Women Are Like Teabags…..

Recently my friend split up with her long-term partner and is still dealing with the myriad of, both emotional and practical, effects of the relationship breakdown. Having known this lady almost all my life, even I am surprised with the brave and resolute way she has weathered the storm. I think, however, that my friend would be the first to point out that no-one has been more surprised than herself.

Eleanor Roosevelt supposedly said, “Women are like teabags, we don’t know our true strength until we are in hot water.”. If you’re going through a tough time and feel things will never get better, just look around you, your friends will give you inspiration (I know mine has – I’m storing it up for when I might need it!). You’ll come out the other side stronger than ever before (and perhaps tasting of tea!).

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Let’s Get Saucy

Yesterday was the worst day of my life* and I have no-one to blame but myself. There I was, dishing up the chippy tea, when I looked in the fridge, then the cupboard and realised, all too late, that I had no tomato sauce. Had I realised before sending out my man-servant to procure said chippy tea, I could have averted my trauma with the addition of an order of curry sauce or even a cheap bottle of sauce from the chip shop itself. But no, I was too preoccupied with the ongoing mystery of my haunted washing machine to remember if I had enough ketchup. More fool me. I tried to make do with some mayonnaise but, to be honest, it just rubbed salt (and vinegar?!) into the wound.

In years past I had tomato sauce on everything – sandwiches, rice cakes, roast dinners or just as the main meal itself, the food I dunked into it being a mere by-product, a means with which to get the lovely red stuff into my mouth. Nowadays I’m a bit more restrained, I can take it or leave it (though I’d rather take it). It is, however, an ESSENTIAL component for two ‘meals’, those being bacon/black pudding sandwiches and chippy teas. Oh, and with broccoli, broccoli tastes wrong without tommy sauce. Very few things put me off food or ruin meals but a distinct lack of tomato sauce can be one of them.

I am definitely not addicted though, I know because 1) I’m not and 2) I know someone who is far more dependent on the ruby elixir. I have a friend, who shall remain nameless, who loves her tomato sauce SO much, that, when, as an adult, she lived with her brother (another fellow addict), they basically had a bottle (by which I mean those MASSIVE catering size ones) in every room of the house. When we went to the pub for lunch one day and they had run out of ketchup, she promptly walked out of the pub………… across the road, to the corner shop and bought a bottle, which, having liberally slathered on her pie (*snigger*) she passed round the rest of the diners in the pub. And she’s got a t-shirt that says ‘I Put Ketchup On My Ketchup!’. I’m tempted to buy her this .

Do you have a strong attachment to a particular condiment. Is it just tomato sauce that inspires such devotion?

*not actually the worst day of my life. That was the day I smashed a full bottle of wine on the kitchen floor.

Nyan Nyan Soy Candles

I was lucky enough to win a competition run by Nyan Nyan Soy Candles on Facebook recently and my prize arrived this morning. A beautiful room/car fragrancer made from vanilla soy wax presented in a gorgeous organza bag. When the post arrived I was sat out the front of the house ‘ooohhing’ and ‘ahhhing’ over my Mum’s new car. How serendipitous for her, as she now has a beautiful car fragrancer, made from vanilla soy wax presented in a gorgeous organza bag, hanging from the gearstick of her new car. Well, I guess it’s cheaper than giving her petrol money 😉 . As lovely as the fragrancer is, I don’t have a car myself and I thought the gift was too pretty to hide away in a drawer, even if it would make my pants smell lush.

Nyan Nyan is another of the wonderful fledgling businesses I have discovered through Facebook and Twitter. I follow/find a lot of people, companies and products through the competitions they run and it’s also a great way of gathering present ideas for Christmas. I can definitely see me going back to Nyan Nyan.

All the products are homemade (see how here), organic and suitable for vegans and vegetarians. Their motto is ‘Why breathe in what you would not put on your skin.’, which I think it a great ethos. Lucy’s products look as good as they smell and have a vintage, kooky twist that gives the products an edge over many shop-bought candles. She also offers a customisation service, so there’s plenty of scope for making really individual gifts or items for your home. If you want to see what all the fuss is about check out the Etsy shop.

