THE BOOKS THAT I READ ON HOLIDAY

One of my all time favourite things about holidays is the time that you have to read. I always take so many out with me and find myself devouring them in a day. There's nothing better than piles and piles of read pages with sand tucked into the spine and suncream finger stains on the cover. I had a bit of work to do this holiday so didn't get to read quite as much I would like. But I still managed eight wonderful books and so I thought I would share them with you guys in case anyone out there is on the hunt for a good book to get your nose into! 

Life After Life
Kate Attkinson 

I was reading this for a long time before the holiday as it took quite a while for me to get into it at home (I never have the time in London!) It's a very interesting idea for a book, looking a lot at the idea of 'what if...' Once on holiday I finished it in a day- all it took was a bit of dedication after months of struggling. It might be because it's not the most satisfying plot line but still a great book for anyone who likes Kate Attkinson or wants a book that will get them thinking. I was on the hunt for days after I finished for somebody to talk to about it.

Remains Of The Day
Kazuo Ishiguro

I think this is the kind of book that you would describe as a classic. My mum recommended it to me after we watched Dontown Abbey together. Although it's not the most thrilling plot line (it literally describes one guy driving across the country to visit an ex-colleague), it is so beautifully written that I just LOVED reading it. I also felt myself wanting to improve as a writer. Ishiguro also wrote the book Never Let Me Go, which is apparently just amazing so I've got that one on the way to me as we speak. 

How To Live
Peter Johns

This is a MUST READ. This was actually written by a friend of my mum's for his daughter who had been diagnosed with cancer at the age of nine. After beating all of the odds, Meg survived and by the time her 18th birthday came around, Peter decided that the most beautiful, meaningful gift that he could give her was a book, written by him. A User's Guide To Life. This book is so powerful and perfect and wonderful, you really must read it. 

The Trouble With Goats and Sheep
Joanna Cannon

I ADORED this book and have since recommended it to everyone. The majority of it is written from the point of view of a ten year old who, with her best friend, starts to look for God in her neighbour's homes. The storyline is compelling, sinister at times, but written in such a beautifully innocent way you can't help but fall in love with it. I inhaled this book and seriously recommend it to anyone who is on the look out for a summer read. 

The Life Changing Magic Of Not Giving A Fuck
Sarah Knight

I have seen this book EVERYWHERE over the last few months and going on the title I thought that I would love it. Unfortunately I wasn't one of them. Although I love the idea, I personally found it to have one too many 'fucks' in it. I understand the appeal and really wanted to love it. For people who really do struggle to say 'no' and stop caring so much, I would say to give it a go. 

Now We Are 40
Tiffanie Dark

Generation X members: READ THIS BOOK. I am a millennial but I still adored it. Thiffaine is a journalist and this book is part memoir and part a look at politics and sex and society. It gave me a whole new perspective about pretty much everything and had me wishing that I had been born 15 years earlier. Seriously though, to anyone nearing, or over 40, I really would recommend buying and reading this fabulous book. 

We Were The Lucky Ones
Georgia Hunter

This. Book. Changed. Everything. I did not speak to anyone for two days as I demolished this book. It is an incredibly true story of a Jewish-Polish family in World War Two. It is incredibly harrowing, shocking and heartbreaking but so amazing. It's not an easy read but being a true story, I just found it to be so important. This was by far and away my story of the holiday, probably the year and I highly recommend it. 

The Anxiety Solution
Chloe Brotheridge 

Anxiety sufferers: this is a must read. Like a must must must read. I was sent this by Chloe and have never been so grateful for anything. It's practical and wonderful and it's important. If you are struggling with anxiety, please read this. Please. Chloe is a legend and I not only loved this book, but took a lot of practical advice from it. 

Can I Speak To Someone In Charge
Me!

Ahaha OK so I had to proof read my own book whilst I was away and without meaning to be a cheeky bitch I saw this as an opportunity to remind you that my book is available to pre-order now 💛 xxxx

GLASSES SHOPPING WHEN YOU HAVE AN ENORMOUS HEAD

There are a couple of things that I don't love about myself. One of them is that I have bad eye sight. Another is that I have an enormous face. The combination of the two things means that once a year I find myself in a sweaty panic at the opticians. 

Because opticians, it seems, don't cater for people like me. Those of us with wide set eyes and faces that take the shape of plates. Despite there being an apparently impressive number of glasses on offer, the variety, or lack thereof is pathetic. This can make my annual eye tests hell on earth as I stand, clutching my new prescription, frantically trying on every pair of glasses on offer, desperately looking for anything that doesn't make me look like I had stolen the spectacles off a toy bear.

This was yesterday for me. The actual eye test went pretty well, my eye sight it seems, is improving (didn't even know that could happen so high fives all round!), but the bit afterwards was everything that I knew it would be and worse. Knowing as I do that this was going to be tricky I dived in at the designer end (where the 'fashion' glasses are) as they are often bigger but had no luck. I then moved over to the men's section, then back to the women's, then to the men's again. After fifteen minutes and every pair of glasses that the shop had tried on, I began to sweat. 

Eventually I found a pair that weren't totally horrible, apart from the fact that they were brown with gold arms and some horribly flashy branding that I hated, and I showed my new friend, a very over enthusiastic shop assistant. They apparently were that horrible, I noticed, as he winced at me when I tried them on. "Let me help you", he said as he ushered me over to the men's section. I then tried on all of the glasses again. 

After another ten minutes and countless glasses we both momentarily conceded defeat. Is my face growing? Or are glasses getting smaller? Surely I cannot be the only one with these problems? Surely. And if I'm not, what the hell is everyone else doing? Finally, and I do mean finally, my new friend had a light bulb moment and dragged a totally mortified me over to the sunglasses section. It was at this point that I wanted the ground to actually and literally swallow me hole - was my face SO big that I was going to have to wear sunglasses to drive? To watch television? To read my bloody book? 

Pretty much, yes it is. 

The good news is, you can swap out the lenses, so I won't actually have to wear sunglasses all the time and thankfully, the much bigger frames do mean that I can at least now wear a pair of glasses that don't make me look like a total fruit loop, even if they did cost me £140 and more shame than I know what to do with. 

The fact is though, I am disappointed with Specsavers and with all opticians really, for making this unfortunate combination of my big head and bad eye sight worse than it already is. I have to wear my glasses quite a lot of the time, which doesn't actually annoy me an awful lot but I do appreciate that that is something that does affect a lot of people's confidence. We've all heard the nasty nicknames: 'specky', 'four eyes' and we've all heard the unkind rhymes: 'boys don't make passes at girls in glasses' - couple that with the fact that we don't actually like the glasses that we're wearing? Well that all seems rather unfair. 

So if you, like me, have bad eye sight and a big head, can I offer you some advise.

- Go to the opticians with a friend. That way, when you try on a pair that looks totally horrible you can laugh about it with them rather than having to do it on your own and die of shame when you catch the eye of someone peering in through the shop window.

- Go straight to the sunglass section. As I discovered yesterday, they can swap out the lenses for you and whilst it might be a little bit embarrassing, it might save a lot of time and get the whole ordeal over quicker.

- Take your current glasses with you. This way you can hold up the ones that you have against other ones in there before trying them on. If you can see straight away that the ones on the rack are much smaller than yours, then you can save yourself that embarrassing moment that we have come to dread. 

- Shop in the men's section. This is nothing to be embarrassed about and I don't know why they don't just make it all unisex. Men's frames are often bigger so it makes sense to look in there, my last four pairs (before the sunglasses) have all come from that side.

- Avoid Kylie Minogue like the plague. Not the actual woman, she will most likely not be in the opticians and if she is, at least ask her for a selfie. But her range, she has just released one with Specsavers and the things are so damn tiny I looked like one of the blind mice when I tried some of it on. Big heads, stay clear of that pint sized lady's designs.

I know that there are also options online for you to look into once you have established yourself in your new prescription and that is something that I will definitely be looking into. But I just wanted write about this for anyone who, like me, fears eye test day with a passion. I'm also sharing it in the hope that if enough of us make comments, then opticians will be forced to help the big heads of the world to see everything around us, without looking like total twats in glasses could well have been made for children. 

