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Author Archives: emmasimms

Olympic Cynicism Obliterated

I have always loved the Olympics – since LA, with Coe V Ovett, Carl Lewis, Ed Moses, Fatima, Daley and Zola Budd.   I was really cynical and un-excited by the thought of London 2012. I don’t know why.  I half heartedly attempted to buy tickets but gave up pretty quickly. I arranged a holiday during them so I could be out of the country.  Even the Torch Relay didn’t start a twinkle of interest.  (I sat at home working on the day that the torch came jogging through Newbury, being held aloft by Clare Balding and others).

Then, at the end of July, I was in southern France in a remote rural gite watching the opening ceremony on a tiny, wonky tv screen and the twinkle started twinkling.  Wow. Even twitter was impressed.  I started to perk up a bit. But not enough to watch much in the first few days.

Then I watched this amazing semi-final in women’s Judo, while coming in from the pool to grab some fromage et pain.  Gemma Gibbons’ shock semi-final win. I jumped about a foot in the air at this very moment. Her ‘I Love You Mum’ still gets me every time it’s since been replayed on montages.

 And at this very moment I experienced full-on Olympic love again. 

I was already on the edge, I was pleased to be proved wrong in my miserable cynicism of how it would all be run. Delighted in fact.

From then on in, the BBC coverage (even in France with an ex-pat TV licence, a TV and an iPad) was immense,  I was addicted. We watched ‘Super Saturday’ in a hotel bar in Amiens, France and screamed the place down. Amazed at the gold rush that us Brits had not witnessed in our lifetimes.

I’ve loved Claire Balding, the gamesmakers, finding new stars and stars of the future and for Rio 2016.  Even Matt ‘Mundane’ Baker’s ecstatic commentary of the Men’s Gymnastics final made me giddy.  I adored Tom Daley’s reaction to his bronze, that’s a true sportsman in the making.

Greg Rutherford’s long jump and his amazement at his new-found star billing.  Wiggo-mania – just wow. Dressage?! Who’d have thought I’d get tingles down my spine from that?

Sir Steve Redgrave being the official ‘Hugger’ of the games…. the Velodrome bursting with decibels and medals, and of course,  interview of the games, Chad Le Close’s dad with Queen Clare Balding – just beautiful.

Andy Murray, winning, and at Wimbledon! Those amazing Brownlee brothers in triathlon… obviously Mo and his Mo-Bot, Jessica Ennis, Nicola Adams….  I could go on….

And I continue to be overwhelmed by the Paralympics.  I have no words to describe the respect and awe I have when watching these athletes of the highest standards – their comradery, the competitiveness, humour, joy and disappointments – all what sport should teach us about in life. Hat’s off to the amazing Ludwig Guttmann, creator of the Paralympics.  I wonder if he ever imagined it would climb to this wonderful spectacle.

The swimming amazes me, one-legged High Jump, blind Long Jump, Oscar, David Weir, table tennis, the women’s 4 x 100 relay team bronze!  and wow, Jonny Peacock! I never want it to end…


I am going to be more sad when this ends than I ever thought possible.


Things I won’t do when I’m a ‘Social Media Guru’

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Things I won’t do when I’m a ‘Social Media Guru’

No, obviously I am not a Social Media Guru (SMG).  I have been using social media as a business tool for about 3 years. It is, in my opinion, a great tool for learning, sharing and building your knowledge and contacts in your area of business.  It does work, but it works best for those who have taken the time to understand the platform ‘from a followers/connections prospective’.   Learn from those that do it well, and note what annoys you about the activity of others.  And then, when you are an SMG, don’t forget these things.

I understand that we all have to start somewhere, we have all been ‘newbies’ and all made social media gaffes that we shouldn’t have.  How we laughed when I tweeted a personal tweet from a firms corporate account by mistake on tweetdeck!  And I forgive people, for a while at least, if they RT their Follow Fridays. Recently though, I am seeing so many ‘social business guru’s’ making so many mistakes, that it is depressing me.  Newbies making an effort is good, SMG’s making them is not good.  I am a social media evangelist, but I would rather use Facebook or cut my arm off,  than ever term myself an expert or guru.

