Technology ruins lives.

Ha ha, dramatic no? Well, in some respects I’m being completely honest but only in regards to interpersonal relationships. This has been discussed over and over and over in the past few Facebook years but today, its even easier and cheaper to ruin relationships with the buffer of technology.

Dating online… Great idea and who’d have thought the online dating industry would become so huge and make so much money? Meeting like-minded folks used to be a bit hit-and-miss at a bar or in the library or at university. Now, all you need to do is type who you are into a small box (no more than 300 characters please) and voilà! You’re married three months later! Great stuff. I met OH through friends who I trusted to know what My Type is. I mean, who now trusts their friends to do that? Not the 3 million married-through-meeting-on-a-dating-webiste that’s for sure. We went on dates to get to know each other. We talked. Sometimes is was awkward, sometimes it was Hellish Fun, but the mistakes and the honesty of making them is what drew us together. Being a profile online isn’t honest. It’s calculated. It’s edited. It’s not the full picture. It’s not doing you justice and you might find someone wonderful but the finding them part won’t be half as fun. Surely. No one ENJOYS being single now; dancing the night away with your girlfriends and just happening to notice the cute guy in the corner noticing you having fun. Call me old fashioned but what happened to a good round of flirting across the bar and a dash of passion and chemistry? The slow dance of seduction…? Hmm… maybe it’s just not trendy right now. Maybe people are too busy for that. They WANT IT ALL and they WANT IT NOW. Am I right?

Here’s another. Friends connecting from all around the world; friends you went to school with and haven’t spoken to for years! They’re in Italy now, married to a millionaire with a yacht in the Med and and apartment in Central Rome. Or they’re touring the world ‘finding themselves’ and posting photos every inch of the way. They’re in Malawi building schools and doing good in the world. They’re having babies and getting married and doing all these incredible things and you can watch it all the way! The fact you only see what they want you to see, that you only see the good (I mean, come on, who posts boring rubbish or sad stuff?) doesn’t even enter your mind. You see this picture perfect (thanks Instagram) life that you compare with your own. You don’t realise that apartment isn’t actually theirs, they rent, the yacht isn’t the husbands, it’s his Dad’s, they had the biggest argument last week about god-knows-what-crap and haven’t spoken properly since, Malawi has mosquitos, ‘finding yourself’ is what your scared friend does when their life has changed so dramatically so quickly that they don’t know how to process it… You know why you didn’t keep in touch with these folks in the first place right? Because you didn’t need them. You didn’t need this drama. You are content and happy just living your life with random Facebook statuses about falling over the cat and the boyfriend asking you if you want a fire extinguisher for Valentines Day (true story). You are happy. Forget the drama. Want Drama? Watch Greys Anatomy.

Texting. This one has caused trouble for everyone and that funny sarcastic comment in your head doesn’t sound sarcastic in text form, it just sounds mean. People don’t ever read the text with your voice in their head, they always read it wrong. They don’t ever understand the inflection because there is none. It’s text for goodness sake, it’s flat. It’s voiceless. It’s not you. What ever happened to a phone call? Or a letter? I don’t know anyone who could successfully compose a love letter. Hmm. Shame.

Pinterest. It’s funny how it’s only just hitting the UK mainstream (I am your average Miss Jane Bloggs) and how every women (cause come on, it really is just women who hoard things like knitting patterns when they don’t even know how to knit and recipes that they’ll “use next Tuesday” and forget they have) is addicted to the site. I am. It’s killing my relationship slowly. Like a shiny, very well groomed, mouthwatering, never before seen, why didn’t I think of that Python compressing conversation, squeezing it and smothering it until we both just sit, clicking away and not even looking at each other.


I have worked too damn hard at this and got too far to leave OH for Pinterest. That’s it. Decision made. The thing that got me to this point is my bloody Kindle Fire. I love that little beastie. Books. Apps. Web. Everything I have ever wanted on seven inches of beautiful LCD screen that you can’t use out in the sun cause you can’t see. I am putting it down more. I pick it up when OH is working or on Facebook himself, then when he’s finished he turns around and sees me on the Kindle and decides I’m busy so he surfs the web. Constant circle, I see he’s busy and I keep Pinning… Vicious vicious circle. I will prevail.

