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

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?

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


Wednesday, 26 July 2017

The Return of Guilty Viewings

Sometimes I use this blog as a place to disclose things that I probably shouldn't. But as that seems to be a theme this year I may as well go all in.  Its confession time again. 

That's right, I have another guilty televisual pleasure.  Being a self-confessed tele-addict it was bound to happen again.  Yes again, I’ve written about these before way back in 2010 when I had NO IDEA the Kardashians would turn into the multi-million dollar empire of egotism that they are.  Just so you know I have been watching some well-produced, brilliantly written, thought provoking TV - I’m looking at you Billions, Big Little Lies and The Handmaid's Tale. However I’ve also taken to ‘de-stressing’ with some mind numbing trash. While the rest of the world was binging on Love Island I've gone retro.

I know…

I KNOW! Alright, I can’t help it.  It’s not a wish to be like them, it’s more “living vicariously without having to deal with the drama, wind down at the end of the day” type of situation. I started to watch 1 episode a day from the beginning a couple of weeks ago as E! is now showing it from the beginning.  While the quality of the picture now emulates the content, it’s still highly addictive.

I love Bethany.  Dear, sweet and as grounded as you can be when you’re a millionaire daughter of absentee father who is desperate for marriage and a child* Bethany.  I hope to hell I’m not like Ramona, who’s emotional maturity looks to have only just entered kindergarten**.  I like Jill for her intellect though question her materialism and I think Alex needs to be a bit more honest with herself and LuAnn to take herself less seriously.

And really I think this is exactly what this sort of TV is for.  It’s harmless, they will most likely never know and won’t care what you think anyway judgement! I find watching the clothes, the parties and the childlike misunderstandings all deliciously indulgent while being oh so grateful I’m not one of them.

I’m certain there are people judging me for my viewing habits as harshly as I’m judging the housewives. Well judge away!  A glass of wine, bar of chocolate and RHONY binge can be exactly what the doctor ordered.  Its true, I have been known to get bored as easily as I get addicted, so my affection for the show many not last all the way up to the present season anyway (can you believe there are 9 series?!).  For now though, I'm enjoying the ridiculousness of the...

 What’s your guilty viewing?

  *Season 1 obviously
**Hey American review, American words 


Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Why do I blog?

It’s a question I’ve pondered quite a bit recently.  Why do we write about our passions or what drives us?  And why do we then post these thoughts on the internet for anyone to see? 

For me it started as something to do when my husband went off on mountain biking weekends and I was bored.  It featured a few snarky comments on red carpet dresses or celebrities I wasn't particularly taken with however now its become so much more. Its a creative outlet where I am governed by no one but myself, whether I am writing about the events and opportunities I am fortunate enough to be presented with or something more personal.  I decide what to write and what to leave out and that's something I'm aware not everyone understands.  

I've come to believe some view it as exhibitionism, surmising ‘who would talk about personal issues then put it on social media if they weren’t simply seeking attention’?  What these people may not see is that adding these more personal posts is a great coping mechanism for me.  When I blog on my life and thoughts its to pursue understanding about why I do what I do and feel what I feel. It gives me clarity and makes me feel empowered in a way nothing else in my life has*. But it has another outcome, by spewing my thoughts out into the world it stops them from constantly circling around my head, stops self-reflection turning into self-centred narcissism.

Privacy is something else people question but again I've discovered this means different things to different people.  For example with the exception of the one black and white image on my home and contact pages, I rarely add pictures of myself to my blog these days**.  I’ve tried it a few times and it just doesn’t feel right so I keep private in that way.  However I love seeing my friends on their sites especially if I have been involved in taking the images. 

In part I'm writing this in defence of us all.  The people I have met within this industry are passionately engaged, seeking to better themselves and the world around them.  They are brave in a way I wish to emulate.  They spend what precious time they have after work and family commitments, discovering new skills and desires or making societal changes.  They talk about everything from fashion and beauty to mental health and personal issues.  While not all will include delicate aspects of their life in their blogs, for me to be authentic I need to. It’s just who I am and I'm happy with that.

