Brightonians don’t know how to kiss

kissing-teensImage courtesy of Courtney Carmody via flickr.com

Long gone are the days of learning how to kiss by practising on an orange, teens of today ask Google instead.

The search engine has released the most popular ‘how to’ terms searched for in 2014, broken down by city. It reveals that the official top searches performed in Brighton were:

1. How to kiss

2. How to draw

3. How to plank

To be fair, I don’t know how to plank either so I’d be interested in reading the results of that search.

I’m always interested in this data that Google releases at the end of each year (I used to work in SEO so it was important to have an understanding of the most searched-for topics) as it hints at some of the online trends to come.

Here’s the summary video of the year in search:

This also made me start thinking about what my own top ‘how to’ search terms as a teen might have been?

1. “How to tame frizzy hair”

These days my hair-related searches are more about finding a nice or interesting cut that I can have with curly hair, or how to sport a fringe when you’ve got curly hair (I’ll save you some time: it’s not possible) but as a teen I reckon anti-frizz tips would have been up there.

2. “How to get served in the pub”

Weirdly, despite the worry, I didn’t actually have much trouble with this – I remember going into a club with older kids from school when I was about 14 or 15. I was told to strut confidently past the bouncers and avoid eye contact. I think the fact that I got in shows more about how much of a shit they gave about underage drinkers than how old I thought I looked.

3. “How to meet Leonardo DiCaprio”

Along with every other teenage girl in the world, I loved Leo DiCap and my bedroom was COVERED in pictures of him circa the Titanic years.

4. “How to complete Mario Kart”

Funnily enough I looked this up the other day for the Wii so not much has changed.

5. “How to pass exams without revising”

I did actually revise for my mock GCSEs and did really well, but by the time it came to the real deal I was sick of revising.

6. “How to get bigger boobs”

Anyone else remember the “I must increase my bust exercises”? That was probably a top unfounded worry at the time…

7. “How to sleep”

I struggled with getting a good night’s kip then and I struggle now – I think some handy tips then may have saved me some dark circles around my eyes now!

8. “How to be a magazine writer”

I remember when considering which A Levels to take, reading an interview with a journalist where they explained the career path they took and the subjects they studied. As a result I remember thinking I should take English Language, Media Studies and Psychology but my school’s sixth form only offered the basics at the time rather than fancy subjects like media and psychology, so I ended up going to college and doing a Media Production course instead.

9. “How to time travel”

As a child I loved time travel films, notably the Back to the Future trilogy (still probably my favourite films) and Flight of the Navigator. But I just did not understand it. My mum tried to explain it in so many different ways but it was over my head. Particularly the ‘alternate’ years (ie alternate 1985 in Back to the Future 2). WHAT?!

10. “How to know if a boy fancies you”

After researching how to kiss I might have moved on to recognising the signs of attraction. Because, you know, I couldn’t just speak to a boy and find out myself, that would have been WAYTOOMUCHOHMYGODI’MSHY.

What would have been your top ‘how to’ searches when you were a teenager?

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My year in fiction

I’ve been invited by Currys to look back over 2014 and pick my highlights in terms of the best TV show I watched and book that I read this year.

The TV part of this is really difficult because of course my memory serves highlights from the last couple of months rather than earlier in the year! But some memorable shows I’ve watched in 2014 include The Walking Dead, American Horror Story, Remember Me, 24, Bates Motel and Gogglebox.

My favourite TV shows of 2014

Original images (L-R) courtesy of friskytuna via flickr.com; ercansebat via deviantart.com; and Wikipedia.org

I think if I had to pick one though, it’d be The Missing. Obviously the series hasn’t finished yet, so the way the rest of the story goes is anyone’s guess, but so far it’s been amazing. Starring James Nesbitt, the programme is about a man and his wife who lose their young son while on holiday in France in 2006. The story jumps from 2006, when the boy went missing, to the present day, as Nesbitt is still trying to find him and is starting to discover new clues. I was hooked from the first episode and the scene when he realised he’d lost his son had me in tears. It’s tense and the style is very Nordic noir, which I love. I can’t wait to see how it finishes!

The best book I’ve read this year is an easier decision. I’ve read a lot of cookbooks this year – mostly due to my change in diet for health reasons (see my posts on gluten-free living and the low FODMAP diet). So I haven’t read many fiction books through 2014.

But this one is one of my favourites, I’ve read it at least three times before. A piece of cake by Cupcake Brown is about a young girl who gets lost in the foster care system. She gets physically and sexually abused and turns to drugs, gang life and prostitution. She almost dies, several times, but turns her life around, goes to college and is now a lawyer.

I bought the book from a street vendor in Melbourne about seven years ago while I was traveling around Australia. It’s so shocking but inspirational; I love it.

