Planning In 2016

Planning for 2016 has a theme of orange and black.
The Future Is Bright... The Future Is Orange!

I was gathering together my planning 'equipment' for 2016 - just a few bits I had accumulated over the past couple of months; some review items that I had saved, a couple of pens that I wanted to start using, notebooks that I had already used and wanted to continue using and a few accessories that needed using up (first world problems for a stationery addict...).

It wasn't until I flat laid all the items for an Instagram picture that I realised I'd unintentionally created a colour theme and I was rather enjoying it.

The Hobonichi Techo is going to be my main diary that I carry around with me (I'll explain why I have moved into a Hobonichi in a minute and I talk about it in more detail in the video). I've managed to switch to a smaller planner because I'm now in a job that I can leave at the office, i.e. no planning or updating at home (*phew*) and I have a desk diary that stays there. I'm still in love with the whole Travellers Notebook system that I trialled but I'm on a mission to trim down what I carry around with me and make everything more compact. I'm totally aware that doesn't look like it from the header picture but, trust me, this is minimal for me.

The orange Filofax notebook has no purpose yet but I think I'm going to use it to jot down different types of blog posts and video ideas - this will stay on my desk in my home office along with the orange highlighter and the orange fineliner.  I have a little plastic zip pocket tucked inside the front of my Hobonichi cover which holds page markers, paperclips and the mini notepad and sticky notes, then the Hobonichi is held closed with the black fineliner through the pen loops. I always have a small notebook to hand for lists and general jottings which I can then transfer over into my regular diary because I'm a neat freak hence the pocket notebook. Word.Notebooks already embrace the bullet journal system with their pre-printed page design so this fits neatly into my needs and wants.

So, the Hobonichi Techo... I've been trying to find a diary system that works for me and I was going to create my own after hacking a notebook (I'll leave links at the end if you want to have a look) but time, money... y'know! A Hobonichi offers all that I need - monthly, weekly and daily planning spaces - and, at A6-ish size, it's small enough for me to carry around in my handbag.  The main section of the diary is a day-on-one-page on which I can bullet journal and also (the important bit) plan ahead using a bullet system. It's been hard finding a pen that doesn't bleed through the fairly thin paper but I'm finding the fineliner is working perfectly. It does mean that I've had to retire my J Herbin ink rollerball from everyday use but it's now on my desk to use in the other notebooks. 

I've left some links for you down below if you want to have a look at any of the items that I've mentioned. Please do watch the video which is a bit of an in-detail show-and-tell of my planning system then I'd love to hear how you are going to stay focused and scheduled in 2016.  I may even have to adapt my own system if you have fantastic ideas! 




Filofax refillable notebook (review here) | Hobonichi planner from Pocket Notebooks | Hobonichi cover from Etsy | Word.Notebook from Pocket Notebooks | shockproof Samsung phone case from Amazon | orange 'Things To Do' sticky notes from The Worksfineliner pens from The Works | orange highlighter, one of a pack of four from The Works | orange mini notepad - part of a Crown Mill stack from Bureau Direct

As an aside, and just so you know that my excessiveness continues when it comes to planning, I do have another couple of planners on the go.  I am using the Stigu Planner for my blog and video planning and the Parent Planner from Jump! Mag for household and meal planning. Reviews for each of these planners are here

Here are those promised related videos I mentioned earlier:

  • Travellers Notebook Set Up (with notebook hack) - on YouTube 
  • Notebook with Bullet Journal hack - on YouTube 


Why Is Eddie Izzard Dressed As A Woman?

twitter, James Jordan, Eddie Izzard, discussion, transvestite, cross-dressing


I was just casually watching television on Sunday night - laptop on my knee as per usual, waiting for the final of The Apprentice to start when that tweet scrolled through my timeline (yes I follow James Jordan - feel free judge me because I deserve it - however, he does offer good commentary on Strictly Come Dancing). Anyway, I couldn't help but reply to him, wondering if it was a badly placed 'joke' to start off with but it so obviously wasn't. 

Quite surprisingly, James replied to my aghastness so I expanded further, explaining that (a) he had a world famous search engine at his fingertips if he chose to leave his Twitter app for a couple of minutes and that (b) Eddie Izzard has done a huge amount to bring cross-dressing awareness to the mainstream. I believe you have had to have had your head in a box not to have even even had Eddie Izzard on your radar at some point. 

