If You Can’t Be Positive Be Quiet

‘No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted’ – Aesop

I feel like I need to get something off my chest that’s been bugging me for a while now. I appreciate that a while back I wrote about how I hate open letters to people and I feel this may be veering down that path but bear with me for a moment.

Whilst this isn’t an open letter aimed at one person or indeed to anyone specific rather a group of people. I’ve been seeing quite a lot of negativity on social media recently and it’s really starting to wind me up. I’m not talking about people moaning about Brexit (it’s happening, get over it) or the new GBBO line up (it’s a TV show ffs) I’m talking about sly digs or shared memes having a unsubtle pop at someone specific. Despite it being *totally* obvious who you’re aiming it and it’s also, well it’s not very nice is it? And quite frankly women are the worse culprits because a lot of us seem to have an inability to be happy for someone else.

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I saw the worse of it back in January when we’d all eaten and drank ourselves into oblivion and some of us were trying so hard to get something that resembled a vitamin back into our bodies. My Instagram was awash with pictures of sweet potato and avocado and sweaty selfies and I loved every single one of them, why? Because I *like* those people. I follow these people because they’re my friends (or at least I wish I was friends with them). Why wouldn’t I show them support by liking a picture of their bland looking dinner which probably tastes like cardboard but will be helping them get back to where they want to be.

I don’t want to come across as some humourless crusader who can’t take a joke because believe me I love a good meme as much as the next person. We all have those groups of people on social media who rub us up the wrong way, the duck faces, the food snappers, the gym rats, the mummy brigade, not everything’s for everyone and of course it would take too much time to like or favourite every single thing you see.

But if you roll you eyes every time someone posts picture of themselves in a bikini or their hot dog legs on a beach or the massive slice of cheesecake their about to tuck into, then that’s on you not them. Because all of those things are cool, and well deserved and if you don’t like it then bloody unfollow them!

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I also don’t to claim to be spokesperson for everyone who posts a gym selfie on Instagram but if I could pick just one all encompassing word to describe myself it would be ‘average.’ So as your ‘average’ girl who posts gym selfies I’ll let you into a secret. I post gym selfies because I’m not confident about the way I look and I like the motivation or validation from other people to remind myself that I’m doing OK and I’m doing a good job. I work bloody hard to stay even remotely in shape and when you work hard at something, however narcissistic it may seem, you want everyone to know about it, because being told ‘well done’ by someone, even in the form of a like, feels good. And doing something, anything is better than being a sofa dwelling negative knobhead who sits behind their keyboard criticising everyone else.

We don’t know what pain other people have had in their lives and we don’t know what makes people happy, so in times where countries are trying to declare nuclear war on each other, how about we all just be a little bit kinder to each other, yeah?

I guess if this is an open letter to anyone, it’s an open letter to you; the person who posts sweaty gym pictures, or your big old bowl of pasta, or your finished dissertation, or a selfie of you voting, or are flogging your new business. Because you know what? Bloody well done you, you get the ultimate thumbs up from me, you go Glen Coco!

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Thanks to the gorgeous Pixie Tenenbaum who let me stalk her instagram account for pictures to use for this post, who helps me out in all manner of ways blogging and in daily life and who is a general all round badass chick!

Driving Miss Dizzy – a lesson in the importance of car maintenance

‘I’m not clumsy, I’m just accident prone’ – Daniel Radcliffe

There are also lots of things you gain confidence in through age and experience, like going into a bar on your own and ordering a drink when you’re waiting for someone rather than waiting outside and travelling somewhere alone. And driving. I passed my driving test 15 years ago and whilst I haven’t been the most confident driver in the world (I still park at the far end of the supermarket car park where there are lots of spaces and I only really like driving on roads that I know and are quiet) I like to think I’m perfectly adequate and any time I’ve found myself getting into any minor bother in the car, my instincts have always kicked in and I’ve avoided any catastrophes.