Blogging isn't without its consequences.  Recent events highlighting some mistakes I've made here goes to show I don’t always get the balance or tone right, but I'm learning all the time.  And, if I feel a situation I am going through now is something I will want to reflect on in years to come I will write about it.

There will always be people that don’t understand our motivations or maybe think blogging is a shallow pursuit.  Those that don’t understand may well be flummoxed as to why I wrote a blog about why I blog.  However I’m guessing people that do, will know it was the only response possible for me to achieve some sort of closure.
I’m genuinely curious to know why you blog and if you see yourself in any of the above?

**instagram yes but not my blog.


Wednesday, 5 July 2017

My Favourite You Tubers

So last week I randomly found myself with a free Saturday afternoon and spent some of it on You Tube.  I’ve been watching Nicole Arbour since THAT video. ­­­She’s not exactly PC and I get that her humour isn't for everyone, but personally I find her take on religion, social media, ex-boyfriends and America etc. quite hysterical. 

But there are only so much sarcasm even I can take, so I asked my blogger friends to recommend who they watch, and boy did they deliver.  Now I have some new favs to learn from/waste hours over.  Because addiction love company I’m hoping you’ll get hooked as well.  Gowarn, just watch one, everybody’s doing it…

This chick is my new spirit animal. She manages to be both informative and funny.  I crave her articulation skills and her honesty about life, sister’s suicide and her own mental health issues is highly commendable.  Her every day bravery is helping me be brave in a current life fuck moment I appear to have found myself in as well.  Her videos are super short, most are only 3 or 4 minutes long, so are perfect for me and my goldfish style attention span.  That said it is incredibly easy to sit down to watch one, then check the time and see you’ve spent an entire afternoon/day/month watching a cat obsessed nut job*.

These videos are a quite a bit longer than Anna’s.  While I'm not into the endless beauty posts those touching on topics a little deeper, like her mother's alzheimer's or personal growth are wonderfully stylised.  She’s also got mad editing skills.  My favourite videos are ‘Mary’ ‘Do you ever feel’ and ‘where have you been’  I love that she swears in this one as she seems so calm and collected most of the time.

I’m not usually one for perfect videos with perfect toddlers in the arms of perfect mums, but I’ll make an exception here.  While they are A LOT like swanky life adverts for some product we all need to be this awesome, they are worth watching for the cinematography alone.  The images of different places they've travelled around the world and soothing musical soundtrack are great for when you’re having a bit of a hard time and want to escape.

So there you have it.  I’ve really enjoyed finding new two dimensional friends who have NO ideas we are in a relationship. 

Who are your favourite Youtubers to watch?

*in case you hadn't noticed I'm a big fan of cat obsessed nut jobs. 

Images from You Tube and for illustration only.

Friday, 30 June 2017

Gig Review: Royal Blood

All right lets change the mood a bit here.  As Summer kicks into gear, festival and music goers tour the UK seeing their idols perform.  I thought I’d review the experience (not music) I had when I saw Royal Blood.

I’ll start by saying I L.O.V.E.D their first album and played it disturbingly loud for the best part of the last few summers.  The dirty baselines and telling lyrics of Mike Kerr (vocals, bass) and Ben Thatcher (drums) is just what rock needs right now. 

What it doesn’t need is any more attitude... but it looks like it’s getting it anyway.

At the Corn Exchange the guys did a great impression of two people making amazing music together but not wanting to be there or actually acknowledge the room full of their fans. Each song (played with flare and precision) was followed by 10-15 seconds of sweet FA!  

A black whole of interaction.   

I’ve never really understood why bands react this way.  I mean it’s not like we are doing anything but singing along to all the songs we know or enjoying one of our favourite bands. I know they don’t suffer from anxiety the way some other lead singers have been known to because I've seen them support Foo Fighters and watched Mike strut out on stage like he was headlining.  So what gives? 