I recently attended a national social media event in London, where one of the ‘experts’ talking on the panel about using twitter in business successfully  had an account with under 100 followers, under 500 tweets and even those were sporadic and just broadcasts about himself, no sharing, no interaction, no personality. I have not named and shamed here as there maybe a valid reason…. maybe his real account got hacked?

I also recently followed another self-branded SMG, as I knew the name, and quickly realised that I used to follow and had unfollowed as their posting levels were too frequent and I received the dreaded auto DM welcome message and link  from them. *Shudder*

I will never brand myself as an SMG, this I swear on the SM Bible, and I will live by the 3 following commandments, which I offer as advice to those SMG’s out there:

  • Thou shalt pace thyself – You are sharing blogs and links about social media for professional use because want to be seen as a good resource and someone to follow by those interested in the same.  Tweeting articles and blog links over ten times in an hour is SPAMMING my timeline. Stop it. It dilutes the good stuff that you may be sharing.  Because it’s too frequent I get tired of seeing such a vast range of links from you.  And I follow usually around 600 active accounts, so you are going some to annoy me.  This rule is relevant ESPECIALLY at the weekends – yes, I know that some links get their best traffic evenings and weekends, when professionals have the time to read.  Over 15 different links on Sunday morning, however, makes me think that you have automated your account and you really ought to be tweeting about your weekend and interacting with people personally.
  • Thou shalt practice what thy preaches – You are tweeting many articles on good and bad use of social media, what turns people off, what loses followers, how to build an engaged following, how to gain more business using LinkedIn etc etc etc. I know because I have read some of the links you have shared.  However, have you read them?  Based on my experience you are ignoring the advice you ‘share’ with others.
  • Thou shalt ban the use of automated DM’s – I have said this before  in 8 Things I hate about Business Tweeting way back in May 2010 – automated Direct Messages that say ‘Hi! Thanks for following me/us! Check out this link so that we can sell to you! It’s all about us you know!’  I am all for connecting with followers, but if you want to, do it in person and build the relationship.

So, ironically in a blog about good social media use, I have shared some of my pet hates to you SMG’s to help you not annoy me, and maybe others- maybe you’ll vote me up on Klout or Quora?  Maybe not. But please don’t make me unfollow again, as some of the things you share we can both learn from.

Disclaimer: This is about some self-proclaimed SMG’s I have recently encountered.  There are however some really good, specialists out there too.

Family, Easter and Nostalgia

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With my children at their father’s, my OH away in Italy working, I am having a peaceful and quiet Easter weekend.

I love my own company.  My younger DD wonders what I am going to do with my time, but I love the space and quiet, probably a bi-product of being an ‘only child’.

I’ve caught up with the chores, laundry and other mundane things, but even this is less stressful when not negotiating around arguing teens and organising my OH 😉

Today I went on a nostalgia walk with my mum and dad, around Iffley and Oxford, where my dad grew up. We went to the church in which he was christened, a beautiful Norman church in the village of Iffley

He was chuffed to get inside.  The church was warm, you could smell candles had been burned this morning at the Easter service, the place was beautiful and had the feeling of warmth and community.

The font was there, here he stands by it, some 66 years after he was christened here, 70 years ago my grandparents were married here and much earlier my maternal grandparents too. It was lovely.

We walked by the boathouses, where the University team trains, where he had got into trouble for ‘bombing’ the rowers from bridges, and where he had learned to swim, running home to tell his dad “Dad! I can swim half-way across the river!” My grampy asked him why he had not swum the whole way across, to which he replied “Oh, I can only do half-way and back, all the way across is too far…”

There was the lane where he had taught my mum to ride his Lambretta, where she and him had crashed into bars as she ‘couldn’t turn corners’.  And the bushes where the Americans would take their girls for a ‘roll in the hay’ whilst out rowing, and in which my dad and his pals would seek out lost money and zippo lighters.

We ended up for lunch in a pub back in Iffley Village,  after walking through Christ Church meadow, along the Iffley Road, past the running track where Bannister had run the 4 minute mile.

Past the church where my aunt had been married, and my dad had bashed his car on an uneven manhole cover, and at which my mum had been described as ‘the gorgeous girl in red’ by his cousin, Mum proudly added ‘That was ‘the red  Chanel'” with a proud, smug grin.

We also passed his old school, and countless houses where ‘Bobby Smith’ ‘Jonny Norman’ et al had lived in those years ago….

