Little things that make me happy part #2

Long time readers of this site may recall the first post I did of this nature. It was in November on a Saturday and I was in the mood to write but I wasn’t sure what, so I thought, how about I just start by writing a list of things that make me happy and I’ll see where I go from there. See what inspiration I get. Turns out it just made me happy to write and write and write even if it was totally pointless, nonsensical things it made me quite happy to read it back to myself again. A lot of the things I’ve scribbled on here lately have been quite lengthy and quite wordy and that was the first thing I’ve written in a long time that I posted immediately without thinking about it, without second guessing myself or without thinking whether anyone will actually care. So here comes round two! I don’t know if this’ll be a regular feature but we’ll see.

  • Paris.

 

  • Cobbled streets.

 

  • The first bite of something delicious.

 

  • Thank you letters.

 

  • Toasting marshmallows.

 

  • Giving gifts.

 

  • Crumpets that are so thickly laden with butter it oozes out the bottom.

 

  • Long train journeys with pretty views.

 

  • Hot chocolates that are capped with a snowy mountain of whipped cream, marshmallows and other toppings.

 

  • Hotel breakfasts.

 

  • Warm mittens.

 

  • That feeling you get when you’ve been out in the cold and then come back inside and run your hands under cold water and everything feels hot.

 

  • The smell of blown out candles.

 

  • Rock pools.

 

  • Tangerines.

 

  • The smell of hot weather.

 

  • Lava lamps.

 

  • Big, exuberant pieces of costume jewellery.

 

  • Licking the cake mix bowl.

 

  • Going out for coffee or brunch.

 

  • Dipping buttery bread into hot soup.

 

  • Mr Whippy ice creams.

 

  • Those two pence arcade machines at the seaside.

 

  • Photo booth pictures with friends.

 

  • Sugar lumps.

 

  • Coffee shops with steamy windows.

 

  • The smell after the rain.

 

  • Little villages where everyone says hello to one another.

 

  • Big cities where no one knows your name.

 

  • The colour magenta.

 

  • The word magenta.

 

  • Mashed potato.

 

  • Chasing the sun.

 

  • Dogs in little coats.

 

  • Fresh herbs and spices.

 

  • Twinkly lights.

 

  • Twinkly eyes.

 

  • Turning the radio on and your favourite song comes on.

 

  • Long hugs between old friends.

 

  • Dessert.

 

  • Vanilla pods.

 

  • Love.

 

  • When someone remembers a small detail about you.

 

  • Window seats.

 

  • Kind, chatty taxi drivers.

 

  • Exploring somewhere new.

 

  • Hidden treasures.

 

  • Fictional pirates.

 

  • Childhood teddy bears.

 

  • Roaring fires.

 

  • Old pubs.

 

  • Old pubs with roaring fires.

 

  • Old pubs with roaring fires and a pub dog too.

 

  • Long, hot baths.

 

  • Quick, cold showers.

 

  • Getting something for a cheaper price than you anticipated.

 

  • Brighton.

 

  • Honeycomb.

 

  • Food markets.

 

  • The smell of fresh fruit.

 

  • Belly laughs.

 

  • Family.

 

  • Pizza.

 

  • Fierce loyalty.

 

  • Cheesy chips.

 

  • Rocking chairs. Unless they rock on their own then they can get far, far away from me.

 

  • New beginnings.

 

  • Genuine smiles.

 

  • When the fresh heat hits you in the face when you get off of an airplane.

 

  • Afternoon teas.

 

  • Midnight feasts.

 

  • Tales from someone’s youth.

 

  • Tattoos.

 

  • Freckles.

 

  • Mint chocolate chip ice cream.

 

  • Snow days off of school.

 

  • Singing loudly in the car.

 

  • Stars.

 

  • Free food.

 

  • Writing on the first page of new stationary.

 

  • Glam makeup.

 

  • Poloroids.

 

  • Quick downloads.

 

  • Kindness between two strangers.

 

  • The Beatles.

 

  • VW Beetles.

 

  • Actual beetles.

 

  • Seeing people who actually enjoy their jobs.

 

  • Babies laughter.

 

  • Mojitos.

 

  • Actually any cocktails really.

 

  • People with natural style.

 

  • Having that Friday feelin’.

 

  • Long weekends.

 

  • Jennifer Aniston’s agelessness.

 

  • Red lipstick.

 

  • The weird yet wonderful names of different paint shades.

 

  • Terracotta.

 

  • Writing poetry.

 

  • Receiving poetry.

 

  • Wandering around supermarkets late at night.

 

  • Creative souls.

 

  • Black cats.

 

  • The stillness after a storm.

 

  • British seaside towns.

 

  • Piers. (As in the long promenade stretching out to sea…not the egotistical Morgan kind that presents breakfast telly).

 

  • Boozy brunches.

 

  • Board games.

 

  • Nicely filed and polished nails.

 

  • People with gumption.

 

  • The word gumption.

 

  • Castles.

 

  • Cosy jumpers.

 

  • Scratching an itch that’s been bothering you all day.

 

  • Spa treatments.

 

  • Reaching the top of a steep climb. Both metaphorically and literally. Well done you.

 

  • Proving people wrong.

 

  • Family traditions.

 

  • Odd sayings only mums/middle aged people use.

 

  • Luck.

 

  • Power of magpies.

 

  • Cream cakes.

 

  • The feeling after a run.

How I Decorated My Chocolate MEGA Cake!

Hello! It’s been a while since I’ve done a foodie post and I’ve been meaning to post this for AGES. So seeing as it’s mine and my Mum’s birthday in less than three weeks and then my sisters the following month; now seems like the perfect time to get prepared for birthdays, cakes and even more bigger, brilliant birthday cakes.

So I before I get into all the nitty gritty baking delights (and disasters), I want to just clarify that I am definitely not a qualified baker or anything like that. I just really quite enjoy cooking and baking and it’s always fun to just have a go isn’t it? Plus, I really like getting to eat delicious cake at the end of it all sooooo no one is missing out here?!

If you’re not a great baker I want to share with you these easy steps I took to transform a chocolate sponge cake into looking like this one I made. I’ve seen cakes like this in bakeries, or on Instagram or Pinterest and always thought how blimmin’ awesome they look?! As much as I love my sis I didn’t know how much I’d have to end up forking out on a cake like this; especially a little last minute as well!

