Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Don't underestimate the power of


I don't have any myself, but as a self-confessed dog lover, I naturally jumped at the chance to help out with my friend's adorable pooch whilst she was away training for a new job in London.

I've had some experience of pets in the past, namely those belonging to my ex and his family, most memorable of which is the mischievous beagle puppy, Bowser.

Best pals.. Charlie & Buddy
But the four-legged friend in question to which I've been playing 'Auntie Gracie' to, goes by the name of Buddy, and he's absolutely beautiful. A Fox Red Labrador with a heart as big as his appetite.

Buddy hasn't been staying with me at my home - much to my dismay - as he has a good pal in the shape of Golden Lab and all-round softie, Charlie, my friend's housemate's doggy. So I've been making my way up to Laura's several times a week to take Buddy out for walks, play with him and generally shower him in cuddles and ear scratches.

But it wasn't until the other night I realised just how much spending time with Buddy has meant to me. Laura and Adam asked me to stay at the house as conflicting work schedules meant they would both be away, and wouldn't be able to tend to the dogs. Cue Auntie Grace (I like to think of myself as the Mary Poppins of the dog-sitting world!) for a double doggy sleepover.

Buddy, Charlie and I spent a lovely evening cuddled on the sofa watching telly, before Buddy snuggled up at my feet come bedtime. Waking up to a wagging tail and wet nose sniffing at my ear was a more welcomed alarm call than you may think, and such a warm and happy morning greeting set me up for a great day.

So next time you need a bit of a mood boost, have a fuss of your furry friend (or in my case, borrow one off a pal!) and reap the mood-lifting benefits of being a pet owner.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

A writer's haven

First and foremost, a brief apology for such a long and unjustified absence on my part. You should know I'm back and more enthused than ever to be doing what I love on a (more) regular basis.

My productivity - or rather lack of - is something I've been thinking about a great deal over the summer. A question I've found myself encountering time and time again is where is the best place to get work done. And much to my excitement I think I've cracked it.

You may be thinking nice, quiet office with a cushy leather office chair. Or you might say the relaxing atmosphere of a Saturday morning sat at your kitchen table, with a freshly squeezed OJ and the dulcet tones of Radio 2 playing softly in the background. Maybe you think you work at your best from the comfort of your bed on a Tuesday night, donning flannel pajamas large Pinot Grigio in hand.

Undoubtedly, all great places to work. Sometimes you need peace and quiet. Sometimes you need Jeremy Vine’s familiar tones. Heck, sometimes all you need is a nice large glass of something cold and Italian to spur you on to meet your word count.

But the best place of all really does come from the huge clichéd stereotype of writers. No, not the washed up, writer’s block-ridden Edward Morra in Limitless, penning his dead-end novel from the familiar squalor of his pigsty of a New York flat.

Equally, it’s not always as glamorous as Carrie Bradshaw makes it out to be, juggling her relationships and shoe collections with deadlines and interviews in the exclusive borough of Manhattan where she resides. Nor is life as a journo always quite as exciting as Tintin’s; the adventurous reporter turned eponymous hero, never without his trusty sidekick Snowy in tow.

So it’ll probably come as no surprise to you when I tell you I’m at my most productive cuddled on a sofa in the corner of a well-known coffee shop chain, hot chocolate in one hand, large calorific pastry in the other.

Writer’s block is something to which I am very familiar, despite my brief career so far. It’s not that you don’t have the ideas or inspiration, it’s that you can’t get them out. I imagine it’s similar to how a mute must feel; thoughts whizzing round your head, and simply no way to get them out, make yourself heard. It’s frustrating, agonizing, and more than anything down right bloody inconvenient. My inconsiderate arsehole of a brain obviously doesn’t appreciate the fact I have deadlines to meet, when it’s playing hide and seek with my ability to string a half-decent sentence together.

