Thursday, 31 October 2013

Who Am I?

Last night I tried to catch up a little with my blog reading, and I read a post in which Charlotte asked "who are you?". And in true Alice style, I got a little bit philosophical over this whole thing. It made me think- who am I? I'm sure Charlotte was only really asking for a name, so I'll start with that. But really- who am I? If I had a few words, and no agenda, how would I describe myself?

(As an aside, catching up also reminded me exactly why I love this whole blogging thing. Because reading the posts I managed to read through made me feel like I was catching up with old friends, and that was a rather lovely thing to feel.)

This is me. On my 21st birthday. Turns out, I like surprises/ chocolate cake with candles in it.
 I'm Alice.

23, though I have a tendency to forget, which is strange really, given that I'm a history nerd, though I suppose even with that I'm not very good at remembering dates. I am, however, a bit of a sponge for useless knowledge. It makes me fairly useful on a pub quiz team. 

I'm the middle child of two brothers and two half sisters, with one of each on either side of me. It makes for a fun conversation whenever anyone asks the seemingly innocuous question "So, do you have any siblings?". I don't think I suffer from middle child syndrome, though.

Cat lover. I'm a fan of dogs, don't get me wrong- but I am mostly just a bit of a cat person. I'm particularly a fan of Betsy, our kitty- or at least I was, until she hid a dead mouse in my boot on Friday. I still haven't quite forgiven her.

If I had to choose between deep-sixing either tea or coffee, I wouldn't even blink before getting rid of coffee for good. I have nothing against it, I just don't drink it. I was I was the sort of person who drank fancy coffees, but I'm not- if I drink it, it's either black or with the tiniest splash of milk. I am very certainly a tea drinker, and I can't remember the last time I went a whole day without a cup- possibly in Thailand, but even there I found my ways.  I'm also a huge chocolate digestive fan. In fact, I'm a biscuit fan in general, with the exception of ginger nuts. I am not, however, an eater of crisps.

It goes without saying, really, that I am a baker. But as this is an exercise in explaining who I am, I suppose baker has to be on the list. I am predominantly a maker of cakes, biscuits, and savoury pies. I'd like to add breakmaker to that list though- but as I don't eat a great deal of bread, that may take some time.

I'd like to describe myself as a runner, swimmer, and korfball player, though I almost feel as though that might be a bit dishonest- I am a good swimmer though. The other two receive my best efforts, and I'd certainly like to improve at both. If anyone has any tips as to how to improve my speed and stamina whilst running, I'd love to hear them.

In case you're wondering more about the where am I, I'm Devon lass, born in Manchester, and so entitled to call Birmingham "the north". I also maintain that the cream should always go on the scone (pronounced as in gone, not as in cone) before the jam. (Though I'm not getting into an argument about any of those things here. Let's agree to differ, shall we?)

Am I an introvert? I'm not sure. I'm certainly not one for demanding the spotlight- but I'm not averse to being the centre of attention. I do, however, need my own time and space every now and then. I am perfectly comfortable with silence, and get a sore throat if I talk too much in the course of a day or two.

I am a morning person. I get up the first time my alarm goes off, I have never hit a snooze button in my life, and I am a huge fun of 6:30am runs in the summer months. At this time of year, it's far harder, I'll grant you that. I am also a lover of flowers, chocolate, champagne, flying, porridge, red wine, blueberries, and teapots.

And some more words, which require less explanation, to finish: 
Polite. Smiler. Romantic. Dreamer. Planner. Impatient. Indecisive. Organised, but untidy.

So. Who are you?

Tuesday, 29 October 2013


Found here
I've mentioned it before, but life has got rather busy of late. Which is wonderful and brilliant and I like it a lot, but trying to find time to blog in and amongst the full time job, seeing friends, and making cake for various work celebrations, I'm starting to run low on time. 

I went on a date with a guy once who told me that our days should be split into three lots of seven hours- one to be used for sleep, one to be used for work, and one to be used for enjoying oneself. The remaining three were to be used for whatever the hell we fancy- but when you work eight hours, commute for up to three, sleep for eight, and try to have a little bit of a social life, all of a sudden the time just sort of vanishes.

And when time vanishes, so does my inspiration. 

