Top 10 gifts for the “Discworld” Nerd

This is I think, going to be a list of wonderful things that I feel every disc fan would love, plus, it’s a great way for me to plug friends or companies I know, use and love.

There are so many great things for the fan of the Disc, with suppliers of such things as signed books, artworks, socks and even models (Clarecraft for the Vintage and Paul Kidby for some more recent stuff) and the joy that i’ve found is that there are things you can get for really cheap, and those where you can splurge and get something truly fantastic.

I have a friend called Lee who runs Doodlee Crafts (here’s the facebook link)

https://www.facebook.com/Doodleecrafts/

He makes amazing pieces, models and decorative pieces – check out the new bits he’s making for an Alice in Wonderland style day. Feel free to give him a like, a share or even maybe if you see something you love, why not speculate some money for a truly unique piece of art but in the meantime, check out this which he made for a few of us last year (when starting out) and I still wear with pride.

2017-02-27-12-19-13

Gotta love Vime’s badge and some gorgeous Lilac! Especially around this time of year.

I should also take this time to plug my own mini cottage industry Half Baked Productions. I make jewellery and suchlike and every time I do something for charity, if my Disc friends donate, they get a bit of Disc themed stuff. I’ve just moved into making bookmarks too and they all have a special place in my heart as the Disc has always been so special to me.

There are 2 main groups where I do my purchasing normally. The Discworld Emporium (a place I have yet to visit in person and this is probably a good thing otherwise a) I may never leave and b) i’d be bankrupt!.

http://www.discworldemporium.com

This is the official home of the Disc in my opinion, a mini museum and shop all bound into one, with the wonderful Bernard behind the counter to regale you with stories and tales of his and Terry’s time together. It isbased in Wincanton (also a place where I need to visit) and full of wondrous things to purchase. Some of the things I have got from there include…..

Discworld Monthly is a group I’ve been part of for well over 10 years now, Rachel and Jason are lovely people and massive fans, they make wonderful handmade gifts and bits related to the fandom.

I love their stuff as it is made by them and they put their hearts and souls into supporting and keeping the Disc alive in the eyes of new (and old) fans alike.

I got this from them last year…

teacup

All in all there’s so many wonderful things you can buy for your friend the Discworld fan…..games, books, models, apparel, jigsaws and the like that I wouldn’t want to say “these are the must haves” and make everything else simply superfluous. I think if you’re friends with someone who is a fan, and you’re looking to buy them something, gauge their likes and dislikes….or at worst, buy them some kind of gift voucher!

The joy of the Disc is that we’re all together, our aim in life is “Be More Terry” maybe try to talk to your disc loving friend and see what they suggest. Watch one of the DVDs together or play a couple of hands of Ankh Morpork…..one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever gotten from the Disc is the joy of passing it on, to share the love and joy that I feel about the series and I think for me, that is the most important thing. We all get the joy of the books and now we’re all part of a community.

bugs

 

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Clubbercize

I have started (due to the dieting and trying to be healthier and less fat) attending an exercise class. Now I know that that is not a big thing to a lot of people or for that matter something to shout about but I’m finding if I write about things, they tend to become more solid and more of a constant in my life.

A specific class is for me a big thing, I don’t like being in public, I don’t like being seen, I abhor routines and having spent a long time as a child in various classes, it seemed like my idea of hell, but I was told that there was a mystical class you could do, where you’d be dancing, to 90s tunes, in pretty much darkness and this seemed to speak to my soul!

Clubbercize is exactly that, dancing (well, ok workout routines) done to heavy music – unfortunately not that many 90s tunes, a lot of dance though which is always fun – and in semi darkness so no one can see what a mess you look – and WOW did I look a mess!! I think if you’re too bothered about what you see, then the hard work is to avoid that, not to focus on the workout.

A friend of mine came along with me and we went along to see what we could do. To be honest I spend so much time dancing round my flat with my wireless headphones that this seemed like I was just in a much larger group of people – and my boyfriend not looking at me like i’m a weirdo.

There was a large group of people in this group (probably about 30) so it was nice to kind of huddle in the back and try to pick things up from there, one of the best things about this class? No Mirrors to see how frigging ugly I looked! It was quite liberating to know that I looked a mess but didn’t care.

The “trainer” seems very nice, gay and quite camp so ideal for stuff such as this and he was already starting when we arrived. He seemed very positive and encouraging and threw himself right into it. I suppose doing so many classes a week means he’s super fit….I’m not sure I would be able to hack it more frequently, once a week is enough I think. Unfortunately I didn’t get any time to warm up so that probably didn’t help in the long run – note for future, I need to warm up otherwise my thighs feel like concrete for a couple of days afterwards. but we were thrown right in at the deep end with our new flashing glow sticks. The dance routines were full of punches, squats and jumps, all to such high paced music that I would say I was pretty much on the ball for let’s say 70% of the time? I know that a couple of times he gave instructions that I didn’t even hear so had to just sort of dance away to myself with the glowsticks – another note, I should probably not be given glow sticks, they are a pretty distraction and meant I wasn’t paying enough attention, but as a positive, they are good for helping you make a proper fist whilst punching.

A lot of the routines were high impact so there’s a few things that moving forward I’m not sure I should do (jumps and the like can be bad for the ACL replacement) and there were most definitely parts of the evening where I resembled Sanka from Cool Runnings but at least I did it. Hopefully as the weeks go on, it’ll be easier and I’ll feel more co-ordinated.

I did actually really enjoy this class, I came out covered in sweat and knackered but as I get thinner/healthier I’m looking forward to having more activity added to my life.

I did need a lay down afterwards though!!cheshire cat

Anyone else out there starting classes such as these? Or have you been to clubbercize? Let me know how you found it and feel free to pass on hints and tips for generally being fitter. I’ve got a marathon to train for so need to get myself in gear!

What’s the story behind the name of Half Baked Productions?

This is quite an easy one for me, for once, no real soul searching, just an explanation.

jewel 5jewel 3

A few years ago I was stuck, stuck in a dead end job, stuck feeling trapped in my life, stuck feeling sad, and I was sad, about everything. My boyfriend and I had split up and I felt truly broken. I can’t remember a lot about that time as I couldn’t stop crying, I wasn’t eating and wasn’t sleeping and this led to me making some very dangerous decisions – not looking before walking out into traffic, going out to dangerous places in the middle of the night (I think I was hoping to end it all but didn’t want to have to do it myself). My family were worried and made me go to the doctor. He almost instantly signed me off work for a month and I started taking antidepressants and attending therapy sessions every week.

A lot of the therapy I have had in the past was not ideal, there’s a lot of it which for me, just doesn’t work. I mean, one of the first things she advised me to do would be stand in front of the mirror and tell myself 5 things about me I liked, and honestly, I couldn’t think of one (this was evidenced the other day when the On This Day feature showed me that i’d actually posted on Facebook back in 2012 asking my friends for examples of positive things that I have done – sad, depressing and quite desperate). I never found things like that helpful, but one of the things she gave me, which did hit home was that I needed to do things that made me happy, I spent a lot of time focusing on making other people happy and if I wasn’t working on me, no one else would be. This was when I actually decided to focus more on me. I got my hair cut, started doing what I wanted. I ate what I wanted, when I wanted (lasagne at 3am, yes, i’ve done that – unfortunately had to make it from scratch but it was worth it), watched what I wanted (I discovered Ru Paul’s Drag Race and the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills at this point) and generally focused on what I wanted.

I had previously found that making things – baking and the like was fun and on a rummage through old stuff, I re found my jewellery making stuff. I didn’t start off with a plan but nipped to the library, got a book like “Jewellery making for dummies” and basically started making things as a way to improve. At no point did I think I would sell these little creations but a few lovely people who I worked with sort of leapt on this bandwagon with me and made me think about it more seriously.

I happened to be looking after my parents place whilst they were away and used their computer (at this time, I didn’t even have a laptop) and I decided to share some of the pics of bits and bobs I had taken.

I’ll be honest, i’m not the most talented person but have always felt working hard at something will definitely help, I was happy to try new things and also to show my mistakes to help other people improve! It all seemed a bit rushed, a bit unprofessional and a bit Half Baked. So then it struck me. It was all a bit half baked and I liked the way it sounded (plus, given my choice of specific herbs I enjoy inhaling – Half Baked seemed suitable) I needed to clarify I wasn’t stealing from anyone else and had found some similar names but as this was going to be me producing multiples of things which didn’t exactly fit into the standard mold – a mix of bits and bobs I decided it was all going to be a production.

So, there you have it, a mental breakdown, wanting to die and from such an area of sadness Half Baked Productions came into being.

