A little home tour

So, long time no blog. This has been the longest I haven’t been on WordPress since I got an account years ago. The past three months have been the busiest I’ve ever had, thanks to work, general life, and settling into our new home. The sunny, leafy place above is where we now live, nestled in South London, and it’s a world away from where we thought we’d be right now. After giving up on the house we toiled with trying to buy for so long out in zone 7, we came to this place on a whim one snowy, freezing morning in February and never for one second thought we’d be interested in it, yet here we are. This isn’t an average flat and it’s certainly not an average development. It’s a purpose built eco development, with no gas (yep, no heating! Not that it’s ever ever ever cold) and lots of little quirks which make it environmentally friendly. We have solar panels, big funny turbine chimneys, some sort of special water heater and it’s known locally as the Tellytubby place, because well….


Everyone who visits us remarks on how weird and wonderful the place looks, and we’re so thankful we found it. There’s big landscaped, community gardens surrounding the buildings with plots to grow vegetables, an outdoor gym, space for children to play and lots of flowers. It feels like you’re totally removed from London, but I can still see the Shard from my bedroom window and get to work in Waterloo in half hour, so no complaints here.

We’ve slowly spent the past few months turning it from a big airy shell into a home (we’ve put up a total of three pictures, but every little thing counts) and it’s been the most fun, but also the most tiring and NOT good for my poor achey joints. We still have lots to do, and most of our money is still going on buying things to decorate with but it feels much more homely now we have some of our stuff up and displayed. The best thing about the flat is the light – there is so much light, which I wasn’t really into yesterday morning when I was feeling a bit fragile post-cocktail evening, but it’s bloody lovely. The ceilings are also absurdly high, which makes it feel big and even brighter.

The first thing we did was rip up the carpet in the master bedroom, get a new wooden floor and paint the room light grey. This is probably the biggest room in the house and I didn’t see a bedroom bigger in the whole time we were house hunting, so we were properly chuffed with it – I can actually store my stuff in relatively good order and find things without getting stress rash. We’ve got one curved wall with loft style windows which we still need to do something with, but thanks to the handiest of brother-in-laws this room was done and dusted in about a week.

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We’ve put our energy into making the living room cosy and less empty looking over the past few weeks, and it finally looks more like somewhere you’d want to lay and binge Netflix as opposed to uncomfortably sit and wish you were back in bed.

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We have quite a big space where fully functioning adults would put a dining table, but we’ve sort of just not got round to that and still eat at the kitchen breakfast bar or just on our laps (or you know, in bed when needs must). We do have the most gorgeous little wicker rocking chair which was Dan’s grandad’s and has a new lease of life thanks to TK Maxx’s amazing cushion selection.

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The rest of the place is still a work in progress. We have a spare bedroom full of stuff that we obviously don’t need having not touched it since we moved in but both can’t quite face throwing away yet and I don’t see the situation resolving in the very near future. We need a new bathroom, it all works fine, but it could use some sprucing up and we need to do stuff in the kitchen, but that magic money tree hasn’t made its way here yet, so all in good time.

The other thing we randomly have is a room running along the back of the flat which is made up mostly of glass. The ceiling is glass, as is the main wall, and it has exposed brick walls and a strange tiled floor. I love this room, even though it looks like a weird accident right now, and basically I’ll one day drive to B&Q, buy all of the plants and turn it into a jungle. At the moment we just dry washing in there and store fun things like a bin, drills and coats I’ll never wear again, but I think it could become a nice little entertainment room or something.

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So that’s really where life is at right now. Home designing, home buying, running out of money because of the home buying and googling ways to make plant pots more exciting to look at. Once we’re back from Italy next month (magic money tree, we are ready now if you want to grow in the living room), we’ll probably tackle the glass room and start saving for the bathroom. Until then I’ll just keep buying candles on sale in supermarkets.

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Tripod lamp is from Wayfair
Bedroom basket , blue rug and rocking chair cushions are TK Maxx
Armchair is Ikea 
Sofa is French Connection Zinc at DFS 
Stand By Me print is by the amazing Claudia Varosio who makes amazing film posters
Framed postcards pictures are from an NYC market 

 

 

 

Making a house a home – phase one

As someone who likes to plan pretty much everything to quite extreme detail and is a loyal friend of the spreadsheet, I don’t know where I got off thinking I’d just adapt to my new home in about six hours. I worked up in my mind like I’d just stroll through the front door and unpack (which I am yet to finish) and immediately be settled.

