Thursday, 20 February 2014

Baby Bulger: never forgotten

I can clearly remember as if it was yesterday when a small child went missing and was found murdered.

I was 9 years of age and yet now at 31 I still have the CCTV image from a Merseyside shopping centre fresh and clear in my head whenever I think of the incident.

On Monday I started to read a book which touched my heart, brought me close to tears, made me feel physically ill and furious. I read the book on my Kindle literally on my commute to and from work, on my lunchbreak and briefly before I went to bed. I finished it yesterday (Wednesday) evening on my way home.

The book? ‘My James: The Heartrending Story of James Bulger by His Father’. A piece of writing detailing the awful events of February 1993, describing the wonderful young child that was James, the huge impact the hideous incident had on the family and friends and the infuriating court battles and treatment the Bulger family faced.

For those that are not familiar, James Bulger went missing after mere seconds of his mother letting go of his hand in the butchers at a Liverpool shopping centre. What followed was infamous CCTV footage showing the 2 year old being led by the hand out of the complex by some young boys. The days after then turned into – for me – the most shocking of child murders in this country.

These two 10 year old boys abducted, sickeningly tortured and murdered the innocent toddler, leaving his small battered body on a train track to be run over.

I wanted to read the book as it has always been something close to my heart and as I’ve since explained to others I’ve never really forgotten what happened. It has always stuck with me and brought about extreme emotions. Whether this is because I was a similar age to the killers at the time I don’t know, but I feel I will never forget this awful tragedy and in turn the way the murderers were treated.

Ralph Bulger, the father of baby James, writes with complete honesty and I completely respected his style and approach – telling it like it is. No airs and graces, nor saying what people would feel is most politically correct. Like everyone I imagine, I’ve always felt for him and the family, but I respected him even further on reading the book.

I was very angry and disgusted at the time of the murder. On reading more details on what exactly the two ‘monsters’ inflicted on their victim I was even further sickened.

Time and time again I found myself infuriated, well, livid, at how obvious it was the boys knew they were doing wrong (psychological reports proved it) and there was no question they were the two individuals who had committed the acts.

So why were their rights such a big issue? Why was there any question whether to keep them locked up indefinitely?

In my mind, if you are capable of committing such atrocities you forego your rights and your age is irrelevant. This is not a case of a bit of a bicker/playground fight which went wrong by accident after all.

Going on to be reminded what happened around the time was harrowing enough, but when I read more detail from Ralph and his brother Jimmy on what they endured and moreover the lack of support they got from the legal system and authorities, it left me furious and saddened by how the country treated them.

The whole handling of the case and the victim’s family’s wellbeing really does seem to have been appalling.

Although it is so hard to read (seems ridiculous and offensive to say that when you think what the family went through!) I really would recommend people read this book. Ralph is honest, brave, down to earth and finally trying to rebuild his life all these years later.

A mix of personal anecdotes, excerpts from articles and court reports, honest additions by Jimmy and photos – you do feel really immersed in what happened.

I warn you though this will stay with you and will consume your thoughts. I thought I was upset at the time and angered? It’s all come flooding back yet again.

The quite frankly ‘joke’ of anonymity, the releases, the reoffending and child pornography case in later years. It leaves me reeling.

The heartbreaking thing about all this is that it’s all true and an innocent beautiful little baby boy died for no reason and in a horrendous way, regardless of age, court processes or rights.

Venables and Thompson took away any rights James Bulger had, so you tell me how in any shape or form is there any slight minute reason to need to consider their rights and wellbeing?

Friday, 14 February 2014

Valentine's Day

14th February, the day of love. Or a day for companies to charge the earth for red roses, tacky heart adorned products and overly long waits in restaurants with sub-standard cooked food.

Thought I better add that in there for the singletons and people who hate these card company commercial events!

As part of being in a relationship with someone who works shifts, unfortunately my man is working until 11pm this evening and so any efforts to mark this occasion will not be taking place today, on the day itself.

Well, that’s what we agreed, but as always I’ve been surprised (when will I ever learn) and I was still presented with a card (and a bonus card) and some beautiful flowers this morning when I woke up in a rush for work.

Already on the back foot I have been feeling guilty today, but we said we’d do all celebrations tomorrow when he has the day off, honest!!

