The Happy Jar 2014

As you may (or may not) know, a few years back, I was going through a really dark period and I came into work one morning and found an empty large jar on it with a sticker saying “Good things that have happened in 2014”.

I still do not know who gave this to me but for once, I thought i’d give it a go. Putting in things that made me smile, or made me happy and then I could see at the end of the year, how many wonderful little things had happened to me.

I am quite a negative person generally so one bad thing can for me wipe out 20 good things. I could have a great day at work, be really happy with friends, know my boyfriend loves me but then get home and accidentally drop the eggs i’d bought for tea and that would wipe out all the good things, all i’d focus on would be the bad.

I should note, when it came to writing these up, I came across some that I could not understand – the sentiment or more likely the writing style – I was definitely drunk so i’m not saying the list below is IT, but the majority of my thoughts.

I have removed any that I feel are not for public consumption or to protect others but below is the list from 2014. I have done it, pretty much every year since and I actually get a lot of help from it. I’m hoping that this might help other people, if nothing else, give it a try…..you might be like me and pleasantly surprised with the results.

****I should say, I wrote this list from the bits of paper i’d scribbled on so they are not in any order – do not be confused by the fact that Xmas is mentioned throughout!****

Another skittles night with mum and the olds
2 shows in 2 days, I must be mental!
Finding a new birthday buddy
cooking a massive roast with my love
Gemma helping me with the Bourne academy booking
Charlie saying my hair looked pretty dyed and down
Lovely texts from my man
Smelling flowers – one of the most feminine things ive ever seen you do……..S
Evening at mine with Mayes. So pleased shes getting better
Winning the Boofle
Phone catch up with Bird, miss her so much as always
Day out In southampton, lovely lunch and then an ikea wander
Lazy weekend with Stuart, takeaway and the shield
Competa Hills, god i’m so bloody unfit
Stuart coming and picking up baxter
Calling the bake off winner, second year in a row 😀
Slowly getting better in heels
Snow over the pyrenees
Talking tv with Becky and Jose
Wearing the earrings mayes bought me last year
Brilliant Halloween plan
Cumberband Hammersmith
Getting cake orders from work
Rooster teeth t shirt for stuart
the 90s were not good for us, yeah, we were teenagers so probably just out getting pissed ….Heather
Nice evening with Anna and Andy, love it when its stress free
Tea and delights from mum and dad
Lunch with B, we’re both going on holiday 😀
Afternoon fun with Jack, random afternoon of fun at mine, so pleased he’s settling
week off sick from work, felt rough but the rest did me good
Mcmanagers meal
Long internet chats with Becky, im so lucky she’s in my life
The meeting, so glad its over, they didn’t hate each other and it wasn’t awful
The commitments, 17 or so years on
Talking rubbish with my boyfriend, he makes me so happy
Shopping with mum, we didn’t argue once
Stuart agreeing to come to my birthday meal, means so much
Xmas day with the man, wasn’t perfect but he makes me so happy
He loves me, he said it, and I actually think he means it!!!!!!!
90s trivial pursuit with Heather, way harder than I imagined
Danielles beach party, lovely friends silly chats and a great evening
long bank holiday weekend with him, makes up for the shitty week and makes me feel safe when he hugs me
Helping Jackie with emails and payroll, think she appreciates me, most of the time lol
Finally telling mum and dad, was terrified but they took it well
Tesco munchie shops
Orange is the new mac team in london, like making new people laugh
Getting my phone back yay
Phone calls to Sandra, she talked me through my nerves and always believes in me
Working the day with dad, he works so hard it’s nice to help him
good to have shift running responsibility
bus chat with Gemma on our way to wallisdown
Polly, I need you to play WOW, im getting my arse kicked by a maje……Dan
Lewis’ massive birthday gift, most random and unexpected surprise ever!
Slight welsh racism towards Josh in london
New Mc-uniform and badge
girls night at mine, Danielle, Sam, Gore, me Caroline and a very embarrassing game by danielle
Night in with Ali and Danielle, real shame they are both leaving but happy for them
Watching ladyboys with Stuart at the thai fair
Watching breaking bad with Stuart, having more things to talk about at work with Harry and Dylan
A wholly lazy day
Found this spoon sir, excellent work laughs
Sandras great meatball
Mum being a sales person extraordinaire, 25 quid from the stroke club, need to get her on commision
stealing cows, sex jailers, fun times and witch burnings, just another eve of chatting with Becky
Im like the new Gok Wan, white, straight and a girl but you know what I mean….Danielle
I’ve missed the blue sky over the Competa mountains
Crema catalana and an evening meal with Gore and Lewis at La Rueda in london
Cocktails with Lewis at the Jug, love pina coladas
Evening drink with mum and dad in the sun, nearly dropping my drink and causing dad to question my dna……again
Trash Tv, recorded hours and hours and hours
Planning a day out with em in 2015
Is it wrong I always think of Vetinari whenever I see Charles Dance
all about that bass, a song to make me smile
new mouse onesie
The last leg Israel and Palestine explanation, 2 half brothers and one wont let the other near the fridge
Talking about a future with Stuart, never done that before
Going to london for the mc-exam
met Andrew Neil, no one else knew who he was….awkward
Gori giving me baking bits and promising cola cao
day out with mum and oldies to salisbury market
Already booking events for 2015
Casa Brasilia, lovely managers meal and night out, excellent meats
After glasto brekkie with Mayes, miss my breakfast buddy
fish food/rocks/stuarts pocket and bag fillers throughout the summer
lifting fighting children out of the restaurant
phone chats with Sandra, cant wait to see her – it’s been so long
Night in with Oli, Chris and Mayes, miss my rias buddies
Will I am has a self flushing toilet
Finally reading American Gods, awesome
Passing the first aid course
Firemen’s balls
Baking and selling goodies for work
People actually caring about me at work, Tania and Dean, a lovely couple
Mayes popping over for the evening
I will make Half Baked work
Tekken 5 at work, let the button bashing commence
Danielle and Ali coming over, seem a really happy couple
Remember the “Tache of trust”
Lovely Anabelle at work, seems so nice and am glad things are sort of working out for her
creating a website
Mayes and Stuart seemed to get along on her birthday, really pleased
Mayes saying she likes Staurt cos hes so much cleverer than the knob jockey
Breaking bad, second time around is still awesome as theres so much I missed
Opera, sunsets, eiffel tower and fireworks…….made me cry
“We’re going to wet ourselves” – Gore – possibly we’re going to get wet lol!
Danielle wanting to go dress shopping with me, love the enthusiasm
Spending time with Mayes, so pleased she’s in my life, no matter what happens, she makes me smile
Text from Oli, really glad he hasn’t forgotten me
Helping Austyn with the McPlanet/McPlant champions emails
good bunch of work buddies
breaking bad and football chats with Harry at work
Im in hearing sight of the neighbours………….hearing sight???? well I dont know the word……….earshot??? Would I lie to you
3 massive lemon drizzle cakes for the sally army, went really quickly too
Paris zoo with mum and dad……….are those emus or ostriches
Learning grillside eventually, well kinda, at least I can now make a mac
Ana and chris’ snuggle sleeping
Lewis, Gore and I being village people
Glad to have so many friends in spain, means I can use and abuse them all and have more holidays
Lots of love from KT, Rach, Zahra and Becky so lucky to have them – great to catch up. Miss their beautiful souls
Beautiful presents from Becky, she is so talented
Men who treat women like that deserve to be shot anyway……..Castagna
he said he feels lucky, to have me, I dont get it but it feels amazing
finding music from my life on spotify…….thanks lewis
Ladies night with Anna and Mayes
Hearing that many rubbish men use the line about women being lesbos when they wont sleep with them
random music nights with Lewis and Carlos
Gore helping me in so many ways, she’s so lovely
Savilles beach party, nice to see the old gang
bad dad gangsta dancing from Dan and Bonden
coffee with Danielle and Kat in costa, going makeup shopping
avoiding the rain with mum in kfc before heading to whist
we really are a pair of stylish mutha fu*kers
Kat coming round for tea, loved my chocolates
Sally army craft fair
night at Hannah and Kerry’s, loads of fun, lovely house and introducing them to catfish the tv show \o/
loving waking up cuddles with my gorgeous man
the venetian hotel in vegas actually gets more visitors per year than actual venice – blows my mind
dancing to la bamba with Lewis, Gore and Glemy
kisses on my forehead
10 miles walked at work
Mayes reckons that Stuart feels the same about me as I do about him
long weekend with my man
taking Anna and Andy a pie and having an eve putting the world to rights
I live somewhere amazing, I get to see the sea everyday
orders from Rosered for Record Store Day
Mastermind audition, cannot believe I got that far, here’s to the next time
cute shetland pony in the paddock near the uni
7 episodes of the Wire in 1 day, obsessed? Us? Never
seeing the giant chalk man on the way to sherborne
guess the car make and model with mum at kfc, god we’re cool
Beautiful Jess saying she’d have stayed if I was in charge
Massive congrats to Bianca and Wayne. So pleased she’s happy
Apple and caramac pie for Nuno, glad he likes my baking
Carlos cooking pesto gnocchi and chips for lewis and I
“i cannot believe how you pull off being a nice person to customers when you actually hate!” – Lewis
In Carlos’s phone, im Super Polly
Great birthday present from the man, no i’m not cooking crystal meth
do you want the cheap bread too? No, we’ll just take that one instead………feeding the ducks with S
He wants to be part of my life, makes me so happy
Its not abuse, it’s banter – Brady
fluffy dachshund in sherborne, looked like it was floating
Planning a Parisian extravaganza
Lunch at the sally with mum, Liam and Bird. Chips and cheesecake
starting a chain reaction inappropriate boo at the JK show
Lewis’s obsession with the Power of love (or fuerza de amor)
Ali says i’m really good at customer service
Morning cuddles easter sunday and monday
Smurphy getting her divorce papers, good to see how strong she’s become
Monty Python and Red Dwarf quotes
Chugger saying I looked fantastic for my age, good thing he was working for the blind charity
Making people believe tesco was open on easter monday
I wore my panda glasses for you – Dan
helping set up Stuarts Ipod, sad reason but glad we got it done
Mayes coming over for the evening
cocktails in the jug with JingJing
Lewis going downstairs/behind the sofa after too many tequilas at mine
RSD help and HBP being there as well
Getting away early from Pickets Post
Happy by Pharrell sounds loads like smiling faces by gnarls barkley
drinking a pint in 20 mins, “did you neck that???” no, I just drank it normally
Treating mayes to a mccys……..she’s so lucky
new food processor from dad, loads of attachments, not sure if hes robbed a bank or what
sitting in the bastille cafe, on bastille day, having a brandy with dad
therapy actually seems to have some benefits, not everything but better than nothing
he always hold my hand, even when its cold
day of baking in the summer, windows open and music playing
Bofinger meal, possibly one of he best meals ever – broad bean gazpacho, scallops and mushroom risotto and crème caramel
But I haven’t told him Jesus likes Croutons!!!! – Bird
looking forward to being a manager at mcdonalds
bus trip to sherborne
Mojitos at casa de lewis
wandering round paris with dad, good to see through his eyes
Pete saying i’ll make a great manager after the child fight
glorious sunshine and later starts to enjoy the sun
picnic with Stuart in the new forest, pastrami and beautiful sun to sit in
looking at hotels in Paris, not hostals, actual hotels
seeing Becky and Martin, I know she was embarrassed but am glad shes happy
coffee with Kat and Danielle, lovely girls
birthday party with pals.
Liam with his tea cosy head, didn’t win the bet but worth the look of the carol shops workers faces
great drive with Glemy, Gore, Lewis and Liz
im so lucky to have Stuart in my life, makes me feel like a better version of me is possible
mum loved her birthday presents
breaking up a fight at work
Real men, walk away from explosions
pre easter sale at home oaks
lovely cousins night with Heather
even though he was in tenerife, it was still carlos fault lewis broke his leg
baking madness
drinking with S, odd but remarkably comfortable
good to see mama rosered at the shop, taking in cakes for her and chris, putting the world to rights over tea
being able to keep up with some of the kids on child genius
he said he feels lucky to have me………………….him, lucky to have me???? i’m the lucky one
welcome to the world little evie (Sausage), congrats Kez and Fitzy
helping mum and dad move
Wife swap USA “i dont do seasons”
birthday party with oli, anna, andy, lews, carlos, kerry, hannah, josie, rich at mine
cuddles before we leave stuarts as “we cant say a proper goodbye in the car”
afternoon cocktails with liam and bird, then probably hassling people on the bus
abuse to some is fun to others – Andy
bacon and egg bagels and baguettes for breakfast. Hmmmmmm
Dan B’s emoji game, I dont even need to play yet am hailed as a genius when I help out
he loves me, he loves me, he loves me
flurry days with Danielle
believing what he says to me for a change, maybe he does find me pretty
good n new curry house at abduls, multani chicken and cheesey lentils – meal with Liam Bird Mun and Dad
hug from lizandra when I was stressed at pickets
girls night at Josies, she cooks like a dream and we all had a laugh….savile, zoe, josie, me and mills
bad dream about glemy prompts a 6am text, glad shes ok
im much fatter than you, even if I breathe in….yeah but your boobs are massive -caitlin
jackie wants to make me a manager
all you can eat italian with mum at southampton
love being surrounded by youth at work, im kinda like a mum and a cool cautionary tale
nice eve at lewis’, not much bbq but many mojitos
homemade lasagne and bigfoot eve with stuart
love seeing the people I love get on, really pleased
miss seeing oli, really chuffed he came into work to see me as a surprise
reaching the top 3 😀
spotify bingo
just taking what I want from him, I love feeling more confident
making bath bombs
I might move again! – do it and your son can deal with it! Love helping mum
a very talented bar staff at the dancing jug, they actually know how to make cocktails
saturday night with anna and andy
tea cosy head!!!!!!!!!!!!!
starting the managers course