Tablet computers for £80 at Lidl, Argos, Morrisons, Everywhere; make it easier and easier to escape reality and more and more damaging to the connections of friendship, spouses, kids. Relationships you need to BE PRESENT FOR.

I really must take my own advice. No Tech after 7? Right. Lets try.



Men & Women…

So different…

Especially for me, in a shop, trying to sell things. I am a people-watcher. No, it’s not some odd Sci-Fi name I gave my kind. I just find it intresting to look at people; their actions, reactions, how they speak, why they speak, what they do when they talk to others, the way they talk to others, I find it interesting.

I can tell things about a person by the objects they buy in the cookware shop I work in. The colour of the dinner service they buy tells me a lot about their personalities. There are different personality profiles for each product too; either personality A or personality B.

For example; there is a Denby dinner service in store with blue blossom pattern on pale cream china. It’s modern as it’s a design from the Monsoon Collection but there are two people who buy this. The Fussies. The Romantics. Let me explain.

The Fussies are an older client who grew up on floral patterns and feel comfortable living with them, enjoying the modernist type but feeling safe enough in the old ‘floral’ genre to buy a whole dinner service. The Romantics are younger, maybe even my age, who are as the name directs, romantics. The soft floaty floral is easy on the eye, nothing too striking but a little different than a plain white set. If we didn’t have the floral blue set, these customers would buy plain white. The fact that this set is blue also means something to me. Calm, sensible people; neither type wanting to draw attention to themselves but with a bit of imagination showing in their product choice. They don’t take risks, they don’t shout, they don’t complain. They only buy something if they were looking for it. They do not buy things on the spur of the moment.

Sometimes you can see these customers as soon as they walk in.

The customers that walk to the back of the shop are more difficult. Le Creuset customers. I’ve titled this post ‘Men & Women’ because on the sales from the more expensive back of the shop one of the pair is difficult. Sales is a juggling act, fact, opinion and imagination bundled up in a eloquent pitch to get them to part with money.

Hey, it’s my job.

So when I see a couple looking at a product, I give myself a moment to work out the dynamic. Who’s in charge? Who’s mind is elsewhere? Who wants to be any where else right now? Who is in a bad mood? Who is opinionated? Who is clueless? These questions help me tailor my pitch. Guys want to know fact, product detail, technical points, the bits that to be quite honest don’t mean diddly squat unless you put them in context, which some of these guys really can’t grasp. Why yes, cast iron is wonderful stuff and the goose pot is an incredibly large pot designed, yeah, you got it, to fit a goose inside. Yes you can use it on the hob and in the oven and what not and who-ja-ma-wot-sit but really, are you ever going to cook a curry THAT BIG? Or, more directly, A GOOSE? Or seriously, is your oven EVEN BIG ENOUGH?

‘How you getting on there? You okay?’ I ask them. These men turn and look at me like I’m a cockroach. ‘I’m fine.’ is the answer when you know fine well they are most definitely not, in more ways than one. Lo-and-behold, twenty seconds later, out the corner of your eye, when you are stood no further than six feet away, in plain sight of these sexist, bigots they catch your manager walking past and grab them to ask about ‘the product details’. Your manager is male. Hmm, get that. I’m a girl so despite my thorough training and years of experience in sales, my love of cookware and kitchen products and the fact I am much more informed than my manager means nothing. You got it. The first thing they care to notice is the fact I’m a girl. A girl that looks under 25. I mustn’t have a clue.

Then there’s the wives/girlfriends/what ever that make me laugh. Some get angry with their men for looking at goose pots and asking me questions about stainless steel verses toughened non-stick. The women who cling to their men-folk like I’m going to jump on them and take them down. The women who are so under the thumb it makes me wince to hear the way their men talk to them. The women who are snappish and angry at me cause they have to replace something they broke. I get them all. Sometimes they make you laugh. Sometimes they ruin your day.

