For the last couple of months I’ve been catsitting for my neighbour, who’s been in hospital. Every day I pop in and check on her lovely kitty and make sure she has everything she needs. Then we have a cuddle and a fuss. It’s rather lovely.
I’ve also looked after my pal Douglas (who pops up from time to time on my Instagram feed) since he was a kitten.
As someone who’s a bit allergic to cats but loves them this is an absolute treat. So I’ve decided to do this as a side gig and get to tell more kitties that they’re gorgeous babies.
If you live in London and need someone to come in and check on your cats while you’re away, you can book me to look after your precious babies (and water your plants) then click this link and drop me a message.
At the beginning of the year I signed up to BorrowMyDoggy – a service designed to connect dog owners with dog lovers who can’t have their own canine chum.
Our flat is too small, we are both out all day and we don’t have a garden so having a dog is currently out of the question.
I took advantage of a special offer on the price of the membership, otherwise it might be a bit pricey for some.
I created a profile and messaged a few local dog owners (it gives you an approximate location) but nothing happened.
A few weeks ago I got a reply from a lady who lives across the dual carriageway from me (about 10 minutes walk) – how lucky was that!
I met Flick and her human, Susan, and we had a chat and a cuddle (Flick) and now Flick and I go to the park a few times a week for a walk and a play. For an older dog she’s very keen on running around the park and exploring the messages left my other dogs.
She’s a smart pup who goes into school to hear children read and help them build their confidence so she’s super friendly and gentle. Hopefully soon she’ll be coming over for a picnic and a sleepover.
I’ve really enjoyed using the service so far and will be seeing if I can make any more doggy friends, they are great fun and mean I get outside for some fresh air and exercise, plus science says stroking an animal lowers your blood pressure and can help boost your mental wellbeing.
The ratties don’t seem too bothered by the slight smell of dog on me after my park outings with Flick luckily.
How about you? Anyone used BorrowMyDoggy? What did you think?
There were many freebies on offer, including a goody bag for every ticket holder. Now I love a freebie but some of these were a little problematic – more on that later.
According to the brochure there were more than 250 vendors present, offering everything from wedding dresses to confetti, cakes made of cheese to flowers.
It was a bit overwhelming, weddings are big, big business, and the centre was heaving with brides to be, their mothers, bridesmaids and the occasional bewildered groom to be.
There was a Groom Room full of suits and very fancy cars, which C would have loved except he refused to come with me (but did take a Best Man to look at suits).
I took my Mum – and she was having a ball. I now know I get my love of a freebie from, she’s been married for 37 years, but oh she was lapping up everything we were offered.
I tried on a flower crown (definitely having one of those), looked at dresses, flowers, table settings, entered every competition going (please can I have a free holiday), tried cakes, looked at fascinators for Mum, discussed my engagement, our wedding plans and the colour scheme about a million times, are more cake, and looked at about a thousand dresses.
I totally failed to take any photos, there was just too much.
Now I want to talk about something that has already annoyed me beyond belief and my Mum decided to bring up several times too.
The wedding industry is fixated on a very particular type of bride – slim, conventionally pretty, and white. There was very little diversity on show.
Where were the dresses for fuller figured brides? Where was the ethnic mix of London being represented? What about the lesbian and genderqueer brides?
Every picture of a bride could have been of the exact same girl. The only suits were tailored for men. There was no suggestion of same sex weddings. I saw no pictures of black or Asian brides, no temples, synagogues, churches or mosques.
Now, I’m sure a lot of the vendors present would happily work with a wide range of wedding couples, after all, business is business. But I can’t imagine how alienating this vision of skinny, perfect whiteness must be.
My Mum pointed out that the wedding dresses were stuck in the past – women on the whole are bigger than before – the average dress size is a 16, but so many of the dresses were designed to fit slim, small-breasted, narrow hipped women. Where is my wide hipped, rugby player shouldered self going to get a dress? (I have ideas, but there was nothing for me there – I didn’t see anything on display above a 12).
The other issues we had revolved around this idea of being perfect- teeth whitening services, professional makeovers, all conforming to a standard not everyone can achieve.
My mum was also horrified by all the weight loss products on offer. In the goody bag offered to everyone were weight loss shakes, tea, biscuit bars and offers for discounts on these and other products.
