The Middle Sister

The wonderings, ponderings and other 'ings' of me. Lifestyle, review, news and opinion posts. Chic with a hint of sarcasm... hopefully!

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Tourist in my own town

When I lived a hop (train) skip (tube) and jump (walk) away from London I didn’t take advantage of all it had to culturally offer.  And it seems I learnt little from my past behaviour, having lived and freelanced in one of the UK’s most beautiful towns I still haven’t fully explored it.  Back in July I decided to accept a full time job and while I was genuinely excited, I quickly realised my ‘free time’ to wander these gorgeous streets would be greatly diminished.  I felt I hadn’t seen the cool sites tourists see when they visit Cambridge so I spent the day being a tourist in my own town.  I’ve always loved it here but had no idea what an intriguing place it truly is.  

Museums
For example did you know there was a full size totem pole in the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology? Because I sure as heck didn’t.  They currently have a very interesting photography exhibition as well.  ‘The Longings of Belongings’ shows images by the South African photographer, Sabelo Mlangeni, portraying Zionist Christians in contemporary South Africa. On until 10th of this month if you want to see it you’d better crack on!  


Likewise I had no clue there were fossils and dinosaur bones dating back to 400 and frozen to death* either.  The sheer amount of information available to us for free is staggering!

Botanic Gardens
While not free this is well worth the few quid it costs to wander the gardens.  Expertly chosen plants ensure whatever time of year you visit you’ll be greeted by a plethora of colours and scents.  Like our own mini Kew, just without the annoying train/tube journey and ‘London’ expense.

Respite
I could (and have) gone on and on about the coffee shops of Cambridge, the fact is we are very much spoilt for choice here.  Whether you frequent Bould Brothers, the latest coffee bar to open or Hot Numbers, what I think of as the first cool coffee shop to hit the streets, you’ll find a cup of java for you.   One that I end up at quite frequently is Novi, basically instagram porn with marble and wood tables, pretty meadow flowers and latte art. They also have a roof terrace and visually appealing cocktails in the evening.


Cambridge is everything I've ever wanted in a home city, but now I'm working again I get to explore other places.  It wont be long until they crop up here, I'm sure.

What are some of your favourite places to visit?

*Not a real time period.
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Monday, 28 August 2017

Starting Over


Starting a new job can, at times, be difficult.  You don’t know anyone but they all each other, you’re not sure what to wear, whether you can swear and it can all be a bit intense.  But for all this uncertainty there is one thing that’s a real plus.  You get to make a first impression. 

Like signing up to Facebook* with a brand new profile, you get a clean slate.  Your colleagues don’t yet know you and, if they are anything like the lovely people I’ve just started working with, they’ll want to remedy that ASAP.  Seeing as there is no chance to second guess what they want to hear you’ll just have to be honest. 

In the past I spent way too much time weighing up what I thought other people wanted to hear before giving ‘my opinion’. Anything from if a dress suited them to my political stance would be 'tweaked' to accommodate who I was with. Not always mind, but regularly enough that a few years ago I realised what I was doing and made a conscious effort to stop.  Now when I’m asked a question I try to answer as honestly as I know how.  

The wonderful thing here is that I get to show people who I am at this point in my life and have a chance to make that person my best self. We all know about our best self, it’s the person we’d most like to believe we are or are becoming. The person that communicates, feels and loves in a way that feels intrinsically ‘right’. For me it’s becoming more about sincerity and honesty. The people that have come into my life over the past five or so years know me as I am, not as I was at 20 or 30. I can honestly say I’m more comfortable in their presence than I am in the presence of others I’ve known for donkeys.   

That’s not to say old friends aren't truly valuable and to be cherished. They’re the ones that already understand if we’re not morning people and if saying the words ‘its fine’ actually means ‘it's not fine, get here now, bring gin! They know if we say something that comes across a bit cruel was meant that way or if we just phrased it badly. They know how much we can handle having the piss taken out of us and (if a decent sort) won’t push our buttons just for the sake of it. 

The flip side to all this is people that we met and got to know 10 or 20 years ago, carry a bit of that person with them throughout the relationship. We all do it, myself included because its human nature to subconsciously label things, it makes us feel we have a handle on what or who someone is. The longer a relationship goes on, the stronger that label can get. The problem lies in if the original opinion of us was a misconception, whether it’s one we initiated or one they came to doesn’t much matter.