Moving was a long and stressful process (get info on the stuff I wish I knew more of  as a first time buyer here) so I feel like I should have prepared myself more for the actual, physical and mental upheaval. I only moved last time just over a year ago and I remember standing with my head in my wardrobe getting tearful and feeling very strange as I packed up my stuff, so it’s not like I haven’t been hit with the moving emotions before. I think I had just spent so long trying to get my own place that I thought the only emotion I could feel towards it was love.

Of course the first initial week was more annoyance at not having a bed, stress at the amount there was to do and the amount of time I spent on hold and a strange feeling of immense responsibility, which is you know, a no-brainer when you buy a home. There wasn’t a great deal to do when we moved in (One day I will get round to taking photos of the weird and wonderful development in all its eco glory) as it was immaculately clean, has wooden floors and crisp white walls and so I thought ‘piece of cake’ and rocked up with my van of stuff and a bag of tangfastics.

By all means, we had a fairy easy time of moving, despite my joints and general body hating me immensely for joining in on the lifting (it turns out moving is far from an Ehlers Danlos-friendly activity) and it wasn’t until a week later that a deflated feeling of ‘what now?’ came sauntering along. Aren’t brains wonderful? They convince you that something is absolutely right and worth struggling for, then hit you with a nice dose of doubt and some sleepless nights.

I can safely say now as I sit on my sofa and look at a living room that doesn’t resemble the aftermath of a flatpack furniture club night that it has all been very much worth it and I’m so happy and so thankful and so on. The whole thing of making a house a home though is going to take some practice. Feeling ill with a massive resurgence of EDS symptoms hasn’t helped with settling in and the fatigue I get from that feels much worse when I constantly have stuff that needs doing, assembling or fixing. I did always know deep down that I’d be the sort of person who moves armed with 50 Pinterest boards and a box of newly purchased cushions, but it’s been much more about thinking and feeling than buying and styling.

Waking up on a Saturday and not hearing other people, being able to shower without locking up the bathroom, not worrying about someone using my cheese or stealing my last apple and being aware that stuff is where it is because it’s where I want it have been the things that have made it feel like home. They’ve also made it feel very strange, but I’m fully on board with my own bathroom and only having one person to point the finger at when food vanishes. Although I do still sometimes miss my Fulham house share and our post-work debriefs with wine at the weird medieval kitchen table, it must be said.

Home (with my parents and my dog and the kitchen door that doesn’t quite open properly) will always be home I think, just in a different way now. As much as moving in and scattering my belongings and all the stuff I’ve been so keen to buy for so long has been all of the fun, it’s definitely going to be little things (and feeling less like a zombie from pain and fatigue) that make this quirky little place feel like a home through and through.

Views for days in the Cotswolds

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A few weeks ago we were supposed to be jetting off to Italy to spend a long weekend eating carbs, looking at architecture, eating carbs, sauntering around with ice creams, eating carbs, drinking Aperol and eating carbs. We didn’t make it to Italy. We didn’t make it anywhere near Italy – however we did have some carbs, so not all was lost.

The theme of ‘very stressful’ that early 2017 took on continued and we couldn’t leave the country as we were so close to completing on our flat. So instead of pizza feasting, we loaded up our car and drove to the Cotswolds. I’ve always wanted to go to this little part of England with it’s ancient cottages and beautiful little streets but it never surfaced to the top of the travel list until we needed a two hour-ish drive, countryside, nice views and fresh air on tap with very little notice. Praise the Gods of Airbnb.


Out of all of the UK staycations and long weekends I’ve been on, this was the most serene. I was worried it would be a bit busy (and a couple of the bigger tourist destinations were) but it was peaceful to the point of feeling like you were on another planet. The sun shone for three days, there were lambs everywhere, flowers growing in every space available and we walked for miles without seeing more than a couple of people. I cannot recommend it highly enough if you want a quick, easy escape in the south of the country. It’s also a photography dream. Note though, you need a car!

