The Pre-MOT checklist*

Now, I might not be a driver yet (by the end of year, I hope!) but I know a little bit about cars- especially that they can be damn expensive when it comes to things like services, repairs, insurance and MOTs! As such I thought that this infographic created by Motorparks would be a useful and indeed essential read for any one with an MOT test upcoming…

I always find myself apologising for posting motor related content as it’s not “in keeping” with my blog theme but I really do find things like this useful so I share if only for future reference for myself!

Up until reading this it probably wouldn’t have occurred to me to actually make any checks of my car (well, at this point imaginary car) before taking it for it’s MOT. You kind of assume that’s what you pay the garage for- it definitely makes sense though, repairs of problems found my the pros are bound to cost an arm and a leg whereas taking simple measures to make sure things are up to scratch beforehand is 100% going to be the cheaper option!
Hope you found this useful!

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Learning to Silence my Inner Critic

Initially I wasn’t going to use the set of photos below in a blog post. They aren’t quite right and don’t show the outfit as I wanted it to be shown. But it got me thinking about something that’s been running along in the background of my mind for a while now and so actually, from something imperfect I’m able to write an altogether different to what I planned blog post.

Dress and Tee: Monki | Converse from Schuh

So basically these photos triggered a whole big train of thought about my long-standing battle with perfectionism. I didn’t set any resolutions at the start of 2017 but it was always a goal of mine to try to get more control over my issues with, well, control and making everything “just right”. It’s something that has governed my life for as long as I can remember and has been an undercurrent to my anorexia since the word go. Ever since I started this journey of recovery back in the Summer last year I knew that to get any degree of success I would eventually have to learn to live more in the moment and less in a micro-managed bubble, and now, almost a year on I’ve realised that actually I am less ruled by it than I can ever recall being.

Now, I don’t have a secret to my success. It’s been a long battle and a lot of it is still very much trial and error. There are a couple of things that I have found really helpful though- the first of that being a course of CBT which saw me learn how to break my self-imposed rules (like actually being on time for things instead of constantly ten minutes early, or to accept a spontaneous invitation). I’m awaiting a start date for a more intense course which will delve more in to the root causes but even the basics gave me the tools I needed to start to break free.

The second thing that made a massive difference was learning the art of mindfulness. It’s always been something I was wary and dismissive of, but having been persuaded to give it a go by various people I decided I had nothing to lose and started to dedicate 5-10 minutes a day to it. I initially went with the Headspace and Calm apps but also made the purchase of “A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled” by Ruby Wax which proved to be a witty, relatable account of her own struggles as well as containing a six week guided programme which has helped me no end.

Of course it’s not for everyone but I thought it worth sharing these thoughts as they spill out of my mind. As ever with me partly so my blog can serve as a “record of achievement”, but also in the hope that even one person might read this and find something that could help against their own demons.

And the result of all this? Well, it’s only recently that the rewards have become evident. From challenging my social anxieties and attending a Blog Club Brunch in Bristol to attending the Grandaddy gig the other week. Spontaneous plans with friends have been followed through instead of a “yes, I’ll do it” followed shortly by a swift “no, actually I can’t today”. I’ve also found myself in the early days of a new relationship, in which I could not be happier (and that was a true case of spontaneous actions paying off) and I’m now able to relax, read, listen to music or watch a film without a constant state of panic and dread that I might have forgotten to do something vital.

I’ve literally just sat here and banged out this post in the last 45 minutes without any real intention of doing so- that’s definitely something I couldn’t have done six months ago! But with that comes the risk that it’s a whole lot of nonsense, utter drivel and full of poor grammar and punctuation mistakes…but you know what? That’s ok. Real life isn’t perfect and it doesn’t need to be perfect to be wonderful, and for me, that is the greatest lesson of them all.

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Bristol Life: Grandaddy at The Colston Hall

It feels like ages since I last went to a gig- it’s something I fell out of love with as I found it more stressful than pleasurable. Social anxiety means crowds can be a nightmare so often it’s easier to just miss out, however when I was given the opportunity to go and see one of my favourite bands at The Colston Hall last Friday I knew I needed to push myself and go.

The band in question was Grandaddy, an indie rock band from Modesto, California who formed way back in 1992. I was introduced to them four years ago and I’ve been a fan ever since my first listen- fronted by Jason Lytle (who has also released some excellent solo work) I find the combination of clever lyrics and eclectic beats strangely soothing/ an. They push boundaries which lifts their sound to the next level- I’d love to be inside the mind of the band, creative genius in my opinion. They split as a group in 2006 but re-formed in 2012 and it’s their later releases that have impressed me the most, their new album “Last Place” especially.