I'm actually still waiting on another response from James but he continued being a total bellend by then tweeting "No! He was dressed in women's clothes... FACT! Fair play if that floats his boat" which lead me to asking who defines them as 'women's clothes' and having this image tweeted to me from a friend as supporting evidence:

twitter, James Jordan, Eddie Izzard, discussion, transvestite, cross-dressing


Other people continued the conversation with me, attempting to justify James' theory using Topshop and their "mens' clothing" and "women's clothing" sections which, if you are fairly closed minded, is probably a valid argument but remains a media-led way of marketing and does not, and should not, define the person who is wearing them. I lost the will to live when one person told me that they also hadn't known (in fairness, she was very young and said she'd asked her parents which is probably a better way to source the information needed) and another said, "You learn something from Twitter every day".

So where am I going with this?  I'm just so shocked that people use Twitter (or social media in general) as a form of education or as their one-stop-shop for obtaining information. I've seen people retweet articles from The Onion believing that they are true which probably means that I could spout all sorts of shite (some may say I already do) and be considered an oracle.  I've talked about this on many occasions before - we are lucky to have the internet at our fingertips and it doesn't just stop and start with a closed community following the 140-character spoutings of famous and non-famous people. Let's use this amazing tool to its full advantage rather than a place to be complete and utter uneducated wankers who express continued narcissism or who insult a whole community of people with just a few words in a tweet.

For those of you reading and still don't know who Eddie Izzard is or why he "dresses as a woman", you'd do really well to start here and then watch these.

Listography : Songs That Transport Me To A Particular Time Or Place

Listography,
I may have pestered Kate for a while to provide another Listography prompt (I love them so much - they give me the inspiration I need to get out of a writing funk most of the time) and then when she shared one I got all busy and put it to one side 'to do later'.  Anyway, this is my 'doing things later' moment.

This Listography is all about songs that transport me to a particular time or place which is very similar to my own Soundtrack To My Life series (quick plug: this is starting again in 2016 so get your choices in if you want to be involved). Music is a very evocative language to me; almost all my favourite tracks are connected to memories for one reason or another so to narrow it down to just five is nigh on impossible unless I choose a theme within a theme. So I've decided to select the tracks that send me back to my teenage years.

Tiffany - I Think We're Alone Now 

A classic track from the late 1980's but, because of the 'dance' that Tiffany does in the video, many hours were spent in my friend Tracy's bedroom trying to perfect the little hand jive thing that was going on (one under the jaw, one up by the cheek, two under the jaw, one up by the cheek, one under the jaw, two up by the cheek, and repeat whilst twisting on your toes without bashing your heels together - try it... it's not that easy to master). Most of my final year of high school was spent, not revising for my GCSE's but learning dances from music videos and films.

Queen & David Bowie - Under Pressure

I was about fourteen or fifteen years old and was being introduced to Queen from many sources. I had a boyfriend that lent me his treasured Queen Greatest Hits cassette tape (I've still got it), my aunt bought (and played on repeat) Freddie Mercury's solo album (see more below) and another boy that liked me gifted me (for reals this time) the Under Pressure vinyl after playing it to me over the phone. The reason I chose the Under Pressure track is because I still remember that phone call - I was sitting on the stairs in the hallway of my parent's house, listening to this song being played in the background whilst the lad tried to convince me to go to the cinema in the next town with him that night.

Freddie Mercury - Mr Bad Guy

My aunt was a huge influence in my life. Whatever she said, I trusted or believed.  She was my favourite uncle's second wife and was exactly 11 years older than me and 11 years younger than him. It was perfect, especially when the teenage angst hit as she was always the one that could make me see reason.  She was the only person I knew that had Freddie's solo album, Mr Bad Guy, and she made me a bootleg cassette copy so that I could listen to it on repeat. I still know this album word for word and each song takes me back to the chats we used to have and the way in which she helped me through those teenage years.

Freda Payne - Band of Gold

There were only three pubs in the village where I grew up and the one near the boatyard was where I got my first bar job. I hung out there quite a lot with my friends and it's also the place where I met my husband. There was a jukebox in the pool room and one day someone selected one of the two Elvis tracks listed.  This song came on instead and it became our anthem.  I loved it so much that I had the local record shop hunt down a (vinyl) copy of the single down for my collection. Every time I hear this I remember that bunch of friends that took me from awkward teenager to adulthood in so many ways. Weirdly, I later found out this track was Number 1 in the charts when my parents got married. Ironic!

