Monday, 24 April 2017

Why I Don't Follow Advice for Insomniacs

I've been an insomnia enthusiast for a few years now and it would appear that I'm not likely to lessen my dedication to it any time soon. When it first started, I just assumed it would eventually disappear and I'd revert back to sleeping through the night and feeling refreshed and ready to face the world each morning. Only, it didn't pass. It still hasn't.    
After a year of so of feeling absolutely dreadful and reading all sorts of advice and tips about how to cope with insomnia, I gave up. Nothing really seemed to work. All that advice about  not reading made me wonder what I was actually supposed to do instead; and the whole 'not thinking' thing, made me think more (I'm awkward like that).  In honour of many years spent considering my difficultly gettin' snoozy, I haven't really discovered things that DO work, but I have uncovered a list of things that have no impact whatsoever.  As a seasoned sleep deprived woman, I now laugh in the face of insomnia advice.  I can usually be found doing this in a somewhat maniacal fashion, on my own, very late at night.  

Why I Don't Follow Advice for Insomniacs

Drink Hot Milk:

Unless you're worried about a Vitamin D deficiency or have rickets, don't bother with it. Drink wine.  

I'm only half kidding.  Sometimes, a few drinks sends me to sleep and other times it disrupts me even more.  However, milk, Ovaltine, or any other milky drinks (White Russians aside) just upset my tiny bladder.  It's one thing being awake during the night; it's a whole other thing actually prising yourself out of bed, in the dark, trying not to break your toe on the edge of the bed as you fumble your way to the bathroom in desperate need of a pee.   

Don't Read Your Kindle:  
Why not? I bought it, so surely I should be getting my money's worth?  Apparently, though, the light will wake me up.  No, no, no!  The glare from a strobe light being shone in my face by the Spanish Inquisition will keep me awake. That dull light from that tiny little screen?  Don't make no difference, sister.  Read my Kindle, don't read my Kindle:  I'm still not sleeping.

Don't Watch TV:  
WHY? Can't I watch just a little bit?  I promise I'll keep the volume down so as not to disturb the sleeping people. PLEEEEEEEASE??? 

This is another one that doesn't really have any impact.  Unless, of course, I happen to catch a bit of The Apprentice or some other reality rubbish. They should prescribe THAT at the sleep clinic. Sometimes, the TV can take my mind off lying in the dark wondering why I'm still awake.  For a good while, in my early 20's, I tuned in to Sesame Street at stupid o'clock every morning and it was my saviour.  I still love you, Oscar the Grouch.   

How I look after a decent sleep

Warm Baths:   
Being cleaner doesn't make me any more tired.  I would love to know if I can read my Kindle in the bath before trying to sleep, or is it just in bed I shouldn't be using it?   I'm confused.  Either way, it don't work.  

Kalms/Night Nurse/Zonkital: 
Basically, any kind of herbal remedy I've tried (and there's been a few) have been entirely ineffective.  I take prescribed medication at night and that doesn't always work, so nothing else really has  a fighting chance.    

Being Tired: 
Tried it. Try it every night, mainly around 8pm when I think I could sleep for DAYS, and then I go to bed and BOOM....wide awake.  I can put in an 8 hour shift, drive to the leisure centre and swim 40 lengths, get home and make dinner, and I'm still twiddling my thumbs come 11pm.   

Clear your mind of all thoughts....  yeah, right.


Leave. Do it now.  I can't clear my head for long enough for meditation to stick. I'm all 'I wonder if the house is on fire" and 'what the hell was that odd noise that almost certainly sounded like an axe murderer??'

You know, normal everyday thoughts that invade your brain at the most inopportune moments and won't go away.  I've tried, but my brain's too active.  ALL THE TIME.   

Yoga/Gentle Exercise:   
Nope.  Nothing here, either.  Aside from the fact that I'm absolutely not bendy or flexible in any way, shape or form:  I just don't like it.  Yoga, that is. I don't much like other exercise, either, but I do it every day regardless because IT'S SUPPOSED TO MAKE ME TIRED.   