BRAVING UP AND STRIPPING DOWN

It often strikes me as odd, the things that we find ourselves doing on holiday. Drinking at lunchtime aside, the idea of stripping off to what is effectively our underwear, covering ourselves in cream and lying underneath an enormous ball of fire, risking third degree burns in the process, all to ensure that our skin changes colour is actually nothing short of weird. And yet, every year the tourist industry is kept alive by our pathological need to tan, just this week the Barbados tourist board are profiting from that desire in me. 

A desire that actually finds me doing things that are totally out of character. At home, wherever possible, I am a jumper wearer. I feel the cold more than most but I also feel safe in them, cocooned underneath layers of fabric, safe in the knowledge that the four Bakewell tarts I took on the night before can remain my secret and not be shown to the world in the shape of my stomach. I, like a lot of girls, don’t explode body confidence and so try, when I can, to keep said body, fairly hidden from the world.

But then, when we come on holiday, all of that changes. Not only can we not wear jumpers here on account of the fact we’d have melted by breakfast, we are actively encouraged to take off all of our clothes, showing all of our wibbly-wobbly bits to our friends, families, and countless strangers. And for a lot of us, that is not an easy thing to do at all. 

Since being here I have noticed self-consciousness everywhere that I have looked, less so in the blokes who mostly seem focussed on drinking beer and kicking a football around (the guys I’m here with really are playing up to a stereotype), but in every young woman that I have seen. When you see us all lying down you would not think that we had a problem in the world, flat tummies everywhere (thank you gravity), headphones plugged in and books held high. But after the sun gets too hot, someone addresses us or nature calls and it’s time to partake in the only exercise any of us have planned for the foreseeable future, a sit up, everything changes.

I watch arms jump to attention as they cross themselves around the waist, I watch posture change as people breathe in as hard as they can and I see wild groping as people search for their cover ups. Hell, I watch it, but I also do it. For the first few days here I was guilty of all of the above, as I look down and watch beads of sweat seeping out of various stomach rolls I kick myself for that third piece of toast and marmalade that I had at breakfast time and as I stand up, exposing my IBS bloated tummy to the world I’m furious at myself for giving up on the gym just when things were starting to get interesting. 

For the first few days of any holiday, the most confident woman in the world, I’m sure shares these feelings. It’s a massive shock to the system. Before last week no one had seen my legs in about four months and the only person to see me in my underwear since last summer, apart from Alex, was my unsuspecting neighbour who I flashed a few weeks ago. There are parts of my body that I spend a lot of time disliking, hiding, wishing weren’t there and in a bikini, there’s no getting away from them at all. 

It’s not surprising at all that many of us find stripping off for our holidays a daunting thing to do, it is therefore even less surprising to find people desperately insecure when they get here. But if six days in the sun, rarely hidden by anything more than a dress that cost a fortune but is basically pointless because it’s totally see through, has taught me anything, it’s that, for the time that you are away, you are given a free pass on caring. 

So here I am, perhaps not ‘bikini body ready’ in the way that society told me to be, but in a bikini nonetheless, feeling pretty well ready for anything. Of the 52 weeks that make up a year, I am spending two of them here. That’s a long time in one sense, but in the other, it’s a tiny flash. Before I know it I will be back at home, stressed af, busy as hell, hiding, once again, under a jumper. I will be longing for the days of rum punches by the sea, of being too hot whist basically naked, of being able to go swimming whenever I want to without having to worry about a) my hair b) my clothes c) the old guy who takes up half the pool. And with that in mind I decided that I was NOT going to waste my time in paradise. 

It is asking a lot to get a girl to take off all of her clothes and all of a sudden be totally cool with what she sees. If she dislikes it in England, chances are she won’t feel much differently 6000 miles away, but good God guys, to spend a whole holiday worried about what you look like has got to be the biggest waste of time and money that there is. YES, I wish I’d eaten less and worked out more but NO, there is absolutely sweet fuck all that I can do about it now. 

And so, instead of sitting with my arms across my stomach and forgetting to breathe for hours on end for fear of exposing my true identity to the world, I am going to do what one is supposed to do on holiday and enjoy every minute. And more than that, I am going to take what I have learnt home with me; the knowledge that right now, in this very minute, there is absolutely nothing that I can do about my body and that really, I would be a damn fool to waste a moment, worrying about something as small, as insubstantial, as my stomach rolls.

WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LEMONS....

We all know the expression, 'when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.' It's something that we will all have been told countless times, normally by our parents, when we have been dealt a bad card, when something terrible has happened or when something mildly inconvenient has arisen. In these instances, the annoyances are the lemons and in turn we are encouraged to make something delicious and beautiful out of them. Drinking a glass of squeezed lemon juice sounds like hell on earth, drinking a glass of lemonade sounds pretty close to heaven.

Yesterday, life gave me a lemon. Despite the fact that I am on the most beautiful holiday of my life, enjoying dreamy sunshine and one too many rum punches every evening, somehow a lemon landed in my sweaty and slightly sunburnt lap. Now I don't really want to get into the particulars of it, as it's sort of irrelevant and hopefully, to stick to the lemon analogy, one that will go mouldy in a matter of days and therefore not be worth dwelling over. But I did want to have a look at this expression and determine how easy it actually is to do as we are told and make the metaphorical lemonade. 

So my particular lemon is in relation to something that I have worked incredibly hard on over the last few years. For anyone who has started a business or gone out on their own will understand, there are so many instances when you pin point your hopes and dreams on something that just never materialises. Although at times I have been drinking lemonade by the gallon, like many other self starters, I have also found myself the proud owner of an orchard at times. The last few months has been a bit like this; promises were made and abandoned, things were talked about and never followed through with and yesterday's lemon was someone letting me down. 

At the time I was properly gutted, I sat for a couple of hours somewhere between tears and anger and honestly could not see a light. Despite the fact that I was sitting on a table surrounded by seven wonderfully supportive people and had my phone buzzing constantly, I was left feeling totally alone and lost. This was probably the biggest lemon that I have ever had the displeasure of owning in my work life and I could not possibly see a way in which I would be able to turn this into anything good. 

But the one good thing about receiving news like this whilst on a beach, apart from the obvious fact that I'd DEFINITELY rather cry in paradise, is that you have more time to dwell on it then you otherwise would. 

Looking out at the sea yesterday evening I was able to actually ponder my situation, to look at it from all angles. To avoid doing anything rash, get a lot of different people's opinions and allow me some time to cool down. As a Londoner, and a millennial to boot, I have a tendency to rush things. You receive bad news and you react instantaneously, you need to fix the problem right now, you need to cry right now, you need to make it better right now. But what we forget of course, us busy bees, is that left unattended, that problem will probably still be there in an hour. Or in the morning, or maybe even in a week.

Of course that might not be the reassurance that you were hoping for, you might be one of these people that puts their fingers in their ears and prays for the problem to go away on it's own, only to discover that it won't, in which case I have probably just broken some really bad news and for that I am sorry. But for those of you who, like me, suffer knee-jerk reactions where these things are concerned, I am pretty sure that the trick to good lemonade, is patience.

Upon receiving my lemon yesterday I picked up my phone in a mad fury and drafted some seriously agro tweets. I called everyone, I breathed too deeply and I plotted revenge. Thank holy god I didn't have wifi at the time. I'm five hours behind the UK here and upon being handed my lemon, there was no one at home who was still working. I rang a couple of people but was told that it would need to be dealt with in the morning. So I sat, furious at first that I hadn't checked my phone earlier and come across the problem sooner and been able to deal with it that morning, until I realised that what had actually happened, was that I had been gifted five hours. 

Along with my lemon, I had been given no wifi and five hours with which to work this shit out. Four and a half hours later of course I still have no idea what I am going to do, but I do now have a much more rational mind with which to address the problem.

And that's sort of the point of this piece. There is of course no doubt in any of our minds that we are all dealt lemons, that from pain, strength is born and that from time to time, life will let us down and break our hearts. For some of us it happens daily, for others, we are lucky enough to only have these things occur every now and then. But be rest assured, the problems will come. The problems always come. And really, what we actually need to do, when these problems materialise, is take ten huge steps back, count to one hundred, pour ourselves a drink and give ourselves a minute. An hour. A day to really work it out.

They tell you that when life gives you lemons you need to make lemonade. But what they don't do of course is tell you HOW to make the damned stuff. But there is something that we can take from that and that is this: If I was given a whole bunch of lemons, making lemonade would not be the first thing that I would do with them. What a random and laborious activity right?

