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Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Taking the Title....

Well well well, wasn't Sunday a day and a half. It was the day that me and my rather amazing Team Bangs on The Run2 girls took on the Nike Run To The Beat - The Half Marathon.

After nearly 4/5 months of hard ass training, through blood, sweat and (huge amounts) of tears, it was Running Day for us all as we finally put the pedal to the metal and let rip in London. This weekend, for me, and everyone else was the weekend of my life. Never before have I ever gone through quite so much of a journey, felt  so many feelings and been so proud of a group of people than I have done so, this weekend. Alot of you have been following my Team Bangs journey, Right from the beginning it meant so much to me to be part of it, as the weeks and months carried on, the Team and the process meant more and more - it became part of my life, it started to shape me as a person and in the end, has made my life change. After all the hard training - the highs and the lows, we decided that Sunday was going to be our celebration of all things Team Bangs.

On Saturday I met with all the gorgeous Team Bangs girls,at Pasta heaven, otherwise known as Carluccios, well and truly starting the celebrations: we're talking about big, size of the moon type plates of creamy yummy pasta - err, yeah, one of the best things about running, is indeed the carb-loading *rubs belly* It was evening full of laughter, deep conversations, comparing nerves and talking about the journey's each and every one of us have gone on - Between us,we all know what they are and we all have a deep rooted understanding for what it all meant to us. Eating at half 5pm was interesting, I'm sure this time classes as some senior citizen happy hour, but us Bangs girls were so wrapped up in our little running world, we weren't fazed. After a presentation of cards and pressies to our heroic leader, Bangs, and in return probably the most tear inducing cards were given back, the tears had begun to flow and to be frank, didn't stop. After saying goodbye for the evening and heading back to the hotel room, me and my roomie and soulmate JoJo spent the evening summing up how we were feeling about the impending day and perving over Gary Barlow... yes... he's a hottie!

Rising on Sunday morning in Docklands, to the most amazing sunrise, the goosebumps appeared and the anticipation had begun. Greeting ma gurls at Greenwich station was what we all needed - to be back together, be back as a group to face this task ahead. I finally got to meet the gorgeous Jayne who has been a tower of support for me whenever it go too much and alongside her, was her lovely hubby Dom, and greeting other member, The Machine that is Samantha C I call her this because the girl only went and ran the GNR the week before!!! Heading to drop our bags off, grab our drinks and get ourselves ready, and by ready, I mean don our Team Bangs Tee (Thank you Simon!). We were escorted to the Start Line, and there, in front of absolutely everyone, did we style it out good and proper in front of the cameras - I sodding loved this, I truly believed at this point that this group of women, standing before me,was going to seriously kick some running butt!

Before I go on, let me tell you about our Sammi. Sammi is truly amazing - unfortunately our Sammi had become injured and despite trying and working herself so hard, she had no choice but to pull out. But this girl done something amazing: despite being in full-on pain she still made it down to be our very own Team Bangs cheerleader! Complete with T-shirt, Pigtails and Pom Poms this girl supported, shouted, screamed and made us all feel like superstars, when in fact this was her.

Being placed in our pens before the start, the music was pumping, and the Team Bangs girls were giving it some - nothing quite like a pre-race grind sesh to get you in the adrenaline pumping mood. The mood was full of anticipation, excitement but nervy. I had a slight moment when waiting and let the tears flow... a part of me just couldn't quite believe I was actually there and had made it so far.

We were off... starting steady, I luckily found my pace early on. Normally, the first 3 miles are pure and utter hatred, and I know that if I don't find my stride in these 3 miles, I'm pretty much out of the game. I began to run with my 'Chelley who has kept me constantly smiling along the way, and has taught me how to believe in myself. However, and this was my only regret, I kept up the pace and began my run alone. Despite being surround by hundreds of purple shirted people, I suddenly felt really out of my depth and lonely, but I knew it was my time to just go. Up with the volume on the Ipod, and with Daft Punk blasting in my ear drums, I knew I just had to give it my all. By Mile 3 I was hotter than the proverbial hinges of hell, it was just our luck that the sun was shining, it was like the Great British Summer had decided to show its face on just this one day! A high point for me, was when I just passed Sam (The Machine) as she was going the other way - with a swift Squeal and 'point of love' at each other, I suddenly felt alive and reminded why the flaming hell I was doing this!

Ploughing through, I felt my running pace was steady and felt like I was making good progress until the 'Hill of Death' appeared, and I am not joking when I call it that... this bugger was not only steep, but it went on for over a mile.
With my heart beating out my chest, sweat pouring down my face and Girls Aloud blasting on my ipod (yeah, yeah I know) at Mile 8, I felt suddenly very emotional. I no longer believed I could do this anymore, I missed the girls and I hurt, alot. Seeing a young boy with a supersoaker made me squeel with joy as he blasted me with ruddy freezing water - let me just say, this will be the only time a child wont get a clip round the ear for that! It was much needed and soothing in a weird, moist way. Mile 10 - the sign was loud and proud, the music from the course was pumping on a whole new level, and along with all this, came the one thing I had dreaded the most: My Hamstrings.

