Playing nice… 

We all know that one person. The person who everyone likes. The person who plays on other people’s emotions and makes them like them yet really are not nice people at all. We’ve all been in that position where we feel like we’re the only ones who can see their true colours so I’m sure my readers can share in my frustration of the current situation I have found myself in. 

For the sake of confidentiality we will call the person in question Amelia. Amelia is a girl who I work with. To all intents and purposes she seems like a great girl. A born again Christian she attends church 3 times a week and gets involved (I’m not sure directly how but I know she wears a robe so has some involvement). She goes to yoga, she bakes cupcakes on her lunch and takes flowers for her mum. She lends her sisters money and she speaks in a sickly sweet voice and has a love of gingerbread men. Lovely girl right? 

No. Scratch the surface and Amelia is not at all what she seems. Being the sort of person who observes others in minute detail (it’s a writers trait I think) I have noticed Amelia’s true personality coming through when she thinks she is not being observed. She is sly and underhanded, always listening carefully to anything that you say that can be used against you at a later date. She is manipulative and twists your words to make you look bad. She tells tales on everyone in the workplace that she sees doing or saying something she doesn’t think should be said or done. Despite not being a particularly attractive girl she behaves as if she is. There are several things about her that have begun to annoy me about her beyond belief so I feel a list is in order: 

  • At 3pm on the dot every afternoon she ties her hair back in a ponytail and then insists on flicking it back and forth in an annoying manner every time she stands up. 
  • She doesn’t offer any help and begrudges anyone asking. Sometimes she is inheriantly rude and doesn’t even acknowledge that someone is asking her something. 
  • She gets out of the above by saying ‘sorry I wasn’t being rude’ 
  • Another favourite saying is ‘I don’t want to sound like I’m telling tales but…’ 
  • She bakes in her lunch break enough said. 
  • She forced her religion down people’s throats and then says she is not the sort of person to do that 
  • She talks in a baby voice and kisses the ass of every manager in the place 
  • She manipulates and changes things that have been said or done to make herself look better and others look bad

There are many more but I’ll not drag it out. Everyone else fails to see these things that she does and the ways that she acts. They think she is sweet and nice and innocent and kind. How do we deal with people in these kinds of situations? Do I sit back now and hope her true colours shine through or take it one step further and try to expose her? 

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The ideal world… 

Imagine if we lived in an ideal world. What parts of our lives would change and what would stay the same in order to make it so? 

I was thinking about this tonight. It was a random thought triggered by a girl on my Goodreads account who seems to read 10 books a day and I wondered what her occupation was that allowed her that much reading time. It was one of those weird thoughts that sparks another and made me think what a great job being a book reviewer would be. 

So it got me to thinking about what my ideal job would be and from there my ideal life. So here’s how mine would be. 

In an ideal completely selfish thinking only of my self world I would be a writer. I’d write great novels which received great reviews and earned me lots of money. I would work from my home office allowing me to drink copious amounts of tea and smoke cigarettes at my leisure while listening to the 1975 and wearing my pyjamas. I’d be able to go out all night and not suffer hangovers or be an embarrassing drunk. I’d have plenty of free time due to not adhering to normal working hours where I would be able to spend time with family and friends dining out and drinking cocktails. I’d be sensible with my money, debt free and able to shop for what I wanted when I wanted. I’d keep some things the same though. I’d keep my family and friends but have more time for them. I’d still enjoy studying and have more time for that. I’d keep my dog and my boyfriend just the way they are and the way I love them. 

So I pose the question to my readers now. What would your ideal life be like? 

What do we use social media for? 

I’ve noticed that over the past few years there have been many articles and blogs posted on our use of social media. The pros of having access to information at your finger tips, keeping in touch with friends and family who live far away and promoting your business. The cons that we have become so dependent that we are now unable to manage without our phones, laptops and tablets. Just like frozen convenience foods swiftly took over from fresh so did the world of technology take over the pen and paper. 

There is somewhat of a stigma about what we post on social media because it is presumed that we do it for some kind of attention or self-indulgent narcissism the urge to be liked. I think that to some extent this can be true particularly in the instances of some people who we all know live and breathe Facebook. Looking at myself I realised that I often use social media as a way to drive traffic to my blog, help with my online university degree and I even met my now boyfriend on tinder! So I decided to analyse my social media posts and see which ones I could honestly say were narcissistic. 

