For anyone who loves a good story, my friend Beetley Pete wrote this and I really enjoyed it. It’s a well thought out piece with lots of twists, turns and general unexpectedness! Hope you enjoy as much as I did!
This is the whole twenty-part serial, in one long story. It is for those of you who prefer to read it as a complete work. A long read, of 26,570 words.
Martin had always wanted to write a novel. He imagined his name on the cover, and thought ‘Martin Harwood’ would look good, especially after the words ‘The new bestseller from…’.
He had a solid idea for the story too. It would be about the frustrations of a forty-something man from the big city, a man whose life hadn’t quite worked out as he planned it. More or less his own story of course, but he would change the name of the main character, that was a given. Still, there were a few obstacles to overcome. For one thing, he didn’t own a computer. He had thought about typing the whole thing onto his mobile phone, but he soon gave…
Thrifting used to be all about visiting an actual store, charity shop, car-boot sale or garage sale and having a rummage around all the goods available until you find something you like and then purchasing it after, maybe, a bit of haggling over the price thrown in. Now with charities such as Oxfam offering on-line shopping, the likes of Gumtree, Ebay and Facebook Marketplace offering places for people to sell their goods, thrifting has become something we can do from our own homes, in our pyjamas if we so wish, and at any time of day or night – whenever the mood takes us.
Unfortunately, with all of these lovely, pre-loved items being available to us at the click of a button it is really easy to purchase and receive the product and have instant buyers regret. There is an art in thrift shopping and coming home (or taking delivery) of items that you love and today on the blog I’m going to share with you the questions I ask myself when thrifting, which help me to make decisions about what I’m thinking of buying. Hopefully, these questions will help you too!
Do I really need it? If it is something that you have been needing for a while (whether it is a coat, bag, household or miscellaneous item) then it is worth considering purchasing.
Do I really love it? If it is an item that you love, then chances are, further down the line you will still love it and it will be a treasure for you to keep.
Does it need altering? Usually, if an item needs altering then I put it back. I have a ton of things that already need altering and I really don’t want to add to the pile. If it needs altering, chances are that it will just sit and gather dust until you just decide to part with it. But, if it’s something that you need and love and are prepared to take home and alter straight away then, maybe it’s worth purchasing.
Does it need mending? See above, the same reasons apply to this as the question above.
Does it suit my style? If an item suits your style then it is worth considering purchasing as you will more than likely use it and look after it. If something doesn’t fit your style but you love it and really want it, think of ways you could customise it to fit your style.
Can I upcycle it? Whether it is a piece of furniture, clothing or accessories, if it’s not quite to your taste and style then consider upcycling it – can you paint it, re-upholster it, deep clean and varnish it, make it into something else then a purchase is worth considering.
Where will I put it/where will it live? It is worth visualising where an item will be placed in your home. If you can visualise where it will live then you are already imagining owning it and taking care of it. There is no point in purchasing something and shoving it away, out of sight, to be forgotten about. If you can’t visualise a place for it, don’t buy it.
Where will I wear it? This is similar to the answer above. If you can visualise yourself wearing it somewhere, or already have in mind somewhere to wear it and you know you will wear it more than once then this is a good thing. So many times I have bought clothing because it was unique or interestingly cut or made but then it has sat in my wardrobe and never seen the light of day because I have had nowhere to wear it so take this question into consideration before buying.
Do I own something similar already? If you own something similar already then it is worth considering how much you use the one you own, how long it has lasted you and if you will use the new one the same amount. If you don’t use the item you already have that much, or can find no reason to own 2 similar items then give this one a miss.
Will I still use it in 1 year, 5 years, 10 years? If you can see yourself still using the item in years to come or that it is still useful down the line then, after considering the answers to the other questions, it is worth thinking of purchasing.
What is the life-span of the item? If the item only has a short life-span in terms of function, fashion, style or how it is manufactured then leave it. However, if the item is well made, to your taste and style and doesn’t have a limited use then it is worth considering.
Can I get a better deal elsewhere? It is always worth having a look online (particularly on e-bay, though a google search is just as good) to see if you can get the same or similar item cheaper elsewhere. It is worth noting how much items are worth and how much people sell them for as, what you think is a bargain at the time may not necessarily be the case at all.