At mile 10, the oh so familiar twinge came back to greet me like it had never been away, the twinge grew, until the full-on tugging and unstoppable pain blew out from my right hamstring. The pain was worse and harder than I had felt before, but I knew that, without a doubt, if I had stopped, that would've been me out. gone. race over. It was pretty much a make or break it for me, and with one slap of the hand from the sweetest, most adorable little girl, I grinned and very much, bared it. I carried on, the pain was insignificant in comparison to what users of Refuge suffer. There was a real raw meaning as to why I was out there, not only is this just for me, and selfishly that's what I keep harping on about, but mostly this was about raising money for people who really need it. I sprinted for the finishing line, and made it, I cried alone, but in my heart was every single one of the Team Bangs girls. Making my way back to the media centre, I was greeted by our Mumma Run, Sam and the supremely stunning Elle. I felt so much love to these three girls who had, worked their asses off and each ran their own P.B.

With the rest of the gorgeous girlies finished, there was a joint feeling of shock and awe that we had indeed just done it, run the Half Mara. I was proud of these girls, proud of them, proud of their achievements and proud of what we had all done as a team. Without them, I was nothing and without them I would've never achieved the best thing I have ever done in my life. And that, will stay with me, until the day I die.

I cant quite thank Mumma Run/Bangs enough - this woman has plucked me from a place that had no beginning but only one end, and the end was not a good place. With her kindness and support I have grown so much as a person. I owe her more than she'll ever know.

JoJo and Michelle: Wowzer - you two are my angels in disguise. You both know where I was at the start of this process and without a doubt I dont think Id ever got to where I was. Your 24 hour support and kind words have made me finally feel like what it is to have real friends.

Jayne: You amazing woman you - you have come furthest in my eyes, you have excelled yourself and proven yourself to be so strong. This is the beginning of you.

Sam (The Machine) - Ruddy hell woman, you are the meanest, leanest but most gorgeous machine! A running star is born and an inspiration to me. I cant wait to see more of you!

Lauren - You blew me away on Sunday, you ran so blooming well, you are truly a strong women both inside, in your heart and outside in your physical abilities. You and your mum (and your brownies) have made this so much more enjoyable - here's to next time!

Candie - Whit Woo lady! I look at you and just smile! You are one gorgeous, smart, sexy, amazing lady! I look up to women like you cos you are everything I'd love to be! You are awesome in every way and have, no matter what, bought the fun into this team! Your commitment to running and your performance is beyond impeccable. I can only wish to run with you again.

Cass - you know what I'm going to say to you. You complete me lil lady. Your time is still coming, and I am ruddy well going to be there cos you are all sorts of awesomeness, I believe in you, and love your spirit. Be proud of you, cos I sure as hell am!

Tahirah - Oh lady come give me a smoosh! You are beyond fabulouso! what an amazing lady you are and an inspiration! I look to you for smiles, I look to you for clairty and most of all, I look to you because I aspire to be like you. You rocked it!

Elle - you jet setter and amazing lady you! How does someone look so god damn amazing even after they have run 13.1 miles!?!? Sell your secret! what a trooper you are: enthusiasm and awesomeness, you rocked Sunday and let this be the first of many running events we do together!

Sammi - An inspiration and high spirited girl, who Im pretty much in awe of! You are amazing in every single way. Berlin is yours and I'll be there with you!

Over n out....

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Oh yeah..... Did I mention 4 DAYS!?!?

OH MY.... I'm running a HALF MARATHON in 4 days, nearly 3 days now! It seems like a very distant memory when I first announced I was going to be a member of Team Bangs on The Run 2, but now.... it's here, race day is literally around the corner and I couldn't be more excited.

Let me be honest with you, it is more like excitement with nerves, with a little bit of sicky mixed in - great combo eh? but really and truthfully, I never in a million, squillion years thought I'd be able to do it, I could barely walk fast let alone expect my tree trunk legs break out like Black Beauty and make me run, but by Jove, I am doing it. My main focus and reason to enter for Team Bangs was a simple one: I simply wanted to prove to me that my body was strong, and I was right to still want to be in this body. I wanted to make me proud.

After years, and I mean this literally, of self hatred for me, my body, my shape, I took it upon myself to change me, I thought if I got more people to like me, I would learn to like me and that started with trying to lose weight. What started as losing weight became an obsession, and what was an obsession ended with a problem: An eating disorder one. I hated me, my skin, my body and what I was all about, Team Bangs saved me. It has made me like me, and like being me. No, its no TB magic potion, although lets face it, that stuff would sell by the bucket loads, it has been hard work and the huge amounts of support from the team of amazing ladies have made this work. They have made me believe that I can do this, that my body will take me through, they have made me realise I am strong, I am perfect for me. This is something I have never felt before, and never believed I could feel.

It has been weeks of hard training. Anyone who thinks running is easy is a little liar. I have smiled, laughed, cried and been in pain, but I ruddy well love it! Every time I get out there running, every single one of Team Bangs's little faces makes me enjoy every single second: even when I dont feel like it, even when Im in pain, or sad, they make me carry on, they make me do it, they make me who I am.

So, it's just around the corner, the big run, blimy *gulp* this really is it. Im not saying it going to be easy, in fact I imagine it is going to be hard, but my body is strong, I am what I am, and this run is for you my girls of Team Bangs. You are all amazing and I feel oh so lucky to of met you.

Please go and donate to Team Bangs On The Run2 running the Run To The Beat Half Marathon and we're doing it all for Refuge. We really do need your support.... please... Go HERE

An Ode To: 'Those' Facebook status's.....

'I love you'... 'I have the best boyfriend in the world'... 'I think _____ is the best girlfriend ever' Oh yes, You all know what I'm talking about... 'Those' Facebook Status's.

