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

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Selfie Welfare


Alrighty then! This might be a bit of long one but today I'm in the mood to chat about selfies!  In my experience, most people have one of two opinions when it comes to selfies.  Either you like taking them and do it fairly frequently, or you don't and view those that do as narcissistic arseholes.

I have some friends who take many selfies, others who I have never seen take one image of themselves the whole time I've known them.  Throughout my journey as a blogger and photographer I too, have dabbled in the taking of selfies.  Not as many as some, more than others and the thing I found most interesting is how those that don't admit to taking selfies viewed me. I say don't admit as in a study by Sarah Diefenbach* the 'selfie paradox is exposed. This states that while 82% of people say they do not wish to see so many selfies on social media 77% of people regularly take the damn things! I'm neither a psychologist nor a mathematician but even I can see there is some sort of Venn diagram of hypocritical twattery going on here. 

So why is so much shame being plastered onto selfie takers if most of us are doing it?  I was called a 'selfie queen' once, and while I'm certain there was no malice intended from the person that said this, it did feel quite 'judgey'.  Like it was something I should be at least little bit ashamed of.  As this comment was passed by someone I'm extremely fond of I felt somewhat chastised, but needed to see if they were right. And where else would you go when investigating your own image but the temple of the selfie taker... Instagram.  Its here you'll see the most images of me and I'm sure its my account (Theemiddlesis in case you're wondering) that earned me the title in this persons eye's.  
There I am with Christmas and Autumn, Two of my all time favourite things!
And this is the interesting bit. I went through each and every one of my instagram images, took away the number that were selfies and worked out that percentage. It was 18%. Yep 18 percent! In other words, 4/5th of the images I posted were of coffee, nature, fashion, events, books or the gazillion other things I am into, but it seems that 18% was much more evident than the other 82%.  And this is before Facebook took over so we can't blame the God awful algorithms**

Although this was some time ago the selfie is still a phenomenon that provokes discussion as the recent Intelligence Squared pod cast 'Me My selfie and I: Self expression in the Digital Age shows. While it highlighted that, yes in 2015 more people died taking selfies than were killed by sharks, it also pointed out that some anthropologists believe the self portrait is critical to human development and evolution.
There I am again, twice in this set.  A narcissist or someone that is comfortable in their own skin?
I really enjoy seeing my friends images and love that their selfies are included in blog and instagram posts. Furthermore, as I know more about them than the few images I see on my phone, I know these people are not overly self involved.  The thing is just because a particularly affluent, attention seeking Armenian family are the poster people of selfies, doesn't mean that anyone that takes a selfie is the same.

So next time you see someone with a camera held aloft at the perfect flattering angle, think about not judging them. Not all selfie takers are the same.  We don't all go to truly beautiful areas of natural beauty and miss the scenery because we are taking 137 pictures of our own face.  We don't all think that we invented the very act we are partaking in only 11 years ago #EyerollHilton.

Some of us are capturing a time in our lives we want to remember, a thought that's particularly important or yes having a moment of self expression.  If that makes you feel uncomfortable then maybe you should try it, you might be surprised at the outcome. 

*Professor of market and consumer psychology at the Ludwig Maximilian's University  ** Oh My God I hate it I hate it when will we wake from this nightmare***
** sorry FWP I know!

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Sunday, 12 November 2017

Review: The Locker


So its been a while since I've done one of these - a full time job will do that to a blogger! But today I'm adding to my 'Coffee shops of Cambridge' series.  Why you ask? Well because the town that needs a coffee shop like Santa needs another cookie has - you guessed it - got another coffee shop.  The Locker on Kings Street opened in August 2017 and so its my duty and desire to review it for you lovely lot.  In we go!

The Cool
First off each member of staff is achingly hip with at least one or more of the required attributes of the truly trendy.  A rainbow of hair colours and ear adornments grace the personage of each gorgeous young thing that greets you with a smile and fetches your beverage.  Talking of the coffee its obvious The Locker means business when it comes to the black stuff and the barista takes a great deal of pride in both brewing and beautifying his creations.



