Currently – July 2014


1c95654b47a29325217b05bbde60bf68I read 10 books whilst on holiday in Lanzarote, but haven’t so much as picked up a book since getting home on Sunday. Need to start In Love & War by Alex Preston, as I was sent it for review by Lovereading just before we went away.



I’ve got The Very Best of Sheryl Crow on repeat in the car at the moment – perfect summer soundtrack.



qNplSCatching up on the last few episodes of 24. I haven’t loved this latest series as much as the others. Has anybody else watched it? What did you think?



Pretty minimal at the moment. Bright blue and green eyeliners have been featuring, with a bit of highlight for my cheeks and a coat of L’Oreal Telescopic mascara (thanks for the recommendation, Mum – it’s my new favourite mascara, even though it costs double what I’d normally pay for one!)



As little as possible! Loose linen trousers and cotton tops are featuring at a lot at the moment.



Craving lots of healthy veg and salads after disappointingly average and banal greasy food for a fortnight in Lanzarote.



imagesLoads of iced water. My ice machine is working overtime.



Spending a lot of money on a very disappointing holiday.



Summer time in the UK with glorious, glorious weather. We are loving the chance to sit outside in our garden until late in the evening without the need for long sleeves. Long may it continue!



Our big summer/housewarming party is only two weeks away. Really looking forward to it.



A cleaner. I really, really want a cleaner at the moment. It would save so much time.



Our tortoise has disappeared. I wonder where he is.

In Defence of Estate Agents

It seems as though everywhere I turn at the moment (TV, newspapers, blogs) there are people moaning about estate agents. I don’t know about elsewhere in the world, but here in the UK we seem to love to hate estate agents.

As you probably already know, my husband is an estate agent of 25+ years’ experience, and knowing as I do how much hard work he puts into getting the best results for his clients, frequently going above and beyond the call of duty, I thought I’d put some thoughts across from the other side.

First of all, if we have a bad experience with one solicitor, or one florist, or one coffee shop, do we then say ‘oh, all solicitors are crap / all florists are rubbish / all coffee shops are overpriced con merchants’?

So why malign a whole profession after one bad experience with an estate agent? I’ve seen it time and again.

Just as in every walk of life, there are good, bad and indifferent.

Don’t like Tesco? Shop at Sainsburys.

Don’t like one estate agent? Use a different one. Or, as is increasingly an option these days, use an online one at a fraction of the cost.

One of the problems seems to be that people always think they know better than estate agents. Even my mother-in-law, whose house is currently on the market with her son, popped into my husband’s office last week to give him some advice on what he should be doing to increase the interest in her property!!!! (This from a woman who hasn’t held down a job since the early 1960s – as a hairdresser). Ashley did invite her to put her house on the market with another agent instead, but pointed out that they probably wouldn’t sell it for free, like he is (naturally) doing ….

So this ‘I know better than the agent’ mentality is ingrained in us all, it seems.

* * *

I told Ashley I was writing this piece, and asked him if there was anything he wanted to say, and he gave me the following:


If you cannot find the property which meets your expectations and within your budget, within a reasonable amount of time, you need to readjust either your expectations or your budget.


If your house is taking a long time to sell, there are normally only three possible reasons for this (though they can overlap – like a Venn diagram):

  1. Marketing – when you interview potential agents to sell your home, if they don’t volunteer information about how they will market it (which any decent agent should), ask them.
  2. Price – nobody wants to be told their house is not worth as much as they’d like it to be worth, but, if you want to sell it, you need to price it realistically. If it’s overpriced, you won’t get people through the door.  Again, a decent agent should not overvalue a house just to get the business, and should give you an honest valuation, backed up by hard facts.
  3. Vendor motivation – just as there will always be people who go and view houses for sale almost as a hobby, with no intention of moving (yes, I’m looking at my mother-in-law again), there are also people who will put their house on the market with very little intention of actually moving. If a vendor is unmotivated, they will not take on board the advice of their agent regarding marketing or price, and will therefore likely remain on the market unsold. My friend B’s property has been on the market for almost two years. She’s not bothered whether she moves or not (house has to be seen to be on the market due to divorce), she won’t have a for sale board outside the property and her house is overpriced.