Every single darn day I am faced with people on Facebook, publicly, openly and loudly declaring their undying love for their partner/husband/wife/dog/cat etc. Now I'm not some hard nosed cow, oh no, I'm quite happy with my partner/life/rabbit etc, but on the flip side, I do not and I repeat, I do not feel the need to announce this to all and sundry. It has been something that has been playing on my mind for the last couple of months and yes I did think twice about writing about this, but I have to be honest - it's driving me sodding insane. Every time I see one of these messages, I swear I sick up a little in my mouth, There is nothing worse than opening Facebook up in your very important lunch hour to be greeted by everyone and their mother falling desperately in love with the postman. Ok, maybe not the postman, but you get me.

It got me thinking though: why do these people feel the need to literally bleet on about something that alot of people have - a relationship. We all have them of some kind, even if its the ones we have with our family, but you don't walk around town, go into shops, go up to strangers and announce just how much you love Mr Smith, do you? no - you do not, so why go online and announce to the World Wide Web telling them just how amazing Mr Smith is? Does it feel good? Have you been asked to do it? Is it mandatory in relationships now to do this? Man, I don't know, but I just find it a little voyerous - I almost feel like I'm a peeping tom, looking into the deepest, darkest depths into some very personal and private relationships - I feel awkward as well as a little sick - not a good combo. I also started thinking that maybe, just maybe, it was all for other people, not for the individuals in question? Is it some massive statement to their circle of friends and 'acquaintances' showing them exactly how good they are and how almost perfect their lives have become? Can that kind of public love ever be that real?

Granted I have noticed most of the offenders are women, sorry girls, but they are. Are we all turning soppy in our old (young) age? Or is it more so, that these days, we are constantly looking for 'the one' or have been put under so much pressure that we, as women, feel we have to become some extra part in our relationship where we get down on our hands and knees and worship our partners? My last thought is maybe us females doing what we do best, and feeding fuel to the fire, or shall I say feeding the gossip whores that are, our frenemies?

I don't have the answer, I probably never will, but honestly, I just dislike it so much. I would even go as far as to say it actually makes me want to unfriend you, yes that bad. Before you all anon bitch at me, ask yourself, really, if your love and situation was really that real, and it was between the pair of you, why bother telling anyone else but the person your with: i.e keep it between you. Also bear a thought for the singletons out there - the ones that don't have someone to love, or the ones who haven't and cant have children.

On that note: I love all your fine selves....... ;)

*images courtesy of Getty*

Monday, 19 September 2011

Website of The Week: StyleNest

Firstly, before anyone, i.e my family and friends wonder, I do not have 'something' to tell you... Right, this weeks Website of The Week is StyleNest.

StyleNest is a daily magazine for 'Stylish Mums' well, before you wonder about my secret life, I don't have any kids, unless you class the rabbit and the boy as one ;) but altogether this website is pretty darn classy! It has to be said that I am a little bored with most 'style based' websites its either all fashion and High Fashion at that - and for you and me, that means the type of clothes that are pretty much out of any 'normal waged' persons reach. With StyleNest, it has a real blend of, well, everything. Not just some brilliant Trend pieces, achieving 'looks' and everyone's favourite: Street Style, add in sections on Beauty, Kids, Food, Life and Travel, this really is a good, well rounded, informed website.

Now, only being launched last week, for me, it's shot straight up to my 'must-reads' on a daily basis. It's good, decent content that is applicable to pretty much every age group, I am especially enjoying the Street Style section for mum's - that is a real first. Yes, I know some non-mums may initially be put off by the 'Mum' tag on the site, but to be quite frank, I still pretty much loved it! and I suspect that one day, when I decide to bear a child I will most definitely need a website like this!

Get yourself over to this website for some real interesting reads, giggles and articles, It's going to be real nice to see this site grow over time, a real fave of mine already.

Click to see the website HERE

Mondays Must-Have Purchase

Really, I should put out a 'Shoe Porn' alert for these bad boys. But today's must-have purchase really are what you need for the A/W season. Now, these are also a little bit more special than your normal boots. Made by a company called Duo, these boots are not just fitted to you by foot size, oh no, these are also fitted to your calf size! Quite frankly, this is my dream! I have been blessed with rather fat calf muscle's even though my legs aren't really that big (Yes, I know, I'm a tad weird) and with boots they are either way too tight my legs feel like they are the incredible hulk waiting to burst out, or they are so loose its feels even worse than my nora batty tights. Now, I don't own a pair... yet... but I am going to save my little pennies for these as quite frankly they are beyond gorgeous. Classically styled flat riding boot that are bought bang up to date with the mock croc leather and a slight heel giving you a little height but still hugely comfortable. They just look pure sumptuous and gorgeous. I'm pretty sure if I had these they would never leave my side, or feet. Go check out Duo HERE

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Re-VAMPing the Traditional..

I think all of us recognise the names Marks and Spencer, Next and Topshop, firstly, we all know them as clothing shops, but more than that, we know their reputation and what 'style' of clothing they do. Sometimes this is a good thing, but what happens if the brand itself is trying to update and appear more 'apparent' if their current reputation is not that?

Marks and Spencer have, as of late, been the King and Queens of the revamp - they have gone from being rather well known as the 'traditional' brand and a favourite for all nans, to something amazing altogether: Let it be said, alot of my wardrobe is filled with the new style M+S, not only is their sizing brilliant, the costings rightly placed, but as a whole package it really has transitioned into modern day really well.

Question is can other brands do the same?

