Saturday, 29 December 2012

Ed's Diner

The week between Christmas and New Year's always seems to drag on a bit for me. The months of build up seem to fizzle out and, suddenly, everyone's really quite sad. Desperate to hold on to the festive feeling, I dragged Valentine to the newest eating destination in our local shopping centre, Ed's Diner.

Now, first thing's first: Ed's Diner sits on the spot that was formerly occupied by my beloved Pizza Hut. As we walked up the steps of the centre and towards the doors, I could hear the walls taunting me with a quiet echo: "You're cheating on Pizza Hut!" I admit it - I was distraught. I very nearly cried when Pizza Hut closed. I love me some pizza.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, the place looks amazing. It's decked out in full Americana decor, and I'm sure we all know by now how obsessed I am with the great ol' US of A. The mini jukeboxes on the table were a delightful addition and the Elvis soundtrack filled my  heart with immeasurable joy.

They also had proper English mustard! Real, hot, spicy mustard is a must for me
Unfortunately, everything went downhill from there. The staff took ages to acknowledge us, gave us two Cokes when we had ordered two milkshakes, and spent a long time chatting to each other rather than taking anyone's orders. We settled on what we were going to have - for me, it's fairly simple. There's never much of a vegetarian choice available - and waited eagerly for our full plates of food. A burger and fries for each of us, with a side salad for me. We couldn't wait to tuck into the food that Ed's Diner prides itself on. Amazing food! they say. You'll never want to stop coming back! they inform us. Instead, we were given:

Two lonely burgers that, to be completely honest, didn't taste much better than anything on offer at McDonald's. Except this place cost more than triple what McDonald's does. I think it's safe to say we won't be going back. The hunt for London's best vegetarian/hamburger combo continues!

This is one very hungry and unhappy man!

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

And so that was Christmas...

It seemed to go so quickly, didn't it? After months of build up (I swear the shops start their Christmas events earlier every year) Christmas came and went with barely a whisper.

We ate our weight in mince pies, roast potatoes and Pringles. We rocked around the Christmas tree. We swapped far too many presents. Overall, it was a huge success for the Whitear household.

Wherever you were and whatever you did, I hope you had an amazing time with your nearest and dearest. I've had so much fun this year, I can't wait to do it all over again in 2013.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

It's now that time when you can feel it in the air. You can see the sheer amazement in the eyes of children who walk past you. You can almost taste the dread, stress, exhaustion and worry of your fellow adults. But that little glint is still there. You know the one, right? The one that says "I may be 35 biologically, but every December, I have the mental capacity of a giddy five year old."

My family are ready to strangle me, if truth be told. I woke the household extremely early yesterday morning by ensuring that the magical tones of Mariah Carey were blasted at full volume and only my cats appeared to be impressed. As if that wasn't enough, I've discovered I have an incredibly annoying habit of plugging any awkward silences with a nice hearty, "you scumbag, you maggot..." before trailing off into the rest of the greatest Christmas song ever. The only thing breaking my spirits right now is the fact that Winter Wonderland is obscenely expensive. Seriously, Westminster Council? Why?

Nine sleeps to go!!

ps: the majority of my readers are American. I've made no secret of my love for your country and enjoy and adore so many aspects of your culture. If my tweets or blog post offended anyone, I can only apologise for that. I understand the topic of gun control is something that many, many Americans feel very passionately about and, as someone who has friends and family in the States (and as a future resident of your country!) it is also a topic I am passionate about. We are all free to express our thoughts, feelings and opinions. I respect the views you wish to share, I only wish some of you could extend the same consideration towards me.

Friday, 14 December 2012


I spent most of today complaining about my migraine because, let's face it, migraines are icky. I buried my head underneath my pillow, turned off the lights, television, phone and laptop and slept away my misery. When I awoke a few hours ago, I felt a little bit refreshed, no longer having the flashes of blinding colour or the pounding sensation in my head. I switched on my phone, loaded up Twitter (as you do) and felt the good sensation that was rippling through my body slip away rapidly.

A few hours ago, the news broke that a shooting had occurred in a school in Connecticut. Painfully, it felt like an all too familiar scenario. I've lost count of the amount of times that I've switched on Twitter or had an email conversation with a friend in the US to discover a mass shooting in a place that should be safe. But this time is just so much worse. I felt numb. The shooting took place in an elementary (primary) school. These children are five years old. The horror I felt rose more and more as further details came in. The current death toll at the time of me writing this is 20 children and six adults. It's sickening and horrifying when any human life is extinguished but it feels so much worse when it's a child.

Unfortunately, us here in the UK have experienced a primary school shooting before. The Dunblane massacre happened in 1996, when I was far too young to know, understand or contemplate the events. Sixteen children and one adult lost their lives on that day. As a direct result, the United Kingdom government introduced tighter gun controls and legislation, which has thankfully ensured that we haven't witnessed another event at a school on that scale since. For reasons unknown to me - and to any sane individual - America never seems to have these conversations with themselves. After Columbine, Virgina Tech, Aurora, the whole world sat back and waited with bated breath for America to take a stand and protect their citizens. Instead, I was treated to this on Twitter this evening...

