My Best Qualities

Today Janet wrote a post about what she thinks are her best qualities. Here are mine –

  1. I am loyal I do not give up on things easily. I give people a break and I will tolerate more than the average person. Sometimes I am a little too loyal (i.e putting up with toxic friends, staying in a job I hate for 12 years etc). But I still think that my loyalty is a good quality and the pros outweigh the cons.
  2. I am non judgemental I think a lot of people in the world we live in are very judgemental and are wary of people that are different to them. We are all the same, everybody eats, sleeps and shits! It does not matter if you are old or young, beautiful or ugly, highly intelligent or struggled at school, rich or poor we are all human beings and deserve to be treated as one. I work in a healthcare industry and come into daily contact with groups of society that get frowned upon like junkies, alcoholics, teenage mums and the long term unemployed. I also work with colleagues who think they are better than the customers and it drives me mad! I have lots of time for time for our customers and I do my best to help them. One of my long term goals is to get involved with some kind of charity helping the homeless. Its on the to do list!
  3. You know where you are with me I tell it like it is. Straight to the point. Some people like this, others do not. I personally think this is one of my best qualities.
  4. I am not afraid to live my life how I want to live Non conformist for life!
  5. I put other peoples needs before my own I put my friends, family and Robs needs before my own. I have been taken advantage of in the past, but I would rather be how I am than be selfish.
  6. I am willing to work/wait/compromise to achieve my goals I wanted to buy a house, so I did. I wanted to own a campervan, so we bought a wreck and spent time fixing it up. I prefer to save up for the things I really want rather than buy instant quick fix stuff.

And just to balance things out so that you don’t think I am completely saintly (as if!) Here are my worst qualities –

  1. I leave the washing up on the worktop We are talking for days at a time here.
  2. I sometimes don’t think before I speak I am working on this.
  3. I give up easily A bit of a contradiction with #6 above, but we are talking about silly little things here like crafting and bread making. I would like to learn to sew, knit, crochet etc and I know that if I actually tried and made an effort to practice that I could learn to do these things. I tried once and gave up. Although to be fair, I am not really bothered about making things by hand. Laziness wins!
  4. I am grumpy in the morning Does what it says on the tin.
  5. I am highly sensitive I get upset by peoples nastiness, rudeness and bad behaviour. I cannot understand why some people act like they do. I chose to think of my sensitivity as a good thing though. It stops me from acting like them.
  6. I am a bit lazy Go for a early morning swim or have a lie in? I will chose the later. Again I am working on this.
  7. I swear a lot But never around grannys and children. I am not working on this.

Phew! I have been getting deep and personal on my blog of late! I promise I will get back to posting the usual nonsense! I must do some recipe, room tour and camper van posts soon!

Why We Live Where We Live

I do try to not get on my soap box here, but today I want to get a little ranty about postcode snobbery and why we chose to buy a house (or rather two houses) in a perceived rough area. I could make this a very quick post, as to be honest we bought both our houses because they were all we could afford with our budget. I just want to write about how glad I am that we made a Kirstie and Phil style ‘compromise’ on location rather than carrying on renting.

My beef is that I have lost count of the number of people who say to Rob and I about our house “its a nice house” and then finish their statement by adding “but I would never live in this area”.

Sometimes when we meet people for the first time and they ask the inevitable question of “so, where do you live then?” When we give our answer, we are met with a sympathetic look and a pitying oh dear type of sound!

Friends of ours who are long term renters think that we are mad for buying a house in our area. They would rather carry on renting and hand over the majority of their pay-packets to line their landlords pockets each month than live in an less desirable area.

Needless to say, I live in a large council estate. And before that we lived in Chatham, Kent. A town with a bad reputation that I would not recommend anyone to visit!

Our area where we live is an area that people love to hate. People in my hometown slag off the people from our area (thats people who they do not know or interact with), think they are all illiterate wasters and will not venture into the estate if they can help it. Even my own Mother mouths off the area and voices her concerns to my sister (who rents a house around the corner from me) and I about us both living here.*

So what exactly is the big problem with living here? – The answer to that question is absolutely nothing. We talk to our neighbours and know them by name, and because I work in one of the local shops, I know many more people in the community who always say hello to me when passing. Its a friendly area with lots of green open spaces, a good bus service and amenities.

Ok, so a lot of the locals prefer to wear tracksuit bottoms, swear a lot, don’t mow their lawns and have broken down cars rusting on their driveways (and thats just Rob and I for starters!) Plus there is a little too much dressing on some windows for my liking. The real only downside to living where we live is that the schools in the area are below average. But that is not something we have to worry about.

