Saturday, 29 October 2016

Family, Friends and Feeling a Bit Blue

As a Northern living in Somerset, I think it goes without saying that my family live quite far away - over 300 miles away, in fact. When we moved away from home, as I was going to attend university, I didn't really think much of it, as people move away for uni all the time. I guess, the difference with me is that, at the time, Dylan had only just turned one year old. It was a hard decision to move my little family away from my extended family, but we felt like life down south would be the best option for us. 

Fast forward four years, and we're still in Somerset with a now five year old, and a shiny new baby in tow. I miss living up north a lot, as we can only really visit once, maybe twice a year if lucky and it's hard for my family to get down and visit too. Because of that, I feel like they're missing out on the boys, and I do feel quite guilty over this. But then, if we ever moved back up - something I'd love to do - then Joe's family would miss out too as they live in Somerset. It's a tricky thing, this family life business. 

Due to moving south for university, I guess I'm lucky that I now have friends all around the UK. I have friends that I miss from the north, and friends I made at university in the south - as well as extra friends I have made when working. I've also been fortunate enough to make friends out of blogging - such good friends that two of them invited me to their weddings! You can see Becky's and Leona's weddings by clicking their names. As great as it is to have friends in all of these places, my closest friend geographically, still lives at least an one-hour train journey away - this sucks. Due to Dylan being at school now, and with Robin needing bags and bags of stuff before we can set off anywhere, it's not really viable for me to be hopping onto trains and travelling the country. This leads to the 'feeling a bit blue' bit in the title. 

I spend the majority of the day by myself, with just a mostly-sleeping Robin for company. When I was pregnant, I thought it would be okay as I'd be able to go to all these mother and baby groups, but it would seem like there isn't a lot going on in the area where I live. Plus, anything decent that we do have in the area costs quite a lot, and let me tell you - maternity allowance is not the greatest cash cow to ever exist. I'm not entirely sure what the point of this post is, if not to just get this off my chest. I really am truly grateful to have two healthy little boys, I guess I'd just like some local friends too! 

My Petit Canard

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

30 Before 30

Around this time last year, I decided that I would challenge myself with 25 things to do before I turned 25. In true Chelsea fashion, I mostly forgot about this list, and ended up being preoccupied with pregnancy and now being a mam to two. I'm pretty ashamed to say that in the year, I managed to tick off one item - although really it's just half an item, and I visited Glasgow in January for Joe's birthday. 
As I've got five years to complete 30 things, I'm hoping that I'll give myself better odds on finishing off the entire list. So, in no real order here's my 30 things to complete!
(01) Give blood
(02) Complete a cross stitch
(03) Visit Paris
(04) Move back North
(05) Do my masters
(06) See a West End show
(07) Pass my driving test
(08) Create a capsule wardrobe
(09) Read 100 books
(10) Experience a tasting menu
(11) See the Northern Lights
(12) Take a course in hand lettering
(13) Attend a music festival
(14) Write a letter to Dylan and Robin
(15) Go to a karaoke bar
(16) Have a girls trip away somewhere
(17) Go to the Lake District
(18) Plant Tulips
(19) Read 10 books from 1991
(20) Clear my overdrafts so I can close one of my bank cards
(21) See The Smyths 
(22) See a Shakespeare play (preferably Othello)
(23) Eat in a Michelin starred restaurant
(24) Volunteer for my political party
(25) Ride a hot air balloon over Bristol or Bath
(26) Buy a leather jacket
(27) Visit a Lush Spa
(28) Go to a book festival
(29) Visit the British Library
(30) Do something amazing for my birthday! 
And there we have it! I don't think I'll do monthly updates or anything like that - maybe the odd update here and there if I actually manage to make any progress! Wish me luck :) 

My Petit Canard

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

O is for...

Oh wow! 
I couldn't think of anything really interesting for 'O' - I was originally going to go for opal as it's my birthstone... but that's where that anecdote begins and ends. Then, I bumbled along to 'organised' as I know it's a blogger fave, but to be honest I'm just not very organised. Part of me is trying to blame baby brain for making me easily distracted, but I think I've just always preferred doing something fun over doing the ironing. Instead, I'm going for 'oh wow!', as inspired by Friends, but instead of listing how totally fine I'm finding Joey and Rachel's relationship, I'm going to list a few things that have made me say oh wow in a happy, non-sarky way recently. 
- finally typing up a proper book review! I recently read Hitman Anders and the Meaning of It All by Jonas Jonasson and popped a little review up. I'm hoping it's got me back into reading, my Goodreads challenge is still looking a bit patchy. 
- earning some pretty decent cashback online. I use a cashback website, and today after signing up for a new broadband package, I managed to get my total to £197.35! That's insane! I've only been using it since July, so I'm pretty chuffed with myself. The majority of it will be payable before Christmas so I'm hoping it will make a nice dent in the present buying. Or, y'know, I can buy myself something nice... online, of course ;)
- colder mornings. The days are still on the warmer side, but I am loving waking up to a bit of frost and really feeling the benefit of my morning cup of tea. 
- getting Joe to watch Parks & Recreation with me. I originally watched the show when it first aired, and poor Joe has often been subjected to references he just doesn't get. Now he's started watching it I can quote Jean Ralphio to my heart's content and I'm hoping we can start our own Treat Yo'self Day. 
- my dad confirming that they're coming down to visit at the end of the month! I'm super excited by this as I would have liked to go up North for my birthday but can't, so my dad coming down is the next best thing. 
I think I better stop it there before this becomes too boring a read! 

