Tag Archives: liverpool

Urban Orienteering with The Lantern Company

This summer I worked with award-winning, Liverpool-based creative events company, The Lantern Company. The Street by Street, Creative Revolution has begun, and the DIY Festival project is now live!

Back in July, The Lantern Company put a call out for artists to help create a DIY Festival blueprint for families, community groups and neighbours. The Lantern Company is known for producing memorable, artistic events ( City of Light, The Monster Halloween Ball, Lumiere London, Liverpool Sound City, Hong Kong Parade, etc.) Due to Coronavirus lockdown, The Lantern Company can’t bring people together in its usual, inspiring way and so, it launched a brand new initiative. A DIY Festival Kit.

The Lantern Company

From The Lantern Company website: “The Street by Street Creative activities have been specially designed to kick start the party, from where you live. You can enjoy the activities in any way you want – at home anytime or as a way of connecting with your neighbours.

If you want to inspire families, friends, and neighbours to come together in your block / street / local park in a safe and socially distanced way, these activities are the perfect way to come together, apart, and have a mini celebration.”

I saw the call for commissions and immediately set to work on my proposal. A few weeks earlier I’d taken to the paths of Springfield Park to create some chalk artwork challenges for kids and their families to enjoy. They were well received and so I submitted my ideas to The Lantern Company – and they loved them too!

The Lantern Company

So, it gives me immense pleasure (still can’t believe I get to say this) to present to you – The Lantern Company, Street by Street Creative Revolution, DIY Festival Kit. Included are 6 different activities ranging from dance to music, baking, art, and my very own addition: Urban Orienteering.

Playing out is the new staying in! Inspired by old school pavement games, such as hopscotch, this workshop shows you how to create your own fun trail, using basic art materials and your imagination. Plan your route down the garden path, driveway, street, or community centre, with 2m gaps, add a start and finish line and get ready to race.

Rain or shine, young or old, we’ll have you stomping, roaring, twirling, and reaching for the stars, safely with your friends, families, and neighbours.

It’s essentially an arty obstacle course. It can be as easy or difficult as you want to make it. My favourite steps have been ‘Stomp and Roar like a Dinosaur’, ‘Emoji Stepping Stones’, and ‘Walk The Plank’.

For all the info about the DIY Festival from The Lantern Company, including video workshops and downloadable PDF’s, click here.

We’d love to see your own DIY Festival pics and receive your feedback. Share your pics with the hashtag #LanternDIYfestival and have LOADS of fun! 

 

 

 

 

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The Community Power Coat

During COVID lockdown, I was commissioned by Collective Encounters to create a piece of art that reflected the thoughts and feelings of my local community.

Do you remember how great it felt when your school mates (and one of two of the more sound teachers) signed your leavers shirt? Do you remember finding it hanging in the back of your wardrobe or rolled up in a memory box in the loft years later? How wonderful does it feel to remember those life events?

I took my cue from this feeling. I remember leaving primary school with the positive weight of good and hopeful wishes, literally on my shoulders. Fast forward five years and there I was again, leaving senior school with messages from all my friends scribbled and drawn all over my sleeves and chest.

Physically wearing thoughts and feelings is a truly transformative experience and one the majority of us remember fondly. Sadly it only seems to happen in childhood.

When I first moved to Liverpool age 8, I remember hearing my mum say ‘Oh, she’d give you the shirt off her back. referring to a friend who would help anyone and everyone, whenever she could. The saying stuck with me.

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As my teen years wore on in L13, I became increasingly aware of labels. I wore Bon Bleu, Sweater Shop, Fila and Nike Air Max 95’s. Our school coats were Helly Hansen and Sprayways. The lads all wore Rockport (in tan, obvs). Labels enabled us to fit in where it mattered. If you didn’t wear those labels, you weren’t cool, or in with the popular kids. It’s an age-old cycle on which we’ve all been on one side or another.

I looked more closely at how labels and their meanings change to us as we grow older. During the pandemic, labels such as Key Worker, NHS, Furloughed, and asymptomatic became more prevalent as we learned new ways of social acceptance.

Back in May 2020, Collective Encounters commissioned 10 new works by emerging artists. The commissions form part of its Above & Beyond project, and respond to themes of “community power” and “community action”. To fulfill my artistic brief, I combined the ideas of wearing feelings, labels to fit in, and labels to stand out and engaging with a community with human kindness at its heart.

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I created a coat. It’s a run of the mill, beige trench coat that you’ll see on any street in any town or city, around the world. Men and women wear this style and its colour is universal.

I began collating input from friends and family, then on social media and then with my neighbours, local food bank, and volunteers involved with food hampers and medicine deliveries.

I asked the questions: “What does community power look like, to you?” and “What does community power mean?”. The answers to these questions, coupled with the labels, words, sayings, and phrases that have become the ‘norm’ during the COVID pandemic, then formed the pattern for The Community Coat.

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The more I explained to people what I was working on, the more giving they were with their own experiences and feelings. Grief was an overriding theme as elderly loved-ones in care homes passed away without family members present. This gave way to rising anger as political figures were seen to be flouting the rules while funerals were watched through Zoom.

New behaviours and hobbies came to the fore. Family bike rides, street bingo, and making masks all got a mention. While riding the highs and lows of mental health on the Corona Coaster also featured heavily.

I used mixed textiles to recreate symbols old and new during this time. Black Lives Matter protests and moving tributes to the late George Floyd are there alongside nods to the International Space Station, our incredible NHS, and our city’s iconic architecture – surrounded by wildflowers, reminding us that the world revolved, without us.

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From crayons and sharpies to embroidery, temporary tattooing, stitching, gluing, painting, stenciling, feathering, and caligraphy – The Community Coat pays homage to a city filled with passion, dealing with grief, injustice, and new normals, all while having each other’s backs.

