Friday, 28 February 2014

Take That - Day Two - Patience

It's Day Two of My Week with Take That, and today's choice is Patience. Released in 2006, this was a song from the reunited Take That.

This track was the first single from Take That's come back album, Beautiful World. This song went to number one in the charts, and this is not surprising - it is a beautiful song.

Gary Barlow is on vocals, but on this track the band are named as being responsible for the song writing, unlike their earlier stuff. It kicks straight in with very little intro, with the lyrics "Just have a little patience, still hurting from a love I lost".

When he hits the high notes, it gives you a really satisfying feeling. Take That have a knack of releasing songs that lift you and make you think that the world really could be a better place. It makes you forget yourself. As Gary sings "my heart is numb, has no feeling, so while I'm still healing, just try and have a little patience". If only that could happen in real life eh?

In essence this is still Take That doing pop. But its so much better than that. Gary sings so beautifully, and this song has soul and a heart. This song is great if you are in a relationship for when you have had an argument to smooth things over, but its just as lovely if you are just in a happy place, or a sad one. It's just gorgeous.

The video is just them on what seems to be somewhere on the British coast. No silly dancing on this one though - just the boys looking cool in their winter attire. This is such a good song. Go have a listen. Enjoy and happy listening :)

It's Friday :)

The end of another week, and the end of February today. Scary that we are now 2 months into the New Year as it doesn't seem two minutes since Christmas. Already, the spring bulbs are coming through, the nights are getting lighter - altogether, things are looking much more optimistic.

This weekend I have a long weekend - no work for me this Monday. Double bonus - fabulous. Better still, am off for a spa break - just overnight, not all weekend, but it just feels so wonderful having a full three days break.

Whatever you are doing this weekend, I hope it's a good one. Got to love a Friday. :)

Thursday, 27 February 2014

My Single of the Week - Katy Perry - Dark Horse

I first heard this when Katy Perry performed it live on the BRIT awards this year. Its a single she released in the late end of 2013, and features the rapper Juicy J (never heard of him, but there you go).

I wouldn't have pegged this as Katy Perry had I just heard it without seeing her as she sounds very different, and the song itself isn't like her usual stuff. Having said that, she is quite varied anyway, but this takes new levels.

Its a bit of a weird sounding song to start with, but its really catchy and definitely a grower. Its still a pop number, but its quite guttural and dark sounding, almost foreboding at certain points. The style she adopts in the video is also quite unconventional - a bit like Cleopatra and the Egyptians. She looks stunning in an array of coloured wigs and bright costumes. I do love the Egyptian culture and history, so this appealed to me.

Her voice sounds phenomenal on this. Its a powerful song too - when she gets to the chorus she really does put some force into it. I absolutely love this song. Its just so different, and so well put together.

The music behind her voice is hard to describe. Its quite slow moving, but builds up so it entices you in. Its quite a seductive track, and even with the not really my taste rapping in the middle of it, this is a song for my playlist for sure.

It hit the UK chart in Nov 2013, but its re-charted this February, and is currently in the top ten. I have listened to this so many times in the last few days - at the gym, getting ready for work, getting ready for a night out -and I still think its great.

I like the lyrics "cause I, I'm capable of anything, of anything and everything", and then "so you wanna play with magic". It's like she's issuing a warning of what she will do if you cross her. Fab and if only!!

 I recommend you go listen to this one, it's brilliant, and totally my Single of the Week. For more of my singles of the week or music reviews check out My Music page here

America's Next Top Model - new series!!!

OMG - AMTM!! In english that is Oh My God, America's Top Model is on now!

Now, I am sadly not blessed with top model looks, physique or indeed height. However, I love this program and I love Tyra Banks! I admire her because she has worked hard for what she has and because she is a normal woman, with hang ups about her body and the fact that it doesn't come naturally to her, she does pile on the pounds, and she makes no secret of it.

She is a fantastic host and really does encourage the girls who try out for modelling to be confident in themselves and try to be immune to the insults they will inevitably receive being in the public eye and displayed for all. It's my worst nightmare to have to strut in heels and a bikini!! I would fall on my backside in seconds, no doubt about it!!

Part of me would likely continue to move well after I stopped!! These girls are thin. Some, painfully so, and Tyra weedles out those that are starving themselves. Whilst the girls have to be slim, you won't see skeletal promoted here. The girls are supposed to be healthy.

It fascinates me how plain some of them are sans make-up, and are barely recognisable when they become chameleons for shoots. My absolute favourite part is when they have their makeovers. It kills me how much of a fuss they make - do they not watch the programme before they apply or what??

Tonights episode is the auditions - deary me. Some real diva's already and its only 25 mins into the first show!! This is going to be good - they are all college bods, therefore supposedly more intelligent. Hmm - we shall see. Fabulous!! :)

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Take That - Day One - Could it Be Magic

Right then, its Day One of My Week with Take That. To kick us off, I have chosen one of their older songs - Could it Be Magic, released in 1992. I feel I should warn you that this is the height of cheesy pop!!

Taken from their debut album 'Take That and Party' the single reached number 3 in the UK charts, their biggest hit up until that point. The album itself reached number 2 in the album chart. Unbelievably this song is actually a Barry Manilow song originally and is a cover. I doubt Barry imagined Take That's version!

The track features Robbie Williams on lead vocals, but you can clearly hear Gary on he higher notes. In the video he wears a very silly vest and leather jacket and looks very young and very camp indeed. Dodg, foppish hair also features heavily, apart from Gary who has since had a very good makeover!  Mark Owen dances around like something demented, and I swear its a different track he is dancing to. There is a part where he pulls his vest up to reveal his scrawny little chest. Quite the opposite of sexy I must report.

The others barely feature - Robbie and Mark are the main focus. You do get to see a bit of Howard's six pack under a denim waistcoat towards the end, which makes it all quite worth watching to be fair. Gary is there, but in the background and Jason its a case of blink and you miss him.

All in all, this is a very un-choreographed, very unrefined Take That. Full of energy, full of youth and very high pitched indeed. However, Could it Be Magic was to me the stand out track from their early stuff, and the first one I can truly remember from the time. Back then, people danced to it with no self embarrassment. I really cannot imagine the same age group doing so in today's world. Young people are far too cool nowadays - we just thought we were! Watching this now, we clearly were anything but cool!!

The fact remains, Take That were and still are brilliant. They have just evolved now into something more mature. This just showed them having fun, and making fun poptastic music. I recommend listening to this if you want to smile, and I recommend dancing like Take That in the video if you want people to stare at you in disbelief approaching horror!!! It's brilliant fun. Go have a listen :)

Temptation before me - Choc Strawberries !

Oh my, how tempting do these look? This is why dieting is soooo hard!!! Think bikini, think bikini, think bikini........ :)

My Movie Reviews - Sanctum

Sanctum caught my eye on the guide over the weekend so I decided to give it a try. Its not all that old - it was released in 2011, but I had not seen it, and knew nothing of it. James Cameron is the executive producer though, so I thought it was likely to be pretty good.

I was not wrong. It starts off with a group of adventurous types heading towards an under water cave system in Papua New Guinea. We meet Josh, 17, whose dad, Frank, is a very experienced diver who has already set up forward camp inside the cave system. Josh is travelling with a guy named Carl and his girlfriend Vic, and makes it known that he doesn't rate his father at all. Even the first part is terrifying. There is nothing on this earth that would make me go down into what is basically a great big hole in the ground.

Anyway, below them, the team at forward camp start off to explore a part of the cave system that is new and unknown. One of the women, Jude gets into problems with her air hose whilst in the new system. She loses her air and the two divers, she and Frank, begin to buddy breathe, or try to. Jude starts to really panic and holds onto the mask, stopping Frank from being able to breathe himself. Frank has no choice but to take his mask back or they would both die. Jude drowns, as Josh and the others are watching on the monitor. Its not pleasant watching, not at all.

Josh assumes it was his dad's fault. They argue about why Jude died, and eventually Frank tells Josh that Jude had dived in an exhausted state, having had to go fetch the extra tanks that Josh was supposed to bring. Above ground, a storm has started. Josh wants to leave, and Frank doesn't stop him. He arranges buddy climber to go with him to the entrance.

Josh heads back along with Luko, Liz and JD, some of those that were on forward camp with his dad. As they start to climb, they realise the storm is bad. Very bad. Water starts to pour in, the storm has become a cyclone. They try to carry on climbing, but Josh realises how much water is coming down is going to flood the system below, and can't leave his dad down there.

Frank, Carl and Victoria appear though, as they had also realised that they needed to get out. Unfortunately, the water has turned into a treacherous flood like a waterfall blocking their way. As Frank and Carl try to help Vic, Josh straps a rope around a boulder to try and assist. The boulder starts to move though, and Josh and Vic fall into the flood camp below, while Luko tries to free himself. He loses his grip and smashes into the rock wall. He seems badly injured, but things get worse as Luko is washed away with the force of the water and no one can reach him.