Damart, some of you may have heard of them, are known for their traditional (but useful) thermal wear and are big in the 50+ market. I joke about being old before my time, and no, I haven't lost my marbles, but Damart really are entering into the transition. I have spoken about Damart before and own alot of their thermal wear (I get cold!) but have recognised the slight discrimination this worthy brand gets. Let's face it, it will never be a Topshop but do we want it to be? no. Damart have started their brand changing in a real clever way, one I haven't seen before.

Joining forces with the London College of Fashion (posh ey) provided students from the Fashion Media Styling course with items from its SS11 collections to style for magazine photoshoots and film, as part of a course module called “Re-imaging the Brand”. Clever? Read on.

One thing Damart have done well is recognising how hard it is to be 'in' with the more youthful fashion retailers, yet by teaming with students, who lets face it are the future of our Fashion world, they now have more of a better idea about how different the 20-something year old women is, in this day and age, compared to many years ago. To me, getting these up and coming stars to take part in this experiment will help Damart in a million better ways than the normal market research could and also sets them apart from the likes of Marks and Sparks.

After seeing the images from their new Lookbook, I have to be honest, I am blown away. Damart have been in trouble with the previous looks and images but the difference in this Lookbook is astounding - the pictures are smooth and classy. Showing the brand and its wares off perfectly and the styling that goes with has all of asudden transported the brand into something completely different. The difference between the website look and the new images couldn't actually be further away from each other. I adore them. This is the way Damart need to move, and I sure as hell hope other brands wanting to revamp themselves look at this angle - using the real youth and not just some big Fashion brand or exec to run it for them.

These shots are a world apart from their current advertising and even their website - see HERE, and I was genuinely excited to see these! I, for one, cant wait to see the difference along the rest of the line. This kinda revamp, as hard as it is, makes me want to get in there and help out!

Long may the real revamp stay!

My No-Go London Fashion Week

You'd have to be living under a rock to not know that as of Friday,it was the start of London Fashion Week again. Another new season, this time looking at what we'll all be wearing come S/S12, which to me, seems nuts considering we only really got 3 days of Summer this year, whats the betting we'll get the same or less next? So, last season, I took the plunge and applied to go to LFW (London Fashion Week) and go I did. Now,you must all remember just how crap my blog was back then: It was all generic fashion crap, that was on the pages of every other blog, and truth be known, I was pretty much copy writing just what the PR people were sending to me - perfect for them, pretty darn crap for my readers.

Well, going to LFW last season was, dare I say it, enough to last me a very long time.So much so, that lo and behold I was in no rush to go back. Now before I cut off the hand that feeds me, the 'Fashion' in LFW is, by far, the best bit... if you can get to all of it that is. Now what I failed to realise at the time, was the zero amount of camaraderie of other visitors to the prestigious event. At this point, I'd like to omit a few people from this article, as without them I wouldn't have had any joy that day - Alex from Alex Loves and Katie Antoniou from The London Plinth - thank you. Now as a virgin  to LFW I had no idea what to expect and shouldve realised a long time before I turned up there, that as someone with horrific anxiety attacks, this was never going to be a walk in the park but I didn't realise just how enjoyable the day was actually going to be. I had a steady schedule of shows to go visit: I was grateful for anything I was going to go see. As a small blogger I was, by far, a small fish in a massive pond.

I thought the outfit I'd donned on the day, was acceptable, however, on turning up at Somerset House did I soon realise I looked a sodding mess, and a fat one at that. For all to see, there was women that were beyond dressed up, it looked better than a Saturday night round my way. The cobbles are something that should come with a health warning, thank the lord  for my flat shoes (yes, I wore flats) Somerset House must be the most poorly signposted/guided building known to man, as there was nowhere that showed you where you could pick up your 'Press Pass' I wondered around aimlessly, and without a doubt stumbling around, staring at the 10ft tall blonde leggy beings that consumed my view. I had no idea what I had to do next - for newbies? There really should be a guide on what to do and when. With my first show at roughly 9:30am and the queue for the Press pass office, being an infinity long in length, I had to somehow work out where the hell I had to go. At this point I was beyond glad to spot Alex from Alex Loves who did, God Bless her, took my hand and showed me where I had to go. For as long as they eye could see I was pretty much out.of.my.depth. I didn't have a large, multi buttoned camera swinging freely round my neck, I wasn't wearing any brand names in the whole of my outfit. In fact, I'm pretty sure my bag was by Primark. Arriving at my first ever show destination, not only was I a hot sweaty mess - why on earth do they position these places so sodding far apart and not shove up any signs! I was greeted by this rugby tackle-esque situation where every sodding man, woman and grandma was, rather angrily, queuing up to get in and grab the best seats at the show. Now being the unfortunately 'nobody' I was, my invite was a 'non-stickered' invite where I was told, I was simply going to have to 'join the queue' Y'know when you're 17, and you try to get into a bar/club and you have no ID? Yeah... same feeling.

Upon queuing up and looking round, everyone was dressed in well, err some weird kinda 'look at me' way... cos obviously, the whole reason to go to LFW was to obviously get papped and stared at, yeah, everyone is there for you (?!?!?) Show over and done with and to be honest I didn't really see much of said show anyway, although I did get some nice photos of the lady in front 'birds nest' of a hairdo, and the guy next door to me's, elbow. It was on to the next destination - oh and did I tell you I had to try and get there, on foot, within a milisecond.

