Friday, 31 December 2010

Review of 2010 from fabulous to fraught and all the stages in-between

So as it is that limbo time, the in-between section where one year is coming to an end and a new one is just about to begin I think it is a good time to reflect on the memorable bits of 2010 - good and bad - before starting to work on my resolutions for the new year. So here goes:

The Bestest Bits

~ My first full year living with Mr P
I moved in with the fabulous Mr P at the end of last year and somehow he has managed to to put up with me and all my quirks, eccentricities and mood swings during the whole of 2010 without kicking me out. For that he deserves a medal, instead he gets to play PS3 uninterrupted while I blog...

~ Las Vegas
Mr P and I went on the best holiday ever in the world this year, taking in LV and the Grand Canyon. I look at our photos from that trip often because they bring back such happy happy memories. Travelling with the other half can be stressful (more for him with my list obsessions!) but travelling with an other half who is also your best friend as I found on that trip is just the best feeling :)

~ The iPad
Since purchasing iPad (which didn't go without it's own ironic sub plot - see Un-Imagineable iPad Irony for more details on this!!) I have fallen totally in love with it's magic internet surfing ways, the amazing apps and the beautiful interface. The calendar feature while pretty will never work as well as my Filofax but is cute none the less.

~ Discovering the blogosphere
2010 was also the year I discovered reading blogs, being inspired by blogs and the year I decided to start my own blog. Not with an aim of being popular or inciting thousands of page views (although that does appear to be happening - very strange that people seem to be reading my ramblings!) but more that I started my blog to write about my life as a mini journal. A diary of sorts, where I could practice writing with the view that one day it would help me write the novel that I feel is inside me somewhere....

~ The year of live music
I love live music. Watching bands and singers perform live on stage is just a fantastic feeling when the crowd go nuts and you all sing along in unison - it is just magic. And 2010 involved a lot of that!! From going to dozens of gigs by Mr P's fabulous band, seeing Lady Gaga, the Kings of Leon and taking a very apprehensive Mr P to his first Glastonbury Festival it was an awesome year for me getting out and about. And 2011 is shaping up to be even better with Take That, Isle of Wight, Glastonbury Extravaganza and Glastonbury Festival 2011 all booked in the diary already woohoo

The Leaving in 2010 Bits (or crappy things that happened)

~ The big C - affecting more and more of the people I love and care about. Either directly because they are affected, or because people they care about are afflicted with this horrible disease. Enough already, please go away and never darken my door again. When you have been to more funerals than weddings at only 33 then something needs to change.

~ Nosy family and friendies - as a legally free but happily boyfriended up lady during 2010 reaching the age of 33 seemed to unleash the questions from hell...the If/When/Why not type ones. So in 2011 here is a forewarning - I'm looking forward to being a flighty "single" for a while longer. So no questions about when am I getting engaged/married/having babies please. If I am lucky enough to have any/all the above happen I will tell you I promise!!

~ Getting older - I love birthdays I really do, my own, other peoples, I just love them. However I am done with getting older, so for the record I am remaining at 33 forever more. Thank you...

So there are my highlights and a couple of bum notes that I am releasing into the outdoors never to darken my thoughts again hopefully (wishful thinking maybe but it has to be worth a try)

What are your highlights and lowlights? Have you thought of all you thankees? The things you are most thankful for? I know I certainly am and will fill you in all soon!

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Sunday, 26 December 2010

Christmas Roundup or who's been a spoilt young lady this year then....

So I love Christmas - all the panicking over presents, the stress and spending and most of all the food mmmm. And this year is no exception just with the added stress of having the snow hamper journeys and plans.

Thankfully we managed to make it down to Cornwall for our planned getaway to Mr P's lovely family ( and the "spare" turkey I'd purchased will be a New Year feast instead). Anyway I digress, we finally arrived down in Cornwall about teatime on Christmas Eve - the fact we made it a miracle seeing as I was driving (with satnav navigation) as Mr P was a little fragile after his works do the night before and the heavy snow and ice still ever present all the way down.

