Thursday, 31 January 2013

# 18 (2013) Old Telephones

There is a phone in my house but it's not a real phone. As in, it's not user friendly. The landline is only there because I have to have one for broadband. I prefer to use my mobile.

This particular phone, whilst having novelty factor to unsuspecting visitors, is actually quite useless. For one, it's stuck to the wall so you have to stand up for the duration of the call. Two it doesn't have a proper handset as you can see. And you will get neck ache using it. And 3 you can't call a customer service line because you can't choose option 1 on a dial phone.

It's why it cost me £1.25 to sit on hold for 15 minutes to Admiral the other day to cancel my car insurance and ended up sending them an email anyway.

I hate you

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

# 17 (2013) Stop F*****g Talking

Do you know what's the worst thing about living in an old house? I mean worse than the damp, the cold, the fact that I might as well burn money for all the difference the central heating makes.

It's thin walls. I mean THIN walls. I can hear EVERYTHING in this house. It doesn't matter if you're on a different level, have the radio on, or you're the neighbours next door. I hear everything. From the switching on of a light to running up and down the stairs. So you can imagine what I else I hear on a regular basis. These things I don't need to hear. Meh.

I never lived in old houses until I came to Lincoln. I was always in 1960s (ish) builds in brand new villages. This was when they were built well, before they became shoe boxes you couldn't get your sofa through the front door of.  And when walls were thick.

Just saying.

Lincoln - old (source)

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

# 16 (2013) Figure Boosting The Feminist Way

If I ever feel like boosting my hit rating I just have to mention the word FEMINISM. Yes that's right - FEMINISM. Because there is no subject more guaranteed to get your audience riled than mentioning feminism.

My post about 'Slutwalk and why it bothers me' all the way back in September last year is still taking hits right on the jaw. It's one of the few posts I've actually got comments on and mostly from angry feminists (invariably anonymous - thanks Google). I've been called an Islamaphobe (seriously???), weird for not thinking myself a feminist and told to look up what feminism actually means - ummm equal rights yeah? I love how a MAN invented the name in 1837 though. I think it was also a man who invented the hoover wasn't it?

But are all women feminists at heart? Is it unavoidable given our modern age? And is it wrong for a feminist to laugh at sexist jokes that target women or fall for the advertising on a beauty product? Just how far do you take the feminism message and how much is too much?

I read an article in BITCH magazine (says it all right?) called Mad World: Who's Afraid of (Being) the Big Bad Feminist? I don't know why feminists were questioning why they were laughing at the Old Spice campaign. I mean - it's just a funny ad right?

My original post was about the Slutwalk protests and why I was concerned that girls who walk around wearing very little didn't see why it should make them a target for nutters (like there aren't many of those out there). And I reiterate again that, yes you should have the right to walk around wearing whatever you goddamn well like, but you can't. Because yay - mankind is shitty. It's got nothing to do with feminism, it is to do with basic animal instinct. It's called sex - whether it's procreational or recreational. And no matter how more advanced we think we are than the animal kingdom we are not that different at all. You think rape doesn't occur in nature? Oh think again dear reader....

My post back in September was further prompted by having some very lefty feminist 'friend' ram her bullshit down my throat when I had asked her politely to stop because I just wasn't interested. I'm sure plenty of other marginalised 17 year olds were. But not me. It could have been in the delivery though.

And then I heard about this the other week and once again I was thinking - well you can't be both surely? But perhaps you can, because my feminist 'friend' who insisted it was completely up to her whether or not she should shave and then took a brand new bic to herself so she could dance at a lap dancing club for money and men really got me miffed and more than a little angry. But was that her right as a feminist and if so why wasn't it hypocritical? And didn't I have a right to get angry about that after everything she had said to me? 

So that is what prompted my original post. And I was reminded that I should repost on the subject when Beyonce did a feminist / strip for publication the other day. I didn't really care but hey - hits.

