Today I’m going to go out on a limb and say something that I’m sure an awful lot of people are going to disagree with. This doesn’t come easily to me as I very much like to be right all the time and I want other people to like me, but I think it’s good sometimes to challenge yourself, so here goes…

I don’t think ghosting is that bad.

*GASP*

There, I said it. I don’t think ghosting is always the absolutely appalling way to behave that a lot of people make it out to be, and I bet that secretly I’m not alone. I have been ghosted and I have ghosted other people and I’m comfortable with both.

I wonder if being self-employed for over a decade has toughened me to it. I’m forever sending pitches or replies to enquiries about my blog and hearing nothing back. Sometimes this is just after one email, but sometimes it’s after a whole string, planning a project, picking dates and then just nothing. I am fine with this. I get it. Sometimes stuff doesn’t work out, people are busy. It’s not a big deal to me.

For anyone who’s not entirely certain what ghosting means, it’s essentially when you just stop communicating with someone, normally someone you’ve been dating or chatting to online as a potential partner. It might be that you’ve just exchanged a few messages with them on Tinder or it might be that you’ve been actively dating for a while.

Now while I don’t condone ghosting if you’ve actually built up a reasonably serious or intimate relationship, I think that at the chatting stage, or after just a date or two, it’s perfectly acceptable to just STOP. Sure it might be annoying if you’re on the receiving end and have felt like there was a connection there, but is it really the end of the world? No.

I’ve had plenty of people do this to me and I’ve done it to other people too and I know that 99% of the time it’s not about the other person. Wasting hours desperate to know ‘what you did wrong’ is pointless because it’s very probably nothing to do with you at all. It’s because the other person got busy or scared or bored or changed their mind or WHATEVER, the fact is that it doesn’t matter. Move on. View Post

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Male menopause

Before Christmas I was sent a press release about the male menopause. At the time I ranted and cursed and decided I would definitely write a blog post about it, but then I ate some Lindor and watched some Poirot instead and nothing happened.

Post-Christmas though, (although not quite post-Lindor – count is three today so far), it’s still on my mind, and so I’m back, still fuming.

I’m going to take you through the press release and pick out some of my favourite lines. Just so you know, I did reply to the original email and ask if, as women, we couldn’t just have this ONE THING, but I received no response. I can only assume that the man who sent it was under the influence of some kind of low-testosterone induced brain fog, otherwise he would have replied immediately.

Let’s start with the title…

‘MALE MENOPAUSE – THE UNSPOKEN TABOO SUBJECT IN MEN’S HEALTH’

I don’t know about you but I am sobbing already at the thought of all these men so underrepresented in all matters medical, their health needs hidden under the vast mountain of knowledge and experience and research that is women’s health. My heart is bleeding. View Post

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I have two questions for you:

Do you like chocolate?

Dur, silly question.

Do you like art?

Okay, slightly more pompous. What does it even mean to like art?? I had a boyfriend once who on our first date brought out a set of postcards he had prewritten with questions to find out things about me. To be honest at the time I kind of liked it, because I’m drawn to intense weirdos, but one of the questions was something like ‘how do you feel about art?’ and that was a bit much, even for me. Art just IS isn’t it? Some stuff you like, some is pointless, e.g. all modern art.

I JEST! (But seriously, modern art, I don’t get it?)

Anyway.

In this post I am COLLIDING the worlds of chocolate and art with a giveaway of chocolate from Coco, the chocolatiers who create not just beautiful chocolate, but beautiful wrappings too, with prints and patterns created both by individual artists and as collaborations with organisations like the Tate and The Wallace Collection Museum.

It’s all very lovely and also delicious. I can testify to this as I ate about three different bars whilst wrapping presents because I had bought shed loads of it and forgotten who I planned to give it to.

Today I’m giving you the chance to share in this artistic, chocolatey joy. Just at the point where you thought you could never eat another sweet thing in your life, you realise that Christmas is done and real life resumes and perhaps what you need first is just a little square or two of gin and tonic dark chocolate.

Win chocolate

If you’d like to win ALL THREE of these bars of artisan chocolate, guaranteed* to make your life at least 35% better than it was before, then all you have to do is enter my giveaway via the widget below.

The first entry takes you for a little look at the food section of my blog, just in case this post has whetted your appetite for a spot of baking or brunch, and the rest are social media related entries. You’re not obliged to follow my Facebook or Instagram pages once you’ve had a look, but if you would like to I would very much appreciate it. It’s hard work to stay visible on Instagram these days, so I am always grateful for any interactions. Thank you. Kind regards.

