Me Me Me

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Since moving to Los Angeles I’ve written a grand total of two blog posts. That’s one post every 9 months, and it strikes me as ridiculous that it is taking me a human-baby length gestation period to get any words out of my buzzing brain and into this nook of internet. It frustrates me on a daily basis, as I know this is an experience I should be documenting in a more meaningful way than photographs of sunsets on Instagram. It’s not that I’m not inspired, it’s not that I don’t have creative juices flowing and it’s not a case of writers block. It’s just that taking your whole life as you know it and plonking it down again 5000 miles away is an experience that I just find impossible to translate into words. I wrote last year about the pressure I felt to be living the dream and box away the shell-shock that came with my newly-wed, new-job and new-country triple whammy.

I’ve had a few moments recently that have led me to realise the only comparison I can make to my Los Angeles experience is that it’s like being in a new romantic relationship. I haven’t met a new beau since the age of 27 which was way back in 2012 when a boy called Nick asked “Excuse me, is your name Bee?”. He dazzled me in that moment and we’ve spent the next five years facing our formative late twenties and transition into thirties hand-in-hand. We’ve explored, we’ve danced in the kitchen, we’ve had to look some of life’s biggest fears in the eyes and we’ve never been able to say no to an adventure. We’ve matured together; adapting and adjusting ourselves like tree roots growing around each other and tightening their grip.

Los Angeles feel like the start of something very similar. Firstly, in a familiar way, I am falling fiercely in love. Everything is rose-tinted (literally, with the California natural ‘filter’) and I’ll hear no criticism of the city or the ways it could be bad for me. I want to bask gloriously in the ways which is it making my heart so full. Perching at the top of Baldwin Heights as dusk settles over the sprawling cityscape and lights begin to wink knowingly at me. Driving down the freeway with a car full of friends; laughing and singing and weaving through traffic. Always having the Hollywood sign in my peripheral vision. Being able to leave my desk, and have sand between my toes within half an hour. Small talk with my neighbours. I’m trying out new ways of being me, to people who have never known anything different.

Then you creep out of the honeymoon period and into the intimate stage. Where you open yourself up and share your slant on life, your hopes, dreams and terrors. It feels like Los Angeles is challenging me on a daily basis to revisit everything I thought I knew about myself; and ask why it is that way. If I hadn’t moved from England and my comfortable slope into a future I pretty much had mapped out, I can’t imagine I would ever have analysed myself in this way. It’s something I feel like is only possible when you’re ripped away from people who’ve known you forever and the only society you’ve ever known; especially when in your home country and adopted country that society is seriously going through the wringer.

Moving to LA has also been like jumping into freezing cold water. Every day my heart is racing. Sometimes I am gasping for air, because it’s too overwhelming. But I am kicking my legs and I am determined to keep my head above the waves because this city is demanding that I be the best version of myself. It’s teaching me to demand the highest standard. To be braver than I knew, to be kinder than before and to ask myself, in an experience that is giving me so much; what the hell am I giving back?

When Nick and I first met; we talked endlessly about how neither of us had ever felt ‘at home’ in any city or country we’d lived in. (Between us we’d racked up Bradford, Southampton, Sheffield, Norwich, Leeds, Toronto, Melbourne and London) This was a big part of our decision to travel the world. There, we checked-in with a further sixteen countries and still we’d closer our eyes each night with a feeling of not quite belonging. Then we moved here and it was like someone turning a key and everything clicking into place. We both are thriving here; individually and together. So keen to clutch to this new found sense of certainty we decided to adopt a dog who’s breed means we can never move back to the UK whilst we own her.

Make of that what you will. I think we might finally be home.

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A Year On

Tonight, for the first time in over a year, I felt the urge to write. To sit down with a candle burning, Bon Iver playing and to type my heart and brain into this blank space until it started to make sense to me, and I guess, to you.


That process, in itself, proved to be a pretty accurate comparison for how I am feeling. I go to log on and can’t remember what the URL is to even access my blog CMS. I panic. I realise the URL from my designer lays in an old hotmail inbox that I haven’t logged into for over a year. I try to log on, and I don’t know the password. So after 15 minutes of frustrating faffing with codes sent to UK mobile phone numbers I no longer have, and even more archaic ‘back-up’ email addresses, I reset the password. The inbox is frozen in time. The last email received was the day of my wedding, which feels so impossibly long ago. The recent-message-list is peppered with shipping company chasers, ‘deep clean’ flat quotes and a reservation reminder for a leaving dinner at my favourite London tapas restaurant. Hotmail welcomes me as Miss Barker, and of course that’s not me at all anymore. I finally find the buried treasure URL I’m looking for in a 2011 email chain, and then… I try the only 4 passwords I can imagine I used, and am instantly locked out. Too many failed log-in attempts. Please try again in 20 minutes. By this point I am hot with rage at the tediousness of how something that used to be second nature, that used to be so me, could now be unobtainable.

I’m finally here and I feel like the virtual riddles of ‘old me’ versus ‘new me’ from the last hour pretty aptly sum up the effect that moving 5437 miles across the world has had on my mentality. I’ve become fractured into two versions of myself, and it’s only tonight that I have put my finger on that. And realised that it doesn’t have to be that way.

Moving to Los Angeles is obviously an opportunity of a life-time and there isn’t a day that I don’t feel incredibly hashtag-blessed hashtag-grateful that this California Dream happened to me. To a girl that grew up in Bradford, didn’t even step foot on an aeroplane until she was 18 years old, and has stumbled from city to city, room to flat to room, never quite finding anywhere that felt like home. However in true Hollywood style, the highs of been high and the lows have been low. I’m not exaggerating when I say it’s the hardest thing I have done in my whole life and that I was woefully unprepared for that when I signed the contract and shipped out on my LA adventure. There was an additional factor in the tough-stuff in that I had also spent all my time leading up to the move, planning a wedding. It was worth every second, but I feel like the big-life-happenings of the past two years have left absolutely no breathing space for me being me. And I almost haven’t. I’ve got my head down, gritted my teeth, put my nose to the grindstone and all the other turns of phrase about body parts. I’m not saying I’ve been a hermit because you have probably followed me on Instagram or the YouTube videos and seen the sunsets, the weekends away, the cocktails and the galavanting. What I am saying though is that I haven’t quite known who I am in those situations and unless you’ve transplanted yourself into a whole new world then it probably sounds bizarre. In the same way I find it peculiar that 2016 has so far been both the happiest and toughest years of my life.