Do you have any criteria you stick to when thrifting?
Another Thursday and another Top 10! This time I’m sharing my Top 10 Places to Visit.
The beach. Living where I do in South Wales I’m not too far away from some spectacular beaches and I think there is nothing better than beach walks any time of the year.
Parks. I love being outdoors and going to the park, seeing the different coloured leaves on the trees and keeping an eye out for different animals that I may spot.
St Fagans. I love visiting St Fagans, I try to go every few years and have a walk around. I love that you can go into the buildings and have a look around and get a feel for how life was in years past.
Cardiff City Centre. There is so much to do in Cardiff…Independent shops, shopping arcades, a castle, museum, fab pubs…well worth a visit!
Bath. I love Bath, again, so much to do from independent shops to Roman Baths, a spa and lovely places to eat too.
Museums. There is something about visiting a museum that I really enjoy, not only do I learn things but the atmosphere has a really calming effect on me. Always worth a visit when its cold or raining!
Tate Modern. I’ve been to the Tate twice, once to see a Damien Hirst exhibition and the other time to see the Shape of Light exhibition. I have not really ventured around any of the galleries yet but I really want to go again. Visiting art galleries can help with creative ideas and it’s always interesting to see the different types of mediums artists use.
Book Shops. Wherever I go I usually end up in a book shop somewhere. There is something really lovely about spending time browsing in bookshops and I normally come away with a few to add to my collection!
Markets. I love markets. There is such a selection of different items on show and available to purchase. And some markets hold special events, like craft markets or food market days which are really worth checking out.
Abbeys – Tintern Abbey and Llanthony Priory in particular. I love heading to an abbey with my camera and a picnic in the summer months and having a leisurely walk around, taking in the architecture and atmosphere.
I worked on this project for my Mum, she had bought a little pot of fake flowers to sit in her living room on one of the shelves but they were plain white with not much interest to them, and in her words “they look too fake…”. After having a chat with her about what she wanted I said I may be able to help and dutifully carried them home to work on.
I thought about the best way to add colour to the flowers without it looking too bright, Mum wanted something a bit natural looking, and as these were similar flowers to a hydrangea I decided that I would use colours similar to those of the hydrangea.
I chose to use some of my excess hair dye – Bleach London dye and some Superdrug own brand dye, as I had used it for my floor lamp and it had worked really well and I knew I could control the intensity of the colour by diluting the dye with water and conditioner.
Here’s the before and after pics
I didn’t take that many pics during the process as it was a bit messy…each flower needed to be dabbed with dye using a paintbrush and I ended up with the dye mix all over my hands. However, this was a really simple and easy upcycle project to undertake and Mum was really pleased with the outcome!
Last week I shared my list of physical books that are on my To Be Read pile. Today I am going to go through my Kindle books to be read.
I usually download books that are on offer or free with my Kindle Unlimited subscription but I am not adverse to buying a book if the story captures my interest or I really love the author. I have to remember which books I have on my Kindle Unlimited as you can only borrow 10 books at a time and I am forever forgetting to return the ones I have already read.
Anyway, without any further ado, here’s my Kindle list…
Checking Out – Nick Spalding
Blogging Made Easy – Amen Sharma, Gareth James, Romeo Martin J. Rosales, Rumena Begum
Blogging – The 4 Step Collection – Mark Gray
The Friend – Teresa Driscoll
Into The Darkness – Sibel Hodge
Write Blog Posts Readers Love – Henri Junttila
My Virtual Life – Sharon Dempsey
Self Discovery Journal – Gerald Confienza
Sleep Tight – Rachel Abbott
Dangerous Girl – Emma Tallon
Selfie : How We Became So Self Obsessed – Will Storr
Silent Scream – Angela Marsons
The Others – Ian C.P. Irvine
To Finish Reading
The Minaturist – Jessie Burton
The Marriage Pact – Michelle Richmond
The Purgatorium – Eva Pohler
Everyday Aspergers – Samantha Craft
Nerdy, Shy, and Socially Inappropriate – Cynthia Kim
How I Changed My Life In A Year – Shelley Wilson
What books do you have waiting to be read on your Kindle?