The competition will close at 11.59pm on January 8th 2022 and full T&Cs apply. Good luck!

 

Win luxury chocolate from Coco

*Not guaranteed.

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How ARE you?

It’s a question I feel like we’ve been asking each other a lot over the last couple of years, and for at least the first 18 months of that I would have said ‘I’m fine!’

Fine. It’s such a nothing word isn’t it?

‘Oh you know,’ I might have followed up with, ‘just plodding along!’

PLODDING. Ergh, what a grim description to have of your own life.

If you’ve asked me in the last few months though, as long as you haven’t caught me on a bad dog day, then I definitely won’t have described myself as plodding, because I have been feeling GOOD.

ACTIVELY GOOD. Look at me this morning – this is an actively good face.

Now when I say good, I don’t mean I’m bouncing off the walls in excitement, full of boundless energy, in the gym every morning or anything like that, let’s not get silly, but I feel NORMAL. View Post

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A few months ago I went to a Christmas press event in London. It seems bonkers to say, but actually that was probably a bit late even for Christmas press stuff. (Most monthly magazines have a 4-6 month lead in time and so ‘Christmas in July’ is the theme of a lot of events.)

It was a little heavy on the toys for me, but I had several nice chats throughout the day with a not unattractive man who was cooking up tasty treats on the George Foreman grill stand, so that was nice.

One of my best bits though was chatting to the team behind Bath House, the artisan fragrance and natural skincare company. Bath House makes a whole range of gorgeous products for hair, body and skin and their big thing is sustainability – they are committed to an ethical and transparent supply chain, want to reduce plastic use wherever possible, and use loads of recyclable materials. They’re good people basically.

The thing that stuck with me though was their range of fragrances and the process that goes into them. Rather than just thinking ‘oh let’s have something floral blah blah’, a lot of their fragrances are designed to try and capture a FEELING. The nice chap from Bath House told me about one of their newest creations, called Hide & Seek.

His starting point, he told me, was an actual game of hide and seek. Not played by children though – his idea was for an adult game of hide and seek, perhaps as part of a weekend away in a country house.

Picture the scene… It’s 1922, there are martinis, beaded dresses and snow outside. (I may be embellishing some of his story here). The seeker starts to count and we scatter throughout the old house, looking for somewhere to hide. I find myself in the dining room and hide myself behind a heavy silk curtain, a deep pink, decorated with roses. I try to breath quietly, but I’m excited, hoping that I’m hidden well, but not *too* well for a certain person to be able to find me and squeeze behind the curtain…

Yes. Well.

*coughs* View Post

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Do you remember back in January when I wrote about five things I wanted to do after lockdown?

No me neither to be honest, but one of them was apparently to go to the theatre, (which does sound like something I’d say), and I was reminded of it recently when I was invited to make the theatre dream come true with a trip to London to see The Prince of Egypt at the Dominion Theatre.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been to see a proper musical, and needless to say I was excited. I was excited more generally too for going to London and doing fun things like having lunch in a restaurant in Covent Garden that I’d seen in a magazine. I wouldn’t want to live in London, but there is something magical about a day out there. I really felt that last weekend. People travel hundreds and thousands of miles to visit London, and here I am able to pop there for the day on the train. I really am very lucky.

It was particularly magical visiting at Christmas and getting to see all of the Christmas lights and soak up some ‘Christmas in the capital’ vibes with a trip to see The Prince of Egypt.

Here I am, posing for a not at all awkward selfie before the start of the show: View Post

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I’ve been doing a lot of Christmas shopping this week, and by Christmas shopping I mean ‘looking at websites I like and buying myself treats with a few token gifts thrown in.’ To be honest I didn’t even bother throwing in the token gifts when I was shopping at Bookblock, I literally just bought myself six cocktail miniatures.

I was so taken with the Bookblock website, which sells all manner of delightful food and drink bits and gifts and really would be perfect for genuine Christmas shopping, that I got in touch and asked them if they’d like to do a little Instagram giveaway with me.

‘Sure!’ they said. ‘Let’s give away one of these Christmas cocktail sets!’

Christmas cocktail set

Fantastic. I got the competition up on Instagram. Here’s what I wrote… View Post

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In partnership with ATS Euromaster. All research and findings are my own.