its been a great year

My thoughts about Mental Health.

A friend of mine suggested this to me as a theme a few days/weeks ago and whilst it might not be the most “fun” theme i’ve tried to write about, it is most definitely close to home and something which I feel I should write about.

My history of depression is quite a long one. I can remember as a very young child sitting in a doorway, on our porch with a little bag in front of me wondering where I could go to make everyone else’s life easier. I’ve always felt like i’m in the way, like i’m a burden and I honestly have no idea why.

I’ve been very lucky, I have a loving, caring family and have not had anything serious to make me sad, or to feel the way I did, unfortunately, I just think that’s my mind.

I spent a lot of my childhood as a happy go lucky child, I think a lot of the surprise to my family/friends when I started talking about my struggles was the fact that I had hidden it so well. People didn’t believe I’d tried to run away, or to kill myself, or that i’d harmed myself but I only did what I thought was the right thing, to take away the pain, or to stop the suffering of others….like I said, I always felt like I was a burden, in the way, taking time from someone more important, hearing my parents arguing over something (which probably wasn’t me) and being sure that they were arguing over something i’d done, or something I’d caused and wishing I had never been born as I was causing people to have these thoughts…….

Yes, I have since learnt that this is a very egotistical thought but for so long I got used to feeling like the butt of all jokes, the hated part of the class, the idiot of the group – I was never a cool kid and I know that being bullied etc isn’t something no one else has dealt with but it seemed to affect me a lot –  so later in life, when the angry, hurtful and cruel voices started, I listened, in fact, no matter what was actually said to me, I would believe the inner voice. People would give me a compliment and the first thought in my mind would be “why is this person lying to me?” It sounds so warped but one thing my friends know about me is that I will often be self deprecating, and when they ask me why, my standard response is “it saves time” as in, if i’m horrible about myself, then no one else can get in there first.

I didn’t have much official therapy until I first tried to kill myself at 17 – I had started self harm before the age of 11 and trying to leave or run away at age 8 or 9 – I was back in the UK, back in my old school, surrounded by people who were confident, clever, had money and seemed to have their lives mapped out (something I still don’t have to be honest) and this scared me. I came out of a relatively serious to me relationship and I felt totally alone, totally worthless and more than anything, a massive waste of the planet’s space. I went to the riverbank close to my house, and swallowed I do not know how many pills and vodka (a great mix – not) expecting to not wake up and therefore to finally be at peace. Luckily a friend of ours found me about 2 minutes after this, actually made me be sick a few times and walked me home.

My brother was cooking a posh dinner for friends the next day and had asked us all to make an effort, I didn’t want to be involved, I just wanted to hide away but the friend told me he would dress like James Bond (he was a biker pal so this seemed insane to me) and come and get me…..I thought he was joking so agreed, only to be stunned when he showed up at my bedroom door in full suit/tie combo with a flower. How can a girl refuse when someone makes an effort like that? He made me smile, get up, get dressed and be social, it lifted me out of my funk and showed that once again, slapping on armour can really help strengthen you to fight against the demons.

I never told him how much he saved my life (figuratively and literally) but he really did, and i’ve never done something so foolish ever since. I am really lucky that I go no horrible side effects days later so please do not even do this as a cry for help, you may not be so lucky.

Because I was feeling so low, I went to the doctors to talk and ask for help. I didn’t know how the help would happen, but I knew I needed something. I went to the doctors to be told I could see a therapist and take these pills to be better…valium, at 17 is not ideal but I did as I was told as I thought this would make me better.

Nope, not so much. I felt like a zombie, like I had no insides, like I was just a vessel with nothing inside. I stayed on these pills for less than 3 months as I hated the feeling so much. I still felt hateful towards myself but didn’t want to live like that plus, I had the joy of my first therapy sessions.

Thankfully mental health services have changed a lot in the last 20 odd years as the doctor I saw at the time, basically told me that I should blame all of my issues on my parents. Now I understand that these people have a massive influence over the person that I am but this kind of advice really sat against me, my mum and dad may have opinions I didn’t agree with, or might not always say the right thing in the right way but there’s no way that I would just blindly blame them for everything wrong in my life, I have to take responsibility for my own actions.

From the bad few years I managed to rebuild myself. I moved to Spain again for a couple of years and spent a long amount of time just learning to be me. Not as a perfect person, but someone who was good at hiding away again, who was happy with her group of friends (unsure why they were my friends but still) and when I went back to England, I was just stuck in a rut, good friends and people in my life but not enough to keep me balanced. I moved to the South of the UK to escape some demons in Lincolnshire and make my life a bit more for me. I was used to living in my brother’s shadow and sort of wanted to be more me.

One of the biggest things down here was the fact that it was somewhere new, somewhere I was me and if people didn’t like it, I had to decide if I still wanted to be me or if I wanted to change to be more like them, to fit in, to be accepted. Sadly for a while I felt so alone that I did exactly that, which is when I started the worst relationship of my life, with a controlling person who could see my insecurities and who used them against me. He was controlling to the extreme and despite the fact that if anyone told me that their relationship had physical altercations, or that their partner would break their possessions saying that they were next, or threaten to kill their family if you dared breathe a word of what was happening; I’d have told them to run far and fast. I have no idea why or how we stayed together for as long as we did but the straw that (thankfully) broke the camel’s back for this was my accident in Paris.

For those who don’t know – It was Christmas day evening and I fell over, my body went one way, and my knee basically went the other. It was horrendously painful and I had no holiday insurance (yes, I’m an idiot, I am fully aware of this and now everytime I go away, it is the first thing I organise). He spent the night and a lot of the next day screaming at me for ruining his holiday, for making this all about me and made me go down the stairs across the road to the open pharmacy (thank christ for French pharmacies being open on boxing day that’s all I can say) where I asked for the strongest painkillers I could swallow while tears of pain were running down my face. I came back to the UK after a couple of days stuck on Orly airport due to snowstorms and went to the hospital where, after 6 months, they saw the serious damage I had done to myself, I had to have 2 operations and it was during the recovery from that where I finally had my revelation. We had been arguing again and he pushed me off of my crutches and picked it up to hit me with it. I can remember looking at him and saying he needed to make sure he finished the job otherwise if I could get up, I would finish it……thankfully he was out of my life shortly afterwards and it is something that I am forever grateful for.

Anyway, I spent a few months becoming me again, and for this time, I was really happy. I changed my weight, I changed my hair, I felt safe in my own home and a good person, I felt like I deserved good things, and that’s when I met the current man in my life.

I can honestly say the he is amazing, he is like my dream man and when I met him, I felt finally that there was someone who could see inside my mind, and didn’t judge me or try and hurt me for that.

It hasn’t always been easy and we did have a separation after about 9 months together. It was during this time I started to see my last therapist and can honestly say, she was simply amazing, helpful, approachable and the reason I now say therapy can work. The help can help. I was a broken person but the way I came back, has made me proud to be me finally. It’s only taken about 30 years of my life but finally I feel like I am not too bad a person. I’m still very negative about myself but am less apologetic about the person I am, if people don’t like it, that’s just fine. I’ve become comfortable as a person.

She spent a lot of time talking about my life, about my past and my insecurities and she actually helped me to see that a lot of the things I needed to do were to do with me, and the way I treat myself.

Things she taught me:

  1. Compassion is a massive part of my life, I’ve always been compassionate to others and she helped me to see that I needed to give myself a break…. Why expect yourself to be perfect, you don’t expect that from anyone else so why not give yourself a break?
  2. Accept that other people have flaws. Your parents are always going to be your biggest influencers but don’t forget, they are human and therefore capable of speaking badly, of making mistakes and you shouldn’t forget that. I know my mum and I have had a history of not getting on and at times we have both said really hurtful things to each other, but having the knowledge I now do, I think it has massively improved our relationship. (we shall see when she reads this!! eek)
  3. Tell the truth – if you feel like crap, and someone asks you how you are, be honest, if nothing else, you’ll find out who cares and who just gives lip service. I have been much more honest recently and I know that this has helped me to become a better, happier person.

It’s not an easy path to tread, it’s certainly not something that is an easy fix and it is something which sadly can still raise its ugly head frequently, a good example is that today I feel really down, I had bad dreams all night and am in a weird place at the moment, in my life, my relationship and my future. I know that there will be days where i’m flying high and some days where i’ll want to curl up and hide myself and maybe I should just do that. Self care is a big thing now and something that I underappreciated.

I cannot say I have the magic answer, medication, therapy and self care are all important, and each person is different. I would say the most important thing is to speak up, tell someone how you feel, your friends, your family, your most hated enemy, anyone. Tell them you are feeling low and ask for help. I know it’s not easy but I worry that people alone do not know where to go or what to do. I totally understand the feeling of being like a burden and that what I’m telling people to do is incredibly hard. I was made to seek help and actually did it because I was so tired but I have also had someone say that their suicidal thoughts were always there and seen as a break, a rest, a way to lift your pain which is also true and unfortunately the struggle is real, to continue fighting or to just give up.

I have lost a few friends to this choice, and I would always hope that if a friend was suffering, maybe they would contact me as someone who has been there and may understand. I’d hate the thought of people not feeling like they wanted to be a burden, seriously you are not and I cannot say that enough. PLEASE, if you ever feel like you are not enough, seek help. Therapy isn’t for everyone but I would say it’s worthwhile seeking some out, you might just learn something which helps.

