Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Blogging, privacy and being outed

Last year I wrote a post about losing my anonymity, and my concerns about my blog name becoming known within my friends and colleagues. My anonymity was something important to me, largely because I didn't want my ex-husband to find it but also because I wanted to restrict the number of people from my real world finding about about it. Even as an increasing number of people found out that I had a blog, few of them knew its name.

I suppose it was inevitable that sooner or later my blog name would be 'outed' as it were and - finally - I think it's happened.

I'm off work today with a bad cold and a chesty cough (if I were male, it would be called man flu) and earlier this morning whilst doing some blog admin and checking my stats. I noticed that someone at the ISP from work was logged onto my blog. I kept refreshing the stats, and they were still there. For nearly two hours.

I could see all of the blog posts they'd read, and it felt really unsettling.

The thing is, I really like my colleagues - all of them. After a few tricky years with a psycho headteacher  (who's thankfully long gone) we are a happy team - friends even -  and they've been a tower of strength over the past few years when I've dealt with my own personal crises.

And just to be clear, I have never discussed work-related issues on here - even in the darkest days of the psycho head I never shared it on here. Too risky. I mean we've all heard of people who have lost their jobs because of that sort of thing. No, the nearest I come to the is when I write about some of the funny things the children say - and even then I change the children's names.

But my blog has always been my personal space and now the content will be compromised.

Why? Because I'm not sure I can be as open about some things. Over the past few years I've touched on so many very personal feelings and experiences, most of which I wouldn't normally discuss with a colleague, not even friends in some cases. But the blog is my way of getting it off my chest and receiving advice and support from my online friends.

I'm really not sure what to do. Do I continue as before and pretend I don't know they're reading it? Do I censor the private stuff and keep it very general? Even then, there's all the older posts where I talk about the personal stuff.

What would you do? Any advice would be very welcome.

Friday, 27 January 2012

How I survived a week in heels

I dress for comfort. I wear flat shoes, boots and comfy clothes. I try to look smart for work, but I admit to wearing the same thing over and over again. I like shoes though, but I buy them then never wear them. No, I go back to the same comfy boots in winter or flat sandals in summer. The heeled shoes stay in the wardrobe, unworn and unblemished.

This week, for some reason, I decided to set myself a challenge. Yes, not content with denying myself alcohol for a month (a bloody month!) I set myself another one -  I decided to wear some of the unworn heels I've been storing for months, and in some cases, years.

Two pairs of the very sensible heels I wore this week. 

This is my heel diary for the week.*

Monday: I thought I'd start off with heels I'd worn several times before, although not for a long time. It was time to get the ankle boots out with the 2" heels - not too high, nice solid heel, easy! Erm....well, not quite.

I got to work and almost immediately a colleague asked "Have you lost weight? You look different."

Kept feeling like I was going to topple forwards, I'm so not used to this.

By 3pm, and after being on my feet for a large part of the day, the balls of my feet were BURNING and I couldn't wait to get home and take the boots off.

Tuesday: Not only a pair of heels, but also a skirt! Wow, I had my legs out for the first time in.....well, I can't remember. It felt weird feeling the air around my calves.

As we were getting ready to leave for school I was singing along to the radio and the Teenager asked "Mum, have you got a boyfriend?"
"No, why do you ask?"
"Because you're very happy, and you've worn heels two days running."

Got into work and was greeted by a group of colleagues who were amazed by a) another pair of heels, and b) a skirt! That got them talking.

Wednesday: Another day, another pair of heels. The morning went well, but I had a lunchtime club so didn't get much of a chance to sit down. By mid-afternoon I would have cheerfully thrown the heels out of the window, but I gritted my teeth and carried on. After school I realised I had to go to the supermarket. By this time my feet were crying for a rest!

By the time I got home my feet were throbbing, but oh! the bliss of taking them off was the nearest I'll get to an orgasm anytime soon.

Thursday: Why am I doing this again? I don't know if I'm getting used to the heels, or if the shoes I wore today are just more comfortable. I've realised that I don't walk very gracefully in heels, I'm more of a clomper - not an attractive quality. Tall Daughter asked me today why I had been wearing heels, "Is there something going on?"