To be honest, I've spent years reading different points of view and advice, but generally find it doesn't make great deal of difference to me. The only thing that keeps me sane during the time I spend awake is listening to Audio books. They don't particularly help me sleep, but they do distract me from the nonsense that whizzes around my brain and DOES stop me sleeping.  Unfortunately, I'm now so reliant on them, I think I won't be able to sleep without them.  

Seriously, if my internet is down (and I live in Wales, so that's quite a common occurrence) I send myself into a state of panic if I think I'll have to go to bed without someone to read me a story...

I've amassed around 80 audio books in the past 5 years and, according to my stats page on the Audible app, I've listened continuously for 5 months.  Basically, after all that, I'm still knackered, but I have spent a fair bit of money and know a lot more stuff.   

Do you suffer from insomnia or have trouble sleeping?  How do you cope with it?

Suz x

This is not a sponsored post.    

Sunday, 16 April 2017

5 Fabulous Gin Cocktails for Easter Sunday

5 Fabulous Gin Cocktails for Easter Sunday

I used to hate Gin. I thought it smelled like bad perfume and would stare at my big sister and mum in wonder as they sipped it contentedly.  It wasn't until I moved to Wales, and sat in my new rented flat, away from all my friends and family, that I rooted out a bottle of Caorunn that I got as a leaving present and decided that, as everything around me was new and unknown, my drinks may as well be the same. That, and I couldn't recall which box I packed the kettle in.

Friday, 14 April 2017

5 Easter Adventures in North Wales

5 Easter Adventures in North Wales

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Things I Don't Understand: TV Edition

If you've ever read the blog before you'll be well aware that there are LOTS of things I don't understand. Seriously; it's quite worrying. Anyway, although I tend not to watch a great deal of TV, when I actually take time to sit down, I often spoil it for myself by making stupid observations. I'm fairly certain I'm not alone in this, but once I've noticed something, I find it difficult to stop concentrating on it. Just so you know, I don't go out of my way to notice these things.  It just kinda happens sometimes.

Friday, 31 March 2017

What's Occurrin' - March

Well, I finally made it out of the UK this month for my first trip of the year to Latvia and Lithuania, and these have had a *tiny* impact on what I've been loving over the past 31 days. This is a list of what's been occurrin' in my life in March 2017:

Ashley Monroe - The Blade:
I'm all about Ashley Monroe this month and have been non- stop listening to her recent album. My love of country music goes without saying and it's no surprise that I've downloaded an album from the Pistol Annies alum.

It's mostly an upbeat offering and I certainly prefer this album to The Rose, which was the last solo attempt. I can't help wishing that she'd just get back together with Miranda and Angeleena, though. I bloody love Pistol Annies.

Mission Impossible 67 - Rogue Nation:
Despite my desire to watch movies, I really haven't done too well on this front. In fact, the only movie I caught this month was the latest instalment (I think?) of Mission Impossible. This was only by chance, mind you, as it was being shown on the TV panel on the back of my seat on a LuxExpress coach from Riga to Vilnius.

Don't get me wrong though; it was excellent, and I find it difficult to argue with a movie that focuses on shooting and blasting action around various gorgeous global locations. It's the perfect combination of death, destruction and travel inspiration.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

A Day in the Life of an Anxious Depressive

I suffer from depression.  I'm also lucky enough to suffer for GAD (Generalised Anxiety Disorder) because why have one when you can have two, right? 

For many years, I've gone from thinking I was odd, lazy, mad as a box of frogs, bipolar and, largely, just not made to fit into the world around me.  These days, although I know I'm none of those things during my calm moments (at least once a year; sometimes even twice) having a diagnosis doesn't actually make much of a difference to my days.   I still don't understand how my mind works and I find that others don't, either.  This is a typical day in my head:

depression, anxiety, anxious, introvert problems

5:45am:  jumped out of bed to nip to the toilet and starting worrying about all the things that could go wrong during the day.  Went back to bed; put on my audio book to drown out my inner voice as she's a neurotic idiot....

