Salted Peanut Chocolate Torte

This year during Great British Bake Off, I’ve been trying to bake on theme each week. I have missed a few but I’ve managed most weeks to take in treats to the office.

For dessert week I was a bit stuck and was kind of limited time wise so I opted for something really decadent but also REALLY easy! My colleagues LOVED it (so much so they have begged for another!) And now it’s time to share it with you.

So, here is my recipe for salted peanut chocolate torte (if you think of a better name hit me up) As always I guessed a lot of the measurements!

For the base

  • 1/2 a pack of Digestive biscuits (200g ish)
  • 100g (ish) Butter
  • Salted peanuts (50g maybe)

For the filling

  • 200g Dark chocolate
  • 200ml Double cream
  • (The filling the the bit that I’m completely accurate with measurements!
  • Salted peanuts, crushed
  • Sea salt flakes (optional)

The base is basically a cheesecake base with added peanuts.

Crush up the biscuits (pop them in a bag and take out all your rage on them!) melt the butter (I whack it in the microwave) and combine the 2. Then smash up the peanuts (I’ve found popping them in a sealed bag and rolling with a heavy rolling pin the best way) then mix the crushed up peanuts into the buttery biscuit mix.

Push the mixture into a tin, I personally use a silicone flan tin that I got with a baking magazine. I also like to have the crust up the sides too so I pushed it up the sides of the tin. Pop it in the fridge whilst you make the ganache filling.

Ganache is one of those things which sounds and looks fancy but it’s honestly one of the easiest things to make!

Break up the chocolate into pieces and pop it into a heat proof bowl (I use a Pyrex one and I love it)

Pop the cream into a pan & heat on a medium heat. You don’t want it to boil, or even simmer really. You just want it to be hot enough to melt the chocolate.

I ALWAYS heat it in a pan as I think you get a better control of the temperature & don’t risk it spoiling.

Pour the hot cream on to the chocolate and mix. I use a spatula to mix, I know others who whisk…I personally don’t think it matters!

When it’s all combined it should be all beautiful and glossy.

Pour it in to the cooled base and smooth out as necessary.

Refrigerate for a bit (so it’s not liquid) before you top with the crushed up peanuts and sea salt flakes then return to the fridge for a few hours.

Enjoy…it works beautifully with some good vanilla ice cream. Or just a cup of tea.

Food for fighting

Those of you who follow me on twitter, or spend any time talking to me, will know that I’ve had a bit of a tough time of it lately.

I’m 95% sure it was a nasty endo flare up, leaving me basically bed bound for a week.

I ended up in the out of hours surgery begging for pain relief that works, as over the counter stuff doesn’t touch it, I’m intolerant to Naproxen and I’m one of the 8% who can’t metabolise codeine, don’t even get me started on what tramadol does to me!

Honestly. This flare up has probably been the worst I’ve ever had. And the pain was just the tip of the iceberg.

I was constantly fatigued, I couldn’t stand up for longer than 10 minutes without feeling like I had run a marathon. Walking to the toilet or to get a drink almost resulted in me passing out more than once. Even when I started to feel better on the Saturday, I went for a 10 ish minute walk and I was EXHAUSTED by the time we sat down for lunch. Food made me feel sick but I was also hungry so I felt like I was in a catch 22.

Add in the emotional side of it all and the lack of sleep which just made the emotions worse and I was the WORST person to be around. I had such a pity party. My boyfriend wasn’t able to come and see me (the poor guy had to put up with me being needy and annoying over text), none of my family are close (although my mum was amazing on the phone), I felt like I was a nuisance to my friends (shout out to Becky for taking me to hospital again!) and I just wanted to curl up and never move.

This flare up, although awful for me (and everyone around me) has been positive in one way. It’s made me realise that I need to take control. I have been relying on my coil to do all the hard work balancing my hormones and fighting off the nastiness but it’s not enough.

I made the decision (quite a big one!) to finally start looking at my diet and cutting out the well known triggers. I say cutting out, what I really mean is massively reducing in most areas because I don’t think I can ever give up cheese!

So…refined sugar, trans fat, soy, dairy, red meat, gluten, fried food, caffeine & alcohol are all on the no go (read “reduce”) list.

