Things I Fancy Friday

October is drawing to a close, and normally I'd be buzzing about Halloween by now. I really love dressing up, although I've always been a bit more 'Regina' than 'Cady' at Halloween. Aside from one year when I went as San from Princess Mononoke, I'm normally a short-skirted undead reincarnation.

This year, I'm looking a little quiet, and what I'm really excited about is the beginning of Autumn and cosying up my home.

Here are a few things I quite fancy this week. Click on the links to go directly to the product page.

£15, KIGH Big Cartel here

   1. Kids in Glass Houses are one of those bands that I have always really liked, despite their general generic-ness and weak final album. It's their farewell tour at the moment and I'm seeing them in fair ol' Reading this weekend. I may end up with one...
Mollie& Fred, £18.99

2. I love foxes, and this 'Rusty the Fox' mat is both adorable and useful. In addition, the colour scheme is exactly what I wanted; something rustic yet 'cool'.

John Lewis, £25

3. This would go gloriously on our sofa, I can tell. It's a very light blue in real life, with tones of sepia.

John Lewis, £49

4. A Swan dress. Need I say more? Sadly, I just can't justify this sort of spending on clothes at the moment...

What do you fancy this Friday?


A Dumb-Phone Life: A Comment on the Connected Life

In the marketing world, I'd be known as a 'late adopter'.

When we segment and profile customers in the industry, people like myself are given a little dunce cap and a pat on the back. There's a 'bless them, they'll get there eventually' mentality. We're not the target demographic for anything innovating. A product is launched, and we watch, warily, from the undergrowth. Will it flop? Is it worth the money? We watch thousands of other individuals exchange money for goods - an extended beta test - before we part with our cash. For me, it's an upbringing thing. Any trend must be firmly established before I shell out. It took me two years to believe in the power of the playsuit.

I was certainly late to the party with a Smart Phone. I got my first last December, over six years after the iPhone first graced our lives. It was a Samsung Galaxy S3. It's a damn good phone, don't get me wrong. It is relatively cheap (£180 from argos), attractive, light, and does all you could possibly wish for. I'm definitely a fan of an Android operating system; it's nimble, accessible, and compatible. It links to google applications like a dream.

You may have wondered why I've been so quiet.... sadly, my whole handbag was stolen on Saturday night in a moment of weakness. I lost my house keys, bike lock keys, purse, licence, debit card, nectar card, rail card and phone in one fell swoop. My bike key is the thing I'm currently missing the most; I can't cycle to work at the moment! But, a close second is my mobile phone.

the night was definitely worth it
  Scrolling, Swiping ZOmbie

As a user of twitter and instagram, my phone had been in my hand 24/7 since the day I got it. If I wasn't texting or sending Whatsapps (best app ever, by the way) I was flicking idly through reams of Pinterest or Instagram images, double-tapping as I went.

I hate to sound cliché, but I really did feel connected. I also really felt inspired. Surely it was productive, this behaviour, this constant interior-design voyeurism? It was helping me develop my own sense of style, encouraging me to make decisions about my home, informing me of trends and looks.
It wasn't. I was wasting hours watching someone else's life unfold. Mine was being wiled away in the meantime.
It's taken me some time away from the screen to realise what my phone was really doing to me. I was just another social-media zombie. T & I have spent too many evenings scrolling on our smartphones, side-by-side. We might be holding hands but we're not really 'together'. Truly joyful moments can't occur in the realms of the internet - and paticularly the passive internet.

Do I really need another smartphone?I'm sorry to say that yes, I do. Without one, I am a little at sea when it comes to arranging plans. It also makes blogging and recording moments like nights out very difficult. I'm saving up for one at the moment - though I'm not in a rush. 
When we were in Croatia, I turned my phone off for the entire week. Was I any poorer for being off the grid for a week? No. If anything, my experience in the Baltics was enriched. I read, I talked, I experienced the things in front of me and didn't just see them through an instagram filter. 
I hope that I'll approach my next phone in a more restrained way. Perhaps I'll turn it off when I'm socialising, or at home in the evening, and only turn it on for a specific use.

Has anyone had any luck weaning themselves off the smartphone? I'd love to hear about it.

All the best,


House Maintenance: or, as I like to call them, 'grown-up jobs'

I hold my hands up in the air and admit that I’m not a domestic goddess. I can cook, and I can bake, but I’m not a natural home-maker – somehow, when I walk through the front door, I become a bit of a wrecking ball. One shoe ends up on the sofa. One in the hall. The bag is dumped, and it slumps, despondent, spilling its contents across the entire floor. Every morning is a mad rummage, as I up-end drawers looking for an intact pair of tights. I spill every cup of tea I make.


I’m hopeless, essentially. BUT, I have done some chores that are very responsible, home-owner-type chores since I moved in. I do feel particularly adult today, so I thought I’d tell you all about them.


Clearing the U-Bend & Dishwasher

I’m fortunate to say I’ve never had to do this before. It’s probably needed doing in past houses but I’ve chucked some bleach down it and hoped for the best. T unscrewed the pipes, and we found a moist black clot lurking in the u-bend. It was the size of a hamster.


The dishwasher (inherited from the owner) was an even worse task. The stench of mildew was overpowering and it took me almost two hours to get the gunk off. I used wooden skewers (although toothpicks would work) first to work most of the deposits free. Then I scrubbed all the parts with an old toothbrush and some special cleaner I bought from Sainsbury’s.

However, it’s working perfectly now and the smell has gone entirely!


