So a Banksy has appeared behind my street…. And everyone is perplexed.

Tuesday night I cleaned my house. I put some stuff up the loft. I drove to Tesco and stocked up on Christmas cheese. I had a bath, and got into bed. I opened facebook absent-mindedly, and the top post was “A Banksy, in Port Talbot?” Thinking it was a joke I scrolled through the comments, and on discovering this supposed Banksy was at the back of my street my jeans and jacket and Buster’s lead were on in about 30 seconds.

Did I find it pretty sharpish? Yes?

Screenshot 2018-12-20 at 18.37.22

(My own picture screengrabbed from Reddit so no credits here)
Did I believe it was a genuine, authentic Banksy? No.

Did I add to the Twitter storm the moment I clapped eyes on it? You betcha.

Minutes after I posted the tweet explaining how I wasn’t convinced (I believe I may have said something in the realm of “God his standards have slipped”) I had a Direct Message from Huw Thomas (from BBC Wales News) asking for the location and my opinion. I explained that while the kid looks like it could pass as Banksy, the sled and the dumpster really gave away that it wasn’t…. That they looked kind of sub-standard. (Yep, Charlotte who didn’t even take GCSE Art criticising a piece of art this well put together. I know I couldn’t do it and I wouldn’t even try.) The next day I had another message offering to express my views on camera. I was in work, and so declined…

Aaaaaand thank God I did, as later that day, a video of the artwork appeared on Banksy’s instagram entitled “Season’s Greetings.”

Cue dropped jaws throughout the town of Port Talbot. Cue an 8ft fence. Cue a security guard. Cue a caravan (??) And cue cars driving the wrong way up my one way street.

So… Why? Why Port Talbot?

Is it because earlier this year the World Health Organisation reported that Port Talbot was the most polluted town in the UK with 18 micrograms of pollution per cubic metre of air? Now, Port Talbot is home to one of few working Steel Plants in the UK, and the plant never stops running. It’s churning out steel, and with that, pollution, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. But if those figures were correct, it would have meant that the little seaside town of Port Talbot would be leaving LONDON, infamous for its smog, in the (if you’ll excuse the pun) dust as London was reported to be producing 14 micrograms of pollution per cubic metre….

The day after the report was published, the WHO redacted their report and issued an apology, and that they had inadvertently nearly doubled the figures for Port Talbot which in fact stands at 9.6 micrograms per cubic metre.

Still pretty havily polluted, however, the correction is a fact that most publications are relishing leaving out reporting only that “Port Talbot was named most Polluted town in UK by World Health Organisation.” Pfft. Journalism at it’s finest.

The drone footage on Banksy’s page indicate that the Steel Works is definitely the main inspiration.

So that’s that cleared up. But why there? There is so much of Port Talbot, what’s special about that place?

Screenshot 2018-12-20 at 18.37.44

This is an image from google maps, obviously before the Banksy artwork appeared.

The area to the very right of the garage, the grass behind the railings is where locals hold bonfires every Bonfire night. Fun fact: I once fell off those railings while doing a tumble toss and fell face first into the dirt. #Memories. This was another reason I didn’t think it was Banksy, and most likely just a local copycat (Bancsi?) expressing their feelings ont he bonfires.

Maybe its a coincidence. Maybe it’s not. Maybe we’ll never know.

My little tiny village had a lot of history already; Anthony Hopkins birthplace. Richard Burton’s Childhood home. And now a Banksy. Honestly, I’m with the rest of Port Talbot in thinking it’s very exciting. Yes, it’s a commentary on our home town’s pollution, but also it’s reported to be pushing the value of the area up quite dramatically. It’s attracting tourists from all over South Wales so far, according to my instagram feed.

If you swing by to see it – let me know, come and say hey and I’ll put the kettle on. Just please… don’t drive the wrong way up a one way street.

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Money matters: a response to the article everyone is talking about.

You’ve seen it. Or heard about it. Or read tweets about it. Or – if you haven’t it’s only about a two minute read.

