How To Make Homemade Smartie Cookies.

These sweet snacks used to be my absolute favourite treat when I was younger. After talking to my sister about them recently we discovered you cannot find them ANYWHERE. I looked all over and searched high and low in pretty much every supermarket and online (that’s how desperate I became for my sugary fix) and started to feel like this is the hidden conspiracy item or I was a victim of the Mandela effect; did they even exist? Did I make them up and had been living in a cookie induced lucid dream for years?!

Also, side note, if someone finds these being sold somewhere real soon I’m going to sound like such a weirdo conspiracy theorist aren’t I! If I get a comment from someone saying they bought these in Tescos just a few days ago I’m going to actually go mad. But anyway!

So I made some of my own that I think taste pretty similar to the real deal and how they used to taste but given the fact that it’s been the best part of about 10 years since I remember having one they might not be bang on but they still tasted pretty good so if you fancy making some of your own give this recipe beneath a go.

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Ingredients:

  1. 150g softened butter
  2. 150g soft light brown sugar
  3. 75g caster sugar
  4. 1 tsp vanilla extract
  5. 1 large Egg
  6. 250g plain flour
  7. 1 tsp baking powder
  8. A pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg. (optional)
  9. smarties (other sugar shelled chocolates are also available)

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and if you wanna be super organised (unlike me basically) line a baking tray as well.

  • Firstly, combine the softened butter and sugars in a large bowl. The more I’ve gotten into baking over the last few years, I think you actually really notice the difference when using cold butter, room temperature butter or softened in your bakes. By using room temp or softened butter it enables the sugar and butter to mix together a lot quicker and a lot easier. Plus it means you don’t have to have a mini bicep workout in the kitchen. In this recipe I used both white caster sugar and light brown sugar. The addition of the brown sugar gives the bake a darker golden colour and a slightly more fudgy taste.

 

  • Combine the egg and the vanilla extract together then pour into the sugar and butter mixture and stir until fully blended. Even though there’s a lot of sugar in these super sweet cookies by adding the vanilla extract gives the cookies an extra, deeper flavour throughout. Most supermarkets stock extracts or essences in the home baking aisle and if you want to make this recipe your own you could try using different flavourings like almond, coffee, caramel or even a salted caramel essence instead of vanilla.

 

  • Once all the wet ingredients are fully combined sift in the dry ingredients until it’s formed a dough like consistency. I added in the spices in at this point it’s completely optional I only used a small amount as I didn’t want it to overpower the whole thing but I felt that it just added a little something extra.

 

  • Place the dough in the fridge for about 30-40 minutes to let the flavours develop and the dough to harden up.

 

  • I sliced the cookie dough into 1 inch thick circles, rolled it into a ball between my hands and placed on a tray. I then pressed in a handful of smarties into the cookie and then baked for between 10-12 minutes until golden.

Perf with a cup of tea or glass of milk or eating every single one after the other when no is looking…

 

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My Spring Bucket List!

Hi there! It’s been a while hasn’t it?! I’m sorry I’ve been so MIA; I’m hoping to refill my little blog with loads of new bits of chitter chatter and writing over the coming weeks so watch this space! I’ve got loads of ideas and half written little ditties saved in my drafts that I just haven’t got round to posting so expect a flurry of new stuff soon!

I’ve had little to no mojo to blog for ages and I think it might be finally be back (yay) which I’m super excited about. Browsing through my usual, favourite blogs to read I may have taken this idea from Gillian’s post I read in the week (have a read of it it’s just here she and her blog are just lovely I would totally recommend having a little gander over there!) But I do love doing these types of posts. Once I’ve done it and written it up I feel so much more inclined to actually follow it all through almost like I’m now formally bound in a written contract to you all. No pressure eh Ab.

But here it is…My Spring Bucket List. I hope it may inspire you to do one too, or maybe even try and do some of these things for yourself as well!

Spring Bucketlist

Spring Clean- Nothing says Spring has Sprung like doing a complete Marie Kondo on everything you own and decluttering your space. I am in desperate need of re-organising my bedroom, getting rid of any clutter I just don’t need. I’m not saying I’m a hoarder but what if I need this *insert item of clothing I haven’t worn in years but ya never know if I might get invited to a costume party and need a leopard print cowboy hat…ahem*.

Spend less time online-  Over the next few months I want to be able to spend less time surrounded by technology. As one of my mini missions I want to be able to switch off a bit better before I go to bed as well so I’m planning to have at least 30 minutes of no phone or computer and try and read before I get my full 8 hours (lol if I’m lucky).

Exercise more- I want to find my fitness specialty and feel a bit happier and more confident within myself and with my body image before the warmer weather hits.

Splash more colour into my wardrobe- Once I’ve finished with my spring cleaning and my decluttering and have lost a bit of my winter wobble I can reclutter my decluttered wardrobe and hopefully inject a bit more fun and colour into it. I’m a sucker for wearing things that are either dark colours or all black errrthang and that’s fine and fail safe for me but I want to experiment a bit more and maybe splash out from my black clothes to more Springlike shades.

Go on nature walks- This sounds like the type of thing you’d encourage a group of pre schoolers to do and I’m not about to go and do leaf drawings and hug a tree but there’s a lot of pretty walks and areas near where I live that once Spring has fully burst through Nature it’ll look so pretty.

Visit different parts of the UK I’ve not been to before- I hope this one may stretch out throughout the most-part of 2019 not just for Spring but I’ve said for a while now I hope to visit and road trip parts of the UK I’ve never visited before. There’s so many places throughout these Isles I’d love to go to and some of them aren’t even really that far away from where I live. I have a car and a railcard and even though train prices can be a bit extortionate I want to be able to tick them off my bucket list soon. Oh and actually try the regional foods I’m obsessed with but try them from the locals. Welsh cakes I’m looking at you here…

Go on a fun day trip-  A few of my friends and I actually had a conversation just the other day about going to the Harry Potter Warner Bros. Experience and perhaps a zoo trip too. I really want to be able to be in the position where I can plan lots of fun trips and have loads to look forward to this year.

