Monday, 31 October 2011


An owl hoots aloud on a dark and cold misty night
Hard to see around you, where are all the lights?

Tree branches tapping on the windowpane
Your footsteps the only sound as you walk alone down a deserted lane

Looking back behind you through the car window, down a country road
A figure walking along the grass verge, but then where do they go?

That feeling of being watched, when you are all alone
The floorboards creaking in the night, odd sounds seem like a whisper, or maybe even a groan

Your belongings in the dark, creating odd shapes and shadows
When things mysteriously keep disappearing, where do they go?

You get a call in the evening, but there's nobody on the other end
Is it somebody sinister, or, trying to scare you, just a friend?

Spooky films watched through the gaps in your fingers
Images of scary faces and scenes in the film, for too long they linger

You wake at midnight trying to make out those shapes in the room
Your heartbeat won't stop racing, imagining all sorts of creatures and doom

Remember not to relax as your horror flick gets all quiet and calm
That's when they'll come out, creep up behind you, or suddenly grab your arm

Spiders, ghosts, zombies and killers
Getting frightened senseless, dressing up and dancing to Thriller

Carving pumpkins, trick or treating and telling ghost stories
Competing with one another for who can be the most gory

It's time to face your fears and find yourself in a dark, spooky, scene
Be prepared to get frightened, for tonight is Halloween!....

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Why good customer service is so important

Being someone who likes to look after others and in a career environment is keen to make sure the customer is always kept happy, I find I am a bit of a stickler when it comes to good customer service. For over 7 years I've worked in customer service/client support and even when I did temp work or worked as a Saturday girl in various retail environments I did my best to make sure the customer was cared for.

Anyways as you can probably tell I have been a bit grumpy this week since after having my flu jab I got hit with some sort of cold/flu bug and have felt awful since, just when I think I'm improving I start to feel weak/unwell again. I had quite a quiet weekend planned, although last night I was due to attend a friend's party at a new-ish venue where I live, something I've really been looking forward to - but oh no, although I've felt like a lump of you know what all week that's not good enough. Oh no I had to get sore, itchy eyes too and feel weak and full of germs yesterday too and ended up not being able to go the party. I was not a happy bunny. As a result things that might normally annoy me anyway (I am a bit short tempered in my personal life) have really wound me up this weekend. So I thought I'd share the rant and also use it to show, in my opinion, how important good customer service is and how even just one good individual can make a real difference.

So as the weather is getting colder now, the nights are getting darker and we've turned our clocks back, I decided it is about time I purchased a new winter coat and hoped to get some new boots too (since although I do have a few I admit most of them are a bit worn down and having some sort of hole in, not great when it rains or snows as you can imagine).

One of the key places I've decided to look and been trying to buy something in, is Dorothy Perkins. Just a typical high street store, nothing too fancy, as people close to me know I am a bit of a bargain hunter and have never really gone for the whole designer wardrobe approach. A big reason I thought of Dorothy Perkins first was that I had two vouchers (worth £25 in total) to spend in there left over from my birthday back in August. Now I don't know if you find this, but whenever I get vouchers a shop it seems to put an instant curse on me and I can't find anything I like or in my size in that shop as a result. Hence why I still have £25 worth of vouchers burning a hole in my purse over two months later.

Off we went, my poor boyfriend my shopping partner, to go in search of a winter coat (I heard Debenhams had a winter coat and boot special sale on) armed with my vouchers, my wheezy chest and snotty nose. I spent a horrendous amount of time trying to find a coat and I think the conclusion was I am one fussy madam. I tried all colours, shapes, sizes and styles on and I just couldn't get happy. Eventually I discovered a coat, which I ended up purchasing, which my man loved and said straightaway how well it fit me and what a great shape it gave me. I won't say exactly what he's been saying, but let's just say he feels his masculinity and sexuality have been well and truly questioned this weekend! He even found himself giving me fashion tips and using the term 'cute' to describe items of clothing in the shops (something I am guilty of doing on a regular basis).

I also had to deal with the trauma of realising the Matthew Williamson 'amazing', life-stopping jumpsuit I'd seen a long time ago (but not tried on), which was so beautiful in black with ruffles round the chest and patterned in white butterflies, was actually awful on. The legs did not gather in at the bottom and the size I tried on was too big too, it didn't do me any favours. I did however gain comfort that although I couldn't treat myself to a lovely outfit for my holidays, I could save myself £50 by not actually liking the ensemble when on.

Anyway, back to topic. Dorothy Perkins. We went in there, I double checked I didn't like the coats and then attempted to brave the shoe section. Unless you're a girl like me with clown-esque feet and giraffe-like height, then you won't understand what a nightmare shoe shopping is for me. I love shoes, boots, sandals, pumps, the lot. However, being 5ft11 and having size 8 feet it is painful. The heels are either too high so I feel like the Jolly Green Giant, or the shoes don't come in my size or feel too tight. I end up feeling like some sort of circus freak half the time I try go shop for footwear.

After perusing the relatively vast collection of boots on offer, I picked a selection of three out. Lo and behold they only had one of them in my size (well, what else did you expect flipper feeet??) Over the shop assistant comes with my flat, off-black, ruched, slouch boots met with my smiling face, so pleased they at least have one pair in my size. On goes the right foot and my heel just won't fit into the back of the boot. Surely my feet haven't got bigger? I start to panic. I slip on the left boot easily and it feels comfortable, loose even. Eventually with a bit of persuasion the right boot goes on, I must admit I felt relief I hadn't ripped the back of the material on achieving this. I um and ah and decide I will take them but mention first to the assistant how tight the right foot feels.