Sometimes I feel like everything will work out ok, others I feel totally trapped and unhappy and unable to see a way out. I know there will be a way out but it’s a ways away. I think this is how I have to deal with life now, knowing that there will be bad, there will be good but the thought I have to hold on to is that no-matter what, there is going to be an end to however i’m feeling so to relish the positives and try to diminish the negative……easier said than done but a work in progress.

 

Talk about your favourite restaurant

I think this is probably a really easy topic for me (food obsessed) to talk about, I think the only fly in this ointment will be the only being 1 restaurant……there’s so many lovely places i’ve eaten in the past!

chartier 4

My favourite place to eat is actually not anywhere near my home. It’s in Paris and to be honest, it’s probably not what people would call the best as in “snazziest/poshest/best food/most expensive” but it’s somewhere that I go to everytime i’m in the city and when people go there, I always tell them that the Chartier experience is totally worth the wait.

I’ve always considered this as a family restaurant, some of the best times I’ve ever had in Paris is with my family and here ranks high up there – steak hache with Mum, Dad, Liam and Bird where dad thought he could sell me off to one of the Maitre d’s in exchange for accommodation in the city – totally ruined by me smoking….not sure he’s ever forgiven me for that. To the meal where we were celebrating dad’s birthday and actually got a table to ourselves for once. To the epic sauerkraut when I was a child in Paris before the one and only time I’ve been to Disney – seriously not my thing, I love some Disney but if I had a choice, Paris would be my go to, not the fantasyland outside 🙂

The restaurant was created in 1896 by two brothers, Frédéric and Camille Chartier, in a former train station concourse under the name “Le Bouillon” (lit. broth, or stock, but in this context, a type of brasserie; originally a cheap workers’ eatery that served stew), near the Grands Boulevards, the Hôtel Drouot, the Musée Grévin, and the Palais de la Bourse. The restaurant has had only four owners since opening

My dad told me years ago that after WW2 the French government realised the best way to increase business and spending in the city was to make sure that a family would spend less money for a 3 course meal at a restaurant, than it would cost to buy and make it at home, this encouraged people to spend money outside and get money back into the economy. I don’t know if this is true, or even if it was at the time, but I always find Chartier relatively cheap and therefore a great place to go, even on a budget for beautiful food.

In some of my photos you might see some cupboards with little drawers in them, these used to be for storage of regular’s cutlery , Msr so-and-so would eat there so often that he would have his own drawer for storing his bits and bobs, and I really love this, it shows the homey atmosphere.

chartier 3

I think that for me, there is far more than  the food to rave about in this place. It may not appeal to everyone but the quirkiness is amazing!

chartier 1

Firstly, you stand and queue outside, that’s right, queue. And it’s not first come first served, but as space allows. Therefore, there may be masses of groups of 4 in front of you, but if 2 seats open up, it might be you and your dining companion walking through those doors, as everyone shares tables. You don’t want to sit where they tell you to? Tough, get back out of the door……I have seen people saying they wanted to have a table to themselves, or to sit in a “better” part of the restaurant being turned away which is novel and though some say it is unnecessary, I love the way they set a rule and have stuck to it ever since.

chartier 5

Once you are sat down, you are given a menu, a large (over A4 sized) double sided menu – often taken by people as a souvenir – which changes EVERY DAY…..and the waiters simply learn the menu, every day. I would say that probably lets say at least 50% of the items change (it used to be more but I have no idea if it has gotten easier in the more recent times) and the waiters have to learn it – prices and all. They write nothing down on pads etc, they simply take your order, write the info on your tablecloth and then go tell the kitchen. On the way through, they speak with Madame, she (I believe) is the owner/owner’s wife and she is in charge of the money, as they go past, they tell her the order and she writes down a bill.

As you eat and order more, the tablecloth notes get longer, and when you eventually come to pay, the waiter will total your bill (on the tablecloth) and then take your money & give you the change etc.

chartier 6

At the end of the night the waiters will be given a figure from the madame, they then count this out from their money belts and whatever they have over, is theirs as tip, but if they don’t have enough (their maths is wrong for example) then they pay the difference back.

Ok, that sounds harsh but I think it’s amazing and next time anyone says “being a server/waiter/waitress is easy” maybe bring this up? Shows it’s not just a job where you carry plates!

Anyway, not only is the experience amazing, I really love the food. I don’t think there’s been any time there where I haven’t had any idea what to have, I have had some of the best Sauerkraut i’ve ever eaten in my life, the steaks are (always) amazing and even a simple plate like a tomato and cucumber salad is just amazing.

I’m so pleased my dad introduced me to this place, it’s been far too long since i’ve been there but seriously, if you are ever in Paris, remember this address and go for an epic meal, I doubt you’ll forget or indeed regret this!

7, Rue du Faubourg-Montmartre – go there and enjoy!

 

What I found when using Simply Cook.

****As this isn’t an ad for the company I used, a) I hope they are ok with me writing this and b) people reading this know this is my opinion so I cannot say if EVERY service is the same, if every provider of this is the same, this is just my views on a service I’ve been using for well over a year.****

Seems such a great idea, being sent spice or sauce mixes and new recipes to make fun and great meals simply by adding meats and veg……this sounded too good to be true to me to begin with but I have been pleasantly surprised with the company, the selection and most importantly, the meals.

Personally, I think this kind of thing is a brilliant idea. I love cooking, love following recipes but get put off but the small measurements of things (a half a tsp here, a dash there) which means I need everything and unless you’re Nigella, I don’t think there’s ever enough space. Plus, the recipe cards which come with the kits are easy to understand, clear and also have a small tear away section which is handy for shopping and those with awful memories.

Anyway, I signed up for a free trial and actually decided to continue it after our first box arrived.

simply cook 5

Each box contains 4 mix sets, that you can select online when ordering, this is also where they ask you for preferences/intolerances and the like. I’m fairly lucky as myself and the man have no real intolerances, just things we’re not fans of  – fish for example. So with one click of a button, all fish dishes were removed from the selection.

The recipe selection online is actually fairly sizeable. It’s not yet the level of Blue Apron (they say you can have a different box  monthly and not repeat a single meal in a year) but I’ve just checked and they have definitely added more recipes so I would say the selection is pretty good. Again, I’m lucky no fussy eaters so this may not be ideal for everyone but as this is my opinion, i’ll please myself 😉

simply cook 1
Penne aLa Rustica

I have not selected something which is massively good for vegans or vegetarians, I mean, I would say 99% of the recipes could be made with quorn or veg substitutes and there is an option for gluten free recipes too, again, not an issue for me but good for dinner party guests who may not be quite as lucky as me.

The website is really handy as not only can you customize your selections, but also favourite and discard suggestions so even if you run out of new things to try, there’s always something you can fall back on.

simply cook 3
Balinese chicken

I really enjoyed the excitement of new cooking for myself and S, he really doesn’t cook so it’s been a fun way for us to work together in a kitchen to come up with something new to us both which we’ve both agreed, is almost always yummy – and to be fair, even if it isn’t especially our “thing” it has still been lovely!

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Nyonya

Sadly, our flat is not big enough for entertaining but I think these services are great if you can find something that appeals to you when socialising. They also offer a one off box option which would be ideal for a special dinner you have planned – at least then you have everything you need even if you dont fancy cooking with the kits more often.

simply cook 2
Paella

It’s simple to cook but the dishes you create can turn out really lovely and looking much more “professional” than your normal fare (well, in my case definitely, flavour is always good with me, presentation, not so much). I did take photos of some of the meals we’ve made but I’m not the biggest fan of them so will share but please don’t be too judgemental! All the photos are mine, apart from the Featured Image which I found on the Simply Cook instagram pages and seemed very appropriate.

simply cook 4
ok, this was a veggie Iranian Stew that I added beef to – it was in the slow cooker and smelt AMAZING!!!

I do still use this service but not as much as i’d like to due to myself and S not being on the same shift pattern, we don’t eat together very much (which I do miss) and I currently have about 15 meal kits still to use, which I am doing, slowly but don’t want to start again until I’ve used those up – thankfully this gives me options for when i’m in the mood to cook or even for things that I am planning in the future like every Sunday that he now has off (instead of working every weekend day) we are having a special Sunday meal. Doesn’t have to be anything super posh, just needs to be fun, nice to eat and have great flavours, which Simply Cook seem to have in spades!

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Thai basil Pork

I would definitely recommend the service – they do many special offers and you can order the boxes as frequently/infrequently as you like. I always used the monthly boxes but I do know that I have stopped my account for a couple of months and then reactivated it with no issues. Simply Cook just send occasional emails to let me know of special offers or new menus being created but I very much enjoy the freedom they give me.

If anyone reading this would like to know more, go to their website, and if you wanted to get some special treatment, use the code smply.in/PB1923 and you should get some discount off your first box. Why not try it, you might be surprised and you may even learn some new kitchen skillz!

If you use these type of services already, let me know your thoughts, are you just as positive? Or am I missing the elephant in the room? Do you want to make me jealous with your better photos? Please do, the diet is good and all but I look at food and consider it living vicariously through others! Also, if you work for Simply Cook and liked my review let me know 🙂

Now I’m hungry. What’s for dinner?

 

 

 

 

 

A quick Hello!

Hi everyone!

I keep getting emails saying more people are following my blog – which is surprising, I mean, who would want to listen to stuff I have to say? apparently a few of you! Therefore I thought i’d say hello and give a little description of me and my blog.

Firstly, I’m Polly, i’m 35 (how is that even possible – I was only 20 2 minutes ago) and I’m living in the South of the Uk with my partner (the man). he will remain nameless as he’s very antisocial and I totally respect that -even if it means for photos I need to rely on either A LOT of red wine or ninja photographers 🙂 . We’ve been together for 6 years and looking for a place in the area we live. We currently live together but it’s a very small flat and we (ok, ok, it’s actually me) need more space.

stuart

I’m a fan of cooking, crafting, travel, photography, reading – i’m a massive Terry Pratchett fan, politics, board and computer gaming, trash tv and writing about things which interest and amuse me. I’ve set myself a challenge for my 40th birthday and being more comfortable with blogging is on this list (see my 40 for 40 post to see this list in all it’s glory!) so am always happy to be given things to discuss or write about – be that books, films, food, places and ideas so if you want to see something on here, simply let me know!

I try to do mad things and stuff for charity every year – to both scare me and prove how awesome humans really are and this also gets written about a lot!

I spend a fair amount of time looking and working around food, I set up my little business Half Baked Productions a few years ago and spend my time making, baking and creating. I tend at the moment to not do too many fairs due to time restraints but I love making things and find it calms me a lot. I have suffered from depression for a really long time but have found that things such as this help me to remain happy and not get too bogged down with things. I love Half Baked because it gives me both an outlet but also to shout about other small personal businesses that I love, we all need to stick together am I right?

I have however started following a diet, I have noticed that I am less Rubenesque and more just fat. I feel uncomfortable with it and it doesn’t help either my self esteem or depression so I am also occasionally using this page for a sounding board, of things I make or things which catch my eye. This means that most of the things I make (some are below) are now out of my allowances 😦 it’s a shame because some of the things I make are banging!

So yes, thanks for following and for those of you who read, comment or share I am very grateful. I try to write often but at the moment do not have the ability or time to write everyday. I try to be as honest as I can but would rather not be mean for the fun of it. If I write something which I think could be taken as mean, I try to amend and re-write. Just to be me though, I do occasionally have rants. I apologise if it’s not for you but I look forward to having you all along on my blogging journey. All the support is much appreciated and I’m really pleased to be part of this wordpress world 😀

 

Post 30 facts about yourself….

facts about myself…..hmm, well apart from the standard ones (i’m 35, I live in the south of England, i’m a bit of a nerd) I’m not sure really. There’s lots of things about me I believe but not sure I can think of 30 interesting facts. Stick with it, we may both learn something…….