So, underneath all of these gorgeously indulgent layers is a relatively simple chocolate cake. One of which I haven’t yet mastered. I’ve tried a variety of different recipes adding things like yogurt, buttermilk, extra oil etc etc into it to make the sponge more moist (sorry to those who don’t love the M word) but nothing seemed to do the trick. I was a bit worried the dry sponge was going to let the whole cake down but I drenched each cake layer with a generous amount of simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water boiled in a pan until it reduces and there are no sugar crystals left. Wait for it to fully cool before using) and then filled with a salted caramel and chocolate ganache.

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On the outside of the cake I used a thin amount of chocolate buttercream as a crumb coat. Which basically helps to lock in all the crumbs from the sponge layers so when you let it chill in the fridge and set up you’ll be able to get a much cleaner, crumb free, final buttercream coating. I used a straight and an angled palette knife to smooth out the buttercream on the cake. Theoretically it helps give you a smoother, more defined finish. You can buy them in most cooking/bakeware/homeware stores, Hobbycraft, Lakeland or online too. You can get them so they’re a straight edge for really neat edge or even ones that are ridged if you want to create a lined effect.

Similarly, if you don’t have one of these or don’t want to purchase something you may not use that often if you can find a flimsy piece of clean plastic or something similar to smoothly run against the frosting it’ll help create a smoothed appearance!

Once I had finished the final buttercream frosting and I was happy with it, I popped the cake in the fridge to set up and for the frosting to harden. Usually I’d be a bit cautious about putting a cake in the fridge in case it dried out but as I had simple syrup’ed each cake layer and there was a lot of ganache and buttercream involved already I was hoping it’d be ok.

To recreate the on trend dribbly bits down the side of the cake I made a salted caramel sauce (if you don’t want to do that then cut the middle man out and just buy some!) and poured it into the centre of the top of the cake and spooning it around the top of the cake until it had gently dribbled around the outer edge and letting bigger blobs dribble down the side until I was happy with how it all looked. I was quite quick doing this part, a bit worried it’d quickly harden or that if it went wrong it would ruin the whole appearance. But I found that, unlike how I approach most things in life, if you go slower and with less haste it is so much easier to control the outcome. Who knew eh!?

Then the fun bit begins! I picked up some Kitkats, Kinder Buenos, a Kinder Egg, Mikado (or pocky) sticks, chocolate coated pretzels, Galaxy golden eggs and two chocolatey doughnuts from the supermarket in order to go crazy with the toppings for this. I found some gold food colouring spray in the cupboard beforehand and thought it would be quite fun and make the cake look really luxe by spraying certain things, leaving some bare and part spraying some others. I cut some things diagonally and splayed out the different treats at different angles giving it some dimension and really because I liked how it looked.

It was actually really good fun making this type of cake and doing all the decorating too! I added some ferrero rocher chocolates around the bottom to make it look even more special ( it is a birthday after all!) and also helps if you need to cover anything up you could add a layer of fruit or chocolates and make it look part of the decoration.

There’s something extra special about receiving a homemade cake especially for a birthday treat, knowing someone has put a lot of time and effort into making something yummy for you to eat. So, have fun with whatever you’re creating, don’t worry about whether it’ll look a bit bodged or not because it’ll still go down the same way regardless!

Visiting The New Julia’s House Charity Shop in Creekmoor, Poole, Dorset. *

Last Tuesday, I was kindly invited by Sarah from Julia’s House to attend an exclusive blogger’s evening at their newly refurbished store in Creekmoor, Poole. Not only was I excited because this was my first proper blogger event invite, one with other, actual bloggers present (yay!) but Julia’s House is a well known charity foundation in my area and naturally I was so thrilled to be personally invited by them. Oh and also because I am a massive charity shop fan. I’m always on the hunt for a good bargain. I’m like the personification of a magpie for these sorts of things.

Speaking of being a massive charity shop fan. I became a literal massive charity shop fan. The Creekmoor site is one of the biggest charity shops on the south coast. Facts on toast from here on out.

So when Mum and I arrived,  we were greeted by one of the staff members, taken through the store, eyeing up stuff as we went (on the evening we were lucky enough to be given 20% off of everything we purchased. So if you can hold on until the end to see all of my new goodies I promise it’ll be worth it!) and were lead out to a meeting room, waiting with all the other bloggers. Sarah, led a short talk explaining to us all about their story, what they do and showed us a video of one of their parents of a Julia’s House child and their experience.

For those of you reading this who aren’t based in the South West of England you might not be fully aware of what Julia’s House is, what they’re about and the work they do. Prior to Tuesday evening, my knowledge wasn’t hugely extensive on all the exact ins and outs either to be honest. I knew they were a children’s hospice and had a lot of charity shops in my local area but that was about it.

So, Julia’s House was created from an idea a paediatric nurse named Julia Perks had. As she worked in the healthcare industry and with very poorly children, she noticed there was something still missing. She dreamed of creating a space or support network for the families who are struggling with caring for a life-limited child. Somewhere, where the child can receive the care and support they need as well as it being a place where the whole family can go or can turn to and feel like they’ve also got a lifeline. In a devastating turn of events, Julia sadly died from cancer and never got to see her dream become a reality. Her friend, Mike Wise, and a small group of dedicated supporters to kindly took the reigns of her brilliant idea and through their tireless efforts and fundraising they got the charity off the ground, employing their first two community nurses; who’d offer families some respite by visiting directly at their homes. Now, one of the first community nurses is still working within Julia’s House and is the Director of Care!

They’ve got a hospice in Poole, Dorset and another one in Devizes, Wiltshire which provides either day or overnight care to the poorly little ones and gives the affected families a chance to have some time out for themselves, to catch up on day to day things or spend with their other children whilst knowing their child is in a safe, home away from home environment. That’s one of the brilliant things I took away from this evening is that Julia’s House don’t just care about the affected child they care for the entire family. Offering and providing experiences such as shopping or spa trips for tired Mums, motor racing day trips to Thruxton for weary Dads, week long residential trips for the siblings to get to know other children/teenagers in a very similar position and giving them a good chance to get away from it all and all their worries. They cover all grounds, making sure no one is left behind and have launched something called Great Mates. A social get together for all the aunties, uncles, nannys, grandads, grans, grandpas, family friends and basically anyone who’s closely involved with the care of a Julia’s House child.

Considering only 5% of Julia’s House is government funded it really humbled me to think, firstly, just how lucky I am to be who I am. I’ve never struggled and I don’t know where the children, the families, the friends, the nurses and the staff get their strength and resilience from to wear a brave face, smile and carry on each day. How do people just learn to cope when they’re told the worst? Secondly it really brought it home to me, just how charities like this must really rely on their fundraisers, their donations, their sponsors, patrons and the customers in each of their charity shops.