The pub in Iffley village served us a wonderful roast dinner, and scrumptious puddings.  And then we came home.  I loved today.

A ‘baking bug’ is not good for the diet

  So. I’m back on the diet after Christmas and the wedding (and seeing fat belly pictures of me from said wedding.) But this weekend I am going to a friend’s house for dinner and the birthday boy, Lord Prater, has requested a Black Forest gateaux. 

As I have spent this week watching the The Great Sport Relief  Bake Off, I have caught a bit of the baking bug.  So, I have decided to make the Black Forest thing myself.

Whilst researching recipes, I found this (pictured above) bad boy of a Black Forest cake, a recipe by Australian Masterchef judge Gary Mehigan. I don’t usually like Black Forest Cake at all but this got my interest.  UNTIL I read the recipe. Jeez. Making your own glace cherries, cherry compote, cherry syrup, hazelnut praline etc… way too much stress for me, so have reverted to a Nigella recipe and will ‘steal’ the ideas I like from Gary Mehigan’s complicated cake.  I’m going to do the four layers and different fillings.  Plus I am going to pipe a corny birthday message on the top! Get me! 

I will have one slice, which will be bad for the diet, but the good point is that I get to bake and leave the cake at our friends house so that I am not tempted to hoover the remainder up!

I also saw another couple of cakes that I would love to make.  I need more birthdays so that I can give the cake away and not eat it all myself!

I’d love to make this Sweet & Salty Cake by The Boy Who Bakes, Edd Kimber

 And also this fabulous looking  Chocolate and Caramel layer cake  *drool*



This is supposedly a diet zone.  I am just taunting myself with food and calorie p*rn!

Resolutions Wins and Fails

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Happy New Year!

I have finished putting away all traces of Christmas and just about managed to cram all left over food in before starting my new years diet (almost).  Back to work tomorrow (boo).

I usually make resolutions and fail within days or weeks of making them. Even already on today – the 3rd of Jan I have failed one – I was going to upload a photo a day and already failed on that yesterday.  I started today with bran flakes and good intentions – I have just eaten a load of biscuits. Fail.

There are a few things that I know I will probably achieve this year;

  • Move house – locally but somewhere that is a long-term house with some land or outbuildings for my parents to build or convert. This will also entail me selling my house in Newbury. Probably.
  • Lose the final 7lbs to hit my target weight. I now know that I can do this (yeah, I know today doesn’t sound very promising but in my defence I am not back to work yet am I?)
  • Being 40!  I know that I have no choice in this but it is a bit of a landmark year and I should make an effort to do a few things that I have always wanted to celebrate my grand age
  • Some kind of change in my work-life. I don’t know what, but I can almost guarantee that I won’t be in the same place this time next year.
  • Stay in my favourite Hotel, The Feathers in Woodstock, this I will achieve as my lovely Mum bought us a night and meal there to be taken before April. Yey!

There are a number of things that I would LOVE to do but probably won’t achieve;

  • Blogging more often.  I wish I had more interesting things to say so that blogging more often was feasible, plus having the time to blog more frequently would be nice.
  • If we move then a long holiday we were thinking about in San Fran while Stu is working out there all summer may be a no-no :0(  Although I am still hoping to get to the Americas Cup in Venice or Naples, which will be new for me. I also hope at some stage we may sneak a weekend in Paris in as its my 40th year and its my favourite city.
  • Get better at photography, flirting with a 2nd hand SLR and not using so much auto stuff, although I am addicted to Instagram for sharing and Camera+ for taking the pics.
  • See more of my friends and family that I don’t see enough of as I am always on the treadmill of working full-time and spending the weekend cooking, shopping, washing and cleaning.
  • Read some more books and at least three classics. I am such a lazy reader and go for the easy reads. I should stretch myself.
  • Dye my hair Titian.  I have always wanted to. I’d love it.

So a happy and prosperous new year to all! Let’s get on with it!

My 12 Days of Christmas Tweeters Message

I have done it again.  I bought the cards, I wrote them. I even addressed them. They are still sat in a pile in my kitchen and I have missed the last day for 1st class post in time for Christmas.  I also found the pile of last years cards, addressed and non-stamped in a bag of wrapping things last night.  I am so bad.