The day carried on like this, until the time when I had no other shows until later on into the evening. I decided to grab lunch and take in the exhibitions. Now, trying to locate somewhere to 'eat' at LFW is pretty darn impossible. I use the term 'eat' loosely here. Their interpretation of eating is more like what a squirrel would do, and you know why? cos I ended up eating a slice of cake that cost me near enough £7 - and apparently it was also a healthy cake, a low calorie thing... yep, I was indeed conned by a low-fat cake, and if I'd have farted I would've been empty again. Hungry and dare I say it, lonely, I studied my exhibition map (which as some of you may know, is pretty much like the Crystal Maze) I had some specific brands I particularly wanted to visit, but I ended up spending most of my time in the lift, that's right, the lift. The blasted thing was going up, down, left, right (ok, that was a slight exaggeration) and yet, I still couldn't find where the hell I was - that being said the lifts were made for the catwalk models, I pretty much filled the thing with just me - Let me take the opportunity to say sorry to anyone else who stepped into that lift with the a sweaty, red faced too tight trouser lady ;)

The exhibitions were ok - although the same feeling of 'nothingness' came to me again. It was pretty standard that I was, in fact, not some big time magazine/newspaper and all I was, was a small time blogger. On the majority of areas, I had to wildly wave my 'press pass' into people faces to gain access to anything and when asking exhibitors about their brand, asking for photos (on my small pathetic camera) and for more information, I was met with the most distaste... pretty sure, that was because I don't have a million pounds to buy their stock. On my last show, which, has to be said was run by the rather amazing PushPR girls, this was the only time I enjoyed myself. I managed to (latch) on to people I knew (I'm surprised I didn't kiss them upon seeing them) Although the last thing I witnessed pretty much summed up my day: backstage, two of the models I saw in the last show, were stood outside eating a sandwich, nothing wrong with that you may think - well, what started as a innocent sarnie soon turned into the model proceeding to take apart said sandwich: Meat, Lettuce, Cucumber and spread (she scraped this off with her fingers) and then nibbled on a little piece of bread then threw the rest away... Yeah, LFW... we just don't get on.

I have to add that the people who I did see at LFW were lovely, but, and this is a big but, I was, in no other way, made to feel welcome or like I belonged there: Brands, organisers have gotta start realising that bloggers are indeed the future and we do have a right to be there. For someone who is as conscious about my appearance and my feelings towards the way I look, going to LFW was never really the ideal situation to put myself in, however, when I was there, every fault, feeling or anxiety I have was magnified.

So, LFW I wont be coming again: unless I lose 3 stone, win the lottery and work for Vogue magazine. I'm quite happy to watch from the sidelines and get front row seats in front of my laptop, oh, and in my PJ's.

*Please note: these are only my opinion of LFW, and by no means was this piece meant to upset anyone or anything. I am also aware that it is most probably my own neurosis that indeed, ruined my LFW experience.*

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Trialling Soft Soft Skin... That's Eucerin

For as long as I can remember I've been a one brand skincare kinda girl... not mentioning any names, but E45 used to be the only skincare I used. Ive suffered from extreme sensitive skin right from the age of 13 - I wasn't a sufferer of teenage acne skin, mine was spot free, but instead, any perfume, any make-up and of course, any skin care, made my skin erupt like some kind of volcano, making it sore and really unsightly.

I have always been conscious of my skin, and as you do when you hit your teens, I covered my 'issues' with the trowel like foundation, that was of course, completely the wrong colour. To me, it was a good mask. Not only did it cover my bad skin, it also allowed me to forget all about it - pretend it didn't even exist. Until I wiped that make-up off and there, in all its red, angry glory was my dry, sensitive skin that was, uber unhappy. E45 came about when I hit 17, I found it was moisturising enough for me, without too much 'smelly' stuff, therefore not making my sensitivity worse but providing the moisture control me and my skin craved. Cut to my late twenties (ooo that's a scary thought!) and the redness and sensitivity got worse, the E45 was hurting me and didn't even provide the slightest bit of moisture - even applying the smallest amount of cream would sting like someone was cutting my skin.

I got asked to trial Eucerin. It was one of those brands that was hidden in my local Boots, along with all the artsy fartsy stuff, y'know the expensive 'I'll make you look younger stuff'? so needless to say, it was not my first choice. I was amazed to see that the real reason why Eucerin was in the rather 'top end' part of Boots, was because of their expertise with all types of problem skin, inc mine: Dry and Atopic Eczema (which for those who don't know, is severely dry, rough, chapped, reddened and inflamed. Intensive itch is a cardinal symptom of the disease) With ranges of skin care for pretty much every skin problem, the solutions were standing right in front of me.

Trialling the Replenishing Face cream, was pretty much a huge revelation - it was nice and gentle on my skin, felt light and instantly refreshed and injected some moisture into my skin. Normally when I moisturise my skin the feeling at first is good, swiftly followed by intense tightness all around... whatever you do, don't ask me to smile.... ow! Granted, it is not as cheap as some brands, but I really do believe, after testing it, you certainly get what you pay for.

I am converted, and for anyone that suffers from problematic skin, go over to the Eucerin Website - it's pretty bloody brilliant at not only diagnosing your skin conditions, but giving you the solution and giving you more information about the condition in hand - resourceful much!?

Check out the website HERE

Website of The Week: Charlotte and Co.

This website is SO me! We're talking serious comfort and style. Many of you may ask if that is such a thing, well at Charlotte and Co. the answer is a big hell yes.

