Well, what a year…

31 December, 2020

…and thank gawd it’s over, frankly! It’s been an incredibly difficult year for many people, and 2021 feels like it’s going to be a continuation of these trying times, but the most important thing is that we all stay safe and sensible.

Being at home a lot, and not being able to attend snooker tournaments, has been very odd for us, but we’ve understood the restrictions and are hoping to go to many more places once things are back to normal, whatever that normal is. We did manage to get to our first ever session at the Crucible in August (the first session of the final), and have been bitten by the Crucible bug, buying tickets for the entirety of Round One next year (again, whenever and however it goes ahead). We’re gutted that the Shootout will be behind closed doors this season, as it has sentimental associations to it for us, but it is what it is. (Not going to be the same by a long chalk, though!)

We have met and made friends with so many lovely people through snooker, and hope to continue to do so when we’re all allowed back in! A huge thank you for all the fun, friendship and love shown to us this year, and always. We’ll meet again…

Best wishes to you all for a healthier, happier 2021. xxx

By: Purple | Permalink

New Site: My Manics Photo Gallery

16 July, 2020

For many years now, in fact since my mid-teens, I have been a Manic Street Preachers fan. I was rabid about them to start with, followed by a dip in my fandom as I moved on to other areas of my life. I reconnected with the band in 2014, although not as fervently as before.

I have been photographing the band at gigs since 2002, and used to have a website containing my images. I resurrected this in around 2015, however, the site stopped working for some reason, so I abandoned it! Recently, I have been getting reacquainted with coding in PHP and MySQL, and have cobbled together a brand new site for my galleries.

If you are a fan of the Manics or photography in general, please feel free to check out my new site at http://www.manicsgallery.com/. It should now work on both desktop and mobile after my tinkering with the CSS!

By: Purple | Permalink

Another quick note…

9 July, 2020

For those of you who are commenting on our posts, I’m not deleing your comments – they seem to be disappearing after a few weeks. I have NO idea why… but sorry! We do read and appreciate them!

By: Purple | Permalink

Product Review: Headshot Hair Dye in Captain Carrot

9 July, 2020

*** DISCLAIMER: This post is in no way sponsored by Headshot or any affiliates. The product used was bought with my own money and all opinions are my own. ***

Despite taking a nasty fall yesterday and injuring most of my left-hand side, I was DETERMINED to get to my hairdressing appointment today. Look at this mess:

‘Quarantine Roots’ – the most popular colour trend of 2020.

I waited for a fortnight from booking to appointment, which is nothing in the broader context, but I wasn’t about to give up my slot. With aching arm and thigh, I was chauffeured to my regular salon (that’s Salon Eleven to you), where the Roots from Hell were tamed with bleaching, and the rest of my hair was trimmed so it no longer resembled a particularly frizzy haystack.

Attractive, triumphant, “the bastards are finally bleached again” bathroom selfie.

So, what next? Orange is my go-to colour these days and I’m likely to stick with it for a while now (why is it that the last colour you try is always your favourite?). I’d been using Crazy Color in ‘Orange’ (duh) for about nine months prior, but I found it faded quite quickly, although a lot of dyes tend to do that on my hair. Therefore, the search for a new dye happened, and I came across a European company called Headshots, whose dyes recently became available on my favourite bright hair dye website, Beeunique. Most bright dye ranges have an orange shade, and when I saw theirs was called ‘Captain Carrot’, it was a must-have. The brand is vegan and does not test on animals, which is even better.

The dye is fairly costly, at £9 a bottle plus extra shipping costs – I think I paid about £12.70 in all, but that was still cheaper than paying to get it imported from Europe. You get a decent amount in the bottle – 150ml, to be exact – which is quite a lot more than other semi-permanents. The packaging is more practical than a lot of dyes – it has a screw-top lid so you can pour the dye easily into a tint bowl (or over your head if you’re brave). It’s quite runny, about the same consistency as Crazy Color, perhaps a little runnier. I was worried it wasn’t going to do a good job of covering my hair because of that. The dye has no smell at all, which is actually quite a refreshing change from chemical smells.

