The perfect selfie 

12 Sep IMG_4603

It’s fair to say I’m a fan of the selfie. The other day a friend said you’re like the Kim Kardashian of Kendal. Though I’m not quite as prolific at them as my friend Hayley. She has a machine gun finger and I was in awe at her selfie skills. My youngest says she’s my selfie compatible as her “best” side is opposite to mine! Perfect. 

I’m always so critical when it comes to having my picture taken at least with a selfie I can only blame myself. 

The pose

A good angle. Instead of taking the picture head on hold the camera slightly higher than your head so that it’s pointing down on you. It will make your eyes look bigger and face thinner.

Know your “good side” and take the photo from that side of your face. It’s the side of your face that looks the most balanced and symmetrical.

Angle the camera slightly above yourself and taking a picture of your face and chest will highlight your cleavage. 

Facial expression 

Be sure to smile or do something cheerful. A sad face or a frown does not look good. A closed-mouth coy smile can be just as good and just as flattering as a wide, laughing grin. No matter what, a smile is one of the most flattering expressions you can wear. Though some say it’s a bit passé I’m partial to a pouting selfie. 

Always have good light

Good light is a photographers friend.  If you try to take a selfie in a dimly-lit room or one with harsh fluorescent lighting, it won’t turn out the way you want it to. Natural light is the most flattering kind, so try to take your selfie near a window or outdoors. 

Keep the sun or other light source in front of you, a bit above eye level, for the most flattering shot. The light will brighten and soften your features, rather than casting harsh shadows across your face. If it’s off to the side or behind you, you can appear shadowy. 

Don’t use your flash if you can help it. It’ll create a forehead glare, distort your appearance.

As with every selfie taker you need to take at least 20 until you’re happy with one to unleash into the world. 

Full length selfies

You will need to stand in front of a full-length mirror to capture your body from head to foot.

Take full body shots in a clutter-free space. The photo should focus completely on you, not on random objects in the background. People will zoom in to nosey.

You can appear thinner by slightly cocking your hip to the same side you are holding your camera in. Your opposite shoulder should come forward a bit, and your free arm should either dangle to your side or your free hand can rest on your hip, creating a skinny arm.  The chest should lean forward naturally, and the legs should be crossed at the ankle.


Consider the background of your picture. The best selfies have more than just a face. There’s something interesting to look at in the background, too. Whether you take your selfie inside or outdoors, check around you first to see what’s going on in the background. Position yourself so that you’re in front of the background you want people to see.


Before you snap your selfie, take a quick look around to make sure that no one and nothing is lurking in the shadows, waiting to ruin your moment. Though sometimes a photo bomber makes the picture! 

Group selfies – Gelfies

Grab a few more people to be in the photo. The first requirement of a selfie is that you have be in it, but there’s no rule that says you have to be alone! Grab some friends, your dog, and other people to take a picture with you. The picture won’t be as controlled but still fun. Either use a selfie stick or get the person with the longest arms to to take it! 

How times have changed……

9 Sep

I was watching the film “Gatsby” and was struck by what an exciting time it was set in and how the world changed for them.  Got me thinking not much has changed in our generation, then thought it has and here are a few of my observations.

Duvets – This was revolutionary, gone were the countless layers of sheets, blankets and the nylon eiderdown.  A whiff of a naked flame near it and would be up in smoke.  I remember being so excited to be going to bed to try out my new duvet.

The microwave – I think I was about 8 years old when this gigantic electronic metal box arrived.  It was amazing that a jacket potato could be ready in just 10 mins rather than a hour in the oven.  I think we had jacket potatoes every night until we were sick of them.  Though I do prefer them done in the oven.

Telephone – having a telephone at home was not common place when I was a child.  I remember standing in the phone box with my mum, taking it in turns with my siblings, pushing the 10p’s into the slot.  I did this when I first moved to the lakes as couldn’t afford a home phone.  So I would walk to the nearest phone box, put as much as I could afford in until the pips sounded.  It was amazing when we got a phone put in when I was a teenager.  