I’m not asking for a deep and meaningful, just a ‘Hello Cambridge’ at the beginning a ‘Goodnight’ at the end and a couple of sentences in the middle while they fiddle with their guitar strings.  If Frightened Rabbit can do it, a 55 year old Axel Rose can do it and Dave Grohl can make an art form of it, you guys can too.

From where I was sitting it looked like Royal Blood experienced a very forgiving crowd who chanted their name, filling the empty space usually reserved for the band members to makes us feel like part of a tribe.  Which is why it was all the more perplexing to hear Mike tell us we had a lot to make up for when he deigned to (finally) ask us if we were having a good time... just before the last song.  Small piece of unsolicited advise? It might help if you pretend like we've all paid £25 to come and see you and put on a feckin' show eh?

Proof that I'm all for second chances (and I do rate them as a band) I'm heading to see them in Nottingham later this year, fingers crossed for a different experience.

Have you ever had an experience like this with a band you love?


Friday, 23 June 2017

Event: Winsor Bishop Independent Jewellers

Is it just me or do you too find posh stores can sometimes be a little intimidating?  It’s not just a fear of the ‘pretty woman’ once over, sometimes I feel a bit like a fraud for even daring to step into the place.  I’m sure a neon sign that says ‘she is wasting your time’ goes on over my head that only staff of luxury boutiques can see.  I'm a wait and save up kind of women, and if I really like something I know I'll get there eventually so it doesn’t stop me, but I will admit to feeling a little uncomfortable at times.

One place that really doesn't stress me out though is Winsor Bishop, this independent Trinity Street store has the most welcoming and accommodating staff.  You really feel like you are sitting round a friend’s beautiful lounge when you go in… If your friend had more bubbly than a champagne house in France and a whole shed load of precious stones that is!

A fortunate few bloggers (myself included) got to have an exclusive look around the Cambridge store at their blogger event this week.  Mini cakes and prosecco was offered (and gratefully accepted) and we got to try on anything we wanted.  Hearing the staff tell stories of the ‘Indiana Jones dude’ who sources their gems not only conjures up ideas of magical adventures, it also puts my mind to rest on if their jewels are conflict or not*.  And that’s a really good thing because these gems make me wonder if I need both my kidneys or if one kidney and a tennis bracelet would suffice?

While the quality jewellery is pretty expensive because much of it is made in the Norwich store the middle man is cut out, so the price isn’t as crazy as you might think.  They also stock a number of other well-known brands as well as a few I’d not heard of.  A new favourite of mine is Halcyon Days, and Winsor Bishop is the only stockiest of their embossed bangles and bracelets in Cambridge.  

The Norwich store being open since 1834 has already cemented stories of generation after generation coming to purchase their engagement rings, push presents and first watches.  However the Cambridge shop is only six months old and has all its stories still to come. Wouldn’t it be cool to be a part of them?

Have you been inside yet?

 *they’re not in case you were wondering.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Layaway Friendships

We all have them.  People who you were so close to but now never see and barely even speak with.  If you don’t yet, count yourself lucky but it happens to everyone eventually, friendships slip away.  

I'm not talking about those that part company after a disagreement, it’s the ones that have just dropped away, usually for one of two reasons.  Either one person has moved to another part of the world and time zones have killed things off or its when one has kids and the other doesn't.   For many, including me it's that the second one that is at fault.

Inspired by @Lifesacatwalk’s post on outgrowing friendships I've been thinking about those people in my life that I truly love but that haven't been around for a considerable amount of time.  Old friends who don't seem to ever be free to come to my neck of the woods.  And when we did meet up would spend what time we had together talking about themselves or focused on their kids.  

These aren't people that have treated me badly, on the contrary up until some years ago I would have said they were as close as family.  It’s just that their interests and time constraints have made it more than a little tricky for us to connect. The years pass, the divide grows and any invitation sent seems to get ignored or acknowledged with an ‘absolutely let’s fix a date’.  But the date never gets fixed.

