Category Archives: Life

Monday Blues Banishers #20




Good Morning!

I can’t believe that it’s Monday again so soon. I can’t believe it’s almost August. I can’t believe it’s 2014.

I don’t just wander around in a constant state of shock at the nature of time like a gormless simpleton. But it does go really quickly, which is both a good and a bad thing. Good because the weekend comes around quickly and bad because the week also comes around quickly, more quickly, if you ask me.

Here are some happy things that I’m going to think on whilst the week whizzes by:

1)      List making. I love making lists, they bring sanity and order to my otherwise unruly mind. I like nothing more than to settle down in front of the telly with a cup of tea and a notebook and scrawl out my needs and goals (need = go food shopping, goal = obtain meaningful reason for existence etc). I like to write obvious things on my lists so that I can never fail. Nothing is sadder than a list of un-ticked tasks. Throw ‘wake up’ and ‘shower’ on there and you will almost never fail. Last night I got in bed and listed away. Today I woke up and showered – if I can tick off two items from my list every morning by next year I’ll be a slim, wealthy, successful person with a dog and a driving licence. Wish me luck!

2)      Netflix. I don’t think we take enough, if any, time to appreciate modern technology and the wonders it works on a daily basis. This weekend I watched Beaches, Street Rats, The Rainmaker and Moonrise Kingdom. That’s 4 films that I had no idea I wanted to watch until I saw them on the menu that I then went on to view from the comfort of my own sofa, pausing whenever the mood struck for a tea or bowl of ice cream. I often wish I was born in Victorian times but I am beginning to change my tune.

3)      Port. An overlooked drink unless it’s Christmas time or you’re a rotund, booming aristocrat with a monocle perhaps. I propose we re-evaluate its merits. I’ll admit that I hadn’t drank it properly until this Christmas (I had drank it as a young teenager because it there was always a bottle lurking in somebody’s parents’ drinks cabinet) but what’s not to like – it’s just strong, sweet red wine. STRONG AND SWEET, the best adjectives that can be used in conjunction with any drink. I had a glass last night because we had a bottle gathering dust from Christmas and I identified a desperate need for wine after the shops were shut. Maybe next time it won’t be a last resort.

4)      New (to me) TV programmes. I watched the first episodes of The Big C and The Bridge this weekend and so far, I like them both very much.

5)      Catching up on The Archers – my slice of rural village life. I wish I lived in Ambridge!


Links I Love


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Is it Sunday already? I have no idea where this weekend has gone, in fact, the whole week seems to have just whooshed by.

We’re a bit soggy here as on Friday there was a massive thunder storm (which I will admit had me a tiny bit frightened, it was so loud) and since then it’s hardly stopped raining. Sitting inside watching TV is not as good for the soul as lying in the garden reading and eating ice cream and I’m grouchy about it! It doesn’t take long to become accustomed to the good life!

Today I’m trying to embrace the grey weather by wearing slouchy clothes, drinking buckets of tea, curling up on the sofa and watching the Twilight Zone and eating a roast lamb dinner prepared by Anthony. I’ll also be catching up on all the internet I’ve missed by spending most of last weekend outdoors. If you’re in the same grey-weathered boat then here are some odds and ends from the internet that have caught my eye this week:

This post on being kind to yourself from Tiny Paint Pot

I intend to make a bottle of this ginger beer and go off on an adventure like I’m part of the Famous Five

A delicious, healthy, easy dinner recipe (what more could you want?) from Laughing Latte

A couple of months ago I watched a programme about the history of Iceland and now I am obsessed with going there. And Rachel’s post on her visit to the gorgeous Blue Lagoon has only fuelled the fire.

I plan to make these yummy looking gluten free chicken goujons next time I’m craving some Mcnuggets – a much healthier and much tastier option from Lancashire Food

A Walk




A few weeks ago I remember coming on here to have a little moan about how there was no where to go for a nice walk where I live. Well, I was proved wrong. Last Sunday I remembered a little footpath I used to pass on my way to work, I had always meant to explore the path once I had the time and the weather was nice. On Sunday it was lovely and I was restless, with nothing to do. I decided to explore the little path and I’m so glad I did!

I can’t wait to go back with a book and a picnic.






Monday Blues Banishers #18


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Good morning!

How was your weekend? Mine seems to have gone really quickly, which is odd because it was four days long… I’m beginning to think you can get used to and become ungrateful about anything. I’ll have to remember to count my blessings (four day weekends being right at the top of that list)!