The boulder has blocked the way out, so they have no choice but to enter the underwater systems again to search for another way out of there. At this point, I was panicking, nevermind those in the film! Vic, refusing to wear recently deceased Judes wetsuit, is given a bit of a crash course in diving and off they go into the dark and unknown. Before they get far, Luko is washed up and found to be very badly injured, his face all smashed up and his body bent and broken, but still alive. He cant go with them in that condition, so Frank has to save him from further pain by drowning him rather than leave him alone to linger on death.

George - Frank's experienced buddy, Vic and Carl, Josh and Frank all make the dive and reach the other side of the system. Resting for a little while, Vic regrets not wearing the suit as she shivers from the cold. George, without letting onto the group, struggles to breath. Clearly, he has the bends from the dive, but doesn't tell them. When he starts to cough up blood, he hides in the tunnels from the group, knowing that he will hold them back. Frank struggles to search, shouting for George, but in the gloom and all the nooks and tunnels, he can't find him and has to carry on.

When they find George's tanks and gears, Frank realises what must have happened. They reach a huge hole and cannot go any further. Josh manages to hook a line across to the other side. Vic starts to cross but with being so cold still, she loses her grip. She drops and gets her hair tangled in the line. the only thing holding her is her hair. Screaming with the pain, the others can't get to her as the line won't take the weight. She takes her knife and cuts her hair free, dropping to her death below. Carl flees in dispair, not being able to cope with it any longer, leaving Josh and Frank alone.

They reach a cave with a giant hole in the roof, with sunlight pouring in. They find a tank of all things, that must have fallen through years before. They can't get out though, as there is nothing to climb and no way to get up to the surface. They rest a while, then head back through the system once again. They find Carl, who has located vic's body and gone a bit bonkers to be honest. When Frank says they must continue, Carl goes for him and Frank lands on a sharp stone badly injuring him. Josh gets Carl off his dad, but the damage is done. Carl realises what he's done finally, and swims away into the cave system alone.

Josh only then realises his dad is dying. The sharp stone was in fact a stalagmite and from his breathing its clear Frank is a goner. He asks Josh to help him. Josh can't do it, but as he watches his once strong and formidable dad fading and in such pain, he know he must. Forlorn, josh continues onwards to try and get out. He heads back into the system, finding Carl who has drowned, but he carries on. At this point, it seems they are all going to die down there, Josh included.

Josh starts to drift away, losing hope and I was convinced he was gone too. Then he sees a beam of light through the water, and uses it to guide him to the surface. He escapes the caves and makes it out into the ocean and air. He crawls onto the beach and is rescued, the only survivor.

There are no big names in this film - one or two faces I recognised though. Frank for one, played by Richard Roxburgh I recognise from Mission Impossible II, and George from a shark drama film called Bait. The script isn't that brilliant either - little bit predictable and flat. However, that isn't actually a problem.

This film is saved by several key things - the location is stunning, the visual and photography is amazing; the thought of A-going into such a large dark hole in the earth, and B-getting stuck down there is terrifying. The fact that in real life this has happened is even more scary. Worse than that, one of the stunt doubles actually drowned in the same system or near it not longer after this film was released. Talk about life imitating art!!

This is a truly terrifying tale. It doesn't need monsters hiding in the murky depths, or sharks or any such distraction. Its claustrophobic setting and feel would be enough to send anyone to the brink of despair and their sanity. The thought of diving beneath the earth, in the dark, with no idea of where or if there is a way out?? Truly scary.

If you want to scare the pants off yourself, watch this. If you don't like tight spaces I really wouldn't! I enjoyed this film a lot. I wouldn't give it a high score out of 10 for the acting, but it was good enough overall to recommend. I would probably say its a five or six out of ten this one, but still very good and very worth a watch. Enjoy and let me know what you thought. :)

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

My Week with Take That (Week 5)

It is Week 5 of "My Week With" music reviews. Each week I choose a band, or an artist, current, classic or from days gone by. It might be a band I know well, or an artist I love, or maybe someone I'm not all that familiar with. This week my choice is 100% pop - its Take That!

Take That are a home grown English pop group consisting of Gary Barlow, Howard Donald, Jason Orange and Mark Owen, and also of course Robbie Williams in the original line up. Gary is usually lead on vocals, and also writes the songs, as well as becoming much better with age!!

Take That were huge in the 90's, before their split in 1996. It was a devastating time. I am old enough to remember. Fast forward ten years to 2006 when they reunited as a four piece. Once again, they stormed the charts and absolutely smashed it live in various tours. I was lucky enough to be one of them on their Circus tour - it was just so fantastic and exciting!!

In late 2011, they announced they were taking a hiatus, but most recently, I've heard that they are working a new album this year, 2014. This will be their seventh studio album. Seventh!!!

So lets look back for a moment. Take That were a boy band. They still are, if you can call a grown group of men, boys. (You can when its Take That by the way - fact). They released their first album, Take That and Party in 1992. They have had 27 top 40 singles, 16 of which were top 5, and 11 of which number ones! They have won all sorts of awards and accolades, including Brit awards, Q awards, and even the Ivor Novello award. Now that's impressive!

But what is their music style? Good question. You may not be aware of their older stuff if you under a certain age, or if you have spent your life living under a rock. So I shall describe as well as I can - they were a true boy band, full of energy, fun and mischief. They danced, they sang, they looked good (except Gary - that hair, dear me). They sang ballads, they sang with Lulu. Do I need to say more?

Take That version 2 - 2006 and beyond. All four were involved in the writing, and all four of them, plus Robbie later, sang vocals. Less dancing around like loons, more fantastic and enormous and mind-blowingly spectacular tours. These boys nailed it on their return. They came back bigger and better, in my opinion. An opinion apparently quite widely shared!

Their songs vary, but all are catchy, well written, well executed, well produced - they are in short, pop-perfection. Well, I've said enough for now I think. Tomorrow, I shall post my review of my choice for Day One, and hopefully I've enticed you enough to return. I hope you will join in with me as I spend My Week with Take That! :)

Monday, 24 February 2014

My Week with - next choice is - Take That!!

After a hugh amount (over thinking this me thinks) of effort and contemplation, I have chosen the next band/artist to spend my week with. Drum-roll please - it's Take That!!

Beyonce was truly fabulous. Oasis rocked, Stereophonics were powerful, and Blondie were fascinating. This week though, I wanted some fun. It doesn't get more fun than Take That, but there is much more to them than just being a boy band and I hope to explore that over the next week with them.

Over the next week, I shall choose 7 tracks/singles, and I will review one per day and post here on my blog, collecting the full seven on My Music page here.

I am really looking forward to this week. So come on - who is your favourite? I have to confess that mine is Gary Barlow - the current version, not the original peroxide version!! :)

High Tea - One Lump or Two?

This weekend, we were ladies that went for High Tea don't you know!! How very posh!

Fine bone china mugs and actual sugar lumps!! Proper teapots and coffee pots and full fat milk!!

We went to a Manor House set in beautiful country side, and we were thoroughly spoilt. If you are going to do High Tea, you have to do it in style. It would be rude not to!! The only challenging decision presented to us was to have one lump or two!! Lovely :)

Saturday Walk in the Park

The weather was unexpectedly pleasant yesterday afternoon. We had family over, with little jug Neko staying with us. Jug being Jack Russell / Pug cross. So off to the park we went.

Neko absolutely loved it. So did we! It was so nice getting out in the fresh air, but even in our local park, the damage from the recent storms was clear. 

This tree has literally been uprooted and lay across the path. Neko thought it was great fun leaping over it mind you. The park looked beautiful in the cool sunshine. The water was full of ducks and geese, and I have never seen so many squirrels!

It was a fab afternoon and made me realise that sometimes there is just nothing better than being outdoors. :)

Sunday, 23 February 2014

My Week with ?????

Week 5 approaches and now the decision must be made. Who will be that artist or that band that I choose to spend my next seven days with?

Last week, it was Beyonce for week 4. Week 3 it was Oasis. Week 2 I chose Stereophonics, and Week 1 it was Blondie. Some great music, and so hard to pick out the seven tracks for the seven days to listen to and review.

We have had a mix of pop, R&B and rock and roll. So who to choose next? My considerations are currently these great choices: Foo Fighters, U2, David Bowie, Madonna, Kylie Minogue, Pink or Green Day. But it might just as easily end up being someone different altogether - Goldfrapp or Paramore perhaps.