Now, excuse me if I'm being ignorant but I think I'm missing something that this particular Tweeter knows. Since when has the possession and use of a deadly weapon - a weapon that exists solely to inflict damage and to kill - been regarded as more important, special, or valuable than the safety and lives of children? I love America more than anything (well, except London. Because, y'know, London rules) and I've been dreaming of living there since childhood. Me and Valentine have discussed it at length over the past few months, picking out our ideal destinations and even drawing up lists of restaurants we want to eat at, places we want to visit and people we want to meet. But with the events in Newtown now a regular occurrence in the States, I just don't know how I can reasonably justify a move there. How can I convince myself to raise a family in a country where their safety is not appreciated or guaranteed? Even with the gang shootings that have swept across London over the past few years, and the riots we had last year, I would feel infinitely safer in the deepest, darkest corner of South London than I would in a seemingly ideal small town neighbourhood.

These beautiful children in Connecticut left their homes this morning full of Christmas and Hanukkah joy, excited to see their friends, learn their ABCs and play. They had their whole lives ahead of them. Twenty bright lights, future world leaders perhaps, who will never come home. Twenty families who must now face the holiday season without their incredible children. Twenty lives forcefully stopped before they could even begin. 

Why can't there be a clause in the United States Constitution that protects the basic sanctity of human life in America?

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Even Londoners get the blues

Try as I might, I can't shake these winter blues. This weather is messing with my head (below freezing yet still not snow?) and the fact that it's now pitch black at 4pm (really?!!) doesn't exactly make for magical inspiration. 

It all started with an argument in Specsavers (I so shouldn't have gone there) where the woman insisted that they had given me an appointment to go and collect my obscenely prized glasses. Twenty minutes later, she conceded defeat when I pulled out every bit of Specsavers bedazzled bit of paper that I own. So far, so awful.

It then continued when a fully grown man coughed on me on a train. Seriously, were you never taught to cover your germ infested mouth whenever you feel the urge to cough? Disgusting.

Maybe it's because I'm so desperate for Christmas to hurry up and arrive. Maybe it's because a part of me can't wait for this year to end. I have such big plans for myself in 2013 (nothing major or terribly exciting, but big for me) and can't wait to see them come to life. Maybe it's because 2012 hasn't been the greatest of years for me. All I know is this... Boyfriend needs to bring me some McDonald's tonight otherwise I might just cry.

I've met so many dreadful people over the past few weeks. So much so that it's left me contemplating walking down to the train station and heading far, far away from London. 

I'm sure this is nothing that junk food, ice cream and an amazing book can't fix!

London! You're so lucky you're so pretty

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Life lately...

It's December already? How did that happen? November felt like the shortest month of my life; it just flew by without me barely acknowledging it's existence. This just won't do. Although, of course, we're getting closer and closer to Christmas (yay!) and it means that I can finally crack on with one of these...

I've promised myself that I won't finish off the entire advent calendar before the 15th, but whether or not I actually manage that remains to be seen.

You want some photos?

Here's the most exciting part of our past week...

We took a little trip to my local shopping centre over the weekend to do a spot of present buying and friend visiting when we found ourselves confronted with a Stormtrooper! Now, Star Wars is Mr Valentine's favourite film EVER and I grew up with a serious love of the the original trilogy, so we naturally squealed like incredibly excited little piglets when we noticed the (incredibly short) Stormtrooper.

Further investigation led us to finding not only Boba Fett, but Mr Anakin Skywalker himself. Yep, Darth Vader (or a very chubby man dressed up as him) was also in South London for the day. I'm not entirely sure what South London has that the Death Star doesn't (air conditioning perhaps) but it brought them to us and gave me a very, very happy Mr this weekend!

Monday, 26 November 2012

{christmas 2012} christmas gift guide - stocking fillers

I've done his and hers gift guides, so I thought I'd combine some of my favourite (cheaper) items that I found during my present hunting activities into one handy little stocking filler gift guide. Every item is under £10 and direct links are below.

1. Lynx Mini Set - Debenhams
2. Decision Dice - Marks & Spencer
3. Moustache Mug - John Lewis
4. Ted Baker mini petite set - Boots
5. Cath Kidston hand cream - John Lewis
6. Butterfly compact mirror - John Lewis

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Happiness is...

Fake snow on Oxford Street raising a smile on even the most miserable of faces.

It being perfectly acceptable to now sing Christmas songs at the top of my voice.

Teaching Valentine how to do arabesque.

Silly Saturday nights with my beautiful friends.

Winning NaNo in my first year.

An insanely good Sunday roast dinner.

The smell of fresh flowers.

Listening to the Spice Girls and not even caring.

Perfect pirouettes.

Finding the perfect Christmas present for this beautiful man...

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

One Love

My beautiful little sister turned one yesterday.

It was a nice, simple day, full of my beautiful family (who suddenly became very camera shy) and an incredibly animated little lady who has a new favourite word: NO (said in a very broad Northern accent, thanks to her Wigan-born father. Speaking in such a way in a room full of South Londoners led to nothing but hilarity)

Daisy ate far too much of a cupcake (she literally dragged it out of my hand) and confidently swaggered along the floor in nine or ten wobbly steps. Twice. She's getting there.

The excitement of sprinkly cupcakes died down a little bit earlier today, until I hit Oxford Street. I haven't managed to fully walk up and down the road yet (it's a blooming long road) but I did manage to grab a quick picture of the lights outside Bond Street station, complete with the Debenhams lights in the background and little flecks of the fake snow coming from Boots.