Here are five thinks that are making me smile this week:

1)      Yesterday’s Sunday Roast. It wouldn’t be a Monday Blues Banishers post without me reminiscing about the previous weekend’s food now, would it? Anthony did himself proud yesterday and made the most delicious roast pork with loads of roasties, carrots, cabbage and gravy. YUM.

2)      The Mill. I was at a loss for something to watch now Game of Thrones has ended. I decided to watch series one of The Mill before series 2 starts. It was good! I love period dramas indiscriminately though, so take my recommendation with a pinch of salt.

3)      Home spa days. On Saturday I decided to have a home pamper sesh. I ran a deep, hot bath and made this green tea face mask (I found the recipe on A Thrify Mrs). The mask was actually really good and my face felt refreshed afterwards, it was quick, easy and dead cheap to make as well (exactly the way I like them).

4)      Pilates! I’ve started doing some pilates videos at home. I love pilates and I’m really glad to have lots of space in my dining room to do work out videos as going to classes isn’t always convenient.

5)      Melons. I bought two this weekend. I could have eaten four. I love them. Lovethemlovethemlovethemmmmm!

Monday Blues Banishers #17


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Wheeew what a scorcher this weekend has been. It was lovely to get some sunshine, I’m hoping that a massive dose of vitamin D will help give me a boost of energy for the week ahead. Last week and for the majority of this weekend I have been feeling a bit sluggish. Perhaps it was the huge amount of pastry I’ve consumed in the past five days (chicken pie), perhaps it was the muggy weather, or perhaps it was because all I’ve done since Thursday is watch football and read… we’ll never know for sure.

Here are five things that are putting a smile on my face this morning:

1)      Marilyn by Norman Mailer. Looooove this book. I went to see my Dad on Saturday and he let me go through a pile of books he was going to give to the charity shop. I love free books. Amongst them was this gem. I have been struggling with Armies of the Night for a few months now. I just couldn’t get into it. Marilyn could well be my gateway into Norman Mailer’s work. I have always been intrigued by Marilyn Monroe as a person and cultural icon, although I have never watched any of her films. I find the mystery surrounding her fascinating and I also find the sixties interesting as well so this book is ideal for me. I’m hoping that afterwards I can read Armies of the Night more easily.

2)      I finished books 1-3 of the Song of Ice and Fire saga. My thoughts on them are fairly negative but dislike them as I do, I’m going to continue reading them because that’s who I am. I’m a finisher. I’ll read anything and finish it…eventually. It might take me years but I’ll get it done. I’m planning a post for the end of this week which will have my opinions on books 1-3 in more detail (I know none of you can wait). For now, I’m just glad they are done with.

3)      Painted my nails (toes and fingers) a pretty, summery coral colour. I feel fancy and put-together for once.

4)      A homing pigeon came into my garden yesterday and strolled right up to me, then it took a leisurely saunter around my picnic blanket and pecked my cushions. It was so tame and laid back. I wish I could have kept it as a pet.

5)      National anthems of the World Cup. There are some corkers. I’ve never really appreciated national anthems before but since the World Cup started I haven’t been able to get enough of them. France, Russia, Chile and Brazil are top dogs in my book. I’ve even gone as far as to look into translations of the lyrics and to explore the anthems of non-participating countries (Wales is brilliant, lyrically, and South Africa has a lovely anthem).

What’s making you smile this week?


Monday Blues Banishers #16

Green Tea

Green Tea


Gooood morning!

Have you all had a brilliant weekend? Mine was lovely and lazy but far too rainy for my liking. We spent most of our time watching the football because the weather was appalling and it’s the week before payday which is always a quiet time in this household of poor budgeters!

Here are five things that are sending my Monday blues running:

1)      I made a really good celery soup this weekend and the leftovers are waiting in my freezer for next weekend. I say it all the time but nothing makes me happier than being organised. That and soup.

2)      I’m currently ploughing through A Song of Ice and Fire like a trooper. I don’t really like it but you can bet your farm that I’m going to finish all the books in record time and then give you my opinions on them whether you ask for them or not.

3)      Podcasts! This week I saved all my podcasts up (I usually listen to them in the bath, whilst trying to get to sleep or when I’m cleaning) so that I can listen to them at work. This week I have been reading A Song of Ice and Fire in the bath and not cleaning, because we didn’t mess the house up (grown ups) so I will have something to help the office clock tick a little bit faster. My favourites are Desert Island Discs, This American Life and The Archers Omnibus. Any others I should look out for?

4)      Our house. I just love our little red-doored home. Nothing makes me appreciate it more than spending a few days a week away from it. Right now, as I type this in my dining room I feel so happy to be here, with all my stuff. God knows I love my stuff.