Sunday, 5 February 2017

A Dyffryn Perspective...

We all know the story:  rural girl ends up in city and then moves back to country later in life, realising just what she's been missing all those years.  Falls in love with old high school boyfriend and calls off wedding to smart city boy, much to the complete disbelief of  his pushy poltician Mother. Oh wait....that was Reece Witherspoon, wasn't it? Thought I recognised it.

Anyway, city girl DOES move to rural countryside (in North Wales); doesn't fall for old boyfriend; doesn't have to cancel wedding, but absolutely does realise that she's been missing out on the kind of lifestyle she never even knew she wanted in the first place. 

Where was I?  YES! So, I wrote a previous post about all the new experiences I've had in Wales in the first few months of my arrival so,  to celebrate making it through my first year as a resident of Dyffryn, I thought I'd share all the other new things I've picked up.  
You're so welcome...

a year in north wales, living in north wales, what's it like living in north wales, a scot in north wales
More Talledega than Trawsfyndd..
I get it: it's a rural area and it can be tremendously frustrating to be stuck behind the school bus (every day, people.  Every. Day).  However, I have never been *so* annoyed by this that I've decided to overtake said bus, or any other vehicle, going round a bend when I had no idea what was coming towards me.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

What's Occurrin' - January 2017

I promise myself every New Year that I'll read more books; watch more TV; try out new styles of clothing, cooking and, well...everything else, really.   Do I stick to it? To some degree.  Have I made the same resolution for 2017 despite mostly failing every other year? Yes. Yes I have.

These are the new fings I tried in January: 

Amazon Prime:

Sneaky Pete: 
I recently ditched Netflix after realising that Prime had a million seasons of my favourite show 'Forensic Files', because sometimes when I get home from work I need gruesome true-life crimes to cheer me up, y'know? 

I jest, of course.  Nothing cheers me up after a crappy day at work that doesn't involve wine. Anyway, after having a wee scroll through Prime, I happened upon (and by this I mean it was right there at the top of the page, waving at me) this new original series, produced by and featuring Bryan Cranston. How, I ask you, could this possibly not be amazing? 

Pete is a conman who is released from rosin in the first episode and can't return to his neighbourhood as he owes a LOT of money to Bryan C.  He rocks up at his Grandparents house and ends up joining the family bail bond business.  I'm only a few episodes in, but it's already looking good.   It's also been commissioned for a second season, so that gives me another box set to add to my list of Things I Never Have Time To Finish Watching   


In an effort to 'branch out', I have potentially already taken things too far.  Nothing like starting with an easy one, huh? Made way back in 1972, before I was even born, Deliverance is a classicly dark tale of four friends who decide to canoe their way up a river in the deepest, darkest backwoods of the American South. Georgia, if I recall correctly.  And this Georgia is vastly unlike the state I've visited so many times.  I ain't never been canoein' though...

Saturday, 28 January 2017

4 Tried and Tested Ways to Reduce Anxiety

My anxiety hates me. It hates me being calm and rational and making measured decisions. It hates me driving in busy places, and it truly despises me entering any supermarket or store that is capable of housing more than a dozen people at any given time.  

My anxiety also likes to keep me awake and loves nothing more than questioning my every move and utterance until I literally stop talking in an attempt to escape.  Of course, what happens then is that I'm guaranteed to then be spoken of as 'rude' or, as happened lately, 'of that demeanour'.  I'm not entirely sure what this means, but I'm guessing it isn't good. 

When I stop saying much, it's not about you.  Mostly, it's got absolutely nothing to do with anyone. Except me, of course, but I don't expect anyone to get that.  I mostly don't even really care whether people do or not any more; I just want the noise in my head to stop. 