Because we moved to a cheaper area we were able to buy a three bedroom house with a driveway. If we had moved to a more desirable postcode in our town, we would be lucky to afford a one or two bedroom terrace with no parking, a higher council tax rate and less internal space than our last property in Chatham.

When we were looking to move, I would have been happy to buy one of these houses as I love period properties. I grew up in Edwardian terraced houses and they are my favourite type of property (along with mid century Modernist homes), but I made the compromise of a more modern suburban house for Rob as he really wanted our next house to have a driveway for his VW fleet.

Our house might not be perfect and it still needs a lot of work, but thanks to coming out of a fixed rate mortgage and the current low interest rates we pay significantly less each month for our house than we would do if we rented a two bedroom town centre flat which currently go for £750 – £950 per month.

I read a lot of blog posts in defence of renting and I agree there are a lot of pros for it – like flexibility, not worrying about maintenance and boilers breaking etc. But personally, I would have rather spent my last 9 years living in my own homes in areas that my peers would never step foot in, rather than still be a renter. Its great being able to decorate as I wish, keep pets, hang pictures and shelves and not have to worry about our land lord deciding to sell our home and giving us a months notice to move out etc.

Even though we have paid out for two new boilers and spent a small fortune in Homebase and B&Q, hopefully it will be money well spent. Its an investment and adds value to our property (although who knows with property values these days). If not, then at least we have had fun stress hell fun decorating and can hope to break even with the money we have spent. I know that if we were to sell up right now, we would walk away with a nice chuck of money. We would be homeless mind, but at least we would have a nice chunk of money!

After all, with renting you are lucky to get your full deposit back and you will never see any of the rent you pay each month again.

As a side note I want to add this link from The House of Humble blog. You know how it is, you decide to write a post about something and while that post is lurking in your drafts folder, another blogger publishes a beautifully written post that says what you want to say much better than you ever could!!!

Image from Handz Etsy store.

Image from Handz Etsy store.

*Although she does appreciate that Rob and I are lucky to be on the property ladder and she wishes my sister was in a position to buy her place.

Tuesday Tune – Guilty Pop Pleasures Edition

This is the post that will make Rob finally disown me!

I am going to list a selection of songs that I shouldn’t like, but somehow against all the odds, I do. These songs are huge mainstream pop hits, from artists I do not like and have plenty of airplay and really catchy choruses. But you will never get me to admit that I like them in real life….just on the internet in a blog that hardly anyone reads!!

So why do I like them? This is something I cannot explain. It must be that I am getting soft in my old age and have lost some of my rage against the machine. It seems I have given up the fight against catchy, repetitive pop tunes penetrating my brain!

Whatever it is, I just cannot help but hum along and get the tunes (if you can call them that) below stuck in my head for days after I hear them!

1) Little Mix – How Ya Doin’?

Please let me digress with a really long and vaugely relevant story about this one, as I really love De La Soul….
My mother is basically a character from The Fast Show. She has so many catchphrases and lines that she repeatedly drops into conversations. Even when I am not around her, I can hear her voice in my head saying things like “be sure your sins will find themselves out” and “get it while you see it”.
Grrr, she is always right! And she knows it! Recently she gleefully gave my sister and I this fridge magnet as a gift. She was so proud of herself and thinks the magnets are hilarious! Talk about rub it in, eh!
She drove me up the wall as a kid with her pearls of wisdom. But now that I am older and wiser, I can only hope to one day have a small portion of her evil genius!

One of her sayings that she would irritate me when I was younger with was every time she heard a cover version of a song from her youth, she would proclaim “oh, they’ve ruined it!”
So as I child, I swore to myself that I would never say that as an adult, because the day I did would officially make me a boring old fuddie duddie.

Ok, so I have failed miserably on that front! But I make no apologies for it. Especially when I hear a god awful cover of The White Stripes 7 Nation Army several times a week on the tannoy system in the shop I work. Grrrrrrrrrrrr, it really is the worst cover version I have ever heard!

Right, lets get back on point. So why do I like this song? I shouldn’t, as it samples De La Soul (who sampled Curiosity Killed The Cat) and its by a manufactured girl band from the Simon Cowell TV hit machine. But despite those crimes against music, I still like it.
Its catchy, fluffy pink pop and features Missy Elliott. Even I cannot fight that.

2) Maroon 5 – One More Night

No I haven’t bumped my head recently. I am going to declare that I like this song (and Moves Like Jagger!) Then run into a corner to hide and hang my head in shame.