It's been such a magical week thus far...

Monday, 19 November 2012

Happy Birthday Daisy!

It's my beautiful baby sister's first birthday today!

Watching her change from the tiny little dot who barely squeaked to the very vocal, attitude filled one year old - complete with telling me to "ssshhhh" at any available opportunity - she is today has been incredible.

I have so much love for this little lady and look forward to watching her grow up!

Sunday, 18 November 2012

{christmas 2012} christmas gift guide - for her

1. Pastel Pocket Notebook - Aspinal of London
2. Union Jack truffles - Prestat
3. Good Time Gals mini - Benefit
4. Marc Jacobs, Daisy - House of Fraser
5. Scented candle - John Lewis
6. Abby Clements, Meet Me Under The Mistletoe - Amazon

As I was compiling this gift guide for all the dudes out there, I realised that women can be just as (if not more) difficult to buy for when it comes to Christmas. But fear not m'lovelies, for I also spent longer than I care to admit to searching for the ideal gifts for my sister, friends, mum, etc. and have now compiled it for your indulgence!

Although, I have to admit, this is less a list of things I want to buy for other people, and more of a 'Things Amy wants for Christmas, thank you very much' list. I already have the candle in a tin from John Lewis and love it, so I'll probably spread the scented love with the girlies in my life. That box of chocolates from Prestat also caught my eye in a big way and I'm hovering over the 'checkout' button as I type. The Benefit gift set blew me away - amazing products for such a small price, and I think a friend or two will be unwrapping it in a few weeks time!

Meet Me Under The Mistletoe by Abby Clements is another thing that I already have. The cover literally sparkles and called out to me from across the book shop! It's a great Christmassy read that I'm sure every girl in your life will love. The notebook from Aspinal is a favourite find of mine - they offer a free initial lettering service for selected products, which adds to the beautiful simplicity of their gifts. Oh, and can we just take a moment to appreciate the gloriousness that is Marc Jacobs' Daisy? It's incredible.

Hopefully, you've got slightly more inspiration for your present hunting sprees over the next few weeks. As always, feel free to let me know if you've got any other suggestions - I'd love to hear them!

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. I just happen to have fallen in love with all of the above!

{christmas 2012} christmas gift guide - for him

1. Breaking Bad box set - Amazon
2. Black print sweatshirt - River Island
3. Diesel, Only The Brave - John Lewis
4. Nando's gift card - Nando's
5. M&Ms dispenser - Asda
6. R2D2 USB hub - Find Me A Gift

Let's face it, men are almost impossible to buy for. I've wasted many hours fretting over what to get Valentine for his birthday, for Christmas, and indeed, for Valentine's Day. I can't stand the Christmas shopping rush so I've already started on my present buying (nieces and nephews done! sisters-in-law, done!). Last night, I found myself drifting through far too many online shopping sites and found some great gift ideas for the impossible men in my life. I thought I'd put some of my favourites all together for you to help give you a bit of early inspiration.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Happiness is...

Chocolate cream frappuccino's that hurt your head and numb your fingers but make you smile.

Singing along to your favourite Christmas song and not getting weird looks because it's now acceptable!

Smiling at people on the Tube.

Dreaming of Italy and France.

Getting a paid writing job!!

Insomnia that leads to a large mug of hot chocolate (complete with cream and marshmellows) at 3am.

Watching Daisy take her first steps.

Reading a wonderfully Christmassy book.

Writing a wonderfully Christmassy book (10,000 words done!)

Ben & Jerry's Phish Phood.

Me and Ruby as little kids. The first time she ever smiled in a photo!

{christmas 2012} presents!

Valentine says someone's getting ahead of herself.
My mother says someone is a little bit too obsessed with Christmas.
My sister says someone is putting her complete lack of preparation to shame.

I say... The Coca Cola advert came on television the other night, which means it's now definitely okay to talk about Christmas!

I admit, I'm completely obnoxious and irritating and awful about Christmas. I may have driven Valentine to the point of distraction (or homicide) last week when I insisted that he sit down and write me a list of perfectly perfect Christmas presents for his nieces and nephews before completely disregarding the list (seriously, it was awful) and then just dragging him out to buy the presents. Don't worry, we both agreed on the finalised gifts. But there was some kicking and screaming on the way out...

But it wasn't enough for me to just buy the presents.

I had planned to hide them away somewhere in my house, far away from prying eyes.

There just isn't anywhere in my house that can't be accessed by prying eyes.

So armed with three different types of wrapping paper, unnecessarily beautiful pens (unnecessary because practically no one reads my well-thought out gift tags) and enough sticky tape to straighten out the leaning tower of Pisa, I got cracking with the wrapping!

I now can't move anywhere in my bedroom properly. The fear of a pile of presents cascading down from their not-so-safe resting places and burying me beneath shimmery, shiny, perfectly patterned paper has stopped me from even admiring my handiwork. But who needs to turn around anyway?

I seriously can't wait for Christmas!

In other news: The Oxford Street Christmas Lights are on! I shall post a few of my favourites soon!

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Lest We Forget

Today is not a day for politics.
Today is not a day for sniping.
Today is not a day for sarcastic comments or offensive thoughts.