At a time when even 8 year olds are suffering body image issues, when eating disorders are on the rise, when the standards of beauty are ridiculous, the pressure on the engaged women (and men) is insane.
A wedding is pretty stressful anyway, dealing with vendors, venues, family politics, negotiating everything you want, wrestling with a budget – you name it, it needs to be done. Yes, there are loads of tools, apps, websites etc to help you, but it’s still a lot to take on.
And then on top of that the pressure to lose weight, to be made perfect, because obviously your fiancé doesn’t want to marry you as you are – but some ridiculous impossible image of some other you.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look your best – to have your hair and make up done, to wear an outfit you feel (and look) fab in, but there is something wrong with feeling pressured to change everything about you to fit into a box.
When my parents got married (37 years and still both alive), there wasn’t nearly as much of this extreme pressure on young women before their weddings. And it really casts a pall over the excitement of it all.
I went to a wedding fair with the Mr and my Best Woman at the weekend. It wasn’t the big fancy kind but a small one at a local hotel/venue.
I mostly took pictures of cakes, because cake.
I also collected about a million business cards and fliers.
We met a Toast Master- which is a thing. I don’t quite get it.
Ate a load of free canapés, cake samples, sweets, and played how much of this chocolate fountain can I get on a little piece of pineapple before I end up covered in it.
We went looking for ideas and inspiration for our wedding. We found plenty and also a potential reception venue as the hotel itself was gorgeous and ticks a fair few boxes.
The Mr was very keen on hiring some slightly mad things like a giant connect4 and a bouncy castle – I think he was joking. But you can never be sure.
There was a fashion show in one of the rooms but we were due to have Sunday lunch with my aunt and uncle so we didn’t stay for it. Which considering my aversion to wedding dresses is probably a good thing. I have no idea what I’m going to wear. Pyjamas are totally acceptable right??
It was really useful to see what options are available and meet some local businesses who we might be able to use. I now have 3 potential reception venues to view including this one, which is great as I was feeling a little bit lost after my dream venue turned out not to be.
I suggest going to wedding fairs, this one was free and 10 minutes from us, or open days as you can get a sense of the place and also what’s on offer where you are. Even if you don’t go with the vendors there, you might get some great ideas.
On Saturday we hopped in the car and went to Peterborough for the third annual Feel The Force Day. A comic con designed for disabled people.
There were lots of cos players, including most of the cast of Star Wars, a few Disney princesses, most of the previous incarnations of the Doctor, and several Harry Potters. There were also several cats, from my favourite musical as a kid; Cats. Meow.
My favourite was a little boy dressed as Matt Smith’s Doctor whose wheelchair had been turned into a Tardis – it was imaginative and fun.
The convention centre was huge and I think I probably missed a few rooms because I kept getting lost. A sense of direction would have been useful.
I had several nice chats with people in costume and at several stalls. Everyone was friendly and warm.
Even though it was pouring with rain there were so many people there, and according to the Mr the longest queue for was for the disabled loo.
We were there to promote the Peterborough Phantoms – a sledge ice hockey team, the Mr is a team member and it’s one of the only fully integrated sports – for disabled and able bodied players of all genders.
I also cuddled a gorgeous Alaskan Malomout assistance dog, who were so chilled out despite all the people and chatted to a man with an owl. Because animals are better than people.
The Mr’s beard was very popular, mostly with men including Jack Sparrow who asked to stroke it. Beardmance is real.
There was some yummy food (the hot food was a big yes in the cold and wet) and musical entertainment. You could listen to a wizard reading stories, there were craft and art activities, and a few (very) minor stars signing autographs.
One of the things that I was really excited about was the Department of Ability – a comic where the superheroes disabilities are their superpowers. Due to be published soon, Stan Lee is a big fan.
All in all it was a really enjoyable day and really interesting to explore.
I may have been a little naughty with my pennies and as well as adding Dancing Groot to my growing collection (he may just be my favourite hero) I also picked up two Totoro themed cushions for the flat. I love Studio Ghibli very much.
So a little back story for you. My secondary school did one school trip a year (seriously) and in year 8 we were supposed to go to Stratford on Avon (home of the Bard) but because of what my head master called ‘a lunatic fringe’ our trip was cancelled.