So instead of e-greetings, which I hate, I have decided to do a virtual message of Christmas cheer to those online buddies who if it were *real-world* (and I wasn’t a rubbish correspondent) I would be exchanging cards and some 12 days of Christmas presents with…


On the first day of christmas my Partridge in a Pear Tree  present goes to the fabulous and gorgeous @PeacockPete – it’s the closest I could get to a peacock,  Amazon were out of them, but with a bit of glue and some coloured feathers no-one will know the difference.  My wish is also to see each other in 2012! Have a wonderful Christmas gorgeous.



On the second day of Christmas my Two turtle doves present goes to @MrStu69 – you know why and it couldn’t be a nicer, more perfect gift for a lovely chap.  He has one major fault, that being the team he follows, but as I am a very generous person, I have given him the benefit of the doubt and like him anyway.  Plus the fact he lets me beat him at Words with Friends regularly. Have a great christmas Mr Stu.




On the third day of Christmas my Three French Hens present goes to the lovely @RaeMck – one of the few online pals I know IRL and used to work with way back before my twitter life.  She is kind and funny and sometimes very direct, I love her when she ‘says it like it is’.  I read her Coop and the Gang blog about her lovely chooks in preparation for when I get some in 2012 when I move *hopefully*.  Have a fabulous christmas Rach, I chose the Three French Hens as you have three and maybe in their family tree there is some French breeding way back? x


On the fourth day of Christmas my Calling (or Colly) Birds present goes to @CaptainFlashman who will need the birds to keep in contact with all his twitter chums and family when he starts his new exciting role in the New Year in Europe. He did tell me where, but I would have to kill you if I told you.  He leaves Winchester and that means my moans about the direness of the A34 Hell Road will be a solo past-time from now on. Sad times. He also needs a few good wishes as he is a Blackburn fan, poor guy.  Enjoy your time oop North with the lads 🙂


On the fifth day of Christmas my Five Gold Rings present goes to @saarflondonbird as a token of five bits of good things that are going to happen in 2012! Or five rings that she happens to be given by five rugby playing hunks?  She is a feisty and lovely bird who deserves all those and more 😉 Hope you have a fab Christmas and a stunningly good new year!


On the sixth day of Christmas my Geese-a-laying present goes to @demererabird for feathering her lovely nest (aka SVH).  She can use the eggs to bake her lovely Lemon Drizzle cake and more for a cake sale that I can contribute funds to her planned expedition this coming year Everest Base Camp. She’s a lovely local tweep who I really should meet this year 🙂 Hope all goes well and have a wonderful christmas 🙂




On the seventh day of Christmas my Swans-a-Swimming present goes to  @RockChickGill who is the most elegant and lovely lady gliding through my twitter feed. She is also protected by the Queen 🙂  Hope you have a happy christmas Gill and thank you for being so lovely.  2012 is definitely our time to meet – see you at the Boat Race for an Oxford v Cambridge drinking date?



On the eighth day of Christmas my Maids-a-Milking present goes to @NateFitzgerald – the maids can provide him with lots of free milk to help with the catering requirements for his Christmas guests, ample Christmas milk and cream for Linus. Also the odds are that one of the maids with the dairy supplies will pass Mrs Donaldson’s approval and may become more than a milking maid to Nate in 2012.  Keep on writing. I love it and read it, even when I don’t comment. I hope you are feeling a bit better and have a successful 2012 x



On the ninth day of Christmas my Ladies Dancing present goes to the feisty and funny @gillian_b and @nicnicus who always make me laugh and their bickering is something to behold. Gillian is also known to dance in  the office (if she’s there alone). Hope you gals had a fab time in NYC and have a great Christmas and very happy new year.  Thanks for the entertainment 🙂



On the tenth day of Christmas my Lords-a-Leaping present goes to @KingofAnkh  whose late night twitter DJ sessions are funny – especially if he has been at the wine. A clever boy who loves University Challenge and is a music and film geek too. Lords was the closest I could get to royalty with my Christmas shopping. Have a god Christmas x



On the eleventh day of Christmas my Pipers Piping present goes to the fabulously talented baker girl @HairyMcFairy wishing her ten pipers to help her in her piping for all those wonderful cakes and cup-cakes she bakes. I am campaigning for her to be on the Great British Bake Off in 2012, so join me. Have a wonderful Christmas Annie x



On the twelfth day of Christmas my 12 Tweeters Tweeting wish goes to 12 of my other regular tweeters as they keep up a steady rhythm in my feed. Thank you all for some entertaining tweetage this year 🙂 @CateColes, @rutthenut, @_andythehat, @andrewlindsay, @eleanorc, @snowgirl72 and @thorn_waite, @ValiBG, @Jake_in_notts, @nigel_richards, @Nigel_Morgan and @cooda.

