Category Archives: Simple Pleasures
Everyone, meet Spring. Summer’s little sister. Excitable. Fresh. Ready to roll.
Nature’s playground. A creche for young spring bulbs that wriggle free from stagnant sleep through rich soil, yawning open into boastful blooms that blanket English lawns. Cherry tree branches cup delicate buds that burst into blossom like popcorn, sprinkling pavements with sherbet confetti. Daffodils stand proud, trumpets nodding against baby-blue skies. Pearly snowdrops, lilac hyacinths, and mellow yellow primroses cluster together in a display of pastel perfection not to be outdone by the scented narcissi that perfume the air with a floral bouquet of loveliness attracting butterflies and ladybirds here there and everywhere.
Bright and breezy tulips parade their vibrant underskirts like up-turned ballerinas enveloped in lacy tutus, prised apart by the bumbling bottom of a fuzzy-buzzy bee, drunk on nectar and greedy for his next fix. The early morning dew crystalises blades of grass with a thousand diamonds that dance in the breeze and twinkle rainbow colours in the light of dawn. Barefoot, toes delight in the springy mounds of minty green grass.
The days lengthen. Time springs forwards in a sixty minute leap that exasperates a population unwilling to sacrifice even a minute of their sleep. Weary alarm clocks gratefully retreat into hibernation, their tinny imitation wake-up call of cheeping birds is replaced with a real-life dawn chorus that could give El Divo a run for their money. Tweeting takes on a whole new meaning as the cheery trill of blackbirds and song-thrushes glides through the bedroom window, left slightly ajar, flowing forth on the breath of a crisp air that tickles the noses of soundless sleepers.
The Beatles sing: ‘Here Comes the Sun’.
The sunrise shouts: ‘Rise and Shine’.
And so, with eyes closed, a tentative step towards the glowing window, a pyjama-ed hand draws back the curtain a la Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
There. It. Is. That delicious orb of honey-gold that beams at you like a long lost friend.
Bleary eyes are dazzled with the light of a chirpy sun that provides the get-up-and-go of a dozen double espressos. Like a shot of Red Bull laced with ecstasy, we step into spring with a spring in our step. We walk off winter and skip hop and jump into action. Suddenly, the impossible seems possible. Getting up an hour early to fit in a brisk morning run before work? Sure. Feeling intensely satisfied with just a green-is-good salad and an apple for lunch? Sure. Finishing work an hour early because you’ve been so on the ball you’re practically tripping over it? Sure. Catching that Bikram yoga class you’ve been promising yourself you’d attend since Christmas before cooking up a storm in the kitchen, spring cleaning the entire house, relaxing in the bath with a glass of white wine in one hand and your friend’s dulcet tones rattling through the phone in the other, completing the crossword, taking a sizeable chunk out of Tolstoy’s War & Peace, watching Eastenders and taking the dog for a walk with plenty of time before bed? Suuuuuuuuuuuure.
Winter coats are abandoned for another year to make room for more appropriate items of clothing that prove utterly inappropriate for the season. Behold… The Summer Wardrobe. Yes, we are all well aware that it is not nearly warm enough for floaty skirts, loose pink shirts unbuttoned at the collar and havaianas, but we peel off the layers nonetheless, adamantly refusing to acknowledge the icy chill that lingers in the breeze and creeps through button-holes that shiver against our skin. A fresh-faced sun beams innocently outwards but shouldn’t be underestimated. Skin is sun-kissed with a tingle that catches the cheeks and the bridges of the nose. Why do we always forget the suncream?
Hello sunglasses. Hello eating outside.
The scraping of metal as chairs and tables are carried onto the patios that decorate the outside of cosy cafes. Book in hand, cappuccino in the other, we can indulge once again in the most beloved activity of people-watching, safe in the knowledge that our gawping eyes are protected by dark shades which perch delicately on the tips of our noses.The promise of summer is carried on the voices of children playing outside. A tentative suggestion for a premature barbecue at the weekend. Ladybirds.
The outdoors becomes your back garden. A feast for the senses. Fine dining for the nose. Sweet treats for the ears and food glorious food for the eyes. Drink in the patchwork countryside, swathed in buttercup yellow and shades of pistachio, jade and lime green. Bask in warm sun-de-light and catch the soapy scent of clean clothes drying on the washing line. Wind down the car windows and turn up the radio. A flirtatious breeze tickles your hair. You inhale the earthy smell of newly cut grass deep into your lungs. The cotton-ball tails of burrow-bound bunny rabbits hop in and out of sight. Clouds, laced with a hint of candy-floss pink, float amidst powder-blue skies and eventually melt into a blushing sunset blended with sherbet orange and yellows, edible violets and macaroon pinks and purples.