I am a PJ-a-holic, I wear my PJ's all the damn time, I long for 5:30pm when I can go home from work and change into them. If I could? Id even wear them to work! It has to be said, that I am definitely a comfort fan rather than high fashion - for me, and my plump belly, it will never work. Normally, I'm of the view that when I'm lazing around in my DIY - Handy Andy heaven of a house, then well, anything goes, and you certainly wont see me strutting around in that sheer midi skirt and heels, that's for sure! A part of me feels sorry for the boy, he only ever sees me in A: My PJ's or B: my skanky Bob the Builder jeans and a vest top... sexy? Non! It has been my mission for the last 3months to obtain the unobtainable: casual comfy clothes that are on style.

Charlotte and Co. are pretty much all that, rolled into one very attractive package. Once again the joys of Twitter bought them to my eyes, and upon clicking on their site, with the serene, peaceful style, I immediately though this might be my casual saviour. With ranges from bedding, accessories, sleepwear, underwear and my personal fave: Yoga and Pilates, My love for the skanky jeans sat in the corner of the room, was soon disappearing. My number one fear with comfort wear, is well, to put it frank - looking like my grandma. I know I like comfort, but I still wanna look half decent when the ruddy postman knocks at the door! Pretty much every other website I have trawled through have either been 'hello I'm 80' or stupidly expensive for essentially what is a pair of jogging trousers... not really what I was looking for. What I love about Charlotte and Co. is the pureness and simplicity, air of their clothes - it is, of course, a comfort range, but it is also so much more than that. The fabrics used are soft to the touch, gentle on skin - this is exactly what a brand should give you.

Here are my top picks:

Longline Cotton Hoody £59.00
*I actually have this, and it is amazing - comfy, stylish and really easy to wear*

Roll top Yoga Trousers £45.00

Waterfall Wrap Cardigan £45.00

Cashmere V-neck With suede Elbow Patches £155.00

Harem Lounge Pants £29.00

Easy Layering Dress £45.00

Linen Shirt Dress £25.00

There is so much more I could've plastered over here, but quite frankly, you need to get yourself over to this site, and I can speak from personal experience, Charlotte and Co. are by far a top notch company to deal with: amazing correspondence, staff, delivery and products - its a real gem to find a website like this.

Oh and The Boy thanks them too for getting me outta 'the jeans'

Find their website HERE

Monday, 12 September 2011

An Ode To: My Grandad

I never realised just how quickly a year can pass. When I was younger, time didn't fly quite so much - my days were just filled with endless fun, laughter and playing. I guess when you get older, the playing stops, and your stuck behind that desk 5 days a week, time really does seem to just merge into one, weeks seem to fly by and weekends go even quicker. On the Sunday just gone, 11th, was a real day for me to remember. This was the day, a year ago, I lost my Grandad. Sunday was where all of my family got together, to celebrate him and his life and the memories. This is An Ode To My Grandad.

I remember you so clearly when I was young, you were always the more playful one out of my grandparents. Nan was always the one to tell me to behave, but you were always the one to secretly goad me into misbehaving! I remember listening to you for hours on end, stories of being in the forces, of how you used to use your amazing carpentry skills for Windsor Castle and the Queen. I remember always seeing you and nan forever out in the garden you loved and cared for so much, on those white plastic garden chairs, forever soaking up the sun, until you were so deeply tanned I looked just ghost like standing next to you.

The Christmas's were the best: when we all used to pile into your house: cousins, Aunties, Uncles, brothers, Sisters, Mums and Dads...That certain Christmas smell, the grandfather clock in the corner with its effervescent ticking. The mountains of Marzipan dates you used to place out and when you used to eat nearly all the homemade sausage rolls and blame me. When you used to pull up one of the two emerald green footstools, the ones with the tassels I used to play with, and tell me to sit on it next to you whilst we chatted. Every moment was special....

I miss you.

I grew up, and along with growing up, my time and patience disappeared too. I don't know how, but I never seemed to have any time: or not enough, for me to travel to see you and spend the quality time I should spend with you. The visits that I did make, along with mum and dad, were always so hard. I could see you aging before my eyes, it was hard to see, hard to think of and even harder to accept. I try not to think about my lack of visits, truth be known, it hurts me. I feel utterly guilty for not spending enough time with you in later life. Somehow I became so wrapped up in me and my own life that I didn't feel the need to come pay you a visit and talk endlessly about the things that made you smile. Until it was too late. I feel guilty every day, and even worse on the anniversaries. I know you wouldn't blame me, but I blame me. The day you died hit me harder than I ever realised was possible to be honest. I was expecting it, you had been ill for a while, but a part of me didn't believe it, or want to believe it. Yet, still when that day came, I never realised how big the hole was gonna be, when you left.

So as I let go of that balloon on the beach on Sunday, I remember everything that we did have, and hope that one day we'll meet again so I can give you all the time in the world.

Mondays Must-Have Purchase...

Lust much?! I'm a teeny bit obsessed with anything related to do with the Autumn season, and that involves working some lush fabrics in some amazing colours. Firstly the colour of this bag is just simply sumptuous - you cant beat the rich berry colour to make you feel suddenly very festive and wintry. Add in the velvet mix, which aside from making you want to stroke it 24/7, it is also just divine to look at, and hold. They styling of the clutch can work both for day and night and is classically designed with the nice features of the gold detailing. How can you not want this? This is the bag to have this A/W11.

Velvet Clutch Bag £28 from Very.co.uk

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Sometime you just have to Blurt It Out

Its not a big deal, its not, but I do suffer from Depression. I'm not talking the occasional mood swing or hissy fit, my depression is like a sodding big, black cloud that not only hangs over me, oh no, this bugger follows me around everywhere. It doesn't make me do nasty stuff, it doesn't make me crazy but what it does do, is ruin my life. Yeah, yeah, this sounds dramatic, but for me, when Depression hits, those four walls surrounding me, they close in. They close in to the point where I cant breathe, I cant see, I cant focus and I cant get out. Depression affects alot, not just me, all in different severity's and all with different effects. Ive been a sufferer since I was about 20.