So now you’re as clued up on everything Julia’s House as I am; let’s get onto the topic of the new Creekmoor store I visited. I wasn’t really sure what I was going to be expecting. I’d seen a few pictures on twitter and heard raving reviews about it but like all these things you always want to make your mind up for yourself. Upon arrival, I was instantly drawn in by their wicked Halloween display. After years of working in retail I know the pain and the pleasures of pulling off an A* dressed window and how it can entice someone into a store. I was told this wasn’t going to be like any other, ordinary charity shop. There was no dingy and damp smell and definitely no moth ball in sight! It truly lived up to the hype of being an Instagrammer’s dream.  From childrenswear, to designer garms, homeware, a cosy library nook and even an exclusive, bridal suite this definitely didn’t feel like any ordinary charity shop. Toto we defo aren’t in Kansas anymore!

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After Sarah had finished her talk with us all we were shown around the shop by the manager, Dave. In this day and age, not only is fashion sustainability something that is at the forefront of a lot of people’s minds but the importance of reusing and recycling is too. The team here made sure they put everything to good use that they could possibly and the surplus furniture they didn’t know where to place they fashioned into display cabinets. It’s super quirky and fabulous.

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This is the children’s section with this incredible Doctor Who style tardis changing room for children. This was handmade just for this store, and strangely enough, in a bizarre turn of events it’s not the only one they have in here either! Someone from Wiltshire heard about it and gave it to the store. It’s weird and wonderful and totally sums up this whole store. On the outside it looks like any other Julia’s House shop but once you’re inside it’s so much bigger and better than you’d have envisaged. Oh and not forgetting the fab lady stood in front. That’s Claire and she was on hand as our very own personal stylist for the evening.  She oozed, style, passion and charisma and was the perfect person to be championing the store and also me into buying loads. They were all so passionate about this place, the cause and you could tell they were all so proud of the newly refurbished store. After all, they were the ones that had literally put in all the hard work!

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Never have I seen so many Tardis’s in one place?! The attention to detail to every inch of this store is so inventive.

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To the left of the children’s area was the gorgeous Bridal room. To access it, you have to book an appointment in order to treat yourself to a proper Say Yes to The Dress style experience for a fraction of the cost. As we all gathered inside, I was taken aback by the glitz and glamour and was a little bit shocked to see such beautiful gowns! Not that I was expecting them to be horrible but they all looked lovely. All the gowns were either donated as secondhand or from bridal shops that had closed locally. All the dresses are priced under £300 and as wedding shopping / budgeting goes that’s still a massive bargain!

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It’s a lovely and big secluded area of the shop so you can try on and get a feel of what your style is.

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It just goes to show not everything you’d see in a charity shop looks like something your great Aunt Ethel would have worn in the early 1900s. These gowns are utterly fabulous and you wouldn’t believe you could get it for such a cheap price in a charity shop?!

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I love the extra little touches dotted around from the classy chandelier in this room and the big glass full of flowers.

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You can see even more dresses and wedding outfits available here too. Whether you’re looking for bridesmaids, or for little lads to look dapper on the big day there’s so much choice.

Similarly, they also did some nice prom style dresses. After speaking to Sarah at the end of the evening I found out that the team at Julia’s House went to one of the nearby schools with loads of Prom dresses and gowns, some drinks and nibbles and the school girls sorted their outfits out in style and for a good cause too. Prom can be such a big deal at school, well everything seems like a big deal at school at least! Everything from the outfit, the makeup, the hair, the vehicle you arrive in is seen by the rest of your year group and it feels like the biggest event in the world at the time. So to be able to get a decent dress much cheaper and much more ethically would have meant a great deal to those school children.

From the bridal room we then moved into my favourite place in any charity shop; the book section. I can’t help but raid the shelves and see what new read I can find and Creekmoor offered an even better alternative to the usual few shelves. A whole library room!

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Complete with this comfy leather sofa and a few chairs dotted about the room; this space just looks ridiculously cosy to settle in and sink your teeth into a new book. As mentioned previously (and I’m sure i’m going to mention it a few more times before this post is out) I love all the tiny details the team have used to tie each room together. The cowhide rug, the rustic makeshift table, the vintage typewriter (not for sale unfortunately for me) could confuse you for being in a vintage store, Urban Outfitters or somewhere similar to that! You could easily wile away your time in just this section alone before perusing the shelves and grabbing an armful of new books. They’re £1 each or two books for £1.50 unless marked otherwise and in my opinion you can never have too many books!

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I really love the ingeniousness of using these surplus to requirement snowboards as  bookshelves. It’s so clever, so good to reuse them for another purpose and it also looks SO cool.  Notice anything peculiar about the wall either??? Well, it’s wooden doors!? Seriously I’m astounded at the creativity that went into organising this site and into making it what it is. It’s beyond clever.

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The vintage typewriter. There were several items like this dotted around the store. It gives the place so much character, adds to the character and I’ve noticed in my local Julia’s House charity shop they have some donated items just for display purposes.

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Coming out of the library nook is the men’s section. The way Dave and the team spoke about it made me realise how some charity shops are actually quite poor when it comes to bits for men. It got me thinking whether it’s a just a slight difference between the shopping habits between men and women. Are men more likely to go into a shop knowing exactly what they want to purchase, buy that specific item and leave whereas women are perhaps more prone to enjoy the general shopping experience and like to browse as they go. Is the Great British high street and fashion retail in general primarily aimed at women more than men. There are endless shops just for women’s fashion compared to how many there are just for men; so is it inevitable that there are going to be more women’s clothes ending up in charity shops and as secondhand items compared to men’s? I feel like I’ve run away with myself on a real tangent there but it’s something you can think about, ponder on and get back to me with your thoughts!

Creekmoor, stocked a big range of men’s clothes, a huge wall of shelving of dvds and games as well as a super impressive, big vinyl record collection.

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Right by the front door is a large area of women’s clothes, shoes and bags. Ranging from designer labels like lovely Hobbs dresses to high street togs from the likes of Zara, Marks & Spencer and Topshop. Everything felt of good quality and

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As you can see, I was quite snap happy this evening. Rows of old fashioned Singer sewing machines adorned the top shelves of the shoes section.

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On the other side of the shop was all of the homewares. They laid it out like it was a proper department store. With a kitchenwares section with electronic items to plates, glasses and other little knick-knacks. A bathroom section almost with an array of different skincare and beauty products all unused and unopened, perfect if you’re on a budget. They used donated wallpaper or off cuts to create the look for each section and each room and I’m really impressed with the thought and attention to detail here. It’s something I’d have never thought of and probably wouldn’t have even realised had it not been brought to my attention. I sound like a broken record but I’m honestly so impressed with all this effort. It helps customers visualise each item when they draw it all together and lowkey makes you want to get more as it all looks so good altogether!!