I also need to increase my leafy greens (yay spinach), increase my red fruit/veg (there’s a reason I just can’t remember it), add turmeric and ginger to everything (maybe not everything!) and increase my omega 3.

I’m hoping that this will be a good weighloss plan too (simply cutting sugars should help)

I’m going to document my progress with this here. Firstly to keep me accountable and second because it may help other people!

Have any of you made drastic diet changes for reproductive health reasons? I would love to hear your story!

Also, how amazing is that picture at the start?! Click on it and you will find it as a print available to buy!

A letter to…

Dear…

I guess this letter is a long time coming. There is no rhyme, nor reason as to why I’m writing this now. It just kind of feels…right.

I’m writing to thank you. Unusual I know; considering. But I’m writing to thank you for everything you did for me.

Thank you for not turning up sometimes, it prepared me for future disappointment.

Thank you for forgetting things that were important to me, it taught me that the world doesn’t revolve around me.

Thank you for making me doubt your feelings, it set me up for future heartbreaks.

Thank you for leaving, it showed me that women can stand alone.

Thank you for twisting my words, it made me see who my friends are.

Thank you for shutting me out, it made me fight harder.

Thank you for breaking my heart, it made the pieces stronger.

Thank you for wasting my time, it made me see I deserved more.

Thank you for casting me aside, it made me realise I was cared for more than I knew.

Thank you for exploiting and manipulating me, it gave me lived experience and taught me resilience.

Thank you for being you, it’s teaching me how to trust & care intensely again.

My American Boy

Grief is weird. I mean REALLY weird.

For those of you who don’t know, in the early hours of July 5th 2017, one of the best humans I have ever had the pleasure of knowing, was killed. Whilst heading home after his absolute favourite day of the year, he was an unintended victim of gang violence, the aftermath of gun violence. He was struck down by a vehicle fleeing the scene of a shooting. He was killed saving the lives of other people. He died a hero.

Picture thank to Scott’s Facebook

In the days/weeks that followed, the outpouring of love I saw across social media was truly beautiful to behold. I watched, my heart absolutely broken, as all these people I had never met told the world how much they loved my friend. Loved their friend.
I received messages from people I adore as well as from people I haven’t spoken to in a long time saying how sad they were.
I was also seeing posts from people that I didn’t even know knew Scott, people who I went to uni and as far as I knew, had met him maybe once. I remember sitting there being annoyed at these people. “How DARE they, they didn’t even know him”. And then it clicked. Every single person who met him, no matter if it was for just 1 hour, was touched (most of the time literally…he had a habit of licking faces!) by Scott, by his energy, by his warmth, his ability to make you feel like you were the only person in the world who mattered. He also had this incredible ability to have an insanely active social life, be super studious, be in every lecture and still sleep so he met an AWFUL lot of people! My thought quickly changed from “how dare they” to “how dare I” who gave me the right to dictate who can and can’t be upset. That’s grief.

I also remember thinking in the weeks that passed how much all my old uni friends came together, how much we checked in on each other, how much energy went in to planning the MOST amazing memorial event that really couldn’t have been more “Scott”!

We all vowed to stay in touch. To be more Scott. To make sure we connect more.
We failed. But that is ok. Grief bought us together but life got in the way. We have occasional messages back & forth but those old friendships really haven’t been re-forged. Not for me anyway. And that makes me sad. But that’s grief.

In the last year, I have thought more about Scott and Tart (his incredible boyfriend, pictured above) than I did in the 8 years prior. So many times I have thought “I would love Scott to know about this” or “omg Scott would adore that”. I will hear song lyrics and a memory of him will come back (usually a drunk one). Whilst he was alive, I took advantage of the fact that he was there. I would message him on his birthday, or 4th July (happy freedom day buddy) or Christmas, or randomly when I missed him. He would message me when he served people from the Wirral, or my birthday, or when he missed me. But we were no longer close. I always knew that if I needed him, he was there. And I hope he knew the same was true the other way round. But now I CAN’T message him, it’s all I want to do. But that’s grief.

Today, as I sit and type this, I have seen his face multiple times across social media. People saying how much they miss him. People telling the world what he meant to them. People marking the year we have had without him. It HURTS my heart, it hurts every single part of my soul. I haven’t been able to see his picture all year without tears in my eyes. His happy, smiley, bearded face which used to make my heart happy because I knew he was living his absolute best life, now breaks my heart. But that’s grief.

