUT! I do have a couple of boxes in the loft that I am hoarding with my life as they're filled with happy, beautiful memories from years gone by. In those boxes are all my diaries and letters from university. 

I kept a diary absolutely religiously from 1988 through to about 2008 when Dave and I started going out. I think once I had an actual person to tell all my secrets to, I didn't need the paper diary anymore. But for 20 years I went from notebook to notebook, scrawling down my daily thoughts. There's ticket stubs from gigs and cinema trips and holidays, and I don't even want to think about the cringey teenage years where I probably just wrote about my TV soap habit. Some day, after I'm long gone, it'll give someone a right old laugh to have a read through them all. Or, you know, they might just get thrown away. Whatevs. 

I recently found another box in the garage that was full of all my uni stuff and I laughed for ages going through all the notes we used to leave on our hall doors, and the letters we exchanged in the holidays. So many happy memories that won't mean anything to anyone but me! 

But how could you throw away 60ft Dolls and Bluetones gig tickets? It just can't be done! I suppose I might have to one day, but maybe when I'm ready I'll go through and re-read them all - I won't have anything else to do when I'm 95 will I?! And I'll look back ever so fondly on the madness and the stupid things we got up to when we were students who could drink 6 pints, stay up until 2am, and still get up for class the next day! 

Happy days. Happy memories. Worth a hoard or two...

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Weekly favourites

Ooh it's been a while since we've had a Listen Up! And this week it's combined with my weekly favourites as I can't stop singing/listening to this. Christine and the Queens - also known as the really cool French chick who sings awesome songs. 

I first heard this while driving (of course) and immediately turned it up and started car dancing. Came home, bought the album. You know the drill by now. Press play and try really hard not to dance. I challenge you! 

Monday, 25 July 2016

The magic of the movies

In the last two weeks I have been to the movies three times. Three! That is at least two more times than I went in the whole of 2015. Which probably explains why the first time I went I nearly fell over in shock when I discovered that it cost £10 for a ticket. 10 whole pounds. Wow. I miss my student card case it costs that much where you live, I thought I'd do a little mini review of each film, to help you decide if you want to get that spendy. 

Ab Fab: the movie
As a long time fan of the series, and as per the norm when it comes to films these days, I had no idea what this was actually about, I just knew that I wanted to see it. It was very much like the series, all the old favourites were there and it was basically a celeb-fest of how many celebrities can feature in one 90 minute movie. It was silly and funny and passed the time in a very amusing way. Eddie and Patsy will always be ridiculous characters, but sometimes girl just needs a bit of ridiculous to make it through the working week. If you're in the mood for some chuckles and some celeb-sighting I'd definitely recommend this one. 3 out of 5 stars! 

The Secret Life of Pets
I have to admit I thought this was going to be way funnier than it actually was. And I also thought it was more about what the pets would get up to when their owners were out, not a rescue mish around NYC. Maybe it's time I started reading what films are actually about again...there were definitely some LOL moments, and a couple of big belly chuckles at how easily the dogs were distracted (ooh butterfly!) but overall it was just okay for me. The best bit was going out for tea afterwards and eating all the yum. 2.5 out of 5 stars. Next! 

WHO YA GONNA CALL? GHOSTBUSTERS! With girls. I'm still singing the theme song. As you'd expect this was very funny. And kick-ass. And definitely worth 10 of my hard earned pounds. My absolute fave was Kate McKinnon, mainly because she had the coolest hair and made all the shoot'em up stuff. The effects were amazing and we only saw it in 2D cos that 3D thing scares me a little bit and I think it will make me feel all kinds of dizzy. So yep. Definitely worth a watch. And now I really want to watch the original one again! 4.5 out of 5 stars. 

More movies needed now. I'm on a roll. What shall we see next?  

Friday, 22 July 2016

Feeling hot hot hot

Wow-ser! What a week! The UK has been hit by a heatwave and in true British fashion we have moaned about how hot it is. The poor weather people, they just can't win. I'll never forget that year they predicted a BBQ summer and it pretty much rained every single day for two months and there was almost a lynch mob being sent to the BBC...

Yep it's been hot. Super hot for us. Look, I have proof from my (filthy) car dashboard - yes that actually says 30 degrees. 30! 