Mobile Phones – I was a late comer to the mobile phone and didn’t get my first one until 2002 and it was a Nokia 3510. No predictive text, no camera, no internet, a phone to actually talk to people.  I didn’t have the need for a mobile until a change in my job.  Now the whole world is in my hand, panic when there is no data signal or Wifi.  I remember it was so wondrous that you could send a picture though it did cost a fortune or used lots of your text allowance.  I got my first smartphone in 2010, a HTC desire.  It was a great phone even though at first I hated the clunky touch screen.  In 2012 I switched to iPhone and wouldn’t have anything else now.

Social media – this can be a blessing and a curse, through it I have met so many lovely people.  When I left school far too many years ago, there was no way to keep in touch apart from pen and paper.  I moved away  and despite keeping in touch with close friends for a few years, it drifts.  With the invention of Facebook it has been nice to rekindle friendships, though I have had requests from some people I went to school with and thought “you were horrible to me at school, why on earth would I want to be your friend now?”.  Contact is more accessible this days.  The internet is a wonderful invention, just a few weeks ago my youngest stepson was in New Zealand and we were instantly messaging. It makes the world a smaller place especially with FaceTime or Skype.  

Televsions – even in the last 5 years televisions have changed so much.  We did have a television as a child.  You have to tune a knob to retune the TV channel and at that time there was only 3 until Chanel 4 was launched in 1982.  I remember getting our first remote control and fighting over who was going to change channel.  Who has power of the remote is a bone of contention still.  Rather than putting your back out trying to move them, you can pick them up with one hand.  

Cameras – taking pictures as a child was limited to special occasions as was so expensive to process.  I remember being fascinated by the family Kodak camera with the ice cube flash.  The agonising wait whilst you patiently waited to collect your pictures and only to discover there was only a handful of good ones for the album.  I remember my first digital camera and the astoundment at taking a picture and instantly seeing it, if no good, delete and retake.  Now as soon as you take a picture, whether on a camera or phone, it’s met with a “let me see”.  In my case, hate it, please take another.  I love taking photos and they are prescious to me as all of my childhood pictures have been thrown away and only have a handful left.  I recently bought a new digital  camera which I carry with me everywhere, snapping away.

Behind every smile…..

9 Sep

This has been quite a hard blog to consider writing. To put down in words all that I’ve been feeling for all to see.  Guess it’s an easier way to explain, rather than getting upset trying to explain.  I’ve lost count over the years how many times I’ve heard people say “I’m so depressed”, the reality of that statement is you probably aren’t. As in my experience people who are suffering don’t say. It is very much a silent occurrence, not because they are being a martyr but because they are scared, embarrassed or think that’s not happening to me.

Depression creeps up on you, a few days of low mood or not feeling right turns into weeks, into months. Not quite knowing what is going on. Not sleeping and despite appearances feel as if you are falling apart inside. Then the moment comes where you have to admit something needs to be done. It is easy to think I shouldn’t be feeling like this because there are people with it worse than you, I’m not dying or fighting a terrible disease.  But I saw a quote and it said “saying someone can’t be sad because someone else may have it worse, is just like saying someone can’t be happy because someone might have it better”.  In my opinion never a truer word spoken.

Someone said a few weeks ago  “you’re fake” I guess we all are to a point in the age of social media. For me when I’m feeling low I don’t want to post on social media for all to judge. Believe me, there are plenty of “online needy” who flood your timeline with cryptic messages looking for attention.  In my job, it is very customer facing and no one wants to see a sad sales rep, so its lippy, smile and face the world even when I don’t want to.  

A doctors visit and a teary one at that but thankfully he didn’t try to fix with tablets. Not that I’m saying there is anything wrong with using tablets. He said I think you may be suffering with chronic stress and depression. I’m going to refer you to First steps which is a NHS counselling service.