Tomorrow, the day I am choosing to mark this awful loss, the day recorded as the day we lost him, I am off to the theatre. It seems like a really happy thing to do, a really apt thing to me. We did a drama degree, we often went to the theatre together (and to some very none traditional theatre performances!) I was actually on my way to see Romeo & Juliet when I got the news. I was sat in a restaurant sobbing. (I was such a mess that we  got our meal for free because the staff just didn’t know what to do!) I’m choosing to mark my grief with something I know Scott would love and in a way that feels positive. I hope that everyone else does the same.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that grief comes in so many forms. There is not one way to deal with it. There is no wrong way either. I would love it for us all to be better humans, to be closer friends, to live our best lives, but if we don’t…that’s ok too.

And Tart, if you are reading this, one day, I’m going to come to Speedo Sunday!

Scott. I miss you. I love you. My American boy.

8 rules for 2018

2017 was shit. I’m not going into why because those who need to know already know.  To counter the shitness, I was going to write a post of things that have been positive in 2017 but I realised that most of the positive things all involve being on holiday so…probably a dull post! I will however state that I am so happy I made some amazing memories and met some GREAT people last year!

Instead I’m going to write my rules for 2018. These are not resolutions, they are rules I would like to try and live by this year. So here it goes…

1) STOP CARING. No this doesn’t mean I’m going to be cold hearted. I really mean stop caring what other people think. I’m so guilty of worrying about what others think of me & wanting everyone to like me but this year I’m going to try to change that.

I also want to stop comparing myself to others, stop wanting to have the perfect relationship, stop wanting to have my friends figure and embrace my own! You get the picture!

I mean, I look fabulous here…why do I even care what others think?!

2) STOP WORKING HARDER THAN OTHER PEOPLE. By this I mean stop working harder on friendships than the other party. It’s not good for me. It makes me an easy target for people to use me & it generally ends in a lot of pain! HOWEVER, if I know someone isn’t doing ok I will be reaching out more!

3) SPEND TIME WITH PEOPLE YOU CARE ABOUT. I have some amazing people in my life and I don’t always spend time with these people. Why? Because I don’t make the time. And that’s just selfish!

Just a small selection of those who I adore.

4) PUT YOURSELF FIRST. This kind of ties in to the top two, but I’m so guilty of thinking of me last. I always try and please everyone else and this is often to my own detriment. So I’m going to be a little more selfish (yep that totally goes against what I just said in point 3 but shush) I’m not going to say yes to everything or be the one that people always depend on for support. That doesn’t mean I’m going to turn people away but I may redirect them to services other than me.

5) STOP BEING AFRAID. I struggle with anxiety sometimes and it goes a bit off the rails when I meet new people/do new things/go to new places. I want to start stepping out of my comfort zone and doing new things. I’ve always loved being on stage (I KNOW, shock right) so maybe I’ll join a theatre company. Or maybe I’ll sing. Who knows.

6) LOOK AFTER YOURSELF. Part of the reason 2017 was so bad was my health. I’ve neglected myself and I’ve paid the price. So in 2018 I am looking after my mental and physical health. Taking my meds properly, listening to my body, meal planning better, trying to up my exercise & taking some me time when needed. This will probably include taking some digital downtime. Switching off for a few hours a day. Now THAT will be hard!

7) KEEP LEARNING. An idle mind and all that… I always START a project like learning a language or something and then stop because I would rather watch TV. But actually I am going to start making sure I learn new stuff. Stuff that will help me, help others, maybe even help me to help others! I think my 1st learning project will be to throw myself into Swahili. So if anyone can tutor me…

8) BAKE MORE. Because who doesn’t love baked goods.

I mean SERIOUSLY. Who doesn’t want more of this?!

I’m sure I will expand on these as the year goes on and life changes but for now, I think 8 is enough! And I am not going to beat myself up if I don’t always stick to these, as I said at the start, they are rules I am TRYING to stick to 🙂

Have you guys got any rules you want to live by this year? Would love to know them in the comments.

Being single does not define me.

