Saturday, 30 May 2015

BEDM Day 30 - Buzzfeed Style List

OK, I'll just start by saying that I had no idea what Buzzfeed was, what a Buzzfeed list was and after looking at Buzzfeed I'm none the wiser!

So I thought I'd just do a list. Here are my Top Ten Radiohead songs.

1. Fake Plastic Trees - I love this song with it's hint of lost love and melancholy.
2. Idioteque - a real jump around and enjoy number.
3. Everything In Its Right Place - a good sing-a-long tune, the essence of Radiohead.
4. My Iron Lung - classically Radiohead.
5. A Punchup At A Wedding - another great one to sing.
6. You And Whose Army? - anthemic
7. Karma Police - well, you just have to, don't you?
8. Street Spirit - a great song with complex lyrics (means I'm not sure what it's about!)
9. Exit Music - builds nicely then snarls.
10. Creep - I was lucky enough to hear it live, they hardly ever play it live.

There are many, many more I love but these will keep me happy on my virtuaql desert island.

Friday, 29 May 2015

Prose For Thought - Above

I'm a first timer on this linky so please be gentle with me!

Above me there's a halo no-one else can see,
I'm not worthy of it but still, there it is.
It marks the progress of my life,
The ups and downs, the good and bad.
A dent on one edge marks a time my heart was broken,
The tarnish on the underside a time when I was mean.
In places it looks bent out of shape from when I neglected it
Forgetting it was there, marking out my life.
Yet when I catch a glimpse of it, it always makes me smile.
It was bestowed with love, the purest love,
On the day I entered the world.
So forgive me if I smile when I glance in a mirror.
That's not vanity.
It's remembrance and acceptance,
Plus a secret, inward joy,
That once I was an innocent untainted by the world.  

Word of the Week

This week my word is ...

I'm in the process of planning a revamp of my blog and I'm so excited about it that I could squeal!

I'm following a plan devised by Elizabeth +Rosalilium which is proving most helpful. She's helping me to work out where I want my blog to go and how to get there. So many things I hadn't even considered which I now see are essential to the success of any blog. I've actually changed my mind about the sort of blog I want to write!

I can't tell you what I'm going to do but I hope to give the blog more focus, more content and some much needed pizazz. If it all goes to plan it should be ready for relaunch by the end of June. So the second half of the year will be a new and exciting journey for me and my blog, who knows where it will lead...

The Prompt - Fear

I crouch in the darkness, my back against the door and listen. My heart pounds against my chest, it feels as if it's bursting through my ribs. My breathing is shallow and ragged, whistling between my thinly pursed lips. There is pain in my head as I strain to catch the slightest noise from the other side of the door.

I know that they are there. I heard them enter the house; sharp splintering of the door frame as they forced it open. I heard them whispering in the kitchen, straining to catch even the merest hint of what they were talking about. I heard them climbing the stairs, trying so hard to make no sound as I slunk out of the bedroom and headed across the landing to the bathroom. Where I now cower on the floor, pressed against the door, willing them to leave.

What was that? A sound on the landing, a creak or someone brushing against the bathroom door. is that breathing? Is someone on the other side of the door trying to listen? Am I making any sound, any noise that they might hear? I am a hairsbreadth away from screaming but I know I must be totally silent. An ache in my chest alerts me to the fact that I'm holding my breath. I release it slowly and silently, feeling the pain subside.

My heart is still pounding, sending the blood pounding in my ears. Now all I can hear is the blood pumping through my head; I can no longer hear clearly. They could be right behind the door, just over my shoulder, and I wouldn't know! I feel panic rising in me, making me feel nauseous. They are so close, so very close. What do they want? Who are they?

There is a cold numbness in my legs. I need to stretch them out before I lose all feeling. But if I move I might make a sound and alert them. But if I stay like this I won't be able to run and fight if I need to. What should I do? More panic, more to churn through my mind, adding to the panic and fear. I strain with everything I have to listen to the darkness.

A phone rings. Not my ring tone! On the other side of the door a strange phone is ringing. Will they answer? The ringing starts to move away, getting quieter. Then it stops. Was it cut off? Or are they now on the phone, calling for reinforcements? A murmuring voice, moving away. I can't make out the words or the tone, I can't even make out if it's a man or woman.

Silence. I press my ear closer to the door, trying to hear the murmuring again. But all I can hear is quiet. Nothing. No sound at all. Slowly, oh so slowly, I stretch my legs out in front of me. A rush of pain shoots up my legs as the blood returns. I gasp, unable to hold the sound in. Instantly I clasp my hand across my mouth, silently cursing myself for a moment of weakness. Hyper alert once again I try to listen to the house. My ears are full of buzzing, the sound of blood pounding through my head. I'm starting to imagine things, sounds that couldn't possibly be there.

But I didn't imagine that! A knocking sound downstairs, loud and insistent. What are they doing down there? More importantly, what should I do? I stand up cautiously, steadying my shaking self against the door frame. My hand is on the bathroom door handle, I'm sweating so much I can hardly get a grip of it, struggling to turn the handle.  More knocking downstairs and a voice, a loud, confident male voice.

'Hello? Anyone there? It's the police.'

Thursday, 28 May 2015

BEDM Day 28 - Nostalgia

OK, let's get it out of the way right at the start shall we? 'Nostalgia ain't what it used to be' - I'll get me coat ...

Actually as I've got older I've definitely got more nostalgic.

TV was better in the 70s - The Clangers, The Herbs, Bagpuss, The Goodies, Monty Python, Fawlty Towers, Hector's House, How, The Pallisers, I could go on and on. Just thinking about The Clangers or Bagpuss makes me go all smushy inside.

Music was definitely better in the 70s - Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Queen, The Eagles, Glam Rock, David Bowie, Punk Rock, Two Tone and the Ska revival - again I could go on and on ...

I even prefer the fashions from the 70s - cheesecloth tops, flares, stacked heel boots, hippy beads, smock tops, suede bags with fringes, maybe not so much the hotpants and legwarmers though!

To prove that nostalgia is a curious beast I have a soft spot for the 3 day week and the power cuts that we had! I remember trying to do my homework by the light of a paraffin lamp! Great excuse for not doing it in my opinion.

I loved the simplicity of the 1970s - children were kids, not mini adults; you did what you parents told you to (most of the time!); there was no daytime TV; people weren't glued to their phones, tablets or laptops at all times; it was safe fro kids to play outside all day; people were less frightened.

Maybe I am seeing it all through rose tinted glasses but there are many things that I think were better and many things that I think it's a shame that we have lost from former times.

I wonder what people will feel nostalgic for from the opening decades of the 21st century?  

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

BEDM Day 27 - Hometown

Now here's an interesting idea - where is my hometown?

