Tuesday, 16 December 2014

absolutely full of Christmas fear.

From my September birthday onwards I wait for Christmas with bated breath and then it comes around, too quickly, in a prosecco-induced haze of sequins and chocolate wrappers. It's the most wonderful time of the year, they say. IS IT?

December is an expensive month. For some reason everybody gets a hundred times more social and you could easily go out for drinks every night of the week, so you do. Not to mention three course Christmas meals, novelty jumpers and party clothes (heavily embellished, bejewelled disco frocks are NOT cheap). I'm hoping for a lottery win so my family and friends get more than a lump of coal this year.

Tins of biscuits, jars of sweeties, vats of mulled wine: Christmas is an eating challenge unlike any other. This 2 week long party is sponsored by saturated fat. The workplace is particularly treacherous, with suppliers and clients and kindly colleagues bringing in tubs of tempting treats on a daily basis. Add in all that seasonal booze and you're all set for a Christmas bod akin to Santa Claus.

Once you've picked out the perfect ensemble and hit the town the reality of Christmas cavorting sets in. Your favourite bars and clubs are full of obnoxious office parties in cracker hats and comedy shirts and the bar queues are so long you'll sober up between rounds of J├Ągerbombs. Then comes the epic journey home in the freezing cold where an available taxi is an impossibility and you finally realise that bare legs were a bad idea.

By mid-December your relaxing summer escape seems like an eternity ago and you are completely burnt-out. This combined with a subtle yet consistent holiday hangover does not result in a cold and flu fighting machine. Germs are everywhere and they will inevitably find their way into your chest just in time for your time off.

Regardless of all these things I still LOVE Christmas. It's a magical time that we get to spend with the people we love and it also comes with presents, and pigs in blankets, and port. Maybe it actually is the most wonderful time of the year.


Wednesday, 23 July 2014

serious summer anxiety

When it comes to small talk there's nothing that fills an awkward silence at the office fridge like a banal comment about the weather, especially when that weather is extreme. Us Scots are used to summers with the heating on so the past few weeks of wonderfully warm weather has been a real talking point, with the masses in agreement that everything is better when the sun is shining.

The thing is, I'm not sure I agree. Don't get me wrong, the idea of hot weather is lovely but the reality makes me anxious, and here's why:

Dressing Appropriately
There's a big difference between summer clothes and summer holiday clothes. Sadly those bum-cheek flashing shorts, while perfect for the beach, are not deemed suitable office attire. Also, have you tried wearing black skinny jeans in this heat? It's akin to torture.

Bikini Fear
When it's hot, that extra half stone you put on after too many Christmas Quality Streets might as well be half a ton.You will be warm, you will be sweaty and all your clothes will feel like they belong to a toddler. Oh, and then you have to wear a bikini, great. In fact, I am drinking a green juice as I type this, hoping for a miracle.

Getting Places
Walking anywhere at speed is a no-go unless you want to arrive at your destination blotchy, damp and frizzy (I'm a head sweater). Buses are either steamy and sweaty, or boiling and stinking of BO and I'm not a cyclist myself but I can imagine that's a moist affair.

Being at work and not outside
Let's face it, sods law dictates that the best weather will be when you're stuck in a sweltering office with nothing but a shared fan to keep you cool. Come the weekend the clouds will gather and the rain will literally piss on your picnic. Spending your lunch break sunning yourself outside will only make returning to work more painful, trust me, it's not worth it.

So yes, sometimes I wish for winter. For chic woollen coats, opaque tights and numb fingers and toes. But I'll be the first to complain when this scorcher of a summer ceases, I'm fickle like that.

I shouldn't complain: Edinburgh's pretty beautiful in the sunshine.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Completely Self(ie)-Obsessed

I started a new job this week and on day three my photo was taken for the website and FYI it is THE WORST PHOTO EVER. Granted I am prone to hyperbole but seriously, it's revolting. The thing is for the past year or so I have been churning out grade A pictures of myself: flawless skin, supermodel pout, the lot! I am completely selfie-obsessed but what damage is it doing to me in the long term?

Not only do people think I am vain and vapid, I have also started to compare myself to an artificial version of me, and I certainly do not measure up. I feel pressure to look like beautiful celebrities but worse than that I also feel a pressure to look like my most shiny, Instagram-d self, the Charlotte you see (and Like) in my Facebook profile pictures.

The beauty of the selfie is you can take as many pictures as you want and pick the one where you look thinnest, coolest, most interesting (or in my case the one where my nose looks least like Michael Jackson's). Then you can add a filter that makes your eyes pop, your skin glow and your hair shine. It's like magic. But it's not real life. In real life I'm probably rocking eye bags for days and a spot akin to vesuvius on my chin.