Today is a day of respect.
A day to remember all that has gone before.
A day where we spend two minutes in silence - with busy department stores, London traffic, police sirens and manic phone calls all coming to a standstill - to respect, remember and think of those who fought in the trenches, sacrificed their lives and showed nothing but bravery to their last breath.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

Friday, 2 November 2012

{Christmas 2012} starting to plan!

It's time to think about Christmas. Yes! It is! Seven weeks to go! I know no one wants to talk about it but Halloween is finally out of the way, the Argos Christmas gift guide is out(!) and I'm sure it's only a matter of time before the Coca Cola advert comes on - which is when everyone knows it's Christmas time!

I am officially obsessed with Christmas, and I count down all year to the time I can start publicly talking about it. Since there are only seven (seven!) weeks to go, I've decided that time... is now.

I like to call it 'Tinsilitis'
A seasonal fever that takes over my life every November and December. I squeal at the Christmas adverts. I hoard Christmas catalogues. I have a (not so) secret stash of cards, wrapping paper and candy canes.

It's sort of like a sickness. I have Christmas Fever.

But I love it so freaking much.

My Christmas plans start taking shape around September, but it's the first week of November when I truly crank things up a  notch. The first week of November is all about my planning (since I am a list geek). My current pile of lists include:

  • main to-do list
  • present buying list
  • separate page for each person, their wish list, and what I'm buying for them
  • Christmas events list (Winter Wonderland anyone?)
  • The Budget! My Christmas budget is far more interesting and sparkly than the Chancellor's so is therefore a million miles better. Fact.
  • Christmas-themed baking ideas
  • ideas for stocking fillers
I know... I just sucked all the fun out of Christmas. At least, that's what you're thinking if you're Valentine and only believe in Christmas present shopping on Christmas Eve. Before dumping everything on my bedroom floor and saying "do you wanna wrap those for me, Aim? You do it so much better than I do." So the rest of you should totally be thinking "Wow, Amy. So super organised and not in the slightest bit insane."

From next week, I'll be posting Christmas gift ideas, Christmas baking(!) and the absolutely adorable elf outfit I'll be buying for Daisy that she absolutely will be wearing no matter what my mum says.


I'm not the biggest fan of Halloween. For me, Halloween is a time to be annoyed by over-anxious kids and fully grown women dressed like street walkers. You can't move for boobs and bums hanging out all over the place and it's just an excuse for every drinking establishment to charge a premium for their "spooky" drinks. No thanks. Not for me.

However... if there's one thing I do like, it's kids dressed in ridiculously cute costumes. I've seen some pretty cool costume ideas on the interwebs - there are some awesomely creative parents out there! My little sister Daisy isn't at the age where she can go to Halloween parties or trick or treating (thank the heavens!) but we can still get away with dressing her up for our own photographic pleasure! I begged and pleaded with my mum to stick Daisy inside an actual pumpkin (we'd win mega kudos for originality there!) but, alas, she ignored me. So instead we got this...

Is that not just the happiest pumpkin you've ever seen?!

Daisy then proceeded to completely aggravate my poor grandad for the duration of her time at our house. She's really got a thing for that table!

I hope you all had a wonderful Halloween and didn't prematurely induce diabetes!

ps: thank you for all of the incredibly kind emails regarding my Sandy post. I am thankful to say that our families and friends on the East Coast are all safe, warm and well and are now beginning to rebuild their lives. I send nothing but love and gratitude to all of you and pray that your friends and families are also safe and looking towards the future!

Monday, 29 October 2012

A little perspective.

I've been feeling a little bit sorry for myself this weekend. I'm just really, really bored of being on antibiotics. I'm really bored of waking up at 3am because the pain is unbearable. I'm really quite fed up of barely being able to walk ten steps without feeling like I'm about to pass out. It's been going on for so long now and it's just driving me crazy. It doesn't help that I'm becoming a regular fixture at my doctor's surgery and the doctors like to look at me like I'm a silly little girl because I got medications mixed up and ended up feeling ten times worse. Such an idiot. But an easy mistake to make. I suppose. I'm not too sure. I just want to be able to sleep for longer than an hour at a time. I want to have a normal body temperature. I want to be able to go and spend time with my friends. If you can't tell, I've been doing a lot of moaning lately. But sort of snapped myself out of it this morning, waiting for yet another doctor's appointment (I definitely think they should introduce a loyalty card of some type there. Free prescription after six visits? I'd be rolling in free prescriptions by now. But, alas, a loyalty card is apparently not appropriate for a doctors' surgery, no matter how many times I offered plausible ideas)

The 'Frankenstorm' hitting the East Coast of the States really snapped me out of my miserableness this morning. I'm struggling to comprehend just how big the damn thing is. It seems so unreal and yet, scarily, it's happening. At this very moment, it's happening. And it's scary in so many ways. It's scary because it shows how powerful nature is, how easily it can completely destroy our pretty little cities and towns. It's scary because it shows the complete lack of respect most people have for the planet. It's scary how many people still don't believe in global warming. It's scary because - bizarrely - my main readership is the US, and I worry how many of you are caught up in it. I worry how many of you have had to evacuate your homes and face losing everything you hold dear to you. I worry that families will be torn apart and destroyed. I'm scared because me and Lurch both have friends and family on the East Coast (Boston, Queens, Rhode Island) and we haven't been able to get in touch with them yet. I'm worried that New York, the place I've considered my spiritual home since the age of two, is about to be completely annihilated. It's a horrible, awful, scary time.