The first place that springs to mind when I think about my hometown is the place where I was born Birmingham. OK let's get all the silliness out of the way - the terrible accent, everyone's thick, no culture, Spaghetti Junction etc. I get fed up apologising for being a Brummie - I'm proud to have been born in such an vibrant, progressive, multi-cultural city. It's different to when I grew up there in the 1960s and 70s but it still has a place in my heart, even though I'd struggle to live there now (too big, noisy and crowded) I loved playing in Lightwoods Park and Edgbaston Reservoir; I loved Saturday mornings at Top Rank in Dale End with its odd synchronised dancing; I loved shopping trips to Rackhams, Lewis's and C&A; I loved my Saturday job in Woolworths, blowing all my pay in the boutique opposite; underage drinking in The Old House At Home - I could go on and on and on...

Happy Days!

The second place that I think of when I think of my hometown is where I live now. Abingdon is a market town in South Oxfordshire. It's got a bit of a split personality as it used to be the County Town of Berkshire. It's definitely seen better days - the town centre is a sad, down at heel place which doesn't inspire you to want to stop and shop (lots of charity shops and coffee shops!) But I love being so close to the River Thames, great for a stroll and a think; I love the old Abbey buildings in warm Cotswold stone; I love the area around St Helen's church, so lovely to sit and contemplate; I love sitting by the river and watching the world go by; I love being so close to Oxford and the wonderful little corners in that busy city; I love being able to pop into The Ashmolean Museum whenever I want.  

Two different hometowns; no wonder I feel like a split personality at times!

Monday, 25 May 2015

BEDM Day 25 - Contemplation

For a while now I've been thinking of re-vamping my blog. Although I enjoy writing my contributions for Word of the Week and The Prompt I've found it a struggle to know what else to do with the blog.

I don't seem to have any structure of direction in it. It ambles along and I don't feel bonded to it. There is so much potential in blogging that I feel I'm missing out by not being more focused in my blog. I haven't yet found my niche, my place in the blogosphere where I feel happy and belong.

So I decided to get some help to find my direction and turned to a Blogging Bootcamp. This is designed to help me find my blogging mojo through a series of interesting exercises.

And here's the thing; I started out with a set notion of what sort of blog I thought I wanted to write. I was sure I knew how I wanted it to look and sound and feel. I was so sure I wanted to write a blog about writing and my misguided ideas of being a writer. After all, the things I was most committed to in blogging so far have been writing tasks like The Prompt. So it was obvious that's where I was going, wasn't it?

But now I'm starting to change my mind. I'm starting to think that what I want to write is a lifestyle type blog. Not one of those ones which give you serious home envy and make you feel like a totally inadequate home owner. But an honest blog about life as a plus size, unfit, unhealthy middle aged woman.

Most of the blogs I read are lifestyle or parenting blogs. They are well written, full of lush photos and written by inspiring women. But they're all so young! Mostly in their 30s with little children. Difficult for me to relate to if I'm honest. I love reading about their families and it all brings back some lovely memories but the days of potty training, learning to read and temper tantrums are over for me (OK I confess, I still have the odd tantrum!)

So where are the lifestyle blogs for women like me? I'm sure they must be out there but I've yet to find them. Maybe what I need to do is start writing one. After all I can't be the only one who has a life like mine...

Now my dilemma is whether this is the direction to take or whether I should stick to my original idea of a blog to showcase my writing. I'm hoping as the Bootcamp progresses I'll get a firmer sense of where this blogging voyage is going to take me next.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

BEDM Day 24 - Wanderlust

I'm very much a home body. I've travelled around the UK a bit and also a few countries in Europe. One trip to USA many years ago may be the only time I do long haul - it is rather traumatic. So the topic of Wanderlust is a tricky one for me as I'm lacking in the travelling spirit.

We holiday most years in either Greece or Turkey. Not very adventurous countries and we go to Neilson resorts where we rarely venture far from the holiday complex. So you can see my dilemma!

However, if I were to be given a free rein to travel anywhere I'd love to go to Denmark. I have loved watching BBC 4's Danish dramas recently and they have given me a real taste for all things Danish. I love the look of Scandinavian interior design, the clean lines and minimalistic look. I'm sure there are plenty of hoarders in Denmark whose homes look stuffed and scruffy! But I'm only interested in the neat and tidy ones with impeccable design credentials; that's what I aspire to for my home but I know I will never achieve.

I'd happily pop in to any of the Scandinavian countries but something about Denmark is really attractive. The fact that it regularly tops the list of best/happiest places to live makes me think there must be something to investigate. And I can visit Lego Land - everything is better in Lego after all!

So buy me a ticket to Copenhagen and I'll bring you back a Danish pastry - well, maybe send you a photo of one ...

Saturday, 23 May 2015

BEDM Day 23 - Healthy Living

I confess, I know exactly what I should do to make my life more healthy.

I should cut back on the unhealthy carbs I love, I should give up sugar and watch my fat intake.
I should take more exercise, walk every day, go to the gym and re-start spin classes.

So I do know what I need to do. I have all the information at my finger tips. I am intelligent enough to know what to do and why.

But I'm lazy at heart. I don't like exercise and getting sweaty. I hate exercise classes as they're full of skinny minnies who are confident and co-ordinated.
But I'm greedy. I like carbs and fats, they taste so good. I don't enjoy celery, lettuce and kale - I want to eat chocolate and crisps.

So I'm at heart an unhealthy, greedy, lazy slob. Now the big question is - do I stay that way or do something about my inherently unhealthy lifestyle?

Wish I knew the answer to that. Now pass the Cadbury Dairy Milk ... 

Friday, 22 May 2015

BEDM Day 22 - What's In Your Bag?

What a nosey lot we are. When I saw this prompt I thought 'Goody, a chance to rummage through the contents of some handbags and see what everyone has got'. So I confess to looking forward to a good nosey through some bags!

Here is the contents of my bag at the moment. I'm not sure it's that interesting but you never know, it may provide some insight into the dark corners of my soul...

Sorry it's such a rubbish picture - my phone is so ancient that the screen is tiny and it's tricky to see what I've actually got in frame - hence the edge of the table and my foot!

I've always got a book in my bag and at the moment I'm reading a biography of Jonathan Swift by Victoria Glendinning, bought by my sister and recently selected as a rare non fiction choice.

You can never have too many notebooks - there are two in shot and another one in my organiser. Always useful for writing impromptu shopping lists, snatches of conversations and ideas for writing.

I'm obsessed with having a working pen so I carry several in my dinky pencil case - all pink at the moment!

My purple organiser thing contains all the bits and that I can't bear to be without - more pens, tissues, painkillers, cold sore cream, cheque book, comb, lip gloss, mirror etc - I love the fact I can move it from bag to bag. I sound like a real anorak don't I?

I always have my Onya bag for sudden shopping urges - saves collecting plastic supermarket bags so is good for the environment - keep it green!