From here
The ironic thing is that this week's #lbloggers chat was all about inspiration, andI am currently suffering from a rather large lack of it. I don't know why- theoretically, being busy should give me lots of things to write about. But we all know what it's like- when we're having fun, we forget to take pictures or remember things to put in posts. And hey- what's interesting to me (time with my favourites) actually isn't all that interesting to the complete stranger sitting on their computer somewhere else in the world. So what do I write about? I have absolutely no idea. 

So I'm trying to get my inspiration back. Will you bear with me while I hunt for it? And if you have any thoughts on things you'd like me to write about- feel more than welcome to pop them in the comments/ tweet me/ email me/ so on?

Monday, 28 October 2013

Happiness Is... (vol. 39)

After a long, busy, stressful week, this weekend was a balm to redress the wounds. It felt almost like a school or uni holiday, for some reason. Regardless, it was certainly exactly what I needed and I'm returning to work today feeling refreshed, brightened, and strengthened. I am Alice, hear me shout at the top of my lungs about why I'm right and you're wrong!!

But anyways. This week, happiness is...

Found here
... the clocks going back. Everyone crows about getting an extra hour in bed, but I actually liked the fact that I essentially woke up an hour earlier than usual. It meant I got an extra long Sunday, which is never a bad thing. I'm not one for lazy mornings!

... weekends with friends. This weekend included showing uni friends some of the best areas of Plymouth (Royal William Yard and the Barbican, with a trip to Cap'n Jaspers thrown in for good measure), and dinner with my two best friends from school on Saturday, and brunch and pub hopping with three very hungover friends and two not-hungover ones on Sunday. It's been bloody brilliant. 

From here
... Plymouth Gin. After twenty one years of living in the Plymouth area, I finally got around to doing the tour of the gin distillery to learn all about how Plymouth Gin is made. Did you know it contains seven botanicals, and has protected designation of origin, like Champagne and Cognac? And their sloe gin is bloody marvellous. A gin and tonic in the cocktail bar in the top of the distillery was also included in the price of the tour ticket, and we certainly weren't complaining- their gin is lovely! (And this is coming from a girl who's always a bit wary of gin, as it's known to be a weepy drink!)

... blog friends. Bess wrote a post for me. A post. For me. Isn't she awesome? I'm so excited to meet her, JennyEllie, and Emily over various weekends in November. God help them.

From here
... liking fish. Until recently, I had a mental block on eating fish. I was completely certain that I hated it, and completely refused to eat it. And now, I have no idea why- Mama CupandSaucer's fish pie is now one of my absolute favourite meals, and salmon with sweet potato chips is also pretty damn tasty. I think fish is a really great, grown up thing to like, and I'm so happy I enjoy eating it now! 

What's making you happy this week?

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake

I have a routine when I go to the theatre for a dance performance.

From here
I wear heels, a pretty dress, twist my hair into a bun, and put on dark lipstick. I point my chin up, push my shoulders back, pretend I'm balancing books on my head, and try to stand with the best posture I possibly can, so when I enter the theatre, other theatre-goers might think I'm a dancer, despite the fact that I only got a C in GCSE Dance (I only did it so I didn't have to do proper P.E.) and gave up ballet when I was 6. I don't think I'm very convincing, but it's all good fun.

So on Friday night, I put on my favourite lace dress, black tights, and dark red lipstick and headed off to the Theatre Royal to see Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake with Mama CupandSaucer. I've been dying to see this for years- I am a huge fan of his work, and have previously been to see Highland Fling, Cinderella, and The Car Man, which were all incredible. But this was just something else.

From here
Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake is the dance production featured at the very end of Billy Elliott and is particularly famous for using an all male corps de ballet as the swans, rather than the traditional, delicate female swans. Having seen a more traditional representation of Swan Lake when I was in Russia a few years ago, I thought that using male swans might be a bit odd- but oh, how wrong I was. The physicality of the male dancers mirrored the power, grace, and beauty of swans absolutely perfectly, and I've been left wondering how I'll ever think of swans as delicate little things ever again (and I mean that in a good way). 

From here
One of the brilliant thing about Matthew Bourne's productions is that in the programme, there's no synopsis of the story- he's incredibly good at making the story of a production with no dialogue really clear, but still open to individual interpretation, and Swan Lake was no exception to this. In my opinion, this production of Swan Lake is about trying to work out who we are- and how things can go when we aren't able to break free of others' expectations of us. It was incredibly done.