What do we find after a few minutes of back and forth? Oh the right boot is labelled wrongly. It turns out the right boot is a size 7, after a few visits to the stockroom and then going to get her manager I get told that sorry they don't have a left and a right size 8. They've been labelled wrong, 'it happens quite a lot, you wouldn't believe'. Ah great, so there goes my potential shoe purchase out the window. They offer to call another store, but I am fed up and a bit shocked they don't check things like this before items are taken out to the shop floor?

Next stop after me whinging quite a bit, was Debenhams and their 'shoe boutique'. I went through the whole section and the concessions (including Dorothy Perkins offering) and found nothing. Oh and Dorothy Perkins failed to impress again, after I had to go to three different people to even get someone who could check out back if they had a pair of boots I had picked out in my size or not. They didn't and the girl recommended 'try online'. Try online, yes where I have to pay delivery charge and arrange to be there to collect them? Try online where you don't actually accept your own gift vouchers? Try online where you tell me there are no size 8s in stock anyway in my area or nearby? Thanks, great advice.

In the end we went home armed with a nice black winter coat from Debenhams (Ben de Lisi for Principles, very nicely designed and in the sale at £75 so I was pleased) and my other purchase of yet another coat - a high street offering, well kind of - from a 'stall' in Romford which I am still not 100% sure if their stock is 'off the back of a lorry' if you catch my drift. I won't go into more details...

Today we had more success and this is where my emphasis on good customer service pops up - I'm sure you were wondering when it was actually going to appear as there's been no evidence so far. We went to Lakeside - in true Essex style - and I headed straight for Dorothy Perkins, just in case they had the boots... We get to the back of the shop and there they sit the boots I like - I also see a dark brown pair. Oh no sorry, not in your size. BUT they do have the off-black pair I wanted and in size 8 - funny that I mutter online it says they are all out of stock. 'Oh never believe what it says online' mentions one of the shop assistants. Oh right, great service then, what exactly is the point of an online store checker if it's not actually true? If I hadn't of tried the shop on the off chance today they would have easily lost a sale. It's madness.

So relieved to have the boots finally in my grip I go to the till armed with my £25 gift vouchers and a 20% off coupon Dorothy Perkins themselves sent me for if I pay on my storecard (something I haven't used for a long time and only planned to as I got sent these coupons). The girl at the till tells me that store policy is I have to pay for it on my card to the use the 20% off coupon. Yes, I am going to, I explain. No, no I misunderstand, I can't use their store giftvouchers even just as part payment and pay the rest on my card. I have to pay the full amount on my card just to get 20% off. By this point I was really getting rather anti-Dorothy Perkins to be honest with you, clearly picking up on this thought, the girl who served me quickly hunted in the checkout drawers and pulled out a 25% off vouchers 'as you're a storecard holder'. She handed me back my 20% voucher (which I couldn't use) and then proceeded to give me 25% off and then take off my £25 giftcards... The boots were £56 and were already on promotion at £50, she then took 25% off and then the £25. I got a pair of £56 boots for £12.50. So I couldn't use the legitimate vouchers, but I could use this makeshift option? I pulled out my storecard saying 'oh so I have to pay on this thought right?' No, the girl assures me pay how you like.

Now, this whole transaction makes zero sense to me I admit. But do you know what? That girl changed my mood. By being flexible and picking up on my mood/the experience I'd had already, she turned me around and made me a happy customer.

So the moral of this story? I am a moody madam right now and super fussy when shopping and if I can't get my bargain or have a bad shoe experience I get angry. The main point though? By understanding your customer and a company having even just one star in the team who really is committed to giving a good experience - whether it be shopping, a corporate website or a beauty treatment - you can feel confident of good customer support and offering a worthwhile service and your clients will recognise this and appreciate it. Also, not all customers just comment on bad experiences. I may well put some people off with my details of earlier exploits, but the end result shows a much more positive side and a reason to give the store a chance and perhaps may even encourage sales rather than detract.

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Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Another reason to hate injections

As we all know I hate injections, so can you imagine how I am feeling on braving it, facing my fears and going for them on Friday to be met with...getting ill.

Yes I had my flu jab on Friday, even got a sticker (seriously!) and then woke up a few days later feeling ill.

I've been getting a flu jab as a matter of course for the last few years, due to having asthma you are actively encouraged to do so. I'll be honest I've never felt ill after it before - just an achey, heavy arm and feeling queasy in general from facing the needle...

This time round for some reason I have fallen ill. I've got a temperature, sore throat, runny nose, lightheaded, headache, the works. It is not nice. Particularly when I reasoned with myself it was better to get it sooner rather than later, to stop me getting ill in my new job. No, no, no, instead the jab has given me symptoms on possibly the worst week to do so at work.

I've had a day off ill today as I felt so bad and in a bid to try and be a bit more normal to see my clients tomorrow. I've rested, drunk fluids, had nice hot soup, kept warm indoors, slept lots (in between checking work emails) and am attempting to burn it out with a spicy Indian or Thai curry for dinner, not sure what's best...

On mentioning feeling ill after injections, numerous people have asked if I'd had the flu jab and told me not to bother as it makes you ill! Some of these people work in the health profession, another has asthma like me...Perhaps I have been lucky in the past when I haven't got ill.

I'm so pleased now we did NFL for my boyfriend's birthday on Sunday. Yesterday was his actual birthday and after sniffling my way through work I had dinner and birthday cake with his family and then had to go home ill...

Anyway I will leave you now after my little moan, I'm off to feel sorry for myself again, before an early night.