What is the best book you’ve read this year? What was your favourite TV show?

This is a sponsored post with Currys.

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A winter weekend in Eastbourne

Over the weekend Rob and I had a mini-getaway in the seaside town of Eastbourne. It was cold but sunny and clear – perfect for a winter stroll along the beach. We parked up on the seafront outside our hotel, but as we were too early to check in we decided to have a little walk down to the harbour.

Eastbourne sovereign harbour

Eastbourne’s seafront is a stark contrast from Brighton, which is what we’re used to. It was much quieter, almost desolate in places, but relaxing none the less. No noisy bars or bustling restaurants, just a few dog walkers and joggers alongside the waves.

It was a longer walk than we realised but when we got to the harbour it was really pretty so we stopped for a bite to eat while admiring the view. When we set back the sun was starting to set and the (remains of) the pier looked quite striking against the pinks and reds on the horizon.

Eastbourne sunset

When we got back we checked into our hotel, the Waterside Boutique – and we had a Japanese themed room called Osaka. It came with a jacuzzi room! I soon made the most of that and we were running the water almost as soon as we walked in the door. To be honest, it was a glorified bath… but the streams of water were relaxing and the spotlights on the ceiling felt almost like you were staring up at the stars.

Waterside Boutique Osaka room

Hotel jacuzzi

We went for dinner at Flamenco Tapas, a Spanish restaurant which had really good reviews – and even better, plenty of gluten-free options on the menu. And we weren’t disappointed, a large jug of Sangria and spoonfuls of paella later, we left: happy and contented.

Spanish tapas dishes
Amy at the tapas restaurant

It was really nice to have a change of scenery, even if it wasn’t far away and just for one night.

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The Christmas Tag 2014

Only this morning I was moaning about hearing Christmas songs on the radio and complaining that it’s only November. Hours later and I’m happily writing a festive blog post and reminiscing about Christmases gone by!

Christmas bauble

I spotted a Christmas tag post on Jen’s blog http://beautyjunkielondon.com and thought I’d join in. Why don’t you give it a go too? Feel free to copy and paste the questions and tell me the link in your comment, or else answer in the comments if you don’t have a blog.

  1. What is your favourite Christmas movie/s?

For comedy value I like Elf and Bad Santa but I prefer the more traditional Christmas films that remind me of my childhood. Either Home Alone (although that seems to be on TV all year round) or Santa Claus: The Movie.

  1. Do you open your presents on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning?

Always on Christmas Day, I’m not sure I’ve ever opened any on Christmas Eve! We normally open ones from immediate family in the morning together. Then in the afternoon we’re joined by extended family and we’ll swap presents with them. It’s nice because it spaces them out through the day,

  1. Do you have a favourite Christmas memory?

I always struggled to sleep on Christmas Eve as I was so excited. I remember once waking up early on Christmas Day to see if Father Christmas had arrived yet and was very pleased to see he had – I had a pillowcase full of presents (pillowcases traditionally replaced stockings in our house) and something covered over by a sheet. I peeked underneath and was very pleased to see a Sylvanian Families house.

  1. Favourite festive food?

I absolutely love roast dinners so it’s got to be the main meal! This will be the first Christmas I’ll be eating meat after eight years as a vegetarian so I’m actually really looking forward to turkey this year.

  1. Favourite Christmas gift?

Best one I’ve ever received? I’m really not sure – my memory is terrible and I often can’t remember whether something was a gift for Christmas or my birthday! I think my brother and I got our Super Nintendo for Christmas one year so that would have been pretty awesome.

  1. Favourite Christmas scent?

Mulled wine or those Christmasey smelling candles – the mixture of spices like nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger.

  1. Do you have any Christmas Eve traditions?

When I was little we’d go out into the square of the village we lived in, which was closed off for an hour or so and sing carols with hundreds of other people.

  1. What tops your tree?

We didn’t have anything to put on top of the tree last year so we made big goggley eyes out of cardboard and attached them to the tree along with a black foam moustache (not sure where that came from). We also always name the tree.

  1. As a kid what was the one (crazy, wild, extravagant) gift you always asked for but never received?

Probably one of those Little Tykes cars, I always wanted one of those.

  1. What’s the best part about Christmas for you?

The thing I love about Christmas is that it’s a chance to have quality time off, spent with friends and family, watching films, playing games and drinking and eating lovely food! What could be better? This year my little niece is due to be born too so it makes Christmas even more exciting.

Over to you!

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I borrowed a doggy and she stole my sleep

A few months ago I joined Borrow My Doggy. Yes it’s a real site – a very exciting one for aspiring dog owners.