I guess my problem is that I have never felt marginalised, threatened, devalued etc etc for being female. I have never put myself into a vulnerable position that wasn't self made. I guess that makes me lucky to be born in the Western World to a middle class family. Or maybe it just makes me savvy because when I look back, just occasionally I was damned near lucky not to have got myself into some tricky situations.

I'm happy to step aside and let all the feminists take on the mantle of protester. I also have plenty of friends who enjoy the role of 'traditional woman in the home'. Great for them. This doesn't make me angry but I sure as hell don't expect them to question why I never want children.

I think Asda did something  similar for Christmas 2012 (source)
I can't get fired up about something I am not fired up about. I've never protested, but I have ranted and raved in small doses. I don't actually mind the feminist message but don't scream and shout at me just because I go 'meh' and sometimes put my hands over my ears.

I'm not going to apologise but keep the comments coming because I want to get 6000 hits.

Monday, 28 January 2013

# 15 (2013) Gamer

Game and Watch - gaming on the move (source)
Computer games have never been a big part of my life. I'm a doing person, a creator. And even when I was a child I was more into 'hands on' than virtual reality. I rarely escaped into a book or a film. I had no interest in computers when I was a kid which is hilarious considering how much time I spend on them now. I almost failed GCSE Computer Studies. Imagine it!

Like many families though we didn't have a computer at home so exposure to gaming just wasn't an option.

The closest I ever got to it was early Mario and something called Astro Wars by 'Grandstand' both of which I remember vividly.  One was mine, the other was my brother's. Yeah I named and shamed you bro!

And in the same way I lost my love of reading, I still find it incredibly hard to lose myself in escapism in general. I don't think there is anything in my life that I use to get away from real life. I am firmly grounded. Which sounds dull. I guess it is to a certain extent. I guess that explains the blogging. Perhaps that's how I get it all out of my head.

Even when I am watching a film, I am making mental lists of what I have to do the next day. Switching off is not my strong point. My brain is incapable of not thinking.

That's not to say I don't wish I could. It would be amazing to get so lost in something that I forgot about everything around me. Is this something I could learn?

I am willing to give it a go.

Basically Space Invaders (source)

Sunday, 27 January 2013

# 14 (2013) Do You Apply to Job Advertisements with Spelling Mistakes in Them?

There's no two ways about it. Bad grammar and poor spelling really bug me and I know it bugs a lot of you too. Employers, I would guess, expect it of potential recruits replying to job advertisements. And for me as I join the ranks of job hunters it's doubly depressing that I am faced with advertisements that clearly weren't proof read. 

I've decided that I won't apply for them. If they can't advertise properly it doesn't say a lot about the way they run their company or their appreciation for the effort that would go into the work I was doing for them. Just in the same way that I wouldn't give a secretarial job to someone who couldn't put a professional looking letter together.

If their adverts are a reflection of their company standards I could probably wow them with my attention to detail but something tells me it might be lost on them.


Saturday, 26 January 2013

# 13 (2013) Student Economy

People get very upset when you say that students don't contribute to the economy of a town. I read something about Lincoln today as yet more student accommodation looks set to take shape on derelict land in the town. And even though Lincoln apparently only houses around 12,000 students in any one academic year, a small drop in the ocean compared to its 93,000 population, you can't deny that certain aspects of the city are geared almost entirely to the student population.

Of more concern in that respect is the drop in student recruitment numbers in the last two years - something I saw quite dramatically even in my second year in 2010. It is changes like this - due in part to the raising of student fees - which will have a detrimental effect on the town in the long term.

Student accommodation dominates sections of the skyline (source)
The lower city - including the High Street, Brayford and West End - is the area most predominantly taken over by student related businesses. It is mainly accommodation (both halls and house share rents), bars, clubs, academic buildings and their associated bars such as The Shed and the Engine Shed, and a whole host of cheap and cheerful food and drink outlets, lower end clothing stores and other cheap chain brands more often seen in depressed towns. They are places that regular shoppers have cottoned on to. If I'm going to go out to eat, I am more likely to go to a student bar or budget restaurant than anywhere else.