So when I’m in the grip of this foul beast (yes, I do personify it, and it really is an awful creature!) I take myself off to a coffee shop and settle myself in a corner where I can see everyone come and go. Before I know it, the juices start flowing – well, I am sort of writing about clichés, why not include a few?! – I type word after word, and sometimes if I’m lucky I read it back and not only does it make sense, but it is vaguely engaging! Huzzah.

By the time I pause for breath, I often find my mocha has gone cold and the population of fellow customers has turned over twice. But it's all worth it, because I've succeeded in putting pen to paper: a fundamental skill often frequently but temporarily disengaged in a writer's existence. I've met my word count, whilst adding some points to my loyalty card. Surely a win win situation for everyone.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

A brief encounter with Mr. Tom Hardy himself.. sort of

Wow, shit loads of you read my last post.. My newly single tragic life must make a good read - I'm fine with that by the way haha!

So as you often do when something significant shifts in your life, I've decided to make some changes. These changes started today at promptly 9:30am, when I was stood on my lonesome in a cold studio at the gym. After reluctantly dragging myself out of my lovely warm pit an hour before, I'd donned my sports bra and trainers for an hour of ass-kicking, Body Combat style.

I'd barely wiped the grotty bits of sleep from my eyes before I was jumping, kicking and karate-style chopping my way through a painful hour of pure sweatiness. I did find myself thinking - on more than one occasion I might add - why the hell am I up at this time, after not getting home from Dan's after work till gone 2am. But, as you should know by now I'm a 'silver linings' kind of gal, so it was nice to be up, calories burnt, showered, dressed and sufficiently protein shaked before noon.

Now I'm not going to pretend it was plain sailing; I was sweating from crevices I never knew existed to put it politely, but there was one slight detail which made the whole ordeal much more enjoyable. And that there my friends, was the Tom Hardy lookalike instructor. Yep. You read right. Tom Hardy lookalike. And I don't know about you girls, but I don't think there was a better use of bold text than that statement right there.

Not wanting to look like a complete exercise-phobic pussy, and wanting to give off a 'gym bunny' style vibe, I gave 120%, and pretty much nearly died in the process. Totally worth it though.

At the end of the torture, erm.. I mean, hour, I coyly enquired as to whether he took that class every Saturday morning. And guess what? I see myself being preoccupied every Saturday morning for the forseeable future. Score.

Safe to say a swift text to wingwoman Throopy, who I knew would appreciate such a detail on a Saturday morning, soon followed when I got back into the changing rooms!

Friday, 26 April 2013

Life has a habit of...

...biting you on the ass when things seem to be going swimmingly.

Well what a long month it has been. Brilliant highs and some serious lows.

A roadtrip to Amsterdam with my dad for some quality father-daughter time was great. We camped for 4 days, drank beer, saw some sites, ate alot and just generally hung out. Something I miss out on alot with us living 2 hours apart, but all the more worth it when we can fit it in.

Another high point - although I would've called it a low at the time - was finishing my first 10k race in 1 hour and 10 minutes. I know that's not an impressive time, but for a girl who's been working on her beer gut at uni for the last 18 months, I was pretty chuffed.

Great nights out with friends have been strewed across the month too, and the sun has even seen us pay the occasional beer garden a visit.

But just as life has a way of balancing itself out, there have also been some lows. Wednesday saw me and my fella of 4 years split up. And along with that I've lost my second family, a home and a gorgeous - but naughty - Beagle pup. But just as every cloud, apparently, has a silver lining, my inner monologue is going stir crazy with all the funny and slightly tragic anecdotes I will pen when the time is right to laugh about this.

Right now though, it's not. So I'm working to my deadlines, going to work, writing about everything and anything, getting drunk with friends and trying to instill some normality back into my life between all of that.

Updates to follow, as always.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Paris Brown: leave the girl alone

First of all, apologies for not posting for so long; I've just been so busy with other projects, but I'm going to try and post more often from here on out!

My first thoughts upon hearing the news of Paris Brown’s foul-mouthed tweets were actually that of sympathy.