I've been far too self-absorbed over the past few days. Yes, it sucks to be ill and when you're in that moment it feels like literally nothing else on this planet matters, but it pales in significance when I compare it to Hurricane Sandy. I pale in comparison to Hurricane Sandy. We all do. Mother Nature is so fearsome and powerful. It's honestly incredibly worrying.

To all my East Coast friends, families, readers and occasional emailers... I hope you are staying safe and I'm praying for minimal damage to your homes and your lives. See you on the other side!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Life lately

Nothing delights me more than getting into clean, fresh, brand new bedsheets. This week saw the purchasing of outrageously bright bedsheets that Mr Valentine has described as "blindingly bright." I'm inclined to agree with him - they're way too bright for my delicate little eyes - but I shall never let him know this. It hasn't all been shockingly bright in my life this week: London has decided to shroud itself in possibly the gloomiest fog imaginable. Normally, I get a fairly decent view of The Shard (the Ugliest Building In The World) from the roof at work yet I haven't been able to see it at all this week. Blessing or curse?

I've been enjoying the simple pleasures lately: the most beautiful scented candles I've ever discovered, a whole heap of books, and a Winnie The Pooh thermal cup that only cost £1! I decided to re-read The Perks Of Being A Wallflower because of the film adaptation and forgot how good it really is. A book that's not so good is Cheryl Cole's autobiography. Yes, it's probably been ghost-written, but it's just so gloomy, much like London's skies recently. For a woman who has so much money and fame, she don't half know how to be miserable. A laugh/joke/smile wouldn't kill the woman. Maybe the Girls Aloud reunion will do her some good?

Oh, and Daisy (my mum, really) got a puppy! He's so lively... literally like Daisy in dog form! They've been inseparable since the moment they laid eyes on each other. I thought Daisy was exhausting on her own, especially now that she's beginning to ponder the possibility of walking. But her and the dog together? Migraine central!

I've been planning some themed posts for the next few months. I'll obviously be doing some insanely Christmas-y posts (as readers of the old blog will now, I'm ever so slightly obsessed with the most wonderful time of the year) and a post (or eight) about Hanukkah, but I'm open to suggestions! I like the idea of themed posts and the like the idea of variety so I look forward to seeing what this venture brings!

Sunday, 21 October 2012


There's not much purpose to this post, except that I love this photo of me and my Valentine. 
It's currently decorating the edge of my mirror, along with a few other photos of us.

It was taken on New Year's Eve last year as we stood freezing on Westminster Bridge waiting for the fireworks. We'd spent a good twenty minutes talking to a family of American tourists who were absolutely amazed by how happy everyone seemed that night. Our friends, who are infinitely cooler than us, turned down our pleas to stand next to the London Eye for seven hours and went off to some swanky West End club instead. But I'm glad... we got to take so many silly photos of the two of us and started a Thriller sing-a-long.

It's only October, but this photo has made me so excited for Christmas already. My lists are written, recipes have been remembered, and I'm discovering loads of weird foreign stuff for my weird foreign Grandad.
My Grandad really is the greatest man on Earth.

I love my Valentine and my family. And memories.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Je veux vivre à Paris

I'm not sure when or how it started.

It might have been when I was two, and watched Beauty and the Beast for the first time.

It might have been when I was three, and started ballet.

It might have been when I was five, and started learning the French language.

It might have been when I was eight, and my grandad would tell me stories about his experiences in the smallest towns and villages there.

It might have been when I was eleven, and had to research the history of the country for a homework assignment.

I can't pinpoint the exact time. I don't think there was ever a "moment" where I just decided it had to be. It's probably something that's always been with me, like my stubbornly frizzy hair or multi-coloured eyes. Because, truthfully, for as long as I can remember, Paris has been the biggest mystery for me.

I've never visited Paris, which is bordering on criminal seeing as it would take approximately three hours to get there from my house. My sister has been, and enthralled me with her tales of the majestic Happy Meals they serve up at the closest McDonald's to the Louvre. 

I have big ambitions in life, and have a list of five cities that I would kill to live in, in addition to a list of ideal holiday destinations that is growing by the day.

I will get to Paris one day soon. Life has happened, and I'll probably never live there. But I know that I will spend a sizeable chunk of time there. I just haven't figured out when.

So, until then, I will continue to stare at photos of the Eiffel Tower. I will continue to take Google StreetView tours of the City of Love. I will continue dreaming.

Because, if we don't dream... What's the point of life?

Friday, 5 October 2012

Sunshine and Showers Part 2

But, there are a few good points about this horrendous week. And they are, in no particular order:

I've done so much reading this week. Five books this week, including Caitlin Moran's How To Be A Woman, Caitlin Moran's Moranthology (yes, I'm obsessed), and J.K. Rowling's The Casual Vacancy. First things first: Caitlin Moran is pretty much a God. The woman knows women like no other woman I've ever come across. Her How To Be A Woman made me laugh hard, and made me well up a bit. It truly is an amazing book and everyone - women, men, girls, boys, chimpanzees - should read it. It is legitimately that good.