I've always been a thinker, a dreamer, always up in my head. I over-think, and when I think Ive overthought enough, I go and overthink some more. This, mixed with being unsure in my body and who I was, turned into something alot worse and issues upon issues ensued, I wont bore you with them. When the simple issues sorted themselves out, Depression came to greet me like a long lost friend. I had never met him before, didn't even know what it was all about but what I knew, was what he done to me: me, who I was, disappeared when Depression came on the scene. I no longer knew how to smile, I didn't know what it was I was doing on this Earth, why I had family, why I had friends, and what my sole purpose was. Not many people know why they are here, but most of us enjoy the ride. Me? I didn't know how to..... my head wouldn't let me.

The reason for me telling you this? Well none really, I don't particularly enjoy talking about it truth be known. I have known too many people come and go, to know how it can make people react when you tell them you have Depression or you're feeling down, but it's not their fault, you could even say it's society, but that's life, I don't judge. All I know, is that bad man Depression is back. But this time, Depression cant hurt me like he has done, no, I'm older now. He's there, turning everything good in me and my life, into something I cant cope with. Well little does Depression know, is that I have an ass kicking team behind me, they are people who know what I'm going through, they listen, they help and they are there for me.....not him. Blurt it out are, right now, my saviours. They are there to do exactly the one thing Depression doesn't like: talking. While they’re not a replacement for doctors and can’t give advice, what they can do is be your friend. They know that chatting to people in the “real world” can be terrifying, they can offer an online mentoring service so that you and I, can blurt it all out. Seriously, you don’t need to hold back – you can tell them anything and everything, and they will understand. The website speaks for itself......

How does that make you feel Depression? sad? angry? upset? yeah, well, that is what you do to me. It was about time someone passed it back - you get what you give out.

There is light.

Loaf-ing around

So A/W 2011 is pretty much here, and in with the grotty weather comes us women being bombarded with 'Trend Reports' here there and everywhere, telling us exactly what we should and shouldn't be wearing, and getting our wardrobes in order for what is and isn't going to stay. If you are a women of size 12, big hip proportions, like moi, you can bet your bottom dollar that this seasons 'leather and fur' is never gonna look good on you, however one item that is gonna work no matter what style or size you are, is shoes!

Lets face it, even if you're having a fat day, you can pretty much guarantee that your footwear choice is gonna look good regardless, but what is not always guaranteed is comfort. Most of the new shoes we are shown that are 'in trend' are some 7inch platform, cutout, vivid coloured sculptures which come with a warning not to wear on cobbles (been there, done that) where did the more practical shoe go? Yes, I know, I sound like a 70 yr old granny, but you know what, I just cant handle the tottering around in sky high heels just so I can look like a cover of Elle magazine, not to mention the remarks from builders (what is it about heels that make builders turn into even bigger neanderthal idiots - answers on a postcard please) I want comfort as well a style, I have places to go to, people to see (yeah, right) and I want to look good doing it! Not to mention, if you're a runner like I like to call myself, you know that heels hurt.End.Of.Story. 

Now, I know everyone will be screaming 'Ballet Flats' at their computer screen, but I don't know about you, but I'm a tad bored of the ol' ballet inspired footwear - firstly, anyone noticed how err, non-hard wearing they are? the soles are pretty much disposable shoes and do not get me started on wearing them in the rain.. you cant tell me you really like soggy feet feeling??? Secondly I cant help feeling like a little 5year old in them, my issues not yours. This season though, step down from the heels, twirl the ballet flats away and step into loafers.

Now, it has to be said, my normal view of the 'Loafer' was not a good one - it was always a little too masculine and a little bit 'old man' for me, but 2011 sees the absolute rise of the Loafer, bringing a whole new meaning to the practical but stylish shoe. I currently own 5 pairs of loafers, has to be said, not all purchased this year, in fact some of them are as old as 4 years old. But apart from obviously not going shoe shopping enough, these 5 pairs are well n truly, still holding their own - value for money right! So if there wasn't enough plus points for these flat ugly but pretty shoes, try this: they do indeed stand the test of the time. Now if your thinking they come in nothing but black and brown, you are so wrong. Oh no, the class of 2011 is hitting every god damn shoe trend out there - Leopard, colour blocking, embellishment, leathers and furs... wooo... trend Ahoy! Still not convinced? Right, here it comes, my faves this season for the loafer:

1-Tan Mercury £35 ASOS 2- Buckles Vatican £32 Topshop 3-Leather+Leopard £430 Newbark at Net-a-Porter, 4- Patent £12 Matalan, 5- Horse Buckle £28 H by Henry Holland at Debenhams
6- Red Suede Kracker £65 Bertie, 7- Blue suede Madge £35 ASOS, 8- Leopard + Tassle Lex £55 Office, 9- Yellow Kosy £50 Topshop, 10- Pink Tassle Vaduz £30 Topshop.

So, come on then, tell me you love them? Knew you would. Yeah so maybe they are not as good as those heels sat in your cupboard, but seriously, try wearing them for 4 hours solidly and tell me you don't wanna swap ;)

Sunday, 4 September 2011

An Ode to: The Footpath Shouter....