Please note that I cannot stand Maroon 5. Ever since they emerged in the noughties, I have always disliked their music. In the past I have given a friend stick for owning their album (he was a brave man for admitting that one) and I have told anyone who would listen that the lead singers voice is nasal and sounds like Zippy from Rainbow. My hatred for Maroon 5 is almost as strong and pure as it is for Coldplay. Yet somehow I like this tune.

Damm you Maroon 5, you win with your catchy hooks!

3) Lily Allen – Air Balloon

Remember when Lily burst onto the scene out of Myspace pretending to be a bit council estate with her big hoop earrings and white trainers but her plummy public school accent and famous dad didn’t fool anyone?

Ah, Lily Allen. Despite you pretending to be a bit chavy, I like you as a person because you are not afraid to be opinionated and sometimes say stupid shit, which we are all guilty of. But I have never liked particularly liked your music.

Its lucky I still have a telly, as every time her John Lewis advert cover of Keane came on over Xmas, I wanted to throw something at the TV to MAKE IT STOP! Gah, that song made my ears bleed.

But Lily has redeemed herself with this tune. Its catchy, poppy and sounds a little bit like MIA. Plus she is doing some proper Dad dancing in her video!

4) Pitbull – Timber

I am saving the best for last! Now this really is embarrassing, but I think I like this tune? It has a harmonica, is on the radio 1 playlist, Ke$ha singing it and cheesy video featuring cowboy hats and babes gyrating in hot pants. I keep hearing it on the radio and singing along to it. I know it is a terrible song, yet somehow I don’t hate it. Infact I think I kinda like it. SOMEBODY HELP ME!!!!

I Like Big Old Books and I cannot Lie

Can you believe that we have lived in our current house for almost four years and I still have boxes to unpack!

Today we were doing our usual chores and while Rob was putting some bits up in the loft for storage, I asked him to find and bring down my last few unpacked boxes. I knew that I still had a few boxes of old books and photo albums up there and it was about time I ticked that job off my to do list.

What a trip down memory lane on a rainy Saturday afternoon I’ve had! In the two boxes that we bought down, I found reference books from my childhood, old books that had been passed down the family, a shedload of festival programs and a selection of children’s books from the 1950’s!

When I was younger (around 7-9 years old) our old next door neighbour Mrs Ferguson knew that I liked to read, so she gave me all her daughters books that she had kept. This was back in the eighties and the books were from the late 40’s and early 50’s. They included a war time Mickey Mouse annual, some Just William books and a few Enid Blyton books. Even as a kid I loved the old fashioned illustrations and smell of them! The other vintage books were bought by my younger self in jumble sales and charity shops, as I always had a thing for old books. Fast forward 25 odd years and not much has changed!

Sorry about the photos taken in artificial lighting.

boxes

Mid unpacking. I also found a vintage kitschy dog ornament (not shown) that I have had for as long as I can remember, my old A level course work book and mini Simpsons toys!

I loved Tin Tin and Rupert when I was a kid. I only ever had these two Tin Tin books. Maybe the top one sparked my fascination with whales too!

Did anyone else collect the tokens on the Weetabix packets to get the books? I was fascinated with maps as a kid and would spend ages studying my atlases. You think after showing all that early promise that I would grow up to be a brainy academic type. Sadly  this is not the case. I am a dumb ass!

Did anyone else collect the tokens on Weetabix packets to get the books? As a kid I was fascinated with maps and would spend ages studying my atlases. You would think after showing all that early promise that I would grow up to be a brainy academic type. Sadly this is not the case. I am a dumb ass.

What a dumb ass eh!

What a dumb ass eh!

Books from my childhood that I kept because I liked the design and illustrations. Plus a old skool game that hurt my fingers and a book about Enid Blyton books that my Mum got me for xmas one year in my late teens.

Books from my childhood that I kept because I liked the design and illustrations. Plus a old skool game that hurt my finger and a book about Enid Blyton books that my Mum got me for xmas in my late teens.

The war time Mickey Mouse annual (see their uniforms!) and a Punch 1929 annual that my parents gave to me, which I guess must have belonged to one of their grandparents. I must ask about it next time I see them.

The war time Mickey Mouse annual (look at their uniforms!) and a Punch 1929 annual that my parents gave to me, which I guess must have belonged to one of their grandparents. I must ask about it next time I see them.

More annuals that I bought in charity shops when I was a kid. Not because it was vintage/trendy but because I grew up with thrifty/skint parents and grandparents.

More annuals that I bought in charity shops when I was a kid. Not because it was vintage/trendy but because I grew up with thrifty/skint parents and grandparents.