To better illustrate what I mean; tonight I found a box that still hadn’t been unpacked from our shipping delivery. It was full of dusty unloved vinyl that I bought on a whim in 2004 and have never owned a record player since. But recently we bought a dinky sky-blue one, so I greedily dug them all out and played them one after another after another after another. The soundtrack to such a specific period of my life had me slow dancing to myself around my apartment; evoking such strong memories of damp leaves in Leeds’ Hyde Park as I traipsed from university lecture halls to my bar maid job. My attic bedroom in my Hessle house-share. The nights out with sticky floors, the obsessive friendships, the walks of shame as the sun rose and the birds started to sing, the stubborn self-confidence that you can only muster when you’re yet to even begin to figure life out. The experience was so jarring on so many levels. Firstly, the brief transportation back to a decade old version of my life. Secondly, I realise I have barely listened to music since I moved. Instead I listen to podcasts obsessively, finding comfort in the company of faceless voices discussing wrongful convictions and folklore and 1920’s Hollywood scandals and how to Lean In to my career that fill my brain and prevent it from wandering anywhere. My consciousness is filled with shiny-new disposable stuff, and kept at arms length from music that might send nostalgia flooding into my world that is so far from the one I’d be reminded of.

This is so hard to articulate and I imagine you’re reading this with a healthy dose of side-eye by this point. Perhaps what I am feeling is what it is to grow up, and by removing myself from the places that I did grown up – the change is impossible to ignore and more dramatic? For the past two years I think I’ve pretty much denied myself access to ‘past’ me, as it has been so crucial to focus on this new life I’m hastily building. I don’t have the same solar system of family and friends here who know me so well they can see through any ‘I’m-fine’ bravado; of which there has been plenty lately. They are on a different time-zone. We are trying our best with exotic stamp-marked snail mail, army-mission planned Skype calls and the holy grail: transatlantic visits! But there are times when it’s 7pm on a Friday night and I feel melancholy and it’s 3am for them and the loneliness is crushing. I send my SOS texts but I know they will only be answered when I have finally fallen asleep, and by then it’ll be a new sunny day in LA and most likely, I’ll be feeling chirpier and keener to focus on new news than my wallowing.

I have put an unreasonable and unattainable amount of pressure on myself to enjoy every second of life in LA. I’ve felt incapable of putting my hands up and saying this is really bloody hard work sometimes. I’ve felt it would be a failure to admit it’s a challenge. I’ve felt that so many people would love to be in my position that I have to suck it up and put on a brave face. When actually, that builds barriers and only puts double the distance between me and the people in my life; both old and new. I think the break through I had today is that I absolutely need to be all versions of me. I need to remember everything that has bought me on the journey to a point where I am sat in America, surrounded by those things I traipsed from room to flat to room, and with a snoring rescue pup warming my feet.

I guess I wanted to say, I am okay – but at times I have been very much not okay. Leaving behind everything you know and adapting to a new culture, a new job, a new city and a new status as somebody’s wife is bound to be a stretch. Just doing one of those could cause a tailspin, so climbing a mountain of them was bound to create a noticeable shift. It’s taught me so much though, and I am proud of the fact that a year on I am finally shifting gears into a new phase. I am comfortable in my own skin. I am confident about the dynamics I need, and those that the distance is actually benefitting. I am in awe of my inspiring husband, who has ridden his fair share of rollercoaster dips and dives in this past year too but continues to make my wellbeing his priority.

I am adapting to a quality of life that will allow me to listen to records, to wake up to catch the sunrise, to feel the sand between my toes and to stitch together the pre-LA and the post-LA me.

I was recently tagged my my long-term blog buddy Laura (of Make Do and Mend) in the 11 Things round-robin blog post. I haven’t posted anything like this since I very first started my blog a whole seven years ago, so I think it’s a fortuitous time to share a few secret facts and feelings.

Step one of 11 Things, is to list 11 random facts about yourself. I have such a wealth of weird and wonderful facts about me that I live for this type of question! It especially seems to crop up when I start new jobs and in the introductory email sent round the company, they want to say something additional to just my name, job titles, CV history etc. and I never know which fact to pick; as you’ll see… some are stranger than others!

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1. I still have all my baby teeth (except the top front two.) I never got a second set, which means my baby teeth were never pushed out. This means, once my baby teeth fall out, I will either have to have big gaps or hope to win the lottery; as every replacement tooth costs in the region of £3k for an implant. I’m a freak of nature and my childhood dentist had an x-ray of my teeth on his Wall of Fame! No one can predict how long they will last, as they shouldn’t have lasted until now, but I try not to sweat about it. In the scheme of things that you could have wrong, this is just a vanity issue really. I mean, if they ALL fall out, you can blend cheeseburgers right?

2. My middle name is Jean, which I used to dislike but now that old lady names are fashionable again I have a new appreciation for it. It does however give me the initials BJ; which wasn’t ideal at high school.

3. The chubbiest part of my body is my KNEES. Which is funny because they are the bees-knees, ho ho. I used to hate them and wouldn’t be caught dead getting them out on display (I lived in jeans or black tights) but these days I care so much less about worrying about what other people think of them. The fact Nick finds them cute helped with that a lot too!

4. I plan to turn Vegetarian in the next five years, because it’s what my 96 year old Gran holds responsible for her hulk-strength health. She stopped eating meat some time in her 30s; so I’ll enjoy a few more steaks first.

5. I did competitive synchronised swimming for my city and county until I was 13; when unfortunately I discovered things like boys and music. At the time it was mortally uncool, so I never told my friends from school that I did it and made up excuses for missing social events when I was actually training or competing. I’m happy to see that nowadays it’s viewed as an Olympic level sport and treated with so much heart; because it is seriously gruelling stuff. When I competed we could do solo routines where we selected our own songs and I once performed to a medley of Ace of Base, East 17 and Snap! – The Power. Sadly synchro swimmers these days aren’t allowed to chose their own tunes!