I’ve spent the last few years just using Half Baked as therapy. I still love making things and find if I need to sort my life out, then it’s crafting that I will turn to. I’m not the next Pandora or Mr Kipling, but I do love what I do and am looking forward to putting more work in when we move – a bigger kitchen is most definitely on my wish list!

That’s it I suppose, what about yourselves, where did the inspiration for your blog come from? I’d love to hear some fun (or even not fun) stories 🙂

 

What’s your skin care regime?

I keep thinking, especially due to my increasing age that I should do something about my skin, you know, take a bit more care of myself.

I suppose if I was to believe the hype of people my own age, I should start looking after my skin, but as I’ve never really worn make up, my skin isn’t really too bad. I know that ideally, I should be spending hundreds of pounds on day creams, night creams, anti wrinkle serums, sun protection and the like……now, apart from the sun care, I don’t see the point of anything else.

snowselfie

I know that this is a black and white photo, and everyone looks better in black and white, but i’ve always had the opinion that make up is a bit like a false advertisement….I mean, at least I know that those who love me like this aren’t being lied to about what I look like. I have had makeovers before where I don’t look like me at the end, and although I see this as a positive, others did not.

I’m hopeful, that because my mums skin is pretty good, that the genes will be passed to me, not a certainty but I think i’d rather just age gracefully.

I did consider for a really long time, a total body makeover – and boy do I mean total. The work started at my feet and finished on my head…..scary but true, I know that this was due to the loathing I felt for myself (i’ve never been confident and for a long time, hated many parts of myself) but due to rising costs and (thankfully) me growing up and becoming less hateful towards myself, I never actually followed through with it. I think back in the year 2000 it would have cost me nearly £100,000 to be more comfortable with myself which now I think of it, is terrifying as that would have been the start and then it would have been then need to continue keeping it fresh/keeping it in tip top shape.

I’m really lucky that I have so many lovely people around me who have helped me become more comfortable with myself. Not only family and my love, but also a huge variety of friends who seem to relish building me up and trying to keep me positive. I started watching Ru Paul about 6 years ago now and one of the catchphrases she is known for is “if you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else” which I finally understand, it’s not about being 100% happy with who you are but accepting the person you are and then you’ll be able to accept other people, they may not be perfect but then, neither are you so it’s not about finding perfection (or for that matter, offering it) but merely being the best you can be, accepting that and accepting others on the same values.

Saying all the above, I do have some skin products that I love using. Like the Body shop body butters, some of which I love to use (Raspberry/Passion Fruit and Satsuma) there are some which I have used but unfortunately are too heavy for my skin, I like a cream which feels light and airy. I tend to use the body butters as body cream as opposed to my face but I feel that at least i’m taking some care!

I have seen that some of my friends are now part of the Younique (or the like) empire and I can see a lot of positives with this, to be fair, the ones who I see working for these companies are stunningly beautiful anyway so I think this is probably gilding the lily. What I need to make me better is to meet someone for whom make up etc is not a natural and then they can teach me the basics. I have previously said about wanting to meet a drag queen as I feel they are so good at their make up, they are bound to have tips to make me feel more beautiful! I know that you can find such info on Youtube but I haven’t even had the basic lessons so wouldn’t know where to start.

What do you think? Do you have regimes which you always adhere to? Or do you use products you want to shout about? I’m always interested in what other people use and are in love with, feel free to send me a note/review or some real info. Also, if you’re a make up artist (or drag queen with epic makeup) feel free to drop me a line.

 

What are you wearing today?

I got sent this as a question a couple of weeks ago, from someone I’d never met who I don’t think wanted the following as an answer……

“I work in an office, so today, i’m wearing black trousers, a red long sleeved turtle neck (still too cold for anything else, this is the UK after all!). I’m also wearing matching socks (a rarity for me) as I am taking a lesson today and want to be matched in case of accidents – see that nag from my mum has always struck home.”

Yeah, pretty sure that wasn’t what they wanted in return as in response I got this (and then my response to that is also below)

“Dick”

“Pretty sure as woman I don’t have one of those”

So yes, anyway. Moving on from the randoms (why is it that I’d like people to make contact, ask me stuff, discuss things, give me feedback and I get NOTHING but I get inundated with weirdos like that??) I suppose this is meant to be a way to give my opinions of mass production, clothes sizing and the working conditions faced by those who make them for us

Erm, so what else, I don’t wear makeup, so it’s just my nails painted, a tortoise necklace and that’s it really for today, oh and some battered trainers which really need replacing once money allows.

The weather down here at the moment is still quite changeable, I’m lucky to live so close to the office so only needed a light jacket but the sky is now clouding over and it looks like rain – frustrating as was looking forward to a little walk round the park before i head home this evening.

I am thinking about doing more clothes shopping soon, I do enjoy the fact that my weight is dropping and I’m hoping that by full blown summer I will feel less ashamed of the person I am.

I had a bit of a melt down the other day due to recently starting at Slimming World, my work trousers were too big (a size 16) and I was actually looking forward to buying a size 14, I mean, I don’t think i’ve been in a 14 since I probably WAS 14.

I went into the changing room (having picked up a 14 in the same cut and style as the 16s I was wearing) and tried them on. Unfortunately the 14s came up nowhere near my waist as they were too small 😦 so I went and grabbed a 16 from the rack to measure the difference between the old and new size 16s and was shocked to see 9 whole inches difference.

trousers.JPG

^ exhibit A, the light pink band is the new size 16 and the darker is the older trousers – which I couldn’t get wholly into the frame, I understand smaller differences but seriously?? 9 Inches??

Turns out that’s the worst feeling “yay, i’m not as fat anymore………………..nope, still fat and taunted by clothes shops!”

Due to my recent changes made (Palm Oil Free/Slimming world etc) I should now look at the way my clothes are produced when I do purchase new ones. I think the problem I have with this is once I start then major changes will need to be implemented over my life. I think unfortunately there’s so much bad happening in the world, if you start fighting everything, you will spread yourself too thin. I’d rather make sure that my food is ethically sourced and treats animals and the planet as well as possible and then in the future, take the decision as to going vegan or organic only and then worry about whom is making my clothes, I know that unfortunately, the only way to ensure that everything I do is safe and kind, is to have a bit of a hermit life, at some hut hidden away somewhere completely off grid and lets be honest, I couldn’t live like that, it would be too much for me so I’ll just have to deal with being selfish in that aspect.

What about everyone else, is the weather where you are beautiful and summerlike or are you still huddled in the cold? Feel free (in a non pervy way) to let me know 🙂 Also, if you’ve suffered the same kind of fat shaming from a shop, let me know, It’d be nice to hear that i’m not the only one!

 

 

 

5 fears you have

We tend to define a phobia as ‘an extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something’. You are probably aware of the more common phobias, such as arachnophobia (fear of spiders), claustrophobia (fear of enclosed spaces), and agoraphobia (fear of open places), but did you know there are also words which describe the fear of idlenessworms, and even body odour?

Phobias are more pronounced than fears. They develop when a person has an exaggerated or unrealistic sense of danger about a situation or object.

If a phobia becomes very severe, a person may organise their life around avoiding the thing that’s causing them anxiety. As well as restricting their day-to-day life, it can also cause a lot of distress.

Most of my fears are considered more rational ones, things that actually could happen and could cause problems, some of them are: the fear of failure, letting people down, not being “good” enough, ending up alone, being unable to afford the basics of food/heat/medical care.

Saying that though, I do have some irrational fears and I will write about those as they’re probably more interesting.

Clowns: Coulrophobia: I probably blame countless books/films/TV shows where evil clowns are abundant and over the years I’ve managed to formulate why I hate them, as opposed to just hating them. I find their makeup scary, as someone who suffers with anxiety and depression, I need to know that the smile on the outside is real, as opposed to being painted on despite what is actually happening underneath if you see what I mean? If someone is sad, that’s as fine as if they were happy but there’s no point hiding.

clowns

Moths:  Mottephobia: The fear of butterflies and moths is called lepidopterophobia. Mottephobia, or the fear of moths alone, is closely related to this phobia. Those who suffer generally call themselves mottephobes. Ok, this is a very odd one, it’s not butterflies as well, it’s just moths, the butterflies of the night. I think this has come from being attacked by moths whilst at parties and the like and no matter where I go, they just seem to follow me. It’s weird because I do enjoy butterfly houses and when we last went to the Natural History Museum, they had an exhibit on moths and I managed to finally see a Death’s Head (the one from the Silence of the Lambs) and it was stunningly beautiful. Who knows, maybe i’m maturing in my old age!

moth

Spiders: Arachnophobia: I think this is probably the most feared creature on the planet, I keep trying to organise myself to get over it but no matter how hard I try, they keep coming to scare the crap out of me! I have got some really (now anyway) funny stories from my fear so I suppose that’s a good thing but it still hasn’t helped me mature enough so that i’m no longer scared!