I have one more day to decide, then I will just have to go for it. Too much deliberation is not a good thing!! Who would you like me to choose? Let me know. :)

My Week with Beyonce

It's the end of My Week with Beyonce. Each day, I chose one track to listen to and reviewed it here.  At the end of the week, I can report that Beyonce is fabulous. I have always liked her stuff, but I have never had an album of hers, and have only listened to her on the radio. Now, after listening to her for a week, I can truly say I have a new found love of her music. She is fabulous. The songs I chose were very different, some old and some new.

Beyonce is just the fourth artist / band I have chosen so far for my week with project, and I have already added several of the tracks I have chosen to my playlists as permanent features. It is an absolute joy to find such great music and I am thoroughly enjoying spending some time really getting to know these artists and their work, albeit only a snapshot of seven songs.

So now I have to rank the seven Beyonce tracks I have listened to this past week. So here are my seven in order of my preference:

In at Number 1:  XO
Number 2: Love on Top
Number 3: Single Ladies
Number 4: Crazy in Love
Number 5: Beautiful Liar
Number 6: If I Were a Boy
Number 7: Bootylicious

So my week with Beyonce is at the end. Once again, the choice now is who next? Who to choose, who to choose?!

For more of my previous choices and singles of the week, check out My Music page here. Happy Listening :)

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Bikini 2013!!

This was Menorca 2013. I all but starved to get to this, and still I was a good stone -  a stone and a half from goal. Currently, I am heavier still. I have 9 weeks until the next holiday. I need to look less beached whale and more dolphin next time!! I will never be a supermodel - at 5 foot and a fag end short of 6 inches tall I don't have the vital statistics. I do have an hourglass figure. Its just a bit of a wonky and not very well made hour glass of late!!! I don't tan, hence the in the shade photo. I just wish I could airbrush out the not so flattering wobbly bits!! :)

Beyonce - Day Seven - XO

Oh my gosh its Day Seven of My Week with Beyonce. It is with sadness that I say this. Today's choice is her current song XO.

This is Beyonce's current single as at Feb 2014, and is a track taken from her fifth studio album, Beyonce.  This is so catchy, but its a grower. Bit of controversy, given that the start of the song samples a little extract from Space Shuttle Challenger, which has been criticised. This isn't offensive in the least though. Its a great song. And tastefully done

She looks great in the video, shot in Coney Island. Whilst we always knew Bey had a killer bod, she does a good job of looking like the girl next door here, albeit a very attractive girl next door.

I love the thoughts that the lyric "baby love me, lights out" make you think. If you think of this song as just an everyday story you won't be disappointed. However, if you take the intended reference to the Challenger disaster as it was intended, this is a deep meaningful song meant to portray how we should make the most of those we love, as we never know when things may go horribly and tragically wrong.

Personally, I love the song. I love the fact that she sound so strong so female ,yet so tired. Its not an immediate anthem. This is a song that when first heard is a bit "meh". Then you hear it again. Then you love it. next thing you are walking around singing " I'' give you everything, Baby love me lights out".

I don't know how to explain it. This is the greatest Beyonce song ever. Its not R&B. Its not pop. Its instantly recognisable as Beyonce, yet totally not the normal for her. Its not an anthem, but it makes you feel something new. In that way, it is an anthem. I cant put my finger on it. Its just a song that is all kinds of wonderful.

With that, I wave goodbye to Beyonce. This was Day Seven of my week with Beyonce. tomorrow I shall reflect back on my seven days and rank the songs, but if you can't wait for that, check out My Music page here for more. This is going to be huge. Happy listening. :)

Friday, 21 February 2014

My Winter Warmer Recipe - Winter Chilli & cheesy jalapeno jacket

There is nothing better than a lovely stodgy warm meal when its cold out there. You can have stews, soups, pies - whatever floats your boat. My absolute favourite when the weather is cold is to be heated up with a good chilli. This is how I do it:

500g Extra Lean mince beef
Red kidney beans
Tomato passatta
Tinned chopped tomatoes with herbs
Worcestershire sauce
Garlic flakes
Mild chilli powder
Chilli flakes
onion powder
Black pepper
2 red peppers
2 white onions
1 red onion
2 x large jacket potato
Sour cream
Grated cheddar cheese
Jalapeno peppers

Put your jacket potatoes in the oven and leave for one hour before starting to cook the chilli.

You brown the beef in a pan, then drain any excess fat away. Add the passatta and chopped tomatoes, plus a little water to make sure to absorb the spices. Sprinkle garlic flakes to taste. In a separate pan, brown the chopped onions and the peppers. Add 2 tbsp worcestershire sauce to the onions and peppers, then add to the mince.

Add mild chilli powder to taste, and 1 teaspoon onion powder. Add the kidney beans (1/2 tin). Add black pepper to taste. Add chilli flakes if you like it hot, which I do. Leave on a low heat until the mixture is not runny but still moist.

Traditionally, this is usually eaten with rice, but in winter, I prefer it with an oven cooked jacket spud. So, take your cooked potato out of the oven and slice open into quarter cuts like a pocket. In a plastic bowl, mix grated cheddar cheese and chopped jalapeno peppers cut into tiny pieces. Blast in the microwave for 20 seconds, or until melted. Pour over the potato, then top with the chilli.

Add a dollop of sour cream on the side and voila - Gorgeous winter chilli with a spicy cheesy jacket potato. Enjoy and let me know if you like it or what variations you made. Yum. :)

If you want to join in the fun, checkout the competition here: for the chance to win £750 to spend there. 

Thankyou to House of Fraser - I won, I won!!

You may recall that last week I posted this : My Perfect Valentines Outfit. The competition was for £100 House of Fraser voucher. I spent some time putting my outfit together, and I have now received an email to say that I have won the competition!!!

The email said that they loved my look! I can't tell you how chuffed I am. It just goes to show doesn't it? I'm not an expert, and I haven't been blogging very long at all.

I do it because I love it, but every now and again its lovely to have a surprise like this. So happy. Thankyou House of Fraser. Can't wait to choose what to spend it on. It has made my week. :)

Help - it's nearly my Birthday!!

It's the 21st February. Next month is my birthday. I will not say how old I shall be, other than 30 something, still. Usually, I have lots of ideas about what I want to do, where I want to go, and what things I would love to have so that I can give my family and friends some options.

It's not that I think you should ask for things, but more to give them ideas so that I at least get something I would use and would like. Better that than have people spend precious pennies on things that will then have to live in the cupboard or under the bed! You know what I mean.

This year though, I can't think of a thing! Other than the usual stuff - perfume, that body butter I like, or a bottle of wine. I just don't know what to do. People keep asking my and I am all out of ideas!!

Clothes are tricky. I am losing weight, so I don't want really nice stuff that costs a lot of money when I (hopefully) will lose more weight and won't get the wear out of it. I also (hopefully) will get to goal this time, and I don't know what style I might like when I get there. I have always been very curvy, but my shape is changing a bit with the exercise. So there's little point asking for any clothing in a smaller size, as its very much an unknown just now.

Shoes are usually a good option. But my feet are shrinking!! I kid you not. Of all the body parts, never once did I consider my feet to be fat, or that my feet needed to go on a diet. But they have shrunk, there is no doubt about it. Previously snug and comfy shoes are now swinging around on them like boats. So shoes are not an option any more than clothes are. I must wait until I reach goal to see what size my feet have become. Currently, whilst they have always been a 6, they are a 5 and a half and much narrower than before. Amazing. Annoying!

So what else? I can't ask for food, because of the diet. I can't ask for cheese or chocolates because it would derail my diet. We can go for a meal, but I don't want to go to my favourite places because they have like 7 courses!! When I am slim I would enjoy it. But I go on holiday 4 weeks after my birthday, and it would be a real blip as I am the type that can gain half a stone over a weekend!! So cheap and cheerful on the meal front would be perfect this time.

Its not a big birthday either, so I don't want to ask for expensive jewellery. None of your Pandora or Swarovksi, much as I love it. Those are more for Christmas and those birthdays that end in a 0!

I have too many cuddly toys as it is, lingerie and night-wear is the same issues as the clothing. I have lot of costume type jewellery that is for every day, so I don't need anymore. I have lots of face masks and lotions and potions, largely due to being a comper granted, but the shelves are heaving.

With moving house not many months ago, we have bought new home stuff, so I don't even need anything sensible like a kettle - its already been replaced. I probably sound utterly spoilt, but its not that. I just don't feel that I need any unnecessary extravagance. I would prefer something home made or unique. A quirky rug or some lovely cushions, but that's hard for someone else to choose.

I don't like being given cash either, as that I think, is a bit of a cop out. I always like the thought that goes into a gift, not the expense. But if I don't know what I want, how is anyone else supposed to have a clue??

I have a month to mull this over, but its driving me mad. If anyone has any ideas, please feel free to share them!! :)

It's like I've climbed Everest (Everest was 3 plastic boxes)

Personal Training pushes you to your absolute limit, and sometimes beyond. If you have read my previous posts, you will already know where I have found it near on impossible at times.