6. I have amazing family who inspire me constantly. We are all very strong individual characters, but have remained fiercely close as adults. I have my mum, my dad, a big sister, a little brother and a sibling who identifies as non-binary gender. They wrote an amazing article about it here which I would implore everyone to read.

7. My favourite book is The Great Gatsby. I read it at least once a year and it breaks my heart every time, despite me knowing it word for word.

8. Until last year, I thought that aeroplane pilots worked out how to get to their destination using vision (e.g: “Look! the Eiffel Tower! We must be close to Paris”) I realise now this is monumentally stupid but sometimes I excel myself at a lack of general smarts.

9. For a long strentch of my life the only two celebrities I had met were Richard Whitely and Jeremy Beadle. And look what happened to them (shortly after). My sister used to want to “set me” on Jim Davidson.

10. Dynamo tried to kiss me when I was 17. He’s a really lovely guy and although I squirmed away (I reckon he gets a few better offers these days though ey?) it’s so heart-warming to see how successful he; as he definitely deserves it.

11. I used to be a nervous flier, because I only did my first flight when I was 18 so just wasn’t used to it (and probably because I thought pilots were following landmarks, hmm…) but now it’s one of my favourite bits of any holiday. I love everything about the Care Bear cloud views, the movies, the no one bothering you and the serenity of being so freakishly high in the sky.


The second stage of 11 Things is to answer 11 questions set by Laura. So here goes:

1. If you could recommend one great book you read in the last year what would it be?
I just finished an incredible debut novel by Jessie Burton called The Miniaturist. For me it had definite shades of Kate Morton Sarah Waters and Angela Carter “The Bloody Chamber”-ness to it (and these authors are all favourites of mine). As someone with tiny desires to be an author one day, the fact that someone could create something this accomplished, intricate and compelling at their first attempt is completely daunting and impressive! I rarely splash out on hardback copies of books; but the design on this jacket is so beautiful, and the book so perfect, that I’d highly recommend it.

2. What job did you aspire to as a child?
Like many children who grew up watching way too much telly in the 90s I was obsessed with being a forensic scientist (blame Mulder & Scully!) which I find hilarious now because I am so squeamish that I could barely look at my own Frankenstein stitches after surgery, so the prospect of grizzly crime scenes being my day job would not be a good fit. The fact that sciences were my worst subject at school soon shattered the dream anyhow!

3. Who was your first crush (famous or not)?
Wow Laura, you have unknowingly touched on quite a sore spot of mine! But since you asked, maybe it’s time to make the horrifyingly cringy facts public knowledge. My first crush was… Colonel Sanders. Yup, the KFC man. I can’t imagine what it was that struck me about him, but as a toddler when we passed the signs I used to point at him and say I was “going to marry that man”. At least I’d have always been well fed.

4. What song makes you super happy when it comes in the radio?
TV on the Radio – Wolf Like Me. It just never fails to get me dancing and has an impossible amount of happy, nostalgic early-twenties happy footed memories attached to it.


5. What really gets your goat?
I guess it’s a good sign that I really have to think hard about it. I try not to get riled by much these days! I think my biggest bug bear is bullying of any kind. As much as I adore Twitter; it seems to bring out that cliquey, bitchy side in some people (celebs included; Ricky Gervais has been a recent “block / mute”) and sometimes I absolutely despair at what people think is cool/acceptable on there. I shudder at the thought of that type of interaction existing when I was in school; kids are cruel enough in person without layers of anonymity to hide behind.

6. What is your favourite dish to cook?
I have a speciality called “Northern Fried Chicken” (and I swear this isn’t related to my childhood crush living on into my adult years!) where I cook chicken goujons that are coated in a special secret batter, which I couldn’t possibly reveal!, and a ton of butter. I serve them with sweet potato wedges and corn on the cob, slathered in the hottest sauce I can find (currently a Belizean bottle from our travels) It’s super easy but seems to be a crowd pleaser; plus helps me push my hot sauce obsession onto anyone who’s visiting.

7. Do you have a skill no one else can do?
I don’t know! Being from Yorkshire I do a pretty good “you know nothin’ Jon Snow” impression? I’m also dead good at hook a duck but don’t get much opportunity to show that off.

8. Who’s your current favourite comedian?
Don’t hate me but I’m so out of the comedy loop and just not that into it. I like comedy TV shows however and recently discovered Broad City which if you haven’t seen, you need to stop reading this and go watch now now now.


9. Do you collect anything?
Kirby grips. I leave a trail of them like breadcrumbs in a fairytale! I also collect Starbucks mugs from cities Nick & I visit together. We have New York, London, Stockholm and Lima. I’m not even a Starbucks fan but these city-specific mugs are the perfect size and with really neat artwork. However! They just got discontinued… So it will remain a small but perfectly formed collection.

10. What is you favourite way to spend a Sunday?
I love to LIE IN, have some morning cuddles and lazing about with Nick, then a cup of tea and some reading in bed. The sign of a GOOD Sunday for me is if I don’t change out of my PJs; but this takes the type of organisation (e.g getting food in the day before, not making plans to see anyone etc) that I usually lack. If I do venture out, I love a big ramble over the heath and visiting the doggy swimming pool because I don’t have a dog so have to lurk on other peoples.

11. What one thing do you love about your hometown?
It’s the underdog of the UK! No one ever has nice things to say about Bradford in general and in the media. But this attitude completely unites Bradfordians in a sort of “we know it’s a bit rubbish, but it’s OURS” mentality that I never experience anywhere else. The sense of community is fierce. Also, it’s really not rubbish. It has a world of amazingness to offer anyone brave enough to visit!

Thanks again Laura for tagging me. I really enjoyed this quizzing!

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I am 29. I was 23 years old when I moved to London. I had spent the decade leading up to this driving my friends and family crazy with my incessant obsession with moving down just as soon as the opportunity arose to escape Yorkshire, which even having greedily attending two universities (Sheffield Hallam & Leeds Met) I hadn’t so far succeeded in doing. Don’t mistake me; I Iove love love Yorkshire. In fact I appreciate all its quirks and beauty so much more now I’ve created a home elsewhere, but I had reached an age where I was haunted by childhood and teenage ghosts and places steeped in nostalgia around every corner. The appeal of living somewhere anonymous, somewhere fast paced and somewhere I could be a “new” me had me craving the moment I could purchase that one-way ticket to Kings Cross and not look back. By this stage I’d regularly spent summers interning in London and was absolutely enamoured by the crackle of excitement and opportunity, the hot air bursts that flick your hair before the tube rushes in and the sense that this was where I needed to be to get on and actually grow up.