* * *

I think it’s also important to remember that the estate agent works for the vendor, not the purchaser, because it’s the vendor who pays him (only if the house is sold, mind you).

Contrary to popular belief, agents do not want to force you to go and view properties that are totally unsuitable for you. Why would they do so? It’s a waste of their time. They will, on the other hand, give you an overview of the properties they have for sale, possibly even recommend viewing particular ones (they are, after all, salespeople), but ultimately the person who chooses whether or not to view a property is the potential purchaser.

I was in Ashley’s office last week and there was a man being very shirty and unpleasant with one of the girls because she couldn’t arrange a viewing for him on a property for a particular day because the vendor had requested no viewings on that day. He was banging on about how that was his only day off, he couldn’t see it any other time, they obviously didn’t want his money blah blah blah. (Laughably, as the member of staff subsequently told me, he wasn’t even in a position to buy as he needed to sell his current house, which wasn’t even yet on the market!) No doubt he was another one who went off ranting to his mates down the pub about how all estate agents are lying bastards.

So, yeah, I’m a bit sick of all the hate. My husband and all his staff work six long days every week, bend over backwards to accommodate both vendors and potential purchasers, take numerous phone calls out of hours (clients on the phone while we’re eating Sunday breakfast, while we’re away on holiday (oh yes), while we’re out with friends on a Saturday night), and they don’t get paid unless they sell the property (at a price agreed upon by the vendor).

So next time anybody wants to paint an entire profession as useless, robbing scoundrels, just maybe consider first that it’s not always fair to tar everybody with the same brush.







June Movies

Here’s  a quick summary of the films I watched last month.

1.   Ruby Sparks


Quirky romantic comedy-drama about a struggling novelist and one of the characters he’s written coming to life.  Sounds ridiculous?  Yes, it was kind of, but it was very watchable and quite fun.  3 stars from me.

2.   Love Is All You Need


This film (which is Danish and partially subtitled) is the story of Philip, whose wife has died and Tilde, who is recovering from cancer treatment,  whose respective son and daughter are getting married in Italy, which is the setting for the movie.  I really enjoyed this film – a proper story with a beginning, a middle and an ending which left me wanting more.  4 stars.  My film of the month.

3.   The Way Way Back



I’d seen the trailer for this coming-of-age story, which I liked the look of, and the reviews were positive, and Ashley and I sat down to watch it one Friday evening.  Two hours later we looked at each other and said ‘God, that’s two hours of our life we’ll never get back’.  Put it this way, it wasn’t quite bad enough to switch off, and we kept on sitting there waiting for something to happen.  It never did.  2 stars, just barely, because it had a couple of mildly funny moments.  Not recommended.

4.   A Hijacking



The second Danish film of the month (and again partially subtitled).  Having recently watched Captain Phillips, I wondered if another film about Somali pirates hijacking a ship would have anything new to say, but this one took place over a far longer period of time, and focussed on the negotiations between the CEO of the shipping company and the pirates.  A bit grim, but a well-made and pacy film.  3.5 stars.

5.   The Internship


Another film that didn’t quite live up to the promises made by its trailer.  William watched this on a plane last year (unbeknown to me, as I wasn’t sitting anywhere near him!) and said it was great.  It was certainly quite funny in parts, but I thought it was too drawn-out and would have been a lot better with half an hour shaved off the length. 3 stars.

Have you watched any good films lately?

June Goals Update

Well, June went by in a flash, didn’t it?

Here’s an update on how I got on with the goals I set myself at the beginning of the month.

1.  Watch 10 Ted talks.

Partial success.  I only managed to watch four, though, as I tend to head for the You Tube app when I pick up the iPad rather than TED. I’ve got lots of talks that sound interesting bookmarked, though, so I’ll try and make some time to watch more in July.

2.   Exercise at least 10 times.

Partial success.  Only managed six – but hey, that’s six more than none! Won’t even start making excuses – it’s simply that I HATE exercise.