Recently my twitter has been a bit of a mixed bag. A lot of happy “oh my word its so festive and brilliant” posts mixed in with some arguments and drama alongside a whole bunch of “Christmas sucks when you are single”. And honestly, I am a bit over it.

I am single. I am pretty ok with my “status”. Yes, there are days when I would love nothing more than the chance to call my boyfriend and have cuddles (and the rest…) but in general, I am NOT one of those people who is desperate for a boyfriend. Yea it would be nice but it’s not the end of the world.

I see so many people online saying how awful being single is. It really isn’t that bad guys.

I have been ‘on my own’ for just over three years. I have had a few flings and stuff in that time (including an accidental boyfriend who was all kinds of awful) which have been fun.  I’ve been on a few dates, some wonderful, some TERRIBLE.  I’ve had what I thought were amazing connections with guys who turned out to be utter pricks and have felt like I would NEVER find a good guy. I have cried, I have laughed but in general, the last 3 years have been pretty FUN.

My heart hurts a little for those people (men and women) who cannot enjoy single life. Having a partner is amazing but it should not and DOES NOT define you.  The old adage “you need to love yourself before you can love someone else” does come into play but not for everyone. I know a lot of people who do love themselves and are very happy and having a partner would just complete the picture. That’s cool. And I actually totally get it. BUT there are some, who (from what I see) seem to think that having a partner is the ONLY thing that matters; and that makes me sad. Dating should be FUN not a chore. Yes it SUCKS sometimes, it’s not easy, and we all know the perils of ghosts and love bombers and zombies and all the other nonsense; but in all that shit there is FUN. You get to meet new people, work out what you do and don’t want in a partner, even make some great friends along the way (I know I have!)

Being single is great. You only have to think about yourself. I can make plans for me and not worry about what my other half is doing, I randomly go on adventures and do things without even blinking. There is no one to have to think about Christmas presents for (although, I bloody LOVE picking the perfect gifts) I don’t have to worry that I am going to Switzerland for 5 days, I can go out and flirt with who the hell I want, yes a kiss at midnight on NYE would be great but last year I snogged a total random and this year I am hoping for similar.

I have so many friends who are in couples and I see the drama that comes with it…my word I can do without that right now.  Yes they get the good side which USUALLY outweighs the bad but the bad is still there. No, I am not saying that this would stop me having a relationship, jesus, we all KNOW that relationships are not easy, but I am saying that it makes me think, and makes it clear that I want to wait until I meet the right person. I am 100% ready to settle down but I am also in no rush to meet the wrong guy!

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I am VERY aware that I have a wonderful family and bunch of phenomenal friends who build me up and make sure I never feel totally alone. I know that some people don’t have this and that can make things MUCH harder, especially over the festive period. There is nothing WRONG with wanting a partner, that is not what I am saying at all. I bloody want a partner but I am trying to live my life without needing one!

I would love to see more people embracing single life, hear more stories of what people have been able to do because they are single rather than stories of misery because they feel a partner is the be all and end all.

I for one am going in to 2018 with open arms and embracing my single life because despite the occasional pang for a cuddle on a cold Sunday evening…it can be BLOODY BRILLIANT!

Awards Galore

Happy new week lovelies! I don’t know about you but I am really feeling the impact of these short days. Hence why I was sat tapping away on a Sunday after watching Blue Planet 2 and eating too much pizza!

Recently I got a twitter notification from a certain @whatabbiesays_ (she is such a stalker) tagging me in to a blog of hers. So obviously I clicked through and read it (I mean, she doesn’t have to tag me, I read her stuff anyway!) The blog itself (which you can read here) was her response to a nomination for a bloggers recognition award and my tag was her nominating me for the same thing.

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Now, Abbie and I have been “twitter friends” for a very long time and I don’t even remember how it came about.  She is one of the good eggs and I genuinely count her among my friends now, despite FAILING miserably at meeting up! Her little bit about me made me cry happy tears, (THANKS Abbie for making me cry, again!)  She is one of the reasons I am back blogging again and I think she puts up with more of my life drama than most!! Love love love.