A very nice lady rang me from the service, I remember crying as she did a questionnaire over the phone, rating my feelings out of 10.  She suggested a group CBT (cognitive, behaviour therapy) session, I was a bit reticent about going as would be embarrassed of bumping into someone I knew.  I went and it wasn’t how I imagined, no standing up saying your name and why you were there.  Just a group of like minded people all having a tough time for whatever reason.  Some aspects were helpful but didn’t find it really got to the bottom of my problems.  So a few weeks ago, I started with a 1-1 councillor, he was one of the councillors who ran the group session so I felt comfortable with him.  It is a long road to recover and with not being very patient it is very difficult at times.  My life at the moment is trying to understand my thought processes and filling out questionnaires to ascertain that I don’t want to kill myself.

It is easy for people to look at my life and judge and think what has she got to be depressed about, If I asked a friend to describe me or had to write a description of myself it would say “blonde, bubbly, fun to be around, loud”  and yes for a majority of the time I am those things, but I have a “Gina” rule that is how I must be at all times.  Even when feeling depressed, I feel this expectation of others, so I put on a façade so I don’t feel weak or I have let people down by having to deal with the less than perfect me.  I have this overwhelming auto pilot that I have to behave in a certain way to protect others.

I do have a lovely life but great loss throughout my life has finally caught up with me.  The most powerful one is the fact that I am unable to have children.  Even writing the words makes me stop in my tracks, I can feel tears welling up as I type. Part of me is annoyed with myself, not starting trying earlier, the failing IVF happened 4 years ago, I should be over this now.  Come on time the cliché why is it not better??  The days vary.  Two of my closest friends had children at the same time if my IVF had worked I would’ve too.  Whilst I adore their children and are so happy for them, as they grow and have milestones, it the constant reminder of the loss of my future events, which I find hard to deal with. The multiple losses hitting me time and again.  What would my child be like? , what/who would they look like? What kind of mother would’ve I have been.  I can’t help but feel angry, jealous, sad, resentful, such powerful negative emotions that I bury because it feels wrong and scary.  As I’ve found out, that doesn’t help, it just makes it rebound and comes back even more powerful.  Then I feel bad for having those feelings and it just perpetuates the sadness.  All the time putting on the brave “Gina” face.  My councillor has said I need to be more authentic with my feelings, this is work in progress.

My heart sinks when yet another friend announces she’s pregnant.  How dare everyone’s life carry on as if nothing has happened to me?  I’m so happy for them, it’s not their faults but it’s bittersweet.  Seeing how wonderful motherhood is plastered over social media, in person just makes me sad, angry, jealous and I just want to say I can’t cope, I am gutted that is never going to happen for me.  But I don’t, I smile and then when alone sit and have a good cry.  In recent times when people ask the inevitable question “have you got children?”  I’ve said no I can’t and usually one of the following replies ensues as they feel the need to fix me: have you thought about adoption/fostering – I smile but inside I’m shouting no! I have been lucky to have my 2 bright wonderful loving stepsons who I am their second mum, I love them as my own.  A step  parent chooses to love not because they have to.  I wanted the experience of being pregnant, feeling life inside me.  You don’t know how lucky you are not having them, if I had my time again I don’t think I would bother – my internal response is it’s easy to say when you’ve got them.  People are jealous of my apparent freedom but I would swap in a heartbeat.

Death is one of those certain things in life and in my life I have experienced plenty. My dad died when I was 10 and though over 30 years ago I still remember the waxy feel of his skin as I said my goodbyes before he died. Death at a young age makes you grow up fast and from that moment on I became the parent.  I remember on the morning of my dads funeral comforting my mum whilst Shakin Stevens “you drive me crazy” played on the radio, when really it should have been the other way round.  That’s why I find it so hard to be comforted by anyone, because as a child if was upset I just had to get on with it because there was no alternative. I thought that was normal.  It’s only when you grow up and experience life that you realise that parents shouldn’t act like that.  Being strong and a coper is a good skill to possess but you can only wear a protective shell for so long before cracks appear.  That’s why I am constantly striving, because I think if I act in this way people will like me and they won’t reject me.  I don’t apply my compassionate rules to myself as I do others.

When you read about depression they say exercise helps but in my case it doesn’t.  When I am running, I am not distracting myself and all the thoughts I’ve suppressed come flooding out and can be overwhelming at times.  Despite my outwardly confidence, I’m constantly comparing myself to others.  Thinking I am not as pretty, thin, can’t run as fast etc and it’s crippling and self destructive.  I am trying to believe in myself.  When you are feeling down it makes everything else in your life so much harder to deal with.