My main nemesis has been to date a small, plastic, step box. Doesn't sound much does it? Well let me tell you, it was the hardest thing I had ever attempted two months ago.

The exercise I was supposed to do was this. Two plastic step boxes on top of each other against a wall. I needed to stand in front of them, place my foot on the top and step up on to it. Then down and repeat on the other leg. Easy eh?

Yeah right. Try as I might, I could not lift myself on one leg onto the top of that box for love nor money. I was literally grappling for hold with my sweaty paws trying to get some leverage to hoist my bulk up onto it. I think I managed one on each leg after several attempts on each side. It was no use. There was nothing that was going to get me up.

Fast forward two months to last night. Between that fateful day to this, I haven't been challenged to do this particular treat. So when he put not two but three boxes out, I faltered. If I couldn't get onto two, then how on earth was I going to get onto three? I put my right foot on top, pushed, and up I went. I stepped down, tried the left, and up I went again!!

I was startled by this, and then amazed. I kept going, and finished the required 10 on each leg. We then jogged it off, and did another set. Then another. 3 sets!! Granted towards the last 2 or 3 the burn kicked in, but I did it!!

I know I am a stone lighter, and I know that I have worked hard. The two months since the last failed attempt have seen me put through my paces with a variety of hellish manoeuvres, including lots of thigh and hamstring busting work, and exercises designed to make your buttocks work and hard. Until last night though, I had not realised just how far I have come and how much my body is changing.

Today I woke up still amazed. I went to work this morning and it kept popping back into my head. I am now at home and I still can't believe it. It sounds a very little thing I'm quite sure, but to me, its like I have climbed Everest (Everest being 3 plastic boxes of course)!! :)

Beyonce - Day Six - Beautiful Liar

Day Six of My Week with Beyonce. Today I have decided to choose Beyonce's collaboration with Shakira - the single Beautiful Liar. Released in 2007, this was an immediate hit, reaching the number one spot in the UK.

The single was taken from the re-released deluxe version of Beyonce's second album, B'Day in 2006. It gave Beyonce her third number one and Shakira her second. Impressive. But enough of that, onto the song.

Beyonce is usually on her own, belting out the biggest notes. Here, she is singing with Shakira, and the song doesn't have those huge notes or choruses. Both she and Shakira have very distinctive voices, and they work extremely well together. Shakira has a sexy Latino style, with Beyonce known for her diva / R&B / pop melting pot of influences. Together, they each lend a little from each other's styles, mirroring one another in both musical style, vocals and in the video you can scarcely tell which is which.

It's still very latin in its style and tempo, but by god this is a steamy record. Its all about the 2 of them being cheated on by the same guy. However, rather than mourn this and fight, they bond together as women. The lyrics are fab "let's not kill the karma, let's not start a fight", "can't we laugh about it, its not worth our time". Its a very anti cheating men song, and very girl power!! But its cleverly done.

I must admit though, I can't actually imagine this ever happening - in real life, they would be scratching each other's eyes out in a cat fight, taking to twitter to tweet offensive rants about one another, or in normal non-celeb world appearing on Jeremy Kyle!!

Now to the video. I mentioned above that its hard to tell the two apart. It starts with them dressed very similarly, dancing and singing in solo. You can tell which is which at this point, although their hair is also the same, and I never realised how similar their figures are. About half way they start to dance together, wearing skimpy cropped tops, both with very toned abs and wiggling in a belly dance style. Very steamy. There are parts though where you really have to concentrate to tell which is which.

All in all this is a raunchy song and video, but it stays on the right side of taste, not going over the top. These two are both superb and ultra talented, and they fit together brilliantly. This is a steamy hot number and I love it. It's very different from Beyonce's solo stuff, and absolutely nothing like her Destiny's Child days. That's what I love about it, as it shows this woman is versatile and not someone who just trots out the same old. Fabulous. Go check it out and maybe have a little wiggle yourself!

For more of Beyonce go check out My Music page here. Happy listening :)

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Beyonce - Day Five - If I Were a Boy

Day Five of my Week with Beyonce, and today my song choice is If I Were a Boy. Taken from her third studio album, I am... Sasha Fierce, back in 2008. This is a slow, emotional song from Beyonce, and not like the choices I have made on previous days. This song is full of feeling and quite melancholy.

This single hit the number one spot in the UK chart. The song itself was written about a painful break up, and Beyonce recorded her own, new take on it. And what a result. She also released Single Ladies around the same time off the same album, and they truly could not be more different. The later being Beyonce as Sasha, her alter-ego, but this beautiful song is her as her true self.

This is a ballad of a broken heart, with Beyonce singing out the pain. The video is shot in black and white, and we see Bey playing the part of the man, then back as herself. It spins the tale of taking your lover for granted, and paints men as quite emotionally different to us women. As in, if she were a boy, she would be different, but as she isn't, she is on the receiving end. It clearly struck a chord with us Brits. Its full of acoustic guitars, drums and some strings which are soft, but powerful, just like her vocals on this.

This is a true woman's song, but its just so gorgeous in doing so that its empowering. It starts gentle, but then Beyonce exercises her range again, and hits the notes so sweetly, so perfectly, that you cannot help but to fall a little bit in love. This song is so far removed from her usual R&B / pop style. This song has was a new direction for her. I love the part at the end when she softens her pitch and sings "but your'e just a boy".

The song itself has lyrics of women being vulnerable, and frankly, makes us seem a bit weak. This may be true to a point, but I'm not sure I entirely relate to that aspect of it. What makes this great is the strength of being a woman, and how despite it all, she survives to tell the tale.

Beyonce, as ever, looks beautiful in the video. Stripped back to bare skin she looks so fresh and innocent, but still beautiful and sexy. All I can say to sum up is that this is a gorgeous song, and this is one to put on if you want to indulge yourself in some I am woman type musical therapy. You can't go far wrong with this. Beautiful. I usually say Happy Listening, but this is more of you may need a tissue to hand. Enjoy.

If you want more of Beyonce check out My Music page here.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Watching the BRITs?? Let's look back

Its the BRIT Awards this evening. It's on right now. So what are you doing on here? Beyonce has just been on. You haven't missed it have you??  You need to watch this show. Go on, put it on before you miss anything else!

It's not about the awards really, its about the live music, the speeches, the nominees, the star spotting of who is in the audience. There are the cringe moments, the divas', the amazing singers and the ones that truly cannot sing live!!! There are those that have too much to drink, and those faces when they do not win when they are expecting to!! Priceless.

I love this show!! So far, we have had Katy Perry on doing her new song which is fab and I want that dress. Ellis Goulding won an award and I want that dress too. It's all about the clothes too. Fashion and music being inextricably linked as they are.

James Corden is a fantastic host. He is funny, he is witty, he is entertaining. That hasn't always been the case in previous years though. Controversy and spectacle make this show what it is. Let's take a stroll down memory lane of BRITs gone by.

The BRITs started in 1977 for the Queen's Silver Jubilee. Originally called the BPI awards, they became an annual event as early as 1982. I didn't know they had been going so long. They were renamed as the BRITs in 1989.

Who can forget the BRIT's of 1989. Hosted by Sam Fox and Mick Fleetwood that particular year, and possibly the birth of car crash TV!! For those of us that experienced it, its hard to describe the sheer cringe factor that bizarre pairing created. Wisely, the producers made the decision to record the show, and broadcast the following night after that one!! Truly awful.

In 2007, they started to broadcast the BRITs live again, and this continues this evening. That doesn't mean that in the years in between that there were no more disasters or controversy. I cast back now to the year of Jarvis Cocker and the late Michael Jackson in 1996. Michael was given the Artist of a Generation award, and performed Earth Song. This in itself was very OTT, with Michael dressed in white, surrounded by children. The next thing anyone knew, Jarvis had run onto the stage, lifted the back of his shirt, and generally pointed his derrière in Michael's direction!

The following year, 1997, Geri Halliwell performed with the Spice Girls and donned her now infamous union jack dress, which she subsequently popped out of - an incident we now know to refer to as a "wardrobe malfunction". Ahem.

In 2007, the live televised BRITs had Russell Brand at the helm. This was never going to go well, being a controversial chap. I think he managed to offend, oh well, near enough everyone!! Funny though. Referring to the queen's "naughty bits" was the highlight!! Bless.

In 2009, Girl's Aloud performed the promise, but appeared to be naked all bar feathers. Raised the temperature in many a household I dare say!!!

In 2010, it was Peter Kay and Liam Gallagher. Liam accepted an award, but lobbed the microphone in to the crowd. Ten minutes later, the microphone was found. Peter walked off stage muttering that he was a "k***head". Hilarious.