A couple of funny – ish why I hate spider stories…

  1. in an argument with my ex, him having got aggressive and me having got away and literally screaming at him “I don’t need you for anything” walking into the bedroom and finding a huge spider sat right in the middle of it, having to climb down in the argument and having to say “I don’t need you for anything, except…….” I’ve never seen someone so smug so quick – and he did get rid of the spider and I managed to eventually get rid of him, so everyone’s a winner in the end 🙂
  2. Alone in my flat, I saw a spider on the living room wall so as usual (I’d rather not kill a spider) I gave him the speech to say he was welcome so longs as he stayed away from me, he could have the walls, I’d have the floors. Next thing I know, he’s moved and is climbing up the sofa to sit next to me. This freaked me out and I got up and went and sat on my pouffe while the spider had the sofa. Decided after an hour of this that I would go to bed (having no idea where the spider has gone as he went behind the blanket I had on the sofa. Turned all off and went to bed. Woke up desperate for a drink about an hour later so went into the kitchen to get one, turned the light on to see the spider less than 3 inches in front of me, just stood there, not running or moving. Joy.

So there you can see why spiders and I do not get along!!

spiderish

Best Ways I’ve found to Get Rid of Phobias

Getting rid of phobias requires confronting them. You want to get exposure to your phobia llittle by little (small steps), not all at once. Deal with one birthday clown, then working onto more exposure. If you suffer from the fear of flying, first practice imagining the endeavor from takeoff to landing – or you could do what a friend of mine did which was take a flight over to Argentina (a 9+ hour flight) feeling this would be a kind of kill or cure! Next, to take it slowly try looking at pictures or videos of flight. After that, go hang out at the airport – perhaps even board a plane. The goal here is to retrain your brain’s response to flight, to re-condition your fear response.

If anyone has any phobias that they are working through, please let me know, I’m definitely up for making my life better and would rather not be thinking about fear. I’d also love to hear about how you’ve overcome your fear in the past and how you use it to enhance your life now.

A book you love and one you don’t like as much.

This is a toughie because all books I’ve read i’ve been able to find something positive, even for those books that my brain tried to stop me reading.

I adore books, in general I’ve always had a better relationship with books than with humans so this is actually going to be tough to think about just one book that I love and just one that I dislike, or at least, like less.

I think for once I’m going to write about books that aren’t Pratchett – more than anything to prove I can haha – so the book I will write about as one I love is Good Omens, by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett (ok, sorry, I tried!)

good omens

I found this book brilliant, I was obsessed with Pratchett and this just introduced me to another one of my (now) favourite authors.

The subject of the end of days shouldn’t be funny, but the way this story comes together, there is humour, pathos, satire and it is remarkably easy to read. I’ve met a couple of people who read and didn’t like or enjoy the telling but most people i’ve lent this to tend to spend time giggling or snorting out loud in public (seriously, don’t read this on a bus unless you don’t care what people think) and then buying me a new copy as they keep it or pass on to other people.

I don’t want to spoil the story for those who haven’t read it and for those who are saving themselves for the TV series but for me, this is a book I can finish, and then just start again. I find if very difficult not to like a book about how plans for Armageddon hit a snag when a scatterbrained Satanic nun misplaces the Antichrist and about a clairvoyant witch of the Nutter family.
The characters of Aziraphale and Crowley are a brilliant dynamic and I’d like to think that if there were such things as Angels and Demons, this is how they would be, stuck on a planet together for thousands of years, thrown together and after so many years, of course they find something in common – even if that’s just fine dining and feeding ducks. It’s even a book where Kids don’t irritate me, the Them as they are known should be in some kind of Norman Rockwell world but are still brilliant, fun and makes me yearn for that kind of youth – unfortunately now long gone.

I would recommend this book to anyone, i’ve gone through 4 or 5 copies of this by doing that but am pleased to be passing this info on and hopefully igniting new passions in my friends.

Ok, a book I didn’t like as much, hmmm, I could write about a few different books here, for example, Harry Potter. Ok, before you all shout me down about how “they’re the best books ever” they “introduced reading to a whole new generation” blah blah blah I know that’s what a lot of people think but the first 3 books in the series (which were the only ones I could force myself to finish) were written for children, so when I get adults preaching at me about the quality of writing etc, it tends to rub me the wrong way. Whilst I do appreciate a new generation of readers, I don’t think that the writing was of sufficient quality to rave about as an adult……but then, saying that, a lot of people I know read and seemed to actually enjoy the writing in 50 Shades of Grey (and if you haven’t spent loads of time reading the negative reviews of this on Amazon, you’re missing out!) but anyway, I digress.

A book I like less, would be Stephen King’s IT.

IT COVER.JPG

This is a great book, a brilliant story, but for me, a common problem I have had with Stephen King is that he seems to lose steam halfway through the story. It’s a real shame because I want a thrilling book, which I can absorb, become part of but the last third of this is like he’s run out of ideas and is just scratching the bottom of the barrel to reach the required word count. It’s a real shame as the premise of this speaks to my soul (clowns terrify me) and it’s one of those books that I do enjoy but get tired of.

Some parts were truly creepy at first and initially, as often happens with King, I couldn’t put it down. But then, as also often happens with King, it hits a brick wall and becomes so over-long and has so many unnecessary elements that get in the way of the main story that it becomes a bloated, endless chore to finish. People often say they hate the ending of this book…I did not hate it or love it. I had checked out at that point and simply wanted it to be over no matter who lived or died or whether they defeated It or not.

This book is at least 300 pages too long and that is the least that could have been completely cut out without hurting the story in the slightest. Included in those 300+ pages are some particularly disturbing sequences and elements which were just sickening, unnecessary and, to me, actually took away from the main story.

So, what do you guys say? Have a book you love (or one you hate) that you HAVE to tell people about? What’s the first book you would lend out of your library? Or of course, if you hated Good Omens or love IT, why not try and sway my thoughts? I’m always happy to talk about books with people and have different views to my own.

A fruit you dislike, and why…..

This is a really easy one for me. The fruit which if I was in any way able to remove it from the planet would be…..

Bananas.

banana

Yes, yes, I know, that’s weird, EVERYONE loves bananas etc but for me, they are just horrible. The taste is odd, the texture is mush (and therefore as I have teeth, not needed) and they aren’t even refreshing. I’m not a huge fan of oranges but at least they can be refreshing or covered in chocolate 😉

It’s something that as i’ve got older, I’ve tried to learn to like more foods (I hated olives as a kid until we moved to Spain, at that point, I was converted) but no matter how often I re-try this fruit. It’s always the same reaction.

I gag at the smell and then put it into my mouth, trying to avoid the smell and just focusing on the flavour. It never works. I’m able to eat it but there is no pleasure involved, at all which is sad. My partner loves bananas so thankfully if I ever get them from my fat club, I know that they will not be wasted.

Now, despite the fact that I don’t like bananas, this is a brilliant recipe for using them up and passing them on to others who will probably love the gift and the cake itself 🙂

  • 2 to 3 very ripe bananas, peeled
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour

The easiest thing to do is just mix this all by hand, and if the lack of sugar is something you worry about I would suggest adding some chocolate chips whilst it bakes, makes a yummy topping too.

Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C), and butter a 4×8-inch loaf pan.

2 In a mixing bowl, mash the ripe bananas with a fork until completely smooth. Stir the melted butter into the mashed bananas.

3 Mix in the baking soda and salt. Stir in the sugar, beaten egg, and vanilla extract. Mix in the flour.

4 Pour the batter into your prepared loaf pan. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour at 350°F (175°C), or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

5 Remove from oven and let cool in the pan for a few minutes. Then remove the banana bread from the pan and let cool completely before serving. Slice and serve.

A quick Hello!

Hi everyone!

I keep getting emails saying more people are following my blog – which is surprising, I mean, who would want to listen to stuff I have to say? apparently a few of you! Therefore I thought i’d say hello and give a little description of me and my blog.

Firstly, I’m Polly, i’m 35 (how is that even possible – I was only 20 2 minutes ago) and I’m living in the South of the Uk with my partner (the man). he will remain nameless as he’s very antisocial and I totally respect that -even if it means for photos I need to rely on either A LOT of red wine or ninja photographers 🙂 . We’ve been together for 6 years and looking for a place in the area we live. We currently live together but it’s a very small flat and we (ok, ok, it’s actually me) need more space.

stuart

I’m a fan of cooking, crafting, travel, photography, reading – i’m a massive Terry Pratchett fan, politics, board and computer gaming, trash tv and writing about things which interest and amuse me. I’ve set myself a challenge for my 40th birthday and being more comfortable with blogging is on this list (see my 40 for 40 post to see this list in all it’s glory!) so am always happy to be given things to discuss or write about – be that books, films, food, places and ideas so if you want to see something on here, simply let me know!