Monday, 24 October 2011

NFL - the story of cheerleaders, chilli dogs, Bud, a streaker and a squirrel

Yesterday saw me travel up to Wembley Stadium - despite local roadworks and TfL's efforts to stop us - to attend the NFL.

Not exactly the biggest sports fan, I decided to buy my boyfriend tickets for his birthday, as it's something he's always wanted to go to. I was warned how long it can be dragged out, but decided to go, to enjoy this new experience and spend the day with my other half.

I was not expecting what I got. I almost felt like I was in America, bar the cold weather! We arrived about 90 minutes before the gate even opened as I needed to pick up our tickets at the box office (Ticketmaster and Wembley really need to work better helping customers in these instances, was not impressed). Also after surprising my boyfriend with the news of his early present we read online about the 'Tailgate' and thought we should check it out.

On arrival to Wembley I was shocked at how busy it was already. However the atmosphere was great - couples, families, young friends, die-hard fans, Americans, people in fancy dress and those in full on American football kits. It was great.

We decided to purchase a program and foam hand to get into the sprit of things, neither were too extortionate. Then on collecting our tickets we went to get into the 'Tailgate'. In America I understand this is where people get together before a game, open up the back of their vans, have BBQs and crack open the beers. Clearly this was not quite what Wembley laid on, but what they did was still good.

You could get free foam hats (yes we embarrassingly wore those) and NFL wristbands. There were areas for each team, memorabilia tents to view, an inflatable bear (for the Chicago Bears) and a pirate ship with dancing pirates (for the Tampa Bay Bucaneers). On top of that was a mini football field which had music acts, sports experts and cheerleaders all performing on it. People there for the day like us were throwing mini footballs to one another, there was endless Bud, a DJ booth and tons of food stalls. I sampled my first cheesedog (in good old British style the chilli dogs had run out - don't worry we got one later!)

After spending I guess about an hour or more in there we headed off to the stadium itself and to find our seats. Purchasing some more refreshments - of course - we walked down to our seats. I was very pleasantly surprised, let's get this straight, I booked them about 10 days or so before the event. I'd been worrying as I knew they were corner seats. No need for me to have worried. We were in the first tier, had a great view of the Bucaneers touchdown area and of the playing field overall.

Add to that, on our seats were a flag each and a big card to hold up during the National Anthems (to help create flags in the crowd throughout the singing). I was impressed, we all know I love my freebies!

Pre match entertainment were the cheerleaders, a couple of tracks performed by the GooGoo Dolls - complete with fireworks - and the National Anthems (Katherine Jenkins, as per, did ours). Then each team came on, the Bucs were the 'home' team so they came out one by one - out of a skull and crossbones and to a cannon firing for each player! Oh and of course we can't forget the pirate and bear mascots. (The pirate kept me entertained for ages trying to wind up Wembley security).

My poor boyfriend attempted to educate me on the rules. I kind of got some of them... So the game begins, the first half (yes 30 minutes) took around 90 minutes to complete. For those of you who wonder why and also wonder why I haven't offered much commentary on actual play. Well it's because the game stops and starts constantly, they have to decide next moves and god help you when the home team do something positive (it doesn't even need to be a touchdown and let's be fair the Bucs didn't have many good points throughout). Positive moves by the Bucs resulted in cheerleader routines on field and people running the field with giant Bucaneers flags. It is so funny and entertaining though.

Big highlights for me though were the fact that for quite some time in the first quarter a squirrel was running riot on the pitch. Seriously. On occasion he tried his luck just behind players but soon ran, he managed a 'touchdown' or two of his own too! Also the guy in the crowd who made it onto the pitch and gave quite a few security men the runaround and high-fived some of the players before getting caught.

In the end we worked out the game started at 6pm and ended at around 920pm. For a one hour game that is something I find very funny. However to someone like me who isn't a sports fanatic, it kept me entertained! I was more interested in the constant breaks and funny behaviour than watching the game itself.

My view of NFL? It is sooo American throughout and felt a bit more a fun day out for all, almost circus-like at times, than an actual sports game. It's all about the event overall, rather than just attending a sports match I suppose. For me that was a winning mix though and provided a fun day out and a new experience. Whether my body appreciated all that junk food, Bud and hanging around in the cold for so long, is another matter...

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Never forgotten x

Originally posted on Saturday 22nd October, but somehow has disappeared off the blog...

Always there to help someone out
So many memories to talk about

Full of advice and words of guidance
Constantly showing his wife romance

A great strong man, yet scared of birds
If you ever felt down he always had kind words

Memories of sitting on his back riding round like a horse
My audience as I put on pretend shows, me the star of course

Never afraid to look the fool
He'd play make believe games with me and let me rule

Staying over as a young child - back scratches and morning biscuits in bed
Feeling ever protected, dancing at family parties, him towering over my head

A man who lived life to the full
You'd never have guessed his age, he always had a ball

He would do absolutely anything for my Aunt
Where she was concerned there was no such word as can't

Loved by so so many, he'll always be so missed
A huge array of good points, too many to list

Advising friends and family on careers and life decisions
But me helping him pick which horses to bet on, he'd love to watch racing on television

An avid Arsenal fan, he loved his football
But his family and wife he loved most of all

I'll always cherish a holiday we went on in Portugal
His overprotective nature with me, even when I was grown up and no longer small

Still even now I cannot believe you are gone
I love you so much and will always miss you. My amazing, wonderful, dear, Uncle Tom