  1. I am caring – I tend to worry more about animals than humans, I find myself more upset by seeing the state humanity is leaving the planet as opposed to say watching a nature programme where a turtle is eaten by pumas.
  2. I have been depressed for a lot of my life and feel a better person for it. It’s made me fight to be better and to understand my mind more. I don’t know why but I’ve always felt wrong for being here and that i’m not welcome or needed. This still comes and goes but I think slowly but surely, i’m seeing more positives than I used to.
  3. I tend to wear odd socks – I’ve always thought lifes too short to worry about socks, generally under boots so not really visible to other people.
  4. I wish I had more impetus – I would love to do so many things with my life but for a long time, depression held me back, i didn’t travel like I wanted to as “it’s bound to go wrong” I haven’t gone for jobs/changes in my life as “im bound to fail” and that has rubbed off on me a lot. I do now try to do things to change that but it’s a very slow process.
  5. I read a bit like Johnny 5, I love books and they are still the first way of me coping, it means I can cut out the world and just get lost somewhere else.
  6. I wish I lived closer to more of my friends, I can get quite lonely here and although I have social media accounts, I very much miss actual face to face communications.
  7. I love taking photos, I’m not very good but it gets me out and about and I love showing the beauty of around where I live. I’m really lucky to be so close to the sea and the trappings that offers.
  1. I love food. I can probably watch cooking shows or read recipes like some people watch porn…..I’m making a real effort this year to be less of a fat pig but it’s not easy.
  2. I adopted an Orangutan called Okto this year and to further aid the plight of these wonderful Apes, i’m trying to avoid Palm oil in my food – which it turns out, is in a lot of food so that’s tricky – worth it though as far as i’m concerned.
ornag 2
Orangutans
  1. I still (despite everything) believe in love. I’ve had some really appalling relationships and they have most definitely affected me, however, am lucky to say that the man in my love, is the love of my life. He is sweet, caring, not perfect but perfect for me. I just hope I can make him anywhere near as happy as he makes me.

valentines-rose

  1. I have signed up for a couple of challenges so far this year (2018). I am aiming to walk (at least) 31 miles in January – and i’ve walked about 11.5 (which I have on a pedometer or if you are happy to accept the fact my pedometer broke on Sunday and didn’t record anything i’ve actually done 14.9). So a few still to go but am sure I can achieve it. I’m also signed up for another colour run in July for a child’s hospice. They asked for £50 in sponsorship but i’m aiming for £100 as it’s such a great cause, I will post the link here, in case anyone wants to chuck in some pennies. https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/polly-bartlett-dorset-rainbow-run……………I managed to complete over 50k in Jan (which despite the snow I’m considering a good thing and I also raised about £150 in the colour run – I’m looking at contributing to the newset blog by a virtual racing company I use starting later this year. Lots of plans for 2019 races too!
  1. I am really getting into gaming, both computer and board games. I have been a gamer for years but it tends to be something myself and the man do of an evening together, we will sit together and have a few hands of something or work together on a co-operative game. I heartily recommend (if you are able) heading to a board game cafe, as even if you’ve never played a “modern” boardgame, there’s generally a really good selection and staff who are paid to teach and play!!
  1. I don’t wear make up – unless it’s a really special occasion. My attitude has always been that no amount of slap will help this face so I leave it natural – plus, I don’t have to look at it, you lot do!
  2. I always wanted plastic surgery and as i’ve got older, the list of things i’d want “done” has actually got shorter. The old price tag when i was 17 or so was about £100,000 but I think it would be closer to half that now….I suppose i’ve started to accept that this is how I look and that’s that.
  3.  30 facts about myself is HARD
  4. I’m not sure I have a favourite food but I tend to go through fads of only wanting Pasta, or Curry, or cereal. I’m not sure why but food is such a massive passion of mine and I can quite happily spend hours during the day planning what i’m having for dinner that night.
  5. I love my job – i’m in a job where honestly, a year ago if someone had told me that I would be doing this, i’d have laughed in their faces. I’ve always done fairly menial roles or customer services (read from a script and take abuse) so the fact that this job is specific, has a lot of info, actually makes me feel like i’m making a difference is absolutely brilliant. My boss is also amazing as he actually seems to care and encourage his staff, which in the range of jobs i’ve had, seems a rare commodity.

bus night

  1. I like being around people who make me laugh, now ok, this probably isn’t something specific to me but of all the people I get along with, it’s those that have a fun side of life and fun view that I adore. I’m not fussed if it’s impressions, or old dad jokes or even biting satire, I just love being amused.
  2. I’d love to meet and see Eddie Izzard in action, I think he’s superb and not only for his comedic slightly zany look at the world but also his stance on humanity.
  3. I love being out in the rain. I know it’s odd but dancing in the rain (even with no music) can soothe my soul and if it ever really tips it down here, I am generally seen running for my shoes and heading for a rain rave.
  4. There’s a lot of things i’m scared of (irrational fears) but the things that keep me up at night are fears that I can do nothing about, being alone, not living up to expectations, not achieving anything.
  5. I wish I’d travelled more, in fact, I wish i’d seen the importance of the world as opposed to being in a relationship – which was an awful one as well to be fair! I should have taken out credit, saved like hell and just gone, not worried about making other people happy as over time i’ve learned that by me being happy, those around me are happy too.
  6. If I won the lottery, i’d pack up my life here and start at Gatwick and see where the world takes me. I’d love to take my other half along and maybe a couple of friends along the way. I’m not sure he’d come and if he didn’t want to, i’d have to make the choice of him or the world…..and that would be a really tough one.
  7. I’m trying to be more sociable this year, I know because of the depression, there have been times when I really withdraw from the world and want to make a difference now. My friends are amazing and I want to spend more time with them, not less.
  8. I wish my family could get along. I don’t know why my brother and mum have such issues with staying in contact and just being pleasant to each other – well, I do, they just seem to rub each other the wrong way but that makes it tricky for everyone. I’m not saying they have to be bosom buddies but I am so scared that something will happen out of the blue and i’ll have to call my sibling and say either “get here now before it’s too late” or, even worse, “it’s too late”. I always thought that the passing of a family member would bring the rest of the family closer together but having seen it do the exact opposite to my best friend and the man’s families, I worry for the future of mine.
  9. I keep a happy memory jar. I have already started the one for 2018 but haven’t as of yet sorted through the 2017 offerings. I know 2017 was a good year for me and I’m looking forward to re living it but the lists take time to sort/write and at the moment I just haven’t had the impetus to do it…..which as it’s 17 days into the new year (when I first wrote this)  I really should crack on with……maybe that’s a Sunday job.
  10. I am inside a very politically minded person, however, due to esteem issues I tend to keep my views quiet and dont enter discussions. Twitter has however, allowed me the freedom to be me and if people don’t like it, not my problem – this may also explain why i’m not followed by many people and why I try to not have real friends on there…..some is fine but I think i’d be in way too many arguments if I did the same on other social media.
  11. I’d love to spend more time with my dad in Paris, it’s such a special place for him and every time we go I love it when it’s just the two of us and I get to see the Paris he adores. He wanted to go a couple of year ago to climb Notre Dame again (he fears he’s getting too old) so I am aiming to get out there with him this year to help and hopefully we can conquer that together.
  12. As i’ve got older, my mum has become a better friend to me. I honestly think she tried her best when we were younger but circumstances in life made us not very close or alike, as we’ve got older I think we’ve both mellowed in our own ways and this makes the relationship better. Also, in therapy I was told to blame everything wrong on my parents, and I didn’t agree with that, and that helped me to see them in a better light, that they tried, they are flawed and made mistakes….they weren’t trying to hurt me, in fact they were trying to make life better for me and although it didn’t always work, there are a lot of things that they influenced in my life which have made me the person I am today.
  13. Despite everything, the abuse, the sad times, the depression, the fear, the lack of self esteem, the days/weeks and months at a time I didn’t want to be here, I love my life now – flaws and all – and wouldn’t change too much of it (well, a lottery win would be nice). If I could go back and change things, I would have liked to but now I know that my past has made my present what it is and i’m grateful to still be here and to have not succeeded in any of the attempts I made on taking my life. I would definitely tell a younger version of myself to keep on keeping on, be strong and someday it will be worthwhile. It may not be the easiest life but it is your life to live, to experience and to make the most of.

Well, who’d have thought I could come up with 30 facts…..they weren’t all fab and fun but they are the truth and this challenge has actually made me think more about my self and life than I normally would. Introspection can be a wonderful thing at times!

I’ve noticed recently a lot of new readers, for which I am both stunned and very grateful, feel free to drop me a line, say Hello! or just pass on your thoughts of what I write. I’m always up for meeting new people and experiencing new lives.

 

Write about 5 things that irritate you….

how bestto narrow this down to 5? this will be tricky

the top 5 things that wind me up about humanity in general, please dont be offended if i mention a group you belong to, this is just my opinions and thoughts.

1) PARENTS>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> parents who feel that because they are parents they are better than those who choose not to have kids, i mean, ive been having sex for a fair few years now and have never had a kid, that takes more work than actually popping some out. plus, parents who do not control their kids, I was brought up to respect people and if i didnt behave, I was punished, i was smacked and my parents knew that if i was allowed out somewhere then i would behave. I hate parents who simper at their little darlings while they behave like little bastards. Parents believing that their child deserves better than everyone else, at the tax payers expense. Ive paid into the system and it winds me up so much seeing parents pop a couple out and then moan that they aren’t given enough. if you cant afford things, dont get them! also, parents who are wild and impetuous in their days before kids, yet when they have kids somehow transport themselves into holier than thou types, its like ex smokers, theres nothing worse than an ex smoker telling you to quit, its my choice not to have kids so dont tell me im wasting my life by enjoying myself.

2) SELFISHNESS>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>I know that a lot of people can be selfish, hell, even me, but it really winds me up when people are selfish for the wrong reasons, self preservation is one thing, cruelty is another. Everyone has a bit of me me me but ive had the misfortune to meet a lot of people who feel like that when it would really be easier if we all worked together. like politics for example, everyone i know moans about the government, but people i know who dont vote still moan and frankly they have no right to, if you dont use your vote then you have no leg to stand on when moaning about the outcome. theres a lot of problems in the world that would be saved if people cared about themselves a bit less and about others a bit more.

3) IGNORANCE>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>again, im not saying everyone but theres a difference between not knowing stuff but being open to learning and being intentionally stupid and being pandered to because of it…..ive seen many girls do this and it makes us all as a sex look more stupid, we’re fighting to be treated like equals and some girls still want to live in the 40’s esque way of battering ones eyelids and waiting for a man to fix it. also, since when have we celebrated as a nation the stupid people, Joey essex is genuinely thick, and we seem to think that this is a good thing, and a good thing to show the world, every year our education system sinks lower and lower on the global scale and we dont see this as a problem? freaks me out to be honest.

4)INTOLERANCE>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>funny that this should be on my list of things about people that irritate me, after all, this is my intolerance! I like to consider myself quite care free and laid back, if you want to be gay, straight, bi, have it off with animals, quite honestly, i dont care, if you want to worship one invisible imaginary friend over another, again, thats fine by me, just stop using other peoples fear against them, groups like Britain First make my blood boil and the people who adhere to that kind of rubbish do too, but then people tend to believe whatever they get told on facebook, so if they read that a 97 year old vet has been abused by muslim/islamic/gay/purple people then they will just believe it, as opposed to actually having an open mind that maybe they’re reading and signing up for propaganda and thats it. people need to learn that we’re all ona very small rock and unless we stop trying to fuck each other up then its going to be a very sad lonely and more importantly short time that we’re here.

