Let Us Talk About… Glorifying Being Busy

Everywhere I look people are claiming being busy and having a dabble with every single pot is the way to being successful and a “girl boss”. Some have said to me that keeping busy helps to ease mental health issues whilst others have openly declared being busy as a sign of strength.

In fact for a while recently I too became guilty of glorifying busy by talking about how it was so good to do X, Y and Z in one day in such a way that implies it was only good because it was coupled with other events and that is not true. With honesty, I would rather take longer to do one thing and get to enjoy it and soak it up fully than rush it; much like going on holiday and spending a whole day inside one museum rather than trying to visit three to claim you “went there and seen it”.

But being busy is exhausting and there is no shame in admitting that or wanting to do less on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. One person can have a quieter diary than another but still end up doing more as another result of more flexibility and time to focus on a specific element.

Trying to buy into the need to be busy has almost killed me. For the last couple of months I have scheduled to work six days a week, attend numerous council selection meetings to adjudicate them, go to general politics meetings, keep up to date with friends, do my blog and keep the flat in some sort of order whilst managing to find time for my partner too! It has not only been impossible to maintain that level of momentum for so long but frankly it has been idiotic. A week or two of busy is possible but doing it for weeks on end is not sustainable; this has gone beyond burning wicks at both ends and instead just flinging the whole candle into a fire.

And all that is influenced by the people I see online that frame their accounts in a way of “busy busy busy”, the inspirational quotes that people share online and those around me talking about everything they get up to. We all end up falling into a vicious cycle of desperately needing to show off every event in our lives and getting validation from other people about the activities, and amount of them, that we do.

Every single person needs to balance out their day to day routine to make it sustainable and to give them time to do things they enjoy and see people they love. Having to take one day of your weekend as a lazy recovery day is perfectly acceptable and, at least to me, seeing a picture of snacks, films and with a caption of “doing nothing other than eating my weight in biscuits and watching terrible rom-coms” is just as wonderful as seeing a picture of you hailing a cab with the caption “meeting six done. Onto the seventh before grabbing lunch and having a few more”. Self-care is essential to your life so it is perfectly legitimate to either put it on your feed or have a quiet day once or twice a week… EVEN, yes EVEN, if social media stuff is your job you should still be remembering your employee rights and granting yourself a day a week off.

At times it really feels like people are so busy with being busy and scoring busy points to say they are winning at life that they are actually letting life pass them by. Recently I have tried to take a step back from everything, look around me, breath in the morning air (not too hard in London though) and put at least an hour in my day where I do nothing other than look after me and do what makes me happy.

What is the point in doing all these things in life to pay the rent, save up for a holiday or to buy that new hobby based item if you have no time to appreciate the place you live other than to cook and sleep there, to be so exhausted you spend your entire holiday trying to bring your energy levels back to zero again or to pick that item up once every few months? There is no point. Balance is essential to everything; our diet, our sleeping pattern and our diary too.

If you set yourself one New Year Resolution going into 2018 make it something that gives you more you time.

  • Don’t check your work emails once you leave the office. If needs be turn on an out of office response to redirect people emailing you. You have left work and you do not need to constantly remained switched on.
  • Sometimes have that bath when you consider it but normally end up having a shower instead because you have other things to do that evening. I bet those other things include putting some washing on, ironing, hoovering or some other task that can wait an extra 45 minutes.
  • If you have nail polish but rarely find yourself with any applied then carve some time out once a week to make it possible. Even put it in your diary one evening if that will help get you into the routine. You deserve to ‘treat yourself’ and feel good and swish every time you look at your hands!
  • Remember it is okay to say no. Say no to the extra shift, if you can afford it. Say no to somebody asking to meet at 9pm if you will be out from 6am that day already.
  • Take the time to consider your language. Go ahead and say you have had ten meetings in a day but be honest and say you are shattered and just want to get home and wipe your makeup off, put your pj’s on and catch up on your favourite TV show. That does not make you weak, it makes you real.
  • Spend that extra ten minutes preparing and cooking that vegetable you really like doing in a specific way but never do because it is a bit more hassle. Consider how much more satisfaction you are going to get out of that meal by putting a few more minutes into it.
  • Put that item away straight away. How many times do you say to yourself “I will put that away later as I’m a bit busy now” but in doing so you end up having to carve out a solid block of time to put numerous items away and reorganise things because so much stuff has come out the spot it won’t all go back in perfectly? Exactly. Spend that 30 seconds putting that item straight away and future you will love you for it.
  • Go and enjoy soup and a cup of tea in your local cafe for lunch. Talk to the staff there. Pick up a book from their community library bookshelf to flick through. Put the phone down. Watch the world go by. My favourite place is The Tram Stop cafe in Croydon (the featured image is an example of the delights they have to offer) but I only know that by forcing myself to take time out of my life to wander around my local spots and try them out.