And, as if you’d need any further reason to shop with Nyan Nyan Soy Candles, they’re named after the Japanese word for small white kittens and the cute noise cats make. Awwwwww.

A Glazed Look In My Eye?

I am very much looking forward to October.

There’s something exciting and quite momentous on the horizon.

Something I’ve been waiting for a long time.

Something that will make myself and N very happy.

Krispy Kreme are coming to South Yorkshire!!!!

*Fireworks*

*Confetti*

*Party poppers*

*EPIC HAPPY DANCE*

If you read this and thought “What’s Krispy Kreme?”, may I direct you to their website by clicking the link above.

It’s very simple, they make doughnuts, really nice doughnuts. And, until now, the only outlet in Yorkshire was somewhere in Leeds. Well now they’ve decided to open up in Meadowhall, which means I can recreate my Manchester Selfridges meal of a Yo!Sushi pogathon followed by a doughnut or three. I am not ashamed by this, guilt is a very corrosive emotion which I neutralise with custard filling and chocolate sprinkles (and maybe a few extra lengths in the swimming pool).

Apparently most people go to Meadowhall to shop for clothes and other stuff. Freaks.

The Cat Reviews

My cat Neko is very much of the opinion that if someone else has something that looks good, he should have it too. My super comfy memory foam mattress? Yeah, I think you’ll find that is now at least three-quarters his, if the amount of hair he leaves on the duvet every day is anything to go by. That tuna sandwich you’re preparing? There is a tuna tithe that must be paid, or else the only alternative currency is blood, drawn as he climbs up your trouser leg. Brand new ‘chumbly’ cardigan? Obviously that’s his new favourite thing to attack/curl up in – even if you’re wearing it. And the newspaper you’re reading spread out on the floor? While he doesn’t want to read it, it is clearly interesting enough to you to warrant investigation and, more than likely, be used as a bed for the next half an hour.

So, when I recently received a package containing a selection of the new ‘Natural Vitality’ cat treats from Bob Martin for him to sample, I could only assume that my cat has seen me doing blog reviews and decided, as per usual, he wanted in on the action. And by ‘action’, I mean – I feed him the treats, he then saunters off to happily lick his fluffies and I write about it. Actually, that’s a little unfair of me because he did pose for pictures.

The three packs we tried are as follows. The salmon flavour Flexi-Joint (which helps maintain supple joints), the beef flavour Peak Performance (which supports muscles and strong bones) and the fish flavour Top Coat (which supports healthy skin and coat). All three varieties have no less than 70% fish or meat. As my cat is now into his 5th year, I’m aware that we need to do everything we can to keep him as vital and healthy as possible for as long as possible. For this reason, any treat which claims to have added health benefit is bound to catch my eye. As yet I can’t comment on any perceptible effects on his well-being, it’s been less than a week since I’ve been giving him a few a day, but expect a follow-up post if and when I see any change.

I can, however, comment on Sir Fluff-a-lot’s taste-test reaction, which is, I think, the most important factor. After all, if a cat doesn’t like the taste of something, he sure as heck isn’t going to eat it, so it doesn’t matter *how* good they are for him.

As the above photo illustrates, he attacked his part of this review challenge with great gusto. I’ve tried him with all of the flavours and the salmon variety definitely reigned supreme – I had to remove his head from the bag at one point. I’d go so far as to say that he did not like the beef at all (ate one, sniffed the other than wandered off with an air of ‘I’m disgusted in you and all you stand for’). I’m not surprised. He is, without any disrespect to him, a total fish whore. He’d sell his soul, and anything else he could get his claws on, for a sniff of a sardine.

These treats retail at £1 for a 45g pouch and can be found in most supermarkets and pet shops. I think they’re competitive value and, if they ‘do what they say on the tin’, the added cost compared to slightly cheaper brands is definitely worth it if you want to keep your favourite feline(s) healthy as well as happy. The resealable bag and long ‘best before date’ means that they can be kept in a cupboard for a fair while (or, at least, until the cat to breaks in and help himself to the lot in one sitting). The treats themselves are a good size (picture a slightly thicker, meaty/fishy SIM card) but are soft enough to be broken down into smaller chunks if your pampered pussy so desires.