I try to do mad things and stuff for charity every year – to both scare me and prove how awesome humans really are and this also gets written about a lot!

I spend a fair amount of time looking and working around food, I set up my little business Half Baked Productions a few years ago and spend my time making, baking and creating. I tend at the moment to not do too many fairs due to time restraints but I love making things and find it calms me a lot. I have suffered from depression for a really long time but have found that things such as this help me to remain happy and not get too bogged down with things. I love Half Baked because it gives me both an outlet but also to shout about other small personal businesses that I love, we all need to stick together am I right?

I have however started following a diet, I have noticed that I am less Rubenesque and more just fat. I feel uncomfortable with it and it doesn’t help either my self esteem or depression so I am also occasionally using this page for a sounding board, of things I make or things which catch my eye. This means that most of the things I make (some are below) are now out of my allowances 😦 it’s a shame because some of the things I make are banging!

So yes, thanks for following and for those of you who read, comment or share I am very grateful. I try to write often but at the moment do not have the ability or time to write everyday. I try to be as honest as I can but would rather not be mean for the fun of it. If I write something which I think could be taken as mean, I try to amend and re-write. Just to be me though, I do occasionally have rants. I apologise if it’s not for you but I look forward to having you all along on my blogging journey. All the support is much appreciated and I’m really pleased to be part of this wordpress world 😀

 

Amsterdam

So this is my second part of my Holiday blog, talking about places where I have been and loved.

We (my parents, myself and the man) went to Amsterdam to celebrate my mum’s 70th. I’d been before as a child but this was my first time there with family and the man I love so I was really excited, we were flying from Southampton – so local and we would be in a turbo-prop (which I love) so I was really looking forward to it.

The other half is less of a seasoned traveller than I am and I could tell as soon as we were boarding, that this was not a pleasant experience for him, which is a shame as it was a great quick flight and I had hoped he’d find it easier – sleeping pills for next time I think!

Unfortunately as my camera died on day 1 of the holiday, I have basically no pics from this holiday. I will upload those I do have though so it won’t be totally dry! 🙂

As we were in Amsterdam for my mum’s birthday, we were in a really plush hotel, the NH Dam Square.

amsterdam hotel.JPG

Honestly, the poshest place i’ve ever stayed, it felt a bit pretty woman to be honest as was certain we would be looked down upon! Our rooms were stunning, massive and with a lovely bay window over the street to the right of the hotel. Check out these bathrooms too!

amsterdam bathroom

We arrived, wandered down the main drag and went to go get changed/settled. The man and I wanted to get out and have a walk around as we’ve never been there before. We just had a wonderful evening walk which we finished off by getting frites – I always travel with a list of foods I want to try and one of the first on the Dam list was frites with peanut sauce…..which most certainly did not disappoint.

I also managed at this point to find a shop (literally right under our hotel) which sold fresh Stroopwaffles……..oh my word, best thing ever!

amsterdam stroop

We were very close to the centre and whilst it was bitterly cold, it was also fun to explore and nip into cafes for coffee or the like. I didn’t enjoy the Red Light district to be honest, I’ve nothing against that if people wish to do that but it was the only place I felt the Tourist vibe and it just wasn’t as comfortable as the rest of the city. I think it was filled with drunk english people and a lot of drug dealers, which surprised me given the nice atmospheres we’d encountered in all the cafes.

We managed to find a great little cafe (when in Rome and all) which was wonderful, warm, inviting, gay, full of music and lights. We spent about 5 minutes looking at the drinks menu awkwardly when the staff pointed us to the special menu, basically once you’ve bought that, then you can stop etc for a drink. We got supplies and purchased a little summin summin for our days there. The bar was wonderful though as they were happy for us to play games like Sushi Go and Love Letter whilst we sat and enjoyed the area. Once we’d had some time, we went further afield and found a gorgeous little square where we sat and put the world to rights, seeing some of the Blue light area, which was much more secluded but more fascinating to us.

The square itself is beautiful but also has it’s dingy side, the student hostels that we were overlooking reminded me of previous travel fun, I recommend it if you’re sociable and want to travel with new friends but if you want to sleep properly/have some privacy, it’s probably worth spending a bit more to get proper accommodation! The bikes which were frankly zipping dangerously all around us was something we had thought about hiring to have the proper experience but seeing some of the mad people riding them, the last thing I wanted to do was join in!

amsterdam fun 1amsterdam fun 2

The next day we all met up for breakfast before we went to see the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh museum. both of which were stunning. I’d been waiting to see the Van Gogh museum for years so was really pleased to get in (with no queueing – thanks I amsterdam card) and see the wonderful pieces and learn more about the man behind them. One of the bonus’ about the man is that he is very knowledgeable about art and the like so it’s always interesting to see art with him as this means I learn more. We saw one of the copies of the Sunflowers, which is beautiful to behold. It was also very interesting to learn more about his mental illness. It cuts deep to hear about it and to see the beauty that madness can cause.

One of the nicest little things from the Van Gogh museum was the temporary exhibition downstairs about Monet and Manet and even included a copy of Monet’s boat, where he would live/paint for weeks on end to watch the world pass by. Really beautiful to see.

I’ll be honest, there were some negative points to this day, my other half was in an awful mood and this did mar the day somewhat, and unfortunately due to the stress, when we entered the Rijksmuseum, he disappeared and I had a panic attack which pretty much ruined the day for me. I had wanted to see the real Night Watch – an obsession since the Pratchett book but I really didn’t see it. I spent most of the couple of hours alone in the museum and am not sure I could return – I would like to, and as a note for those who get panic attacks, the toilets in the Rijks are lovely.

The next day was my mum’s birthday. She had plans for the day but we were due to meet friends for dinner so the man and I went a-wandering again, seeing the Diamond museum and taking a boat cruise.

We were lucky enough to see friends on the day of her birthday for dinner, these are a lovely woman who lived/worked in Competa when we moved there and her now husband and child (who we’d not met previously), they were waiting in the lobby for us and a great evening was had. There was a lot of wine drunk and some of the nicest food the man has ever had (honestly, he is now obsessed with onion chutney in his search for the holy grail of yumminess!). The meal was lovely and we managed to get some great family shots afterwards as well – which given the man’s social anxiety was proof that much wine had been had!!

The day after our wonderful meal, we had I think so far, my favourite breakfast ever. The room was an old swimming pool which has been refitted and the room is massive, airy and very plush. There was omelette stations, fresh baking, meats, cheeses, fruits (and freshly squeezed fruit juice – try courgette and carrot juice, they are stunning) and unlimited bubbles and pastries to help you wake up. My mum didn’t want any fuss but I ignored that so  told the waitress it was her day (well, they noticed her presents on the table) so she was “thrilled” when they sang and gave her cake! I think we could have stayed there for hours just chatting and snacking but the plan had been to again go exploring and the man and I decided the day would be ended with space cake – well, you’ve got to really haven’t you?

breakfast amsterdam

Amsterdam zoo was on the cards first though. As previous readers will know, I love zoos so longs as the animals look happy and safe and Amsterdam, whilst small was full of fun things to see – including a bat house, which was great but for some odd reason has toy bats hanging from the ceiling – which we did not at all take 10 minutes to work out that they were not real!

The penguins and monkeys were definitely my favourite, it was bitterly cold and there was a lot of work being done so am looking forward to seeing the changes that are done within the next few years/months.

Although we’d found the nice cafe on the first night, it had taken another couple of days to re-find it. We eventually did and purchased a couple of slices to enjoy later back at the hotel. We wondered back, stopping off in funky little shops and seeing wonderful sights – there was a really lovely places just to sit and enjoy the view and put the world to rights. It was in December so a lot of pretty lights and decorations in shops and on the streets.

Amsterdam was a wonderful place to spend some days, I wouldn’t want to be there for long, there’s so much else I want to see elsewhere in the Netherlands but was great to be there, see the sites and tick off somewhere else with the man.

So dear reader, what do you think? Have you been and have great stories from the area or are you looking at exploring a new place? Would love to hear your views. have a great day 🙂

 

Talk about your tattoos and the meaning of them.

This really won’t take long as i’m one of the few people I know without any.

It’s not as i’m against them per se but I know that something I love now, may not be the same in 10 years time and to be frank, I don’t want to get something tiny and then inevitably get it covered by something else once my mind changes……down that route, madness waits.

I have a lot of friends who do have tattoos, not all to my taste though and I do worry that even if I found something which I did love at the time, I’d soon change my mind and want to change it and unfortunately, the way these things work is you may have a tiny tattoo but if you want it covered, it can become massive very quickly.

