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

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). 


The Ultimate Christmas Gift Guide 2015

Over the past few weeks I have been sourcing a few things that I thought would make great Christmas presents or stocking fillers.  Some of these items I've bought myself, some have been sent to me for review and some are things I've found whilst browsing on the internet and are very firmly on my own wish list.


christmas, gift guide, unusual gifts, ted baker, touchscreen gloves, aromatherapy, bento box, magazine, car care kit

Useful Gifts You Never Thought Of

I was sent a beautiful Ted Baker (sun)glasses case. When not in use it folds completely flat but its triangular shape means that it is big enough to hold my spare glasses, a contact lens holder and my cheap-and-cheerful sunglasses.  I keep this in my handbag all the time now and it is available from Qwerkity for £24.99.

I'm a huge fan of having calming scents wafting around the house so have an abundance of scented candles and my husband uses scented incense sticks however aromatherapy oils are my new go-to for diffusing and burning. I've been using a 14-piece set which comes with a 'recipe' booklet at £34.99 on Amazon from Essence of Arcadia however there is a 6-piece set available too which costs £16.99).

I have mentioned this before in my Things I Learnt In October post but I'm working with for the foreseeable future and decided to buy a 12-month magazine subscription of their choosing each for my dad and his wife (officially the two most difficult people to buy gifts for). I'm not even going to make the choice - I'm going to let them decide for themselves!

Rex London featured me on their blog earlier this year as one of their 21 Lucious Lifestyle Blogs (I KNOW...) and also sent me a little gift voucher to treat myself with. I picked up a few extra stocking fillers including some huge storage bags for the grandchildren's toys, a bento box and matching lunch bag for work and some extra bits of stationery which never goes amiss.  I always check our their sale section too as there's always a bargain or two to be had (mine was a retro flight bag for £2.95).

Do you know someone who drives long distances? How about getting them a car care kit or a breakdown kit to ensure they are safe whilst travelling?  I've got some ideas in my recent Is Your Car Ready For Winter? article and you can add lots of items into this little package for not a lot of money.

I found the perfect pair of gloves which will enable you to stay warm, stay stylish and stay connected. The double layered touchscreen gloves from Mujjo come straight from Holland and incorporate an extra layer made from wool to act as an insulator and a lining.  The updated design includes a leather wrist strap with a magnetic snap closure. Special pads on the fingertips of the gloves ensure that you can answer your phone (or even update your Facebook status) in the coldest of weather.

The Sports Section

I'm getting a bit more serious about my running now and have entered a few races. I came across RunClips which are the most genius way for you to attach your race number to your shirt without fiddling about with tiny safety pins (and no holes in your t-shirt).  Also, if you run a lot and need to carry medical or next-of-kin details then Tagnix are a great way to carry this information via a wristband or a clothing clip.

A recent discovery for me was Chaffree. Trust me when I say this; you'll soon know if you've got the wrong underwear on when exercising and these would be a welcome stocking filler for any fitness freak. I've been using the long leg knickerboxers and they are very comfortable and really do work! Top tip: they size up slightly large so go a size down when buying and they are also great for wearing under dresses.

My big splurge of the year is my Fitbit Surge. I have been using Fitbit devices for a couple of years now to measure my steps during the day and, via their app on my phone, monitoring my runs. I was looking for a runners watch - and there are a few to choose from out there - and found out that the Surge did everything I wanted it to, and more! It's expensive - £199 from their website or £179  from Argos - but it is an investment I wanted to make for my continued running journey and there are cheaper gadgets in the Fitbit family which all work with their app.

christmas, gift guide, unusual gifts, stationery, ohh deer, filofax, word notebooks, pocket notebooks, bureau direct, lz pencils, dotcomgiftshop,

For The Stationery Fans

I saw some fabulous Rick Astley 'rick-rolling' pencils on an Etsy shop called LZpencils. I'm not sure if they are still available but there are all sorts of other themed pencil sets on there. The shop/stock is based in the USA but there should be enough time for delivery if you get in quick!

I've been following Ohh Deer for a while but never really dug into their stock however these great day journals appeared on a couple of YouTube videos that I was watching and for £15 you can't really go wrong. I already have a Hobonichi as a personal diary for 2016 but I'm seriously considering this as my desk diary at work. I could also just buy everything on their website and die happy!