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The first real problem I had was in 2009 when my trusty Rover 25 broke down on a slip road coming off the A1. We were going up a steady incline, foot was to the floor yet the car had no power. We managed to coast down the slip road and pull over safely to the side while we called for some recovery. Other than a few people laughing at us broken down at the side of the road, and a £500 head gasket that needed placing, we came away relatively unscathed. Then fast forward to 18 months ago I went through a rite of passage that I could quite frankly have lived without. I had my first real car crash.

It was along a stretch of duel carriage way near my parents house which I must have driven over thousands of times. There had been torrential rain all day, the sun had just come out but the roads were still wet and I just lost control. My back wheel spun out from under me, I couldn’t correct it in time and the next thing I knew I was ploughing through a street sign and ended up backwards in a ditch. It took a few seconds to pull myself together. I checked I was OK, not bleeding from anywhere and no one else had been hit or hurt and  I did what I think every girl does when she’s in trouble not matter what age; I called my dad. I was still quite near their house (Dave was all the way in town with his friends) and they would be able to get here the quickest. Whilst waiting for them I had a lovely woman come out of her house and offer me a cup of tea (so British) and asked if I needed her to call anyone, and a taxi driver pulled up with his passengers and they all came over to check I was OK and if I wanted them to wait with me. I think I was in the ‘just fallen over on the ice’ stage of shock where you’re just like ‘I’m fine, I’m fine’  but I very much appreciate the thought and kindness they showed me, if I hadn’t had been so close to home I may well have needed their offers of help.

Mum and dad arrived and we called the police and our recovery company. Again, loads of people kept on stopping and offering help, even though the police and a paramedic were there. I answered everyone’s questions as best I could whilst still shaking, and we waited for Green Flag to arrive in the back of my mum’s car. That’s were I think if finally hit me and I started crying and shaking uncontrollably. Then again when Dave arrived from town. Then again when Steph and Ang called me to check I was ok. Then again on Sunday morning when my brother rang me. We got recovered and towed home and that was that of my Saturday afternoon drama.

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The wholly ironic sign I skidded off the road into

2 incidents in 15 years probably doesn’t sound like much however, particularly the second accident, have left me quite nervous about driving these days. The emotional impacts that things like that leave you with can be crippling if you let them and when I look back I wish I’d seen the warning signs that my car needed looking at and perhaps they could have been avoided. In the head gasket case, the warning signs had been there for a while, the heating in the car had been patchy and I was constantly having to top up the engine with water to get some warmth on the car (and when I say regularly I mean like 3 times a week) but when you find a work around it’s easy to pretend the problem isn’t there, because taking your car to a garage can be a pain.

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I had a similar ‘burying my head in sand’ moment once when I tried to ignore that my exhaust needed replacing. The car had been making the noise of a supped up Vauxhall corsa and I would just turn my music up and pretend it wasn’t happening until my mum made me get it fixed. Of course with a dodgy exhaust, although easy to ignore you run the risk of creating future, bigger problems with the exhaust system of the car if it’s not running properly and (more importantly) could be a danger to other road users should it suddenly fall off in the middle of the road. The A1 is busy enough without having to worry about rogue exhausts flying around all over the place!

If i’d got all these things seen to straight away then we may not have problem down and I’m almost certain it wouldn’t have ended up costing £500! When i wrote my car off the second time, although it had passed it’s service and MoT a few months previously, i’d noticed that I’d skidded a few times when the road was wet, so perhaps should have had the tyres looked at sooner, or at least used it as a warning sign to drive more carefully when it’s wet.

They’ve definitely been some very emotional, and expensive lessons to not just wait until you annual MoT is due. Cars very rarely just spontaneously combust, they will usually give a heads up when something’s not working the way it should be, don’t ignore it!

If you are in search of professional car exhaust mechanics, Fife Autocentre can help you out!

