#Paperhaul Featured: Eilidh Bruce


September’s edition of #PaperHaul is the first in an exciting new line called ‘Featured’; unlike previous boxes, which have been united by a theme, these boxes are also the work of a single artist. Eilidh Bruce is this month’s featured artist and her theme is all about fun, fruity cats:


Above is the card and two postcards (the meow card is already on my Wall Of Awesome, because of course it is!) I like the new rounded corners and the design is cute and fun.


These badges have been sent as a little present for a friend’s daughter- she’s ten and I figured the cute, kitschy illustrations would be perfect for her backpack!



I’ve already used the stickers up on letters and D’s party invitations. He’s been very taken with them.


I like to call this design ‘Batcat’, but maybe I’ve been watching too much Gotham. Anyway, a certain small person has become very taken with this washi tape and I had to wrestle it off him before he unspooled the whole bloody thing.


This month sees a nice little extra addition- a notebook- which is a nice little touch. I have so many notebooks, but I always have room for just. one. more. This one is a nice size for my knitting bag!

You can register for #PaperHaul here.

Disclaimer: I get my box at a discounted rate, but my reviews are honest and reflect my own opinions.

Strictly Come Dancing: Week #2

We entered this week with Peter and Janette at the top of the leader board and the Loveliest Pairing In Strictly History, Carol and Pasha at the bottom. How many times would Georgia and Giovanni refer to themselves as ‘Team GG’? Would Ainsley sneak in a little foodie move this week? And, most importantly, who would be going home? (I’ll be making predictions on Saturday and updating on Sunday with the actual losing pair. IT’LL BE FUN.)

Jamelia and Tristan- Cha cha (Dontcha Wish Your Girlfriend)


It’s always good when the first dance of the show involves a sparkly green fringed mini-dress. She looks like a beautiful Christmas tree. Jamelia’s legs are GORGEOUS, but the judges were able to see her mistakes, which is a shame. I’d definitely say she was more confident this week and I love how you can see everything on her face. I bet she’s a terrible liar.

SCORES: Craig-4, Darcey-6, Len-5, Bruno-6 TOTAL: 21

Daniel and Kristina- Charleston (Let’s Misbehave)


Oh, goody, a stupid HORSE THEMED intro. But I loved the Charleston, it’s one of my favourites. Daniel gave it a good go, but it was… weird. A bit like watching a priest dance or something.But I really, bloody love Daniel and think he’s going against many people’s expectations. Bless him, he gave it a good go and I’d quite like to order a copy of Kristina’s dress (and a lot of Spanx.) Ta.

SCORES: Craig- 5, Darcey-6, Len-6, Bruno-6. TOTAL: 22

Kirsty and Brendan- Salsa (Can’t Touch It)


Always nice to see a dance start with a Vulcan death grip. Salsa is meant to be fun, right? But Kirsty was trying to concentrate and so looked more like she should be dancing a tango at a funeral. Benn commented that there was a lot of skirt ruffling. She definitely needs to be a bit more confident.

Scores: Craig-5, Darcey-5, Len-5, Bruno-5. TOTAL: 20

Jay and Aliona- Waltz (See The Day)


I LOVE JAY, but I do query his judgement in letting Aliona wield scissors near him. Not sold on the haircut. However, his waltz was actually pretty lovely. I wonder if his nerves disappear once he starts- sort of the opposite of Kirsty? I LOVE JAY. I stand by my ‘dark horse’ theory from last week.

Scores: Craig-7, Darcey-8, Len-8, Bruno-8. TOTAL: 31

Iwan and Ola- Cha Cha (Sexy and I Know It)


These two- still dull. Although nice to see Ola using the same training techniques I use on my 2 year old. Iwan’s limbs were as stiff as a board and the music was LMFAO sung by a 48 year old man on the verge of a mid-life crisis. Bruno was right when he said it was the ‘neanderthal approach’- which sums up Iwan so far in the show. Also, he’s not sexy.