With the counselling comes relief that it’s ok not to cope, learning how to recognise my warning signs and reacting differently.  It is a long road ahead and sometimes at the moment feels as if there’s a lot of speed bumps.  You get asked what does happiness look like?  For me I would like to go back to before I started the IVF, when I felt hopeful and more like me.  But you can’t go back and have to find a different kind of happiness.  If you feel as if life is getting you down, get help.  There’s lots out there.

Colonic cleanse

31 Aug IMG_0075

After a visit to Canada a few years ago, I had thought about having a colonic irrigation, especially after over indulging in copious amounts of meat.  Recently I had been feeling very bloated and thought I would look into it.  After a Google search, I found one in Ulverston and made an appointment to visit.

Jane was lovely and is an ex nurse with years of colonic experience, so felt instantly at ease.  You may wonder what is a colonic?  The Colon, bowel or large intestine is situated in the abdomen, and forms the last part of the digestive tract. It is 5ft in length and 2 and half inches in diameter- that’s a lot of waste! It is responsible for eliminating food and other body wastes, as well as protecting from infection and disease.

The colonic itself  takes about  45 minutes during which time warm purified water will be gently introduced via the rectum to stimulate the release of stored matter and gas. The treatment involves you lying on your side and during the treatment, your modesty is preserved at all times with a blanket.

The number of treatments required always depends upon your individual case and prevailing conditions. Often the waste is so hard and compact in the colon that it may take a series of colonics to sufficiently soften and loosen this accumulated faecal waste. Therefore the number required may vary from only one treatment to a number spread out over a period of time, after which preventative or maintenance treatment may be continued.

Is it safe? Yes!  The water is introduced at a low gravitational pressure, so there is no danger of bowel perforation.

Jane chatted as the treatment progressed.  It was a very weird feeling and was uncomfortable at times.  But afterwards I had a great sense of lightness.  I had a slight headache was the only side effect I experienced  which was due to the toxins leaving my body.  There is no hard sell to have lots though having 2/3 a year would be beneficial

I noticed my stomach was less bloated, had a feeling of lightness and a few weeks on still have that feeling of wellbeing.  Definitely worth doing. The cost of the treatment was £60.00.

Oven baked Thai chicken rice 

28 Aug IMG_3998-0

Perfect comfort food and on the table within 30 mins. 


1 tbsp vegetable oil

1 onion, chopped

400g pack mini chicken fillets

2 tbsp Thai green curry paste 

250g basmati and wild rice mix, rinsed 

2 red peppers, deseeded and cut into wedges

finely grated zest and juice 1 lime

400g reduced-fat coconut milk

handful coriander leaves, to serve


Heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Heat the oil in a shallow ovenproof casserole dish, then soften the onion for 5 mins. Add the chicken and curry paste, then cook for 3 mins, stirring to coat.

Tip in the rice and peppers, then stir in the lime zest and juice, coconut milk and 250ml boiling water. Bring to the boil, then pop the lid on and bake for 20 mins until the rice is fluffy. Scatter with coriander before serving. 


High maintenance 

27 Aug IMG_3564-0

Caution girlie blog coming up!! 

I’ve never really worn make up, it scared me. I am lucky to be blessed with long eyelashes, so a a sweep of mascara was me. Whenever I did try eye shadow, I always thought I looked like a drag queen, so gave up.  Looking in the mirror, looking like I’d been gang banged by crayola. 

The launch of BB creams were a godsend. No orange tideline from badly applied foundation, a quick easy can’t go wrong application. 

A couple of months ago, I saw on the TV the Benefit make up artist do an article on contour make up and I was transfixed. So when in House of Frazer in Carlisle with my friend Paula, I had a makeover on the Benefit stand. 

Nicola on the Benefit stand wasn’t a scary make up lady, just nicely made up and approachable. I find it all quite intimidating or I did. I explained to Nicola what I wanted and she took me through everything thing she did step by step. 