I had a customer throw a hissy fit because I wouldn’t use a whole damn sheet (almost 3 ft) of bubble wrap to wrap a mug for him to get home. ‘What happens if it gets broken on the way home?!’ he screeched at me. I told him he’d have to throw the mug at the ground to break it through the already requested eight sheets of tissue paper (standard wrapping in store is 3-4 sheets) and if he did manage to break it it would be like any other product broken from misuse. Mugs aren’t supposed to be thrown at the floor or dropped. They will break. Alas, he did not take this lightly. So I set my male college on him. Luckily he was in the same frame of mind as I. The customer left after two minutes.

There was one woman who wanted us to package every single piece of a twelve place setting dinner service (12x soup bowls, 12x dinner plates, 12x salad plates, 12x tea plates, 12x tea cups with accompanying 12 saucers, 12x mugs with teapot, platter and serving bowls x2) to send abroad. Tissue was not good enough. She demanded boxes and crates and tissue and bubble wrap and sellotape and an address label and personal shipping. Well, not quite the last two but it makes me mad. If you are silly enough to buy that amount to ship to South Africa it is a downright CHEEK to ask the staff in a store to package it up for you. Our job is to wrap only enough for a customer to take home. NOT SHIP ABROAD. That’s like going into a store, buying a t-shirt and asking the poor person at the till to wrap it in birthday paper and write out the card!

What the hell people? Get a grip. You want to send it abroad? You pay the price for packaging, not the bloody company you buy the products from. There is no service like that in our store. DIY people. That’s life. The customer is NOT always right. In fact, they are wrong more often than anything else.

I must admit there are some lovely people out there; beautiful, wonderful, kind, generous, funny people who have the time to be kind and polite, patient and humorous. I just wonder how these demanding, angry, aggressive, possessive folks manage to function in the world. Surely they struggle with all that angst? I just think to myself, if they can be that rude and obnoxious to a complete stranger and not think twice, imagine how they are with their families? I shudder to imagine.

At least kindness and compassion get returned to those who give it. Hopefully anger does too; that way, those people might understand how miserable they make others.


Our day trip to Winchester.

We don’t own a car. Yet. I say yet as after three years of not owning a car I am starting to wonder what possessed me. And has it now been excorsised? We struggle with the food shop. EVERY TWO WEEKS. We own a house and have to use up a whole day off just to get to a DIY store and back on a bus. That’s BEFORE we’ve even done any DIY! We rent cars when we visit family, expensive I can tell you. We take trains everywhere. No fun when you have to rely on the train people’s schedule and not your own.

So when we have a whole week off we do all the DIY we can and throw in a few day trips to break things up.

Today, dispite the patchy rain and intermittant sunshine, we journied by train to Winchester. It’s a ten minute bike ride to the local ferry port, a seven and a half minute ferry ride to the train station and then an hour on a train to Winchester. I’m sure we could get there quicker if we had a car but that’s a story for another post.

We hit the high street, grabbed a coffee and pastry and then found ourselves a Primark; and might I say, the NICEST, TIDIEST, CLEANEST, NEWEST, QUIETEST and most remarkable Primark I have ever had the occasion to visit. After this we needed culture. For that OH and I need Museums.

I wanted to go to the Cathedral so we worked our way up the high street to the Concil buildings and the Great Hall- a Medieval looking creation with arched, vaulted cielings, gothic arches and a Round Table, complete with King Arthur portrait and the names of every Knight painted around it’s edge.

Then we found ourselves the Winchester Military Museums and had a really nice wander through the ‘Horse Power’ exibit (The King’s Gaurd) with the whole place all to ourselves.

After that we headed out and back into town for lunch at The Pitcher & Piano. All I can say is. Yum. And… With the BBQ burger, you’ve got to be ready for a challenge; an 8oz juicy burger with bacon, jalepenos, tangy bbq sauce and creamy cheddar cheese toppings and fries.