I've reviewed a number of notebooks this year. I have fangirled over Pocket Notebooks (the floral and skull Word. Notebooks are my favourite this year), discovered that Filofax now stock a ringless refillable notebook and that Bureau Direct sell the best thermo-sensitive journals ever (but sadly, not the sweary ones any more)!

Pampered Pets

I have reviewed a few Pawsome boxes and they are always really well thought out. These are essentially gift boxes for your dog (there is a Purrfect edition for cat lovers too) which contain about five or six toys and treats for your pooch. After filling in a questionnaire on their website, the Pawsome Box is geared to the size of your dog and can be bought as a one-off or as a monthly subscription. 

Geeks And Gadgets

I was looking for a new set of headphones to wear whilst out running but also whilst in bed when I listen to my podcasts and came across rechargeable  SoundPEATS wireless headphones on Amazon for £13.99. They link to your phone or device by bluetooth and are really lightweight but they also come with three different sizes of ear buds - a huge plus for me as I find that in-ear headphones almost always fall out of my ears! The controls are built into the neckband and the ear buds slot into the end of the neck band when not in use with a magnetic design. 

I am a huge lover of powerbanks (I have reviewed a few over on Geekalicious) for charging on the go and we use them for long days out and camping trips. My latest one is the silver Lumsing Grand A1 Plus 13400mAh which is really sturdy. What makes this one stand out from the crowd is that the shell is made from aluminium which fully protects the internal recharging system from damage. There is also added sleep protection which means that the LED charging lights shouldn't disturb you if using this powerbank at night.

Vloggers... you need the Flexible Mini Tripod in your life. I've just discovered this great camera accessory via the YT-Club and it resides close to hand. I can balance my big automatic digital camera on it for and it also comes with a mobile phone attachment and has all the usual angle adjustments. The flexible tripod legs mean that you can wrap it around almost anything to get those fantastic shotes. I have also used it as a 'selfie stick' by bending one of the legs out to use as a handle. Finally, it is really lightweight so won't add too much weight to your camera bag.

christmas, gift guide, unusual gifts, soundpeat, pawsome box, lumsing, powerbank, fitbit surge, runclips, tripod,


I'll be adding to this list over the next couple of weeks as I make more discoveries.  Stay tuned!! 


Change Your Life Online

We all know the internet is a powerful tool, in fact it is so powerful that it can be the catalyst for you to change your life. Whether you are looking to learn a new language, earn a little money or get in touch with people across the world, the internet has the power to make life so much simpler. Take a look at the infographic below to see how you could change your life online.

This is a featured post
For more details please view my disclosure policy


Spice Of Life Crochet Along - Finished Project

Back in September I was invited to a 'crochet along' Facebook group by Lesley from Black Sheep Wools (you may remember I reviewed one of their pattern books a while back which turned into a blanket project for my grandchildren) . I had no idea what a 'crochet along' was but it was exactly the right time for me to start a new project, especially one that would force me to complete it in small doses.  
SpiceOfLifeCAL, #SpiceOfLifeCAL

This pattern was designed by Sandra from Cherry Heart and the idea of a 'crochet along' is that the pattern is released in sections presumed to take an allotted amount of time (in this case, each section was released on a weekly basis). A couple of hours crochet time each evening, or a bit more at weekend, has kept me occupied and out of mischief for the past six weeks or so. 

SpiceOfLifeCAL, #SpiceOfLifeCAL

The whole project was released in six sections - an introduction, four pattern sections, then the border and finishing instructions - and Sandra has collated it all on her blog so you can also download the pattern and join in. The blanket is supposed to be completed in a variety of colours (hence the 'Spice Of Life' theme) but I decided to use just four colours. I bought the yarn from our local pound shop at 89p per ball (I know, go figure) and used a total of nine balls of yarn so this whole blanket has cost me £8.01

As I mentioned previously, I've only really created granny square projects in the past. With this SpiceOfLifeCAL I have learnt how to actually crochet in rows and I have mastered picking up the beginning and end of rows, I have worked out how to keep an even tension and learnt new stitches.  I definitely wanted to keep going to finish within a certain amount of time rather than it becoming just another WIP (work in progress). It is totally contagious and I'm now thinking that I'm ready for another blanket in the same pattern but a different colourway (I LOVE the yarn you can buy that's already multicoloured - that would look awesome) and maybe even one of the Attic24 ripple blankets...