I was really pleased with the results as it still looked like me.  A few purchases and a list for the airport, as was going on holiday and was going to take advantage of duty free. 

So what’s new in my make up bag:

This eye cream is amazing, dark circles diminished and also using it on my frown lines! I frown all the time without even realising! 

I started using an anti ageing serum a couple of years ago. I think it has made a difference, people say I don’t look my age. I’ve upgraded my Boots advanced anti ageing serum for this one. A week in and my skin is lovely. 

From over plucking my eyebrows as a teenager and in my early twenties, I don’t have many brows. I would love to have them tattooed on but to have it done properly is v expensive. So I braved an eyebrow pencil and liked the look. Subtle but yet framed my face. This stuff is amazing, easy to apply and makes my brows fuller. 

I never really used concealer unless I had an annoying spot. This used under the eyes makes my dark tired circles disappear. I think I wasn’t using enough obviously more is more at times. 

This highlighter gives a nice hue, I’ve put the sun beam onto my next wish list! 

Mascara has always been the stalwart of my make up. This one is fantastic, instantly my lashes are longer and lush. Lasts forever, going to try the Rollerlash next. 

This has been a favourite and use it most days. The Hoola bronzer is just lovely. A nice glow and light on my skin. 

Blusher scared me, but this just adds the nice glow, plus I use it as a general setting powder.

Though not a new addition to my make up, I love my red lippy. When I turned 40 I embraced the red lippy and I love it. 

So having spent ages pouring over online tutorials, I decided to have a go. Was easier than I thought and just need to get used to the protocol of applying the products and experiment. 

My results!    

Maybe doing this before I went for a run was not my brightest idea! But it lasted a sweaty run! 

People have noticed I look different but it’s our secret right *taps nose 

Spiced duck and date tagine

26 Aug

When I’m busy, I love quick, easy and tasty foods. A bit of browning of meat and some light chopping and let the slow cooker do the work! 


2 tsp sunflower oil

6 duck legs, skin removed

1 large onion

2 garlic cloves

1 red chilli, deseeded

thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled

1 tbsp cumin

1 tbsp coriander

1 tbsp cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

2 preserved lemons, halved, pulp and pith scooped out and discarded

200g dates

400ml passata

100g blanched almonds, very roughly chopped

mint leaves, to serve

couscous, to serve


Heat the slow cooker on Low. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a frying pan and brown the duck legs in batches until golden. When all the legs are done place in the slow cooker. While you’re browning the duck, put the onion, garlic, chilli, ginger, spices and preserved lemon in a food processor and blitz to a chunky paste. Tip the paste into the hot pan and cook for 5 mins to soften. Meanwhile, add half the dates to the processor with 200ml water, and blitz until smooth. Cut the remaining dates into chunky pieces. Tip the onion paste and all the dates into the slow cooker, add the passata, season, stir, cover with the lid and cook for 5 hrs (or up to7 hours)

Scatter the almonds into the tagine and stir. Serve with couscous, scattered with mint leaves.

Spicy roasted vegetables with lentils 

25 Aug IMG_3943

I love vegetarian food, though for me it needs to be packed with flavour. This dish doesn’t let you down on that front. 


1 small-medium butternut squash (about 950g/2lb 2oz)

1 red onion, halved and thickly sliced

3 peppers (a mix of red, orange and yellow from a pack), deseeded and cut into 1cm or ½ in-wide strips

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

3 tbsp olive oil

3 tbsp curry paste

2 x 400g cans puy lentils, drained and rinsed

150ml hot vegetable stock

large handful coriander, chopped


Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Using a sharp knife, peel the butternut squash. Cut it in half lengthways, scoop out the seeds, then cut into 1cm-thick slices widthways across the squash.

Put the squash slices in a large roasting tin with the onion, peppers and garlic. Mix the oil with the curry paste and drizzle over the vegetables. Toss well to coat in the curry mix and season.

Roast for 30 mins until the vegetables are beginning to soften. Add the lentils and stock to the roasting tin and mix. Return to the oven for a further 5-10 mins until the vegetables are tender. Stir in the coriander and serve straight away.


