Thursday, 31 December 2009

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Have yourself a crappy little Christmas

Today is my last day in Madrid and this evening I'm off to the UK for 6 days, followed by another 6 in Istanbul - it has been the looongest wait for this break. Not that it'll be an acitivity-free fortnight; I've signed myself up to do some freelance writing and will need to put a good couple of hours aside each day to do that, plus an hour of rehab (something I want to get back into in a serious way over the holidays); I'm hoping to motivate myself to do these activities using the tried and tested kitchen-timer method... basically set it for an hour at a time, knowing the relief I will feel when that buzzer goes off is something of a motivator and forces me to concentrate more work into that time span. Just thought I'd mention the results of the survey I put up to ask what people's favourite cold weather activity was. Number one was making bowls of hot soup and cookies (if any of my friend have made either of these foodstuffs without inviting me round you're in trouble ;-))... Now, in my imaginary world of being Nigella Lawson making soup is also my favourite winter activity, but living alone with no-one to say 'thank you Nadya, that pumpkin and bacon soup was delicious, you're such a good cook, perhaps the best' this activity is definitely superceded by activity 2; curling up with a good book - or, as is often the case, curling up with my laptop, which is about the size of the book and has the added advantage of keeping me warm in my central Madrid igloo.

Anyway, I digress... I feel I cannot let this Christmas go by without mentioning the curious Catalan relationship between Christmas and poo. One part of the crapmas-connection is the tradition of having a figurine of a red-hatted pooing peasant, or caganer,  in the a nativity scene that adorns most Spanish living room at Christmas time.  For the linguists amongst you, cagar means to poo. I believe this man is meant to represent fertilising the land (why on Earth he couldn't have just used compost is a mystery to me!). Part two of the shitty shennanigans is that instead of using a shoe as a vessel for Santa to leave children's gifts in as is traditional in the rest if the country, they have a caga tió basically a log with a face on one end often wearing a little red hat (barretina) or blanket to keep warm. This cheerfyl little chap is 'fed' on a daily basis and on Christmas day is beaten with a stick (to the rhythm of the caga tió song) until he 'poops' presents.
Here is a translation of one of the caga tió songs:
caga tió,

tió de Nadal,
no caguis arengades,
que són massa salades
caga torrons
que són més bons!"

poop log,
log of Christmas,
don't poop herrings,
which are too salty,
poop turrón
which is much better!

Monday, 21 December 2009

Cold weather wear roundup

With Madrid under snow (and most of the Europe and world it would seem) all those tacky never-be-seen-dead-in-them 'winter warmth' items found in discount stores and the shopping channel suddenly take on a compelling appeal. Here are some of my favourites...

1. Get Snuggie 'the blanket with sleeves'. It may be tempting to mock this hideous garment, but let me tell you that it sold 5 million units in just the blue version in its first year (plus as a huge sufferer of the cold, or friolera, I think it would actually be quite warm and comfy :-) Check out their website to see a hilarious video featuring a whole family wearing matching Snuggies at a  baseball match.

2. And for toasty toes, why not try CosySoles, microwave-heated slippers. which like the Snuggie, appear to come in garish red fleeded polyester. Again though, I think these would be really warm and cosy. However, is it really hygeinic to put slippers in the microwave? A place where, after all, you make food.

3. Ear muffs, thankfully, are cool again. I wonder if the return of this trend has something to do woth the comeback of big DJ-style head phones as apposed to teeny earphones? Just speculating... Anyway, saw a girl wearing a leapard print pair today (with a high pony and skinny jeans - I think hairdo is crucial to carry these off) and she actually looked pretty good. And even if you don't look stylish, you might at least pass for a sort of latter-day Princess Leia (ahem).

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Covering up – my hazy ramblings on hijab...

My favourite fashion blog is The Sartorialist, who goes around the world snapping stylish folk (both known and unknown) on the streets. He captures all kinds of looks on film, everything from classic to total avant garde – but one thing I’ve never seen on his site is a woman in Hijab. Until now. And for some reason I’m delighted.

You see, despite (and perhaps because of) my cultural background I’m not really into hijab although I respect a woman’s choice to wear it - as long as it is a choice. The main reason for not being in favour of the hijab is quite obvious: oppression. We all know about Saudi Arabia and Afganistan: burkas, bans on women driving, stonings, to name but a few barbarities. But oppression aside, one of the things I like least about the hijab is that I sometimes feel it’s all about ‘uglifying’ women so as not to ‘tempt’ men. And it seems silly, as no amount of swathed cloth is going to keep a man’s eyes off a good looking woman and in any case they should control their own ‘temptation’ if they’re so worried about going to hell for it - not offload it on women! Of course many would say the hijab is just about being a bit modest, and not walking around flashing your muffin top and 5 miles of cleavage to all and sundry, but of course we all know there are other ways you can be modest without wrapping your head tightly in scarf. On the flip side, there are those who manage to look completely immodest despite wearing hijab. Just take a walk round any of the fancy shopping malls in Cairo, and the gangs of hijabed-up girls who are poured into skin tight leggings and spray-on tops will convince you of that!

But if a woman really wants to wear a headscarf I have to admit that it’s completely none of my business and I should (and do) just shut up.

What can be quite hard for some of us in the west to believe though, is that many women actually want to don the hijab. I myself can vouch it – my well-educated cousins in Sudan choose to wear it despite their mothers not doing so and often to the dismay of their fathers. And religious/cultural reasons aside there are those women that admit hijab ironically gives them a sense of freedom. Freedom from sexual harassment (contradicting my point above I realise) - hijab is great for cutting down on hassle from men. You may think this type of bother is much worse in Arab countries – but come to my Madrileño neighbourhood, Lavapies, and you will see it isn’t (and funnily enough, the cat calls where I live do not usually come from the Arab population!). Freedom from hair issues - in Sudan where women’s hair varies from highly-prized long and swishy Arab-type locks to short and afro, some women use hijab to cover up what they, and potential suitors, do not see to be their crowning glory. And it goes without saying that time and again in politics women have turned to the veil as a symbol of their freedom (whether or not we think they are misguided) in backlashes against corrupt shah’s, communists or ‘the imperial west’.

I’m going to digress a little here and ask the question, What about hijab in schools? Well for me a uniform’s a uniform. I’m very traditional in that way. And I think a 'uniform' school uniform in particular provides the kind of freedom that allows you to go about your studies without judgement from others on what you are wearing or not wearing. The danger is that banning hijab in schools will just cause more trouble than it’s worth – creating difficulties where there were none before.