Spice Of Life CAL, #SpiceOfLifeCAL


Are You More Than Just A Number?

For a while I've been on the peripheral of social media, just observing and taking it all in. Social media is a HUGE part of being a blogger. You know you can share a link across various media outlets to your latest musings and any number of people will come and read it; they may even share their own thoughts about what you wrote and then tell their own online network too. These ripples are different sizes for different people and for different reasons.

I've blogged here in this little corner of the internet since 2002. Blog posts from 2002-2009 were deleted (it's a long story, much regretted and I've written about it before) but if you go back through the existing archives, I like to think that I'm still blogging about the same things and in the same way: my thoughts, my words, my ideas. Moving some ramblings over to other blogs has worked however they are not updated as regularly or as competently as they should be or could be. 

The whole blogging (and now I include vlogging in this too) scene has changed. There has always been people telling you how to do it better and how to get your message to more readers or viewers. One single thought process can now be shared on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google Plus, Instagram, Tumblr... the list goes on. And then there is the expectancy to continue sharing over each platform just in case one of your readers wasn't online at the same time as you. How many times have you read an article online or watched a video on YouTube only to be reminded at the end to like/subscribe/follow for more thoughts in the future? A plea for acceptance and, to balance that out, a way to be disappointed if the numbers don't rise. 

As human beings we are driven by the need to be accepted and liked. Compliments create high self-esteem and confidence. All we have done is replace human interaction with a button on a screen. Hitting 'like' or 'heart' or 'favourite' takes one second of our time and whilst it validates the other person in their own mind, it also brings ourselves to the attention of that person. Look... I hit the attention-seeking button... I care about you.

I want you to watch this video. It's all over the interwebs at the moment so you've probably seen it but have you really listened to it? 

The announcement has been structured in a very clever way that makes you believe that this person is all about giving up social media and she encourages people not use social media for a week as an experiment in their own lives.  But wait... she has used social media to make this announcement and she requests that her followers contact her after their experiment to let her know how it went (and in subsequent videos she requests money from her followers because she now apparently can't afford to pay her rent now that she's stopped agreeing to take on sponsored content).  She also introduces a new website and vlogging series where she will be talking to the people who already connect with her. If she really was giving up social media, why not just close the accounts down and walk away quietly? I am convinced she knew that this would create waves across her community and create more attention and 'social approval' for her.  

If you have read anything I've written in the past, you will know that I totally champion the online world when it is used appropriately.  The modern way of living means that sometimes we are far away from our friends and loved ones and digital media provides us with a way to retain contact. Similarly, for those that are isolated for whatever reason, the digital world gives them a window to the world to connect with people. Regardless of whether we are a blogger or just someone who uses Facebook to keep in touch with their real-life friends in the comfort of our own homes, should we be reliant on social media networks to validate what we are doing?

What I do worry about is where it is all heading. I feel as though blogging and vlogging are on the brink of a massive bubble burst. There's not a lot of originality out there any more and the content ideas feel very saturated.  And whilst there is money to be made, the money is only available to a select few. Just as anyone can be a singer or an actor, there are only a small amount of people who make the big time because of the talent that they have and the steps in which they have taken to achieve it. The real stars are the ones who have longevity - not the 'famous for fifteen minute' people. However many thousands (or millions in some cases) of subscribers you have now, do you think they will be there to help you out of the shit if you need them? 

Over the past year, and without realising it until very recently, I have decided that the numbers are not important any more. I no longer have enough hours in the day to ensure that this content gets shared to all of the people all of the time. I cannot find space in my life to generate a Pinterest-worthy image so that this blog post can be shared on that platform. I do not have the camera/phone and light source to generate a picture for Instagram that presents a false image of me and my surroundings. I haven't actually been writing as much as I used to and I couldn't tell you how many subscribers I have on this blog because I haven't checked for about six months. I'm consciously not counting any more because I know that if someone enjoys reading my words, they will find a way to stay connected to me that fits in with their own life.  I can make it easy for them by providing them with ways in which to do that (hence the subscription options available) but I don't actively check the main statistics any more. This is not, and never was, and never will be, a main source of income for me, It was always about getting my point of view across and hoping some people would agree with me, some people would disagree with me and, somewhere in the middle, I might learn something new too. 

