Books and Netflix shows you should get involved with

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At the start of January I signed up for a Goodreads account, in the hope it would push me to read more and so far it’s working. I’m on my fifth book of 2017 already, and I’ve read some seriously good ones so far.

I’ve been spending much more time with a book (or the Kindle app) in hand, which has meant less Netflix viewing, but still enough to recommend some good stuff available on the UK version. If you’re spending time indoors with your duvet and Netflix or if you’re looking for new reading material, I give all of the below many shiny stars.

READ The Vinyl Detective by Andrew Cartmel

I read this because my boyfriend had downloaded it to Kindle and I liked the cover. That was it. No other reasons, but I’m so glad I did. I enjoyed this book from cover to cover. It’s a properly good novel with some mystery, likeable characters, a few laughs and a lot of is set on the streets of London which I love. It’s about a guy who tracks down rare records for people, and gets hired by a secretive Japanese man which leads to a wild goose chase all over the country and eventually to the US. The next book is out in May and I will 100% pre-order it.

WATCH Hunt for the Wilderpeople

It’s worth getting a Netflix account solely to watch this film. It’s an indie New Zealand flick and I laughed myself stupid watching at the cinema last year. It’s heartwarming, hilarious, brilliantly acted and extremely feel good. One of the funniest thing I’ve watched at the cinema ever.

READ Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

This book gets rave reviews all over the place and for good reason. The story follows a group of people who are brought together during a disaster and delves into what their lives were like before and how they change drastically after.

WATCH Curious and Unusual Deaths

Another documentary recommendation to add to my many (find more here) but this is something a bit different. It’s really weird. When I saw the title I immediately thought yes, this is me all over (not that I’m really into death just FYI, I just find this stuff interesting), but it’s very odd. Odd in a way that after one episode- only 20 minutes, you’ll feel like you have to watch more. From the cheesy narration to the comical/disturbing re-enactments, take it with a pinch of salt.

READ The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes

I didn’t think I would last through this when I first started. I found it hard to get into but after about 25 pages I got there. It’s far from my usual type of novel but it’s written to perfection and you feel like you’re being made more intelligent as you read. It’s set in Russia under Stalin rule, and is definitely one for any history lovers or those who like the arts and a good gritty life story. It’s also quite sad and shocking to think life was really like this for people.

The ‘January started quite badly’ note to self 

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The January blues have been running high so far in my world. I tried really hard to be all gushy and optimistic for the new year but instead life just got in the way. I’ve been walking around scowling with the temperament of Argus Filch and a grey cloud above my head for the past week.

I’ve been seeing all these positive posts on social media about owning the year and being successful and making all these grand plans and I’ve just been sat in the corner, drinking tea and death-staring my phone screen. I reached the point of “you dare try and tell me to cheer up man who clearly wants to speak to me” while fighting life and limb to squeeze on a train during the glorious strikes this week.

I am ready to get over myself though. I’ve had good reason to feel as grey as the sky has been this week, but as my boyfriend keeps telling me, being glum won’t help matters. To try and shake off the negativity and feel better about the start of 2017, I want to do things.

I don’t mean just get out or make plans, I mean have stuff to fill up practically all of my time so I have less hours to spend stressed and less nights filled with teeth grinding and dreams about becoming an unsuccessful farmer in France (no idea). I would be a bloody terrible farmer.

And these are the things I will do (I say will because then I feel more inclined to do them rather than go back to the tea, death-staring and Filch vibes from under my duvet)

1) Up-cycle a piece of furniture

I dragged Dan into a charity shop near my house last weekend that has been there for years and I’ve always ignored, and we found loads of really rather nice furniture. Some of it was a bit too pastel coloured and time machine looking, but there were a few little bits like lamp tables, little shelving units and small cabinets that could be stripped and painted and made to look brand new. I don’t even want to do this because it’s cheap, I want to do it because it’s a project and I’ve always loved the idea of up-cycling, I just fear I am inept at DIY. We will find out.

2) Give blood again

3) Make a new financial planning spreadsheet

My life is a thrill a minute. I stopped using my old one when we finished saving but it turns out I really like living my financial life through the medium of Microsoft Excel. I spend far less on seemingly nothing when it’s all there in black and white.

4) Run 5k (nearly) every Sunday again

I stopped this over Christmas partly through laziness, being put off by the cold and dark and also because I had an injury to my shoulder which put me out of action. Now though, apart from the odd snow flurry, I have very few excuses. Running is as good a stress-buster as I’ve ever found, so I need to get back to it pronto.