This have been a collaborative post between myself, Fife Autocentre and Ellefluence

How I funded a weekend in Vegas with the Backstreet Boys

‘There’s a popular image of people who don’t save for the future as lacking in self-control. But the reason saving is so hard has less to do with self-control and more to do with a scarcity of attention’ – Sendhil Mullainathan

When I got married in 2013 one of the many (lovely and amazing) things my dad said in his father of the Bride speech was so highlight how alike we both are by the fact that neither of us has the ability to hold on to a £20 note for very long. I’m one of life’s spenders. No matter how much money I have, it gets spent. Which on one hand means I’m lucky enough to earn enough money that once all the bills are paid, and some has been put away in the Newman holiday fund, I have some left to play out with and feed my ‘pre-loved’ clothes habit. The problem is, if my straighteners break, we decide the Partner’s in Wine need a last minute spa weekend or Backstreet Boys suddenly announce a Vegas residency and Meagan and I simply have to go, I have no contingency for such extravagances or seizing the day.

Well as it turns out Backstreet is indeed back (alright!) so up we booked and on went £1000 onto my credit card without a moment’s hesitation, it is, after all on my bucket list to see them live with Meagan and this may be the only chance we get. Day seized.

I’ve been caught in the past by the glitz and the glamour of a credit card and have often buried my head in the sand about how much I owed whilst paying off the minimum amount, however this isn’t a story about the corrupt world of credit card companies and how they prey on the weak, the poor and the fangirl. This is a success story, about how a chronic over spender managed to pay her own way to Vegas to see her favourite boyband

So, how did I do it?

  • After I booked my flight I took advantage of the interest free period an old credit card was offering (no interest to pay until July 2018 on balance transfers) so transferred the flight and hotel cost onto that. I had no intention of taking that long to pay it off, but at least it provided to breathing space without having to deal with loads of additional charges.

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  • I took advantage of the fact that between booking everything in October and the trip happening in March, was Christmas, indeed the most wonderful time of the year. Dave very kindly paid for the concert ticket as my present and my mum and dad agreed on this one occasion to give me cash for Christmas instead of presents. So that was a huge help.
  • I sold all my worldly possessions on eBay. Well, not quite, but in conjunction with my new lifestyle choice of being a badass neat-freak wife sent from heaven I took the opportunity to have a good old sort out and everything I could sell, I did. I didn’t make any life changing amounts but every little £20 or £30 helped. And as soon as I sold a load of stuff, I deducted postage and paypal fees and the rest went straight off the credit card.

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  • I reigned in the partying. All my friends know how much those 5 lads mean to me, and also know how much I loved to travel. So when I turned down trying out the newest cocktail joint in town and suggested a £5 bottle of prosecco and some frozen pizza round mine instead; they were just pleased I wasn’t forcing them to come away with me.
  • I’m fortunate that i get annual pay increments at work. So when I got a salary increase at the end of November 2015 i made sure the difference went straight off my credit card bill every month. You can’t miss what you never had right?
  • I dug deep and found some will power. It’s not easy for me to save and I’m like a magpie when it comes to shopping (particularly for clothes. But every time I was tempted to buy a few top for Friday night or treat myself to more gym gear, I reminded myself what I was saving for, and did I really need that new pair of jeans that are almost identical to ones I already own? Plus it encouraged me to get creative with the clothes I already own and gave some stuff I haven’t worn for years a second spin.

So, other than my spending money, I head off to Vegas tomorrow pretty much debt free, which is an incredible achievement for me. Sometimes you have to keep in mind the end goal and make some sacrifices along the way to get something you really want. Having an experience of something me and one of my bets friends have wanted to do since we were 14 was more important to me than spending every last penny I earn in the pub or on clothes

10 of the Best: Documentaries on Netflix

‘The problem with binge-watching on Netflix is that you lose three days of your life’ Harland Williams

Since the great Sky TV Debacle of 2009 where we weren’t allowed out of our contract the day before it was due to expire even though Dave was leaving the country to ride to Mongolia on his motorbike we’ve kept our TV simple. Freeview all the way.

It’s been made extremely well known that I love a documentary almost as much as I love The Real World (which when you think about it is kind of like a documentary show anyway, if you think really hard) and all the good docs are on Netflix. But we don’t have Netflix. You see the bind I’m in.