A tenuous post, but full of Christmas cheer!

A very merry Christmas to all.

Moody Moo’s Fat Fighters Interview

Since you last saw her, Moody has actually shrunk a bit. She joined Fat Fighters ten weeks ago and she has changed… She is interviewed here by a bored bystander, who hopes that an interview about her weight-loss and diet will get it out of her system and shut her the hell up… we can but hope…

What was your heaviest weight, what do you weigh now, and what is your goal weight? At my heaviest I was 11.5stone – that’s non-pregnancy weight of course! At the moment I weigh 10.5stone and my goal weight is 9 stone 12 (realistically it will be around 10 stone).

What is your number-one motivation for losing weight? Fitting back into a lot of my favourite clothes, being happy (er) at what I look like in underwear/swimwear and pictures of a less ‘fat-faced’ version of myself.

Have you always been overweight? I have never been extremely overweight and I have never been really skinny. I did go down once to 9 stone through stress and depression but that was too low for me (5’9) and it made my nose look massive!

When you feel like giving up, what inspires you to keep going? The fact that this time I have lost the most weight ever (intentionally) and that I have done really well to have lost a stone and it hasn’t felt like it’s been a BATTLE. Measurements as well as just the weight has been a huge help, and also getting back into clothes that were too tight before…

What is the one thing you look forward to most when you reach goal? The achievement as I have been a failed dieter many times – and I am dreaming of getting back into my best pair of jeans I ever owned! If I can get there, there are a load of clothes I can wear again. And I will feel so much better in myself and get the lush underwear back on.

Do you have support on your weight-loss journey? The online community at WW is great for sharing tips and support as well as seeing other peoples journey at a similar pace to yours. Really reassuring and would recommend to anyone – I don’t go to the meetings as they are not for me, but I do like this online support network a lot. I have other friends on Twitter across the country that are also on WW and that’s supportive too. My DD is really proud of me and my OH has been very complimentary.

What is your favourite exercise? Long walks with the dog. I hate running and it cripples my back, I don’t mind cycling. I love BodyPump, but I can’t commit to a regular class and sometimes I have done a bit of Davina DVD at home. But being honest – not so much.

What is the most important thing you have learned on your weight-loss journey?
Portion control. I was eating, and sometimes out-eating my OH who is 17 stone and 6’4! Cutting back on alcohol and also being aware of drinking more non-alcoholic fluids. I am happy with slow and steady as this seems to be harder to ‘mess-up’. There is nothing I CAN’T have and my tastes have changed immensely.

What is the one thing you have had to give up, that you miss the most?
I really miss doorstep white toast with lashings of butter and peanut butter. I crave that more than anything else. Everything else I have not really missed that much or I have taken the healthy version or alternative. I was drinking 2 large glasses of wine every night – even when I now have one at the weekend, that is enough and I don’t want anymore. Result! (Can’t say the same about Gin though!) I also like Green Tea, Fruit, Bran Flakes and Sprouts (raw) now. How annoyingly cliché.

What is your strategy for losing weight?
I track using my iPhone WW App which has really helped me stay on track. Being aware of the points of things and being organised with your shopping helps enormously too. Also not to beat yourself up if you have an off-track weekend – each new day you can start again, and get back on track.

There is still the last 7 lbs to go, which I feel will be slow, but assured. And in the meantime it will be christmas! Interesting, in a house full of foodies that have already planned 3 days of menus and wines.

Is this the LAST we are going to hear from you about weight-loss now? *crosses fingers*

Well, you can be sure as eggs is eggs, I will be screaming the place down if I hit goal in the new year and end up back in *those* jeans. But relax, you have probably until the end of January to worry about that.

*rolls eyes, exhales*

Friday Blog Theme: Fantasy Dinner Party

So I have thought about this long and hard. Again, this is a theme from Fat Fighters. They have kick-started my blogging mojo again.

