**Video** A Belter in Belfast (Solo Travels #5)

As promised after my solo trip to Belfast back in September (Geology, Politics and Guinness: My Week in Belfast), here’s the video covering the highlights of my trip.

(Song: “Belter” by Gerry Cinammon)

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Letters, Books, Pigeons: Christmas 2021

Can I just start with the most middle-class, Cotswold drama to have occured this year at Christmas. Mumma B, setting her prized oven mits on fire, by accidentally placing them over a Yankee candle.

The best bit? Mumma B’s first reaction to my panic was to assume the vegetables were boiling over. I don’t think it quite trumps the time I dropped the Michael Buble Christmas CD in a tray of turkey fat, but it’s a close second.

Anyway…

Letters, Books, Pigeons: Christmas 2021

Music

I’m going to start as we mean to go on, with this:

You know what? The more times I watch it, the more times I think there is nothing in here the great George Michael and Andrew Ridgley of Wham! would take issue with.

From the soundtrack to the casual bit of inter breed dating, I only hope, and I truly mean this from the bottom of my heart, that George Michael was able to watch this before his death in 2016.

(And if you think any of this is tragic just remember, this wasn’t even the worst thing I came across. Nowhere near.)

I’m Dreaming of a White…Pigeon

When it comes to Christmas, everyone has a different interpretation for what festivities look like. Some people have robins in snow, in Swindon we’ve got pigeons bathing in overflowing waste drains.

Beggars can’t be choosers.

Interior Decorations

While I’m not one of those who puts up decorations super early, I am a fan of Christmas when it does come along. Anything to get me over the trauma of Halloween.

Genuinely can’t be trusted to watch a 12-rated spook film without freaking out at the slightest jump-scare. Years it took me to get over Disney’s The Haunted Mansion, years.

I put up my tree…

…and proceded to smash up my beloved retro starburst clock, by attempting to hang lights off it. The entire glass dial, smashed into a trillion bitty pieces.

Mazel Tov! (Oh, wait, that’s the wrong religion.)

Moving along…

Shopping

It’s always nice when Jesus graces you with his presence when you’re out and about shopping, even if his eyeless sockets are a little bit menacing.

We buy all these presents, yet not one of them is for him? So humble.

And I’m not going to lie, arguably the gifting has already peaked this year. That happened recently when my family teamed up to buy me a whole set of matching Next kitchenware.

My goodness, it’s so beautiful.

Huh? Sorry, what were we talking about? Oh yeah, presents.

I mean, at the same birthday I also got given this:

Honestly, the embarassment of opening this in front of my family, alongside Next kitchenware. Not just that, reading the blurb out! Trust me, it gets worse. Deary me, my cheeks were not ready for that leavel of red. (Thanks Matt, mission accomplished!)

Now this, this is the sort of tat I can get into.

(But not buy.)

Hang on a second, I’m sure I’ve seen something like this before.

My goodness, talk about nerve!

That was on sale for £2 less in 2019!

It set me up to be in a right unimpressed British emoji-type mood when my younger sister pointed this sign-board out to me.

No, just no.

Ignoring all of the random shop items, this year my best purchase has to be, without a shadow of a doubt, my new fountain pen.

I bought the pen, then proceeded to Google how to make it work.

There’s definetely something ironic in using the internet to lookup the basics of how to use a pen.

Letters

One of my favourite things I like to do every year is write Christmas cards. This year, with so many of my colleagues based overseas that meant a bit more spent on stamps but heck, they’re worth it.

For clarity, these aren’t the only cards I’ve written. I have more than five friends.

I’m still at the stage of life where I don’t have five million of them to write out, and/or pressing life matters that see every night booked up from 1st August, through to 15th January. I can treat myself to the odd night of pure card-writing, jotting out personalised notes to those nearest and dearest. It gives me a kind of buzz.

What can I say? Some people have alcohol, I have cards. We both have wrecked tounges.

Terrible Christmas Films (No, Really)

When I write cards, wrap presents etc, I tend to stick on one of those terribly wonderful Hallmark-type Christmas films on. Predictable and, I used to think, unoffensive. That was, until I saw this clip:

THEY DON’T EVEN EAT THE FOOD!!

What kind of dining-out date is this? Nu-huh, I’m sorry mate, you can stop juggling those oranges, because if I’m not getting a look-in on that Tupperware box, then you ain’t getting this.

(Close friends have also pointed out countless other things that make no sense in this montage, however I’m sticking firm on the lack-of-food being the absolute worst. Three words; girl, gotta, eat.)