5)HOLIER THAN THOU >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> i’ve already kind of touched on this above but it needs to be more detailed. I have a problem with ex smokers, wild children who then went on to be parents, people who become vegetarian and people who seem to warp from 1 reality to another and because you dont, you’re considered in the wrong. When i left school (yes many many many moons ago) it wasnt considered normal to have a kid straight away, at least not in my family, it was sort of assumed you’d have a few years of enjoying yourself and growing up before you agree to a life long commitment, however, for the last god knows how many years whenever im asked how many kids i have, when i answer none im asked why not, whats wrong with me, do i just not care, do i not want a council house, do i not want to pass on my stress and neurosis to someone else, do i not want someone to look after me when im old and quite frankly its rather insulting. im making a choice for my life, it has no affect on yours. same with ex smokers and ex meat eaters, im happy for you, youve made that choice, good for you, what really pisses me off is the messages i get from them, god i feel so healthy, i would never allow myself to do that ever again, you people are murderers (thats from the veggies) last year, a mate of mine and i had a steak night evening, then he got into a relationship with a vegan and therefore lost his balls and decided to be veggie to win her over, again, im cool with that, each to their own and that but then to be preached at by him about having a bacon sandwich when hungover it becomes a bit much. its like people stop doing something and then become ashamed of what they used to do. I get that sort of, i mean, im embarrassed by things in my past and id like them to be forgotten but im not then going to tell people who do the same as i have done that they are wrong for doing it. if people choose to do something for them, then great, its totally up to you. ex smokers really grind my gears too, again, great! you no longer smoke, good for you, dont then come into my house and preach at me about the amount of damage im doing myself…….i know and i dont really care. im not uneducated, im well aware that smoking damages you, as does drinking and eating meat, and crossing the road, and fizzy drinks, and eating chocolate. its like those adverts on tv to make people stop smoking, i used to light up in protest because how i choose to live/die is exactly that….my choice. and as for poor smokers, they’re now more social pariahs, paying through the nose and being made to stand outside every pub, so if you dont smoke, you have to walk through a group of them to even get into a pub…….some kind of divine retribution there i think haha!

so yeah, thats the list (for today, it’ll change in 5 mins probably) apologies if you dont like it, but as i say, its my feelings and my opinions only, im not saying im right and everyone else is wrong but just that this is my page to say what the hell i want about anything i choose so if you dont like it, kindly keep the thoughts to yourself haha!

10 things which surprise you about people

this will be tricky, do i do this as “things about humanity” or things about my friends?

1) the way people feel the need to stress…….. like its going to make any difference to the people lives, “i havent slept for a week while working on this project” basically means, you’ve been stressing and making yourself ill for a work project……….NOT WORTH IT

2) the hypocrisy of some people………a lion gets shot (not nice i agree) and people are up in arms, surely the fact that people are starving to death is a bit more important?

3) the futility of terrorism……it never works yet it still happens

4) ex smokers/new veggies/vegans etc……..im happy youve made a change in your life, but theres really no need to keep trying to tell me i need to change mine, i like my life and if i need to change it, I will, not because i suddenly get bombarded with people saying “ive done it, so you can too”

5) that even after all this time, people still get judged for what they look like, when will we learn?

6) that no one has invented jet packs yet, tomorrows world promised them to my parents, so where the hells mine?

7) that people bother to be my friend, im not a nice person yet there seems to be some who ignore that and try to find a nice inner me.

8) sometimes, the kindness of strangers makes me cry, people are (in my opinion) mostly bastards, and then someone will come along who is generally nice and that puts my opinions in the dust.

9) that people still expect that their vote counts, i mean, it does and i feel everyone should be made to vote, even if its to ruin their ballot paper, thats fine, but im really shocked at the amount of people who vote and have no real idea what they are doing. ive had so many conversations with people who feel that because their parents voted one way, thats the way to go, or because a party says they’re going to do something that appeals to you doesnt mean you shouldnt investigate what else they’re going to do. actually, my post should be that people dont get taught these things anymore, and very few actually take the time to be interested in their own welfare.

thats it, ive finally reached the pinnacle of this………my biggest thing about humanity is this………..

10) how can people not have curiosity, about life, the world, the way we live, others on this planet, how things work, where things come from how things are made. Im such a nosey bugger but im also naturally curious. i dont understand people who are stupid and happy about this fact. those who revel in ignorance really arent my type at all. my brain is always working and fizzing, i like taking on new challenges and learning is always close by, even if im watching tv quizzes i like to think im improving my brain. so yeah, that astounds me, that people dont always have as pulp said “a thirst for knowledge”.

DragWorldUk 2018

dragworld frame

I’ve wanted to write about this, it’s just taken an age to get it all scribbled down and ready to go. I’ve tried to remember and share all my experiences as I genuinely had a fantastic time, I’d love to go again next year and take more people along with me so if you fancy coming along, please do, the more the merrier!

I’m a huge fan of Drag, the art, the style, the openness, the beauty….it’s all good as far as i’m concerned and when I saw the advert for a convention to celebrate this, I had to be involved.

I’ve been a fan of RuPaul for years but recently (the last 6 years or so) i’ve been an avid fan of Drag Race on TV – basically a mix of Talent show, modelling, make up and dress skills and reality show.

I put it out there, shared the info, invited people who I thought might be interested but got no response really, so decided to just do it. Throw myself in and see where I landed. I’ve tried to be more brave and just do what I want to do without resorting to hiding behind other people, this seemed like an excellent example of that……I was sort of confident about it but also a bit scared, i’ve never even been to big festivals so maybe the people would be too much, or maybe I wouldn’t feel welcome to be there….oh well, i’d worry about that when I got there.

Luckily a friend of mine is also a fan of the drag world and when I was talking to her about it, she showed an interest and then about 20 minutes later I got a message to say she’d bought a ticket and wanted to come along (not gonna lie, this was brilliant for me, as despite the fact I had wanted to be strong by myself, it’s always lovely to have someone else along and creating shenanigans with you!) so I amended the hotel booking and we started planning 🙂

The two or so weeks before the convention, excitement was building, I had purchased some random bits for Claire and I (a Drag Bag – filled with things I thought would be funny/suitable for such an occasion – another example of me just liking to buy things without there being a specific reason behind it), I’d arranged to meet up with an old school friend who I hadn’t seen in far too many years and couldn’t wait and I had also entered a competition to win (as I had thought) a queen’s autograph which I thought would be amazing – i’d managed to book a Meet and Greet but the more popular queens had sold out so long ago, this competition seemed the best way to get something a bit special.

The night before we went, I was sat at home with Mr A and got some weird messages from both of my friends saying “well done on winning the tattoo”…………….yep, I hadn’t read the info correctly on the facebook competition and it wasn’t an autograph, it was an autograph which would then be permanently attached to my skin – ARRRRRRGGGGG. I’m really not a tattoo kind of person but luckily both Claire and Lacei have epic tattoos already so I was happy for either of them to take it for me.

Claire was due to meet me at mine on the Saturday morning, our coach was about half 6 so we met, had a coffee and went upon our merry way.

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I don’t normally travel with people so it was actually lovely to have someone to talk with, laugh with and (probably) distract everyone else on the coach but it was a really easy quick journey and soon enough we arrived in London.

We needed to get to the site, which was Olympia and for this we needed the District line, we wondered and eventually after about 10 mins found the relevant platform. When the train arrived, I think we were both a bit unsure as to if we were doing the right thing so to sit down and see people wearing glitter, drag merch, huge wigs (and shoes) and other such glamour was a relief, we were on our way to the right place!

We arrived and the queue was getting started, we decided to regroup by getting breakfast from a local little cafe which served really yummy wraps, we wandered down a road to find somewhere to perch to eat said wrap and we happened upon Samuel Taylor Coolidge’s house – little bit of unexpected culture!

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So we snacked and woke up a bit, then decided to walk and start our day, see what sights and experiences awaited us.

The queue was actually moving really quickly so as soon as we walked to the entrance, we could go straight in and get our glitter on!!

It was a bit like the Ideal Home Exhibition when we walked in, a few little stalls selling things which probably would really appeal to the crowd – nail art, wigs, clothing, make up and other such loveliness. We wandered a bit and whilst Claire was having a sales pitch given to her (i’d already purchased some nail art things – which I still haven’t mastered, but one of these days!) we saw a fab lady in a wheelchair which had been packaged to look like Priscilla’s bus, she was asking people to sign and draw all over it, I had to take some pics just to memorialize such a fab idea.

We spent a fair amount of time walking around, looking at stalls and the Merch which was available but the best thing I found was that everyone, no matter how they looked or were dressed, was respectful of each other, lots of people stopping random strangers to give them compliments, or to ask about how they’d made a costume, or their artwork. I spent a long time just taking pics of pretty things, male and female.

After a couple of hours we decided to have a seat at the Runway, have a snack (a watermelon ice, which was superb, very refreshing) and see some acts. I’m not at all up on the new kings and queens on the scene or indeed the Drag world in the UK so it was wonderful to see some acts that were local (ish) and very talented. Nice to know that there are places around the UK I can celebrate this art and also that there are some things I had no idea about which I have now experienced.

Ru has often preached that everyone needs to find their tribe. I may not be a whole part of it, but i’ve never felt as comfortable as I was there.

We decided to nip out, get some air, some lunch and chill out for a while, we wandered around the area and found a great little deli type place which had lots of baklava and fresh wraps and salads to buy, we both had another wrap and walked back discussing the day so far, thoughts for the rest of the weekend and anything specific we wanted to organise.

One of the joys throughout the weekend as a whole was that people were just wandering round, enjoying themselves, having fun and everyone was being positive, even if it was just to pass on a compliment on someone’s shoes, it just seemed a really loving and caring atmosphere. When we were sat watching the acts on the runways we got talking to other people in the crowd, friends and fans of specific acts but also seeing humanity in all it’s varieties – male/female/cos play, butch, open, free but most importantly happy.

We were lucky to see so many beautiful and known queens, throughout the day we kept grabbing each other and going “look it’s……..!!!!” There were panels, the runway and also specific meet and greets but there were also very magic times where we saw them in their booths, where people could stand and wait and meet their favourites. This wasn’t something we were planning on doing but if the opportunity arose, we would of course leap in with both feet.

When we got back inside, I bumped into my first “celeb” of the day, some woman from Gogglebox – sorry, I have no idea who she was but grabbed Claire and we worked out that’s where we knew her from – but she was charging for Photos (which considering even the Queen’s weren’t doing that seemed a bit cheeky) but we went back in and went back to the runway……we managed to get a front seat and sat down to watch some amazing Drag Kings at work, this was a first for me but still eye opening, a lot of talent and again, a lot of love in the crowd for their friends/idols/heroes. That’s where we had my second “celeb” sighting as Claire pointed out a bearded guy walking around with his family and said “isn’t that Nathan Law?” (the chef) I’m not sure she expected me to rush over to him and ask for a selfie but he was very gracious and agreed, he seemed surprised that someone was asking for his photo but am chuffed I got it, it was totally unexpected!!

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During these little shows, we bumped into a photographer called Aiden, we spent a lot of time over the weekend bumping into him and he was a really fun person to stand and gossip with, he has since started to show off his Drag act (which I had no idea about before) but hopefully he will be there next year – in either guise – as he was fun to spend time with, he insisted on taking pics of us at various stages of the weekend so I have asked him for some copies of those too to remember our time by.

At about 5pm, we were sat just having a breather and I happened to notice Ginger Minj wandering back to her booth, both of us snapped into action and joined the little group which had formed. Another sign of how “Nice” people were was that there was no pushing and shoving, in fact, most people were insistent on pushing others to the front of the queue – how very British! – and we both had pics and a little chat with her, she calls herself a “Glamour Toad” which is harsh as she genuinely seemed a lovely person and she was very sweet to everyone, despite the long day. The funniest thing was that she showed us her shoes – TRAINERS!!! She had a fair point though, she’d been on her feet for hours and those things aren’t fun, so fabulous and comfortable will most definitely be the way forward! I did try to get a pic of her trainers when Claire was the photo subject but I’m too technologically rubbish to work her camera – sorry!

