Out on the town

I did my long run this morning instead of going to parkrun, as I won’t have time for a long run tomorrow. I’m getting used to the treadmill now, and it feels a lot more manageable for hours-long runs than pounding the pavements, especially seeing as I’ve got all these BBC4 music documentaries that I need to clear off the digibox.

After my run, I did a bit of tidying and then headed into town to meet up with Mum and Dad (and Geth, who’d been at a gaming tournament all morning). We had a couple of drinks (and I was gratified to find that ginger beer was available everywhere I went) and then went for a meal at El Torero, a tapas place that is one of my favourite restaurants in Newcastle. There’s lots of veggie options and the food is quite Slimming World-friendly (I just need to syn the oil they cook it in…and the cheesecake I inevitably have at the end!).

More adventures about town tomorrow.

OOTD 16th February 2019
OOTD: slightly dressier than usual! Scarf Marks & Spencer (2017), dress Polo Ralph Lauren (2018), tights Pamela Mann (2014), boots Clarks (2016).

Today’s earworm playlist:

Tears For Fears – Change
Lewis Capaldi – Grace
Thompson Twins – Hold Me Now
Khalid and Normani – Love Lies
Halsey – Without Me
The Proclaimers – Throw The ‘R’ Away
The White Stripes – Seven Nation Army
Dire Straits – Sultans Of Swing
Ariana Grande – Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored
Martin Garrix and Khalid – Ocean
50 Cent – In Da Club

Booze Alternative: Britvic Ginger Beer

Over the last month and a bit, I’ve tried quite a few ginger beers and ales, and I’ve discovered that there are two things I prefer in this particular subgroup of beverages:

  1. A sweet and strong taste.
  2. Just enough spice to add nicely to the above without causing me to have a coughing fit while drinking it.

Britvic Ginger Beer, I have found, fits both criteria beautifully.

Britvic Ginger Beer
Britvic Ginger Beer.

I first tried this one in the bar at the Red Lion in Newburgh, where we were staying for Jen’s 30th birthday a few weeks ago. There was a bit of confusion, because the bar had both Britvic Ginger Beer and Britvic Ginger Ale, but according to the barman it was definitely the ginger beer that I had. Anyway, it was delicious, and so when we were in Leeds last Saturday night, I was delighted when Geth returned from the hotel bar with another bottle so that I could try it again.

It was still the tastiest of ginger beers, so I will continue to look out for it wherever I go!

The twelve-eyed monster

Being very short-sighted, I’m always carrying around a ridiculous number of ‘pairs of eyes’ with me – regular glasses, old glasses for running (my regular ones don’t fit into my Croakies), daily disposable contact lenses for dressy occasions, prescription sunglasses to swap out with my regular glasses on sunny days, and non-prescription sunglasses to wear over my contact lenses when dressy occasions coincide with sunny days. It’s not the whole collection, but it’s not far off.

Today involved a trip to the optician for a double feature contact lens check and eye test, as Boots have been holding my contact lenses hostage while my details have been out of date. This meant that they also tried to get me to update my glasses, but my prescription’s not changed enough that I feel I desperately need new ones, so I’ll leave it until later in the year.

The rest of the day has mainly involved editing for clients, writing, and listening to radio shows and podcasts. I’m now looking forward to a weekend with family.

OOTD 15th February 2019
OOTD: blue Friday. Note the crocuses starting to open at the back of the garden! Scarf unknown brand (2019), jumper unknown brand (vintage 1980s, bought at vintage fair 2017), jeans Vivid (2018), boots Moda In Pelle (2018).

Today’s earworm playlist:

David Bowie – Fashion
Madness – It Must Be Love
Simon & Garfunkel – The Sound Of Silence
Duran Duran – My Own Way
Fleetwood Mac – Dreams

New Hits Friday: 15th February 2019

Seven new hits in the chart today.

Blueface and YG – Thotiana

It’s too repetitive and there’s not enough melody for me. There is a really nice instrumental towards the end though.

The video starts off nicely with the promise of a story about a high school American football team, but quickly descends into twerking girls and standing-around-next-to-cars, two of my least favourite tropes in rap videos.