The upper town - Bailgate and surrounding areas - does have a student presence, but there is a whole different feel to the area, with more expensive restaurants, tourist attractions and niche interest shops, all of which are outside the budget of most students.

Students are part time residents for 9 months of the year. They rarely spend their summer breaks or Christmases here and instead go home to jobs or the bank of mum and dad to stretch their grants still further.

Part time work that fits in around studies is sometimes essential but not so easy to find (source)
Grants are spent mostly on accommodation, food and entertaining, although the standard is to get tanked up before you go out and make a couple of drinks out last all evening. Last year rent alone exceeded the student grant. I survived on savings I had put aside and a limited food budget. Entertainment was off the cards completely.

New Year  2013 when you would have expected the town to be packed with students, was like a ghost town. And with the recession as it is, the population isn't that appealing to other types of business.

Someone claimed that students do remain on in the city after their courses finish but I don't believe there is much here for them post education. I didn't find any actual figures for the numbers remaining on in the town and I know of only a few from my course who are still here. Two (including me) were residents anyway and the others are still doing the jobs they were doing to top up their grants whilst they were at Uni.  They are not in their industry of choice.

Lincoln does not offer a wide range of job opportunities pertaining to courses although it has the usual smattering of jobs - administration, legal, press, retail etc. Many students migrate to bigger cities such as London or back home to recover their finances. I don't remember anyone being encouraged to stay on here.

Lincoln may be called a city but it is not big enough to sustain people like one. It's really a town and it behaves like one.

I've been here four and a half years now. I've decided, perhaps foolishly, to hang on just a bit longer, but I have to say I'm not feeling much love for the place right now. For my business, the population, size of the town, plus the recession are stretching me to breaking point and I'm having to downsize yet again to keep a roof over my head. I have found no client base here and I have no resources on which to draw to help run my business so limited is the high street.  

Lincoln was a dying town before the University arrived - so I am told over and over again - and yes, its transformation into a University town must be doing something for it, but I think all the talk about the students being the saving grace of the place are a little exaggerated. It may also be that the strong University presence has pushed other businesses out of the area.

Friday, 25 January 2013

# 12 (2013) Self Destruction

I watched three programmes in succession the other day: 'Crazy For Party Drugs', 'Jaguars Born Free' and 'Supersize vs Superskinny'. That's a lot of worrying TV all in one go. And it scares me.

Mankind is a bizarre creature. We seem hell bent on using and abusing our bodies in any which way we can and using and abusing the world we live in to a frightening level of destruction. It seems we won't be happy until we've hunted to extinction anything we think we can make a buck out of or eaten our way through as much processed food as we can, to put ourselves into an early grave. 

It occurs to me we are done for. We are killing ourselves and killing the planet and unless something happens soon we are going to be out of planet. And it seems we're turning our attentions elsewhere too. Sad times.


Saturday, 19 January 2013

# 11 (2013) How to Really Eat on a Budget in Lincoln

This week the Guardian produced a top ten of 'budget' restaurants in Lincoln. Two things struck me about this article. One, that two of them weren't restaurants but essentially coffee houses. And two, that their idea of a budget was £10 a head. It's nice to see Guardian readers are keeping in touch with reality.

I used to have a Facebook group called 'The Lincoln Guide to Cheap Cheap Cheap'. I think I ran it for about 2 years. You can still find it on Facebook but I abandoned it a long long time ago and noone uses it.

I'd post up all the deals I'd spotted around town and get others to add their own. This was great whilst I was working at the council full time (yawn) and then in my first year of Uni (work shy).

If I still ran it, I'd probably stick my response to the Guardian's write up right in there. Because that's what I think of this laughable article.