So, what’s my verdict? Well, I don’t like some of the thinking behind the hijab but I totally respect a woman’s right to wear it providing it is a choice. And as for the girl above, she looks lovely, but more importantly she looks happy – and a visit to many Islamic countries will do well to remind us that there are plenty of muslim women with things to smile about whether they’re covered up or not. (The girl above is actually in Melbourne).

p.s. my next post is sooo going to be about hijab fashion :-)

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

The long and the short of it

At just under 5’10feet (1.78cm) I’m tall for a woman. I quite like my height as it makes clothes hang right, but it can make me stand out when at times I’d rather blend in (yeah right, I hear family and friends mock, you just looove to blend in ;p). But really, there are times when you want to wear stilletos and not tower above everyone around you - I sometimes think when you're tall and you have a day when you look great you really look great and everyone notices, but by the same token when you have a bad hair day it's that much more noticeable if said mop of hair is sat atop getting on for 2 metres of woman! To be honest I don’t think there’s any ‘right’ height - tall, medium and petites all hold their own advantages - with tallies being able to carry off minis and skinny jeans and smaller ladies getting away with killer heels and full make up without looking like drag queens. Speaking of height, a few years ago I was queuing for the cinema in Madrid when the friend I was with nudged to subtly look behind me but NOT stare. Of course I immediately swung my head round for a look, and who was there? None other than Javier Bardem (who was wide as a wardrobe but not as tall as he looks on screen) and with him was a shaven-headed Natalie Portman (the hairdo was for Vendetta I guess) who was smaller than I could ever have imagined, about 5ft I’d say, like a teeny but perfectly proportioned angel-faced doll - I think even my head was double the size of hers, and as for Javier’s head... ;-)

Anyhow, here’s a nifty little list of some celeb heights which may or may not be what you expect: (for conversion to metres, I'm sorrt but I'm still a feet and inches girl)

Shaquille O’Neal – 7’1
Arnold Swarzenegger – 6’2
Maria Sharapova – 6ft2 (how does she move so gracefully at that height?)
Leonardo DiCaprio – 5’11
Uma Thurman – 5’11
Nicole Kidman – 5’10
Blake Lively – 5’10
Gwyneth Paltrow – 5’9
Tom Cruise - 5’7
Angelina Jolie - 5,7
Jennifer Aniston - 5’6 (funny but I thought Angelina was so much taller than Jen, but apparently not)
Beyonce - 5’6 (another lady who looks Amazonian on screen but is suprisingly mid-sized)
Madonna – 5’5
Al Pacino – 5’5
Penelope Cruz – 5’4
Scarlett Johanssen – 5’3
Audrey Tatou – 5’2
Salma Hayek – 5’1
Holly Hunter – 5’1
Jada Pinkett – 4’10

Sunday, 6 December 2009


I've just read this article by Jonathan Raunch and although it made me chuckle it also rang very true. I'm not an anti-social person. I love having friends round for dinner, I spent a good portion of my 20s throwing parties and I'm confident in job interviews. I like to see the people I love as often as possible and usually hit it off with new people I meet. So I can't be an introvert, right? Buy why then, I ask myself, do I sometimes just need 'to be alone' (or 'alone' but in the company of someone else providing they are peaceful company - as my boyfriend, friends and family thankfully are); or why do I have to go and lie down alone in my hotel room for 2 hours the 3rd day into a work conference when everyone else seems to be happily whipping themselves up into a frenzy of frenetic 24-7 interaction with others? Why, unlike most women, is the phone not my best friend? Well, the essay really struck a chord. This self-confessed intovert explained that introverted people are not necessarily shy and they may in fact be very good at being social. Rather, they find other people (for me namely large groups of strangers or near-strangers) exhausting. And while many of them are happy to go to parties or partake in team-building exercises, this is usually followed by a need for down time. I was also in total agreement with the author on introverted women getting a lot of flack. I was lucky enough to learn years ago that I needed to be social to get on and be popular and I learnt how to 'act' in public. However, it hurts me that in my working environment my introverted male colleagues are known as quirky or 'special' and one particular female colleague who's very introverted (but in fact a great professional and hilarious when you get to know her) is seen as being unfriendly and stuck up. Just because she's a woman she's expected to be 'nurturing', have constant verbal diarrhoea and want to listen to and partake in gossiping about everyone. Even of you don't suspect yourself of being an introvert, it's worth reading this succinct article as it may give you a better understanding of why those around you act the way they do. And if you are an introvert it's just nice to read that your not the only one.

I want to read...

...Dreaming in Hindi by Katherine Russell Rich. Saw this on Oprah, and I'm going to be a bit cheeky and just copy and paste the book desciption from Amazon below. Seriously though, she sounds like my kind of lady; overcoming pretty hefty problems, going to live in a  new and exciting country and getting to grips with the language with plenty of laughs and misunderstandings along the way. Will order the book and feedback on it here! Also check out her trailer

"Having miraculously survived a serious illness and now at an impasse in her career as a magazine editor, Rich spontaneously accepted a free-lance writing assignment to go to India, where she found herself thunderstruck by the place and the language. Before she knew it she was on her way to Udaipur, a city in the northwestern state of Rajasthan, in order to learn Hindi.

In this inspirational memoir, Rich documents her experiences in India ranging from the bizarre to the frightening to the unexpectedly exhilarating using Hindi as the lens through which she is given a new perspective not only on India, but on the radical way the country and the language itself were changing her. Fascinated by the process, she went on to interview linguistics experts around the world, reporting back from the frontlines of the science wars on what happens in the brain when we learn a new language. Seamlessly combining Rich's courageous (and often hilarious) personal journey with wideranging reporting, Dreaming in Hindi offers an eye-opening account of what learning a new language can teach us about distant worlds and, ultimately, ourselves."

Friday, 4 December 2009

I rate... Weleda Salt Toothpaste

If you ever get mouth ulcers use this toothpaste and you'll probably never get one again (a friend recommended this to me and it totally worked for me after years of grappling with the little blighters) Plus it leaves your mouth feeling soooo fresh and clean!

