How are you dealing with the heat?

Short answer: I’m not. The heat is gross, and I want my ‘English Weather’ back.

Last week, my town had one day of rain; and I wrote more for my manuscript in that day than I had the entire week previous. It’s not just that I’m a lover of rain – which I am – it’s the halting sagginess to summer heat I can’t stand. Everything stops moving or slows down. People feel like they’re walking through custard. Hot custard.

We all think we’re going to be really excited for summer – and I think that’s because all the ‘fun things’ happen during summer. Bbqs, beach days, cocktails and budgie-smugglers (my dad’s term for speedos), and I always feel bad for raining on the parade. (Did you see what I did there?) But unless you don’t sweat, or have a pool, the summer is the worst.

IMG_20171217_102540_666You’ve got people suffering from heat stroke, and the animals! Think of the animals!

This morning – and this is one of the reasons this post is late, I was outside enjoying the sunshine with my dog like a massive hypocrite – I filled one of those children’s plastic toy boxes full of water (made sure it came out cold first) and watched my dog play in it. He was soaked. Drank half the bucket too. And then he curled up on our cold, tiled, kitchen floor and fell asleep. So cute.

The cats were more tentative about the box. The boy casually sniffed it, but decided the surrounding puddles were enough of a warning and walked away. The girl nearly put her face straight into it, not realising how high the water was. After sneezing the water out, she drank and curled up under a tree in our garden.

We’ve got water bowls all over the house at the moment to protect our babies from this god-awful heat.

I’ve not slept in my bed for weeks. Just perched on top of my sheets, with my pillows under my neck so that my face doesn’t touch anything! Who knew the back of your knees could sweat so much… And as for the underboob – well, I don’t want to go into it. But you could probably fry and egg under there. Just saying.

I was in London twice this week – and London in the summer is gross. On Monday I travelled by car, and was saved by minimal walking and state of the art air-conditioning. It was more difficult once I was in the building I was visiting, but with lots of dark nooks and big doors I stayed relatively cool.

Yesterday was different. I was wearing as little as possible (without being indecent) finding myself trousers of a pretty thin chiffon so that I looked like I could be wearing trousers or pajamas and no one would be able to tell the difference. The woman who sold them told me they’d ‘do me no good’ because they were black and ‘no matter the fabric, black always absorbs the heat’. Which is true. That’s one of the first things I learned in science. But Chiffon – if cut widely enough, barely touches you. It’s too busy dancing in the breeze of motion. So they worked a treat. But my face wanted to evacuate every pore. I’ve never had such a sweaty upper-lip in my life. Gross.

But I had a large bottle of water with me, that just so happened to be colour co-ordinated with my nails and trainers. Because a year ago, at work, I was given some very solid heat related advice. My boss’s husband came into the office with a pack of twelve water bottles. Just little handy ones you can chuck in a bag. He turned me and said,

37753947_10156318106650659_2347511016687927296_n‘Nat always forgets to drink water, so when you see her, point at those and tell her ‘hydrate or die’.

And then he left. And so poignant was that interaction, I’ve stuck with that advice ever since. Hydrate or die – you’ll not forget that in a hurry.

So give me rain. Pouring, dark, cold rain. Not enough to drown me, maybe 30 days instead of 40. At least then I might get my manuscript finished.

How long does it take for you to get ready?

Blogger's Daily Routine Timeline InfographicIf you’re one of those magical people who can wake up and just ‘be awake’ I’d ask which demon you sold your soul to and how can I get in touch?

Waking up for me is an ORDEAL! Firstly, why do all alarms ring through your head? Why can’t they lull you awake, gently? And with enough time to become sentient, after that weird fever dream you were just experiencing? I’ve tried using different songs, phone ringtones, the radio. All of it hurts. So once I’m awake I like to lie awake and stare at the ceiling for ten minutes whilst I contemplate pretending to be dead or calling in sick. Eventually, the need the use the bathroom becomes overwhelming and I get up.

When it comes to breakfast, well, this is the laziest part of my morning. I’ll either have cereal or toast if I’m doing it myself. I’ve recently moved back in with my parents (because my MA in Creative Writing has rinsed my account), and my mum likes to have bacon and eggs on toast for breakfast. If she’s cooking, then I wake up to the smells of bacon and it’s a lot easier to be enthused.

Once I’ve eaten, it’s time to shower and brush my teeth. I don’t spend longer than ten minutes in the shower. My hair is quite long, but I find a simple wash once and condition every three days keeps it in good condition. I don’t douse it in hairspray or straighten it very often, so it keeps my hairdresser happy when I see her.

On a dry day, it takes me exactly eleven minutes to get dressed, make my bed, brush my hair and brush my teeth. It’s the only part of my morning where I feel even remotely efficient. Rarely does my underwear match. Rarely can I find two socks with the same pattern, so I tend to stick with at least the same colour. I’ve tried to only buy black socks to that I can pretend I have my life together. But I love a novelty sock. I will not apologise.

On a wet day, it takes slightly longer to get dressed because of the drying process. First, I have to enjoy a cup of tea, a bit of my book or a youtube video. It’s a must, without this part of my day everything else crumbles. Then I lightly blow dry my hair at the root, and towel dry the ends. If I’m sat at my desk/vanity table whilst this is happening, it’s about this time that my cat comes running into my room, screaming, and sits on my lap slowing the rest of my morning down. Whilst I’ve been working from home this hasn’t been a problem – but when I get back to a nine-to-five in September? Well, we’ll burn that bridge when we get to it.

Finally, Makeup.

