Awkward Moment #28: A Great Week


So, a few months ago, we found out that we're getting a brand new member of the family. That's right, I'll be Auntie Em to an inevitably awesome and well-dressed baby boy come November. The first grandchild in the family, it's akin to the birth of Christ and there is no limit to how much love will surround my future nephew. 

We found out on Mothers' Day, and to no surprise, Mum was on cloud nine. There were screams, laughter, tears (mostly from me), but there was no beating the sheer joy radiating from my Brother and Sister-in-Law. Little did I know, this was just the beginning of a great week for Mum.

"I mean, this is just the best week EVER!" She chirped over our Sunday morning cuppa. "I have waited so long for this moment, and now it's finally happening. I can barely believe it!" It was so nice to see her this happy. "…and after this long, and all that hard work, I didn't think it would ever happen…"

Wait, what? They haven't been married that long, what is she-

…"but now that it has, it's all been worth it to hear those magical four words…"

"Oh you mean, we're having a baby?" I guessed.

She looked blankly at me for a few seconds. "Oh of course, yes. Well, that too!" She replied.

What now? That too? I'm confused. Did I miss something? Did anything else life-changing happen this week? Did Trump get impeached? Did Poldark come back? Are Pringles half price!?!

I needed clarity. "What were you talking about if it wasn't the baby?" I ventured, curious as George. She held up her diary with a sticker on the back. It had big, silver writing: Slimmer of the Week. 

"I'm not being funny or anything, I'm chuffed about being a nan…but do you have any idea how long I have waited to be Slimmer of the Week?!?"

The struggle is real.

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Awkward Moment #27: Chocolategate.


Every year around about now, my parents can be found on board a cruise ship somewhere in the Caribbean.

After 40 years of graft, scrimping and saving to give me and my siblings the best possible start in life, they treat themselves once a year to a fortnight of luxury, and I very generously and altruistically, look after the house and hound.

To say thank you for this act of kindness, my mum comes into my room on the night before they leave.

“I got you something to say thank you for looking after Molly for us.” She presents me with a box of chocolates. Best day ever.

“Aw, mum! You didn’t have to do that, Molly is my dog too. I’m happy to do it!” My subconscious chimes in: What are you doing, fool!? Don’t let her take the chocolate away!?!

“I know, I know, but it’s just something to say we appreciate it anyway.” Phew. “Only, there’s been a bit of a problem…”

“Oh?” Eh?

“…yes, well. You see, the thing is…I started eating them.” Of course you did.

And lo and behold, upon opening the box, I found it to be true. Because she put the empty bloody wrappers back in the bloody box.

She’s a piranha when it comes to chocolate, my mother. She can’t help herself. And that’s how I know we are definitely related.

Masters in the Making


I’ve just enrolled at Liverpool John Moores University to start a Masters. It’s official: I’m a student again.

And I’m TERRIFIED.

So far, I’m 45 minutes in and everything is going smoothly. I’ve enrolled, picked up my student card (which I have to admit, I look fabulous on. 4 years of my undergrad with a squashed pixel face was more than enough to make me take my photo seriously, and we’re talking perfect eyeliner flicks, fresh makeup and hair that only took three hours) and I started exploring.

I’ve logged onto a computer (after finding the computers), all of which are so big and shiny, it’s fantastic and part of the reason why I’m writing this is, because of how great this keyboard sounds when I type. WORDS.

I’ve also found the Communications, Marketing and PR section on the first floor and picked out a couple of books to borrow ahead of my first classes this week. #keenbean #thatshowiroll

I’ve even topped up my printing account and printed out the receipt – just so I could figure out which buttons to press on the printer (did not go well, had most of the computer space staring at me because there was a paper jam, but that’s a blog for another time).

The next step is to take the books I’ve picked out and actually scan them at the desk – looks easy enough. #famouslastwords

Over the weekend, I went to the Freshers’ Fair (vom). It being my fifth fair, I bombed round, grabbed what freebies were handed to me and fled from the place like a bat out of hell. In short, I nailed it in 20 minutes flat. #likeaboss

So here I am, officially a student again. Now 53 minutes in and still no major disasters! So far, so good. 53 down, 1,051,147 to go.