Regular readers will know that car maintenance isn’t exactly one of my strong points. Remember when that warning light came on on my dashboard and I just put the satsuma in front of it until one day I tried to turn a corner and the steering wheel wouldn’t move?

*looks awkward*

Having a basic understanding of your car though, things like winter tyres and car safety in general, could save your life, so it’s important to feel confident when it comes to the basics. Winter especially is a dangerous time to be on the roads – road traffic accidents increase by 20% during the winter, and many of these accidents could be prevented by safe winter driving.

Winter is also apparently an excellent time of the year for me to be especially stupid about my car. It was a winter a few years ago when I decided that it would be an excellent idea to scrape the ice off my windscreen with the base of a tin of paint I happened to be collecting from the car boot.

I know, I’m an idiot, but it was so handy. It worked really well too, and it wasn’t until the next time it rained and suddenly the windscreen was a cobweb of tiny scratches that I started to realise the mistake I’d made.

Give me a break… I can write novels, make my own Jaffa cakes and pose naked in front of strangers, just not cars… nobody’s perfect right??

*changes subject quickly*

I was interested then to test our collective winter driving knowledge with the ATS Euromaster winter driving myth challenge. I shared 10 top driving myths on Instagram to see exactly how smart we all our when it comes to winter driving – over 250 people took part and let’s just say a C+ overall, room for improvement. I’ve shared the results below.

If you’re as old as me you will remember ATS very clear from their ‘SOS? ATS!’ TV ad, which I just found on YouTube and discovered is now thirty years old. Good grief. Whoever came up with it though was a genius because it’s stayed in my head this whole time.

View Post

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A few weeks ago an email landed in my inbox and the next day I quit the job I’ve been doing for three days a week for the last year.

It wasn’t my boss saying something horrendous, she’s perfectly lovely, it was an email newsletter from writer Oliver Burkeman. In it he quoted the late American psychotherapist Sheldon Kopp:

‘You are free to do whatever you want. You need only face the consequences.’

I read and reread that quote several times, letting it sink in.

At first I felt a bit defensive about it to be honest, like I wanted to say ‘yeah that’s all very well, but I can’t possibly do x, y and z.’ It’s a symptom of the modern world that we’re fed a myth of being able to ‘have it all’. As women especially, we’re presented with this ludicrous idea that we can, and by implication we should, have a successful and fulfilling career AND be a fully present parent AND have some kind of side hustle making our own hand poured soy candles.

Being ‘free’ to do whatever you want can feel like a pressure to do everything at once and when you choose not to, or aren’t able to, it can feel like a failure.

That’s not what Kopp is saying though. He’s not saying you can do whatever you like and therefore you must, he’s just saying go for it if you like, just decide if it’s worth the consequences.

Alongside the myth of having it all of course goes the guilt, and it’s when the consequence of our actions is guilt that we so often feel crippled. How can we be ‘good’ people if we don’t put others first?

‘Oh of course my dream is a travel the world in a campervan, taking photographs of the local wildlife,’ says the mum of teenagers, ‘but I can’t possibly do that because the kids need me to support them through university.’

She could though.

(I said that in a excited but whispery voice, can you tell?)

The consequences might be many, but she could. It’s kind of crazy and wildly exciting when you actually start to think about all the things you could do or say or be if you were prepared to accept the consequences.

I’d been holding back on quitting my job specifically because I was afraid of the consequences. I felt a sense of obligation, (that guilt again), I was worried about my boss’s reaction, I didn’t want to feel like I had let anyone down – it was a lot of feelings that really say more about me and my overgrown sense of responsibility than about anything else.

After reading Oliver Burkeman’s email though, it suddenly felt so much clearer. It became a simple equation, (I like equations) – was the sum of the benefits worth more to me than the potential short term awkwardness? Of course it was. I handed in my notice.

The next time you find yourself wrangling internally over a decision that doesn’t immediately sit comfortably with you, or that causes pangs of guilt, just consider the consequences and ask yourself ‘is it worth it?’

If the answer is yes then to hell with the rest.

 

freedom of choice

 

Photo by Nathan McBride on Unsplash

Also I totally stole the subject line. Sorry Oliver Burkeman. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and all that.

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Hands up if you like pizza!

Who am I kidding, we don’t need a show of hands, everyone loves pizza right? Of course they do. Which is why I know today’s competition is going to be a popular one.