The cast were wonderful, and the lead dancers were all exceptional- Jonathan Olivier as the Stranger/ Swan and Andrew Monaghan as the Prince (and I think he was actually an understudy, so even more impressive) were both incredible, and Kerry Biggin as the Girlfriend was hysterical- which was something I really wasn't expecting!

From here
Overall, I can't recommend this production enough (or any other Matthew Bourne production, for that matter!). You can find the dates for the rest of the tour here, and if it's coming to a theatre anywhere near you, you really should try to go- even if you don't think you're a fan of the theatre, or ballet, or dance productions, I'm very sure that you'd enjoy this. The production is cool, funny, sexy (hate that word, but it's true), dramatic, heartbreaking- just generally brilliant, and you should go.

I wasn't paid to attend the show/ write this review- I just thought it was bloody brilliant, and that you should all go.

Friday, 25 October 2013

On Why I Like The Royal Family

I don't mean this post to be controversial, OK? I get that some people don't like the royal family. They see them as over-privileged, a relic of a bygone era, living off the state, yadda yadda yadda. To you I say- I will never change your mind, you won't enjoy this post, and there are probably people in your tow you could describe in the same way. But hey- I'm hoping at least some of you will share my glee at the picture below. And not just because of the impeccable colour co-ordination of the Princes, or the fact that the Queen has her handbag at her feet, or even the fact it gives newspapers (my bets are on the red tops) using headlines such as "We Three Kings In Waiting, Are" (to be sung to the tune of "We Three Kings Of Orient, Are", obviously).

No. I like it because it gives us all a little something to be cheerful about. A well known family have been joined by a beautiful, healthy baby boy, who will in all likelihood grow up to be our monarch. Isn't that exciting? Yes, it's a little bit silly- but surely no sillier than the fact that Nick Grimshaw appearing in Home & Away made the news? (I'm not even entirely sure I'd know who Nick Grimshaw is. Ellie does though, and got all excited when she saw him t'other day. Lucky girl!).

I just generally like the Royal Family to be honest. They're fun. They crop up at happy things, and generally seem to be pretty good sports. Let's not forget that the Queen pretended to be escorted to the Olympic Opening Ceremony by James Bond, after all! And Prince Philip is my favourite- who else would possibly say to a woman in a wheelchair at a garden party "well, at least you get to sit down through all of this"?!

I actually had an interview at Buckingham Palace a few weeks ago. Clearly, I didn't get the job, but it was an incredible experience, and really reiterated to me how important the Royal Family are to the wider world's perceptions of the United Kingdom (or do I mean Great Britain? I'm never certain which to use when). As I waited nervously outside, I attempted to calm myself by people watching, and was cheered by the huge diversity in the people standing outside the Palace, taking pictures, craning for a better look. It was amazing, and really made me realise just how brilliant everyone else thinks our Royal Family are. I just think it's a bit of a shame that more people here don't necessarily agree. Because let's be honest- the Royal Family are completely harmless. Yes, Her Majesty gets the final say on all laws which are passed by the government, but if she were ever to say no, there would be an almighty constitutional crisis.

I certainly appreciate that there are things which are not great about the royals, or monarchies in general, but I don't want to go into them here. Just please rest assured that I'm aware of them, and in some extent agree with certain things.

But regardless- Happy Christening Prince George. I wish you, your father, grandfather, and great grandmother long, healthy and happy lives. And when you're older, please take a leaf out of your uncle and great grandfather's book and do/ say some ridiculous things to give us all something to chuckle about.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Currently: October

Oh October. You're a funny month, aren't you?

Currently, I am...

... loving the colours of leaves. The tree pictured above is in my back garden (I'm not exactly sure what sort of tree it is, actually) and it sports beautiful dark burgundy leaves all year round. But in autumn, they too change colour, and it's absolutely gorgeous.

... re-reading The Time Traveler's Wife. Because it really is like a cuddle in a book, even if my copy has been so well read it's literally falling apart. I had to tape it back together at work on Monday.

... playing in my first korfball match! My team played against the local university on Tuesday night, and while they beat us, we put up a valiant effort, and I was complimented on my defensive skills (turns out I'm pretty speedy when I need to be!). Jenny and her team need to watch out if we ever face them in a tournament...!