If you go you must visit:

Cerney House Gardens – One of the most peaceful places I have ever been and a hidden gem. Our Airbnb owners directed us here, and we arrived to no noise but birds, gardens brimming with every kind of flower imaginable, blossom everywhere, shady woods to walk through and a kitchen full of brownies and tea.

Upper and Lower Slaughter – These two villages are about a 25 minute walk apart through winding country lanes and are easily the prettiest places I’ve been to in England. The houses are like something from a classic fairytale, there’s a river running through surrounded by flowers and full of ducks, there are blossom trees, brightly painted doors, little bridges and the tiniest of cafes and cake shops dotted about.

Bibury -This is where you’ll see the classic Cotswolds postcard row of cottages. in the middle photo at the top. It’s impossibly cute here, and though it was full of tourists when we went (22 degrees heat in April will do that to a place) it’s a sort of must visit.

Calmsden – You likely won’t see Calmsden coming up on any lists of must-see places in the Cotswolds, but we stayed near here and it’s stunning. It was deserted, surrounded by fields of flowers, crops and farm animals and had the prettiest little houses imaginable. You can also stroll through here to The Bathhurst Arms, a pastel pink pub sat by a little river and eat chips, which is pretty much Sunday perfection.

Bourton-on-the-Water – Also known as Little Venice in this part of the world. For all your cafe, tea rooms, ice cream, river front, Instagram and Sunday roast needs. This is a little village surrounded by rivers and bridges, and famous for having a model village that has a model village (I know). As gorgeous as it was here, the hot weather brought out pretty much every person in the region so it was very busy, but still worth a little visit just to enjoy the views.

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7 things I’ve avoided  thanks to not copying other people 

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As someone who spends a lot and I mean A LOT of time on social media for personal and professional reasons, I feel like I’ve finally developed a thick enough ‘internet skin’. It is not easy to stare at the lives of other people all day and not get jealous or fed up or compare yourself to what other people are doing and end up feeling low, miserable and a bit put out by your own lifestyle.

Social media makes people copy other people. For all of the wonderful things it does, for all the brilliant online communities that I admire and advocate, for all the laughs, the chat, the education and the business opportunities it creates, there’s undoubtedly something of a sinister air about the triple-filtered, very perfect life image it feeds us all day long. Yet we eat it up, and we go back and refresh, refresh, refresh. So we have to make an effort to not get dragged down, which has happened to me plenty of times.

I got so caught up in wanting to do a tick-box exercise against my life last year that I forgot to do things I actually wanted. Creating a barrier against that has stopped me from wanting and ultimately trying to copy other people who actually don’t live a life I want. I want my own life to be the life I want. By trying very hard to stop copying lives I see online I’ve…

1) Not purchased a house I didn’t want.

Quite a big one. Quite  massive one. Quite a hugely lucky escape. I still get anxious and feel weird when I think about the fact I nearly moved away and bought this home that I thought fit the bill of what other people were doing, rather than because I wanted to. Realising in enough time and some quite fateful survey issues stopped something I know I would have resented and regretted enormously from happening and I am so thankful. You don’t spend a year saving and scraping by to end up unhappy with the result.

2) Learnt to live with bad health days.

Not always appearing a highly functioning and cheerful person to the rest of the world every single day is fine. It’s completely fine, and for someone like me who suffers health issues and sometimes (luckily not that often anymore – long may it continue) needs to just take time to recover and face them and become introverted or quiet, it’s very important. Not having something glossy to show off on a daily basis is as normal as normal can be.

3) Pursued passions that don’t appeal to the masses.

I like helping people, I like learning about the environment, I like forensics documentaries, I like reading about how oppressed people around the world find a voice and run with it, I like painting plant pots and I like not ever plucking my eyebrows. Okay, the eyebrow thing is not exactly a passion, but you get my point.

4) Stopped trying to save failing relationships.

It doesn’t matter what people you don’t know think about your friend count, your networking abilities or your contacts.

5) Stopped caring that some people might not think my idea of social media is good enough.