Over the past few weeks, things have been pretty difficult with health issues for me, upheaval at home, and a pretty traumatic time for one of my dearest family members.   This has heightened my anxiety and pretty much dominated my every waking moment for the past month.  This isn't my first time on this particular merry go round, so I have a few teeny ways of coping (I say 'coping'; you may say 'avoiding', but let's call the whole thing off...)

There's a host of free app-store games that can be seriously distracting

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Things I Don't Understand: Makeup Edition

On the run up to any special occasion, when everyone's getting dolled up to go out on their nights out, I'm generally at home, wondering what on earth all the fuss is about.  Aside from the fact that I'm a complete introvert who hates parties, I'm also largely lazy.  My idea of being dressed up is not wearing trousers with a draw string, or putting a bra on to leave the house.  When it comes to makeup, I literally have no clue.  I own a few bottles of foundation, a clumpy mascara and several million lipsticks; none of which I actually think suit me.  

As well as having no real inclination to change any of this, I honestly just don't see the point.  Being pretty on the outside doesn't make you a good person and contouring the Hell out of my face will NOT make me the life and soul of any gathering.  These are more things I don't understand: 

Things I Don't Understand: Makeup Edition
what happens when I get involved with makeup

Massive Eyebrows:
I don't get it.  Sure, some of them are incredible but, OHMYGOD, how much effort does that actually involve on a daily basis?? Who has the time to dedicate to drawing things on their face that aren't actually there or were removed during a fad where teeny weeny lines across your brow were all the rage? And when will the end? What happens to all the women who are tattooing huge arches on their face when the latest trend goes? 

It's not even really just the eyebrows; it's also the bleached hair accompanied by the black, drawn in brows that cause me to shake my head.  I honestly just don't get why you would make your hair yellow and then draw your eyebrows in black.   Maybe it's because I'm so fair.  I look mental with dark brows because my skin is so white it's practically blue.   

Anyway, I'm fairly certain when it all goes to hell, I'll still be here with my blonde brows that can hardly be seen, just sitting wondering what all the fuss was about.

Kylie Jenner Lips:
Now, this isn't an attack on Kylie Jenner.  Let's just make that clear.  She's an independent girl who's doing very well for herself.  As far as I'm concerned, that should always be applauded.   What I don't understand is the whole lip filler thing and why people are desperate to have lips just like her. What's wrong with your own lips, people? Why does everyone want to look the same?? Can't we celebrate our differences?  I get that her lips are lovely...on her.  That doesn't necessarily mean it's a good look on everyone.   As with most makeup trends, it's highly likely that I'm just too lazy to understand the effort.  

Things I Don't Understand: Makeup Edition
this is what I see when people pull that face
Trout Pout Selfies:
OMG just stop. You're already lovely and making that face does NOT help.  I don't think I've ever made this face; mainly because I can't abide it, but also because I don't understand why people think it makes them look attractive. It's like the whole massive eyebrows, caked in eyeliner, over drawn lips thing.  What are you doing?

It strikes me as some deep rooted unhappiness that someone thinks they have to change so much that they no longer actually look like themselves.  I know that makeup can highlight features and minimise flaws, but not quite to that extent. Mind you, what do I know?  I hate having my photo taken way too much to have the opportunity to do the whole trout pout thing in the first place. 

(And yes, I am aware that not liking having my photo taken is a side effect of not liking the way I look as much as it is for those who are cemented in make up)

Things I Don't Understand: Makeup Edition
I own one brush...and I have no idea where it is
I understand the concept and I've even watched some amazing videos, but I just don't get the attraction.  My face is, face, and no highlighter or shader will ever change that.  I don't even have the energy to try it, never mind actually achieve chiseled cheekbones, or whatever else it is it's supposed to do. 