By the end of the day though my toes are in pain, and I need to soak my feet to stop them throbbing. I'm such a lightweight!

Friday: thank the Lord! Last day wearing heels and I'm back to the heeled ankle boots I wore on Monday. I don't work on a Friday, so it doesn't seem too bad today - I'm not on my feet as much - so the heels are bearable. I won't be repeating this challenge next week though. My toes have been through enough hell this week.

Over the course of the week almost everyone I work with including the caretaker (and some of the children) have commented on how nice I looked. It made me realise that because I was wearing heels I took a little extra care with the rest of my outfit and it made a difference. Even if I don't wear heels everyday from now on, I learned something this week - people really do notice if you make a bit more of an effort.

I'm interested - do you wear heels everyday? Or do you save them for special occasions?

*as far as I'm concerned a week is 5 working days. I couldn't face any longer than that :-)

Saturday, 21 January 2012

New house, new bedroom

When we moved into this house I decided my bedroom had to be one of the first rooms to be decorated.  I took these first two photos the first time I went to view the house  (to send to my brother, who was still at sea at the time) and although the room was a decent size it was decorated in a dreary blue wallpaper and was very cluttered. 

Still, I could see the potential. It's now been redecorated and I love it. Apart from the main part of the bedroom there's what was described in the estate agent's details as a 'small dressing area' (sounds grand, but it's not much bigger than a cupboard), but the room's best feature is the big, south-facing window which overlooks the park. 

Wallpaper and bedlinen from Laura Ashley
Cushions and bedspread from Homebase
Bed from M&S, table lamps from Next

I also revamped an old chair to fit with the new colours

I really pleased with the final result, and glad I did it so early on - I just couldn't live with the blue wallpaper.  The next project is already underway - the spare room.  I'd better get a move on with that because I can't wait to invite our first guests.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Why having an alcohol-free January was a rubbish idea

Since 1st January I've been having an alcohol free month. In fact, for the whole of January not a single drop of wine - or my favourite organic cider - will pass my lips.

For some reason, mainly because I overindulged over the Christmas holiday, I decided it would be A Good Idea not to drink during January. I did it last year and I survived in one piece, but this month has been more difficult for some reason. Maybe I just realised it's a completely rubbish idea.

Now the thing is, I don't drink very much and usually only have a drink on a Friday evening but  I really look forward to that Friday evening drinkypoos. I mean, I spend time choosing my drink of choice and perhaps a snackypoos or two to go with it, and then I'm set for the evening. (Okay, so I don't get out much...) Did I mention that I really enjoy my Friday night drinkypoos?

What was I thinking? No drinks for a whole month?  It's probably one of my worst ideas EVER.

Oh, and did I mention that a random tweeter informed me that if I felt the need for an alcohol-free month, then perhaps it should be permanent.  The cheek!  Don't get me wrong, I'm all for restraint when it comes to drink - and there was a lot of news coverage recently about having 2 alcohol free days each week (just two?) - but I think a weekly tipple does not an alcoholic make.

To make matters worse I persuaded 9 other bloggers/tweeters to join me on this insane alcohol-free month and so now I feel obliged to complete the month, especially as most of the others seem to be enjoying it. Damn.

Just do me a favour though, next January if I mention that this ruddy idea again TALK ME OUT OF IT!

I'm just going to check how many more dry Fridays are in store for me....

Saturday, 14 January 2012

New house, new garden

We moved house right at the end of October, and today was the first day I had a proper root around in the garden.

This is a bigger house than the last one, but the garden is considerably smaller - which I prefer. And, as an added bonus, there are no lawns to mow! Mowing the lawn in the old house - with its front and back gardens - was my least favourite job and I had grown to loathe that particular chore.  So much so, that by the time the grass had been cut and I'd done a bit of tidying I didn't have any more time or enthusiasm for anything else.

This garden is mostly paved, gravelled or has wood chippings.  There's also a lovely little raised deck area with a working fountain.

There is quite a bit of structural planting, and a gorgeous bamboo plant next to the shed. Most of the other plants aren't in flower, but there's already one or two showing some colour.  I really like the small shrub with the tiny red flowers, does anyone know what it is?