I’m not anti tattoo’s per se, I don’t understand some people’s choices (I mean……honestly) but that’s one of the joys of humanity I guess.

A friend of mine has some really amazing artwork, colourful, very her and everytime I see them I think how beautiful they are, but then another friend has a massive piece on her back and it’s hideous (and on her back, so if it was lopsided or spelt wrong or whatnot, how would she ever be able to tell before it’s too late?).

I was lucky enough to live very close to a tattooist when I lived in Spain, we used to hang out quite often and he let me sit in on some sessions with other people. To be fair he used to have a lot of pot around so i’m surprised that his artwork was actually beautiful but also think this was an excellent pain control for those being inked!

I think i’ve decided against it, if nothing else, because it will hurt. I’ve never enjoyed pain and I feel that this would be too much for my fragile little self, although if I were to get something, I’d love to get something Terry or Discworld related. One of the books focuses on the gods and demons of dwarf mines, one of which is called “The Summoning Dark”

summoning dark.JPGT

he Summoning Dark is a pan-dimensional creature and spirit of vengeance from dwarf mythology. The Dark’s mine sign rune is described as like “a floating eyeball with a curly tail”. The Summoning dark is one of various “Darks” that occur in dwarfish mines – among these are the Following Dark, the Calling Dark, and the Long Dark. The Summoning Dark is described as the worst of the Darks, something a dwarf would call upon only in the most desperate of circumstances. Traditionally, light keeps the Dark at bay – for example, in Thud!, the dwarfs of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch place candles around a version of the sign in order to contain it.

Mustrum Ridcully told the Patrician that he believed the summoning Dark to be be a quasi-demonic entity that was untold millions of years old. It came into being at the beginning of the multiverse, but as it drifted near no major accretion of belief (such as the gods), it tumbled through the void, semi-sentient and bereft of purpose.

This to me in the book signifies a powerful entity, which normally uses the host and then destroys it, the whole point is that Sam Vimes overcomes this, fights the Dark and brings out his own powerful quasi entity “the watchman” – “who watches the watchmen? He does” and the Dark leaves him with this mark. It shows a battle fought and won and a battle which could have broken you and that is why if I were to have any, that would be it.

Feel free to try and sway me in the comments, do you have any tattoos? One’s you regret or are happy with? Send me pics, show me art. Get involved!

Have a superb day anyway! x

A family member you do not like

Hmm, I’m not sure I have one. I mean, sure, there’s members who I do not speak to, or see or for that matter know what’s happening in their lives but I don’t think it’s that I don’t like them, I learned a few years back through gossip that a lot of my family feel that I’m the black sheep because of the choices ive made with living my life and you know what? I’m cool with that.

As a great friend said today “i’m caring, i’m funny, i’m loving and sometimes i’m an idiot and I make mistakes but if people only want me to be perfect then they will miss out on a lot of good stuff” and I think that’s right. There’s things my family have done and choices they have made which I do not understand but if that’s their choice, then that’s fine. Life’s too short to hate.

I was lucky enough to spend time living with my brother and his girlfriend when I moved back to England, the fact that I was away from my parents for the first time was liberating and I honestly do believe that the time I spent with them was the most fun few years of my teens. They taught me so much and helped me grow into the person I am now.

I think that due to suffering from fairly harsh depression a few years back, I thought a lot about my family and the way we relate to each other. The best thing I found is that depression shows you who really cares, who really matters and who really loves you. I moved flat and the people who helped were my parents or friends, not my cousins, aunts, uncles. I had 6 months off work due to operations, got through it with friends offering to help, or my parents looking after me. I should say  that my bro and sis weren’t really able to help being so far away but I will always thank them for putting up with me, making me smile, sitting on the phone when i was down, sending me love and care from afar.

I have been thinking about this subject matter a lot and to be honest, although there are family member’s i’m not fussed about being pals with, or talking to frequently but I think that I don’t want to hate, or dislike. There are fundamental differences in the person I am and the people they are and having been the “bad” example in the family, I say Ok, they may not agree with the way I live my life but as Mama Ru says “people talking sh*t since the beginning of time, less they payin’ your bills pay them b*thches no mind”

People can have any opinion of me they like, it’s no skin off my nose.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot in my family that I don’t understand (some are Tory voters, some voted to leave the EU, some are just idiots) but that’s life isn’t it? it’s better to just let bygones be bygones as I don’t want to waste my energy on that! There are some things that no matter how well you discuss, argue, however many facts you provide, you just won’t change people’s minds.

My family are pretty much all amazing though, I know that those I don’t speak with don’t miss me or vice versa, and over the years, I’ve realised that the friends I have are the family I have chosen for myself. There’s people I talk to about things that I keep from my family and some people who are easier to talk to about things, this isn’t because I don’t like my family but sometimes it’s easier to not worry those who are blood. I mean, if I have an argument with the man, I don’t need to vent to my mum about what a tool he can be, as I know that once we’ve sorted things, we will both be fine, whereas my mum would still be worried. I suppose that family can be great and can be a curse, I wouldn’t want to lose them. I have seen both my best friend and my man’s family break apart after death and that’s one of the things that scares me the most. My brother and parents haven’t had much contact in years and I hope they can mend that rift before it’s too late to. I know that’s very dark but I cannot imagine a worse conversation to have than “come, it’s nearly too late” or “next week come as there’s a funeral”

Anyway, that’s how I feel about my family. There’s a lot of people who don’t have the relationship we do and although it’s not perfect, I am lucky to have so many loving people around me.

Some of my family…….not all blood but all linked to my heart.

 

share about a recent holiday

Prague and Amsterdam are the most recent, and even they were 2 years ago. I’ll be honest, they were both amazing but for different reasons so I have decided to write about both in separate blogs.

Prague – Czech Republic

For my dad’s 65th birthday, we went to Prague (myself, the man and my parents) we all stayed in the same hotel but were lucky enough to spend some days exploring and seeing this amazing place.

prague 13

Our hotel was wonderful, it was an eco hotel so very good for the environment and had (without doubt) the oddest breakfast options i’ve ever seen. Each morning was a buffet style of breakfast, with the usual, cereals, meats, cheeses, coffees etc and then there were the “mystery toureens” which over the days were filled with a variety of what I could consider standard breakfast items (bacon, eggs) and some more esoteric offerings, such as some kind of spinach soup, a mushroom stew and roasted potatos. All very lovely and a great way to prompt breakfast conversation!!

It’s full of history, and quite a lot of depressing history too but it was a place which was happy from our wanderings, they were open about the issues that has happened but without being mournful about it.

We were lucky enough to be staying fairly close to the centre (probably about a 15 mins tram away) so that meant we could explore but also be far enough away from the hen/stag areas which was a bonus, it tended to be that we would meet in the Hotel for breakfast – which was an adventure in itself – and then split up for a day of wandering then back together for the evening meal.

My dad’s meal was at a restaurant called Pět peněz – which is apparently something to do with school times as the walls are covered with old school reports and photos of the staff and (I’m assuming) friends of the group behind it, which is lovely, a really comfortable cozy restaurant with absolutely GIANT portions! Those who know me know I can eat like there’s no tomorrow but even I couldn’t handle it all! We’d gone to celebrate my dad’s birthday and we all got delightfully stuffed full and drank far too much – dad and I discovered Hills Absinthe, which I’ve later found out is over £100 over here for the bottle (;-0) so we were all in very good spirits, the waitress was fun, had one of the filthiest laughs i’ve ever heard and when I went to get the cake set up as dad’s surprise, she grabbed it, ran off to the kitchen and insisted they added cream, candles, sparkly things and pretty much everything else haha…..he was thrilled we were so “low-key”. If anyone is heading out there, this is a wonderful place to eat!

The clock in the main square is truly superb, I had to get some official info as whatever I write will not do it justice.

prague 2

“The Orloj is mounted on the southern wall of Old Town Hall in the Old Town Square. The clock mechanism itself has three main components: the astronomical dial, representing the position of the Sun and Moon in the sky and displaying various astronomical details; statues of various Catholic saints stand on either side of the clock; “The Walk of the Apostles”, a clockwork hourly show of figures of the Apostles and other moving sculptures—notably a figure of Death (represented by a skeleton) striking the time; and a calendar dial with medallions representing the months. According to local legend, the city will suffer if the clock is neglected and its good operation is placed in jeopardy; a ghost, mounted on the clock, was supposed to nod its head in confirmation. According to the legend, the only hope was represented by a boy born on New Year’s night.”

The maker of the clock was blinded so that he could never replicate the work made, and in response, he broke the mechanism which meant the clock was broken for over 100 years until they found someone talented enough to work it out and get it sorted.