If you REALLY want budget in Lincoln here's my brutal list. I've been to nearly all of them over the 5 years I've been here and to be honest you get what you pay for so you can't really complain. This list is based on a lunch or dinner in one course that will see you through until your next meal because I think that more than one course in any sitting is just too much.

Yo-yo in Beijing
All you can eat between 11.30 - 6 for under £8 or all day Sunday for under £9. Great selection and you can go mental. A very guilty pleasure without the expense.

Laughing Buddha
Slightly cheaper on the lunch time offers but more expensive in the evening and at weekends.

It's not as big a selection as Yo-Yo's but the food seems healthier and it has a different atmosphere to the conveyor belt feel of Yo-Yos. Better for when you're looking for something a bit quieter.

Pizza Hut
The Hut do regular all you eat Pizza, pasta and salad lunch deals for £6.99 until 3pm. Again, go mental.

Burger King
You need vouchers to get the full benefit of this one. I wouldn't pay full price at one of these places if you paid me because I really don't think they are worth it anymore (McDonalds is far worse than BK) but 2 for 1 offers are quite easy to find and make it worth the effort.

The Shed
Not to be confused with the Engine Shed. This is the student bar near the main campus on the opposite side of the Brayford to the Doubletree Hilton. It's not as bad as it sounds. The food is cheap but perfectly edible. There's a different deal every day including full English breakfasts on Saturday's for £2.99 til 10pm and Friday is 'Baguette Day' - liberally filled baguettes with curly fries for £2.99. They also do Coke refills for £2.50.

The Lamb and Flag (now sadly defunct and being taken over by the previously mentioned Carluccios). We liked it because it was central and you could get 2 for £6.50 lunch meals and it was fine.

Slug and Lettuce
This is an okayish place. I've been there once. It was okay. It has food promotions on Monday and Tuesday with 50% off and 2-4-1 which is essentially the same thing. More central than most of the others though so handy if you don't like exercise.

The Barge on the Brayford
I have never eaten here but I want to. They do lunch deals for under £5 if you want something reasonably light. Evenings are not cheap but they do a 2 for £15.

Of course if you're really strapped for cash and you need food whilst you're out and about you can get a sandwich for £1 in Wilkinson. Now that's about as budget as you can possibly get.

I'm sure I've missed off lots of hidden gems. If you know somewhere that matches in price that I need to know about TELL ME, don't keep them to yourself! 

Friday, 18 January 2013

# 10 (2013) Wasteful Britain

Last night ITV broadcast 'What a Waste' which focused on the food Britain throws away every year. It's actually embarrassing and, in our current economic climate, downright shameful just how much food we bin.

There are a whole series of reasons to blame for this situation but the main ones are undoubtedly over-sized portions, unnecessary expiry dates on packaging and buy one get one free offers in supermarkets which encourage us to buy more than we can possibly use at any one time.

I was brought up to clear my plate. And I always have. I have also learnt to cook less and if I cook too much to reuse left overs or freeze them for another time not stuff myself silly or throw them away. I also generally ignore expiry dates, never impulse buy food and always stick to my shopping list.

I cannot remember the last time I threw food away.

With food prices on the increase and poor weather making British grown crops far scarcer than they used to be, this kind of throw away attitude is not acceptable and completely unnecessary.

EVERY DAY British households throw out approximately:

5.1 million potatoes
7 million slices of bread
1.2 million sausages

Apparently all because of expiry dates on packaging. Two of these products are freezable so there is no excuse and why are we bulk buying potatoes only to send them straight to the bin?

Supermarkets throw out about 300,000 tons of waste a year again because of expiry dates and tight rules on shelf life and health and safety.

Restaurants are also guilty of excessive food waste and our eagerness to over order means we rarely clear our plates. Just today we saw four students leave a table with enough food left on their plates to feed two people. There's a homeless guy who sits under the archway down the road who would have been really grateful for that.