I work on social media, I studied it at uni, I really like it and I make money from knowing a lot about it. Despite all of this, I can’t and probably won’t shake the concerns I and many others have about aspects of it, and for a while I stopped using it in the way I wanted for fear of judgement. If I want to talk about movements across the world that other people think are boring or don’t get excited by, I should feel free to. If I want to post a photo on Instagram of a nice looking salad I made, I will. If I want to tweet something mundane that cheered me up, I can. If I want to go on and on about a piece of clever marketing I loved I should just do it, even if it isn’t as cool as a holiday to Italy. Enjoying social media as just a place to be happy and indulge your passions isn’t a crime – it’s surely a massive part of why it exists?

6) Stopped looking for other people’s approval.

Not fully, because hello I’m human, but enough to go entire days without even opening Twitter or caring that my blog stats are low for a fourth day running.

7) Avoided a lot of fear about not having achieved enough for my age

When there a children coding websites, teens carving out businesses online and influencers releasing books left right and centre it’s hard to not feel like you’re not making the mark. Note to self (and to anyone else)  – there is no mark unless you impose one.

A guide to being a first time buyer

Back when I first started looking at places to buy, I spent ages on Google searching for advice and answers to the many questions I had. The longer the process went on, the more I struggled to find the information I needed and although I did find a lot of useful stuff online, I couldn’t find anything tailored to me – a fairly clueless first time buyer with a massive amount of anxiety about the whole thing.

We had a bit of a roller coaster time with our first attempt. After about six weeks of searching we found a place and went for it, got an offer accepted, got the ball rolling, paid for searches and did a lot of paperwork only for it to stall. After that, problem after problem started to crop up and we realised why it’s said that buying a home is one of the most stressful things you’ll ever do. As frustrating, upsetting and irritating as it all was, waving goodbye to four months commitment on a place to start over taught us some valuable lessons about the world of buying. it also turned out to be a good thing, as we’re much happier in a different area and feel much more settled.

I kept wishing I could find a place online that had more than a few snippets of information, so this is my effort at making that happen. I noted down all of the things that we struggled to understand and the things surprised us or made us want to shout “WHAT EVEN IS THIS???” to put together the below in the hope it might help a few others. This is all based on my experience so of course it doesn’t have everything you might need, but I hope it contains at least one useful explanation!

First things first – getting the mortgage sorted

We went through London and Country for our mortgage advice, which is a completely free service and I couldn’t recommend them enough. They took all of our financial information, talked through exactly what we wanted to do and spend and came back with mortgage offers from four different banks. Alongside this we did our own enquiries to compare, and once we had chosen a mortgage product, they guided us through the whole process.

If you don’t want to use a broker you can make appointments at banks to apply for a mortgage in principle (online calculators exist for basically all of them so I’d suggest finding the best couple of offers online and making appointments with those) but be prepared for a wait. Banks seems to have very long waiting lists for appointments in-branch so get organised in advance. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to make offers on places without a mortgage in principle/decision in principle, so this should be your first port of call.

You can get some information on the cost of buying a house from upfront fees to leaseholding costs from The Money Advice Service.

viewings, estate agents and questions

We used the classic combination of Right Move and Zoopla to search for places to view. It’s also worth signing up to mailing lists of estate agents in the areas you are looking at. It can be easier to get yourself on open day lists for popular places if they can contact you directly. We also had trouble getting booked in for viewings at first as we weren’t quick enough, so I’d strongly recommend doing your searching and phoning in the morning as the best places get snapped up FAST.

When we were at viewings I used to forget all of the diligent and sensible questions I should have been asking and just made awkward small talk instead –so take a list on paper and make sure you use it!

I wrote a post on questions to ask estate agents and things to consider that might not be obvious. There are little things you can do like running taps and flushing loos to check water pressure, as well as asking to look inside lofts or basements (which can hide all kinds of issues and secrets).

Also, this is an important one, if you’re buying a flat, make sure you check the number of years left on the lease. The EA should have this information and if they don’t ask them to try and get it. We learnt that when leases slip below 80 years, a property price starts to fall until it is renewed. Renewing a lease can be very costly (upwards of £6000) so consider this very carefully. You can get more information from the Lease Advice Service.