The food also gets top marks. Simple yet wholesome their cheese toasties - and I do not say this lightly - rivals that of Urban Larder for the best in Cambridge.* It comes with a fresh salad and balsamic glaze which not only cuts through the pleasing stodge of the tangy cheese but also works as a visual aid for other hungry customers to salivate over. Vegan and gluten free choices are also available as you'd expect from a post 2015 diner.



The decor and design is a well thought out masterpiece. Low hanging light bulbs are placed strategically so as not to interrupt your dining experience** adding that inviting glow required for any self respecting eatery.  Multicoloured structural beams and pottery used as water cups are splatter painted as if by a genius toddler.*** Everything else is sleek, inviting and perfectly functional, no wobbly tables displacing your chosen drink here! 



The Quirks
Reportedly named after the owner's dog (Davy Jones so Davy Jones 'Locker') the moniker of this establishment is a little odd. Davy Jones Locker is regarded as the grave of those who died at sea.  So it seems a little strange to name a bustling, friendly cafe after something so morbid.

The Que? 
Onto the balanced part of this review, what wasn't 'quite perfect'. 
The soup: I heard the server advise the 'soup of the day' flavour no fewer than 25 times in the hour I was there.  Why it wasn't added to the completely erasable chalk bard behind the counter, therefore speeding up the process is beyond me.

The coat stand: With the copious amounts of people coming and going, the current coat stand is not sufficient for its needs.  Something I demonstrated when I knocked the overly laden thing over after breathing near it.  Having to replace each coat and accessory with the delicacy required for the game of bucking bronco, I'd ask the owners get a bigger sturdier stand, two even!

Seating: Such is its popularity the cafe was full the whole time I was there with many customers asking staff if there was room upstairs.  The addition of a camera showing the availability would have shortened the disappointment felt by those that didn't arrive at a lucky time. 

But who am I kidding, as complaints go these are pretty lame.  The soup's not named, the coat stand is wobbly and the staff can't see through walls isn't much of a drawback and neither should it be.

Get yourself to The Locker if you're looking for home made foodstuff, well brewed coffee and posts for instagram.  Just get there early and be sure not to wear a heavy coat! 





*the place I declared served the best cheese toasties a couple years back)
**take note Bould Brothers
*** that's a compliment, not a criticism 
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Sunday, 29 October 2017

A Wonderful Weekend - CBG Town Indoor Market

So, as promised today I'm chatting about #CBGTownIndoorMarket Cambridge's own blogger market/cake stand/creative workshop event which a bunch of us went to last weekend.

Spending time with both @girlrunninglate and @pippa_CTx - two of my favourite people - is always fun but this was super-girly-autumnal-creative-blogger-on-steroids kind of fun*.  The always chic Ama Ella Lingerie where there, which you remember, I wrote about a while ago.  Feel free to re familiarise yourself with my post though, I'll wait...


All the cool kids were present and correct.  However while I'm loving this trip down memory lane  - chatting about how gorgeous @feioiInteriors looked and how I enjoyed catching up with sophiekate@claireabellemakes and @kellyannrist - if you don't know this lovely lot it might be a bit dull for you. 

But fear not, I'm getting to the point because the real highlight of the day was the workshop run by @TheTrove. We all got to decorate letters or ampersands with gold paint, autumnal colours, glitter and flowers (doesn't get much girlier does it!). 

This was when the magic thing happened.  When you put the right group of women together and give them something creative to do with their hands its like the stars align.  We put the world to rights, I swear had any of us actually been prime ministers or presidents there'd have been peace on earth by Saturday evening! The comfort level was tangible to the point where some of us revealed a little about ourselves and in the process, became closer as a group.

At least that's how it was for me.  I'd say a stack of the good vibes were due to Pippa's mum who is one of the most vivacious people I have met in a while (she even got chatted up the new coffee shop we went to afterwards).  I find something quite soothing about being around a stable, happy member of the previous generation. Not sure what that says about me...


Anyway it was honestly one of the best weekends I've had in ages and it kind of took me by surprise.  But its the kind I like.  Have you ever had something that was going to be just 'fun' turn into something a bit more meaningful? 