I would look at them for a little while probably, walk away from them for a bit (because really, who has got the time to sit and stare at lemons all day?) and think properly about what I was going to do with them. Upon arriving at the conclusion then that I was going to make lemonade, I would pick up my phone and I would google a recipe, perhaps I would call my mum or check a recipe book. I would take a minute and ask for help, because no one, and I mean no one, just knows how to make lemonade do they? And that's just it isn't it. You can't make lemonade on the back of a knee-jerk reaction, you can't make anything beautiful on the back of one of those. You make lemonade over time, you are careful with it and you do it with the help of someone else. And that's something worth remembering the next time you find yourself with one of those pesky lemons in your lap.

KEEPING THE GREEN EYED MONSTER AT BAY

Why is it that when you tell people that you're going on holiday, the first response of so many is along the lines of: I hope you get sunburnt, that it rains every day and that the airport loses your bags? Well that's what I have noticed anyway. Last night I arrived in Barbados for a holiday that I have been excited about for about nine months. In the interest of not being a total wanker, I haven't banged on about it an awful lot but, when it has come to polite small talk and planning things with friends, it has of course come up.

Now jealousy is of course, totally normal. It's not nice, but it's normal. A whole bunch of my friends went skiing earlier this year and as I sat at home, looking out at a grey London, there was a part of me that thought: God I hope there's a white out in Switzerland today. When I am slaving to meet some deadline and I open a Snapchat from a friend who is sipping a Pina Colada on a beach somewhere I've probably subconsciously hoped that they will spill it and scrolling through my Instagram feed is normally enough for me to want to throw my phone out of the window. 

So when people said to me, with a smile on their face but cold hard seriousness in their eyes that they hoped it rained every day, I realised that this obsession that we are forming with praying for sabotage is actually pretty messed up. 

But not entirely surprising. We're inherently competitive us humans, Darwin had it right when he described the survival of the fittest and I think Mark Zuckerberg was more than a bit aware of that when he first dreamed up the idea of Facebook. What do you get when you give a competitive breed a platform from which they can show off to their heart's content? Trouble, that's what you get. I'm friends with a girl who put on Facebook last week a photo of the most beautiful sea view ever with the caption "what u doing tomorrow? I'll be here... I'll leave that with ya *wine emoji*".  Every caption to every 'hot dog or legs?' photo is teamed with a "I hope it's raining where you are" message and it's stuff like this that is breeding contention. Of course others are more passive aggressive about it, more subtle: "In paradise with my boyfriend...", "Wish you were here...", "Never want to leave this place..." But the result remains the same. 

The rest of us are left sitting at home, praying that something goes terribly wrong for our lucky friends. When actually, really, what we SHOULD be doing is taking their messages, not as a reason to resent the world, but as something that can inspire us to work a little harder, save a little more and plan a holiday of our own. 

Because really, if it did rain every day out here, has made the day of the friend that wished for it any brighter? If I did lose my bag, would that mean that the person who joked about it had a life full of better things? And if I did get sunburnt to hell and end up looking like a lobster, has that made the person praying for it any more beautiful? Of course it hasn't. 

Showing off is ugly, but jealousy is even uglier and right now, we're surrounded by both things by the bucket load. In the olden days (hopping back about five years), I'd have had no qualms about uploading a photo of a sunset with some slightly twatty caption and waiting for the 'jokes' to role in but these days, I'm loathed to do it at all. 

When my friends were on the aforementioned skiing holiday, they were all so careful not to upload too many photos or send us too many Snapchats, to save our feelings, and now I find myself feeling that I ought to repay the favour. They didn't rub it in when they were having the time of their lives, so why should I? But that makes my job hard, that makes everything pretty hard. If you haven't snapped your BFFs today are you still BFFs? If you don't post anything on Facebook for over two weeks, will people assume that you have died? And if I don't Tweet about the holiday the whole time that I'm here then I'm literally living a lie, which all seems a bit overcomplicated. 

The problem here, isn't actually the person on holiday. The showing off probably isn't classy, but if ten years on Facebook has taught us anything then surely we know by now that that is just power for the course, it's just the way that things are now. The problem here, is that horrid streak in all of us that established that it is sometimes easier to bring other people down than be happy for them.

And so I will leave you with this, a quote from the film that taught us more about life than we will ever know: Mean Girls:

 "Calling somebody else fat won't make you any skinnier. Calling someone stupid doesn't make you any smarter. And ruining Regina George's life definitely didn't make me any happier. All you can do in life is try to solve the problem in front of you."

GETTING YOUR HOUSE READY FOR SPRING

Last weekend the clocks went forwards and, this year, more than any year before, I am really excited about it. I'm not freezing my tits off, every time I step outside, the evenings are getting lighter and I've finally tuned the heating off in the house. 

With it, Spring seems to bring hope. Flowers bloom, the air feels cleaner and everything just feels better and brighter and clearer and so it only seems that at a time like this, your house should reflect what is going on outside.

It's time to shed out winter coats, get the dusters out and get the house ready for Spring. But when your house is so full of mess and clutter, what can you do to get it ready for Spring? Here are just some of the things that you can do to get ready:

Buy plants

This was a GREAT fist step. We got two and named them oxy and gen and they live in our sittitng room very happily. They literally make the house feel so much bigger and brighter and airy and great. Can't recommend this one highly enough.

Add some colour

Whether it's a flower or an accessory or a picture or even a lick of paint, injecting a bit of colour into a room is a great thing to do. Buying this little biscuit for my bedroom was a great decision and makes the room feel so much brighter.

Declutter

It might be a bit overwhelming to 'clean' the whole house, but maybe finding that big pile of crap that has been accumulating over the last few months and dealing with it is a good place to start. You will feel SO much better when it is done, I promise!

Make it smell good

Candles can be a bit wintery sometimes I feel, so I would advise reed diffusers for that fresh spring smell! There is nothing better than asking into your house and being greeted by something fresh and fruity and so I would duffest investing in a couple. Bedrooms, sitting rooms and hallways, they require the most love!

A bit of DIY

Before I put up these shelves in my bathroom I could have been mistaken for a skincare hoarder thanks to all the piles forming on the floor. It feels SO much cleaner and more organised and I absolutely love the feeling. Get your DIY on folks!

Open all of the windows

Not forever, you will become a very popular house for local burglars, but for a good few hours, open up all the windows and let all of that fresh air roll in. You'll sleep better that night than you have in months.

Wash all the sofa cushions

This was a ball ache of a job but so damn satisfying when I had it done. Coming into to a slightly sordid sofa can be less than appealing and just makes the house feel a bit messy somehow. Showing the sofa the TLC that it so often shows me was a great thing to do and something that I highly recommend. 

Clean the kitchen

Not the pots and pans, THE ACTUAL kitchen. Even if it looks clean, giving the cupboard doors a wipe down and the surfaces a huge scrub. Trust me, there'll be grime there that you didn't even know about and it will feel SO good when it's all done.

Change your sheets

If you're feeling very spoiling, then perhaps buy some new ones, but failing that, change them on the day that you do your clean for sure. We all love clean sheet night anyway, clean sheets, clean mind. I think that's a scientific fact.

 

WHAT I LEARNED FROM WATCHING CHARLIE'S ANGELS AS AN ADULT

As a child, I worshiped Charlie's Angels. I watched the film so many times that, when my friend and I opted for an evening of nostalgia and turned it on last week, I found myself absent-mindedly quoting almost every other line. As a shy youngster, living what I deemed to be a very boring life, I would watch this film and think: YES, now that is what being an adult is all about. Fighting crime, hanging out with your girls and looking sexy as hell whilst doing it. Drew Barrymore's character, Dylan, in particular, was my queen. So when I saw it on Sky I knew that I had to rewatch it and boy am I pleased that I did. As it transpires it is the single most educational film I've watched in all of my life (take that with a pinch of salt!).

Here are all of the things that I learned from watching Charlie's Angels as an adult...

Airport security was appalling. 

It's not even a subtle one - this guy is literally just a walking bomb. Did he not go through the metal detectors? Did no one pat this guy down? SERIOUSLY?

Science counts for nothing.

So Dylan pulls the bad guy out of the plan without a) causing everything in the plane to be sucked out too and b) being sucked into the jet engine.