    What are your tips to managing being busy and appearance you give to others?

    Random Food I Have Eaten Recently

    There have been numerous times recently, in fact there are many weeks, where I either eat food from a generic chain that is not really worth doing a whole post on or my partner happens to have cooked the majority/all of the dish and therefore I cannot provide an accurate recipe.

    However, I love talking about food and want to keep including food things on my blog, even when I am not the one cooking or going to some really exciting restaurant, and think that starting this series might be the way to go. They will come along at random intervals though as it obviously varies week on week what I end up eating and cooking, the things mentioned below are from different points in the last month or so; a lot of things will not even get photographed, though I am going to be attempting to pick up my proper camera before eating a meal whether it is cooked by my partner or myself, and with that there will seem like quite a mish-mash of items.

    I would love to know what you think of this style of blog post and if you would like to see anything else included in these posts then please do comment below. I am considering doing a What I Eat In A Week post, every week unsurprisingly, from the new year to incorporate many of the meals that I eat but are perhaps not interesting enough to do a whole individual post on so let me know what you think about that as well… anyway down to business!

    Chicken and Bacon Pasta Salad

    Tesco on the go chicken and bacon pasta

    Tesco do so many different things in the on the go and meal deal section that it can be really easy to get stuck in a world of decisions and price calculations. For me I find that the meal deal means I end up eating more food than I need, in terms of quantity and calories, and whilst it saves me money on the items overall in the moment it still works out more than getting a multipack of crisps at least (and sometimes even a multipack of drink too but given my working environment and I take a reusable water bottle with me it isn’t usually an issue) to go through the week.

    But very often I can go into the Tesco near work and spot a sandwich or pasta dish on discount, even at 09:30, meaning that I save even more money. Well save in the sense of in comparison to other options in the shop not compared to doing the super cost-effective thing of making food at home to take in. Usually I will try these bulk buy tins of soup, beans or spaghetti hoops when doing an online food order and take them and a few slices of bread from a loaf with me as own brands of those make lunch even cheaper!

    So recently I found a chicken and bacon pasta salad sort of thing that came with a little pot of salad dressing too for around the £1.20 mark. Compared to making it yourself that is still a lot of money but it helped me avoid being dragged into the meal deal section and instead I grabbed a multipack of crisps for £1 and two large bottles of flavoured water for 80p bringing me to the same price as a meal deal but to last a lot longer. Hooray small money win for the millennial that is robbed in every other way by society.

    It didn’t set the world alight, but neither would my own take on this dish if I made it the night before, but it was edible and tasty enough. The chicken wasn’t too dry, the bacon had noticeable flavour, the salad leaves were still fresh and crunchy and the dressing being a generous amount to mix among the ingredients.

    Beef Stir Fry

    Egg noodles, beef strips and vegetables

    My partner can be and pretty decent cook, with sensible combinations of ingredients and an enjoyable balance of flavours, when he wants to be. He is the sort of guy that can go a little bit rogue and, given my more standard palette of flavour and texture understanding, it is usually me that suffers.

    Recently though, he has stepped up to the plate. My ability to focus or find the energy, let alone the time, to cook has been incredibly limited just as a result of being stuck in my own messed up and exhausted head space. He gets the sort of food that I like and if I say “can we have a dish with noodles” he knows that whilst I am happy to have whatever meat or vegetable is discounted to the most reasonable price I need something “normal”.

    This beef stir fry was one of those days. He got some beef that was discounted, a mixture of vegetables that worked out cheaper to get in bulk and have to prepare than to get a single bag of stir fry pre-prepared vegetables and several packets of stir fry sauce that can sit in the cupboard for when we want them.

    A stir fry is super simple but that can also result in it tasting super simple and bland too but he avoided that. The ingredients he used and methods of cooking along the way allowed for it to be super tasty and also have the most delightful texture to it; in fact it tasted and felt much more like a chow mein than a stir fry, which for the record is more than fine by me because chow mein is one of my favourite dishes, helping to enhance its appeal after a long and tiring day.