My fears about the dye being too runny were allayed when I applied it – it covered really well and was actually easier to use than thicker dyes. As with some other dyes I’ve used, a little really does go a long way with this one – I ended up having to pour some of the dye back in the bottle as I only used about 3/5ths of it in the end. It coats well, and emulsifies quickly and evenly. It also cleans off skin and surfaces easily, which is a bonus, especially in this house! I left the dye on for about two hours (recommended time is between 15-30 minutes, but we all know that isn’t happening with my barnet), combed through and rinsed off.

Elvis Gristly

The dye took a little while to rinse off (as compared to Crazy Color’s seemingly instantaneous dispatch), and didn’t leave my hair feeling absolutely wonderful, so I whacked on a bit of conditioner and rinsed again – much better. I used my combined comby-straighty-drying thing to dry off, and then had a look… WOAH. BRIGHT. My roots are practically neon! To be honest, I don’t usually go THAT bright and was quite shocked initially, but the more I looked, the more I liked. (As you could see in the above photo, my roots had been bleached practically white, which made the colour all the brighter.) The colour took evenly all over, which I am thrilled about.


Mega-impressed with this product. Dyeing went like a dream, and I love the colour – it might be a bit bright for the supermarket, but seeing as we have a “be yourself” policy, and I’m associated with bright-as-f**k hair, I guess it will be okay! The one niggle I have is how dry my hair felt after the initial rinse, but this happens with quite a few dyes, and it’s nothing conditioner can’t fix. I love the new colour – I just hope it lasts! I will update in a few washes’ time and let you know whether it has lasting power.

Colour: 9/10
Coverage: 10/10
Smell: N/A
Value for money: 8/10
Cleanup: 10/10
Overall: 9/10
Would I use again?: I am already planning on buying up their entire supply.

By: Purple | Permalink

Life In Lockdown: Builder of Routines

3 July, 2020

With most pubs, clubs and restaurants set to re-open tomorrow and the possible end of lockdown – barring a second wave – looking likely, I thought I would check-in and give an update on how lockdown has gone since I last posted about it almost three months ago.

My last blog post concentrated on my working life, so that seems as good a place as any to start again. Work has been hard, but also fun at times. I was having issues being the primary till operator, so I have been mainly working with stock and as second till. I had a couple of panic attacks while on till, and my manager very kindly gave me a week off from my holiday allowance to recuperate and sort things out – I have since contacted my local CMHT for additional support, although this might not be forthcoming for a while. I still feel supported and respected by those I work with and have good relationships with everyone, and even though I don’t always understand or join in with some of the banter that goes on, I still find it amusing. (Trust me, a lot of what gets said via headset would not be repeatable!) We all work well together, I think. We did have an incident last week where my colleague was robbed at the till point; someone broke the protective shield and demanded the money from his hand, which was only £15, but still, it was a little scary for all involved. I thought my colleagues handled the situation marvellously, though. I didn’t see what happened as I was in the back stockroom at the time, but we had to shut the store early and get the police to come and take evidence, etc. After that, it was mainly a case of carrying on as normal, just without customers!

Work gets me out of the house, but as I only work twelve hours a week, there has been a lot more time to fill. In the main, I’ve been content with what I’ve been doing, but sometimes things have got to me. One thing I have tried to do is stick to a daily routine and fill it with creativity and education. I’ve got into morning and evening habits – how I got to the age of 37 without proper skincare and breakfast routines, I do not know, but I fixed that around New Year and have kept up with it. I’ve also been drinking more water, which has made me feel better, although I’m one of those crazy people who actually like it.

