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 been on an aeroplane?

I have, a few times actually.

When I was growing up – a lot of our holidays were either in Scotland, the Lake District or France. Mum’s family have family in Southern France, so we did a lot of EuroCamp and Villa Holidays. Which meant a lot of driving, no flying. Whilst we were ‘comfortable’ enough to have a holiday every year, flying out just seemed out of reach financially – especially as there was five of us (parents and two younger brothers). But also, I think my parents were worried about taking younglings on a plane. We’d either hate it, and be bratty. Or we’d love it and get overexcited. And nothing says ‘the holiday has begun’ quite like screaming children.

Image result for Menorca

But my parents had spent their honeymoon in Menorca, and wanted to spend their 10th anniversary returning there. But, because we’ve never been on time for anything, they missed it and went on their 12th anniversary – taking us kids with them. I’d have been 10, my brothers 8 and 6. Old enough to recognise the ‘look’ our parents had for when we were being bratty in public, and that we’d pay for it in private.

I remember being nervous. I was sitting in the window seat, with my dad next to me and my mum and brothers behind us. My dad didn’t take my hand, but told me it would be fun. The engine was so loud. The plane shook like an old bus and then we were shooting down the runway and into the air. People cheered and whooped, which made me giggle. And I was fine after that. The landing was a bit bumpy, but the ride between England and Menorca was just like being on a loud bus, and that analogy has stuck with me every time I’ve flown since.

Strange coincidence but for a long time, the only place I flew to began with the letter M.

Menorca. Morocco. Margarita (an Island of Venezuela). Maldives, The.

We did, as a family, branch out into other letters like R: Rome. Romania.

And my first trip without my parents was to New York – because I’m a white girl. Basic to the bone.

Of course, that was a drama all of its own. When we arrived at the airport, my friend and I were so excited about flying to New York. It’s a dream destination – everyone’s been and everyone recommends it. And it’s in all the movies and television shows and it’s full of excitement and money and WOW. So we’re sat in the gatehouse, waiting for our flight and the news is playing on a massive widescreen television. The headline? ‘American Airline Plane Catches Fire on Runway.

Who are we flying within ten minutes? American Airlines. My friend starts freaking out because the woman behind us (having seen the news) has started hyperventilating.

And I say something that could only come from my mouth because I’ve spent time with my dad. “Well. It’s unlikely to happen twice in two days.” That did not make people feel better – FYI. But we made it to NY City in one piece. No exploding planes.

Image may contain: sky, skyscraper and outdoorSince then, each trip has felt more and more like being on a conveyer belt. This could, in part, be because each time I’ve flown I’ve had the airport security grope and man-handle me like I’ve got something hidden in my shirt. Some airports want you to take off your shoes, some don’t – and people get really snarky if you’re not aware of the rules specific to the airport you’re in. And I can understand why this has to be the case. But it doesn’t stop flying feeling like a loud, shakey conveyor belt. I’m not one of those people who ‘loves traveling’ because of the travel. It’s not ‘the journey’ for me. But the experience of being there. Eating their food, walking their shores. Planes are just the awkward bit in the middle.

So, yes I’ve been on an aeroplane. Yes, I’ll fly again (once I’m less poor). And who knows to where!

Got any suggestions? I’d love to hear them! See you soon!

Do you use Sarcasm?

Who? Me? Never…

I can only assume I started using sarcasm in primary school, and only because that’s where I learnt hitting people wasn’t ‘nice’. Even if they deserved it.

So I reserved the right to roll my eyes, make a cutting remark or sneer in derision. That’s actually where the word ‘sarcasm’ comes from – the Greek verb Sarkazein which meant ‘to tear flesh like a dog’, before evolving to mean ‘gnash one’s teeth’ or ‘to sneer’. Look it up. 

So I wasn’t so much taming my bad mood, as replacing my armoury. I’m trying to pinpoint a particular time I was sarcastic that doesn’t (out of context certainly) make me look like a massive bitch. It’s proving tricky.

I know when I started at one of the schools I taught at, I was told not to use sarcasm with any of my students. And I thought, in that moment, ‘that’s half my teaching practice – what am I going to do?’ The headmaster insisted that I shouldn’t use sarcasm because the student’s ‘didn’t understand it’. But if I was using sarcasm since primary school, these secondary school kids should surely recognise it?

I think there’s an intrinsic honesty to sarcasm that students can appreciate. Maybe not when it’s directed at them, but on the whole. But I do agree there’s a time and place for it. Responding ‘yeahhhhh…’ when a student asked if he was my favourite student is one thing. Responding ‘Nooo…’ when asked if you went drinking at the weekend would be different.

But I’m a very sarcastic person – because it amuses me – but I’m also (some would argue blindly) optimistic. And when I say ‘you can do it!’ sometimes I’d get looks from my students questioning whether I was being sarcastic or not. Which is fair. They get a constant stream of critique; from teachers, parents and their peers. But the way I see it, if I’m an intrinsically sarcastic person, but even I think this praise is warranted, it must be.

Also – and thank you Smithsonian for this tidbit of support for my continued use of sarcasm – being able to recognise sarcasm is a sign of a strong creative mind, able to problem solve quickly and more efficiently. So to anyone I’ve been sarcastic with, you’re welcome.

Do you use sarcasm? Let me know, and like and follow!