Enter big brother Gary and sister in law Ruth who do have Netflix and very kindly let me log in and use one of their profiles. Suddenly my TV world was open to more than I ever imagined possible and my autumn Sundays have now been taken over by hours and hours of blissful binge watching. So here are the top 10 documentaries I’ve found on Netflix that are definitely worth a watch if you have it (or have a sibling who has it)

Amanda Knox (2016)

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The most up to date documentary about the famous case surrounding the murder of British student Meredith Kercher in Italy and Amanda Knox (Meredith’s roommate at the time)’s involvement. I guess the documentary serves as Amanda’s chance to tell her side of the story however how successful she is in convincing the audience that she had nothing to do with it? I’ll leave that for you to decide.

Audrie and Daisy (2016)

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Two high school girls form different towns in America pass out drunk and are sexually assaulted by boys they know. Part of the perpetrators sentencing (if you want to call it that) is that they participate anonymously in this documentary offering their version of events. Much like Making a Murderer this highlights the injustice of the American legal system specifically how lenient the sentences are on account of the boys’ age.

Hannibal Takes Edinburgh (2016)

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Follow American comedian Hannibal Buress as he embarks on his first ever season at the notorious Edinburgh comedy festival where he performs 2 shows a day for the best part of the month. While at first he does come across as a whingy ungrateful American who just complains about everything, we get to see the evolution of his sets, the highs and lows, the shows, the jokes he tries out for the first time and tanks, the homesickness, and a sense of Fringe atmosphere. While it focuses almost completely on Hannibal’s material, you dont particularly need to be a fan to enjoy the film, even if his (sometimes crude) jokes aren’t for you, it’s a good behind the scenes insight to a national institution we rarely get to see.

Fed Up (2014)

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Kind of think Super Size me but a bit more talky and not just focused on McDonalds. Very much about the obesity epitemic in America but I’m guessing it could easily be applied to the UK too. Ever wondered why there are  more ‘fat free’ or ‘low fat’ products on the market now than has ever been before yet there are also more obese kids than ever before? A coinkidink? Could these fat free products not actually be all they seem? Joking aside it’s an interesting watch and what’s even more interesting is the brands and companies that refused to take part.

Kids for Cash (2013)

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Another judicial scandal that rocked America. This time a corrupt judge who was receiving backhanders for sending juveniles to private detention facilities for seemingly minor petty crimes such as swearing at a neighbour or being drunk at a party. The film follows the kids who were unfairly sentenced as they try and rebuild their lives after spending time in kid jail and the two judges who refer to acknowledge that they did anything wrong. Turns out it’s more than just a story of corruption and the ending will leave you feeling pretty distraught for a couple of the families involved.

Making a Murderer (2015)

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Documentary series rather than documentary film nonetheless if you haven’t watched this modern phenomenon yet then where’ve you been? Wisconsin man Steven Avery is exonerated after spending nearly two decades in prison for a rape crime he didn’t commit, and subsequently  files a law suit against Manitowoc County. Shortly after, however, Steven is accused of the murder of 25-year-old photographer Teresa Halbach. Despite bedwetting evidence that Steven had nothing to do with the murder he finds himself behind bars again, and you’ll find yourself throwing things at the TV for 7 hours at the injustice of all

Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine (2013)

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It’s a case that shocked a nation and lead to tighter legislation on the conviction of hate crime perpetrators. At age 21 Matt Shepard was brutally attacked, tortured and eventually murdered for being gay. This is the heartbreaking story of Matt’s early life, coming to terms with his sexuality, his horrific murder and the eventual aftermath. It’s a tough watch in places, so absolutely not for the faint hearted, however offers a very frank look into how cases of this nature are handled in the US court system.

The Hunting Ground (2015)

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This documentary focuses on the stories of two young college girls who are violently raped during their first few weeks of attending school. Shocking in itself are the descriptions of what happen to them however what is even more shocking is the way the schools handle the accusations and try and deter the girls from involving the police or taking their complaints any further. I defy anyone to watch a scene of a large gang of college boys chanting ‘no means yes; yes means anal’ outside an all girls dormitory and not what to throw your TV at their dirty, ugly, misogynistic faces.