Lent culminates with chocolate for breakfast and succulent roast lamb, melt-in-the-mouth brand-new potatoes and emerald mint jelly for dessert. But who could forget those spiced, sticky buns fresh from the oven, encrusted with plump raisins, cinnamon kissed and smothered lovingly with lashings of slightly salted butter that stick to the crumbs nestled in the corner of your mouth.
Hot cross buns. Hot cross buns. One a penny, two a penny, hot cross buns. If you’ve got no daughters give them to your
sons self. One a penny, two a penny, hot cross buns.
Out with the cold and in with the Brand Spanking New. Love is in the air and spring loves you.
“Adverts… AGAIN?” Grrrrrrrr.
Yes, we complain about the frequency and quantity of adverts on telly nowadays and how annoying they are. Whether you love them or hate them, adverts are here to stay. On the bright side, there are some pretty incredible visual advertising campaigns out there that have the ability to paint smiles onto our faces, tickle our sense of humour and make us feel all glowy inside. Think 2011 John Lewis Advert for Christmas. Solid, feel-good gold.
So, for some more lovely jubbly, life’s good TV joy, here is a collection of the best feel good adverts to be found. If there are any gems that have been left out, share the love and add the links at the bottom of this post. Enjoy.
Feel Good Adverts
1. Thompson ‘It’s Time for a Holiday’ (2011)
Life is for living. Life is for the moments.
2. BBC ‘What A Wonderful World’ (2011)
Louis Armstrong and David Attenborough… the ultimate treat. Not to mention our favourite wildlife shots from Frozen Planet. Makes us feel all melty and happy with the world.
3. T Mobile ‘Life’s for Sharing’ (2009)
4. Coca Cola ‘Diet Coke O’Clock’ (1996)
One for the girls. No comment necessary.
5. Honda ‘The Impossible Dream II’ (2010)
YES. YOU CAN. Super powered inspiration for those moments of doubt.
6. John West Salmon ‘Bear Fight’ (2006)
Ridiculous. Hilarious. Brilliant.
7. Sony Bravia ‘Bouncy Balls’ (2006)
Seriously beautiful. Live life to the full. Live life in colour.
8. Carling ‘You Know Who Your Mates Are’ (2008)
Male solidarity. Makes you want to man hug.
9. Skoda ‘The Baking of Fabia’ (2007)
A few of our favourite things. If only…
10. Cadbury ‘Gorilla’ (2007)
Simply the best. A glass and a half full production.
A city of Great Expectations.
A capital plagued by insomnia; fuelled with the buzz of unlocked potential and the zany hum of wired minds.
An hour before dawn. The first train rumbles into a platform. An anaemic sun nestles between blankets of smog, clinging to the last wisps of darkness, resolutely undisturbed by the clanging of seven million alarm clocks. Big Brother Ben joins the chorus with a melody of deafening booms that ricochet off the Houses of Parliament, echoing across Westminster, and surprising a flock of dopey pigeons who take refuge on the dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral.
And so it begins… The daily battle against a nondescript button named ‘snooze’. Snooze. Sounds delightful, doesn’t it? But no. A Londoner’s ‘snooze’ is less comforting than a dip in a bath full of overcooked ‘it has to be Heinz’ baked beans. Few are able to conquer this satanic creature, who tempts its somnambulant victims with precious moments of timeless sleep. Seconds turn into hours. Hours disappear into minutes. Before you know it, you unravel yourself from musty sheets, utterly under-slept, having over-slept by exactly 9 minutes. The process is futile and, as such, completely necessary.
Slowly, slowly, slowly, a network of lights blinks through the morning night, illuminating silhouettes of outstretched limbs and silent yawns. The early morning routine is a tangle of rushed footsteps and shoe laces, a blur of cornflakes and coffee, carried out like a well rehearsed speech to the staccato rhythm of rolling raindrops which pepper kitchen windows with fat full stops.
The front doors slams. The Commuters March begins.
A mish-mash of suits and polished shoes First Class Stamp their way to the trains buried under the earth. Newspaper tucked hastily under a jacketed arm. Ink stained fingers clasped around the handle of a battered briefcase. Buildings, boots and umbrellas leak into a sweeping watercolour of greys and silvers splashed with the occasional burst of Royal Mail Red. A red reserved specially for London telephone booths, post boxes and double-decker buses. By order of her majesty, the Queen.
A small group of tourists huddles together, barnacle backpacks held tight at the straps, Nikon cameras dangling from their necks. Each takes a turn gesticulating at a dog-eared piece of paper decorated with a tapestry of multicoloured threads that Oliver Twist their way over and alongside one another. Playfully nicknamed ‘The Tube’, this tangled network of destinations, is nonsensical even to the common Englishman. But beware…. this choo-choo-tube has rules. Londoners know the rules, of course. Londoners will not, however, spare a moment to explain them nor will they hesitate to throw a wobbly if they aren’t followed to precision. So please, pay attention. Mind the army of suits, whistle and flutes. Mind the left, stand on the right. Mind the closing doors. But above all, mind the gap.