Monday, 23 November 2009

A wonderful wedding (and a random issue)

I’ve just come back from my little sister’s lovely winter wedding – the event which has been the inspiration for many a post about purple dresses and the difficulty of finding a suitable one. Well, it all went very well; my sister looked gorgeous and was just so happy and charming throughout the day (as one should be one one’s wedding!) and it was lovely to see friends and family that I hadn’t seen in a while. It was a cold British wintery day, but that didn't really spoil proceedings, in a way it added to the cosiness of the event and despite being a typical English wedding, the Sudanese side of our heritage was given dues with a dervish act, baklava and an aunt ululating! (that's that weird yodelling type noise made by women from some Arab and African countries during celebrations). There were of course a couple of mishaps (thankfully, none of them related to the bride) including a moment of sheer panic when I saw that the hairdresser in charge of my tresses decided that harshly hair-sprayed ringlets were the way to go (more on the crappiness of hairdressing in Britain in another post – they sooo need to come to Spain and see what a proper blow-dry with volume is) and when my boyfriend’s flight from Turkey – with classy airline Pegasus – was delayed by dangerously thick fog... Anyway all was well in the end – he made it in time for the main course (and I think he secretly enjoyed everyone's awe at his James Bond like appearance mid-wedding) and I got used to my juvenile ringlets as they made one guest comment that I looked about 24, which could have been a polite lie (or trick of the soft lighting) but I was quite happy to believe it ;-) En fin, congratulations Sayda and Jack and enjoy your honeymoon on the Red Sea!!

On a more sober note, there’s a kind of nagging problem that I’ve had for a couple of years now but have chosen to ignore as I’ve always seen it as a trivial and common sort of malady. And as it's hardly life threatening I feel like a bit of a wimp complaining about it. Basically, I wake up at 3am about 3 nights a week, start thinking, then can’t get back to sleep again (even if I go to bed super-late). I try and fit my life around this annoying habit and occasionally manage to nod off again using basic meditation techniques (hot milk, counting sheep or watching TV don’t work). But this weekend at my sisters wedding the same thing happened two nights in a row meaning that for the day (and combined with the travel) I was a total zombie. This is the first time that my sleep issues have affected a ‘big’ event in my life and it has made me realise that I need to do something about it as it makes me irritable and below par in many ways. Over the next weeks I’ll be trying different things (all of them natural I hope) to see how I can resolve this problem. As ever any tips are appreciated.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Barrio Sesamo

So Sesame Street has just celebrated its 40th annivesary... I can completely appreciate the cognitive and social value of SS to young kids, but have to admit that as a child I was always more of a fan of their flamobouyant cousins, the muppets. Somehow, Sesame Street always felt a bit 'young' to me, and as my mum and dad were doing that whole first-time-parent in the 70s thing of teaching your kid how to read, write and count as soon as they were born, it was no wonder I found Count Dracula's number work just a bit simple... (if only my early mathematical prowess had endured as now I can't even do long division). Still, I do have fond memories of the programme and of my favourite characters, the super-bitchy Miss Piggy and her long-suffering husband Kermit - but as for the rest of the street I always found them super-annoying, especially Big Bird who was so good natured that he/she(?) was simply slappable! (Yes, I was an odd child). The funny thing is that when you share Sesame Street memories with Spanish friends you find out they had a whole other star character that did not exist in the UK - Espinete - the giant pink hedgehog. This creature looks quite terrifying from the photos, though I have been assured that despite his prickly appearance, he was was a cuddly bundle of joy in real life :-)

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Giving hygeine the finger

A couple of posts ago I raved on about the lovely re-opened mercado de San Miguel in the centre of Madrid - a fabulous old covered market-cum-trendy-deli that had recently opened its doors to the public after being shut for years. It's excellent place to try local wine, jamon and seafood but today I also found out it was an abyssmal, and unhygeinic, place to go for juice... I went to San Miguel's juice bar, Jugosa, with a couple of friends for a healthy mid-morning juice kick only to find that they were charging 5euros for a medium sized orange juice and 12euros for smoothies! Truly ridiculous prices, especially bearing in mind this is a take away joint, so they can't try to justify their tariffs by claiming you get to sit on antique chairs or listen to live jazz as you sup their mediocre offerings. Anyways, after balking at such extraordinary prices for such average juice I dedided to plump for a bowl of 'courgette curry and orange soup' - sounded tasty I thought. Yes, tasty, that is, if you like the flavour of human fingers. The girl working there heated up the soup in front of me in a large tureen and shamelessly dipped her bare fingers into it to the test the temperature not one, not two, but three times. Truly gross. She then ladelled it into a bowl and lo and behold, despite practically bathing in it for me to make sure it was hot enough, it was barely tepid (and completely devoid of taste). Needless to say I returned it and got a 3.50euro thimble of orange juice instead. Not returning to Jugosa, ever. As usual, customer is caca (and so are fingers!)

And as if one unfortunate finger-related incident weren't enough for the week, there was another! I visited the doctor on Wednesday about some lady-related issues and I can only thank the Lord that I just needed to pick up a prescription and nothing more involved - as instead of the very sweet gynaecologist I saw last time there was a lady with perhaps the filthiest hands and fingernails I have ever seen on a woman, and especially a doctor of that kind. People please, get some soap.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Beauty comes from within...

...from within a bottle, tube, tub, or sometimes an operating theatre (what amazes me is how some of these ladies look 100% better now than they did 5, 10, 20 years ago?!)

Saturday, 7 November 2009

A day in Madrid

Yesterday night I got back from a week in Barcelona and as usual my home was the post-trip bomb site of baskets of washing and a fortnight of dust - today I really ought to have spent the day at home organising and working but instead I decided to just have a nice day (taking S's 95 year old neighbour's advice to 'enjoy life while you can'). Well I hardly painted the town red but I did start the day off with a load of pampering (face masks, scrubs, manicures etc), which were much needed after a week away, then I wrapped up warm in boots and woolly tights to spend a wintry day in Madrid. Pre-Christmas really is one of the most pleasant times in this city, it's chilly (10 degress) but not too cold, the sun shines and the streets of the city take on a sort of festive happy vibe that I can't imagine you get in that many places in winter. I went for a curry with my old friend C in Mughul, a great Indian near Plaza de España where they do what is possibly the best Tandoori chicken in the capital (the place is mid priced, much better than the dodgy dives in Lavapies, but not as unnecessarily posh for a curry house as the fabulous Annpurna). We then went for a walk by the palace (the grandeur of some of the buildings in the centre really stands out in winter) and stopped off for tea and cake in nearby cosy cafe, Rayuela - the chocolate-orange tea was good, but as ever here, the carrot cake just doesn't hit the spot! (For good carrot cake and other amazing baked goods, the only place worth the trouble in my opinion is Delic in La Latina, and even if you don't order the cake you can always stare in amazement at the eclectic mix of macarras (chavs), pijos (posh, but not in the aristocratic sense, in other words Burberry and big fringes), guiris (johnny foreigners) and minor celebrities that hang out there. No worries though, because the mediocre carrot cake was made up for by the fabulous caipirinha made by the charming Brazilian waitress. All this was very pleasant, but perhaps the highlight of the day was stopping by the newly renovated Mercado de San Miguel, which is an old glass and iron covered market near Plaza Mayor that has been shut for years but has recently been re-opened as a down-to-earth but high-end delicatessen and eaterie offering the finest Spanish food and wine from Jamon and red wine to Oysters which you can purchase and eat on the spot. Best of all it has that great buzzing atmosphere that Madrid la nuit is famous for - see photo above. Open all day until the early hours I think. And to finish the day off I'm devouring a 3-pack of the ambassador's tackiest chocolates, Ferrero-only-sold-in winter-because we're-so-'delicate'-not-a-marketing-scam-at-all-Rocher. Sorry for that ridiculous sentence.

