Welcome!

Hello lovely readers and welcome to my shiny new blog. It’s been a while since I’ve done this. Some of you may remember my previous blog where I’d post about a whole range of subjects from decluttering to relationships (which can sometimes be the same thing), toxic friends and make up tips. It struck me, as we began to experience this strange new normal brought about by the COVID19 pandemic, that it might be time to restart them. 

Welcome, guys

At the time of writing, mass protests all around the world following the death of George Floyd at the hands of four Minneapolis police officers have gripped our attention. People have taken to the streets to say enough is enough when it comes to racial inequality and injustice. 

Of course, these issues are not new but the narrative around it is beginning to shift as we speak more about collective responsibility on a topic people of colour have felt they’ve had to deal with alone. 

It’s been tough, watching this play out. Heart-breaking truths about the black experience in the UK, US and around the world are being laid bare. BUT, as hopeless as it can feel at times, the level of activism and engagement is an indication we’re moving in the right direction. People are asking themselves, how am I culpable? And how can I make a difference? 

This alone, is a monumental shift and one I fully encourage. It points towards the good in people, the good in all of us that want to come together and work towards making the world a better place. 

It’s all hands on deck. As a writer, for me the frontline is at my computer, so here I am, hoping to lighten the load, share some ideas, thoughts and commentary to help move us towards that better place. The blog will be a mixture of new and old posts which I’m  resharing here for you to enjoy. 

Whatever brings you to this page, I hope it provides a little light relief, food for thought or ideas and inspiration to carry you through your week. 

With love, 

Andi 

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I Feel The Need to Read

I’m in the middle of reading a great book, Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q Sutanto, and it struck me, why don’t I read more? I often tell myself I’m too busy – despite the fact I could have read several books in the time I spend scrolling the ‘Gram. 

I’m loving physically having a book in my hand again. I bought a Kindle Christmas 2019 but it took me two years to put anything on it. I hankered for the tactile experience of reading, moving my eyes across the page, sentence after sentence. Although, once, while reading on an iPad I did lick my finger to turn the page. Sign of the times. 

I used to read all the time, devouring book after book. I’ve mentioned my love of the Discworld novels and the Red Dwarf series many times. But I read a bit of everything, even the odd John Grishham thriller (until I realised it was essentially the same story over and over again).

On holiday I’d finish a book in a day. Way back when, I even tried writing one but ended up getting distracted by a messy sock drawer.

When I started drama school, however, I stopped reading novels because they insisted we read every play ever written. Well, they didn’t but that’s how it felt. And so I set down my beloved novels to dive into theatre literature instead. Not gonna lie, as great as plays are, I found them kinda boring to read. It’s like staring at an architect’s blueprint instead of going to the actual house. 

Around the same time I also began reading personal development and self-help books. Despite what cynics may say, they can be really useful. You just have to find the one that speaks to you. I remember reading, Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway and realising it is possible to go for the things I thought were impossible. The Power of Now gave me countless insights into what it really means to be a human being. My most recent read from this genre though, is The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fuck. I’m sure that one will speak to a lot of folks. 

I’ve enjoyed some great comedy autobiographies too, among them Richard Pryor’s Pryor Convictions And Other Life Sentences, which plots this great performer’s remarkable history and Frank Skinner’s first (simply titled Frank Skinner) which is one of the funniest and most-touching books I think I’ve ever read. Non-fiction is a wonderful way of experiencing life through eyes wiser or more worldly than our own.

A new favourite of mine in that field is Malcom Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point and Outliers – he writes fascinating socio-anthropological studies that basically look at why things are the way they are. 

BBC’s Between The Covers reviewing This Lovely City by Louise Hare

There’s so much hidden between the covers of a book – fantasy worlds, history, personal transformation or simply great, big, belly laughs. Whatever you’re looking for, you’re sure to find it. Sometimes people think books are an elitist thing and it puts them off but trust me, whatever your pleasure, there’ll be someone who not only shares it but has written a book about it too!

