Thursday, 20 July 2017

The Thing About Love Island.......

If you are UK based or know anyone who is UK based you will probably have heard of a TV Show called Love Island.

The concept is like Big Brother except the aim is to fall in love (and hopefully win the prize money) while in a villa in Spain somewhere. To aid the falling in love process they start with an equal number of girls and guys who 'couple up'. Over the weeks the show airs new guys and girls are introduced and anyone without a partner is 'dumped' from the Island.

Dumping can happen by public vote, Islander vote or because a couple reshuffle leaves you single. At the start people often 'couple up' as friends but towards the end their are 'real couples'. To add to the drama the couples have to share a bed and complete tasks together so it helps that they at least get on.

Here's some of the cast:

So that's the summary but the thing about Love Island is that it's managed to create a formula that just works. The idea is absurd, the concept ridiculous and yet it works. For 3 seasons it has managed to create couples that actually stay together. There's even been two Love Island babies and wedding.

We missed season one, oblivious to it's existence. Then last year a couple of our friends asked if we were watching it so we tuned in out of curiosity. It was a mistake. A terrible mistake. Our summer became a blur waiting for our nightly update. This year we went in knowingly and once again our summer has become Love Island filled blur.

The thing is when a show is on nightly you have to commit. Miss a night and you miss out. It turns out love in a villa can be a tumultuous affair so you never want to be too far behind (think midnight binge sessions).

The thing with Love Island is not only do you have to keep up with the goings on but you have to learn a whole new language:
Mugged off: someone has pretended to like you but couples up with someone else
Salty: angry/ aggressive
Grafting: Hitting on someone, working to chat them up
Snakey: someone who does something underhand or behind your back
Melt: If you are being a melt you are being lame / soft
Cracking on: Starting a relationship 
Pied: dumped (as in pie-in-your-face)
Extra: Over the top
Stick it on: hitting on someone / chatting them up
Getting the ick: When the person you are with does something to turn you off

The thing is you can NOT avoid Love Island gossip, it lights up Twitter, fills gossip mags, has regular space in national papers, is the topic of office conversations and you can't avoid it anywhere on Facebook. Everyone seems to love it. There are memes, entire threads dedicated to goings on and accounts set up just to talk to fellow fans.

This year one of the challenges the Islanders had to complete included looking after a plastic baby, that baby now has a Twitter account with 39,500 followers, that's right 39,500 followers. You can check it out here: https://twitter.com/hughes_cash


The thing is we aren't the only people talking about why we love Love Island, The Telegraph even put together a list of reasons why clever people like Love Island (see here) reasons include:
  • Sweet Escape
  • Dumb comedy
  • It reminds us of University

The thing is Love Island takes over to such a degree that even shops buy into it. In fact Primark bought out a range of clothes this summer with popular phrases from the show:


The thing is they somehow managed to recruit a cast for season 3 that is strangely similar to season 2. I mean if the formula works don't change it but so far the similarities have included:

  • The posh girl (Zara / Camilla) initially comes off prudish and standoff-ish but they end up sleeping with a handsome new boy
  • The pocket rocket (Kady/Amber) both got into serious relationships only for them to break up, then make up in public declarations when the boys asked the girls to be their girlfriends
  • The exotic girl who may or may not be a bitch (Montana/ Malin) both went from likeable to unlikable because of their snakey behaviour
  • The muscle dumbos (Tom / Harley) their bodies may be built like gods but their brains could do with a work out too 
  • The feisty, confident, self assured Olivia's. The centre of plenty of drama but with hearts of gold. On both occasions the Olivia's were original Love Islanders that 'tried' and 'pied' a number of suitors before finding the one

It took us at least two weeks to get over mourning the old cast and accept the new cast without comparisons.

So you get the idea - it's addictive, it's entertaining, it has all the attributes of a guilty pleasure, it's ageless, classes, genderless. You can be watching it for the girls in bikini's or men in trunks, for the girls working out or the guys working out. For the drama, for the emotion, for the fact that you love love and want everyone to get their happily ever after. You could love to hate them, want to root for them, get annoyed at them, enjoy the bromances or end up crying as they declare their love - whatever the reasons it's an emotional escape we can't get enough off.



Are you a fellow Love Island fan?
Whose your fav couple?
Whose been your favourite Love Islander?
What will you do when it ends?


Tuesday, 18 July 2017

100 Reasons You Should Visit Birmingham Right Now!

Okay so 100 seems a lot. And technically the 100 reasons all belong to one event, The Big Sleuth!

Although I can think of plenty of reasons to visit Birmingham (click here for our city guide), this post is about why you should visit right now, or before the 17th of September.