Easy research to do online when choosing a home

There’s plenty of stuff you can look up online to help you decide if you want to live somewhere.  Since we were initially looking at moving to a completely new county, we used a few different websites to do research:

Crime stats by postcode – not much fun but worth knowing.

House price data from the Land Registry – you can look up what other places nearby have recently sold for.

Find our if a property is at risk of flooding – if you’re anywhere near water it’s worth paying the small amount for the proper report. You can also get flood maps through this link.

Street Check – you simply enter a postcode and get a load of information on the area from housing and culture to employment and the all important broadband speeds.

Ask the local authority – we did some digging around with one local authority to ask about road planning and flood defences and got a lot of information for free. We simply looked up with LA we needed and googled for contact details, gave them a call and followed instructions. We also asked the local council if any building work applications has ever been submitted for one property we liked that was very old.

Putting in offers

This post looks at the questions you can expect to be asked – particularly when putting in an offer. I thought it would be as simple as calling the EA and naming a price, but of course it isn’t.

If other people are bidding too, you might end up in a bidding war, so calculate how high you can afford to go and think about stamp duty and deposit too –and stay by the phone! In some cases if multiple bids are put forward, you’ll be asked to give your best and final offer. We also learnt the hard way that it’s best to get your offer in as early as you can. We lost a house we really liked because two bidders had offered the same amount and since we were second to get it in, we weren’t successful.

During the bidding process we were asked for copies of our mortgage in principle and proof of deposit from all three EAs that we went through, which we did not expect and initially weren’t prepared for.

As much as I resented doing this, it’s worth getting savings account statements prepared or proof of deposit from a third party if you’re being gifted it. A bank statement with a date stamp suffices. Our mortgage advisor told us that EAs have no right to see these things, but they’ll ask anyway to make sure they aren’t taking bids from people who aren’t truly in a position to buy. The Home owners alliance offer tips on haggling over a price and the sealed bids process.

If your deposit is coming from a third party and not your own savings, you might also need a letter from that person confirming the money is a gift. If its a loan, you’ll need to fill out a form saying so, as all of this gets considered by your lender. You should get advice on all of this from your broker or mortgage advisor at the bank.

Picking a solicitor

Once you get an offer accepted on a home, you’ll likely be asked to move quickly on appointing a solicitor. You don’t need to wait until you’ve had an offer accepted to start getting quotes. We did this simply by asking people we knew for recommendations and good old Googling.

Often, EAs will offer you a quote from their solicitors, or a firm they’re in partnership with. There’s nothing wrong with having a look but don’t feel you have to use them because you don’t. When it comes to choosing one, read reviews, compare quotes and think about location. If you feel you’d be happier having an office to pop into (you can save money on postage by taking forms directly into offices) then look for one based close to home, though it doesn’t matter if you never meet your rep face-to-face. We never met ours as he was based in Manchester but we were in regular contact and had no issues on the communication front (though you should get a feel for this in reviews).

Really Moving is an online service that can help you find solicitors in your area and offer reviews. Rated Solicitors does much the same.

What will you need to pay them for? Well in short, every single thing they do. Ask for a  purchase estimate before you appoint, which should offer a total on legal fees, searches, checks and stamp duty, calculated on the property price -this won’t be the final price but should give you a good idea of where you stand.

Exchange, completion and moving day

There isn’t much to say on this as (hopefully) it’s pretty straight forward. Once you’ve finished the paperwork and got all queries back you can look at dates for exchange and completion. You might face an extra charge if you complete within one week of exchange, so if you can space them out you could save money. You don’t have to do much on either of these days, but we were told to check in regularly with our solicitor for updates on completion day especially.

Stay calm

It is stressful, but it also doesn’t have to be. Our second attempt was smooth, relatively easy and straight forward. My best pieces of advice would be to stay in contact with your solicitor and the EA as much as possible. Ask for regular updates from your solicitor (you’re paying them after all) and stick to your guns. If something feels wrong, it probably is. It’s a big deal to buy your first home, so don’t rush your decisions and it really is true that if you don’t feel 100% happy with a property then tread carefully. Oh and good luck!

I just don’t really know

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I’ve never felt more conflicted than I do right now. You know how people say that they feel hunger like an emotion? That’s me with conflict. My brain is like a ball of “I don’t know” and it’s annoying and interesting and means I keep waking up at 4am to have a silent battle about big and small things and things I shouldn’t even need to question myself on.