Wenceslas square  overall is beautiful, many wonderful if somewhat depressing buildings juxtaposed with bright coloured buildings in yellow and orange. There’s a lot of restaurants but we didn’t really experience them, they seemed incredibly expensive and apart from the nice views as you ate, there didn’t seem to be enough to make it value for money, the man and I being simple people meant we were happy to wander the small streets near the square or the Charles Bridge and we managed to find a really great little open fronted cafe which sold freshly cooked sausages and hot dogs.  We were really lucky when we found it as we were perusing behind a german couple who insisted on treating the woman behind the counter really rudely, not answering her questions but pointing, or grunting in response to questions. I don’t know if it’s just because ive spent so much time in customer services but this really ticked me off, so when it came to our turn, we were both probably overly polite and asked her if she was ok, I think she appreciated our niceness as she was nothing but kind and courteous to us, despite the fact we were eating just sausages in buns, they were blooming superb!

One of the things we did on the first full day in the city was a walking/boat tour. We had wanted to glean a little bit of info and local knowledge and then wander round ourselves but the tour went way further than that, the guide we had was great, from Prague and an historian (who’d also worked around Europe and was full of fun stories!). We went on a river cruise, around part of the castle, to the cathedral (in the castle – I mean 16 km squared of space) and to the Jewish area of the city, where I found the saddest thing I think i’ve ever seen….the street markers.

prague 14

These show the name of the person (or in some instances, families) who lived in a house (generally now pulled down and in the case of this marker, the Oriental Hotel has been built where this man’s property was) and was taken by the Nazi’s to a death camp, in this example Dachau.

This isn’t even the worst of it, because unfortunately, after the Nazi’s were defeated and the Jewish population started to rebuild within Prague, the Communists arrived, which prompted another mass exodus/decimation of the population there.

The (I suppose) oddest thing to me is that these are tiny street markers, smaller than the average kitchen tile and people just walk all over them day in day out, probably without even noticing them.

The man is a fine arts type of man (well he has a masters) so we decided that we’d go and try to find the main art gallery in Prague, luckily this was near a bagel place that I’d been told was superb and a must try so thought this was a good way to bookend the day. The Gallery was close to the end of the bus line and an expo building which we didn’t get much of a chance to look round, but was close enough for us to walk and explore. I would say that the walk into this area took us through what I would say were the most “typical” eastern Block type of housing areas, very uniform, very utilitarian and not the most cheery of houses, but from the glimpses inside I managed to glean that what something looks like on the outside doesn’t stop the magic of individuality on the inside. Anyway, I digress, we were actually really lucky as there was an exhibit on about screen printing and the like, which is what the man actually studied so it was wonderful to walk around and see things that I have no idea about but to get educated about it as well. We saw some wonderful pieces, including some Paul Revere (who S didn’t know about so I managed to do some educating too haha!) and some really wonderful art. There was also a sculpture section, with a Rodin and some more modern Czech artists, including one (which I’m gutted I didn’t capture on film as I have no idea what it is actually called) of 3 plain heads, each with different facial expressions to focus you on depression and mental illness and the pain/fear it causes. I can honestly say, without even seeing the name, as soon as I saw this, I KNEW exactly what it was and it was odd to see something speak so clearly to my brain which when I showed S, he did see but it didn’t speak to him the same way……shows he is lucky with the lack of mental illness!

The two bird pictures above are from an American artist who wanted to make scientifically accurate pictures of animals during his expeditions around the world, the reason that the flamingo is in that specific position is that he wanted to be truly accurate with scale etc but didn’t want to pay the extra it would have cost to add more paper……that’s my kind of bargain hunting 🙂

The third image is called Hydrogen Man. I don’t know why it spoke to me the way it did but this was after the Hydrogen bombs had been dropped and speak volumes to me about the pain and confusion involved.

The last is The Virgin, by Klimt. Another artist that really speaks to me and my soul. I think it’s the mix of bright colours yet a melancholy vibe which appeals. Either way, I feel glad to have seen these in real life.

The last place we went to in the Art Gallery was the Slav Epic, by Mucha which is (as the name very accurately suggests) Epic. It is massive, has an entire room given over to it, which when we went to see it, was quite dark and incredibly cold (better for the artworks I’d have thought) but they are just insanely large. The story behind it is fascinating and I would definitely recommend it if people are heading there.

slav epic 2slav epic 1

We did go to the bagel place and unfortunately had really awful experiences there so I won’t rant about it (I did that on tripadvisor which made me feel better!) but trust me, if you’re in the area of the gallery, it’s well worth the (definitely) less than 10 pounds entrance fee.

Ok, last place I’m going to talk about for Prague is the Zoo. Now I understand people aren’t all fans of zoo’s (S was one, the last zoo he went to had bears rocking back and forth, not sufficient light or space and overall a horrible place) but I loves me a good zoo and from my reading before we went away, I knew that this zoo is third in the world (behind San Diego and Berlin) in re-homing, conservation and education, so I knew it wasn’t going to be awful but boy was I pleasantly surprised.

Not only was it cheap to get in (and I do mean cheap, there’s an annual ticket option, which if we lived there, we would have) but the park itself is beautiful, there’s a lot of space for the animals and they seem to take a lot of pride in keeping happy, healthy animals. The cat house has been recently refurbished and I got closer to a lion and a tiger than I ever thought possible.

 

We wandered for most of the day, just talking, laughing and every few minutes stopping to gaze at the amazing area. The cafe’s sold beer, which initially I thought was a really bad idea but actually, it was wonderful to see families, with parents having fun but without the need to be hammered.

The Polar bear enclosure was simply amazing. There was a pool for them to swim in and as you can see, one of the bears was really camera friendly while he was having a dip!

The zoo had also recently had the birth of a new orangutan so I had to go and see, and I was not disappointed. The tropical house where they are housed was gorgeous, full of palms and a little stream, lots of trees and ropes around for the apes to play on, and the oddest thing was the bats flying free around. You’d be stood gazing at the Orangs and then feel a whoosh as a bat flew past. It was amazing and somewhere I could probably spend hours, unfortunately the park was closing so we didn’t have much time there. But certainly, I’d recommend it to anyone.

I have looked at the plans for their next developments, which is a total remodelling of the Polar bear area (including an underwater walkway a la Sealife centres – how amazing does that sound) and a PANDA house!!! Yep, they are currently in discussions with China and if this does go ahead. I will be there…..and buying a season ticket.

On our penultimate evening in Prague we just wanted a quick easy meal so the 4 of us decided to try the chinese next to our hotel. It ended up being a really funny evening as the waitress was terrifying, we drank far too much rough wine (which was a lot better after the 3rd bottle) and we had some yummy food – which a lot of it we weren’t sure exactly what it was but still, was yummy! When we left the restaurant, we decided to have 1 more drink in the bar and my dad introduced me to Slivovich, which is a Plum brandy…..potent and something that went down really well that evening, not sure if I can handle this frequently!!

All in all this was a really brilliant holiday, a wonderful place, where both myself and the man want more time to explore, a great celebration of my dad’s 65th (and retirement) and the first holiday myself and the man went on. It will always have the best memories and would recommend it to anyone.

 

 

Fire and Fury: Michael Wolff – a review

I’ll be honest, the thought of a President Trump both terrifies me and saddens me, the loss of what was one of the most “grown – up” positions on this planet and the lowering of standards to his level for me is a real disappointment.

So, when I heard that this book was coming out, and the furore 45 had over it and it’s publication, I actually rushed out to buy it.

I should say that as UK citizen, I really should have no opinion over who or what is happening elsewhere but a few years ago I fell into the West Wing TV show, and although I know it’s a drama series, I fell in love with both the writing, the cast and the way the Americans do things. I set about trying to educate myself about the way that their Politics works and have often had to call a (republican) friend of mine to have things explained to me. But I do believe that from my reading and the views/morals I have, I would say, if asked, that I was a Democrat.

I’ve never really seen such vitriol as I saw in 2016, I am lucky that on various travels I have met both Dems and Republicans and unfortunately, every time, the Republicans I have met have, not necessarily, offended me, but they have given across viewpoints/arguments which I just do not understand. Things like “Guns should be available for everyone” seem ok, but then when there’s no regulation/background checks or that kind of thing, it baffles me. Or Roe v Wade (which I always thought was decent and fair) is now being chipped away at so that a woman no longer has the choice of what happens to her body. I love my American friends but unfortunately, I don’t understand them.