Mind the gap.
On the tube, endless clones are synchronised and perfectly choreographed. One hundred eyes skim the same headlines of the same newspaper which, despite being called The Metro, has nothing to do with Paris. Those without reading material find themselves studying advertisements for ‘cheap as chips’ car insurance and online dating websites claiming to match you to the love of your life in sixty seconds based on the colour of your eyes and your eclectic taste in music.
Never in the history of civilisation has it been so acceptable to spend a quarter of an hour, cheek-deep in the unfamiliar warmth of a strangers’ left armpit while at the same time holding hands with a yellow pole, a couple of sweaty bankers and the knee of the man sitting nearest the doors. Sardined between a dozen bestselling novels and a ghetto blaster disguised as an iPod, you clench your buttocks, dig your feet into the moving floor. Anything. Just please, please… DON’T. FALL. OVER.
It is a well known fact that Londoners work harder than a colony of ants on Lucozade. Each day, men and women across the city attempt the impossible by working 18 hour days within the hours of 9 to 5 while the rest of London teems with entertainment. Museums on the Southbank showcase bizarre masterpieces of modern art. Shaftesbury Avenue boasts a string of garish theatres. Shoreditch offers a slice of cool to those dressed for the occasion. Stroll around the famous cobbled streets of Covent (not actually a) Garden. Visit the Queen’s gaff. Discover leafy suburbs and lose yourself in the depths of Hyde & Seek Park. Go for a ride on a glorified ferris wheel for a birds eye view of the city; the London Eye which, contrary to its title, has more eyes than a box jellyfish. That’s 24 eyes in case you were wondering. London is your Oyster as long as you keep topping it up. For those on a budget, blackened blobs of chewing gum tattooed onto pavements make for a great game of ‘join the dots’. Spot the tourist is also popular amongst locals. It’s simple, really. Just look for the poor sod who forgot the most important accessory known to Londoners.
Behold… the sooty umbrella.
A staple of London culture and lifestyle. Protector of a people condemned to severe droughts of sunshine and incessant drizzle that leaves hair slick with grease. Londoners unanimously agree; those with coloured umbrellas aren’t quite welcome. Get The London Look. Blend in with the crowd. Head to…
The pub. London’s Crown and Glory. Always waiting, doors open with your regular tipple and a bag of Walker’s Salt & Vinegar Crisps. Like a loyal friend, your local is always there… two doors down from the office, at the end of your street, round the corner from the church, shop, museum, bus stop, you-name-it, and of course, a stones throw away from the next pub. A sanctuary for the over-worked and under-paid, unemployed graduates and soggy tourists alike. Sweaty, warm perfection.
Closing time. Last orders.
Please, sir. Can we have one more pint?
But alas, the last tube waits for no one and so, dragging your feet like a naughty schoolboy, you trudge towards Oxford Circus Underground Station. Suddenly, the smooth curves of a Black Taxi swing into view, adorned with a crown of yellow light that beams lovingly at you. With a simple hand salute you find yourself cocooned in the darkness of the warm upholstery, lulled into a red wine daze by the running commentary of a London cabbie who deposits you, scruffy, penniless and exhausted, on your communal doorstep for the reasonable price of a Mulberry handbag.
Key in the door. Post on the floor.
Up the stairs. Apples and pears.
Quick cup of tea. Rosie Lee.
Pillow meets head. Time for bed.
You see, Mr. Dickens, London may well be a Bleak House, but it’s our house. And home, don’t you know, is where the heart is.
Blissful. Beautiful. Brilliant. Butter.
High atop Keller’s Peak
inside the cozy Hotel Bar,
I spied from afar-
softened beauty compounded by brilliance
glowing amber by the light of the flickering fire…
Insides melted, knees weak,
How could my love be clarified?
The Land O’ Lakes seemed the
Perfect place to whip Plugra-licious passion
Blissful, butter colored memories, a hint of salt from the sea
All coming back to me,
like the warm breeze off the Grassland…
Say Hello To Jennifer Cannon
Jennifer is a freelance writer and owner of JenCann Productions. She is passionate about encouraging, promoting and supporting fellow entrepreneurs one word at a time! Self-proclaimed foodie, friend, traveler, connector and lover of people & music- Jennifer lives in Southern New Jersey, USA with her husband and is the proud mom of one son and two daughters.
Without wanting to get a certain song stuck in your head, I’ve decided that it’s about time to start seriously thinking about what should go on that all important Christmas list. I think I speak on behalf of the vast majority of the population when I say that we’ve all been very, very good this year. Well, if not good, then at least, careful. So Santa, you should be coming to town in just a short twinkle of time but before you pack the sleigh and put Rudolph’s, quite frankly ridiculous, nose on, could you please please add the following ten items to the sack? Cheers.
