Today’s subject for Blog Every Day in November is Fashion.

Hmm. I’d be the first to admit that fashion in clothes really isn’t my thing. Work-wise it’s a fairly standard M&S ensemble – dark trousers, white shirt, jumper. Utterly predictable though I did buy a new jumper recently in that trendy burgundy/raspberry-ish colour.

I know. Check me out. On trend.

Out of work it’s a similar story. Comfy jeans from Gap (sale, obv.), assorted t-shirts, a variety of fleeces. Occasional shirt, shorts (nice comfy long ones) wherever possible.

I used to be more interested in designer labels when I was younger – I had a lovely Ted Baker t-shirt which was, for me, eye-wateringly expensive. And when Harvey Nicks opened in Leeds I bought a pair of equally expensive CK jeans in a sort of dusky raspberry colour.

Look, I was young & daft, ok? Couldn’t get a thing to go with them so I think they ended up in the charity shop. Shame, as they’d be trendy now! Maybe I’m just years ahead of my time…

I also had a collection of rather nice ties, including a beautiful green Armani one and several from Liberty. Ties appear to be *so* last century though.

I’m sometimes slightly envious of the likes of George Clooney and Tom Hiddleston who appear to be effortlessly cool in sharp tailored suits and shirts. I’d love a made-to-measure custom tailored three-piece suit and sharp shirt to go with, but lack the funds and the occasion on which to wear it.

Maybe one day…


Apparently Selfie is Oxford Dictionaries’ word of the year

I’m no stranger to the selfie, though I do try and get a little more creative from time to time. I started a project 365 ages ago where you take a self-portrait every day for a year. I got a fair way in, then got bored of my own face!





How about you? Are you a selfie-taker?

Cycling: Let’s be safe out there

Today’s prompt for Blog Every Day In November is ‘Newsflash: talk about something in the news.’

This story in particular struck a chord with me as a cyclist.

Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, has said he will consider the possibility of banning cyclists from wearing headphones, following a spate of deaths in the capital.

Six cyclists have been killed on London’s roads in the last two weeks.

Speaking on BBC London radio, Johnson said headphones were an “absolute scourge” and it was “absolutely nuts” to wear them while cycling.
Boris Johnson considers ban on London cyclists wearing headphones

Boris’ comments have come in for some stick – on the face of it they could appear to be pointing the finger of blame at cyclists and taking the focus away from HGV drivers. And nine out of the 14 fatalities this year have involved HGVs.

Strange as it is to say it, I think that Boris has a valid point on this – cycling with headphones in makes you less aware of your surroundings. You simply can’t hear the other vehicles on the road as well. It’s an incredibly dangerous thing to do, for yourself and for other road users.

And of course Boris is a bit of a twit, as we can see in the photo in this tweet.

Come on Boris, put the phone away. Numpty. And then Boris got caught on film cycling through six red lights, failing to stop at a zebra crossing AND mounting the pavement (thanks to @susborne for the link)

I used to commute into Leeds by bike most days until I moved to south of Wakefield, making the journey impractical. My approach to other road users was always to assume they hadn’t seen you. Never undercut another car/van/bus at a junction. Yes, sometimes it takes a little longer to get to where you’re going, but I’d rather get there in one piece.

Of course there are still accidents, and always will be. Take your eye of the road for an instant, hit a loose rock or pothole and bad things can happen.

Now just to be clear – I’m not for a moment suggesting that it’s the cyclists’ fault.

Other drivers, especially those in vehicles with limited visibility need to be just as aware of their surroundings as cyclists. It’s our duty as road users, all of us, to be safe on the roads, for ourselves and for others.

The Department of Transport has some excellent (though largely common-sense) advice for cyclists… (from the BBC article Is cycling getting more or less dangerous?)

  • Ride positively, decisively and well clear of the kerb
  • Avoid riding up the inside of large vehicles, like lorries or buses, where you might not be seen
  • Always use lights after dark or when visibility is poor
  • Wear light coloured or reflective clothing during the day and reflective clothing and/or accessories in the dark
  • Follow the Highway Code including observing “stop” and “give way” signs and traffic lights
  • Wear a correctly fitted cycle helmet

Don’t get me started on people not wearing bike helmets. That’s a rant for another day. And yes, I have read the research.


Sunday, day 17 of Blog Every Day in November. Today’s prompt is ‘how do you like to relax?’

Hmm. With a full-time job and a fairly busy family life, finding time to relax can be tricky. It’s so important though to find a few minutes in the day to yourself, free from the day-to-day chores, running around doing stuff for other people.

coffee and a good book

During the week, I like to get out at lunchtime to a coffee shop with a good book. It’s usually a Starbucks – I know they’re the antithesis of my beloved indie coffee shops, but I don’t feel quite so bad about paying £1.50 for a mug of coffee and sitting for 45 minutes reading my book.

The book of the moment is Scott Lynch’s  The Republic of Thieves, the third book in an ongoing series. It’s really rather good and I’m taking it quite slowly, not really wanting it to end as the gap between book #2 and book #3 was rather a long time! I’ve got a few more books lined up after this one though – Tom Lloyd has an interesting one coming out next week called Moon’s Artifice, and I’ve still got Terry Pratchett’s latest waiting to be read.

So, coffee shop and a good book is one way I like to relax. Others? Sitting down after a hard session down the allotment. Chilling out to some music on my morning commute. Floating in the surf with my bodyboard, waiting for the perfect wave. Sitting outside my tent late at night with a glass of something nicely alcoholic, watching the stars.

How do you like to relax?

Hobbies: BEDN #16

Ah, today we’re talking about hobbies.

I must confess that I read Liz’s post on hobbies earlier today and was struck by how similar we are.