I often get lots of little themed bits and pieces for him to open and feel all pleased with myself and then when we swap my stuff ends up looking rubbish! (I swear sometimes I am more like the stereotypical man in our relationship!)

Anyway this year I have decided to be different. Of course I can’t share with you what exactly as then it will give my plans away! I just hope I don’t end up being the one who looks rubbish again this year (this morning is not the best sign of that so far though!)

Although I don’t like looking like the rubbish one in the relationship, I can’t complain. I’d rather this than constantly be let down!

I’ve been looking forward to Valentine’s Day this year as it’s our first as an engaged couple (yes I do think of everything that way now).

However, looking to sell my flat and buy a house we had agreed this year we’d keep costs down and likely just cook a nice meal indoors on Saturday.

Thanks to my romantic partner, we have something else planned now.

He has come up with a lovely idea, which I thought I’d share – recreating our first date(s)!

This August we will have been together for 9 years (longer than some marriages as someone highlighted to me earlier this week!) and when I think back to when we first met I can still remember what I was wearing/he was wearing and how I felt.

I used to work in the Canary Wharf area in London and those that know it will know nearby there is a nice area called West India Quay which is home to lots of lovely waterfront bars, places to eat and similar. Obviously meeting somewhere like that in Summer was great as it was lovely and warm and a great location in the sun.

We’d first been introduced/forced together in April when his family and friends were ‘wetting the baby’s head’ for his nephew and then we were texting and in touch until finally we managed to arrange this date in August!
It went so well when we met up that we ended up having 2 dates in 1 week!

As we soon came to realise we both love talking (friends and family will definitely vouch for that). On our first date we’d agreed to meet for a drink and then head to see a film. We were talking so much we missed the film and ended up just chatting and then going for a meal (a huge step for me given I used to hate eating in front of men I liked!) The second time round we did manage to go see a film and again had a great time.

So we’ve decided (although it won’t be quite as sunny and warm in February!) for our celebrations this year we’re going to recreate those dates, with a few extras.

A relaxed day, mooching round a museum, having a relaxed lunch and drinks, watching a film and then a lovely tapas meal for dinner and reminiscing of when we first met. I can’t wait!

Enjoy your Valentine’s whatever you do and whenever you do them…

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

I can't get no sleep

Last night I got home from work feeling tired and I really did not feel like exercising so I ended up going to bed early.

Relaxing and going to bed earlier than normal I thought would be a good idea to get more energy for the next day.


After a couple of hours in bed sleeping I woke up. And then that's when my trouble started.

For the next 3 hours+ I couldn't get back to sleep. 

Everything was keeping me awake, the room seemed lighter than normal, I couldn't stop focussing on my other half's breathing and I just could not get comfortable.

I kept checking the clock next to me, trying to see how long I'd been awake.

When it got to after half past three I made myself stop.

Oddly, although when I got up this morning (swearing as my alarm went off!) I felt exhausted, throughout my working day I seemed to be calmer and get lots of things done I'd been putting off.

I wonder if this is because all night long I was thinking. Thinking of things I needed to do at work. Thinking of what else I have to do in order to get my flat on the market and get househunting. Thinking of ideas for the Valentine's plans me and my man have discussed. 

Lying in bed, tossing and turning, huffing and puffing, I started making lists in my head. The more I did this the more awake I became. Then my boyfriend's snoring, and even his breathing (poor thing!) kept me awake. All I could focus on was the noise of his breaths and it made me stroppy.

Of course as I got stroppy then I got more alert.

Everything seemed to keep me awake.

Eventually I must have fallen asleep, in total I guess I must have got at most 4 or 5 hours of sleep. 

My alarm seemed to go off just as I was dropping off.

So why is it sometimes we get nights like this. When you're someone who normally sleeps through most things, who wakes up in the night and goes straight off to sleep soon after. Why is it then on other evenings you just lay there as the seconds, minutes, then hours tick away?

Tonight I felt tired out from my lack of sleep, but this time I made myself do my workout DVD and I feel so much better for it.

My only worry now is I'm feeling pretty alert after the workout and refreshing shower. 

Let's hope it's not another night of no sleep. Although perhaps this time I should keep a pad and pen next to me, goodness knows what great ideas I might come up with!