Bake some exciting Easter treats-  I mean this one might be a bit more topical right now but I want to take full advantage of my sweet tooth and make and bake (oh and share on here and my socials) some chocolatey snacks. I want to try new things and as much as I love a creme egg brownie as much as the rest of Instagram I want to sweep my foodie brain and see what me and my creativity can come up with.

Visit a local food market or food fair- If you’ve followed me for a little while on here you may remember a post about the Frome Independent Market. Have a little refresh of said post just herrrreeeee! It happens on the first Sunday of each Month and I either want to go back and see what’s on offer or even traipse to a new one and see what delights we can feast on.

Aim to get halfway through my Goodreads Book Challenge-  I love reading and like mentioned above, I want to spend less time on my phone and more time actually doing things and in the present moment. I set myself a challenge to read 25 books this year. Roughly 2 books a month I thought it sounded doable. I’m on 5 so far which I’m quite happy with considering! But I’ve been slacking a bit and where I could have switched off from and picked up one of growing TBR pile instead of doing my billionth Buzzfeed quiz of the evening.

Drink more water- This one is just so important really isn’t it?! I am ashamed to say I’m not amazing at drinking water rather reaching for a soft drink or a cup of tea. Flavoured water is a start, having a glass or a bottle within arms reach is another step along the drink-more-water path well you get the gist.

Try to keep on top of my blogging and get into a routine- I am sure I’ll be preaching this until the end of time but I really want to get into a good headspace and have set posting days on here. I once said it would be Wednesdays and Sundays but LOL that never happened. Either way I need to sort out the half written when drunk state of my drafted posts. If anyone has any suggestions I’d love to know your thoughts! Would you rather a set day or days of posts? Is it nicer as a random surprise email to say ‘Hiya I’ve posted?’. Similarly I’d love to know your thoughts on things you’d like to see being spoken about or blogged about?

 

Have you got anything you’d like to do or achieve this Spring? I’d love to know! HAPPY SUNDAY!

 

 

 

 

What does PR Friendly even mean?

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The blogging community is a powerful force, one that seems to be growing in vast numbers on an almost daily basis. I’ve been been in and out of the blogging biz since 2012; way back when I was only just 17 years old and used my blog as somewhere to share my rambling thoughts, post grainy shots of what I had bought in Primark or what Barry M nail polish I was using that week. Not quite thought-provoking content with me ever eh?! I started a blog simply as a bit of fun and somewhere to fine tune my writing skills, never really thinking about it in the long term, as an actual viable source of income.

Over the years I’ve been incredibly fortunate and lucky enough to receive items gifted to me by brands for the purpose of me placing on my blog, talking about them and sharing my thoughts and opinions on them with you all. Blogging, in my opinion is fast becoming a lucrative market in which a brand can essentially get a writer, editor, publicist, marketing team, photographer and social media team all rolled into one with a blogger or content writer. Without running the risk of sounding incredibly biased, but now I’m aware of bloggers, vloggers and influencers I would trust their opinions on a gifted item much more than I’d trust that of someone who was on Love Island or Geordie Shore. For the amount of money a company would have had to have forked out to advertise in a magazine or get a celebrity to promote they could tap into the Blogosphere and get a handful of bloggers to support them instead for either just the mere price of the product or a fraction of the cost of using a celebrity to endorse it; it’s a no brainer really. 

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Attracting the attention of a brand or a PR is something I’ve always been fairly curious about if I’m honest. I know it sounds dead cliche, but it isn’t the sole purpose to a blog and if that’s the way you get into it to attract as many freebies as possible you’ll probably become bitterly disappointed. I’m sure you may even agree with me that it is is an incredibly touching thing when someone, anyone, reaches out to you and comments, or likes, or reposts what you’ve said. So when a brand says ‘Ello there! we like you a lot fancy working together?’ (I do not know why Dick Van Dyke is clearly writing them all) It is a such a genuinely nice feeling knowing that your hobby, your cheeky bit on the side, the blog you’d like to turn into a career (potentially, I don’t know maybe you do who knows??) is being noticed by actual proper non blogging folk people. 

Having said all of that I’m also fully aware some people are lucky to be able to use their blog as a source of income relying on gifting opportunities, ads and other such forms of revenue to make a living and I really can’t be any more supportive and really, genuinely happy for them! When I see people posting sponsored content or gifted reviews I’m just as thrilled to read that as I am a regular post from them. 

With being a blogger and practically living your life constantly online; your life is your brand and your brand is your life almost. Towing the line between accepting each and every gifted offer and remaining authentic to yourself can become a bit of a grey area for some. For instance, this one is a bit of an extreme example but I’m a vegetarian and for the last 6 months I have received several emails about posting about Wild Game pate’s on here and as much as I’m sure they are delicious it would be completely wrong of me to have accepted as it would be blatantly obvious I hadn’t tasted it and wouldn’t have been my honest opinions.

Similarly I mean that’s not to say if you have a niche you can only speak about one thing and one thing only. You may have started a beauty blog 6 years ago and have just moved house and want to share your renovating story with your readers. You get my drift. 

So what I’m trying to say, whilst simultaneously interrupting myself about one thousand times over, what is the secret to all of this. Perhaps you too might be one of those people that see the phrase #Prfriendly being used and it always making you wonder what that really means or even who realistically is going to be PR unfriendly? Maybe you’ve seen someone who has a smaller following than you, posts on their blog less than you but still somehow seems to be getting ALL of the PR samples under the sun and you want to be super happy for your internet friends but at the same time it kinda makes you wonder why them and not you? Do those that work in PR really sift through Bloglovin’ and Instagram searches in order to find the best people for their campaign? to what extent do brands look into the people that they ask to work with them? and do those ever popular ‘Comment your blog link, DA score and email address to be added to my PR list’ really work?

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I’ve spent the last month or so, trying to get down to the nitty gritty of it all and have the points of view from a real life PR Guru, a full time freelance writer and also from a brand who works within the blogging community too, to see what they’ve all got to say on it. I really hope this post may interest you, help you or at least pique your interest and possibly create conversation about the ins and outs of Blogger outreach. 