The thing of it is, we're just not equipped for dealing with it cos it's so blummin' rare. We don't have air conditioned houses, some of us don't even have air conditioned cars (waaahhh), offices and places of work that are supposedly cool generally have one lousy fan wafting hot air back out at you, and inevitably some old dear falls over from not drinking enough water. We really need to get on board with that whole European thing and just shut up shop when it's too hot. Send everyone home for a siesta, and while you're at it, let staff know about the change in dress code so that they're not all frying in their socks and lace up shoes. 

I have kept the moaning to an absolute minimum...okay I've tried to keep the moaning to an absolute minimum. The library is fully glazed all the way round and is super stuffy. My solution: sack the shoes off and resort to wearing sandals, risk of hardback books dropping on toes be-damned! Oh and baggy pants, definitely the way forward. Gone are the strutty pants cos tight clothes = sweaty. And talking of sweaty, there's been a couple of times when I've sniffed myself this week wondering is it me that smells...? Nope. That would be the joys of working with the general public. 

As per the norm, we've enjoyed all our meals outside. The late night dog stroll in the cool of the evening has been lush. And we've sat outside on the bench until almost bed time reading our books and lazily chatting the evening away. I can't remember when I last switched the TV on. Ahhhh, happy days. This is how summer is supposed to be! Time to pop outside for that last morning cuppa on the bench before heading to work. See ya! 

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Weekly favourites

This whole switching to weekly favourites has been a good choice, as July is proving to be a good month for loving all the things. This week I have a couple of skincare/makeup favourites so if that's not your kinda thing I won't take it personally if you click away now. If however, you're in the market for a new sunscreen lotion and a loose face powder then this is definitely the post for you as I have a couple of beauties (pun intended).

First up is the sunscreen. This is a new product from the Body Shop and is frankly, bloody brilliant. It's SPF50 and is PA++++ which basically translates to it's very good protection! Where it has the advantage over most of the other facial sunscreen lotions is that is sinks in super quickly, leaves no white or chalky residue, and doesn't take too long to dry so you can start doing your face almost as soon as you're out of the bathroom. It's been a real game-changer for me as the one I was using before took FOREVER to dry and always left me feeling kinda greasy. And at £16 it's a really good price-point for a very effective and user-friendly sunscreen. I haven't tested this in hot hot hot international climates as girl has no pennies for that kind of holiday, but it's been working very well in the UK summer(ish) days. Highly recommended - find it here. 

Next up is a product from history - who knew?! Turns out this powder that I have just discovered dates all the way back to 1879! Whaaaaaaat? The Bourjois Poudre de Riz de Java is in a funky green pot, smells kind of like old ladies but in a mildly floral and inoffensive way (best description ever, eh?) and is truly lovely to use. Dusted over your face using a big ass powder brush it takes away all the shine yet leaves you all kinds of glowy. Magic! If you're not put off by the old lady smell description you can find this brand in most high street/drugstore shops for around about a tenner. Link here.

Same place next week for more favourites? See you then!

Monday, 18 July 2016

The one where I get a new job

A couple of weeks ago I saw this job advertised that sounded all kinds of interesting. It was full time (trust me when I say that this is like gold dust where I live, it's so rare) and permanent (see above and add a large number of exclamation marks to reinforce the rarity), but there was one small problem: the closing date was just over 24 hours away and in that time I had to do a zombie shift that finished at 7pm. Not to be deterred I started the form and decided that I would come home from said zombie shift to finish it off and submit it for the deadline. Best laid plans and all that. Just for a change, the zombie shift was killer and by the end of it I'd decided that there was no way I could finish the form as I wouldn't be giving it my best shot, basically I almost talked myself out of it. In true Claire-style, I had a word with myself, and set to it zombie-state or not. By way past my beddy-bob-time the form was all done and I was completely done in.

You can only imagine my surprise when about a week later I got an email inviting me for interview! I was stunned. And properly chuffed. Zombie-state for the win!

Days flying by to another week and the day of the interview rolled around. I only changed my outfit twice in the space of about 10 minutes...which coincidentally was also the length of the presentation I was due to give. And the interview was at 1pm which is basically lunchtime - hello starvation! As seems to be the case with all my interviews recently, there was some sort of problem with the presentation software so that was delayed and the first few interview questions asked instead. I can't proceed here without talking about progress. The very first interview I ever did that involved a presentation was essentially 30 minutes of absolute terror. I had never done a presentation in my life, I stood up with my legs shaking, and read from my script without even lifting my head. It was AWFUL! Since then there has been a whole lot of practicing and a whole heap of progress - I was ready!! I had my notes in my hand but didn't even look at them. The best way to describe how it went is this: think of a really animated Claire, all flying arms and waving hands, pointing at the screen and turning back to look at the interview panel...even if I do say so myself, I totally nailed it! If it would have been appropriate I would definitely have shouted out a woop woop!