Not that Neko is in the least bit interested in this fact (to be honest, he lost interest in this review when I put the treats back in the cupboard) but I feel it only fair to mention that Bob Martin has also released a similar range of complimentary snacks for dogs. So be your furry friend canine or feline, everyone is catered for. Which is something to remember the next time they send you out shopping for treats.

A Day In The Life (Samsung Mob!lers)

When was the last time you spent a day without looking at your phone? Ever got to work, reached into your bag and come out empty-handed, but for a mental image of your mobile sitting all forgotten on the bedside cabinet, and suddenly felt like you’d had your right arm cut off? We can (and often do) do everything with our mobile phones now – e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g.

Gone are the days of just calls and texts. Even I am surprised how much I rely on my phone on a daily basis. I never let it wander far (apart from that time I thought I’d left it on a P&O ferry to Bruges only for it to turn up in the kitchen cupboard – don’t ask me how!) and when it’s in my hand I put it to work in any number of constructive (and not so constructive) ways.

For my latest Samsung Mob!lers mission I was asked to make a video showing some of the ways I use my Galaxy Pro smartphone in an average day. Here is the result.

Travel Broadens The Mind

It is a near miracle if I end a holiday without at least one near death or slightly dodgy/worrying experience. In Holland it was ‘The Battle of Sparta Rotterdam’ where a ‘friendly’ football fixture was infiltrated by rampaging Feyenoord fans, resulting in bloodshed and an armed escort back to the train station. In Swansea I was relieved of my handbag and ‘pretend held hostage’ for my pin number. In the Scottish Highlands I almost drowned when my kayak started taking on water and then sunk. In Belgium (at the Spa Francorchamps racing circuit to be precise) I fell down a hill – luckily my arse cushioned the impact. In Florida there was the hurricane and on school camp (Wales again!) there was ‘the quad bike incident’.

Until now my fiance has remained relatively unscathed by my penchant for holiday doom, though he has been a bemused/concerned onlooker on a few occasions. Until this year. When we went to Barcelona. And I accidentally took him cottaging.

We’d decided to walk up Montjuic (though in the end it was walk a bit, cable-car a bit) which is a maa-hoo-sive hill covered in parkland, nature and all that stuff, overlooking the city. There is a graveyard up there that I wanted to see (yes, I like graveyards, it’s not *that* odd) and a couple of museums and a magic fountain with pretty lights. I had a map and it had served us well until we got, as Ray Mears might say, ‘turned around’ and took a left too early. Thinking about it, I did notice the middle-aged bloke who was stood near the bushes a little further up the path give me an odd look as I ditzily studied the map, as did the young lad who drove his scooter to a stop at the bottom of the path, but I figured they just thought me a stupid lost tourist. Scooter Man set off up the path and a few seconds later, having decided to go thaddaway, myself and N followed – well, not literally ‘followed’, but went in the same direction. At that point the two gentlemen greeted each other with a furtive nod and proceeded to walk into the bushes.

In all honesty, N was pretty much oblivious to it all and it was only after we’d realised that we’d taken a wrong turn and decided to double back, necessitating passing ‘the bushes of love’ again that I told him what was going on. I don’t think he really believed me. Preferring to suppose that they were two, totally platonic, nature-lovers who disappeared into the undergrowth in a fairly remote location to study rare butterflies or some such. That is until I called on The Knower of All Things that is Google, which revealed that yes, the delightful woodland glades of Montjuic, particularly near the graveyard (which is stunning by the way), are well-known and highly thought of in outdoor gay sex circles.

So, depending on your preferences, consider this tale (and handy map!) either a friendly warning and a ‘things (people?) to do’ suggestion. While I’m not in the least bit offended by the concept, I do think some kind of sign-post would have been nice to prevent unsuspecting tourists stumbling across such private (*ironic face*) moments. Though perhaps our presence served only to increase the frisson felt by these Mediterranean pleasuremongers. In which case, Middle Aged Man and Scooter Man, you’re entirely welcome! And if it didn’t, I’m sorry if we put you off, you might want to think about lobbying your local MP regarding my sign-post idea.

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