But made it we did with the most treacherous part of the journey being the slide down their driveway to get to the house as with temperatures constantly below freezing the ice wasn't going anywhere but as it was dark we couldn't see how bad it was.

And after a delicious curry and evening with the family it was bedtime and that pang of wishing I was still a little un when Christmas Eve was the most exciting and magical night of the year....however this year waking up and seeing the thick snow outside for the first time more than made my day...

The frozen pond - here's hoping the fish are ok :(

And so it's the big day and Santa has been very busy dropping off lots of chocolate, biscuits, socks (him) and multiple coloured erasable pens (me) that it is a wonder he managed to fit in the rest of the UK! And how much do I love my Pilot erasable pens? Lots and lots and I can have the satisfaction of writing in my Filofax with a pen but with the flexibility of using a pencil with the ability to erase events and dates that change - genius. And now as well as the fabulous blue, pink and red ones I have an orange one - AMAZIN!! I didn't even know that orange pens existed, let alone erasable ones!! Using it on my new yellow Filofax paper (also courtesy of Santa) will probably cause headaches but will certainly brighten up work meetings in the new year.

And then everything wizzes by in a whir - The Santa Clause 3 on tv, an amazing turkey dinner followed by a yummy christmas pudding and apart from Mr P whining about the long wait to open his presents while his ickle brother went to collect his girlfriend it was a serene and picture perfect Christmas afternoon spent sat in front of the fire.

But back to the point of this post - despite being an undeserving recipient I was a very lucky girl and received a haul of presents that made me blush. With lots of lovely toiletries, books, mugs, bowls and a jewellery box I was just so excited with every unwrapping and then there was THE present. The one that Mr P said I had to leave until last and the one that contained a sleek and sexy white appliance - and not one for the kitchen!

So I am now the proud owner of a matt white DSi which came with the latest Professor Layton game. And it is just fabulous and I do have to admit I am a little in love with Professor Layton and his magnificent top hat....Mr P and I (when I can drag him away from Angry Birds) have been solving puzzles for the past 2 days and it's been lush :)

But tomorrow brings a journey back to my mother land of Somerset to visit my side of the family where hopefully we get to do it all again with lots more eating, drinking and presents. Mmmm wine and cheese..... You just have to love the holiday season with it's justified excesses on the consumption front (I just won't think about the new year diet resolutions until after January 3rd)

So wherever you are and whatever you are doing wishing you all the best for the holidays x

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Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Uh oh Filofax is calling again.....

I'm in love, again, fickle sort that I am and this time she's petite, sparkly and very, very gorgeous. Despite my other addiction to all things gadgety and shiny (iPad and iPhone anyone?) my heart really does belong to the humble pen and paper planner. However I really do think that it is time for me to seek out the FA - no not the football association but Filofax Anonymous. As this obsession is getting out of hand!

So here goes. Hi my name is Loulou And I am a Filofax addict.

So far this year I have bought 1 A5 Domino in bronze snakeskin, 2 Personal sized filos; a magenta Adephi and more recently a raspberry Chameleon. There was the bright blue pocket sized Domino - perfect for taking to Glastonbury festival with all the essential information and phone numbers in it and then the pocket Indie that was such a bargain in the sale at Staples I couldn't leave her behind to remain unloved in the Sale bin.

But despite all of these purchases (and of course I've not mentioned all the refills, paper and stickers that I've bought as well) I was getting the obsession under control (of sorts) so what does do? They go and discount the Ivory Deco - the most gorgeous of all the Filofax whom i have been coveting for months and months. Normally she retails at £195 - so for me despite all my planner obsession an unjustifiable purchase when I have so many lovely filos already at home.

But now, it is half price, as is the pocket version, so it is now a far more affordable (if still very expensive) £97.50 - which if you look at it logically and I used it every day that works out over the course of a year at just 27p per day. An absolute steal I'm sure you would agree...