5)      My nails have grown to a ladylike length and I’ve filed and painted them in a ladylike manner. I’ve had a desk job for four years now and I have no strenuous hobbies and yet this is the first time I’ve managed to grow strong, long nails and maintain them for any significant period of time. I have no idea what’s caused this but until I work it out I am not going to change a thing.

What’s putting a spring in your step today? Let me know, it’s lonely in Scotland.






On Saturday morning Anthony and I woke up after a mammoth lie in with bright sunshine filtering through the curtains. He turned to me, half asleep, and said ‘I wish we lived in Cornwall’. My sentiments exactly. It felt like the perfect morning for brisk beach walks and exploring forgotten parts of the coast. Exactly the right morning for a blustery walk up to Pendennis Castle followed by a cup of tea somewhere cosy.

Me and Anthony met in Falmouth where we both studied English, and whilst we knew how lucky we were at the time to be situated in such a beautiful part of the country, nothing really prepares you for moving away and facing the reality of living somewhere sort of…ordinary.

I love Manchester, don’t get me wrong. There are loads of things to do if you just go out and find them. The difference with Cornwall is that you step out of your front door and it’s THERE. RIGHT. IN. FRONT. OF. YOU.

The beaches, the woodland walks, the charming pastel coloured houses, the tiny, whimsical gift shops, the boats bobbing in the harbour. The sea is enchanting when the sun shines, majestic when it’s stormy, strangely comforting on a grey day and most importantly, free.

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There are lots of paid activities to do in Cornwall as well, but there are plenty of things to do that won’t cost you a penny.

Where we live at the moment is so far away from the seaside, and although the countryside is only a short drive away we never find ourselves getting out in it because it takes planning and map reading and effort. In Cornwall it was just there for the taking. I think that’s what I miss the most. Alone or in a group, every coastal walk was an adventure and it required no driving, or picnic packing (unless desired), or overall planning. I loved just heading out on a Sunday morning with no plan of where I’d end up and just wandering parallel to the sea until I got tired and walked back towards town.

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Whilst I don’t think a move back to Cornwall is possible in our immediate future, it is somewhere I’d most definitely like to live again. Whenever I spend time remembering Cornwall like this I always come away feeling so dissatisfied with where I am now, and what I’m doing. It makes me realise that although what I have now is good, it isn’t quite right. It isn’t enough. It isn’t the dream.

I don’t know if Cornwall is even my ultimate dream place to live, but it does tick a lot of boxes on my wish list. It is an easy region to access the outdoors from, that sounds silly, but what I mean is from wherever you set off, after a short while you will end up in the countryside. It also has lots of small towns and villages, and the sea, and excellent food. These are all attributes that I think are important when considering a place to live. Unfortunately, house prices, cost of living and employment are also things that I am forced to consider too, so it’s a no to Cornwall for now, at least.

Do you have a dream place that you want to live? What do you think is important when considering where to live and what sensible reasons are holding you back from moving there?

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Monday Blues Banishers #15


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Good morning! Did everyone have a fabulous weekend?

It rained a lot here but we did venture out to the library on one day and to the cinema to see Godzilla yesterday evening. Other than that I spent the rest of my time cleaning, reading, eating and watching the good old telly.

Here are five reasons I’m smiling this Monday morning:

1)      Anthony is starting working with me this week! I really enjoy having the exact same schedule as him (so convenient) so working together has never been a problem for us, this time around we won’t even be doing the same work so we won’t be ‘under each other’s feet’ so much, not that we were before. It will certainly be lovely to have him in Glasgow with me, there’s only so much alone-in-a-hotel time I can handle before I go all ‘the shining’.

2)      The train journey to work. I love trains! Long train journeys through the British countryside are so romantic and beautiful, I love to gaze out of the window and daydream or read whilst whizzing past gorgeous scenery. Long train journeys also remind me of the marathon train trips between my mum’s house and university (I went to uni in Cornwall). Sometimes the trip could take nine hours, but looking back on that time of my life makes me feel good and so a long train journey will always bring a smile to my face.

3)      I have plans for Wagamama or Nandos or even both this week. A reason to get out of bed if there ever was one.

4)      The Archers. I have half of last week’s omnibus to catch up on.  Over the past few weeks I’ve been listening to the whole thing in one go whilst cleaning so I’m quite glad to have half left this week to listen too at my  leisure rather than when scrubbing a grotty worktop.

5)      We had a cheese, bread and beer for dinner on Friday and even just thinking back on the creamy cheese, crusty bread and very welcome beer is making me feel happy. I love cheese.