In 2011, Adele gave that amazing rendition of someone like you. The following year, 2012, things didn't go so well. She won best British Album of the Year. About one minute into her acceptance speech, James Corden, host, had to cut her off to go to Blur. She was not impressed and flipped the finger. You gotta love Adele!

Last year, it was great, Corden at the helm again. The winners included Emeli Sande and Ben Howard. No controversy last year, just great acts and music.

But what will this year hold for us? Only one way to find out. Go and watch it!!! Enjoy. :)

Beyonce - Day Four - Love on Top

It is Day Four of My Week with Beyonce. Today's number is Love on Top. This was released in 2011, and taken from her fourth studio album as a solo artist.

Yesterday, I went for a track from her Destiny's Child Days, but today we are back to Bey on her good self. This track reached number 13 in the UK chart at its highest, but didn't actually make the top 20 initially. What made this track a hit was Beyonce announcing her pregnancy after performing it! It was taken from her album 4, released in the same year. 

This song is impressive in that Beyonce really does show the range of her voice. Several key changes, see this gorgeous old school record push her talent to its max, and its pitch perfect. It has a bit of an 80's feel to it, and has been likened a bit to the likes of Stevie Wonder and artists from that era. 

It's not as catchy as some of her other, bigger, better known tracks, but I chose this one because it is so different. Its beautiful, its empowering, its romantic and her voice just soars. 

Now, contrast a very sweet sounding song with one hell of a sexy video. Beyonce, again opting for a leotard (bit of a fan me thinks) strutting her stuff in a studio. That woman's legs are toned to the point of ridiculous, I mean seriously, come on Bey, give us normal types a chance eh? Back to it. She moves onto a variety of tux type jackets all of which reveal a great deal of her assets. If you have it flaunt it would be the way I would describe this. She certainly doesn't disappoint!

This is an R&B track, but with more than a hint of diva, this is a make you feel good song. You can't exactly sing along though, as unless I am mistaken, most of us mere mortals could never reach these notes, but alone in the car I gave it a try. It sounded awful, but it made me feel good, so who cares!! I suggest not inflicting your own attempts on anyone you care about, including pets who may be traumaticed, but feel free to be a diva on your own good self!!

If you want more, check out My Music page here. Happy Listening :)

Achievement - 1 stone lost!!!

I am very pleased today. All my hard work since New Year is finally showing. 1 stone lost as of today!!

A combination of cutting back on the lovely vino, watching my calories, controlling my carbs and Personal Training. Just over 6 weeks, so that's not bad at all. It all becomes worth it.

Now, if I can lose 3 more pounds, then I drop to another number of stones, which will feel infinitely better. Then I have one stone and 3 pounds to reach my first mini goal. So that's one stone and six pounds to drop by 24th April. 20 pounds to go.

The challenge is on!! Woohoo though  - its working!! Yay! x

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

My Single of the Week - feat Miley - Feeling Myself

This song is phenomenal, in my humble opinion. I could just stop there really, but shall we continue? has collaborated with many artists, but none as sassy and controversial you might say as Ms Miley Cyrus. Also featuring French Montana and Wiz Khalifa lest we forget.

Not a totally new release, as it came out back in Nov 13, but it is still in the top ten, and I have only just become just a little bit obsessed with it. Its sitting at number 7 in the top 40 chart as we speak.

This has a thumping bass to it, and sounds amazing turned up loud. It has a kind of dum dum dum de dum de dum going on in the background, but its the ultimate cool duo. has a talent for making extra-ordinary tracks - previously with the Black and Peas, but more so as a solo with his fab songs like this one.

A bit dance, a bit pop, and with more than a hint of R&B, this is so catchy. You can imagine yourself somewhere hot giving it some sexy moves, or just chilling with a Pims when the weather turns nice again. In the meantime indoors with the heating on will have to suffice!!

I love the lyrics. Will kicks us off with "I be everywhere, everybody know me". It continues with "Cause we be in the club, bottles on deck, and god dammit, god dammit i'm feelin myself".

I can't say the video is equivalent to the song however. Miley seems to have a penchant for not wearing very much lately, and she is here again in some sort of weird plether knickers that are a bit bridget jones. I think its supposed to be sexy but it kind of misses the mark somewhat. Not least as she is soo skinny and has no womanly shape whatsoever. So I would give the video a steer personally and just listen to this stomping tune.

It is great. It is catchy. Its a song I have no doubt will stick around well into this summer.

Check out more of My Music here. Only if you want to of course. Happy listening :)

Monday, 17 February 2014

My Perfect Valentines Outfit with House of Fraser

My Perfect Valentines Outfit

I adore this dress. Phase Eight, Magherita Full length dress, £250. Drapes beautifully and very elegant. To go with this, you need great lingerie. L'agent by Agent Provacateur is just the job. The Danita range, from £45 in red is my choice for sexy Valentines undies.

But that's not all. No outfit is complete without the all important accessories. I'm opting for black killer heels to counter all the lovely red clothes. My choice for my tootsies is Carvela glance court shoes, £120. 

Next up, its the girls must have. The handbag, and my choice is this amazing bag from Vivienne Westwood, the embossed tartan black tote bag £630. 
Now, its not exactly tropical on Feb 14th in the UK, so I am going to require a coat. Only for my entrance of course. 

I am very much loving this long length coat from James Lakeland with a flare. £285. And finally, the finishing touches are the jewellery. This adore pendant from swarovski is perfect for the romantic theme. £74.

My Movie Reviews - After Earth

My god what a film. Let me open with that. After Earth is the new Will Smith vehicle, and really, does this man every do a bad film? If he does, I certainly haven't seen it.

Back to the film. This is a sci-fi action adventure, but its better than most. Starring the fantastic Will Smith, as mentioned, who plays General Cypher Raige, but also with his real life son, Jaden Smith, playing his son Kitai in the film.

Set in the future, and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. The story begins when Kitai is desperately trying to become a ranger, to impress his father who is due to return home. His father the General was the master of the technique of "ghosting" or in simple terms, being unable to be smelt out by his fear by the enemy. The enemy in this film being Ursas, big nasty creatures, who cannot see but can hunt down its prey by scent, scent of their fear. The General learned to use his ability for calm, to hide from them and be able to kill them whilst remaining undetected.

His son however, fails to make the grade. His father decides to take Kitai with him on his last trip before he retires, but things go wrong and they are forced to crash land. The planet they crash land upon is contaminated. It is also Earth, 1000 years since man was forced to leave it. Kitai and the General survive the crash, but Cypher is badly hurt.

Cypher tells his son that he must retrieve the beacon from the tail of the ship, which broke off. Calculating its location, Cypher tells his son that if he does not succeed in his mission, they will most certainly die. Kitai sets off on his path, with supplies sufficient to make the journey.

Earth however, is now a hostile environment, with electric storms and cold shifts that drop the temperature 5 degrees every 10 minutes when all that can be done to survive is seek out a warm spot. Kitai stays in communication with his dad through a wrist communicator, but does not always follow his father's advice. This results in encounters with a gang of baboons, which he narrowly escapes.

He doesn't tell his dad that he has damaged two of his oxygen discs, and on discovering this, his father orders him to abort the mission. However, it was his father's story of how he learned to ghost during his first encounter with an Ursa that spurs Kitai to continue the mission. His fathers words "danger is real, fear is a choice" give him the courage and he leaps from the overhang above the falls.

Kitai's uit is built for the skydive, but he is grabbed by a giant condor. Huge saber-toothed tigers attack the nest, and though Kitai and the Condor fight valiantly all the chicks are killed. Later, when he almost dies from exposure, Kitai is saved. He realises the mother Condor has saved him with her body heat, but is sad to realise that she has given her life to do so.

Kitai loses touch with his father, as his wrist band has been damaged in the fight. He works out where he needs to go and continues onward. Kitai uses his last oxygen disc, and reaches the tail. He finds more capsules and a weapon, but cannot use the beacon as the electrical interference prevents him. Cypher can hear him, but Kitai cannot hear him. Cypher wills Kitai to see what he must do and finally, Kitai takes a knee and sees the mountain before him. He realises he must climb it to activate the beacon. Exploring the wreck however, he has also realised that the Ursa that was onboard, which was used for training to "ghost" is not in the wreckage and must have escaped.

Passing through the trees, he sees the dead crew hanging there, the purpose to scare him. It works, and the ursa is able to track Kitai by his fear. Reaching the summit of the mountain, Kitai finally realises how to conquer his fear. He begins to focus on the moment rather than the outcome, recalling his fathers words and is able to be unseen by the Ursa. He manages to fight it first, and then destroy it. He sets off the beacon, but his father has drifted away with the blood loss from his injuries.