    Homemade Taco Shells

    Taco shells with tomato mince mixture

    I know what you are thinking. I think it every single time I look at the photo as well. What a messy plate of food. Hey, I never said that this was going to be a series of perfectly placed vegetables sitting proud among a perfectly balanced plate of food! This is simply about appreciating the small little food things happening in my life from time to time.

    We had some tortillas that needed using and instead of doing the same old wrap style burrito things we always end up doing, which don’t get me wrong are tasty enough but it felt a little samey, I suggested putting them into the oven to become something similar to a Taco shell. So many people have done it online and in Instagram videos I knew that it was a thing we just needed to double-check for any extra steps to do first.

    We microwaved them for a few seconds to soften them up and then brushed them with oil before putting them over two or three lines of the oven shelf to cook. As you can see, they do not take huge amounts of time to crisp up so the ones at the beginning were a little too crunchy to be able to hold the shape without snapping on eating. Once we did the first batch though it became much easier to take them out at a better moment in time and rest them down in a way that allowed them to cool and hold shape.

    It was still a super simple meal but made for a nice little change to the usual dish that we do with tortillas and a mince mixture!

    McDonald’s Chicken and Bacon Cheese Burger

    Chicken, bacon and cheese burger

    I had gone years without having McDonald’s until the general election came along and that applies to many of my campaigning friends too. Maybe the last time I went, before the morning after the election, was when we still lived in North London and was stumbling back drunk… we are talking over three years ago.

    But like a moth attracted to light they found a way to pull me back in and since then it has become an incredibly easy and quick bite to eat. A little while and do I was feeling pretty meh and my partner was going out for the evening so I asked him to return with something chicken based from McDonald’s (everybody knows that is the universal terms for nuggets right?) and he returned with this. It was my dinner. The best thing about being an adult is you can have whatever food you want and whilst people can judge they have no right to express their opinions on others eating habits.

    It filled the little hole that it needed to but was not one of the best things I have tried from McDonald’s in the past.

    Let me know in the comments below what is your favourite thing from McDonald’s? Maybe I will give that a try the next time I am far too lazy to do anything for myself.

    Avon’s Luck 50ml

    It has been some time since I discussed Avon’s Luck perfume, but since I first did my terribly written review in the midst of a mental health crisis (I know, what is new there eh) I have actually given this bottle its last spray and stuck it in the trash. Instead of waiting until I finally put together an empties post, which I have kind of moved away from as if something is so good or really terrible it probably deserves a full post on it, I figured that I would return to an old post to compare my first impressions to my final impressions. That first showing of this product on my blog is available to read here if you happen to be interested in having a little laugh and also seeing what my thoughts on this product were like back in 2015.

    Avon clearly view this perfume to be a success as it is still available for sale in the UK now and, in fact, they have even expanded the range to include slightly different scents for both her and for him.

    They describe the fragrance as having a top note of pink pepper, followed by a mid note of nutmeg and a base note of sandalwood. There certainly is a lingering note from the base scent of sandalwood but to me the smell as a whole was quite mild and faded away to a more musky finish before disappearing all together an hour or so later.

    Bow style lid on a glass oblong perfume bottle

    If anything there is actually a bit of a sweet and floral scent to this in the beginning, which is not what I would expect from either of the notes mentioned on the website, and I find this to be incredibly overwhelming. I like both sweet and floral perfumes, and have several sitting on my dressing table, but the starting notes of this really make my nose twitch a little and just thinking about it made me sneeze a little.

    This has been quite an obvious collection of scents from initial spray to settling on the skin for as long as I can remember and there has not been a clear shift in a change in smell, colour or texture and it clearly had not gone off in any way but rather that my scent preferences have continued to change and my ability to process smells and specific notes has changed as well. I can think of several examples of scents that I really used to love, or hate, when I was younger that I now have completely different opinions on; a bit like being served sprouts, liver or spinach.

    As for the bottle I find that the design is a nice little twist on an ordinary perfume bottle, especially given the low £15 price point, but as I have welcomed a number of more expensive perfumes to my collection I have found that the bottle looks increasingly tired and worn. It does not clean overly well and the lid is of a more bendable flimsy plastic with a gold coating where as a lot of other perfumes in my collection have designed lids, more solid structures or are heavier glass bottles to make it easier to apply a smidgen of pressure to clean.