You (hopefully) connect with these words and the photos that I share because they feel real and they don't take up too much of your day.  I hope I make you think a little bit differently and spread a little enthusiasm

And before anyone mentions it... if you landed here via a social media share from me or anyone else, yes, I totally see the irony of it all. I gotcha in the end... 


Things I Learnt In October

Ok... so here we go with everything that I learnt in October. Feel free to share your own learning experiences in the comments.

If you share a lovely upbeat and slightly funny video on Facebook then one of your childhood heroes (in this instance it was Doris Pearson from Five Star) might 'like' it and comment on it.

Those posts you wrote about Back To The Future five years ago [BTTF1 | BTTF2] will come in useful one day. That day happened to be #futureday - 21st October 2015.  Still no bloody hoverboard though...

Back To The Future, #futuredate, 21st October 2015, BTTF

If you stay true to yourself and your blog you could get noticed and mentioned alongside a bunch of much younger, cleverer and more successful bloggers (and very famous vloggers). And that's lovely and gives you a much needed boost.

Choosing Christmas presents for those "difficult to buy for" people just got a whole lot easier with and their subscription service, You might want to check out their Hub too as there's some great *cough*mine*cough* articles on there.  *this includes an affiliate link* 

Friends will always help you almost solve a mystery especially when they have access to ancestry records.  And as I have the next week off work, I'm considering contacting the Museum of Wimbledon to see if they want the postcard in question for their records. What do you think?

[Here is the running section...]

Running your first ever 10k leaves you elated and wanting more even though you're bricking it for your first "race" next week. Note that the word 'race' will always be in inverted commas simply because it's only a 'race' if you think you can win. I prefer to call it A Challenge (no inverted commas).  

runclips, run clips,I'm currently logging my journey from 5k to 10k in a small journal. I bought it from the Pocket Notebooks website and upon hearing about the way in which I was using my Adventure Log from Word.Notebooks they invited me to write an article for their website. So I did (and you can read it here). I'm actually going to write the whole experience in more detail when I've finished so you can keep an eye out for that too.

Safety pins are so passé. RunClips are the new way to pin your race number to your shirt (I might be slightly behind the times with this but y'know... running and all that)!

[Here endeth the running section. It was very short this month.]

If you have a bit of spare cash, you should treat yourself to an Amazon voucher and add it to your own account. That way, when you see a new book that would look great on your Kindle you surprise yourself by having the money ready and waiting for it.  You can swap 'book' out for any treat that suits your fancy.

Dressing up at work to raise money for charity feels very much like World Book Day for adults... but without the books.  I frigging hate dressing up. 

My Video Of The Month stars... ME! I was asked by Hotter Shoes to show how I'd style their Loretta scarf so I teamed it up with my classic mac, a pair of black skinny jeans and the Briony riding boots - also from Hotter - and demonstrated three ways I like to wear my scarf in the Autumn/Winter months.

Next month I will include the story of the doppleganger.  Apparently everyone has a 'twin stranger' and I'm no exception. More on this story as it develops but you can hop on over to Facebook to have a quick look at this video that a friend shared on my timeline. It's caused quite a stir and I'm trying to get in touch with the girl in the video.  

So it's over to you again. What did you learn this month?


The Mystery Found In The Vintage Postcards Of London

Last year I was gifted a pile of vintage postcards, all of which depicted the sights of London. I came across them again last week when tidying my office space before taking photos and remembered that I'd never shared the mystery found within the vintage postcards.  When first looking through them, I turned each one over to read the description and tourist information, trying to find a print date (none available) and was really surprised to see that one was handwritten, stamped and postmarked.  It had actually been sent to someone.  

vintage, postcard, London, Tower Bridge

vintage, postcard, London,, handwriting, postmark, stamp, 1962, Wimbledon, Tower Bridge,

Postmarked Wimbledon, 9.45am, 17 JLY 1962, SW19
(and a stamp that was 2½ pence)