And if you do decide to dive into a new book this week, don’t forget to support our fabulous indie bookstores too. They need our support now more than ever. 

Drop a comment and let me know what you’re reading at the moment?

First published August 2014

Pre-order (out Feb 4th) my debut novel, Asking For A Friend at WHSmith, Amazon, Waterstones or support your local bookshop at Bookshop UK

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Getting the body strong

Which one of these is you – cricking knees whenever you bend down, a mighty hnnng every time you get up from the sofa, feeling ready for bed by 9.30pm when you used to party until 2am, or if you’re anything like me – all three? 

A few years ago, I noticed my knees hurt whenever I went up or down stairs. I remember once, struggling to keep up with someone as they bounded up an escalator ahead of me.  As my knees deteriorated, I thought, perhaps this is just part of getting older – like searching for glasses perched on your head. Joints would start to creak and crack and that was just the way things were. But then it got so painful, I wondered if it was time for surgery. 

I went to see the doctor. As soon as I described my symptoms, she knew exactly what was wrong – Patello-femoral pain syndrome (PFPS). While it may sound dramatic, it simply describes the pain caused when the muscles around the knee weaken causing the patella (kneecap) and femur (thigh bone) to meet. She sent me off with some exercises and over time, the pain lessened. And had I kept them up, I probably wouldn’t be writing this blog but you know how life goes… I stopped doing the exercises and slowly the pain returned. Not only that, my back and shoulders were now constantly sore from sitting at my computer and I’d twisted my ankle. I was a walking bag of minor ailments but because they were small, I ignored them. Then I had a lightbulb moment one afternoon while watching a Facebook vid about an octogenarian gymnast. I realised, I had more say over how my body aged than I’d thought. This old gal was flinging herself around on the parallel bars and tumbling on the mats like she was 8 not 80. 

Watching her, I could see, with the right lifestyle changes, I could turn my situation around. My aim wasn’t swinging on asymmetric bars any time soon but I decided it was time to strengthen my body – not to look good – but so I could continue to live the life I wanted without my body failing me – or more accurately, without me failing my body with bad choices. Years ago, when I was a real gym bunny, a friend asked why I went so often, scoffing that all it meant was I would die fit. When he put it like that, it did seem ridiculous but now, two decades on, I can feel the accumulative effect of some of my less beneficial choices. This is why exercise and healthy eating is vital for me now. In years to come, I want my body to still be supple and strong and organs healthy so I can do and enjoy the things I love. 

Killer abs. Standard.

If you’re starting to notice those creaks and groans creep in, don’t take them lying down (unless you’re doing sit ups), join me in 2021 to get a stronger body, not for show but so we can all live our lives to the fullest. Who’s in?!

Feel free to comment below, guys!

Pre-order my debut novel, Asking For A Friend at WHSmith, Amazon, Waterstones or support your local bookshop at Bookshop UK

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Finding Grace

A few weeks ago, I was away filming in this beautiful old building. While waiting for the crew to reset I got chatting to Ruth, one of our supporting artists who quietly told me there was a family in the room watching us. 

We were in bonnie Scotland

“You mean….?” I said, stunned and she nodded sagely.

Given my total inability to watch scary movies, I took the news that a family of ghosts was keeping an eye on us, pretty well. In fact, I was intrigued. 

But before I could ask more, we were back filming. Later, before she left, Ruth asked me, “Who’s Grace?” The name didn’t ring any bells. 

‘Well, she’s watching over you.’

Even though I hadn’t a clue who Grace was, the thought of her spectral arms around me put a lump in my throat. 

That evening I eagerly whatsapped my mum, expecting to discover that Grace was one of my long-since deceased grandmothers or some other relative watching me from above. My mum’s reply quickly dispelled that. 

“No. Don’t know any Grace. Can you help me with my computer. Xx”

But thoughts of Grace kept tugging at my sleeve as the job came to an end. 