Rescuers find them both, and Kitai is relieved to see his father is alive. Cypher insists on being helped to stand in respect to his son. Kitai confesses to his dad that he would prefer to work with his mother!!

This is a really good film. I believe it got mixed reception at the cinema, but I don't care about that one bit. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Will is fab, as always, but its Jaden who dazzles. He really is a mini-Will. His mannerisms, his looks - everything. Which is no bad thing. One Will just is not enough for this world in my opinion.

Now don't get me wrong. This is not I am Legend. Its not quite that good. It is completely different. Its the dynamic between the two leads that holds the intensity. Its perhaps not that original in style, but the visual effects are wonderful. The thought of Earth becoming so hostile, is very thought provoking. The bond between father and son, in this film, is both real life and make believe - life imitating art. I imagine Will is a hard act to follow for Jaden, so possibly some truth in the characters here, which make it all the more plausible, and all the more enjoyable to watch. Both of them are great. I would give this an 8 out of 10. It is well worth a watch. Enjoy. :)

Beyonce - Day Three - Bootylicious (Destiny's Child)

Day Three of My Week with Beyonce, and how could I possibly not choose this fabulicious number from the band that made her known to us all. Here she is in Destiny's Child with the fabulous Bootylicious.

Make no mistake about it - Beyonce may be huge news on her own sassy self, but Destiny's Child were massive and certainly set the scene for her solo career. This song was actually taken from DC's third album, Survivor back in 2001.  I can't believe they had so many albums - who knew?

Back to the song. Beyonce actually co-wrote and produced this track, showing even then that she was more than just a girl in a band. Amazingly, this still didn't hit the number one spot here in the UK, reaching number two. However, and be honest now, had you ever heard the phrase "Bootylicious" in everyday parlance pre Destiny's Child releasing this song? No? Me neither. Apparently, it was out there, and the likes of Snoop Dogg used it, but it was this huge hit that really brought it to the masses.

When this came out, and Beyonce along with Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams wiggled their stuff in an assortment of brightly coloured, revealing outfits, we the British came to recognise what Bootylicious meant. It's now in the dictionary!! Talk about making an impact!

The song itself is R&B come pop. It's catchy "I don't think you're ready for this jelly". At first, when it was still 2001 I had no idea whatsoever what it was on about. Now I've realised that they are, well at least I think they are, referring to the derrière or booty. Us ladies not always having the most firm behinds, its actually hilarious to think about it. Speaking personally, I'm not sure most of us could control our jelly let alone shake it in such a manner, but then most of us are not Beyonce now are we.

This is much more fun than Beyonce as a solo artist, but her voice is still awesome and she and her bandmates every inch fabulous. This still sounds wonderful, and despite being older now, its still a feel good song and well worth a listen. Thoroughly enjoyed this one. Go stick it on and turn it up and have a little dance (when noone is watching!). I don't think my neighbours are ready for this jelly!! Happy listening :)

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Beyonce - Day Two - Single Ladies

Day Two of my Week with Beyonce. Today, my song choice is Single Ladies (Put a ring on it). Released from her third studio album, this is a storm of a song.

It is that video - you know the one - Beyonce in a leotard, one-shoulder, fierce thighs, strutting her stuff. Shot in black and white, and actually featuring two other females clad in leotards, but in all fairness, you do not notice them one bit. All eyes are on B. Even in black and white by god!!

This woman is awesome is all I can say really. The song then - amazing lyrics, uplifting, striving for femininity and strength, its all a pop song should be. Her voice is spectacular. Apparently, this was written in reference to her secret marriage to Jay Z!.

Released in 2008, this single came off the album in that year, I am ....Sasha Fierce. This song shows her in true Sasha form - strong, confident, sassy. It's very disco, very pop, but still true to her R&B roots.

This song only reached number 7 in the UK charts amazingly, yet continues to be one of the best known Beyonce tracks. It has gone on to win many accolades since however, so I doubt Queen Bey is much concerned over its original chart ranking.

I love this song. Go have a listen, and let me know what you think. A great day two and thoroughly enjoyed. Happy Listening. x

The Cat and The Budgie

Freeview has launched what is arguably the best ad ever. A pussy cat and a budgie feature with the music of Marvin Gaye "you're all i need to get by".

The ad starts with the cat. It manages to open the bird cage with its paw, inside which is the budgie. You imagine the worst, thinking the cat is wanting a snack. The cat starts to sing. The budgie hops out. Still, you think its going to be eaten.

You would be wrong. The cat loves the budgie and the budgie loves the cat!! It's a fab ad, and makes you feel good. Even my other half, not known for his affection, loved it. He actually asked me if I had seen it yet!! A true sign of an ad that has hit its mark!!

Check it out here. Love it!! xx

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Oh my goodness - Red Velvet Butterscotch Chip Baked Doughnuts on Cakeyboi!!

As I might have mentioned, I am on a diet. Therefore, it is with great regret and much rumbling of tum that I stumbled upon this wonderful recipe. This I have no doubt is the hardest thing I would have to resist. Thank god it is not in front of me right now, or the will power would simply fail.

However, diet or not, I need this in my life. I felt it rude not to share it, so go check this out. It looks sublime.

Cakeyboi: Red Velvet Butterscotch Chip Baked Doughnuts

Let me know how it tastes will you? Jealous much. x

Beyonce - Day One - Crazy in Love

It's the first day of my week with Beyonce! How exciting! Right, onto the important stuff. My first choice is Crazy in Love. This was probably the first song that made me realise what a power house this woman is. It's also got a video that makes every woman apart from her somehow inadequate!!

This was Beyonce's debut single, released back in 2003, from her debut album, Dangerously In Love. Beyonce's style was set as a sassy R&B artist, but also with a strong pop vibe, for wider appeal. It worked brilliantly. This is such a funky, catchy number.

Beyonce and Jay Z wrote the song, and Jay Z actually features in it. Little did we know they would go on to be arguably the powerful couple outside of politics in the world!! This song certainly set the scene for what was to come that's for sure.

Back to the song. Crazy in Love went to number one in the UK charts, Beyonce's first as a solo. It also became one of the best-selling singles of all time! Wow.

It's fast, its catchy, it is instantly recognisable. It stands out, and it has stood the test of time. Its hard to think it was 2003 - it doesn't seem that long ago. The video is awesome. Wearing skimpy shorts and a vest top with massive high heels, she is in red, white and blue and boy that girl can strut her stuff. Proving her dance skills and sheer sex appeal, this woman rocks.

Apparently, being described herself at some point in the development of the song as looking so crazy right now, and the title and the main line was born. Later came the now famous "oh oh, oh oh, oh oh" bit that you find yourself walking around singing after listening to this song.

This is a delicious song in every sense. From Queen Bey shaking her booty, to the lyrics, to the tune and her voice. Pop perfection. My only issue is why its taken me until now to add this to my playlist. Its a full on anthem!! The song is one for the girls, but the video is for all - as a woman, I would kill to have that body, but I can well imagine this has significant appeal to the boys too!! Fabulous. Go listen now! x

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

My Week With - Beyonce (Week 4)

It is Week 4 of my Week with music reviews. Each week, I choose a classic band, pop icon, bands of the past and home grown talent. It might be a band I used to love, or a singer I have never heard, or just an artist I want to know more about. This week, my choice is possibly one of the biggest pop / R&B icons - Beyonce.

First up was Blondie, followed by The Stereophonics, and finally, last week it was Oasis. Great bands, great music, and thoroughly enjoyable. It has taken me ages to decide who to spend a week with next, but finally I have made my mind up. Just so many great artists to choose from!

So onto the main woman then, Beyonce. Let's focus on her shall we? Full name, Beyonce Giselle Knowles-Carter. Born in Texas she first came to attention with her band, Destiny's Child, with fellow group members Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams. They paved the way for the Beyonce we now know, with some massive hits and number one singles, including Survivor and Independent Women to name but two.

She released her debut album during a break from Destiny's Child in 2003. When the band split for good in 2005, she went on to release her second album, and there was no stopping her from that point! She has an authentic, powerful voice, unique and awesome. She has clocked up so many hits to date, something near 40 singles released and five studio albums.

No-one out there comes close to this lady. She has a bod to die for, dances like a professional, has a vocal range that defies belief, has powerful friends, is a staunch feminist, strong and powerful, utterly minted, but still adoring wife of hubby Jay Z. She is mother, she is woman, she is warrior - she is bloody great!!

So that's Beyonce. R&B and pop entwined to make one of the biggest artists out there, with some serious back catalogue to explore. Here's to a week with Beyonce to come!! Fabulous. Come along with me why don't you? x

Want some Thorntons choc? Of course you do...

Cakeyboi: Thorntons Continental Tasting Heart Collection Giv...: Fancy a big box of luxury chocolates for free?