But then there is the pocket version, smaller than my current everyday Filofax which is the raspberry Chameleon, but equally as divine to look at plus a whole £10 cheaper. Would this encourage me to downsize my planner size? And if so therefore be able to downsize my handbag? I'm a bugger for carrying around a handbag the size of a Smart car most days just to fit everything in so potentially a smaller planner would equal smaller bag...

But the final thorn in my side is the fact that allegedly the Ivory Deco is to be discontinued so if I don't purchase it now it may be gone forever, a thought far too painful to entertain...

Aaah maybe I should just get both to be sure?

Monday, 20 December 2010

Being Prepared (or how to have a snow plan)

So unless you are living under a rock you will have heard about the current wintery conditions affecting the UK at present. Even Weymouth, the only place not to be affected usually has been struck down by the snow and ice this time around. Although we are now clear after a lovely spell of torrential rain this morning, the whole of the surrounding area is struck down under several inches of snow.

This is a major issue and I'll tell you for why:

1. Lack of post/couriers - I like thousands of others am stuck waiting for presents to arrive therefore leaving in "do I buy again" limbo. I mean do we court the Law of Sod and re-purchase those key gifts (assuming we can a) get to the shops and b) they have the bits we need) or do we hang on and pray to the god of Postal services?

2. Getting about - going to work should not involve dicing with death on icy roads, it is simply not fair. Now I am lucky that I can access email etc and work from home but I have realised I'm just not cut out for that. I am getting lots done but I'm LONELY!! So National Rail here I come tomorrow don't let me down pretty please as I have presents to drop off, shopping to do and I guess some work to do!!

3. Cancellations - I was supposed to be at a very, very important meeting today which got cancelled due to the weather. Everything else I can live with but when vital appointments are affected it becomes a more serious issue. This is the same for thousands who cannot make hospital appointments, family events, social engagements and let's not get started on the flight debacle currently happening all over the UK. I really feel for those people trapped in limbo at the airports just having to wait....

4. Christmas dinner - the lovely Mr P and I have plans to travel and visit his family in Cornwall for the festivities. But with their village currently snowed in and even my family trapped in their village in Somerset I've been forced to take emergency measures. Cue one turkey crown in the fridge with a "cook in case of emergency" sticker on it should we not be able to leave our lovely little home. I also have the must buy Christmas food list all prepped and ready in my trusty Filofax ready for any supermarket I can make it to this week!!

So here is to being prepared and having a plan but most of all here is to spending this evening dancing around the lounge in a sun dance praying for the thaw!

P.S. Apologies for the poor quality of the photo: a mix of crappy phone camera and dark lounge combined with my appalling photographic skills..I feel a New Year's Resolution to develop my camera skills coming on...

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Lessons from the Lady (Gaga)

So this weekend started badly, got worse and then improved no end with a fantastic night watching Lady Gaga at the O2. The 5 1/2 journey there from Dorset not so great but fantastic navigation by IB and driving by RN plus a bucket full of sweets made the journey an absolute joy. However a quick glug of vino and a quick change later and we were ready to rock.

And rock along we did, Gaga certainly knows how to put on a fantastic show. For all the crazy outfits and antics that steal the headlines what you forget is that Gaga not only writes her own lyrics and melodies but also plays the piano/keyboards and can dance like a queen.

All the way through the show Lady Gaga sings her guts out while dancing in perfect co-ordination with her troupe of backing dancers in a way us mere mortals could only dream about. Her show infuses a mix of all her pop songs with a heavy dose of interaction with the audience and even a mini self-help section talking about how you need to believe in yourself and not listen to the haters/bullies in your life - all based on her own life experiences which clearly shaped the eccentric alter ego now seen on stage.

But as a pop concert goes one of the best I've been to - atmospheric, dynamic, fun and with a bloody good singsong at the end (can't beat 90,000 people singing along in unison to Bad Romance)

But through all the costumes, the fun and the crazy her over riding message is one of strength and self empowerment. Very refreshing listening for someone needing a few inspirational words.