Just so I am clear and people don't loose their shit talking about generalisation I'm not saying this is everyone that has children.  For some the balance seems to work naturally and I have many friends who are parents that I see regularly.  It is also not in any way an attack on those that choose to have offspring.  Yay for you and your valid life choice, it’s just one that I didn’t make for myself. And I have zero regrets about that.

Now if you're reading this post and seeing yourself please don’t think for one moment you have to explain or persuade me to understand why things are separating between us.  I get it. Your kids are everything to you, you’re busy being a parent, a person and a mum* or you live in a time zone that doesn't match with mine. There isn’t always room to see and catch up with everyone you love. 

And the thing is I've changed too.  I have so many blessings in my life that are important to me.  I too have a limited amount of time to spend with family and friends, on my passions and career aspirations. I'm not going anywhere but I’m equally not able to instigate our meetings either.

Maybe you too feel a tinge of regret that we haven't caught up recently or you haven't replied to a message.  If so I hope you know that there is no judgement, no grudges held or feelings hurt from my side of things.  Its okay, better than okay its life and I'll be here ready to chat when we can both invest in this relationship again.

Don’t worry, I know I'll see you soon.

*or dad

Friday, 2 June 2017

Event: AmaElla and Neals Yard at Elegant Atelier

Another day another blog event, the scene in Cambridge for those odd people like myself that enjoy online journaling* has never been better, and so I found myself in one of my favourite independent stores.   A small but perfectly formed boutique on Rose Crescent  Elegant Atelier is a delight for the eyes, if sometimes a little sore on the wallet! Sinead, the owner stocks some less obvious brands like Rixo London and Ba&sh, designers which are fast becoming pinterest addictions.  She also has a killer line in Jewellery and has now taken on two intensely scented perfumes from Alice in Perfume (a discerningly good name if you ask me)!

Together with Neal's Yard Remedies they launched the pop up for latest lingerie designers on the block AmaEllaJulie Kervadec and Lara San Gil, the co-founders of AmaElla are immediately different from other lingerie companies as they feel it important their designs are both ethically and sustainably sourced.  Many only bother with one or the other... or neither but I digress.  They work with ethical fashion manufacturers, one here in the UK and another in Portugal which is GOTS certified, so you know its an upstanding establishment.  

With the exception of Oil, Fashion is the most polluting industry in the world** even worse cotton, a natural material, is among the most pesticide-intensive crops that we use to dress ourselves in**.   Julie and Lara together decided that if they were going into business it was going to be in an as kind a company - to both the planet and its people - as possible.  Great for us as that means any White/First World guilt we may feel will be minimal!

This is all well and good but if the design sucks its doesn't much matter I hear you cry.  Well fear not, the cut out detail of the pyjama shorts in particular is classically classy, as is the lace and velvet edging on the pyjama top and negligee.  Sexy yet comfortable and in sizes 32A to 36D (or S, M, L)*** I am so looking forward to seeing what else they have on offer over the coming months. 

What do you think of AmaElla?

Is Ethically/Sustainably sourced fashion important to you?

*what? its a word.... isn't it?... well it is now. #MyBlogMyRules.

** Source:

*** Please see individual sizing chart on their website

Friday, 26 May 2017

A Happy Morning

I've been thinking about being grateful (yes again).

After the events in Manchester, when there is so much wrong with the world it seems some bloggers and westerners in general can get bogged down with first world problems.  Our lives don't appear as perfect looking as others so we sulk and blame the media we are using for our own failings.

I've been blogging for over 6 years though only seriously for the past couple. While I don't have a gazillion followers, a professional photographer to take my images or a size 8 body I'm honestly happy with my lot. 

Just to clarify this isn't a dig at those that are suffering, whether with mental health issues or other problems.  Its just a call to those of us that are wallowing to take a step back and try to see the bigger picture.

We aren't being chased from our homes and country only to be met with suspicion and mistrust from the very people we need help from.  We haven't just had our innocence ripped from us in a mass of nails and misplaced anger.  We haven't watched our children starve to death knowing the same thing could happen to us at any moment.  