Twinsters (2015)

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A young French university student stumbles across a Youtube video and recognizes the face in it, her own. She sends a message to the American actress in the video and the pair discover that they were in fact separated at birth and adopted by different families on different sides of the Atlantic. The story follows their initial contact, their first ever meeting and their journey to South Korea to try and find their birth mother.

Who Took Johnny (2014)

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Johnny Gosch went missing one morning during his paper round and despite a few witnesses and even a convicted criminal admitting involvement in his disappearance there’s somehow a reluctance from the police department to follow any leads. Possibly due to Johnny’s mother’s demeanor, which is odd to say the least however the twist in the story comes years later when Johnny’s mother receives shocking pictures of young boys bound and gagged suggesting that what happened to Johnny may be more terrifying than first thought. It’s one of those films that will genuinely leave you wondering who to believe, and what the hell happened to Johnny?!

The lazy girls guide to being tidy

‘If you want to get rid of stuff, you can always do a good spring-cleaning. Or you can do what I do. Move.’ – Ellen DeGeneres

Most people have a tidy up in spring which is said to have come from a Jewish practice of thoroughly cleansing the home in anticipation of passover which occurs in the springtime. However we’ve always been a fan of having a post Christmas de-clutter. The timing seems even more perfect than spring to me; new year, new start and all that, plus you need to make room for all the new toys Santa brought you.

I am an actual, honest to God, bone fide, scruffbag with the genetic inability to keep things neat and tidy, which infuriates anyone who’s ever had the misfortune of sharing any dwelling with me for any length of time. In fact the quote ‘Jesus Christ Helen we’ve been here 45 minutes and your suitcase has vomited everywhere’ by my friend Lorna when we went to Amsterdam will forever make me smile. Nail on head. You get the message. I’m untidy

Last September we joined the 21st century and replaced our ducted air heating system with cosy fancy dan radiators (ooooh la dee dah I hear you say). So now we had a lovely cosy warm house and no longer had to wear my duvet into the bathroom on a winter morning, I decided it was about time i grew the eff up and started making a conscious effort be tidier. The main problem I have is that i have too much stuff, clothes, jewllery, make up and it’s everywhere. So after a thorough Autumn clean and flurry of eBay activity (which helped out Project Vegas – you can read more about that soon!) the clear solution was I needed some pretty yet practical storage to house all my remaining stuff and help keeping everything in place.

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Living Room

My favourite place to do most of my life admin is on the sofa in front of Made in Chelsea so you can usually find me by following the trail of emery boards, fake tan bottles, wine glasses, nail varnishes and 6 month old copies of Heat magazines. I picked up this box from Pound Stretcher for about a fiver and it’s ideal for shoving everything i use on the sofa into without having to get off my lazy arse to go into another room to put it away. My polar bear blankie even fits in too (just)! #winning

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Master Bedroom

This is the room that would exasperate Dave the most when it was left a mess. My biggest problem was I would wear something like a pair of jeans (that I think you’ll all agree are good for multiple wears before they need a wash) so instead of just putting them back, I would dump them on the floor, along with last weeks pair of jeans i swore I was going to wear again the next day. So we got these cute little laundry baskets from Asda which look so nice it motivates me to not surround them with half worn stuff and I made a huge promise to put clothes away if they didn’t need washing.

 

I’d also started to realise my bedside table was becoming a  dumping ground for all things I’d forgetting to take off before going to bed, mainly jewellery; if i’d been wearing dangly earrings that i couldn’t sleep in they’d be cast aside here never to be put away again. We were in B&Q looking for some coving for the kitchen (nope, no idea either) I saw these coloured drawers and inspiration hit me. They’re perfect to put those earrings and statement necklaces I’ve accidentally impaled myself on after drunkenly crawling into bed.

