Insomnia? 5 Productive Things To Do If You Wake Up In The Middle Of The Night

If you’re someone who gets fed up of listening to the most annoying noise you ever can hear when you are wide awake, someone else snoring, then here’s a few ideas of how to change the routine.

Insomnia? 5 Productive Things To Do If You Wake Up In The Middle Of The Night

This isn’t medical advice, I’m no expert, well I guess I could be. I often wake up in the middle of the night. I’m an active dreamer so sometimes just fall back in and finish off whatever dream I was in at the time.

Other times, I don’t.

I used to look at the ceiling, look at the pillow, look at the dark, look at the light creeping in around the curtains.

Now I don’t.

I do something.

So if you are someone who is also bored of gazing at the shadow of a light fitting. Someone who can’t get back to sleep after going for a 2am toilet break. If you’re someone who gets fed up of listening to the most annoying noise you ever can hear when you are wide awake, someone else snoring, then here’s a few ideas of how to change the routine.

1. Get up, go to the kitchen and make a drink

NO! Not alcohol. Have a glass of water, your body may be telling you to drink especially if you did have a few glasses of booze or eat salty food the day before. Make a warm drink, something soothing or relaxing, milky or camomile.

Whilst you are waiting for the kettle to boil, or whilst sipping the glass of cool water. Prepare your breakfast. See you doubted me for a minute, thought how is a cup of tea productive. Stick with me here people!

Get your cutlery and crockery out of the cupboards or dishwasher. Put porridge oats in soak in a cup in the fridge. Put the coffee beans in the grinder. Do something that will save you time in the morning when you are always in a rush.

2. Do the thing that is on your mind

Quite often your mind will harp on about something you need to do. Finish your kid’s homework, iron your shirt.

If you are going on a trip, it may remind you to pack something. Well do it now, or if that isn’t practical, write a note to remind you, put it where you can’t miss it and forget it, pin it to your case.

Ten minutes ironing that shirt or doing a page of spellings or sums can really save hours of sleeplessness telling your self not to forget to find it. (I know you shouldn’t do your child’s homework, but get real, it happens.)

Continue reading “Insomnia? 5 Productive Things To Do If You Wake Up In The Middle Of The Night”

Anyone with a brain should watch this TV programme!

Perhaps what I found so profound about his work, was how art sustains him.

Anyone with a brain should watch this TV programme! Stroke is not the end.

I never understand people who don’t have a television. I’m a writer, I love books, I love the written word and the tactile nature of paper pages turning. However I also value good television and some is excellent. This is.

This programme brought me to tears.

Andrew Marr is a TV presenter, writer, poet, political analyst and as we find out a frustrated artist who admits he probably lacked the bravery to attend art college as he would have loved to do.

My mother and her sister both died of strokes so for me this was of personal interest. If genetics have anything to do with it, this could be the way I go to the next plain or whatever lies ahead.

I’ve often watched Andrew Marr at his work, often presenting a variety of programmes on TV. I truly hadn’t appreciated just how badly the stroke had affected his movement and quality of life. Just holding a glass is an achievement for him.

He dives right in to all the treatments, the causes and terribly sad impacts of a stroke. He shows obvious frustration at how the treatments are to be sought out and paid for privately. However he is honest, enquiring and clear that he wants to learn, not inspire pity for his situation. He admits he worked too hard, and probably still does.

My mother’s treatment after her stroke was to be stuck in a cot-bed, to pay for it she had to sell her home. She was stuck in limbo, often not knowing who was around her, until a second stroke carried her from us. My aunt was thankfully saved this humiliation.

We all have to die of something as my dad wisely said on his death bed. However the stroke, or as Andrew says, the first stroke doesn’t always kill you, the second might. It’s how we learn to deal with the first one and its impacts that is so fascinating.

Now don’t get me wrong, this programme wasn’t depressing, not even sad.

Continue reading “Anyone with a brain should watch this TV programme!”

How to Survive The Ikea Shopping Trip – My Guide, and Yes it Includes Meatballs!

If you’ve a set of drawers for your undies, you will use it every day, I hope!. If you like the cabinet but not the plastic handles, then invest in tactile, solid, beautiful ones. Each day they will bring your pleasure.

How to Survive The Ikea Shopping Trip – My Guide, and Yes it Includes Meatballs!

How to Survive The Ikea Shopping Trip - My Guide, and Yes it Includes Meatballs!

I love interior design. I adore art. I love beautiful things and want to be surrounded by them. Sadly my budget doesn’t always match my aspirations.