    Have you ever used this perfume or another in the Avon Luck range? If so I would be interested to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

    Look Fantastic Advent Calendar Days 6-10

    In the first instalment of this mini series, for days 1-5, I discussed that a lot of the boxes were the navy packaging rather than the snazzy pattern but I take that all back because photographing the colourful ones is far more challenging than I anticipated…

    But after the variety of products that came in the first five days, and feeling a bit down in the dumps, I was excited to open the next few days and see what new items and brands I would be adding to my drawers and daily routine.

    Day Six

    This seemed like a pretty average sized box but the weight was incredibly light compared to its rough appearance so my mind was pretty confused about knowing what to expect as a result. There was a part of me that hoped it meant it was a small sample of a super expensive and fancy product or that perhaps it was a makeup item along the lines of a lipliner that meant it needed a large box to fit into but would also not weigh a lot as a result.

    Navy blue box with silver number six

    Sample size of a This Works facial product from the Look Fantastic advent calender

    There has been a lot of talk about thisworks as a brand in recent times in the blogging community and whilst I have never actually used one of their products before it certainly stuck out to me as something that I have heard of before. Recognising the name of a brand really makes a difference to me with regards to what to expect from a product and feeling comfortable about applying it.

    In this case that is extra important to me here as this in transit camera close-up is a three-in-one facial product and putting new brands, relatively unknown products and things that I do not see being advertised often onto my face naturally makes me super nervous.

    It is a product that I will be happy to try out at a later point in time but there are already so many moisturisers and primers in my collection that I need to keep trying to work from older product to new and also getting both a moisturiser and primer out of my collection at the same time before using one single multi-purpose product. The size of the tube explains the weight of the box, it is pretty laughable.

    Day Seven

    This box felt pretty substantial and heavy in weight but given the size of it I was unsure of whether that meant it was going to be another liquid product or if it was going to be another makeup product. Given that yesterday we received a product that is somewhere between skincare and makeup a part of me was expecting it to be for the hair or body but given the wide variety of items already included there were still so many potential options of what it could be.

    I was hoping for something that was more body based than hair though as I find that hair products will generally go to waste on me but the majority of body products can find a way into my routine even if they do not end up being repurchased or becoming an essential afterwards.

    Geometric design of Look Fantasitc advent calendar box in white, black and blue

    Day seven of Look Fantastic advent calendar gives shimmer gold tan mist by James Read

    Ow right… it is a gradual tan mist thing that seems to essentially be some gold glitter in an oily liquid kind of mess. They do know it is December right? The only tan you can get gradually here in the UK right now is an extremely fake one and if you are going to that effort then you probably are not too fussed about it appearing “gradually”. Whatever the time of year though I really could not care about “having a tan” and even less so about it being a gradual glittery glimmery thing masquerading as a tan.

    Can you tell this is one of those products that I really do not care for? Why could this not have been the one missing from my box rather than day two? People rave about James Read products and there seemed to be a little bit of a hype in the beauty community when this product came out so I am sure that there will be somebody in my life that can wave their arms around and say “please can I have this”.

    At least mine did not leak everywhere though like several other people’s did in their advent calendars…! There is always a positive.

    Day Eight

    At this point I have acknowledged that the weight or size of the box means absolutely nothing and has no correlation to the size of product I can expect to receive. This one was pretty light and large but part of me still thought that perhaps it felt light because I was considering the box size in my head.

    Small cardboard box in front of advent calendar

    Mini of the NBD by Red Ken in advent calendar box

    It turned out that the product was indeed just super lightweight with a small tube of Redken No Blow Dry airy cream. This is quite a small tube when I look at it and then look at the length and volume of my hair.

    Even using this on just the ends of my hair or sparingly brushing it through, past experience has told me we are talking minimal uses from this product. It is also the sort of product you need to be able to use for a good couple of weeks before seeing if it makes any difference to your hair or its routine so even if I enjoy using it there is unlikely to be enough usage for me to determine if I would repurchase. An interesting product and concept but something terrible to receive such a small version of.

    Day Nine

    Part of me laughed when I seen the box for day nine, I had already reached the point of being so sceptical about the size of the product compared to the box that I was honestly imagining something no bigger than a drawing pin to be in a short and dumpy relatively cuboid box.