I would like to say this is a new interesting 'add to your quality of life' type of post, but really? this is just going to be a podium on which I can vent things that really get on my goat (not that I have one) so if you don't like listening to moaning, I probably suggest you immerse your head in your pillow or click on that little cross in the top right.

This weeks, is An Ode to 'The Footpath Shouter'

Well short of relentlessly going on about my sodding running training again, we all know that I'm pretty much out n about when I can, to try and get the miles in my legs. Now, when I used to think about going 'for a run' my head was filled with images of me, seamlessly, and non-sweat induced, running along paths, with the wind gently tugging at my hair, me bouncing back off the pavements, with no distractions... nothing but me and the open road. Is this the reality? hell-to-the-no. Only yesterday, did I set off, armed to the hilt with my various gadgets to check my times, pace, how far I ran - pretty much every gadget short of running it for me. As the run progressed (in the sodding hot sun I have to add) I kinda 'expected' to come across a fair few amounts of people out, going for a walk, in what might of been our last day of Summer. Nothing unusual I hear you ask, well no, but what I did come to realise was the absolute lack of respect for runners on the pavements.

Now, I'm pretty sure I'm going to be heckled non-stop for picking on this subject, but bear in mind, I like walking on pavements too yknow. People are funny though aren't they? Majority of the people I become 'stuck' behind, did not have ipods or fingers in their ears and def no hearing aids, so tell me, why when I say 'Excuse me, would I be able to squeeze past' do they choose to ignore me? I try not to shout, as I find this scares them and can sometimes come across as a little, err, demanding, but no. The majority of them will quite happily stroll along ignoring my (nice) pleas. I have been known to slap my feet down a little harder on the pavement, maybe loudly hum to my (off) ipod, and even cough once or twice... but still nothing. I then have to, pounce like an obese, tired tiger, on to the road to go around them. I don't normally mind this, but if you have ever tried running in Cookham, there is barely room enough for a car, let alone some fool running along. I must add (before you all throw bananas at me) that I will always move out the way for families and women with pushchairs and prams, that's just the done thing. But one thing I hate the most, is teenagers or young adults who are walking in long red-rover like lines, therefore making it almost impossible to find a mere millimetre to squeeze my jiggling bum past. Since Ive been running on the road, I have been labelled 'Fatty' by many members of our English 'public', I've had a half eaten sandwich thrown at me from a passing car, a bottle of (empty) coke thrown from a rather 'nice'boy who obviously thought I was a bin man in my high viz running jacket. And only last week, was I spat on by a group of two boys and a girl - that's nice isn't it? I'm starting to wonder where the hell can a runner run? But, I have to be honest, the proverbial biscuit came yesterday, when on my normal running route, after asking nicely to be ignored and in mid over-take of four young 25+ females was I screamed at by one of them " THIS IS A FUCKING FOOTPATH" Now, I'm not sure about you, but I'm pretty sure humans weren't put on the Earth to speak in languages like that to one another. So in a quick glance round at her, she proceeded to stick her middle finger up at me and shouted the same thing at me again, with the rest of her friends acting mute. Now, I didn't say anything at the time - I'm a lover not a fighter. But it wasn't until I got home and thought.... I'm running with my feet, therefore I am using a footpath. Surely, me, running ( I use this term loosely after 6 miles!) with my feet, on a pavement, is doing just like the 'Footpath shouter'  but like walking faster, still on a pavement.

Now I don't know why me running there made her so angry but it made me feel so sad that a free sport, like running, is being made to be completely un-fun when people who are mere walkers on the same paths, are treating us like this. Where's the common courtesy? where's the sisterhood? where's the mutual appreciation? what right does that lady have to shout that at me? Granted, some runners are not as considerate, but most of us are.

So to the Woman Footpath Shouter, this ode is to you. Thank you for ruining my run, ruining any good feeling I had about the Great British Public. I really hope that maybe one day you might see just how rude you really are.... I hope to see you next time I run.

Website of the Week: Dupenny

I frigging, god damn love this weeks website, it's all a little, well, how do you say? fruity?! This website has been on my radar for a while, but started as me (perving) looking at their wares on: Not on The High Street I soon fell in total and absolute love with the kitsch prints that were, a little, ooh la la.

Dupenny was thought up in 2009 by the rather gorgeous and supremely talented Dupen-hopkins, and is based in one of my absolute fave places in the whole world: Brighton. Dupenny are the epitome of fun: Creating wallpaper, homewares and ceramics, all lovingly made, and sporting their cheeky retro themes. What initially grabbed my attention was Dupenny's ability to keep it simple: all black and white in colour, yet never ever distracting from the print itself. Dupenny as a whole is what I would call fun - yes, not everyone will like cheeky burlesque girls emblazoned on their walls, but why not bring a little 'you know what' by adding some of the ceramics, or adding a little bit here and there, with their various homewares. For me, it's something that I just haven't seen anywhere else - yes, there is a big 'thing' for patterned wallpaper, but most of the time we are talking flowers and the like - Dupenny brings you something a little more, something to talk about.

Here I pick out my favourites:


                         Burlesque Wallpaper                               English Garden Wallpaper

                              50's Housewives                                 Splash Wallpaper



This is why Dupenny are my Website of The Week. Amazing collections, with a real handmade appeal and oh so kitsch, cheeky and god damn stylish.

Check out Dupenny's site HERE

Also, if you'd like, pretty please go nominate my blog for a Cosmo award, cos err, how cool would that be!?!? Go HERE
And whilst you're feeling giving, please go donate to Team Bangs on the Run2 - we've only got 3 weeks left! go do this HERE

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