I was really sorry to hear the news on your P.C. Tried to phone you last night but no reply. How is the job going? and how about popping in one night (not Thurs or Sat). Do give me a ring. Love Audrey

Sent to
Miss V. G. Hawtin
54 Leopold Road

Doesn't it sound remarkable that someone would send a postcard to another person even though they live in the same area? I started to fantasise about who the two people were; maybe mother and daughter but then why would she sign off as "Audrey"? What does "P.C." stand for in the pre-computer days that this postcard was sent? Did the picture of the open Tower Bridge have meaning or was it just that it was a choice between spare postcard instead of a notelet to send a quick note.

This very much has a 'message in a bottle' feel to it. Wouldn't it be wonderful to track down the sender and the recipient? 

It also got me thinking about our lines of communication today.  I'm more inclined to send someone a text or a message via Facebook than write them a note.  Do we spend as much time tweeting and emailing our friends as our modern ancestors spent writing letters to their nearest and dearest? I don't think we share written correspondence as much as we should and when I received an actual postcard from Tanya in July I realised that I need to be more proactive with this myself. So all those little notelets and one-off cards from stationery boxes that I've saved for 'a special occasion' are going to get an airing and I'm going to start sending messages to friends... just because I can. 

Vintage Postcards of London


Soundtrack To My Life - Vicky

Soundtrack To My Life

I'd like you to meet Vicky who is sharing her Soundtrack To My Life today.  I've followed her for some time, marvelling at the way she embraces her disability and life in a wheelchair crossed with her interest in beauty and fashion, alongside being a very busy mum! I don't know how she does it!!

I love all the tracks that Vicky has chosen and the story behind each of her selections is very personal. So, for now, it's over to Vicky...


DJ Sammy - Heaven

For my daughter. Although I love the Bryan Adams version, this version was out when my daughter was born nearly 13 years ago. I was listening to the radio and holding her when it came on the radio and the lyrics made me shed tears of joy.

Snow Patrol - Run

This song reminds me of a very important time in my life when I finally worked up the courage to leave my abusive ex husband. It was the start of a whole new life for me.

Alanis Morissette - Ironic

The soundtrack to my youth, when Alanis topped the charts with one of her cheerier songs and completely misunderstood the definition of ironic. Now THAT'S irony!

David Guetta - Titanium

Because I am wiser and stronger than I've ever been. Shoot me down, but I won't fall - I'm a strong independent woman. Those are the lyrics, right? ;-)

Wilson Philips - Hold On

Though this song falls into the category of 'cheesy pop' I really love it's uplifting message. It's helped me get through just one more day when I thought that carrying on was impossible.


Soundtrack To My Life
You can find Vicky speaking very openly on her blog and you can follow her on Twitter as @curlywurlygirly and on Facebook.

Read and listen to all previous Soundtrack To My Life entries by clicking on the mix tape to the right or follow the Pinterest board. If you want to participate please complete this form and I'll be in touch very soon.


[Review] The Filofax Refillable Notebook

Regular readers will know I'm a bit of a notebook addict; there's my BOAT (Book Of All Things) for a start and then my recent obsession with pocket notebooks and Midori-style planning systems. All this probably stems from high school when were were provided with two types of planners to use throughout the year. The first was a Homework Diary that was forged by me signed by my mum each week to verify that I'd completed all tasks set for that week. The second was our "jotter" which was an exercise book that was used to take notes during lessons. We were allowed a new jotter when it was full but if it was "lost" (or you'd fallen out of love with the boy who's name you'd doodled all over the front of it) you were allowed to buy a new one for 10p from the school librarian.

So now I'm a bit of a notebook obsessive. There's always a reason to have a notebook, whether it be for a bullet journal, a craft planner, a sketch book, and so many more ideas that we all have.  Also attentive readers will remember me saying that I had completely moved out of my Filofax so are probably now wondering why I'm writing about another Filofax product.

Filofax Refillable Notebook in orange, collage,

Filofax A5 Notebook 

The goalposts moved when I found out that Filofax have introduced a range of notebooks, organisers and eAccessories in glorious neon colours. As well as the notebook that I've been reviewing there is a Saffiano organiser and a Saffiano iPad organiser - both in the colour Pear.