Things you may notice are missing from my bag - phone, I only carry my phone if I'm going on a journey or need to listen to some music; it's the least mobile phone in the world, always in a drawer! Also no makeup - I use so little it's not worth carrying around - that's why I always look like a bag lady!

So there you go, make of that what you will. Have you analyses me as a sociopath? Or just a rather boring middle aged woman?

The Prompt - Confidence

Controlling the annoying voice that tells me I can't do it.
Overcoming the fear of making a fool of myself.
Never putting myself forward, just in case.
Finding a million excuses why I can't do it.
Images of disaster flooding through my mind.
Ducking out of sight when volunteers are called for.
Embarrassing blushing when looked at or the centre of attention.
Nominating anyone else to do it except me.
Crowded places bother me in a way they never used to.
Exhale, inhale then strike out.
Lack of confidence can severely limit life chances.
I suffer but I'm fighting back.   

Word of the Week

Word of the Week always seems to creep up on me, jumping out at me before I'm ready!
So this week my word is ...

I've decided that my blog needs some improvement if I'm to move it to the next level. It feels as if it's been treading water recently and I need to do something before I lose interest in it completely. I'm doing some exercises devised by Elizabeth at Rosalilium which should give me some ideas about where to take the blog and how to improve it. So watch this space over the next few months to see where I'm going and to join the journey!

I'm also thinking seriously about a bit of self improvement. I was reading Sera's blog post at The Agoraphobic Fashionista about comparing herself to others in a negative and unhelpful way. I know that I am guilty of doing the same and it's a fruitless exercise. So it's now time to do something to improve how I feel about myself and improve my life in general. Make over time !

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

BEDM Day 20m - Role Models

Thinking about this topic I realised that my role models have changed throughout my life. When I was very small I aspired to be a fairy or an elf or a talking teddy or ... you get the picture!

The first person I remember wanting to be like was my Mum. She seemed to have an ideal life to me. Staying at home when I had to go to school, baking and sewing, not having to go to bed when it was still light in the summer and she got to wear a pinny which always had a hankie in the pocket. She also seemed to spend lots of time laughing which was a good thing. I guess what I wanted was to have a happy home life which involved a loving husband and looking after my family. I've been lucky and have had this for the past several years so thanks Mum for providing me with the model for being a wife and Mum.

My next role model was a teacher at secondary school, Mrs Cartwright. I thought she was so cool - tall and slim with exquisite taste in clothes, jewellery and make-up. She could cross her legs twice - you know, when you cross at the knee and then again at the ankle - I thought this was so cool and sophisticated. Needless to say I've never managed to do that myself - fat knees and ankles! She taught me English, my favourite and best subject, so she was already on to a winner. She was a strict but fair teacher and I always enjoyed her lessons; she gave me a love of reading but sadly never really managed to improve my handwriting! I got to know her on a more personal level when I was in the sixth form when I did some babysitting for her and her lovely husband. I even envied her home and Henry the Afghan Hound!

My sister is a role model too. She seemed to have it all - great career, lovely home and family, travel. Boy was I green eyed for a while! Of course I'm thrilled for her having all this loveliness in her life but I know how hard she and her OH have worked for it - nothing much comes for free, does it? But she does seem to have a nack for organising a very busy life and yet still being cool and enjoying it all. She inspires me to try harder to get a sense of balance in my life and she always has my best interest at heart, I've had some good advice from her even if I didn't want to hear it at the time. She's a great sister and I'm very lucky to have her in my life. Bet she's embarrassed now!   

I passed many years without any real role models. Busy times working, looking after my family etc took over.

Then I started blogging and I now have several blogger role models. I admire Elizabeth at Rosalilium. She's taken her blogging experience to a whole different level and is so knowledgeable. She lives a nomadic life travelling with her boyfriend - sounds idyllic to me! I also admire Jocelyn at The Reading Residence. She's a pro-blogger who always has interesting posts to share and lots to engage with. a similar blog is YouBabyMeMummy hosted by Aby. Those last two blogs are family ones and I'm probably not their target audience as my baby is 26, but I enjoy the writing and sharing a little of their lives so who really cares? I also like Sara's blog at MumTurnedMom. She has a lovely linky each week called The Prompt which gets my writing juices flowing. I admire these lovely ladies for turning a hobby into a career and being so creative and inspiring. 

So there are a few people I consider to be role models. They have all inspired me in different ways and helped turn me into the nutter that I am!

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

BEDM Day 19 - Workspace

Fantasy workspace
In reality I work on a laptop perched on my lap in front of the TV, anything that needs a bit od spreading about migrates to the dining table. I have a few shelves of a tall bookcase for patterns, fabric, sewing box etc but no designated workspace.
We do have a spare bedroom but it is full of a big wardrobe and a bed, there's not enough room to swing a cat in there let alone work. There used to be a desk in there and I did use it to work back in the days when I was doing exam marking but then it reverted to a spare bedroom. Maybe one day ...
So what would I like in my ideal workspace? I'd love a funky desk like this one from IKEA

I love the open storage, useful for books, plants or cats! I can see it cluttered with nick nacks in no time.

I'd like a stylish chair, something that would look good with a cardie draped over the back. So I head again to IKE and come up with this one

I love the thick padding on this one - again it would suit a sleeping cat!

I like these boxes for organising things - I'd decorate them with bits and bobs (or at least I'd intend to - it might just be a lick of paint!)

Actually, just ship this office furniture in, add a little black cat and I'm happy!


BEDM Day 18 - Museums

Today is International Museum Day so I thought I'd go 'off topic' and think about museums.

I remember being taken to Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery as a child and loving the whole experience. I loved walking up the huge sweeping staircase, feeling very grand as I did so - maybe I had a Downton Abbey complex even back then! Emerging into the round first gallery and wondering which way to go first. I always paused to stare at Epstein's sculpture of the Archangel Lucifer - so imposing, so powerful; I've had a fascination with sculptures of Satan ever since and love the one in the Ashmolean. We always headed to see the mummies - my mother didn't like them at all but me and my sister insisted that we go and gawp at them.  One gallery that fascinated and repelled at the same time was the one containing stuffed animals - I remember being mesmerised by the hairs on the tiger's tongue! I sound like a gruesome little monster, don't I?

I love the V&A when I'm in London. There's so much to see that I can't imagine how long it would take to see everything in the museum. I wander at random and always find something new and fascinating to enjoy - on my last visit it was a Gothic chalice from Florence.

I try to visit the Ashmolean whenever I get a lazy day to amble through Oxford without needing to rush around the shops before my bus goes. Here is my favourite Satan sculpture and so many beautiful paintings including Uccello's The Hunt in the Forest - I could stare at that one for hours, losing myself in the depths of the forest.

So visit a museum, stare at the pictures, browse the gift shop and enjoy the richness of mankind's past.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

BEDM Day 17 - Pampering

Now there's something I don't do enough, have a good old pamper session.

