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

Monday 24 August 2015

Ski Boot Fitting - A Real First World Problem

Look at that weather, what would you do with a day like this? 

Go on a picnic?
Take a punt down the river Cam?
Sweat it out in ski boots - the hottest footwear known to humankind?
That’s right it’s C! But first a little history. 

Ski boots were invented by the Devil to give the top few percenter's something they feel they can legitimately moan about whilst on a holiday that the vast majority of the rest of the world could only dream of affording. They bind your feet and legs in a position only a 12th century Chinese girl could possibly understand in order for you to throw yourself down a freezing, slippery mountain.  A pursuit which you repeat for hours on end until you ache from head to toe.  

I get that I'm not selling it but honestly, its a bloody hoot once you get the hang of things.  So if you’re planning a ski trip or have any interest in what happens when you get your ski boots fitted for realz, read on.

We went to Solutions 4 Feet in Biscester.  It comes highly recommended according to my husband’s research which was thorough, i.e. he asked about it on Single-track World Forums.   We were met by the lovely Andy, who has been skiing since he was about 4 and put up with my inane, constant questions with all the patience of a lovely brother-type. Thanks Andy - people called Andy are so nice!

After a few wiggly foot test thingys Andy confirmed I had good dorsal flexibility, thank you Pilates, and then processed to look at my feet for about 2 hours… OK it was really 30 seconds but that’s longer than anyone has willingly concentrated on them for a while and the chipped nail varnish and blisters were starting to embarrass me as you can see...

Oh Please! Like I would ever add an image of my deformed tootsies here.

Then he disappeared.  I momentarily wondered if he had gone off to get some foot fetish/torture equipment but he came back a few minutes later with, oddly enough, ski boots!  *See imagination, it’s all fine now shut up*

Next there was more slightly uncomfortable foot staring where I felt compelled to move them around in a bid to seem nonchalant.  This it seemed was just a way for Andy 'Foot Whisperer' - don't make it weird -  to tell what shape boot would best suit me.  The trying on induced that awful pins and needles feeling which makes you want to chop off whichever appendage is tingling, usual torture for skiers. Once the correct boots were decided it was time to have the custom foot beds fitted.  This involved my sitting on the ‘fit pod’ a chair so high my feet dangled like those of a three yr. old on the loo.  Each foot was in turn strapped in a blue plastic bag with a tube in it, then the heat and vacuum was turned on.
OK Yes that is technically my foot but you can't see it so the above rule stands.  And yes I do have man calves,  what of it?
It’s a seriously odd feeling having plastic heat and curl itself around your stumps.  I did wonder had the same thing been done to my tummy would I have lost a few pounds but before I knew it that part was over, anyway I got some odd looks when I mentioned it.  Now the boots went off to be heated to 118 degrees in this here below contraption.

Still with me?  Good, so then every weird bump and nobble on your feet gets its own, equally weird, blue plaster padding thing and your toes get capped with the same sort of stuff.  You then don your ski socks and put the still warm boots on.  They get wrapped in a frozen cover and you stand, knees bent forward for ten ACTUAL minutes on the naughty step… so more torture.  10 minutes in ski boots is akin to having your feet wrapped in cement. I would imagine anyway, luckily I've never pissed off a member of the Mafia (other underground gangs are also available) enough to get a real pair fitted.

Then Ta Daaaaa!  All kitted out and hopefully I won’t want to kill myself when next on my predominantly white upper-middle-class holiday*  Andy advised that new boots should last 20 weeks skiing. So 20 years, 10 if you go twice a year or 1 season if you jack in the day job and go all out. 

Andy was so patient, helpful and thorough, he even ended up recommending the (slightly) cheaper boots for me which shows its not the cash they care about.  With Solutions 4 Feet any future adjustments that may be needed are free and you can go back any time as long as you make an appointment.  Now all I need to do is break them.   Which means walking around and doing the washing up in them (no I'm serious) for about 10-15 minutes every other day in the 4 weeks leading up to the trip

A few tips for new boot owners
Do the boots up loosely when you are storing them at the end of the day. 
When in resort don't store your new boots on poles as this can distort the foot bed.
As will walking around the village so don’t do that either.
Take the liner out if the boot gets damp.
Once your ski-ing trip is over take the foot bed out of the boot and store it separately.

You got any ski boot tips?

Please note Post laced with heavy sarcasm throughout.

*not saying other races can't go just an observation that many don't.  #DontGetItTwisted.


Tuesday 18 August 2015

OPI and Philosophy Product Review

Alright, so a little while back I blogged about looking after my niece which a number of you have advised me you did read – so cheers for that.  Anyway the reason we were child sitting was because my sister got to swan off with her man to a highly desirable location for a party, I'm not saying where because it’s my life up for scrutiny here not hers. If you know me, you know anyway.  I will say I was surprised to learn she didn't bump into either BeyoncĂ©, Jay-Z or old Paltrow face.  What she did do was bring me back couple of top notch gifts perfect for reviewing!

Ah, is that "not telling you where it is" thing a bit pointless now?

Anyway here's the ‘ahem’ Miracle Worker anti-aging moisturiser from Philosophy.