Scores: Craig-2, Darcey-4, Len-4, Bruno-3. TOTAL: 13

Georgia and Gianni- Waltz (Georgia On My Mind)

Not a lot to say, really- it’s a nice waltz and Georgia’s dress is nice. Her professional northerner schtick is getting old, and this is coming from someone who has spent the last ten years being a professional northerner: forcing people to eat black pudding is not. cool.

Scores: Craig- 6, Darcey-6 Len-6 Bruno-7. TOTAL: 25

Ainsley and Natalie- Salsa (Don’t You Touch My Tomatoes)


Oh, joy, let’s start with a market stall, shall we? Also, sexy tomatoes?! I love how much he enjoyed himself and got into the spirit.Overall, fun and- ahem- fruity! Good comments even from CRAIG!


Scores: Craig- 6, Darcey- 7, Len- 7, Bruno- 6. TOTAL: 26

The Lovely Carol and Pasha- Foxtrot (Isn’t This A Lovely Day?)


Ah, the foxtrot. I love the foxtrot. I love these two. Oh, look. Another weather reference. We get it. She’s a weather presenter. Carol does much better in hold and she just looks gorgeous (but then, I guess you would in hold?) Anyway, I LOVE how POSITIVE these two are. They should do promotional speaking or something.

Scores: Craig- 4, Darcey-6, Len-5, Bruno-5. TOTAL: 20

Kellie and Kevin- Cha Cha (Don’t Go Breaking My Heart)


More fringing! Kellie has masses of potential and I loved this. It was everything a cha cha should be- fun and light. Not much else to say really, except- NICE. Not sure about the seaside link, mind.

Scores: Craig- 6, Darcey-7, Len-7, Bruno-7. TOTAL: 27 

Anthony and Oti- Waltz (If You Don’t Know Me By Now)

Ah, the cute twosome! (Was I the only one slightly disappointed he had a fiancee? Although she seemed LOVELY.) Waltzes are quite hard to write about in a sarky way, there’s not too much in the way of noticeable mistakes and they’re generally not car-crash-y. This was a nice waltz. *shrug* He did his best.

Scores: Craig- 4, Darcey-5, Len-5, Bruno-5. TOTAL: 19

Anita and Gleb- Charleston (Pencil Full of Lead)


I love Anita and I love the Charleston. I did a class a few years back and it’s HARD to make it look effortless. You have to get the right mix of humour and choreography, as well as rembering your steps and where your hands go. A great routine- even Craig’s happy with Anita making the ambitious dance her own.

Scores: Craig-7, Darcey-8, Len-6, Bruno-6. TOTAL: 27

Jeremy and Karen- American Smooth (Happy Together)


Karen makes the least convincing librarian EVER. Mind you, can you imagine Jeremy Vine as a student? This was still in the ‘dad dancing’ category- maybe it’s the facial expressions and the pointing? He’s no Astaire (whatever Darcey says.) Anyway, at least he’s trying. God loves a trier.

Scores: Craig-3, Darcey- 5, Len-5, Bruno-4. TOTAL: 17

Katie and Anton- Tango (Telephone)

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I will never get tired of seeing how excited Anton is this series. It’s a really interesting choice to tango-up Telephone by Lady Gaga and an unexpected one… but IT WORKS. Katie is beautiful and elegant and refined. All the things I’d like to be but have not a hope in hell of ever achieving. Beautiful.

Scores: Craig-7, Darcey-7, Len-7, Bruno-7. TOTAL: 28

Peter and Janette- Quickstep (Valerie)


Ooh, this was full of nice and precise footwork and natty dressing. I wish Benn danced ME round the kitchen before he left for work. (Chance’d be a fine thing.) He’s still the bookies’ favourite and it’s easy to see why. Same score as last week.

Scores: Craig-7, Darcey-8, Len-7, Bruno-8. TOTAL: 30

Helen and Aljaz- Cha cha (Uptown Girl)


Ooh, what a fun song for a fun dance- and *cough* we get to see Aljaz in a vest. Dressed Helen in blue- clearly going for the Frozen vote. This is a confident dance and we now know, thanks to that VT, that Helen is COMPLETELY BONKERS. I like her.