It is possible to totally reinvent yourself.

Look at Cameron, she went from crashing a car to driving a speed boat and all it took was seemingly for her head brace to be removed...

Not giving a shit is awesome.

I mean, it's not. But watching Drew Barrymore light that fag with a zippo lighter and her arm in a cast when I was a kid? All I wanted was to break my arm and start smoking immediately. 

Cameron Diaz is definitely on drugs.

Who on earth wakes up THIS happy? I mean seriously. She doesn't even seem to hear herself when she told the postman to "feel free to stick things in my slot" ffs.

Women should dumb themselves down so as not to threaten their boyfriends.

So Lucy Lui claims to be a bikini waxer and after explaining the hardwiring of a bomb to her bf and he questions it, she brushes it off as something that she learned on the 'in-ter-net' (said just like that...)

If you want a man's secrets, you can massage them out of him.

Or failing that, you can always use your feet to knock him out.

If you fix a fast food's speaker, you will get free food.

Either that or they literally just shoved a piece of gum into their machine and drove off without paying.

Bosley is the worst spy ever.

Close your God damn mouth dude - how did you even get this job???

Flipping your hair will pretty much get your any guy that you want.

And bam. 30 seconds later, he's asked her out. That's all we gotta do girls, flip it. 

Team work makes the dream work.

My friends and I are hard pushed getting all of us to a restaurant at the same time and here these three are dodging bullets and fighting crime in a perfectly choreographed fashion.

Really want to impress a guy? Lick his steering wheel.

As long as I live I will never understand this moment. Perhaps I should try it with my next uber driver. Then again, perhaps not.

Being able to belly dance is super useful.

And there you were thinking that skill would only be good when Akon came on in the club. No no, perfect for detective work too. 

Same applies for yodelling. 

Obviously. 

REDSTAR do not offer equal opportunity in the work place.

Seriously guys. WHERE ARE THE WOMEN?

That standing on your feet is totally overrated. 

I think this might simply have been a case of good old fashioned showing off to be honest. "I'm Cameron Diaz and I can walk on my ha-ands, lalalala."

To find the confidence of Natalie dancing to Soul Train should be my life goal.

I mean seriously. She is on her own and literally giving zero shits. We should all try to be a little bit more Natalie I think.

If Lucy Liu can survive this then I can survive anything.

I will never, ever, ever, let Monday get the better of me again.

Scrabble is a multi purpose tool.

Smart plan Drew, but it might have been a bit more subtle if she hadn't spelled out the word and then said it out loud... 

You can trust no one.

Classic man eh? Playing all kidnapped and like he can't cook a chicken and then BAM, shave the girl, reveal the wife-beater vest, light a fag and pull a gun on your one night stand before shooting her. Thanks bud.

If Drew Barrymore can survive this, then I can survive anything. 

I'm feeling so much more confident about my prospects in light of this.

Bosley never brushes his teeth.

How do you seriously have a whopping big microphone in your mouth and not notice for days? Has he not eaten anything or drunk any water either?

That bras are overrated. 

Either that or Cameron Diaz simply does not own one. Either way, the fact that she does all that she does, without a bra on, is commendable.

Drew Barrymore cannot moonwalk.  

She promised us a moonwalk and did not deliver. Thanks to this scene I spent a lot of my childhood thinking that I was the next MJ when in reality, I really was not. Thanks Drew.

In the history of the world, no one has ever been quite so chilled about avoiding a missile. 

Charlie's just pulling back the curtains and letting this one roll on through with no drama whatsoever... 

Charlie is the most ungrateful sod ever.

"Thanks for saving my life, would you like a cup of tea after all of your troubles?" might have been nice, rather than pissing straight off and leaving a raging fire hazard in the sitting room.

You're never too old to play in the sea.

Or maybe you are, but if that's the case, no one told these guys.

 

WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENS AT A BRA FITTING?

Talking to my boyfriend last week I nearly died laughing when he asked me what the circumference of my boobs was. I looked at him clearly confused and asked: "how do you think bra fittings work?" He made a circle with his hands and half it to his chest, "they measure round the outside?" I laughed and I laughed until I realised, how is he supposed to know? The poor man has never had to know what happens at a bra fitting - he's never had one! 

Once I had explained to him what a bra fitting entailed he asked me, totally sincerely: "isn't it a bit weird? Having a stranger seeing your boobs? Touching them?" Well, I suppose when you say it like that, it kind of is. And I realised that the fact that it is a bit weird, might be the thing that is stopping so many women from getting properly fitted and warning bras that don't fit them. (A problem that can cause all sorts of pain, discomfort and long term damage). 

And so for anyone reading this who is in that position, I thought I would answer all the questions that you might have about getting one, just in case you don't remember being dragged to Marks and Sparks by your mum for your first bra aged 12, to put your mind at ease and reassure you that you won't be judged or laughed at and that it is a very easy thing to do.

DOES IT COST ANYTHING?

Nope. Normally you will leave with a bra so I suppose it makes sense for the companies to offer them complimentary. 

DO I NEED TO BOOK AN APPOINTMENT?

Brands like M&S do offer an appointment system online but you can pretty much walk into any lingerie department and ask for one. The longest I have ever had to wait for one is 10 minutes and that was a couple of months ago in Selfridges. 

DO I HAVE TO HAVE MY BOOBS 'OUT' FOR THE FITTING?

You wear your bra for the fitting. You don't need to be topless! At no point does the woman doing the fitting need to see your nipples!

HOW DOES THE ACTAUL FITTING WORK?

So the lady, armed with a tape measure, will ask you to face her and lift your arms up. She will then bring the tape measure around your nest and just below it. She will then tell you what size your boobs and back are.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

Well I suppose you could theoretically leave at this point and shop for yourself but personally I think it is best to take advantage of having a professional present and they will more often than not go and find you some bras in your size and different styles to make sure that you are getting the right thing.

DO I TRY THE BRA ON IN FRONT OF THE PERSON FITTING ME?

No you don't have to. I'm not massively bothered as this is their job so what I do is turn around and normally the lady is tactful enough to avert her eyes! If you really would be more comfortable without her there though you absolutely can ask her to step out!

WHAT IF THAT BRA DOESN'T EVEN FIT IF IT'S APPARENTLY IN MY SIZE?

It's important to remember that bra shops are part of the fashion industry and therefore, by very definition, are fucked up. What fits you in one brand may not work in another. It's a pain in the arse but that's why it's so important to try them on. If I were you I would keep going until you find a brand that works for you, even it means you have to try a few things before you find the perfect one. (Personally I love Chantelle).

WILL IT BE A WOMAN DOING IT?

Yes. There may well be men. who do it but I have never seen one and you would be 100% within your rights to ask for a woman, they'll totally understand!

WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT TO HAVE ONE?

85% of women are wearing the wrong size bra apparently, and that doesn't surprise me. Before my last fitting I was totally guessing, having not been fitted in five years, when I was a totally different shape! My boobs were actually beginning to really hurt as they weren't being supported. Over a long time you can cause them to say by not getting it right. The right bra will be much more flattering as well!

AM I OBLIGATED TO BUY ONE?

No! I normally do because that's why I'm there and after 10 seconds of seeing yourself in a well fitting bra you will never want to take it off, but you don't have to and you don't owe anyone anything!

So there you go, all the things that have gone through my mind before getting fitted. It's so important though and so easy and I really would recommend it. You can take a friend, do it while you are doing other things or just out shopping. Hope online and find somewhere near you and get it done. Apart from anything, there is no feeling like the new bra feeling!

I HAD MY WARDROBE PROFESSIONALLY EDITED AND HERE'S WHAT HAPPENED

Yesterday a lady called Cat came to my bedroom and threw away all of my clothes. On Valentine's Day I went to an event called The Pants Party organised by my wonderful friend Tash, founder of the Pants Project, which raised funds and awareness for the Fertility Network UK. One of the great prizes available at the auction was a 'Wardrobe Edit' kindly donated by a lady called Cat and, having taken over an hour to find anything to wear in my abyss of a wardrobe earlier that evening, I knew that I had to have it. Yesterday, Cat came to the house and today my wardrobe is considerably smaller and more organised than it was before she came. It was in a terrible state before she arrived; this is a photo that I took of it that morning (I've never needed a clear out so badly...):

First things first, Cat sent me an online questionnaire to fill in, in it I had to describe my current wardrobe, what I wore, what I was comfortable in, whether I dressed for work or play and what I wanted it to be at the end of her visit. So I filled it in and then Cat gave me a bit of homework to do before she arrived. I needed to divide my wardrobe into two different piles; clothes that I had worn in the last six weeks and clothes that I hadn't. Well that was embarrassing. I probably wasn't wearing more than 20% of my clothes. This was when the panic set in that Cat was going to see the 80% pile and make me throw it all away. (Thankfully she didn't do this!).