Candy Flip - Strawberry Fields Forever

When I met my husband (in 1990) we used to go out to a lot of raves.  Our 'quiet time' was spent driving out to random places without a care for where we were going or what time we were going to get back. We stumbled upon a field one day, parked up and just chilled out with a couple of joints. This song was on a CD or the radio in the car at the time and we christened that field our own 'Strawberry Field'.
Living is easy with eyes closed 
Misunderstanding all you see 
It's getting hard to be someone 
But it all works out 
It doesn't matter much to me 


Let me know if you've got a song that transports you back to a specific time or place - or you could even join in with Listography yourself. Find all the other stories linked over at Kate's blog


The Big Cheese Christmas Special (inc. Wit's End Christmas Special)

The Big Cheese, podcast, radio, quiz, Christmas
Do you remember that time that I had my own quiz show on a community radio station? It all came to an abrupt end due to time constraints and recording logistics but it has always been on the back burner, waiting for a time to come to life again.

Not so long back, one of the original team members and show producers asked if I'd like to be a part of a Christmas recording of his own radio show - Wit's End - and, if there was the opportunity, to record a one-off special of The Big Cheese.  So we sorted some dates out and some willing participates and got both recordings 'in the can' in November.

For first time listeners, The Big Cheese is a regular cheesy quiz show with Christmas-related questions that aren't all that difficult (feel free to shout out the answers and let me know how you get on) and Wit's End is very much a satirical panel show. Both were huge fun to record and this was the first time that The Big Cheese had been recorded in front of a live audience. It gave it a particular ambience and reminded me of my love for being behind a microphone!

Huge thanks to the Korova Arts Cafe in Preston for allowing us to use their performance space for the evening. Here are both episodes for your aural experience.


A special festive recording of the popular radio quiz show, The Big Cheese. Recorded live at the Korova Arts Cafe in Preston, your host is Nickie O'Hara. Team members are Jane Hughes, Dale Godfrey, Scott Ruks and Adriano Petrylak. Programme Producer and Referee is Steve Franklin.




And a Christmas special of Wit's End. Recorded live at the Korova Arts Cafe in Preston, your host is Alison Holroyd. Team members are Jane Hughes, Dale Godfrey, Nickie O'Hara and Gary Cunliffe. Programme Producer is Steve Franklin.




Let me know what you think.  Oh and sorry for my abysmal singing in Wit's End. 17 minutes in, if you're interested (or needing to avoid it). 

Is Your Car Ready For Winter?

LV, Liverpool Victoria, insurance
I travel a fair distance to work each day and have to make sure that my car is in superb condition, especially during the winter when I'm driving to and from work in the dark. I've been working with LV= on their #carcareclub campaign to pull together a mini guide which will help you avoid a stressful breakdown. 

Get your car serviced

Regular car maintenance, on top of your annual MOT can help prevent car problems.  I know how to check my oil, water and tyre pressure but you could also get your car checked by a professional for a little peace of mind and then you can keep on top of it yourself.

Check your car battery

We use our heaters and lights more during the winter months so this will put extra strain on the battery.  If you haven't used your car in a while, you may need to recharge the battery.  If you need to replace your battery after a breakdown, it may be more expensive so shop around to find one that's good value.

Check your tyres

In the UK we don't have to change tyres in the winter but, as mentioned before, I know how to check my tyre pressure and carry a mini-pump at all times. It's worth checking them every couple of weeks as the drop in temperature can cause the pressure in the tyres to change.

Get under the bonnet

Again, it's always worth having a little crash course from someone who knows what they are doing so that you know how to check your oil and water (there are minimum and maximum levels) and ensure that you have the right mix of anti-freeze in your water.

Check your lights

They all should be clean and in full working order. Check your fog light and full beam, as well as  your hazard lights. These could be crucial in a breakdown situation.

Check your brakes

During the winter, your car's ability to stop in a shorter distance can significantly decrease if the roads are wet or icy. Your brakes should be kept in a good condition - if you're unsure, get that friendly professional to give them the once-over.

Check your wiper blades

Are your wiper blades squeaking? This usually emans that they are damaged and need to be replaced. Make sure your wiper blades and windscreen are clean and top up your screenwash (this needs anti-freeze in too!).

Have a winter car kit

Have a look at the picture to see what LV= advised that should be in your winter car kit.
#carcarekit, car care kit, Liverpool Victoria, LV=

  • Hi-vis vest
  • Torch
  • De-Icer
  • Heavy Duty Tow Strap
  • Ice Scraper
  • Blanket
  • Portable Charger

I keep all mine in a little zip-up bag in the boot of the car (it doesn't take up much room at all) along with a first aid kit

Get the right cover

Breakdown cover is very important, especially during the winter months so ensure your policy is up to date and alway carry your membership card and the breakdown company's phone number with you on your journey. 

If you are in any doubt about your car, please seek professional advice however I hope these top tips have been useful for you. Let me know in the comments if you have any to add.