Jessica

Firstly to start off with we have the incredibly helpful and totally fab Jessica Pardoe also known as a PR aficionado and an all round absolute gem. She’s been a complete angel in helping me out with this. Jessica specialises in PR and blogger outreach so was the perfect person for me to quiz about everything and anything to be quite honest! I couldn’t have done this all without her help and support and if you aren’t sold on Jess enough by now please do have a browse over on her blog here at Thoughts Of Jessica. Or send a funny gif on Twitter here

what do PRs/brands look for when reaching out to bloggers?

The top thing is a blogger that fits what I’m looking for I.E. if I’m looking for someone to review a hotel, or talk about travel then I’ll only go for a travel blogger or for a blogger who’s written these kinds of posts before. It really irks me when I put out a request for bloggers and ask for something like, someone to write a recipe, and then you can tell the blogger hasn’t even properly read the request and their blog is nothing about food and they’ve never posted a recipe before. Do you get me? It just kind wastes both of our time. In terms of what I specifically look for, I like giving opportunities to bloggers who are genuine and don’t just blog for the paid posts. Cause I can’t imagine those blogs get many reads. If I head to a blog and it’s just sponsored post after sponsored post (and if the posts don’t all fit a theme) then I’ll probably blacklist it. If a blogger is genuine, and if the opportunity fits their brand then I’ll be looking to contact them. At work, we look at something called DA which is short for domain authority and it basically ranks how well established your site is. Bloggers can work on their DA in ways, but more often than not it builds itself naturally as you blog normally. I do look at social followers too, but this isn’t always relevant. It depends on the campaign and the type of sponsored opportunity.

Do they take into account the numbers/stats/media kits or do they base it off their blog content?

It’s normally blog content for me. Sometimes clients will have specific details as to how many followers they want the bloggers to have, so then it does come down to numbers, but most of the time I like to make sure the blogger is genuine, that their content suits the opportunity and above all – that they blog for their readers, and that their site isn’t just cluttered with sponsored posts that aren’t valuable. I’ll also check a sponsored post and see what the blogger’s attitude is towards them. I’ve seen bloggers before having a 100 word or less sponsored post, which is literally just a few words on a page that has no story behind it or anything. The best kind of sponsored posts are done by bloggers who make it their own, and who you can tell genuinely have an interest in the brand they’re promoting. Those are the kind of bloggers I aim to work with.

What is the best way for a blogger to reach out them and what to say?

Personally, I get a lot of pitching emails and a lot of them are so impersonal that they go straight to the trash bin. I had one the other day that read something like ‘Hi, Any posts this month?’ I had to follow up and ask what she meant, and she proceeded to say she meant sponsored posts. But I’d never worked with this blogger before. It all felt quite impersonal… Spending a few extra seconds to make your pitch relate to the PR can go a long way, we can tell when it’s a generic email. I’d say, if you have a genuine interest to work with a brand, it’s good to send an email saying why, and maybe even exampling similar work. It might take a little longer, but those extra touches go a long way and could make the difference between securing a collab and not. I also do tend to work with bloggers that I have a relationship with. If I’ve worked with them before, and they’ve got the post back to me on time and it’s been good quality, then I’ll normally contact them with new campaigns that are relevant to their blog and see if they’d like to take part before I outreach to the wider blogging community. So it pays to build those relationships.

Is there anything that would put them off like swearing in posts etc?

Not really. I think if someones f-ing and blinding on every post then I’m like, my client wouldn’t want to work with this blogger. But most of the time, this isn’t a major red flag for me. I still wouldn’t recommend it though. The biggest thing that puts me off is what I mentioned above… When you can tell a blogger is accepting every collab for the sake of things, and their blog begins to look like an advertising ground. I come across a lot of blogs where their site is 100% sponsored content, and I can’t find a genuine post they’ve written because they wanted to, or for the interest of their readers. I stay away from those bloggers because it all feels really fake. I like to work with those who have a genuine passion for blogging, and who’ll really engage with the brand.

It’s murky waters in the blogger biz at the moment but do they check for fake engagement/bots usage before reaching out?

Yessss 10000000%. I wish every PR did. At the moment there are still tools that are being developed that’ll make our lives easier in spotting fake engagement. But for now, I do always check a bloggers followers if I’m looking to work with them on a social campaign. I check their followers and their likes on Instagram normally. I can spot bots from a mile off, and I won’t work with a blogger if I do. It’s not fair on bloggers who genuinely work to get a great following. Plus, fake engagement would be of no benefit for my client, so it’s a massive no-go for me!

Arma Chameleon

From the point of view of a freelancer / blogger we’ve got the HILARIOUS lady behind @ActualAr. She’s a hoot and a half and if you don’t already stalk her Instagram stories or Twitter feed like I do (I have literally no shame…but find her tweetin’ here) check out her blog here as well. I love her honest, relaxed and down to earth approach. I don’t actually even know her name it’s like it’s kept as a Government secret I can only assume the Ar is short for Aristotle cos I actually adore everything she writes. She could rewrite my local chinese takeaway menu and it would somehow come across as the most hilarious, witty and compelling thing. 

Is there anything you’d suggest before contacting a brand or PR?

If you haven’t already done so, it’s worth putting a media kit together. You can create your own using a design app like Canva, but it’s a lot easier to use something called Webfluential (You can find the link for that here) which basically helps you put one together and collates a lot of your stats for you based on your social media profiles. It’s free too, which helps! Other things that you should try and get to grips with are your details from analytics. Brands often like to know your demographics, so who is actually reading your blog? How old are they? What are they interested in? Remember it’s important to cater to your readers when you’re looking to work with brands and PRs – it’s not going to sit well if you suddenly start reviewing washing machines if you’re a sports blogger, for example!

If someone wanted to start earning from their blog but didn’t have the foggiest clue on how much to charge how would you suggest they go about figuring that out? 