*NB Not saying steriods are fun hmm'kay?
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Sunday, 22 October 2017

Visiting Undley Pumpkin Patch


Hola, 

So I'm doing the thing everyone tells us not to do today by adding a random post after not updating my blog for a while. I honestly have about 10 half finished ideas for blogs at the moment, none of which have been completed because 'lazy' and 'busy'.  However I had to add a little post today as this morning I went to Undley Pumpkin Patch which depending on your view and whether you have/like kids is either ridiculously fun or hell on earth! 


As a child-free person that loves the autumnal season in particular I'd say its a bit of both. True there were some kids screaming and contorting their spine 'til you swear its about to snap because they aren't allowed on the bouncy castle again.  However if you can ignore this the pumpkin patch is the best around, I lost count of the sheer number of shapes, sizes and colours that were available.



They have a huge array of the weird, wiggly, 'hipster pumpkins' or gourds/squashes as well. These little beauties were the very reason we drove for 45 minutes and I was not disappointed.  I'd even go so far as to say this is it the happiest I have ever been in a field, in the middle of nowhere, watching #StormBrian whip small children up in the air and fling them over to live out their days in the land of Oz*



Whatever your family situation if you're a fan of autumnal veggies - for creative or edible reasons - Undley Farm is definitely the place to go. Those that aren't used to being around a mess** of littl'uns I would suggest military precision planning to get in, get your squash and get out before the hoards arrive!



Thanks to Charlotte Steggz whose instagram post inspired my trip. 

Incidentally, Charlotte arranged #CBGTownIndoorMarketa clothing and crafts fair in Cambridge which was my other creative seasonal event this weekend.  We enjoyed a wonderful workshop run by The Trove in which we decorated letters and signs, a necessity for any self respecting blogger's bedroom or office. 

If you want to know more you'll have to pop back next week as this will be the topic of my next post.  This stuff isn't just thrown together you know***!

*Fairly huge exaggeration.
** yes that is the correct grammatical term of a collection of children
***Well not often...
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Tuesday, 26 September 2017

I bloody love Autumn



I bloody love Autumn, when most other people are like 'boo hoo summers over' I’m Winnie the Pooh on the first day of Autumn.  You've probably all seen the gif but its pissing me around so I'm not adding it here.  And yes I did just compare myself to a round, yellow bear... But I digress

I seriously do not understand not being into this season, it’s so pretty! It’s still usually quite warm, less extreme than summer and means that Christmas is less than 100 days away.

It’s also a season when fashion gets dangerously cosy, if it were possible to be snuggled to death it would happen in Autumn.  Add to that the fact that shades of maroon, burgundy and deep red - my favourite colours - have consistently been on trend in the third quarter and you get a Middle Sister who is pretty much giddy with crisp seasonal contentment.

So, when Boudoir Femme had a 'new season' evening I had to go! As one of my first stops for independent Cambridge couture I’m always happy to see what they are recommending for our attire, and they didn’t disappoint. 


Cute cross body bags in blood red (#toldyouso) leather, fedora style hats that beg to be worn at jaunty angles and studded ankle boots, with just enough heel to give you an edge but not so much that you fall arse-over-tit were all on offer.  


I was particularly taken with this year’s collection of kitteny soft jumpers which were accented with colourful hearts or sparkly patches.  One designer, Scotch & Soda, even go so far as to, on occasion, gift their customers with accessories when they buy an item of clothing.  In effect meaning you are saving money at the same time as investing in a gorgeous jumper.  It just doesn’t get any better than that!

Hanging out with @lifesacatwalk and @girlrunninglate is always a joy, and this time I got to meet @saysallymay as well.  All whilst sipping a glass of fizz and mentally working out what I had just bought in my head and if I really needed to pay my mortgage this month or could I just have ALL THE THINGS!

The clothing in Boudoir Femme isn’t what I would call easily affordable, but if you wanted to treat yourself… very nicely indeed, I would highly recommend you take a turn around this small but perfectly formed boutique.

See you there? 

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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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