Over the years I’ve lived in rented one room apartments, mortgaged victorian terraces and larger ex-council properties. Whilst renovating my various homes over the years, I’ve made no end of mistakes, some more costly than others. I’ve learned by them.

Let me help with a few tips to keep you safe and sane. They may just save you from making those time consuming or expensive mistakes.

The best friend of the interior designer on a budget is Ikea. Can you believe it’s nearly 30 years since they opened their first UK store? I’m a self confessed addict. It started with a mutual love of wood and candles and has developed over the years as we’ve both aged and matured.

I use Ikea alongside salvage yards and junk shops to bring the rooms to life and make them my own.

Here’s how I do it…

How to Survive The Ikea Shopping Trip – My 5 Practical Tips

1. Forward Planning, Preparation and Measuring

Ikea Preparation Kit

Buy a note book or scrap book, something with a cover to inspire you, I love this one. Collect ideas and images to inspire you.

Record all relevant details, size of rooms, height as well as floor space. Draw out diagrams of possible room set ups.

If you want a piece of art measure the space it will inhabit. Write down exact size you want, or the minimum and maximum sizes for the space it will inhabit.

Use catalogues to get room ideas. Cut out and stick inspiring pictures into your notebook. Your notebook is your one stop shop, so scribble down anything that comes up mind. Always take it with you on shopping trips.

Join Pinterest and make virtual boards, maybe for each project or room, then fill it with inspiration and practical tips.

Take some photos of your rooms on your phone, you can use these at the store. I’ll come back to that later.

2. Invest in Things You Use Most

Do not skimp on items such as mattresses and chairs. Your back will thank you in the long run. Ikea are genius with packaging. You’ll be amazed how small they can package a mattress for you to get it home.

Ikea Mattress

You can make bed bases from Ikea units (search Pinterest for 100’s of Ikea hacks) always make sure the mattress is a good one. If it means you need to buy charity or thrift store books and cut back on posh ice cream for a while, that’s no bad thing.

In your notebook calculate how many hours you will use items. Will you see it or touch it every day, or only once in a while? Is it on show or hidden away?

Do you love cooking?

Continue reading “How to Survive The Ikea Shopping Trip – My Guide, and Yes it Includes Meatballs!”

How to Build Ikea Flatpack Furniture – My Flatpack Assembly Survival Guide – ( Without Breaking a Nail! )

Things that were minutes ago just squares and shapes laid snugly in a well fitting cardboard box are now a three dimensional gorgeous addition to your home.

How to Build Ikea Flatpack Furniture –  My Flatpack Assembly Survival Guide – ( Without Breaking a Nail! )

How to Build Ikea Flatpack Furniture - My Flatpack Assembly Survival Guide - ( Without Breaking a Nail! )

Do you hanker after well designed furniture but can’t afford it? How about flat pack? Scared of it looking cheap and wobbly, with poorly fitting doors etc? Be scared no more, Ikea could well be the answer to your problems. Never shopped in Ikea before? Have a look at my shopping advice here.

If you followed my previous advice, you got home safely with all your bargains and flatpacks and are ready to make your house into a home.

Many people, sadly often the lovely men in our lives (I’m not sexist but guys, you know this is true) do not like following instructions. If this is you, then walk away. I can’t help you. Walk away, with your big hammer, your tool belt and be prepared to break things. Get your ‘might come in handy stuff’ box, aka toolbox, for all the left over pieces you didn’t think were necessary. You may want to keep the drill handy too, you know you love a power tool. For those who are less gung ho and want to do the job as suggested by Ikea, this post is for you.

Right then, who’s still here? You did swot up and buy, or borrow, all the required tools didn’t you? No? Oh dear, you may have a problem, or not. DO NOT PANIC! I can help. You will just be reading instructions, or rather following text free diagrams with little pictures of people helping you along the way. No language difficulties here.

Check your watch, it’s not a race, this is a task that could take time. If you don’t have time, leave it. A panicky last minute build could be disastrous. Happy? OK, we’re going in.

My Flatpack Assembly Survival Guide – My 5 Practical Tips

1. Prepare your Construction Zone

Are you ready to go? Great. Get changed, be comfy, wear trainers not slippers or barefeet (bare toes and sheets of glass or wood don’t make for a healthy mix.) Grab a glass of water, it can get heated.

It’s a good idea to cover the floor area or table (only use a table for small projects. Picture frames usually have glass in them, you need to keep it flat. Furniture is heavy, you need to keep it as low as possible.)