3.     Crochet June’s snowflakes with iMake’s #snowflakecal


Photo 01-07-2014 10 16 38

4.    Crochet June’s blanket squares with Spincushions’ #beyondthegrannycal


Photo 01-07-2014 10 17 39

5.    Make a start on the decorative flower/bunting/mandala crochet projects I’ve cut out of various magazines.

Done – I’ve crocheted five mandalas, which I’ve really enjoyed.

Photo 20-06-2014 17 22 43

6.   Start planning our housewarming party

Done – invitations all out and plans afoot. Ashley is brewing beer; Mum & Dad are bringing a shedload of booze back from Spain for us; décor and food ideas are underway.

7.   Watch 8 films

Partial success.  I watched five – could have watched more but we chose to make the most of the gorgeous weather we had in June by sitting outside in the evenings rather than in front of the telly.

8.   Read 8 books.

Done. Would have been more had I had my few days away in Spain!

9.   Sort out my wardrobe

Done. Always a good feeling having a good clearout and declutter.

10.   Sort out Will’s wardrobe and figure out if he has enough summer clothes, if not, what do I need to buy?

Done, and all necessary new clothes purchased.

11.   Cook four new recipes.  

Done. One of them was these stuffed peppers which I thought were delicious and Ashley and Will both gave a thumbs down to, so that one’s off the list for making again!

Photo 25-06-2014 17 17 03

12.   Buy flowers for the house.

Yes, I had flowers all month, and I really enjoyed them.10358321_1411574919125208_1202039601_n

13.   Clear my magazine backlog

Pretty much done – there are only two now, and one of those arrived in this morning’s post.

14.   Treat my nails every evening

Yes, done. I got a bit fed up about three quarters of the way through the month, as there didn’t seem to be any improvement at all.  However, in about the last five days, I’ve noticed that they’re not breaking quite so much. Hopefully this is now an ingrained habit, as it’s one I definitely want to continue.  If anybody has any recommendations for good nail treatments/oils, please let me know.

15.   Cut down on playing pointless iPad and iPhone games

Yes – not completely stopped, but definitely cut down.  I deleted some of the more brainless ones and the ones I’ve kept are at least one that use some brainpower!

* * *

So, quite a successful month, goals wise, all in all.  I’ve enjoyed having the focus of a list of things I want to get done for the month, so am going to continue.  Not for July, however, as we’re off on holiday for half of it, so I’ll give myself the month off.

Pop back tomorrow for June’s mini movie reviews.

Sunday Car Booty


Here’s a taster of this morning’s car boot purchases, which you can see in full over at my other blog .

It was a great morning’s shopping.

This time next week we shall be on a plane to Lanazarote.  I can’t wait, particularly having been denied my few days away this week by those flaming French air traffic controllers!

Ashley is in Paignton this morning running the Torbay Half Marathon, and Will’s off to karate shortly.  My plans for the day are somewhat less active(!), and I’m going to list a whole bunch of stuff on eBay ready to start when we get back from holiday and then have a lazy afternoon.  I’m very behind with my blog reading and You Tube watching, so a catch-up with all that will feature sometime during the day, no doubt.

Happy Sunday, everybody!


Not In Spain & (Ridiculously Late) May Empties

Hmmm, the best laid plans, eh?

Arrived at the airport at ridiculous o’clock on Tuesday morning, got as far as the departure gate only to be told, after much waiting around, to return to the departure lounge as there was a four hour delay due to the French air traffic controllers’ strike.  An hour later, our flight was cancelled completely!

Although obviously I was gutted to miss out on a much-anticipated few days lounging by the pool and spending some time with my parents, my disappointment was mitigated as there were families with kids on their annual summer holidays, a group of four sweet teenage lads so excited about their first trip away without their parents, a little old man nearly crying because he couldn’t get hold of the people meant to be meeting him at the airport in Spain to tell them his flight was cancelled ….  it was a lot worse for all these people than it was for me.

So, yeah, annoying, but not the end of the world.

As to why I didn’t get on another flight, before anybody asks – there are only two flights a week to Reus from Bristol, and the next one was today, which was when I would have been coming home!

Anyway, I’ve just remembered that I never uploaded my May Empties video, so here it is – enjoy!