I’ve not really been writing this blog for that long, around 5 months really, but in that time I have really enjoyed the process from thinking about topics to write about, researching the topics, taking photos and actually sitting down and creating the post.
I love the freedom my blog gives me to write about whatever I wish, I have covered some of my mental health issues, decorating, things I have done, projects I have been working on and a lot more besides that!
I love how blogging has become part of my life again and how I find it quite a calming thing just to be able to sit and write. Blogging seems to slow my mind and I find I can focus on it without any distractions.
I love getting notifications when my post has gone live (I write my posts a short while in advance), and I find that little ping and message appearing on my phone screen gives me a sense of achievement and, so far, has never failed to raise a smile.
I love sitting down and reading the posts that the people I follow have written and try to make it a daily habit. I find that reading posts is so much more interesting than skimming through other social media platforms.
I really enjoy being part of a community that takes time to express themselves and their hobbies, ideas and interests through writing and images, being able to connect and have conversations with people who have similar ideas, and I love being able to share my thoughts and creativity with other.
I love how there is so much more to blogging than writing and publishing content.
I went to see Occupational Health on Tuesday last week. At the time I didn’t really see that it was necessary as I knew that the environment I was going back to in work had changed, there had been work done to the offices – new heating systems put in and walls taken down which meant that the seating arrangements and whole office layout had changed which had changed the dynamics of the team I work in. I thought that, until I returned to work I wouldn’t know if that environment had affected me or whether it would.
I got ready on the morning of my appointment and the anxiety started to creep in but I managed to control it. I was really anxious about the drive there as I’ve not really driven much since I have been off from work. I was also really worried about the actual appointment, what I needed to say, whether I would forget to mention anything, whether they would see me fit enough to return to work and whether I would be allowed to return to work full-time.
When I arrived I had to fill in a form with all my details on it, it was a quick form to fill in and taking time to answer it seemed to calm my nerves a bit. I was 10 minutes early so I thought I would have to sit and wait but the doctor was able to see me straight away. I think this helped too as I wasn’t able to start overthinking things.
We talked about how I am feeling now, how I was feeling, my medication, anything that may have triggered my anxiety, stress and depression and what sort of things I was doing to overcome my illness. We talked about my worries about returning to work and how I’m still not sleeping properly. The doctor was really lovely, she asked lots of questions and listened to my answers without brushing them off, and she gave me some really useful advice. She also said that I would be ok to return to work on an extended phased return as she felt that it would be better for me. She suggested that for 2 weeks I work a total of 12 hours over 3 days, the next 2 weeks increase to 15 hours over 3 days, the 3rd week 24 hours over 4 days and the final 2 weeks to work 30 hours over 5 days. After that period of time I could then resume working 37.5hrs a week.
A report was written up and a copy was sent to my employer. I spoke with my line manager on monday this week, it was the final day of being covered on my sick note and we discussed my return to work for Tuesday. I decided, with her, that I would attend work at 9am and we would have a meeting to discuss my phased return.
So, yesterday, I got ready for my first day back. I was really worried about going back, namely about how my work colleagues would be with me, where I was going to be sitting, if I could remember my log in details for my work computer and about what was going to happen during the day.
I arrived at work, found my desk, my computer took an age to fire up as it had been switched off for some time, then I had problems with my computer screens (I use 2 for work), I then got locked out of the system as the password I did remember didn’t work. Eventually I was able to get into the system! I spent time sorting through my emails (all 600 of them!) then I had a meeting with my line manager, we needed to fill in some paperwork about returning to work, then my overall manager joined us to discuss the Occupational Health report. She said that it was a really positive report and that she could see that I was taking steps to help myself which was good. We then discussed my phased return. Both my managers agreed that the proposed return was a good idea and that they had worked out a timetable of hours and days for me to work which was nice, and they asked what sort of hours I preferred – I said mornings, as eventually I would need to be getting up in the mornings to come to work anyway and a routine would be really beneficial to me and probably help with my sleep patterns.
After the meeting I went back to my desk and managed to do the work that had been allocated to me before it was time for me to go home. My work colleagues were lovely and all said hi and had a chat with me. One of my work friends had left a note on my desk welcoming me back and put a little Hello Kitty figure with it. That really made me smile and was such a lovely gesture to come in to.
