A quiet Monday

I was able to have a full day of writing today, which I always really appreciate. Nothing much else to report, other than the fact I’ve got another glorious evening of books + sofa + scented candles to look forward to!

OOTD 21st January 2019
OOTD: comfort and warmth the priority for today! Jumper unknown brand (vintage 1980s, bought at vintage fair 2017), leggings Primark (2018), boots Carefree (2017).

Today’s earworm playlist:

Sarah Brightman and Steve Harley – The Phantom Of The Opera
Soft Cell – Tainted Love
Wham! – Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go
Calvin Harris – Acceptable In The ’80s
Ava Max – Sweet But Psycho
Mark Ronson and Miley Cyrus – Nothing Breaks Like A Heart
Ed Sheeran – Shape Of You
Jax Jones and Ina Wroldsen – Breathe
Duran Duran – Burning The Ground
Duran Duran – A View To A Kill
Cast of The Nightmare Before Christmas – Jack’s Lament
Cast of The Nightmare Before Christmas – Sally’s Song
Cardi B, Bad Bunny and J Balvin – I Like It

Music Video Monday: recent chart catchup

A few videos from last year’s chart hits to catch up with today.

The Plug, Nafe Smallz, M Huncho and Gunna – Broken Homes

I mentioned this song in my giant New Hits catchup from late last year, but the video wasn’t out at that point. I found that it’s subsequently appeared online when I was trawling YouTube this morning.

It’s a fairly typical hip-hop video – urban setting, illicit substances, lots of bling – so it doesn’t really stand out among the many similar songs that have been in the charts lately. The baby doll on fire is probably the most visually interesting point, but I’m not really sure what it’s meant to represent.

XXXTentacion – Bad

Another one I mentioned on the giant catchup. I said then that I didn’t think there’d be a video made for this due to XXXTentacion’s death, but I spoke too soon – they’ve made an animated one!

I really like animated videos as they’re much more interesting than live action ones – live action videos can be very generic these days as they all tend to follow the familiar themes of their genre (urban settings and bling for hip-hop, random backpacking kids wandering around Thailand or Ibiza for EDM, bright colours and hundreds of costume changes for pop). The animation follows XXXTentacion wandering around a desolate landscape with lots of vines and water and other pretty visuals, and it’s all very arty and soothing.

Dappy and Ay Em – Oh My

This urban-set video is brightened up very nicely by all the squiggly neon animations that have been added to the edges of the buildings (very ’80s!), as well as the fact that they seem to have shot it on a rare sunny day!

More music videos next Monday.

And collapse!

Back in Newcastle again after a weekend in Lancashire for yesterday’s family gathering. We left the pub where we were staying fairly early this morning, so Mum and Dad were able to drop us off at home soon after one, and I’ve been able to spend the afternoon reading on the sofa, which has been the best.

A quick bit of writing to do tonight, but otherwise more of the same before an early night in preparation for work tomorrow.

OOTD 20th January 2019
OOTD: comfy travelling outfit. Glasses Emporio Armani (2017), jacket unknown brand (estimated vintage 1990s, bought at vintage shop 2003), Duran Duran t-shirt Amplified (2018), jeans Levi (2018), boots Primark (2017).

Today’s earworm playlist:

Post Malone and Swae Lee – Sunflower
Flo Rida and T-Pain – Low
Duran Duran – Lonely In Your Nightmare
Transvision Vamp – I Want Your Love
Elton John – Nikita
Blancmange – Don’t Tell Me

Book Review: Now We Are Thirty: Women Of The Breakthrough Generation

I picked this book off Mum and Dad’s shelves while visiting as it looked really interesting. It focuses on the reflections and fears of women around my age (well, a little younger, I suppose – now that I’m thirty-four I’m very definitely ‘mid-thirties’!), but as it was written and released around 1980, it’s really about Mum’s generation. This made it even more interesting to me, as I’m fascinated by 20th century social history.

Now We Are Thirty

The author, Mary Ingham, based the book on interviews with women who had been in her year at school, all of whom had gone on to live very different kinds of adult lives – a stark contrast to their mothers’ generation, where almost all women ended up living a similar existence as housewives and mothers. In childhood, Ingham and her schoolfriends had expected that they would live similarly to their mothers, but as the world changed beyond imagination in the ’60s and ’70s, many of them found themselves working, studying, flatsharing, travelling, and only realising as they approached thirty still unmarried and childless that their lives had not gone quite as they planned. Others did live more traditional women’s lives, and the contrast in mindsets is very interesting.