    It did seem to have a bit of weight to it though so I figured maybe they were pushing the boat out and putting multiple drawing pins into the box. Seriously guys, it is hard to remain hopeful about the contents of these boxes representing the size of the product when you are over a week in and most things have not matched in any way at all.

    Day nine Look Fantastic advent calendar

    Small pot of setting powder from 2017 Look Fantastic calendar

    Inside I discovered a product that matched the size of the external box! Blimey! The item itself was revealed to be the Bellapiere banana setting powder in a small pot without a sifter or anything similar meaning that there was an immediate risk of me spilling the pot everywhere or product generally ending up going to waste during application for a lot of people.

    However, I tend to use quite a small brush for setting powder under my eyes and tend to use a very small amount of it in general so I should be able to just add a little to my brush and tap off the excess without it flying off everywhere. People that tend to use this sort of powder to bake, it always confuses me when people want to set large amounts of their face in yellow powder but I have seen people do it, are going to struggle to get their brush in their properly and not cause it to puff up into a big cloud of choking powder everywhere.

    This is something that I am looking forward to trying out and am interested to see if it works well with my skin tone, skin type and also whether it sits well with the makeup that is already part of my makeup routine and am pleased to welcome this adorable little pot into my collection.

    Day Ten

    Given the products of the last few days and there clearly being no pattern in whether it is face, body or makeup related I was struggling to imagine what could be in box ten but after day nine produced something I was relatively pleased with I was struggling to stay optimistic for the contents here. Can you tell yet, I am grumpy and uncertain about pretty much everything in my life?

    Navy box in front of the Look Fantastic advent calendar.

    Look Fantastic advent calendar navy box in front of drawers with product from the box

    Ow right we are back to the ridiculous box size compared to the product thing again are we? At least the product contained within is an Oskia Renaissance face mask that actually sounds like an absolute delight to use and given how thin I tend to apply face masks should see such a small pot lasting a number of applications.

    Some people in the beauty community swear by Oskia products as part of their facial routine but I have not really heard anybody speak about their face masks, probably more to do with me living under a rock than anything else, so I have relatively high hopes that this will be able to work some little miracle on my constantly dull and tired skin.

    Thoughts So Far

    Overall, I am still loving this box and super excited about the majority of items that have come into my life. There are some that I will aim to give a go but in my heart know they will end up getting passed along to somebody else in my life.

    It really does bug me a little though that the first product in the box was full sized and then everything since has varied from what I would describe as a sample size up to a travel size. There is certainly enough product in most of them to be able to get a really good opinion on whether you like something or not. I think that the individual boxes being so large compared to some of the size of the products hidden within partly adds to the feeling of being short-changed; smaller boxes with the same size products would almost certainly not have made me question the sample/travel sized products as much as much like putting a serving of food on a smaller plate looks way more satisfying than putting it on a huge serving plate.

    Ah and finally, an update on the missing box two and its product, I am still waiting. It is safe to say Look Fantastic’s customer service is pretty tiring to deal with as they just keep saying “we can see a replacement for this has been requested” but not actually providing any information on when to expect it or when an update might actually be available. Just give me dates or a bit more information or something, if I kept giving customers the same naff response over and over again at work my company would be pretty pissed off with me… And I know I am not the only one getting tired of their customer service recently. Sort it out Look Fantastic and do the brands you present, work with and sell some justice!

    Aisha’s Chicken Dippers

    Purchasing food shopping online can sometimes be a bit risky because, despite what supermarkets claim, there is always that chance of ending up with a bashed up set of bananas or nearly gone off broccoli. It can also allow you to play the game of “will we get all our own food, be missing a bit or end up with an added extra” because the packaging system for delivery does not work super perfectly and the odd thing always ends up falling into another section.

    Luckily, most supermarkets have the chance for you to say that a certain item was missing from your order and they will return the money to you and you are also able to say an item was damaged or with too short a date on it and they are usually pretty good about it. On the whole it does not seem to happen very often but knowing that the options are there to raise a quick ticket issue and it get resolved is super important about having piece of mind whilst cooking.

    Anyway, these chicken dippers happen to be one of the things that we did not order but on opening the shopping bags we discovered not one but two bags of these. The delivery man was long gone so there was not much we could do other than put them in the freezer and have the opportunity to try them out at a later date; I do love a good dipper or nugget so this was a real unexpected treat that made me happy.

