Sunday, 17 August 2014

How to make your relationship last: Stop being offended by everything

He didn't want to talk to me because he was playing FIFA.

"Hiya!" I said when he picked up the phone.

"Hi." he said, distractedly.

I know that tone. It's the one he uses when he's playing on the X-Box and I have had the audacity to call mid-game.

It's amazing how somebody can say so much by saying so little. What he really meant was: "I don't understand why you are phoning me. If you're not in danger, please can we talk about it later?" but in the interests of brevity, he stuck with "Hi" and I figured out the rest on my own. I just laughed, asked if we had any peanut M&Ms left in the cupboard (which was the real reason for my call) and said I'd be home in 20 minutes (to eat them).

Now, you might think this is a post about how rude it was of my husband to put the X-Box before me or about my outrage at the fact that he wasn't just sitting at home waiting for me to return and tell him about the exceptionally well-priced fish and chips I had for my dinner (seriously though, they were just so reasonable) but that's not the case. I wasn't offended at all. And that's because I'd have done exactly the same thing to him if he'd called whilst I was participating in my own hobbies - i.e. watching Coronation Street or singing along to the Bee Gees whilst loading the dishwasher ('Now you can tell by the way I wash my fork, I'm a woman's man, no time to talk' is the lyric I'm probably most proud of.)

If you are going to stay together, it has to be OK that sometimes (assuming the other person is indeed safe, well and not deprived of purse-friendly fried goods) you need to have a bit of time to yourself. Not everything you do is about the other person, sometimes it's just about doing what you want - be it kicking an imaginary ball into an imaginary goal, or single-handedly improving popular music through the use of cutlery-based puns - whatever you need, that time is yours.

The alternative is to spend your entire relationship being offended by the other person's actions. In a long term relationship, it's not possible to keep up the perfection of the early days. People don't always text back within five minutes because they have jobs and travelling and Sudoku to do. They don't always want to hold your hand when you're walking along the road because sometimes it's boiling hot and a sweaty hand sandwich is not everybody's cup of tea. You'll also find that sleep is a lot more comfortable when everybody keeps to their own side of the bed. It doesn't mean they don't love you, it just means that lying like a starfish will always be more comfortable than spooning, I don't care what anybody says.

It's best just to not get cross about any of this stuff because it doesn't mean anything. Actually, that's not entirely true - it does mean that you're comfortable, which is nice, and that you're clear on your collective view about whose side of the bed is whose, which is pretty much as important as it gets.

With comfort and trust comes that lovely moment when you can both just chill the hell out. He can prioritise the performance of 11 little footballers for a while and I can see what's been kicking off in Weatherfield without anybody getting offended.

That is, of course, until he calls me into the lounge to ask me to watch a replay of a goal one of his electronic men has scored. I always say they're 'great' but I know he doesn't believe I care.

It's amazing how somebody can say so much by saying so little.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Growing up: Five things I didn't expect to find on my to-do list

I cleared out the freezer on Friday night - because I am a party girl who cannot and will not be tamed.

And when my husband came home I made him listen to a short presentation on the new world order, freezer-wise, which went something like this:

"Drawer 1 is now home to frozen vegetarian meats and green veg. We've got loads of the bastards - if you ever see me trying to buy broccoli again, please confiscate my credit card.

Drawer 2 is where we keep fun goods - Mars ice creams are in here (no, you can't have one until after dinner) as well as these two Mini Milks I'd forgotten ALL about. I know, right, what a way to end the week! And breads are here too. I know they're not really 'fun goods' but I had already named the drawer before I put them in.

Drawer 3 is where this unnecessarily large bag of cauliflower now lives, as well as all our frozen herbs and the ice tray. Not a classic combination but I'm sure they will find a way to get along.

And drawer 4 is where we keep all fish goods. The cost of frozen prawns really is getting out of hand, don't you think?" (He didn't respond. I think I lost him at 'Mars'.)

Your concept of what qualifies as an achievement expands as you get older. In addition to your work and your relationships, there are now extra smaller scale things which, if achieved, can secretly make you feel that you're really winning at life. Here are four more to keep 'Freezer Gate' company:

1. Sorting out your underwear drawer
In an ideal world your knickers would live on one side of a drawer, your bras on the other, grouped by tone and genre (e.g. day wear/special occasion /misguidedly garish /that one you never wear because you don't have any knickers to match), and your socks would never dare to cross paths with anybody except their identical twin. But we don't live in a perfect world. Take your eye off them for just a few days and you'll have pants buddying up with bras with whom they have nothing in common, socks flying solo, and forgotten thongs jumping to the top of the pile in the hope of an outing (I've considered using one to wrap up an open bag of peas before but I'm not sure that counts). So when you do find the time to get everything in its correct place (which in the thongs' case is either the bin or the freezer) it is an achievement deserving of a lengthy lie down.