My last three posts are made up of watching a film and eating Ben and Jerrys with my boyfriend. Taking the mickey out of a friend who thought a goat was a male sheep and then watching a film with my boyfriend again tonight. I guess people could consider it an over share that I’m telling you all what film me and my bf are watching but in context my thoughts at the time was what a great film I wonder if anyone enjoys it. 

So I decided to delve deeper, since meeting my bf my posts are much fewer and further between. I mostly just post photos and videos of my Scottish Terrier trying to catch feathers or programmes and films I’m watching. Photos are only there if I’m going out somewhere no general selfies. I use Facebook to share photos because it’s a great place to store them all, an online version of a photo album. So what about a year ago..? Or 2 or 3 years ago..? Well luckily to save me the hassle of hunting through my Facebook I have timehop! 

One year ago I was complaining of a hangover and sharing pictures from a big friend reunion the night before. Verdict? I don’t think that’s too bad, you need to rant to someone about your hangover right? Picture sharing obviously a good idea to ensure everyone has access to the pictures taken of them. 

Two years ago an abundance of pouty selfies, full body shots with bum popped at an angle and drunk status’ proclaiming what a great night I was having and how much I loved my best friend. Verdict – absolute social Media cliche! Looking back at those posts made me cringe with embarrassment! I couldn’t have been having that much of a good night if I was constantly on my phone updating Facebook and the pouting is just horrendous! I remember thinking at the time how slim my new trousers made me look and I admit I posted the pictures in order to get as many likes as possible and feel more confident and better about myself. 

Four years ago (nothing on timehop for 3) basically one whiny status about doing everything for everyone and getting no thanks for it. I couldn’t even tell you now what that was about! Verdict – over sharing and asking for people to comment and ask me what was wrong so I could say ‘I’ll text you’ 
Overall verdict – in the past I think I have used social media particularly Facebook to showcase pictures of myself and snippets of my life story in order to gain likes and comments and approval. I feel that as I’ve got older and settled down with my boyfriend I have become more comfortable with my self and self-image so that I feel less need to get others approval when I have the approval of those who matter most to me. 

Tips on looking after bleached or dyed hair

I have a love hate relationship with my hair. For years I’ve being dyeing it a variety of colours until at about 17 I settled on black. I dallied with red and blonde in between but I have stayed predominately black until last year when I dyed it ginger. The problem is that with my natural hair being medium brown I have to bleach it to get it this light. For those who’ve read my post on colour b4 from black to red here then you know about the constant struggle.

so I decided to pass on a couple of tips to keeping your hair in good condition and enabling you to grow it long if you want:

First and foremost its important to find a good shampoo and conditioner. At the moment I use Bedhead Urban Antidotes Ressurection which is the strongest of the Urban Antidotes collection.

img-thingIt has a great smell and makes your hair really soft and pleasant to touch.

In addition to this however I use another 3 conditioners which I have mixed together in one pot to create a ‘super conditioner’

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Its a combination of Tresemme platinum strength, L’oreal high colour preference (comes with the box of dye) and a Retread conditioner from Lush.

In addition to this once a week I use a hair mask which has to be left in for at least 5 minutes. I have two and use whichever one I fancy.

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They’re both really good products but the Avon one smells absolutely beautiful

Aftercare has to be in the form of heat protection as heat is bad for the hair so I use these two products

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Tresemme heat protection spray is great and lasts ages I’ve had it for about 5 months, I use it every other day and it’s still not empty! The Ego boost is a split end mender and can be used on either wet or dry hair to prevent frizz and split ends. Both smell great too.

Some extra tips

  • Always dry wet hair. Although heat is bad, wet hair drying naturally causes tangles so it’s better to dry with a hairdryer than let it get knotted up.
  • Keep washing to a minimum, light hair gets away with being greasy a bit easier than dark hair so try to let your natural hair oils make your hair better.
  • Get a good hairdresser who understands your requirements. This is the most important as all as most hairdressers see split ends and want to chop it off. Make sure your hairdresser only takes off around a 1/4 of an inch every 4-6 weeks and this will get rid of the split ends but also ensures your hair is allowed to grow.