I sometimes treat myself to a nice facial, usually when I'm on holiday and can pop to the spa between sunbathing sessions! It's always lovely to lie back and indulge in some serious pampering - plus my skin looks a million times better after a treatment.

I don't have a favourite but most of the ones I've had recently have been using Elemis products. They always smell so divine. I think that's part of the treat, the gorgeous aromas that the products have. I always think they make me feel so spoiled. Most of the time I don't think I'm worthy of the expense and time but that probably says more about my self esteem issues than anything. 

I do enjoy having a home pamper with some peace and quiet and a nice face mask; not really the same but any little oasis of calm is welcome some days.

So maybe I should be thinking of treating my poor old skin to some regular treatments. Now all I have to do is find a good salon/spa near home that won't cost the earth!

Saturday, 16 May 2015

BEDM Day 16 - Date Night

Date night is a new concept to me. It didn't exist when I was younger.

I'm not sure how I feel about it as a concept. Don't people just enjoy each other's company anymore without having to give it a fancy title?

My husband would think I'd gone even dottier than usual if I suggested we schedule a date night!

Friday, 15 May 2015

Word of The Week

This week's word jumped out at me without needing to engage too many brain cells - always a plus on a Friday at my age! So today I give you ...

I've joined in with Rosalilium to Blog Every Day in May so I've been checking in with the blog everyday and trying to come up with a post fro each day. Luckily Elizabeth at Rosalilium has provided a calendar full of prompts to help and I've only gone 'off message' a few times.

But this has given me time to ponder what I want to do with my blog and which direction I'd like to take it next. I've read lots of advice about how to improve and grow a blog but I'm still a bit unsure/confused what to do now.

I'd like to get more traffic to my blog, I'd like more comments on posts, I'd like to get more involved in the whole blogging experience, I'd like to improve the look and style of my blog. Even writing all that down overwhelms me. So you can see what the problem is - there's too much to contemplate and it's scary!

So I've got a lot of thinking to do. I don't even know how to do some of these things - how do I get a 'house style' for my blog? how do I decide what to blog about so I can build up a 'fan base'? Answers on a postcard please!

I'm sure a lot of it is down to organisation and hard work. That's what I need to address first. A plan is needed, plus a schedule, and some lists - this sounds like it needs some new stationery... maybe some pens... how about sticky notes?

Now look what I've started! 

BEDM Day 15 - Food Revolution

Today is Food Revolution Day. This is an initiative by Jamie Oliver to get Governments to commit to including food education in schools.

As a child I was taught how to prepare food and cook meals, initially with my mother's help and later on my own. She showed me how to prepare the ingredients - peeling vegetables, weighing ingredients for baking, preparing fish and meat for cooking; she showed me how to read a recipe - how to weight out the correct amount, how to follow the steps in sequence; she showed me the techniques needed to cook - how to cream butter and sugar when baking, how to use a knife safely, how to use an oven and hob. All valuable life skills and I'm still using them, with a few modifications, many years later.

At school we had timetabled cookery lessons. We learnt the food basics - what proteins, fats and carbs were (carbs were called roughage back then!), recipes and menu planning, even how to lay a table properly; we learnt how to follow a recipe to create a variety of savoury and sweet dishes, some of which became family favourites. I even took a cookery badge at Brownies which meant I had to prepare and cook some ingredients under supervision - I remember peeling and boiling potatoes and cooking a Full English!

When I left home for college I lived in a catered Hall of Residence so opportunities for cooking were a bit limited but I still managed to commandeer some friends kitchens to do the odd bit of baking. Once I married and had a family there were three meals a day to cater and I've remained the main caterer for the family after 33 years.   

As a former teacher I was surprised at how little cooking happened in Food Technology lessons. The students were very knowledgeable about the chemistry of food, what nutrients were in various foods, how to write and analyse a menu but had little sense of how to cook all the food they were learning about. In fact it was a real red letter day when my Form bought in ingredients for a 'proper' cooking lesson. They were all so proud of their creations and I had to be really strict about not trying their offerings - there are only so many scones you can eat in one sitting after all!

So I've signed the petition to get cooking lessons back into schools, to teach our children how to grow, prepare and cook their own food. Let's give them the tools, knowledge and skills to feed themselves healthy, nutritious food. It a really important life skill and it's fun too!

Thursday, 14 May 2015

BEDM Day 14 - Style, Fashion, Beauty

I don't really do fashion or beauty blog posts as it's an area that I'm not very expert in. As a general rule I don't wear make-up. On special occasions when I go out I'll 'put my face on' and most of the time I manage to avoid looking like a clown. As for fashion, well I know what I like but most of it's made for younger and slimmer ladies so I tend to wear what fits and try to rock bag lady chic!

So I thought I'd share one thing that I love in my bathroom cabinet. I've recently been converted to Liz Earle's Cleanse and Polish. It's a really easy cleansing system - squirt into hand, massage into face, wipe off with warm wet cloth et voila, clean skin! It's not rocket science but it's good for me to have found a product that I enjoy using and can use on a daily basis.

One thing I've noticed recently is that everything has got a lot drier with age. My skin, which started life as oily, then turned combination and is now dry or even very dry to flaky; my hair is now definitely dry even straw like at times when it used to be oily and lank (it still heads fro lank when in need of a trim). So finding a product that didn't dry out my skin was a priority. I hate the feeling of tight, dry skin! Cleanse and Polish doesn't dry my skin; it leaves it feeling fresh and clean, ready to receive some moisturiser. It smells divine as well - rosemary, chamomile and eucalyptus make it a dream to inhale as I massage it in, really calming which is lovely at night.

I tend to buy it when there's an offer on so I get maximum value (always good to have a spare in the cupboard so I don't run out!)

Now all I need to do is find a really good moisturiser and my life will be complete!

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

BEDM Day 13 - Top Tips

Well this one is a tricky one and no mistake!

I sat and thought about anything that I had any sort of expertise in and drew a big fat blank. I have no special skills or talents that I could share; I'm a not a success at anything so I have no insider knowledge I can pass on; I don't have any insights on how to get on as a blogger, shopper or writer. So what's left?

In a previous incarnation I was a Teacher of English so I guess I have some knowledge of English Language and Literature. I always have at least one book on the go and love nothing more than the chance to chat to someone about what I'm reading. I don't belong to a book club at the moment - all the local ones are full at the moment - but it is an obvious thing for me to do in the future. So I thought I'd share a few things about reading and books. Hope you enjoy and maybe learn something useful.