2. Gardening 
I might have given myself a little too much credit with that title. What I actually mean is 'very basic gardening that only done when we're about to be overwhelmed by a Jumanji-style vine monster'. But when I do get round to doing it which, for the record, has only happened once (I prefer to be more of a back seat gardener, shouting orders from the lounge whilst eating crisps), my word do I feel proud of myself. People have been given medals for less, I'm sure of it.

3. Giving the dishwasher a bath
It's only when the dishwasher starts refusing to wash all the grated cheese and cheese puff residue off my crockery that I realise it's time to give it a clean. Popping a bottle of dishwasher cleaner into the machine I love more than pretty much anything else in the world (aside from the fridge, of course), and seeing it come up all shiny and new, ready to make all my crisp crumbs disappear makes me understand what all those love songs are really about.

4. Preventing post-mageddon
I love post - who doesn't? But not post that asks me for money or that thinks my name is Mr Charlotte Buxton. But it keeps coming and so finds itself in our filing system - AKA the giant pile of paper on the desk which, if left alone, will eventually collapse on top of me and paper-cut me to death. I decided to tackle it just last week and after two hours of envelope opening, recycling and the unexpected discovery of a cheque made out to my husband which I definitely didn't consider using to buy that ASOS dress I want, I was overwhelmed by my sense of accomplishment. A desk I could see! An in-tray that didn't collapse when I sneezed! It was like Christmas but BETTER.

If you don't show your veg, your weeds, your mail and your smalls who's boss then nobody will so you might as well take as much joy from it as you can. Otherwise you're just some idiot who's spending a hard-earned Friday night attempting to decide which part of your freezer would best suit four bags of half-eaten broccoli without so much as a smile on your face.

And that would just be foolish.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Relationships: How to cope when your looks change

I've often been told that I need my eyes tested.

By my mum when I claimed my childhood bedroom was tidy, by my brother when I missed the goal yet again during an ill-advised game of FIFA, and by my husband when I suggested that it's him that's taking up too much space in our wardrobe (which by having anything in there at all, he clearly is).

So on Friday I went for such a test and, as a result, now find myself in possession of not one but two pairs of glasses. My tendency to sit on breakable objects means that I have to buy two of pretty much everything (which, when purchasing chocolate bars, is no bad thing).

My mum likes to remind me that when I was a child I used to pretend to be unable to read the little letters on the optician's screen in the hope of being given glasses. But I wasn't paying back then, was I. There was definitely no pretending when it was my credit card on the line. That F was just f-ing tiny.

But it's OK because glasses are cool. They are an accessory that I have to spend money on for the good of my health. Like a handbag that cures headaches or a bracelet that stops eczema or a pair of shoes that makes the stomach ache I get after eating 120 grams of Fruit and Nut just magically disappear.

But there is no denying that glasses change the way you look. I'm not sure if you've ever noticed but they sit right in the middle of your face.

My husband and I have changed a lot since we met at university in 2005. We were a lot younger then, much more casual about getting our hair cut on a regular basis (who wants to spend money on neat locks when you can buy chips covered with cheese?), and I wore borderline indecent skirts as frequently as I now wear my dressing gown (most of the day).

He didn't sign up to be with a 29-year-old woman with half brown, half blond (and just a teeny bit of grey) hair and thick rimmed glasses. He signed up to go out with a 20-year old girl with young skin, and a penchant for parties, staying up late and consuming Jaffa Cakes with gay abandon (OK, the latter is still true though I will always use a plate now - this isn't a zoo, you know.)

And I didn't expect to end up with a 30-year-old man who thinks it's reasonable to still not have unpacked his luggage after a holiday which ended five days ago (that point really isn't relevant to this post but I just needed to get it off my chest). I guess nobody gets exactly what they bargained for.

But the changes that happen to our looks and our likes are all just part of the little story we build together - the khaki trousers from my 'let's dress like a park ranger' phase, the unkempt curly hair from his student days, and the extra pounds of weight I'll inevitably gain from the pot of mini doughnuts and melted chocolate I consumed last night just because it was Saturday. Whatever happens when I try to zip up my trousers tomorrow, I will never regret that decision.