It’s the article from city dweller, managing to scrape by on nearly Β£70k a year while saving to buy a flat. It was written as part of the iNews Money Series.

The response (on Twitter) has been… Less than favourable. Here are some of the particularly sticky points:

  • The fact this woman is hailing it a miracle she can save any money on the Β£4k a month take home wage.
  • A Β£150(!) a month Gym membership.
  • The Β£121 leftover, disposable income PER WEEK.

Frankly, there is not much of the article that I haven’t seen ripped to shreds and ridiculed. It’s not very relateable to the masses, which I think is the problem. A lot of people are struggling to make ends meet, with saving any money towards buying a house not even coming into the picture.

However, I think reading beyond that there are valid points that have been missed:

  • Money management: the take home messages are reduce spending where possible, and be clever with credit cards. Essentially it’s the Stanford Marshmallow Effect relived; control your imuplses now, and reap more fruitful benefits in the long term.
  • The woman in question works as Project Manager for a Construction company. These types of roles are not ones that you generally just fall into, and with that in mind I definitely wouldn’t say the article comes across as bragging. You learn to live within your means; she’s been doing this for 3 years. That’s 36+ months of that salary being the norm.
  • Some of the “points” that have been raised (and tweeted) are really nothing more than sarcastic and cruel. I thought there was a big movement happening at the moment where we were all supposed to be supportive of each other?

I could definitely say that I am jealous of how much this city professional earns, per year, per month, per week, per hour… But I also found it inspiring. If she can do it, what’s stopping me?

My heart just breaks when I read some of the degrading comments floating around the internet. Imagine seeing something you’ve worked (and work) so hard for being picked apart by strangers on the internet making assumptions about you and your choices.

I think there is room in the journalism world for the article… I just think it’s somewhere else.

 

(Nearly) 30 and flirty and freaking the hell out.

As if the fact that I’m approaching 30 years on this planet isn’t painfully apparent enough, today I made the mistake of opening a long-forgotten app that volunteered just how quickly I’m hurtling towards that milestone.

5 months, 23 days, and 4 hours… If you were wondering.

Since then, my mind has been running wild.

Shit.

Have I achieved everything I wanted to by the time I hit 30?

What did I want to achieve?

Is there specifically anything I haven’t achieved?

Is achieve even a word? It’s stopped sounding like a word.

I suppose I’ve hit that point in life when a woman has to ask herself two questions:

Am I strong, independent, successful woman in the prime of her life? Yes.

Am I sitting in bed in my pants, eating 20 Tesco own brand chicken dippers, watching Sex And The City DVDs on my decade old MacBook that you have to turn on it’s side or else the disc won’t eject? Also yes.

Make that three…

How the hell did I get here?

A guide to dressing like you don’t give a f**k (when you do still give a little bit of a f**k)

Body positivity. BOPO. It’s the movement of the moment and it fits my body perfectly.

Or so I’d have you believe. Truth is I still hate my body sometimes. I’m led to believe I’m probably the average size in the UK (because whenever I go sale shopping a 14 is a rare trinket to clap eyes on), but I still feel like I take up so much more space than I’ve been allocated on this planet. But, we aren’t talking about that today.

We’re talking about the good days.

We’re taking about the life is too short days.

We’re talking about those elusive, glorious, I don’t give a goddam f**k days.

This guide is based on a series of things that have managed to get me to the point of feeling good in my body. Good enough to not punish it with jeans and long sleeves in the searing 29 degree heatwave that’s still burning away outside.

1. If you can afford it, go on holiday, or to the beach, or to a popular park. Anywhere people just go to relax and sunbathe.

Pop on your sunglasses, open a book to a random page, and just take in your surroundings. I’d always been so concerned about what people would think about me, I never actually took a moment to notice how many people just don’t give a gosh darn damn. That was until I went on holiday in May this year. Beautiful people in bikinis everywhere; big, small, round, square, athletic… Not one of them paying a single toss to anyone outside of their group. Just a sea of people, laughing, having fun, and enjoying the warm Greek sun giving their voluptuous thighs a toast. Absolutely inspiring.