Today I’m giving away an Optima Pizza Express Napoli – a miniature version of a professional pizza oven that you can use at home to create deliciously crisp pizza in a matter of minutes. The Optima pizza oven is normally £169, so this giveaway is a fantastic chance to bag yourself a very decent prize indeed.

Optima pizza oven

It looks the part doesn’t it?

Optima Pizza Express Napoli was designed by Gabriele Ferrari and manufactured entirely in Italy in the picturesque Italian Modena. Two heating elements (bottom and top) heat the interior of Optima Pizza Express Napoli up to 450°C in just 10-15 minutes – the temperature that professional, large pizza ovens achieve – and then pizza can be cooked in just 4-5 minutes. The base of the oven is made of refractory stone, which draws excess moisture from the dough, meaning no soggy bottoms. You can use the over with homemade or shop bought pizzas, so it’s super flexible.

All very jolly.

I had a go with my favourite pizza recipe, which uses ricotta and roasted garlic as a base instead of tomato sauce. I don’t know what Italians would think of this, whether it’s frowned upon to use a non-tomato base, but hey ho, I’m doing it anyway because that’s the kind of gal I am. Remember when I made that ham and cucumber pizza? I’m not afraid to push pizza boundaries.

My pizza is a good one to use up roast dinner leftovers too, so basically it’s environmentally friendly? Food waste and all that? I don’t know, maybe not, but it’s tasty. View Post

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A few weeks ago now I headed up to London one day on the train. When I got there I headed to a nearby apartment, had a glass of prosecco and took my clothes off in front of a man I had never met before.

I KNOW!!

It sounds so DRAMATIC doesn’t it?? How daring I am.

I say it like that for impact, but that is actually what happened, although it’s not the full story.

Boudoir photoshoot

The full story is that I took part in a body confidence photoshoot with Merv, the man behind the camera at You at Yours. Merv sells himself as a boudoir photographer because, he told me, it’s what people understand, but his shoots are about WAY more than standing in your pants against a cheesy background trying to look sexy.

A lot of the traditional boudoir photography shoots are about creating a glamorous, photoshopped version of you that isn’t real. Think 1960s Star Trek with Vaseline smeared on the camera lens every time we turn to look at Kirk’s love interest. What’s the point though of that though if every time you look back at the photos you’re just thinking ‘if only I could look like that all the time!’

With the photos from a You at Yours shoot you just see yourself. View Post

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Have you come across the term ‘manscaping’? It’s a mix of the words ‘man’ and ‘landscaping’ and tends to refer to things below the belt.

Ooer.

If you have a man in your life, (or you ARE a man), who likes to keep his bits and pieces nice and tidy then STEP RIGHT UP because today I have a fantastic giveaway for you – the chance to win the The Performance Package from Manscaped – everything you need to keep yourself well groomed. The Performance Package would make a fab Christmas present and it’s worth over £100, so read on and find out how to enter!

What’s in the Manscaped Performance Package?

The Manscaped Performance Package is an amazing bundle of manscaping goodies including:

  • The new Lawn Mower 4.0, the fourth generation groin and body trimmer featuring cutting-edge ceramic blades to reduce grooming accidents thanks to advanced SkinSafe™Technology.
  • The Weed Whacker, a nose and ear trimmer for the toughest weeds. Designed with proprietary SkinSafe™ technology, the Weed Whacker helps reduce nicks, snags, and tugs.
  • The Crop Preserver® ball deodorant – helps create an anti-chafing barrier and provides long-lasting freshness below-the-waist.
  • The Crop Reviver® ball toner – features soothing aloe and witch hazel extracts to keep the highly sensitive areas of the body cool, calm and protected.
  • The Performance Package also comes with a free premium travel bag – The Shed – and a free pair of anti-chafing boxers!

Manscaped discount code

I’m sure you’ll agree it’s a pretty nice prize. It would definitely make a better Christmas present than a Lynx giftset from Superdrug.

I’m sold! How do I enter?

Cutting to the chase, I like it.

To enter for the chance to win the Manscaped Performance Package, simply complete as many of the entry mechanisms below as you can. The more ways you enter, the better your chances of winning this fabulous prize. The competition will close at 11.59pm on 20th November 2021 and full T&Cs apply.

Enter now – your balls will thank you!

If you can’t wait to see if you win you can shop with Manscaped NOW and get 20% off – the discount will be applied automatically when you shop via this link.

Win a Manscaped Performance Package worth over £100

Manscaped discount code

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