It had been a great gig and I was going to really miss my lovely cast mates. I was moved by how kind my colleagues were to each other. We’d met as strangers but over our seven weeks together, birthdays were lovingly marked, support given, advice shared and many laughs had. It was heart-warming to witness but also created a sense of unease as I noticed things about myself. The sweet-naturedness around me put, in stark contrast, the parts of myself that are impatience, judgmental and full of complaint and righteousness. 

And I realised, there’s another word for this kindheartedness I was observing – grace. I wasn’t entirely sure of its definition. I just knew it was what I was seeing and what I was not practicing when in those less savoury headspaces. 

I’m sure we all have our own understanding but for me, Grace is things like, the ability to be kind even in the face of unkindness. It’s knowing when to speak up or let things be, the patience to explain things or lovingly modify your speaking so others can understand. 

It’s the compassion to withhold judgement, the wisdom to not participate in gossip, to be responsible for your words even in disagreement. It’s the big-heartedness to be compassionate in your correction of others and the space to meet success and good fortune with humility. Grace is really about being present and coming from love, about honesty, integrity and generosity. 

I began to wonder, when Ruth, that lovely supporting artist had asked me about Grace was she talking about a person or a state of being? Was the Grace watching over me something more ephemeral, an energy, perhaps even an invitation for me to inhabit the spirit of Grace?

Over the subsequent weeks, as I’ve consider this, the more I’ve become aware of where I fall short. Where I could be kinder, wiser and more generous of spirit and where I’d like to do better for no other reason than what else am I going to do while I’m on this Earth?    

There is an ungracious one in all of us. One that was hurt, can be petty, small minded, unfair and unkind. So perhaps the most gracious place to start, is taking care of that one any which way we can.

Pre-order my debut novel, Asking For A Friend at WHSmith, Amazon, Waterstones or support your local bookshop at Bookshop UK

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Timing Matters

It’s been a few months since our collective attention was focused on the Black Lives Matter movement. However, just because the immediacy of it has receded, momentum on this critical issue is no less important. 

One thing that became apparent to me over the summer is the importance of thought and consideration on how and when race is discussed. 

Too many times over the years I’ve found myself almost ambushed into a conversation about race, with a white person, who with good intentions tells me a story about racial injustice largely it seems, to make me aware of their anti-racism standpoint – even if they didn’t speak up at the time the actual incident occurred. 

While I commend the sentiment, it is by and large lip service and also a sure fire way to ruin my day. Ultimately, they’re just telling me a story about racism. News just in. I’m aware of it. 

This dynamic became all too apparent at a party a while back. 

One of the guests, a little worse for wear, decided that very moment was when he wanted to discuss his pro-BLM stance. Despite my resistance, reminding him, we’re at a party and it was perhaps not the time, he was insistent, even at one point blocking my exit with an arm thrust across the doorway, forcing me to listen. Meanwhile, other guests awkwardly squeezed past him. Finally after a few strong but polite words, he allowed me to pass and let the matter drop. After, what disturbed me was not his attitude or even aggression. No, what disturbed me was that none of the other guests came to my assistance. They had all buried themselves in their conversations and left me to deal with him myself. One even jokingly said later that they didn’t feel the need to step in as I could clearly handle myself. Ah the strong, black woman trope – a stereotype that allows people to believe we can deal with anything when the truth is, as in this instance, we’re just used to being left to it.

If white friends and colleagues really want to be allies then this means tackling difficult conversations about race but not necessarily with black people. It’s time to speak up to white friends, family and colleagues, in the moment, after the fact, in person, on the phone, however it has to happen but it’s time to go beyond performative support because true allyship doesn’t come from talking about what a great ally you are but by actually being one. 

Pre-order my debut novel, Asking For A Friend at WHSmith, Amazon, Waterstones or support your local bookshop at Bookshop UK

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Hair Today – Part 2

I wonder if, when the pony evolved a tail, it had any sense how important it would be in women’s hair styling. For many years, I was terrified of cutting my hair shorter than pony-tail length. I’d practically flinch when the hairdresser attempted anything more than a trim. 