I spend a lot of my spare time just being torn, not about a general direction for my life, but about almost everything. I have, as most people do, a gigantic, ever-growing list of things I want to do, places I want to go, food I want to eat, beaches I want to sunbathe on, cultures I want to experience, jobs I want to have, causes I want to help, clothes I want to wear – it’s endless.

I want to do different things with work and at the same time I want to do the same things with work. I want to go to a hundred new places, but I also want to revisit places I love. I want to channel all of my energy and spare time into one idea, yet I can’t seem to focus on it for long enough without getting more ideas.

In one rather dull evening at home alone, feeling a bit ill and a bit angry, I’ve felt conflicted about my hobbies, my travel plans, my next big thing to save for, if I should lay in bed or sit in the living room – it doesn’t matter how big a thing or how trivial, if it it’s my mind you can bet I’m conflicted about it.

Maybe this is just an age thing (27 in 6 days TICK TOCK), maybe it’s just another outcome of spending too much of my life online viewing how other people live and wondering how on earth they manage to do it all. It might be a bit of both, or it might be other stuff. It might be people close to me in both age and emotional ties fighting off killer diseases and making me constantly think about how short life is. It might be the fact I’ve just bought my first home and am feeling suddenly strange that this huge weight has been lifted and I’ve scraped over the finish line of this massive looming task.

I can’t seem to decide lately if I want to drink tea or coffee, let alone make choices that will impact my life every single day. Not knowing up from down and left from right is as annoying as it is sort of intriguing. If conflict is something that comes with this stage of life then I hope it brings good choices, early nights and late nights and absolutely immense amounts of cheese.

Knowing the answers is boring anyway, right?

Sometimes things go wrong and it’s just what you need 


The past three months have been a rollercoaster ride of very grown-up feeling stuff going wrong, getting better and repeating. We started 2017 with plans to move away to an entirely new place. We had the house, had the ideas and had it sort of mapped out. I thought it was right and that it was time and I built it up to be something it never would have been. 

Then it all went wrong, turned into a giant mess and eventually the whole thing got scrapped. 

I can’t explain how delightfully thrilled I am about that. 

It’s amazing how much you realise you didn’t want something until it’s called off and cancelled.

I know now I’m not doing it that my choice to wave goodbye to London and buy a quaint little house by a river big enough for a family I don’t yet have was because it felt like that’s what other people were doing. I felt like I should do it because it was responsible. It was sensible. It was something to grow into and decorate and change and get used to and just to learn to fit in.

When it all fell apart we took serious stock of what was happening with our lives and I realised that I just did not want it. I wanted to live near people I know. I wanted to be in London (well, the outskirts cos y’know, I’m not a billionaire) and I wanted to live somewhere I actually liked. 

All I really want right now is to able to commute quickly, feel comfortable, have space to myself and get a grip on the next big challenge – and there’s nothing wrong with that. 

I don’t know why I felt the need to press fast forward a hundred times like my life depended on it, but it did not do me any favours. 

I had this feeling that I’d be judged or deemed behind the masses or some other strange, unrealistic emotion that I can’t quite explain. I don’t even know who I felt like I had to answer to. There’s no person, no group of people, no conversation that I can blame. I think it was just the curse of seeing so much of other people’s lives online and getting blinded by it all on top of being a bit of a bully to myself. 

The whole situation worked out way better than I could ever have imagined. Something that felt like a disaster turned into a saviour. 

I’m fully excited for the rest of 2017 and what we’ve decided to do. I certainly now appreciate that spending a year working bloody hard and saving harder wasn’t done to feel unsure and anxious, it was to make life better. 

So here’s to not going through with stuff that doesn’t come from the heart and to an exciting next few months. 

The problem with weekends when you’re a mid-20s grandma

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There’s something that doesn’t quite sit right with weekends anymore. What used to be a glorious prospect involving lengthy lay-ins until lunchtime, big nights out and lazy days spent trawling high streets or debriefing with friends about the vodka haze, is now this big internal ‘can I be arsed?’ battle.