I have taken our dog out for a walk most mornings when it hasn’t been too hot to do so (remember: if you can’t put the back of your hand on a hot pavement for five seconds, then don’t take your dog out!). I often do this with my mum, and it gives us a chance to have a chat without the distractions of technology, and to set the world to rights. It’s also marvellous to see other dog walkers out too – and meet their dogs! Sadly, our Jack Russell is quite highly strung and scared of other dogs, so we don’t always get to stop in case she starts growling. She is a rescue dog who we adopted when she was seven (she’s now thirteen), so many bad habits had already been established, unfortunately. She is, however, a very loving dog and adores us all, and loves other people. If there were no other dogs about, she’d happily go up to anyone for a pet!

I do my computer admin tasks in the morning, such as keeping an eye on my finances and checking my paid survey websites, then eat lunch before I start my afternoon. My eating habits have sadly not improved, much as I would like to work on them. I have a rather unhealthy relationship with food and always have had. Being autistic, there are certain types of food I literally cannot stand to have in my mouth, because of their flavours, textures, or both. Sadly, a lot of it is healthy food, because it just overwhelms me in those ways. I would love to eat more healthily, but it isn’t a case of just being picky! I have resolved to look at recipes that contain foods I do like, although preparation is difficult for me also, for reasons I won’t touch on here. If anyone has any tips in this direction, please do let me know.

In the afternoons, I have been making things. I would like to turn my crafting into a little business soon if I can. I am involved with several crafts – yarn arts such as knitting and crochet, hand and machine sewing and embroidery, digital art, and jewellery-making are my main ones. They can be a bit strenuous on the eyes, especially where my vision is so poor, but ultimately rewarding when a piece is finished. I have recently been making little toys for young relations of snooker players and others connected with snooker, and everyone has been so grateful, which makes me happy that I could bring a smile to their faces. However, if I can turn it from freebies into selling a few pieces here and there, that would be a dream come true. When I am more established, I will post links to my work on the blog if anyone would like to own a piece of Gothcraft! I am currently selling my T-shirt designs on Redbubble; the link to my shop is here: MissPear at Redbubble. I have several snooker designs, as well as a few comedy and Manic Street Preachers ones and other miscellanea. I only get a small commission on sales, but it is nice to have a bit of cash to feed back into my crafting.

Evenings are spent as they were before lockdown: having marathon conversations on the phone with Red, even more so now we haven’t seen each other since the Shootout (has it really been that long?!). I’m also starting to re-learn German with Duolingo at points during the day. I studied it at GCSE, but have forgotten most of it! My grandmother was German, so I would like to start again with it in her honour. I watch YouTube videos a lot to try to help better myself; mainly watching videos about productivity and life hacks. I would like to start reading more, as well – I bought a Kindle this week, mainly so I can change the font size to something easier on my eyes than print. I’m reading up on craft businesses and marketing – I’ve never been one to push myself forward in my creative endeavours, but it looks like I’ll need to if I am to get anywhere with it!

I have had a period over the last few weeks where I haven’t been getting on with my days as well as I’d have liked, where I’ve slept a lot because I’ve been a bit aimless, and felt quite depressed at times. I think being in the same household with two other adults where I don’t get much say in things has been a little hard. It has made me want to live independently, which is something I might try for when things are more back to normal, although I might feel a bit better about things when we’re all allowed to go out properly again! My dream is to eventually move to Glasgow, as I love it so much there, and finding a suitable place to live where I am currently based (that doesn’t want to bleed you dry) is an impossibility. I’m aware I have health needs, too, so that needs taking into account, but I would love just a little flat somewhere, where I can work on my crafts. I don’t want much from life, really.

We’re missing the snooker like mad. It has been great to have some on TV during the lockdown, but nothing beats going to watch your favourite players in person. I totally understand the need to have tournaments behind closed doors, but selfishly, it’s so hard not to be able to go! We haven’t missed the World Championship qualifiers in five years, so not getting to go this year is disappointing (although, as I say, I understand why). I only hope things are better by November, and the Champion of Champions goes ahead, as that is our “big one” of the year. It’s going to be strange anyway, having it held in Milton Keynes and not Coventry, but if we can still attend, we’ll be there.