So when Cat arrived we made a cuppa and hat a chat, went through the questionnaire and worked out what I wanted to get out of the experience: I wanted to feel confident in my clothes. 

We then went up to my bedroom and began the edit. First things first Cat asked me to try on my 'go-to outfit'. The outfit that I would put on if I had to run straight to a meeting that would make me feel good, cool and confident. I opted for something that I had actually worn the day before to a meeting, a dusty pink blouse with black jeans and a pair of trainers. 

I then put on something that I own but have never worn. I kept the same trousers and shoes but then put on a bright red lace shirt. (Despite the fact that I hadn't ever worn it, we decided that it was pretty cool and miraculously it stayed in the wardrobe on the promise that I actually wear it!). The purpose of this exercise was to work out what I felt comfortable in and what the difference was between the outfit. Cat told me that in the first outfit (pictured above), I looked comfortable and when I looked in the mirror, my eyes were drawn to my face. When I wore the red shirt the opposite thing happened, rather than noticing myself, eyes were drawn to the thing that I was wearing, which isn't what you want when you are in a meeting. 

So once Cat had a feel for my wardrobe, and my personal style, we started outfit building. This was great and really useful. With all of my clothes laid out in front of me it was so much easier to see what worked. We picked some statement skirts that I own and can never find anything to wear them with, my boyfriend jeans and maxi skirts. We started pairing things that I wouldn't have thought to do and mixing and matching outfits.

Cat would pull out items one by one from my wardrobe and we had to work out whether it was a) worn, b) flattering, c) necessary. Do I need three black jumpers? Probably not. Was a jumper with holes in it something that I needed? Again, it wasn't. And I have to admit once I was into the swing of things, I was much more ruthless than I thought that I would be.

Everything that we decided was staying was put into the wardrobe the wrong way, (the metal part of the hanger facing towards me), the idea being that if I wear it in the next three months then I can turn it around. It not, then their presence might need to be reassessed. Once we had finished doing all of the big things, the dresses, the jumpers and blouses, it was time to move onto the basics (things that aren't worthy of a hanger!)

I had already divided them into piles and looking at the 'not worn in the last three months' pile, whilst still feeling pretty ruthless, I got to work. We decided that if wasn't sentimental (old school jumpers of charity t-shirts) and if I couldn't imagine myself wearing it during the day, then it was time to go. Cat stood with a bin bag open and I threw away old tatty t-shirt after old tatty t-shirt. The sentimental ones were folded nicely and along with the novelty jumpers were put onto the top shelf of my wardrobe where they could be called on if I needed one specifically. 

With the remaining clothes I made piles; holiday clothes that could all go together, long sleeved shirts, 'going out tops', 'basic tops' etc. I was so surprised by how much I owned that I didn't wear, particularly where my trousers were concerned. I'd say over half of them didn't even fit me and still I'd let them pile up, it felt amazing to go through it all I have to admit.

Three hours later and the wardrobe was half the size it had been before Cat arrived, it was SO organised and there were four bin bags filled with clothes that were ready to be donated. (If anyone is interested I have decided to give the warm clothes to refugee charities and the rest to local charity shops). 

I thought that this process would kill me, that it would be too painful to be parted with all of my clothes and that it would make me all teary and stressy. But I have to say, I thought it was SO great. Already my outfits feel so much more calculated, I feel more confident when I am dressed and I realised that I actually own some really great stuff.

Cat has made me a little shopping list of things that will 'finish outfits' and ideas for replacements of things that were binned because they were old, tired, or holey. I don't need to do this immediately, as who's got the money for that am I right?! but it is something that I can do over time and it ensures that I am not wasting money buying things that I don't need when I do go shopping. I now know what works for me and I can remember that next time I am scrolling through all that Asos has to offer.

I am now all set for my upcoming holiday and already so excited to start dressing better. The whole process has definitely made me more body confident (now I know that I shouldn't be hiding behind my clothes, rather finding things that actually work for me) and it has made me more enthusiastic about fashion and about my part in it. It is very easy, I feel, to get overwhelmed by clothes and I often find it easier, especially on days when I'm a bit tired and grumpy, to hide behind what I wear and before long you find yourself too frightened to then branch away from that. 

I loved Cat so much and am so so grateful for this whole experience. If you want to do something like this (which I do really recommend), then you can book a session with her HERE. But it is worth remembering that you can do this on your own. Pull everything out and be ruthless. Dressing great makes you feel great, you don't need to go and buy a whole new wardrobe, take a few hours, go through what you already own and find what works for you... I think you'll be surprised. 

WHY I NEVER GO INTO SHOPS ANYMORE.

As a Londoner, I find that excuses to wear a dress are few and far between. I think the last time I went to something that required me to actually dress up was back in October and that was easy because I was a bridesmaid for my best friend and didn't have to choose the dress. I'm a jeans gal through and through and thankfully my city understands me, day turns to night without anybody really noticing and since the capital is so big and no one can be bothered to go home ever, pub trips and subsequently club trips depending on how the night has gone, are often spent wearing the same thing that you put on half asleep at 7am that morning. We are the Queens of smart-casual; swap your trainers for a pair of boots and you're good to go.

But occasionally a friend who doesn't live in London decides to do something. They hit a big milestone, 21, 25, 30, or they get married and throw a party, a party which requires you to dress up. I'm at a funny time at the moment, the season of 18ths and 21sts are behind me but we're not quite into weddings yet so we are, generally, party-less. As a result, I don't really own anything party appropriate. Friends in their late twenties have 'smart dresses' coming out of their ears, a different one for every weekend. But me? Well it's another weekend down the pub for those of us who haven't matured enough to commit to someone else for the rest of our lives yet, so I don't. I own one LBD and one floor length green number and between the two of them they have seen me through the wasteland that has been my event calendar over the last couple of years.

Tonight though, we are celebrating my little sister turning 18. My brother and I both threw parties to celebrate adulthood and Katya, as the youngest of the three of us and my parents' last baby, will be no exception. In fact, we are predicting it to be bigger and better. Now a night like this, requires a dress. A dress that isn't already all over my Instagram and Facebook pages that is. A new dress. A fancy dress. A dress that will keep me looking cool and hip. It was time to go shopping.  

So on Thursday night I enlisted Alex's help and made the short walk over to Westfield, a place that, under normal circumstances, I avoid like the plague. I had had a skim over the Asos and Topshop websites and had seen a couple of things that took my fancy but thought, since I only had a couple of days to choose, that it would probably be safer to go and try something on rather than wait for a cute af dress to arrive only to put it on and realise that it made me look like a potato and was a totally different colour to the one in the photoshopped picture. 

We started in Topshop and the first thing I noticed was a distinct lack of formal wear. All the mannequins were dressed in distressed jeans and polar necks and the rails told a similar story. Jumpers, crop tops and a sea of ripped denim, not what I was looking for. I headed upstairs and found, tucked away in a corner, a collection of dresses, sold as part of a boutique range called Liberty of London. Some of them were wonderful, I grant you. But they were all made in a similar style, a style which I suspect only works on one kind of woman, a rare species that the fashion industry spends a lot of time catering for but who really, doesn't actually exist in the numbers that they think she does. They were also all well over £100 which, at the end of a five week month is not a price tag that I was happy to see. Already desperate though I grabbed a jump suit and slipped into the changing room.

This was the beginning of my decline. Not only was the zipper broken, the thing gave the impression of a well blooming baby bump and a camel toe that 1980's Madonna would be proud of. I didn't even stick around to do the bloody thing up and within seconds was back in the safety of my stretchy jeans and jumper. Not to worry I thought, Westfield is massive. I'll just have a look somewhere else. 