However, following a break up, I decided to get my hair cut – short. It was a big moment. From now on I’d have to ‘do’ my hair every day. But though it was scary, I loved having an actual hair style even if it was a bit ‘Newsreader.’

I loved that crop and how its shape changed as my hair grew. Then after a few weeks I’d head back to the salon to get it lopped off again. 

However, despite this new style, I was still on the chemical-straightener carousel. And so, after about three years of rocking the crop, I did what I’d been quietly thinking about for a while – The Big Chop – cutting off processed hair and literally going back to my roots. 

What a revelation. For the first time in my life, doing my hair took minutes and I could wash and go every day. I frickin’ loved it. No more hairdressers. 30 minutes at the barbers and I was done.   

I loved not enduring those harsh chemicals and meeting my hair in its true natural state for the first time in aaaages. And as my hair grew out, I even discovered I had ringlets. 

I went au naturale for a while but then the greatest/ worst invention hit the market – straighteners. And I used them – a lot. Because, despite rediscovering my natural hair, I still revered straight hair more. On top of the constant GHDing, I started dyeing my hair, cutting it myself and even did blond highlights. I was on fire! (literally…)

Over time though, my hair, as thick and hardy as it was, suffered. When I washed it, clumps started falling out.

I had to make an emergency visit to my hairdresser, Barbara. Between the spritz sprays and peroxide, the texturizing (yes I was back on the chemicals) and singeing straighteners, my experimenting had wreaked havoc. It took several monthly visits to Barbara to return my strong, Afro hair to its former state.

From then on I seriously dialled down the processing but still hadn’t fully embracing my natural locks. But all that changed, while catching up on a bit of TV. For a while, I co-hosted a Channel 4 show and before filming I’d heat-straighten my hair, thinking that looked professional. 

Eventually, I left the show to work on other projects but one night I was watching my awesome replacement and noticed she had a really gorgeous natural hair style and I had an epiphany – or hair-pyphany if you will. Since first relaxing my hair, I’d been in this constant state of warfare with my barnet and it was all down to refusing to accept its true nature. I’d relaxed it, heat straightened it and got annoyed when it didn’t style as I wanted: i.e. sleek and straight. 

But when I saw this woman on TV, looking great, it helped me embrace my own hair fully. And after all these years, at last I learned how to care for my natural locks (thank you, YouTubers!) and fall in love with what I’d been given. I saw that my hair type was not only as beautiful as any other but was not difficult or ‘unmanageable’ but glorious, versatile and oh did I mention, gravity-defying! 

First published December 2012

Pre-order my debut novel, Asking For A Friend at WHSmith, Amazon, Waterstones or support your local bookshop at Bookshop UK


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Hair Today – Part 1

First published December 2012

Braids – they wouldn’t have been my first choice for a new look but it’s for an acting role and to be fair, I’d forgotten how much I love this gorgeous and protective hair style. As it’s been a hot minute since I last had braids, it’s also made me reminisce on my hair journey, which has been quite a ride – from denial, battles and burns through important lessons, acceptance and finally to love. 

Thing is, I’ve got a lot of hair. Though the strands are finer than they used to be, I’ve always had A LOT of barnet to contend with. 

When I was a kid I hated it. Every style felt like a battle into submission. Hair plaiting was an evening ritual I did not relish. I’d sit on the living room floor, head buried in my mum’s skirt as she put in African threading or cornrows while I craned to watch The Muppet Show. 

Aside from a little interlude where mum decided to cut my hair short and experiment with using a hot comb, this weekly battle went on well into my tweens. However, by the time I hit secondary school, the hot topic was: who was getting their hair relaxed and when? 

Relaxing meant getting one’s hair permanently straightened using chemicals and therefore entering the hallowed territory of having so called ‘manageable hair’.