Friday, 7 October 2016

Hitman Anders and the Meaning of It All by Jonas Jonasson

When I heard that Jonas Jonasson was releasing another book, I knew I had to get my hands on it. His previous offerings had been right up my street, and the title for this one immediately drew me in so I knew this would be a great book to get me out of a reading slump I had found myself in. 

Like Jonasson's previous novels, Hitman Anders and the Meaning of It All is completely nonsensical. The story is hilariously far fetched, but I don't think anyone would expect any different by now. Although Hitman Anders is the titular character, it mostly focuses on Pers Persson and Johanna Kjellander - who are mostly just referred to as the receptionist and the priest, respectively - who have decided to use Hitman Anders' skills for financial gain. And by skills I mean his murdery hitmanness. That all seems to be going well for the duo, until Hitman Anders is accidentally shown the way of God by the priest. An occupational hazard, if you will. 

Although I enjoyed Hitman Anders, I did find myself leaving it for days on end before coming back to read it again. Luckily, as it's quite nonsensical, you can pretty much pick it up and immediately feel like you haven't been away for a while. The characters, for me, weren't as endearing as in Jonasson's previous novels, but I think the nature of this book lent to the fact that the characters were all a bit shady and didn't really require you to like or dislike anybody. 

Overall, if you're a fan of Jonasson's other books I think you'll really enjoy Hitman Anders. If you haven't read anything by him and this is your first try, you'll love this if you like anything with crazy capers. Like a modern day Wacky Races - but with more inappropriate biblical references.

*Disclaimer: A copy of Hitman Anders and The Meaning of It All by Jonas Jonasson was provided in exchange for an honest review. No further compensation received. An affiliate link has been used.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Looking After Exotic Pets with The RSPCA

If you've read this blog for a long time, you'll know that I have a rather fluffy dachshund called Monty. I'll be the first to point out that he isn't exactly exotic, too! However, you might not know that growing up we had a chinchilla. Clearly, I just have a thing for tiny, fluffy pets. Unfortunately, many people buy exotic pets and don't realise how much time and care they need - for example, did you know chinchillas live for up to ten years? That's a huge commitment of your time, energy and money - so you should think carefully before getting yourself a pet - exotic or otherwise. 

top tip: keep your chinchilla away from Jay Z
Exotic pets need special environments to live in too - so you can't just put down a bed and expect them to sleep there, like a dog would. Pets like bearded dragons, corn snakes and geckos need specialised heated tanks to live in, otherwise they can become ill. The tanks need to be big enough for them to grow in, and replicate their natural environment with places to climb, hide or bask in the light. Pets like chinchillas are nocturnal, so you need to factor things like that in before buying an exotic pet - will it be awake when you are? Will you annoy your entire family if you buy a pet that spins on a wheel all through the night?  

The RSPCA wants to help pet-owners, and even would-be owners, know the real-life issues with owning an exotic pet, and the best ways to care for them. A happy pet makes a happy owner, am I right? You might not realise it, but by not caring for your pet in the right way, you can cause some serious harm to them. When we first got our chinchilla, my youngest brother tried to give him a bath, but chinchillas use a sand bath, rather than water which my brother had no idea about. Luckily, we managed to save him before he was plunged into the bath but something like that could have caused all of his fur to fall out due to stress. Animals like terrapins and tortoises should be fed on a diet of plants, flowers and vegetables - but shouldn't be fed green beans as they are too high in protein, or cabbage because it's too high in oxalic acid. Knowing things like this can help keep your animal safe, as the worst thing you want to do when feeding your pet a nutritious meal is to mess it up and actually cause harm to them. 

Hopefully, by raising awareness and offering helpful fact sheets, the RSPCA can help to minimise the amount of animals who are harmed once becoming pets as well as reduce the amount of animals who are abandoned once the owner realises the effort and care needed to provide for them. Like with any pet, the best thing you can give them is a loving home, and part of loving should come from an understanding of their basic needs! If the thought of giving your ideal pet snake mice to eat, then maybe a snake isn't the pet for you. 

*Disclaimer: This post was a collaboration with the RSCPA. Content written by myself.

Saturday, 1 October 2016

TMTW #15 - Baby Love, My Baby Love

Best bits? How well Dylan has started at school and getting to dress him up as Fantastic Mr Fox for Roald Dahl's 100th birthday, having Joe off for a week when Robin arrived, being able to throw Dylan a little birthday party so he didn't feel too left out with all the new baby attention. 

My favourite thing? Robin!

Any regrets? Not having a cleaner, ha! - your house suddenly becomes very messy when you've got a baby and a five year old to look after! 

What's in store for October? Hopefully some cooler weather, it's been so clammy and horrible, ugh! It's actually coming up to my 25th birthday, which I feel like should be some sort of milestone, but also not. Which is a bit weird. I haven't asked for anything, as I had really wanted to go up north for my birthday but Joe can't get the time off so hopefully my Dad is going to come down to visit this month and meet Robin! 
So September was basically a month of me staring at Robin, I didn't really do anything else. I expect October will be much more of the same, but you can't blame me. He's such a cutie!
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