I’d heard they were good live and had high hopes for the gig. I find can be a double edged sword- going in to something unknown with high expectations can often be a set up for disappointment but I’m delighted to report that this wasn’t the case and the band (despite a last minute crisis) exceeded expectations.

Their set lasted just over an hour and was a mix of their latest work and some old favourites. Lytle has a somewhat aloof stage presence and yet still manages to work the room. His voice, live, somehow manages to sound exactly like it does on the records (and this is often where I find live performances fall short) and the band clearly have good chemistry as the banter flowed between songs. They have an almost mesmerising manner about them and the set passed by in the blink of an eye leaving me wanting more and more- I could have watched them perform for hours on end.

If you’re a fan of the band and have yet to see them live then please, do, I can promise you’ll love it. I really hope that Grandaddy continue as a band and bring us albums for years to come. Like good wine they really do get better with age and I would jump at the chance to see them again.
A big thank you to The Colston Hall for making this possible, Bristol may not have any big music arenas but when you have a venue like this you really don’t mind that much! I’ll leave you with one of my favourite tracks from the band- let me know if you’re a fan and what your favourite track is.

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Are you Sitting Comfortably?*

There’s nothing like slipping a couple of discs to make you realise the importance of taking care of your back. Given that I manage to knacker mine up doing every day things and still ending up in A&E requiring a catheter, having a useless left leg for months and requiring surgery and a lot of physio I seriously had to take a look at my lifestyle- especially my posture to prevent a repeat of the drama. Three years on and *touch wood* I’ve not had much in the way of further problems so I thought not might be a good time to share a few pearls of wisdom as well as a really useful e-book by Adjustable Beds & Riser Recliner Chairs retailer Adjustamatic.
One of the things I learnt through physio is the importance of strengthening your core. Your core is made up of not only your abdominal muscles but also your pelvic muscles, hip muscles and lower and middle back muscles. Having good core strength can help alleviate back pain, keeps your posture in check and can help you to make safer daily movements (think lifting, sitting, standing…). Yoga, pilates and swimming are brilliant ways to strengthen your core and trust me, you will notice a difference!
It sounds really boring but footwear is another thing that really affects my back, if I spend too long in heels- or at least the wrong type of heels I get some serious backache. Platform heels are fine, as well as supportive flats like trainers. Ballet pump style shoes are rubbish for me as they provide little in the way of support but other people might not find this a problem.
My third and final tip before moving on to the ebook is to make sure you have a decent mattress and a decent chair at work. We spend a LOT of our time either sleeping or sitting. I find a firm mattress best for me and if I stay overnight anywhere I often wake up with a niggling spine. The same for chairs. You need to find a chair that really supports your back, or get a detachable back support to go on it- I have one of these at work as well as a back “belt” for days where I am in a bit of pain- it’s great for stopping the slouch!
Anyway, a far more comprehensive guide is this e-book- any one who spends a long time sitting or suffers with back pain really should give it a read. It’s funny, you never really appreciate having a healthy spine until it’s suddenly not so healthy so it really does pay to look after it now.
Have you got any top tips or experiences to share? Leave them in the comments below.

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Re-Visiting Stylewise Direct

Last summer I wrote a post about women’s fashion clothing wholesaler Stylewise Direct. They recently got in touch with me again and offered to send out a couple more items for me to style. I was impressed last time so didn’t hesitate in saying yes.

Dress c/o Stylewise Direct | Boots c/o George at Asda

I really like this dress as a more subtle take on the embroidery trend that I love so much. The fit impressed me, the dress hangs beautifully and I really like the subtle flared sleeves. I did order a size up when I requested this and I’m glad I did, it does come up on the small side but sizes are so variable these days that it’s probably a gamble where ever you shop from.

Blouse c/o Stylewise Direct | Dress: Primark | Boots: River Island

I really didn’t expect to love this blouse as much as I do. I picked it as it looked like a fun way to embrace the trend for all things pink whilst sticking to my “safe” florals print preference. I absolutely love it though, especially in this combination with the dress and the boots (and I don’t often declare love for one of my own outfits). I’m really impressed with the quality and fit of the blouse and would seek out more in this style without a doubt. I’m not usually a blouse person but this one has me re-thinking that stance.
To find out more about Stylewise Direct you can check out my original post. Although the items aren’t available for individual purchase the idea of this post is to highlight their existence- I know that several of my blogger friends have their own blog shops, or might be thinking about starting one and therefore when Stylewise Direct got in touch I thought it would be great to be able to attest to the quality of some of their items for anyone who might be looking for a supplier or taking the plunge in to setting up shop.

I might not be brave, or organised enough to set up a blog shop of my own but if I did then Stylewise Direct would be my wholesaler of choice. Is this something you would consider, or do you already have a shop of your own? I’d be really interested in hearing about your experiences.

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