The Casual Vacancy, however, bored me so much I thought it would be thing that finally ended my life. Harry Potter was a gigantic part of my childhood (90s child cliché) and I had such high expectations that J.K. Rowling would continue to be a part of my adult life. Oh, how wrong I was. It's not that the book was bad - it could have been a great story - it's just that it was so dull. And so forced. We get it, Jo, you're writing for grown ups now, but the vulgarity and sweary bits felt so forced. This Potterhead thinks that if the manuscript had been sent anonymously to publishers then it would've been promptly sent back (provided she had included a stamped, self addressed envelope in the mailing). Such a disappointment.

So, as I said, I had some bullying happen to me on the internet this week. It got my close family all up in arms and had me seriously questioning how certain people managed to even enter my life, never mind remain in it long enough to gang up on me like a pack of feral ferrets. But after letting them air their sordid views, I promptly blocked them, alerted them that one more mention of me on their Timelines would force me to involve the police, and got about with my life.

The feral ferrets (I might trademark that) did not completely ruin my week. Quite the contrary... They've inspired me. I'll be taking part in NaNoWriMo this year, but I'm also doing an October version. Yep, two novels before December 1st. And the feral ferrets have literally written the nasties in both novels. So much inspirations, so much material to use. Talk about making the best out of an awful situation!

An anaemic person is naturally tired. An anaemic person who works is so tired they've almost mastered the art of sleeping with their eyes open, typing away into Google and answering phone calls. An anaemic insomniac just doesn't understand the concept of sleep. This anaemic insomniac has been a little bit under the weather this week and has done so much sleeping. I don't think I've slept this much since I was evicted from my mother's womb. It's a revelation and I quite like it. Yes, I'm still tired, but I feel oh so refreshed. I never knew sleep was so good. I shall definitely pencil in more sleeping time throughout the rest of the year.

Spark and Mettle
I had my first Spark and Mettle Star Track hangout last night. It was amazing. I did, however, spend far too much time talking about gold stars and Blue Peter badges, and had to momentarily bail out of the hangout to rescue my slightly suicidal cat, but overall I got a good vibe from it. I really am looking forward to the next six months of the programme. It feels like it's going to be (wait for it) awesome!

So that, my friends, is why I have been absent of late. I apologise. I shall scold myself if I ever refrain from posting again.

How have your weeks been?!

Sunshine and Showers Part 1

This week has just been utter chaos for me. But not chaos in a good way. More like "Oh my God this is where I die. Please, my minions, prepare my funeral for me whilst I get busy drafting up my eulogy." Melodramatic? Well, of course. But what would life be without a bit of exaggerated drama? I'll tell you what - boring. It would be boring as hell. And if there's one thing I don't like, it's boredom. So it pains me to say that I have been incredibly bored this week.

It all started on Monday (it actually started last week but it wasn't particularly noticeable then so we'll just fast forward to when it all really kicked in. Which would be Monday) when I thought I had succumb to that annual nastiness known as The Flu (TM). Muscles aching, neck swollen, slight temperature, the works. I travelled to work hating myself for not having had the flu jab yet, and spent my journey from work, well, passing out. And on this point, let me state that commuters are mean. A 21-year-old girl literally passes out on a bus and not one person said a thing. When did we get to a point in this country where people became so self-absorbed that they genuinely don't care one iota about someone else's well being? Commuters make me sick.

So, I stumbled off of the bus and stumbled my way home where I fell into bed and thought that was that. An early night would do me good, right? WRONG. I woke up in all kinds of messed up, genuinely fearing that if I dared to open my mouth it would be my last breath. It wasn't. I was dragged to the doctor by Lurch, who then sent me to A&E where I waited for six hours (SIX HOURS!) to be given a diagnosis. Kidney infection.

I don't know how many of you have had kidney infections, and if you've had one you'll truly recognise what I'm about to say here: Kidney infections hurt like hell. I have never known pain like it in my life. And I never wish to know pain like it again. So, like a good little pill popper, I've been downing the antibiotics, and painkillers, and drinking so much water it feels like my bladder is Little Niagra Falls. It's a nightmare.

Oh, and then I had some bullying at me on the internet. Jeez, those guys suck.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Some things...

So I've slightly neglected this poor little child of mine over the past week. I haven't meant to. I keep logging in, and going over all of the boring, blog-related stuff, and then just have no idea what to write about. I mean, I never usually have any idea what I'm going to write about, but now it just feels more and more obvious that I have nothing to write about. Maybe it's time to face it - I'm just not that interesting anymore! (I know, I know... it's heartbreaking)

So, I'm sure you're all positively bursting to know what I've been up to lately? No? Well I'm going to tell you anyway.

Star Track
First thing's first, I posted a little while ago about the Spark+Mettle Star Track assessment day and how much fun I had there, and how it had really boosted my confidence, and all that jazz. Well it turns out I wasn't a complete doofus on the day because the wonderful Spark+Mettle people accepted me onto the Star Track programme. (Woo!)

I've had to set up a Tumblr as a part of the programme (I deserted Tumblr well over a year ago. It just depressed me too much, all those bloody Photoshopped "Inspiration" photos just make me despair). I was given a list of questions to answer and it was stated that I didn't have to answer all of them, but this is me after all so I went to town.

I apologise in advance for just how much I can ramble on with those questions.

I'll be posting about my Star Track experience on the Tumblr, but I will, of course, dump tons of stuff on this blog too. You lucky things!