5) Get another five books ticked off my Goodreads challenge

If you read, or you want to read more, I cannot recommend Goodreads enough. It’s making me read every single day and instead of mindlessly scrolling on my phone on the train or in the evenings, I’m reading instead.

6) Make appointments for all my niggling health problems

As someone who suffers with bad health and chronic illness, you’d think I’d be on top of this sort of thing, but I’m quite the opposite, and that needs to change.

Keeping busy is a good antidote to feeling like the world against is you, so if I don’t do these things, I only have myself to blame when I morph into Filch.

 

30 girl things that are good to know

1) Men really aren’t that bothered about what underwear you’re wearing and are probably more interested in it if it has batman on or something.

2) There’s no shame in feeling defeated by period pains, they damn well hurt.

3) There are loads of women on beaches all over the world who don’t look like Victoria’s Secret Models.

4) The Amara filter will make you feel good about your life on a bad day.

5) Hair brushing is not a daily necessity.

6) You can’t always be the one in the relationship who has flowers bought for you and the door held open.

7) It’s never a good idea to buy clothes that are slightly tight from Topshop. Not ever.

8) Ebay sells every dress you will ever need.

9) Stockings are not always sexy and graceful, they are quite often a massively unfeminine pain in the backside particularly when you’re hoisting them up on an escalator.

10) Never put lipstick on dry lips.

11) You probably care more about pubic hair than any man ever will.

12) Bras without wires in are the dream and a source of joy in life.

13) Plucking your eyebrows after a few wines is not an idea you will thank yourself for.

14) Girlfriends are harder to keep the older you get, but the good ones will prevail even when you don’t WhatsApp 25 times a day.

15) Keeping eyeliner on your lids rather than the bottoms of eyes too can make you look more awake when you’re nakered.

16) Putting lip balm on before drinking red wine helps stop staining.

17) Weights are not just for men.

18) Adding a tea spoon of baking soda to squash is a cystitis remedy for life.

19) Taking your bra off at work when the back ache is too real is fine as long as your top isn’t slightly transparent. Check yo’self before you wreck yo’self.

20) Wearing foundation to the gym just clogs your pores and you will have post-shower whiteheads. Sexy.

21) Take tampons with you when travelling. They DO vary greatly across the world.

22) Warm flannels do wonders for skin.

23) Face scrubbing should be gentle, not actually scrubby.

24) Tumble drying tights should be avoided unless you enjoy the ‘elastic is broke, tights are around my ankles’ vibe.

25) Buying thongs a size up is good practice. (or not buying them at all)

26) Men will get used to you talking about your period. You shouldn’t have to hide it and pretend it doesn’t stop by once a month and cause you great pains.

27) Clean bedding is too important to sleep in mascara or even consider using fake tan now you’re an adult.

28) Offering tea and a hug to your girlfriends in times of need is probably the thing they want the most (followed by wine and outrageous dancing, but first tea)

29) Avocado won’t go brown in salads if you chuck the avocado stone in there too. MAGIC.

30) Wine is both friend, and enemy.

5 reasons I can’t handle ‘going out out’ anymore

 So I’m writing this in the wake of a terrible night out in London while my friend writes a lengthy, formal complaint email, which is a definite sign we are firmly not teens/students/care free youths any more. I don’t think 25 is too old to be going out out, but I feel like it’s becoming more and more evident that clubs need to become a thing of my past. I’m not sure if it’s because I just can’t hack it, my tolerance of other people has become dangerously low in my mid-twenties or if this is just a normal transition. Probably a mixture of the three. Don’t get me wrong though, with the right company, the correct amount of gin and music from the early noughties, I’m as game as anyone.

I just feel lately like a good bar with comfortable chairs, or staying at home with an abundance of wine is my preferable socialising option. An abundance of wine and a nine course meal, to be exact. Anyway, these are my main reasons for wanting to steer clear of clubs and going out out for a while, maybe forever. (never gonna happen though, I’m not THAT boring.)

1) I tolerate drunk people less and less every day.

I used to find it hilarious to watch friends or strangers fall all over the place blind drunk, generally making massive dicks of themselves, but now, I just want them all to get in the sea. I mean it’s totally different if you’re drunk too, because then you are part of the fun and games, but being an observer of such behaviour now just makes me angry. It makes me tired. And it probably makes me hungry if I’m being totally honest.

2) Horrendous door staff.