I should probably stop taking selfies, I should get outside and do some exercise and work on feeling good inside instead of focusing on the outside. They say the first step is admitting you have a problem... my name is Charlotte and I'm a selfieholic.

Selfie cake selfie.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

The reality of being a single homeowner in your mid-twenties

I was lucky enough to be able to buy a flat last year, aged 25, with a little help from my extremely generous parents. I was lucky, I AM lucky however being a homeowner in your mid-twenties isn’t all quirky crockery and Pinterest inspired DIY projects.

Before buying my own place I was back at home with my mum and dad, I paid them a little in digs but what was left of my fairly humble wage went on nights out, holidays and Topshop sprees. I would eat out a lot and think nothing about dropping money on teeth whitening strips or long weekends away.

Then, they decided to sell our family home and buy a derelict farmhouse in rural France and in doing so were able to give me money to put a deposit down on a little one bed flat. Suddenly I was paying a mortgage, buildings insurance, life insurance, council tax, utility bills, internet and TV bills all by myself as well as trying to keep my social life alive and kicking.

A year on and I have racked up a fair bit of debt, all manageable, but it stills plagues every decision I make. Spending money on new clothes fills me with an overwhelming sense of guilt yet I do it, my boyfriend suggests a fun activity and I book it. I am eternally envious of colleagues who have enough disposable income to pay for a constant stream of ASOS parcels, and friends who still live at home with a fully stocked fridge!

I have already had to shell out over a grand to get my roof fixed, my obscure brand washing machine is temperamental and my third-hand television is a total dud. I have Grand Designs style delusions about decorating my flat but I can't even afford a hoover. The hardest part for me is that I still owe my parents money, the bank is a faceless, nameless organisation but not being able start paying off my parental debt is hard, considering how much they have done for me.

I feel so fortunate to own my own home but the responsibility sometimes feels bigger than me (and I'm a towering 6ft in heels). I AM lucky but if I find a mouse living behind my fridge, if I wake up to no running water, if I discover a leak, I can't phone a surly landlord or inept letting agent to fix my problem. I feel proud and poor and perennially panicked but I wouldn't change it for the world. 

Friday, 10 January 2014

My Rebellion

I know I haven't blogged for almost 2 years but I wrote this piece for the Elle Talent Contest in September and since I'm pretty sure I didn't win I wanted to publish it somewhere. So here it is. The title was 'My Rebellion' and here's what that means to me...

I’ve always been a bit of a square when it comes to rules. I’m blaming it on the omnipresent Catholic guilt but in reality I think it’s just one of my inherently annoying, ingrained personality traits. I will shush people on the quiet coach, follow a cake recipe to the letter, and police a game of Monopoly until the other players actually stop having fun. My mother has told me, on several occasions, to ‘chill out,’ a bitter pill to swallow coming from an uptight, fifty-something school teacher.   
    Breaking rules doesn’t come easily to me and my rebellions have been small and sometimes insignificant. Yet without them I wouldn’t be where I am today. At 16, when my peers were acting out, drinking stolen spirits in local parks and getting off with each other, I was doing maths past papers and re-reading The Great Gatsby. A quiet rebellion against rebellion itself could have lost me my friends and, more importantly, the very little street cred I had somehow accrued but thankfully it didn’t. Instead, I got great grades and an unconditional to study law at university (I genuinely thought I was going to be Ally McBeal, in quirky coloured skirt suits).
    After 4 years of law, I rebelled again, telling my wonderfully supportive parents that I didn’t want to be a lawyer, but thanks for funding the last four years of cider-fuelled debauchery. As it turns out, budget tailoring doesn’t suit me. Another year, and one journalism diploma later, I found myself living back at home with Mum and Dad, working part time in a shoe shop and unleashing my creativity in regular, self-obsessed blog posts. In these dark days leaving my bed unmade or sleeping past 11am were my mini mutinies. Despicable behaviour, I know.
     While some may call me a bore, a stick-in-the mud, a fun sponge: I think it takes a certain sort of bravery to stand against the stereotypical rebellion. Sometimes, doing the right thing is harder than doing the wrong thing and at times I have found the constant battle between head and heart to be emotionally exhausting.
     Everything happens for a reason however, and my life is now exactly where I want it to be: I have a job that I love, a flat that is mine, and my hair is finally at its optimal length after an ill-fated Alexa Chung-inspired bob last October. I eat too much, I binge drink, but I am content.  The only negative energy in my life is the knowledge that aged 10 I stole a packet of cheese and onion Frisps while manning the school tuck shop. For this was my ultimate act of rebellion, and my biggest regret.