The big moving day eventually came around. I remember I had been to a Summer BBQ at my friend Jo and Sean’s house the night before and some evil genius had served up endless shots of strawberry vodka jelly. As a result my stomach churned every time I leant down to fetch another box and pack my life away. My seasickness was fitting, as the heavens opened and that hard, hot rain drenched me (and all my electrical goods which never worked again) as I staggered around packing up the man & van I’d hired. The van and I raced, as I got the train down the country and he tackled the motorway. Outside rain drooled down the windows and inside tears drooled down my face, and it was all very fittingly filmic! I was moving into a house share in Streatham with two friends from Leeds. None of us had the first clue about London housing, or commuting, so had picked Streatham as my sister lived there and it seemed freakishly cheap. Little did we know we’d all pay the price with a killer hour+ commute every day and the fact that no one could ever be bothered to come and visit as it wasn’t “on the tube map”! These two things made making friends a challenge, and I remember my first year in London as a haze of swooping highs and lows but mostly the bleak moments. It wasn’t just London that was testing my spirit to the maximum, as my mum was having chemotherapy and I missed her and worried about her desperately. I had also taken my first media job, but was earning £12k a year (no London waiting here) at a prestigious television channel so whilst the company was dreamy, I slumped further and further into debt to afford to stay in my position.


I think the phrase that London “chews you up and spits you out” is very accurate for your first year in the big smoke. I was suffering from just as intense culture shock as I experience when visiting foreign countries! It was so different to the Yorkshire way of life and I can remember numerous times politely waiting for everyone to get on the tube in front of me, only for the doors to slam in my face. I’d strike up conversations on the bus or in a shop and be met with suspicious side eye and a stony silence. I was told numerous times at work to “tone down” my accent or to just not talk in client facing meetings (ikr?). But I battled through, and amongst the tough stuff I made new friends, I discovered secret spots for just-me and thrifty ways to survive with zero disposable income; a typical nights entertainment would be to head to Borders (RIP dear friend) on Oxford Street. I would grab a stack of artsy magazines which I would merely borrow, not buy, then take them to sit in the in-store Starbucks next to an empty cup so it looked like I’d spent money… and read solemnly until it closed at 10pm.

8th March


When I think back to that new-girl in London I can barely recognise myself to the one that has such a full, fast, feisty life here now. These days I have the whole underground map committed to memory, I’m like rain-man with plan b’s for if there are engineering works. I have lived South, East and North and in FIVE different houses/flats. London has well and truly become my home and at some point the balance tipped. I was no longer being tested by London, I was testing it! I eventually started to earn more, I had friends, relationships, parties and moments forever engrained on my memory that I’d never have thought possible. Working in the heart of London for the duration of the 2012 Olympics was one of those! But last year I got ill, and I started to get a creeping doubt for the first time that perhaps London was losing my heart. It’s such an unforgiving place when you aren’t top of your game. The nature of being constantly surrounded by thousands of people means you can’t falter, can’t show weakness… and when recovering from surgery getting to work seemed an impossible task with rush hour and no seats and the fact it was 6 miles from where I lived. I also had met Nick, and priorities were changing. We want a menagerie of animals, we want space, we want to be near beautiful outdoor excursions and who knows what other family additions in the (far far) future. Now obviously this can be done in London, but it’s certainly harder and both of us had to face-up to the realisation that it wasn’t where either saw ourselves living in five years time or making our home.


Obviously first we are going to have no home, as we hobo around South & Central America on hammocks. But when we come back…we are moving to Brighton! Big news! I’m not saying that this will be our home anymore than London but we are going to give it a good shot. I’ve actually only been three times in my whole life so I’m jumping into the situation pretty blind, but Nick has heaps of friends there and has spent big portions of his life staying there and I trust his judgement. My main priority is that I would like to live by the sea and somewhere that still has access to lots to keep me entertained but a slower pace of life (oh dear, 23-year-old-me would be mortified at this!). The benefit is that we are still close enough if I need to work in London, but there are also plenty of opportunities in Brighton. Most of my friends are still in London (and Yorkshire actually) so I will still be flitting around and seeing everyone, but hopefully we can tempt them all back for a fish supper and a potter around the pier.


Apologies for this very navel gaze-y post but it’s probably one of the biggest decisions I’ve ever made, so I just had to record it in some way. I hope that if you read this blog for the London tips you won’t abandon me! I’m really excited to share the reality of relocating and my life as I explore Sussex (the fact I just had to Google to check that Brighton is in Sussex possibly isn’t a great start) and try to get cosy and homely there.

9th March

I’ll never fully leave London, as London has made me who I am today. More so than anything else, living in the big metropolis city has shaped my character, taught me endless lessons and altered me for the better and maybe a tiny bit worse. But it’s time to say goodbye.

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It has been such a crazy fortnight. I can barely catch my breath and focus on one single memory, as I’ve crammed so much in that I’m still reeling. First up, I had a wedding back home in Yorkshire for my friend Jenny. It was the most magical setting I’ve ever been to, the ceremony took place in the ruins of Bolton Abbey with the rolling hills of the dales creating a dramatic backdrop. I LOVE her husband (he bought me Ghostbusters 2 on DVD, which means he has a piece of my heart for the rest of time) so it was a privilege to witness them starting their happily ever after together. Nick also made the perfect dashing date, and even got up on the dance floor! Jenny was such a gracious bride, and I nearly fell over when she informed me that the gingerbread “brides” on their baked-goods table at the reception were ones she had just “whipped up” that morning? The anti-Bridezilla.