After that buzz, we decided to head to the hotel, we both needed a sit down and a cuppa. We walked to the left luggage area and on our way there we noticed another VERY short queue for another queen – Alaska.

Now, Alaska for me is probably my favourite queen. She is amazing, I love her style, her voice, her confidence and think she is simply stunning. I had purchased a Funko Pop of her and had it in my bag on the off-chance I can get it signed and this seemed like a perfect opportunity. Claire got in the queue and I nipped to grab her out of my bag. We were queuing and her manager came round the queue telling everyone that unless they purchased something from the stall, no autographs would be coming our way. Both Claire and I hesitated as the cheapest thing was about £30 for a photo, and that, despite my feelings for her, is just too much!  So we were both debating slinking away when the family in front of us in the queue exploded. They were from Glasgow and very vocal about the fact that they wouldn’t be bullied into it and if the convention wanted to throw them out, then so be it. A week or so previously I had lost a very good friend of mine and she was from that area and as soon as I heard them arguing, I heard her voice telling me not to be such a ninny and just hold my ground. I honestly do believe without her, I wouldn’t have met her, got a signed doll and also had some photos where I look like i’ve met Santa Claus!!

Obviously buzzing, we decided to head home, we hadn’t organised how we would get to the hotel but I knew it was relatively close by so we set about wandering, through quiet streets and urbanised areas and sure enough, within about 15 mins, we had arrived at Hotel 65. Claire paid the remainder of the balance and the staff informed us about the breakfast hours – to be honest, it was so cheap we didn’t realise that it would even be offered! We climbed the many stairs to our room – third floor – and flopped into our room desperate for a tea.

We’d already decided we’d nip out for dinner, there seemed a fair selection of places to eat and after much deliberating – neither of us are good at decision making, we settled on a hipster bar which served burgers and also root beer, a perfect choice! We wandered back to the hotel, stopping off at a local small park for a fag and a chat, we were sat there for probably half an hour before we saw a lot of police cars zooming past and saw police actually searching for something or other so we decided to head back, chill and call in to the local tescos for dessert – fruit and macarons – which was very nice!

Next morning Claire decided to have a shower in the worlds smallest bathroom – our room was lovely, cheap and this is where the cheapness was obvious. No issues were had but we got ourselves together to nip down and enjoy the breakfast. We were directed to a table and given a selection of breads, cheeses, meats and yogurts. It was very yummy and we even had a second cup whilst we watched the world go by. The restaurant was run by I think, a family, the wife and mother in charge and the husband and children (or staff, I wasn’t sure) ran around like mad things. It was brilliant to watch but when we left (after dwindling) we noticed the massive queue of people waiting for breakfast, oops. We both agreed, if we had of known, we would have eaten and gone, to give others chances but hey, we live and learn eh? 😀

We grabbed our bags again and set off towards Olympia. We arrived before the doors actually opened but the queue again moved really quickly and we knew we had some things we actually had planned to do so decided to go meet the tattooist, get that sorted and then continue the day after that.

I had seen a stall the day before which gave people glitter faces (the festival look that I see on so many beautiful cool people and therefore I have been too scared to try and pull off) so I got in line and had some prettiness added to my face. It was fine to be wearing it there but later on when we were walking back to Victoria, we got some very funny looks!

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I had spent most of the last day going back and forth as to whether or not to actually get the tattoo, I mean, from the positives, I would meet an idol, and have a permanent reminder of this time but from the negatives, i’m a coward and probably scream the place down, plus, I’ve never considered having a tattoo so had no idea where/what size/style etc (To be honest, the only thing I could think of when someone said Tattoo and autograph was the JOHN HANCOCK massiveness from the American Declaration of Independence) I wanted it….and the main reason was my mum would kill me!! I decided I couldn’t do it but thankfully the epic person that is Claire stepped in, she was happy to do it and i’m glad we didn’t miss out.

We went and met the tattooist, explained the situation to him and he was very adamant he couldnt spend time coddling me (understandable) so I think he was glad that it was decided that Claire would take it for the team, Drag World had been great about it though as they’d asked who I would want and the queen that appealed to us both was Katya. She is incredibly popular so it was a long shot but the amazing Molly (A Dragworld employee) went well above and beyond and took us backstage to meet her, get Claire signed and then get the tattoo on and sorted.

We were ridiculously excited for this, I mean,  meet and greet but privately, backstage? This was going to be amazing! We got hurried backstage before Katya went to do her meet and greets, I managed to get good shots of her signing Claire, having a quick chat and a hug and then it was my turn. I was so excited that I said the words “Can I have a cuddle please?”………..apparently American’s do not use the word cuddle so she looked confused and asked “A WHAT?” to which I realised my mistake, wanted the floor to open and swallow me and then had to stammer a quiet “hug” instead. She was very lovely and I got a hug. No photos of this sadly but a part of me actually considers that a better thing, for me, this is a memory of mine which I can not share…..if nothing else, I made a prat of myself in front of someone who I have a lot of respect for so that’s something to remember haha!!

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We went back to the booth (with me nipping off to find Aiden to take pics) and Claire sat for approx 10 mins whilst the work was done, she didn’t even flinch – but then she is much harder than I am! and afterwards we sort of floated out of there for more exploring.

An old friend of mine was also at the convention on the Sunday so we had arranged to meet and catch up, Claire and I popped by a stall to grab some grown up fizzy pop and I saw her in the queue for a queens meet and greet, it was really great to see her, I got to meet her child too (that should explain how long it’s been since we’ve seen each other, she is now most definitely an adult, whereas I still ebb and flow around adulthood!). I think we only managed to get one photo but was great to see her, catch up a little bit and spend some time just seeing that someone who I remembered as being brilliant, is still the same way.

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We wandered again with Aiden, taking photos of beautiful things and we were just having a chat before heading off to our Meet and Greet and we happened to be by the runway when a Ru song started, I couldn’t believe it when Alaska walked onto the runway to start singing the song….and was then joined by Jiggly Caliente. We were all singing along and there was a huge rush of people to the stage. It was so fun and unexpected and we managed to get some (as far as I’m concerned) great shots.

We went off to the queues, I spent about 5 mins faffing with my phone while I tried to find the tickets etc but we eventually got to cross the rope line to meet Miss Darienne Lake…..a personal favourite from Drag Race and from our quick chat with her, a really lovely person. In true classic style (I feel that this is a common theme for me, less so for Claire but still an occurrence) where without meaning to, when she asked us if we were a couple, we both instantly responded really loudly with no, of course not and probably because of the way we said it, made it more awkward as though we were still in the closet or something but she was very gracious and loving to us and we walked away smiling.

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****I should say, since then I have had social media contact with her, and she (sadly or amazingly) remembers us as “the Uncomfortable ones”!! – without meaning it we have made a real impression!****

We knew that our coach left before the end of the convention but we decided that we’d start making our way back to Victoria via the Mediterranean shop we’d had lunch from the day before, pick up some Baklava and supplies for the journey home, the heat was mental so I think we were both really happy to just finally get on a coach and chilling on our way home.

I’ve talked about this a lot, my typing fingers are exhausted! I genuinely believe this was a great weekend, full of laughter, love, care and support, to everyone. I look forward to going again next year and this time I’ll be taking the man with me. I kinda want him to see that not everyone is mean and cruel and this hopefully will be a good thing for him.

If anyone else went, or for that matter, wants to come to the 2019 Drag World Uk, please send me a message, it’d be amazing to meet up with and meet new people, all in a fabulously glittery and very gay place.

 

++++I should say, I have spent so long thinking and writing this up that my recollections may be a mess, I’ve just realised approx 4 mins before this is meant to be published that the Darienne meeting was on the first day, not the second.++++

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A golden wishlist

have read a few people’s wish-lists recently and I decided I’d hop on that old bandwagon.

Basically a wish list is exactly that, things you wish for, things you would like and often a good way for people who want to treat you, or are looking for some kind of gift for you (birthday, wedding, bat mitzvah etc) and this can be a good way for them to know.

I’m not saying that everything I list here is something that I must have, but things that I enjoy and therefore may help people pick something more of my style than just the inevitable Blah gifts from someone who is buying for you simply because they have to.

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One of the most frustrating things I find is that if I see things that people may like, I buy them…even if it’s for no reason other than, this might make someone smile, no matter when or what it is. I like sending a gift because i’ve wanted to send a gift, not because that is the “accepted” time to get presents for people. I feel like i’m alone with this to be honest. It gets towards the middle part of the month of December and then you see towns full of people rushing around stressing to get some tat for their best friend’s next door neighbours mum. I really do not understand the buying simply for the sake of buying and am also very low maintenance, if someone wants to give me something silly, that makes them smile and makes me smile, I love it.

I’ve kind of thought about this list and split it up into various little things I love, this might help or it might hinder. I’m not saying if things aren’t on this list, that I’m not interested but if someone is stuck for an idea…..this will probably help.

Pithy comments on things…….

I try to be funny most of the time, sometimes I succeed, other times, I’m the only one laughing while others look at me like I’m an idiot.

I won’t let that stop me though as I enjoy laughing, makes me feel happy and I am most definitely a fan of bad puns, dad jokes, silly saying and as above, pithy comments on stuff.

So whether it’s a pad, a mug, a tee or even a poster…..if it has something on it I appreciate, or find funny, I am sold!

I suppose most things like this are things that people have found online for me. I’ve recently started spending time on Etsy and there is such a variety, from clothes to pads, to things that I would never use to things which I could try and get into my life on a daily basis (my current work mug is covered in West Wing quotes. They always make me smile and despite the fact no-one else knows what my mug is on about, it helps me get through the day. 🙂

Drag Race things………….

I am a huge fan of both Drag in general and the TV show “RuPaul’s Drag Race” (if you haven’t seen it, it’s kind of america’s next top model but with men in dresses – most of whom can walk/wear make-up and dance better than I can but it is full of love and colour and campiness so again, very appealing to the glittery parts of my soul). I think i’m most into the freedom it offers and seeing people be the most authentic they can be is really uplifting. I wish I had that level of confidence but am glad to say that I am becoming more like that.

I do have some merch bits already but there’s a lot of sights and queens I haven’t really investigated yet. Etsy again is still a great place for things but a lot of more established queens have their own websites so therefore I have spent a fair amount of time browsing to see what appeals to me.

Crafty things…………….

I love having a good craft, there’s so many things I wish I had the time to do, I’d love to be able to draw, or paint or (I suppose especially in this instance) write a more absorbing and interesting blog for those reading!

Anyway, I digress. I love a craft and have spent a long time making both foody type of things and also crafting, making jewellery, origami and making things at home as gifts. I know where I’m living right now it is not ideal for me to have all my crafting bits and bobs available (hence the reason a fair amount of my stuff is in my parents garage until we move somewhere a bit bigger).

Ideally when we move, myself and the man have talked about a 2 bedroom place. I know he wants a man cave kind of space and I’m fine with that as this will mean that I get both the living room and kitchen to myself and that means that the things which have been up until now pretty much relegated can be restarted!

I got into adult colouring last year and the man and I both bought each other the same book, it’s a book of letters (probably actually for children) but we’ve both agreed we would like something silly as a coat of arms or over the bed kind of thing (you know, like Home Sweet Home or the like) but haven’t come across anything that suits. I’m leaning more towards something in Latin but once we know, we have a lot of ways we can create this artwork.