Anyway, enough about Abbie, back to the reason I am writing this… well, I am actually going to be super cheeky because I am going to cram 2 award nomination posts into 1! I was tagged in a post by Girl in Islington (who was part of thesaurus gate) for a Versatile Blogger Award as one of her favourite blogs (what a sweetie!!) so this is my response to BOTH of those!

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How gorgeous is this pic?! Ibiza sunset!

The “rules” vary for each award but the gist is:

  1. Write a blog post thanking the person that nominated you.
  2. Share some info about you and why you blog/advice for other bloggers (The versatile blog award is a 7 facts about you post)
  3. Nominate fifteen other bloggers and let them know you’ve nominated them too.

 

If you have been with me from the beginning (I mean the REAL beginning when I was over on Musings of a Misguided Mind – and yes, that WAS a good blog name!) you will know that I started blogging back in 2011 (holy smokes!) and was inspired by a guy I was dating. You can check out the 1st proper post here.  I blog so sporadically and about so many different things I am not even sure I class myself as a “blogger” but hey, people read and respond to my stuff soooooo…

I used my musings blog as a record of my first trip to Kenya and I LOVE reading that back from time to time. Personally, I believe my writing has come on a LOT since then but my values have always remained the same.  I think this is what makes me such a sporadic blogger (well, that and the fact that I get annoyed at taking pictures!) I refuse to write about just anything and want to write about stuff I love.  This would be one of my tips to anyone who wants to start writing, don’t write for the sake of it; write because you want to share what you love with others.

I think my second piece of advice would be don’t write for the free stuff. Honestly, in my entire time blogging I have been VERY lucky to be given some AMAZING freebies but that is NOT why I write. I engage with a whole bunch of rugby brands and yep that comes with major perks but I would engage of them if I got no freebies (Canterbury, if you are reading this…the 6 nations are coming up…*kidding* obvs)

That is kind of it for me. I have a whole bunch of blogs planned, including rants, recipes and reviews (like my alliteration there?)  and I would LOVE you to keep reading. Let me know what you love (and hate) about my blog in the comments.

Finally, a whole bunch of people who I ADORE in the world of blogging, ALL (but one) of whom I got to know via Twitter and then started reading their content and loved them more.  I don’t read enough blogs really so I think this list will be less than 15 but I will do my best! I have linked to their Twitter and blog so you can check them out to.

  • First up – Alice Spake of Annie Writes Beauty. This woman. Oh she makes me so happy. I have followed Alice for a LONG time on Twitter from when I crashed a thread about Wine and a little hashtag called #WineNot. She has recently become a mummy to the most gorgeous little boy and watching her grow (both in blogging and with bump) has been amazing!
  • Following from Alice is her LOVELY fiancé and baby daddy Arran AKA Haloofthoughts. His love for Alice makes him one of my favourite people on Twitter and his blog content is great. Watching him start up as a blogger was cool and now seeing him become a daddy – SO CUTE!
  • The Middle Aged Man is next. I connected with Robbie when I was last in Kenya, got chatting and now he regularly puts up with me telling him how jealous I am of his Scottishness and he mocks me for my love of Finn. His content is fab and really varied. A really wonderful male blogger.
  • Vix Meldrew (with her self named blog) takes my next recommendation. If you are not following this woman you bloody well should be. Her frank and funny posts on all things dating make me giggle and her openness about her life is really refreshing.
  • Next up is 2 Men About Town, but more specifically Suburban Gent. I “met” SG on Twitter (through a bunch of dating bloggers surprisingly) and find his tweets are really easy to relate to.  The blog (which he shares with @RobsRibsMK) is packed full of food, drink, activity and travel posts and is beautifully written with some stunning pics. The boys get to do some REALLY cool stuff so be prepared for some serious jealousy if you do read their posts! (SO many links in this one!)
  • I guess I should probably mention Sam Squire next. Sam and I have SUCH a giggle on twitter together. We connected just before his trip to Ibiza (with Middle Aged Man) and he is one of the VERY few people who can call me Gem and not annoy me. His content is focused more towards males than females but I actually love reading his stuff no matter what. His photos are beautiful too. Ask him about that time he dated a celebrity 😉
  • A NEW blogger is next up and she is an actual REAL LIFE FRIEND (so no Twitter link)! My beautiful Claire who I have known since my 1st year of uni has just started blogging and her content is SO informative. It is an eclectic mix of health stuff (endometriosis, mental health) and just bits about her life, I know that some baking posts are coming soon too.
  • Finally, a bit of a left field one here but it is another blog I sometimes write for. #rugbyunited is the rugby organisation I do some work for (I have been a bit shit at it recently but have a big plan up my sleeve) It is MAINLY written by Rich but we do have guest bloggers on occasion. As the name suggests, the content is ALL rugby related but this includes stash reviews, competitions and fantasy league stuff.