The rest of the interview passed by in the same sort of animated state really, full of enthusiasm and positive energy, I gave it my all. I left there feeling really positive and thinking, well if nothing comes of it, I know that I kicked ass in there. Now we can have a woop woop for sure!

A few hours later I got THE call. The call telling me that I had got the job. Yep, she only went and did it! Found the gold and everything. I haven't really stopped grinning since then, and have been overwhelmed by how lovely all my peeps are about the news. So. Much. Love. The celebrations will be stretching out for weeks to come, bring on the fizz! I'll tell you more when I start, but for now, wherever you are, raise your glass/cup in celebration and share the finding of the gold dust - it's got a lovely sparkle on it...

Friday, 15 July 2016


I'd like to say I have this super intelligent way of deciding which book to read next, but I have to put my hands up and confess that I pick them by the book covers. I know, I know, the saying even goes, don't choose a book by its cover but I can't help it! Mainly it's the stark white ones with some weird illustration or pattern that will be the ones I'm drawn to first, but then if there's anything remotely quirky or odd about it my eye will go there next. Which is kind of what happened with this one. 

I was looking at the Top 25 list of young adult books and as soon as I saw that cover I knew I would be adding it to my already groaning bedside table of books to read. 

Let me introduce you to 'Wonder' by R.J. Palacio. I actually finished reading it over a week ago now but I can't stop thinking about it. Still! And I've probably recommended it to at least five people in that time too. You all know by now that I'm no good at doing the whole what it's about thing, but there's a boy called August, he used to be home-schooled but he goes to school for the first time ever and it's all about his experiences, the people he meets, his family, his dog...and as you've probably guessed by the front cover, August doesn't really look like all the regular kids which adds to the whole middle school experience thing. 

What did I love about the book? I loved the characters soooo much, August obviously, but especially his sister Via and her boyfriend Justin. It was funny, tender, heartbreaking, and full of love - friendship love, family love, pet love, a whole load of everything if you will. It had cool little chapters so was absolutely ideal for dipping in and out of, and when I only had a few pages to go and had to go back to work - oh! As soon as I got home that day I dropped all my bags and plonked down on the sofa to finish it off. And with all honesty, since finishing, I have thought about it every single day, more so I think as one of my work buddies is reading it now so I keep seeing it in the staffroom.

It's been a while since I've had so much love for a book, not since 'A Man Called Ove' I think, which incidentally I also recommend to people all the time, and the same work buddy has just finished reading! 

Any recommendations for what I should read next? My self-imposed ban of bringing any more library books home is almost over as I only have three left on the pile. Hit me with some titles below! 

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Weekly favourites

I have two favourites for you this week. As you've probably figured out by now these weekly favourites are kind of random, but there are no rules here, favourites are favourites - the end. 

First up is a golden glittery eyeshadow. Yes, I am 41 years old and I love glitter, ain't no shame in that. Ever since the Florida haul of joy from D, I have basically been wearing everything that she bought me on my face every single day. It's summer time, summer-ish, so I embrace a barely there base with a hint of colour on my eyes and cheeks for that no makeup, makeup look. I must be doing something right as I was actually complimented on my subtle eye makeup just the other day. A quick swipe of the golden glitter just adds a nice sparkle that catches the light just so. Yep, it's love. Makeup love. 

The second favourite of the week is that transparent springy looking thing. I know some of you are probably wondering why girl is showing you a strange springy looking thing but let me explain. That is a hair bobble/tie, and it is a thing of absolute genius! My hair, as most of you know, is thick and coarse and kinda batshit crazy, and normal elastic bobbles/ties do the whole snapping thing, including the evil prang on your finger from said snap which hurts like a mother-effer! That springy thing up there - no snapping, no pranging, and it wraps round my hair THREE TIMES! THREE! Genius. I have no idea who invented them but if I ever meet them, I will run up and kiss them with sheer gratitude for upping the hair bobble/tie game! I also have it on good authority from a fine hair work buddy that they work equally well in that type of hair too. I'm pretty sure you can get them all over the place, but to save you time looking here's a dandy link to the ones I got: Bargainous £2.50 genius hair bobbles. You're welcome boys and girls, totally welcome. 