I’m hoping to make some cross stitch things for some friends as gifts. I’ve found some simple ones and am just hoping that despite me having not a huge amount of talent, that people will be happy to receive them!! – hint, if you are a friend and you receive something homemade from me, do me a favour, pretend you like it 😉

Kitchen utensils……………

As with the previous, I love crafting and adore messing about in the kitchen. Making new things, perfecting old recipes, playing with flavour etc, they all tick my boxes and when I have fun things to use in my kitchen madness, it makes it much more fun!

I do have a good selection of such things in my kitchen but I know that some of the best silly gifts I’ve ever been given are kitchen related. I got given some Death Star ice-trays and love using those. I have some cookie cutters in the shapes of animals (well, it had a moose included in it and I’m proper into mooses) and those cookies taste better than the standard rounds! I swear they do anyway.

I’m looking forward to once we move having some more room to share it about. I know that the man will have his space for his bits and bobs and I will have the kitchen area to finally spread out and go mad!!

I found a lot of these through Amazon or online. I’d love to be able to find these things locally and recently more places have started selling such things but again, sometimes the most random fun things are only found online – if you’re anything like me, you tend to realise you need them (having never realised that fact) and then find them online at 3am on a Tuesday after a long evening and when I should really be in bed. Not always the best idea but they are at least fun!

Fandom bits………

Those who know me, know how obsessed I get with things. Whether it’s Star Wars, the Discworld or Drag Race I get on board and try to become completely engrossed.

I do love the special feeling I get inside when I meet a fellow fan. I like feeling like we’re all part of something together. When someone see’s my librarian badge and says “OOK!” I know that there will be people looking at us like we’re the biggest idiots in the world but there will also be people around who feel like they belong, or are part of something and sometimes, when I’ve felt totally alone the best thing is knowing that some people are around and part of your tribe really helped.

One of the joys I have with the Discworld is that it has spawned so many silly little things, like the bugs (above) they sit on my desk and are cheap simple things but have made me smile when i’ve been down. Sometimes it’s the little things like that can really help.

 


 

So there you have it, my wish-list. A pointer towards things to get me if you ever need inspiration haha!

If anyone else has such a wish-list, feel free to share, I love seeing what makes other people smile and it also helps give me gift ideas in the future.

Sum up your beliefs in 1 page

This is a tough subject for me, I really don’t want to offend and one of the main pitfalls of any social media usage as far as I’m concerned is that no matter how softly you say something, how peacefully you want something to come across, people will always be offended by something or other.

This is an opinion piece only, a very personal thing and by me expressing my views I am in no way trying to detract from yours.

I’m never sure what I believe. Over my life I have dabbled, lets say, with various different religions, I have a thirst for something, I have always tried to find answers and unfortunately, nothing has really had an affect on me as all I ever see are the flaws.

There’s things I live by and there are things that I believe are universally accepted. Personally, I do not have a connection with God and therefore have had to find myself other things to hold on to. I have faith in people – sometimes i’m completely wrong about that but I continue to do so and I have a lot of faith in myself, for being the person I know I can rely on, to be the strength when I’m not sure I will have it. It may sound odd to read that but I honestly do feel that sometimes I have no faith in myself and i’ll dig deep, knowing i’ve fought battles like this before and won.

I think instead of writing about WHY is choose not to believe in a supreme being (and inevitably causing issues) I would write about things I do believe, lessons in life if you will that help me and I hope make me a good person who, at the end of her life, will be able to look back and say that whilst I was in no way perfect. I was good.

Some basic things I live by:

Be nice – It’s fairly simple. Be nice to each other. What is the point in trying to hurt people, or to push your happiness over that of others. I always try to be nice to people, no matter how much parts of humanity sicken and disgust me, I’m lucky that 99% of the world is good, or at least means it.

Try to be open to love: I honestly do believe that love is the best thing, not always sexual love, but love for friends, life, the sunshine, laughter and happiness. I have lost some really important people to me over the years, and i’ve realised that life is incredibly precious and can be taken at any time. Because of this, I have now started being more vocal about how I feel and how I feel about other people. Life is too short to waste your time with people who do not care about you, but if you do care, tell people that, show people that. Do not hide this. Passing on compliments and love to people will only make things better. You never know too, it might be the one positive they hear all day, and a little lift when you are feeling rock bottom really does bring you back from the edge. Trust me, i’ve been there.

Don’t be horrible about other people’s beliefs: I think this is another simple one.  If people choose to believe something and that helps them, then fine. Don’t punish or judge just because you have different views and in the same breath, dont tell me i’m wrong for my thoughts that you might not agree with. I find that not allowing people to have their own views, beliefs etc brings the likelihood of fighting and disagreements and at the end of the day, trying to sway someone is never going to work. Just let bygones be bygones.

Try to make the best of all situations: I’m not a huge fan of fakeness in general but in my last long period of depression this was a piece of advice I definitely took to heart. I’t not easy but sometimes faking it till you make it is amazing, even if you dont feel happy, by faking a smile, it will start to make you happier. I know it’s not always that easy, but by trying to find the positives, sometimes you can affect the way your brain looks at things. I started a list of “good things that happened” and decided to fill it with things that made me smile. Didn’t need to be massively special, just things that gave me a little lift in a really dark time. I would write these things as often as I could and then when I was feeling really sad, i’d read a few, they would make me smile, or laugh or just lighten up a bit. Then at the end of the year, I read through them all and typed it up so I always have the list going forward. In the years now since I’ve started doing this, I’ve felt less of a need to do it but I do enjoy having it there to remember, then if bad days happen (as they do to everyone) you’ve got a way to find your own silver lining.

Be around people who make you happy: Again, another no brainer as far as i’m concerned. I spent a long time trying to be friends with people who didn’t want to be my friend and it took me a long time to realise that people, although I would like to believe are all lovely, will use you for what they need. Be aware of this but do not let these people dictate your life. You need to focus on making yourself happy if you can because at the end, again, do you want to be the main character in your story or a side character in someone else’s? People who make you smile, or inspire you, or just lift your spirits are your tribe. Find who makes you happy and take that as the important factor in life, not are they cool enough, or will they do something for you. Be loving and give out positive energy and you will get that back.

Ok, last one and time to be a bit frivolous about it all…..

Never trust a skinny chef: Ok, I know this is a silly one but I do see that it rings true. I’m not saying that every chef needs to be obese or anything but that a chef should enjoy their own food, they should eat what they expect you to pay for. Food is to be enjoyed and relished and a chef should want to pass that love on.

 

 

New blog challenge topic…..Music

I stole this from Twitter from @Bennie_CE……A list of questions about songs, they may not be my favourite, they may not be classics but will be the first songs that come to my head.

  1. A song with a colour in the title: “Daydream in Blue” by I Monster: A really funky little tune which I’m still obsessed with despite its age. According to the man, the creators of this made better songs in another iteration of the band but from the first time I heard this song, it has stuck with me.
  2. A song with a number in the title: “3am Eternal” by the KLF: I love this dance classic, funky, fun, a great tune (still to this day will get me dancing) and a song I have on shuffle possibly more often than is strictly necessary!
  3. A song that reminds you of summertime: World (Hold On) by Bob Sinclar: I can remember being outside the place in Spain with my brother and girlfriend dancing to this in the sun. Always brings a smile to my face and sun to my mind.
  4. A song that reminds you of someone: There are so many! I suppose it would be “You could be Mine” by Guns and Roses: this reminds me of Stevie, a friend who was taken from us a few years back. I love thinking of her, and miss her so much, but I hate the fact this song was her funeral song. I want to think of the fun mental and caring Stevie, as opposed to her being dead.
  5.  A song that needs to be played LOUD: “Wish” by Nine Inch Nails is one of my favourites to play LOUD! It’s a good angry song and I’ve always found with NIN that they calm me down as opposed to make me angrier!
  6. A song that makes you want to dance: I love dancing, so to be honest, there’s lots of songs I use to dance to. An old classic is “No Good (start the dance)” by the Prodigy. I love them and apart from one time when I saw them and they were aggressive and angry, these are still one of my favourite bands to see live. This song makes me laugh and no matter what, the bassline lifts my spirits.
  7. A song to drive to: I don’t actually drive so cannot really answer this yet……
  8. A song about drugs or alcohol: Ebeneezer Goode by the Shamen. This is a classic from my youth and one that I sang along to a lot as a child probably before I really should have?! Anyway, still on my playlists and a fun song to have first thing in the morning on my dance to work.
  9. A song that makes you happy: There are so many!! I’m really lucky as there are so many songs that lift my spirits. but I think something dancey, poppy or upbeat is what I need to make me smile. I just turned on my shuffle to see what the first option was and Kitty Girl by RuPaul came up, made me smile and that answers the question for now.
  10. A song which makes you sad: Teardrop by Massive Attack. I used to really like this song but as time has gone on, maybe as I’ve got older and circumstances have changed me but now if I hear it, it can quite often bring tears to my eyes.
  11. A song you never get tired of: Cheap Thrills by Sia. I’m not a massive Sia fan but this song for some reason really sticks well with me. I love the video tto (which is rare as I almost never actually watch music videos. Plus, it’s got Sean Paul in it, so that helps make the song more like I should be hearing it on holiday or something!!
  12. A song from your preteen years: Groove is in the Heart by Deee-lite. This is a song which (ok, judge me as much as you want, I don’t care) is still on my playlist, is good for running to and is one that if the man and I are having a gaming night with the radio on, I will very happily groove round the house like a loony.
  13. One of your favourite 80’s songs: Sweet Dreams by the Eurythmics. I love love love this song so much, it’s a classic from my childhood, a great slow dancing song, the video influenced me to shave my head (I did not look as good as Annie Lennox sadly, more like a cheap Billy Idol tribute act). I’ve made the man dance with me a couple of times to this and although dancing together suits neither of us, he does it to please me and I appreciate that a lot.
  14. A song you would love played at your wedding: I don’t think we’re ever going to get married – we have similar thoughts about that and although both of us come from happily married people, neither of us feels the need. We know we love each other, we know we don’t want anyone else so I don’t see the need for spending a ridiculous amount of money to throw what feels like a party for my friends and family.
  15. A song that is a cover by another artist: Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger by Kanye West (a cover of Daft Punk -which is a much better song but still the cover is decent). I know KW is quite divisive so I’m not expecting people to be 100% on my bandwagon but I loved the original and was going through a more “funky” phase when this cover came out so it appealed to me quite a lot. Did make me feel old though when a younger pal of mine heard the original and her comment was “wow, did someone just rip off Kanye?”…..ahh the foibles of youth.
  16. One of your favourite classical pieces: Peer Gynt suite by Grieg. A stunning suite of music and both calming and aggressive all at once. I’ve told the man that if he comes home and this is on, it’s probably safer for him to back out again and come back later once i’ve calmed myself down! It gives me emotion, it’s clever, familiar to so many people (you’d be surprised) and one that I would say everyone should listen to at least once in their lives.
  17. A song you would sing on Karaoke: Karaoke? No way. Lip Sync is much more my style and to be fair, I’ve become better at this due to my morning entertainment (lip syncing in the lift – with the added bonus of having to potentially stop quickly in case i’m spotted!!). No Diggity by Blackstreet is a firm favourite, Worth It by Fifth Harmony is fun. Any RuPaul song is perfect for lip syncing and if i’m going the full on Drag Race route, it would have to be some kind of Paula Abdul classic.
  18. A song from the year you were born:The number one when I was born was “Save your Love” by Renee and Renato. Cheesy but fabulous and a sign that the music tastes in this country were as classy as now!!
  19. A song that makes you think about life: I think all music makes you think about life, I think. I mean, each song, whether I like it or not will have an effect on me. My mood, my personality, my attitude. I use music to pump myself up, to hide, to try and think things through so as far as I’m concerned every piece of music does this.
  20. A song that has many meanings to you: Again, these are tough, I don’t want to just narrow it down to 1 song only. This isn’t something I can do. I hate making decisions (if you are a friend of mine, this will be something you are very aware of) and will often be something that I will spend more time thinking about what song I want to hear than the song will probably last! I spend a lot of time listening to the NIN and I know that his music has always helped me in many ways and maybe that shows that the songs have many different meanings.
  21. A song with a person’s name in the title:  Polly by Nirvana. I should say first off that this was one of those songs people used to play around me as it has the same name as me. I’m not a fan of either the story or the song but was scraping the bottom of the barrel to try and find a song with someone’s name in it……(wait till I publish this, then about a million other options will no doubt come through to me!)
  22. A song that moves you forward: Vogue, by Madonna has been the most recent song that i’ve used for this. I’ve worked in our office for about 3 hours and only just realised how good the corridor is for vogueing down. I may look like a tit but I’ve got a smile on my face while I do.
  23. A song you think everyone should listen to: Justified and Ancient by the KLF ft Tammy Wynette
  24. A song by a band you wish were still together: I miss No Doubt. I used to love Gwen’s voice and I did like some of her solo stuff but No Doubt was more funky than her solo stuff appears to me. Better base, less ballads a lot of sweat. What’s not to love?
  25. A song by someone who is no longer living: From the Inside by Linkin Park. Ok, I know that LP were a band put together for the Nu Punk age and some will consider them cheeseballs but following Chester’s suicide last year I heard this song again and it made me look at their later stuff a bit deeper. As someone who has suffered from depression and has definitely considered suicide, they hit me more, the sadness and the pain that he sings through is quite emotive and is a good thing to hear, it gives me hope for the future and to know that if I am in a bad place, I am not alone.
  26. A song that makes you think about love: We’re in this together by the Nine Inch Nails is probably a romantic song, well they lyrics are about people being together, working together, getting better together. I knew when I met the man in my life that he was meant for me as he is one of the few people I know that when I casually dropped their name into our conversation, he was totally aware of who they were and we spent a long time just revelling in the finding of a fellow fan!
  27. A song which makes you sad: I try to avoid all songs which make me sad, I mean, there’s enough in my life which can make me sad so why do I need to help out! There is a lot of sad music that I listen to and it brings me to a happy place. I know that probably sounds perverse but that’s how I am.
  28. A song by an artist with a voice you love: Anything by Chris Cornell. I was gutted when he passed away last year, his voice was gravely raspy, sensual and soft. I loved Soundgarden – I think I got into them too late, everyone else wanted Nirvana stuff but I was more into the heavier side of grunge. Anyway, when he sang with Rage, or when he released his solo stuff, or even Audioslave. Those songs are stunning and his voice is amazing. If you haven’t heard it, try “Can’t Change me” it is sublime!
  29. A song you loved from your childhood: Remember you’re a womble. The wombles are a very cheesy choice I agree but I hope that this shows the fun side of my music tastes. I listen to anything really and this is an album (the Wombles Christmas album just FYI) that I am proud to have had such a dodgy past. Kids these days seem to be trying to be as cool as possible as early as possible and I’m still searching for whatever it is that makes me cool.
  30. A song which people say reminds them of you: No Good (Start the Dance) by the Prodigy. I’ve had a few friends say to me that they hear this and think of me, I don’t know why but i’ve loved this song since it came out. It speaks volumes about how I try and feel about life, I don’t want to NEED people, I want to have people in my life through choice, not by demand. It keeps me smiling and makes me dance – no matter when or where I hear it.