Of course that new positive serene thinking all went to pot traversing the roads of Euston and greater London on the way home (driven expertly by gorgeous MB) when blizzards, ice and deep snow made the planned shopping day in the capital impossible.

However I will be embracing the positive messages she conveyed into my new lifestyle where positive thinking is paramount and belief in the ability to make your own destiny is going to be a new key strategy.

Ooh that and the sparkly flame throwing bra - that will definitely come in handy when trying to beat the que in Tesco!

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Thursday, 16 December 2010

Un-Imagineable iPad irony

So here is the latest instalment in the iPad saga..readers of my recent blog posts will know all about my dilemmas over whether to purchase an iPad or not. After all the "will I use it" and "is it worth it" questions I finally caved and 2 weeks ago bit the bullet and purchased my gorgeous, shiny new 32Gb wifi only LoulouPad.

And we have had a very happy 2 weeks together iPad and I. We have bonded well together over movies, magazines and the apps store - special mentions to the Net-A-Porter, Sunday Times and Flipboard as today's favourites.

Flash forward 2 weeks and my colleagues are all partying at the annual Christmas do when our bosses make an extraordinarily generous announcement, FREE iPads for all employees. I mean seriously, they are giving everyone a free iPad, no strings, no signing in blood just old fashioned generosity. 

However I can hear the laughter from certain friends from here. Oh the irony of spending months evaluating whether to purchase an iPad to find after the decision has finally been made to then find out I'm potentially getting a free one.....

Ironic but yet amazing. And Mr P is smiling as he can see potentially the current LoulouPad becoming a Mr i(P)ad. 

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Christmas Shopping, the parental way

So it is barely 10 days until the big event and currently I'm sitting pretty as I've nearly completed all the present shopping. I do however reek of cheese. Today we received a very lovely gift from a supplier at work consisting of Prosecco, Chutney, Crackers and the stinkiest French cheese that you could possibly imagine. While managing to offload the cheese but hang onto the Prosecco (win!!) I received a helpful email from my Mother about some Christmas gift suggestions for her and me Dad. Or at least it was helpful until I read it...

It started innocently enough with a standard (if slightly boring selection of gifts) of slippers, socks and similar until the fifth bullet point "CD (have to get back to you on name)". Now while I'm all up for a treasure hunt challenge to find the perfect gift when out shopping  and despite the fact that when given a hint I do feel find it necessary to follow it for fear of disappointing the potential recipient I am not a mind reader (contrary to popular belief). But even with my massive powers of deduction (Sherlock Holmes has nothing on me) the limited information on this suggestion means it needs shelving for now. So with further information hopefully looming on the CD I moved on.

So next on the list were more standard Christmas items perfect for the father figure in your life (jogging bottoms, hankies, family really aren't as boring as these gift ideas suggest I promise) and I find this suggestion lurking mid way on the page "DVD - something funny (can't think of his name but they're advertising it on the TV)" So this could range from box sets to Sex and The City????

So lets recap after socks and slippers I'm hunting around in the high street for a CD artist unknown (male/female/band/Mr Blobby??) and a DVD being advertised on the TV - at Christmas - that narrows it down then!

My only conclusion is that it would appear thinking of your own Christmas list is just as difficult and stressful as thinking of what to buy other people...unless you decide to leave hints instead of clues. In which case the obligatory toiletries and chocolates come out to play. Well it may help disguise the Eau Du Fromage at any case!

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Cornish Shenanigans

So this weekend we have travelled down to Cornwall to spend some time with Mr P's lovely family plus tick off a few to do's while we are at it. Included in our action plan was:

1. Go to Launceston for late night shopping on Friday night (real reindeer yes please)
2. Go christmas shopping in Truro for the day on Saturday (and try to prevent Mr P freaking out in the busy shops)
3. Do a tour of the Launceston and the village's Christmas lights to really get in the festive mood (love all the lights even if the electric bill in this area must be triple the national average)

So how are we doing against the list....