So I hope that this post helps if you’ve been having hair dramas and feel free to share any good tips you might have in the comments.

Lou Lou’s Vintage Fair Chesterfield

Up bright and early on a Saturday morning feeling excited! No it wasn’t because I was going on holiday (although that would be great) it was because I was attending my first event as a blogger: Lou Lou’s Vintage Fair.
Having become interested in vintage about a year ago it was a really exciting experience for me to actually go and blog at a fair! So I donned my glad rags and off I went.
  (Dress £20 Camden market, shoes £14.99 Primark)

Arriving at the fair which was held at the Winding Wheel theatre in Chesterfield I could see that despite it only being 11am the place was already busy with a queue for the admission. These two lovely ladies Chris and Maria were having their photos taken in the entrance so I pounced on them and got a snap of my own in their funky vintage ensembles.
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Next stop: the Secret Cake club. I couldn’t resist dropping in there first to view the delicious looking treats they had on show



I also caught up with some of the lovely customers tempted into eating the cake and drinking tea from traditional vintage cups and saucers

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(Claire Simmons and Gary)

Next stop a beautiful jewellery stall Vintage Promise with an eclectic mix of sparkly

 

 

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and more traditional 1940 kitsch jewellery and brooches
 I particularly loved these little dog brooches from circa 1940s.

Ebony Coupe and her mum were kind enough to allow me to photograph them rooting through some chic 50s prints including some great pin up styles
  
the same stall also offered some cute coasters with prints of stars like Audrey Hepburn and Elvis Presley
 Diamond Divas Beauty was already well underway to creating some amazing vintage hairstyles
  

while Tilly’s Northwing were toting some lovely vintage accessories complete with the true Yorkshireman’s flat cap
  

I loved these beaded lamps and accessories on Little Old Me Vintage’s stall along with their fab dresses.


This lady was kind enough to allow me to photograph her great vintage style while her friend tried on one of their dresses

Maggie Ann Vintage also had a great little stall complete with vintage dress and pink wig.
 

Katherine helped Glenn find a jacket on the mooch vintage stall

 I couldn’t resist a pic of this great face at Pom Pom vintage and their collection of cute little sets and glasses

  

the bookworm in me was instantly drawn to these vintage books on show at Imogen’s imagination
  This fabulous outfit was owned by Rebecca Hurd.


And last but not least the final few photos taken at various stalls throughout the day showcasing great antiques, clothes and other vintage items!

  
  
  
  
It was a great morning exploring the world of vintage in more depth and meeting some of the people who are hugely passionate about all things vintage.

Thank you to Lou Lou’s for having me and to the stall holders and customers who allowed me to photograph them. If you or your stall have been photographed and would like to be credited or removal of photos then please use my contact form.

What is a Home

What is a home? Aside from a house I mean? I mean it more in terms of the place you are from vs the place you now live?
As many of you know I recently relocated this year to Chesterfield from my hometown of Rotherham. They are only about an hours drive from each other but they are different in so many ways.
Rotherham is the place I was born. My mum has a thing for moving house (which if she reads this she will deny) but she does. I lived in 12 houses in Rotherham including one of my own and when I lived with my dad for a while. That means 10 were while I lived with my mum. We always lived in a village and one in particular was where 8 of our houses were. The village I lived in was that type of old mining village where people can’t let go of the past. Everyone’s always telling you how much better it was when ‘the pit’ was open. There are a number of big staple families who are extended in the sense that the grandparents, parents, aunties, uncles, cousins etc all live in the same village and there might be up to 20 in one family due to the inter-family marriages and relationships. One big family name man might be married to another big family name woman for example.