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Wedding-season continued last week, as I boarded a flight to Belfast for another friends Pauline & Andrew’s wedding. Again it was an honour to be invited to her hometown for a really intimate celebration with friends and family. I arrived as a bit of a gooseberry, knowing no-one except the couple, and left with a phone full of phone numbers of new friends and promises to visit soon. In one of the best wedding-guests treats I’ve ever heard of, to transport us from the church to the reception venue, Pauline had hired a Belfast City Tour Bus! We got a bespoke tour of the Titanic Quarter, which despite visiting Belfast more times than I can count on my hands, I have never actually been to. The reception was so much fun and felt so personal; with the first dance being to drum n bass! I spent a little over 24 hours in total in Belfast and am already itching to go back to explore some more. In the precious time I did have, I met up with two of my all-time favourite blogging babes Claire aka French for Cupcake and Sarah aka Sarah Kane. We’ve all known each other for nearly a decade from our early internet days on Livejournal through to Twitter now, and nothing could beat getting to give them a proper hug and chat face to face over a coffee.

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On my flight home I was sat between James Nesbitt (!) and the tour manager for Leftfield, which made for an interesting conversation as we juddered through some stomach churning clouds. I had a huge rush of emotions and excitement as we bumped back down into Heathrow, as the next time I step foot on a plane it will be a one-way journey to Venezuela and the start of an entirely new chapter in my life! Talking of which… my new travel blog home is:


Make sure you either email subscribe to get my updates direct to your inbox (fill in your details on the right hand bar) or add my blog to your Bloglovin’, reader, bookmarks or favourites to follow the adventure. I am a total travel newbie (and a bit of a princess) so it should be amusing rather than envy-inducing, I promise. We are hoping that with Nick’s male/travel fiend Vs my female/travel rookie perspectives on everything we experience – we will be offering something new to a pretty saturated travel blog market. Thanks to Katie who designed our Wes-tastic map-alicious chunk of the internet. Also, if you like what you see, please please share the blog. Tweet about it, send it to your friends, add it to your blogroll or links. We really want to provide an honest review of some incredible parts of the world and to do that we need as much exposure as possible.

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Amongst my gallivanting around to weddings, I also had my final two weeks in my current job. It’s been handover hell, with loads of my brain to download and things to check off to ensure there is a smooth transition as a new-me hasn’t been hired yet. I’ve had a farewell night out with my gal Kate (she is off to Canada soon so misses my last London week, another case of sad bad timing) where we strolled South Bank, ate everything in Wahaca, then shared a two-pint glass of “Twisted Zombie” which apparently has 12 ingredients and needs a specially trained mixologist to make. I think 90% of the ingredients were spirits judging by our precarious stagger over the Millennium bridge afterwards.

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Last night I had my final farewell to Craig. We sat in the window of Thirst in Soho, it was a super humid night and a weird silvery mist was settled all around us. We drank “silly hour”£5 cocktails (including one that we both agreed tasted like “Christmas gone wrong”) then we headed to Archer Street via Tesco for one for the road aka cocktail in a can, which was ridiculous as we were only walking one block so then had to lurk in an alley way downing them. Real classy! If you ever go out in London and haven’t been to Archer Street then you’re missing out. It’s swanky looking, but don’t let appearances deceive you. This place is fromage through and through. The music isn’t just 90s, it’s song after song that makes you gasp and say I REMEMBER THIS whilst simultaneously discovering you know every word to every lyrics. Highlights were definitely No Scrubs, Shine… shine like a star oooh shining so bright like the star that you are…, shake shake shake senora and Quit Playin’ Games With My Heart. The reason I really love it there though is that no one is pretentious. You look around and are greeted with a sea of smiling cheery cheeks as everyone indulges in their own tipsy nostalgia trip. No scowl or head-to-toe judgement looks here. We roamed through the night falling into bed at 2am and this morning we hugged in the pouring rain and now the next time I see Craig will be in Guatemala in 2014… Um, eek.

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I can’t lie, I’m feeling pretty weird right now. I’ve quit my job and I’m teetering on the edge of the biggest decision I’ve ever made in my life. I keep getting these waves of being about to cry, followed by a huge sense of freedom (such as deleting my work email from my phone FOREVER) and everything in between; rattles of nerves, cold sweat night panics, bursts of excitement, delirious happy… On Monday I go back to Yorkshire for a whole week of family and friend time which I think it just what I need to stop being quite so nutty. 

I think from then I need to focus more on writing and content for TwentySomething Burnouts. You may notice a dwindle over here, so just make sure you subscribe over there and then you won’t miss anything.

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I have ACTUAL butterflies in my tummy writing this blog post, how ridiculous is that? I guess by the time you’ve finished reading then you will perhaps understand why. I’m basically about to change almost everything in my life. At the moment I live in London, I have a full-time high powered but amazing job and I lodge in a lovely North London house. In the last week I have quit my job, quit my house and I am about to quit London too… because on the 18th September Nick & I get on a plane to Venezuela and will spend the next six months backpacking around South and Central America!


I don’t really know where to start on how much news this is for one person to share! Firstly, I’m so sorry if you are one of my close friends and I haven’t had time to tell you this news face to face. It’s all come about quite quickly and I’m sure the next six weeks until lift-off will go even faster. After the year that Nick and I both had in 2012, when an idea and opportunity arose to take six months out and travel to some of the most beautiful places in the world, it wasn’t one we took much hesitation around snatching. As we travel we will be blogging… probably not a massive surprise as we both write for a living in some capacity, as well as in our spare time, with me blogging here and Nick writing for Den of Geek! I’ll share lots more information about where you can follow our adventures before we go, but I promise it wont be your standard travelator blog… mainly because I don’t enjoy reading most of those so I want to create something a bit more accessible to home-bodies and explorers alike. We will basically be providing a male and female perspective on everything we do and see. Additional to that, Nick has done plenty of travelling before, whereas aside from a couple of short stints around Spain, South Africa and Canada, I am a backpacking newbie. We will also still be working (of course!) recce-ing for content for a Film & TV Production Company. They have recently filmed a base jumping feature out there, and want us to report back some research and ideas for future content/people/places that might make great future shows or movies. Doing this is going massively out of my comfort zone but I think I’m at that age where it’s a bit now or never. I’ve met my bestfriend-boyfriend, I’m zooming into a career for life and I’m getting a serious case of the seven year London itch. I also want to expand my mind and my feelings and life skills. I love my life and am very grateful for it, but can’t wait to have some time out from seeing every billboard that hits the underground platform wall, checking twitter before I’ve got out of bed, answering work emails at midnight and that sense of predictability with no end point.