 

Thoughts on the loss of a friend

A very good friend of mine passed away recently and I’m not quite sure how best to handle it.

Part of me is incredibly sad and upset that I never really got a chance to say goodbye but another part of me wants to write about the special-ness of her, the things that made her special to me and the things about her that i’m glad to have experienced.

Sandra moved out to Spain with her husband Gordon. They moved into the house across the way from us and from the moment we had our first conversation over the terraces, I knew she was a special person who I needed in my life. My mum and I were on our terrace talking about whatnot and having a nose (the good thing about Spain was EVERYONE was nosy) when she came out onto her terrace dragging one of the biggest Pot Plants I had ever seen, this appealed to me as I immediately thought they were hippies and when she saw us gawping she just completely straight faced said “oh, it’s for my tennis elbow” in a really strong Scots accent. I was charmed, instantly.

sandra and gord

Over the following weeks and months a lot changed in my life, our house, the first Home I have ever felt comfortable in was sold, my parents were moving elsewhere in Spain and I was due to be moving back to the UK to try and make a life, but for those few weeks I was as it were alone in Competa, I become a very frequent house guest over at theirs, scratching at the door, making them laugh at my awkwardness, sharing wine, food – she made some of the best curries ever (no mum, not better than yours but pretty good nonetheless!) listening to Gordon’s songs, stories and generally just becoming friends with some really wonderful people. They began helping me shape into a better person, lending me books on poetry, introducing me to Aleister Crowley, showing me art and playing music I had never experienced and I do believe, opening my mind to new possibilities. Despite the education I’d received in both Spain and the UK,  I felt genuinely torn about my future and not at all sure what I was going to do, during that time and moving forward in life, I don’t think they ever appreciated how grateful I was to them both for accepting me and just letting me be me.

Over the next 10 – 15 years, our relationship changed but only as far as I’m concerned for the better, I moved back to England and used to call her every week, same as my mum and despite everything, she was always pushing me, to be better, to be brave, to be honest and become a person I was proud of. She was always like a cheerleader, no matter what the stupid scheme was, she was behind it. I honestly think, even if i’d suggested I was going to rob a bank, she’d have probably told me that it would be good for me to be pushing myself forward more! I’m not saying she was a driving force but it certainly helped me (especially as I was so uncomfortable with the person I am) to be less uncomfortable. She was almost always the first to sponsor me for my madcap schemes and for getting the word out. She appreciated the madness in me and was an excellent influence – not always good or bad, just a great influence.

During the last 10 years, I have suffered quite badly from depression, I was in a really bad place for a long time and I know that a lot of people were worried about me and wanted to help me become better, to be more the person I used to be but she was good at just letting me be sad if needed. I think my mum was the best support I had whilst I was down, but I was lucky to have Sandra as I could talk to her in a different way, I hated telling my mum how much I hated myself and would never have dreamt of telling her how often I thought about dying, as to see her hurt – even just by my words, actually hurts me. Makes me feel a bad human to not be able to hold myself together, to take away her worry and Sandra was someone who despite the fact I’m sure me saying those things wasn’t fun for her, she would just take it, and try to help me. She was even the one who if I missed a call or email appointment (when I was really at my worst, she would ring every Tuesday at 7pm and if I wasn’t there to pick up, boy would I get an ear bashing!!) would hound me till she knew I was safe.

Gordon developed Alzheimer’s and sadly it took the person who was Gordon away, from all of us over the years before he died. I know that it took a lot out of her and yet, despite everything she went through with him, she tried to care and love him till the end. It was lovely to see and another great example (very much like my parents) of a couple being together and I think they would have been together forever. It gave me hope for someone in my life eventually like that, something I never really realised how much I wanted but after this much time, a companion, a partner is what everyone needs I feel.

I was really lucky to still have Sandra about because every time I went to Spain, I always stayed with her, she would try to stuff me full, gave me complete liberty and was a wonderful person to just relax with. She was abrasive, and could be very offensive when she wanted but that’s what made her, her. She had 2 cats, Luna and Sol and they were also incredibly good to go and visit – she said Sol used to love my boobs!

I am angry at myself for many things, and unfortunately, a year or so ago, Sandra told me she had been diagnosed with cancer. As soon as I heard, my first thought was to go and see her, to share, to hug her and tell her how much I loved her, how important she is to me and all of the emotions she had helped me deal with over so many years. She was very quick to tell me not to bother, that it wasn’t that serious and we did still talk and the like on a probably close to monthly basis and she would send me updates from the care centre as to how she was doing. I was glad to hear that June of this year would be her last session and she came home to Competa after that, as far as I knew, cancer free and fighting to live life again…….this was her last photo she sent me from the hospital:

sandra ill

Anyway, she put me off time and time again and once she was home, the attitude was to try and get over there soon ish, but there was no pressing need.

Unfortunately that wasn’t to be. I was at work a couple of weeks ago and within 5 minutes, got 4 messages from people saying something along the lines of “sorry about Sandra”….I hadn’t realised but she’d passed away and her sons (also great supporters of me – through her nagging i’m certain) were trying to organise her funeral. The only positive I took from it was that as far as I know, from the last chat we had, her cancer had been beaten and to be honest, if I knew Sandra at all, that would have made her feel better. She was a scrappy fighter and I think the fact that she had beaten it would have given her a sense of pleasure.

I am also glad that the last time we spoke on the phone or via message or via email we said “I love you” to each other. I may say those words too much, but if nothing else, I am glad I got to say that. You never know when it’s going to be too late, so maybe it’s better to be more open with your feelings, make sure that those who are important to you are aware of it. Life is too short.

I’ve lost some very important people in my life, and a fair amount of less important people but sadly, it’s those you care about who you think are unstoppable that when they leave suddenly, it’s a real kick in the stomach. I genuinely miss her and hate the fact that I was so far away so couldn’t go to her funeral or for that matter tell her all the things I wanted her to know.

I cannot tell anyone how to deal with grief, I cannot tell anyone what is the right or wrong thing to do but I have realised as the years have passed, the best way I can keep people’s memories alive for me is to talk about them, to tell funny stories and to not wallow in the sadness.

I’m not sure how I will deal with this moving forward, I’m gutted that, of the people who I wanted Mr A to meet in Competa, there are now 2, instead of 3. Makes it less likely he’ll ever come out there with me and despite everything, it makes me less likely to go over too. I’m not sure I want to go and not be able to see her, to see the cats and to relish the little house she had. I am still lucky that one of my best friends of my life lives there but I think even she understands right now that the thought of being there without Sandra is too painful. I miss her so much. I know I won’t ever have the joy of someone like that in my life ever again, and that is sad.

A thing she pushed me to do, from beyond the grave:

Sorry, I don’t mean that insensitively but I know this (for me) proves she’s still about in one way or another.

I was a DragWorld Uk a couple of weeks ago – the week after she passed away – and was telling my friend about her, the strength, the anger, the “glaswegianess” as we were about to leave for the night. We happened to walk past a queen’s booth to see a really short queue and as this was Alaska – someone who I adore – I had to get in the queue. We waited and the excitement started to build. Unfortunately her manager then arrived to tell everyone in the queue that to get an autograph or photo, you would have to purchase something from the booth beforehand, this was about thirty quid for a photo, which is just extreme. My friend and I were ready to skulk away and just miss out when the group in front of us erupted in a loud chatter of Glasgow accents, basically saying they wouldn’t adhere to this and if the convention wanted to chuck them out, so be it, they would make a scene and make it worse than it ever could be. As soon as I heard this, I heard her, telling me to not be daft and scared away, to stand my ground and just see what happened.

So this happened:

alaska

And I didn’t have to buy anything!!

There’s so much I would like to say about Sandra but honestly, there’s nothing I can say without crying now. I’m so grateful to have known her, to have had that Scottish Granny influence and to know that she loved me. I’m most grateful for that I think.

She has given me lots of memories and I hope that, if you reading this lose someone, you will be able to celebrate the positives, without solely focusing on the negatives.

I thought as I finished this off, I’d share the last pic I took of Sandra, when I left her in Competa and took the coach back to Malaga Airport probably about 7 years ago. This is the image of her I hope will stay with me forever.

RIP SANDRA WILSON. I MISS YOU AND LOVE YOU. YOU WERE ONE OF A KIND.

sandra in competa