Such was the conditioning around European standards of beauty that it didn’t occur to any of us that our own natural locks were beautiful. 

Long, silky, run-your-fingers-though hair was considered most desirable while our gravity-defying kinky, coily texture was thought of as difficult, unmanageable and weak. At that time the only way for us black girls to experience long, ‘swishy’ hair was to have artificial hair braided in as extensions. 

My mum tried her hand at it, even adding a few Stevie-Wonder-inspired beads. Top marks for effort but with my wispy afro protruding out of her bumpy plaits, I looked crazy. But you know what, I loved it. Why? Because the weight of the beads made my hair  “swingy” like European hair. For this, I was willing to ignore the constant clatter of beads in my ears.

But soon the day came when I, like my school friends was allowed to get my hair relaxed. I stepped into the hairdressers, 14, self-conscious and very, very nervous. I’d never been in one before.

The stylist applied the relaxing cream but within minutes the tingling began and shortly after, the pain. It felt like my brain was on fire. After ten minutes of squirming, I begged her to wash it out. 

‘It hasn’t taken properly,’ she told me but I didn’t care. I was on the edge of combustion. 

Monday at school and the other girls stared at my half-processed locks ‘What happened to your hair?’

‘I had it relaxed!’ I said proudly and stomped off. 

No one was going to deny me my glory even if my head did look like the Australian Outback. What’s a little crispy hair between friends?

And so began the part of the journey I call, Relaxed Tension – where, every six weeks, I’d return to the scene of the crime, the hairdressers, to get my roots re-straightened. And every time it was painful, expensive and worst of all, took hours. At one point my mum and I even started relaxing each other’s hair to save a few quid. 

This went on for years. But even though my hair was now ‘manageable’, it felt like I wasn’t the manager. I still struggled to style it as I wanted. All it took was a windy day or misty drizzle to undo what I’d spent hours putting together.

Things began to change however, once I was old enough to pay for my own salon trips. Furthermore, as new products, tools and styles came out, it opened up a whole world of styles for me. 

Check out my Hair Today Part 2 Blog – coming up next – to read about my experiments, buzz cuts and of course, the infamous ‘badger’ look!

(Little-Andi had no idea what a hair-journey she had ahead!)

Pre-order my debut novel, Asking For A Friend at WHSmith, Amazon, Waterstones or support your local bookshop at Bookshop UK

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Cats Rule

First published August 2012

It is loooovely being back filming again, but you know what makes this job literally the best? There’s a kitten in the make-up area that I get to cuddle up with pretty much every day. 

He’s at the age where he wears himself out after thirty minutes of play and it is adorable. I can feel myself relax whenever I’m with him – except when he’s tugging at my hair and using my jumper as a climbing frame. 

I’m away from the neighbourhood tabby I usually hang out with, so it’s nice to get some feline fun even though I’m miles from home. 

Pets are just so good for our well-being – to the point where some hospitals even use them to provide therapy. And we all know, time with a beloved pet, definitely lightens our mood and lowers our heart rate. 

When it comes to cats vs dogs, lots of folks have a preference. I do love dogs but they don’t half whiff and the whole picking up poo thing, it makes it hard for me to love you, Fido! 

That’s why I love cats. They rule and they know it. These self-contained, self-cleaning bundles of fluff look at us, arguably the top species, like we’re idiots. However, despite their poise and grace they still do the most brilliantly daft things. 

I had a cat once called Frank (Full name was Frank Butcher. Don’t @ me). He had many endearing traits. One was drinking from any dripping tap he could precariously balance near enough to. Whenever caught, he’d innocently look at us like, “Is this not cool?”

One night, I saw him absolutely transfixed by the TV. I looked over and it was a wildlife show about big cats. He didn’t move for the entire hour – like he was thinking, “My people are trapped in the talking picture box. I must free them’. 