If you are interested, our trip itinerary takes us to Venezuela > Brazil (hitching a hammock ride on a boat down the Amazon!) > Bolivia, Peru (hola Machu Pichu!), Ecuador (currently battling our bank balance to see if you we justify the Galapagos) > Colombia > Panama > Costa Rica > Nicaragua > Honduras > Belize > Guatemala (where Craig may well be coming to meet us, for amongst other things, a night-time sloth hunting trek!) > Mexico > Los Angeles > Big Sur > San Francisco! We are currently in the haze of vaccinations, packing plans, itinerary nailing down and buried beneath Lonely Planet books frantically scribbling and scrawling. I’m swapping my monthly orders on ASOS to Nomad and hunting out must-have items such as waterproof jackets that fold to the size of an apple..! I’ve never been so excited in my whole life. I am practically vibrating, my waking and sleeping life jam-packed with thoughts about what we’ll see and where and who we’ll meet along the way. It still feels surreal that in mere WEEKS, I’ll be wandering the salt plains of Bolivia, trekking to waterfalls in Venezuela, staying in a family homestay on Lake Titicaca and hunting out Mayan ruins in Guatemala. I also can’t wait to get out there and use my certified level-3 Spanish on the locals. Although, I’m at that stage where I can speak eloquently and sound pretty authentic… then someone replies and my face crumbles as I realise I cannot understand a word of the answer!


So that’s the news. Just a bit dramatic! I can’t say there isn’t an underlying blind-panic clutching me every now and then, ridiculously based around taking a office-job break. Even though I’m working whilst travelling, I have had formal employment since I first stepped into a waitressing job at 16. I’ve never been unemployed since! During university I didn’t get a student loan, instead working nights, weekends and holidays at a string of bar, cinema and museum jobs to fund my rent and fees. I couldn’t even bring myself to do the typical gap yah thing when I shipped off to Canada after graduating, instead helping in a backpackers hostel for the summer. But that work ethic has got me to where I am now, but I have a creeping suspicion the hours and high stress a times have potentially had a part to play in my health woes of last year, so am certain that a break from the daily grind will have medicinal benefits too.

So, I’m not going anywhere just yet, and normal service will resume (e.g. I WENT TO A ROLLER DISCO ON FRIDAY!) but bit by bit I’ll be transitioning over to my temporary travel blog home and talking more and more about my excitement at seeing my all-time favourite animal, the capybara, in the wild and less about my latest cheeseburger adventure.



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A couple of months ago, the glorious Laura over at Make Do And Mend published a blog on the cusp of her 30th birthday confessing to the 10 things she still hasn’t mastered by the age of 29. This was quickly re-blogged by the marvellous Mystery Moor. Given that I have reached that grand old age of 29 myself (although I still have 10 glorious months of my twenties left) it got me thinking about my very own list.

1. How to be smart in the kitchen and not give myself burns


I’ve learnt from painful experience that there are two things that really don’t mix; ovens and extreme tiredness. Unfortunately for me I am usually whipping up my dinner after a long day of work, plus socialising or Spanish night school, meaning it’s 10pm and I’m bumbling around the kitchen and this inevitably ends in burn town. The amount of times my food sits going cold whilst I stand whimpering with my arm under the cold tap is ridiculous. Also my burns are getting worse the older I get. This little sad face happened two months ago and even after drowning in Savlon and daily bio-oil application, it still looks exactly the same as the day I did it.

2. How to spell restaraunt. The red squiggly line under my first attempt says it all!

3. To top my bloody oyster up online. Every time my pay-as-you-go runs out of money and I go on a fruitless hunt for a shop that sells oyster top-up, then give up and queue at Oxford Circus for 30 minutes to use the machine… the machine helpfully prompts “why not top up online next time?” and I think YES, you idiot, why NOT do this from the comfort of your comfy chair instead of turning it into a high-stress Jack Bauer style race against time. Then I instantly forget. This has been going on for seven years.

4. How not to spill. If adult bibs suddenly because fashionable and chic, I’d be first in line. I really like crab shacks where you get those novelty disposable bibs, as they are what I need for every meal in every day life. I’ve purposely introduced more and more excessively busy prints to my wardrobe as it’s the only way to avoid being busted for having zero hand/mouth/eye coordination. No one can spot the tomato soup down my chest if it’s buried in technicolour cats… right?

5. How to like beer. It’s been a long road but I’ve finally accepted fruit beer (which lets face it, is the equivalent of drinking jam) into my life. Nick’s second home is the Camden Town Brewery Bar and theirs is the only beer I almost-sortof-kinda like! And even then I can only cope with the very light Pale Ale. But… it’s a start.


6. How and what food is ok to freeze and then eat. Also I freeze milk, despite the fact it says “not suitable for home freezing”. The world is so confusing.

7. How to poach an egg. Writing this post inspired me and I had a good try last week. After losing one egg to the bin, one wobbling around as an un-edible ghost in the pan… the final two weren’t that bad. I used these tips from The Guardian. I also recently learnt to make heart-eggs for my packed lunch, which is way more fun!

8. How to paint my nails without smudging it. I just put glitter over the smudged ones though. So I have mastered nail-stealth.

9. How to dress like an adult. This is an actual conversation that happened in my office yesterday. Me: “Is this rose-hair-crown too much for work?” My colleague: “Well you wore a dress with a giant cat face on it last week, so…” Anyway I blame fashion. If they stopped making dungaree dresses, I wouldn’t be able to dress this way!

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10. Where my home is. I don’t want to live in Yorkshire again, I have the serious seven-year itch with London… I want to live by the sea, but I want to be able to buy a burrito at 2am. I want space, and cats, and dogs, but I want the buzz of a city and my friends in walking distance. Basically I don’t know where I’ll be living in 5 years time, or 10 years time, because I don’t think I’ve found home yet. And home is where the heart is. Help…

> I forgot to mention last month that the lovely Sally aka Queenie and the Dew featured me as part of her “Why I Blog…” series, and you can take a look here.