Its important to take time to celebrate the little things.  

For me this is being in the moment of a sunny morning playing with a camera.  I'm in relatively good health, I have good friends, a loving family and enough money in my pocket for a pretty little latte.  I've a lot to be happy about and I've a sneaking suspicion that if you look at your life you do too.

Are you making the most of this UK bank holiday weekend?

Monday, 15 May 2017

Travel Time: Barcelona, You sneaky city!

Some cities you fall for instantly.  From the moment you step off the plane and the first time you see the sites you’re enamoured.  Barcelona didn’t do this for me.  Let me explain, I’ve been on a good few European breaks and honestly Budapest and Sienna grabbed me more quickly and I wasn’t sure that Barcelona would do the same.  Its squares didn’t have of the vast historical significance the Pantheon or the grandeur of Piazza del Campo but they had something else, something I didn’t see the first day I was there.   They had community.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  This trip was a birthday present from my husband – 4 nights and 5 whole days in Barcelona.  When we arrived we headed straight for the beach.  I’m not really a beach person but we found a nice shaded bar in which to sup cava and try out the tapas.  It’s here I found my heart softening.  Because Barcelonans know that truffles (in any variety) and cheese (in any variety) are wonderful bedfellows. 
The Gothic Quarter grabbed my attention as a well-trained suitor who doesn’t want you to know he likes you would, subtlety but with intent. As we strolled around winding streets and found ourselves in front of traditionally beautiful cathedrals I felt myself warming.  It may not be my favourite European getaway but it still had its charm.

Then I met Antonio Gaudi. Not literally of course as he died in 1926 but through the genius that is his architecture.  I genuinely do not understand why more architects, designers or artists haven’t followed his lead.  His buildings have an edge of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or the City of Oz about them.  All fantasy and fable but inspired wholly by the natural world as he said himself ‘Everything comes from the great book of nature’.   Sagrada família is bonkers, but anything that’s taken 200 years to finish and still be a priority has to be given probs, though I’d love to see the original estimate of time and cost to see if it had gone over budget a smidge!

If the cathedral gave me goosebumps Park Guell, Casa Batllo and La Pedrera damn near brought me to tears. I don’t often get all ‘connected’ to architects but I am quite certain that Gaudi and I would have gotten on extremely well.  His dreamlike vision and other dimensional ideas are what my creative side has been yearning for.  He’s like the grandfather I never had and if that’s a bit to stalkery for you I’m afraid you’ll just have to learn to deal with it. Because I love him.

On our first night we discovered the best little café bar in the city and visited/got inebriated in it every night thereafter.  You know when you walk into somewhere and they’re playing music that fits your vibe, have the kind of food that makes you want to gorge yourself like a foie gras goose and wine that makes you wonder what you have been drinking all these years? Well that’s Bar But.  I honestly think I may have to kill off some taste buds for a few days until I forget how good it all was so that I can enjoy the sustenance of home.  After three nights we made friends with the staff and my love for the city was cemented.

On the last day I saw more of that community I was talking about before.  Students sitting on piazza steps sharing fresh bread and tomatoes with their friends.  Children and dogs all scampering around whilst spritely grandparents smiled or chased after them.  The buildings all seemed to house independent businesses and had huge windows on the street level that you could look in.  Watching the leather goods makers, carpenters and interior designers so openly ignoring the bustling big city industries just a few streets away gave me pause.

As I walked around, the result of our EU referendum weighed heavy on my heart.  I saw family, not of blood but bonded from a shared space and felt we as a nation had opted out of being a part of something beautiful.  Turning our backs on our friends and neighbours to embrace dated traditions and an empty future.   Love for Barcelona sneaks up on you, at least that’s how it was for me.  I can't wait to go back as there was much I didn’t see and when I do I hope to be made to feel as welcome as I was this time. 

Have you ever been to Barcelona?

What was your favourite part?

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