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I love the quirky furnishings. I can’t wait to deck out my future home with funky little pieces like this. It’ll be like a storybook of random pieces and like Phoebe Buffay did my shopping.

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This section had real Cosy Club / Lounge vibes. It’s eclectic and fun. In my opinion vintage or vintage style pieces like this have so much more life and character about them compared to a simple (Read boring) frame.

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Opposite the till area are these two changing areas.

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five points if you can spot me.

Well done for making it this far! This is probably my personal record for the most pictures used in a blog post. So I do apologize if it’s quite laggy to open and load this blog post but trust me it’ll be so worth it! As I mentioned previously, we got given 20% off of everything we purchased on the night and I picked out some bargains I want to show off to you all.

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I picked up this faux succulent for my room. I redecorated my bedroom back in August going with a really neutral vibe with white walls, keeping the same furniture and generally having a bit of a clear out. I’m using soft furnishings and duvet covers to bring in splashes of colour here and there and also means I can change the theme as I wish. At the moment I’m alternating between a green leafy duvet cover and then a pink and grey floral design. This was only £2 as well?!

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I love little trinkets and quirky pieces and spotted this old fashioned, vintage atomizer nestled in amongst some other homewares. I just thought it was quite pretty and I can’t wait to feel like Sophia Loren spritzing myself with my fancy schmancy new atomiser.

As I was browsing the clothes I proudly proclaimed that I’ve got SOOOOO much black clothing and couldn’t possibly need anymore, that I was finally going to get something with a bit of colour. Flash forward to about 15 minutes later when I spotted this off the shoulder sheer blouse; it slipped right into my basket without even a second thought. I love items like this though, whether you want to dress it up with some skinny, cigarette trousers for a smart casual look or layer it with a mini skirt and tonnes of black kohl eyeliner and some silver jewellery for a cool going out out style.

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Lastly I picked up this hefty and totally random selection of books. I love reading as you may have already guessed by now! But something I’m really proud of is that my taste in the genre of books I read is fluid and always changing. I’m really keen to broaden my mind as and when I can. As much as I love reading a light hearted chick lit novel I also really enjoy reading social psychology books and things that make me really think. I picked up Single, White Female by John Lutz; the book the film is based on. I love books that you can’t put down until the very end and I definitely think this book will be just like that. I got The Circle by Dave Eggers which I picked up after a skim read of the blurb. The Circle is about a company (called The Circle obvs) that runs the internet and now basically runs everything. The main character starts working for them and slowly but surely notices a sinister truth about this place. Sounds interesting, right!

Next up is Big Bones by Laura Dockrill which is all about the day to day trials and tribulations of a young fat girl. It sounds fun and honest and as someone who was also the young fat girl I’m so glad to see she’s not the laughing stock, the cliche butt of the joke because she’s a larger person. I got Wilde Like Me by Louise Pentland. I know I’m a bit late the party with this one but it was £1 and I like nice to read chick lit which I’ve heard this is.

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Like I say, my reading history is eclectic and random as anything, my next purchase was Jon Ronson’s Them: Adventures With Extremists. Jon talks about his experiences of meeting different extremists around the world and discovered the one thing they all have in common. Probably not an ideal book to reading on the train or in Costa to avoid funny looks. I got Worth Dying For by Tim Marshall which is all about trying to understand the histories, the power and politics of the symbols that people rally around, the symbols that unite us and also divide us. Aaaaaand last but by no means not least; I got Tequila Mockingbird combining my two favourite things, alcohol and literary based puns. This book contains a glorious collection of all the best tipples and I can’t wait to put this book to good use. Y’know for research purposes obvs…I’m doing this for you guys.

I’m so glad I said yes to going along to this fabulous event I got loads of great new bits, learnt loads about this wonderful foundation and feel like the money I spent that evening will have inevitably helped even just a tiny bit. If you’re local to the area I’d really recommend popping in if you’re near to Poole or Bournemouth. This really isn’t like any old charity shop you’d find on your local high street.

Or simply, if you can take anything away from this blog post I implore you to have a root through your local charity shops. Not only will you be giving back to those who need it most, it’s more sustainable than buying brand new clothes or homewares and most of the time you really wouldn’t even know it’s from a charity shop! Plus it’s much cheaper way of shopping plus you never know what might take your fancy!

*I got invited to this blogger event in exchange for writing a blog post / review about it. Even though it was an invited experience all my thoughts, feelings and opinions remain authentic, true to me and genuine.

T’was the Night Before Christmas.

T’was the night before Christmas, and all through the country, dashed irritable shoppers tired and hungry. Every man and their Mother pushed and shoved with their trolley, so much for this being the season to be jolly. When I was a child, Christmas was much more exciting, with the anticipation of Santa bringing presents plus family and loved ones reuniting. The older I’ve gotten the more the festive period makes me wince,from the endless shopping and burgeoning feasts fit for a prince. It makes me sound so selfish, so obnoxious and a bit of a Grinch but I want to treat my loved ones to their own private island but am seriously feeling the pinch. Christmas should be about the presence not the presents around the tree yet here I am stressed about the silly little things that shouldn’t really mean the be all and end all to me. ~ x

 

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So Christmas for a lot of people is seen as such a happy joyous occasion spending time with loved ones, eating and drinking copious amounts of rich, decadent food til you drift off to a drunken snooze in front of the Eastenders Christmas specials. But I can’t lie, this year I have felt the complete opposite of festive and if it wasn’t for the constant reminder on the tv and in shops about Christmas I probably would have been none the wiser!

I just really can’t be dealing with how manic it is at this time of year, how you have to practically hold a black belt in Jiu Jitsu just to manage your way around a TK Maxx throughout the month of December. That you ideally need a car from Wacky Races (always a Penelope Pitstop person if you ask me) to battle for a space in Tesco and the patient of an absolute saint when those relatives ask you those same questions you get every year. Yes I am still single, yes I am *still* a vegetarian and yes my hair is different now but I’m growing out my bangs. Ok now I’m just paraphrasing but you get my drift.

I used to really enjoy the festivities and everything that came along with it but I have been feeling like a right grump in comparison to a lot of people this year. I wish I was feeling it a bit more, giving the fact it is actually Christmas Eve and at the time this goes live in exactly 24 hours the big day will be nearing it’s end. As I get older the thought of all the madness, the craziness when shopping, the fact that someone spend over £850 in my local supermarket, that the shop shelves are nearing on BARE you’d have thought a nuclear apocalypse was on it’s way. God I’m such a misery aren’t I?!