Wedding vows talk about all the times it'll be important for you to stick together - for richer for poorer, in sickness and health - but I really think it would be helpful if they covered a bit more of the day-to-day; something like 'For bitchier for warmer; in fitness and in a disgustingly hung over state' - because, if you're lucky, those things will test you much more frequently. If you can look at a person who drank so much the night before that they couldn't remember where the bedroom was in your one bedroom flat and tell them that that they're scrumptious (or that they will be after a good shower) I'd say you can get through anything.

Whether it's a new pair of glasses, an inexplicable fondness for camouflage coloured trousers or a bad trip to the hairdressers, we're signed up for life, so we'd best make sure we like it. Because something tells me that there's going to be plenty more change to come. We'll get older, our hair will go greyer, and the pair of us will surely eventually discover the consequences of consuming our body weight in chocolate each day before bed.

And they'll be no hiding from it either. Just like the table that needs dusting, the dishwasher that needs emptying and that weekend bag that is getting no closer to unpacking itself, in these glasses, I can see absolutely everything.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Four things you should not do in hot weather

It's hot out there. Even hotter when you have a laptop resting on your legs, as I'm currently discovering.

And though summer lifts our spirits, sends our consumption of cucumber filled drinks through the roof, and gives our feet a well-earned break from their usual woolly prisons, there are some aspects of life that are a little trickier during a heatwave.

This doesn't mean summer is a bad thing - it is, in fact, the best thing since spring - we just need to adjust ourselves to cope with the sudden presence of a burning ball of fire in the sky.

And whilst magazines tell us what we should do in the heat - wear sun cream, buy a hat, consume our five-a-day (one Mars ice cream, two Soleros, and two Mini Milks), they don't tend to tell us what we shouldn't do. So I am here to do just that - here are five things I recommend you avoid doing on a hot day:

1. Sit down for any length of time
I'd forgotten how much a human being can sweat from the leg: a lot. And the problem with sitting down - the main activity a person wants to do to avoid passing out from heat exhaustion - is that it gives your legs the opportunity to really get cooking. It's a well-known fact that there are places on the human body from which one is expected to sweat. I'm not saying I like it; I don't have a photograph of a damp armpit as my screen saver; it's just that everybody knows that it happens and generally has the manners to ignore it. But if you stand up to reveal that the backs of your legs have suddenly turned into Niagara Falls, that is going to come as something of a surprise to nearby citizens. So I recommend that you keep moving. Or if you do have to sit down for a long period, you may wish to adopt my extremely attractive tactic of rearranging whichever piece of clothing you've chosen to wear that day so that any such perspiration is absorbed by your chair. Form an orderly queue, boys!

2. Attempt physical contact
I tried to hold my husband's hand last night on the way back from a restaurant. The last time he looked at me like that - like perhaps I didn't know how life works - was when I managed to hit him on the head with a stone I was attempted to skim, even though he was standing behind me. Of course he didn't want to hold my hand; it was all he could do to get through the walk home without melting. Advertising would have us believe that summer is such a sexy time of year - I'll prance about in a bikini before my other half carries me across the beach on his back and then hilariously pretends to hurl me into the sea. This is not reality. What couples actually do in hot weather is go on strike from all physical contact. There is no prancing, more dragging of our hot, swollen feet. There are no piggybacks, just one person walking ahead of the other saying "I JUST WANT TO GET HOME AND INTO THE SHOWER!" and there are no amusing attempts to throw me into open water (though if I try to grab my husband's hand again, that may change). It's every man and woman for themselves in this weather. We'll put our wedding rings back on in the autumn.

3. Straighten your hair
Let me ask you a question - do you feel like doing ironing right now? No? And, how about ironing your hair? Of course not. This is not the time to be subjecting your boiling brain to hot metal plates. And even if you did, and you managed to survive the experience without drowning in a pool of your own salty tears, if your hair is anything like mine, it'll either just stick to the sides of your head (making me look like Peter Andre in the Mysterious Girl video) or it'll expand to the size of a small bush. It's just not worth the effort.

4. Wear make-up
The other day I left the house wearing a full face of make-up. Two hours later I went to the bathroom to discover that said make-up had travelled so far from where I had originally put it that it looked like somebody had taken a damp flannel to my cheeks. And to make it even better, I'd had at least two face to face conversations during that time with people who, unless temporarily blinded by the perspiration shine on my forehead, will definitely have noticed. Thanks for letting me know, guys! So I won't be doing that again. These cheeks are staying bare until the weather drops a few degrees (that's my facial cheeks, before you panic. It'll never be that hot).