The books from Mrs Ferguson (I cannot remember her 1st name, although I think thats how we addressed her! The other old ladies down our road used to be my "aunties". I had a Aunty Molly, Aunty Sybil and Aunty Nancy! Bless!

The books from Mrs Ferguson (I cannot remember her first name, although I think thats how we addressed her!) The other old ladies down our road used to be my “aunties”. I had a Aunty Molly, a Aunty Sybil and a Aunty Nancy! Bless!

More books from Mrs F next-door. Except the two corner books of the bottom row.

More books from Mrs F next-door. Except for the two end books of the bottom row.

Here is inside 'Just like a girl' and 'The Bells of St Barnabas'. Louisa Raggett is my great grandmother. I have no idea who Betrice Reynolds is. I think I must has just bought the book in a chazza as a kid/teen because it was old. And because I like old books.
Here is inside ‘Just like a girl’ and ‘The Bells of St Barnabas’. Louisa Raggett is my great grandmother. I have no idea who Beatrice Reynolds is. I think I must have just bought the book in a chazza as a kid/teen because it was old. And because I like old books.

So thats the most photogenic of my loft stash shown. A few books have lost their covers and the rest were boring school dictionaries and the like. I am going to be ruthless and sort through and donate some of these books. I just do not have the book shelves to store them and I no longer hoard stuff like I used to (honest). Plus my parents have been on to me to collect my boxes of books that I have stored up in their loft, so there may be another one of these posts soon!

Oh, and I never did find my old photo albums. Annoyingly I still have another box somewhere up in the loft waiting to be unpacked.

Edit 16/02/14 – OMG I knew that children’s books from the 1950’s were a bit un-PC, but I didn’t think they would be this bad!! See below – A french character called Frogs, Simple Simon, Paleface and Dirty Dick! So wrong!
omg unpc

A Ceramic Piece That Made Me Curious

I have a confession to make – I am starting to obsess about West German Pottery, or rather fat lava, as some people call it.

By obsess, I mean start a Pinterest board and casually browse eBay for bargains. Its all harmless stuff, honest!

So what is so special about these ugly jugs I hear you ask? To me, its that they have just the right balance of ugly and beautiful. And most importantly, they look amazing when artfully arranged on a teak sideboard!

But I am digressing. The point of this post is to geek out about a ceramic pot that used to belong to my grandparents.potty pot 1
It came into my possession last year when nan moved into her care home. Mum was sorting through her belongings and found it in a drawer. She thought it had a certain retro look that would appeal to me. She was right, its right up my street!

This little pot made me curious. I wanted to know how old it was and who made it. I could not see any makers mark, but looking at the style I guessed it was from the 1950’s, as to me the dots looked very atomic and kitsch!potty pot 2

After a couple of fruitless Google searches, I spent the next 6 months occasionally wondering about this little pots origin. At one point I wondered if it was a vintage Hornsea piece. Then I happened upon this listing on eBay which told me everything I needed to know about it.

It turns out I am right, it is from my favourite era!

image from ebay.co.uk

image from ebay.co.uk

Its a West German piece of pottery made by Jopeko Keramik probably in the 50’s or 60’s. It comes in several vase forms and according to a helpful man called Kevin Graham on Flickr (click on the previous link) it was a copy of a product made by another West German pottery manufacturer called Jasba, but Jopeko Keramik added the three coloured dots to avoid copyright issues.

Image from glaskilian.de

Image from glaskilian.de

So what do we use this little pot for?
Well, it has solved the problem of my beef with Rob insisting on keeping his ugly bottle of cod liver oil tablets out on his bedside table, so that he can remember to take them, into a much more pleasing on the eye solution.PicMonkey Collage
Never mind that Rob hates this little vintage pot and thinks its ugly! Thats a small detail I can overlook!

Its Only Dreams

Whats up blog! Its February and I have not wrote a post!

Err, thats because not a lot is happening right now. No days out, no holidays in the camper van. Just lots of rain, work and staying indoors. Nothing photogenic and blogworthy.

Talking about work, I decided its about time I updated my CV and started applying for jobs again.

Thankfully, it only took a couple of hours to update and refresh my CV. I don’t know why I had been dreading doing so. I was pleased that I found it relatively painless to update all thanks to the practice I’ve had writing my blog for two years. I changed the wording on a few sentences and amended a few errors here and there – like a bullet point with a comma ending it rather than a full stop (I know, I know, a shocking error! But the jobs I apply for are at the bottom of the food chain, so I doubt anyone noticed!) Now my new and improved CV is so shit hot it burns my fingers!