Yes, work. As in, a real life job. A job that doesn't make me work at nights or over the weekend (the first time since I was fourteen! It's so weird not having to work on Saturdays!).

As with all new things, it's going to take a while to fully settle in and find my footing but I'm having a whale of a time so far. Also, I didn't realise it was possible to have so many nice people in one place at the same time. Seriously, everyone is so lovely and welcoming. It genuinely causes me to live in fear when I'm there. All that niceness is only going to end in the world imploding. Surely there's a rule that states at least one person must be a complete and utter dick in any work place? If there is, my place definitely didn't get the memo. Not that I'm complaining... I love a drama free workplace!

I read a lot. I know this. You know this. The people in Waterstones know this. But I've taken a step back from the historical books I've become addicted to in recent weeks and ran straight for the bandwagon with this...
I've had it on preorder with Waterstones for months but finally picked it up yesterday. I'm only a couple of chapters in and I'm not too sure what to make of it so far, but I'm incredibly optimistic. After all, this is the woman who gave me THAT Snape scene. You know what scene I'm talking about. I can't go into further details with the Snape scene because, to this day, even thinking about it leaves me on the verge of tears. Ms Rowling better not disappoint me with this one!

I really love Battersea. I wouldn't be able to live anywhere else in London. It's where I've lived for 21 long years. It's where I discovered ballet, reading and terrifying dogs. It's where I went to school (primary) and where I got my very first job, seven whole years ago. It's where my favourite family members live and it's home to my favourite London park. 

But if there's one thing I don't like about Battersea, it's the hoodrats and chavs that populate the area. Like seriously, it's an epidemic. Battersea is a breeding ground for absolute tosspots. I normally manage to avoid them by not sitting in parks after dark and not smelling of dog piss. They live in their happy little existence, and I live in my own one. But the fates decided it shouldn't stay that way.

Last night, our paths collided spectacularly.

I'm standing there in Asda, buying yet more yoghurt and post-it notes, when one delightful 16 year old decided that I was looking at her and began a delightful little confrontation that went as such:

"Why you looking at me for bruv?"

Bruv? BRUV? Do I look like her fricking brother? More importantly, do I look like a man? If I do, I'm heartbroken. But I was wearing a skirt last night so I'm pretty sure I didn't look like a male relative of hers.

After ignoring her appalling grammar for a good ten minutes, I eventually snapped. I said something along the lines of "cider's given you terrible wrinkles, m'dear" and waltzed off into the Battersea night to go home and make an amazing vegetarian curry. And when I say amazing, I mean amazing. Monuments will be erected in honour of how good that curry was.

It's been an eventful week and I'm pretty tired.

But it's been a great week (minus the hoodrat)

Let's see what the first week of October brings!

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Gmar Chatimah Tovah

L'Shanah Tovah to all of my Jewish readers!

To my non-Jewish readers, today is Yom Kippur. It began at 6:38pm this evening and will end tomorrow evening at 7:37pm (London times). For those who are unaware, I've posted briefly about Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur here but I'll go into a bit more detail now (however, not too much. Far more intelligent people have described it much better on the interwebs already)

Yom Kippur, commonly referred to as the Day of Atonement, is the holiest day of the year for Jewish people. The day represents an opportunity to repent for all the sins committed in the previous year and is a time to ask forgiveness. It is marked by most Jews (including myself) with a 25-hour fast. Other restrictions include refraining from bathing, perfumes and wearing leather shoes, amongst other things.

It is an incredibly important day for all involved, and a difficult day. I may not be at my best today, but I'll try to fire on all cylinders.

May I wish you all a deep and meaningful Yom Kippur.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Forget your troubles come on get happy...

Making me happy this week:

Being invited onto the Star Track programme.

Writing and receiving letters - much nicer than email!

The leaves changing.

Laughing until it hurts.

Getting really nice feedback on this blog...

...which helped to secure a job for me (Woo!)

Hearing my favourite song randomly.

Singing voicemail messages.

Wishing on fallen eye lashes.

Rolo and Chocolate Orange cupcakes.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

A trip down the reading rabbit hole...

A trending topic on Twitter grabbed my attention this afternoon. #BooksIGrewUpWith. I'd barely been on Twitter five minutes and had already fired off a diverse list of books that I grew up adoring, and still read and love to this day. I realised as I was furiously tweeting that reading has always been a large part of my life and has shaped me as a person far more than I had realised.

I learned to read when I was two. My first book was the wonderful Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. Something about Max's magical adventure enthralled me, and as I looked back at the mound of children's books I still own I realised that pretty much all of my favourite books as a child featured some sort of magical adventure.

There was, of course, the Harry Potter series (I'm guilty of adhering to 90s kid clichés!) as well as the wonderful books set in a mystical, imaginative world where lions talk and beavers have a mothering instinct (and also, Turkish delight is the nectar of the gods). Dr Seuss features pretty prolifically in my childhood treasure trove of books, sitting prettily alongside Mr Roald Dahl. And then there is, predictably, Alice's Adventures In Wonderland. The book that I'm pretty sure turned me into the creative, imaginative daydreamer I am today. (I'm not sure I've gone longer than a week without speaking of Alice In Wonderland in some form online)

I'll find the right entrance one day.