Monday, 10 February 2014

New hair new mood

After a lot of debating (and a stressed out rush home) tonight I had my hair done. The last time it was trimmed and dyed was back in December.

I woke up tired today and I felt wound up for most of it after a nightmare journey into work and a non-stop working day. 

Yet tonight I am sat here feeling refreshed and relaxed.


Because I had my hair done.

I was starting to feel my hair was getting in a bad condition and it was taking ages to dry where it had got so long and thick.

Now this evening my hair is freshly dyed, the dead ends are cut away and my hair feels healthy.

It's made me feel better.

In the same way I've been decluttering my flat, as I've blogged about, to get it ready to be valued by estate agents. 

Finally I looked at my bedroom and after bagging up six big sacks of clothes and six bin liners of rubbish I can see my clothes more easily and everything is in order.

Again this made me feel better.

It's something a couple of people have touched on lately, but tidiness and order in your home and appearance truly does seem to equal a clear mind.

Similar to diet and exercise where I can lose weight, I feel I am in control.

For someone like me that hates to feel things are out of my control all these things give me a real boost.

Why these types of order in various elements of our life make us feel this way I really don't know.

Maybe it's also a sense of achievement at having those things organised? Who knows.

I'm just glad I finally managed to make a decision on what to do with my hair! All one colour, more off the length, keep the dip dyed look? I honestly was changing my mind even when my hairdresser first arrived!

For now I'm feeling relaxed and happy that my hair looks and feels healthy right now. 

How long that will last who knows. I guess I'll have to find something else to control...

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Eating healthy doesn't have to be boring

Last night I was lucky to have the company of my other half for once as he was on a different shift at work.

We decided to just stay in, watch a film and have something different for dinner. 

I've been eating very healthily the last week and so we still wanted to be 'good', but thought of trying something new for a change.

My fiancé suggested healthy homemade burgers.

We ended up having homemade burgers made with extra lean steak mince in a wholemeal bun, with reduced fat cheese, onion, tomato and a tiny bit of relish. This we had served with sweet potato wedges, some salad and a dollop of low fat mayonnaise.

It was yummy! 

I have to admit it was good to have something different for once too!

I even took a photo! 

I'll post up some more pics if we try anything else out too.

Today is now the start of level 2 on the 30 Day Shred and my weigh in day.

I'm pleased to say it's going in the right direction and I've lost 1lb again. 

Although admittedly I was hoping for bigger numbers given how this week I've eaten healthy food for 6 days and exercised for all 7! 

Friday, 7 February 2014

Nosy neighbour

I am on the train home. I should be reading a book on my Kindle, but yet again I've been distracted.

Why am I now writing a blog instead?

What exactly has distracted me?

The two women sat near to me that's what.

They're talking about a load of rubbish and gossip, but I can't stop listening.

If you're interested they've spoken about getting a mole removed, friends, reading something and gossiped about the guy nearby letting a girl sit down in the seats rather than him!

I was also getting distracted/a bit annoyed by one of them messaging on their phone and the little noises it was making as she received a new message through.

Yes I'm nosey.

All the time.

Many a time I've been caught out openly staring at people as they chat on the train, honestly I probably look like I'm part of the group!

I can recall years back at work people laughing at me as they caught me listening in to their conversation next to me.

What is it that makes us nosey?

I've started twitching the blinds when I've heard people arguing outside. 

Ooh they're talking about relationships now, I think one of them is having trouble in her marriage...


I know when I go for lunch or drinks with my Auntie she's the super nosy parker, always checking out people nearby.

We've been in coffee shops before and stupidly sat next to the window, we couldn't hold a chat for more than 2 minutes before we were nosing outside!

Oh no, one of them is teary now. Awkward.


If I can see a text in front of me on someone's screen if they are on the bus I can't help but look.

Yet I get so miffed if someone dares listen in to me! 

Haha one of the women has said what a horrible noise the phone makes! 

Oh she's reading Lee Child's apparently.

They're deciding if they're having a glass of wine now when they get off.

Okay enough is enough! I'm off to see what else I can nose in on now, only two stops left after all!! Ooh and I think they're getting off at my stop...

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Level one nearly done!

Day nine of the Thirty Day Shred workout. Only one more day left on Level One. 

I'm sitting here watching Supersize vs Superskinny and there's another program coming up on plus size ballerinas. 