CamelPhat, Cristoph and Jem Cooke – Breathe

Interestingly, this track has made me realise that there’s not been much EDM in the chart over the last year, whereas three or four years ago it was pretty much all you heard. It’s a fairly generic melody (and the vocal is sometimes reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams to the point of being derivative), but it’s got a good, danceable beat.

The video is standard-for-EDM trippy, with lots of dancing, flashing lights, smoke, and taking baths while clothed. All very pretty, but I don’t think it’s aimed at people who are in an unaltered mental state.

The Chainsmokers and 5 Seconds Of Summer – Who Do You Love

There’s too much going on with this track, and I’m not keen on the melody.

No video for this one yet.

Tom Walker – Just You And I

I like the rhythm, but the song’s a bit saccharine for me.

The video, however, is great – an awkward but endearing story about two people who wake up hungover and handcuffed to each other. Nowhere near as NSFW as it sounds!

Khalid – Talk

It’s a nice melody, and there’s something a bit retro about it, which is always appreciated.

There’s no video at the moment.

Ariana Grande – Needy

It’s quite a nice classic vocal, but I find the backing track a bit jarring.

Again, there’s no video for this one.

Ariana Grande – Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored

I just find this song a bit dull – I’m not sure what the hype’s about or why it went straight in at number one. However, Ariana’s chart battle with herself (she got the top two places this week plus another song in the top ten) did mean that we got a couple of nice chart history factoids from Scott Mills on the Official Chart show this week – the last solo female artist to be at both number one and number two at the same time was Madonna in 1985, and the last solo female artist to have three tracks in the top ten at the same time was Ruby Murray in 1955. I love chart history!

The video starts off with a generic ‘in da club’ scene, then becomes an uncomfortable and problematic story in which Ariana is trying to steal another girl’s boyfriend by copying her exact look, and then there’s a nonsensical twist in the last second implying that it was actually the girl Ariana was after, not the guy, despite the evidence of every other scene in the video. Still, making sense is not the point of music videos, so I’m just going to admire the pretty costumes and ostentatious party settings.

More new hits next Friday.

Gradual progress

A typical busy Thursday. I did my speed run first thing, went to Slimming World (another half a pound off this week, still crawling slowly back to target range), and then went to Pilates in the evening. That’s our current Pilates course finished, so the next couple of Thursdays will be slightly less busy.

Geth and I didn’t buy cards or really do anything for Valentine’s Day (we normally have takeaway, but we’re trying to avoid that now we’re both on Slimming World), but he did bring me back some tasty ginger beers last night, so I’m enjoying one now.

Another hectic day tomorrow! Hoping next week will be a little more sedate.

OOTD 14th February 2019
OOTD: it’s Thursday! Glasses Emporio Armani (2017), jumper Carlo Colucci (vintage 1980s, bought at vintage fair 2017), leggings Primark (2018), boots Primark (2017).

Today’s earworm playlist:

Tears For Fears – Change
Backstreet Boys – Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)
Elaine Paige – Memories
Yazoo – Only You
Ed Sheeran – Thinking Out Loud
Marshmello and Bastille – Happier
David Bowie – Life On Mars
Pulp – Common People
Gnarls Barkley – Crazy
REM – Losing My Religion

Phone Box Thursday: Trossachs Pier, Loch Katrine

It’s another of Mum and Dad’s phone box spots!

Red phone box
Red phone box, Trossachs Pier, Loch Katrine, 12th April 2018.

(Coordinates 56°23’36.5″N, 4°42’86.4″W.)

Interestingly, there are several photos of this phone box online that indicate it was only turned into a defibrillator box at some point between 2016 and 2018. Trossachs Pier is in the middle of nowhere and there seems to be a lot of cycling and other activity going on, so this could be a very useful development.

Another one from Loch Katrine next week.

A productive Wednesday

Another good, productive day of editing, followed by a lot of new stuff learnt at ukulele class. I’m really happy with the speed of progress in our classes – every week there’s something new to practice.

The usual busy Thursday tomorrow, but I’m still planning to squeeze in some editing.

OOTD 13th February 2019
OOTD: it’s getting marginally warmer. Scarf MyScarf (2019), hoodie Sonar (2006), t-shirt Punk Masters (2018), jeans Levi (2018), boots Carefree (2017).