Work out what you will charge, and stick to it. It’s so easy to undervalue your work when you’re hoping to get a collaboration with a brand, but remember the time and effort that you’ll put into the post, so pitch your fee structure accordingly. Don’t let them take the piss, because if you do it once, you’ll do it again, and then you’ll never really gain traction with paid jobs.Make sure you have a terms and conditions/disclosure for work with brands and check the internet advertising guidelines carefully so you don’t end up with a nasty fine either!(Side note- I really had NO clue about this at all but here is the disclosure form from Actual Ar’s site which is so clear and concise)However tempting as it may be, don’t lift someone else’s work and use it for your own. Your blog is unique to you, and you need to make sure you set your terms and disclosures accordingly, or you will end up in murky waters. Be clear on what you will and won’t write about – it’s tempting to write any old shite for the sake of the money, but really it’s not a good strategy in the long term!

Indigo Herbs

Lastly, and no means not least I have quizzed the lovely Claire from Indigo Herbs, a Health and Wellbeing company from Somerset, England who often work with bloggers and post campaigns through Bloggers Required.

What do you look for when reaching out to work alongside a blogger?

From my perspective I’m looking for high value relevant links from the bloggers website to our product pages. For the purposes of referral and SEO. So I’m looking for a good Domain Authority; as defined by moz https://moz.com/home. (Moz measures the SEO power of website as defined by google ) so a good domain authority means the site is well indexed and visible. Social media mentions are also great as this is like personal recommendation. Anything like a giveaway of products on social media can help raise engagement of a social media post.If a blogger was to reach out to you and pitch an idea of a post what type of things would you like to see?When you are pitching you do want to share your statistics of your blog, Domain authority, monthly page visits and preferably a bit about the demographic of your audience so the brand can work out if its a good fit.

Thank you so, so much for making it to the final few words of this post. I just wanted to say a massive thank you to Jessica, Actual Ar and Claire for being so lovely and so helpful in terms of putting this all together. I’d really love to know what your thoughts are on this topic too! Have you ever reached out to a PR or a brand before? Has this post been at all helpful to you? Is there anything you agree with or possibly even disagree with?!

Once again, Thank you for reading!! A.x 

Dinner at Zizzi’s.

Italian food is one of my favourite cuisines, I wouldn’t be surprised even if it was one of the UK’s favourites when eating out. Most High Street’s in Britain will have at least one Italian place! I for one could 100% live off of pizza, pasta, breads and gelato, I mean if it wasn’t for the fact I’d wake up the size of a house of course. I’ve mentioned before how when I’m going out to eat, I live for looking up the best places to go and eat on Tripadvisor, usually I’d opt for somewhere that’s an independent place or somewhere that does a bit different.

However out of all the chain restaurants, Zizzi is honestly one of my absolute favourites. By the way this is not a sponsored post in the slightest, I just really want to sing their praises! They have a really fun, authentic and fresh menu serving really exciting foods for a whole host of tastebuds. I love that their vegetarian AND vegan menu has more than one option each and is all such delicious food. Oh and did I mention at the moment (until the 28th of October I thiiiiink???) they have a cracking 3 course meal offer for £15.95. How amazing is that?! Me and mum went their for a leisurely lunch and I’ll share with you here what we had.

So me and mumsypops actually went to Zizzi in Dorchester’s Brewery Square. It’s a really cool new food quarter and cinema section so it’s perfect if you’re planning on a cinema night and you’re spoilt for choices with some fab dining spots. We had our pooch with us so couldn’t sit inside the restaurant but the kind servers were really accomodating and let us sit in the outside eating section.

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This was my starter and doesn’t it look delicious and carby and like you could eat a whole bucket of them right now???? They’re called Little Soul Breads and they were incredible. They’re little dough balls of heaven, topped with garlic and salt, baked until they’re crusty on top and like a little soft fluffy cloud in the middle. We had a choice of dips but went with a garlic butter and a white bean and basic pesto. DIVINE.

pizza zizzi

 

So obvs if I’m going out for pizza and see something with goat’s cheese on it, I’ve pretty much already decided on that in my mind! So when I saw this goat’s cheese, mozzarella,  caramelised onions, a sprinkling of pine nuts and juuuuust a bit more cheese and basil.It was amazing. I love the fresh saltiness the goat’s cheese adds combined with the tangy sweetness of the caramelised onions it was really well balanced.

I have such a sweet tooth, if I go out for dinner, I am mainly thinking about going out for dessert. Pudding is my absolute favourite and if I could eat it for every meal without getting diabetes or piling on the pounds then I totally would. Judge me if you want, but who would say no to Crème brûlée or ice cream for breakfast?! So I was super buzzing for us to have our puddings. To be honest by this point we were both feeling quite full but because we already ordered it at the beginning we had it anyway. Such troopers aren’t we!?

zizzi ice cream

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So me and Mother dearest both decided to get ice cream. You can even see her in the top image helping with the shots for the ‘gram. CUTE. Mum got the chocolate sea salt, coconut chocolate ripple and the raspberry and mascarpone ripple. I went for the chocolate sea salt, raspberry mascarpone ripple and the honey seasalt and mascarpone. Each one of these was so rich, flavourful and smooth. I wish they would sell me a tub of the chocolate sea salt one, it was bliss! I love the combination of saltiness and sweet.

I am a huge fan of Zizzi as you can tell by this blogpost of appreciation! I’m so keen to get back to one so I can check out their recent menus. They’re always sprucing them seasonally oh and, did I mention they have a great selection of cocktails, mocktails and funky soft drinks! Sooooo shall I book a group table for us or do you want to?

 

Blogtober day five.

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I won’t lie to you, I very nearly forgot to post my blogtober day five post. Just when I thought everything was coming up Milhouse and I was in the swing of things I had this thought niggling away in the back of my mind that I’d forgotten something. So you’re getting some unscheduled, completely fresh content right here. Think of this like when a comedian or singer or performer goes off script at a gig, showing their actual, usually proper sweaty personality and it either makes the whole show or leaves you cringing like mad. I’m hoping it’ll be the former and you’ll think I’m even more ruddy cool than to begin with. But seeing as I just used the word ruddy I’m not off to a great start.