Trashy TV heaven tonight! And about my favourite topic at the moment diet and exercise! 

I'm going to try do the full 30 days in a row as best I can and do 10 days on each level like before.

So how is it going this time round?

One things for sure my fitness levels have really dropped and I definitely found this workout more a struggle than it seemed in the past.

I find my knees and arms are pretty weak so at times the bicep curl and static lunge move really makes my knees ache. Also the side lunge with shoulder raise move makes my arms/shoulders heavy too.

Thankfully most other parts are fine and I'm getting that feeling I want to move up a level. 

I've had quite a week of it too so I'm thinking I might have had more of a struggle because that.

One things for sure I feel so much better for it, I'm sleeping more soundly, my body feels better and I'm sticking strictly to my healthy eating diet. 

It's all about balance and I don't want to become obsessive or a bore, but for now I feel I need to see some strong results before having too many treats.

Last Saturday I'd found I'd lost 1lb which I was pleased with as I'd only done 3 days of exercise and healthy eating.

This week I will have completed 7 days of exercise and 6 days of healthy eating! This would have been seven full days but I had a slight pig out at the in-laws last Sunday. 

I'm sticking at it and hoping to finish my flat declutter this weekend and burn some more calories doing that! 

Plus having a bit of a hard week I'm not just pleased I've stuck to the plan (my workout and recording my food on MyFitnessPal), but also loving the boost to my mood the exercise brings.

Now for the weigh in on Saturday and starting level two. The only problem is I've found out one of my favourite spinning instructors is covering the Saturday morning class. Do I have a day off the shred and get back to spin or not? Dilemmas dilemmas! 

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Colour confusion

Today has been all about the tube strikes in London, so rather than follow the trend I've decided to blog about something different.

What's playing on my mind? My hair.

I last got my hair trimmed and my roots dyed back in December. 

As always I've left it slightly too late to get my hair sorted and I have noticed far too many grey hairs for by liking!

My hairdresser is booked to come over Monday evening after work (which means leaving work dead on time and a big rush home to make sure I make it back! 

At this point I've told her it's for a colour, cut and blowdry. 

The question is what to do with my hair? I had it dip dyed back in the Summer.

We're in Winter now and my hair has been like this quite a whole now.

My hair is very thick and grows fast and it has for very long.

I do like it long so I think I want it to stay that way for now.

However, I am debating whether to go back to my old and trusted dark brown/black all one colour.

In order to get to this I have a feeling the dip dyed ends will just need to be cut off.

So I need some help. Do I stay with the dip dye and get my colour freshened up and just have a trim.

Or do I have quite a lot cut off and go all black? 

Dilemmas dilemmas! 

Any tips greatly received! 

To chop or not to chop? Black or ombre?

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Horny and hammered holidaymakers: the new reality?

There is no end of programs on TV now showing young Brits on holiday abroad and drinking themselves silly. 

Tonight BBC Three has Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents. 

There really is no end to the junk I'll watch on TV I know!

However, every time I see these shows showing young people on holiday I think back to the times I went away when young.

I'll probably sound a prude and you may not believe me, but I find these programs pretty shocking.

Whether it's Spain, Greece or Croatia, they all seem to be the same. Male or female they all just get drunk to the point of passing out and seem to have no thought whatsoever of any sense of morals or dignity.

Watching this latest series, the focus is on Thailand. That makes me even sadder. Obviously people know all about the Full Moon parties out there, but to me my memories of Thailand are of my 30th and the beauty and amazing people we encountered. 

Seeing people having sex all over the place and throw rubbish on the beautiful beaches makes me so sad.

I did the whole teenage holiday experience when young - Kavos, Magaluf, Zante and more. Admittedly I was always in a relationship but I still wanted to drink and have fun.

But when did first holidays or your first trip with friends be about giving someone oral sex on board a party boat or having full blown sex in a bar?

Obviously times change, but it makes me feel ill just how different times are. 

People used to sleep around on these types of holidays and we're well aware of the games on 18-30s where you had to act out sex positions.

Yet those people didn't go out and have full blown sex as part of it. 

My fiancĂ© says these programs are just showing kids playing up to the cameras and it's not that bad. Can you imagine seeing your child on one of these shows? How proud you must be! 