Monday, 11 July 2016


I've been enjoying the world of gardening for a few years now, planting stuff, growing stuff, it's so satisfying and I firmly believe it truly is good for the soul. Except maybe weeding, cos that's just boring. Last year, when we moved to the new house with the smaller garden we finally (finally!) had success with growing a wildflower garden. We had tried this so many times, in so many locations, and failed miserably every single time, but failure is no more! Oh ho no, now we have a MASSIVE wildflower garden that is absolutely full to the brim with red poppies, purple poppies, cornflowers, yellow daisies...I don't even know what half of them are really! The wildflower garden is right outside our back door and it fills me with joy every time I open that door, which is a whole lot when you have a dog by the way. 

This year, we upped our wildflower game even more by registering for Grow Wild, a project to bring flowers to the people. All the flowers! I got a huge box full of wildflower seeds which I passed around to friends, family, neighbours, people at theatre - basically the wildflower joy is all across Teesside! I lost count of how many packets we chucked onto our own wildflower patch, and believe me when I say that chucked is the best way to describe my growing tactic - empty the packet, turn around in a big circle all the while scattering seeds. 

See for yourself:

It's really just starting to bloom so every day brings new flower joy. You can see how full up it really is!

See the buzzy bee in the photo below? That's one of the reasons we grow the wildflowers - save the bees!

And finally, the magic effects photo:

Which sums up exactly how the wildflower garden makes me feel - magical. I love it! And I'm not ashamed to admit that every morning, come rain or shine, the first thing I do is go up to the fence and see what's popped up overnight. Happy gardener, right here. 

Friday, 8 July 2016

Five Discoveries

Can you believe that half the year is almost over? How did that happen? I'm still trying to figure it out. What has been even more surprising is that 2016 has been a big year of discoveries which I thought I would share with you today. I'll warn you now, each discovery is totally random and probably a bit barmy, but when did that ever stop me? Ready to start? Here goes. 

Discovery #1: pikelets vs crumpets
Oh Em Gee. I have always been a massive fan of crumpets, that odd fluffy, bread-y circle of delight, drenched in butter, but recently I discovered pikelets and they're a total game changer! They're identical in texture, bigger, but (and here is the rub!) they're thinner. So basically you can eat more. Like maybe half the packet. They're especially good with nutella, but still lip-smackingly good drenched in butter. This is probably the most ridiculous discovery of the year, but anything goes on this here blog, so pikelets it is. In case you don't have a clue what I'm talking about, or want to try some for yourself, here's a handy link: Pikelets of joy

Discovery #2: new friends
Did you know you can still make new friends, no matter how old you get? I don't know why this should come as so much of a surprise, but I made a new friend this year. She's a work buddy, and almost from day one we just clicked. Whenever we're not busy putting the world to rights we're laughing and chattering and just doing the friend thing. We've even joined the gym together to become gym buddies! Can you even? She's only working at my libraryland for another month or so before she returns to her branch and I'm gonna miss her soooo much. I'm still trying to persuade her to pack me into a box and sneak me out when no-one is looking so I can go work with her all the time. I'm sure it can be done, we get some quite big boxes that I might fit into...

Discovery #3: feeling old
I don't mean feeling old as in all wrinkly and the bones aching in your body, well okay, maybe some days; I mean feeling old as in oh those pesky young people and their massive sense of entitlement and lack of professionalism type of thing. Even writing that line makes me cringe a little inside, cos even though I am older, I'm not old - I'm still ambitious myself and want to find a good job that inspires me, has a cool boss, and pays well. But I also understand respect and professionalism. This is a tough one as let's face it, a whole study could be written about this little discovery of mine, but there's just something...what is the word I am looking I think, yes, off about the attitude. It has a bad smell that gets right up my nose and definitely makes me feel old. I do not like, not one little bit. Shall I just retire now...? (I wish!) 

Discovery #4: grumpiness
Have you noticed the common theme between #3 and #4? Sheesh, what is going on? I was always the happy go-lucky girl who had sunbeams shining out of her arse, but these days I am often bordering on the grumpy. As with feeling old, this is not something that I am enjoying. My mam blames it on my age #feeling40 anyone? But I think it's maybe me gearing up and getting ready to sack in the current day-to-day that I know now, and move to the country to be at one with my pigs and my green wellies. There'll be plenty of room if anyone wants to come and join me...