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I’ve alluded to a tough week, and this is never a blog where I shy away from being honest about my personal life, so I feel like I should just share this before I go back to talking about cheeseburgers and nail varnish. Those of you who were readers through the woes of Rubbishtober 2012 will know that life as I knew it took a nose dive lat year, as I was diagnosed with a whopping ovarian cyst, which proceeded to rupture and I needed emergency surgery to remove. As far as I was concerned, and to be honest the doctors led me to believe, that would be that. Surgery, cyst removed, life as normal. Sadly thought it hasn’t quite worked out like that. I have never been quite right since my operation and haven’t been able to shake a niggly feeling that something still wasn’t 100%. After various checks, tests and me sulking until they sent me for another scan (which is so unpleasant I wouldn’t be begging for it if I wasn’t really worried) and last week I found out that I have not one, but two cysts, on the same place they removed the last one. Well, my mum always said I wasn’t one to do things by halves.


Anyway, it turns out the surgeons didn’t remove all the endometriosis in my last operation. This is a decision apparently they may have made to try and protect my healthy ovary by not getting too close to it with the surgical tools… However this wasn’t something I’d been told at any point in the 6 months since my surgery, so safe to say, it was pretty devastating. I’d been led to believe everything had been well and truly removed. In a way it was a relief to have some answers to my ongoing wishywashy health vibes, but in another I feel really let down and out of control of my own body. The good news is that the cysts aren’t currently big enough to need surgery again, so I get a break from operations for  little longer. In fact there is a chance it might not grow and I can just live with it (like a really unwanted body-pet). However in a year I go back for a scan and if it’s even grown by a cm, I’ll be back under the knife. So for now, I’m focussing on the positives and all the amazing things I need to fill my life with in the next year just in case I do have another bad patch. I’ve not been able to wear mascara since this happened because it’s made me turn into a weeping willow and has been a real brain battle to get my head around. But so that’s the crummy bit…





The good bit is how INCREDIBLE my friends and family and of course, Nick the wonder boy, have been. They rode every roller-coaster bump of last October with me and so instantly felt the shock and disappointment of this news too. I’ve been so touched by how supportive and wonderful everyone I’ve confided in so far has been, when I haven’t really been much fun to be around. Craig was immediately on hand with an M&S picnic in Regents Park, as some situations only pink gin & tonic in a can can fix. We sat gritting out teeth and “enjoying the sun” (it was about 15 degrees!) for as long as we could muster before skulking to the nearest Starbucks for a hot chocolate to thaw out. Typical British summer antics! My beautiful Kate literally landed from her holiday in Mallorca and slept for approximately one hour, before rushing to London still in her holiday clothes, to whisk me for a stealthy brunch and much needed vent. My mum was an absolutely champ, taking a dash across London from Paddington to Kings Cross to spend a couple of hours watching the new Kings Cross development being built before taking a train back to Yorkshire. & I can’t even begin to list the millions of thoughtful things Nick has done, precious glimmery sparkly moments to make it impossible to be glum; one of them might have included an AMAZING dance to the entire 3 minutes of Aretha Franklins RESPECT (shhh!). That and chocolate moustaches. Safe to say I have had a much needed word with myself and remembered how lucky I am, whatever happens with my health in the future.



The BIGGEST thing Nick did for me to put a crocodile grin back on my misery guts face was… he has successfully broken my The National curse! Out of the blue a few weeks ago, they added a random July London date in. From the second I heard the news, I knew I just HAD to be there. Intimate venue, walking distance from my house, super SOON! We embarked on an early morning stroll to work where we sat at our respective office computers frantically pressing f5 f5 f5 on the Roundhouse website. Tickets went live at 9am and predictably with The National, the internet broke! The Roundhouse website wasn’t structured to cope with such a vast quantity of hits and before long the site was down, the phoneline was cutting us off and breaking the curse was looking more and more unlikely as I was cheerily informed I was number 3947 in the queue for tickets… Just as we were cursing ourself for not showing up in person to the box office (the old school method is always the best way!) Nick said those glorious words “I’ve got them”! With some serious hacking prowess he managed to avoid any queues and glide through the crumbling website, to bag us a pair of level one tickets so I can scamper to the front and gaze up at The National. I am welling up just listening to them and imagining seeing them live, so imagine what kind of hysterical creature I’ll be on the night? That’s if I get there though… I’m still imagining a piano will fall our of the sky on me as I walk to the gig doors! Lets hope there really s nothing stopping me this time.


Anyway sunny sparkly service as usual resumes, but now you know why I had a fortnight of sad facing about the place. Like a Skeleton Key will be a little quiet this week, as I fly to Cannes later today and am work work working all week, my schedule barely leaves time for a pan au chocolat or napping, let alone blogging sadly! I’m really curious to experience Cannes and will definitely be back with a vengeance next week to let you know how it was.

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I feel like I need to pinch myself, I just had the best magical birthday weekend and am definitely going to be crashing back down to earth with a double whammy of post-birthday and post-bank holiday blues any moment. I turned 2-9! To be honest, 27 was my worst of all years ever. 28 had sparkly shiny highlights (mostly Nick & travel related) but more than a fair sprinkling of health, family & life woes. 29 feels psychologically like I’m leaving my crummy late twenties behind and am now in a special stand-alone-year-countdown to thirty which should be packed with ensuring I do everything I ever wanted to by this milestone. I am slowly tick tick ticking off achievements and aims and feeling really positive about my impending new decade, no mid-mid-life crisis here thank you. Maybe it helps that a) I don’t read age fear-mongering women’s magazines and b) tons of my friends are 30+ or 40+ even, and are seemingly no different to 20+ers so it’s definitely only a number.


My birthday celebrating actually started on Thursday (despite my birthday being on Saturday) as my eldest sister took me to The Wolsey for breakfast. This is something I’ve been desperate to do since moving to London but am glad I saved it for something super special. If you want to go and sample the famous Wolsey breakfast delights, be sure to BOOK in advance as it’s popular for a reason! The experience itself is decadent, in the grand dining room with sweeping staircases and swooping chandeliers. The menu is so extensive that it was near-impossible to decide what to eat. In the end I opted for a pot of (decaf) tea which came with a very nifty high-tech strainer, then we shared a basket of delicious mini pastries and then I had the eggs Alvington (their fanceh name for the one with smoked salmon) and it was definitely the best hollandaise of my LIFE. For someone who could eat hollandaise with every meal, this is quite a feat. The best thing about breakfast was the price actually! For such a special dining out, the prices aren’t much more than what you’d spend on an early morning splurge in Pret. It’s my sister’s birthday next month, so I have promised her an equally swish breakfast outing in return. Do you have any recommendations? Been anywhere wonderful? So far the Riding House Cafe menu is my plan A.