*mops brow* So there you have it. If you keep your hands to yourself, your foundation in its bottle, your hair in a ponytail and your legs-a-moving, you'll survive the heatwave no problem.

Oh and one more thing - if the last two hours has taught me anything it's that if you must use a laptop on a hot day, make sure you put it on a table. My knees are now so warm that I don't think even an ice cream could cool me down. Though I will, of course, give it a try.

Monday, 21 July 2014

The top 7 things I learnt at Blogcademy

I spent this weekend in Shoreditch. There's a sentence I haven't written before.

Yes, I left the house and the sofa and the lure of the Coronation Street omnibus (which I am very much looking forward to devouring later) to head out to blog school - AKA The Blogcademy - to learn how to make this little website of mine better.

I started this blog because I wanted somewhere to write and be creative (and to make fun of my other half for being DREADFUL at basic domestic duties. It's a wonder it hasn't torn us apart, to be honest). And now that it's been going for a while and I've figured out how I like to write and that there are even some people out there who want to read it, it's time to turn it into a more coherent, focused blog, rather than just a place where I come to have thoughts. I've basically been treating it like the bath until now.

So I went along to hang out with 40 or so fellow bloggers and to learn from the very impressive Shauna Haider, Kat Williams (of Rock n Roll Bride fame), and Gala Darling - team Blogcademy (pictured below with me. Like my ears?)

And I learnt a lot; I mean A LOT. My hand hurts from writing so many notes, my brain hurts from spending two whole days paying attention, and my stomach hurts in advance of all the chocolate I'm inevitably going to eat whilst trying to get my blog up to scratch.

I could write a post 100 points long to share all the tips I picked up, but that would go against everything we learnt about the importance of being interesting and succinct. So instead I'll just share the top seven things I've taken away from the weekend - and then I'll have no excuse not to get cracking with putting it all in place...

1. Define your blog's purpose.
This is something I have been dodging for a long time. If you've ever had a conversation with me about what this blog is about you'll know that I am unable to express it quickly, if at all - or certainly not without flapping my arms a lot and saying "Well, it's sort of meant to be funny - HAHAHA" in the hope that you'll change the subject. This needs to change. When I actually sat down and thought about it (and strapped my arms to my sides to prevent the inevitable flapping) I decided that overall this blog is probably about relationships, what they realistically entail and laughing at and celebrating the mundane. As much as it might seem like it's just about me taking every opportunity possible to mention how much I like Pringles, there is more to it than that, I promise.

2. Always write with a very specific reader in mind.
Of course! It's so obvious! But how many of us actually do it? Not me. One of the most useful things Kat said is that your ideal reader might be you five years ago - i.e. somebody who can learn from you. In my case, five years ago, my husband and I had just moved in together and were learning how to cope with our differing habits (mine: complaining when the bin hasn't been taken out; his: relentlessly failing to take the bin out). That girl might have liked what I write. Having said that, I know that a lot of the people who read this are either at similar stages in life to me or a little further on so perhaps it's one of them I should keep in mind. My mum is also a big fan but there's a chance she's a little biased (not towards me, just towards the posts that mention her.) Either way, I think some market research is in order.
Drawings by the amazing @charlotteart (P.S I WANT those knickers)
3. People are interested in what you can do for them. Be helpful.
I'm sure you will agree I am currently nailing this one, sharing all my new found wisdom like this. But again - of course! This makes total sense, particularly when I think about my own posts which have been most popular. Relationships: Six ways to help keep things interesting remains my most read, shared and liked post of all time. And I think it might be because it was in some way useful; if only to remind people that there is somebody else out there who believes that Boots Advantage Card points are a reasonable topic of conversation. This has made me think a lot too about what we really mean by 'helpful'. You don't necessarily have to teach somebody something really profound (though I think you'll agree my suggestion about serving snacks in nice bowls was pretty out there), you can just write something which people can relate to; that enables them to see a side of themselves represented. In short, I will admit that people leaving lights switched on in rooms they're not in is annoying, so you don't have to.

4. Come up with some regular features.
You have probably noticed that I blog once a week. This has kept me going until now but I need to do more. And the way to do this, I now know, is to come up with some regular features I can share on other days of the week. I'm not quite sure what they're going to be yet (Marshmallow Monday sounds cool but what would it really be about?) but I think they're an ace idea so I am going to give it a go. Perhaps an interview with other couples to see what their lives together are really like, or an attempt at a funny take on those often ridiculous relationship Q&As you get in newspapers? I think I could have quite a lot of fun with that.