The thing with That village is that everyone wants to be a part of that community. The women like to walk down the main shop fronts doing their shopping and catching up on local gossip. Newcomers aren’t really welcomed and are mostly run into the new estates around the outskirts or don’t stick around too long. There is a high rate of crime and unemployment and most girls I went to school with have several children and were pregnant teens. The boys are either on drugs or selling them. If you don’t know people you’re liable to be intimidated and scared by the gangs that patrol the streets and hang out in the bus shelters. Parents let their children smoke and everyone must get their membership card for the working men’s club as soon as they turn 18. Even before that as children they are expected to visit Santa there and receive an apple and a selection box and in the summer they run the ‘club trip’ where everyone who is anyone in the village boards on the many coaches and invades the British seaside for the day leaving the village a ghost town.
I understand the pull of it for the older generation. Holding onto bygone days The village is the perfect time warp for them. The men can have their bitter in a tap room where women are still barred from entry. There’s a ‘turn’ on the stage, a round of bingo and cheap beer. There’s a traditional butchers and grocery store and plenty of places to buy a bacon sandwich. It is one of the only places you will ever visit where 99% of the population are white and the other 1% is only made up of the owners of shops and takeaways. It is not a village that welcomes strangers particularly if they are foreign strangers or non-White strangers.
Despite this understanding of nostalgia inspired in other people I always detested it. I detested Rotherham in general. From the racist, redneck type village I lived in to the scruffy town centre full of jobless bums, drug addicts and alcoholics. Half the shops are closed down, the crime rate is high, their nightclubs have closed and there is no work or jobs readily available. Transport is terrible and it can take hours to get anywhere you want to go because only one train every half an hour stops in the sinkhole that it is.
Chesterfield by contrast is a wonderful little town. Admittedly we know nobody here so maybe we look at it with rose tinted glasses but I genuinely cannot find one real issue with it. As part of Derbyshire there’s plenty of countryside, there a spots of local history from the iconic and well known crooked spire church to the beautiful walks down the canal. The town is full of shops that appear to actually stay open, there are upmarket bars and restaurants offering gourmet meals and wonderfully made cocktails. There’s a museum and two theatres. It is rare you see or hear of any trouble and despite living almost inside the town centre it is quiet and peaceful and free from trouble. There are good connections by (reliable) trains to Sheffield, Derby and Nottingham and you can be in London in an hour and 50 minutes. There is nothing not to like.

So it brings me to my original question. Despite hating Rotherham all my life and wanting to get out of there. Despite finding a lovely town where I enjoy residing and can find plenty to do and feel safe while I’m doing it. I have to ask myself why when I went to Rotherham to visit last weekend did it feel like I was coming home? Every familiar road we drove down, the houses and pubs and shops that we passed. The way people talk, the sights and sounds and smells all felt like home and left me with a desperate nostalgia and a feeling like this was where I was supposed to be. Don’t get me wrong I visited with my dad and saw my old room where my sister now lives and I never felt those feelings there. Thurcroft itself felt almost strange and unfamiliar, the house felt like I was a guest. Things have been moved and changed, appliances replaced with new and the house was no longer home to me. At my mums house it still felt like my mums but I have never lived there so while wherever my mum is will always be home to me her house has never been my home to live in.

No it was more than that. More than a house, a car, a family. It was about my roots. It served to remind me that no matter how much I wanted to turn my back on that town, to walk away and not look back and be happy to finally be out of there it inevitably will always be the place I know best where I spent 25 years of my life living, playing, dancing, partying, eating, loving and working. It’s the place I went on my first shopping trip, had my first job, met my first boyfriend, made friends, went to school and every other event that marks my life. I don’t think it’s possible to ever erase that no matter how you try and run from it.

Review: The Grownup by Gillian Flynn

I hadn’t realised when I got incredibly excited at the prospect of a new Gillian Flynn book, that I had already read it as part of the anthology ‘Rogues’ edited by George RR Martin. Nevertheless I enjoyed it so much the first time I decided to read it again anyway!
The Grownup focuses on the character of a young woman who is working as a physic even though she doesn’t really believe it. There is an immediate introduction of dark humour when she talks about her mother and about the reasons she’s been moved out to the front of the shop. Susan Burke is her client who asks for help when she admits she thinks her stepson is possessed and going to kill her and her son. Seeing an opportunity to make money the psychic agrees and goes each day to the house and pretends to exorcise it. What she finds there starts to creep her out just as much though.

The ambiguous ending serves well to keep you with unanswered questions ensuring that as with all of Gillian Flynn’s books you are thinking about it days and even weeks after you finish reading.

The elements of supernatural along with Flynn’s well known psychological edge work well together and I found the ending quite surprising.

Thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish, I can’t wait for her next book.

Everyday issues, political and social issues, everyday feminism.