Meals abandoned today at the Shed in Lincoln. There's enough here for about 2 people
What is our obsession with eating to excess? Why are we scared of feeling hungry and why, when there is a glimmer of snow on the horizon, do we rush to the supermarket to overstock? No one is going to starve. Most of you could probably afford to skip a few meals. IT WILL NOT KILL YOU!

You don't have to look very far to see that the UK has an obesity problem and a terrifying addiction to food. And with prices going up and wages going down, we can all ill afford to waste money by buying products that go straight into the bin. Some families spend more on food every year than they earn. Why? We are a nation of gluttons and wasters.

Finally, the ridiculous rules of supermarkets on the shape of our vegetables when they hit the shelves means that a huge number of crops never make it from the farmers field. Would you buy a wonky carrot opposed to a straight one? It tastes the same, it's just a slightly different shape. Does that really bother you?

World gone mad. Something has to change. Change your eating habits, stop being so wasteful.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

# 9 (2013) Company Loyalty

One of the problems with the way we shop today is company loyalty. Less of us shop because we feel we should remain true towards a brand. These days we are far more likely to gravitate towards a bargain even if that saving is actually a lesser product.

My example is car insurance.

Last year I started driving again after 3 years. Un-beknown to me I'd lost my 12 years of no claims because you can only save them for up to 2 years. Despite this, a clean licence and a brand new 1 litre car my insurance seemed astronomical at £600.

I shopped around and managed to get it down to under £300 with Admiral who let me have four years of my no claims because I still had the proof. But they put me on an accelerator policy which meant I got 11 months rather than 12. Even so, they had got me back on track for much less than the competition.

My premium is now due. It's gone down, but only by about £50. I shouldn't complain in the wake of warnings that insurance premiums would be going up because insurers can't discriminate between male and female drivers.
But I still shopped around using a well known savings website and found another insurer offering me a £100 saving on my new quotation bringing my insurance down to £151 - the cheapest I've ever had.

I should, and am, grateful to Admiral for getting me a good deal when everyone else wanted to rip me off. But now that I'm back on the insurance ladder I am drawn to cheaper offers even if it is with one of the leading competitors.

Do I feel bad about that? No. Should I? Probably. By taking out this new policy I am forcing other companies to drop their premiums in order to stay competitive. In the process, some may eventually go under. It's the spiral of 'cheap' we've all been forcing companies into accepting

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

# 8 (2013) The Relevance Of Your High Street

Yet another well known high street brand has gone into administration - HMV. And no wonder. At every turn it has been undercut by online sales and limited product range and it doesn't seem to have made much of an effort to adjust to its customers needs.

Whilst on the high street earlier today I was surprised by the choice of business starts ups in time of recession. Replacing the budget style Lamb and Flag restaurant/pub which closed last week is Carluccios, an overpriced Italian offering nothing more than its rivals on the same street. And with main meals averaging £11- £14 a go I suspect its presence will be short lived and received without enthusiasm.

Brayford Restaurants (source)
You see Lincoln, for those of you who don't know, is essentially a student town. For nine months of the year it plays host to around 8000 of them and any business starting up in the town would be well advised to take this into consideration. But even students are affected by recession. Most of their funds go on rent, food and entertainment.

Lincoln is predominantly made up of bars, clubs, clothing outlets, charity shops, pound shops, cheap brand outlets and restaurants. There are a few essential services such as the post office, a few artisan outlets (particularly in the uphill region) and the odd craft shop but nothing terribly formidable.

The arrival of one of Wagamamas flagship stores at the end of last year anticipated strong business. But situated on the Brayford Pool next to the Doubletree Hilton, Sports Bar, Starbucks, Harvester, Nandos, Prezzo, Ask, Zizzi, Handmade Burger Co, Chimichanga, The Barge on the Brayford, The Square Sail and the William IV pub (do you see where I'm going with this?) it should have anticipated problems. As it is, I don't think I've ever seen it sporting healthy customer numbers and to be honest most of these outlets look pretty empty most of the time. And this isn't even the high street.