Love from us all.
ps. we’ll save you an extra mince pie, but mind the crumbs.
ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS:
1. You. Standard. Mariah Carey does have a point though.
2. A day at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Complete with never-ending Christmas feast in the Great Hall, friendly ghosts and a ceiling of stars and snowflakes. Preferably Voldemort free.
3. A Chesterfield armchair.
4. A year’s supply of chocolate. Willy Wonka Style.
5. Another pair of socks…… NOT. Christmas Stockings are good though. We like stockings. Oh yes. Stockings can stay thank you very much.
6. A white one. Let there be snow.
7. Puppies. Which aren’t, by the way, for Christmas but for LIFE.
8. A David Attenborough voice-over to make those ordinary moments ultra special.
“Feeding time. At… the dinner table. The smell of the forthcoming meal is enough to catch the attention of creatures within a large radius, whose rumbling bellies and heavy footfall can be heard approaching in record breaking time. Soon…. a gathering. Eye contact is… crucial. One slight movement towards the knife or fork by its side can signal… disaster… for the other members of the pack. Once the fight begins, it’s each for his own. The weaker members of the species, although smaller in size, are desperate for nourishment and therefore not afraid to take on their predominantly male counterparts. A sly jab with an elbow is enough to take competitors off guard.”
9. A guilt free conscience. Moderation shmoderation. Stretchy clothes might help.
10. To get you what YOU want for Christmas. Giving is another word for love.
Without fail, I have received an advent calendar every year since I was born. Be it a posh Whittards one bought months in advance, or a rubbish Disney one bought from the one pound shop, I have enjoyed the tradition of the advent calendar for as long as I can remember.
At the age of 22, I’d like to blame my outrage at not receiving one this year on the fact that I don’t love chocolate. For most women, unlike one’s belief in Papa Noel, desiring a slab of chocolate every day is the same for every other month of the year. For me, I only crave it during December. In fact, I would much rather indulge in a Walker’s creation each day leading up to Christmas than a slab of the brown stuff. So why exactly was I so bemused when my mother decided against buying me one this year?
“As one door opens… you stuff your face with chocolate! That’s advent calendar tradition”
Firstly, I’ve come to appreciate that it’s one of those traditions that is acceptable to uphold well into your twenties. And fuelled by facebook and twitter updates boasting about everyone’s chocolaty organisers, I grew envious of other people’s festive frolics. But it didn’t stop there. Never have I experienced a larger dose of calendar-envy than when I walked into my five year old cousin’s house to find a floor-to-ceiling felt number that was to die for. It’s safe to say that we no longer discuss advent, or in fact anything Christmas-related. I doubt I’ll even get him a present. I think he’s had quite his fair share this year judging by this garish design.
I thought that by the time I got to university, I would have surpassed the excitement of opening a cardboard door everyday to find a chocolate snow man or Christmas pud. But well into higher education, it became even more of a necessity that I had one, although I couldn’t actually tell you whether that was because I was missing home or because I was starving and the daily chocolate would equate to one of my three meals a day.
“I’ve come to appreciate that it’s one of those traditions that is acceptable to uphold well into your twenties.”
As a result, I like to put my desperation for a calendar down to practicality. I’m possibly one of the most disorganised people I know, so without my trusty advent calendar, I’d have no idea how long I have left to buy Christmas presents for my family. However, the advent calendar not only brings with it practical prizes; instead, it is wholly impractical. I get so excited about eating my chocolate when I arise that I then don’t want to then brush my teeth. But I don’t want to wait until later until I eat it. I promise you, this daily conundrum is more confusing than trying to work out how the big man fits down that chimney despite being clinically obese.
I thought that by not having a calendar this year, I could avoid this sticky situation but I have the best mum in the world. And although she didn’t originally buy an advent calendar for me and my (25 year old) brother, she did get creative and made an advent calendar: a paper one accompanied by a Wonka Bar. Although pleased, I think she could sense that without the opening of doors and gifts of cheap chocolate, this didn’t quite cut the mustard and Christmas had not yet arrived. So last night, much to my delight, mum came home with two advent calendars for both Alex and I: I genuinely thought life couldn’t get any better.
So I sat down with a cup of tea and carefully opened doors one to eleven only to find that they were void of chocolate.
You see when all of the chocolates fall to the bottom of the box, leaving you with empty doors? Yeah, that.
Merry friggin’ Christmas.
Say Hello To Olivia Red O’Brien
Otherwise known as The London Ladybird, Olivia is a lifestyle writer and blogger who has an unhealthy addiction to crisps. She is a die hard West London girl and admits that she wouldn’t want to live anywhere else in the world, although she might make an exception for The Big Apple. Only time will tell.