Now, I’m acutely aware that in reality there is far much more to the Christmas period than the buying of gifts or shoppin’ til you droppin’ and I’m probably just feeling it even more so as I’m feeling quite poor and that I wouldn’t be able to indulge others as much as I’d like to. There’s a pressure to show your love and adoration to someone through the gift giving when the bottom line is someone who barely knows you but can exude their wealth could buy you a rolex and someone who cares for you a great deal could write you a thoughtful card that will mean so much more.

So whatever you’re up to this yuletide, on December 25th 2018 I really do hope you have a wonderful one, whether you spend it eating and drinking copious amounts of delicious festive treats, surrounded with your family (even that aunt you don’t really like) or working because as lucky as I am, and the majority are, there are plenty who have to work, or if you don’t celebrate Christmas I hope you have a marvelous day, revelling in the peace and quiet and the one day of the year when the telly has actually quite good things on. But to sum up, you’re all absolutely mint and I hope you have the best day whatever you do. ❤

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The Olive Branch, Wimborne.

I love going out for breakfast. Or going out for brunch. Or just going out to eat really. Ok I just like food a lot. I went out for a boujiee girly brunch with my mum and sister to a pub/restaurant called The Olive Branch actually owned by the Hall and Woodhouse chain. It’s set in the heart of Wimborne, Dorset just a short distance away from places like Poole and Bournemouth.

I’ve been here a couple of times now with friends and seperately with my mum and I really like that it’s got a really relaxed, friendly vibe and it doesn’t feel at like any other Hall and Woodhouse pub I’ve been to before. The menu caters for so many different dietary requirements whether you’re coeliac, vegan, vegetarian or just a bit of a fussy eater there’s plenty to choose from. Plus the decor is really cool. With it’s large garden to sit in, the laidback pantry area indoors with big tables and long benches perfect for gathering all your friends together for a cosy brunch on a Saturday morning. Or the more formal dining area and snug.

I really like that their breakfast and brunch menu’s are a little bit different to what you may usually expect to see. I decided to have their shakshuka and a yellow smoothie and it was lush. I have a bit of a sweet tooth and if I was out for breakfast or brunch I’d either go for something a bit different or something like pancakes or french toast but I haven’t had a shakshuka since I went to Redroaster in Brighton (read more about that here or even read about my WHOLE Brighton adventure here)

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This Middle Eastern dish is right up my street and I reckon I could probably eat it breakfast, noon and night. It consisted of three eggs delicately baked in a rich, spiced sauce made from tomatoes, chillies, pepper and onions topped with chili flakes and coriander. With two small batons of bread to dip in. You could add some spinach or feta for an extra £1 each or if you wanted to make this brunch plate vegan you could have swapped the eggs for some avo instead.

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Usually I’d have gone with a tea or a latte but I felt like something cold for a change and something refreshing and this one sounded perf. It was full of pineapple and mango hence the sunny yellow colour and it was fab on this warm day.

Wimborne has some great eateries and I’d recommend The Olive Branch if you’re looking for somewhere to please everyone!

22 Things you’ll know if you come from a small town.

I live in the middle of nowhere. Often when people say that they actually just mean they live at least 20 minutes from their nearest Nando’s and a bit of a walk to the bus stop or train station. But I live just outside of a small touristy town in Dorset, England. It’s often featured on those Instagram travel blogger pages, don’t get me wrong it is pretty and a perfect place  to shoot a candid or a landscape shot, but to me when I see it, all I’m seeing are all the cobbles I’ve tripped over and all the drunken memories I’ve got of us larking about as teenagers.

I’ve always lived in the countryside and have dreamt of living in an exciting big city for as long as I can remember. Don’t get me wrong it was a lovely a place for me to grow up as I never felt unsafe and could play out with my friends all the time. People who live in bigger towns or cities don’t realise the actual first world problems we face on a day to day basis, how utterly headbanging it can be living in the literal cowpat middle of nowhere and how life can be a little bit more like Hot Fuzz than Countryfile than first anticipated.

You can always tell who belongs in a big city and who’s just visiting. 

If you’re in London and you have to check the tube maps then you’re definitely not from those ends. Or if you apologize when someone bumps into you or you bump into them. OR if you actually wait at a pedestrian crossing…Jus saying. I honestly feel like I have mad Arthur Weasley vibes when I’m trying to navigate myself 3 stops on the same Tube line.

Learning to drive is a must.

I live in a village with a few buses a day and a train station in the next town along as soon as I could I learnt to drive so I could do all the fun things you do at 17 like driving all your mates around a Tesco car park at 10pm at night. Learning to drive little, narrow mud splattered country lanes I swear is more nerve wracking than a motorway.

 Manoeuvring around each and every pothole meticulously.

Investing in a 4×4 sometimes feels like the safest option rather than mourn your suspension everytime you drive to the shops.

Planning going out out around buses and train times.

My nearest nightclubs are either in the next town town and is a complete dive (it’s on an industrial estate and they still have under 18s nights, grim I know right) or in Salisbury which is a 30 minute train journey away.  So if we fancy a night of embarassing ourselves in a ‘Spoons we have to either get the last train home at 11, pay a ridiculous amount for a taxi home (honestly feel like I could actually charge someone for a piggyback ride for cheaper) or have to pay for a cheap hotel for the night just so you can get truly Naomi Campbell’d.

Local Newspapers.

Before we got fire, wifi and FaceBook (Y’know the 3 necessities in life) the local paper was like the Facebook of it’s time. It was practically read as gospel. If it wasn’t in the Blackmore Vale then did it really even happen??? No one is born and no one passes away without it being a part of the births, deaths and marriages page. Similarly I have way too much fun having a bit of a giggle at the cringy dating page. Turns out there is a lot of people in my local area looking for a discreet something on the side.

Local Newspaper headlines.

Full credit to some of the journalists who make a living trying to find the biggest, best and most exciting ‘scoop’. The most exciting thing that happened in my town was that someone would move for sale signs and put them in front of someone else’s house. Or when the local antique shop got their giant Punch and Judy statue stolen from their front window. It dominated headlines for weeks.

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That moment of pure hometown glory when you see it appear on the News or on the weather map. 

Fete’s / Carnivals.

Carnivals in the countryside are a just a liiiiiiittle bit different to something like Notting Hill or Rio for instance. Think of it as a cross between Big Fat Gypsy Weddings, Jeremy Kyle, about 20 tractors pulling floats and about 60,000,000 flashing LED lights.