Site of Carluccios on the High Street (source)
So Carluccios with its trendy Italian dining has a lot to contend with if it wants to survive alongside its Italian competitors Pizza Express, La Bottega and Pomodoro E Basilico. And as with all restaurants in the city it has to match up to places like Yo-Yos - the chinese buffet restaurant with all you can eat for less than £8. No contest. 

Monday, 14 January 2013

# 7 (2013) Normality

It has now been just over a month since I last went food shopping thanks mainly to Christmas away and several food parcels packed into my luggage on my return. I baked bread the other week (something I haven't done since last summer) and the hens are laying eggs again so that's something else that's back on the menu.

I used to cook a lot when I was a student with a grant. I made a lot from scratch and I'd stockpile food in the freezer. And on occasions, like the other day, I'll be rummaging in the freezer and discover four icecream tubs. Now I KNOW they don't contain ice cream. Instead I have two of homemade soup, and two of stewed rhubarb, all stockpiles from last year. It's satisfying finding food like this at the back of the freezer. Particularly as these days when I'm only cooking for one I prefer not to have to make a meal. Which is lazy but I am pleased that I finally seem to have overcome my love of food. 

It's a relief to be eating normally again after the festive gluttony. I struggle with changes of diet because I don't have a particularly varied menu and any sudden detours can have an unsettling effect. Being off ill for a couple of weeks before Christmas left me unable to eat or drink much over Christmas so I didn't feel I'd over indulged.

Now I'm worrying about the amount of exercise I'm not getting (like a good chunk of the UK). Exercising for free in the winter is hard. It's cold, often raining (or like today, snowing) and the hours of daylight make you sluggish. It's really hard to get motivated but I've got to the point where I have so emotionally blackmailed myself I have no option but to do something about it.

Team exercise is the best remedy. I need to be encouraged and exercise with someone else makes it fun. I've started playing tennis. Myself and my partner started up last year but we got rained off more times than we played. We started up again this week despite the arrival of the snow. There are free tennis courts across the road and it seems ridiculous not to use them.

I've also started a more strict monitoring system for what I'm spending my money on. I don't have extravagant expenditure by any means but there's always a way to cut back and seeing where the money goes is the first step to cutting back. I also have a sneaky feeling I may be kidding myself on how frugal my lifestyle is. So I have set up a new spreadsheet to keep an eye on things.

All this makes me feel like I am doing something productive. So watch this space.

Friday, 11 January 2013

# 6 (2013) 176 status updates a month

Social media is my thing. There's no denying it. If you're subscribed to one of my social pages you'll know it already. And you probably hate me. I have social pages, blog pages and business pages on most of the well known sites. has an app that examines your Facebook usage and turns you into a bunch of statistics.

Now, I KNEW I had a Facebook problem. I don't deny it. And I'm not ashamed of it. It's how I keep in touch and keep up with what's going on in the world. Essentially it's all free. It's also how I share what I discover with the rest of the world (within reason) and get opinions on subjects that interest me for such things as this blog.

But perhaps my usage was a little bit of a shock. Some things are no surprise at all such as the subjects I talk about most and my grasp of the English language. But when the average Facebooker lodges 12.8 status updates a month and I'm averaging 176 - yes I suppose that could be classed as 'concerning'. That's about 5 every day. I wouldn't be surprised if lots of people have unsubscribed from my Facebook newsfeed. I don't blame you at all.

I have friends who either don't use Facebook or have it but check in about 4 times a year. I believe there are three reasons for this. One, they have actual friends who they meet and don't need to keep tabs on via the power of the internet. Two they aren't nosey enough to need to keep tabs on their friends. Three, they lead busy interesting lives that don't require social media.

There is a good sized chunk of my time that is spent doing business related things - research, buying, advertising, marketing, arranging work. But there is an even bigger chunk that just likes to be nosey, comment on the news, share sometimes pointless stuff with people I don't really know and write ridiculous status updates that really don't enrich anyone's lives. It's why I was quick to separate personal from business and keep business contacts on my business page.