1. Launceston's late night shopping evening was just lovely - real reindeer who were miniature sized, similar to a Shetland pony and very good natured, so cute. There were Carol singers outside the church, brass bands playing and the smells of hot cider and Christmas cake mmmm. Now as this is Mr P's home town it did mean we did the "local boy moved away and back for the weekend" shuffle where you bump into so many people you know that it takes an hour to get 3 shops down the high street but seeing so many people out supporting local retailers and getting into the spirit of Christmas has meant I'm now feeling proper christmassy - be warned expect lots of Maria Carey and Elf at home from now on!!

2. Having never been to Truro I had no idea what to expect of this Cornish town with the famous cathedral but now having spent the day there I can whole heartedly recommend it as a shopping destination. Packed full of beautiful independent shops as well as all your core high street essentials (Debenhams, Marks and Spencers etc) it was a lovely day out. And clearly not just for the ladies as the anti shopping hero Mr P even managed to last the whole day - albeit solely fuelled by the lure of a Burger King lunch (I have no idea what the appeal of BK is to Mr P other than we do not have one in our hometown but the level of excitement generated by spotting the illuminated glow of the logo really is unfathomable. Since I started dating Mr P any day trip out always seems to involve an XL Bacon Double Cheeseburger for him - including Detroit airport, Sharm El Sheik airport, Exeter, London, Truro, Yeovil......can you see a pattern?)

3. Christmas lights around the villages and Launceston town are just gorgeous this year and visiting Mr P's family also means we get to see their house lights with waving santas, sleighs, snowmen and the most lush blue icicle lights - despite my begging no chance of us having any of those at home so it's lovely to come and make the most of the christmas season somewhere so festive...

As for tomorrow no plans yet but I'm sure our Cornish weekend away will continue with a seasonal theme.....much to Mr P's joy (just call him Scrooge hehe)

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Thursday, 9 December 2010

iPad's First Day Out - The Verdict

So after an incredibly long day yesterday travelling to and from Kent I certainly got plenty of time to play with my new toy and here is the no holds barred verdict.

1. How's the juice?
Amazingly despite watching a full length movie, spending several hours typing notes, surfing the Internet and even writing the blog post not even half the battery was used up - shocking seeing as the iPhone needed charging halfway through the day. Big tick for the iPad on longevity

2. Apps...the good, the bad and the ugly?
Most successful apps of the day have to be VLC for watching a movie on the train on the way home, Cut The Rope for pure fun factor, Solitaire for a less taxing gameplay and I thoroughly enjoyed reading Project the new Richard Branson iPad magazine. Admittedly I am probably not it's direct target market as it appears to be more aimed at boys who love their gadgets rather than girlies that adore handbags however I loved the video angle, the Wired-esque story snippets and putting Jeff Bridges on the cover - genius. It may take FOREVER to download it but I think it is well worth it

3. iPad verses the Laptop - did it cope?
Normally on the epic Kent trips I cart around my very lovely but blooming heavy HP laptop. This way I have email, spreadsheets, lotus budgets and artwork all to hand. However this time I thought I'd give the iPad a go. See if it could cope being the all encompassing business tool that I needed. Again a resounding was easy as anything to access, the spreadsheets I needed were accessible although I think to be able to manipulate them I will need to cough up for the Numbers app but in terms of just viewing numbers and data absolutely fine. But the best thing was viewing the artwork on this gorgeous giant screen - amazeaballs. Clear and easy to view adverts, zoom in and out on the small print and made approving artwork a breeze.

4. List-tastic
I love lists (have I mentioned this before???) and the iPad offers a listaholic plenty of options, there is the in-house Notes function which just looks gorgeous and offers multiple lists and shortlists all in one place:

But in addition to this you can download hundreds of apps to help organise your life from To Do lists to note taking apps. My only problem is finding one I love enough to stick with forsaking all others and not keep on being a list app whore. While the iPad will never replace my filofax as you just can't beat using Pen and Paper sometimes but the iPad is certainly a strong addition to my organisational toolkit

5. Finally of course seeing as it is just so easy and gorgeous it has to be the BlogPress app leaving me no reasons not to blog more frequently and that alone surely justifies the spend on the watch out readers lots more to come from Loulou x

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Wednesday, 8 December 2010

iPad's First Day Out

So today is iPad's first day out on a proper work/travelling expedition. We are on our way to Kent for a meeting so spending 5 hours on a train there and then another 5 hours home again should be a really good test of a) the iPad and it's battery life but also b) my selection of Apps and how well they can stand up to entertaining such a long journey.