Friday, 6 November 2009

I rate... Make up Alley

Who doesn't hate to waste money? And I have to admit, that as a woman, some of that wasted cash goes on pots and tubes of cream or make up that claim to do a job (get rid of eye bags, make your eyelashes grow or whatever) but simply don't work. I always like to try before I buy, but in Spain that often isn't a possibility so the next best thing is to hear what others who have bought the product thought of it. Websites like Ciao do offer some limited review material of beauty products, but recently I came across makeupalley, a fantastic website offering thousands of customer reviews on everything from mascara to mousturiser - the product review part of the site is really easy to use and offers such thorough feedback on different cosmetics and toiletries that I will never again be parting with my pennies at the beauty counter without checking out the 'miracle product' in question out on this site first.

On the subject of health and beauty, I wanted to give a quick mention to Farmácia Arenal on C/Arenal (Metro Sol) which for me is the most pristine and wonderous pharmacy in the whole of Madrid. I have already extolled the virtues of Spanish pharmacies in a previous post, but felt the need to update as they now sell Skincueticals (previously only available from dermatologists in Spain) which I'm dying to try, but will have to wait for bonus day ;P The only downside is along with the Skincueticals they seem to have hired an awful, pushy and slightly obnoxious French Skinceuticals sales guy whose basic mission is to aggressively snatch any other brand of product out of your hands and get you to spend 00's on his line. Grrrr

Monday, 26 October 2009

Rules for my unborn son

Have just come back from a lovely weekend in Istanbul, which coincided with our 1-year anniversary. It's my second time in the city and it gave me the chance to check out the asian side (the European side is the bit with most of the sights) and as per last time (my first in Istanbul) I loved the city and feel like it's the kind of place you could visit 100 times and still not really 'know'... anyway, more of that later, as there's so much to say about Istanbul that I wouldn't know where to begin! I just wanted to post this cool blog 1001 rules for my unborn son, by Walker Lamond, in which he shares the little tidbits of advice that you wish your dad could have given you (if he hadn't been so busy earning a crust, stressing, whatever...) like rule 395. Be mindful of what comes between you and the earth. Buy good tires, good sheets, and good shoes or rule 393. Never eat lunch at your desk. He's published a book of the same title which would make a lovely gift for any father-to-be, or man, or even woman... It's funny, but it's come accross my mind time and again that I ought to write down all the little but important things I learn in life, partly as a reminder to myself to stick to my principles and maybe to even share with others (but not in a pretentious way :-)), and reading Walker's blog I think that's what my next post is going to be; 1000, well maybe just 25, rules for my unborn daughter (and, boy would I have a lot of rules for her!)

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Birthday weekend in the UK

This weekend I went on a surprise visit to Nottingham (UK) for my mum's 60th birthday and she certainly was surprised! My brother walked into my parents room (his was a surprise visit from Bournemouth too) which was shock enough, and then I appeared 10 minutes later resulting in tears from my mum and a 'you could have given us a heart attack!' from my dad who was undeniably pleased but just doesn't cope well with surprises (it's a control thing :-))... Well, we had a lovely day of birthday fun with mum, and I managed to do some bridesmaid dress shopping (I need a frock for my sister's wedding next month). I found my perfect dress (I felt just like a princess in it - strapless with a full floor-length skirt) but unfortunately it could not be made with such short notice, so I've semi-opted for a silk nightie type affair from Pierce Fionda at's very flattering, but a bit sequeny and beaded for me, which makes it all feel a bit 'footballer's wives' (photo above, purple is the offical wedding colour). Anyway, I've got said dress on reserve, whilst I have one final look round Madrid this weekend. I have found some amazing dresses here in Spain to be fair, the only problem is that they cost over 1000e. A couple of weeks ago I decided to look in the shops near my house on Calle Argumosa (Lavapies) where there are a couple of quite fancy looking shops, run by people of gypsy origin I think... Well, I truly had my prejudices slapped in the face; for some reason I had decided to equate gypsy with low price. How wrong could I be? These shops were run by perhaps the most glamourous women I have ever seen (gypsy or otherwise) and sold beautiful handmade designer oscar-dresses in silk at a start off price of 1000e (700e for me as a 'special client', ahem), so for the moment I'm back to the drawing board, or at least back to the chavvy suburban shopping centre, La Vaguada...

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

I rate... Korres lip balm

When I first heard of Greek natural beauty brand Korres a few months ago my initial thoughts were 'beh, how many well-known cosmetic companies come from Greece' and 'double beh, I don't believe all this natural product b*** s****, bring on the science!' But, on a recent stroll into their Calle Fuencarral shop in Madrid, I was proved oh-so-wrong; a) their products are based on scientific research, and b) they sell the tinted lip balm I have been searching for all my life (Quince lip butter, with a texture and colour to die for, and it smells amazing too). And perhaps the best thing is that it's not ridiculously expensive.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

5 worst summer fashion faux pas (most of which I’ve committed myself over the years)

Now that summer is officially over, I’m taking a few moments to reflect on some of the lows of holiday fashion.

