Misc archive

Currently Loving…

With recent posts over here all a bit glum and gloomy, I thought I’d make September (or what’s left of it..!) a bit more chipper, starting with the things I’m loving right now.

String & Velvet’s Vintage Maxi Dress

I absolutely adore Zara’s Vintage Maxi Dress on String & Velvet. It’s not my size so I can’t snatch it up, but the splashes of colour are so fucking awesome; who doesn’t want to wear rainbows? String & Velvet is a new online store focusing primarily on plus size vintage.

Nintendo Switch

I had a really good month in June and after putting some money aside for bills, debt and taxes (urgh) I was able to stick enough money in my ISA for a Switch, which Tesco released stock of shortly after. I couldn’t afford any games to go with it, because that would be too lavish(!) but Gaz being the gentleman that he is bought Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and 1-2-Switch.

I have already sunk hundreds of hours into Zelda, getting basically nowhere because it turns out when you don’t play serious games for 10+ years you actually lose all skill.

Still fucking awesome though.

This AMAZING burger

The Kreme De La Kreme burger from Severn Social in Shrewsbury:

DIVINE. I am reliably informed that this is what’s known as a “Luther Burger” – a hamburger or cheeseburger with one or more glazed donuts in place of the bun. In this case, triple stacked burger, American cheese, streaky bacon, mustard and ketchup all sandwiched between a Krispy Kreme donut bun. These were supposed to be limited edition but were so popular they added them to the menu.

Severn Social recently opened up as a “dive bar”, replacing Biggies Diner. Live sports on various big TV screens, a fantastic menu with a variety of burgers, wings and hot dogs (and a token veggie option) with REALLY good prices for what you get. I’m not easily impressed when it comes to food, and the previous incarnations of restaurant in this location were all a bit pants, but I’m a big SS fan.

Double Chocolate Cookie Mocha Thingymabob

So in love with Costa’s double chocolate frostino thing it actually hurts.

However, there’s two problems with these bad boys: One, they don’t come in a super huge “in a bucket” size. Two, each barista seems to make them differently and I’ve had a couple where they’ve missed the cookie bits and a couple without the chocolate sauce on top and URGH why bother if you can’t have ALL THE GOOD BITS?! Sort it out, Costa.

Fnnnghhh I want a bloody frostino now.

Is this it?

I have spent a large part of the past few weeks jumping from one ‘chaos moment’ to another (as per usual) and I was sat on the toilet recently wondering… is this it? Is this what adulting is about? Just about hanging on while you ride the waves of life?

I’m being melodramatic — I’m not having a mid life crisis — but after a few weeks of intense hard work (covering for a friend/dev at a local agency as well as doing my own stuff) AND housework AND kids AND pets AND volunteering AND all the other day to day thankless bullshit which we seem to have to do as grown ups, I can’t help but feel if I’m missing out on some greater truth: there’s something I forgot to do that makes all this fulfilling and worthwhile?

Tomorrow marks 3 months since I decided to stop drinking. I’ve had a bit of a wobble this month with some INTENSE pre-menstrual cravings for wine, which I seem to be missing quite a lot all of a sudden. I did resist, although had a shandy over the weekend. Gaz says it counts as alcohol and I know he’s technically right, but the ABV is barely above what can be legally classed as alcohol free and it certainly didn’t make me drunk so I’m giving myself a free ride on it.

A few people have asked me if I plan on staying sober for life and I don’t know the answer to that question. Now the novelty of being newly-sober has worn off I can see occasions where a glass of wine or bubbles would be lovely, but am I ever going to be the sort of person that can just have one glass? Having the willpower to not drink is one thing, but having the willpower to say no once you’re under the influence is a different kettle of fish.

I’ve completely lost my gym mojo again, despite having lots of goals in mind and the support of awesome sexy gym-going people all over my instagram. I’m hoping to get back into it next week once the work commitments back off a little, so feel free to give me a kick up the arse or a hearty nag. I need to not undo all the effort I’ve been putting in this year with blatant laziness.

Running seems to be back on the agenda though, with a 5k Race for Life with the ladies from Source (aforementioned agency) that raised over £1000 for Cancer Research as well as a potential PB of 28 mins 17 seconds although my Garmin reckons the course was 400m short. Either way it was well under 30 minutes which is something I’ve struggled with for a while.

I’ve got another upcoming half (the Piece of Cake trail half marathon), the Leeds Abbey Dash 10k booked for November and the Edinburgh Half Marathon in the calendar for next year, so just need to keep up the momentum.