Getting to know people in later years, as we change and grow is cathartic.  It’s freeing and so unbelievably cleansing I genuinely believe we should all make an effort to bring new people into our lives regularly.  While we’re at it maybe we should also sporadically wipe everything we put on Facebook and force us all to start afresh there too.

What do you think?



* or some other social media platform

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Saturday, 19 August 2017

Review Time: Clarins Double Serum


It’s time for another one of those posts that make people think we swan around getting free shizzle all the time. 

It’s truly not the case and even if it were could you pay your bills with beauty products and candles? That said this morning I went to Clarins in John Lewis at The Grand Arcade. John Lewis were kind enough to allow the @Cambmeetup bloggers a free facial to try out their new double serum.

The 20-something beauty consultant (20SBC) was very sweet and knew her stuff, although when I asked about Clarins ethics in relation to fair trade she couldn’t answer me.  This is a bit of a bugbear as anyone that reads my posts know this is my go to question. She assessed my face with a test where she held my cheek skin slightly higher than usual, let go…and watched it fall. 

Timber!
As some dude on Game of Thrones said last week nothing f*cks you harder than time! Luckily 20SBC was well trained in not looking aghast and began happily chatting away. She checked my ‘current beauty regime’ which I highly exaggerated the way you do when you go to the doctors and tell them you drink ‘moderately’ and exercise ‘frequently’.

My skin is as cantankerous as my personality so it’s oily in places, dry in others and down right snake like at times as well.  However we got cracking with a one-step facial cleanser and then comfort mask with wild mango butter.  Whilst we waited for that to sink in 20SBC gave me a hand massage using the same cream as the queen.  Not sure what that says about how old she thought I was but hey-ho! The mask was then taken off with a liquid exfoliator with white nettle, apparently using an exfoliator regularly makes your other products 70% more effective*

Now was time for the double serum which they are relaunching with spanky new ingredients like turmeric.  Turmeric fights over 300 antioxidants in the body* - it also includes teasel extract which fights fine lines.  How exactly I’m still not sure, maybe it goes all Jessica Jones and literally pushes the lines off my face.
 
Alright maybe not
Then came the eye cream.  I’ve not really used these before but this was incredibly cooling and soothing plus it has a spatula which helps get rid of puffiness, we don't like puffiness.  As the skin around the eyes are 7 times thinner than the rest of our face, it’s here we see the evidence of our own mistreatment.  The late nights, crying over crap boyfriends or girlfriends, drinking too much blah blah blah.  
  
Next came the day cream which she mixed with a lotus oil and warmed in her hands first to activate the ingredients.  This really smelt amazing and did remind me of a particularly relaxing spa treatment.  Finally it was neck cream time. 20SBC advised to always stroke up, not down, when applying neck cream because there’s no need to help the aggressive bitch that is gravity. I’m paraphrasing of course but you get the drift.

And that was it, my skin did feel incredibly soft and I left feeling quite pampered. I will advise that being a super sensitive sort, after a few hours my cheek did get ever so slightly irritated.  That could have been caused by a number of attributes though; weather, the fact that I’d been to the salon and small pieces of my own hair seemed intent on tickling the hell out of me or the cheese toasty I had from Urban Larder.  I’m not meant to eat bread but these buggers are so good on occasion I scoff one anyway.

Of all the products used I rate the eye cream and face oil highest for scent and effect.  While the experience was incredibly relaxing I’m not sure I have the 20+ minutes every day to apply all the creams and the cost is definitely a drawback.  If you’re time/money rich and have an extensive interest in beauty products I see no reason not to give Clarins a try. 



Product Prices 
Cleanser = £21.00
Comfort mask = £30.00
Liquid Exfoliator = £26.00
Double Serum = £57.00/£75.00
Eye Cream = £35.00
Day Cream = £42.00
Lotus Oil = £33.00
Neck Cream = £45.00



* However 57% of statistics are made up on the spot sooooooo
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Friday, 11 August 2017

My Favourite Podcasts - 2 of 2

One good thing about podcasts is they are very much about sharing your attention.  Unlike television programmes that demand full loyalty for months on end then disappear without a second glance.  Podcasts actively talk about other series that we might like, and so it is that The Guilty Feminist and now I give you Intelligence Squared.