I’m back in work tomorrow and really looking forward to it. I just have no idea what to wear! This time last year it was freezing in the office but now the heating has been upgraded it seems warmer so I am unsure how to dress.
As it is coming up to Valentine’s Day I thought I would share a fun post on date ideas. I think, as a couple, whether you have been together only a short time or for months, or years it is essential to still do fun things together as a couple. Dates are not only fun but they bring you together as a couple, give you a fun time together, let you get to reconnect and know each other a bit more and give you something to talk about, not to mention memories that will last forever.
I decided it would be fun to give you 26 date ideas that are inspired by each letter of the alphabet! You could work through these in order or just pick one at random whenever you choose!
A is for…
Art Show. Why not see what kind of art shows are available near you? Sometimes local colleges and universities hold art shows of student’s work, or museums will hold a show based on a theme or artist. These can be fun to attend as you can look at new artworks, discover new artists, support your local students, learn new things, get inspiration while talking about which works you enjoy and which you don’t.
B is for…
Beach visits. Whatever season it is, beach visits can be lots of fun. In the winter wrap up and take a flask of tea or hot chocolate, or in the summer take a book and a towel, there is nothing better that a walk on the beach. Follow the tide line and see what you can find that has washed up. Not only is exercise good for you but being in the out doors and close to the sea is good for your mental health and can lift your mood.
C is for…
Craft Fair. Craft fairs happen all over the place, in markets and fields, halls and churches. Many of them are run by and stalled by local artists and makers. It’s a nice way of whiling away an afternoon. Not only that but you can pick up some lovely hand-made, unique gifts while supporting local traders and craftspeople.
D is for…
Dinner. Why not take it in turns to host a dinner date, whether you are living together or as a new couple, separately. Find out what the other person’s favorite meal is and cook it for them, lay the table, get out the best crockery, light candles, buy a nice bottle of wine for you both to enjoy, and dress up for the occasion. What is nicer than spending time with a loved one and a thoughtful home cooked meal?
E is for…
Eating Out. Take your loved one to the first place you had a meal out together or to a favorite food place, or try somewhere new that you both have wanted to visit. Sit down, enjoy the food and ambience while being together.
F is for…
Farm visit. Lots of places have farms that are visitors attractions now. You could spend a day visiting one and learning about the animals and how a farm operates then after your visit stop off at the on site cafe for a slice of home-made cake anda cup of tea. Remember to advise your date to bring wellies or other suitable walking shoes!
G is for…
Games night. Why not hold a night of board games? Dig out the old classics like scrabble or snakes and ladders, see who is most competitive out of you both. I’m sure there will be many laughs had and the vintage-classic element is sure to get you talking of past memories!
H is for…
Hot Air Balloon show! Bristol holds a Hot Air Balloon Fiesta each year in August. There, you will be able to see balloons of all shapes and sizes take to the sky. The best part of the show (and most romantic in my opinion) is the Nightglow, where balloons tether up and light the night sky.
I is for…
Informative talk. Why not attend an informative talk on a subject that both of you enjoy or on something that you would both like to know more about? Lots of informative talks take place in libraries and museums and subjects covered can include photography, local history, wildlife, and many other subjects. Learning about a subject or adding to the information you already know, can give you both something to talk about and a shared knowledge bank.
J is for…
Jim Jams Day. Why not spend a day with your loved one doing nothing but staying in your pajamas all day. It’s a lovely excuse to get the duvet down, snuggle on the sofa with hot chocolates and snack food, enjoy each others company and binge watch your favorite shows. Go one step further and limit interruptions by turning your phones off and banning social media for the day!
K is for…
Kite flying. Buy a kite and take it out onto some open land (away from overhead cables) on a windy day and capture some of the childhood joy from your past. Whether you have ever flown a kite before or not, doesn’t matter, there is something magical about launching a kite together and watching it glide through the sky! Wrap up warm and pack a bag with some tea to have to warm back up again afterwards!