Scores: Craig-7, Darcey-7, Len-7, Bruno-8. TOTAL: 29

So, we end tonight with the points from last week and this week combined- PETER is at the top of the leader board and IWAN at the bottom. My favourite dance of the week is definitely Katie and Anton’s tango. Brilliant stuff.

Prediction: Iwan and Kirsty in the bottom two, with Iwan going home.

Let me know what you think in the comments, or tweet me! You can find me @wuthering_alice

See you next week!

The Bronte Project 2016


I’m currently reading a book about the lives of the Brontes and I’ve been thinking about their novels quite a bit. I grew up in Leeds and frequently visited Haworth as a kid- I’ve been to the Parsonage a few times too, the last time about eight years ago.

When I first moved to Brighton, I was a bit homesick. I turned to Wuthering Heights, with its familiar dialect and even more familiar landscape, as a way to re-connect with my home county. (I still have students at work coming to me to ask for help with some of the servants’ dialogue, a thick Yorkshire language that reminds me of old men and tradition.) Later, I read a few more books, but I’ve never read all of them- and certainly not all of the poetry.

(c) National Portrait Gallery, London; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

So, here’s what I’ve decided to do: starting in January, I will read all of the Brontes’ novels, in order of publication- although I am planning on starting with the collections of the stories written when they were children first. I’m also going to watch adaptations. I’d also like to re-visit Haworth. I’m planning on blogging the whole lot across both of my blogs, this one and The Bookish Badger.

If you’d like to join in, I’ll be reading in the following order:

Jane Eyre- Charlotte Bronte

Wuthering Heights- Emily Bronte

Agnes Grey- Anne Bronte

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall- Anne Bronte

Shirey- Charlotte Bronte

Villette- Charlotte Bronte

The Professor- Charlotte Bronte


I’ll also read biographies, poetry collections and other works I can get my hands on. I’d love as many of the books to be Penguin Clothbound Classics as possible, but otherwise I’m going to try and invest in as nice editions as I can afford. I’m also going to read the collection of stories written before the novels were written, Tales of Glass Town, Angria and Gondal.

Strictly Come Dancing 2015- Week 1, Show 2

No wine tonight. Instead, for the first 45 minutes, I had a 2 year old saying things like “Why is that man dancing funny? Do you like my cape? Is this finished yet? Can I watch Monster Mash?” The effect is very similar to being in a room with very drunk people, to be fair. Anyway, let’s get the party started, shall we? If you want to read last night’s review, it’s here.

Jay and Aliona- Cha Cha (Reach Out)

Source: BBC

Source: BBC

I think Jay could be a dark horse of the competition; literally my whole timeline was all ‘Aww, bless’. Even I said that I thought it was mean giving someone so nervous the cha cha to start with… but, despite being dressed like a man trying to be a ‘Cool Dad At A Wedding’, I think Jay surprised everyone. Yes, his face gave away his extreme concentration, but it really was much better than I think most people anticipated.

Scores: Craig- 5, Darcey- 8, Len-7, Bruno-7. TOTAL: 27

Kirsty and Brendan- Cha cha (Starry, Starry Night)

Source: BBC

Source: BBC

In the picture above, Kirsty looks terrified. I think she probably was (also, did anyone else think it was weird when she kind of said you couldn’t be sporty AND girly? I’d always assumed she was kind of both…) Anyway. It wasn’t a brilliant waltz, she was too nervous, there were a few clunky movements when they were changing hold. It was quite a big contrast with the other supposedly nervous contestant, Jay.

Scores: Craig-4, Darcey- 5, Len- 6, Bruno-5. TOTAL: 20

Jeremy and Karen- Cha Cha (September)

Source: BBC

Source: BBC

Well, it’s nice to see uncles of the land represented in the choreography of Strictly. I have definitely seen this kind of footwork at various weddings. I like Jeremy, but Latin dancing really isn’t his forte, is it?