#heregoesnothing #somanyhashtagsinthispost #hashtags

 

Awkward Moment #25: Climbing


As someone who has never been particularly sporty, the idea of physical activity always seemed a bit scary. But earlier this year, I discovered Bouldering, a type of free-climbing without ropes, and it’s one of the most empowering, motivating and relaxing things I have ever done.

I’ve been climbing at The Climbing Hangar in Liverpool, which is a huge, bouldering-dedicated climbing centre with 1000 square metres of weird and wonderful climbs, which they switch-up every week to keep you on your toes. 

What I love most about climbing is how you could be the world number one, at the top of your game, just in for an afternoon of training, or a complete and utter beginner, getting to grips (weeey) with the simplest of runs. Your experience is exactly the same, you’re treated exactly the same and your love of the sport is exactly the same. They place the most challenging climbs next to some of the most straight-forward, meaning those of all strengths and abilities can climb together – which has come in handy for me with the alarming amount of friends I have who are amaze-balls at it.

So, I rock up (weeey) on a Monday night after work, gross from a day at the office and ready to get even more gross with some chalk and some climbing shoes. I scan myself in at the front desk and walk towards the changing rooms, when I spot Shauna Coxsey – one of my heroes and the current Bouldering female world champion – chilling like a villain in the hangar cafe.

Ohmygod.

OHMYGOD.

Stay calm, keep walking, she’s surrounded by people admiring her, just keep walking, go and get ready and look like a pro, it’s totally fine.

I continue to the changing room and – you’ve guessed it – get changed. I lock my stuff away and head back to the cafe, assuming Shauna to be gone and the opportunity to chat to her missed and forever lost to oblivion. Shame, but at least I can now grab a bottle of water from the cafe. But lo and behold – there she is, no longer being mobbed, but people watching. I LIKE PEOPLE WATCHING TOO, WE HAVE SO MUCH IN COMMON.

It happens before I realise I’ve actually had the courage to go and speak to her. I catch her eye and smile goofily.

“Can I just fangirl over you for a second?” I ask, approaching tentatively (did I just ask her permission to fangirl?).
“Um, yeah?” She replies (OH MY GOD I’M TALKING TO SHAUNA COXSEY).
“It’s so cool to meet you! I’m a big fan, I’ve not been climbing for very long but when my friend Tom told me you were his future wife, I found you online and saw that you train here and I think you’re awesome.” I gush.
“Aha! Well, my boyfriend may not be too happy about that…” We laugh and I can feel the friendship growing already.

I think I’ve creeped her out sufficiently, so I say goodbye, shake her hand and leave her be. I buy a bottle of water, head over to the nearest wall and immediately scale it like Spiderman (because after chatting with Shauna, I automatically became amazing at climbing – it’s true).

Had I not been so goofy and embarrassing, I would have said something more along the lines of:

“Shauna, you’re my hero. You’re an awesome role model for young wome and the things I’ve seen you do are practically superhuman. You make me believe in myself and in the things I’ve been able to do since I started climbing, and I want to thank you for giving me the most self-belief and strength I think I’ve ever had. So yeah, you’re great and it’s really nice to meet you. Now, here’s my number, let’s hang out and be best friends some time, yes?”

Maybe not exactly like that…

I texted Tom after I left to tell him of my encounter with his future wife. He was less than impressed.

To find out more about Shauna, click here.

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Shauna Climbing

Shauna doing her thang.

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The Climbing Hangar Liverpool

Awkward Moment #24: Tennis and Bitch Slaps


Wimbledon.

The two weeks of early summer when this famous tournament takes place is a very, very big deal in our house.

The kettle is on round the clock, the phone is unplugged, we’ve moved the comfy armchair into the living room and Mum has even put her Wimbledon hand towel on display in the downstairs loo.

See what I mean? Big deal.

This weekend, amidst the rain and the Sunday Times, the three of us are watching Andy Murray playing John Millman and fighting his way through a set-deciding game. To say it was tense is an understatement.

“What’s with those noises they make? When they hit the ball?” Dad asks to the room. I make a mock-vomiting sound, which escalates into a back and forth of throaty and guttural ooffs and guffaws, resulting in both of us giggling like schoolchildren. Mum, the teacher, brings our attention back to the match with a “Come on now, people. He won’t win if we don’t concentrate!” (Mum firmly believes that when Murray has previously lost  at Wimbledon, it’s been down to her not concentrating hard enough on watching the match. But that’s a story for another time.)

