Tonight I went to see West Side Story at the Theatre and it was fantastic, the actors were amazing, the orchestra talented and I loved the set. The only thing I didn't love was the man who sat next to me eating popcorn through the second half. Crunch, crunch, scrunch, crunch, crunch.
When you go to the cinema popcorn is expected, hell it's practically mandatory; but not at the theatre. When I was little you had an ice cream in the interval, if you were good; but you had to eat it during the interval. You never ate during the performance, it just wasn't done.
You didn't even have a drink; but now people are opening fizzy drinks bottles left, right and centre. The constant hiss of carbonation is so frustrating. I don't know if the actors can hear it; but the rest of the audience can. If you must, have a bottle of still water; but leave your fizzy pop and your scrunchy bags of sweets and popcorn at home please.
I spent the majority of my teens and twenties wearing pyjamas. It was part of the glamorous life of a girl with ME/CFS. Recently though, I've been more than making up for it and my wardrobe is packed to prove it. I've fallen in love with tea dresses and pretty shrugs, soft woollen jumpers and classic jeans.
The problem is I still have days where I feel like I have nothing to wear, despite having to cram the hangers onto the rail. Days when I look at all my clothes and wish I could get something new. Even though I know I've got too many clothes. I don't need this many clothes; but I still like buying new things.
I love the feel of a new top or dress, the buzz of wearing something for the first time, knowing people haven't seen me in it. The thing is, it can be hard to justify a shopping trip when my sagging clothes rail and wedged wardrobe doors say otherwise.
That's why I was excited when my WI organised a Swish.
Never heard of Swishing before? Me neither; but I found out it's when you swap your clothes, shoes and accessories with other people. It's a bit like free shopping and is a lot of fun.
The WI members all had to bring items that they no longer wanted - I had a dress and some tops that just weren't my style any more. I was happy to donate them to a new home.
In exchange for each item we took, we got a button as a token. This button could then be exchanged for a new piece of clothing. I hadn't really thought of what I would get, I was more focused on making some room in my own wardrobe; but I found some things that I fell in love with.
They were all things I would have bought myself if I'd seen them out shopping and now I can't wait to wear them.
I was amazed at how polite everybody was. I'd had visions of it being a cross between a car boot and a jumble sale - elbows at the ready; but everyone was really calm and lovely. They enjoyed browsing through the rails and each chose really individual pieces, things that I wouldn't have thought to pick up; but on them looked amazing. Everyone was really happy by the end.
I talked to my friend Lauren who has her own Frugal Blog. She had done a short talk at the beginning of the evening for us and given us some top tips on saving money. She had Swishing parties with her friends in their own homes. They were more informal; but just like our Swish, they each brought items they no longer wanted.
The best tip she told me was that if more than one person wanted an item, they each had to model it, then their friends decided who it suited. This way it avoided arguments and the piece of clothing went to the right home.
Have you ever swished? Is it something you'd want to do with your friends to help save money and get a fresh wardrobe?
So the idea was to clear space and I've now got the exact same number of clothes as I started; but I've got new things to wear and they didn't cost me a penny. Even better - I've already found four more items I want to Swish. I think I'll have to organise my WI to run another one very soon.
I have a new niece, her name is Alice Poppy and I'm a totally smitten Auntie. This weekend she came round for a visit with her Mum and Dad. It was the perfect excuse to bake a Strawberry Drizzle Cake. There are so many delicious English strawberries available at the moment.
This is the recipe - Strawberry Drizzle Cake
I've got to say my cake rose a lot, so you couldn't see the pretty strawberries. They were so juicy that it took a long time for the centre to cook through; but it tasted amazing. I'd definitely recommend giving it a go.
It wasn't exactly like a lemon drizzle cake. Next time I think I would juice the strawberries as they describe in the recipe; but then mix it with caster sugar instead of icing sugar. Then pour it over while the cake is still warm. It should give a sharper strawberry taste and the crusty sweet/tangy top that you associate with drizzle cakes. If you do try it that way, let me know how you get on.