I would love to know if anyone has any advice for more coping skills in lockdown, and also what types of items you would buy handmade from a crafter. I need all the feedback I can get!

Hoping you are all safe and well, with love.

Picture of dog, for attention

By: Purple | Permalink

Throwback Thursday – The Changing Of The Eyes

16 April, 2020

A friend of mine wrote a Facebook post yesterday, about how her eyes had been changing in colour, from fully blue to partially brown, due to various factors. While it’s not common, eyes can change colour throughout your life – and, indeed, mine changed colour, from blue to green, during my early twenties. I have no idea what caused them to do so, unless it was associated with a time of particular stress in my life, but the change was very gradual, over a few years. I will illustrate below with a few old pictures:

Me at 16
Me in July 1999, just before I turned 17. You can clearly see two things: 1) I was a massive cliché of a Manics fan, and 2) my eyes were definitely blue. (I also regret over-plucking my eyebrows and wish they were still that thick!)
Me at 21
Me in November 2003, aged 21, after a period of heavy stress in my life. You can see that my eyes have started changing colour here.
Me at 26
Me in September 2009, after I’d just turned 26. The colour change to green has pretty much fully happened here, although it’s not the perfect photo to display it. You can also see some hazel colouring around my pupils, which is still there (and spreading) today.

These days, my eye colour is a little darker than it was in 2009. I can still see some flecks of blue in them, more so in my right eye than my left, but the colour has definitely changed overall. Who knows, I may end up with brown eyes by the time I’m eighty! I know that a possible reason for a colour change is exposure to melanin, although it probably wouldn’t explain my case as I’ve always avoided the sun! It can also be through eye disease; of course, I’m hoping it’s not that – although anyone who knows me will know how poor my eyesight is, which is why I use a white cane at times (and THAT is why we always sit at the front at tournaments – or I wouldn’t be able to see anything!). I’m also diabetic and at risk of developing glaucoma, which can change pigmentation. I think in my own case, though, it might have been down to high stress levels in my early twenties, and possibly some diet choices (high onion levels in the diet can affect eye colour – who knew?!).

I’d be interested to know if anyone else’s eyes have changed colour also, and if so, from which colour to which. Let me know in the comments or via Twitter (pics are always appreciated too). In the meantime, stay safe and don’t let the lockdown get you down!

By: Purple | Permalink

Throwback Thursday – Schmoozing (or standing like planks) With Players

9 April, 2020

Finding myself at a bit of a loose end this afternoon, and very little is inspiring me creatively, so I thought I would post a few photos of us with some players that we’ve met. We don’t have many photos with players as, believe it or not, we’re actually quite shy and don’t like to bother them, although they all seem to know who we are, which is still a little weird for us. So, in chronological order, here we go:

With Ronnie O’Sullivan at our first Champion of Champions in 2014. We know how hard it is to get a photo with Ronnie, so we were quite honoured when he agreed.
With John Higgins at the CoC in 2015. I don’t think he was sure who we were at this point, but the next year when he won the whole tournament, he bought us a drink as a thank-you for our support!
With Barry Hawkins backstage at the CoC, 2015. This was kind of a random encounter when we got taken for a backstage tour and he happened to be sitting in the tournament office!
With Mark Allen, CoC 2015. We waited an hour to get this photo, as Mark had gone to the loo during the match, and subsequently couldn’t do his drug test after he’d won – refs and security were fetching him water and orange juice from the bar!
With Alan McManus, CoC 2015. Was so happy to get this photo, and Alan is ever-obliging to fans who want a pic.
With Anthony McGill, CoC 2016. Ants had just lost his match but was still happy to pose with us. Note: I know it LOOKS like I’m touching his bum in the photo, but I’m REALLY not.
With Neal Foulds, CoC 2018. I had no idea how blurry this photo was until I cranked it up in Photoshop. Oops!
With Kyren Wilson, CoC 2018. Kyren, again, had just lost the final, but was still pleased to have a photo.
Some refs! (CoC 2018) Brendan Moore, Desi Bozhilova and Paul Collier, with Security Mark doing an oh-so-subtle photobomb.
With Alan again, at an exhibition in Flimby, May 2019.