I have an ever changing list of favourite authors. Among the ones that I can return to again and again are Thomas Hardy, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Jo Nesbo, Arnaldur Indridason. The reasons I enjoy their books is because they are full of compelling characters and interesting plots. For example, my favourite Hardy novel is Tess of the D'Urbervilles. I first read it when I was a teenager and had a serious crush on Angel Clare. When I read it again several years later I thought Angel was a real wimp and Tess could do so much better. Now when I read it I see that Tess had an idealised view of Angel as her saviour and that's why she was drawn to him. The book still makes me cry for the tragedy that is Tess's life. She makes some  poor decisions and some things happen that are out of her control yet shape her destiny; she truly is a tragic heroine.  For me a book needs to have strong characters. If I can't imagine them as real people then I very quickly lose interest in what happens to them. I don't have to like them but it is essential that I believe in them.

Some characters from literature feel like real people to me and I have them living in my head long after I've finished reading about them. That's not meant to sound creepy - I'm not talking hearing voices! - but I think about them after the story has ended, wondering what happens to them next. Some characters live for much longer than others and some have become life companions. I have soft spots for Scout from To Kill A Mockingbird, Winston Smith from 1984, Pip from Great Expectations, Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights. They are characters whose existence in reality I can totally believe in, they live beyond the pages of the books they inhabit.

I have often wondered what would be my Desert Island book. I usually say Wuthering Heights as its the book I've read and re-read most. It's a giving book - the tale bears retelling and the characters are endlessly fascinating; I cannot foresee the day when I start to read it and put it aside unfinished. This is the mark of a great novel, in my opinion. I also find myself considering other books to take on a desert island - lots of Hardy and Dickens, Scandi murder mysteries ( a guilty pleasure!), The Miniaturist (a recent read which is demanding a re-read soon) and The Night Circus which I adored and am planning to read again some time. But I find myself returning to Heathcliff and Cathy's tragic love story. It's so important to me that I've constantly refused to watch a film or TV adaptation in case they get the characters wrong.      

I'm really bad at reading non fiction. I like to escape into another world when I'm reading so non fiction doesn't really tick the right boxes for me. However I've been trying to read a bit now and again and am currently reading a biography of Jonathan Swift that is enjoyable. I think that I'm enjoying it because it's far away in time from me that it feels like a different world and I can immerse myself in something 'alien'. I'm sure that's why I've struggled with the celebrity autobiographies that so many people enjoy - the world is too close to my own, without the money, fame etc of course!

I'm also a fan of poetry. I don't read as much as I should but do enjoy dipping in every now and then. Poets whose work I admire include Yeats, Keats, Shelley, TS Eliot, Wendy Cope, John Cooper Clark, Dr Seuss, Edward Lear, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Wilfred Owen - I could go on and on...I know many people find poetry difficult and have been put off by all the study they did at school (hope I didn't out anyone off when I was teaching!) but I think if you find a poet who is a good communicator and has a real talent with words then any poetry is accessible. Reading it out loud helps, as does forgetting about the line breaks and using the punctuation to create the natural pauses in the poem. Don't forget that song lyrics are poetry set to music so there's bound to be something out there to love. 

Finally, life is too short to struggle on with a book which isn't doing it for you. I hate giving up on a book but sometimes it's the only thing to do. I abandoned Captain Corelli's Mandolin after reading about a quarter - I hated the characters and didn't care at all about them, the plot didn't interest me and I wasn't drawn into the story. So I dumped it. And I don't regret doing that, even when other people rave about it. I recently dumped Dusty Answer as it was a real slog - again I couldn't get the characters to live, in fact I kept getting their names muddled up as they were so paper thin I couldn't see them as real people. It doesn't matter that it's supposed to be a forgotten classic, as far as I'm concerned it can stay forgotten!

So there you go, a few thoughts about books and reading. Hope you enjoyed it and I hope it has encouraged you to pick up a book and lose yourself for a while.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

BEDM Day 12 - Food Glorious Food

This is Pixie AKA The Little Black Cat with her sister Dixie (sadly no longer with us) She is the subject of my blog post today.

Pixie is a hunter. She's really good at it and very proud of everything she catches. We've had more mice than I can remember, baby birds, adult birds, a rat and a bat. Last night she excelled herself by smuggling a fully grown, noisy, violent magpie through the cat flap! We managed to save that one and it sat on a roof across the garden swearing at us at 5am. I'm not keen when she brings birds home - I hate having to catch the live ones to release (I'm a bit funny about flapping birds - thanks for that, Mum!)  and I hate having to hoover up the feathers of the ones she's plucked and eaten. Everything else I just give her a Paddington stare and clear up.

The prompt for today is Food Glorious Food; I have a chequered history with food which makes that a difficult thing for me to deal with at the moment so I've gone out on a limb to write about Pixie and her 'interesting' diet! I know, as a cat lover and owner of many years, that some cats are hunters and others aren't. We've had our fair share of hunters who love to bring their 'presents' home. I know that it's just their natural instincts and when they bring the kill home it's because they're trying to show the rubbish humans how it's done. They don't really need the food so the playing with the kill on the lawn is all part of them practising their skills.

But Pixie loves to eat her kills. She's not hungry - we do feed her! - but she obviously likes the taste of fresh and feathery. I love her to pieces, understand why she does what she does and accept it, I even understand that it's my place to clear up after her; but I hate the live birds flying round the lounge and I hate the nasty crunching noise she makes on the landing outside my bedroom in the early hours as she enjoys her Food Glorious Food! 

Monday, 11 May 2015

BEDM Day 11 - Walk to Work

Walking is supposed to be one of the best forms of exercise so it makes sense to incorporate it into your day in as many ways as possible.

Walking to work is an obvious one. Not easy if you have a really long commute.

However everyone can manage a short walk at some point during the day, perhaps during a lunch break.   

Think of all the wonderful fresh air you can get and all the lovely scenery you can enjoy,

So maybe give it a try this week.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

BEDM Day 10 - Wishlist

I've always struggled with compiling wish lists or bucket lists. I don't find it easy to come up with what I think is an achievable list, things that I really, truly think would be possible.

Perhaps I'm missing the point of them. Maybe it need blue sky thinking - also something I'm not too good at. I have a fairly active imagination but if it comes to putting that to use with myself in the equation then I back aware shaking my head. I admire people who have come up with a list of things they want to do before they get to 30, 40, 50. I admire people who come up with a list of things to do before the terminal disease they suffer from ends their life. But as for a list for myself - well that's more difficult.

What should be on the list? Places I want to visit? People I'd like to meet? Things I'd like to do? Where do I start? OK, let's see if I can put a little flesh on those bones...

Places to visit.
I'd like to go back to Florence and I'd also like to visit other places in Italy - Rome, Naples, Vatican City, Venice, Milan ... I could go on and on. Maybe I should make it 'Move to Italy'!
I'd love to visit Scandinavia especially Copenhagen, Finland to see some Moomins, Ystad to see where Wallender lived and worked and a return trip to Iceland would be fine.
I've always fancied a trip to Ireland - it seems daft that it's only across the Irish Sea and yet I've never been. Drinking a Guinness in a Dublin pub would be my first port of call!