And now I’ve been part-adopted by this neighbourhood tabby (I call him Pumpkin – I have no idea why) who acts like he’s smart but then I catch him just staring at blank walls. Why, mate? 

See, as clever as cats may think they are, every now and then, we catch them doing nutty things and realise, ‘Yep, you’re an idiot too’. Perhaps that balance between cool poise and idiocy, is another reason we love them. 

In these challenging times where many people have been away from loved ones for extended periods, pets, are more important than ever. But it’s also important to give serious thought to getting a pet, especially in lockdown. You may have a surplus of time now, but remember, that responsibility carries over into when so-called normal life resumes. A pet isn’t just for lockdown, after all. 

But whether you get a new addition to the family or have a fluffy friend who’s been by your side for years, here’s to those fabulous four legged legends that bring us so much joy, laughter and loads and loads of love. 

(Why are the tops of cats heads so damn cute? I can’t handle it)

Pre-order my debut novel, Asking For A Friend at WHSmith, Amazon, Waterstones or support your local bookshop at Bookshop UK

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Waking up to Abundance

Serious Andi circa 2003…

I’ve worked as a performer for nearly twenty years and one of the things I always wished for was abundance. I saw it as this joyful stream of opportunities neatly fitting together like a toddler’s jigsaw puzzle. One project would end, leading to a well-earned rest before I effortlessly sailed into the next endeavour. 

Because I didn’t experience this, I thought abundance was absent from my career which felt like this stop-starty train I had to really graft to keep moving. 

But then I did a workshop that caused me to question that. The facilitator encouraged me to track all the opportunities that were actually coming my way.  Excel dork that I am, obviously I did this with a colour-coded spreadsheet. 

For two months I diligently filled it out every day and at the end, I was shocked to find, far from being devoid of opportunity, my career was filled with abundance. For a while, I relaxed, trusting that I didn’t have to push quite so hard but eventually, as is always the way, I slipped back into my old way of thinking.  

Then this year, when the lockdown began, I went into a high-hustle mode, saying  ‘yes’ to pretty much everything that came my way, largely out of fear given the uncertainty in my industry. Soon I was doing remote voice-over recordings, began a major writing project, sat on two comedy awards panels and got my podcast, Creative Sauce, off the ground. 

But several months in I’d said ‘yes’ to so much I felt overwhelmed. Don’t get me wrong, I was massively grateful for the offers, especially as many in my field were struggling but it was all too much. Then I had a lightbulb moment. 

The abundance I was seeking was in my life and always had been, but what I realised was, it just hadn’t felt how I’d imagined it would. I finally understood that abundance doesn’t always feel good! It can feel like too much, unmanageable, confusing, irritating even. Abundance can be overwhelming, inconvenient and misaligned with your schedule. It may not even come in the form you want it to. It just comes. I saw that, rather than abundance, the experience I really wanted was flow. That was the feeling of things fitting together and there being an ease and synchronicity.

The realisation was a relief. I saw that I don’t need to be in this constant panic, trying to create abundance. I just need to put my energy into the right things at the right time and make room so that flow could occur. To have flow is essentially an act of trust. 

This is easier said than done, however. For many in the live performance and events industries, this uncertainty has created more hardship than opportunity and trust is, understandably, in short supply .So please spare a thought for all those who have fallen through the cracks of the Government’s support. 

And if you are back at work, whether as an employee or a freelancer, I hope you get to live an abundant life that flows and gives you as much joy as is humanly possible! 

As I was searching online I came across this link from the RSC they have shared their own plans on how to work in this time of COVID but also resources and possible funding opportunities that may be of help to support artists and freelancers. Let me know if it is of any use? And please share other possible resources in the comments in case they may help others.