Currently loaded and available for use are:

1- Project Magazine. I've not had a chance to properly look through and read this new ipad only magazine by Richard Branson so am looking forward to starting it post my first coffee of the day

2- Eureka Magazine. Similarly to Project I've downloaded but not properly yet read the iPad version of Eureka - a science supplement that comes with the Times newspaper

3- Cut The Rope. Having completed the Lite version after Mr P downloaded it I'm going to give the full version a bash and see how long it takes before I get so annoyed I can't complete it that I give up!!

4- Christmas Presents App. Aiming to be fully organised this year I have a new app to record all the ideas/purchases for people for Christmas (this works alongside my Dodo Pad Christmas binder that I bought in the summer. Well I do love my lists!!)

5- Notes. A standard app but one at works so well for a list maniac like myself. Currently included in the list of lists are an order for the chinese takeaway we had on Monday, a list of presents I've bought but not yet decided who they are going to, a to do list for work, a to do list for home, a supermarket list for when I finally get to Tesco and my christmas wish list for my Mum

6- VLC. This app is designed so I can watch movies on the iPad that have not come directly via iTunes - exciting now I can watch movies on the go

So here we go.....

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Location:Trains all over the south

Saturday, 4 December 2010

iPad.......the final!

So after many months of deliberations and trying to justify whether an iPad was an essential or excessive purchase I've only gone and bloody done it!! I finally succumbed and bought myself an iPad, upon which I am currently typing this blogpost no less.

My reasons for suddenly being able to hand over that fat wedge of cash for a non essential technical device after so many months spent debating the purchase? Ultimately it came down to 3 things:

1. Work - with so many magazines now offering iPad editions, apps and downloads specifically for the iPad being able to keep track of who/what/why becomes increasingly difficult when you can't see the pricing/interface/quality - this was only emphasised further by e release of Richard Branson's latest foray into publishing "Project" an iPad only magazine released this week(more on that later!!) And the news that publishers can now include iPad subscriptions into their ABC circulation figures makes the iPad versions even more important an element in my job!

2. A bad day - as lame as that sounds and while I had almost made that final decision it was a spectacularly bad customer experience in a certain high street opticians this week while I was attempting to spend the best part of £250 on some new glasses - I failed in this task due to the incompetence and rudenesss of said staff - that made me think sack it let's invest that money in an item I really do want and treat myself I can downsize the glasses spend to help pay for it!!

3. Short term living - it has been a strange few weeks with the loss of people close to so many and again making you rethink what is important and precious. Now while my family, Mr P and my friends come top of that list I did start to wonder what exactly I was waiting for regarding my iPad purchase. I mean having savings is very important but currently they are not making a huge amount of interest and let's face it with my family history I'm not likely to reach a particulary ripe old age so saving my fun times until retirement is a very lame plan.

So to hell with caution and reserve and hello to the Apple shop. And probably the easiest sale anyone has ever made on a £500 item! Me "Hello I would like to buy the 32g wifi only iPad please and a case" Salesman "um ok do you want to see what it can do" Me "No ta just bung it in the bag and let's go!"

So I have the shiny new iPad what have I done with it so far? Not a lot. Lots of web browsing (awesome it's just so quick to turn on, light to use and the screen is just amazing) downloaded a few magazine apps (omg they take forever to download with all their fancy video and graphical content - Eureka/Projet/Wired yes I mean you!!) and started to make lists and notes on things - mostly shopping things that I would want for Christmas but honestly I am trying to use it for good!!

So many more posts and reviews to come no doubt...but first surely there is a blogger app so that posting becomes even easier??