... liking some parts of the shorter days. Particularly getting to see sunrises like the one above on my drive to work.

... learning all the words to American Pie. Because I'd quite like to be able to sing the entire thing without thinking about it- I think it's a valuable life skill worthy of inclusion in my CV.

... thinking that life isn't exactly fair a lot of the time. If you follow me on Twitter you may have noticed that yesterday, I said I'd received some bad news- which was namely that an amazing woman I used to work with, who encouraged me and supported me, suddenly passed away on Tuesday. It really shook me, and made me think that we really never know what's coming. And I'm not going to say "we should live every moment" because let's be honest- very few of us do. But I will say you should give your loved ones an extra squeeze today.

... feeling very thankful for amazing blogger friends. Everyone who tweeted yesterday to check I was OK, and my favourite PE ladies, made me feel so much better during a truly crappy work day (regardless of the dreadful news, it was an awful day in the office!)- so thank you all.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Fashion Advice From My Childhood Self

I'm not going to pretend I'm the most stylish person in the world as an adult. I know what I like and I know what I don't, and I very much tend to play it safe in what I wear.

Fortunately, Mama CupandSaucer had no such compunctions when I was a small child. And looking at old pictures on Saturday (we were trying to work out if I look as much like her as everyone says by using pictures of her aged 23 and decided that I don't.), I realised that I could learn a lot from my childhood self as far as fashion is concerned.

Therefore ladies and gentlemen, I give you- how to do 2013 fashion according to 1990s Alice. Apologies for the quality- these are photos of photos, generally close up to avoid getting any family members in shot.

Lesson 1: Stripes are always cool.

How many stripes can you get into one picture?
Lesson 2: Never throw away your tartan skirt. It will come back into fashion. And posing on your tummy is a good way to make yourself look slimmer.

Lesson 3: When it doubt, wear something with a collar.

I genuinely still have a cardigan almost identical to this one.
And the bigger the collar, the better

And finally- lesson 4: Getting monochrome, stripes, and a collar into one dress is an achievement which should be celebrated by climbing on a wooden block.

And now it's your turn. Please dig out your old childhood pictures and post them on the internet for my enjoyment?!

Monday, 21 October 2013

Happiness Is... (vol. 38)

My last truly quiet weekend until December has now been and gone. Eep. And I'm starting my busy time off this week actually- staying at my friend's lovely flat in Exeter tonight, playing in my first korfball match on Tuesday, and going to the theatre on Friday- which is all very exciting. But you may have to excuse me if posts get a little sporadic, particularly around the weekends, over the next few weeks. Okay? Good.

I felt rather meh at the end of last week and over the weekend, but a lovely walk with Mama CupandSaucer blew away a load of the cobwebs and I feel much better going into the new week. And this week, happiness is...

From here
...cheese on toast. Because let's be honest, for anyone trying to be remotely healthy this is like the worst thing you can eat, right?  Cheese. Bread.  Yeesh. Well, everything in moderation and a happy Alice you will have. And a everything that includes cheese on toast is a winner in my book.

... singing The Story very VERY loudly. Actually, singing anything very loudly makes me feel a hell of a lot better about everything. It's one of the reasons I'm a little glad about not being in the Car Share Club at work- if I had other people in my car, I wouldn't sing. As an aside, if you're every driving around the west/ south Devon area and see a small brunette girl singing along to Radio 2 inside a red car, chances are it's me.

.... boots and socks. I keep seeing pictures on Pinterest and then this post of Rosie's came along and I realised that I really am missing a trick by just wearing boots with tights or normal socks. So I added my walking socks to my favourite ankle boots on Saturday, and was introduced to a whole new world of cosy feet. Winner winner chicken dinner.

...things little kids say. On Sunday, I heard one small child on a bike yell to another "USE YOUR BRAKES YOU DOUGHNUT!". Priceless!

Just because I'm mentioning Downton. Sorry for the blur. From here
... switching radio stations just in time to hear a favourite song. On Sunday, this meant flicking to Classic FM (oh hush you) just as the Downton Abbey Suite began to play. This also happened in the week when I switched the car on just as Royals started playing on Radio 2. Happy Alice indeed!