We've only seen the garden in the autumn/winter so it'll be nice to see how the garden develops over the year.  I don't want to make any big changes until then, but there's quite a lot of pruning to be done and a very large, tall shrub was knocked over in the recent gales so that will be my first job.

My Green Man plaque is just propped up against the wall, along with some of my Dad's old gardening tools.  I've got a collection of terracotta pots and some metal tubs ready to be planted up, and I'm already looking at gardening websites and magazines to get some ideas for a smaller garden. Now, I need to go and find my old gardening books....

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Teaching Tessie to say I love you ~ YouTube via Xbox Live

Not long after we first got our gorgeous hound, Tessie, we saw this video clip on YouTube:

Now, I'm not saying we're competitive but the first thing we thought was "How hard can it be?" So we had a go, and here's the result. This is Tessie responding to the Teenager saying 'I love you'.

Okay, so she's not quite there. But watch this space, that's all I'm saying.....

I love trawling through YouTube - who doesn't? All I need is a few hours spare minutes, a cuppa and Youtube and I can keep myself amused.

And did you know that you can search for YouTube clips on the voice activated Xbox Live?  No? Well you can!

Monday, 9 January 2012

Guest post: silicone implants, the NHS and you

This guest post is written by a very good friend of mine who has worked in the NHS for over 30 years. She began her career in nursing and is now a senior NHS manager. Please take a couple of minutes to read what she has to say.
There has been a lot of coverage in the press about the poor quality silicone implants, which have been used in breast "enhancement" surgery.  This has sparked debate in many quarters on what should be done for the women who've had breast enlargements.  On Mumsnet, for instance, one contributor wrote "let the vain bitches die of cancer", but most were sympathetic, and many thought that treatment, including surgery to remove the implants, should be undertaken by the NHS.  One thing was clear; people trusted that the NHS would do it right.
People tend to feel very strongly about the NHS.  Admittedly there are many negative, some appalling, stories in the press, and perhaps you've even experienced some poor care yourself - but in the perspective of a lifetime most people probably have very good care.   In 1948 when the NHS was created they talked care being provided "cradle to grave", but with advances in technology it became "sperm to worm" and now its "erection to resurrection".
Some of us who work in the NHS understand what the so-called "health service reforms" mean - but it's all so complex, most members of the public don't. So I'll try to break it down to some very clear messages: it is privatisation.  It will take away the duty of the state to "provide" care, the state will just provide the funding, i.e. an insurance system.  This will allow care to be bought from any hospital, clinic, or community service.  The big multinational companies are waiting in the wings, rubbing their hands with glee - a great-untapped market they can make profits from.  They will be outcompeting hospital and community services run by managers who have not come from the world of business.  
This reform is also coming in at time when cuts are being made - oh yeah - they don't call them cuts, but the hospitals have to return "savings" of about 4%.  So the NHS hospitals will be struggling to survive economically, and some will be bought up by private companies.  The companies exist to maximise return for their shareholders, so we have a scenario where cheaper, lower quality products will be used, patient to staff ratios will be increased, and the amount of regulation and scrutiny will be reduced. 
I think the story of the silicone implants should signal a warning about the danger of privatising the NHS. The private company that manufactured the implants has gone out of business.  I don't know what influenced the private clinics' choice of implant - but I suspect cost had something to do with it.  No one is clear where responsibility lies now and the private providers are unable to supply adequate records of what they have been doing and to whom. The same private clinics are charging exorbitant sums to those women seeking information on what happened to them.  
Thankfully we still have the safety net provided by National Health Service for now. Let's hope the House of Lords, which is currently considering the Health and Social Care Bill, will now think twice.  The Bill provides much less protection for patients than is available to people booking package holidays. This cannot be right.  I hope you, like me, are doing all you can to stop the NHS privatisation, by contacting your MP or local Lord and spreading the word.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

My mood board for 2012

It's that time of year again, and instead of making resolutions that I won't keep I'm going to do another mood board. These are a few images that will, hopefully, give some idea of what I intend to focus on this year.

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Happy new year! Fancy doing your own mood board? Go on, you know you want to....then add your link here so we can visit your blog to see it.