No bake Peanut butter slice 

19 Aug IMG_3777-0

Chocolate and peanut butter are a match made in heaven in my world. This is super easy and a perfect yummy treat. 


200g digestive biscuits 

70g unsalted butter, melted

120g crunchy peanut butter

Chocolate Layer

200 plain chocolate 

60g smooth peanut butter, divided


Place the biscuits into the bowl of a food processor and blend until crumbs form. Add peanut butter and melted butter and process until completely combined and the mixture holds together.

Slightly grease a 8×8 inch (20x20cm) square pan and line with parchment paper, in such a way that some edges are longer to make it easy to lift it up once it’s set.

Spread the peanut butter mixture into the prepared baking pan and press with the back of the spoon to create a smooth surface.

Melt chocolate and 2 tbsp (30g) of  peanut butter over bain marie, over low heat. Stir until smooth. Meanwhile place the other 2 tbsp (30g) of peanut butter into a small sauce pan over low heat and stir until melted and smooth. Spread the chocolate over peanut butter layer. Add teaspoons of melted peanut butter on top and with a knife create swirls on the surface.

Refrigerate for 2 hours to set. Let it sit 10 minutes at room temperature before cutting.  Enjoy!  


Yewbarrow – Stu’s last wainwright 

5 Jun IMG_0878-0

Today was the day on which my lovely friend Stu finished his Wainwright journey, leaving Yewbarrow as his final one. I had not really been fell walking since completing my Wainwrights back in January. I did have a walk up Birkhouse Moor over February half term (first ticked off round 2!) with my nieces. I learnt that doing marathon training and doing lots of fell walking doesn’t mix very well.

Plus if I am honest my walking mojo disappeared after completing them, the weather has not been great when I did have the opportunity to walk. Been there, got the soggy t shirt. There was nothing to chase, no planning where next to walk, which book we are going to finish next. It was all done and it left me feeling a bit bereft. I know that Stu will agree with me, when I say the last few Wainwrights feel like a task. You’ve set a date and invited people and it does put you under pressure to get them done whatever the weather.

I love Yewbarrow it’s in my top 10 fells I have climbed. The views down to Wastwater are one of my favourite views in the Lakes. The rest of the hills looking over it majestically. I try to block out memories of Kirkfell, the hill which nearly broke me when we climbed it for Gary’s last one.

We all met at the car park at 11, it was nice to meet Stu’s friends Ryan, Anna and Gareth as had heard lots about them. The weather was looking good and prayed that the circling rain held off. 17 of us and 4 dogs set off to climb the final one. Rather than go straight up the front of the mountain, we walked up the valley to ascend it in a zig zag form to the top.

It felt good to be back in the hills, the craic with our friends and just being outdoors soaking it in. It made me realise how much I had missed it. The groups spilt up naturally when you start climbing. Re grouping and then setting off again.  

A quick photo stop before the final push to the summit. 



A short walk and we were on the top waiting for Stu to touch his final summit. We did a guard of honour with our walking poles as we had done on ours. I felt so pleased for him and it was also his collies Sam and Teya’s final Wainwright too.


Paula his wife, this was her 100th. She is fighting Bladder cancer and she proves that you can do stuff whilst ill. What people don’t see is the morphine she has to take to get through doing it and the time it takes her to recover. She truly is an inspirational lady and hopefully soon we will be doing her last Wainwright too.


Bubbles and speech and this was the moment when we realised that Dave had forgot to pack the brownies!! He didn’t live this down, but it was an incentive to get back to the car.  Jim got his stove out to make a fried egg butty. He had also bought along some boy balloons to celebrate the safe arrival of our friend Tanya’s baby boy. The youngest member of the Twitteratti. 


This is our very own “214” club! 

  The descent was a tricky one, a real knee burner. The saving grace was the amazing views. The summit was very windy and luckily as we descended so did the wind. Soon we could see the trees of the car park. A quick Brownie stop before heading down to The Strands in Nether Wasdale for our walkers reward.

Couldn’t resist a bit of photobombing hehe 

Walking mojo returned, just need some time and good weather to start my new adventures…….


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