We slid next door into Zara and after a 'sweeping browse' (a term coined by Miranda Hart and one that I use every time I find myself in a shop that is not what I expected it to be) I realised that they would not be able to help me. They're great for a cotton blouse and jeans that don't allow for any cellulite at all but not, it seems, for party dresses. At this point Alex (having had enough already) and I went our separate ways. I headed into H&M and again, was left sorely disappointed. It was metallic skirt-galore but lacking anything that I could wear to a black tie party. I popped into Uni-Qlo (I knew that was a wasted journey before it even started) and even channeled the me of 2007 and had a look in Monsoon. (They're definitely getting cooler, but still not selling anything that I wanted at all) and finally, having found Alex again, I took inspiration from 2009 me and went into New Look. They had a dress, it was silver and cute and I thought, for the grand total of £22 I was about to find what I was looking for. I tried it on and realised quickly, that I wasn't. What was silver on the rack was peach and see-through on my body and actually gave the impression that I had sewed straps onto a sack. It was terrible. We then tried River Island, Mango and countless others and were left wanting.

It wasn't long before I had given up all together and was sitting in a restaurant outside with the biggest glass of wine that I could find, a huge steak, some chips and the Asos app open on my phone. Their next day delivery service means that if you order something before 10pm it will arrive the next day. Luckily I worked this out at 9.45 and, after a quick scroll, a couple of screen grabs and frantic group chat messages, I had chosen a dress, found it in my size and ordered it. I'm writing this two days later and the dress looks great. It's a bit 'titty' and not in my normal style at all but it's perfect. Why didn't I just do that in the first place? Save myself from shopping hell? I don't know, I wish I had and I don't think that that's a mistake that I'll be making again. 

But I am grateful for a couple of things. Namely, that Alex witnessed this. As a bloke he can't help but to roll his eyes when I tell him that I have nothing to wear. He's seen the magazines, the adverts, the pictures, he's heard the stereotype: dresses are everywhere, you're a GIRL, are you SERIOUSLY telling me that of the thousands of items in your wardrobe that you don't own A.N.Y.T.H.I.N.G? Yes, I told him. That is what I am telling you, so come with me and let's find something. "How is it so difficult?" He asked me afterwards. "No wonder people don't come into shops anymore, it's all shit."

He's right. It is all shit. I have been very vocal in the past about the state of the fashion industry, it's no secret that I despise shipping; I think the changing rooms are horrible, I think the sizing is all off, I think there is too much pressure on it. This entire blog, my book, everything that I do stems from the fact that shopping is the absolute worst. But Thursday's experience shone a light on an area that I hadn't even thought of before. The fact that shops really aren't selling that much anymore. My issue on Thursday wasn't that I couldn't find anything flatteringor anything that fit me, my issue on Thursday was that I couldn't find anything. In the biggest shopping centre in the country (I think that's right?!), I couldn't find ONE SINGLE DRESS. (For under £££ and that wasn't appropriate for a Godmother at a christening). 

The fact is, shopping is horrible. The lights in the changing rooms are the worst, the fact that nothing ever fits is so depressing, but all of that is just about manageable if you can be guaranteed an outfit at the end of it, something that makes you feel special and looks good and makes you feel special. But on Thursday, when I couldn't find a single thing, well the whole thing was just horrible. There was no silver lining, nothing to make myself feel better, there was just nothing. 

And that's not good enough. Because a lot of us can't make the trends work, a lot of us can't pull of 'mum jeans' and still need to buy skinny ones, a lot of us can't wear ribbed tops because they pulls in all the wrong places, a lot of us need to find a dress for a party because we can't possible make a pair of high-waisted trousers and a tiny bra-type t-shirt look good in any way. 

Online there are thousands of options available at your fingertips, sure the models are stupidly thin and not an portraying an accurate representation of the garment in any way shape or form. Sure, paying for postage is a ball ache and it's really annoying when they arrive and don't look anything close to good on your body. But at least you can make that discovery in the safety of your own bedroom. At leas you don't have to worry about getting stuck in something and having to sheepishly ask a shop attendant to help you out of it. At least you don't have to worry about getting sweaty and teary in public. At least you can be sure that you will find something.

There is something sentimental in me that gets sad to see websites taking over the world. As useful as it is I worry often that Amazon Prime will put local businesses out of the job, that Ocado will cause problems to markets and that sites like Asos will cause problems for department stores such as Westfield. But then something like Thursday happens and I realise that, although I did technically get my dress in Westfield, I did it sitting down, in a restaurant, dressed in something that I knew looked good, holding a huge glass of wine. And I'm not sorry for that. I'm sad that it's come to that but I can't feel guilty because if brands like Topshop can't get their fingers out their arses and start actually catering for us, then they don't deserve our custom or our presence in their stores.

CAN WE STOP USING 'BODY CONFIDENT' AS AN ADJECTIVE NOW PLEASE?!

I LOVE the body positive movement. I live and breath for it. Nothing makes me happier than seeing friends and strangers accepting themselves, using hashtags and celebrating their bodies. Scrolling through pages and pages of #bodypositive and #effyourbeautystandards tags gives me genuine chills and I DO believe that the more people who partake in this "trend", the happier we will be as a result. It's changing the world, it's making society better, it's just pretty great.

BUT. There is something that is really starting to grind my gears about that label, and it looks a bit like this....

Now I know that its the Daily Mail and that there is a LOT wrong with this sentence beyond what I am about to complain about, but to me, this whole thing signifies something that needs to end. 

Ariel Winter, for those that don't know about her, is great. She plays Alex in HBO's Modern Family and was in the news a lot last year to explain her decision to get breast reduction surgery (something that she shouldn't have had to explain, alas, society sucks...). Since then the 19-year-old actress has had her Instagram photos and Snapchat stories regurgitated every few hours onto the Daily Mail's side bar of shame. I don't know Ariel personally (man, I wish I did...) but I do love following her on social media, she is a breath of fresh air, she seems to give absolutely zero fucks about the haters and yes, she IS very body confident.

And that's great to see. It's great to watch. It's INSPIRING. True, she has never uploaded a photo of herself in which she doesn't look ah-mazing, but that's hardly surprising. The online world is a dangerous place to be and we all know that we have to put our best food forwards. Or best face forwards in this instance. The fact is, Ariel loves her body, and she shows it off. It's great, the whole thing, the confidence exploding out of her Instagram feed? It's a thing of beauty. 

But somehow, despite all of this, the only way that anyone describes her as anymore is 'body confident'. That just doesn't feel right. 

For people overcoming insecurities, eating disorders, body dysmorphia, this label is incredibly important. The movement, the hashtag, it's all great. But we need to remember that body confidence should not NEED to be news. Body confidence should just be a thing that we have alongside our day-to-day. Alongside our careers and our friendships and our lives. It should be something that we have whilst we are out living our lives and not be the only thing that is defining us.

There is no reason at all why Ariel Winter should not be body confident. To be honest, the girl is sexy as hell and I am pleased as punch that she knows it. But can we please, please, just let her get on with her amazing career without branding her with such unnecessary titles?

I don't want people to stop describing themselves as body confident, for most of us, it is a really important thing and if we are brave enough to use that term to describe ourselves with then that is truly amazing. I don't want the hashtags to stop, I want it to keep growing. I want people to strip off all their clothes and share photos of themselves in their underwear, I want to see normal women being proud to be normal women, sexy women being proud to be sexy women, fat women being proud to be fat women.

But to the patronising, ignorant journalists using this term as clickbait, you've got to stop. We are identifying as body positive, as body confident as a reaction to the labels. We had decided that we had had enough of being squished into boxes that weren't meant for us. We decided, on the back of this nasty culture to stand up and embrace our bodies and now, by taking that and using it as yet another descriptive term? It's not okay. You're missing the point. You're taking our power away and that's not fair. 

THINGS TO SPOIL YOUR MUM WITH THIS MOTHER'S DAY...

This Sunday, 26th March is Mother's Day (for those of you who needed a gentle reminder!) and it's time to spoil the women that made us! Anyone who knows me knows that I love my wonderful mum and at this time of year I always find myself in a panic that I'm not going to get her the present that she deserves. So for anyone that is in a similar position I've pulled together a list of lovely things that I know my mum would love!

So my mum has been dropping hints about this for YEARS and based on that alone, this is my recommendation of choice. I actually received this for Christmas and it is so fresh and beautiful. It is very expensive but to my mind it is worth every penny. A little goes a long way...