I mean, I may have made out that carnival’s sound horrendous but it’s pretty much always for charity and LOOK how much fun this guy is having?! You can’t say we don’t make our own fun! And also Health and Safety would have a FIELD DAY here.

Weird Traditions.

Are you even from a small town in the middle of nowhere if you don’t have some sort of weird tradition??? I really don’t mean like some sort of voodoo ritual like you all think us hillbilly folk do but like summer fetes, gardening shows, allotments and carnivals. For instance near Gloucester there is a competition to chase a wheel of cheese down a steep hill. But we do claim Glastonbury in the West country, so swings and roundabouts I guess!?

 

No one ever knows where you’re from. 

I went to a 3 day conference for work a few years ago and the table all took it in turns to introduce themselves and say their name and where they were from. There were the obvious ones like Cardiff, Birmingham, Stockholm (It was a weird mix of people I won’t lie, not quite as iconic as New York, London, Paris but maybe one day it will be who knows???) But then everyone turned to face the little country bumpkin that is  me and I said I was from Shaftesbury in Dorset to which none of them really knew where that was until one exclaimed loudly that she absolutely loved when she saw Cats in the West End and stayed in a lovely hotel just off of Shaftesbury Avenue…

No signal. 

Oh my days this is the bane of my life. I spend about 90% of my phone calls shouting ‘YEAH I CAN HEAR YOU, CAN YOU HEAR ME????’.  I think I might have had full signal on my iPhone at home once. Then I moved my phone by a quarter inch off of my bed and it was gone again.

Literally ever.

It was practically a grand event where I’m from when a shop goes Contactless. God knows what’ll happen when they discover Apple Pay. OR fibre optic broadband.

The old adage goes that in London or any other big city, you’re never more than 6ft away from a rat, well in a small town I reckon it’s the same law of averages about people you went to school with. 

Deliveroo is a myth.

The nearest Topshop, cinema, civilization is about 20 miles away. 

Praise the Lord for online shopping and free returns is all I can say.

More indie shops.

You know me, I love an independently run shop, coffee shop, cafe, restaurant or whatever and smaller towns have such interesting high streets whereas bigger towns or cities can sometimes look all the same, littered with the exact same high street stores.

EVERYTHING INVOLVES COMMUTING.

Traffic.

Congestion can often have a different meaning from a queue of cars, to being stuck behind a tractor or a farmer taking his cows from one field to the other. One slight benefit is that you’ve always got an excuse if you’re running late and happened to be stuck behind a tractor, again. I really hope none of my friends see this because I am ALWAYS running late and there’s always a tractor going slow. HONEST. Ahem.

Everyone knows everyone.

It’s more than likely your friends have dated someone you’re somehow distantly related to.

Pubs everywhere.

Some of them quaint and charming, some of them filled with old men that stare at you as if you’ve walked in with a vial of Anthrax with a pint of local cider.

Country pubs are better than clubs and bars. 

Biased but if you can find me a bar or a club in the middle of London that serves a ploughmans, has a log fire and a cuddly pub dog then HIT. ME. UP.

Everyone is friendly. 

I live in a village that if you pass someone you must always say ‘Hello!’ or ‘Good Morning’ or at least comment on the weather. You look like a bit of a weirdo in a city wishing strangers a good morning so maybe it’s just a small town thing.

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As much as I whinge and moan about the trivial things it really is quite beautiful and will always feel just like home. I can’t imagine growing up anywhere else. And sometimes when you want to take a few moments away from social media, the lack of signal has it’s benefits.

MUCH LOVE.X

 

Winter Warmer Bean Chilli.

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Chilli con Carne is one of my all time favourite dishes to eat and also to make. It’s so versatile and you can change up the whole meal with different sides, different ingredients and different spices every single time. Also in my opinion it makes it one o the harder dishes to recreate as I’m always adding in different little bits every time I can never go back and make the same bowl of it. Everyone in my household eats meat apart from me but whenever I cook I always like to do something non meaty for them. Hence why I decided to treat them to this fab bean chilli this evening. I should add that I’m not one of those hardcore veg heads that force everyone to eat tofu and quorn (I mean I am trying *very* hard for them to all try a Linda McCartney sausage even just a tiny bite but no such luck so far.)
The great thing about chilli is that there is so much room for personalisation, if you like yours with some spice and a bit of kick then you can add as many chillies and chilli flakes as you like, I’ve heard of some people adding a couple of squares of good quality dark chocolate to make the mixture smoother and creamier or even a dollop of marmite to give it that salty, well marmitey, flavour.. If you can’t face a meal without meat (my sister to a t) then you can add some diced bacon or pancetta. The possibilities are endless.
So I thought I’d impart my wonderful knowledge and wisdom of this with a fab chilli recipe because it is so ridiculously easy to make and is so tasty and warming especially in the coming colder months.This was to die for and literally a one pot dish. I honestly thought they were a myth or clickbait seen on Pinterest.
I’m not one for complicated recipes if I have to flambé anything I’m out, this one pot dish is super duper simple there’s literally no room to go wrong.
 Oh I should also add that these measurements may seem proper huge but this made 12 portions so was perfect for leftovers the following day, lunches or even popping in the freezer cos you never know when you might need an emergency bean chilli??

You will need:
  • 1 large carrot.
  • 1 large celery stalk.
  • 1 medium red onion.
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped. I roasted it as well so it was easier to squish with a back of a knife. I’m getting proper technical here, watch out Gordon Ramsey.
  • 1 400g tin chopped tomatoes.
  • 1 tblsp tomato puree.
  • 1 tsp chilli powder.
  • 1 tsp ground cumin.
  • 1 tsp ground coriander.
  • 1 bay leaf.
  • 1 tsp cinnamon.
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika.
  • 1 400g tin butter beans.
  • 1 400g tin kidney beans.
  • 1 400g black beans.
  • 1 small tin baked beans (cheating IKR but it works).
  • Handful of chopped coriander leaves.
  • sweetcorn.