In memory of my Uncle Tom, whose birthday it would have been today xx

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Potential pincushion

In less than a month I will be sunning myself in Morocco, I can't wait and was so excited when we got it booked! However, what's not so great is the news my parents dropped on me this week...I need injections before I go... I absolutely hate injections, like horror films my fear of them has got worse as I've got older for some reason. I've never been a fan of them, at school I would get nervous, but I'd get on with it, unlike one drama queen who will remain unnamed, who used to 'faint' when we had injections at school to get out of lessons... Last year when I had my flu jab (something I really need to have what with being in a 'risk' group with mild asthma), my boyfriend came along for support, I'm that bad. He ended up having to try distraction techniques by acting the fool to take my mind off it all. I must admit it did work, kind of... A classic example is when I was young and had to have quite a few injections for a family holiday, my Uncle (who was in the army when young) advised me to roll my arm round/roll my shoulder as it would help the injections travel round my body and stop my arm aching and getting heavy. So I did. And then proceeded to slide down the fridge door in the nurse's office at our doctor's surgery and passed out. Just slightly embarrassing! So the thought of having not one but two injections fills me with dread. You know what the injection for the holiday is for? Typhoid. And you know what else? I actually have seriously considered not having the injection and enquired how bad a risk is there? Oh dear typing that out actually makes it sound so much worse. The other thing I'm worried about is that I am so busy at work the next few weeks before I go so I don't want to have a dead arm from having jabs, or getting cold symptoms from the flu innoculation. But I guess either is a better alternative to contracting typhoid... For now I'm waiting for our 'amazing' doctors to get back in touch and let me know if they can actually fit me in before I go. Apparently you can only have injections on a Tuesday or Friday and then if you have a job you're a bit stuck too because they don't stay open late either... Oh well if I don't blog for a while you know I'll be nursing my pincushion of an arm...

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Frightening film fears

This weekend I am getting set to walk into a darkened room, feel my heart race, hide behind my coat and look through my fingers at a giant screen. I will likely come out and be subject to days of nightmares, feel a bit shaky and run back from my bathroom in the middle of the night. No, I'm not going to undergo some form of torture - well not quiet - I am talking about going to watch a horror film.

I don't know what it is but I have this weird sort of addiction to scary films, even though I jump out my skin watching them I just can't stop watching them. Either at the cinema or at home in front of a DVD, I won't watch them in the dark at home and I try and discreetly watch through my fingers when out. I either end up jumping and smashing into my glasses, so hurting my nose, or I elbow my boyfriend and crush his hand. Not very attractive I know.

One of the most embarrassing things I find is that as I get older I am actually getting more scared when I watch said genre. I often think twice about visiting the cinema and whether to wait for the DVD release, as I worry I might shriek out when freaked out during the film in front of complete strangers.

Gory films make me feel ill, even though in the back of my mind I know what I am watching isn't real, it still turns my tummy. Jumpy films result in me half leaping out my seat, in fact once I jumped unexpectedly at a film and got super painful cramp in my calf! Spooky films leave me getting scared and imaging all sorts of ghosts and ghouls in my home. You'd think by now I'd have got over them, but no I keep going back for more and getting increasingly frightened.

A key reason behind this I think is where I've always had an overactive imagination, possibly because I am an only child. That's why films like Blair Witch worked for me, I got all het up simply imagining what might be there, not what I could actually see! The latest edition to my horror viewing is Paranormal Activity 3, out officially in UK cinemas on 20th October. A lot of people will scoff and argue this film isn't even that scary and is in fact predictable. Not to me. I am a sucker to all the build up. In fact when the first Paranormal Activity came out I almost didn't get to our local Vue to watch it, I got so drawn into the hype. I hate to admit it, but I came out slightly shaking! Shameful!

I did go to the cinema on Sunday last week and saw Don't be afraid of the dark, I got myself geared up for a spooky ghost story and was pleasantly surprised to face a more mystical style of film. Although don't get me wrong I still jumped a few times of course.

One thing I'm not a fan of though are films like Hostel - in my opinion full of unecessary violence and gory for the sake of it. Don't even get me started on that Human Centipede film, even hearing hints of what that involves makes me feel ill. Just no need. To some scary films are rubbish, but at least they are harmless enough. Over the years I've seen tons of frightening films, I own a number of horror DVDs and I can't see anytime soon me tiring of these movies.

I'll let you know if I get up the courage to go see the film and if I survive, let's hope it's one night when my boyfriend is staying over. If not feel free to come by if you're in Hornchurch, for a giggle, I may well end up running out the flat in the night! In fact, scrap that I may well run from the ticket office, have you seen cinema prices these days??

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Random hungover Sunday musings

What a shocker, I am indeed hungover today as I suspected. I had a great night last night and ended up reliving old memories as we ended going to a club we used to have nights out at back when we were at college and teenagers. I am suffering for it today though. Why is it as you get older hangovers are so bad?... I am sitting here watching X Factor and still feel rough, am not impressed.

Another discovery I have made since going out last night - and looking back at the photographic evidence - is that I have definitely put on weight recently. Something I have got to sort out, particularly as in less than 4 weeks I will need to put a bikini back on! Woohoo!! Yes I have a holiday booked and I cannot wait, just a week of sun, relaxing, reading and listening to music. A nice break. Okay, yes, it is away with my parents and we may well kill each other, but I'm sure we'll survive a week together.

Especially now I have a proper bed and will not have to sleep on a camp bed or short, cramped, sofa bed. Yes, that's right, when searching for a holiday we found that companies seem to think it's acceptable for three people wanting to go on holiday together to not allow for 2 rooms and under occupancy fees, but in fact have them in the same room and one person can't have a proper bed. What a cheek and as I'm sure most people will agree and have seen if they have booked a holiday recently, holidays are not cheap right now...