The venue of course would be a beautiful apartment (mine of course) on the Ave. Montaigne in Paris. I would of course be wearing a casually chic Agnes B number.

Dinner would be served by my staff, I would simply waft in on a cloud of White Gardenia Petals. (I may be also wearing my fluffy slippers but lets not ruin the vision).


Tom Selleck– not as Magnum, but as Jack in 3 Men and a… or Richard in Friends…. Finally he’d realise that I was his real destiny…

Jose Mourinho – yes he’s arrogant, but god what a man. Of course I’d really just want him to talk about being the ‘special one’ and agree to come and coach England.

Dawn French – I just love her. She makes me die. I love everything she has done. She is also my girl crush.

Eva Peron – I’d love to know the truth. I adore the story, soundtrack. I’d like to hear her story.

Nigel Barker – Film star good looks, height, sigh….. He’d also take great pics of the evening.

Billy Connolly – No-one tells a story like Billy.

Wow. I’m really excited about it now…. Although, I bet I wake up in the night with may more impressive and intellectual guests that I should have listed…anyway, off to microwave my ‘Fuller Longer’ dinner for 1…. *sighs*

Working girl

I was reading through my back catalogue of blog posts, and came across a post entitled New Girl which I wrote just over a year ago, a day or so before I began my current job.

It made me think of how I view that job and my life now.  I was apprehensive about the new job, in a much bigger firm, and the juggling of home life around this full-time post.

Well 14 months on, I can tell you how that panned out…

The balancing is sometimes hard, but due to having an understanding boss (hopefully he won’t read this) it’s very rare that the job really prevents me from being there for the girls when I need to be. Admittedly, since my younger DD has started senior school it has been a lot less stressful.  That extra step makes it a lot easier.

I experience the things that all full-time working mums do. Weekends that have to revolve around food shopping, chores and laundry, while trying to ‘do stuff’ with the kids. Busy weekday evenings, where you never seem to sit down until 9pm. And manic mornings with school runs vs breakfast/early meetings.

I had/have a lot to learn in my new role.  It took a bit of time to settle and not find everything confusing.  But I learned more in my first 6 months than I had in 3 years at my last job within the same field.

I have added value, I work with some great people (and some tricky ones) and rarely dread going to work.

I don’t regret it, enjoy it a lot. Any downsides are ones that would be replicated at most other jobs too, so I can’t complain. But it truly feels like I have been there 2 years+ instead of the 14 months it has been. Is that good or bad?

My ten guilty pleasures

I probably have a lot more than ten, but these are the only ones I am prepared to share with you.

  1. Big pants. There. I’ve said it. Big high pants. Cosy, tummy flatteners and actually, I did read somewhere that some sexy actress always wore them… maybe I am not alone. (and when I say Big I mean the shape, they are still pretty colours and fabrics, they are not grey with failed elastic.)
  2. Tweeting while I am in the bath drinking tea.
  3. Casualty. Not the place, the programme. I love it. I have even recorded it. I can’t watch the staged accident happen and cover my face, but its a Saturday night staple for me.  Even with Charlie walking round with that confused look on his face all the bloody time.
  4. Phil Collins/Genesis – yes I know. *hangs head in shame* But I like about eight of his songs.  While we are on the embarrassing music vibe, I also like a bloody good sing-a-long to Barry Manilow.  
  5. I have also bought clothes from Supermarkets – and worn them, to death.  I have just purchased the Gok Wan at TU jacket thing.
  6. Candles. I am a bit obsessed with good candles. Smelly, but not sickly, I have my christmas stash already growing in a cupboard and I almost ALWAYS buy one when I go to TKMax. I hate to think how much I have spent on candles and then burnt them. You won’t believe how cheated I feel if they turn out crap too.
  7. I have tried to avoid food until now (being on a diet) but I do love taramasalata and ham sandwiches. I have also been known to eat taramasalata and marmite. And I was not pregnant.
  8. I am a closet reader of both Piers Morgan and Liz Jones’ diaries. Not only are these both in the Mail on Sunday, but I actively seek them out. I don’t know whats wrong with me before you ask.
  9. Also I enjoy OK magazine. I am that trashy. I have just grown out of Heat though. Sadly I have greatly enjoyed reading my mum’s Woman and Home now ….
  10. Mrs Doubtfire – I just cannot watch this film enough. I am never ever bored of it.
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