1. Boob tubes/strapless dresses with ‘armpit overhang’. Sarah Jessica Parker on Sex and the City never has this problem – does she use some sort of transparent ‘armpit bra’?
2. Canary/carnival colours. A lime green top is ok, but matching it to lime green shoes and handbag just screams ‘Lilt lady’ (above photo - does Lilt even exist any more?)
3. Themed fashion. Summer seems to provide the perfect backdrop for ‘I’m Esmerelda the gypsy princess’ / ‘I’m Meryl Streep in out of Africa’ outfits and head to toe jangling ‘ethnic’ accessories. It’s all good clean honest fun, but as Jackie O said, ‘look in the mirror before you go out and remove one accessory’ (I struggle with this sometimes, but hey, I was never a first lady :-)).
4. Strappy high heels on sweaty days. Chafing is never sexy, and neither are plasters. I personally spent a small fortune on Compeed transparent gel plasters this summer. Next year I promise to stick to comfy pumps, honestly.
5. And finally, too much flesh on show. Come on, we’ve all done it.

I’ve just looked back on what I’ve said, and think I’m starting to sound like a disapproving aunt! So to provide a bit of balance, here are what I see as the 5 best things about Autumnal fashion.

1. Wool. Real wool (with no acrylic blended in) seems to be a rarity in high street shops these days. I spent all of last winter searching for the perfect black pure wool jumper to no avail, and the same seems to happen every year... Why is it so hard to find plain, chunky knit sweaters with a bit of edge that won’t bobble at first sight? Search as I might, nothing can match up to my ‘favourite jumper ever’ which I shrank to Barbie-doll size in the washing machine 6 years ago, but refused to throw away till last year (perhaps I was hoping to dress my future babies in it?). It was from Karen Millen (back in the day when Karen Millen was actually a decent place to shop), a fine grey merino wool knit with matte finish steel clasps at the shoulders. I bought it 11 years ago, but it still would have been perfectly wearable today (if I hadn’t decided to risk throwing it in the machine).

2. Sexy shoes. Let’s face it, feet aren’t always all that pretty, and cool-weather footwear provides the perfect cover up (and eliminates the need for pedicures). One of the best things about dressing up in Autumn and Winter is the footwear - the fantastic brown riding boots, the sharp black heels, the garçon brogues. I am particularly coveting a pair of those hoof-like ankle boots. Time to get out the shoe polish; I love that smell!

3. Scarves and fauxminas (my cheapo take on pashminas). After a childhood of constant winter throat infections, one day I finally woke up and took my mum’s advice, ‘wear a scarf’. And now I love them. Perhaps it’s something to do with living in Spain where people are never far from their scarves (even in summer, my ex-students would have a little piece of cloth tied round their necks ‘because of a sore throat’, I’ll elaborate on this hypochondria in a future post) but as soon as the weather gets even a little bit cool, out come my scarves. For me they not only provide a form of physical protection against the cold, but they also make me feel fortified in other ways, a sort of armour against the outside world.

4. Crisp white shirts. Need I say more? No garment speaks confidence, style and ‘togetherness’ more than this one (who the hell do I think I am, Anna Wintour?!)

5. Tweed. I have loved tweed ever since my picking up my first tweed jacket from Oxfam when I was 15. Charity shops are something that just don’t translate well in Spanish ‘you bought something second hand?’ people will say, looking at you as if you just ate a peanut you found in a public toilet! To be honest most charity shops in the UK are probably filled with tat, but living in the newly prosperous ‘between the commons’ area in London as a teen, these shops were a hunting ground for Chanel and Dior cast offs at teen-friendly prices... (though I think mine was a hunting jacket, some old school British brand).
6. I know this list is meant to have only 5 items, But I had to add another; trench coats. So many classy ladies come to mind - Jackie O, Julie Christy, Audrey Hepburn, just about any Hitchcock blonde :-)

For amazing autumn style check out The Sartorialist. ¡Viva Otoño! But really sorry for all those people suffering nightmare floods around the country right now :-(
p.s. The Lilt Ladies were used to advertise refreshing 80s tropical drink, Lilt.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

More funny English

My previous post on dodgy English around the world has just brought back a long forgotten childhood memory, hidden in the depths of my subconscious for about 20 years; my 'Gay Surfer' episode. I was 11, and had just returned to the UK after 5 years in Sudan and was the new, supposedly 'posh' (don't know where the hell that came from?) girl that was trying to fit in at school with all the Wandsworth natives. Anyway, I was quite excited about my first school trip with Walsingham School for Girls and had my mum buy me a new outfit especially for the occasion; a turquoise blue jersey skirt and matching tee - to my mind perfect for a day out by the seaside as it was printed with a surfing scene and some random caption about surfing. Only when I got home, did I realise, to my horror, that the caption read 'Gay surfers'. I probably wouldn't have cared too much, but this would have made me the ridicule of the school trip and possibly the school for the rest of the term, so my mum, ever practical, got out her permanent marker and changed the 'G' to a 'D', so it read 'Day surfers'. Ironically, Gay surfers reads a lot better than Day surfers, but hey, it got me out of a tight corner. Thanks mum.

Popes wrinkled? Yes, he is!

In Spain if you get given a restaurant menu in English you are sometimes confronted with hilarious translations (though much less than 7 years ago when I first arrived). Like everywhere else in the world, people can be so stingy when it comes to translations, and instead of paying what would probably amount to 50euros (my rates) to translate a simple menu, small (and not so small) business owners would rather get some uncle or cousin who 'knows a bit of English' to do the job for them, or worse still use one of those dodgy translation programmes. Sometimes the results are truly funny, the real menu photographed above was taken by my freind Kate in a popular eaterie La Latina - popes wrinkled, rather than bearing any relation to the head of the Catholic chruch, is the literal translation of papas arrugadas (mini potatoes in their wrinkled skins) Still, the type of phrasal faux pas commited here is nothing compared to what the guys from the website Engrish have encountered on their travels (around the far east by the looks of it). Just a couple of examples below. Point four of the first photo is particularly disturbing.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Adios cañas

A few weeks ago, when it was still sweltering hot in Madrid, I did a little survey to find out what people thought were the most refreshing summer drinks. Unsurprisingly, the winner was ice-cold beer.... I say 'unsurprisingly' because everyone goes on about how refreshing beer is, but actually, for me, beer is probably one of the last things I'd want on a hot (or cold) day. All I want when it's warm is Coca Cola (not Pepsi), I guess you could just say that I don't 'get' beer, in the same way that some people don't get wine. In fact I'd never really drunk beer until I came to live in Madrid. It's not that the beer here is particularly good (I know so little about beer, that I don't even have the right to judge good vs. bad beer, though some of that German stuff made of wheat does seem to taste quite nice). No, I started dabbling in beer/lager (don't even know the difference) because beer here is basically tiny. It's served in dolls-house sized glasses known as cañas, and frankly I can finish one before I even realise you I¡m consuming 'the evil grain'. Another reason was that matching my friends drink for drink on wines vs. cañas was not a good idea, plus their diminutive size means you can finish cañas while they are still cold and before they warm up and get that lagery taste I can't stand. Anyway, summer is almost over, and with it my beer drinking (which amounted to about 2 cañas this summer). Today is San Miguel, known in Madrid for a phenomenon called 'veranito de San Miguel' (little summer of San Miguel) where the march forth into autumnal weather is interrupted by a few days of Madrileño hell-summer. The Veranito dissappears as quickly as it arrives, as do the cañas (at least for me) - and with the beer, go refreshing summer cocktails like mojitos, and a we can give a warm welcome back to full-bodies red wines, port, Christmas brandy and best of all hot chocolate. Autumn rocks!