I can’t help but feel that everything has been blown well and truly out of proportion. The teenager’s tweets were from quite some years ago, and chances are she was a young, impressionable child, showing off to her friends online, as so many kids do nowadays.

If you haven't heard about this story, you can have a look here

In a way I sort of feel her pain. The Internet has changed in recent years; it’s no longer exclusively for chatting to friends, shopping or playing games. It’s a much more powerful tool, especially when it comes to employment and upholding your reputation.

Over the past year or so I’ve really used the Internet to my advantage: I’ve gained loads of experience writing for online newspapers and blogs, and I’ve started to build my reputation as a journalist. And one of the things I’ve done to create a more professional online presence is vetting my Twitter. I removed tweets that could be deemed as offensive or taken the wrong way, and I changed my handle from the rather girlish and ditsy @graciebabesxo to a simpler @gracehutch28. I’m not sure if I can say yet whether doing any of the above will have helped, but at least I have my own piece of mind that something I posted on Twitter years ago won’t come back to bite me on the ass.

Whilst I understand that there are endless cases of racist/threatening/abusive tweets and messages posted online by the likes of celebrities/politicians/footballers and the like, but they have one thing on their side which makes these tweets less excusable: age.

With age comes experience, and with experience comes common sense; both of which Paris was obviously lacking when she posted about hash brownies and drinking binges. But we all make mistakes, and most of them are made when we’re young and naïve. And unlike Miss Brown, most of us get to make them out of the spotlight and away from media scrutiny.

So before you judge the 17 year old crime tsar – as the Daily Mail today dubbed her – just think back to when you were in your teens, making whatever mistakes you did and only having your parents to answer to, not the entire British population.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Back to reality with a bump

Every now and again something brings you back down to Earth, and often reminds us in the process just how precious life really is. As cliche as that it, it's the truest of them all.

I left my flat this morning in a bit of grump: I'd got up late, only just had time to straighten half my hair, and my good intentions of getting up early to make myself a healthy smoothie were ditched in favour of a measly cereal bar on the run. I wasn't on the war path, but I was in a less than perfect mood.

From leaving my front door to reaching the end of the road my mood had done a massive U-turn. Suddenly the small things I'd annoyed myself over just ten minutes before were insignificant and silly. The change happened as I witnessed a hearse and accompanying funeral car pull up at the church, and a devastated family get out and slip inside.

I could only begin to imagine what they were going through; what the week leading up to this day must've been like for them, the misery and heartache they were no doubt experiencing. And that was enough reminder for me; that life can be snatched away in a second.

So next time I'm whinging that I didn't get Beyonce tickets, or I'm bogged down with assignment deadlines, I'll remember the black car I saw today.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Big changes, small changes; life a year on

So my blog turned 1 year old yesterday - happy birthday blog! - but how much can really happen in a year? Well, actually, a lot as it turns out.

This time last year I was wondering if a career in journalism really was for me; university wasn't what I thought it'd be and my course seemed to focus on the elements I didn't enjoy so much. One year on I'm certain I've chosen the right path and am actually practicing as a freelancer as I work to build my portfolio up.

A piece of advice I'd have been glad to receive a year ago was never lose sight of your dreams. Some 52 weeks ago I never would've thought I'd be writing for an online newspaper, contributing to one of the county's leading glossy magazines and making contacts here there and everywhere. But I am. As cliche as it sounds, if you want something, go and get it. It's not going to find you.

So what else has happened in my life since I set this blog up for a university assignment? Well maybe the next biggest change that's happened is my only sister moving some 12,000 miles away to Australia. I did a post about it here. Friendships and relationships have changed - some for the better and some for the worse - but I'm surrounded by people I love and who make me laugh, so it can't be bad on that front.

I'm excited to see what the next 12 months hold for me, and I look forward to writing a similar post in another year, no doubt detailing all the mischief and misdemeanours I've been up to since this day.