Anyway that aside, I have a holiday booked and I can't wait! As long as the sun is out in full I will be a happy bunny.

So, last night, I was shocked when we got to the restaurant/bar, after blogging about how many 'orange' visitors it usually attracts, I actually found that when we arrived there wasn't a TOWIE wannabe in sight. Regardless, I just have to say the food in The Brickyard is great, yes it's not the cheapest of local eateries to dine at, but they do great food, it's well presented and you get huge portions! The cocktails are yummy too. Last night I sampled a starter of pigeon breast (something I've not tried before) salad, served with walnuts, mixed salad leaves, a raspberry vinagerette, crispy bacon and raspberries. It was amazing, not wanting to sound like a Masterchef judge, but it was such a good mix of bitter and sweet flavours. I then moved on to enjoy sea bass fillets, on a bed of saffron fondant potato, carrot puree and a mussel and prawn ragout - again a great mix of tastes.

And I think we've realised I'm probably not made up to be a TOWIE star, after applying my tinted body lotion yesterday, I awoke this morning to find my arm half 'tanned' and half white. Nice.

I also stupidly decided to go to the gym today and have a workout in this state too. After a night of drinking and hours of dancing to garage, going into a gym with music pumping out the speakers was not the best solution.

Oh well, by the time I have finished typing my random musings, X Factor has finished and Nu Vibe have been voted off. I have to agree with the bottom two though, both gave pretty naff performances in my opinion...

I'm going to carry on vegging out on my sofa and feeling sorry for myself whilst I nurse my hangover and cringe after last night's pictures! Oh and I might even indulge in a bit of The Only Way Is Essex later too. What an exciting life I lead indeed.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Is the only way Essex?

I'm off for a night out tonight with the girls TOWIE style. We're off to my local area of Hornchurch and starting off at a venue called The Brickyard. This place has in our opinion gone for the TOWIE crowd appeal. Apologies for those of you who haven't been witness to the circus that is TOWIE, I am referring to a show on ITV2 called The Only Way Is Essex, focussing on young 20 somethings and their lives in Brentwood. However if you've ever seen the show or been to Essex, you will know it is far from reality.

Yes if you go on a night out in Brentwood you will see lots of very tanned girls dressed up, but not many of them will be sipping champagne. There are often lots of people that love themselves, but I don't know anyone that gets 'vajazzled' or has a pet pig! Now off the back of this programme there are an increasing number of girls going for this look around Essex and men sporting their version of the 'Joey Essex' look.

So as I used to do whenever I went out in Brentwood I am now worrying should I slap on a few coats of my tinted body lotion. What sort of outfit should I wear? How shall I do my makeup?... On the other hand though it does make nights out more interesting, watching people who try to mimic stars from the show, or who think they are better than everyone in their OTT clobber does help create some more giggles for us girls when we're out. And of course it gives you an excuse to get dressed up, the casual look is over, and what girl doesn't like getting glammed up.

I'm pleased Essex is so much in the spotlight, Stacey Solomon, Olly Murs, 2 Shoes, the lady who won the Great British Bake Off, I could go on. There is TOWIE and Educating Essex on TV and I'm sure there are plans for many more after all the success existing shows have already had. Okay, we might not be getting the best picture created of where we live, but to be honest since when has Essex had a good reputation?

So I shall do my hair, sort my nails, pick a nice outfit, put some tinted lotion on, slap on the makeup and join them tonight. And you know what I will enjoy every minute of it!

If I'm not too hungover perhaps I'll let you know how it really goes tomorrow...

Friday, 14 October 2011

Transport tantrum

I wasn't going to blog this morning, particularly not to complain. But as I find myself standing on yet another full train and without a seat, after already having let one train go, I was more than persuaded.

Why is it our transport service remains to be so bad and other countries - not all I appreciate - are able to create better options for their inhabitants? Constantly you hear people complaining about their journey, how the bus didn't turn up, the train had major delays or never has a seat. Yet at the same time each year you hear of increasing fees. How does that work? If you went to a restaurant that never had your table ready on time, or a bar that always served warm beer when it was Summer, what would happen? You'd stop going there and using their services right? Not so with public transport, we rely on it. On your commute to work you don't really have much option to get to your job in any other way. Clearly, I am speaking here as somebody who works in London, but I am sure most of us are in this position.

In particular, the bus route that served where I lived when at home had to get me to school, college, local jobs and then to the station to get to London. The majority of the time it was late or a bus was just cut out at random. I know people have complained and it is notorious for being a bad service, yet nothing changes. I know it is just as bad/worse as I stupidly bought a property on the same route! It is the 252, just to warn you if you come to Hornchurch at any point.

Similarly the District Line and Jubilee who terminate trains early on the route constantly during rush hour. What sense is there in that. Since starting my job I have been travelling on National Rail, the time the trains get into Liverpool Street has varied considerably since August. I expected it to be busier/slow down when the school holidays finished, but it has continued to take longer ever since. Why? My bus in the morning can turn up anywhere between 750 and 805...helpful. The 'timetable' of our bus doesn't even have set times now, just 'every 10-12minutes', so just turn up when you like really...

When I worked in Canary Wharf, the journey time went from 45 minutes to 1 hour 10 by the time I left. I thought the underground service was improving? And don't get me started on weekend work.

To be fair to TfL, I had problems with buses in Colchester when I was a student, getting home from my weekend job at Sainsbury's was a game of chance as to when I'd get home.