For me, the best thing about the book is the very vivid picture it paints of the rapid societal change in the mid-20th century and the way it so drastically altered women’s options that many of them felt adrift. It’s also very interesting that, although we now see thirty as still relatively young, in 1980 the mindset seemed to be that if you’d focused on your career or studies during your twenties, it was probably too late to have a husband and family (this is very definitely prior to the ‘women should have it all!’ pressure that arose in later decades). Of course, this kind of thinking is strange in hindsight – my own mum spent her twenties working abroad and didn’t meet my dad until she was in her thirties – but the book demonstrates that at the time, it really was considered a decision that you had to make very early in adult life.

Mum said I could keep the book, so I expect I’ll reread it at some point!

A family gathering

Just a quick post tonight as I’ve only just got back from my cousin Jen’s 30th birthday family celebration, which was a textbook Cooke gathering. The Cookes are numerous and we eat a lot of cake. I was being good so I restricted myself to one slice, but I could have easily sampled all of the different types of cake on offer – they looked amazing. There was plenty of on-plan quiche and salad too, so lots of eating to be done! Thanks to Fiona and Bill for putting it all on.

It was so lovely to see most of the extended family, as we don’t get to meet up with each other an awful lot these days.

I also managed to get my weekend long run in this morning! This means I don’t have to do it tomorrow afternoon, which is great. It also meant I was able to test out eating prior to running, as I went out after breakfast.

I’ve also been able to sample a few good booze alternatives this weekend – R White’s Lemonade, Nosecco, and Britvic Ginger Beer – so I’ll be tracking them all down again in order to do proper reviews.

OOTD 19th January 2019
OOTD: party outfit! Jacket unknown brand (estimated vintage 1990s, bought at vintage shop 2003), skirt Reiss (2018), shoes Just Cavalli (2018).

Today’s earworm playlist:

Thompson Twins – You Take Me Up
Zara Larsson – Ruin My Life
Duran Duran – Come Undone
Charli XCX and Troye Sivan – 1999
Avicii – Hey Brother

And a bonus track that Geth was humming earlier:

Rihanna and Jay-Z – Umbrella

Booze Alternative: Fentimans Ginger Beer

I did my first sober restaurant visit on Sunday night. San Lorenzo in Newcastle was a new find for me and Geth (as I’ve mentioned a couple of times this week), and I picked it because they had an online menu so I could see what the non-alcoholic options were. They had loads – Becks Blue and San Pellegrino and Fentimans – and if it were a pub I could honestly have been there all day trying all the different options, which is a very good sign. I decided on a Fentimans Ginger Beer, and as it turned out, I only needed the one.

Fentimans Ginger Beer
Fentimans Ginger Beer.

Fentimans Ginger Beer is extremely tasty. The ginger in it is very spicy, so I actually found myself choking on it a few times, but to be honest that’s probably for the best – I’d drink it a lot quicker otherwise, and this stuff is not as syn-free as Diet Coke!

I also found it didn’t set off my booze compulsions like the San Miguel 0.0 I’d tried a couple of nights previously – as I said, I only had the one, and didn’t feel the pull to have another – so this stuff’s probably safer for me to drink than non-alcoholic beer. It tastes nicer anyway!

A very on-plan Friday!

Geth is really getting into the Slimming World plan – spending a lot of time working out his syns and Healthy Extras and everything – and so I find I’m thinking about the plan at mealtimes much more than usual. It’s sort of second nature to me now, but it’s always worth reflecting on just in case you’ve picked up any bad habits!

I got my work done in the morning today, as we were spending the afternoon and evening with Mum and Dad prior to my cousin Jen’s birthday party tomorrow. Quite a relaxed day otherwise!

OOTD 18th January 2019
OOTD: it’s really cold in the room we’re in, hence the coat! Glasses Emporio Armani (2017), coat Burberry (vintage 1980s, bought on Etsy 2018), jacket unknown brand (estimated vintage 1990s, bought at vintage shop 2003), t-shirt Punk Masters (2018), jeans Vivid (2018), boots Primark (2017).

Today’s earworm playlist:

Adam Ant – Puss In Boots
5 Seconds Of Summer – Youngblood
Duran Duran – Night Boat
A-ha – I’ve Been Losing You
Ariana Grande – Thank You Next
Duran Duran – Girls On Film
Bananarama – Love In The First Degree
Mark Ronson and Miley Cyrus – Nothing Breaks Like A Heart

New Hits Friday: 18th January 2019

Lots of new entries in today’s chart!