I know that I will pretty much always be working shitty, low paid, degrading, minimum wage retail jobs until the day I die. Forget retirement, that ain’t ever going to happen, so I might as well carry on working part time in the mean time.
Work sucks but I need the bucks, etc, etc.

So me’s a thinking, if I could chose how to earn my cheese, I would be happy doing one (or several) of the following.

My dream Jobs (in no particular order)

1. Chief Cat Cuddler
I wrote about this dream job here.

2. The Don King/Doc McGhee of Poppy (with cigars, crazy afro and dodgy dealings included)
If I could chose another career option involving cats, I would love to turn Poppy into a famous internet cat like Lil’ Bub, Grumpy Cat or Princess Monster Truck. I could be her showbiz agent and pimp her out in return for all the fame, money and glory. But unfortunately all Poppy is interested in is sleeping, demanding cuddles and food. And more sleeping.

3. A vintage dealer
I love vintage, and my passion is furniture and collectables from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. I would love to have my own shop like Pineapple Retro etc. In fact, I want that very shop and the lovely location in the New Forrest!
I keep my eye out for stuff in the charity shops to sell on Ebay for profit and occasionally make money this way (I’m talking about a tenner here and there, a few times a year).
But where does one start with a fully legit business? Where do vintage dealers find their stock? Are there vintage furniture wholesalers out there? Do you need contacts with house clearance people or do you spend all your time scavenging Boot fairs and chazza’s? And then I wonder if there is much of a profit in things, as mid century stuff is becoming more sort after, expensive and harder to find. I guess its all about turnaround, as lots of people seem to make money in the very crowded vintage trading market.

My sideboard is not for sale BTW!

My sideboard is not for sale BTW!

4. An Ebay trader
Its strange, but I actually do enjoy selling stuff on Ebay. Yes, the fees are high and I have had a few problems with bidders not paying etc. But I enjoy the simple tasks of uploading items, invoicing customers, answering email queries and packaging things up. So if I could find and/or import a cheap product from a wholesaler that I knew had a ready and waiting market out there, I would happily run my own ebay shop. Be it books, cake stuff, candles, saucepans, running socks or hardware bits etc, you can sell any old tat on ebay. I just need to find something to sell that would earn me a decent living.

Image from Google images

Image from Google images

5. An Interior designer or stylist
I love interiors and I love rearranging my nick nacks around the house. Unfortunately I could never do this for a living as I would only decorate my clients houses in my own style and taste. Watching The Great Interior Design Challenge has confirmed this to me! If there are enough rich people out there who would happily pay me to spend their money on vintage Danish teak furniture, fat lava and original Tretchikoff’s to fill their houses with, then it would be a dream come true!

Image from bbd.co.uk

Image from bbc.co.uk

6. A campsite owner
This is something Rob and I have talked about doing together. Rob would also like to change his career (he is a self employed web developer), but he does not want to go back to working for the man. We have talked lots about what our dream business would be and currently, for Rob, it would be running his own bike shop. Unfortunately my own dreams for the future do not involve retail in any shape or form (err, except for #1, and maybe #2 on this list!)
For this option we were inspired by a camping trip last year to Bewl Water, we stayed on a small, friendly campsite run by a couple who lived in their bungalow on site. The plan is that Rob could do the website, ground maintenance and handyman repairs. I could clean the loo’s and do the admin and booking stuff. Its all worked out. Unfortunately I don’t think we will ever be able to sell up our 3bed ex-council house and use the profits to by some land in a beauty spot, as house/land prices in this country are beyond ridiculous.

7. A Veterinary Nurse
I heard a rumour the other day that one of the nurses in the vets a few doors down from the shop where I work was leaving. By rumour, I mean that I overheard her tell my boss that she was moving up to London soon. I have not heard anything since or seen any advertisement for the job yet. I don’t want to go in and ask, just incase I make things awkward for her etc. Plus all the nurses seem really young in there (teenagers), so they probably think I am too old for the training etc…. But a tiny part of me hopes this might be my lucky break.

8. A gig reviewer
A total fantasy job here, being paid to go to gigs! Never mind that my writing is (at its best) average, and I have a limited terminology when it comes to describing things. My reviews would consist of the following – It was amazing! Or – It was shit! But wouldn’t it be the best thing in the world to be paid to do!

9. A travel writer
See above. Being paid to travel! Amazing!

10. A chocolate taster
Being paid to eat chocolate OMG! Although I don’t think I could do this full time, it would be a great second job though, especially if I could take home some of the samples!