Yet we still all pay and use the service because we have to. The transport companies don't need to change, they have us trapped. So as I escape from my packed-like-a-tin-of-sardines carriage I will finish my rant and look forward to getting a seat on a late train home tonight, albeit likely to be along with someone stinking out the train with greasy food or being ill. Oh well at least I'll get a seat

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Shellac sham

Okay, I am going to rant. Sitting here with dried out, partly pink stained, nearly-see-through tipped nails I think I'm entitled to.
I am not hugely into beauty treatments, but have been becoming increasingly interested over the last few months. However, I don't tend to fall for the typical beauty b.s. that ads and beauty counter staff try and feed you about how great this latest treatment is.

However, this time in the case of shellac I fell far. Tempted by the idea of a nail varnish that could last 14days I decided to give it a go. I researched online too to check if it would damage my nails as they'd just reached a nice state - from a few recent manicures - where they were strong, long and shiny. Plus years back I stupidly tried acrylic nails and was left with paper thin, bendy nails. Everything seemed okay and you could remove them yourself by soaking your nails in acetone. I decided to give it a go.

I enjoyed the whole experience of having them done, treatments always relax me, the nails dried quick, looked good and didn't take too long. I also can't complain about the salon. They said I could remove them myself, charged a reasonable price and told me how long to expect them to last.

Now in terms of wear they have lasted around 17 days before chipping. Great results. Last night, however, I decided to remove them. It took me around an hour of countless acetone soaking. Then I was met with most of my fingernails being dried out, or having remnants of the varnish on them, which this morning are still there. The tips of my nails have gone from their usual bold white to an almost sheer appearance. Strange that when shellac isn't meant to be bad for your nails and allows air to them and let's them grow (granted, they have grown).

I even suggested to a friend of mine to consider them for her wedding, now I am not so sure...

I'm sure some of you will think why was I a mug believing the hype at the start and believe me I won't again.

I have a loyalty card at my salon and am due a free rebuff and varnish. I think I shall be taking that thank you very much. I shall stock to my usual idea of natural is best and go hunt out a HUGE bottle of nail cream!

Sunday, 9 October 2011


How do you know when it's right or it's wrong
When to be more caring, or rather be strong?
To go with your heart more than using your head
Are you thinking your own thought or being easily led?
Should you give in to what feels easiest and best
Is it wrong to compare along with all the rest
How can you tell what's normal in life
Should it be more plain sailing and less of this strife?
When the tears are falling are they through sadness or joy
Are your feelings being played with like some sort of toy
Trying to do what you think is best
To give your mind and thoughts some kind of rest
Is sharing really gossiping and creating a sense of sides
Just talking and talking, your heart open wide
Creating a bad impression of those involved
Worrying about life's plans and now getting old
Enjoying alone time, then the guilt that soon follows
Wondering if all will become clear when waking tomorrow
Thinking you've reached a final decision in your mind
Then changing it over time after time
Guilt of not thinking enough about what matters
Focussing on the mundane when your world could be in tatters
The knot in your stomach that won't go away
Wanting to be held so much but not sure if that's the way
Wishing there was some kind of rule book of how these thing work
Have they taken the path of hardworking, or chosen to shirk
If love is no doubt then what else should matter in a world such as this
Having that comfort and a warm tender kiss
Is it wrong to be so comfortable with one another
Or is such an achievement something you should celebrate together
Over and over, round and round
The thoughts in your head are silent, but they make such a sound
Constant debate over what action to take
So worried what's best, no decision can you make
Feeling so free and rested for the shortest of times
Then soon back to the worry and whether to cross that line
Are family, love and length of time enough
Or does there have to be more nowadays when things are so tough
Feeling a nag, a bore and a constant teacher
Always dishing out support and advice like some kind of preacher
Placed on some kind of pedestal so high and so tall
Feeling like perhaps now might be your time to fall
Who will be there for you if you are suddenly alone
Are you giving up that future, that love and that home
When will life be less of the hiccups and blips to get over
Not asking much just the basics to mull over
Two jobs, a home, drive and ambition
Not feeling the everyday has to be such a mission
Just wanting to see some drive, common sense and a proactive approach
Without needing to be a makeshift lifecoach
Wanting to support like I have received
Worrying if I am selfish in this enforced rule to succeed
Time to stop now, I could continue all through the night
Worrying and debating what's wrong or what's right

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Schooldays revisited

I've finally got around to watching Educating Essex on Channel four tonight. Yes, yet another programme on Essex. Watching it has just made me think of school, wow scary thought, I started secondary school 18 years ago. Oh. My. God.

Watching this school at first I started to think how mouthy these kids are. But to be honest looking at some of them they are reminding me of some characters from my schooldays. Not me of course, no I was a good girl at school. In fact when I first started secondary school I was so quiet, like a mouse. I hardly spoke and at first this got me a reputation for being posh. I know it doesn't make sense, but hey we were only eleven, and we were in Essex...

Whenever I tell people what school I went to, if they are from the local area I am met with "oh the posh one?" or similar. Er, no. Yes, it is situated in a more well-off area, but that's about it. Before I started my education at said school it was deemed a 'good' school and although it was not my first choice my parents and me decided it was a good place to attend.

Ha. Not when I went there and some of the lovely people who joined me...I won't name any names, but these were just some of the characters:

The pupil who sat stoned in an English lesson, falling asleep
The student was a known drug dealer
The schoolkid who stole credit cards from teachers and stood in a music lesson swinging a keyboard charger round his head like a lasoo injuring people
Oh and did I mention after I left our headmaster was thrown out for stealing school money?...