I don't have internet at work. This is a good thing. It means I'll do work instead and I only check in if I really have to (i.e. for business reasons) but my evenings can be completely lost in social media. 

Am I going to stop? No. Because I like it. Because it's fun and because I don't think it's doing me any harm. I am capable of stopping. No, really. I am!

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

# 5 (2013) SOS New Blogs

I put out a request for new personal blogs to read. I am nosey and I like interesting, informative and witty to the core writing. I am always won over by a good sense of humour.

I wish more of my friends had personal blogs so I could invade their personal lives. But it seems they don't.

I did get some alternative suggestions though. 27/b6 is my absolute favourite because it doesn't care and the humour is cruelly funny.

Last year sometime I wrote about how I wanted to be a funnier writer. The 27/b6 site is exactly the sort of writer I want to be. I love David Thorne's way with words. Stupidly I later discovered this is the guy responsible for the 7-legged spider emails. He is a genius.

I bet he doesn't ever finish a conversation, walk away and then think up a witty response after it's too late.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

# 4 (2013) Childish

It seems the older I get, the more I regress into a child like status. My current obsession is this.

I must have this face - it has fur (source)
It's Finn from Adventure Time - on a purse. I have to have this. If it's the only thing I buy this year, I must have Finn's face in my bag.

I blame one person for this regression which has clearly been lying dormant in my brain for some time. And I like it.

Monday, 7 January 2013

# 3 (2013) Lazy Dresser

I am a phenomenally lazy dresser. I also love comfortable clothes. I love jersey, knit and all things cosy. I suppose this is a bizarre concept seeing as I am a clothing designer and it's something I want to address. And it's not a new thing either. I have always been like this.

I am a very poor advertisement for my business and that makes me sad.

Mental dress sense and getting away with it (source)
It's not that I don't have enough clothes (I do). But perhaps that's why I am lazy about sorting interesting outfits. Faced with so many options first thing in the morning my brain just goes 'meh' and I grab the first outfit that looks practical.

I don't have standard work outfits since I work for myself. It's really, anything goes. This should be license to wear what I want. But I also have to think practical since I work in a very cold studio (yes excuses I know) and looking trendy is out of the question when you need three layers of knit, thermal socks and an overcoat to get you through the day.

I try to buy mix and match pieces so I have plenty of options but it's not helping the decision making process. Also, cash is tight so the really nice pieces are way out of my price range and shopping sprees are limited to just a couple a season (I have to pay off my store card between visits).

I've tried to put my wardrobe into some sort of order so it's easier for me to lay my hands on the more interesting things I have.  And I've also tried sorting my outfits the night before. But it's just not working. Which I guess is just laziness. Perhaps the only way this will work is if I throw out all my ordinary stuff so I only have the interesting clothes left.

I really admire quirky and enthusiastic dressers. And I am always inspired by seeing the way other people dress. Clearly I am missing something. but as I rarely get the urge to shop and as I'm not that materialistic I don't have the drive. But it's no excuse and it bothers me. So I am going to try all of the above again because I am getting very bored of myself and that just won't do.

Inspiration (source)

Saturday, 5 January 2013

# 2 (2013) Why An Ex Should Remain An Ex

If you split up with your partner there is a reason for it. And all things considered you should really go your separate ways and be thankful for another chance to make the right choice. But this isn't always possible. Today, the number of couples who split but are forced to remain living under the same roof for financial reasons is increasing. If it's amicable day to day life should be bearable. But you don't know what's around the corner and it can seriously cramp your style.

xojane gave both sides of the argument in a couple of entries earlier this year on living with your ex and why it could be the stupidest decision you ever make. I can totally understand the transitional thing. Property is expensive. Getting out of rental contracts can be a nightmare and if you're used to living in a house that's all your own, downsizing and paying your own bills is going to be a nightmare. Most houseshares have limited space so you might find yourself getting rid of a lot of your possessions. In any case, if you're going to stay there are boundaries that you don't necessarily think of in the early days that can become a massive pain later on. And even if you have thought of them, you're never quite prepared to actually deal with them.