I’d love to have a dog but a combination of factors prevent me from doing so. Firstly my boyfriend and I work full time so there’d be no-one around for most of the day. I work about an hour away from Brighton too, so wouldn’t even be able to nip home in my lunch break. I wouldn’t want to own a dog that I didn’t see much – I understand that for some dog owners this might be the only thing they can do and it may well work for them. But for me, I wouldn’t want to get a dog until I knew I could be around to look after it most of the time. The second factor is the cost. From pet insurance and vaccinations to food, toys etc I think it’d add up and we just don’t have the spare cash!

So when a friend introduced me to Borrow My Doggy I thought it was the perfect way around not having a dog. I’d borrow someone else’s!

I fell in love with the first dog I met: Daisy.

Daisy is a Staffordshire bull terrier crossed with a Border terrier. It was the Staffie part that actually drew me to her profile in the first place – I had one, Billy, growing up and I loved him so much. They’re a very friendly and lively breed and I knew what to expect. So I’d been on the lookout for a Staff (or pug or French Bulldog, which I also like). When I spotted Daisy I messaged her owner and we met on one summer afternoon for a walk in the local park.

Since then I’ve looked after Daisy a number of times during the day, but last weekend posed the opportunity for a sleepover. I was very excited.

Daisy was dropped off on Saturday lunchtime along with some blankets, food, a grooming brush and toys. We went straight to the local park for a run about and to play with her ball. We had a lovely time and she even made some new doggy friends.

Dog rolling around in the park

In the evening she ate all her dinner and settled down well on the sofa with me, resting her head on my tummy and snuggling under the blanket to watch a film.

When it came to bed time I thought it’d be best if she slept in the kitchen as it’s the smallest room downstairs which can be closed off from the rest of the house – and she’d be undisturbed by any trips to the bathroom in the night. I put her blankets down on the floor and gave her a fresh bowl of water. I showed her to her bed of blankets, said ‘goodnight’ and closed the door behind me. She stared at me through the door’s glass panels, looked confused and started to cry. I thought she’d stop once I wandered upstairs and was out of eyesight and earshot, but the crying got louder.

Rob suggested that perhaps we shouldn’t close the door as she might be scared if not in her own house. So I went back downstairs, opened the kitchen door and started to walk back upstairs. I heard little footsteps running up the stairs behind me. As I walked into our bedroom she was very excited to be invited in too and happily followed me towards the bed. ‘Ok’, I thought, ‘perhaps she’ll be happier if she stays in here with us’. I decided to get her blankets and put them on the bedroom floor but to leave the door open so she didn’t feel trapped.

I showed her to her bed, again which was quite confusing to her and I got into my bed. She happily trotted over to me and started to jump up on the human bed too. ‘No Daisy, you go to your bed,’ I said. She sat and stared blankly at me. I switched off the light and got into bed. For a while she trotted around the sides of the human bed, sniffing about. She looked up at us but we looked away, to discourage her from jumping up and to encourage her to retreat to her blanket bed to go to sleep. Eventually she settled on her blanket but not without a big sigh to let us know she wasn’t best pleased about the situation.

About 10 minutes later she trotted off to the landing and I heard her go downstairs. She didn’t come back for a while so I assumed she was either happily sniffing around somewhere or she’d found somewhere (probably the sofa) to settle and sleep.

About half an hour later, before I drifted off, she came into the bedroom again, presumably to remind us she was there. I turned away from her, thinking the lack of attention would make her go back to wherever she’d made her bed. It worked. For about an hour. She decided it’d be a good idea to come and see us every hour and to greet us with a cry, a lick on whichever limb was protruding from the sheets or a jump on the mattress.

She did have a very cute face… and I did feel guilty… but I stayed strong. Until 5.30am when I eventually gave up. I walked downstairs with a very excited waggy tail alongside me and I settled on the sofa with a blanket and a doggy hot water bottle for company.

Dog having a nap on the sofa

Not long afterwards, Rob got up as he could no longer sleep either.

Daisy was ecstatic that she had our company and full attention and spent the rest of the morning enjoying a fuss.

Dog enjoying a fuss

When her owner collected her I told her about our night-time adventures and she explained that Daisy normally stays in her bed with her. That’d explain Daisy’s cries and confused face then! She later texted me to say that Daisy had been fast asleep all afternoon. I wasn’t surprised!

It made me realise just how difficult it is to own a dog. You could easily replace the word ‘dog’ in this post with the word ‘baby’ and it’d probably work just as well – when she was crying through the night it wasn’t unlike having a baby!

I’d still love to have a dog as I know it’d be such a rewarding experience but it reminded me that it’s not all cuddles and play – it is a full time commitment that affects every part of your life.

I think next time Daisy comes to stay I’ll sleep with her on the sofa…

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