It’s currently half past eight on a Friday night you’re probably thinking, is our number 1 hun writing this in an uber on the way to the club????? Well you’re half right. I am well on my way to my second bar. Bar of Dairy Milk Caramel it is for that matter. Yup you’re right, when Kanye West was singing ‘Damn they don’t make ’em like this anymore’ he was in fact talking about me. Alas I am not a cool kid, I am at home slapping them keys on my laptop in front of the telly watching Gardener’s World. 23 going on 80.

I’m such an old aged pensioner at heart. I live for nights in, I’m always wearing knitwear and feel the cold plus I’m crap with technology. Or technology is just rubbish with me. I think the only reason Apple has made so much money is singlehandedly because of me and the amount of wires, cables, plugs and chargers I seem to be constantly buying. Let’s just cut the middle man out now and call it Abble. My phone is so broken it’s laughable now. It switched itself off today whilst full of battery life. When it turned back on again it was all in Arabic. HOW?! It has a mind of it’s own I swear and clearly mine thinks it should be sunning itself on the beaches of Dubai instead. So after about half an hour of Gemma screenshotting the English to Arabic words I needed to get my phone back to settings I could actually read and pronounce we fiiiiiinally did it. If you’re wondering who Gemma is. Gemma is my fabulous blogging friend who has this beaut of a blog just here. I’ve known her for years and I have all of this mad blogging world to thank for coming across her.

I also spent some of today googling where to go on a ghost hunt in my local area. Because I’m not already incredibly barmy enough I thought why not add claimed by a Demon king into the mix cos y’know it’s something to do and something to add to my CV/tinder bio. I’ve always been a bit fascinated by anything paranormal and as I was on the phone to my friend telling him all about the sleepover in an abandoned asylum I was just about to confirm he did remind me that we may either be scammed of our money or dragged around the room by our feet by Caspar the unfriendly ghost. Needless to say it wasn’t booked and will probably just spend our Halloween night drinking gin and stalking people on Facebook we used to go to school with. Something equally as scary I imagine.

When I put into digital words like this it does make my day sound a bit mental no wonder my brain was turned into fluffy marshmallows and I couldn’t remember Blogtober. I’m only five days in and the word Blogtober is already annoying me. It’s not a nice word and its an even more annoying noise. Try saying it…try it. I also feel like I’m really clogging up everyone’s feeds/inboxes and timelines with all my new posts and I feel quite bad about that. I hope I’m not annoying anyone! But I also hope you’ll all be dead British and polite about it all and not tell me the actual truth whether it is getting on your wick. But I’ve gained more engagement and followers in the last five days than I have in the last two months and for that I am eternally grateful. So thanks you absolute babes I adore you all. Especially you. Don’t tell the others ok?

My plan for this post was to write random facts about myself that aren’t like cliche random facts like that I prefer dogs to cats and baths to showers because in my opinion that’s just kinda normal to me. How can you not like a cuddly puppy or a nice warm bath to soak into all night long. But like fifteen little ditties that you might not know, or you might not want to know who knows? Ok here goes.

  • I am 23 years old and I still struggle with my left and right. Embarassing, childlike, random I know all of the above but I get so confused and still have to make an L shape with my finger and thumb with my hands to figure.
  • I am a certified loser and I am totally, ridiculously ok with that. It used to bother me but now it just bothers me that all of a sudden it is now COOL to be weird?! I spent my youth accepting it and now all of a sudden it seems everyone is listening to Morrissey and sinking into a conspiracy theory hole on the internet for 6 hours. K.
  • I’ve never liked my name. I feel like it isn’t really me but I wouldn’t change it because I don’t think people would call me by my new name.
  • When I was younger I used to want to be a banker as my dream job. Not like a high flying city banker on Wall Street. I just wanted to work in Barclays on my High Street. Maybe it was the dashing neckerchiefs I liked or the overriding thought that you got to take home the spare money at the end of the day. Maybe I had a premonition at a young age of what bankers actually do. Who knows.
  • I have been vegetarian since last November and it unnecessarily annoys me that veggie burgers very rarely have gherkins in them.
  • can believe it’s not butter.
  • I think nutella is overrated and overused. Don’t @ me.
  • I am obsessed with stargazing. Staring at the moon and the stars. I think it’s beautiful that wherever you are in the world you and 7 billion others still see the same moon.
  • I am scared of the dark. Whiiiiiiich brings me back to one of my original statements how I’ll be eaten alive by a demon ghost soon.
  • When I was little my nan would always let me and my sister watch Titanic whilst we were staying over. But she’d stop the film just before the boat hit the iceberg. Obvs I am aware of the real story now. 
  • If I had to live anywhere in the world it would either be in Paris or Italy.
  • I am very much a do then think type of person.
  • I very much enjoy deep discussions with people (Idk why the aesthetic is better in a car at 2am) I love deep chat.
  • I am an actually quite a cultured swine and would love to spend my days travelling, going to the theatre and art galleries. It’s not all cocktails and cakes with this bird.
  • I am secretly not so secretly obsessed with a little something I like to call Old Age British Phrases. They usually make little to no sense and you’re not entirely sure what they mean. My nan is a queen of them for instance she’ll say something like Don’t trouble, trouble, until trouble, troubles you. Which literally makes about 0 sense but to her it is gospel.

So congratulations. You’re now in my brain, how does it feel? Invigorating I bet. Thanks for reading all of this it genuinely warms my little weirdo heart having you all in my life.

MUCH LOVE. x

Honey, I’m home!

 

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Disclaimer: this picture isn’t a picture of my actual house. I wish it was because this house is just adorable. It looks just like a house you’d see on a postcard and I just feel if your house was THIS cute you’d definitely have every other aspect of your life pulled together. Like I bet a Bree Van Der Kampf of the world would live here, baking perfect pies and cleaning perfectly for her perfectly family. Anyway that was the weirdest intro ever, you can tell I haven’t been active on here because there’s no introduction it’s straight into the babble. HELLO you little beaut, I still go here apparently. I haven’t posted on here since June, literally three months to the day that I’ve been neglecting this little slice of heaven. I’ve been pretty absent from social media and well, socializing and getting out the house in general since I last wrote on here actually. I wish I could tell you that I’ve been flat out busy, spending my summer months back and forth from my vacation home in the Hamptons to my villa in Mykonos to spending a few boujiee long weekends in Paris cos ya gurl had a craving for a macaron; like I’m the British Blair Waldorf. ALAS that was not the case. A girl can dream right?!

