A love letter to Birkenshed

No, really.

As my Facebook friends will be fully aware, because I haven’t stopped going on about it since, as of February I started working on the dark side of the Mersey in Birkenhead, or Birkenshed as I prefer to call it. I wasn’t a fan at first. But now, believe it or not, the place seems to be growing on me. Here’s why.

The view of the Liverpool waterfront

Naturally. It’s glorious, and I can see it from my window in work. When it was foggy the other week and I couldn’t see the Liver Birds I was clammy with terror that I’d never get to see them ever again.

The ferry

On Tuesday I got the ferry home from work. The novelty of this was almost too much for me to cope with. I morphed into irritating tourist mode and made a show of everyone I was travelling with by taking loads of photos and singing along with Gerry Marsden to Ferry ‘Cross The Mersey. So much fun.

The view from the ferry

The view from the ferry

The chicken shop

“The chicken shop” is actually a butcher’s called Longton Hall Farm (apparently they also have a branch in Bootle?) and they do a hot deli counter at lunchtime of the most delicious chicken (other meats are available.) My particular favourite is the Chinese chicken – you get eight massive chunks for £2 and they are a taste sensation. Admittedly, this shop may be a contributing factor in my weight gain since the Birkenshed move, but it’s too tasty to resist. YOLO, and all that.

Shush

I posted a photo of this shop’s signage on Facebook the other day because it made me howl laughing.

shush

Do they really have outlets in London, Paris and New York? I think not. Plus, how do they expect their business to flourish if you can’t tell your friends about it? Have they never heard of word-of-mouth marketing? Despite this, I ventured in a couple of days ago and it is crammed full of trousers sporting crazy prints. THESE ARE MY VERY FAVOURITE KIND OF TROUSERS. So it gets the thumbs-up in my book.

Granted, Birkenshead is OBV full of wools, and the stench from the wastewater treatment plant nearby (which is a fancy way of saying “sewage”) made me gag as soon as I got off the train last week. But I’m definitely warming to the place.

Am I…am I turning into a wool?!

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Why I love the John Lewis Christmas advert

The John Lewis Christmas advert has become as hotly anticipated a festive tradition as mince pies and making a show of yourself on the work night out (or is the latter just me?) We’ve had, amongst others, last year’s snowman trekking to the shops to buy his snowlady a pair of gloves, and the kid who just can’t wait for the big day to arrive so he can give his mum and dad his (shoddily wrapped, if I’m honest with the tyke) presents. This year we follow the tale of the bear and the hare – the bear has never had any festive fun before, as it hibernates throughout Christmas, so cannot relate to the excitement in the run-up to December 25th, and goes for a season-long kip, the same as every other year. The hare is gutted for the bear and is determined to involve it this year. The hare does this by waking the bear up with a gift of a John Lewis alarm clock WHICH MIRACULOUSLY MANAGES TO DISTURB THE BEAR’S ACTUAL HIBERNATION and they and all the other woodland creatures have the best Christmas ever. Probably.

Here’s this year’s offering:

I’ve seen a few people whinging about it on Facebook and Twitter. “Not as good as last year’s!” grumbled a few. “It just goes to show how commercial Christmas has become!” whinged others. “How are woodland creatures relevant to Christmas?” sighed someone else. Well, I love it. Firstly, I used to work for John Lewis, and didn’t work there long enough to grow to resent it like most other people who worked there at the same time as I did, so I have green blood and am staunchly defensive of my beloved former employer. (The brainwashing worked, clearly.) I watched the advert for the first time with a couple of my former John Lewis colleagues on Friday night – see, John Lewis help to form lasting friendships as well as ensuring that all woodland animals get to enjoy the magic of Christmas! – and was roundly mocked by both of them for welling up slightly when I watched it. I don’t care though. I was just really happy for the bear. Secondly, it reminds me of Animals of Farthing Wood, which anyone who’s around my age will agree was the best and most harrowing cartoon of all time. Next, Christmas isn’t commercial in the Crilly household – obviously we get presents for each other, but it’s genuinely more about the people I spend my festive season with for me rather than the gifts, and I can safely say that I will not be influenced by this year’s advert to the point where I can barely wait to purchase the alarm clock featured in it. And as for the question as to how woodland animals are relevant to Christmas, then I truly am shocked. Why shouldn’t bears, hares and the rest get to enjoy John Lewis’ yuletide wares like all of us? Society is broken if you resent a bear having some festive fun. Cameron’s Britain, I tells ye.

I’ll admit to the fact that John Lewis have a lot to answer for with regards to the ongoing trend for chanteuses who are wispy of voice and physique. But then again, I love Lily Allen, so I am even able to overlook that this year.

Oh, and don’t think for a second that the advert has worked its magic on me to the point where I’ll actually buy anything in John Lewis this Christmas. It’s far too expensive. Plus the service has gone right downhill since we left…

FOREVER 21 IS BOSS

The city of Liverpool has only been waiting around a gazillion years for this gem to open. Dubbed as an American Primark, Forever 21 opened its doors at the weekend to hordes of eager Scouse birds (and boys.) I could barely contain my excitement when I read a few damning reviews of its wares on Facebook – “cheap” and “like St John’s” [dubious Scouse shopping precinct, full to the brim of nasty garments made of highly flammable material] were the most commonly bandied about.

So I was almost disappointed when I found the stock to be pretty decent. Cheap basics and accessories, cosy knitwear and some lovely ankle boots are available in abundance. Naturally, writing about the above would result in a boring blog, so I’m being entirely tongue-in-cheek and concentrating on the crap instead.

First up, there’s plenty of graphic and neon print leggings about. These ones were particularly eye-watering.

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Rave safe kids

There also seemed to be an unhealthy obsession with garments emblazoned with cats, with these sinister kitties catching my eye.

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Meeoow!

Next, a rather fetching double denim combination. I look like Jimmy Corkhill dipped in acid.

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Fit.

Finally, and my particular favourites, a pair of crushed velvet suspender leggings, which actually made me laugh out loud when I tried them on.

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I have no words

The only people that I would allow to get away with wearing these, sans excuses, would be the blind and the criminally insane. Comedy gold.

P.s apologies to the changing room assistant, who quite obviously knew I was being facetious and had no time for my antics. Sorry.

An open letter to all High Street shops

I’ve just been for a wander around town. I wasn’t impressed with you, High Street. Here’s why.

1. How can I be a size 8 in one shop (H&M), but an XL in another (Zara)? A bit of consistency wouldn’t go amiss. Preferably veering towards sizing that makes me a size 8, obviously.

2. It’s not ok to make a dress out of cheap, nasty chiffon, that creases instantly, then whack a £50 price tag on it. TopShop, I’m looking at you.

3. All your changing rooms could do with a good scrub. Especially the mirrors, a lot of which are covered in snot.

4. It’s really bad when the Primark copy of your £40 bestseller is better quality, and, more importantly, better value. TopShop, I’m referring to you again here…don’t get complacent now.

5. Who decided that disco pants were ok? They’re not. They’re really not ok. They only suit emaciated fourteen-year-olds.

Just a few pointers for you to work on, High Street.

Yours despondently,

Catherine