At least I’m not being completely lazy…

Is it time for another coffee yet?


Once upon a time I spent many, many hours imparting my wisdom on a range of topics – from web development to security, breastfeeding to working from home as a parent and a huge variety of things in between.

Unfortunately I seem to have got sucked into using my blog as an outlet for my whines and moans which, while cathartic, is not really conducive to entertaining and educating my readers. So! Ask me anything. Ask me about building websites, ask me about teaching myself PHP and WordPress, ask me about being a single parent, ask me about dealing with being self-employed with a mortgage and 2 kids to feed, ask me about owning a million animals, ask me about relationships and workouts and running and all the things… ask me about ANYTHING.


London take two

I’m in London tomorrow for a blogger event thing — something to do with cooking something, I don’t know, but I get to meet Kip and he’s as grumpy about “mommy bloggers” as I am — and as it’s a year since Gaz and I “did London” the first time so I figured I’d treat him this time and booked a hotel for a dirty weekend bit of tourist-ing.

I want to see The Crime Museum Uncovered, I have a client to meet, a birthday party on Saturday, and I bet there’s *somewhere* in London I can find a big poof-y ball gown to try on for my 30 things before thirty challenge but otherwise the weekend is very much a blank canvas.

Any recommendations, London-dwellers?

I want to code

I’m sat at my laptop — nothing new there — with a work todo list as long as my arm because I did very little in the last week (feeling poop) and all I want to do is code.

“But Jem, you’re a web developer, work is code?!” I hear you cry.

I don’t want to code work. I want to code fun. I want sit down and knock up a throwaway site or a dodgy new layout or a half-arsed script for no reason other than to get it out there. I want to write a 3000 word tutorial on some pointless technique that only 3 people with actually need in the entire time it remains live on the web. I want to do something for me, that doesn’t involve earning money, building a portfolio, or pressure and scope and budgets.

But every time the cogs start turning, that work todo list rears its ugly head and that teeny tiny spark of passion is lost.


Hello from Brighton!

I am sat in the office of the lovely Aisling, in Brighton. Yay!

I left Shropshire at 10:45am, and after two stops arrived at 4:30pm. That’s a lot of driving (aka a lot of sitting in road works.) But, the good news is that because I couldn’t get Google Maps to work on my phone I’ve partially completed one of my 30 before thirty list items (travelling across the country without a satnav or map). Yay positives!

Anyway, so I’m in Brighton for the BrightonSEO conference, which will probably form the basis of my blog entry tomorrow because yay, saves me having to think of another topic!

(There’s a lot of yays going on…)

After the conference Aisling and I will be travelling to Gloucester — road trip! — to meet up with Katy and Gaz so that we can do the Great Highnam Court Run on Saturday. Or rather, Katy and I will be running and Aisling/Gaz will be photographing, or throwing nakd bars at us, or something. Fun stuff.


I got muddy in London

I travelled down to London on Friday to meet up with some folks from the industry (SEO/web) and run a ‘pretty muddy’ Race for Life 5k at Finsbury Park the following morning with the gorgeous Lilian. Both were awesome events, although having consumed far too much wine on Friday night I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get up for the 5k, let alone run it in a decent time (yeah, I know, that’s not the point of these things) — we did it in ~34 minutes, though, which accounting for the obstacles was an awesome time.

I’ve managed to raise £185 for Cancer Research by taking part and it’d be super duper if I could get that up to £200. You guys have a little bit of time left if you want to sponsor me and help me reach my goal. As a reward for your help, here’s some pictures of me covered in mud:




Although it was a fantastic weekend, after another late night of (celebratory, obviously) drinking on Saturday and some rather worrying physical symptoms I realised that I’ve seriously let myself go this month and I’m suffering as a result. Looking back I’ve had Gaz moving in, going self-employed again, the holiday and all that entailed, post holiday boozy BBQ, the run up to the kid’s summer holidays, meet-ups and this 5k to deal with, and it all adds up to a shit ton of alcohol, far too much junk food and not enough veg which ultimately means I have a lingering cold which is causing me to cough up chunks of snot in a variety of pretty green shades, and me going distinctly soft around the middle again.

I suppose in a way the hardest part about losing weight and being fit and awesome is realising that it’s a continuous, consistent process. There’s no take-it-once magic potion to get you slim and gorgeous: if I want to maintain a reasonable level of health, looking after myself has to be a constant thing until … well, until I die. Sometimes I think it was easier just being fat.