Like The Big Hoot last year The Big Sleuth is a charity event organised by Birmingham's Children Hospital and Wild in Art. Like the Elephant Hunt we did in Sheffield (you can check out the pics here) the concept is simple - explore the city in search of painted sculptures of animals. In this case bears.

Did you know that the sleuth means private detective and is the collective noun for a group of bears?! What a happy coincidence for this event.

There are two ways to find the bears, you can download an App (£1.99 with a % going to charity) or a good olde fashion map that can be picked up for a £1 donation. We opted for the map. If we planned to find all 100 we may have invested in the App as you get prizes for finding certain bears or certain numbers of bears. However we had a plan though, we were only going to find bears in the city centre.

The other bears are located in Solihull, Sutton Coldfields and parks and areas of interest around Birmingham. With 40 bears to find though we still had our work cut out.

After a delicious brunch at The Boston Tea Party, where we sat and planned our route, we headed out. It took us almost 3 hours and we covered almost 8 miles while discovering and rediscovering lots of places around the city.
Enjoying 'the Boss'
Each bear also has a Twitter account - just in case you want to get in touch. Out on the trail there were more than a few bear puns when it came to the naming of the bears, think Shakesbear:



Bearmingham

Captain Blue Bear

Bearlock
Bisbee's personal favourite!
There were also some Birmingham references with Peaky Blinders and a bear designed by Bradley from the Vamps who was born locally.


Then there were the bears that had a theme all of their own. Including Spock, Ghostbusters and the oriental panda.

We managed to catch up on Wimbledon at Brindley Place where they had kindly laid out cushions, this also allowed us to tick off the bears we had seen and adjust our route. Brindley Place is a space jam-packed with restaurants by the canals. In summer they have a whole programme of outdoor activities ranging from films, to food festivals to live music. Check out their guide to whats on here.

Well one of us was watching tennis!
It was almost 6pm by the time we headed home, I had walked over 15,000 steps - thanks Fitbit! - and we had managed to pay a visit to Miss Macaroon, a shop that we had been wanting to try since it opened. We had macaroons in champagne, strawberry & cream, mango & passion fruit and parma violet flavours. All were delicious, although champagne was the personal favourite. If you make it to Birmingham do check out the store.

The reason we were interested in the store was because they don't just sell macaroons, in their words: 'At Miss Macaroon indulgence is also a virtue as our social enterprise activities are supported through every macaroon we sell. We provide employment and training programmes aimed at youngsters who may have slipped through the education system, are care leavers or find themselves homeless. This adds an entirely new and unique flavour to our macaroons, and one that can truly be savoured and enjoyed beyond the mere eating of the Miss Macaroon product itself. We're changing the world one macaroon at a time, thanks for joining us.'

I think we may have to head out and find a few more bears before the trail ends as there are a few left that we want to see including: Mary Berry's Soggy Bottom, Richard The Virgin Train Bear, Straw-Bear-y and Crunchie at Cadbury's World.
If you head into Birmingham and spot a few bears let us know!




Wednesday, 12 July 2017

A Birthday Party Theme Is Awesome - Here's Why!

I am a lucky lady. I know I say that on a frequent basis but I really am.

On Thursday I turn 34 and life has been good so far. I feel happy turning 34, like I'm right where I should be right now. I've got the gorgeous wife, who just happens to be my best friend, I have a wonderful puppy who is as much of a side-kick as I could ever have hoped for and I am surrounded by family and friends. The work part of life is also good, I was recently promoted to Head of Relationship Management, managing the team I had been a part of for almost 4 years, and so far so good.

This post isn't meant to be reflective though, well not reflective on my life anyway but to reminisce on the awesome weekend we had celebrating the 4th of July and my birthday.

As with most social events in our life it was also an opportunity to appreciate just how much social media has had an impact on our lives.

When Laura and I left London almost 3 years ago we knew very few people in Birmingham. I was lucky enough to be able to stay in my job but Laura had to thrust herself into a new city and new job. It took us a while to find our feet. We took up social activities but we also relied heavily on social media to keep in touch with friends else where. Our presence online was actually a great way to meet people - in Birmingham and beyond.

It was also social media that opened our world up to new friends when we got Bisbee. I love that you can create your own online community just by sharing what you love. When we got Bisbee we started chatting to a couple who had just bought a cavapoo - Otis. Like us they were a newly married couple, oh, and like us they are gay. That couple Sam and Sara are now two of our very good friends. We have holidayed together, spent many weekends exploring, cooking/baking and eating, and all because found common ground on Twitter.