On that note… *returns to phone to scroll through her tailored Facebook adverts*

Serves me right for being an insomniac. And, on the topic of sleep, a late night pop to the shops to buy some milk and I spot this:

“…Does it come with a receipt?”

Coffee

Oh, hey! Almost forgot. It’s December now, so that means my diet is even more whacky than other months* (*let’s be honest, my diet is hardly enviable). Did someone invite me to go around all the coffee shops, drink gingerbread lattes and not eat anything until evening, when I have a three course meal?

(Not that I ever want to have a three course meal, even two courses is an extreme for me, but because it’s December suddenly that’s a thing. Gonna get me a sweet, sweet latte, bigger than my tiny wrist can hold.)

Anyway, yes, yes that’s me. And I will read a book in there and no, you will not have a hope of kicking me out until at least two hours have passed, and not a minute before.

Unrelated note, does anyone else get life this after getting heavily involved with an emotional book?

“Walking through the dark and cold drizzel of town, after a 2+ hour coffee shop reading session. So full of mixed emotions right now, I genuinely don’t know whether to cry or feel inspired. Just me, or does anyone else have to take a lie down when the book feel get this intense?”

Turns out, it’s just me.

“Ink not coming out of fountain pen” is a niche search entry, I’ll give you that. Maybe not quite as popular as Ariana Grande but heck, you’ve gotta keep these traditions alive.

Conclusions

You know what? Stuff it! I’m just gonna book myself on a professionally accredited course to learn about unicorn magic…

…and go watch the Swindon Wildcats play down the local rink.

In fairness, it was such a good game.

Wait, There’s More!

Before you go, remember that video I included at the start of this post? Well, guess what? The creator only went and made an improved version and/or (to be honest I’m not entirely sure which) sequeal a few years later! Yeah, I know!

Better still, the soundtrack features the musical stylings of Cascada, covering Wham!

Yes Cascada!

Honestly, between these music videos and that pictre of pigeons washing themselves in waste water, I really don’t think Christmas could really peak much more than this.

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Geology, Politics and Guinness: My Week in Belfast

Just back, having spent a week in the lovely city of Belfast (capital of Northern Ireland, UK).

I had a wonderful time visiting The Giants Causeway, drinking Guinness, admiring political murals, drinking my weight in coffee, absorbing the industrial significance of the Titanic…getting through a lot of local gins. It was a cultural whirlwind. Best of all, it was unbelievably sunny; it didn’t rain once!*

* – apart from the ten minutes it pelted it down, but at that point had just paid my entrance ticket to spend some time inside Belfast’s notorious Crumlin prison. (I swear I’m a normal human being deep down.)

Hopefully there will be a video coming up soonish (when I get a spare day to pull everything together), but in the meantime here are a selection of choice snaps from my staycation.

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My Sister, On…

This post is dedicated to my lovely little sister, Bubba B.

It’s also dedicated to my old photo achieves I’ve been trawling through with zero regard to common decency. She let me take these photographs, she knew what she was signing herself up to five/six years later.

(At least that’s what my lawyers will say.)

*Cough* anyway, here we go.

My Sister, On…

My Sister, On…Contemporary Art

My Sister, On…Prehistory

(My Sister, On…World Domination of Prehistory)

My Sister, On…Geology

India On…Hipster Coffee

My Sister, On…Making Friends

My Sister, On…Interior Design

My Sister, On…Cultural Portrayals of the Female Body

My Sister, On…Wine Tasting

My Sister, On…Home Removals

My Sister, On…Interpretive Dance

My Sister, On…Travel

My Sister, On…Motivational Talks

(And finally – for now) My Sister, On…Questionable Photography

There you have it! Stay awesome, sister of the sea.

(PS, because no one is perfect…)

Alice On…Literature(?)

Yeah, I’ve no idea either.

(There may be an “Alice On…” sequel, or two, coming soon.)

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London Recalling: The Throwback-set

“The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there” – L.P. Hartley

Tower Bridge

A year ago today, I returned from a London city break and published my first post. I’d spent a year living in the UK capital, so for me it marked a refresh of the best bits of city-living, including art galleries, theatre performances and catching up with old friends.

Days after my return I was left encumbered, battling a mystery illness. Those following weeks I pressed on the best I could, putting it down as another one of those viruses which circulate in densely populated environments. A year later I’m no closer knowing what struck me down; we all have our theories.

Back then, my friends and I had whimsically noted the high-adoption of face coverings being worn by the predominantly Asian tourist base. We mused on the foreign illness that was gripping other continents, but to comprehend the possibility that our own country could already be rife with disease was a step too far. We were better than that, we were British. Instead, we continued to pack ourselves into dense sweats to watch live music, feasted in noisy restaurants and embraced fondly.