First off let me just say Bloody Oi. ‘Miracle Worker’! Has it got to the point when I need a pot of magic to ensure I don’t look like Wrinkly Wrinkleson? NB: give said sister a slap upside the head next time I see her.   

OK let’s get into this easy open seal….*Pulls seal, notes lack of ease*.  Stupid. Easy. Seal *smacks pot on side of counter* seriously whoever made this was a… *lifts other side of seal, pops off straight away*.


Well on first impressions it’s thick.  Not me-being-unable-to-open-it thick but in consistency.  Thicker than any other moisturiser I've ever used, it felt more like a mask than a moisturiser.  So much so I had to double check the package but no a moisturiser it is - have I said moisturiser too much here? Possibly better suited as a night cream then a make-up base, it sunk in nicely nonetheless.

I've been using it for a couple of weeks now and I've no idea if it has halted the signs of aging in its tracks but all the bits of my body it has gone on are very soft.  If you fancy finding out if I do look any different, head on over to my Instagram page.  There you’ll find an embarrassing number of selfies which you can compare to any that were uploaded over 2 weeks ago.  Feel free to follow me and let me know if you think the latter images look to be more youthful.   Actually that looks a bit like I'm compliment fishing which is just tooooooo cringey so do what you want.

Next it’s onto the OPI Glamour Party Mini Collection.

I have a proper thing for mini nail varnishes.  Mainly because I love an abundance of colours with which to lacquer my nails.  This means I have a stupid number of different shades and they pretty much always dry out before I've worn even a third of the bottle.  Mini’s are therefore more likely to be used up properly and means I have room in my drawer for even more colours.  It’s a win/win.

OPI is one of my favourite brands, I find it stays on longer than others and tends to dry to a smoother finish. These colours are a great choice for me and the rapid dry top coat works in minutes.  Seconds if you count about 120 of them.

Oh the apple? That had 7 lovely chocolate truffles in.  I can’t really review these as I shoved them in my face too quickly, so I suppose they can’t have been that bad eh?

What do you think of Philosophy and OPI products?


Friday 14 August 2015

L'Occitane and Stella & Dot Event

So yesterday I got to hangout with some of the lovely #CambMeetUp bloggers again at a L'Occitane event.  This was in collaboration with Stella & Dot, a fairly traded (yip-feckin-ee!) jewellery and accessory company that holds home parties.  You know, where you go to a mates house, down a few glasses of wine and convince yourself you need new jewellery.  The sort of thing I do all the time,  convincing myself I need stuff that is, not the drinking... I'm not an alcoholic.
Not alcohol

Anyway. With Stella & Dot it's easier than usual as several items are actually two or three products in one.  Totes become cross body become clutch bags, necklaces can be worn 5 different ways - though not without a little difficulty eh Gem? Others that double up as belts, its practically like you're saving money rather than spending it - convinced? me too!

Having the event at L'Occitane was a stroke of genius too as the nibbles and drinks along with hand massages and gorgeous cherry blossom scents were almost too lovely to behold.  Weirdly most things I liked, both from Stella and L'Occitane, were £29.  Maybe it's a sign that this should be the age I pretend to be from now on.....

Question: If I'm 38 why is my hand 85?

Maybe not. 

I did finally get to introduce GirlRunningLate to all the blogger chicks I now hang with, which I am sure will result in yet more high jinks which I'll ramble on about, at length, here - lucky you!  Either way I had a blast but had to leave early as I've been a social wasp recently (more mental and zig-zaggy than a butterfly) and needed my beauty sleep.  As I may be having a Stella & Dot party myself later in September there's a chance you'll see more of their goodies here again soon. Jewellery, scents, friends and fabulousness.  What's not to like?

Have you been to a Stella & Dot night?

What's your favourite L'Occitane scent?


Tuesday 11 August 2015

Petals in the Park - Loss we'd rather not think about.

In a stark contrast to my last blog moaning about how hard it is to raise kids, this post is about what happens when pregnancies do not go to plan.  

This week I spoke with Amelia Grant from PETALS.  PETALS stands for Pregnancy Expectation Trauma and Loss Society and is an under acknowledged, under supported charity currently operating in Cambridgeshire.  At the risk of stating the obvious, I don't think its possible to experience a worse kind of loss than that of losing a child and I want to thank Amelia and Karen Burgess, Chief Exec and Lead Counsellor of PETALS for taking a few minutes to talk to me about the work they do.

If after reading this interview you feel inclined to give a little of your hard earned cash to this organisation, I know the ladies will be extremely grateful.  You can donate HERE

Tell me a bit about your experience and subsequent involvement with the charity?
Amelia: I accessed the charity within the first 3 months after I lost Isabelle having suffered with severe panic attacks, I went to see my GP.  She gave me an information sheet containing contact numbers of different bereavement services and the Petals contact number was listed.  I accessed counselling with Petals for a year and fell pregnant again within that time.  My counselling sessions began weekly at first and I found myself in a place to be able to grieve.  With the support from my counsellor, I was able to process what I (had) gone through.  Over the time I accessed the counselling I found out more about the work of Petals and last year I did a crazy Spartan Race raising over £1000 for the charity.  