Anyway, in the run up to 2016’s election, I was most obviously on the side of the Dems. I don’t think Hillary would have been the best choice, but then, I didn’t think Trump had a chance in HELL of getting in, I mean, people wouldn’t vote for an orange, offensive, rude, unkind, uncaring, trigger happy Tv personality, would they? Being woken up by my love with the words “The Future’s Bright, the Future’s Orange” brought my certainty crashing down and to be honest, I’ve been in an ever increasing downwards spiral of disbelief ever since.

With that in mind, when I read about the book coming out, I think I already knew what it would be like, I wouldn’t know the ins and outs but I would get the general feeling from it about the man and his family and his Presidency which I felt I knew.

I’ve tried to write this with no spoilers, so there isn’t going to be quotes, passages or snippets from the book itself, this is just going to be an overview, and from my point of view.

A few things that occured to me whilst reading this book, which I sort of knew before but have had clarified:

He isn’t a man for the people -I mean, look at the attacks made on disabled people, women, gays, Mexicans – we should all be able to see he doesn’t care but despite that, I know some people who are in this group who DID vote for him (another thing that baffles me and still she has not explained what made her do what she did – I should add she has since renounced that vote but still). I suppose what I would like, ideally, is to understand “why?” Was it a rebellion vote, to try and break the cycle of Politician after Politician, was it that people thought despite the way he acted, the staff around him would be able to control him or was it just buying in to what they got told?

**In the above, I GENUINELY do not want to start fights, but if anyone reading this is a Trump voter, I’d love to hear from you, so longs as it’s adult, non offensive and an airing of both points of view. I’ve been contacted enough by Trolls and people who just want to be abusive but that’s not what i’m after, clarification is what I need.. **

I suppose for me, the most disappointing thing was that the hype surrounding the book’s subject matter means that the author doesn’t really need to work hard to create this story. I mean, if he knows everyone hates the subject matter, to make the subject deplorable isn’t that hard. I did want to glean some info about those around him, to see and hopefully build hope that this madness can be contained, and that the people around him understand the seriousness of the role they have been given.

Overall this book was boring for me to read. I’m not kidding, I read like Johnny 5 and this book, well, I got about 3/4 way through and then it took me 8 weeks to pick the book up again and finish it. I think in that 8 weeks I read 6 (or 7) other books and I actively had to make myself pick up Fire and Fury and continue it. Just to get it done.

I suppose that the hype around the book was what drew me to it, I did learn things from the book which surprised me but I think the overall depression I see every day on the news and social media and the fact that this nightmare doesn’t seem to be ending and I didn’t want that in my reading as well as every part of my life.

It will be interesting to see where this goes, there are characters within this who have now been fired/quit and therefore it’d be fascinating to hear their sides of the same story. In much the same way as I want to speak with republicans and Trump voters, I’d love to be able to hear from those who worked for him, who supported him, who though Team Trump was a good idea. Mostly to try and understand but also to see if they still feel the same way as they did before this all started.

So, I’m sorry if my thoughts and views offended anyone, if you are, please, contact me and let us have a chat, i’m always open to others views and would love to speak with people who live there and deal with this every single day.

 

 

30 more writing challenges…..

So here we are, another 30 subjects/suggestions for me to write about.

I know a lot of people seem to have so much to talk about, but as this is a new (ish) thing for me, this writing malarky, I need things to aim for, guidelines, ideas and often, just sheer inspiration.

I’m hoping that by writing more frequently, I will get better in many ways, to be more in touch with people, to be able to express my feelings more succinctly, to share more of myself. This isn’t always easy but it is one of my self imposed “40 for 40” so I do need to get better before too long.

30 day challenge

I’m always happy to be given more suggestions so if anyone reading this has any great (or veen rubbish) ideas, please feel free to share them.

I want to be better and more organised so maybe this is the way to do it!

Talk about 5 things that make you laugh out loud.

laugh

 

I love to laugh, it really is one of the most brilliant ways to stay happy and to lift yourself out of a funk.

I know it’s not easy but with laughter, fake it till you make it does actually work. If i’m ever down then I tend to use a variety of things to pick me up, laughter is something that I actively miss when it is absent in my life so it is imperative that I have things which make me smile throughout the day, if I don’t I know life will be much harder, narrowing this list down to 5 things may be tricky.

Laugh out loud funny…..

My boyfriend, he makes me laugh (not always at him either) a lot, in fact that’s one of the most fun things about him, is that we do make each other laugh and it can be teeny giggles to full on belly laughs. One of the first things I fell in love with him for was the ease in which we can make each other laugh and smile. Even when we’re just sat next to each other on the sofa, we try to make each other smile from stupid tricks, to rubbish jokes and even worse impressions, either way, I love the fact he makes me smile more than almost anything else.

I often find myself laughing at stupid tv, such as Taskmaster or the like, I love silly things and it tends to be the odd-ness of programmes that entertains me….so not things like “you’ve been framed” as slapstick isn’t my thing at all. I suppose in my life I am quite silly, and I like to see others in the same way. I do enjoy being serious but sometimes, just stupidness needs to be happening!

Sarcasm tends to make me laugh. I’m a very dry humoured person with a bit of a twisted streak so I can go from Loving social media to absolutely hating it in a matter of seconds.

The longer I spend around humanity, the more I laugh because otherwise i’d cry and i’m not sure I could stop. My depression comes from a feeling of guilt and sadness (not that everything’s my fault as it were, just that’s how I’ve always felt, like i’m in the way, or taking up people’s time or just being in the way so I know my sense of humour can be dry and self effacing, which to me is funny, not so much to others) I keep being told off for putting myself down in jokes but to that I have always responded, if someone is going to take the piss or be offensive to me, i’d rather it be me, so this way, I save time, so I suppose, I make myself laugh? does that count?

Ok, i’m saying it does.

1 more thing that makes me laugh? hmmm. I’m not sure really that I can think of one off the top of my head. I’ve re read the previous list (above) and to be honest, they are the main things, I’m sure there’s other things, i mean, I smile a lot and try to be as happy as I can be (not always obviously as wouldn’t be able to do that without some serious meds) and I try to take the positivity in life and use it. My happy jar is an excellent way of remembering things which make you smile over the year.

What things make you smile or laugh? Is there something you have which is a failsafe? Feel free to drop me a lin4e and spread some happiness into my life too!

Adventures in bread

Currently my other half works on Sundays, so to make me feel a bit more active and less lazy, I am having a doing things day every sunday, this could be a film day, or a gaming day, or making things in the kitchen, chores or crafting.

This last Sunday, due to the weather, I stayed in and made bread, which as frequent readers will know, is something of a new passion with me. Not saying i’m brilliant but wowzers i’m enjoying learning.

I decided at the beginning of the year, to go alongside adopting an Orangutan (Okto), I would also try and help out their habitats by not consuming Palm Oil. Now for those who don’t know (and me, cos I decide to do things then work out HOW i’m going to cope) Palm Oil is in EVERYTHING!!!

I mean it: cakes, make up, bread, crisps, biscuits, peanut butter, toothpaste, money (actually, funny story, if the vegetarians/vegans get their way in relation to the new notes we in the UK are using, then it’ll be palm oil which is the fall back from Gelatine – so if that happens, my government will be doing everything they can to destroy the homes of these creatures both coming and going- nice huh?)….so yes, as I was saying, I decided to do this, then realised I’m going to have to give up a fair bit and amend my diet accordingly.

The most fun part of this has been that I have started experimenting with bread making. I haven’t done this for years – used to do a lot when I was very young with my dad but apart from that, the whole idea seemed depressing, countless time mixing, proving, shaping, beating, second proving etc…..which, I really couldn’t be bothered with. But then my dad (as ever the sensible cooking one) told me to check the processor I have, cos that came with a bread attachment and tin so maybe that’d make life easier……..Boy, was he right. The processor I have (a magimix 5200XL) actually comes with a pan you put right into the mixer so everything is mixed and proved in the processor, then you just take the tin out, leave out to second prove then throw into the over – what’s not to love?

first loaf in tin

Ok, before I forget, you also need to take the handle off of the pan before you bake, plastic just doesn’t taste nice!

For my first loaf, I just stuck with a very basic bread, no extras, just follow the recipe and then whilst proving, I hovered over the bread like an overcautious parent! Still, it came out pretty well – well, for a first attempt anyway. I would say it’s not perfect, I think I need more water possibly as it was a bit hard. I have no problem with this but gives me something to work on!

first loaf after baking

The only problem I discovered was that my bread bin was actually too shallow for such bread…..well, I say bread bin, but I actually have no container deep enough for this – I blame Rose’s tins getting smaller year on year for this! So this lead me to try and hunt out all other tins I had…..which led to this:

bread poppy

These are my poppyseed sandwich loaves, the reason that there is two is I realised only after the first prove I was still using the massive recipe for the quite large tin, so this mix got split into 2 and then thrown into these at the last minute. More water added to go with the egg glaze I gave the dough and the feel was much better.