People to meet.
There are many people I admire but I'm always worried that if I met them in real life I'd be disappointed. So maybe I should leave the illusion and keep them at arms length.
It would be cool to re-connect with some friends from school and college so a big get together would be good.

Things to do.
I'm not a swimming with dolphins girl (can't swim for a start) so I'm struggling with tings I'd like to do.
I'd like to hear the choir sing on May Day morning on Magdalen Bridge.
I'd like to have a meal at Le Manoir (without worrying about the bill!)
Can't think of anything else ...

Does this make me sound really boring or unambitious?
Well I've never really had much ambition so that's true.
But generally I'm content with how things are and I'm not sure that having a long list of things to do would make my life any better.  But a trip to Florence ...      

Saturday, 9 May 2015

BEDM Day 9 - Special Talents

Special Talents?


Just No.

Does this count as a blog post? Probably not but at least I haven't missed a day ...

Friday, 8 May 2015

The Prompt - Wonder

I'm returning to my scary story for this post and trying to get poor Tom out of the terrible dilemma he finds himself in. Read on to see what happens next ...

As soon as the word was out of Tom's mouth there was a flash of pure white light that made him screw his eyes tightly shut. All he could see was a searing white light and the capillaries on the inside of his eyelids. After standing in the dark for so long the sudden light had caused real pain to Tom. He pressed his hands over his eyes to protect them and waited for them to adjust to the light.
Slowly he felt the pain subside and ventured to open his eyes very slightly. Everything was washed out by a clean white light, stronger and brighter than any light he'd ever seen. Very little was visible around him and he had to squint as the light was still too powerful for him to bear.  Tom could see vague shapes around him but couldn't work out what they were. They were both tall and short, wide and narrow and some seemed to be floating in mid air. Nothing was familiar and nothing seemed to correspond to his lounge which he had entered all that time ago.
How long had it been since he'd followed an annoying sound into his lounge and all this nonsense had started? Time was a fluid thing now; he might have been in this room for five minutes, five hours or five days. Tom had no way of telling. 
The light stayed constant and Tom was struggling to keep his eyes open against its glare. There was no obvious source of the light, it seemed to be coming from all around him. When he'd taken the kids to the beach and forgotten his sunglasses Tom had shielded his eyes from the glare of the sun with his hand. This was less than ideal but he managed to spare his eyes from sunlight and was able to function. Now he had no respite from the light. He put his hand up to his eyebrows in the same way that he would on the beach but the strong light shone up and across his face. He tried cupping his hands around his eyes but the light poured in from the front. The only way to avoid it was to close his eyes. Tom was reluctant to do this having spent so long in the dark but the strength of the light was making his eyes and his head ache. So he closed his eyes and waited.
As he stood with his eyes shut Tom was aware that he was swaying slightly. From somewhere in the back of his mind he remembered a road trip to America when he'd been pulled over by the police and having to do a sobriety test. The policeman had made him stand with his eyes closed, counting. He assumed that if he fell over they'd decide he was drunk and he'd have been whisked off to jail. What would happen to him if he fell over here he had no idea. Was there even a ground below him to fall on to? Despite feeling something solid beneath his feet Tom was starting to doubt even the evidence of his own senses.
The slightest breeze ruffled Tom's hair, as if someone far away had slammed a door shut. Tom stiffened. Something was about to happen and Tom felt both anticipation and fear.
A huge voice boomed out. So powerful that Tom felt the words at the same time as he heard them.
" Welcome to The Wonder. Here is a place where your dreams can come true, where you can fulfil all your deepest desires, where you can become anything you want to become. This is the truth of The Wonder."
There was a long pause and Tom wondered if he was expected to respond when the voice boomed out again.
" However, in The Wonder your greatest fears also reside, your darkest corners may become manifest and you sins will find you out. You have been chosen. You may enter The Wonder and experience all it has to offer, for good or ill."
Tom's mind was spinning. What was this? He had no idea how to respond to this, this...whatever it was. The pause lengthened and Tom was frightened to speak. Something about the voice scared him. It seemed to command such power that he was scared to say anything in case it was the wrong response. Then Tom felt the voice again almost before he heard it.
"This is your only chance to enter The Wonder. You will not be chosen again. If you choose to enter The Wonder you will do so at once. There will be no delay and you may never leave once you have entered. If you choose not to enter The Wonder you will be returned to the time and place before with no memory of what has happened to you. You will never be offered entrance to The Wonder again and you will know nothing of its existence. The time is now. Choose wisely and choose now."
Tom opened his mouth and his tongue stuck to the roof of his mouth. He had so many things he wanted to ask but this didn't seem to be an option. He stood at an important moment and he had no idea what he was going to do.            

BEDM Day 8 - The Day After The Night Before...

Today I'm going off message.

Yesterday we voted in a General Election. Every eligible citizen was entitled to vote and have their say in who governed our country for the next five years. All the political parties and their candidates had several weeks (far too many for some people!) to put across their policies and convince voters to back their plans and visions for our country.

This morning I woke up to find that the country had rejected the policies, vision and potential leadership of the Labour Party and voted to return a Conservative majority. Such is democracy.

However, Twitter appears to have gone into meltdown. People are reporting a morning in tears, threatening to leave the country, mourning the death of the NHS. Apparently the Apocalypse and Doomsday are upon us... 

I'm baffled as to the seeming strength of these reactions. A coalition of Conservative and Liberal Democrats have been running our country for the past five years and, to be honest, it's been more Conservative government than coalition. The country hasn't fallen apart, we're all still here. Some people have done well under that government and some have done less well. That's true whichever party is running the country. Some people did very well under the Tony Blair Labour governments and some did less well. There wasn't a rosy Labour government that made life wonderful for all and this new Conservative government won't make things all good or all bad.

We need some perspective. I understand that if you are a supporter of the Labour Party or the Liberal Democrats then you are disappointed with the result. I get that. But to suggest that the very fabric of society is tearing apart and we are all going to Hell in a handcart is nonsense. Some things will get better, some will stay the same and some many get worse. But think about it. We had the opportunity to have our say yesterday, to say which direction we wanted the country to take over the next five years. Enough people wanted what the Conservative Party offered to get more Conservative MPs than Labour ones. That's the reality. What the Labour Party offered was not credible, not believable or not what the majority of the people wanted so they need to go away and think again.

The country, our country will be fine. We're not about to drop off the edge of the world so let's stop panicking. If you don't like the result then maybe you need to work for a change. If enough people do that then in five years time things may be different.

Remember, what we've just done is awesome; we voted for the government of our country. In many parts of the world that's not possible. We may not all like the result we get but it wasn't forced on us, our views weren't ignored and no-one rigged the vote in their favour.  