It is an instinct that I should always wish to keep Isabelle's memory alive by doing something positive out of such devastation, and where I can give back to the charity that helped me so much.   

The PETALS website advises “everyday 11 couples go home from hospital to an empty nursery a following a stillbirth"* and that "every year, over 12,000 parents in the UK are grief-stricken by the tragic loss of their babies”.  Why do you think there is not enough help out there for these couples?
Amelia: Because there is not the recognition whatsoever within our current health system (NHS) that considers effectively what someone in this situation may require in terms of support, both physically and mentally.  Once discharged from the hospital I was left to source my own help.  I was visited at home once by a midwife who I did not know and thereafter......there was nothing. 

Why do you think the subject of pregnancy loss is such a taboo?
Amelia: Because pregnancy is all about expectant life and so when it goes wrong and death occurs either in pregnancy, or during or after birth, it is trauma and devastation that no one wants to ever imagine, or to really even contemplate that it can happen. We are programmed in society and as human beings, to not acknowledge death.  There is immense fear that surrounds any death so that it is thought best not to talk about it, or even acknowledge it. 

What can we do to change that?
Amelia: Certainly by making people more aware of the importance of emotional and mental healthcare (and) being seen as an area in our system that needs more understanding.  Encouraging an awareness for people to be able to feel comfortable should they wish, to be able to be open. 

In your opinion what’s the most important or helpful thing a friend or family member can do for a couple going through this? 
Amelia: To be there! To never assume that they understand what a couple have gone one would know unless they have been through it themselves. 

What practical ways (other than counselling) can PETALS help people that have experienced this sort of grief? 
Amelia: The awareness of the charity is growing and Petals operates alongside other charities of similar support for stillbirth, miscarriage and loss. 

What are PETALS plan for expansion so that they are able to offer this help nationwide?   
Amelia: In September 2015 Petals is going to operate its services from within St Marys in London.  Petals plans to continue to raise the awareness of the charity and campaign to support the need for the taboo of "counselling" and "talking of loss" to change.  Continue to fund raise at wonderful events and help support and sustain the charity operating. 

Talking of fundraising, any events coming up?
Amelia: Petals in the Park (a four hour Jazzercise-a-thon! on the 16th August) is an event for everyone.  It doesn't matter if you haven't done Jazzercise before.  If you love to dance, this is the event for you.  It is going to be great fun.  Register here.

Children's world is on Parker's Piece the same day and families of participants will be able to access a discount to the fairground. 

* National Statistics on Stillbirth 2012 
Images provided by PETALS

Friday 7 August 2015

A view of parenting from a non-parent.

So last weekend I got a taste of parenthood which came about because my husband volunteered us to look after my niece.  For. Four. Days. Yes I know four days isn’t much when it comes to a lifetime of care, but for non-parents who do give a toss what happens to their charges it’s definitely a window into the breeder’s world.

I honestly think you lot might be a little bit tapped in the head.

Don't get me wrong hanging out with kids is easy, fun even. Getting to know their personalities, hearing what they think and why they think it.  Working out which is the best character in Frozen (the snowman right?) and watching them all sleepy after a hard days drawing. All heart-warming stuff indeed. 

Looking after them for a few hours is pretty good too, it just requires a bit more attention to detail and depending on their age proofing/bolting doors to drinks cabinets etc. But parenting - which I've decided is what happens if you're in charge of a lil' bit for more than 24 hours - is a whole different shit storm.

It starts with breakfast if the kid in question is fussy, which from what I can see a lot of them are, and continues until they go to sleep.  We cheated and spent at least one day hanging with ‘real’ parents which was a God send until bedtime.  There's a certain jolt of fear that you’ll only have ever felt if you've encountered a cross armed, cross faced little girl who is refusing to sleep in a "boys bed". They’re very good at wearing those in charge of them down aren’t they? Repeating the same sentence again and again and again like a 15 second Groundhog day It was Mexican standoff of epic proportions and required the steeliest of nerves. Had there been an alternative in this situation I would most likely have caved.

And do you have the voice of temptation, pleading with you to negotiate for a quiet life constantly playing in your head? Cos I did, what to watch, how long to watch it, when to give in and when to stand firm.  Eventually, given the lack of sleep, seeing as the blighters are up with the lark and brain numbing power of Monster High (some odd cartoon full of skinny, preteen-monsters in 6 inch heels and short skirts) any non-parent is bound to do something wrong.  Now you’re faced with this insane guilt at handling a situation badly and the image of a teary face that will haunt you for the best part of forever. How can something be this much fun whilst simultaneously being this bloody exhausting?

So kudos to all you that are raising anything more than an eyebrow. I now think of you as clinically insane superheroes.  In possession of powers which enable you to weave your way through the minefield of dinner time dramas, retrieving socks/shoes from under trampolines/behind sofas, stopping fights and starting stories.  All whilst finding new and interesting ways of getting vegetables eaten, teeth brushed without being made to feel like you've stabbed the kid repeatedly with a carving knife and answering the age old question ‘but why’? 

Honestly.  Well done!
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