So, we return to silence and continue watching as Murray struggles to keep the advantage. A line judge calls the ball out. Mum jumps out of her chair, screaming “Oh for GOD’S SAKE. I’m gonna BITCH SLAP the next BLOODY LINE JUDGE who calls the ball OUT!” It’s safe to say, Mum gets a bit enthusiastic.

“COME ON, MURRAY, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD,” she continues, sitting back down in her chair and sighing. Once everyone’s blood pressure has returned to normal, we watch as Murray reclaims the advantage and wins the game, bringing him closer to winning the second set. I get up to leave.

“What exactly IS…a bitch slap?” Dad asks slowly, typing the words “bitch slap definition” on his iPad.

“I think it’s like a forehand – backhand, rapid ‘psssh – psssh’ slapping situation?” I tell him, waving my hand in a bitch-slapping-esque motion. Can you imagine the YouTube tutorials?

“…And is that the appropriate way to slap bitches, would you say?” He asks me.

“Well, I can’t say I’ve slapped many, if any bitches, Dad, but I do believe it’s the approved method of the Chartered Institute of Bitch-Slap Relations.” I reply.

“I see.”

Never a dull moment in our house. 

A line judge is hurt when she is hit in

Chronicles, Longtime: A Story of Music and Friendship


They come together on a chilly February evening in Delamere Forest.

Studio 73B is powered on portable heaters, builders tea and old friends doing the thing they love most: making music.

Colin Broadfoot (Vox and Guitar), Phil Bush (Guitar), John Price (Bass), Steve Goynes (Keys) and my dad, Phil Eccles (Drums) are Longtime.

Think a bit of Portishead, a pinch of Elbow and a touch of Fleetwood Mac and you’re on the right track.

With the incredible stylings of Phil Bush and John Price on lead guitar and bass, the twinkling of keys from Steve Goynes, the empowering beats from Phil Eccles and to top it off, the smooth tones of Colin Broadfoot, whose lead vocal lends itself so well to a harmony, to say that Chronicles has been long-anticipated is the understatement of the better half of the last century.

Nine stunning tracks, five incredibly talented musicians, 40 years of friendship.

With live performances a rarity for the band, each member has gone down a different path in life, forging professional careers in different fields – from Sales Management and Social Research to AV and Academia. Chronicles is a testament to their passion and commitment to music. 

But hey, don’t listen to me. Listen to Longtime. 

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Available from iTunes and Amazon now. Live dates coming soon.

Awkward Moment #23: Mum’s Birthday


If you read my blog regularly, you’ll know that my parents are often at the centre of my stories. This is due to the metric tonnes of comedy gold they churn out every other day. Living with Mum and Dad can be a challenge at times, but more often than not, it’s just a gateway to hilarity.

Mum’s birthday was this week.

Mum’s birthday is arguably the most important one in the family. As the matriarch, it’s vital that we get it right, because it’s Mum, and she deserves the best. This means that it can be a logistical nightmare.

Dad and I have been co-ordinating gifts. I knew he was going for the gift voucher option, always a winner…but I thought it’d be nice for her to have something to unwrap on the morning of her birthday with her cup of tea and the dog wrestling with the wrapping paper. So I picked her up a couple of bits and bobs – a necklace and Suits Season 1 – and wrapped them up ready for Wednesday (her birthday).

It’s Tuesday night. Mum has gone to bed and I’m ebay stalking mic stands, neglecting a bad cup of tea (how hard is it, Dad – a HEAPED teaspoon), when Dad strolls in.

“I’ve, er…I’ve also got something for your Mum to unwrap tomorrow.” He says in a hushed voice. I look up, he looks at me with a sense of gravitas. “Oh?” I reply.

He nods. Gravitas. This is serious.

I close the laptop. “Great, what did you get her?”
He looks around, checks that the coast is clear and looks at me again. His voice is even more hushed than before. “Do you want me to tell you?”

The anticipation is now killing me. What the heck has he bought her? A chocolate house? A car? The moon?

“Yes!!” I whisper, almost overwhelmed with the possibilities. This is great, he’s finally bought her something HUGE. Something that will kick all other birthday presents’ butts.

He leans in. I lean in. Heck, even the dog leans in.

Raising his eyebrows with glee as he tells me, “two, brand new, state of the art…slow closing toilet seats.”

*facepalm*

slow closing ts blog