Household responsibilities:

The first is that despite the new situation someone is still playing the 'housekeeper' in the relationship. At best you'll have to make a cleaning rota. At worst you may still find yourself in the 'wife' role whilst the ex continues to behave as if they're living with their mother. By this I mean you will be the one brandishing the hoover every week, putting out the rubbish, dealing with the bills.

Addressing it isn't easy if the other person digs their heels in. And unless you are prepared to go all the way nothing much will change. Rest assured you will get your revenge when you both finally go your separate ways and they have to learn how to run their own accommodation. Unless of course they find a substitute. Which brings me on to point 2.

New partners:

There will invariably come a time when new partners hove into view. Some of them will bear with the weird freakish scenario that you live in (but you have no right to demand that they do). Others will find it a threat to the new relationship status just because it is weird. And even though you have no feelings whatsoever for your ex you will instantly regard any new partner appearing on the horizon with utter hatred for no other reason than that they are there.

Perhaps it's because it signifies that they can move on without you. Perhaps it's just because there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon that one day they will be happy again and this makes you mad as hell. Mainly it is because it's just weird.

Personal time:

This scenario is followed by an even bigger problem. It's an issue in houseshares in general and when 'thinner than you would like' bedroom walls do nothing but amplify the bedroom activities emanating from within. And there's nothing less attractive than hearing your ex partner in the next room f*****g their new partner. Even more so when you know all their secrets (especially the ones they don't know you know). It's hard not to conjure up less than palatable images in your head. At best you may try not to laugh and bang on the wall. The rest of the time you'll be trying to smother yourself with a pillow or turn the tv up as loud as you can.

The 'do not cross' line: 

You may get territorial vibes from the new partner in the house if they know your history. This is hilarious because as far as you're concerned you wouldn't touch them with a barge pole. But you are still regarded as a threat because you are the ex. And they're trying to impress, be the good partner and ignore all the faults that are already starting to appear.

Now that there's a new partner in the house you may become territorial about your things. Good bathroom products particularly, are a coveted luxury that you're not used to sharing. Bear with it. You'll start to notice if things are being used without permission.

Your investment:

If there's a glimmer in sight that you may be moving you'll start to tally up your possessions. And you may discover that you invested a lot more than they did. You may be pleasantly surprised to find you have a fully functioning flat. They'll be wondering where the cutlery has gone. And regardless of whether you're planning to take it all with you, you'll be damned if you're going to leave it behind.

Friday, 4 January 2013

# 1 (2013) Kick Start

Four days into the new year and I haven't yet posted up. What's going on? Quite simply, nothing has inspired me. I  guess it's because nothing feels any different. The numbers on the calendar may have changed but nothing else has.

Post 'bucketlist' (which I haven't started yet) the only thing I have thought about is getting a job. I've allowed myself this week off (not that I deserved it) and at last I have shaken off the winter bug I've had since mid December so I have no excuses for not going back to the studio and putting plans into action.

I have a few shoots to plan for February but I feel enormously uninspired and unemotional about anything. Is it post Christmas malaise, the winter blues or am I just fed up of working for nothing? There is nothing like the lure of money to inspire work and of course those commissions pay bills. The pressure is on and it's hard to enjoy being creative when it's not supporting you the way it's supposed to.

I shall treat Monday like the first day back at work. I shall start setting the alarm for a reasonable hour and make lists to make sure I have deadlines to hit every day. Between now and the end of April I have several very important things to sort out which all have very certain deadlines.

I hope that once I get back into that routine my brain will follow suit. Of course a little spring weather would go a long way to helping with this.

Here's a dog dressed as a walrus because why not? (source)