HOW TO:

To start off I finely diced a stalk of celery, a carrot and a small red onion and fried it off in the pot with a good glug of olive oil, crushed garlic and a pinch of salt. Once that had cooked through and turned a more translucent colour which took about 10 minutes. After that I poured a tin of chopped tomatoes into the pot. Leaving that to simmer a bit, I actually used my handheld immersion blender and just blended the mixture a handful of times. That was more for my personal preference as I didn’t want big tomatoey lumps. (also what I look like on holiday. A big tomatoey lump..)
From there I added in all of the spices and the bay leaf. I never really thought much about cooking before but you are really building flavours upon flavours. That way you can taste a bit see if you need to add anything else or realise your culinary expertise that you’ve made a pretty banging pot of flavours so far.
To save time and energy I use tinned beans. You can use dried beans but it just takes a bit longer as you have to leave them soaking overnight aaaaaand I couldn’t be bothered for that. Sooooorrry.  So yeah where was I? I added in all my funky tins of beans. Even my baked beans, ok I know the whole of Texas and Southern American states will be wanting to burn my kitchen down for that but in my opinion it really works. I had put a sprinkle too much chilli into this and when I say a sprinkle it was practically like a truck had reversed up and dumped a whole skip full of the stuff. Plus I  really needed something to reduce it’s thickness and flavour.
I throw that in the pot. Not literally that would be messy and not to mention reckless. Pls don’t throw anything on my recommendation. Yeah so add in all the tinned things or the beans you’ve been soaking overnight, if you do that…I just want to say I’m already so proud of you. Leave it to simmer gently over a low heat for like 20 minutes, enough time to peg some washing out. I sound like Bree Van Der Kampf but that is genuinely what I did.
In that time you can come back stir it all through and be delighted with the delicious smokey smells filling your kitchen as we speak. And that is literally your one pot chilli done. I don’t even know if I can call it a chilli? Maybe like a bean stew would be more appropriate.
If you want to make yours a bit thicker, I mix a spoonful of polenta (or flour whatever suits you) with some water until it forms a slurry like that consistency and then combine that with the chilli. If you mix the flour or polenta or whatever thickening agent right into it it can create just lumps and pockets of flour and that is really not ideal.  (I’m using some cracking terminology here aren’t I)
Once made you can either eat it immediately, don’t even bother putting it in a bowl just grab a spoon or ladle, depending on your mood and eat it ALLLL. Or heat it up just before serving, y’know whatever you’d rather.
SO hey presto. You made yourself a delicious, heart warming, good for the soul bowl of food. I’ve served this to the meatiest of all meat eaters and they even went back for seconds. I’m fairly certain lions on the prowl for their next slither of food would rather eat this than their usual prey (once again, do not hold me to these ridic claims)
So sit down with a good book and a big spoon or gather round the dinner table for some wholesome home cooking. You can serve this with rice, cornbread which I made for the first time today and it is absolutely divine. On top of a jacket potato or even batch prepare on a Sunday for a whole week of meal preps If you’re that way inclined. I am forgetful and lazy I don’t think I’ll ever be a meal prepper unless it’s cooking a pizza and separating the leftover. cold slices for work lunch. Jokes there’s never any leftover slices. This is great family food as you can lay the table with guac, salsa, tortilla chips and sour cream and all dig in and have a Texan feast.
MUCH LOVE.

Is Arm Candy legit?

chanel bag set uoSome people love shoes, some people love jewellery, I love handbags. I have done since I was a child and I genuinely had the biggest collection of bags for any normal teenager. I must have drove my parents bonkers with it! I’ve always had a bit of an obsession with designer handbags as well. I mean, who wouldn’t want to have that sought after item, the best of the best?! Shortly after I created this blog I entered in a competition to win a designer handbag of my choice. If I’m being completely honest, after I entered I completely forgot about it until a week or two went by and I got a call from an unknown number up in Manchester. At the time I was getting so many scam calls that as soon as I saw this flash up I remember tutting, rolling my eyes and thinking ‘Nope I CBA with this’ so actually declined the call. Little did I know it was actually Rob from Arm Candy ringing to say I was the closest guess (I was one out I believe) and I had won a Chanel handbag. Aka the bag of my absolute dreams.

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A few minutes had gone past and I then get a notification on my mobile with a voicemail, baring in mind at this point I was still thinking it was some dodgy company trying to convince me I was owed PPI. I remember thinking the cheek of this one, not only trying to scam me, but to leave a voicemail too!?! Clicking play and putting it on loudspeaker, my mouth genuinely fell open as I heard ‘Congratulations you’re this week’s winner Abbie! You won your Chanel handbag’. So much so I had to replay it about 87 times, making sure it wasn’t someone I knew pulling the most convincing prank with the most convincing northern accent I’d ever heard!

Needless to say, I rang back within about 0.0003 seconds and still couldn’t quite believe it. I still live at home with my family and when my parents and sister came through the door they were even convinced it was too good to be true. After much emailing back and forth I arranged to meet Rob and Gary in a hotel bar in my town. We had some building work at home and also just in case this wasn’t legit I had my mum and sister with me! After a quick chat it was time for me to open the big black Chanel carrier gift bag i’d been eyeing up the whole time and when I did, It was even more perfect than I  imagined!

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There’s a handful of reasons as to why I decided to write this post today, for one, I feel like I go on about my experience with them and can’t stop going on about it. I am typically not a lucky person yet still won. I think they’re ruddy fantastic. Secondly, I get quite a lot of page views on the original post I wrote about my experience with arm candy (here) and a lot of emails and questions about them. Whether it’s about their authenticity, if they’re legit or whether there is a sure fire way to win! If you hadn’t heard of Arm Candy until today (well babe where ya been?) it’s a competition site where in which you select the dream designer handbag of your choice, guess the numbers of sweets or candy in a jar and if you guess the correct number or the closest to it you win. Easy as that! You can see why some people deem it too good to be true?! It certainly sounds it. But I can totally promise you it’s 100% legit. So much so I’ve put together, along with the help of the lovely Rachael aka the marketing marvel over at Arm Candy, a little Q&A with all the most frequently asked questions I receive and what Arm Candy is really all about.

How did the idea of Arm Candy Handbags start?

Rachael: Well we knew that girls love handbags! And lots of people aspire to own a designer brand. Most people might be unable to purchase one with the big price tags, so we wanted to help make those dreams a reality and provide people the opportunity to win one – but with a bit of fun!

How did you decide to have a competition of counting sweets in a jar?

R: The name came first, so then the game came quite easily after that! We knew that we wanted our competition to be a game of skill, and with “candy” we instantly thought of sweets! So guessing the number of sweets in a jar seemed a fun and fair game, that’s easy to understand.

Do you get these made up in shop or do you do it yourselves?

R: We started out purchasing from local sweet shops, however we thought it would be more fun to make them ourselves! By doing them ourselves, it means we can create jars around certain themes, add lots more variety of sweets and make them look more exciting!

Who counts the sweets? 