I have two degrees in English Literature and am a massive word nerd/lit geek.
Seven years ago I met the Mr – his last name is Shakespeare. He’s very loosely related to William Shakespeare.
Anyway onto this weekend.
Last night I was told to pack an overnight bag and hop in the car. I had no idea where we were going. I only found out this morning because of his clever plan. We spent the night in a Premier Inn near Birmingham. Yep, the most famous playwright was a Midlands boy.
Parking the car next to Stratford Hospital we set off on foot to explore Tudor houses, beautiful gardens, a high street full of puns and navigate around several huge tour groups.
At the top end of the street is a statue of The Fool, welcoming you to Shakespeare’s town.
A little further down is the centre run by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, which includes the preserved buildings that belonged to Shakespeare’s parents, Anne and John. It has been turned into a museum, complete with interactive areas in the glovers’ workshop (John Shakespeare was a tanner and glover as well as an Alderman, Council member and general person of note in the community).
It would have been nicer without the very shouty lady in Tudor costume upstairs by the master bedroom.
The grounds were stunning, a lovely garden that is clearly well tended, and certainly enjoyable in the summer sunshine. There’s a gift shop, obviously, where you can buy all sorts of related merchandise.
We also wandered down to Shakespeare’s daughter’s house, where she lived with her husband. Again, it is beautifully presented and contains a cafe and actors performing scenes in the garden.
Lunch was a huge Ploughman’s in a rather excellent cafe just down from the Birth Place.
We didn’t go to Anne Hathaway’s cottage but did drive past, or Mary Arden’s farm as it was a bit out of the way but did enjoy strolling around the lovely market town and admiring all the preserved Tudor half-timbered houses and pretty church.
We also visited the MAD Museum (which I decided to review seperately).
I wanted to see New Place, recently excavated, which Shakespeare bought after becoming successful, but unfortunately the opening has been delayed due to heavy rainfall flooding the site.
We had a bit of fun spotting various references to Shakespeare and his works all over Stratford, some in the strangest of places (see photos) and the town also hosts a year round Christmas shop, a Beatrix Potter shop, a magic shop, teddy bear factory, and lots of cafes.
Oh, and one other thing happened.
With a little help from Shakesbear here, the Mr asked me to marry him. We’ve been driving each other crackers for 7 years now and in the beautiful garden at Shakespeare’s childhood home, his distant relation (there are no direct descendants) asked me to be his.
He’s not very romantic or soppy (thank goodness) so this was rather special. We’ll be celebrating with family and friends soon but I will need all your advice please as I plan a wedding.
So you may remember approximately a year ago I took part in the first #BoldisBeautiful march sponsored by Benefit Cosmetics in aid of women’s charities Refuge and Look Good Feel Better.
Well it rolled around again and my 10k partner Rehana and I signed up.
Last Sunday was boiling hot and I melted somewhat as we marched our way around London. There were 600 ish people, mostly women, a few men, some children and at least three dogs taking part.
Having mangled my knee a few weeks before I was a bit worried about hobbling along but it was only after we stopped that I was in pain, so that was something.
At checkpoints, including the Good Ship Benefit, we were given goodies and funny marching gear (pompoms, capes) to speed us along.
I received a medal to go with last year’s and brought home a giant pair of tweezers to terrify the Mr with (he has two giant caterpillars on his face forever trying to meet one another).
If you want to get involved, head to your nearest Benefit Brow Bar and get yours waxed, all profits go to the charities and you get a free product to say thank you.
Last year’s had a few hiccups that spoilt it and while this year’s wasn’t perfect (one of the checkpoints definitely wasn’t wheelchair friendly) despite the sunburn, it was really fun and I will be signing up for next year’s event.
Did anyone else watch that show as a kid? I know I didn’t make it up.
Anyway, you might be wondering where I and my boxes of beauty products have been all week. Let’s just say it hasn’t been the best week.
WordPress has been a bit buggy and ate some posts, the WiFi and the crazy weather have been duking it out all week and I spent the first half collapsed in a sunburnt achey heap (find out why on Saturday).
Let me know how your week’s been and stay tuned for more posts very soon..