I timed this bit, because it’s the longest part of my ‘getting ready’ process – which is why it only happens if I’m:

  • Sick – and need to hide how awful I look to the general public.
  • I’m on a date – and need to hide how awful I look to the poor schmuk sat across from me.
  • I’m on a night out with my friends – and I need to hide the fact I’m the Lena Dunham to their Taylor Swift(s).
    • This is a reference to Katherine Ryan’s stand up comedy AKA The hilarious retelling of truths too relevant to my life. If you’ve not seen her Netflix Specials – fix your life immediately. 
  • I’m bored and I’ve got time.

Seventeen minutes to do my makeup. I’m saying that up front so you know in advance that I have no idea what I’m doing. That’s not the expedient ‘I do my make up every day, bit of foundation, bit of mascara and away I go!’ nor is it the ‘Everything I learned from my professional MUA course I’ve put into bite-size chunks for Instagram and Youtube – you’re welcome’. It’s in the chubby middle section of ‘I learned from everything I know youtube and cannot get the cat-eye flick on even the sixth try’.

It happens like this: Wash face, prime face, foundation, concealer, blusher, eyes, face powder (I know this is wrong, but I make no apologies. I’m just doing my best!) eyebrows, mascara, lipstick, check for boogers, maybe take a selfie. Depends how good the light is and how much spare time I have. Filter it. Save for later. I don’t like posting too many selfies at once, I don’t want people to think I’m at that level of self-confidence because I’m not, and they might expect me to do confident things like show up to parties.

I only have one bag that I use on a regular basis, so it has phone, keys and purse already in it. If I need anything else then I’ve usually packed it the night before because, again, I like to pretend I’ve got my life together.

Things that will never be part of my morning routine:

  1. Painting my nails – it never dries in time. I always get it everywhere. If I’m going to make a mess it’s going to be in the cool afternoon time so that I don’t have to worry about spending too much time on.
  2. Exercise – my dad goes to the gym before work three times a week, swimming at the weekends. And this blows my mind. I don’t want to be damp and gross from sweating and then showering in an unfamiliar place. I don’t want to hurt and ache when I walk around the office. Who am I kidding? I don’t want to exercise if I can help it…
  3. Food Prep – there’s something exciting about wondering whether you’re going to eat lunch at a normal time or scrabble at the local supermarket to throw something together in the short break you have. Unless… does leftover Chinese count as food prep?

So what do you think? Could you improve my routine? Or does it sound all too familiar? Leave a comment below, share with your friends and I’ll see you next week!

Have you ever dyed your hair?

Dying your hair is a lot of hard work and commitment. I’m not really a fan of either of those things when it comes to my appearance – which is why I’ll never dye my hair again.  The first time I dyed my hair should have been an experience to put me off for life, but I like to learn mistakes a couple of times just to be sure.

Image result for hair highlights cap free use
Allure

You know?

PHASE 1 – The Blonde Highlights

I’d wanted blonde highlights – either because they’d been suggested to me or because everyone in my class was getting them. I can’t remember – I  just remember thinking it would be easier to do than it was. But my mum came home with one of those ‘highlighting’ caps and good lord…

Have you ever experienced someone digging into your head rhythmically for hours, to get to the smallest strands of hair? Because that’s what this is. It feels like hours of life you’re never getting back because when you see your hair poking out of the cap it’s like ‘is that it?’

But it looked okay, I didn’t hate it. And then we went on holiday…

NERD ALERT – Copper is found in traces in water, thanks to the pipes and wells used to store water. You can also use copper-based algaecides to keep your swimming pools clean. But when copper is oxidized by chlorine is binds to the proteins in hair.

TLDR – Copper water + Chlorine + hair = green tints.

And because bleached hair is so stripped down, dyed hair can look fluorescent. So I went to Margarita with gorgeous blonde highlights and came back looking like I’d stitched a witch’s wig into mine.

Copper is an alkali though, so I was told to put something red and acidic in my hair and it would counter the oxidation. We were recommended – I kid you not – tomato ketchup. So I washed tomato ketchup into my hair a couple of times and got most of the blonde back. Only in some lights could the green be seen.

PHASE 2 – Bottle Black Emo Kid

Because each phase should rebel against the last right? Black hair was sweeping through my friends shortly after the blonde highlight fiasco – so I jumped on that bandwagon too. The problem was, I had a bob. And glasses. And a school uniform. I looked less like the cool anime emo kids and more like Velma Dinkley from Scooby Doo.

And there was no fooling my classmates. My roots were lighter than the rest of my hair, so required constant upkeep. Being called ‘Bottle Black’ became a sort of slur for someone trying too hard and I gave up after that. If I were to go and dye my hair again now, this is probably the phase I’d return to. I’m pale, I think I’d look good as a casual goth.

PHASE 3 – Colour Colour

Like I said, every phase has to rebel against the last. And the last phase was to go big and bright with colours. My friends hit the bright red hard. All of them, pretty much, and I became the ‘unique one’ for not bothering. For letting my hair grow out long and brown and natural.

The truth was, I wasn’t very well, and all my hair fell out. Well, not all my hair – but enough to make growing it out a mission because it was stress induced and stress perpetuating. So it was a few years between being ill and dying my hair purple. Yes, purple – because if everyone else went red, why would I bother?

I’d expected a bright Cadbury purple, but my hairdresser ‘knew better’ and gave me a soft magenta purple. It was nice. It was different. No one cared. By this point, different hair dyes that change colour in the rain and under heat was a thing. Dying your hair multiple colours and having the top black so no one would know until the wind came along or you put it up into a ponytail.

And when it grew out it looked like a cheap Balayage. It went a bizarre red/ombre/ginger colour which did suit my long brown hair but it only sprung to life through my lack of commitment. And that was years ago. I don’t bother dying my hair now.

I might try low lights though – when it’s colder and I’m not wasting the money on something I’m going to sling out of my face with a hair band.

Let me know what you think.