Next I decided I wanted to try different flavours of bread. I’m obsessed with cheese (well, who isn’t) and thought as i’d got some amazing fruit chilli jams chilli jam

So decided to make a cheesy loaf, I had some crispy onions left over from a curry ages ago so decided to add those to the mix itself, then before it went into the over, grate some parmesan over the top and see where that took me.

cheese and crispy onion

I liked this, but the flavour is just not strong enough, I like the mix of flavours but I feel like more is needed, I like the subtle flavour but for good cheese, this needs to be more robust.

seeded

This was the last loaf I made, a mixed seeds one. I went back to the larger tin and decided to just throw in some seeds I had around to add a bit of texture and flavour. Not to bad if I don’t say so myself!

I’m actually really enjoying this so far. There’s a lot of recipes and flavours I want to experiment with but next week I’m starting slimming world (anything to be less like Jabba the Hutt) so bread will be a bit of a no-no. I am allowed wraps though and some bread so no doubt, my experiments will move into making wraps (again, you’d be amazed at how many have palm oil in them) and the like. Wish me luck!

What are you currently binging on Netflix?

I loves me some Netflix. It’s such a great idea for a TV on demand but also full of a lot of new and independant shows so there’s always something new or fascinating to watch.

I tend to watch 2 sorts of things, trash (which I watch alone) or more superior shows (which I watch with the man).

At the end of last month one of my most binge-worthy shows (Ru Paul’s Drag Race) ended so I’ve only got the last 2 or 3 series to re watch (and believe me, that’s something i’m very capable of!). Apart from that, what else have we watched?

I loved Breaking Bad and the follow up/spin off for that: Better Call Saul is brilliant. I did have my reservations as to if it could be made into a sufficiently “good” show and to be honest, I think it’s great. I don’t tend to think of it as a precursor to the BB series but more of a stand alone, which for me is good as then I won’t expect as much (I’ll be honest, the first couple of series of BB were not my faves and if I didn’t have the full box set, i’m not sure I would have continued it….but that’s my weirdness).

We spend a fair amount of time watching series, I loved House of Cards but we kind of fell out of practise with it at the beginning of series 3 or 4 and need to re-watch it to be able to catch up – like I say, it’s clever TV and needs to be fully absorbed.

Designated survivor is another like House of Cards, we stopped watching it to wait for the next series and by the time that happened, we’d forgotten everything!!

Another good thing about Netflix is the amount of smaller dramas and series they show, I know that the way the Netflix model works is to buy/produce dozens of series and some will continue and others won’t – i’d have thought it depends on money made from the first series, at least there always seems to be a decent variety of stuff. No matter your taste or style.

I think Netflix is a really great idea, £5.00 per month for programmes we watch a lot and a huge variety of films and TV shows as opposed to the Beeb (which we only ever watch the Masterchef, the Apprentice and Match of the Day) for £150+ per year. I think if we had to pay the same for Iplayer as opposed to the annual rip-off, we would happily do so. I do object to 99% of the programmes being shown do not appeal and that they are fast becoming a propaganda machine as opposed to balanced and unbiased, but anyway, I do think that the joy of “contract” tv means it is in your control, and more money is spent by those companies to purchase or produce their own shows.

****update****

We’ve finally caught up with the rest of the world and we watched Dead Pool last night…..Bloody brilliant and so longs as you’re happy with the irreverance, then it was pretty good. It seemed to amuse the man more than me but we do have slightly different tastes so that’s all good. It certainly wasn’t awful and now i’m ready to catch Dead Pool 2!

****update 2****

I also noticed Gotham is actually back on normal TV, we managed to watch the first 2 series and apart from both of us having characters we weren’t fans of, some of the casting on this is simply divine so am also looking forward to catching up on that when we get time……and hopefully we will actually still have time to have a day or two out in the real world too!

If anyone has any good suggestions as to things to watch, let me know, I tend to watch any and all genres so what’s the last thing you watched and had to tell someone about?

talk about your first love and first kiss

ooooh, well here we go. A great question from one of my readers, loving this suggestion thank you and if anyone else wants to know anything or give me an excuse to scribble, just drop me a line 🙂

My first love is easy, the spanish boy, a neighbour, now like family and thankfully i grew out of spanish men as he would not have been able to handle me

first kiss – as in a peck? probably a boy in our street when I was a child, oddly, he was kissing one of my best friends around then too….what a tart! but first let’s say “proper” kiss, well that was another Spanish boy. I was 14 and a late starter to that kind of thing (well, the boys I was friends with in the UK never seemed to find me attractive – not that I’m blaming them but it probably doesn’t help that I was friends with many of them, so more like a sister than a fanciable person – at least, thats what Im telling myself now haha).

Anyway, first kiss, was a Spanish boy who with hindsight, I shouldn’t have trusted or imagined any kind of future with but he and his closest friend (I will call them R and V) really stood up for me when I started at the school and experienced my first dose of Racism – from someone else English towards me, not as i’d imagined, a Spanish person towards me).

I was at school in Competa with a group of friends on a break and an English lad tipped coke all over me (erroneously thinking I had put something in it as a joke). I had to sit, sticky, hot and not at all happy in classes I didn’t understand for the entire afternoon and this was yet another occasion I went home, hating life, hating everything, wishing I was still in the UK, tried to avoid my mum as I couldn’t tell her these thoughts and then cried myself to sleep. I’d been bullied a lot in England so this just felt like another person who didn’t like me and sadly the sadness and fear that I had felt for years before would obviously just continue. Cut to the next day at school where i’d already decided to avoid the English kid like the plague and decided to go out at the break but to avoid everyone. I was used to being alone in England so maybe i’d cope the same way in Spain. Anyway, I walked out to a HUGE group of people stood around 2 people fighting in the “playground” – it was more like a waste ground due to the building that was still going on but you get the idea – and managed to find one of the Spanish girls I knew who tried her best to communicate that the kid getting a kicking was this English boy and the one doing the kicking was V, he finished off the fight with the words (I will honestly never forget these) “you never touch her again, she’s one of US” and it made me cry again. I honestly didn’t think it would have any affect or that but was astounded to leave school , to discover both R and V outside, ready to walk me home and also to make sure this English kid knew, if they weren’t enough of a threat, then their big brothers would be.

I’ve never felt so much part of a community as I did at that point. I had done my best to get involved with the Spanish – even just by being sat trying to talk with the use of a dictionary which is HARD, and they never seemed to expect anything of me or from me, they were just happy to be my friends. Before I’d even been in the village for 3 months, I was invited to join their celebrations, their lives and to be a part of things with them – Feria’s, parties and even just family occasions. I think that this is one of the reasons I’ve always tried to reach out to new people, to make them feel comfortable and to feel like they are good enough. My old English school friends were great (well, the majority) but I know that What you have/can offer always played a role in friendships, whereas the Spanish never seemed to expect anything.

Anyway, following the help that both V and R gave me, it seemed quite logical to assume that R really cared. Unfortunately, turns out he didn’t but at least he made me feel welcomed and safe, which is a lot more than a lot of people have done.

I think we stayed together for about 6 months but I was still quite young and hadn’t gone all the way yet and unfortunately, when I said to him I wasn’t ready, he decided to make himself seem “manlier” by telling people I was a lesbian……funnily enough, given how he grew up, think i’d have rather been a lesbian or for that matter, an hermit!!

The first love is always a special one isn’t it? I think that if I had stayed in Spain and had been happy with the life women have there then we would have been a good couple, but he had already met the future wife and mother of his children (now his ex) and I was just a fun distraction, however, it formed me into the person I am. This boy in question was a neighbour of mine, one of the family who adopted me as one of their own and if his mother had had her way, I’d probably be married off to one of them by now!

Due to my stance on not wanting children, I’m pretty sure that I wouldn’t have been considered a good Spanish wife, in fact, there’s a few reasons why I probably wouldn’t: I wouldn’t accept my man cheating with impunity (not that all Spanish men do this, but it was certainly not considered as bad a thing as it would in this country for example), I wouldn’t want someone going out to work and just expecting me to do the womans work and raise kids but I am happy to say that last time I was in Competa and bumped into the man in question, we were able to chat about life (he showed me pics of his 2 beautiful boys) and there was no ill feelings or hurt and there was no longer an ache for him. I think after about 15 years i’d finally got over him 😀 pretty good going yeah?

So there you have it, my first love and first kiss. Wanna share yours? or some sweet story from your life as love found you? I’m not specifically mushy but I do love hearing about other people’s love stories, good or bad, they always make me very emotional!

Feel free to tell me your stories and make me jealous – they’ve got to be better than mine.