Word of the Week

This week my word is ...

This week I've been thinking about the election and how I was going to vote. For many years I voted for a party rather than a candidate. I had very strong views as to which party best represented my views and was less bothered about who the actual person was that was standing. Over the last two elections however I have looked more closely at the person who was standing and given my vote to the person that I thought would best represent me in parliament. This has meant voting for a party that I never thought I would support because I was most convinced by their candidate.

And now it's all over for another five years and I can stop thinking about manifestos, candidates policies, local versus national issues etc etc. Time for a cup of tea and a lie down!

Thursday, 7 May 2015

BEDM Day 7 - Home Sweet Home

'Home is where the heart is'

'Wherever I lay my hat, that's my home'

What does home mean to me? What do I think of when I hear the word 'home'?

My childhood home was a Victorian terrace in Birmingham, spread over three floors with a beautiful mosaic floor in the hall and a huge conker tree at the bottom of the garden. All my happy childhood memories have that house as a setting - birthday parties, playing with friends in the garden, having a large play room full of books and dolls, learning to cook in the tiny back kitchen. Memories of my parents - Mum cooking or sewing, Dad's decorating, having to light the fire before you went into the middle room to watch TV; memories of my sister - squabbling over space in the play room, being banned from each others bedrooms; memories of our lodgers - the nurses in the attic, the young Polish couple whose baby never seemed to stop crying, the salesman who had stinky kippers for breakfast.    

 My first home away from home was when I went to Weymouth to study. I lived in a couple of college rooms which became my home. I got to choose what the room looked like - posters on the wall, tea making facilities, plenty of books on the shelves. I got to decide what went on in the room - lots of tea drinking with mates, lots of music and laughter, smoking, drinking and crying over blokes. I felt so grown up in those rooms - looking back I'm not sure I really was grown up but it was the start of a journey to maturity that I think in some ways I'm still on. The four years I spent there were really happy, I met some awesome people and had the best of times.

We've had a few homes since we married but have spent the most time living in the house we currently occupy. It took me a while to warm to the move south. I was a Brummie born and bred, even though my Mother's family came from Oxfordshire - I spent many happy hours visiting my family here and summer always seemed hotter and sunnier when we visited Grandma!  But slowly I've grown to consider Oxfordshire as home and I'm very content  here now. Content is an odd world to use in the context of home but I think it's an underestimated state of being. I don't think I could stand the pressure of being happy all the time and contentment is a much easier, calmer frame of mind anyway. I like our little market town, even if the range of shops is dire; I love being only a bus ride away from Oxford, I always feel more intelligent when I walk round there; I love that I can stroll along the river bank any time I fancy; I love the slower pace of life I have adopted here (big cities fill me with dread these days)

So is home a place? Or is it the people? For me home is a series of memories connecting those I love with me, somewhere I feel safe and protected, it's wrapped up in a building but is easily transported.      

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

BEDM Day 6 - Blog Love

Today's prompt is all about sharing the bloggie love. I confess to only following a few blogs on a regular basis, others I drop into when they feature on a linky that I take part in.

So here are some of my favourites and a little taster of why I enjoy reading them.

Obviously I follow Rosalilium - well, I wouldn't be here taking part in BEDM if I didn't, would I? Apart from the brilliant BEDM & BEDN features what I like about Rosalilium is the travel side of her blog. I'm not and never have been an adventurous traveller and at this stage in my life I don't suppose I'll suddenly morph into one. So I enjoy reading the travel experiences of Elizabeth and her hunky bloke Raj. Their recent trip to an elephant sanctuary had me going 'ahh' for quite a while. I also dip into Raj's blog from time to time over at Average Chap to get an alternative viewpoint of the same trip.

Another favourite is The Reading Residence hosted by Jocelyn. I try to join in with Word of the Week most weeks as it's an interesting exercise to reflect on my week and try to sum it up in a single word - not always as easy as it sounds. I'm also enjoying reading about the antics of her two lovely children, especially as Boo has now started school and is spreading her wings a little.

Every week I try to join in with The Prompt at Mum Turned Mom. Through Sara's blog detailing her wring and ex-pat experiences in America I've found a whole host of writing blogs which I dip into every now and then, drawing inspiration from the wonderful things they write.

Despite not being much of a beauty/make-up consumer I enjoy reading Tales of a Pale Face. Kat is obviously an expert/obsessive about make-up and I enjoy looking at her reviews of products and seasonal colours. If I needed to research a product or check out a trend then Kat's blog would be my first port of call.

I'm trying to do a mini cull of the blogs that pop up on my feed and add some new ones - not because I don't enjoy the ones which I'm waving goodbye to; but I noticed that I was following a lot of blogs about being a mum to young children and babies - this is not a part of my life anymore and I wasn't really engaging with them. Goodness how they all got there, I must have been trying to fill my feed up!  I'm hoping to add some more writing blogs so I'm looking forward to reading some other blog suggestions as I trawl through some BEDM posts for today.   

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

BEDM Day 5

I'm going off message with today's post as I'm not that fussed about Cinco de Mayo, haven't visited Mexico and have no favourite parts of Mexicana to write about - heck I don't even like Mexican food!

So what can I write about today? A quick trawl of Wikipedia gave me nothing much to work with so looks like I'm going to have to wing it...

It won't have escaped your notice that there is an election this week. How could it when it seems to be the only thing on the BBC most nights, with a short break for a Royal baby.  This time round I've found the whole process rather overwhelming.

I think it's very important to vote. Not that long ago some members of society were unable to vote and they fought long and hard to make sure all citizens had the right to chose who governed them. I think over the many years I've been able to vote I've actually voted for all the main parties.  My parents were party people in the sense that they supported a particular political party and that's the way they voted. I was like that at one time but then I started to vote based more on who I thought would make a good MP for the constituency I lived in even if I wasn't much of a fan of the party. I never understood the point of tactical voting - I always tried to vote for what I wanted rather than to stop what I didn't. That always felt dodgy to me.

This time I'm fairly sure I know who I'll vote for in the General Election but I'm still unsure about the local ones. There seems to have been less literature from them so I'm still trying to work out who stands for what and whether that means they'll win my support on Thursday.

This election campaign seems to have been going on for ages. This is a consequence of the new fixed term parliaments; everyone knows from the start of the parliament when the next election will be rather than the old system of waiting with baited breath for the PM to make up his or her mind. So we've known for 5 years when the election will be and the build up to it seems to have been going on for several months.

But I guess most of all I'll be glad to see the back of the party leaders begging and fawning over the media trying to get people to vote for them. It's all starting to get a little desperate now and I'd like it all to stop now please...

Monday, 4 May 2015

BEDM Day 4 - Guilty Pleasure

'Well this one has me foxed; pretty sure I have no guilty pleasures,' I said.

'Really?' he said, 'what about ...?'