Some things haven’t changed. For instance, going out on a Friday night still makes the weekend feel longer, and getting a night out done and dusted with two days stretching out in front of you to do sweet FA is still the best way to go about life. It’s also still true that Sunday hangovers are the worst and that making plans for Sunday afteroon (but nothing that ends later than 8) is good for combating the blues.

These are weekend rules I’ll probably always live by. Rules that became ingrained when I was in my late teens and very early 20s and have just continued to serve me well. Now staring down the barrell of 26 (I know, it’s not old, but I still remember rolling around in Spoons aged 19 drinking jugs of blue alcohol like it was happening a couple of hours ago so forgive me for my horror) all I want from weekends is rest and food that makes me feel satisfied and a bit smug. Smutisfied. I want a meal that makes me feel smutisfied. Think heavy on the cheese, plenty of veg, semi-fancy wine and good helping of carbs. 

These days, plans freak me out. Getting to Friday is still beautiful and amazing and I scroll through Instagram without hating all those ‘FRIYAY’ memes as much as I hate other slogan posts, but there’s this slight fear for what’s coming if I know it’s a busy one.

Not going out on Friday and Saturday used to be a failure. It used to make me feel like I was wasting time or not using my short freedom from employment properly. Now days, realising I have places to be and people to please at various locations and times across Saturday and Sunday makes me feel a bit sad.

That’s the problem with being a mid-20s grandma- plans start to hit you hard. When you wake up tired, you just want to spend your weekend laying, floating around, maybe going food shopping, maybe going to the gym, maybe going to the pub, probably watching half a series of something on Netflix and unashamedly eating in bed with half a can of dry shampoo in your hair. But it’s not all boring. I still really love an impromptu night out because they just sneak up on you so you don’t have time to think about how tired you are or how little money you have. I do get excited for seeing friends, I’m not an unsociable snore entirely, and I definitely like birthday meals, celebrations and long afternoons in the sun (three times a year if we’re lucky), but i also really, massively look forward to REST. Sweet, glorious and unassuming rest.

Despite this love of doing nothing, weekends also seem to get filled and booked out weeks in advance and now I have to arrange something stupid like going for a few drinks on a Saturday afternoon weeks before the event. I’m not sure how these things happen. I’m not sure if maybe I’m just lame. But I do know I don’t care.

Walking around the house after a day of total relaxation drinking wine and wearing big socks and loose pyjamas is my grandma dream. 

Invisible illness – the struggle is still real

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I don’t consider my illness to be invisible. To me, it’s blindingly obvious.

When I look at my feet, I see the scattered red dots where my blood vessels have leaked and stained. When I look at my ankles I see the weird red and orange patches that no doctor can explain, just hanging out down there like a little fake tan accident. When I look at my arms I see the strange way they bend and the places where my joints don’t look right.

To other people, I look perfectly normal. Bog standard. Run of the mill. Just another face in the crowd.  I don’t look ill, (unless you get up close and personal with my face on a bad day and see all the lines and purple marks having a tired party) I mostly just look like someone who got up early and could use a sit down, which is basically all of us right?

I get up five days a week and cram myself on the train to go to work. I work all day, go to the gym or running in the evenings, see friends, eat out – I live a good life and I’m lucky, but every day I’m also aware that I could feel awful at any given moment.

The best way I can describe life with an illness like mine is that I’ve spent my (almost) 27 years feeling a bit ropey. For years I thought I was just unlucky. People, family included, would joke that I was a sick note or that I didn’t have an immune system and I just agreed. People can’t get their head around pain for no apparent reason when they’ve never dealt with it, so in many ways I wasn’t taken that seriously and that includes by doctors.

When I finally got diagnosed with having Ehlers Danlos syndrome after a long and arduous battle, the GP I saw as part of my follow up told me she too had an invisible illness and that she felt my frustration. She also said that it was likely to be a lifelong struggle to get people to understand that looking good doesn’t equate to feeling good.

She wasn’t wrong.

I still find myself not bothering to tell people when I feel really bad. If I have to limp for two days because my hip has come out of place, I’ll just get on with it when I could really use more rest. I still get disbelieving looks when I complain about not feeling right. I still get asked “REALLY ill again!?” if I do tell people things aren’t good.