5. Your blog is your brand. Like it or not.
Whether I am really planning for this blog to make me money I don't know but this weekend taught me that either way, I need to treat it like a business with its own brand that readers immediately recognise. Sure, you might know what my face looks like thanks to the giant picture of it at the top of the page but that's not really branding, more narcissism. So I need to do some work. And I find this part the most intimidating because I am not a designer and certainly not good at building websites (this current format took me a full day and LOTS of shouting to get in place). I need to change platform and I am also considering changing the name so that people can tell sooner what this whole thing is about. I love Nothing Good Rhymes with Charlotte but what does it tell you? (other than that I'm clearly hilarious). This is probably the hardest part so I will not be rushing into anything. And anyway, won't I miss having EVERY person who reads this remind me that Scarlett rhymes with Charlotte? Actually, now I come to mention it, no I won't.

6. Be organised.
It is so nice but so daunting to come away from an event with a to-do list the length of your house. But this is of course what you want from a course you've paid money for. So now I need to get on with it. I'm going to write down my goals, make a plan and get my sh*t together. I'm even going to tidy my desk to help make this happen. If you've seen my desk (or Post We Haven't Bothered To Open In Two Years Mountain, as I like to call it) you'll know this was no small task.

7. Ask people what they think.
Unsurprisingly the people who know that they like to read are your readers - DUH. And it's time I started asking some questions - about the blog's name, about the things I write that they like, that they don't like, about whether it's actually just me that finds jokes about bins funny... A little market research will do me and this the world of good. In fact, why not start now - if you have thoughts on what is good/great/bad/missing from/outrageously offensive about this blog, please tell me. Leave a comment, send me a tweet, leave a Facebook comment, come round to my house, sit me down and tell me how it is... whichever way you like, I would love to hear from you and to use what you think to help make this better. Just remember that if you do decide to come over, you need to bring some crisps. I've got some very fancy bowls I'd love you to see.

Thank you to team Blogcademy for a great weekend and to all the lovely blogger chums I met across the two days. I most definitely feel that I got SCHOOLED. Now the hard work really begins...

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Adulthood: Five things that happen on your birthday

1. Your parents take the opportunity to remind you what you were like as a baby.
I, of course, don't remember being a baby. I could hazard a guess that I was probably a bit pink, unpredictably tearful and partial to a nap (so not that different from now) but that's all I've got. My mum, on the other hand, has all the memories anybody interested in hearing about my life as an infant could wish for. And each year on my birthday I get a new instalment, which I very much enjoy. There's the one about how I was a lovely baby (her words), and how pleased they were that I was a girl, and the surprise they felt when it took just four hours for me to be delivered (beat that, Amazon).... It's just unfortunate that I also know that I was rather prone to tantrums and that I once threw up in her bed. Though arguably that was worse for her than me.

2. People don't ask how old you are, just if this is a 'big' birthday.
You know you're truly an adult when people are cautious about asking your age in case they offend you. They didn't used to worry. Such questions would just lead to conversations about what you were legally allowed to do now that you'd reached the latest milestone. But by the time you get to 29, all your birthdays feel pretty big. And not because you're suddenly allowed to smoke or drink or gamble; but because you're far too tired and partial to the indoors to even think about doing any of it.

3. You no longer feel the need to open your presents as soon as you wake up.
When I was a child, going to sleep the night before my birthday was as impossible as it is for me to stay awake beyond 10 o'clock now. But things are different these days. It was my alarm that woke me up on Friday and it took me a good few moments to figure out what day of the week it was, let alone that it was my birthday. With age comes the knowledge that the longer you wait to open your presents, the longer it is until all the fun is over. I think it was about 9pm on Friday when I finally started doing any unwrapping. If one of my gifts hadn't been a jar of strawberry flavour mushroom sweets it would have felt like a very mature affair. (And no you CAN'T have one.)

4. The majority of your presents could be described as 'useful'
(Well, aside from the sweets. A girl's got to eat though, you know). I can't think of a birthday in the last five years when I haven't received a cardigan or a handbag. This year I got both. And a lunchbox. These are the things I need in my life now. Glitter nail varnish and hair mascara (or whatever it is kids are into these days) are all very well but are they going to enable me to carry the recommended volume of blueberries I should eat around with me each day? Do they have a pocket that will hold my Vaseline? I don't think so.