So since I haven’t informed you all about what exactly the Abbie behind What Abbie Says has been doing, let me take you riiiiiiight back to the beginning of all this madness. So hold tight, grab a snack or whatever I don’t mind..Up until a few months ago I had no idea there was a football hooligan inside of me (minds out of the gutters you heathens, I know I was in Wetherspoons A LOT but I’m not that bad?!) until England Men’s team actually started to do well at the World Cup. Streets were packed full of people, mainly intoxicated, drunk dancing to the beat of Three Lions and for a split second I genuinely believed it was coming home. SPOILER ALERT, it didn’t come home. Well, not to England at least, but to a French home neverthelessSo if you’ve been living under a rock and completely confused by all that above, I am talking about the World Cup. Something of which took over the nation, small talk conversations went from the weather to whether Southgate would put Kane in his starting XI or not (told ya i’m a football hooligan now) and football fever seemed to be everywhere. I was just as shocked as anyone else was at my sudden lust for everything and anything Football, World Cup, Southgate or just generally getting on it in my local pub. Whether it was the endless sunshine, the constant gin IV drip pumping through my veins or the atmosphere of everyone rooting for the national team for once, but I was loving it. I loved that it brought together a sense of pride, unity and for once we weren’t totally crap at something as a nation on the World’s stage.

If you aren’t from England, (omg then welcome???? honestly I always feel like no one reads this apart from like me, my best fren and my family that stalk it) so like bienvenue, herzlich willkommen and g’day mate! For once the UK had an actual summer with a Sun that shone, bright like all of Rihanna’s diamonds, and it blooooooooody shone. I sound like that token brit but I was puffy, sweaty and red the whole of July. There’s hot and then there’s h o tI don’t really cope well in the heat and I felt like a sweaty bag of cheese the whole entire time. As a country it seems we aren’t really equipped for any sorts of weather changes when it’s snowing we go into panic mode bulk buying bread, milk and eggs. Don’t ask me why, I assume everyone makes a last minute bread and butter pudding???? When it’s warm we also STILL go into panic mode, trains stop running, we run out of bbq food and ice lollies and sometimes our roads melt. Things got so bad as a nation we almost ran out of crisps and beer. I think that was to do with the Co2 shortage however but it does sound better like that doesn’t it?! To sum up, Britain runs best at a mild to moderate lukewarm temperature. Maybe a slight breeze like let’s not get too crazy with it, mind.

I’m looking for a job again. It seems that’s all I ever talk about and how I haven’t felt comfortable or happy in a job role in ages, if at all and that makes me feel really sad. I’m desperate to become one of those people that love their job, love their colleagues and actually look forward to going into work in the morning. No one actually tells you when you’re looking for something else that it practically feels like a part time job in itself. First there is the preparing of the CV, writing a cover letter for each individual application, the waiting game to find out if you’ll get through to the one of many interview stages, having a go-to interview outfit, being free and available on the day they want to interview you, answering the cliche questions about how you’re definitely a team player and how of course I would love to get involved in their work netball team.

Literally in the midst of July I decided to actually do something positive and worthwhile with myself this year. One of my passions is writing, or creative writing so to speak and I’ve always wanted to write actual proper books since I was a child. SO i bought a cute little leatherbound notepad and scribbled some ideas down. I’m nowhere near a Lord of The Rings style trilogy just yet though!

If you’ve been to this site before you might notice the layout and the general look/feel of it is a liiiiiiittle bit different?! I’ve decided to spruce it up a little bit. Ya girl over here isn’t the most technically minded, having famously once spent a good half an hour trying to glue something back together before realising it was mouth ulcer gel. I am preeeeeeetty impressed with myself for being able to do this. On. My. Own. I’ve also added an extra few lines over in my About section if you wanted to have a peruse over there. Similarly, I’ll be going through some admin changes on here in the next few months as I’m hoping to think of a different blog name for myself. Simply because there are quite a few other blog names with very similar domain names. Turns out us Abbie/Abi/Abby’s have quite a lot to say? Nothing against these girls at all I just want to be able to put my own stamp on something and not to create any confusion for myself, for them or anyone who follows these sites.

Other than this I’ve been spending a lot of time with my family and best friend doing all sorts of fun things from leisurely lunches to beach trips to going to the theatre to being possibly the oldest people in the cinema when we went to see The Incredibles 2. Did anyone else tear up slightly at Bao before the film started or am I the only one could have sobbed for eternity?!

We are now in September and that excites me greatly. Autumn is lowkey (not even lowkey I blimmin’ love it; is highkey a word???) my favourite season of them all. I adore the cold, crisp mornings with the sun set high in the sky. The fact I can fiiiiiinally wear all my comfy knits once again and pull all the gorgeous autumnal hues out of my wardrobe. Any excuse for me to channel burgundy and khaki colour clothes back into my life again to be honest! Conkers and crunchy leaves crackling underfoot oh and gingerbread lattes. I’m just not a pumpkin spice type of gal! Never have I related more and never has a finer thing been spoken than in the quote I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers” famously uttered from Anne of Green Gables and tbh ain’t that the damn truth.

Which brings me to my final point, I have so much exciting content to be bringing you on here soon. Some stuff I’ve been working really hard on, other stuff came to me at 2am when I had one too many double g&t’s and I thought what I wrote was thought provoking. I mean it was, just in the wrong way. So I hate to leave you on this awfully clickbaity note but I’m going to do it anyway.  Keep your eyes peeled for some humdingers of blogposts in the coming weeks is all I’m going to say for now.

How has your summer been? Have you been up to anything exciting?

Until next time! A x

37 Things I hated about working in retail.

If I was Prime Minister or Queen or Emperor of the World or whatever I shall be called, one of the first things I’d do is banish those ridiculous false eyelashes people stick on their headlights on cars. In what world is that a good look? I’d also add in way, waaaaay more bank holidays and maybe have one bank holiday Friday cos that sounds like a treat and a half. But more importantly, I would make sure everyone would work in retail or the service industry or just maybe deal with the general public for a couple weeks at least. It would be like jury service except that I’d just stick you on a till in Boots for a fortnight. I’ve worked in retail since the age of 16 and good God does it make you lose complete faith in humanity. You can always tell who’s worked in an industry like that and who hasn’t in the way in which they treat those that do.