Sunday, 20 October 2013

The Great British Bake Off: Apricot Couronne

In the words of Emma, Alice vs The Great British Bake Off is back!! (In a very picture heavy post)

I realise that I'm wildly behind with these technical bakes I'm insisting on making, but this way, I still get Bake Off enjoyment after it finishes on Tuesday (sob sob). As an aside, I think Kimberley will win, but I want Ruby to- it makes me sad that she's received so much bad press for a) being beautiful (it made me SO angry when a paper said last week that she's only got this far because Paul Hollywood likes her because she's pretty- it completely negates the fact that actually, her bakes are always good- she's won Star Baker three times for goodness sake!) and b) for putting herself down and crying a lot. Come on- it's a very British thing to be self deprecating, isn't it!? I can guarantee that if I were on The Great British Bake Off I would cry nearly every week, and would take my efforts to Paul and Mary going "Oh it's really not very good, I'm so sorry...". So consider that fair warning for if I ever apply for the show.

I have now made an apricot couronne, which is a delicious sort of sweet dough (not a sweetbread, very different!) filled with apricots, walnuts, and raisins. As I mentioned when I made English muffins, I'm not a bread maker- and that extended to sweet dough. But after this, I think I might be trying it more often.

I used Paul Hollywood's recipe, as always, and again, found it quite straightforward because I didn't have half the instructions missing, or a team of cameramen staring at me. And I'm actually getting used to this whole "waiting for bread to prove" thing- it really isn't that annoying, and if I'd been sensible, I'd have gone for a run while it was completing its first prove (as it was, I made the filling and watched an episode of Friends).

The things I found most difficult about this bake were being patient (as always), the initial twisting of the two ropes of dough (I was worried about it not being tight enough, and the ends stretching), and getting the twisted crown onto my baking sheet. Seriously, my one tip would be to twist the dough into a long rope, put your baking tray under the middle of the rope, then turn it onto a crown on the baking tray, rather than on the counter top. Just trust me, OK?!

I would actually say that this is one of the best bits of bread/ sweet dough making I've ever made. It's delicious, soft, well baked (even if I do say so myself). If I were being critical, I don't think I rolled it tightly enough when I made it into a swiss roll, I didn't put enough icing on, and I obviously missed out the flaked almonds, but hey- it isn't as dreadful as it could have been.

If you're interested, here are my attempts at Angel Food Cake and English Muffins too!

Friday, 18 October 2013

Batten Down The Hatches

Last night, Mama CupandSaucer went out for supper with friends. I, on the other hand, got in from work, made a cup of tea, and curled up in the foetal position under a blanket on the sofa. The cat in particular was mightily unimpressed that I had stolen the sofa and her favourite blanket.

I tell you, I live a rock and roll lifestyle. 

But come on- it's getting to that time of year where rather than lounging in the garden drinking Pimms, we're all far more interested in staying in, cosying up with tea and a book, preferably in front of an open fire/ log burner. And while I have some/ all of these things, I'm one of those people who is never really satisfied (unsettled, perhaps? Who knows), so I thought I'd create a little winter essentials wishlist for you all. Without a Yankee Candle or bath bomb in sight (because come on- it can't just be me who really doesn't get either of these things?!). And I inadvertently went with a red and blue theme- not entirely sure why, but I like it.

PJ bottoms from Fat Face. I love Fat Face loungewear/ sleepwear- it's always pretty good quality, and is always so cosy. I am currently in love with these PJ bottoms (as I never wear full sets, just nice pyjama bottoms and a random t-shirt normally yelling something about drinking a bar dry, or advertising some place my dad went on a business trip), and I think they'll be perfect for changing into straight from work when putting on jeans seems like too much effort.

Teapigs Everyday Brew- this is just really, really, really good tea. Any cafe that stocks this becomes a firm favourite for me, and I wish I could justify drinking this all the time. 

Plum & Ashby Blanket. How cosy does this blanket look!? It's likely that I'd have to fight the cat for it, and I already have far too many blankets/ throws (I think I have five in my bedroom at the moment), but I do love the look of this one.