Although I have no sympathy for those who spy on their loved ones on their first holiday away from home. Especially those naive sets who still seem to think their child is a baby or are living in the 1900s!

Nowadays holidays away from home seem to be all about how much sex you can have in front of other people and getting so drunk you get seriously injured.

Where's the fun in that? 

Monday, 3 February 2014

Who's benefiting?

Channel 5 has just broadcast a live debate 'The Big Benefits Row'. There seems to be no end of programs at the moment showcasing people claiming benefits in the UK and often portrayed as lazy and wanting to take advantage.

Ironically I was working through some personal budget/financial figures as I had this debate on in the background.

Unfortunately I found the show didn't really answer much or tackle all that much detail, it was more about certain figures having bitching sessions with one another.

However, as someone who works hard for their pay, I feel sick every time I see the National Insurance and tax payments that come out of my paycheque. 

Even now I always remember my Dad saying to me wait until you're earning and you see how much gets taken away from me. As a child I'd laugh and tell him not to be so miserable. Funny how once you get older you soon see their point of view! 

I also feel somewhat sick to see people who get homes for 'free', whilst I battled to get on the property ladder. And now saving up and going through the process of looking to buy a house the topic is somewhat raw with me yet again.

Don't get me wrong, I understand in some situations the benefits are needed and people are in situations where they have no choice. I'm not disputing those people who need help as they have a genuine disability for example.

Those people who claim everything under the sun, don't work and conveniently have some sort of breakdown, health issue or 'emergency' just at the right time do drive me insane though! 

As I see friends struggle with the job they're in for various reasons because they need the money or stability I get so annoyed. "They're lucky to have a job" people argue. Of course it's better to be in work than to be unemployed we're all agreed on that. 

Yet what is the difference between them and the people who argue certain jobs are beneath them? Why should they stick at their job and go to work miserable each day? Why shouldn't they say they don't like it and just go try claim benefits?

What I also find is that those people that do work hard and pay towards the system then often then find they are not eligible for help when they do find themselves in this struggle scenario.

In all things in life I feel unfortunately there will always be those who take advantage. Those who see kindness, empathy and understanding and take advantage.

Then as in many situations (not just benefits), many people get tarred with the same brush or everyone then gets hit with a harder line.

I always remember one place I worked had a ridiculously strict and unreasonable sickness policy, all because at one point they were fair and people took advantage. Therefore they felt they had to take a tough approach and as a result those people who acted reasonably also got punished. 

I've experienced both sides of the debate. One set of grandparents owned their own home and worked hard to get money to support their family. The others lived in a council property (they did also work I should add). 

When it came to later in life both my grandmothers needed to be in a home for different reasons. One grandmother had to have her house rented out and this was used to help pay for her care home. The other got a Bupa care home for free. 

Fair? Probably not. As both were relatives of mine obviously I just want what was for best for them and am glad they were both cared for regardless of how that care came about.

It does get you thinking. I often over the year have joked with my parents for example I'd have been better off 'getting up the duff' when I was very young and I'd be laughing now - receiving lots of help, having a cut price home and more.

Would I be happy? Probably not.

I don't claim to have all the answers and I don't have a strong view either side of the debate since some form of benefits system clearly is needed.

However as with most things in life, there will always be those who push too far and are selfish, and it's the people who are fair and try to do what's best who suffer. 

Saturday, 1 February 2014

The sort out continues!

Last Saturday I decided to stop making excuses and get myself sorted out - whether that be trying to exercise again, eat healthily or get my flat sorted for valuations. 

This morning I'm off to a bit of a slow start, but today I'm making sure I stick to this approach again. 

Starting with my weekly weigh in and a healthy breakfast.

I've eaten healthily for 4 of the 7 days this week and exercised for 3 of them. Not great, but like I've said previously slowly but surely! 

And this week I've lost 1lb. Not a huge record breaking result, but I have to say I'm pleased given the fact more of the week has been unhealthy.

Hopefully now I can lower the 'bad' food days and increase the exercise days and start to get back to the shape I was beginning to be happy with. 

I'll be hitting the 30 Day Shred as soon as my breakfast has settled and then getting back on the flat sort out. Next up is finishing the lounge and all the hundreds of CDs, DVDs and photo albums I've accumulated. 

If I get time I'll be braving my bedroom and the Narnia that is my wardrobe...