1.With customers you can get The Good, The bad and The rude. With less cowboys and more buttheads than you can shake a stick at. Some people you can just tell have never been the other side of the counter before so think nothing of speaking to you like you’re an actual sewer rat. You notice that people will complain about just about anything, making you want to take a step back and actually reevaulate all the actual problems in the world because Steve wants to return his Pick N Mix because it didn’t have a very good mix of things in it. ERM. I have no words for this Steve. You picked it N you mixed it so don’t blame me for you being a dummyhead. Also totally a true story. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve had customers speak down to me or snap at me or shout. For instance one man told me I had single handedly ruined his Christmas because we didn’t sell gluten free chocolate chip cookies. Good job I’m not bitter about it and moaning still 2 years on…👀.

2. We don’t often get that Friday Feeling you humble braggers post all over your Insta Story. Cos We have to work weekends. But we do often get the joy of a midweek day off which is just great. Unless you want to see your friends who are busy. Working their 9-5 jobs and are free at the weekend. When you’re back at work. K Den.

3. When people assume that you, the 10 hour weekend sales assistant frankly give a toss about the store pricings or the layout or the fact that Susan can’t find the jumpers which were right by the door last time she came in but now there are flip flops and kaftans there yet we only had a 36 hour heatwave in the UK?!?!

4. Promo Change. URGH. 2 words that will fill a retail worker with utter contempt. I used to hate doing promotion changeovers in my store. Baring in mind, I was a manager of a store that has almost as many different sales, promotions and in store events as it had staff coming and going. I would have rather covered my face in honey and stuck it in a bees nest.

5. Actually scrap that. There’s so many different jargon phrases and words that are often flung about; that outside of the retail world I don’t think actually means anything. Promo change, audits, blipbays, planograms, SKUs, ASMs, RSMs, ACT, IPB. It sounds like I’m singing the lyrics to ABC by the Jackson 5 really badly.

6. Working with people who use way too much corporate slang. I worked with a guy who basically developed his own I-only-speak-business-speak-cos-I’m-a-massive-bumhole language. Rather than telling the rest of his team something he would “cascade that information down to his field management team”. Or he’d call you boss or champ. He’d act like he was the wolf of wall street trying to pump you up by screaming down the phone buzzwords at quarter to 8 on a Tuesday morning. Basically he belongs in middle of the sea. On his own. For a very long time.

7. Working weekends or bank holidays. Like I get that this is kinda part and parcel of working within this sector but one Christmas time the only day I had off was Christmas Day and that was just because my shop was closed.

8. It felt like a slow torture method how many times over Christmas I heard Mariah Carey.

9. My store had an instore music system that would play the same songs, the same adverts at the same time everyday. I was in a real life Groundhog day but with more Sugababes.

10. Although one of my secret joys was seeing people, usually blokes, panic on Christmas Eve. I feel sorry for whoever had to open a jar of Cod Liver Oil as a christmas present from their terrible husband one year. I did try and suggest the hand and nail cream set instead, honest!

11. Wearing full uniform and customers still ask if you work here. Nah I’m just a huge fan of this place love! Just like football fans dress up as their fav players I’ve come into town dressed as my favourite shop assistant today. GO TEAM.

12. When you ask a customer if they’d like a bag and they point to their wife saying she’s over there.

13. Serving customers and they’re on the phone is a controversial one. I’ve been in a cafe where I put my phone on mute and to the side of the counter and the woman still refused to serve me until my conversation was officially over. SHOUTOUT TO PUMPKIN RAILWAY CAFE’S. I swear they’re all a load of poop. But I’m not overly bothered or I wouldn’t kick off if someone used their mobile really quick, I don’t really want to make small talk with you anyway but pls just pay with your card and go and don’t make me wait til you’ve finished chatting with your pal to acknowledge me, cos that’s just rude.

14. Customers who want to complain to the manager and PLOT TWIST it’s you. I went from sales advisor to manager in the store I’d been working in for two years previous in the space of about a month. So I could kinda understand how some shoppers got confused how the shop assistant overnight became a manager but y’know I was just as confused. Oh and at the age of 20 or 21 I was the youngest on my region just for my own humble brag there. I know I may have youth on my side Janice but I’m the captain of this ship. Sadly that ship was the titanic BUT I WAS STILL THE CAPTAIN.

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15. Y’know when it’s unbearably hot and stuffy in a shop, there’s no air conditioning and you customers sweat and moan about the rising heat so leave after about 23 seconds? Think Primark in the late 90s early noughties when it was always unbearably hot inside, clothes were strewn everywhere and it looked like you just walked onto the set of Earth Song. Yah someone has to work in that fiery heat. I was that person once upon a time. When I was a manager we had a spare temperature probe for the fridges and I left it on the shop floor just to see how hot it actually was in there. It would get up to the high 20s or 30. Which is lovely if you’re sipping pina coladas on a beach in the Bahamas in that temperature; not so much when you’re working. My area manager said it wasn’t that hot or I should buy a fan. So my training coordinator suggested I dip the end of the thermometer in some boiling hot water so it looks much hotter than it really is, so they’ll have no choice but to buy us top of the range air conditioning. Shortly after he did a surprise visit to come see me and needless to say, he was a bit shocked/surprised/concerned to see we’d been working in 68 degree heat and none of us had combusted.

16. One thing that used to really irritate me, maybe that’s just because I’m easily irritated was that a customer would come in every week and ask for the same thing but pronounce it wrong everytime. Quinoa being pronounced keen wah is a prime example.

