The battle of the spots

I don’t remember when I first got spots. But ever since then, they have been a blight on my life. I grew up hiding behind a fringe or my long hair. It didn’t help that I wore glasses too. Yes, I was an awkward, geek and incredibly shy teenager. Thankfully, as a girl, there was make-up, along with many lotion and potions promising to revolutionise your skin and kills spots dead.

While most of them actually dried my skin, creating a vicious circle of pumping out more sebum, then getting more spots, it did taught me was to look after my skin. At one point in my life, I thought I had finally beaten the dreaded acne. But on no. In the past few months, my face has erupted with painful cysts which are taking forever to go down, blackheads and open pores. Not exactly as great base for my flawless make-up.

However, I’m not alone. It affects 50% women and 25% of men. According to the British Association of Dermatologists – or BAD – the average age of people suffering from adult acne is 30. Most of us, at some point get the odd spot or two. However, if it becomes unmanageable it becomes just more than a blight on your life. It’s painful and makes you self-concious.

It’s hormones apparently. Blame the testosterone.

Here are some tips I have picked up over the years:

  • Despite what your mother might have told you, spots are not caused by chocolate.
  • Over washing can actually aggravate your skin. As it strips off the oil in your skin, if you don’t replenish that moisture (with an oil-free cream) you body will pump out more oil, resulting in more shine and more spots.
  • The Pill can help.
  • Your doctor can help.
  • Tea tree is the stuff of wonder.
  • Toothpaste does not work.
  • Exfoliate once a week to unclog your pores.
  • Don’t use anything with alcohol in. It’s an astringent and will strip the oil.
  • Don’t suffer in silence.

Over the  years I have spent obscene amounts of money to try and find the perfect product. As per usual, my skin doesn’t know if it’s coming or going. Too dry for oily products and too oily for dry and sensitive products. And forget about combination products. These days, I tend to smell of tea tree, known for its antibacterial properties and once a week I use a face mask that I bought back from Iceland.

The battle continues.


How to make the best burgers

I love the summer. The long days, the heat, the sun! I especially like summer because of  barbecues -not electric barbecues I hasten to add. You might as well pop them in the oven. I’m talking about proper barbecues with coals that you can’t start without flammable liquid or firelighters.

Barbecue food should be easy. Of course it should be about the food, but it’s also about your friends and family and having a good time. Therefore the food should be simple, quick and easy.

And while I don’t condone doing the easy option of going to the nearest supermarket and buying everything readymade, there’s nothing like making the food yourself.

I came across one of Yahoo’s main stories today, and hence the topic of this post – How To Make The Best Burgers. Making burgers is easy. Like with all cooking, you just need to get your hands dirty and remember about your timing.

The Yahoo story has some interesting points, such as not using salt as it draws out the juices, and makes your burger dry, and to use good meat with 10% fat.

Using the basic recipe of mince meat, onions, egg and seasoning, I also use breadcrumbs and oyster sauce. Sometimes I add a bit of Marmite (but shhhh, don’t tell the haters). Then I pop them on the barbecue when the coals are white, and turn them over once the side is brown. Don’t wait until one side is burnt before flipping them! Sometimes it may take a few turns, but it’s worth the wait.

If you want to go scientific, then get Heston Blumenthal’s book Further Adventures in Search of Perfection  on the ultimate burger.

So, what’s your burger recipe? What other food makes your barbecue?

Body says no to running

It’s been a rather unfortunate run of events for my poor legs. If you are a regular reader, you may remember that I was training for the Hastings Half Marathon in the earlier part of the year. Then I got shin splints. And they were Very Bad. Rest and ice was the order of the day, and I missed the half marathon. Waiting by the finish line at two and a half hours didn’t really help my mood, as that was the time I was aiming for.

Then over a month ago, my poor shins got very bruised thanks to Moron in the Mondeo, who decided to drive into us. Thus has ended by very short running career.

But I recently out  the reason of my shin splints. Apparently my pelvis tilts too far forward, so run on my toes. Ah-ha! I shall be starting pilates very soon to sort that out.

I don’t think I’m cut out to be a runner. I’m getting a fold up bike this weekend. Maybe I’ll fare better as a cyclist.

I shall sing until I’m happy

It must be a sign that I’m getting old when I prefer listening to the music of my past. I never thought I would see the day. Music plays a huge part in my life. I can listen to a band and remember what I was doing, calculate how old I was and tell you the year the single came out.

My past is littered with songs, albums and bands. Listening to them now brings up a wide range of emotions, memories and people. I remember Take That, the first time round. I had a massive crush on Gary Barlow. That’s right, I fancied the fat one that couldn’t dance. You can’t deny he was the most talented – he won five Ivor Novello Awards.  My first gig was to see Take That. I was 14 went to see them at Earl’s Court with my mate Claire. It was just after Robbie had left. I wasn’t devastated. I got to see Gary.

Now 15 years later, I will get to see them as a five-piece. Am I excited? By heck I am. I just need someone to go with me…

For a while I went away from music. I do know who’s in the charts – sort of. I love Lady Gaga, Kylie, Friendly Fires. Adele has an amazing voice for her tender years of 21. But I am a product of the Indie years – Blur, Pulp, Feeder, Green Day, The Manic Street Preachers. Today I found out that Gomez has a new album – and it’s good! I do listen to Radio 1 on occasion, but now I’m approaching 30, I’m much more of a Radio 4 fan. But, thanks to Spotify, I’ve rediscovered my love of music. Right now I’m listening to The Goo Goo Doll’s Dizzy Up The Girl, which played a huge part of my college life. The ages of 17-21 were not exactly a happy time for me, and this album brings me right back to those miserable times. The lyrics their songs, along with Jimmy Eat World’s anthem The Middle got me through a lot of hard times. I remember driving around the dark country lanes, late at night in the rain. I was singing very loudly and very badly.

Other important songs for me include The Killers’ Mr Brightside, Train’s Drops of Jupiter, The Wannadies’ You & Me Song, anything by Feeder, Girl From Mars by Ash and The Stereophonics.

Life is never easy no matter what age you are. You do what you can to get through the hard times. Music was – and still is – a comforter for me.

What song or album got you though your hard times?

Where art thou Internet?

I’m having a bit of a ‘mare at the moment. Mysteriously, my Internet has decided to disappear. I have no idea where’s it’s gone to, but I’ve got Sky tracking it down. Although their 72 hours is clearly different from my 72 hours.

My Internet detox has shown me that I spend too much time in front of the computer, and have an over-reliance on the ‘net. Most of my evening is either devoted to my 365 day project on Flickr, writing on here as part of the WordPress challenge, or using Google docs for various things.  I’ve even started to watch back catalogues of comedy on Channel 4’s 4od.

I’m hoping that Sky manages to find my Internet very soon. But in the meantime, I better start using pen and paper to write my blog posts down.

Happy ever after?

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The Prince was found five days later in the cesspit that was his apartment. Whist injecting himself with heroin, he died, alone, choking on his own vomit. Tests later found he had contracted hepatitis, gonorrhoea and genital warts. Although the life and soul of the party, the Prince had no real friends. His hangers-on were only interested in his wealth, drugs and the cute skinny girls that he fucked.