If only we’d known.

So, with perhaps a naively romanticised view of what were truly the last days of normality (late January 2020), here are all four parts of London Recalling.

London Recalling – the Mini-Series

Part One – Straight Lesbians, Like Us

Part Two – The Creative’s Curse

Part Three – Solo Sell-Outs

Part Four – Wapping Old Stairs

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Have a Merry (Nicolas Cage and/or Lobster Themed) Christmas!

Merry Christmas and a happy New Year to everyone who reads MHAM. regardless of faith, 2020 has been a rough year for absolutely everyone, I wish you all a peaceful time with family and chocolate and Nicolas Cage.

(Things may be terrible, but now they’re terribly wonderful.)

Oh, here’s also a highly relatable photo I took of a shop window from three years back (I’m going to guess it was Ted Baker).

So go on, stuff your face with lobster too. You’re welcome again, have it on me (the enjoyment of the photo that is, I’m not a free-for-all lobster bar or anything).

I’ll be back with new content in the new year. In the meantime, there’s always my Contents of wonderful blog posts with plenty of material dating right back to 2014! (Alright, no need to roll your eyes.)

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UK Christmas TV Adverts 2020

This post has been sparked off my Mumma B, who only the other day asked me about this year’s John Lewis Christmas advert.

The thing is, she comments about the lack of visibility, but at the same time records everything on her YouView box purposely to skip all the adverts. You see the dilemma here?

Basically I’m posting all the Christmas adverts for the main UK players so that my mum can see them in one place (and once only).

I’ll add to the list as and when any additional companies release theirs (please do also poke me with a metaphorical stick in the comments). Otherwise lets get to it! In no particular order…

UK Christmas TV Adverts (2020)

John Lewis / Waitrose Supermarket

Aldi Supermarket

Lidl Supermarket

Walkers Crisps

McDonald’s

TK Maxx

Argos

Barbour

Very.co.uk

Amazon

Tesco Supermarket

Asda Supermarket

Morrisons Supermarket

Sainsburys Supermarket

Boots

Lego

Dreamies Cat Treats

M&S Food

Disney

Coca-Cola

JD

Ralph Lauren

(Disclaimer: All videos above have been lifted from YouTube via the URL. I don’t own any part of these videos.)

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New Ways to Support

Just a quick reminder that I’m still here, earning tumbleweed from my writing (well, actually, tumbleweed would at least be something…)

A big, big thank you to those who have donated so far (you lovely people know who you are). For those less aware, I have an active donation page called Buy Me A Coffee, a platform which helps creatives get money doing what they love and keep producing content for their fans.

If not for me and my coffee spilling antics, it’s worth checking out to discover some hidden gems from people across the world.

I’m always reviewing the page and just recently added two funky new extras you can buy as a one-off. Check out the website to find out more.

Thank you in advance!

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VIDEO: Staycations in York

A perhaps more sombre video (pretty blue compared to the stuff I normally produce, I admit), of the four days I recently spent in York. I wasn’t going to do anything, that was until I came back and Mumma B said, “when are we getting the picture presentation?”

So I quickly pulled this together, complete with backing music which I heard whilst watching the world go by in one of the nammed coffee shops below.

Big love to the city of York, big love to whoever controls the weather for giving me sun and zero rain and big love to ‘The North’ for giving me a warm welcome during my visit.

Places visited:

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Writing Course Success!

In July last year I subscribed to a Novel Writing course offered by the London School of Journalism. Keen and eager (although somewhat less convinced my idea could hold a story) I penned the first draft of a synopsis in a charming little coffee shop in Ilfracombe, North Devon.

(Shout out to Annie and The Flint – perfect atmosphere for penning those challenging first words!)

Fourteen classes and twenty-seven written submissions later, I’m pleased to announce that I’ve have completed the course with flying colours. Go me!

This isn’t the end of my creative exploits. Spurred on by the course, I’m continuing in earnest on my manuscript (#AmEditing as the cool cats on Twitter say) and dipping my toe into the world of short stories.

While my love, life and ambition is to turn my manuscript into a fully published novel, I’ve discovered that diverting energy into other avenues is a great way to refresh and experiment. Also a bit of fun! (Which I know for some people must sound weird. The idea of hours of writing, followed by 2000 words of something news.)

Thank you to my wonderful tutor Val Holmes for being a fresh pair of eyes throughout the course and being unafraid to challenge the creative choices I make.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, this isn’t the last you’ve heard of my writing exploits.

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