17. I don’t know if anyone else suffered this but I used to get people mistaking me and my shop as the tourist information desk ALL. THE. TIME. Baring in mind I still have to double check my left and right with my hands I don’t think I’m the best person to ask for directions to Stonehenge by electric bike, Sir. When I worked in Bath a lady grabbed me by my elbow (I thought it was an odd way to get someone’s attention too but it actually worked) and simply asked me to tell her if she was going the wrong way. She gave no more information. She just said that…Depends, if you’re trying to get to the Roman Baths, no you’re not. Take a left by the man painted silver covered in pigeons if you’re trying to get to Mozambique…then yes ma’am you’re going the wrong way.

18. Customers who try and tell you how to do your job. Urgh get on tills if you really want to help me out Karen.

19. People who make that joke like you’ve never heard it before “hehehehe if it’s not scanning it must be free right???? Hehhehe”. Get in the bin.

20. PEOPLE WHO COME IN TO BROWSE JUST AS THE PLACE IS ABOUT TO CLOSE. I understand you may have been working all day too but we don’t often get paid if we have to stay later. I like you but I like earning money for being in work more.

21. People who complain once they’ve consumed nearly all of their food/drink/whatever. The fact you ate all your food apart from one spoonful even though it was too garlicky??? Your case is now invalid. Go home. Have a lovely life. Goodbye.

22. Whoever made the phrase the customer is always right was wrong.

23. People who complain about pretty much anything they can in general can be so taxing and sometimes they take it way too far. I was in the Lush store near Christmas time in Bath and a couple went IN on the girl serving them both. They were screaming, shouting and the poor girl cried. Looking back I actually kinda regret standing by and doing nothing as I have also been on the receiving end of sociopaths like that. But me and my friend did stick around to see if she was ok and luckily all of her team and her manager basically told the customers to do one. In much more eloquent terms obvs.

24. Having to face up shelves, so they look dead neat and tidy and then someone has the nerve and audacity to BUY something from said bay. You wouldn’t cut a slice out of Mary Berry’s cake before she finished icing it would you?! Also I used to call facing up pulling forward but apparently that sounded dead raunchy for the shopfloor.

25. Loyalty cards. Ok I could literally write a whole dissertation on the drama these things cause. Same with the products we try and sell you on the till or even the 30 billion receipts that seem to come flying out the till at the end with your shopping. I just wanna say as a retail worker and also a customer in shops I totally get how annoying it is to be practically interrogated when you just want to buy some pants. But we HAVE to ask you that or we get shouted it at. It becomes a part of a salespersons routine and script. Where I used to work they wanted at least 75% of all customers to be signed up onto their loyalty scheme and you’d be heavily pressured to ask every single person who walked through their door. If you didn’t or you didn’t get the amount of sign ups your boss would want you’d face a grilling. We are human and know that you get asked that in every shop so please just be polite and say no thanks. Same with getting an email or receipt asking about your service instore that day.Like we get it, it’s annoying we care about whether you have a loyalty card just as much as you do. Believe me, probably even less. A lot of shops and restaurants have taken away the monthly mystery shopper element so the general public can scrutinise your performance instead and mark you down if you didn’t ask them open questions or greet them within the first 15 seconds of them coming into a store. :))))))))))))). That often gives us a commission based bonus which makes up our full salary. Is it any different to tipping a waitress for good service in a cafe?

26. Same thing with coupons that have expired. Most of them have a barcode which literally will not work once scanned past the expiration date so pls don’t shout at me because it’s been a matter of hours since it ran out.

27. I don’t really understand why name badges are a necessity to be honest. Some may say it gives a more personal shopping experience but this isn’t Harrods and you’re not my Mum so you don’t need to beckon me over by my full name like I’m a naughty child.

28. Unruly kids that run around like the place is a playground. Sometimes breaking stuff and the parents just sort of give you that awkward laugh/don’t blame me look.

29. People who think you have any control in this company. I used to get customers asking me to send letters of complaint to head office like I was going to boardroom meetings every Friday. You wouldn’t pop into Currys with a problem with your laptop and ask them to dial through to Bill Gates to see if he knew a solution.

30. Partners that bicker at the till. Pls no. I served a couple that had a full on domestic at the till over whether they wanted a second one for half price. She walked out of the shop in the end. Would loved to have been a fly on the wall in their house later. If she ever returned home that is.

31. When customers cards get declined it actually gives me mad anxiety. I always used to make a joke and blame it on the card machine saying it’s playing up a bit but some people would straight up, look them in the eye and scream their card got declined. AGAIN.

32. Customers to demand you check in the stockroom for a product you don’t even sell. I spend more time in this place than I do at home nothing comes through these doors without me knowing sis. Guilty of walking in there, staring at the empty room, waiting a good amount of time and then coming back out and telling you there’s none in stock.

33. Customers who don’t take off their sunglasses inside. It wasn’t cool when Kanye did it, it’s not cool when you do it in a service station Starbucks.

34. Work colleagues are your fam. Like love ’em or hate ’em they’re there for you. Unless you need them to cover your shifts over a Bank Holiday Weekend.

35. You kinda realise how dumb some people are. Not just some people you work with but the general public. There was one guy I worked with who may possibly be the dumbest/most fascinating person I’ve ever met. He could have a feature length series on either the Discovery Channel or You’ve Been Framed. He never had a dull weekend and would always come in on Monday with a great albeit odd story to tell. Whether that was how he fell OFF a bus and bruised his entire face (it was awful but he looked just like Freddy Kreuger) Or how he was texting a girl he was seeing, tried to type ‘Hello’ but his phone autocorrected it to HELP all in caps lock and then his phone died. He got home and charged his phone to see about 17 missed calls, 20 messages and several v angry voicemails.

36. When a customer tries to give you change after you’ve put through the amount on the till. Like I’m sorry hun I’m not rainman how am I supposed to work out your change now you’ve given me MORE money?! I know you think you’re trying to help but maybe I’m just a bit thick.

37. Customers that don’t clean up after themselves and expect you to *just* do it because you’re paid to. Please ctrl alt delete yourself. Like I know I work here but you don’t need to make my job even more difficult or annoying.

All I ask is that if you read this and you aren’t already, please be more kind, forgiving and mindful of retail staff or service staff. OR just people in general y’know. It’s nice being nice 🙂

BE KIND ALWAYS. X