Pre-order my debut novel, Asking For A Friend at WHSmith, Amazon, Waterstones or support your local bookshop at Bookshop UK

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Hotel Schmotel

First posted November 2012

Yep, I’m away from home at the moment and contemplating the humble (or not) hotel room…

Hotel rooms are weird. In 40sq metres or less they attempt to combine a bedroom, living room and kitchenette to create a beautifully colour co-ordinated corporate prison. Having all this in one living space is like those food trays they used to give you at school that had a trough for your  lunch, desert and drink. Yummy, so appetising. I don’t know why they don’t use them in restaurants.

Bless hotel rooms, because they do try to be homely with their strategically positioned generic paintings, job lot of cushions and soft lighting but this faultless finish is almost its undoing. Like Michael Fassbender’s character in Prometheus, the robot passing as human is exposed by his clinical perfection. We almost need to see the flaws to be convinced of something’s authenticity.

Perhaps, to be more convincing as a home, hotels need to add some more believable touches. Instead of alcohol in the minibar, they should have a half empty bottle of salad cream, some out of date olives and a couple of floppy carrots.

There should be a dripping tap they’ve been promising to deal with for the last 18 months and a load of crap under the bed that needs sorting through.

If they did this, then weary travellers would enjoy the most peaceful home-away-from-home sleeps ever.

Until that day comes, here’s some ideas for de-corporatising a hotel room (for those wanting something a little more wholesome than adult movie services).

Fruit and snacks

Not only do I feel like a lawless rule breaker for smuggling contraband into the room, circumventing the room service cartel but it’s also a much healthier alternative to the late night in-house options (usually limited to what they call pizzas and us normal folk call cheese on toast). Also, a strategically placed fruit bowl in the room breaks up the corporate monotony and makes the place feel less like a hamster cage.

Slippers

OK, now I’m really sharing. I always pack my slippers when I go to a hotel, ever since I treated myself to a new pair a few years ago whilst filming in Liverpool. Slippers are the bomb and I don’t care who knows it. My old pair (leopard skin pattern, very cool actually) had pretty much had it. I wore the new ones in my hotel room and they had the most remarkable effect. As soon as I slipped them on, I felt more relaxed and defo more homely. I decided there and then that they would always come with me every time I went away. I nearly wore them down to breakfast that time too but I don’t think the staff were quite ready for that. I imagined them whispering ‘how long does she think she’s staying for?’

Candles

A friend of mine also suggested taking candles with you when traveling. Candle light is known to be soothing and can help you wind down even in the most un-relaxing of environments – unless, of course you’re on the side of a mountain in a tent. In this case a candle should be considered one of your many enemies.

But I tried it and I have to say, it really worked. Obviously, safety first. Don’t put the candle near anything flammable, so basically EVERYTHING IN A HOTEL ROOM.

Hula hoop

Not the crisps, my friend, an actual hula hoop. Now, you will never see me walking down the street dragging a wheely suitcase and rolling a hoop like some Victorian hawker. I found a hula hoop, on Amazon that dismantles into six easily transportable pieces. It’s a weighted excersise hoop (1Kg) that is a good travel replacement for gym visits which can be massively tedious anyway. On the road it’s a challenge to keep a good exercise routine going so this has been a perfect solution for me, a good ten minutes of hula hooping while watching Phil and Holly on This Morning.  And  remember, it’s a really good idea to move all the glasswear out of the way first…. (I can’t believe they charged me for all that stuff).

So there, you go, if you find yourself on the road, these are my slightly oddball suggestions for making the whole thing a little more bearable. And tbh, after a hard day’s graft – those 40 sq metres can feel like a god-given elixir of comfort that you can’t wait to collapse into.

Happy hooping, ppl – and not burning stuff! I forgot the hoop this time – whaddya reckon to star jumps?

Pre-order my debut novel, Asking For A Friend at WHSmith, Amazon, Waterstones or support your local bookshop at Bookshop UK

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Top Ten Tips for Luuuurve

First posted August 2012

Following up on my last post – touting the four self-help dating books I read – the natural next step that I could see was to write my own top ten tips for finding Luuuurve (which is different and more fun than love) – so here they are, ppl… 

Andi Osho’s top ten dating tips: (which I’m definitely going to start totally following – Sssh!)