    Aisha’s products, from what I have seen online, are all halal products and it is great to see such products finally entering the mainstream. Whilst it is not something that I have to specifically reach for it also does not bother me in the slightest so I was just able to focus on the joy of chicken dippers.

    As you might be able to see from the photo they are coated in breadcrumbs but these crumbs also happen to have a rather serious whack of cracked pepper included. This pepper really lifted the chicken dippers from being a simple piece of chicken coated in some bread to being a flavourful bite that could stand alone as an item rather than needing things added to it or a sauce to hand to give it that little lift.

    They were probably some of the best chicken dippers I have had in a long time for their flavours but I did find the crumb itself to be a little dry and the chicken inside was not as succulent as it could have been but this could be a result of my particular oven and settings opposed to that actually being the moisture level of the product.

    Given their price though, and that because I do not have specific dietary requirements I can get much cheaper ones and just add my own crack of pepper, it is unlikely that these will be something that ever intentionally ends up in my basket. For a similar price you can get the Quorn nuggets which are super succulent on the inside and crispy on the outside after cooking just with less seasoning in the coating.

    Do you have a recipe for chicken dippers or where is your favourite place to purchase them from? I would love to hear more in the comments below.

    London Labour Regional Conference

    At the start of 2017 I could never have imagined going to a weekend long conference up in London or doing anything other than sitting there as a nervous wreck. But by the end of 2017 that is exactly what I managed and in fact did stuff that exceeded that ten fold.

    Regional Labour Party’s have conferences every year or two and this year was expected to be a ‘policy and training conference’ for the London region as there were no positions that needed voting on. The training was cancelled and the policy, apart from a handful of motions, came in the form of lunch time fringe sessions and discussions in rooms dotted all around the building.

    The first day was stressful and did not really combine well with the anxiety that still very much exists within me. By the end of the day I was mentally and physically exhausted and had indeed found myself confined to the main conference hall and it was exactly how terrifying I imagined a conference to be. Conference itself on the first day was a success with a successful vote to reference back to the Conference Arrangements Committee the ability to discuss and vote on rule changes on the second day; it took a lot to get it moved to a vote and there was no clear reason why they kept delaying it for 40 minutes when the mood in the room was very clear. I think their general approach to delaying and trying to needlessly and wrongly control the situation set my anxiety off for the rest of the day.

    There was a point where I almost did not leave the house on the second day of the conference. My mood was terrible and my anxiety really was not serving me well after the first day of chaos so I honestly was not sure if I could handle what the day ahead faced.

    We needed to meet up as a delegation from our CLP though as the agreement to discuss rule changes meant we needed to figure out our position and if our rule change was good enough or if it should be withdrawn in favour of a similar rule change also going to the floor. At that point we decided we needed to do a withdrawing speech in front of 500 delegates and about 100 visitors and staff members and well of course I was up for that. Of course? Me? The person that nearly ran all the way back home when they reached the train station because they hated day one so much was preparing themselves to essentially open the show with a withdrawing speech for rule change one? Apparently so.

    The speech was promptly curated and agreed. The speakers were called up. I took to the stage with two little microphones attached to a podium in front of me and I discovered there was no timer or little light to give me a heads up of if I was approaching a five minute deadline. There was a risk it would cause me to sprint through the speech but I breathed and prepared myself to carefully read the speech and pay attention to where the spaces had intentionally been added.

    And suddenly it was over. I had done it. I sort of shook like jelly back to my seat and breathed a huge sigh of relief. Then it was a nervous wait for the similar rule change to be discussed and for a vote to go ahead. The vote was passed. Hooray for democracy and progression towards a less awful system. After that the second day was a lot more interesting and I felt able to engage more but there were still moments when I was super anxious and just wanted to take a big breath out and hide in a corner (I did not).

    There are a lot of issues with conferences like this one and having anxiety combined with mild autism really made that apparent and it is something that the CAC needs to address in the future because there are just so many small things that happen that make such a conference not at all accessible (this was highlighted even more for the people with physical disabilities). Like a lot of things though calls for change to conference procedures will no doubt fall on CAC deaf ears but as I forever try to be an optimist perhaps they will prove me wrong and next year will be better.