Friday, 25 September 2009

More bridesmaid-mania

These are some dresses that are inspiring me for Sayda's big day (they have to be purple/navy blue). I wish I had my sewing machine here; despite being only an amatuer seamstress I would definitely attempt to make my own dress simply to get away from all the shiny, static-inducing prom-night gowns that seem to be in the shops at the moment (I wonder if a no-sew, velcro fastening dress would be appropriate ;-) I love Hilark Swank's blue number, but there's no way I'd show so much back at my sister's wedding! And Uma Thurman's white gown looks lovely (It'd be in purple obviously, though maybe I've included this as I actually want to look like Uma Thurman rather than wear that dress). Lovely, lovely dresses...

Bits and pieces

Last weekend was my little sister's hen night in Barcelona, and after weeks of planning, I'm glad to say that fun was had by all :-) Whenever I plan an event I'm always super stressed that something will go horrible wrong (especially chaperoning 11 foreign ladies in Spain) but everything worked out really well; the apartments we rented were really central and nicely refurbished, the spa was lovely and the cocktail making class and competetion went well. There were no strippers (fortunately) but we did amuse ourselves playing silly games (like loo-roll bridal gown design) and the food was yummy all round and the dancing was fun too. I've come back to Madrid knackered and in need of my own private spa session, and aware that I need to get my skates on with finding that purple bridesmaid's dress for the wedding in November (I've decided that the expensive one is a no no, especially for a one-off event). Aside from hen-night recuperation, it's been a pretty tranquil week, I've been trying out these meditation MP3s, sound cheesy, but they do seem to help me to relax. Hopefully I'll learn proper meditiation at some point, but to be honest at the moment I need my time and my cash for other purposes (like bridesmaid dress shopping, weddings are so expensive!). I have a few article ideas on the back burner, but I've been freelancing a lot lately and haven't had time to finish them, promise to finish and upload them soon :-)

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Just checking in...

This is a quickie, as the past couple of weeks have been mega busy planning my sister's hen night in Barcelona (this weekend, can't wait!). I can't reveal any details in case she looks at the blog, but will share afterwards :-) I've also been frantically looking for a purple/blue bridesmaid's dress for the big event. She doesn't get married till November, but I'm going to be pretty busy until then, so 'the early bird catches the worm' and all that (or in this case, the early girl catches the frock). Anyway, I've found the ideal dress, but it's over budget, so I'm weighing up the pros and cons of overspending on a dress that I'll wear only once in my life ?:-/??

Monday, 7 September 2009

Where does all the lost stuff go?

I've always wondered what happed to all the stuff I've lost and never recovered over the years; the ridulously small blue halter top at uni, my 18th birthday watch (which disappeared from my room), the fancy watch that disappeared from my wrist (really!) in the late 90s, the expensive black fur-trimmed coat on Airfrance, my wallet in Birmingham, and just the other month on a work trip to a country house in Spain I left a beloved beige-knit cardigan (ok it's only a cardigan) and called back the next morning to be told there was not trace of it (leaving the hotel staff anf my colleagues as chief 'suspects' ;-)) Ok, I accept that in a lifetime you're going to lose a certain amount of stuff, and sometimes other people will find it, and usually they won't try to find you and give it back if they like it. Finders keepers, losers weepers. But what always gets me is that whilst my old stuff presumably finds its way into the hands of fellow bi-peds, I never find anything! (I lie, once, in a park 15 years ago, I found a 1-pound coin) Surely if we are all losing, say, 5 items a year, we should also be receiving about that amount of other people's lost stuff too!! Or maybe the majority of the lost stuff is finding it's way into the hands of just a few? For example airport workers must get their hands on a whole load of lost goodies. Like my coat on Airfrance. Ok, I don't seriously want to get my hands on other people's lost stuff, but I've always had this weird urge to be a fly on the wall watching someone else use my lost stuff, to see that Air hostess/passenger wearing my 'best' coat, or perhaps find it stuffed in some invisible space in the aircraft, undiscovered and never to be seen again. Anyhow, I was reminded of all this when watching España Directo this afternoon (a TV programme for marujas, or fuddy duddy housewives, reporting human interest stories from around the country e.g. 'my hamster accidentally got washed in the washing machine and survived'). Today, they were reporting on a new website called Loede, which unites losers and finders of objects and even pets. What a nice idea. It's hard to believe that anyone is good enough to actually try to return items to their owners, but you look at the website and see that there are people who find things like rings and digital cameras and actually try to give them back. Made me smile.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Back to school

I think if you've ever been a teacher (I was for 3 years), you somehow never stop thinking of life in terms of terms. And here I am, back in Madrid (as of an hour ago) about to start the summer term (unfortunately) after a month away in Sicily and Barcelona, with the mysterious Catalan man otherwise known on the blog as 'S'. I've already blogged a bit about Sicily, and as for Barcelona, as ever, it was lovely and I think I've managed to pick up a few more Catalan words (that's paraulas, I think - just being a showoff now - 'wow, i know 3 words, I'm fluent!'), I met some of S's extended family, who were very sweet, and made an effort to talk to me in Spanish (rather than Catalan) and avoided indiscreet questions about my odd racial background :-) My 'odd racial background' (half British, half Sudanese) isn't really that odd, but somehow you add to that 7 years in Madrid and an appearance that people don't associate with being either British or African, plus parents that live in Egypt and a lovely brother who's half Chinese, and it all gets a bit blurry. And it's hard to explain it to people without the word 'exotic' being thrown in, which just feels sooo pornstar - ewww! Don't get me wrong, I love my multiracial family, I just feel it might be easier to design a sort of calling card to give to people when I first meet them explaining everything in a short paragraph (perhaps with a neat little family tree and maps thrown in, 'Where's Sudan?' 'Near India, isn't it?!' I shouldn't mock, I'd be pushed to tell you where Pennsylvania is, or even how to spell it properly :p)
Anyway, back to school. I was actually dreading arriving in Madrid to find my house had been invaded by cockroaches and/or theives. That might sound a bit paranoid, but living in a first floor exterior flat in Lavapiés, trust me, it's possible. But, yay, no unwelcome 'guests'! Also it seems some elves had visited whilst I was away and thoroughly cleaned and decluttered the flat for me. Except, it must have been me that did it, but I just don't remember (always a nice surprise, a bit like when you find money in a an old handbag). Well, tomorrow I'm back in the office, so I should unpack and get some sleep. Good night, bona nit, buenas noches, tasbah ala kheir :-)