Cakeyboi is running a rafflecopter comp for a 570 gram box of chocolates, worth £19.99, jam packed full of 48 milk, white and dark varieties. The flavours inside are inspired by Europe and include, amongst others, cappuccino and Sicilian lemon.

Go get yourself involved - who doesn't like chocs for Valentines? x

I don't like this Weather - please stop it now!!

Ok, ok. We are British. We all love to talk about the weather. It is our number one topic of conversation. We are too hot, we are too cold, we have hose-pipe bans after one week of sunshine. We have a flake of snow and its a national crisis.

That is the usual situation. This last few weeks thinks have gotten serious all of a sudden. The floods are horrendous. I just cannot imagine how bad it must be for those poor folks whose homes are under water or threatened with it.

Yesterday, it started to snow where I am, and it looked so pretty. It was short lived, so nothing went wrong. It looked lovely, then it went away. Thankfully.

Today is a different kettle of fish altogether. I came out of work, and there was a gale blowing. Bits of tree, branches and what appeared to be fencing were covering the roads. That was bad. My car got hit by a gust of wind, and it almost leapt from my hands. I was going to call the shop to get a few bits. I changed my mind and just wanted to get home.

Now, sitting here in my snuggly onesie, it's scary. The wind sounds like some sort of rampaging angry dragon, roaring at everything in sight. The house is making the weirdest creaking sounds, things sound like they are on the move in the loft, and debris keeps hitting the windows. One of the neighbours fencing has gone down already, and it looks like it won't be an isolated case. Gates are banging about in their frames. Car alarms are going off periodically, and there are definitely more sirens than is usual.

Roads are blocked with fallen trees, people are staying in. I drove past our local, and could barely see anyone and it is usually packed out. More worrying is the lights. For the past half hour, they have kept dimming, then thankfully coming back up, but something is amiss somewhere in the power system.

All in all, I have had enough of it now. Along with everyone else no doubt, I would like it to stop now please. I'm starting to think a little bit of snow and the inevitable grid lock would be of much preference to the current conditions. I do not like this weather at all!!! Roll on summer. x

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

It's snowing here - yes, I'm a big kid :)

Why is it that no matter how old I get (don't ask, it's rude!), I never grow out of the sheer excitement of seeing those little white flakes for the first time.

It came down in a flurry earlier today whilst I was at work. It looked like the inside of a snow globe. About half an hour ago, I looked out of the window, and I could see the flakes captured in the street lights slowly drifting down. It's not sticking - everywhere is so wet still, and the temperature a little too mild, but it looks so lovely drifting down like that.

It brings back memories of being a child. Driving my parents mad wanting to get the sledge out. Desperately rushing out the morning of the first snow, determined to be the first to place my footsteps in the crisp white snow.

Obviously, now I'm a grown up (allegedly), it becomes a bit less appealing when you have to drive in it, and you cannot get anywhere for traffic!! It also looks unsightly when its turned to sludge.

But oh the beauty of those flakes just now. I am once again 8 years old. That's not such a bad place to be right now. What's so great about being a grown-up? x

My Single of the Week - Riptide by Vance Joy

This song is beautiful. It's one of those that you hear on the radio and like it instantly. Its not a big dance number, it doesn't have a big chorus - its just a lovely melody and very tranquil.

I had to google it when I got home, as I just had to know who the artist was. It's in the charts, at number 14, but was actually released back in November 2013.

Vance Joy - cool name or what? He is an Australian singer/song writer, and as far as I know, this is his first hit. Its very indie, but you need this in your life. Its the sort of song that would sound great anywhere - on the beach, on a cold night inside when its snowing - its just gorgeous.

Absolutely beautiful, and in my humble opinion should be much higher up the chart. His voice is quirky, the song is quirky. But it stands out from so much blah music around the place. Go have a listen, and enjoy :)

Check out more of My Music reviews and single choices here. Happy listening :)

Monday, 10 February 2014

My PT Mantra - Think of the beach, think of the pool!!

PT survived again tonight. The best part is that moment when he says the magic words "that's it for this session, well done!". Music to my ears.

Picture, if you will, the scene. Me - fringe dripping with sweat, plastered to my hot sticky forehead, which frames my red shiny face. Me - t-shirt stuck to me, red chest like a robin, puffing like a steam train. Me - just able to speak, rubber legged, dignity left at the door on the way in!! Him - grinning like a bloody cheshire cat saying "see you next time". Grrrr.

So to review this evenings delights then. It began with the rowing machine. Fast for 2 minutes. Then off it for some free weights, followed by tricep dips using my own (considerable) body weight. This was followed by jumping over a weight bench. I kid you not. I say jumping, but both hands are gripping the bench with legs to one side, and you sort of bunny hop with both feet to clear the bench and plant your feet on the other side. That was one set. And repeat. Repeat again. One more for luck!!

Next - it was onto the stepper. Now, this is where feel the burn just did not come anywhere close. My thighs and buttocks already burning still from Saturday's session, immediately went from a mild candle burning, to a raging inferno. It was like an explosion had gone off in my derrière! 2 minutes with hands on the bars, not on the side, at a high level. I was gripping the damn thing so tightly with 15 seconds to go that my knuckles were white. I kept repeating the following in my head "think of the beach, think of the pool, think of the beach, think of the pool".

From there, it was off the stepper and onto more weights. This time lifting them to the side and to the front alternating. That was the first set. So repeat, repeat again, and once again for good measure.

By now, I was a complete mess. My legs felt like someone else's and try as I might, they were as uncoordinated as bambi on an ice-rink. Worse was yet to come.

It was the rope next. Its a machine which you kneel on the pad of, and literally pull the rope, hand over hand, and you can alter the resistance. So it was a full minute as fast as I could. 30 seconds are ok, at 40 seconds it burns, at 50 your muscles scream at you to stop, just stop. Those last ten seconds are hell. Then its over. For set one. However, the set also consists of Burpees, where not only do you jump up, but jump up and onto the step! 10 of those, and thats a set. More repeats then - oh the joy.

You may be thinking that was it. You would be wrong. He then took me over to the stair master. Now that machine is the devil anyway when you have fresh legs. 90 seconds of double steps on level 12!!! I could not describe to you how much I wanted to stop. But I am proud to say I did not. I kept going. Then, it was more free weight - bicep curls. Then tricep raises whilst balancing in a bridge on the gym ball. He had to hold my elbows as by now fatigue was causing my arms to wave around - I wasn't entirely in control of the movement you could say. And that was a set. 3 more of those were required.

Finally, it was the plank. 10 seconds hold, 10 jumping planks, 10 seconds hold and down. Thank heavens for small miracles, I had to do just 2 sets. Having said that, 2 sets after all of that felt like the longest 2 minutes of my life!!  All I could think, again was this "think of the beach, think of the pool". It gets me through it.

And to think, I am paying for all this pleasure!! No, in all seriousness, sad but true, it is a sort of pleasure. Being able to keep going, being able to push your body to its limit is exhilarating. Feeling stronger and feeling your body slowly starting to change and tone up, the pounds beginning to melt away - money cannot buy the buzz it gives you. Yes, its the hardest thing I have ever physically done. But the feeling when you survive another session is amazing.

I would never have believed this, but once its over and you are all clean and showered again, you actually want more. You start to look forward to it in a weird sort of way. Because you can do it, and that is amazing. My mantra - think of the beach, think of the pool gives me the determination, because I think how I will look if I try my hardest, and how I will look if I stay as I am. I don't want to be on the beach like I am. I want to try hard. And I will.

I am not and never will be a gym bunny, so those of you reading this thinking "yeah, whatever" please don't mistake me for an exercise junky. For me its just a necessity. In all honesty, I never knew I was capable of what I am able to do. We all have much more potential than we give ourselves credit for. All I can say is roll-on Thursday, my next PT date!! xx

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Tomorrow is another day

It's very late now on Sunday evening. I always tend to reflect on the week just gone on a Sunday.

Maybe its the thought of the impending Monday morning soon to arrive. Maybe its the end of the weekend. Maybe its just a night when traditionally you relax and watch the telly.

For me, my routine has changed somewhat over recent weeks. I used to go to the local with my other half, and have 2 glasses of pinot. Pinot, sadly, is one thing I have had to do without this evening.

I am back on the counting the points diet, that well known one beginning with a w (whisper it - weight watchers!). A large pinot is a whopping 7 points!! Good lord. So its had to go. Well, temporarily anyway.

In previous years, Sunday night was take away night or snacks and film night. Again, you just cannot do that if you are trying not be overweight anymore!

Still watched a film, still relaxed. Just sobre, entirely, and sin free - entirely.