Things that made me happy in June

I want to write about my first week working for myself again but apparently my brain doesn’t work this morning so I’m just going to mention a few things that have made me happy in June. Because YAY POSITIVITY.

palazzo-pantsFirstly, the discovery of these massive ‘palazzo pants’ from Tesco, which I have basically lived in for the past couple of weeks because they’re super airy in this hot weather and as comfortable as pyjamas. Pyjamas that are socially acceptable to wear in public, win!

Next up is OMI’s Cheerleader, both the original and the radio edit of the Felix Jaehn remix which I have on repeat. It’s weird because I hated this song when I first heard it, but it’s really grown on me. The lyrics just cheer me up — probably because it makes a nice change to hear a guy singing about a woman without reducing her to an object or the sum of her body parts. Oops, nearly got all feministy on you then.

My car exhaust fell off. This didn’t make me happy, obviously. However, some savvy saving over June thanks to a kick up the arse, Gaz’s exhaust purchasing skills, and choosing a local independent mechanic over my usual garage meant it only cost me £22.80 to fix it (and I was so pleased I gave him £30 and told him to keep the change … perhaps not the most frugal I could be)

See, I’m not grumpy all the time.


Not dead

Too hot

Boxes everywhere

Kids snotty

Massive workload


So this week I did this…

jem on eggheads

Dry July is OVER

…and I have 2 multipacks of Smirnoff Ice queued up to celebrate! :D

I am back! Or: adventure with pictures

I am back from my grown-up glamping adventure. I did not get (too) lost, eaten by insects, die of food poisoning from eating undercooked BBQ food or indeed go stir crazy about being on my own like I thought I would. So here’s what happened, with some pictures:

I left on Monday, already running late because I had planned on going straight from lunch with a new friend to Wales but had forgot my wellies & running shoes so wanted to nip home. Went back, grabbed wellies (which ironically I ended up not needing) and forgot my running shoes again. Finally set off, got 20 miles out and Google Maps on my phone died. Cue mad panic because I had no idea where I was going. Couldn’t get it to reconnect so decided to wing it, with the vague notion that I needed to go along the A49. Had to eenie-meanie to decide which WAY along the A49 I was supposed to travel and thankfully guessed right.

Arrived, later than I had originally planned, to find this:

little oasis pandy

And after going through that gate I met the lovely Emma, who walked me up the hill to this:


Rosy, the beautifully furnished bow-top gypsy wagon, with a very inviting bed that I had to resist the urge to climb right into:


Having decided not to climb straight into bed, I unpacked my stuff, familiarised myself with the gorgeously picturesque site & view, and then decided to go for a drive. Having ended up in the vague direction of the town of Abergavenny, I nipped into a local supermarket and came back armed with sausages and other yummy scrumptious goodies, which I set about cooking, and settled in for the night with my book.

The following morning I decided to find a beach, because no trip to Wales is complete without a bit of a splash in sea, and after picking Katy‘s brains decided to head out to Barry Island, just outside of Cardiff. Because what’s an hour and a half trek to a beach when you’ve got a whole day to waste? Barry Island did not disappoint:



And I had a bit of a paddle on the beach, and a walk up a bit of a hill, and then came back to the beach to take a dodgy “sun is in my eyes and I can’t get the camera to actually take the picture” selfie:


After I got bored of taking crappy selfies on the beach at Barry Island, I decided to head to Hay-on-Wye (totally the opposite direction) because Katy suggested they had a lot of cool bookshops. However, not far from Barry I spotted a sign for Caerphilly Castle and decided to follow that instead, for a fun hour or two mooching around a big Welsh castle:



And then came home and used my SKILLS to set up the 3rd fire of my trip and consume my weight in bacon/sausages:


After which I settled into my chair with my books, and a blanket to watch the sunset:


The following morning after I’d cleared my stuff away and washed up everything ready to leave, I had decided I’d go to Hay-on-Wye after missing it the day before. However, it was at that point I noticed that my wheel/tyre (which I’d clipped on a curb last week) looked pretty knackered, so I decided not to risk it and headed straight home. Slight downer on a glorious trip but I’m not letting it (or the probably massive future bill) put me off because I had a fantastic time.

I’ll be writing up a proper review of Little Oasis for WAHMweb in the coming week but in the mean time, I would heartily recommend them to absolutely anyone and I can’t wait to go back – hopefully next time with some company, too.