We would love to see your photos with players, refs, commentators etc., so do give us a shout on Twitter with them!

By: Purple | Permalink

New blog look

8 April, 2020

So, I was sick of seeing that succulent every time I logged in, and lockdown had me without enough projects (this may be a lie), so I decided to build a new blog theme. Not hugely packed with bells and whistles, but I hope you enjoy it. All feedback appreciated!

p.s. – there are some bits I know need tweaking, so bear with me…

By: Purple | Permalink

Life in Lockdown – Working Through

6 April, 2020

Hello, readers (yes, I know there’s probably no-one out there now!). With the current situation, we find ourselves with more time on our hands than ever, having to stay inside save for work, shopping and exercise. With this in mind, we are hoping to create more blog posts soon when we have suitable topics to write about.

I am a key worker, having worked for my local Co-op for some time now, and am continuing to go to work during the lockdown. In the main, people have been very understanding about the lack of stock and our observation of social distancing, and our team is still pretty upbeat (we have a laugh while getting the work done), but there are times when it can still be quite stressful. I will say that I am so happy and relieved to be working in such a supportive environment right now – management is very understanding about my various health conditions and the limitations that I have, and I feel totally at ease with everyone I work with. We have been getting regular updates from our area manager on WhatsApp, and also on our Shifts website, and we are feeling valued for what we do. We are also getting little bonuses for working through this time, which is a huge thing for me.

Life in-store is… weird at the moment. As I say, we are observing social distancing, meaning we can only have five customers in the shop at any time. At one stage on Saturday, there was twice the number of staff than customers! We have been taking on temporary workers to help with stocking and serving; personally, I hope we can take some on permanently, as they have been excellent in helping keep the store running. We’ve also had protective screens installed at the tills (we have no self-service tills, which I’m quite glad about, as it helps keep us in jobs!); the only bugbear I have with these is it’s made it even harder for me to hear certain customers, a situation further complicated by the fact we wear headsets to communicate to colleagues, so I already have one “deaf” ear. On the whole, though, so far so good.

I work Wednesday and Saturday evenings, when we receive our ambient deliveries – we have been having supply problems and deliveries arriving late, which is probably understandable as we try to keep up with demand. We are closing the store at points so we can catch up with deliveries, and at the moment we close at 8 pm instead of our usual 10 pm. Evenings have been fairly quiet after about 5 pm, and the five customer rule has helped that – as an introvert, I’d like to request we keep a five-person rule after this has all finished as well!

In many respects, our work is about the only social contact we have at this time, and we all work well as a team, especially as we joke about while working. I think customers kind of catch on to our positive attitudes (though don’t get me wrong, we’re knackered by the end of the night) and virtually everyone has been very understanding, almost cheerfully resigned, about the fact we don’t often have what they want at the moment. You do get some people who won’t take no for an answer, but we have the full support of our manager in times of trouble. The vast majority of people are absolutely fine, though, some even going to the trouble of giving us extra thanks for what we are doing. A lady even called us “heroes” the other day!

I am so grateful for being given a chance at a permanent job, both at my previous store and my current one. It is difficult for autistic people to both obtain and retain employment, but I have been given the chance to prove myself, and again, so far so good. I enjoy what I do (unless there’s a queue of, say, twelve people at the till, which can cause me to have the odd meltdown), and I really like my colleagues and managers. I’m a good deal older than most people I work with, which once upon a time I would have found awkward, but I feel I can relate to everyone quite well despite my age (I’m emotionally younger than my physical age anyway).

Support your local Co-op, guys 🙂

By: Purple | Permalink

Goths at the English Open 2018 in Crawley

19 October, 2018

Hi! We got back from the English Open yesterday after doing the first three days, and we really enjoyed it. See our thoughts on YouTube!

By: Purple | Permalink