Now the last week was tough - 2 Personal Training sessions, one session of my own, plus a daily routine of press ups, abs etc.. Plus work is gruelling just at the moment. I work with numbers. Numbers, spreadsheets, reconciliation - stuff that makes your brain itch if you will!! This week, its been more pressure than usual, and its always pressure!

So tonight, I am a little sad the weekend is over, but I have so much to get done this week, that for once, I'm feeling quite positive. I am working hard in every way but I can see the goal in sight.

Don't feel blue tonight. If you can take one thing from this post this late Sunday evening, then take this - however bad today was, however hard, however painful, tomorrow may not be as bad. Tomorrow may not be as painful. In a few weeks time, today will be just a memory. So ride the storm - it will soon be over. chin up x

Duvet Day ??

It's Sunday - ahhh bliss. All the house work is already done. All the rushing about is done. The weekend has gone so fast up until this point. If ever there was a Sunday crying out to be a duvet day, then today is that day.

In our house, a duvet day entails the following:

  • a lie in
  • not getting dressed all morning
  • late breakfast
  • late lunch
  • not doing anything that requires any effort
  • not wearing make-up (me, not him!)
  • keeping the heating cranked up
  • drinking lots of tea!!
Making good progress so far today. Excellent. This is what Sunday's are for. :)

Saturday, 8 February 2014

My Week with ???? (pssst its Beyonce!)

I have finally decided upon the artist I shall spend the next seven days with. It is, wait for the drum-roll please..... Beyonce!

The next seven days I shall pick one song per day, and post my review. Culminating in my ranking of those seven songs.

I am looking forward to a week with Beyonce. How exciting. Join me as we revisit her back catalogue. :)

Off to PT again ....

Saturday afternoons. Are you watching a movie? Cleaning your home? Having fun? Spare a thought for me then, as I am about to embark on today's torture session. PT approaches - half past two today.

Don't get me wrong. It feels great - afterwards! This bit though, the anticipation of what's to come is the worst bit. Even the session itself isn't as bad as thinking about the session!

The weight is coming off nicely now, and my body feels firmer than it ever has. I still have a long way to go though - just under 3 stone to be precise to reach my ultimate goal. However, 2 more pounds to go until I am a stone lighter than I was on Jan 1st this year, so thats a quarter lost already almost.

I think the most frustrating part is that I have lost some of it before, and I feel like I am repeating myself. I get on the scales, and its great to see the pounds come off. But there is always that nagging feeling of frustration with myself for putting the weight back on again!!

Actually, thinking about it - I'm glad I am going to Personal Training today. I will beat this weight battle! :)

Yes Sir, I WILL boogie in the Office -- Cadbury Ad- I love it!

I have had to write about this as its making me smile and laugh every time it comes on.

Its just a guy, sitting in an office on a swivel chair, making a phone call. This music comes on as hold music and he starts to Boogie along to it.

At first, I had no idea what the ad was for. It was just an office manager giving it some shapes on his chair.

The song is apparently one from back in 1977, by a spanish group called Baccara. As to the actor, I have absolutely no clue, but I can say that he is fabulous.

The ad finishes with the #FreeTheJoy. Couldn't be more to the point. Its only a minute long, and it will make you smile.

When he looks over first one shoulder,then the other, its hilarious. Add to that some chair wheeling perfection, and you have a minute of pure unadulterated fun.

Now, to add to the amusement, you can also see a Nick Hewer - the really serious guy off the apprentice lip sync, and also Kelly Brook having a disco moment at the car wash!! Go check it out and enjoy :)

Friday, 7 February 2014

My next week with ..... who??

Three weeks in, and here I am again. Pondering the many many choices of artists and bands to spend the next seven days with.

Week One I chose Blondie. For Week Two I chose The Stereophonics. Last week, Week Three, I chose Oasis. Three very different bands, with very different music and styles.

I am mulling over the options, and my shortlist currently consists of Beyonce, Madonna or Kylie. I'm in a bit of a girlie frame of mind you see.

But then again, I might consider something altogether different - maybe the Beautiful South, or the B52's, or even Duran Duran!! There are just so many great artists out there.

I have to confess, this was one of my better ideas. New music is fantastic, don't get me wrong. But going back over back catalogues of artists, or revisiting bands that are no more is invigorating in a way that I never imagined. In the electronic age, not many of us put our old vinyl on, or go through our CD's anymore, and as a result some music just gets lost. Well, no more.

I fully intend to continue with my weeks with a different artist each week - if only for my own enjoyment and satisfaction. But if some of you come along for the ride and take some enjoyment, then you are most welcome. I will let you know tomorrow who I choose. Or you can let me know if you have a preference. :)

Thursday, 6 February 2014

My Moment that Mattered in 2013

We went to Menorca last July. When I say we, that was me, my other half and his daughter G. It's been a rocky road for me and G. As her step-mum, it's always hard to know what part you play, what your role is.

This holiday was our third trip abroad together. At 8, G was much more aware of her surroundings, and very different company. On our last night, we ventured down the bank to the sea, this would be about 9.30pm Spanish time. To our surprise, there were still people swimming in the sea.

G and me took our shoes off and dashed into the water for a paddle. We were amazed to find the water was so warm it was like getting in a bath. The other half didn't want to take his shoes off and get sand on his feet, so it was time for just me and G. This is us having our paddle together as the sun set around us.

It was an amazing moment, and a moment where we finally bonded as more than just her dad's new girlfriend and his daughter. That night, we became friends. xx

My Week with Oasis

This week I chose to spend it with Oasis. Each day, I chose one track to listen to, and reviewed it here. Now, at the end of my week, I can report that Oasis were fantastic, and that there music is up there with the all time greats. All seven songs, whilst very different, 2 with Noel on the vocals and 5 of them with Liam doing the honours, are all absolute classics.

This is just my third band choice, and already, I have added many of the songs I have revisited to my playlists. I am thoroughly enjoying such great music, from such amazing artists. 

So now comes the tricky bit. With this band in particular, it is going to be very difficult to rank them in any sort of order. However, having come this far, it would be rude not to!

Number 2: Go Let it Out
Number 3: Some Might Say
Number 5: Live Forever

There we have it then. My week with Oasis is over. Now to decide who I should spend my next week with. Ooh decisions decisions. 

If you want to check out more of the music I have listened to or my singles of the week, go check out My Music page here. I hope you enjoy it, I have. x

Oasis Day Seven - The Importance of Being Idle

The last day of my week with Oasis, so I decided upon the quirky single - The Importance of Being Idle. Released in 2005 it smashed in on its début at number one in the UK charts.

Taken from their album Don't Believe the Truth, their sixth album, this was actually the second single to be released from it. As a bit of trivia, the album is the 32nd fastest album to be released in the UK!

A huge hit at the time, its sad to say that this was Oasis' last number one. Written by Noel Gallagher, this is also Noel on vocals. Unlike yesterdays song choice, Half the World Away, Noel sounds very different on this quirky, funky, guitar tune, less plodding and more Oasis. Having said that, its not like any other Oasis track, not at all!!

In re-visiting this single, I watched the accompanying video to it for the first time. In black and white and starring Rhys Ifans, its a brilliant video. Rhys is an undertaker, and dances and mimes his way through 1960's terraced back streets, encountering both Noel and Liam along his way. He is cool anyway, but his appearance in the video lends a bit of excitement to the whole thing. I love this video!

Apparently the other people in the video, including those playing cards over the coffin (funny honest) are the other band members. I don't know what they look like, but its still a fab video, for a fab song.

Unlike other big Oasis rock and roll anthems, this is more catchy by far, and the lyrics far more interesting. It kicks right in with "I sold my soul for the second time" which sets the tone for this amusing darkly funny tale of a lazy man. Apparently Noel has since said it was based on his very own laziness. I love the line "if you give me a minute, a man's got a limit". Sums laziness up to perfection!

I don't remember hearing this song back in 2005, and I don't remember hearing it since. I can report that this is one to keep. It still sounds relevant, it still sounds awesome, and its now bouncing round in my head. I caught myself humming it when I was cleaning earlier!

I have absolutely loved every one of the tracks this week. Now I have to put them in order. Check out My Music page for the results, and for more of my week with Oasis. Happy listening :)

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

My thoughts are with the flood victims

I don't normally post about world issues, but it's hard not to think about the poor souls in the south of this country, who have had their homes and surrounding damaged by the floods and wind.

My thoughts are with all the victims whose homes, possessions and livelihoods have been destroyed. We all take for granted how lucky we are, and I just wanted to spare a moment to pass on my sympathy for what must be truly awful.

If this is a sign of things to come, and the South of Britain is set to endure these storms each year, then we must all try to work together to make a difference and protect our coastlines and those that live on them.

We should all spare a thought this evening, wherever we are, for those affected. I sit here in the Midlands watching the pelting rain coming down and can only imagine how much worse it must be in those areas. It must be a living nightmare.