L is for…
Local Attraction. Whether your town has a castle, a museum, a steam train or another local attraction, why not make time to visit it? Whether you have been before or it’s always been overlooked for something further afield, it is nice to experience a local attraction with a loved one. You can both learn something, talk about what your experiences have been and create fun memories that you will be able to revisit from time to time.
M is for…
Museum. Museum visits are always fun, whether you go to a local museum or a national one, there is so much to see and often there are special exhibitions to explore too. On a rainy day there really is nothing better than taking a walk around a museum and chatting about the displays.
N is for…
Night walk. There are many different kinds of night walks that you can go on, guided candle lit local history walks, ghost walks, evening photography walks, night-time nature walks, the fun thing about night walks is that you get to share the experience of seeing new things and exploring somewhere at a time of day that you wouldn’t normally be out.
O is for…
Open Air Cinema. Open air cinemas are popping up all over the place and the films shown range from arty pieces, classic films and even new releases. Take a bottle of wine, your favorite snacks and a blanket, cuddle up and enjoy the experience of seeing a film in the outdoors.
P is for..
Picnic. Who doesn’t love a picnic. Go to a park, the beach, a local landmark, for a walk, but pack a delicious picnic of sandwiches, fruit and drinks, salad, a few snacks and something for dessert. Find a quiet spot with a lovely view and sit, eat and enjoy the area that you have chosen.
Q is for…
Quiz. Why not head out to a local pub and take part in a quiz night? Quizes can be fun for lots of reasons, guessing the answer and seeing if you have the correct one, the chance to put your knowledge to the test, working as a team, the competitiveness, the list goes on. Sometimes just being out and enjoying something together can be the most fun thing to do.
R is for…
Romantic place. Take a trip back to a place that olds fond memories for you and your loved one, whether it’s the place you had your first kiss, where you first met, where you proposed/got proposed to, this date idea will be different for each person or couple. It would be a fun idea to get the other person to guess the relevance of the place you go to, or why the place is important. Maybe take your loved one there on the anniversary of that action?
S is for…
Star gazing. There is something really lovely about star-gazing and something that you can do in your own back yard, or any other place of your choosing. All you need is a soft blanket to lie on and maybe some cushions to lay down on. You can pint out certain star formations and constellations to each other and just enjoy the night sky with each other.
T is for…
Theatre. How about a trip to the theatre? You could go and watch a play or pantomime, support your local am-dram group, watch a funny show, a well-known story or something you have never heard of before. There is something really nice about going to the theatre as, regardless of how well you know the story there is always something unexpected and fun thrown in to the script!
U is for…
Under the stars. Under the Stars is a generalised them for a date, whether it is a walk under the stars, a meal, a beach trip, drinks, a picnic, reading poetry, sitting out in the garden, the possibilities are pretty much limited only by your imagination. There is something really romantic about experiencing something under the stars that will make for a magical evening that you will remember for a long time.
V is for…
Vacation. Whether it is a day break or an evening away, take a trip somewhere that you both want to visit and explore it together, whether it be a town or city, somewhere full of history, or full of shops, wherever you go, it is fun to be able to explore together.
W is for…
Walk. Go for a long walk, or a short walk, a ramble or a hike, go out in any weather and enjoy the outdoors together. Buy an OS Map and see what sort of walks are around where you live, choose one and follow it, take a camera to capture things that you may not have seen before or to photograph wildlife or landscapes. Remember to take a bag and some refreshments!
X is for…
Xbox or other games console day. Set up the games console and choose 2 player games that you can both play together at the same time. There is nothing better than sitting and playing a game together when its cold and miserable outside.
Y is for…
celebrating Your anniversary. Whatever you do on your anniversary, remember to celebrate it. Whether you have been together for 1 year or 50, it shouldn’t go unmarked. Do something you both enjoy or go to the place of your first date, first meal first kiss, celebrate your relationship in a way that is meaningful to you both. Take time to reminisce and talk about all the memories that you hold dear. Anniversaries are important.
Z is for…
Zoo. Take a trip to the zoo and visit all the cute, weird and wonderful animals, if you are allowed, feed and pet them, take photos and learn about your favorites along the way. Find out which animal is your loved ones favorite and buy a silly memento of the day with that animal on it to remember the day by.