This has been a theme of my life lately. Encountering bouncers who think they are actually working on an FBI mission rather than a club entrance make me want to sit down and start debating, rather than just pretend to be sober and let them act like a supreme power. This is also due to another kind of lack of tolerance- tolerance for utter dickheads. Security is important, but there’s no need to be an absolute twat about it.

3) I don’t like plans.

So this isn’t specifically about going out out at all, but being an adult is bloody tiring isn’t it!? I much prefer weekends when I don’t have set plans, and things just happen. I also much prefer impromptu nights outs rather than planned, regimented events because the older I get, the worse they always are. Sleep is bae.

4) When I see my friends, I like to be able to hear them

Since working gets in the way of most days and selfishly takes up a lot of time in general, seeing friends is hard. It’s even harder when you factor in responsibilities and adult things people need to find the time to do, along with relationships and families. When I do get the time to see my friends, I now prefer to be able to sit and talk to them and actually catch up, rather than necking tequila and shouting over dance music or squeezing in a quick selfie in a toilet cubicle.

5) Hangovers are HORRIFIC

Life is busy, there’s a lot to do. It’s a bit depressing really, but wasting a whole day laying in bed feeling poisoned and wishing McDonalds was on your lap is just a massive nuisance. They’re also getting worse. So much worse. A few glasses of wine can leave me feeling like someone is putting shelves up inside my skull. I wrote about not being able to hack a hangover a while ago, and since then it’s gotten even more true. Prophylactic paracetamol doesn’t even work these days. HELP ME I AM OLD.

July recommendations

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July has been a really busy month in my life and it’s felt like it’s lasted approximately 3 hours, so that’s nice. I’ve started a new job, flitted to Scandinavia and got a new bed and wardrobe. Getting a new furniture is more stressful than it sounds, I can tell you that right now. I have still found ten minutes to throw this together (on my phone, on the tube, which since I started my at my new place of work has become my blogging office, it’s super glam) so yeah. Knock yourselves out.

1) Monty Bojangles chocolates

I got these as part of my bundle of leaving presents from my old job and I quite literally cannot believe how good they are. I’ve never been a massive chocolate addict (yet here I am, mentioning chocolate again) but these things are clearly crafted by the hands of some chocolate God. If you want to make someone bloody happy, send them a box of these. Along with details of where they can obtain them, because they’ll need a lifetime stock after they sample them.

2) Copenhagen

I wrote a post about this lovely little city last week. I went there for a few days as a quick break and it’s so worth checking out if you want to book yourself a city break. It’s small, colourful, ridiculously chilled and full of nice sandwiches. What more could you really ask for? There’s also loads of pretty canals and boat tours to go on while you enjoy an extortionately priced beverage (Scandinavia innit).

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3) Apple Music.

Er, Apple Music is AMAZING. I love it. It’s life changing. I’ve listened to the Years and Years album about 15 times in the last week. If you haven’t got it, get it.

4) Seeing a kids film at the cinema

It’s been so long since I saw anything a bit childish at the cinema but I saw Inside Out this week, the new Pixar film, and loved every second of it. I forget sometimes how nice it can be to just sit and watch something so uncomplicated and easy. The film is brilliant, as basically all Pixar films are, and my woman crush Amy Poehler voices the main character. Well worth a dash to the cinema to see it and feel 12 years old for an hour and a half.

5) Neutrogena T-Gel Shampoo

I’ve had a dry scalp for about a year now (joy) and i’ve tried loads of different products. This stuff is one of the only things that’s really helped. It also smells less offensive than most shampoos aimed at sorting out this sort of problem, and it isn’t black or dark green, which is nice. The only thing is, your hair doesn’t look clean for very long, but you can just use it every other wash to keep on top on things, and it certainly does the trick.

6) Fortitude

I’ve just started this and it’s pretty bloody good. If you’re after a new TV show to binge watch then definitely consider this. It’s set in Scandinavia on a remote island, deemed the safest town in the world, but obvs things get very unsafe and all manner of shit goes down among the polar bears and the snow. Oh and it stars Stanley Tucci and flipping Dumbledore (well, Michael Gambon) so it was always going to be  amazing. It’s also got a seriously eerie, chilling theme tune. So yeah. GO WATCH.

13 things anyone who suffers with cystitis will know about far too well

1) Feeling a burning pit of hell take hold in your lower abdomen and rage on for several hours before mysteriously retreating and leaving you scared, confused and quietly awaiting it’s return.