How about you, what’s making you smile today?

Monday Blues Banishers #14




I don’t know about you lot but I definitely need five reasons to smile this morning. The prospect of a train to Glasgow hanging over my head has not left me feeling chirpy, especially because it’s half term – a dreadful time for all commuters. I like children, I really do, just not on public transport. Can we not just ban them?

However bleak things may look, there are always reasons for cheeriness and here are mine (I’m going to force myself to remember these on the train):

1)      I am one of those people who anticipates the working week with a certain feeling of dread. I like working, but I also like being at home, in my house, with all my things. I chose the house, I chose my things, and I put my things in places of my choosing within the house that I chose. Why wouldn’t I want to be here?! That’s not the point I’m trying to make here though. My point is that my working week is only Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. By midday on Thursday I’ll be back on my settee for a looooong weekend of doing stuff I choose with things I choose in the house I chose. Phew.

2)      It’s June. It’s actually the summer now and no one can stop me wearing sandals and floppy sunhats.

3)      I have a general ‘good’ feeling at the moment. Do you ever get that? I feel like there are a lot of possibilities, that I can do anything and that something excellent will happen, soon. This is preferable to the other feeling I get, which makes me think I should just stock up on ice cream and never see another living soul again.

4)      Coconut oil has made my skin HAPPY. Of course I had read millions of blogs and pinterest pins extolling its virtues but I never believed it until I tried it myself. It is now my moisturiser of choice. My purse is happy too because a big jar of coconut oil is £6 which is pricey for a cooking oil when you think olive oil is £3 a bottle…but when you compare it to a teeny-tiny double-walled pot of £20 moisturiser it is quite the economy.

5)      Eastenders. I love the Who Killed Lucy Beale storyline with unabashed passion. I refuse to be embarrassed – Ian Beale forever!

Photo an Hour


I’ve always been intrigued by photo-an-hour posts and this weekend I decided to have a try at one for myself. The results are…preeeetty boring because I don’t really do anything but I’m going to submit you to a blow by blow account of what I did on Sunday nonetheless!

09.00am I woke up and decided to lie in bed for an hour, basking in the endless feeling of the bank holiday weekend.


10.00am COFFEE. I decided to make myself a milky coffee, which is odd because I don’t like milk. Sure enough, I had to throw the milky coffee down the sink and start again, this time strong coffee with a splash of milk.



11.00am Time for my run. I was actually quite excited for this run because it was sunny and I felt really energetic (which is a rarity). Can I just say that I hate these trainers, I think they make my feet look like they belong to a six year old, but a new pair of fancy trainers are so far down my ‘things to buy when I have money’ list that I think I will just have to make do for the foreseeable.


12.00pm I return from my run out of breath and sweaty. I have to sit in the back garden taking big gulps of fresh air and cooling down so that I don’t vomit. Once I stop feeling pukey I appreciate how sunny it is and contemplate mowing the lawn.


13.00pm Showertime. I also plan what to wear. I’m not going anywhere but I still think it’s important to my self-esteem to get dressed, so I pick something slouchy (I love my new kimono jacket). I treat myself to a day sans bra and sans make-up which is why I haven’t treated you to a photo of me.



13.30pm CLEANING. I decide to clean two rooms. I pick the bedroom and living room (they are the least messy to begin with). I contemplate dealing with the hallway. Me and Hetty decide to leave that for another time, like when hell freezes over! Instead I do loads of laundry and just close my eyes when I enter the kitchen so I can’t die of disgust at all the grime.





14.00pm LUNCHTIME. Anthony cooked an amazing beef pepperpot stew on Saturday evening and we eat the leftovers for lunch. It is even more delicious a day after. I hope this dish becomes a regular in the Marley-Hampshaw household.


15.00pm Tea and film time. We watched so many films over the bank holiday weekend. I think we started with Tyrannosaur.



18.00pm WE OPENED THE WINE (a bank holiday must). This wine was like £3.80 from Morrisons but it was really nice. I’d certainly drink it again.


19.00pm Anthony cooked another amazing beef dish, this time, pot roast. It was in a red wine sauce and garnished with dill (which I had never considered serving with meat before but it was AMAZING). We watched more films, drank more wine and generally enjoyed being lazy on the sofa. I’m kind of embarrassed to notice that I ate all my meals off that elephant cushion in front of the telly instead of at the table but the dining room was pretty untidy so I will let myself off this once!

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There you have it, my photo and hour (sort of). Have you ever tried this? I think it’s really interesting just to see how everyone else uses their time.