Now if I haven’t mentioned your blog please don’t be offended, it doesn’t mean I don’t love your content, it is just that I read content so blooming sporadically!

If I HAVE mentioned your blog, well, you don’t have to do anything but if you do want to write an “acceptance” post then please do! And TAG ME IN! I would love to read yours J

Much love x

A Potter Filled Haul

After over a year of waiting, the day FINALLY came when I was off to see Harry Potter and The Cursed Child.  This meant a trip to London with one of my besties, a stay in a lovely hotel and a day of shopping in my old home town.

Now as much as I would love to write a blog about how mind blowingly amazing the play was, I CAN’T. Part of the whole thing about this play is that you #keepthesecrets.  All I will say is that if you are a Potter fan you HAVE to go, if you aren’t you probably should go anyway!!! And if anyone needs someone to go with…*waves*

So, what I am going to blog about is part of my shopping trip.

Living in Gloucester, our EVERYTHING is small, including our nearest Lush store (which is in Cheltenham and is having a refit which is VERY exciting).
Because both my bestie and I LOVE a good bath bomb and I really wanted to see the jelly face masks everyone was raving about (FYI…I didn’t love them, it’s a texture thing) so we headed to the 3 storey Oxford Street store and browsed for HOURS, talked to some WONDERFUL staff  (Becky even had her make up done) and spent more money than we should have done; but walked out with some GORGEOUS products that I am SO excited to share with you!

Basically “my retail pannier became that very day, an obelisk to the great Harry Potter.”*  I mean, on a Harry Potter weekend what else would I buy.

*credit for this sentence goes to @hashtagsingle following a mind breaking twitter thread where we tried to find the word I wanted (we still haven’t found it & feel homage was the best fit.) Thanks to Alix, Sarah, Dating in the City, Mrs Mop & Girl in Islington for getting involved!

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Can we take a second to appreciate my potion lights?!

Firstly I was DESPERATE to at least smell the “Secret Arts” (AKA the Dark Arts bath bomb, AKA Harry Potter bath bomb – they had to change the name when WB got a bit annoyed with everyone calling it the Harry Potter bath bomb!) As it has cinnamon in it I was a little worried I would hate it but I LOVE it! It also has Brazilian orange oil & almond oil in it and as it is a jelly bomb there is a really cool (and kinda weird) element to it. I haven’t tried it out yet but saw one in store and was impressed so we will see!

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Next up – Cloak of Invisibility bath oil.  Now the website says this is an online exclusive (and is currently sold out) but I picked it up in store so I think the website is talking nonsense! It is so pretty, contains Jasmine & ylang ylang as well as being packed full of cocoa butter, shea butter and  almond oil.
I LOVE the bath oils and find them super softening for the skin so I am really looking forward to trying this one out. It is orange and glittery and has Potter connections…what is not to love!

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Both the bestie & I popped the next item in our basket; Pink Pumpkin. Last year I fell in love with the Sparkly Pumpkin bubble bar, this year I am ALL ABOUT the pink one! I thought it was the same product but pink… NOPE! The pink one is packed with geranium, bergamot & jasmine. I kind of wish I had picked up the sparkly pumpkin as well but hey! This one smells lovely (I apparently like the smell of jasmine, have you noticed) and its pink, sparkly and shaped like a pumpkin…WINNER. Available online and instore at the moment but IS a Halloween product so grab it whilst you can!

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I adore citrus oils and honey so naturally “Shoot for the Stars” was a perfect choice for me.  The colour is sensational and it is a bomb with bath melts BUILT IN! Packed with Brazilian orange oil, bergamot, cocoa butter and coconut cream with glitter and the most beautiful colour makes me happy and I cannot wait to try it!