No amount of contouring will change the fact that I like eating crisps and drinking wine on a saturday night and no amount of promises that it'll make me look like Kim Kardashian will force me out of bed early enough in the morning to even bother trying it.  I've had my face for 38 years;  I'm way too lazy to attempt changing it now.  Besides, who would recognise me if I suddenly turned up at my office looking totally different, with a thinner nose and no bags under my eyes?  I get the feeling after you've contoured once, you'd have to keep going, every single day, to maintain the look. The mere thought of that makes me very, very sleepy.  

So, I'ma just stay over here, wearing the occasional bit of foundation and considering myself glamourous when I can be bothered putting on some eyeliner.  But for every one of you who makes the daily effort to do all this stuff; part of me thinks you're mental and part of me thinks your commitment is amazing. 

Suz x 

Sunday, 1 January 2017

2016: My Favourite Things

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens...   I jest, of course. Roses are jaggy and I hate cats.  I have, however, discovered a few things in 2016 that I *did* like, as well as continuing to enjoy some of the constant highlights in my life (I'm looking at you, Doug the Pug).  These are some of my favourites from 2016:


Rillington Place:
Who knew Tim Roth could be so incredibly creepy? This 3 part drama, which was recently aired on BBC1, told the story of serial killer, John Christie.  Obviously, when I realised it was based around murderin', I had to tune in.  There's nothing I love more than following a horrendous story of deception and general all round homicidal behaviour.  It brightens up a dull Monday like nothing else, you know?

The drama focuses on a different character in each episode and shows you just how Christie managed to evade detection for quite so long.  It's an excellent watch and Tim Roth, apart from being almost unrecognisable, is utterly wretched.

SHHHH....Rillington Place is coming on!

Dr Strange:
I have to confess to watching very few full length films, but I do love a good superhero tale.  I also love Benedict Cumberbatch in, well...anything, so the latest Marvel movie was no brainer.  I managed to convince my nephews that they really wanted me to take them to see it on the big screen.  And so we did.

After I got over the American accent on my beautifully posh Englishman, I really enjoyed the epic fighting and bizarre Matrix-like sequences throughout.  I also enjoyed seeing Mads Mikkelsen play yet another baddie and Tilda Swinton with a shaved head.  She sort of suits it, in an odd way. 


Elle King and Angaleena Presley:
I'm very much a creature of habit when it comes to my music.  I listen to it a LOT and I am pretty much strictly a country girl, aside from my love of Counting Crows and John Mayer. 

I first heard Elle King perform at the Country Music Awards (obviously...) and her voice instantly reminded me of Amy Winehouse.  She's got a that powerful bluesy tone that I adore, so I downloaded her album 'Love Stuff' and have been blasting out 'Ex's and Oh's' in my car pretty much every morning since.  

I already knew of Angaleena Presley as a third of the country girl group 'Pistol Annies', with bandmates Miranda Lambert and Ashley Monroe.  Her Kentucky twang always resonated through the songs and it was pretty much a sure thing that I would buy her solo effort 'American Middle Class'.  It is, to me, far more old school country that I'm used to listening to these days, but it's absolutely superb.  I can often be heard sangin' along in my own very best Kentucky accent to 'Pain Pills' while I'm cleaning the house on a Sunday morning.  

Connelly, Sandford, Sandford, Connelly...

John Sandford and Michael Connelly:
I tried to enjoy other things; I really did. I even rooted out several new authors this year like Lars Kepler, Mark Dawson and Michael Robotham and, while they were all absolutely fine, I still haven't found anything that can compare to the new releases by Sandford (Gathering Prey and Escape Clause) and the return of Connelly's legendary Harry Bosch in 'The Wrong Side of Goodbye'.  

I have, however, very recently stolen borrowed six Stuart MacBride crime titles from my Mum because she's been raving about them. Also: he's Scottish and it turns out I am, too.  Who knew?  The books are set in Aberdeen and, having now read a full five chapters of one of them, I think we can safely say I'm adequately qualified to tell you that they're obviously amazing*

What are your favourite things from 2016?

Suz x

*Not biased at all.