The Filofax notebook has a leather-feel cover and a wire spine and closes with a colour-coordinated elastic. It comes with the traditional Filofax bookmark/ruler, 56 pages of 100gsm lined paper and four dividers - one of which has a front pocket - and an additional refill pack with four pages of squared paper and four pages of blank paper. All pages and dividers are punched and cut in line with the spiral spine so they can be added, removed and repositioned with ease.  And because of the design of the spine, the notebook opens flat and also folds completely back on itself. 

The notebook currently retails at £12.99 and the refill packs are priced from £2.99 for 32 pages (this is the A5 price - the pocket size is slightly cheaper).  This does make it a high-end priced 'notebook' so if you write a lot then you may find yourself purchasing refills very regularly. 

I haven't yet thought of a project to use for this notebook yet (any suggestions?) but there are two things that I totally love about it already. (1) you can't actually house many pages in it (the 64 leaves plus four dividers and ruler make it totally full) therefore it won't be too hefty to carry around and (2) the cover feels sturdy so once you've used the pages and need to refill it then the cover will withstand the test of time.  I'll definitely come back to this and revisit it in, say, a year. 

Filofax Refillable Notebook in orange, collage,

I was provided with a Filofax A5 Notebook for the purpose of this review
For more details please view my disclosure policy

The History Of Strictly Come Dancing

If you follow me on Twitter, you'll know that I'm a huge fan of Strictly Come Dancing and I provide a running commentary every Saturday night. It's like stepping inside my head for the duration of the show.

If you're a true super-fan like me you'll be able to remember each of the winners and will, of course, have your favourite dances.  For me, you can't beat a good Argentine Tango but the Rumba is always a bit embarrassing to watch. it's always interesting to see who is shining though and who really does have no rhythm whatsoever.

Knowing how much I love the show, Great British Bingo sent me this fantastic infographic which displays the "History of Strictly" and is full of really interesting little factioids from the past eleven series.

Once you've browsed it you can tell me... who  has been your favourite couple EVER and who do you think is going to win this year?

strictly come dancing, infographic, facts, #strictly

This is a sponsored post.
For more information please see my disclosure policy


A Tour Around My Home Office

desk and accessories, stationery

Ok, I warn you now, this is going to be a move away from my normal style of blog post and it's going to be very picture heavy. I've been meaning to do a tour of my home office for a while but just never got round to it. I commandeered the guest bedroom a while back so that I had a space to work in when I was building my digital consultancy service last year. I also wanted to have a desk to leave stuff on so that I could go back to it.

spiral bound notebooks, purple journals

Most of the time, having this space works perfectly. I don't clutter the rest of the house up with my knick-knacks and I have plenty of room to keep all my stationery, my craft stuff and my handbags (don't ask...) and I've now acquired a sewing machine, keeping it up here means that I don't have to drag it onto the kitchen table when I want to use it.

Rexel purple notebooks and journals

The decor in the office/guest bedroom was kept fairly neutral but I have tried to inject colour into it in various ways. I'm no Anna Ryder-Richardson so nothing really matches but I always try to surround myself with accessories that I'll actually use! You may notice an injection of purple around my desk. I've got some great products from Rexel here at the moment which really brighten the place up.

Shall I take your round the room? It's fairly small (just 9' x 7') and it adjoins our main bedroom. At one point we were going to convert it into an en-suite but bringing the necessary pipework from the back of the house to the front of the house was going to prove too costly.

bed, storage area, office chair, wombles, Jenny Maizels,

The first picture is taken from the doorway. Above the bed (in the alcove) are six shelves full of videos that we will probably never watch again. There are box-sets and rare ones and we just can't bring ourselves to clear them out.  On the wall is my cork noticeboard. At the moment I have my race numbers on there and some personal keepsakes (cards, notes, postcards).  To the left of the picture (out of sight) is the whiteboard I use for day-to-day reminders and for subliminal messages when filming my YouTube videos.