Bedsheets / blankets to protect your flooring or carpet are ideal. You don’t want to produce one gorgeous piece at the cost of scratches and marks on another.

You need as big a space as you can wrangle, spreading out will help you keep track. It’s also safer, you don’t want to be stepping over or on the flatpack pieces during construction.

At this stage it’s worth putting your drink where it won’t get knocked over but you can reach it. You may need extra energy so bring the Ikea Dime pieces, you DID buy some didn’t you? These can double up as mini treats as you finish each stage. Put a pencil there too.


2. Place The Boxes in the Room You Need the Furniture

I know it’s tempting to open the box as soon as you get it home and have a look. This would be a mistake. Unless it’s a small item, it’s always best to construct it in the room you will use it.

Ikea box

If you tear open the box, you may not be able to carry it. It may not even go through the doors. It may not fit where you expected, although if you followed my earlier advice it will definitely be the right size.

3. Open the Box, Read the Instructions

Ikea use diagrams to illustrate the requirements and safety instructions. READ THEM. Read the instruction brochure from beginning to end. Then grab the pencil. Ah ha, did you miss that bit? OK. Go get a pencil.

You will have noticed whilst reading that Ikea often list options. For example, how to have drawers on one side of a desk or the other. Flat pack furniture is often made of numerous units that can be custom built. It is important to follow the instructions inline with how you chose to design the final piece.

Scribble on the brochure so you know which pages you need to read. You may need to ignore some and jump forward to another section. Whilst mid-construction it’s really easy to forget this and you could end up with something you don’t want or like. Oh yes! Been there, done that. It is not alway easy to deconstruct, trust me, so please take the time to read the whole thing.

At the front of the instructions it will tell you what tools you need, often it’s just a screwdriver, rarely a drill. Drills are to be avoided, unless you know what you’re doing. They can overtighten screws and damage the final product. Allen keys are often the tool of choice and they are often improved by a plastic extender, genius!

HEALTH and SAFETY. This is worth repeating, it was in my earlier post.

If the instructions say fasten to the wall, then FASTEN TO THE WALL! Falling furniture can kill, or seriously injure, that’s why the warning is there…

Continue reading “How to Build Ikea Flatpack Furniture – My Flatpack Assembly Survival Guide – ( Without Breaking a Nail! )”

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow, Scotland – A Night at The Museum with Awesome Art Classics

The exhibits are displayed in smaller rooms, well spaced so browsing and taking your time is easy and enjoyable.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow, Scotland – A Night at The Museum with Awesome Art Classics

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow, Scotland - A Night at The Museum with Awesome Art Classics

Product:

Art Gallery, shop and cafe

Location:

Argyle Street, Glasgow, Scotland

Van Gogh

Overview:

This gallery is housed in a beautiful, classical architectural jewel of a building in Glasgow city. We parked up in the cheap on-site car park and walked through the small gardens to the entrance. Entrance is free, with a voluntary donation of £5 minimum, it’s well worth the donation!

The gallery is spread over three floors, with cafe and shop to visit before you leave. The shop has some really well designed souvenirs, reasonably priced and not just the usual junk.

The exhibits are displayed in smaller rooms, well spaced so browsing and taking your time is easy and enjoyable. The downstairs rooms are a bit more chaotic as they are aimed at education of the young. Lots of laughter and running between the tactile displays shows they’ve got it spot on.

Continue reading “Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow, Scotland – A Night at The Museum with Awesome Art Classics”

Le Penseur, Auguste Rodin – The Vatican Museum, Rome

Some of the most important art in the world is there and folk just barge you out of the way and literally run through the galleries

Le Penseur, Auguste Rodin

Le Penseur, Auguste Rodin – The Vatican Museum, Rome

Some say size matters, boy did they get that one wrong. Always choose quality over quantity!

I am so lucky, I have seen some of the most beautiful, historic, thought provoking stunning art. I’ve visited Paris to see Mona Lisa, despite what you may have perceived from the media images, she’s tiny! None the less she’s worth the trip. Wow! Amazing.

Whilst on a recent trip to Rome I was walking around the breathtaking Vatican Museum. A huge number of people almost run through that place. It’s bizarre. Some of the most important art in the world is there and folk just barge you out of the way and literally run through the galleries to get to the Sistine Chapel.

Shame.