And I knew at once that he was right.

If a definition of guilty pleasure is something that you secretly enjoy, nay love, but would rather not admit to then, yes, I have a guilty pleasure.

It sucks hours from my day, time I could be spending being productive on my lovely blog.
It brings out the worst in me, making me judgemental and leaves me feeling superior.
It brings no joy into my life other than making me feel smug.
I can't talk about it in polite conversation; it only makes people look at me as if I've gone doolally.
None of my family understands my guilty pleasure and they roll their eyes when I indulge.

There must be some help out there for me, a support group for the sad little band of sufferers.

Time for a confession...

My name's Johanne and I love watching The Jeremy Kyle Show!

Sunday, 3 May 2015

BEDM Day 3 - Self Care Sunday

I must confess to not knowing what was meant by Self Care Sunday. Google to the rescue!

I hadn't got anything planned to nourish my soul today but luckily I was able to find an activity that I enjoy and that calms me no end.


I know, I know, I'm a grown woman and what am I doing colouring in pictures? Well I spent some time looking for a calming activity I could do which wouldn't prove too taxing. Someone suggested colouring, something I'd not considered myself. Amazon came up trumps with a couple of books and I looked out my coloured pencils and got stuck in.

There's something very soothing about sitting and colouring a picture. Choosing which colour to use, slowly filling in the blank paper and watching a pretty picture emerge. I have very limited artistic skills so drawing was never an option for me and colouring is perfect. I only need a few minutes of colouring to feel calm and still in my mind.

I think it's really important to find something which helps to nourish you as a person. It needn't be an artistic or creative activity - a walk by the river in the sunshine works as well for me. Life in the C21st can be really busy and stressful. I'm the worst culprit at putting undue pressure on myself. So I need to have some activities that take me out of myself and give me a little peace and stillness to recover.

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Blog Every Day in May Day 2 - Adventure

I'm not the adventurous type.

Anything high, fast or even remotely reckless and I run a metaphorical mile. I hate fun fairs and theme parks, the expectation that I'll want to go on the rides, being thrown up in the air and spun around at great speed, this all fills me with horror. Even watching a video of a roller coaster is enough to have my stomach flipping and my eyes screwed up.

I've been racking my brain for examples of me being adventurous and they are few and far between. I've been in some small boats which took every ounce of courage I had - and led to a very undignified 'throwing myself gratefully full length onto the jetty' disembarking!

An adventure to me is a trip to a new town, wander around for a bit, perhaps taking in a museum or gallery, tea and cake, shopping and home. Not a white knuckle ride by any stretch of the imagination, is it?

Maybe some of us are just not adventurous. Maybe I just need to embrace my inner chicken and pour another cup of tea to go with that slice of cake ... Oo don't mind if I do...

Friday, 1 May 2015

Word of the Week

Oh Friday, why do you always come around so fast? I'm never ready for #WOTW!

Anyway, today my word is ...

I need some new summer shoes.

I've been looking around but can't make my mind up which ones to go for. At this rate I'll spend this summer wearing trainers and flip flops again!

I am completely aware that this makes me sound really frivolous but that's the kind of week it's been - no focus, frivolous and with a head full of nonsense, any of which could have been my #WOTW.

But I picked shoes as it's been a real obsession of mine recently. Hopefully by next week I will have found some shoes I like and can empty my head of this load of old cobblers!

The Prompt - Distance

Welcome back Sara, me and my writing have missed you!

I always fancied a long distance relationship.
Waiting by the phone for the nightly call.
Planning snatched weekends when our schedules allow.
Letters and postcards just to keep in touch.
The bittersweet parting at railway stations.
Fevered kisses hello and goodbye.
Not having to share every moment but cherishing the ones we do share.
Too romantic? Not realistic?
The reality?
Fuming because he's forgotten to call - again!
Having to cancel a weekend together because of work, family or football.
Checking the post several times, disappointed he hasn't written - again!
Nearly missing the train home because you both overslept.
No kissing this weekend - you've got a cold sore or he's got manflu.
Arguing the moment you get together and spending a frosty weekend together.
Watching the relationship fade away to nothing without really ending things.  
Maybe I don't really want a long distance relationship after all!

Blog Every Day in May Day 1 - Introduction

Wow! It's May 1st already and I'm super excited to be doing #BEDM again. I tend to be a lazy blogger so the discipline of blogging every day is good for me and forces me, in the nicest possible way, to attend to my poor, neglected blog.

For the introduction prompt I decided to steal an idea I've seen on other blogs and do and A-Z of me. Sorry if it's really boring (maybe I am too!) but here goes...

A is for Aston Villa - my team, my boys, my frequent heartache. Bleeding claret and blue for the B6 boys!

B is for Birmingham, my home town. I'm a proud Brummie, although I don't think I'd like living there now - too big and loud.

C is for cats, my babies. I can't imagine living in a house without at least 1 cat. We have 3 at the moment but I'm always up for more ... hint, hint!

D is for daydreaming. Is there a better way to spend a few hours?

E is for English, which I used to teach. Some days I miss it - then I remember the rubbish admin stuff, the petty jealousies and bullying and am glad I left when I did.

F is for Florence, my favourite place on the planet. If only I could be 18 and move there to learn Italian ... well, a girl can dream.

G is for gin!

H is for home, favourite place to be. I may be a hermit crab. But it's also for holiday, can't beat a nice break in the sun.

I is for Italian food - can't beat a pizza or a plate of pasta.

J is for Johanne - yes it's a funny spelling, I'm ok with it after all these years and I think I like being a bit different.

K is for knitting, my craft of choice.

L is for lazy. I know I should go to the gym and do more but ...

M is for Mum, miss mine everyday, try to be a good one for my boy.

N is for Nordic. I love the style of Scandinavia and you can't beat a good Scandi murder mystery.  

O is for Oxfordshire, where I live and where my maternal family come from.

P is for poetry, I like to read and write poetry. Not sure I'm any good but it makes me feel good...

Q is for quip. I do like a good quip and some wordplay.

R is for Radiohead! And no, they're not depressing! It's also for reading which I love.

S is for Sigur Ros, the best Icelandic band ever. I love you guys!

T is for television, a guilty pleasure, I watch far too much!

U is for umbrella - I hate them! Too much trouble, always losing them, blow inside out ...

V is for veggie. Pass the cheesy pasta with extra mushroom!

W is for Weymouth where I went to college, met some lovely people and had an awesome 4 years.

X is for X-word - I know it's cheating but I love doing crosswords, preferably with my more intelligent son.

Y is for yesterday, when everything I've put off should have been done. I could procrastinate for England!

Z is for ziggurat - it's a cool word I learned many years ago and I can't think of another Z word!

So there you are, that's a bit of me. I'm looking forward to meeting some other bloggers through #BEDM and hopefully finding some new friends.