    Seats that are locked together makes for a great way to ensure they do not move around a lot but it also means if somebody stomps their feet the whole set of seats vibrate and get shaken around. Mass feet stomping makes a very loud noise that cannot be properly processed by an autistic person. Poor etiquette of constant under-breath muttering from the woman behind you means you cannot focus on the thing put in front of you. Having events on completely different floors that are not well labelled when you get to that floor makes for a stressful process and also poor planning (a meeting on accessibility in politics was put into a council chamber room which, let me tell you, had numerous accessibility issues) given they were clear in not using the stairs but the lifts could maybe fit six people in at a push…

    If you were not at conference, my full speech is available below (it even got a cheer at one point, which is a bit of an ego boost, that I managed to stay composed through):

    Danielle Lowe, Croydon Central

    Conference, the growth in membership of our Party since Jeremy Corbyn’s election as leader has been incredible.

    We now have members and affiliates in every neighbourhood, every community and every workplace.

    Since his election, Jeremy Corbyn has not just brought Labour to the brink of power, winning numerous seats in London in the general election, but changed the basis of politics itself.

    Sadly, the make up of our Regional Board does not reflect that.

    One of our frustrations in Croydon Central during the general election was that we were written off by our region. Resources were directed elsewhere, to seats which turned out to be perfectly safe.

    Thankfully, we elected Sarah Jones as our MP with a majority of over five and a half thousand – ousting a Tory Minister in the process – not because of our Region but in spite of them. Frankly, conference, we were successful only because hundreds and hundreds of members ignored Region’s advice and followed Momentum’s.

    Our rules can be arcane and confusing. Our representatives can be remote and unknown.

    In fact so arcane, the only version of the London Labour Party rule book that I could find online, came with a subscription fee.

    We need a directly elected and expanded Regional Board to represent the needs of all our members and affiliates.

    We must ensure adequate representation of women amongst both our CLP and trade union representatives. We regret that our rule change did not address the latter.

    Conference, we were asked by our CLP to raise the issue of outer borough representation. We are concerned that our borough’s growing membership – still relatively smaller than that in Lambeth and Southwark – might not be adequately represented when paired with inner London boroughs.

    But conference, we do not trust the NEC or the current Regional Board to find a configuration which adequately responds to our concerns. Our rule change as it stands does not make clear enough our worries. The divisions currently in the rule book are an arbitrary disaster and must be abolished.

    The pressing issue is to make the case for the democratisation of the Regional Board. Rule Change Three offers one way of doing this.

    We would amend it if we could.

    Today, we must pass a rule change which places power in the hands of our members and affiliates – with immediate effect, without relying on the Democracy Review to do it for us.

    But we do urge the Democracy Review to take into account of our concerns, and bring forward proposals to ensure outer borough representation.

    If they cannot, rest assured conference– we will be back next year.

    Conference, I withdraw.

    Please support Rule Change Three.”

    Puff Pastry Pizza

    Pizza is up there as one of the foods of the gods, nearly up there with mac n cheese but not quite, but sometimes I find that store purchased or takeaway pizza leaves me feeling a little deflated and heavy stomached. Having said that the pizza is always worth that feeling afterwards because helloooo comforting tasty cheesy joy.

    But sometimes I want to put in effort for this lazy food. By effort I mean unrolling some pre-rolled pre-made puff pastry, squeezing out some tomato puree and spreading it around, cutting some mushrooms and olives up before grating some cheese and shoving it all together. If you happen to have some of the above mentioned puff pastry hanging around leftover after a previous meal then this is by far much less effort than wandering all the way to a supermarket to get something to put in the oven or to trawl online to find the perfect pizza toppings at that magical price.

    A puff pastry base does need to go onto a baking tray for cooking, to ensure it maintains structural integrity, but it still keeps washing up to a minimum afterwards as depending on the toppings you select you can easily cut them in the air with a knife; for me I did this pizza with a baking tray, a knife and a grater. Sure it creates a smidgen more washing up than another sort of pizza might but it is super tasty and worth your while.

    For me a puff pastry base is a great lighter alternative to a traditional bread style pizza base and that helps to alleviate that heavy bloated feeling afterwards. Additionally, it feels lighter as a result of knowing that there is only so much topping weight the puff pastry is going to be able to take which means that it does not end up dripping in cheese oils or feeling heavy to hold. I doubt that it makes any difference in terms of calories because lighter pizza means you can eat more of it (right?) but it gives that impression of lightness which mentally triggers healthy within my mind and even though we are in the depths of winter it makes me think spring and summer freshness too.

    What is your favourite way of making your own pizza and what toppings do you end up reaching for when creating one?