2) Talking to your bladder. “I’ll never take not being aware of you for granted again I swear. I love you. You’re really important, just please stop making me weep on the floor in a pile.”

3) Relying on a hot water bottle for ultimate survival. Not much else can soothe that horrifying, painful discomfort like a hot water bottle and a duvet. At 3am. Because cystitis doesn’t need sleep.

4) Standing up. Sitting down. Standing up. Laying down. Waking to the bathroom. Laying down. Crying. Going back to bed. Sitting up. Walking to the bathroom. Repeat 576455 times.

5) Wondering what you did to deserve this and how on earth it’s happened again when you take every precaution known to exist and are now obsessed with your urethra.

6) Throwing out any underwear that’s tight, has lace sewn on or looks vaguely interesting and grown up.

7) Adopting a big fat litre-water bottle as your new boyfriend and holding it to your chest in bed.

8) Having to take a moment to crouch on the floor in public because you need a wee so bad and have a fever and feel faint and wonder if life should just end now. Down here. On the pavement. Against this wall.

9) Thinking about how incredible it will be when you can drink a coffee again. Or a fizzy drink. Or just absolutely anything that isn’t water from your boyfriend water bottle.

10) Running a bath and sitting in it. Holding your lower stomach and staring silently into space while you pray for relief or the end. (The end of the cystitis, not life. Let’s not get OTT)

11) Swearing in your mind you will never ever have sex again. Or even think about it.

12) Googling ‘kidney infection’ because HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN SHIT IS GETTING REAL? Should you be dizzy? Is that back pain high enough? Is there blood? Is it ever gonna end?

13) Becoming wide eyed and staying very still when you feel the first pangs. Here we go again. It’s time for war.

Thoughts I’ve had while using the tube lately 

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There are literally days when I see things on the tube and think, seriously, am I being Punked? Is Ashton Kutcher going to bound onto the tube and start hysterically laughing at me? Am I actually at home in bed sleeping through my alarm and dreaming this?

I have, over my three and a half years of tube commuting, had an abundance of weird experiences and often find myself wondering if I have actually left the universe and crossed over to another dimension where stuffed crow top hats and bags bigger than some European countries are the norm. My thoughts lately have included:

Have I missed an entire day or are you really having a Red Bull and a samosa for breakfast 2 inches from my face?

Do you think breathing like a dragon is acceptable? Are you Daenerys Targaryan?

where, in 2015, does one buy jeans with ‘sexy’ emblazoned on the back in diamontes?

Has something awful happened in your life that makes you feel it’s okay to lean on a pole that 5 people are trying to hold onto for dear life and to stay upright?

Is this the London Underground or the Magaluf strip? Where are the rest of your clothes at 8am?

If you get all of those suitcases on any tube before 9:30am I will eat all of my own limbs.

Get in the sea.

What is Upminster and has anyone really been there?

There is a man’s crotch resting on my back and nothing I can do about it. This is my life.

Maybe, instead of handing over £32 a week to be delayed, squashed, injured, pushed and transported at 2mph, I should just take a vow of silence and move to a remote jungle that still has moderate wifi.

So yeah. I really like mornings and people and tubes. *straight line mouth emoji*

16 situations that regularly occur in the morning

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1) You drop your phone. You drop it because you’re tired. You drop it on your face because you’re trying to snooze for the 11th time. You drop it because you’re holding a bag, coffee, work badge and a free newspaper while dodging slow walkers and tourists with 9 suitcases.

2) You question humanity. People breathing into your ear on the tube like dragons, people attempting to  get on an already dangerously packed train with a ladder, people shouting gleefully down the phone at 7:30am so everyone in a 5 mile radius knows what they did last night. Shut up. Go away.

3) You pay an obscene amount for a hot drink you could make for free at work. You continually do this, because there is something about holding a cup of hot coffee from a coffee shop and you do not know what it is or why you are that person now.

4) You feel a selection of emotions about your hair. Regret at not brushing it. Regret at not washing it. Smugness about how magnificent you look. Upset about how awful your up-do braid thing has turned out after all the practice you put in. Serious thought into shaving it off because when is it not windy these days?

5) Pizza Express email you about BOGOF pizza or a free dessert.

6) You read an email that makes you roll your eyes so far back into your head that you fear you may have lost them forever.

7) You end up on the Instagram page of someone’s sister’s boyfriend’s friend from uni who recently went away to Bali and oh Bali looks nice, let’s just look that up.

8) You either eat something that makes you feel like an Olympian in training or eat something that makes you feel like you need  a nap.