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock looks like a really interesting read. I always read far more in the winter- partly because I'm less likely to lounge outside and people watch on my lunchbreak at work, partly because it just seems a sensible thing to do. I'm in a bit of a book rut at the moment, though (but the history nerd in me is incredibly tempted by "British Culture and the First World War" which was written by my absolute favourite lecturer ever)- so if you have any suggestions of great reads, I'd love to hear them?

Christmas Town Teapot. OH isn't it pretty!? Since seeing these made at the Emma Bridgewater Factory I've been dreaming of being able to justify buying one of these beauties. I can't work out what I'd have written on mine though- I''m not sure if just "Alice" is too boring. Thoughts? Either way, I'd fill it with the aforementioned Teapigs tea and be in seventh heaven.

Joules slippers are just so unbelievably cosy, and again, really good quality. I was given a pair for Christmas last year, and I absolutely lived in them- yet they aren't even close to falling apart. A winner in my opinion!

What are your winter essentials?

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Blogger Book Club: Today!

It's today! We're finally having our conversation about The President's Hat over at Sunny Sweet Pea, where Jenny will be hosting. Bring your own tea/ cake/ wine/ gin, if you so wish, but make sure you head over and have a natter. And if you're reading this after 17th October, don't worry- there's no time limit on the chat, so feel free to jump in and share your thoughts whenever you get the chance. The post hosting the discussion is here.

I thought I'd share a few of my thoughts on The President's Hat here first though- but of course, I'll be popping over to join the chat on Jenny's blog later when I get a chance! 

If you haven't read the book, The President's Hat is the story of a hat belonging to Francois Mitterrand, the president of France from 1981-1995. This hat seems to instill in its wearers a sense of confidence, security, and generally gives them a little bit of a kick up the bum. I really liked this, actually- I think we've all experienced that thing where you put on an item of clothing and instantly feel a bit different? Fanny Marquant, the second recipient of the hat, certainly knows this- "All she had to do was put on the YSL skirt and she immediately felt more attractive" (for me it's a black wrap dress that instantly makes me feel like a grown up at work).

I really liked the way the book moved from character to character, and almost gave the impression of several short stories all linked together by a common theme. I was actually quite surprised to like this style, as I'm not the biggest fan of short stories or tenuous links- but I think Antoine Laurain did this very well, actually. I also really liked the discussion of Mitterand's/ French politics, as this is something I've studied before- however, I imagine this would actually turn some others off! I also really liked the ending of the book- but I won't give that away for those of you who are yet to read/ finish it.

One of my favourite moments was when Daniel first realised he's sitting next to Mitterrand, and realises how easily it could not have happened, with the line- "The important events in our lives are always the result of a sequence of tiny details". This is so true, don't you think!?

There were a couple of things I didn't like so much about the book though- I did feel that on occasion it was a little too descriptive, for example with the mention of the designers of Fanny Marquant's clothes. Additionally, I never found it difficult to put the book down- I actually had to rush the last little bit in order to get it finished by today, so clearly this didn't suck me in completely. And also- if Pierre Aslan checked his hat into the cloakroom at a restaurant- why didn't Mitterand in the first chapter!?

If you've read the book and are keen to share your thoughts, please head over to Jenny's blog and get involved- I'm so excited to see what everyone thought of this one! And if you missed it this time, don't worry- we're sure to choose another book soon, so definitely keep your eyes peeled. Suggestions for our next book are welcome on the back of a postcard/ in a message in a bottle/ in the comments below!

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

"I want to forgive you, and I want to FORGET you"

Ahh, Lauren Conrad. Come on, admit it- we all bloody love her. And apparently, she got engaged this week, so exciting times for her! She needs to look at this Pinterest board for dress inspiration, by the way- that Bess has some good taste.

But anyways. As we all know, Lauren Conrad it the fount of all wisdom, and as I'm sure every gossip-y website is going to do, I decided I'd make a list of my favourite pieces of her wisdom for your enjoyment. Because come on- we've all been in a situation where you've been dying to say "I want to forgive you, and I want to FORGET you", haven't we? (Or is that just me?)

Found here
"Sometimes, when you love someone, you want to believe they're good"

From here

From here
And her hatred for Spencer spawns my all time favourite insult:

"He's a sucky person!!"

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to find some clips of The Hills to "listen to in the background" at work today... And laugh at the favourite quotes you're now going to post in the comments. Please humour me by going along with this....