I have the bed across the far wall and this is used as a storage area when no-one is staying over.  The bed is covered with the first blanket I ever crocheted and behind the chair is a basket full of my handbags. Also on the bed are two collapsible boxes with a London Underground print on them (two for £8 from The Works). One of these boxes contains all my running accessories (hi-vis vest, The Whistle Of Power, bum bags, hats, gloves, et al) and the other is full of stationery items. On top of these sit another box which contains all my sketching accessories from my Jenny Maizels Sketchbook Club

There are two cushions on my chair. The first one is - coincidently - a Jenny Maizels "rock" cushion which I won in a competition (there's also a 'pop up' card with London landmarks on the noticeboard which was in the same prize package). The second cushion is a pillow but the pillowcase is my own original Wombles pillowcase from when I was a little girl. Yes, really!! It's almost as old as I am!!

office desk

Moving round to the desk, it's actually full of useful bits and pieces which are all in handy little pots and holders. My large notebooks are in a file holder from Ikea (I rescued four of these from Mum's house) and then I have a neat little filing tray from WHSmith which currently holds all my pocket notebooks, my BOAT (Book Of All Things), my external hard drive and a few other bits and pieces. Next to this are two little compartmental boxes for stationery bits and pieces such as my mini post-it notes and stickers, the washi swatch book, paperclips, bookmarks, stamps, bulldog clips, etc. I also have space for my laptop and my brand new adult colouring book and pencils from Derwent. You can also see the orange Filofax notebook that I'm reviewing at the moment and my Runners World magazine (ironically, the 'stay injury free' edition).

office desk

At the other end of the desk I have my sewing machine and my daylight lamp (which is GREAT for lighting when I'm recording the previously mentioned YouTube videos). You can also see my pots (three of them... all ordered in a specific way) full of pens, pencils and other writing implements, my mason jar full of washi tape and my Sonny Angel - a Yan To exclusive. There's also a USB charging unit tucked away there and my sewing maching (only on the desk for the purpose of the photograph - it's usually covered up and on the floor when not in use).

Just in front of the radiator are two wicker hamper baskets. One holds all my 'spare' yarn which is awaiting new projects and all my cross-stitch bits and pieces and the other houses all my Filofaxes and inserts that aren't currently in use.

My printer is balancing on one of the 'emergency chairs' that only get used when there are more than four people eating at meal times (i.e. Christmas). I should really invest in a little storage unit or have a look for something in a charity shop but I've just not got round to it yet. I've also got my Snowball microphone and my sound cancelling head phones here too.

wall art, running medals

This wall... well, I know things don't balance to the eye but it's a work in progress. The picture on the right was a present from my daughter. It's a canvas of a photo I took of her and my two granddaughters on St Annes beach. It's my favourite picture of the three of them and also her favourite picture of the three of them; it was a click-and-go picture one afternoon after we'd been for a walk on the beach. In the middle is a picture of a sunrise taken on 29th July 2009. It wasn't taken by me but that date is significant because it was the day this blog was reborn and is a reminder of a date important to me.

You can also see a collection of my medals from various running events.  They are currently hanging on a single nail but I have my eye on a proper metal medal-and-race-number rack and I'm undecided whether to treat myself or request that one of my children buy it me for Christmas. 

shelves, books, knick-knacks, keepsakes, memories

I have two shelves in this room. You can't seen the top one but it holds A4 files full of my old Open University work, a HUGE purple folder full of receipts and (paid) bills, folders full of my mum's old writing (I keep meaning to blog more about this but here's a taster) and a box full of never-used gadgets and old mobile phones. The shelf you can see fell off a few weeks ago but has now been screwed firmly back into place. It houses files stuffed full of trip memories such as concert tickets, blogger event memoirs and magazines that have my articles printed in them. The books are all my 'business' research and information guides and the picture that you can hardly see is of me riding a quad bike in Tunisia (it's actually a great picture of me - I should have it in a proper frame). The rest of the shelf is a place for all my personal ornaments; presents from the children and grandchildren which have "Mum" or "Nana" on them, a Tatty Teddy 40th birthday photo clip, a couple of snow globes and some holiday souvenirs.

I'm very grateful that I have a place to escape to if I want and somewhere that I can be creative and/or just walk out of and shut the door behind if need be. Do you have a special corner of the house just for you? 