Last year we also got to meet another couple who we had chatted to via Instagram, like us they have a dog, Farley, like us they are newly married and like us they are gay. These lovely ladies have also become good friends, we have explored, eaten tons and have a mini break booked in for Brighton Pride.

Both couples were kind enough to travel to the birthday gathering, bake cakes, bring gifts and join in as if we had been friends forever. I really appreciate that. I don't have any school friends and only a few Uni friends left as I've moved a fair bit and am not the best at staying in touch. Therefore I really am grateful to have friends who make the effort.

Joining the girls, and the pups, we also had a long time Twitter friend and now real-life friend, fellow Brummie Laura. Laura and her cockapoo Deliah are regular dog walking buddies and thanks to Laura we have discovered some amazing Birmingham walks.


Faye and Shab are also online friends, we met as we were both new to Birmingham. Shab is an Aussie and as they had met and lived in Australia we often reminisce about our times in Oz. It's been great getting to explore Birmingham as newbies together.


My old manager and long time friend Lisa also made it up, which was amazing as she had picked her parents up from Gatwick super early that morning and was heading to Little Mix the next day - she drove 400 + miles in the weekend alone.


We also had Laura's choir friends Allie and Anita and Allie's boyfriend Simon. These lovely ladies have become great friends and confidants of ours and our night out guides! Anita's pie was a patriotic highlight on the dessert table.


Laura's office was also well represented with members of her team, past and present - I mean, understandable as once you've met my wife she is worth staying friends with.

The celebrations kicked off with a BBQ, Laura has won me over to the gas BBQ side - after persevering with a coal one for 2 years. It made the food turnaround super quick and everyone was fed on sausages, burgers, chicken skewers and then a whole host of amazing sides (if I do say so myself). Mac and cheese, mash, potato salad, coleslaw, cowboy beans, salad and a ton of crisps and dips.

Everyone was so stuffed we had to play games to get them ready for dessert!

First came the pub quiz.

Then came the Idaho potato drop, in teams each member had to run the length of the garden with a potato between their legs, return to the start and drop it in a bucket, the second person then retrieves it, places in between their legs and this continues until the last person is back. Simples.

The third game was the Idaho potato chuck - this time the bucket was the length of the garden away and each team member took throws until 10 potatoes had been successfully chucked in the bucket.


Dessert time was epic. The cakes the girls had made were delicious - one had the USA flag as you cut into it and the other had red, white and blue stripes - AMAZING! My wonderful wife had made a cookie dough cake that was so so good- and then there was the pie. Oh and cupcakes. We ended up sending people home with slices as it was too much to eat.


After dessert was Freedom pong - like beer pong but without beer, this game gave people the freedom to choose their drink of choice so even the drivers could play.


Other than the amazing food I loved that everyone committed to the red, white and blue dress code. This was helped by some temporary tattoos supplied by Hannah and Charlotte.


Even the dogs got in the dressing up action!


Our evening was spent making s'mores, posing with sparklers and then playing 'SCRAWL' until 3am. It was a gift from Faye and Shab and I can't wait to find more excuses to play it, my ribs hurt so much from laughing!


So there you have it. I have already had an awesome time turning 34, so bring on the rest of the year.


Monday, 10 July 2017

It's been a day!

Today has not been a good day!

After a dog walk I returned to find myself key-less. Far from ideal as I work from home and we have no spare front door key. 
Accurate representation

My first thought was to retrace my steps. Although before doing so I popped to the back garden, which I could thankfully get into, to get the dog a drink. 

Then me and the dog headed back to the park for walk around number two and three. Both failed in finding the key. 

On the third walk I met another dog walker who spent 20 minutes helping me look for the missing key. After retracing all obvious steps we agreed it was lost forever. 

You know it's not your day when you realise that the back door had a key left in it so I couldn't use the spare back door key and my phone was dead. I normally make sure I have at least 50% battery but thinking it was going to be a quick walk so risked it with 33%. Why is that always the way?!

The dead phone meant I had to use a strangers mobile to summon Laura home so I could use hers to call a locksmith. Of course the strange number meant Laura ignored it (as she should during work) so I had to text to say it was me. Four dials later she thankfully picked up.

With Laura's phone I managed to find a locksmith that had promised to get to me in 30 minutes.

After an 90 minute waiting in rain and then hot sun (British summertime) the locksmith turned up. 
One of us had shelter from the rain
Sadly now I am £138 down, I've walked 5 miles, have 1 confused and exhausted dog but on the positive I have one brand new lock and two useless keys as someone kindly found and posted the missing key (so it can't have gone far with me). 

Thankfully I can work from anywhere and make up hours easily so the moment the door was opened I raced to my office and caught up.

What a day.