Because my last post was a bit of a grumble about how I am sick of reading about ‘slow living‘ all the time (which I should have just said outright instead of ranting on as per usual! And, surely ‘slow’ is just blogland’s new trendy bandwagon word for procrastination, eh?!!), I now feel its time to redeem myself and balance out my internet karma by putting a little bit of love back out there.
I love blogs, I honestly do. They are the reason why I have an internet addiction, why I don’t buy magazines anymore and why my book reading productivity is at an all time low! I relax by sipping a cup of tea and working my way through my Feedly feed. I still enjoy blogging as a hobby too. I wish I had more time for it and I could make my blog better, both in appearance and content (plus I hate the name of it!) but I am far too lazy to up my blogging game. Maybe its because of all the slow living I do…..!
Anyhoo, I have discovered some brilliant blogs this year and I want to share them on here.
It just so happens that they all are blogs about cycling and written by thirty something women, but please don’t let that put you off!
I fully appreciate that not everyone is sporty or interested in cycling (TBH this time last year, I wasn’t either!) but if you give them a chance and click on the links, I promise you wont regret it. Some of these blogs are so thoughtfully and intelligently written (like Tour de Lindsey B!), that I want to approach random strangers in the street and tell them that they have got to read them!
BTW I have not done so yet. But I may well do if I am lubricated enough. Take this as a warning random strangers on the streets of Maidstone!
So if you like blogs that are positive, fun, stylish, well written and also sometimes inspire you to get your feminist ranty pants out of the wardrobe and wear them with pride (as cycling is traditionally a bit of a boys thing) then do click on the links below!
Total Womens Cycling – Technically not a blog, but an online magazine covering everything you need to know about cycling what ever skill level and interest you have. Even if you are not at all into cycling and you are just a total woman, then you should still read it anyway. Check out the lifestyle section, or this post, or this post to get them ranty pants on.
Velocity Girl – I love this blog. Its a fashion/cycling/lifestyle blog. What more could you want?
Lovely Bicycle – Lovely photography, writing, knitting, countryside and lovely bicycles(!) from Northern Ireland.
Bikes-N-Stuff – Juliette is passionate about female cycling and an all round awesome bird. Check out her about page for starters.
I do have plenty more recommendations (I currently have 18 blogs filed in my Cycling section in Feedly!) but I have left them off here for various reasons like they are a bit more specialist, made up entirely of sponsored content or not really updated anymore.
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.
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!
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.
I am not afraid to live my life how I want to live Non conformist for life!
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.
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 –
I leave the washing up on the worktop We are talking for days at a time here.
I sometimes don’t think before I speak I am working on this.
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!
I am grumpy in the morning Does what it says on the tin.
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.
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.
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!
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!!!!
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.
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!
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
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 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!
Polyvore is such a great way to waste time is’nt it!
My set I created says the following about me – I am a crazy plant lady who since she has learnt how to keep houseplants alive (by actually watering them) wants to fill her home to the brim with them, who wants to put a bird on it, likes yellow and extremely expensive coffee tables. And doesn’t really have an eye for visual layouts.
Last year I purchased an item that I hoped would make my life easier. I bought myself a magnetic blackboard for the kitchen.
Not exactly a revolutionary purchase I will admit. But wait until you read what I had planned to use it for, its a game changer!
My plan was to attach it to the side of our fridge and write on it exactly what I had stashed away inside our freezer.
Like most people, I am terrible at remembering what I have in my freezer. When I am food shopping I buy things that I have already stockpiled. Plus I am forever forgetting to get meat out of the freezer in advance for our meals, so often make a mad dash to my local supermarket to buy some fresh chicken breasts or sausages etc when I already have some in the freezer.
How stupid is that eh? Nevermind that I only live a ten minute walk from my local supermarket chain (so handy!) The whole point is that I am needlessly spending money each month on things I already have. And because of my disorganisation, food stuffs stay in my freezer for much longer than is recommended. I have a ready meal lasagne that has been lurking in the bottom of the freezer for around two years. Oppsy! Its slowly getting freezer burn and less and less appetising. And now that I have mentioned it on my blog, I am never going to get Rob to eat it!
What a waste of a crappy lasagne. I hate wasting food. And I really hate ready meals.
I cannot claim that the freezer chalkboard list is my idea. I totally copied Hannah from Seeds and Stitches. I saw on her blog, or was it her house tour on Apartment Therapy, or on her Instagram account? (OMG I have made myself sound like such a stalker in that sentence!!) She had sanded down her fridge freezer and painted it with chalkboard paint to write her meal planning lists and what she had inside her freezer on it.
Image from apartmenttherapy.com
What a simple, but genius idea! So I got my thinking cap on and started making plans to make my own version. For about 10 seconds I considered painting our fridge freezer, then I came to my senses and started Googling for an easier alternative. I am far too inept and lazy for all that sanding and painting! Plus a black fridge freezer would look a bit pugly in our kitchen.
While researching for lazy girl alternatives I did consider sticking a sheet of chalkboard vinyl to the front of our unit, but in the end I bought a plain magnetic chalkboard from Amazon and stuck it to the side of our fridge.So far, so good. This list is really helping both Rob and I plan meals better, and I am finally denting my frost bitten meat stash!
I am loving the chalk marker pen too, its much better than traditional chalk, which I always manage to snap when I use it!So the moral of this unnecessarily long blog post is – if you are as disorganised as I am when it comes to food in your freezer, get yourself a chalkboard! And read Hannah’s blog, its great!
Read more books. I read so little in 2012. Blame it on the distraction of the Internet.
Broaden my baking horizons.
Lose some weight. Hmm…. not sure how that’s going to work with #5!
Finish as much of the house as we can.