Thursday, 3 September 2009

More personal development

Personal development (which sounds so much better than self-help ;-)) is a book genre I like to dip into occasionally. To be honest, I probably end up applying about 5% of what I read (if that), but I figure every little helps. At the moment I'm sporadically reading the best-seller The 7 rules of highly effective people (books with numbered lists - 10 rules, 5 principles etc, sound so convincing, don't you think?) and actually, so far I quite like it. The intro chapter is a bit preachy, but I like the idea behind it, as it's just 7 principles which you apply to every aspect of your life for all-round increased effectivity. It's all pretty obvious stuff so far (I'm on the first principle, pro-activity) but sometimes I need a little reminder (make that a shove, as I'm about to finish my summer break and am not feeling 100% motivated). I'm about to move onto the second principle - 'start with the end in mind' which is something I'm sometimes guilty of not applying, often ad-libbing my way through projects, which makes for good creativity but some wasted energy along the way as I explore different dead-end options. Perhaps I should have applied that principle when writing this blog entry, and I wouldn't be sat here, wondering how to finish it off without sounding stilted and awkward ;-)

I'm (occasionally) loving it

I have a confession to make: I'm Nadya and I like McDonald's. There, I said it, that wasn't so bad. McDonald's and I don't have a serious relationship though, it's more of a sporadic fling thing... I like good home-cooked fare as much as the next person, but every few months I get the urge to devour a take-out bagful of this fast food; cheeseburger, medium fries, small coke and a curry sauce, quite a modest meal for a relapsed user I think, in any case I never fancy any of those weird seasonal promotion offerings - McParis burger, what's that all about?? I know it's bad for me, but I figure the fritanga and unidentified meat in the Carabanchel working men's caff we go to at work is just as bad, if not worse :-) But am I really the only grown up that eats this stuff? On the few occasions I've mentioned it to people they've looked at me as if I'd commited cannibalism! So for now, I'll have to continue chomping cheesburgers in secret (or with other 'junk foodies').

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Granita and Graffiti

Illegal chiringuito, the last night

Ridiculous car hire queues


Been back from Sicily a few days now, and I think the post-holiday blues are starting to lift a bit (though really, I can't complain as I'm not back at work for over a week). These month-long southern European holidays are really great but they can make getting back to the grindstone that much harder - a month off gives you enough time to get a taste for 'mini retirements' a la Tim Ferris in The 4 hour work week - whereas when you take a week off you never quite forget the office. Anyway, here I am, coming to terms with the fact that most of us have to work in order to survive and telling myself that the guys in the office are quite nice really, my boss doesn't throw rotton tomatoes at me and I can work from home occasionally, so hey things aren't that bad :-) And what did I make of Sicily? Well Palermo welcomed you a bit like a big dirty slap in the face (no, really), sweltering in August and piled high with stacks of refuse, anyone who could get away from the city in August clearly had. There were some beautiful monuments, but the impact of these was somehow lost when seen through the filter of extreme humidity, crazy queue jumping (yes, more than in Spain, and there it's not just the grannies) and bus fumes. But after a day or so in Palermo, something strange begins to happen, you start to warm to the place; you take a walk along the shoddy but delightfully multiracial promenade (delightfully multiracias sounds so cheesy I know, but it's true!), you discover once-charming little squares, illegal chiringuitos (street bars) in the previously Arab La Kalsa neighbourhood and somehow the general dirtiness instead of obscuring the more beautiful aspects of the city, actually enhances them somehow (a bit like putting Joan Rivers next to Jocelyn Wildestine... Joan Rivers starts to look beautiful... sorry, that was a punch below the belt). There's also no denying that the people are incredibly warm, friendly and eager to help you which always makes life a bit nicer. The food is very good, and the fruit and vegetables, taste, well, like fruit and vegetables - fresh and unmeddled with. A couple of weeks back I did a 'most refreshing summer drink' poll on the blog (just for curiosity's sake) and homemade lemonade came out tops - Sicily have their own version of this, granita de limone (a kind of lemony crushed ice, or slush puppy if you grew up in the UK) which we basically lived on for the whole 10 days. However, do not make the mistake of asking for a granita de menta because it tastes and looks like Listerine mouthwash. If however, there are any italians out there who know of a granita de menta that does not taste like medicine, please let me know! Another foodie delight of Sicily are the fruit stands, serving fresh, cold peeled and cut fruit (with granita poured over if you wish) which is perfect for lazy people such as myself who claim to like fruit but are too idle to actually prepare the stuff. Those of you who read the blog more or less regularly will know that I like to harp on about customer service, I don't know why I'm so obsessed with it (perhaps from working as an account exec in advertising for a few years where we practically had to tie clients shoe laces for them). Don't worry, I didn't ask anyone to tie my shoelaces in Sicily, but it was interesting to contrast the service with Spain. Ok, I admit I have occasionally bemoaned the sometimes moody service in Spanish restaurants and bars, but I can't deny that waiters here are pretty efficient and very speedy. Well, in contrast, Sicilian waiters were incredibly friendly and warm, but unfortunately kindness doesn't quell my ravenous hunger after a day's sightseeing, and it sometimes took what felt like centuries for a meal to be served. In one particular place in Sicily, we were the only customers and we were tended to by no less than six waiters (so we had three people each in theory), who nevertheless were unexplicaby unable to provide us with ice, water, cutlery or any of the other items that are key to a basic meal without being politely asked about 10 times. At first, I didn't understand why they were taking so long, but then I realised that each person had an assigned job, e.g. one was the napkin folder, another the antipasti plater etc, and there was no way you could get them to do anything (no matter how urgent) that would interrupt the all-important the napkin-folding, antipasti-plating etc until they had finished said job. The lady operating the open air barbequeue was also delaying proceedings as she grilled on a 'one for me, one for you' basis, openly gobbling up every other morsel of meat she cooked in front of our very eyes, before cooking the next item. In any case, none of this really pissed us off, as the staff were so good humoured and were probably paid absolute peanuts and had no lunchbreaks and are as such forced to eat on the job, it just made me smile. The best of Palermo? Perhaps the last night there was the nicest, in the La Kalsa neighbourhood, in a street bar we had previously discovered in the middle of a deserted piazza. listening to live cuban music, eating fresh fruit. The funniest? In the 2-hour queue for the hire car which was not remotely funny, especially when you had grown men constantly tyring to push in front of you using the 'I won't look at you, so you can't see me pushing' method - things got funny when our queue was dramatically fragmented by the spillage of a little juice (or some other liquid) on the floor)... All sounds quite normal so far, until someone calls the cleaning man to wipe up the albeit small but hazardous puddle on the marble floor... My Italian's not so good, but he basically edged his way up to the mess with a look of disgust on his face and a broom in hand and proceeded to say that it wasn't his job to clear up this kind of mess. It would seem that he was only in charge of paper mess, and after much moaning, he scuttled off and returned with a huge bag of used paper refuse, poured it all over the tiny drop of liquid on the floor and mashed the paper into it with the mop in attempt to dry it up, speading the originally small dirty zone all over the floor. He must have also added a bit of Fairy Liquid to the mix as it started to froth up and smear the floor, the paper breaking into little pieces. Finally he cleared up all the paper, putting back in the rubbish bag it came from, leaving the floor even dirtier than before. Talk about making mountains from molehills :-)