You see, we’re both scanners. As she puts it:

You see, for a scanner, everything is interesting. And therefore everything is potentially a hobby. On a great day, that can make you feel like you’re on top of the world but on a bad day it’s just impossibly frustrating as the knowledge that you’ve only got one life and are simply not going to get the chance to try everything that takes your fancy

This is me, in a nutshell. I’ve got a ton of things that I’ve tried and a ton of things that I want to try. I’m a keen juggler for example, am competent at juggling three balls and passable at four. I’d love to have a similar level of competence with juggling clubs but never seem to find the time.

I bought a guitar nearly a year ago, planning on taking that up as a new hobby, but it’s still sat upstairs, gathering dust.

I say that I’m a writer, but I’ve not written anything other than this blog for months now.

I’m definitely a photographer, or at least someone who takes photos.

Also on the list of proto-hobbies is drawing. I’d love to be able to draw well, but I never get further than doodles which all too often end up like this:

Like Liz I’ve also got ‘run a marathon’ on my list. It’s been there for many years, and I’ve run more than a few half marathons. But I’ve realised that what I actually want is to be able to say I’ve done it, rather than actually enjoying doing it. I think I *should* want to do it.

Crossing it off. I’ve knackered my achilles anyway so running is off. Cycling is ok though, so long as I don’t fall off again…

I need to enjoy doing things because I want to do them, not because I think I ought to.

I’ll never stop wanting to try new things and I suppose I’ll always be a scanner, looking for the next new thing to try. I quite fancy trying the ukulele, for example, and my daughter recently took up crochet, which I found enormously relaxing when she showed me, so I suppose that’s on the list.

Maybe we should set up a skill-share scheme – I’ll teach you how to juggle, or give you some photography advice.

What skill would you share with me?

favourite folk

Day 15 of Blog Every Day in November. Today’s prompt is ‘favourite folk’.

I could talk about my family. My friends. Coffee buddies. All worthy of the label.

Then I heard about Batkid.

From the BBC article:

Thousands of people in San Francisco have turned out to help a boy recovering from leukaemia fulfil his wish to be Batman for a day.

Miles Scott, five, participated in events across the city including fighting mock crimes and receiving an honour from the mayor.

Make-a-Wish Foundation, which organised the event, received pledges from more than 10,000 people to lend a hand.

Everyone who was involved in this, from the Make-A-Wish foundation, to the thousands of people who turned out or pledged to lend a hand.

Every single one of you.

You are my favourite folk.

You rock.

take note

The problem with flashes of inspiration is that, like lightning, they’re exciting, but too often and quickly forgotten.
~ bobbi

We’ve all been there, I’m sure.

You have a brilliant idea, remember something to add to the shopping list or think you should really book your car in for a service. You’ve just worked out how to get your hero from point A to point B whilst avoiding the giant snapping jaws of doom. A new idea for a blogpost presents itself. Sparks of inspiration.

You’ll remember it later, of course, because right now you’re at work or out shopping or just about to fall asleep.

People will say ‘oh, keep a pen and paper by your bed’ or (usually with a slightly smug air) ‘I always carry a notebook with me.’

As if that’s helpful. If I keep a pen and paper by my bed I’ll come to it days later to find that my daughter has discovered it and now it’s full of elaborate drawings of pandas or lists of people I’ve never heard of with slightly ominous ticks against their names. Usually in a rainbow of colours, and smattered with stickers.

Same with carrying a notebook. I’ll carry one with me for a while but inevitably I’ll need to put it down for some reason, immediately forget to pick it up again and well, that’s the end of that. I’ve got half a dozen perfectly lovely notebooks (mmm, Moleskine) and a selection of pens and pencils, but they get put down, they get forgotten, they get claimed by my darling daughter and filled with her joyous scribbles.

Just use your phone, I hear you cry.

Well, yes. I do, sometimes.

I’ve tried all sorts of note-taking apps – Evernote, Springpad, Google Keep, the list is ever-growing and never-ending. But I find writing on my phone slightly awkward – even with a great keyboard such as Swiftkey you’ve still got to actually fire up the phone, find the app, open it, transcribe your epiphany and save it.

That said, I find Google Keep really is pretty good – you can snap a photo with the phone camera, tag it and set a reminder. Useful stuff. But for capturing story ideas and plot snippets? Not so much.

So, dear reader. I’m throwing it over to you.

How do you keep track of your notes and ideas? Do you use your phone? A notebook and pen? Carve symbols into the walls?

Tell me your secrets. I’ll make notes, just as soon as I can find that pencil…


Today is World Kindness Day.

It’s somewhat depressing that we feel the need for such a day. As the Dalai Lama said:

“Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.”

Today then, I’ve been going out of my way to do little things. Making tea for colleagues. Holding doors open. Picking up something that the barista dropped in the coffee shop.
Stuff I’d do normally, to be honest. I’m a huge believer in what goes around, comes around. Be nice to others, and others will be nice to you.

I also love random acts of kindness – many years ago I was surfing my livejournal friendslist and saw a comment on a friends blog by someone I didn’t know. I went to their blog, liked what I read and found that they had an amazon wishlist. I bought them a CD from the list, with a note which just (if memory serves) said: “A random act of kindness. Have a great day.”

I found out later that he’d been having a rough time and that random act of kindness from an unknown stranger off the internet meant more than I could ever have expected. We’ve since become great friends. And that random act triggered others across our mutual friendslists. People started doing random nice things for others. It’s the domino effect.

It doesn’t have to involve money though. A smile, as they say, costs nothing. Just be nice to others. I don’t have a motto (who does?), but if I did, it’d pretty much follow Wheaton’s Law:

“Don’t be a dick.”

It’s a great sentiment. Be kind to each other, folks. Not just today, but every day.

Life’s short enough as it is.

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