You definitely do build up a resilience to be able to carry on when you’re feeling like crap with chronic pain conditions. Chronic illness in general is certainly a character building experience. It’s really been online, social media particularly, that I’ve found a strong support network. The internet has given people who suffer with rare conditions a forum to come together and it’s been extremely important to me. It’s so reassuring to speak to another person who just gets it and is living it too.

The majority of people I’ve connected with and turned to for help online have struggled at one point or another with trying to communicate to people that you can be seriously unwell but still look totally fine. It really is a thing.

How do you tell a stranger on a train that you need a seat when you look young, well and fit as a fiddle? How do you explain to your employer that despite the fact you were breezing round the office yesterday full of good cheer, today you can’t come in because you can’t move?

It’s a battle and it’s a tiring one and there are many people fighting it, so be kind to your mate who feels ill a lot, because you can never really know what’s happening to a person.

9 online homeware stores that deserve a little attention 

 

I keep googling ‘homeware stores UK’ in the hope of finding some new places to shop from. I’ve found a few round-ups and lists of online homeware stores that aren’t just Ikea or John Lewis or Oliver Bonas (not that I don’t love all of those – I just want some different options) but then I get to the sites themselves and often find my status as a non-millionaire a problem.

I have a whole new home to fill very soon as I’ve managed to accumulate basically zero furniture in my 26 years (adulting like a pro) and I don’t want to buy EVERYTHING from Ikea.

I say this, I will buy many things from Ikea.

While I don’t want to overload and buy loads of stuff I don’t need, having lots of empty space to fill seems as good a reason as any to get some shopping done. After many weeks scouring the internet, Twitter, Instagram, blogs and magazines I’ve put together a list of homeware websites/shops that are affordable, sell all the things you’ll likely need to function and plenty of pretty bits for staring lovingly at too.

1) M&S

Okay, now this is probably obvious to everyone and I thought I’d get it out the way, but I honestly never really thought about M&S for homeware. I love their food and I love their clothes but that’s always been the extent of my Marks and Sparks browsing. Turns out they have a lot to offer.

What they’re good for: KITCHENWARE! The above spring coffee mug was brought home by my boyfriend the other week and they have loads of similar, lovely kitchen/cookware bits.

2) Wayfair

This is my current favourite website. They sell practically everything in the home world and they change their offerings so often you’ll never get bored of browsing.

What they’re good for: Sales – they have a new sale every couple of days on different products or themes or even by room. They do a good selection of contemporary sofas and lots of lovely light fixtures too.

3) Red Candy

The point of Red Candy is to be bright and bold and buy less beige and they can certainly help there.

What they’re good for: Clocks and photo frames are especially worth a look.

4) Lo and Behold

I found this site through just typing ‘homeware’ into the Twitter search bar, and while they don’t actually stock that much, you can find some gems. Very modern, very smart and all of the colours and patterns are understated and chic.

What they’re good for: Throws, bedding and lights.

5) The Range

I feel like maybe most people know about The Range, but late to the party as ever I only found their site a few weeks ago. Lots of furniture – big furniture, small furniture, they sell everything. It’s not all my cup of tea but there are some really nice storage pieces and coffee tables.

What they’re good for: Reasonable prices, good storage and lots of selection.

6) The Little House Shop

A lot of the stuff on here reminds me of H&M’s home offerings, but they do a bit more in the way of jazzy lights, bigger selection of prints on cushions and random stuff like toys.

What they’re good for: Lights, hanging mirrors, cushions and planters.

7) Cuckooland

I came for the name, stayed for the wooden storage. When I first landed on this site I wasn’t really sure it was really for me (although they the most amazing kids teepee beds that make me want to be 8 again), but they have some really nice stuff.

What they’re good for: Chests of drawers, storage units, garden stuff, kids furniture.

8) Howkapow

Expect bright, cheerful and quirky.

What they’re good for: Unusual candles, pretty mugs and cups, quirky kitchenware and fun gifts.

9) Bouf

Not the cheapest in this list, but it’s the bigger stuff you’d pay more for anyway that they win at. Lots of trendy hexagonal shaped furniture and really nice  painted wood.

What they’re good for: Bookcases and dining chairs.