This cast tackles some serious issues and calls for balanced opinion listening skills.  Not my strongest suit but with Brexit and Trump and all the other 'End of Days' malarkey that’s kicking around I think its important to spend time trying to understand those who think differently than us.  Something this podcast requires us to do droves!

If you can, Intelligence Squared is pretty good at showing us opinions and political ideas which - and this is the important bit - are backed up with well thought out motivations. It has also shown me I could respect and have some common ground with someone who’s political views I do not agree with.  Some (republican!) dude called PJO’Rourke seems on the whole to be a tolerant, intelligent person.  While some of his views have me raising an eyebrow, his likeability was surprising.  I enjoy that kind of surprise.

While the other two podcasts are educational, inspiring and informative this final one is anything but.  Its filth, it’s a dirty burger, it’s a whacking great slab of cheesecake you know will make you feel sick but you can’t help shovelling down your throat anyway.  Welcome to My dad wrote a porno.


Please note this is not porn.  It’s about as sexy as a watching a dog die of rabies and definitely as gross.  Read by Jamie Morton (a man who, I suspect, may well be working on an ‘eternal sunshine of the spotless mind’ style mind zap as I write) its snort out loud funny.  His two long suffering comrades, James Cooper and Alice Levine, basically rip the ever loving piss out of the ‘story-line’, ‘writing’ and ‘character development’ of the book. It’s not big, it’s not clever but it is bloody funny.

I love to hear the side chats the three of them have about their time at Uni together all while rehashing what would already be a car crash experience of a book.  I’m not actually recommending this on any normal level as it makes no sense, either grammatically or erotically.  But it worth listening to if you want to escape from anything serious at all. It is truly hysterical and confounding in equal parts. 

So there we have it.  Do you listen to any of these podcasts and if not, why not?
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Sunday, 6 August 2017

My Favourite Podcasts - 1 of 2

A short while ago I posted a tweet advising these days I listen to podcasts on my headphones more than music.  I thought I would be the only one but it seems many people feel similarly.



Podcasts are something I hadn't paid a great deal of attention to until recently but now believe they could be the answer to the myriad of problems life has given us.* They're the new black, the new cool, the new clean eating, they reflect how we live and what we strive for.  If I start the day with a podcast I generally start with a snort of coffee through my nose from laughing too hard, which I'm sure we all agree can only be a good thing.

So you too can begin your morning with liquid spewing from your nasal cavity today I’m talking about the ones I like. I was going to do all three in one post but I had so much to say about this first one I and am in no mood to sensor myself these days #Fuckit.  So am splitting them into two separate posts both up this week because I’m such a damned hero!
See, even Superman thinks I'm right!
I’m giving you the good stuff straight off as without question this is my absolute favourite. I was told about it by two friends, both of whom’s opinion I highly respect, and am so glad I listened to them.  Step up The Guilty Feminist.



I was a year late to the GF party so binge-listened to all available episodes in a matter of weeks and it’s had a profound effect on me. This pod cast and the women (and sometimes men) that guest on it can make you feel OK about the hypocrisies and insecurities that undermine our feminist ways.  At the same time they fire us up to take note of how society can disrespect and condescend women, whilst paying them less money than a man would get for doing the same work.  It has caused me to both check my privilege (as a white, first world woman) and systematic disadvantage (as a non-male type). It also introduced me to a whole gang of funny, cool, clever, eloquent women that I have become mildly*** infatuated with.

The one that sticks with me as the funniest thing since funny things were first funny is No 21 Not having kids with Susan Calman.  I’ve listened to it several times and still laugh out loud at her candour and exasperation with the world of white guilt and being overly pc.  If you are offended by those with a potty mouth you might want to give this one a miss but your life will be lesser because of it.  

Sarah Pascoe and Sindhu Vee are now names I look out for in comedy or panel shows, you should too. They make me just a tad ashamed that I was one of those people that (many years ago) said ‘yeah I just don’t think women are that funny’. 

I know!
The real star of the show has to be the woman that started it all, Deborah Francis-White. I’ve been fan-girling after her ever since the she first came to my attention.  When I was lucky enough to be see Guilty Feminist live, I practically auctioned off my husband - who had been kind enough to accompany me – just for the chance to talk to her.  Whilst I admit this was highly pathetic it only bloody worked because now we are best friends***

You should go listen to it this insrtant, then come back and check out the other podcasts I favour and let me know which ones you like too.

* Recognise this Heathers quote anyone?
**for mildly read completely
***in my mind

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