Scores: Craig- 2, Darcey- 6, Len- 6, Bruno- 5. TOTAL: 19

Georgia and Giovanni- Jive (Dear Future Husband)

Source: BBC

Source: BBC

I love the jive. This was very cute and fun- at points, it made me think of those old pin-up paintings from the 40s and 50s, cheeky and a bit saucy. Younger female soap stars seem to do quite well in Strictly and Giovanni seems to be the new Vincent, so it’ll be interesting to see how far they go. They can definitely not make ‘Team GG’ a thing though.

Scores: Craig- 6, Darcey- 7, Len- 7, Bruno- 7. TOTAL: 27

Ainsley and Natalie- Tango (Voulez Vous)

Source: BBC

Source: BBC

Ah, King Cup-a-Soup! I’m just WAITING for Natalie to incorporate some of his foodie moves… a pepper mill grind in the jive, perhaps? Over-exaggerated mixing bowl move in the paso? ONLY TIME WILL TELL. Anyway. This was dramatic and Ainsley looked like a man both concentrating and channelling his inner petulant toddler. His shoulders looked quite uncomfortable too. I bet those muscles felt sore the next day.

Scores: Craig- 4, Darcey- 5, Len- 6, Bruno- 5. TOTAL: 20

Katie and Anton- Jive (Roll Over Beethoven)

Source: BBC

Source: BBC

I really like these two and I love how chuffed Anton is that he’s got a decent partner this year. Slightly marred by another daft intro, this time involving a harp- this was a great jive. There were bits where it looked muddled, but the judges loved it, so who am I to judge? (Ha. Judge.) It’s a bit special to be told by Craig that you’ve danced the most stylised jive ever on the show- on your first week.

Scores: Craig- 6, Darcey- 6, Len- 7, Bruno- 7. TOTAL: 26

Iwan and Ola- Tango (Keep On Running)

Source: BBC

Source: BBC

I really can’t get excited about these two. I missed the lead up (D was kicking off as it was bed time) and I got a bit confused and thought this was a really bland paso. It wasn’t, it was a bland tango with bits of paso in it. Oh, and another stupid intro. Brilliant. Let’s hope they don’t become a ‘thing’ more than usual. To me this just felt a bit… gimmicky.

Scores: Craig- 3, Darcey- 5, Len- 5, Bruno- 4. TOTAL: 17

Jamelia and Tristan- Waltz (Do Right Woman)

Source: BBC

Source: BBC

Pretty, princessy, graceful to start. I really like Tristan and would like to see more of him this series. However, the dance did get a bit messy and it was a bit disappointing- more so when you think how awesome Helen’s waltz was yesterday. I reckon if Jamelia gets to the stage where she can pick a dance to re-do, this would be the one she picks.

Scores: Craig- 4, Darcey- 6, Len- 6, Bruno- 5. TOTAL: 21

Peter and Janette- Cha Cha (Ain’t No Other Man)

Source: BBC

Source: BBC

Argh, I LOVE these two (and not just because he’s my Former Neighbour.) I just love Janette anyway, she’s so bouncy and fun and I think Peter is genuinely a nice bloke. This was brilliant and showed real star potential- I’m betting a place in the final is in the running at the very least here. Also, the song was a brilliant choice from Christina Aguilera’s vintage period and suited the dance really well. I do often take the mickey out of some of the interpretations on Strictly, but this one was well-matched.

Scores: Craig-7, Darcey- 8, Len- 8, Bruno-7. TOTAL: 30

So, we end week 1 with Peter and Janette at the top of the leader board and The Lovely Carol and reigning champ Pasha at the bottom. Let me know your thoughts- and I’ll see you next week!

Strictly Come Dancing 2015- Week 1, Show 1

It’s always a bit hard keeping track in the early stages, so I’m typing, keeping notes and watching the programme. It’s certainly keeping me on me toes… Oh, I’m also drinking wine. THIS WILL END WELL.

Kellie and Kevin- Tango (You Really Got Me)

Source: BBC

Source: BBC

Ooh, I love a good tango, me- and this was a brilliant one to start the new series with. I liked the 60s vibe, but the costume was more 50s (but I’m aware that this is just me being a bit picky.) Overall, I was super impressed with this. Even Craig was enthusiastic (and let’s pause for a second to remember Danny Dyer’s face as Craig said that he could ‘iron’ him any time. Worth my license fee, that.)