1. Love whatcha got, make the most of what you love about yourself and remember how fabulous you are. You are a gorgeous being and when you start believing it, those around you will too, including potential squeezes. If they don’t see how loveable you are, they’re simply not the one. My best relationship was based on the fact that we were each other’s biggest fans (and the belief that farting is HILARIOUS). Settle for this and nothing less (farting is up to you)

2. Read a good dating book – see previous post! Whatever freedoms and equalities each of us has managed to secure up to this point in time, successful dating remains pretty traditional and these books explain why. (THEN, make your own list of tips too. Spread the help, ppl…)

3. There are some unpalatable home truths you’ll read in relationship books and you’ll want to disagree with some of them because you’ll know someone or you yourself found love despite their advice. 

I.e. you know a woman who never went out but met someone on-line – that someone already had 12 kids but still found time to pop over to see her and make incredible love to her (all on their first date too). And now? They’re happily married / co-habiting / living their best lives. Whadda result!

Great, but remember, this person’s dating-story is an exception (there are always exceptions!). 

Following advice or dating tips you trust (you know, like mine) mean you won’t waste your time – or their time – and you’ll get the amazing relationship you deserve.

4. Don’t ignore the signs. If the object of your desire is being crappy about meeting up, taking you on proper dates, takes ages to call or text back – heed the warning signs. People are on their best behaviour at the beginning of a relationship and if you feel their best isn’t good enough, get rid. If a guy likes you, he’ll call. If a womxn likes you, she’ll call. They’ll call. Stop making excuses for them. Everyone knows how to use a phone. Who doesn’t have a phone attached to their being these days?

5. Crushes NEVER work out. What your subconscious mind is saying is, I’m not good enough for this person so I’ll just dream and fantasise about him/her/them instead. It also means despite all the signs and hints you’ve dropped like barbells on a biscuit tin, you’ve been ignored. Why? Because that particular luscious object ain’t interested (let them be, look after you).

6. Get out there – either with friends or on your own. Get creative about what you do and you’ll meet a broader range of people. Ever been to a football match? Give it a go and if your type is shouty, fat, bald men with a penchant for yelling with their mouths full, then all your Christmases will come at once.

7. If you must use internet dating, let me save you some time. Don’t bother writing a saccharine bio sharing your favourite films, top 5 albums and interests (Which, let me guess, include nights in snuggling on the sofa as well as nights out?). No one reads them. Just post a decent, recent photo and a titbit of info and if the right person is interested, they’ll contact you. And under no circumstances resort to poetry. You do this and I will hunt you down.

8. Don’t lower your standards but be willing to adapt and compromise. If you meet a date who’s amazing but is a little shorter than your preference for example, it may be worth still going on that one night out. This kind of small (poor choice of word) compromise may reveal a wonderful, happy surprise. And anyway, one date’s not going to kill you… unless it’s with Charles Manson. 

8a. Don’t date convicted mass murderers.

9. Live your life. Be You. You are lovely and living your life has made you into the person that that significant-other-in-waiting is going to want to ask out. Why would you compromise that?

Contrary to the sign language lesson in Jerry McGuire, a relationship will not complete you because you are already whole so have fun, get on with being you with your interests, hobbies, love of shopping, dislike of Sunday drivers, car boot sale fanaticism, weekly cinema trips, annual ice skating and whatever else it is you do.

10. Annnnd – in a replay (coz it’s important) to the ending of my self-help book blog: Remember if someone is wrong for you, no tactics can keep them and if they’re right for you, no mistake can keep them away – except perhaps murder….(unless you ignore tip 8a and then it’s a whole other ball game. Can’t help there!)

Now? How is my dating life in 2020? Weeelll, it’s hard to follow your own tips sometimes (I did most of the time, and not so some of the time) and sometimes the Universe delivers a lovely surprise. Clear as mud? Soz 😉

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