The afternoon tea was lovely and I got lots of gorgeous cuddles with Alice, so my cut-metre is full for now.
How did you spend your Sunday afternoon?
Have you ever had one of those moments when everything shifts? It could be while you're talking to someone, reading a book or even watching TV; but all of a sudden something clicks inside you. It's like your whole life has been picked up, turned upside down and then righted again. Everything is in the exact same place; but it's like the whole world is completely different. Just like a snow globe.
I seem to keep having these Snow Globe Moments, where everything I knew, or thought I knew, changes. Insights that just stops me in my tracks and make me rethink everything. They're disconcerting and like a snow globe it takes time for everything to settle, for the swirl of chaos to come back down. It does eventually; but even then nothing is ever quite the same again. Do you know what I mean?
I'm not particularly green fingered, in fact I either over or under water plants; but I do love flower arranging. I know it's seen as an old lady thing; but I think it's cool and it brightens up the house. You can even make garage flowers look good!
The weather has been gorgeous at the moment and our garden is looking beautiful. It's a real joy seeing the plants coming on and establishing themselves. When we moved in four years ago, all we had was a rectangle of patchy green.
The soil is pretty rubbish, literally, the builders buried all their rubble and bricks under the garden; but somehow the plants seem to find a way to survive. I'm sure that's a very deep metaphor for life there.
My favourite flowers are roses, clichéd and girlie, I know; but I adore them. We went to a special rose seller called Beales Roses and chose scented varieties. Basically we went round sticking our faces close to each of the plants and taking deep breaths. We'd have looked insane if other people weren't doing the exact same thing.
I've been wanting to go out into the garden to pick some flowers for a summer floral wreath; but the evil that is pollen and hay fever, has been keeping me shut away in doors. Seriously, why can't there be high pollen in November when it's cold and wet outside? I wouldn't mind staying in? Being allergic to the summer sucks.
Fortunately I just have to wait it out until the end of July. I'm counting the days.
I decided that I would just go for it this evening and I'm so pleased I did because it was gorgeous being out in the fresh air, picking the flowers and foliage. I only got stabbed by rose thorns three times, I didn't bleed and I was only marginally sneezy afterwards. I call that a victory.
This is the unassuming oasis ring I started out with and below is how it turned out. I have to admit I'm rather proud of it. It's now filling our living room with the glorious scent of roses. An evening well spent.
What's your favourite way to spend a summer evening? Do you have to hide inside from pollen too? What do you do if you can't go out?
I've spent the morning on the phone - in fact I'm still on the phone as I write this. I'm not speaking to anyone, I'm just listening to an endless stream of electric jazz, that's interrupted every minute by a recorded woman who tell me "Thanks for waiting, one of our advisors will be with you as soon as possible."
Every time the line went quiet, before her voice came on, I got ready to start talking. Every. Single. Time. It wasn't a fun call either, so my heart lurched a little too. It was not a pleasant experience.
It got me wondering, is there a science to the music they use? Is someone, somewhere, researching the kind of music that will sooth callers, diffuse anger of any irate customers? That sounds like an important job; but one I doubt exists. I've called up for tickets from Ticketmaster and ended up wanting to throw my phone across the room by the time they actually answered.
I did call the Capital FM Arena the other day and they played modern pop songs of everyone who was coming to do a show and told you that tickets were still available. It was very tempting, as there were a few people I'd love to go and see.
Sorry - I just had to break off then as my call was finally answered! Yay! I almost dropped the phone when a real person spoke and after all that she answered my question in under a minute, so I'm all smiles now;.
My question for you is what's the worst phone music you've heard? If you could reveloutionise the music they do use, what would you choose?
I won the Good Housekeeping Novel Competition. My novel, The Box, is going to be published on 25th July 2019, by Orion