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I also picked up a Sunnyside bubble bar which I have had MANY times before. It is super citrusy (wild orange, lemon & tangerine oil packed in) and VERY sparkly.  Probably not one to use just before a professional meeting, definitely one for pre Christmas night out!

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Last but not least my two staples, Angels on Bare Skin and Ocean Salt. I love both of these products and so does my skin. Angels is a great everyday cleanser that I use after micellar water to get rid of all traces of makeup and grime from my day.  Ocean Salt has vodka soaked limes (yep, VODKA) as well as lots of sea salt and grapefruit. It’s a wonderful exfoliator and I tend to use it once or twice a week to keep my face smooth! I usually use the self-preserving version but slipped up this time round and got the normal one, I actually can’t tell the difference!

So that’s it, my Potter related lush haul.  What are your favourite lush products and what should I pick up next?

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Endo what now?

If you follow me on twitter you may have seen that earlier in the year I was really struggling with pain.  A few of you know what has been going on and for those of you that do I have to say thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for your support. Whether that be in a shoulder to cry on, a hand to squeeze, a lift to the hospital or just a message to check in, it has been greatly appreciated.

I have been admitted to hospital three times this year.  And between those times I have spent more time in A&E and my GP surgery than I care to remember, and this isn’t the first year.  I have been back & forth to the Dr with unexplained lower abdominal pain for at LEAST 7 years; probably more.

There have been tears, moments that I thought I would pass out (mainly in supermarkets, which is fun), oh and feeling so nauseated that even plain water made me want to vomit.  I sit in work clutching a heated unicorn to my belly just to get a little bit of relief.

Every single time I saw a professional I was told something different.  “Oh its just a bit of IBS”, “oh it’s just period pain” “could it be your appendix?” (no, that went aged 10 thanks!) “hmmm it’s probably a cyst”, “it’s definitely PCOS” (again, nope, you have to have other symptoms for that Dr).

My pain was NOT taken seriously.  I have been left feeling like a child who was being told off by those very people who are meant to be helping me.  I actually asked my friend to never take me back to the hospital as I didn’t want to see a certain Dr again as he made me feel SO bad, and this was AFTER my diagnosis! I would rather drive the extra few miles to another hospital or wait to avoid A&E in order to avoid this guy!

My pains are 99% certainly endometriosis; a condition, for those of you who don’t know, where endometrial cells (those that line the womb) grow in places they are REALLY not meant to, usually the pelvis, but there have been known cases of endo all over the body! And endo SUCKS. The symptoms can be horrible, it can cause infertility, sex can be painful (how shit is that!) and you all know about the pain that comes with it.

The reason that I am not saying its 100% is because unless they open me up and physically SEE endo cells they will never know for sure. And endo can HIDE! It can also cause ALL of the pain and only be a really small amount .

I have seen ONE Dr this year who took me seriously, listened to me, experimented with hormones and said “yep, there’s no other explanation. This is almost certainly endo…what do YOU want to do next?” I cried in that appointment. I have cried in most of my appointments to be fair but these were different tears. I cried tears of relief.  Someone had finally listened and not tried to tell me I didn’t know what was going on inside my own body. I chose to go down the hormone treatment route as that has worked for me in the past. Only time will tell how well this has worked, I may still need surgery, who knows! But currently…all seems ok!

But why am I making such a fuss? Well… read on.

There has recently been an article in the Independent that suggested period pain was of the same level of pain as a heart attack.
Now this headline was catchy but the more we read into it the more it became apparent that this didn’t mean all that much.  What WAS interesting was the idea that women have to spend 16 more minutes with a Dr than a man before the same pain is taken seriously. WTF?!

On 6th September 2017 the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) released guidelines for GP’s that basically say “take our pain seriously” and “think endo” (I mean, that’s not ACTUALLY what it says but, pretty much!)if you want to read it you can do so here.  But I think (and so do a lot of other endo sufferers) that there shouldn’t NEED to be a document that instructs Dr’s to listen to us!  Why is it that if a man has unexplained pain a Dr will listen and give advice but if it is a woman we are USUALLY fobbed off?  I KNOW when something is wrong in my body, I KNOW what IBS feels like (blergh!) and I KNOW the difference between IBS and the other pains I get. And I know other women in the same boat.