A Tour Around My Home Office, desk tour, spare room,


Things I Learnt In September

If you want a work/office/hangout space in Manchester then hunt out Ziferblat on Edge St. I had to attend a Really Important Meeting this month and it was held here. The concept is amazing; everything is free (refreshments, wifi, etc) apart from the time you spend inside and for this you are charged 6 pence per minute. There is also meeting room hire which follows the same principle. Oh and I shared a picture of the clock wallpaper in one of the meeting rooms there. My friends were divided. What do you think?

Ziferblat, London, running, 5K, crochet, CAL,
My addiction to London stays strong. This month I have ordered bunch of fridge magnets and three scarves that have London-esque prints on them from Amazon. The magnets sit on the radiator next to my armchair and they hold mini reminder notes for the morning or crochet instructions so that I can glance up and see them. Also, I've always wanted to wear a stylish or jaunty scarf and now I'm addicted to little 'how to' videos like this one and this one and especially this one.

I have lost an inch in height. I've not been to my diet group for an awfully long time so I wondered what type of impact my running had had on my body. I can see shape changes but wasn't too sure about the weight loss/gain. Anyway, I trundled along to the digital scale at the back of Boots and the little printout you receive from the machine displays a fair amount of information (most of which made me feel a bit shitty but hey, it's not about the numbers for me any more...). I was measured at 5' 6" when I was younger but now I am apparently 5' 4.9". I'm gutted. I want my inch back!!

Dooce is giving up blogging. I have mixed feelings about this and was going to write a big old post about it (let me know if you want me to expand on my thoughts) because Heather Armstrong was *the* one and only parent blogger who was paving the way when I reinvented this blog back in 2009. She currently bemoans her 'blogging fame' and the negative side of having shared much of your family life online but fully admits that blogging in her own unique and open way has brought many opportunities. Regardless of the whys and wherefores, there has only ever been one person in control of what words she has put out there on the internet - and that's herself.

[here's the running section...]

I'm reading the best book ever. I'm so grateful to my mate, Claire, for recommending Running Like A Girl. It's like Alexandra Heminsley has taken the words out of my head and put them in this book. Ok, I'm not running a marathon and have no intention of doing so but the way in which she talks about all aspects of learning to run is exactly what I've been going through. This is the book I would have written if I'd have got in there first.

I now know why people battle through injury. I'm taking a few days out at the moment because of Plantar Fasciitis (inflamation of the tissue around the heel bone). I've been putting a lot more effort into my running programme recently and have been pounding the streets and the park four times a week and have a core fitness dance class once a week too. I'm taking advice, doing some additional stretches and hoping for the best because...

I'm working my way up to a 10K race. Well, I say 'race' - it's not really going to be because there isn't a hope in hell that I'll win so I see this as a personal challenge. I'm already on week 4 in my progression programme and, after a chat with my running buddies, some of whom have already completed 10K runs, I realised I needed something really challenging to aim for, especially after completing Run Preston at the weekend (I'm smiling on the inside, I promise) and getting a Personal Best time. So, Lytham Windmill 10K in November - I'm coming to get you!

Volunteering at Parkrun is just as rewarding as running the race (in a different way). Because I was racing this weekend (again, very loose use of the word 'racing' there) I decided not to participate in our local weekly Parkrun but I wanted to volunteer just as others do when I'm running. I was given the job of scanning barcodes and totally crapped myself each time I bleeped someone in just in case I'd got it wrong (the results information is so important to the majority of runners) but I got the opportunity to meet almost every single runner on the day. Totally worth it.

[the running section is now over]

I'm very much enjoying participating in a 'crochet along'. What with all the running that's going on at the moment I haven't had much time to pick up any of my crafting projects however, I was invited to a CAL (crochet along) group where you receive weekly instructions to complete a section of a blanket. It means that you can complete each section in a reasonable amount of time, share photos with other group members, ask for advice and support and generally chat with a bunch of like-minded people whilst being creative. I'm loving the way my colours are sitting at the moment and I'm just about to start on the next section What do you think?

We'll finish on my Video Of The Month (H/T). Bohemian Rhapsody is probably one of the most well-known songs in the world but this video shows that it can be appreciated in more than it's original style...  


text conversation
Oh, and I almost forgot... Here is a text conversation between myself and my 16-year old son. I'm not sure who won the irony competition on this day 

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