5. All you really want for your birthday is to hear from people you love.
Aside from a good book, a strong drink and the promise of a meal we don't have to cook ourselves, all we grown-ups really want for our birthday is a little correspondence; the odd bit of post that isn't a bill or a takeaway menu or yet another reminder that the local estate agent would just LOVE to sell our house if only we'd have the decency to move out. A card or a text message from a chum to wish us an enjoyable day is enough to make it almost worth adding yet another year to our total. Birthdays are an excuse to get in touch and say hello and remind somebody that you're glad that they were born, which is always nice to hear.

The only dilemma such contact presents for me is whether to tell those asking how I celebrated my birthday the truth (i.e. that I was home, in my pyjamas and drinking a smoothie by 9 o'clock) or whether to lie and say I was on the tiles until the early hours. I think that by the time they've heard about the lunchbox, they'll be able to figure that answer out for themselves.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

29 things I've learnt in 29 years

I found a grey hair.

That's weird, I thought, I've never had any blond hairs grow from the root before, I've always had to dye those in. It's a summertime miracle!

But then I looked closer and saw that both the light and my deluded brain were playing tricks on me. The strand before me was quite clearly grey.

And it's not all that surprising. On Friday of this week I will turn 29. That big serious age that comes right before 30 when I'll have to stop spending Friday nights chomping through cheese puffs and start acting like a proper person.

But thankfully my years have not been completely wasted; I have at least learnt a thing or two. So this week, with my birthday on the horizon and the dawn of my thirtieth year just around the corner (WHY GOD, WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME?), I thought I would share the top 29 of those things - one for every year of my existence. Feel free to thank me for my wisdom on Friday with cake.

1. Pants-wise, there comes a time when only full knickers will do. That time is now.

2. A house without cheese is like a purse the day before payday. Empty and hopeless.

3. One should buy the amount of chocolate one intends to eat. You will not save the other half until tomorrow, you are lying.

4. If a man cannot find you attractive in a pair of pyjamas, your relationship is not going to last. He'll see you in those bad boys much more frequently than anything else.

5. Aggressive people are always much crosser with themselves than they are with you. (Though mentioning that will probably not help.)

6. Pumps are not shoes, they are outdoor slippers. If it hasn't got a strap and a solid sole, I'm not wearing it.

7. Mascara is the greatest invention of all time.

8. ...closely followed by dry shampoo.

9. My mum was right; you really shouldn't walk around whilst cleaning your teeth. That sh*t gets everywhere.

10. She also said that everything will look better in the morning. And she was right. (Except my face. After six hours crushed into a pillow, that looks MUCH worse. See points 7 and 8 for the solution).

11. The person who gets out of the shower or bath always feels much better than the person who got in (unless the hot water is broken. A quick heat test beforehand will help avoid disappointment).

12. You have rarely truly lost a pair of earrings; they are just waiting for you in a handbag you've forgotten you own.

13. Life is too short to drink 'from concentrate' fruit juice.

14. Under no circumstances should a working person be expected to go out on a Monday night.

15. Your relationship with your other half should be the easiest of all. The rest of the world will bring you plenty of drama to help keep things interesting.

16. Two-ply tissues aren't worth anybody's time or money.

17. It is never worth spending lots of money on an umbrella, sunglasses or gloves. It's like they want you to lose them.

18. However much a pair of heels are hurting your feet, don't take them off until you get home. Putting them back on again to travel will bring more pain than any human should endure.

19. If you want an adult to sleep anywhere other than their own bed, you need to make it seriously worth their while.

20. If you're lucky, your siblings will become friends who just happen to have the same parents as you (for whom the memory of your older brother pushing a poached egg into your face will always remain embarrassingly clear).

21. Regardless of the circumstances, from the moment a woman decides that she's going to bed, she is always at least half an hour from laying her head on the pillow.

22. If you have to chase somebody just to keep them in your life, it's probably not worth the effort. (Unless that person is driving an ice cream van in which case RUN!)

23. There is no greater feeling on earth than getting into a freshly changed bed with newly shaved legs. (Whether they're your own or someone else's.)

24. If you notice that a person has food or pen on their face, it is your duty to let them know.

25. Cooking rice is 100% easier if you read the instructions on the packet. Who knew?

26. The original Percy Pig sweet will always be the strongest of the franchise. The rest of his pals can jog/trot on.

27. If you can leave a job having made just two good friends, that is a major achievement.

28. A sandwich served without crisps is like a day without sunshine. Just a massive waste of everybody's time. 

29. There is never just one grey hair.