Now the Sistine Chapel is just indescribable, although I will try in a future blog post, but please people…

slow down…

take a breath…

take in the beauty around you…

As I meandered through the long halls and enjoyed the galleries held securely in between, I was surprised to see an artwork I’d not even realised was there. It wasn’t mentioned in my brochures and my research had missed it, my bad.

Stood on a humble pillar, within a small off shot gallery sat this gorgeous man. He wasn’t drawing attention to himself, he sat quietly, some visitors almost knocked him from his pedestal in their haste to pass him by.

Who was this tactile, bronze, muscular naked figure quietly demanding my attention? Silently calling out to me to reach out a hand and almost tentatively touch his shoulder, I resisted the temptation, as you do with a forbidden love.

Continue reading “Le Penseur, Auguste Rodin – The Vatican Museum, Rome”

My Desert Island Discs – Thank you BBC Radio 4 for the inspiration

Ask everyone, they remember their first love. It’s embedded in their emotional map.

Radio 4 Desert Island Discs

My Desert Island Discs

BBC Radio 4 transmit Desert Island Discs and have done so since 1942.(Copyright probably BBC, I did look but couldn’t find the official reference for it)

The programme has the same theme tune as the original, it’s now become a radio institution, recognisable across the globe.

The radio programme has one presenter, currently Kirsty Young, who interviews a celebrity, academic or public figure about their life. The conversation is held against a back drop of their favourite pieces of music and the reasons behind their choices. If they were stuck on a desert island, which eight pieces of music, discs, would they like to have with them.

A extra dimension is also which books would they need with them on the island. The guest is ‘given’ the complete works of Shakespeare and the Bible. Remember this did start on the BBC back in the forties. The Bible can now be exchanged for any other book of religion or philosophy.

At the end of the programme the guest must decide on ‘saving’ just one book. They are also allowed one luxury item.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I have every intention of becoming a best selling author and will therefore get on the radio show for real at some point soon. However in the meanwhile I thought I’d share my current Desert Island Discs  shown below in no particular order.

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My Tiny Scottish City Break – it’s not just whisky and midges

The colours and light change and drift from bright jewels of purple to stormy greys and back again. Your camera will not do it justice.

My Tiny Scottish City Break - it's not just whisky and midgesMy Tiny Scottish City Break – it’s not just whisky and midges

OK, so I confess, I don’t like weddings and I don’t like rooms full of people I don’t know. So at the weekend where did I decide to spend a weekend, yes a wedding. A wedding where I wouldn’t know anyone. No one, except my other half.

To add to the overall joy of anticipation I also came down with really bad cold. I now had not only a sore throat, peeling snotty nose and no tastebuds, but would be exposing all the guests I met to my germs. Oh dear.

I put all the guilt of that on hold and went anyway. The guilt of missing out on the wedding, letting people down and wasting what was relatively the small fortune it costs to travel and stay in the UK being my main motivations. As any of you know who follow my blog, I’m currently earning about $1 per month from Amazon Affiliates so small fortune it is! 

Did I mention that the car broke down the day before too, so last minute train tickets had to be bought – ouch! Pricey!

Edinburgh

Edinburgh Castle at sunsetBack to the wedding. It was to be held on the Saturday so it would be foolish to miss out on a chance to spend time in one of my favourite cities in the WORLD, so Friday became travel day.

Continue reading “My Tiny Scottish City Break – it’s not just whisky and midges”

My Tiny London City Break – it’s not just palaces and designer shops

Here I identify a gap in the market. Reading glasses. Why don’t book shops sell them?

My Tiny London City Break – it’s not just palaces and designer shops

My Tiny London City Break - it's not just palaces and designer shops

London is a great city break destination. Not the cheapest city to visit but if you can afford a day or two it’s quirky and not just palaces and expensive designer shops, although they are there too.


Getting To London

Due to bagging a bargain first class ticket I end up in the Virgin First Class waiting room, lush. I’m a bit of a reverse snob so do feel a little awkward entering the ‘exclusive’ area with its lovely and surprisingly comfy designer chairs.

Virgin Trains First Class Waiting Room

(Note to self, write and ask Richard Branson for one of the spares, would be ideal for my hallway)

For some reason at Doncaster, luckily sunny Donny as usual, the first class carriage stops miles down the platform, well 100 yards at least, so I trekked off to the distant pillar with the helpful carriage number posted on it and waited for an on time train.