And whoop whoop, I managed to achieve most of them! All except for no. 5 as I had to stop eating so much cake to achieve no. 6! Thats why I make easy resolutions, so I can feel a bit smug proud a year later!
For 2014 I want to do the following –
Read more books. I read more in 2013 than 2012, but I still do not read as many novels as I used to. I indulge in too much brain rotting internet and telly, me thinks.
Plan meals better. Ever since we fixed up our kitchen almost 1.5 years ago (gulp) I have been a little slack with this. I need to up my organisational game.
Do not put things off. Just get on and do it. I am a champion procrastinator (and Rob is not much better). This includes housework, work stuff and things on the to do list. So thats everything basically.
When it comes to blogging, I want quality not quantity on here. I am not going to take part in anymore blogging everyday challenges. I want to keep on improving my photography and writing on here.
Keep on losing weight. I lost half a stone last year (and have since put some of that back on over the Christmas period. PLEASE STOP RAINING WEATHER SO I CAN GET OUT THE HOUSE!!!) It would be nice to lose a little more. If not, no pressure, I just want to be more active with more walking, swimming and cycling.
Bake more bread. I did not make many cakes last year, but I started to experiment with 5 minute bread with mixed results. I want to start doing it again and bake more traditional loaves too. If this fails, then bite the bullet and buy a bread maker as I hate supermarket bread, homemade tastes much better (if do I say so myself!)
Be happy. Don’t get me wrong, I am happy with my lot right now. But In the past Ive had periods where for various reasons I have not been. It is easy to stress out, to moan and to want what you perceive other people to have. Easy, yes. But such a stupid waste of energy. I want to keep on appreciating my house, family, friends, jobs and life in general.
It has been a pretty decent year. A fairly quiet and non eventful one. After a few challenging years recently, this year had no traumas, no losses, no fall outs and no big dramas. So yeah – a pretty successful year.
So what did happen in 2013?
Well, 2013 was the year I got slightly addicted to Instagram. Yep I know, I was late to join the party!
Why the hell did I Instagram Ikea?
2013 was the year I went on two lovely holidays, one to Southwold back in April and then to Cyprus in October.
2013 was the year I started a new job. This has been such a moral booster. I was working a part time job and was desperately searching for a job with more hours to offer. I currently work three part time jobs, and I enjoy both the routine and flexibility they give me.
2013 was the year I went back to Glastonbury festival after a 8 year break. I had mixed feelings about the experience which I wrote about here, but it was good to experience it again. And even better to experience it in our camper van! I also went to Truck festival and had an amazing weekend.
2013 was the year we got finally our camper van to pass its MOT and back on the road! We named him Ernie and had several camping trips in him including the two festivals, a trip to Bewl Water and a, shall we say interesting, weekend on the Isle of Sheppy!
2013 was the year I Blogged everyday in May and (almost) everyday in November. It was also the year I got a bit more personal on here and sometimes used my blog as a free counciling session! Don’t worry readers, I have revised my droning on, poor me etc post to spare you!
2013 on the home front was the year we decorated our bedroom (the reveal post is planned). Another room ticked off the list! Plus it was the first year we got our baubles out in a long while!
Day 25 – What are your top 5 favourite albums and why?
In no particular order here are my top 5 albums –
Leftfield – Leftism This takes me right back to my partying days. Its the perfect album to listen to when you get back from a heavy session, and the perfect album to listen to when you are hungover. I listened to this album a lot.
Smashing Pumpkins – Siamese DreamAn album I will never get sick of. Rob and I are both looking forward to watching the Smashing Pumpkins at Glastonbury next month. It will be my first time seeing them! Rob has seen them live at Wembley arena way back in the 90’s, long before I met him.
Nirvarna – Nevermind Tops every classic/best album list a going and rightfully so. A classic that is *gulp* almost 22 years old now and still sounds fresh.
Orbital – Work 1989 – 2002 It feels a bit of a cop out putting a best of in my list, but to be honest some Orbital album tracks can be a wee bit lengthy. When I got my iPod 6-7 years ago (and its still going strong, I love my little pink nano!) I just loaded this album on it for my Orbital fix (‘cos I am lazy, plus I can only fit about 800 tunes on it). I love every track (except the one with David Gray on) and these are great power walking tunes.
Roisin Murphy – Overpowered Remember the mid noughties when everyone was going electropop? This is an album from 2007 that more people should lend their ears to. Its my favourite pop album, and I dont really do pop albums.
Hang on, scrap that! I have changed my mind! Number five now is –
Jeff Buckley – Grace A beautiful album from a beautiful man who was taken too soon. I will admit I have not listened to this album for a few years, I played it to death at the end of the 90’s/early 00’s. If I was stranded on a desert island I would want this CD/download with me.
Please note – I reserve the right to change my mind again at any time.
I am a huge fan of making lists. I write a to-do list in my to-do list note pad (yes I have a specially designed note pad) every few days. I love the simple pleasure of getting stuff done and crossing things off my list. It is often a boring chore or something simple like ‘pay my credit card!’ But hey, I like to feel organised, even if I am not really!
As is customary, I guess I should make a few new years resolutions. I always set silly, simple goals, so its not too difficult to achieve them. Because you know – I like to go easy on myself!
Here we go, my resolutions are as follows –
Keep blogging. For as long as I enjoy doing so.
Go to Glastonbury in the camper van.
Get the camper van through its MOT.
Read more books. I read so little in 2012. Blame it on the distraction of the Internet.
Broaden my baking horizons.
Lose some weight. Hmm…. not sure how that’s going to work with #5!
Finish as much of the house as we can.
Number 6, is probably the one I will give up on, although I have a target of October to lose some of my wobbly bits. Its my sisters wedding and I want to look like a Victoria’s secret model in the photo’s. Hmm……achievable???!