Fixing a toilet

The insides of a toilet have always been a mystery to me. In my tenant mind-set, that white box at the back contained a magical land full of tiny people and a waterfall. Sadly, I now know there is just a big plug, a dangly chain, and a weird tube. Not interesting at all.
The toilet wouldn’t stop running, even though the plug was in place. What was wrong? Well, there just wasn’t enough water in there! A pint glass from the sink, and the problem was solved. It was incredibly simple.


Weeding the garden
In all honesty, my Grandma did most of this job. She’s very green-fingered and her garden is a thing of beauty. She came over on Tuesday and had it out with my front garden, which I am so grateful for. The rest of the weeds have been mercilessly sprayed and I plan to pull them out as soon as possible…


Cutting back overgrown trees
Our back garden is tiny little paved rectangle which shouldn’t take too much love to look inviting and keep neat. It was an overgrown mess, however; cue T and I standing on the garden bench and hacking over-hanging tree branches. Now that job’s done, the garden looks bigger and brighter.



  And, we have internet
Nothing makes a house feel more like a home than a good ol' connection to the outside world - am I right, or am I right? I think T and I both breathed a sigh of relief when we realised we could stop talking to each other and go on footytube/facebook again.

Joking, of course.

However, I am able to also write the post of posts - the MOVING IN blog post. After all, this is a first-time-buyer-rookie-home-owner blog (yes, I invented my own category) and those are defined by these posts. Just like fashion blogs are defined by their sultry outfit shots (city scapes obligatory - if there are none of those where you live, your career is over before it begun) and a cooking blog requires gratuitous macro-lense close-ups of sugar.

The day went swimmingly. The house was in incredibly good condition when we finally got in, which suprised me. When we had our pre-exchange viewing, it was disgusting. I kicked off at the estate agent but she replied haughtily; 'well, you're already getting it at below market value, you're in no position to make demands of the seller'.....ooooh. I argued that a new tenant would not be allowed to move in with these conditions. Something must have been said, because the fridge (part of our contents agreement) has been cleared of half-drunk wine and stubs of butter (seriously).

We were in by 1pm. T's parents were incredibly helpful and transported our stuff from our temporary flat to the new house, as neither of us drive. All our worldly possessions fitted in two car trips!
We also bade a genuinely sad farewell to our landlord and his adorable little boys. We were lodgers in the old 'servants quarters' in the attic, rather than a stand-alone flat, so we got quite close to the family.

Anyway, we were alone in the house by 6pm. It is a very strange feeling, to be in your own home for the first time, without the spiel of the estate agent as a background hum. I kept walking up the stairs, and down the hall, running fingers across the walls. It felt positively palacial. Never before have I had so much space to fill. 

Fear gripped me suddenly. It was a terrifying void, empty and souless, not a home for us yet. More pressingly, I was suddenly consumed with the thought that it was my responsibility to keep these bricks and mortar standing. I had to take care of this place. It was more than just a house; it was our life savings. Urgh.

Luckily, it was Thursday night and I had a wine-drinking session to get to. We shelved that freak-out for another day.

We've been in since Thursday and a lot has happened in the interim, which I will cover in my next post, so stay tuned :)

So, today's learnings: Do a pre-exchange viewing and throw your weight around if something's not right. It's your last chance to save yourself some money/time when you move in. 


Move-in Day Survival Guide (AKA Reading for comfort eaters)

This time tomorrow, I’ll be in my new home. That is, if all goes to plan. If it doesn’t, here’s my coping strategy*.
I’ll be living a stone’s throw from the Oracle shopping centre, which has a beautiful riverside and lots of excellent eateries in which to bide my time. I eat like clockwork. If I get through the day without one of my five integral meal-stops, it’s a miracle.  I plan to leave work at 12pm tomorrow (yes, I’m going in for the morning… my annual leave amount is pitiful) so if I don't get into the house by 2pm, there'll be friction....

 **this could also be known as ‘a guide to Reading for comfort eaters’

I'm delayed by 1 hour (2pm)
Chow down at Mission Burrito

image from Mission Burrito's blog
 Mission Burrito is a colourful, hearty establishment and it’s the perfect place to abate the nervous, gnawing hunger I get when things start to go wrong. A burrito with all the trimz will set you back almost £7, but it’s worth it.

(Guac shouldn’t be extra, guys! It should be free! It’s an essential! Like oxygen!)


image from http://www.theexchange.uk.net

Delayed by 3 hours (4pm)
Patisserie Valerie
I’ll be very cross by this point.
I will need chocolate. Ridiculously over-indulgent chocolate.

Delayed by five hours (6pm)
Order a
Pizza Presto

I will be fuming, I imagine. Probably pacing back and forth. I will probably have cycled to the solicitors, the estate agents AND the bank and threatened everyone with death and sulfer.
This will obviously burn up around 10,000 calories (conservative estimate) and mean I need to eat something wholly unhealthy.

image from pizzapresto.co.uk
Pizza Presto is the marmite of Reading pizza. Order it, and expect a greasy, sweaty paving-slab of a pizza to arrive around 45 minutes afterwards (they’re not super prompt). I don’t know why, but eating pepperoni swimming in a cheesy grease lake is incredibly therapeutic and this place offers serious value for money (pro-tip: never order chicken fight)


Delayed by 7 hours (8pm)
Round at
Mix Bar

Who am I kidding?
Food won’t sate the disappointment in my soul.
Mix Bar is an amazing venue with impossibly talented staff – and prices which represent this. However, Happy Hour runs until 8pm so I can drown my sorrows and get change for a tenner.
If you’ve not been before, pop in. I'm a regular.
Sometimes you get a free drink, if you can find the plastic bull before anyone else....
Screw it, even if I get the keys and through the threshold, I might do these four things anyway! Unpacking can wait - nothing says 'home-sweet-home' more than unpacked boxes!
Have a great Wednesday, everyone x