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I’m lucky enough to have my own bedroom to get ready in, mostly because Dave stays in bed for half an hour while I dry my hair (or activate the ‘noise gun’ as he calls it) so this is where all my make up and hair tackle live. It takes quite a lot to make this mush look presentable so I own a lot of beauty products. If you’re like me I have a game you can play that will help. Put everything on your dressing table in a carrier bag and leave it by your feet. Every day take out the carrier bag the stuff you need that day and leave them on the dressing table. After a week of doing this it will become pretty clear what stuff you use on a regular basis therefore deserves a spot on the dressing table. I’m not saying get rid of all the other stuff i’m just saying there’s no reason it can’t live in a drawer for you to only use when you need it and frees up valuable space for your essentials.

It also really helps if you have a hubby who’s handy around the house who added these hooks to my chest of drawers, which along with a cheap rotating tie rack, are perfect for keeping my necklaces tidy. I found the sunglasses stand on ebay for about a fiver because, well,  even Beyonce needs somewhere to keep her knock off Ray Bans.

Bathroom

Again the bathroom fell victim to me just having too many products, most of which i would try once and then leave lying at the side of the bath because i didn’t want to use them every day. There really isn’t a secret to keeping the bathroom tidy to be honest, it’s the room that requires the most effort on my part. I did however invest in some salon sized bottles of Bed Head Dumb Blonde shampoo. Not only do they look high end sitting on the side of the bath but the coloured bottles mean you can decant your usual shampoo into when the bottles are finished and they still look really cool. The pump action bottles mean the shampoo doesn’t spill and stain everywhere, bonus tidy wife points for me!

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I think if you’re inherently untidy like I am there’s very little getting away from the fact that quite often you’re not going to live in a show home however after such a huge investment on the new heating it would be a shame for our house to not be tidy as well as cosy.

However I’m yet to find a solution to the fundamental, scratch my eyes out, want to rip off my and throw it at someone bordem that is putting clean clothes away, so if someone knows an easy way to do that, i’d pay you a lot of money*

*in thank yous and smiles

 

 

 

Back to Reality: Big Brother UK

‘Big Brother is watching you’ – George Orwell

I’ve never made it secret or been ashamed of the fact that I’m pretty obsessed with Reality TV which started in the early 90s with The Real World on MTV and has pretty much thrived since then. Of course the fact that it’s so cheap t make and turns out is pretty popular means it’s been everywhere, on every channel since the early 00s.

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Like The Real World, Big Brother is one of those shows I’ve watched every single series of since it started and with the new series of Celebrity Big Brother starting this week I thought it would be fun to go back, waaaaay back…

It all kicked off with series 1 back in 2000 when it hit our screens on channel 4 off and coming from Dutch production company Endomol who’d run a couple of successful series with this format in The Netherlands. The format was simple, 10 people livig in a house together completely cut off from the outside world and being filmed 24 hours a day to see how they interacted. It really did feel like a social experiment back then and when you look back on footage from that time, it looks pretty bleak. There were no plush dwellings, swimming pools, hot tubs etc. It looks rather like a lot of ropy stay away camps i’d gone on with school in the 80s.

That series was a HUGE deal. Remember the drama when Nasty Nick was caught writing notes to people on bits of paper and Craig confronted him about it? Remember when Mel and Tom had a sexy massage? The country went nuts, and the highlight show was extended and the news ran late. It was simpler times back then clearly. But the live final was watched by over 10 million people that summer, that’s the population of Luxembourg 20 times over!

So safe to say series one was a roaring success and the following series were equally as popular. The format changed slightly over the years, there was the introduction of tasks to keep the housemates (and us) entertained, new rules around wishy washy reasons for reasons for voting (I’m looking at you Dean from series 2) and more twists like Rich and Poor house and face to face nominations to keep things interesting. Slowly over the years of course it did start getting more ridiculous. Every year they needed to up the shock value so housemates (in my opinion) became less diverse and interesting and more arrogant, fame hungry loud mouths.

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In March 2001 we saw the first series of Celebrity Big Brother which was originally a one off comic relief special, they were only in the house for 5 days and apart from Vanessa Feltz’s epic meltdown, they all got along pretty well. It wasn’t until the show was resurected 2005 and we saw the horrific racist arguement between Jady Goody and Shilpa Shetty that it became more like the show we’d become accustomed to and we saw the celeb mask slip. These days some of the celebrities are so Z-list you forget which one is the celeb show and which is the regular show.