Doncaster Rail Station

Easy to find my seat, settle in, plug in charger for phone and log on free wifi. The wifi is a bit hit and miss but as it’s free and easy to log in I have no problem with it. Pinterest with its heavy image base didn’t load but I was able to do some emails, catch up with Twitter and start this post in my Scrivener app.

Free refreshments are in with the ticket price, although my train was the early one so the breakfast only menu was on. A little muffin didn’t quite do it, when I had my heart set on the chicken wrap but it’s free so who am I to moan.  I daren’t risk the chocolate Danish whilst wearing a white cotton top.

Arrival in London

Numerous teas later, yes you know I love my brews, I arrived in London.

Continue reading “My Tiny London City Break – it’s not just palaces and designer shops”

5 Reasons to Travel on the Tranzalpine Railroad, Aotearoa, New Zealand – Christchurch to Greymouth

If you live at the top of a mountain, where it rains, a lot, I guess you need a sense of humour.

Tranzalpine Railroad, Aotearoa, New Zealand Christchurch to Greymouth5 Reasons to Travel on the Tranzalpine Railroad, Aotearoa, New Zealand – Christchurch to Greymouth

1. The Tranzalpine train link between Christchurch and Greymouth, Aotearoa, New Zealand, is one of the world’s most iconic rail journeys

I know why. It’s a cliche but the scenic route is truly visually stunning. It is hard to capture the number of oohs, aaahs and wows that you hear. Both your own and fellow traveller’s as you watch the highs and lows of the terrain through the huge picture windows. The train has an plug in audio commentary for travellers to learn as they go along, I’d recommend tuning in to it. Embrace your inner tourist and listen to the experts, you really should learn something about the area.

2. You can relax and look at the amazing scenery without distraction

The route goes up to the infamous Arthur’s Pass high in the mountains. A windy place occupied by a tiny community. Some people go there for a day or three, no doubt to go hiking or mountaineering. I salute you. The terrain didn’t look hospitable, even on a sunny day. It is hard to imagine how bleak it would have been for ‘Arthur’ and any other pioneers. As we learnt on the train commentary the original terrain would have been basically dry grasses, most of the greenery we now see has been imported over the decades / centuries. Bleak indeed.

Land of the long white cloudThe ‘land of the long white cloud’ is illustrated quite clearly, although the weather change dramatically through the day and from one side of a very long tunnel and the other.  The palm trees in such a desolate place was a surprise, especially when I’m told my garden in Sunny Donny isn’t warm enough for one.



3. The train has an open sided carriage to allow for clear photography

The very breezy and chilly open cabin is fantastic. Take your coat it is more than a bit nippy! Put your camera around your neck or on a wrist strap. You let go of it up here you sure as heck ain’t going to get it back! Don’t stick your head or hands out in a tragic selfie fashion either as unexpected bridges and tunnels pop up unannounced. Tranzalpine viewsI laughed at the thought of having something similar in a fairly mild UK climate, maybe across the Pennines. Our UK system is so totally dominated by Health & Safety it wouldn’t get past the drawing board. Well done to the brave souls allowing a truly immersive travelling experience in the open air.

I chatted with one guy who lives nearby and travels regularly in the open carriage just to get back in touch with his local area and its beauty. What a great idea. How often do you do that where you live?

4. It’s an education

Braided River in New Zealand

Do you know what a braided river is? No, me neither until I discovered it’s one ‘braided’ by the debris and gravel brought down by the waters from the hills. They are dramatic, beautiful and a little intimidating. I can imagine the powerful waters just rushing down one day, taking everything in its path on its torrential journey.

If you live at the top of a mountain, where it rains, a lot, I guess you need a sense of humour. I hadn’t expected to see such imaginative art in a garden at the rail track, so who ever you are – WELL DONE!

Corrugated Iron ArtworkCorrugated metal art in a ‘thing’ in Aotearoa (NZ), no idea why but you see it in the most unexpected places. It’s a personal choice I guess but local art adds character so is always a bonus.

5. It gets you from A to B, what more do you need

Oh yes, and the day I travelled was the day I discovered a strange jelly type sweet (I’m reserving judgment on that one, excuse the almost cannibalistic joining of the two dissected bodies) and Peanut slab! Peanut Slab & CoffeeDEEP JOY!!! Anyone travelling in Aotearoa you HAVE to try it (peanut allergy excepted of course)

You may also like:

http://www.christieadamswriter.com/5-reasons-i-became-a-backpacker-yes-me-a-50-year-old-woman/

Why are the Blue Mountains blue?

http://www.newzealand.com/int/arthurs-pass/

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