Bath Bombs

You can't go far wrong here, unless of course your mum doesn't own a bath in which case this is a terrible idea! My mum absolutely loved the ones that were in his Christmas stocking as they do make lovely gifts!

Lipstick

These are just so classic and beautiful that they will for sure be a firm favourite. Although the product is of course great, it's the packaging that makes these such special gifts. 

Candle

These make SUCH heavenly presents. They're actually really reasonably priced and give off the best smell.

Reed Diffuser

If your mum is into smells then this is another favourite. I have the Spa fragrance in my bedroom and it is the most beautiful thing! Highly recommended.

Pillow Spray

Is there anything better than the gift of sleep? This is the ultimate luxury present and if your mum struggles sleeping or just loves her bed then this is something totally worth buying!

Happiness Planner

If your mum is into mindfulness then these make great presents. They are beautifully packaged and can make a really fun project. 

Chocolate 

The safest of all the presents unless your mum is on a diet/can't eat dairy! Chocolate shops make the most beautiful things at this time of year but I particularly love this one, it's good fun, sweet and the chocolate from this place is AMAZING!

SUPER EASY PANCAKE RECIPE

Hello lovely friends and Happy (almost, depending on when you are reading this) Pancake day! This is one of THE most random national holiday's of the year and as a result I love it SO much. Pancakes are my all time favourite breakfast treat and the fact that we have a whole day dedicated to them and them alone is totally legendary.

When my tummy was really bad at Christmas pancakes were, weirdly, one of the only things that I ate. I obviously can't eat gluten and dairy and whilst I was avoiding seeds and nuts I found this to be a wonderful breakfast option. 

They're also the easiest things EVER to make! I was under the impression, before I started basically living off them, that they were such a faff. I thought that there would be complicated recipes to follow, that I'd be crap at flipping them and that I'd basically just fuck them up every time I tried, but I was SO wrong. They pretty much take as much time to make in the morning as my porridge does and are SO easy, made out of just three ingredients! 

So since I can't eat gluten and dairy I make my pancakes with buckwheat flour and almond milk but you absolutely don't need to do that at all! The recipe permits any kind of milk and flour and I actually adapted it originally to make it 'free-from'.

Recipe:

1 egg
2oz flour
4floz milk

Pour the flour into a bowl and using your finger, create a 'whole' in the middle. Take your egg and break it into the whole that you made in the flours. Start to whisk your ingredients together adding milk as you go. Try not to throw all the ingredients in together as this will cause lumps to form, doing it bit by bit stops this from happening!

Toppings:

Agave Nectar (very similar to maple syrup!)
Blueberries
(I also love lemon and sugar and adding strawberries to the blueberries!)

I mean seriously, does it get any easier than that? If I were you, I'd set the alarm for 15 minutes earlier tomorrow morning and get to making yourself some pancakes before work! Every year I forget to do it at breakfast and promise myself that I'll do it after work, I ALWAYS forget to do that and before I know it the day has passed me by. But not this time! Tomorrow morning I'm starting Shrove Tuesday off right, up early and whipping up some pancakes like the domestic goddess that I've always wanted to be!

If you do try this PLEASE tweet me or comment with your photos to let me know how they turn out! Happy Pancake Day! xxx

I'VE REALISED THAT IT'S OKAY TO F*CK IT UP.

As any regular readers of the blog over the last few weeks will know, I have been on quite the adventure recently with a 10 Weeks To Fitness Challenge and have learned SO much about my body as a result, I have so much that I want to share and the minute the whole thing is over I cannot wait to write it all down and share my findings with the world. All in all I have been so excited by this challenge, training has been really fun and eating the right things has been weirdly satisfying too. But, because I am a normal human being, there have been times over the last few weeks where I've just thought: what's the bleedin' point?

This last week, well the last nine days to be specific, has been a huge mass of these times; a string of self doubt and self-hate and by yesterday, after eating two whole share bags of crisps to myself, I genuinely was ready to pack it all in. But today, today I found the strength to get back on the horse and that's the thing that I want to talk about.

So two weeks ago, at my weekly check in with Personal Trainer Calum Taylor, I was doing really well. I had lost a huge eight pounds of fat (not weight, actual yellow, lardy fat) and was SO much fitter than I thought I could have got in such a short space of time. So I started the week with excitement, ready to continue smashing the shit out of life. But by Thursday, I was tired. I went out for a run in the morning and only got a mile in before my body was like: er babe, what you doing? Not today. I don't know why it said that and I really don't know why I listened to it, but I went home.

This was the beginning of a huge decline. By Friday I thought: I need a day off, on Saturday I thought: I took one off yesterday and the world didn't end so perhaps I should do the same again. I saw Calum on Sunday and I was so low and depressed about it I actually asked him not to weigh me and then when Monday came around? I had slightly given up. I put my gym clothes on a couple of times throughout the week but took them off after about 20 minutes and every day found new excuses not to work out. I avoided mirrors and pushed myself into a state of denial. Sure I was angry with myself but I subconsciously reminded myself that the world was still spinning whilst I wasn't exercising so surely I didn't need to worry.

But deep down I was really disappointed with myself. What's the point in a 10-weeks-to-fitness challenge if you take a week off in the middle? What have I achieved if I give up now? Do you really want all of that hard work to be for nothing? You see, when I was in the throws of it, I really was loving this challenge, the exercise and gym classes in particular. Although I wasn't seeing the huge changes in my body that I had wanted/expected to see overnight in the shape of a raging six pack and arms that Jessica Ennis would envy, I was noticing how much easier everything was becoming, I noticed that my breakfast tasted so much better, I was aware of how much energy I had and I felt smug the whole time, and not smug in a wanky 'I'm better than everyone else' kind of way, but smug in a 'God girl you really are fabulous' kind of way. But in my week of despair and hopelessness I forgot all of that and fell, all too easily, back into old habits.

But then today, because my boyfriend and I like to think we're Insta Couple Goalz (lol, joking), we had plans to go to our local Saturday morning boxing class that we went to every week for the first few weekends of my challenge, and somehow, admitting to him that I had quit was too hard. Telling him when he got home in the evenings that I didn't make it to the gym that day was fine, but looking him in the eye this morning, when we had no other plans all day and making up some bullshit excuse? I couldn't do it. So I put on my lycra (it still fits) and we jogged, YES JOGGED, to the gym.

I am writing this now from underneath a layer of salty, crusty sweat. My arms feel like jelly and my hair has never looked so haywire in my life. I walked through the door half an hour ago and sat down at my computer, telling Alex that our plans of going to Homebase this afternoon were going to HAVE to wait, because I was feeling SO inspired that I just had to talk about this.

Running the blog that I do I often feel like I am somehow betraying my roots by being fit and by training and caring about what I eat and wanting to lose my stomach fat. I sometimes feel like I need to keep it quiet and not just become another person accidentally shaming the living shit out of people for enjoying a pizza and not doing pilates at 5am every day. But if I have realised anything over the last few weeks it's that understanding your body and treating it well is not something to be ashamed of, it's something to be INCREDIBLY proud of. It annoys me so much that if you want to see a difference in your body and be toned and healthy then you have to eat right ALL the time not just on Monday when you're inspired, it annoys me that you have to exercise more than once a week if you want to maintain fitness and it annoys me so much that it's not as easy as lots of people on social media would have you believe, but this journey, this adventure, has taught me that treating your body right is just the coolest thing you can do for it.

But I wanted to talk about my week off because no one ever talks about the bad bits and that's the mot annoying thing of them all. Keeping motivation up all the time is REALLY hard, saying no to chocolate brownies is REALLY hard, becoming a 'porridge for breakfast before I go and destroy my legs in a spinning class' kind of girl is REALLY hard and sometimes I can't do it, sometimes I can't be that girl, this week I was NOT that girl. But that doesn't mean that I can't try to become her again.

We are SO quick to punish ourselves for failing. Often when people get into exercise or healthy living or a challenge like mine they find themselves 'fucking it up' on a Friday night by eating a pizza, a whole tray of garlic bread, six bottles of wine, a wheel of cheese and six bags of chocolate buttons and before they know it they've thrown the whole thing in: what's the point? I've fucked it up now so I might as well give up. I'M A WEAK, TERRIBLE PERSON, DON'T LOOK AT ME. And because they did that they think they can't undo it, that you're one or the other. You're EITHER a '6am spinning class and porridge for breakfast' kind of gal or you're a 'six bottles of wine and a wheel of cheese' kind, but you can be BOTH. It's called having a life, it's called being a human.