Saturday, 22 August 2009


I have neglected the blog a little of late as we've been away in Sicily for the past 10 days. I'm still in the process of unpacking, going through emails and in general avoiding getting back to reality, but I'll be updating the blog asap with anecdotes and pictures from the Sicilan trip :-)

Friday, 7 August 2009

The 4 hour work week

If you live in the US or UK (or read more press than me :-)) you probably heard about this book long before I did. But for me, picking up The 4 hour workweek by Timothy Ferriss was just a chance purchase in an airport book shop. All I can say is that it blew me away; over the years I'd dipped into various personal development books, which I've found to contain some good advice but for my liking they all talked too much about repeating affirmations to yourself, finding out God's purpose for you in life, and aspiring to be a rich perma-tanned older gentleman who plays a lot of golf (nothing wrong with all of that of course, but just not me). Timothy Ferris's book on the other hand is not remotely preachy and is not about making millions and retiring in luxury one day when you're old. His idea is having a life full of mini-retirements (what most of us would call sabbaticals), as life's just too short to be saving all the good times for some unkonwn date in the future. It focusses more on gaining freedom and mobility than simply cash (i.e. the ability to live and work wherever you want around the world) and at the same time earning enough money to do what you want in life (be that live on a Carribean island or becoming a best-selling author). And the idea is that you have the time and money do all this because you are working a mere 4 hours a week, as the title of the book suggests, running a luctrative business). He talks about a 'new rich', whose riches in essence are the fact that they're not tied down to a job (i.e. not being a wage-slave - like me - nor a wealthy entreprenuer who puts in 14-hour days and has little time to enjoy their money). All this sounds a bit far-fetched, but the fact is that after reading a few chapters you actually begin to see how, with the right type of business (in terms of product, marketing and loads of automated systems - so that you don't have to be tied to the office in person) it actually is possible. Project for 2010?

A bit of art

The photo above is part of Erin Tyner's Half Awake series and I found it via my ever-favourite blog, apartment therapy.It features minature figurines in 'real' settings, as they say over on AT, eerie.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

The past few days, the next few days

I got back to Madrid yesterday evening after spending a few days (including my 32nd birthday) with my boyfriend in Barcelona to find a lovely bunch of birthday flowers from my friends here in Madrid.. the photo above doesn't do them justice. It really is lovely to receive flowers, and for us mini apartment dwellers they're great as they don't clutter up the flat, they just give you a few days of joy then they're gone forever - in fact, I've found I can get them to last up to 3 weeks if I regularly change the water, trim the stalks and feed them a little sugar :-) I've also been told a little lemonade or bleach in the water does wonders, but that might be taking it too far. In any case, this time the flowers will not need to last too long, as we're off to Sicily next week for a much-needed break. Originally we looked at more far off and exotic locations, but that was before we were facing a summer with builders and budget constraints - so we're going to have 10 days in Sicily instead which I am so looking forward to. 3 days in Palermo, followed by a stay in an agriturismo in the countryside which looks quite idyllic and most importantly has a pool for cooling off. One of the things I'm most looking forward to in Sicily is the food, I'm a bit of a foodie and I can't wait to try some of the gastronomical goodies I've read about - couscous (arab influence), jazmin granita, sardine pasta... mmm. What else is going on? We'll I put my house on the market and took it off again, all in the space of 3 days. Really I had no intention of selling it, but as it has given me more than a few problems over the past 2 years I though I'd test the waters... I expected no-one to contact me in these times of recessions, but surprisingly over 30 people contacted me over 3 days, perhaps because it is so central? (anyway, the idea of selling the flat is shelved until more economically friendly times, simply because I'd have to sell it for considerably less than I bought it 2 years ago). As for the next few days, they'll be occupied with tying up loose ends before going away: doctors appointments, arranging apointments with plumbers for my kitchen overhaul in late August, seeing friends, sorting out hire cars in Sicily, finishing off my day job work and freelancing in order to finance all of the above.

Friday, 31 July 2009

Have I joined a cult?

No I haven't joined a cult, but yes I have been complaining a bit myself this week (with reason some might say), which is perhaps why I ought to get myself one of these 'Complaint free world' wristbands. Apparently the idea is that every time you hear yourself complain you swap the wristband to the other arm to stop yourself (maybe it would be more effective to sharply ping your wrist with this rubber band, using Pavlovian methods to stop your incessant moaning!), and in fact complaining whilst wearing the bracelet isn't allowed unless you propose at least one solution to the problem whilst you moan about it. I ask myself, if there's a genuine problem, why not complain though? Well, I think it's healthy to get things of your chest, not bottle it all up, but at the same time to look for ways to solve the problem, and certainly not continue to moan at all and sundry about the same issue continually... as it gets quite draining for both you and whoever's listening. Let's see how long I can go without a single complaint ;-)
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