Back to Museums and we journied half-way up the high street again to The City Museum located at the edge of the Cathedral’s boundary gates. An incredible building and some really fantastic early Winchester history- from the Iron Age to Tudor society.

Then, The Cathedral. Apart from the fact that it is the only Cathedral/Abbey/Church I’ve ever paid a rather excessive and irritating addmission fee for the interior was stunning. I will admit my heart lies in Durham Cathedral; it’s architecture, it’s atmosphere, it’s setting. It is magic. So close to my heart now that even the incredible Winchester Cathedral cannot come close. It’s beautiful but the volunteer at the door immediately offended me by insulting my northern accent. This is one reason why I do not like talking to volunteers in religious settings. They assume as I am under twenty five I am undeserving of common courtesy as I’m probably a rude lout myself. But any way, we saw the memorial for Jane Austen and marvelled at the amazing stained glass and (my favourite feature in Cathedrals) the ceiling…

All in all a wonderful day, Winchester is a beautiful city. The history is well presented and obviously a key part to city, I wouldn’t just visit for shopping although there are some great boutiques and variety. As far as the Cathedral is concerned it was awe inspiring but the thing is… I still love Durham. It’s magic has woven itself into my bones.

I am monogomous when it comes to architecture 😉

Guilty Pleasures…

So, first on my list of guilty pleasures has to be baking… at 8 o’clock at night. Eating Double Chocolate Sticky Muffins practically straight out the oven. OH will winge he wants something sweet to eat after tea. I, being the most gracious of little-women, will happily jump up to make him my favourite DCS Muffins.

I’ll post the recipe soon.

Curling up in my squishy ‘Big Red’ chair wrapped in my dressing gown with my huge cat on my knee and one of my favourite books in my hands. I will sit for hours and hours, not eating and not talking, just reading. Heaven. The only problem I have with my reading addiction is the quality of story (and I only read series) cannot be written fast enough.

Then next on my list has to be fried chicken. Cold. Especially cold. With no sauce or fries or anything. I very rarely get to eat this take-out style and NEVER cook it at home. This special little treat is reserved for the rare occasion I have enough dosh and am walking past the big red building at the top of the high street and feeling in a particularly self-indulgent mood.

American TV shows. BIG guilty pleasure right there. From dramas like Grey’s Anatomy (come on, McDreamy right?), Private Practise, Dexter, NCIS, CSI- Miami, Las Vegas AND New York, Sons of Anarchy, The Walking Dead, House, Boardwalk Empire and Justified to Diners, Drive-in’s & Dives, Man Vs Food (see a running theme here?) Ace of Cakes, Ice Road Truckers (ask my parents what they call this program, it rhymes…) Bridezillas (Hell Yeah who doesn’t love watching the crazies now and again?) Well, basically any American TV show. Star Trek. Now that’s one not everyone wants to admit to loving. Any of the vast array of spin-offs and series- Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Next Generation… All of them. Wonderful.

So, what else… Home Wear Stores; kitchen and furnishings… gadgets and art prints. Window shopping ONLINE. Without crowds or noise or fuss. I like nesting.

Shoes. Dresses. Turning the heating on when you know you could soldier on with just your wooly jumper. Coffee. Lots of coffee. Grabbing a taxi home from work when it’s raining. That HUGE extra portion of home made, slow-cooked chile or Musakka.

The idea of building my own home. This consumes me so much and so vividly sometimes that I can see myself walking through the rooms as if they’re already built. The fact that even getting the kitchen done was enough to give me hives doesn’t get a seconds thought.

I know you adore half of these things too. I know you just want to curl up in a big squishy chair with a huge spotty cat, a mug of coffee and the bestest stickiest double chocolate muffin straight out the oven crying to an episode of Grey’s Anatomy. I know you treat yourself to that extra portion at dinner. I know you secretly want to own a Star Trek ‘United Fediration’ uniform. I know you’d wear your Uggs and PJ bottoms to work if they’d let you.

You know why? Cause I’m just like you.