R: Every Monday morning after the competition close two members of the Arm Candy team will conduct the official count and film it for its authenticity. One person counts and the other keeps a tally, so we can double check our count.  And don’t worry we wear gloves when counting the sweets for health and safety reasons, as one thing that not many people know, is that the lucky winner gets to keep that jar of sweets to enjoy!

Would you ever post a video of the sweets being counted after every weekly competition comes to a close?

R: Yes as we film all of the sweet counts, we post them to our Arm Candy You Tube channel each week so people can watch them if they wish! We recently even did a Facebook live count which went down really well! We think everyone loved real-time nature to see how close they were to winning! As it was such a success, we’ve decided to continue using Facebook live for the first Monday of every month.

What happens if no one who enters comes close to guessing the correct number?

R: The great thing about Arm Candy, is that there will always be one winner each week! It is rare that someone doesn’t guess the exact count, but if that does happen then we go to the closest guess. Also if there is more than person who guesses correctly, then they all go into a tie break process where they have one guess with a new jar of sweets. The tie breaker that guesses correctly from the tie break jar then is the winner! The best bit, is that everyone who is in the tie break, get a £50 Selfridges voucher so they can still treat themselves to something nice!

Several people think these competitions seem too good to be true! What do you think it is about Arm Candy that makes people question its authenticity?

R: I think it’s the fact that you can win your dream designer handbag for as little as £2! And as it’s a game of skill, everyone has an equal chance! We’ve even had people win on their first ever time of playing! We’ve also had people question our winners videos, whether they are real or staged with actors. All those videos are very much real people, winning their dream designer handbags. Everyone reacts differently when they are on camera and we have some that are over the moon ecstatic and some winners who are very shy and don’t react in that same way. We respect all our winners and never force them to act in a certain way, we try to keep everything as natural as possible.  

I get a lot of pageviews on my blog post about winning my chanel bag (seen here ) from last year still from people wondering if this is legit. What can we do to prove to people this is very much real? 

R: I believe the winners are the most important thing here! Without them, we wouldn’t have Arm Candy! People believe other people! We try to post as much content about our winners, as we do about the designer bags and the competition itself. That’s also why we personally hand deliver each bag to wherever the winner is within the UK. We like to do this, not only as we love to meet our players and the lucky winner! But also to make sure we get some natural content to prove that we are a real competition, and that we are genuinely giving away an authentic designer handbag, to a real person!  

Would you ever think about branching out and stocking watches or purses?

R: We definitely have thought about the future of Arm Candy and whether that involves branching out into complementary items. In the short term, we do plan to run special one-off campaigns that will include bonus prizes such as these.

Or even a men’s selection?

R: We have considered a man’s version, and we’d need to offer the right product as designer handbags might not appeal to the masses of men like they do for females! We have lots of exciting enhancements in the future of Arm Candy… watch this space!

How do you choose which bags to offer?

R: The Arm Candy team like to keep up-to-date with what’s going on in the world of fashion, not only from the designer brands themselves, but what styles key bloggers and influencers are wearing. We try to provide a range that is suitable for many ages, styles and taste! We always love to get feedback from our fans as well, if they would like to see a particular brand or style on the site, we’ll always try our best! We currently only offer styles from iconic designers, however we are very interested to look into offering bags from up and coming designers and more unique styles on our site, if the Arm Candy fans would be up for it!

Which is the most popular?

R: By far Chanel is the most popular brand – when its available to win. We are limited on the number of times we can offer Chanel on our site, otherwise we’d love to have it available for our fans to play to win every single week! Aside from that, the other most popular brands are Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Givenchy. There collections are always gorgeous, and we always try to have a few different styles available to win.

I think it would be really exciting if you could add a feature so when you enter, you could input a phone number or the details of a family member or friend. So when the winner guesses the correct amount and wins, you could liaise with that person and surprise the winner with the bag of their dreams at work or wherever! Is this something you’d ever consider? 

R: It’s a great idea, and one we have considered as we’d love to be able to surprise the winner! However, the majority of the time we have a tie break situation, so we have to call the winner to tell them that they are in the tie break and give them the opportunity to provide their tie break guess. In this scenario, unfortunately having a surprise wouldn’t work for us at the moment, but it is really something we would like to try and incorporate in the future.

If you feel excited about the opportunity to win your own designer handbag, then we’d love you to play along with Arm Candy and you could be our next winner! Play along by clicking this link here!

AND if this isn’t reason enough to take a chance at winning the designer bag of your dreams for less than a price of a takeaway coffee, if you enter this week and you guess correctly, your dream bag will be hand delivered to you by none other than Jack Fowler aka New Jack from this years Love Island?!

Thanks so much for reading ya little hun, I hope you enjoyed this Q&A as much as I enjoyed doing it? ALSO, I hope you’re enjoying the fact I’m on here much more often. I’m thinking of doing Blogtober but I also said that last year, so we’ll see!

MUCH LOVES. X

Working with Petshop.co.uk *

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Up until the humble age of 19 I never owned a pet. Unless you count the goldfish me and my sister either won at the fair or got from the local pet shop. Fish as pets for me weren’t very exciting or very fun, I’m not expecting them to my little best friend that I can share all my innermost thoughts with or to jump through fiery hoops, as ridic and impressive as that would be. They were just kinda there, taking up space in their big ol’ tank on the side. Voohran was our oldest goldfish lived for what seemed like 450 years in goldfish time but in reality I think it was about 3 years in human time, which isn’t bad going for a fairground fishy. Also don’t judge the name, me and my sis were and still are weird little beings. And you try and think of a better name for a fish that refused stinky fish flakes than Voohran. What a guy. What a maverick. What a weird name thinking about it?

Other than that little guy, I never had a pet so I never really understood the love and affection you really feelI cried at Marley and Me when it first came out but watching it again being a dog owner I’m not ashamed to admit I cry Kim K style ugly tears. Or I stop the film just as they move into the last big house so the doggo has a lovely happy ending woofing and Wow’ing with Owen Wilson forevz. Don’t even get me started on A Dog’s Purpose I’m not even going to attempt that one. My parents both had pets growing up and remember them talking about them as if they were a member of the family, one you actually love and like I should add, and my sister and I always felt like we were missing out on that. So when I was 19, 4 years ago now, our lives all changed when a little ball of fluff came into our lives in the shape of Charlie, or Lord Charles or Chatsworth the Schnoodle. He is a miniature schnauzer cross toy poodle and is a little joy.

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JUST LOOK AT MY LITTLE BEAR CUB HERE!! He is ever so adorable, clever and knows so many tricks. Such a little cutie and brings so much joy. Continue reading “Working with Petshop.co.uk *”