Khalid – Saturday Nights

I quite like the acoustic guitar, and it’s a pretty tune, but it’s a bit too sedate for my liking.

There’s no video for this one yet.

Flipp Dinero – Leave Me Alone

It’s got a good rhythm, but there’s not enough melody for me, and it’s very repetitive.

The video is all about smoking weed and dancing in supermarkets. Dancing in supermarkets is a bit of a trend in hip-hop videos at the moment.

Lewis Capaldi – Someone You Loved

It’s got a pretty tune and a lovely atmosphere, but it’s too slow and saccharine for me.

The video is just Lewis Capaldi playing guitar in what looks like a train station waiting room, but the surroundings are quite nice.

Catfish & The Bottlemen – Longshot

*blink* Is this…is this actual rock music in the chart? In 2019? Are my ears deceiving me?

I can’t tell you how refreshing this is. It’s not exactly the most original rock song ever, but OMG IT’S A ROCK SONG.

The video is black and white and there’s some stuff with an old truck, but it’s mostly a performance in a marquee, which is fine.

Westlife – Hello My Love

It’s a bit more upbeat and atmospheric than Westlife’s stuff usually is, but it’s still very cheesy.

There’s a lot of pretty stuff in the video like pink lights and rocks and colourful hot air balloons. It does have that awkwardness inherent in ‘manband’ videos though. Pick up some guitars or something, lads, the earnest singing poses aren’t really cutting it now you’ve been going for twenty-plus years.

Gesaffelstein and The Weeknd – Lost In The Fire

It’s got a great atmosphere and lovely retro synths. I really like this one.

The video is very arty and image-heavy, most of which is quite pretty.

Calvin Harris and Rag ‘N’ Bone Man – Giant

It’s got an okay tune, and I like the soul feel and the trumpets.

The video’s not been released yet.

Sam Smith and Normani – Dancing With A Stranger

It’s a nice tune, but it’s a bit generic.

Again, there’s no video at the moment.

Thursday patterns

It’s been an interesting Thursday! I got up early and went for another run. Thursday runs on my marathon programme get longer every week, but I’ve got into a good pattern of doing them first thing in the morning, so I’ll be getting up at the crack of dawn once I get into the really intense part of training in a couple of months’ time. Hopefully the daylight will be more on my side by then!

Afterwards, Geth came with me to Slimming World this morning so that he could join the group. We’ve been working out what would be best for him to eat on the plan, and it sort of feels like starting again for me because I’ve spent two years falling into particular habits in terms of what I eat. We’re having jacket tatties tonight, which I honestly don’t think I’ve had since long before I started Slimming World.

I had a quiet afternoon, which is becoming another Thursday habit, followed by Pilates class. I’d have preferred not to have to go out so much today – it snowed heavily this morning and then froze, so it’s really icy out there – but Pilates is really helping with the overworked muscles at the moment.

OOTD 17th January 2019
OOTD: my favourite jumper is becoming a Thursday habit too. It’s so cosy for when I’m out and about! Glasses Emporio Armani (2017), jumper Carlo Colucci (vintage 1980s, bought at vintage fair 2017).

Today’s earworm playlist:

Thompson Twins – Hold Me Now
Duran Duran – Union Of The Snake
Eddie Murphy – Party All The Time
Rick Astley – Together Forever
Cass Elliot – Make Your Own Kind Of Music
Duran Duran – Hungry Like The Wolf
Dusty Springfield – I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself
Katy B and Ms Dynamite – Lights On
Cardi B, Bad Bunny and J Balvin – I Like It
Zara Larsson – Ruin My Life

Phone Box Thursday: Abbey Park, Dundrennan

I’m moving onto a series of pictures of phone boxes that Dad has sent me in the course of his and Mum’s travels. This first one is from Dundrennan in Dumfries and Galloway.

Red phone box
Red phone box, Abbey Park, Dundrennan, 24th June 2016. Photo by John Cooke.

(Coordinates 54°80’89.1″N, 3°94’74.3″W.)

This phone box goes beautifully with the pretty church behind it. Rural boxes in the middle of nowhere, like this one, tend to be less at risk from councils attempting to ‘modernise’ things, so you still see lots of them about.