Scores: Craig- 6, Darcey- 7, Len- 7, Bruno- 7. TOTAL: 27

Anthony and Oti- Jive (Wake Me Up Before You Go Go)

Source: BBC

Source: BBC

There’s something about Anthony Ogogo that I find quite charming. He seems like a nice lad who’s very enthusiastic and mildly surprised that he’s been partnered with such a stunning dancer. Oti has her work cut out though, as he’s more enthusiasm than skill, but that’s not a bad thing early on, as he’s got the makings of being endearing- and could earn a big (female) fanbase. Also, did you see what they did there with the song AND HIS NAME? Always thinking, those Strictly planning bods. Let’s gloss over the trouser split, yeah?

Scores: Craig- 4, Darcey-5, Len- 6, Bruno- 7. TOTAL: 21

Helen and Aljaz- Waltz (With You I’m Born Again)

Source: BBC

Source: BBC

Argh, SUCH A PRETTY COUPLE DANCING SUCH A PRETTY DANCE. My notes say ‘Monroe? Hepburn. ELSA.’ (D is currently going through a Frozen phase. I wish he’d just Let It Go. Badum, tish!) Anyway, you can tell Helen has dance experience- which is totally not a criticism, it’s nice to see the waltz danced beautifully. I’ve never been keen  on that flesh material that Strictly costumers seem to love, but then I’m not an expert. Overall, a lovely dance. I loved her reaction when Darcy compared her to the great Ginger Rogers.

Scores: Craig-7, Darcey-7, Len-7, Bruno-8. TOTAL: 29

The Lovely Carol and Pasha- Cha Cha (Thunder In My Heart)

Source: BBC

Source: BBC

80s HAIR! A FAUX WEATHER REPORT! FOR THE LOVE OF SEQUINS- PASHA ON A CLOUD! I mean, really- could this BE any more perfect for a Strictly performance? Unfortunately, The Lovely Carol appears to be a bit stiff out of hold and has the potential to be this year’s Judy Murray, but for camp hi-jinx, this was pitch perfect. Craig was a bit harsh, I thought.

Scores: Craig-2, Darcey-5, Len-5, Bruno-4. TOTAL: 16

Daniel and Kristina- Waltz (When Irish Eyes Are Smiling)

Source: BBC

Source: BBC

I’m not sure this could get any more Irish, even if there were a troupe of nuns eating Tayto crisps while a choir of children dressed as leprechauns sang the chorus. Kristina looked THRILLED in the pre-dance VT. Now, don’t get me wrong, I like Daniel. (I did miss a bit, as Benn said he reminded him of Mrs Doubtfire. “It’s the Irish accent.” Me: “Mrs Doubtfire was Scottish.” Benn: “…” For some reason I got the giggles and missed looking at the footwork.) My impression was that he was slightly uncomfortable and my notes say ‘gentlemanly’, which I believe was echoed by Darcy. I did enjoy Mrs O’Donnell looking surprised and shaking her head when Claudia said she had been crying during the dance.

Scores: Craig- 4, Darcey-6, Len-7, Bruno-7. TOTAL: 24

Anita and Gleb- Cha Cha (No Place I’d Rather Be)

Source: BBC

Source: BBC

This was my favourite of the whole show. I was bit undecided about Anita, but I am a firm fan now. I’d enthusiastically written ‘FRINGING! COWS!’ which I think speaks volumes. I just thought her attitude and confidence was brilliant and I loved every second of this. The cha cha is not easy and to have pulled this off on the first show of the series- with a cow in the background and a rather attractive dancer out front- is no mean feat. (Also, side note- Gleb’s baby has *fantastic* genes, no? His parents are super human in terms of genetic beauty.)

Scores: Craig-6, Darcey-7, Len-7, Bruno-7. TOTAL: 27

So, yeah, that’s tonight. Join me tomorrow when I discuss fringing, feathering and footwork with absolutely no experience other than a few jive classes three years ago. My previous Strictly post is here, if you’re interested.