There is nothing that I can do about my week off now, it's happened, it's in the past. It doesn't matter why I did it or who's fault it was, it's gone. What matters is now is what I decide to do next and as of this morning: I'm trying again.

We HAVE to be allowed to fuck up with these things and not lose all of our motivation every time we do, that's part of life and it's the strength to put that behind you and forgive yourself that you really need to find.

STARTING A BUSINESS AT 18: AN INTERVIEW WITH THE FOUNDER OF EMPRESS JUICES

Empress Juices was founded by Emily Hughes when she was just 18 after she noticed that it was hard to eat "healthily" outside of London. As a Londoner it had never occurred to me that there weren't vegan cafes on every corner and sugar free treats everywhere you turned, but according to Emily everywhere she looked she found refined sugar. On the back of this discovery she started to create products with zero added sugar from her home in Devon. In her own words she "literally saw a gap in the market."

Emily, now 20 is now stocking her products Empress Juices in cafes local to her home and when I met with her last week she was rushing to meetings with even bigger stockists who had expressed an interest. I was so excited to meet Emily as I desperately wanted to talk to a girl who had decided to follow her dreams at such a young age and jump with both feet, into starting a business.

There are currently two juices in her fruit range, that I tried after meeting with her: the first one: strawberry, pomegranate, apple and grape and the second: beetroot, apple, orange and cinnamon. Obviously they were totally delicious and I highly recommend keeping an eye out for them, but more impressive is the girl behind the brand.

I met with her last week to talk about how she started her business and to see if she had any advice for anyone who was thinking about setting up their own.

"I'm not saying that it's easy, but I am saying that anything is possible. I obviously can't tell what will happen but I'm determined not to give up. If you're proud of something, try not to think about it too much, just go for it." 

Have you had any knock backs? Anything that has made you want to give up or feel like you should give up?

"Yes, I've already had so many knock backs, local brands were ignoring or rejecting me and I'd keep going back and they wouldn't reply. But then Harvy Nicks replied to me and you forget all the rejection. Obviously I don't know much about distribution but then they offer to help me with that and that is just amazing."

Do you ever feel like your age or gender holds you back or like it's given you something to prove?

"Yeh I sometimes feel a bit intimidated but I have to think: so yeh, I'm young, but really, what are my friends doing right now? Just larking about at university, at least I'm doing what I love. The thing that's annoying though is that whenever I meet with big stockists they're ALWAYS men and that can be intimidating. There is a huge injustice there."

What is it that really inspires you? That inspired you to start a business and not give up?

"When I need inspiration I think about why I started it. I think of other people who have not given up and they inspire me. I also think about the events that I have been lucky enough to go to and I remember the faces of people who have enjoyed my product and that's such a good feeling. Sometimes you make so much effort and people look at it like it's nothing, but that is business and you can't think like that. You have to keep plugging, that's something that I say to myself all the time

"My favourite quote, which is a bit cheesy but that I love is this:

Entrepreneur: is someone who jumps off a cliff and builds a plane on the way down."

If you want to check out Empress Juices you can do so here

PRACTISING SELF LOVE THIS VALENTINE'S DAY

So it's nearly here: February 14th, Valentine's Day. It's that time of year again when the shops are literally chockablock full of chocolates, roses, teddy bears and hoards of other vomit-enducing, over priced crap that we're tricked into buying on the premise that all of this stuff represents true love in it's truest form. As a teenager, I despised Valentine's Day. Is there anything worse in this life than a day totally dedicated to love, when there is nobody out there who finds you even remotely attractive, let alone LOVES you? I didn't think so and I remember vividly once losing my SHIT with my mum after she decided that, rather than to give us presents at breakfast, she would organise for some heart chocolates to be delivered to me at school with a '?' at the bottom of the card. All of my friends had ACTUALLY received stuff from boys and there I was with something from my mum? Does it get more mortifying than that? Somebody tell me now.

Despite the fact that this will be the fifth Valentine's Day that I have spent in a happy relationship, I still can't totally shake my general distain for the day out of my head. I don't hate it like I used to and I don't love it as some people seem to... (although I suppose that might be because when you're told that you're allergic to chocolate a LOT of these celebrations become fairly pointless anyway.)

Nevertheless. Valentine's Day is a day all about love and I love to love. I loved Galentine's Day today and enough time has passed since my Valentine's Day childhood trauma so I'm officially back on the bandwagon. But with a difference because this year I'm promoting the idea of self love, because really, who says that can't be exactly what Valentine's Day is about?

Why, as strong, independent, kick arse women do we allow ourselves to spend this day in a state of either depression or panic because a man may or may not buy us some chocolates? Since when has it been up to anyone but YOU to make YOU feel special eh?! This is something that I have been thinking a lot about recently and it has been driving me mad. Why don't we buy our own flowers? And teddies? And chocolates? And eat them all in the bath surrounded by candles and calming music and a great book? Who says that we can't be the ones to make ourselves feel special this Valentine's Day?

Whether you are single or in a relationship, a romantic person or a total scrooge, a lover of baths or lactose intolerant, there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn't direct as much love as possible tomorrow, at yourself. 

Valentine's Day is all about spoiling someone special in your life, that's what all the chocolate boxes say, all the teddy bears, all the adverts, 'for someone special...' who's to say that you aren't that someone special in your life?

If you're in a relationship I appreciate that it might be a little tough to say 'sorry love but I've decided that I want to spend the most romantic night of the year alone so can you make yourself scarce for a couple of hours please?' to your SO, particularly if they're stood there with a bunch of flowers in one hand and your favourite take out food in the other. But that doesn't mean that you can't make a bit of 'me time' tomorrow. Getting up a few minutes earlier is a good place to start, perhaps using a new soap in the shower or moisturiser when you get out. Spend a couple more minutes applying makeup than you normally would and wear something that makes you feel sexy af. Buy yourself some chocolates on the way to work, the shopkeeper will assume you have a loved one who will receive them and everyone at work will assume you got them at home. As you silently eat every last one yourself you can celebrate what a con artist you are. Get your nails done in your lunch break or pick up a trashy magazine for the commute home. Even if you have romantic plans in the evening, make sure you do things the way you want them to, all the while ensuring that you feel as special as possible.

Of course if you are single and have no plans tonight other than sinking a bottle of wine, watching Bridget Jones AGAIN and eating more ice cream than anyone thought possible all the while questioning your very existence because EVERYONE IS IN LOVE APART FROM YOU then 'me time' is so important. A bath is paramount or failing that a face/hair/skin mask of some kind. A pamper, that's what you need. You also need a present, you need to buy yourself a present, probably chocolate, that you are going to eat totally guilt free. If you don't own a book and are not currently reading one then hop to Waterstones in your lunch break and buy one, when you get home start it. Eat EXACTLY what you want to eat, wear EXACTLY what you want to wear and do EXACTLY what you want to do.

In lots of ways tomorrow is just like any other day, it's a Tuesday in February. But in other ways it's a great opportunity. If you enjoy being miserable on Valentine's Day, a grinch and a grump, as I know a lot of people genuinely do, that's cool. But if there is even a morsel of romance inside of you that you don't know what to do with, then why not direct it inwards? Spoil yourself, be that someone special. Practise self love this Valentine's Day.

THROW KINDNESS AROUND LIKE CONFETTI THIS RANDOM ACT OF KINDNESS WEEK

One of my favourite weeks of the year is finally here: it's Random Act of Kindness Week 2017 or #RAKWeek2017 as any Twitter bods out there will probably know it as! This is a week created by the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation to teach children specifically to be kind to themselves and others. Well, I'm hopping on the bandwagon and suggesting that perhaps it's not just kids who could do with a week like this, I think it's something that we all need right now!

So without further a do I am sharing my list of lovely things that you can do this week to ensure that you're being as kind as you possibly can! Pretty Normal Me Challenge of the week is to complete at least five of the things listed below!

Never forget that every single person you meet is fighting a battle that you literally no nothing about and one random act of kindness from a stranger might just be exactly what they need right now, so why not be that stranger!

I love you all and hope that you all have a wonderful, wonderful week! xxx