Discovery #5: comfort is king
This one is the most horrifying of all, and if my friend Rachel is reading this, she will be laughing out loud by now, but here we go. Friends, I have discovered that when it comes to shoes, comfort is king. This you will learn after a zombie shift (the name for working many many hours that conclude at 7 in the pm), when you are on your feet all day and have pounded the floor from trolley to shelves and back again many times over. Wearing little pumps that were previously your shoe of choice will kill your legs dead. As in they might stop working they are so stiff. I spent a recent free moment ordering some shoes to verify this. They've just arrived today and it is like walking with a mattress made of sponge on your feet. I can't wait to try them out at work and see how they get on. Luckily they are still cool as effers and there is no velcro to be seen (woop!). My feet and legs are already thanking me. 

And so concludes my discoveries of 2016, part one. Can you even imagine what might be revealed by the end of the year when I do part two? Try to contain your excitement... 

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Weekly favourites

Consider this a combination of MUST WATCH and all new weekly favourites combined, as it is absolutely both. Let me introduce you to Marcella, a crime drama that played out on ITV in April and May. Starring Anna Friel, it will keep you on the edge of your seat for every single episode. So in a way I've done you a favour by bringing it late to the party as you can get the whole series at once - believe me when I say you need to watch it this way. If I'd been watching it week by week I'm not sure I would have slept in between each episode! 

I'm not too good at describing plots of shows, and frankly there is so much going on that it would be impossible to explain. In the briefest of summaries: there's a killer, Marcella is on the case, you'll probably decide the killer is a different person each week until it's finally revealed in the penultimate episode...or is it?! It's dark, gripping, creepy, totally thrilling, and bloody brilliantly acted. It's definitely one of the best series I've seen this year. 

I watched it in two days flat (there are some perks to my weird work rota). And I have no fingernails left. It's that good. 

You can download and watch the entire series here. If you are in the UK it is also available via the ITV Hub on-demand option. And according to the world of wiki, it will be available internationally via Netflix soon. I'm already envious that you get to watch it for the first time...

Monday, 4 July 2016

Round Our Way: Brick Planet

Oh I've got a fun one for you today, but you've got to be quick as there's only a few days left to catch it. Brick Planet is an exhibition of the world's most iconic buildings and landmarks made out of Lego! And it's completely brilliant! Much like the famous bricks themselves, it's a small exhibition but big on fun, and if you're a big kid like me, total and utter fascination at how anyone would have the patience to do it! Here's a few photos to show you. 

Cool, eh? 

Here come the facts:
When and where: It's only running until 11th July 2016 so you have a few more days to catch it, and it's on at Kirkleatham Museum, Redcar, TS10 5NW. 

Ticket prices: £3.50 for adults and £1.50 for children, and a family ticket to include 2 adults and 3 children is £8.50.

Opening times: Tuesday - Sunday 10am - 5pm, with extended opening on Thursday evenings until 6pm. 

Accessibility: the location of the exhibition is really easy for access as it's entirely on one floor, located in the building right opposite the main museum. The museum itself is fully accessible on all floors. 

To find out more, visit the websites: Kirkleatham Museum and Brick Planet

On a grey and rainy day it was the perfect entertainment. It's a real shame it's not running through the school holidays as I'll bet it would have been even more of a winner. Squeeze it in if you have a spare hour, highly recommended!

Friday, 1 July 2016

Lucky beast

This is a tale of two parts. The first being the luck of people who live in the USA (and some locations in Europe too) who have access to all these amazing lotions and potions stores all of the time. It's probably a very good job I don't live in any of those places or we might have a serious situation on our hands. In case you have no clue what I'm on about, I'm talking about easy access to Sephora, Ulta, and Target - the holy grail for beauty lovers all over the land. 

The second part of this tale is about me being lucky. Lucky to have a friend who has just come back from an awesome holiday in Florida. And the luckiest beast of all that said friend is a total babe and basically brought me back a haul. Oh oh oh, a delicious haul full of lotions and potions and make-up delights and tasty treats. I almost squealed out loud in public when I lifted the tissue paper from the black and white striped bag of joy. Eye shadows, brushes, lipstick, lip balms, highlighter...let me show you! 

Safe to say I have already used every single thing on my face and loved everything. 

I've probably said thank you too many times. 

There is also a candle that smells like cheesecake.

I can't even...luckiest beast ever. EVER!