Hm doesn't sound so 'posh' now does it?

I was a shy person when at secondary school, I worked hard and I'd say I was in the middle. I wasn't in the group of 'hard' people, but I wasn't a nerd. I wasn't the most popular, best looking girl, but neither was I the ugliest or without friends.

Just watching this programme now, our teachers had to put up with a lot, but nowadays there are so many obstacles in just everyday life that clearly infringe on learning. For example all schoolchildren have mobile phones and what about the internet, schools now have this readily and use it in lessons from what I can see. How do they handle dodgy downloads or social media use instead of researching as is intended?

At the end of the day I believe that if you want to achieve you'll do well regardless of what sort of school you go to. Should children have private education, is it better to go to single sex schools? If anything I think these more sheltered types of school lead to more problems. Sorry to be judgmental, but those who went to all girls schools tended to be more focussed on boys and be the ones sleeping around more. Or the private school kids - more into drugs? This is just a general overview of things I'd seen or heard and I of course am not suggesting this is the case everywhere and for everyone.

For me, secondary school wasn't enjoyable, I much preferred college as more confidence grew and I could focus more on what I was truly interested in. You can see how individuals have grown up and become their own people when you go on Facebook. I always found it interesting how people on Facebook would add you and want to talk, yet when at school they had no time for you. Many people ended up as young or teenage parents, some have sadly been killed and others have been in prison. That wasc years ago and just makes me wonder for kids nowadays. I grew up in an Essex town, not some dodgy ghetto, as that rundown would suggest.

You know what tends to baffle me the most though about school? How did those teachers seem so old at school and past it? I know a number of friends who went on to teach - brave souls - and they are much too young and cool to be teachers surely?...

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Tattoos - body art or trashy tat?

I was asked recently what my thoughts are on tattoos. My honest answer? I really am divided.

A key thing for me with tattoos is the individual who has chosen to have them. And of course, what the actual tattoo is. I always remember a big muscular guy who lived in halls with us at University, he came back one day having had a tattoo done – no word of a lie, a big heart on his bicep with ‘Mum’ inscribed in it. Not what we were expecting at all. This student was rather scary and very butch and to see such a permanent mark on his arm like this, well it kind of make us laugh to be honest. Or what about the new contestant on X Factor, Frankie? Having girls names tattooed onto your bum cheeks, hm classy!

People who choose to cover their whole bodies in tattoos is not something I really get. For some people, perhaps those who are very creative, tattoos are an artform and a way to express themselves. For me, I think it’s too much.

Tattoos are like cool clothes/individual looks, there are those who can pull them off and those that can’t. Those that aren’t so successful with their tattoos end up often making themselves look rough, cheap or chavvy.

I may sound like an old woman, but what about when you’re old and wrinkly? When that design you picked when young and fun, looks totally inappropriate for a pensioner!

So, when do I like them? Certain designs on a muscular man’s arm can be very attractive. Well positioned, discreet designs can be sexy on a girl. On the other hand, a proud father having a well designed and not too showy tattoo as a gesture towards his child or children, I find this really touching. Perhaps David Beckham may have gone a bit far with his, but something a bit lower key is acceptable.

There are those tattoos you have to look cool, those to show support – perhaps for your favourite band or football team. Showing your commitment to a loved one, but best to wait until you’re married than getting somebody’s name permanently inked on your body… Chinese symbols seem a hit, but how do you know what they really say?

Of course, we were given the chance to remove those accident tattoos. This costs a lot of money though and can still leave scarring or some marks.

Dodgy or dirty images aren’t the best choice either, do people not think of the impact overall? It sounds dull, but if it’s noticeable then you need to think about how people will react – potential employers, future partners – people will judge. Or even in your future, your children or grandchildren – how would you explain that inappropriate wording or picture on your arm?

Still, as I blogged previously, I opted for a temporary tattoo when I went to the Isle of Wight festival this year. I laughed as the original ‘drawing on’ of the design scratched a bit and where we had to peel off the initial layer it actually hurt quite a lot! What a wuss, how would I cope with a real tattoo?

However, once I had it done I became a bit obsessed with the design and loved how it looked on my shoulder and back. Although, on starting my new job I soon realised in that position it was in quite a noticeable spot. This also highlighted to me just how important it is to get it right. After all, a tattoo is for life and not just for that drunken night out or those carefree teenage years…

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Winter is coming

Your alarm goes off, you're met with darkness
Just five more minutes of your bed and its cosyness

An extra few minutes under a scalding shower
The wind outside blowing with all its power

All wrapped up in thick coats, scarves and gloves
You waddle in the snow, holding hands with the one you love

Children playing in fallen leaves and then the snow
As you rush home, house and pub windows have a warm, welcoming glow

Ice cold wind nipping at your cheeks and ears
Your nose tingles and eyes are filled with frosty tears

When reaching home you wear warm, supersoft clothes, changing out of your damp and heavy jacket
Your hands wrapped around the cup as you sip a warm hot chocolate

Huddled up on the sofa, the cold dark world outside your window
Enjoying bowls of steaming soup and hearty stew, which makes your skin glow

Long country walks, your breath a steamy puff in front of your face
Going for a big, hot, meaty, pub pie at your favourite place

Looking forward to the weekend and your Mum's Sunday Roast
Thoughts of Christmas soon coming and time with those you love most

As the evenings get dark more quickly, wrapped in a blanket you lay
Bus heaters and your radiator switched on, winter is on its way

Monday, 3 October 2011

My Space

Personal space – it’s something that varies for everyone, just how much of it you need. However, as an only child I find I am very comfortable in my own company and am quite particular about just how near I want people to come to me.