I have my mother to thank for my love of literature. Like my grandfather, my mum is an avid reader and always encouraged my reading habit as a child. She would discover new books for me, tolerate me trying to throw myself down every rabbit hole I could find as a child, and would listen to me creating additional chapters for the books I loved the most.

I'm not really sure there's a greater gift a mother (or father) can give. The love and respect for literature has followed me around for 19 years now, and I'm certain it's the reason I love writing so much. Maybe I'll never create a world as magical as Wonderland or Hogwarts, nor as enchanting as Narnia, and I'll probably never figure out where the Wild Things reside, but I can continue to daydream. I love and appreciate my mum so much for starting me off on such a magical path in life and I know wholeheartedly that if I ever have children, they'll have a library full to the brim of old and new classics and I'll encourage the love of reading in them. I think I owe it to the great minds who had a hand in raising me.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Sisterly Love

For the first two years of my life, I was a happy little only child. Merrily singing along to Funny Girl and playing with my dog without a care in the world. Then, aged two years and eight months (we must be precise) my whole world was turned upside down. I became a big sister.

Suddenly, I found myself feeling like an adult. An actual, real-life adult. Except I was two and barely knew what a baby was, never mind knowing what an adult did or felt like. But there I was, ready to be the best big sister in the world.

Me and Ruby (yes, she's had that name for 18 years. Long before the hipsters jumped on it) were very close as kids. We've influenced each other quite a bit (I've found myself drawn to sketching, which is her thing, and she's found herself drawn increasingly to ballet, which is my thing) and annoyed each other countless times.

Growing up as a big sister has definitely moulded my personality: I'm a forceful, domineering individual who is also fiercely protective and determined to ensure no one hurts my baby sister. I received a further boost to my Best Big Sister pride last November, when my mother crazily gifted the family with this...

Daisy is an amazing addition to the family. It's quite interesting to see how her personality is being moulded by her big sisters (she's loud, dramatic, and incredibly vain. At ten months old!) and I look forward to seeing her grow into her own person. 

It's huge fun and hard work being a big sister. I'm nowhere near ready to be a mum, but I'll never get bored of being a big sister.

And seriously, don't I just have two insanely beautiful little sisters?!

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Happiness is...

Realising how much love and excitement I can fit into two years.

McDonald's toffee sundaes.

The amazing dream I had about Wonderland last night (I will find that rabbit hole!)

The beginning of Autumn - my favourite season.

Late night talks with Lurch about our totally amazing futures.

Singing my heart out to the Chicago soundtrack at 7am.

Writing letters.

Reading about dinosaurs.

Early morning yoga.

Hot chocolate.

Spark + Mettle

Today, I was fortunate enough to be invited along to an assessment day with the wonderful people at Spark and Mettle for their Star Track programme. It was an unusual day - the mere word 'assessment' had me fearing all sorts of grillings - but it was surprisingly engaging and productive.

I've been struggling all day to remember where I first heard about the programme, and I can't pin down the exact details, but I'm sure it was on Twitter somewhere (since I am always on Twitter). I wasn't fully prepared to apply, fearing that it would be an absolute waste of time - but I did, and I'm so glad I did.

The programme was created to help less privileged young people figure out their dream career. The team - who are called agents (yes, they're that awesome) - act as mentors to the young people, to help them map and launch their ideal future. They're big on flourishing and developing young people and all of it just seemed so exciting to me.

The assessment day filled me with dread - and didn't get off to a great start when I got stuck on a bus in Westminster for half an hour, mentally planning ways to ruin the day of the people who closed Lambeth Bridge - but the team managed to shake off my fears almost instantly. There was a quick "speed networking" activity, which was followed by a group activity, and then one-to-one interviews, and personal pitches. Oh, and tons of free flavoured water. Anyone who gives me free flavoured water is an absolute rockstar.

It seems like an insane amount to fit into four hours, but the day flowed naturally. I met some incredibly innovative and inspiring people and if this is as far as my involvement goes with the programme then I'm glad I was able to meet such an awesome group of people. I also realised I'm not totally awful at public speaking (but boy is there work still to be done there!) so that's one great big massive bonus.

I have absolutely no photos of today (sorry!) but here is the amazing logo for you to daydream at.

(C) Spark + Mettle
More information about Star Track can be found here and the Spark + Mettle info is all contained here.

I honestly cannot recommend this amazing programme more. They truly do have something to fit everyone. Check it out!

Two years

A lot can happen in two years. Two years ago...

  • A devastating earthquake struck Haiti.
  • The Eyjafjallajökull volcano erupted and caused air travel chaos across Europe.
  • The vuvuzela was introduced to the world at the 2010 World Cup (which Spain won)
  • Wikileaks Mania began.
  • We said goodbye to Norman Wisdom, Tony Curtis, Alexander McQueen, Corin Redgrave, and many, many more.
  • And this man was an absolute stranger to me...

But then, on September 15th 2010, he walked into my life, and I'm so glad he did.

We've had a tough time, with some truly awful moments, but we've also had plenty of amazing times. It's been a fun, exciting time and I've had so much fun. I've learnt a lot from him and I hope that at least one of my little lectures has sunk into his brain. He's definitely contributed to the person I am today.

 Two years is a long time, but it's gone so quickly. 

This is the first ever picture of us together as a couple.
I don't know why we look so miserable.