As such both series has been littered with controversy and criticism; sex under the dining room table (series 5) , simulating sexual acts with a wine bottle (series 6) giving away golden tickets in Kit Kats (series 7) racial slurs (series 8 and CBB12) bullying (series 9, 10, 13 and 15) higher levels of nudity (series 12) ectopic pregnancies (series 15) endangered animal coats (CBB4) and racism (CBB5) – phew!

Anyway, one of the biggest knocks to the show came in 2011 when the show moved from Channel 4 to Channel 5 and a lot of viewers refused to make the switch.Series 2 winner turned TV presenter seemed an obvious choice as host but he failed to bring the warmth and enthusiasm as our beloved Davina and he was replaced by the much more personable Emma Willis in 2013, so the BB train rumbled on.

Its safe to say its certainly not the sh0w it once was and for me tat’s largely down to poor selection of housemates. In the last regular series it was littered with people who’d already stared in other shows (Lateysha was on The Valleys, Ryan has been on the X-Factor and Alex  was Vicky Pattison’s partner in crime on Judge Geordie). That would never had happened in the early days, in fact I think if you’d been on TV before it would have immediately discounted you from selection and I find that a shame. I understand why personalities that are clearly going to rub each other up the wrong way will be selected, the Real World have been putting a gay person in a house with a self confessed homophobe for years. They want the drama and i get that but when was the last time we had some genuine sweetie pies like Helen and Paul from series 2, Alex from series 3 or Glyn from series 7?

If my hand were forced and i had to pick my favourite series? It would be between series 2 (which Brian Dowling won) and series 8 (which Brian Belo won) both had a good mix of characters and to me represented the show at it’s finest. I’d just love to see it go back to how it used to be with more diverse interesting characters. I’m sure it won’t though, it will continue to get more and more reality wannabe airheads. And i’ll continue to watch….

2017: Mandy Charlton style….

Last year, last fabulously glorious year, a year of so many adventures and more beginnings than endings, last year of wonderful friendships old and new, last year when I found someone unexpected when I least expected it, on the internet of all places.  When I set out my desires for 2016, my focus word was adventure and boy have I had some of those, trips to Amsterdam, Barcelona, Stratford, Perth, the list goes on, blogging has not only introduced me to the most amazing people all over the UK, it’s also provided me with many new experiences and I couldn’t of course not mention the fact that I found someone really special after putting my dating profile on my very own blog, 2 men responded and one of them is now very much part of my magical universe, our Skype chats have become the happy focus of my week, something to look forward to, long chats often without stopping for breath coming up with whimsical ideas, my someone special has made me feel alive again.
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So new we’re on the precipice of 2017 and you have to wonder just what it has in store, I’ve never been quite as excited about the future as I am right now, I can honestly say that I am not one for resolutions, they’re too easily broken and often not taken so seriously and by the time you get to mid-January there’s often regret, loss and sometimes anger that you have failed so early.
So here’s what I do and what you should try to, each year I promise myself that I’ll continue to be brilliant, I promise myself that I will get up every morning, find reasons to smile and do as much good as I possibly can, in 2017 it is my utter resolve to do this even more so, in life, love and business I want to strive to be the very best I can be, the very happiest I can be and in turn I hope that I can make those around me, those special people feel just that little more happy and brilliant too.
Business and life as a single parent photographer and writer is always a challenge, it always has been but just as I written more in the last year than ever before I hope to keep that passion going and write even more, not just for myself but also for Huffington Post as well, I hope that it’s going to lead me on to a whole new set of adventures and as my someone special lives oh so very far away I have to find a way to schedule in visits and also pay for them too!
In 2017 my focus word is going to be fulfilment, fulfilment of my happiness, fulfilment of my soul, fulfilment of each and every aspect of my life and business, I want to get to the end of 2017 and say, it was the happiest year I ever lived and at the end of it I finally felt complete, for the first time in my life I had a relationship which gave as much as it took and a career that provided more than I needed.