What I’ve been up to lately

To be honest, not tons has been going on- getting back into the swing of work and getting D settled into going to nursery (I think Benn is on the verge of some kind of breakdown some mornings.)

Last Wednesday I found myself on the Guardian website; I’d volunteered to give a response to Jeremy Corbyn’s first PMQs. The next day I was the only of the panellists who had their face in the paper:


All I can say is that my mum’s collections of clippings of me in newspapers and stuff is getting extremely eclectic.


Also in the last week, my blackberry jelly recipe was published on Bluebird Tea Co.’s blog– if you’re not keen on the idea of adding the tea (although it’s lovely), you can replace that with water. It’s up to you; it’s a recipe well worth trying, even if I do say so myself! While you’re there, maybe try some of the new autumn blends. I was sent them to try and, along with the always popular Spiced Pumpkin Pie, I’d definitely recommend the Nuts About You rooibos, which I’m planning to try as a latte in the very near future.


I’ve also been reading a very good biography of six notable women who forged remarkable lives in the 1920s called Flappers (if ever you feel your life is in stasis, read about someone like Josephine Baker or Tallulah Bankhead and feel quite inadequate…!) One of the women featured is Zelda Fitzgerald, pictured above with Scott. A review will follow on The Bookish Badger soon.

Anyway, I don’t mind being busy- at least I’m kept out of trouble!

The Thrifty Knitter (and Reader… and Other Things Too)

I am at that awkward stage of the month where I have enough money to get to and from work-with maybe the odd Diet Coke thrown in- and to pay my phone bill. It’s OK, though, because I don’t need anything extra and the house bills are paid; I know I’m in a fortunate position. I have started thinking though, because D is now in nursery, which is more expensive than our previous childcare and we don’t get the extra help that comes when he turns three (in October) until January. So, with birthdays and (whisper it) Christmas on the horizon, I’ve been thinking about how to save a bit of money. I have form for this- when on my maternity leave three years ago, I had to do some financial gymnastics- but now we own our own house, have a car and live further out of town, so things are a bit more complicated. I’ve written in the past about my love of eBay shopping for clothes, but here are some more ideas I’ve had.


For example, take knitting and my other crafty pursuits. I have loads of basic materials- yarns, needles, fabric, patterns and books. Do I usually buy more without too much thought? Yes. Could I instead think about what I have and use that instead? Yes. I have tons of knitting books and yarn stashed in most rooms of the house (and garage). I need to start using this up instead of automatically going on Ravelry to find something and then buy new wool. If I don’t have the wool, I don’t make it. Simple. I am going to finally start knitting the jumpers I’ve promised D and finish off a few WIPs.


I am a huge believer in libraries. I credit them with helping me through the dark days of early motherhood, when often the library was the only place I could get to. Most of the books reviewed on my book blog are library books and I’m lucky that Brighton and Hove has a brilliant library service. I also have TONS of books on my shelves that have yet to be read. But still, I am a compulsive book buyer and I buy every book with the intention of reading it. People buy me books too, as they know how much I love them. So my goal is to read more of what I have. I’m thinking for every three of my own books for every book I bring into the house- library or new.


One of the hangovers from maternity leave is that my makeup budget is still quite modest. I generally buy cheaper brands (but, oh, I dream of owning a Chanel lipstick in the ‘Pirate’ shade, because who wouldn’t?) I do have a tendency though to go a bit mad when the new A/W shades are released though… so this year, I have decided that I won’t buy anything new until something is used up. Also, one of the first things to go in any lean period is my Lush habit. I can forgo bubble bars!

These are small ideas and kind of buy into (ha! PUNS!) the idea of consuming less, which is always a good thing. I’ll also be thinking about when and why I go into town- if I want to see friends, can I invite them here and bake a cake, instead of going out and buying a slice for the same amount it would’ve cost to make a whole one? Do I need more tea if I have some at home? I’m finding myself questioning whether I NEED or WANT stuff and find that, often, I can take or leave what I’m looking at. If I can leave it, then I can save a bit more money.

What are your thrifty tips?