It was a day for feeding my face, as I was later treated to a selection of tarts by my lovely work colleagues and a very impressively in-tune happy birthday serenade. Can I also take a moment to point out this raglan tee of dreams. I have always loved this style of top but hadn’t owned one until now; this is one I picked up in Madewell when hiding from the New York blizzard. The material is such soft jersey loveliness. I wish I’d hunted higher and lower for a few more as it’s now my go-to outfit with jeans, which almost feels as comfy as wearing PJs to work.


On Friday I had a rare, glorious day off work and the sunshine put his hat on, especially for me! It was so excessively exciting to scamper about with bare legs, open toes and a tee-shirt dress, NO COAT! NO CARDIE! Saying that, I did spend most of the morning inside as I went for my first ever facial! Have you ever had one? I’m a total newbie but had some Spa vouchers as a bday treat and thought I’d opt for something brand new. I went to the Aveda spa in covent garden as I was drawn to their use of only naturally-derived products. Upon arrival I was led out of the chaos of their cafe and hair salon, and down into the underground tranquil Spa retreat. I have to admit I was a little bit nervous, but the first thing my facial therapist did was plunge my feet into soapy warm water and give them a massage whilst we chatted about my skin and what I was hoping for from the treatment. I then got into a huge bed, that was heated inside and I lay tucked in snug as a bug in a rug whilst my face and head was massaged, oiled, cleansed and endlessly exfoliated. It was so relaxing I nearly fell asleep a few times, until the steaming started. It was lovely at first but THEN my therapist started removing blackheads. OW! I was absolutely mortified, I didn’t know this was going to happen and wriggled around as she went to town on my face with a tweezer and some other unidentified equipment. Imagine that being your job?! I certainly was not expecting it. However it’s true what they say, no pain/no gain. My skin after has been baby smooth and dewy, although I had a few red blotches from the blackhead gate so I wouldn’t get this done the day before a party – like I did. Get it 3-4 days before to have time to recover the skin violation.


Next was some gentler pampering, and my annual birthday manicure at Wah Nails. They currently have a pop-up at the amazing Box Park in Shoreditch, so I met up with my tres jolie pregnant cousin (she is due in 3 weeks and still dresses like she’s on a Parisian catwalk, I swear most women have embraced velour by this point!) and we spent an hour getting nail happy. If you haven’t ever had the Wah experience, DO IT! It’s a bit pricier than a standard french polish or plain polish, but the nails last at least a week …sometimes more. This year I opted for intergalactic, as I’m so obsessed with stars and constellations.



My fro-yo obsession that has grown since my first experience in LA knows no bounds. My absolute favourite local joint is Snog, so on a dusky Friday night after stuffing our faces with cocktails and mini burgers in the Lucky Chip Slider Bar @ The Player, Nick & I stopped by for some Soho Snogging. I’m not quite sure how “guilt free” it is when you cover it in brownies and choc chips…



My birthday present to myself was a blush pink Kanken, making the most of the current I Love My Kanken 15% discount. Hands up; my name is Bee and I am a Kanken addict. I would literally buy one in EVERY colour if I had the funds. Nick and I even had our first ever argument (!) over the fictitious scenario that if I win one in the million competitions I have resorted to entering, I wouldn’t give it to him (he doesn’t even have one) I’d just keep it ALL for myself. Perhaps by the grand old age of 29 I should be treating myself to “proper” handbags, but they just don’t make me as deliriously-happy as these backpack of dreams.


On Saturday, my family and friends arrived from all corners of London and the UK for a party. However, this needs a post all of it’s own as it was a Wes Anderson themed party and the costumes were just so exquisite. If you follow me on instagram you will have got a sneak peek over the weekend. Sunday was a hungover slope of a day, with a giant diner breakfast and a walk with my brother around Camden market taking their toll and me ending up snoring away in bed by 9pm. Yesterday was a glorious sunny day; but we decided to hole up in Cineworld and rinse our unlimited cards by seeing Iron Man Three & The Place Beyond The Pines. IM3 was brilliant; I can’t believe a threequel can turn the super hero genre on it’s head so much! Messing with convention, twisting and turning, but not losing any of the action packed pase or cheesy one-liners. The Place Beyond the Pines was haunting and beautiful. I’ve read so many mixed reviews but I just found it captivating from start to finish. I’m a huge fan of the finer details, a geek for rewatching films repeatedly until I’ve spotted every hidden glance or mutter or meaning. The Place Beyond the Pines was packed with little nods to those who pay attention, and I really appreciated that. I’d give it 4*’s and place it up there in my films of 2013. If you’ve seen it, I really enjoyed Tea & Oatmeal’s review (and her blog in general).

More on my Wes-tastic Saturday soon…

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Guess what? I think summer is officially over. And that means my summer holiday is over too, so from today likeaskeletonkey is officially back in business!

I’ve missed tapping away in this little white box and spreading my adventures and antics across the internet! I have so many things to tell you about too. I’ve been on an American road trip (Vegas > San Fransisco > LA) perhaps a tad ambitious in the space of two weeks but it was worth it for the 5000 memories and photographs I’ll have forever. I’ve survived a zombie apocalypse, I went and ate a cheeseburger as big as my head at the brand sparkly new MEATLiquor (I recently discovered the best burger blog on the internet aka Burgerac and have since been obsessed with tracking down every 5/5 rated location and sampling for my greedy guts self. This is great for fun points, bad for diet points. Anyway I bet you can’t read his MEATLiquor review without drooling into your keyboard). I’ve been taken stargazing to a secret observatory on Hampstead Heath that I had no idea existed and I saw Jupiter through a giant telescope.

So get ready, you are about to be bombarded with a giant dose of Beelife, you might need one seriously big cup of tea to get through it all.

For now here are some of my favourite United States of Adventure shots, can you hear my sigh over the internet over the fact I am now back in blistery blustery London?

& If you don’t already, you can follow me on Twitter @hellobee for microsized witterings such as “I’m so glad I wore a zaney print dress today as I just spilt tomato soup down myself and no one will ever be any the wiser”  !

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