The more people talk about this illness the less of a taboo “women’s issues” become and hopefully the more serious we will be taken by Dr’s.  So let’s all start talking more.

2017 what a year it has been

I haven’t blogged in a while.

There are a multitude of reasons but the main one is that 2017 has been a pretty sucky year and blogging just didn’t come very high on my priority list.

“Oh but why has 2017 been so rubbish?” I hear you say (well, I don’t but for the purpose of this post that is exactly what you said!)  Well…read on.

This year has been tough. Don’t get me wrong, there have been so absolutely excellent parts of this year (a post on that is coming near Christmas/New Year) but overall, I have had better times.

My physical health has been, well…mediocre at best.  I have had 3 stints in hospital this year, all with unexplained lower abdo pain…and every single time I have been told something different. I was usually given pain killers, kept in for a night and sent home with no plans to follow up.  Eventually I took matters into my own hands and was able to get a diagnosis of endometriosis.  I have a post planned for this but the short story is…I was in a lot of pain, every single day and there was nothing people could do.  I THINK I have it under control now (hurrah) but it could all change.  For now, I’m just happy that the pain is gone.

All the issues with my physical health have really messed up my mental health (which in turn has impacted other elements of my physical health – helloooooo weight gain!) I kind of didn’t really register how crappy I was feeling until I took a moment to think about it. I was plodding along ok. In the grand scheme of things, my mental state is ok.  In relation to a few years ago when I was unable to get out of bed…I am practically tigger like (bouncy, you get it?) But I have not been ME!

I thought that some of my friends were being shit friends, too interested in other parts of their lives for me. Actually, I was pushing them away and not saying yes to stuff as I just didn’t want to be with people.  I was pushing my mum away, which, if you know my mum & I at all, that is weird.  We are like Lauralie & Rory, so being distant with her was weird!  All of this is sorted now. I am still not ME but I am SO much better simply for noticing it and taking some time to look after myself.

On to the next and probably the worst reason for me being so bad at blogging this year…

I lost one of my best and oldest friends this year.  I have talked about it a little on both facebook and Twitter but actually I have been pretty closed off about it all.  Just writing those words made me cry.

Scott Waldrup. My crazy curly haired American friend, who I met on my 1st day at Queen Mary University (12 years ago).  The boy who supported me through too many hangovers, boy dramas, coursework disasters and performance breakdowns. I have never met another like him & I don’t think I ever will.

He lost his life thanks to gang violence in Savannah, Georgia.  He died saving other people from being run down by a car fleeing the scene of a drive by shooting on his favourite day of the year, 4th July. He was always my hero, now he is other people’s hero too.

Losing Scott hit me HARD. I was actually sat in Bills Restaurant at the time; about to go to the theatre. I got a message from a friend who wanted to tell me before I saw it on Facebook; a gesture that I will always be grateful for.  I sobbed my way through dinner and then through Romeo & Juliet, not giving a damn that the school girls next to me were talking about how “it’s not that sad” and saying “oh my god I can’t believe she’s crying”.

3 days later I was on a plane to Ibiza for my cousins wedding, having to hold myself together to enjoy myself as much as possible; whilst the whole time my heart was broken and my womb was trying to kill me (my period started the day of the wedding!) Coming to terms with a death and being hormonal is NOT a good mix.  Don’t get me wrong the wedding was AMAZING and I was SO happy to see my cousin get married, it just wasn’t easy to get through the week.  I MAY blog again about Scott and what has happened since. I think there is a story to be told but I am not sure I am strong enough to tell it yet.

So…there you have it…2017 has been tough.  HOWEVER, I have worked out who my true friends are. Those who are willing to drop everything and drive me to hospital, those who were willing to travel across the country to come to my 30th, those willing to travel with me to make sure I turned 30 somewhere awesome.  I have also developed some amazing new friendships with people who I feel will always have my back and I will ALWAYS have theirs. I won’t name names as I know they will not want that but I do hope they know who they are.

I also saw a post on FB the other day that read “may the last 3 months of 2017 be the plot twist you have been waiting for” I am going to MAKE them be and live by the new moto all of Scott’s friends have pledged… What Would Scott Do?

Hopefully this is the start of more blogs. I have lots of stories to tell…