I also find I vary person to person how I approach space. For instance an old manager of mine would on occasion attempt to give me a shoulder massage to help me relax. NO! Not in the pervy way you are all thinking, I think he was genuinely trying to be nice and knew I was a bit of a worrier. However, I really found it hard to handle – I appreciated him trying to be nice, but at the same time I felt at odds with him standing over me like that. On other occasions I’ve had colleagues who clearly don’t get the whole idea of personal space and would stand or sit so close to you, you could feel their breath on your skin. Yuck.

As I’m getting older I seem to need more space too I’ve noticed. On quite a few occasions over the last couple of years I have experienced odd spells where I’ve come over very hot and faint, symptoms tend to vary. Everyone has their own opinion on what causes it – overheating, panic attack, alcohol consumption etc, however, I am starting to think it’s just this increasing need I have for my own space. I’ve noticed over the last year or so I really can’t stand people being so close to me on the train, I even found myself constantly moving my legs the other day when whilst sitting down a passenger’s paper kept brushing my leggings.

Take for instance recently I went to write my blog and I wanted my own boyfriend to leave me alone to get on with it. Not that he won’t get to see what I’m going to read or that I didn’t want him to help me or look. I just felt like I needed to be on my own whilst typing it.

This week I am trying to have a bit more time to myself. I’m sure after a day or so I won’t like it and will soon want to have people around me, but I just feel lately I haven’t had any time to just be me and relax. I’m just hoping I don’t enjoy it too much as I don’t want to become some sort of hermit sat in my flat on my own content in my own company all the time.

I think it is important we all get time to ourselves however; you need to sometimes be you. Not somebody’s other half, or somebody’s child, somebody’s staff or somebody’s friend. Just you. Enjoy your own space – whether you use it to just sit and veg out in front of the TV, read a good book, listen to some music, go work out in the gym, or whatever suits you really.

Of course on the other hand the thought of getting old and being alone is not a thought that I enjoy, it scares me. I remember when young and being a checkout girl I used to see lonely, elderly men and women coming in every day buying minimal amount – just an excuse to get out the house and talk to people. They would make sure they had enough just for that day too so that they had reason to come back out the next day and buy some more. I just find that so sad. Particularly at Christmas time, when people would come in and buy a meal for one, roast turkey meal.

I guess like most things in life, it’s about achieving a balance and making sure you surround yourself with loved ones and close friends, but at the same time leave enough time to just give yourself a bit of space.

I’ll keep you posted on how this space thing goes, let’s hope I don’t get too content on being on my own, else I might stop writing this blog altogether! Hm...or perhaps for some people that may well be a good thing...

Sunday, 2 October 2011

It’s good to talk

For someone who is known for being a bit of a big mouth, it may come as a surprise that I find it hard to talk. No not about random rubbish, or my many mundane musings, but letting out my true feelings. I have always tended to be the one friends come to for help and advice, their shoulder to lean on. However, when it comes to myself, I’m not too good at coming forward.

I can remember when young, if something was worrying me or I was upset I would tend to keep it in and eventually resort to writing my parents a note to let out my troubles. In fact, I’m pretty sure I used to do the same with one of my first boyfriends.

I am very good at advising others on how to approach things, but not so good for reaching out and letting people know things have got tough and I need a hand. Looking back, at secondary school I was known as being good at putting a brave face on things and once when I broke up with a ‘boyfriend’ I shed a tear or two and people were in shock. I’d cried, I had actually let out a sign of emotion. Something must be wrong!

This year I have really discovered the power of talking and letting out your feelings though. Not rocket science I know. Sharing your feelings rather than keeping them all locked up is clearly going to be more beneficial, but for someone like me it is so hard to do. You’re the one who helps everyone else, there isn’t time to sit and wallow about your own worries!

When things are bothering me I guess the main people I tend to go to are my boyfriend and my parents. However, often you can find people who are more ‘outsiders’ can help, they don’t have any ties to people you know and so can give unbiased advice without the worry of them accidentally letting slip to somebody else in your group of friends. Whether work colleagues, a friend-of-a-friend or a random Facebook buddy, you could have your perfect listener waiting out there, ready to help.

My friends are there for me I know, but I think because I am not a very open person when it comes to problems I’m having they don’t tend to push me to talk. However, for some reason one of my friends – she’ll know who she is – really can get me to open up and I can talk for ages to her, honestly and openly, about pretty much anything. This has done me the world of good. Plus she is quite a strong individual and is great at making me ‘man up’ as she’d put it and face my fears. Something I am very grateful for and I hope I do the same for her.

This weekend I needed to have a bit of an awkward conversation for example – no details going to be revealed here I’m afraid – and I had been tiptoeing around things for some time. Just by talking a weight lifted, by being completely honest and trusting that I could tell the truth and say how I truly felt really eased a burden. In fact I was shocked how much of a difference just 90 minutes of talking could make.

Anyway I’m not going to go on and bore you about it all and probably most people out there aren’t as bad as me when it comes to reaching out. I guess really I just wanted to share. I just wanted to say make sure you talk. Life is too short to be unhappy, worry about how you come across and how you phrase things. Life is about sharing and if you don’t share the good times and the bad with other people what’s the point? You can’t always be the shoulder to cry on, the ear at the end of the phone, or the person with all the answers. Make sure you take time out for you and be a little ‘selfish’ (go on, admit it, that’s how you see it) sometimes and let other people help you. And perhaps those people in your life who you feel perhaps aren’t there for you, would be better at it if you were more honest with them about how you feel from the start.