2. Find some bloggers or influencers or BOPO advocates that are around your size and shape.

For me: Helen Anderson and Fuller Figure, Fuller Bust have played a massive part in getting me in my shorts. I just see lot of myself in both, despite them both being just generally confident, rather than specifically body positive. There are hundreds who are specifically body confident though; just search the hashtag #bopo on insta and have a good old perving sesh whenever the mood takes you. Better yet, follow the hashtag.

3. Get yourself something that you cannot wait to wear.

Depending on your preference this could just be a pair of shorts, cami, bikini… Or you might be on Pinterest browsing and building a whole new wardrobe. The idea is not just to show more skin but to wear whatever the hell you fancy. Clothes are fun, they shouldn’t be restrictive or keep you from living your life. For me it was this cute playsuit from H&M that’s been sitting my wardrobe for 2 years unworn.

I rediscovered it. I loved it. It went in the outfit plan for the week. Enough about me; you want something that you’ll be itching to put on as soon as you’ve bought it.

4. Plan your first outing.

How confident are you feeling in your new kickass outfit? You wanna show it off right? So where are you gonna take it? If you’re feeling super fly you could take it shopping for buy more clothes that make you feel this good? (Charity shops are freaking gold mines, and better for the environment). Are you going to the beach to surround yourself with other people who are just enjoying their day with their kickass bods unapologetically existing in the world? Maybe it’s changing in the communal changing area of the gym? If that’s still scary, how about a walk where you won’t see many people, in the woods, or the marina? Hell, if you want to sit in the garden alone I AM HERE FOR IT. GO YOU. WHAT AN AWESOME STEP TO HAVE TAKEN.

5. Be proud of yourself, you’re allowed.

Can you believe what you’ve just achieved?! I’m so proud of you! Take as many bloody pictures as you can and want because this is a moment to commemorate!

6. Repeat!

I would say “simple” but we all know that’s not the case. It might take you days weeks, years to get to step 3 even. And that’s okay. It can take time and if your mental health is going to take a battering over it slow it down and do it in your own time.

Life is short. Buy shorts that are shorter.

A New Direction.

I was doing so well. I’m going to start blogging again. I’m going to do a Hallowe’en Blogtober and then I’m going to make sure I write a little bit every day and stick at it. 

And 6 months later here we are, again. What happened? Well, dear reader, let me fill you in.

At the start of November I went on Holiday to Prague, and suffice to say that I went as part of a couple and came back a single woman. The whole thing was amicable, we still get on well and want the best for each other. But, going from part of a double act for 5.5 years to going to a solo artist overnight was a massive, scary, incomprehensible thing, and the idea of it took a bit of getting used to. I immersed myself in doing all the things I loved, I joined Slimming World, and I threw myself into my work (which I love). When I felt ready I hopped on Tinder and swiped myself a little self-confidence (and found a nice gent). I’ve been ambling along quite happily in the background, planning my future. It all seems to be coming together quiet nicely – yesterday I got the news that I’d been promoted!

Recently I’ve had the itch to start writing again. I’ve found it’s what I need when I can’t sit still, when I feel like I need to do something productive but I don’t know what. I’ve realised though, that I need to change my direction. I started out (on my old blog Blot & Reapply, may she rest in peace) as a beauty blogger, obsessively spending money on products and photographing them in perfect lighting, writing and reviewing in the same way as all the other beauty bloggers. I tried to carry that on when I started this and they joy I found in writing became less and less. So no more of that. Now I’m going to write about whatever I fancy writing about. I’m not going to try to stick to a posting schedule because I am a grown up and it’s just not feasible. And I always feel like a failure if I miss a post.

What I’m probably going to be writing about will include weight loss & fitness, home decor/improvements, reviews of dark ales, general lifestyle posts, mental health, self improvement, style, and of course make up and beauty will still be there.

Let me introduce myself; I’m Charlotte, and I’m starting over.