9)  There is a brief moment where you stare out of the window and see some birds flying around and a man walking up the road then realise 5 minutes have passed and you’re still half naked.

10) The shower decision. Do I? Don’t I? How late am I already? What exactly do I smell of?

11) Approximately 4 minutes after arriving at work, you know which way the morning will go. Productive or BuzzFeed.

12) You see someone in gym gear and wonder what on earth motivates them and where you can find it.

13) You realise as you sit down at work that you forgot your lunch so immediately begin planning what you will have instead and things get out of hand quickly.

14) Someone has Instagrammed, Tweeted or Facebooked something involving an avacado and you can’t help but be pissed off with it. Avacado saturation is peak.

15) You talk about the same three things with colleagues as everyone trickles into work- transport, food and tiredness.

16) You think about getting back into bed at the end of the day and how much of a good time to be alive it will be.

Procrastinators be procrastinating

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Procrastination is life. Well for some people anyway. I can definitely stick my hand up and say I put all manner of shit off until I suddenly HAVE TO DO IT. Like, hold me at gunpoint and I’ll probably ask you if you fancy going for a nandos first. So basically a massive note to self and everyone else out to stop putting these things off:

1) Checking your boobs.

2) Going to the dentist.

3) Asking for a job review.

4) Calling a certain someone.

5) Visiting a grandparent.

6) Eating something green.

7) Actually having an early night.

8) Applying for your dream job when it pops up online. JUST DO IT.

9) Offering to do the tea round at work.

10) Opening a savings account.

11) Thinking about a pension. I know.

12) Cancelling the gym membership you never use but shell out for every month.

13) Taking a day off to do absolutely nothing.

14) Getting your eyebrows done. (actual real note to self)

15) Clean that draw in the washing machine where you put washing powder.

16) Buying new pillows.

17) DO YOUR WORK.

5 signs that tell you it’s time to end a friendship

I’ve droned on a lot on this blog about how important I find it to have good friends. By good friends, I mean friends you actually like and want to spend time with. Friends that make you feel supported and happy but you know you can rely on for the truth when you need it (that dress makes you look like roadkill, burn it. etc etc). It’s also good to have friends you miss when you don’t see them for ages. Missing people is important. You know like, “OH MY GOD I HAVEN’T SEEN YOU IN SO LONG HAS YOUR HAIR GROWN HALF AN INCH?”

It sounds obvious that you would of course have friends like this, but actually, it seems pretty normal for people to keep company with so called friends who they actually don’t like. I know people do it, because I see it all the time. I hear it from people who moan and say things like ‘well she’s my friend but I actually can’t stand her.’ Errrr….sorry? ‘Friend’ and ‘can’t stand her’ don’t belong together. My most shared post is about this, so I guess people relate.

You know when a friendship has gone bad. You just do. The prospect of seeing someone makes you feel anxious, unexcited and probably bloody miserable. You probably also put it off to the point you’ve moved onto medieval ailments and who’s likely to believe you have scurvy? You can’t be bothered, you have nothing to say and you worry about what they’ll think about your clothes or hair or that you have nothing impressive enough to tell them. You also suspect they want to see you partly to brag and make you feel a bit crappy.

In my friend culling experience, there are signs that tell you exactly when to pull the plug.

1) You feel anxious before you meet up. Why? Because they make you feel shit and you feel the need to impress when all you should be doing is eating too many carbs and laughing about that time you tripped over a dog and cut both knees. (That happened to me). You worry about them not messaging you, when actually you have nothing to say anyway. You probably also worry they’ll go away and talk about you after.

2) You don’t want to be alone with them. If you can’t happily lounge on a sofa with a friend one on one and at least fill half hour, why are you bothering?

3) Silence is concerning. You absolutely think OMG THEY DEFINITELY HATE ME. THEY ARE TELLING EVERYONE I AM AWFUL. Bet you have friends who you also don’t speak to for weeks but never worry about it? Yep. That’s a good friend.

4) You would definitely rather they weren’t joining in. Maybe you’re now only friends with them because other friends like them. I’ve been in situations where hearing a ‘friend’ is joining a social event has made me feel disheartened. You know that sort of heart sinking bitter disappointment you get from hearing a piece of news? A bit like when the milkshake machine is broken in McDonalds.

5) You just DON’T like them anymore.

It took me too long to realise the above mean a friendship isn’t working out. Working it out meant a happier but smaller friendship group and a happier me.