Today’s earworm playlist:

Duran Duran – All She Wants Is
Richard Marx – Right Here Waiting
The Beatles – Yesterday
Duran Duran – My Own Way
INXS – Need You Tonight
Tears For Fears – Mad World
Hue & Cry – Labour Of Love

And a bonus track that Geth was humming earlier:

Vangelis – Chariots Of Fire

2019 Pizzas #3: Livin’ Italy Margherita

As I mentioned on Sunday, Geth and I found a new favourite Leeds restaurant when we were in town for the Tears For Fears gig on Saturday night. Livin’ Italy Dough House specialises in pizza and cocktails. While my cocktail days are obviously over, I was super excited about the pizza!

However, a spanner was thrown in the works when we had bruschetta for starter. The Livin’ Italy bruschetta is the greatest, most incredible bruschetta I have ever had, and so anything less than a truly special pizza would have paled in comparison. Unfortunately, the pizza that followed was not quite special enough.

Livin' Italy Margherita
Livin’ Italy Margherita.

Don’t get me wrong. It was really well-made pizza – the kitchen took absolutely ages making the food, which is a sign of a good restaurant (but unfortunately a little anxiety-inducing when you’ve got a show to get to!), and it’s probably the closest thing I’ve found in the UK to actual Italian restaurant pizza, and it did taste really nice – but the base was a little bit dry and crispy for my taste, and they were a bit stingy with the toppings.

I’ll still have a slice next time I’m there, but I’ll be topping and tailing it with bruschetta and gelato (we didn’t have time for gelato on this occasion, and I’m desperate to try it ’cause it looks really good!).

Close to the edit

I did another treadmill run this morning, which means I’m getting through my recorded TV programmes at a good pace!

I also got a couple of editing jobs done for clients – as I said yesterday, it’s nice to have ‘day job’ work again after a quiet month – and then got on with my own editing. I was nervous about hacking down my novel wordcount as I wasn’t sure there would be much I could cut without losing story content, but I’m actually finding it a lot easier and more satisfying than expected. I should have a pitchable manuscript by the end of the month at this rate.

I also tried out the slow cooker that Geth and I won in the raffle at Slimming World last week. I made curry, and it was delicious. I’m going to leave it for an extra hour or so next time, though, as the potatoes weren’t quite as done as I would have liked.

More editing work to do tomorrow – both for clients and for myself.

OOTD 12th February 2019
OOTD: it’s my comfiest dress again. Dress Triumph (vintage 1980s, bought at vintage fair 2018), belt H&M (2017), tights Primark (2017), boots Moda In Pelle (2018).

Today’s earworm playlist:

Yazoo – Only You
Tears For Fears – Shout
Duran Duran – Save A Prayer
Ariana Grande – 7 Rings
David Bowie – Fashion
Pet Shop Boys – What Are We Going To Do About The Rich?

Booze Alternative: Old Mout Alcohol-Free Berries & Cherries

When I discovered the booze alternative shelf of the booze aisle in Sainsburys the other week (it’s a magic shelf that only becomes visible after you get sober), I couldn’t believe my luck to find that there were not one but TWO alcohol-free ciders on offer. One of them was the sickly sweet Kopparberg Pear that I already knew about (I drank a fair few of those during the time I gave up alcohol for Lent in 2010), but the other, to my great joy, was an Old Mout, one of my very favourite brands of cider.

Old Mout Alcohol-Free Berries & Cherries
Old Mout Alcohol-Free Berries & Cherries.

Could this really be as good as it seemed? Could I really stay sober and still drink something that tasted like cider?

Well, yes and no.

On that first sip, it felt like I was onto a winner. It didn’t taste exactly like its alcoholic counterpart, but it was close enough, and the sweet berry flavour was nice even though the alcoholic tang was missing. But as I drank more of the bottle, it just started to feel really sad and empty, and I found myself drinking faster and faster, my brain getting more and more confused at the lack of buzz, and it made me really, really anxious and actually quite shaky.

And when I finally finished the drink, I didn’t just want another, like what had happened with San Miguel 0.0.

Instead, I desperately, desperately wanted a ‘real’ Old Mout.

So, not a safe drink for me, then. It’s a shame, as I find the taste so delicious…but, well, there’s a reason for that, and that reason is that my brain associates it with getting drunk. One to avoid, sadly.