My profound thanks to Collective Encounters for allowing me to do something different with a creative brief, and for helping me to bring people from my community together, during unprecedented times.

Thank you so very much to each and every person who generously donated their words to The Community Coat. I hope it speaks volumes about our lives during the lockdown.

 

 

 

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Love Not Fear – Visions of the Future

Looking back through a huge catalogue of 17,000 images, I rediscovered a photo I took of my daughter, three days before lockdown. 

One good thing to come out of lockdown (aside from the incredible rosemary fries at Honest Burger, Bold St) is time to reflect. I don’t mean philosophically, although I’ve done a bit of that too. But through the massive haul of images I’ve taken over the last year, and one really stood out.

Now, I don’t profess to be anything other than a hobby photographer. Three years on I’m still only just getting to grips with my Canon 1300D (see, total amateur), but I’ve honed a skill for capturing absolutely ANYTHING that catches my eye. This has become a way of life now and just walking around the estate to the shop, throws up endless snap opportunities (it also adds an additional 10 mins on to what should be ‘nipping’ to the shop).

My daughter, Cleo is my willing subject. When she’s not throwing the peace sign at me and touching her nose with her tongue (eww) she genuinely loves setting up shots, looking at the light and how it affects the picture, and she’s nailed the ‘vacant eyes’ look which encourages the viewer to take in the entire scene, rather than just her little frame.

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I took this picture in Stockbridge Village, Liverpool. We’d been to a friend’s birthday party at the swimming pool. It was bedlam, full of fun and laughter and friends and good times. On the way home, we took a shortcut behind the housing estate and along the side of the primary school. Through a gate designed to stop people on quad or motorbikes avoiding police detection and along a path of broken paving stones.

The route was like a post-apocalyptic Total Wipeout course. Littered with broken glass, mattresses, small fire debris, kid’s plastic toys, laughing gas canisters, and household waste. There’s always dirty nappies, isn’t there?

On approaching the gate, we’d been full of chat, laughing about the kids having fun in the pool and playing party games. Walking along the path, each step felt like the party colours faded away. A modern-day Wizard of Oz scene.

I took the picture and we quickly moved along through the end gate. Far from an out of body or time travelling experience, the two minute stretch of wasteland was just plain eerie.

Love Not Fear (www.lovenotfear.co.uk) is a citywide collaboration uniting our communities through a digital vision board with people’s hopes and visions of the new world. It’s a place to plant the seeds and spread the message of the positive changes we want to see in our future through all creative mediums.

I have added my photo to the Love Not Fear vision board as a reminder that if we don’t take action to look after our community land and spaces now, the dirty nappies, mattresses and broken glass will be all that’s left for our kids. I’ve named the photo ‘Economy Class’. Investing love in our communities will help us to not fear the future for the generations to come.

You can add your Love Not Fear artwork here.

 

 

 

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Ghostbusters is the best film ever made. Fight Me

From the kick ass soundtrack to the budding romance between Peter and Dana and the epic one-liners that have spanned generations. Oh and Egon, science and sex appeal. 

So this evening I went to see Ghostbusters in Concert at Liverpool’s Philharmonic Hall. It’s a stunning venue and one fitting to show what I consider to be, the coolest film ever made. Closely followed by Ghostbusters II.

It’s been 35 years. Released in movie theatres (did you do the voice over guy in your head then?) back in 1984, I was just 2 years old and missed the thrill of queuing up to be the first to watch the amazing special effects and a cast of established and up and coming, exciting actors.

I think I first saw the film around 1988 and I adored it straight off. Well, once I’d gotten over crapping my pants at the ghost in the library! I instantly fell in love with Bill Murray as Dr Peter Venkman, in the same way my now 14 year old adores Egon – the late, great Harold Ramis. I love Louis and Ray’s one-liners and Winston not taking any shit, in fact, Janine not taking any shit and Peck being dick – Back off man, I’m a Scientist.

As you’ve probably gathered by now, I’m a massive fan. My friend bought me tickets to see Ghostbusters in Concert, with the soundtrack played by a live orchestra – as a birthday gift. I’ve been massively giddy about it for weeks and it’s rounded off my Christmas celebrations perfectly. I took my teen daughter because she’s word perfect on quoting the film and the aforementioned Harold Ramis love.

It was epic. Seriously, if you get chance to see it, go. With Ecto 1 bells on.

Dan Ackroyd delivered an opening speech, the brand new Jason Reitman Ghostbusters Afterlife 2020 trailer played and original director, Ivan Reitman revealed how the end of the film was rewritten following an outstanding audition from a relatively unknown Sigourney Weaver.

The performance was absolutely outstanding. Goosebump-inducing drama that you could feel in your chest as the film played behind the orchestra. The light-hearted strings and flutes as Peter and Dana meet, the stirring base and brass as the action reaches fever pitch on the Central Park apartment block roof and everything in between. The orchestra gave the film a whole new dimension, even after I’ve watched it 50 times or more.

I’m limbering up to fight you, because Ghostbusters is actually the greatest film ever made. Here’s why….

It’s about friendship. The dynamic between Ray, Winston, Egon and Peter is comedy gold. Each plays their own part and they bounce off each other perfectly. They stick together. Peter manipulates Ray – who will get a third mortgage for a house with a fireman’s pole (legend), Egon takes a load of shit off Peter too and Winston is actually really forthright – shouting at the Mayor, the lot.

The script. The one liners alone have stuck with generations who’ve enjoyed this family, action, rom com film. ‘Listen, you smell that?’ ‘Well my Uncle thought he was St Jerome’ ‘Okay, who brought the dog?’, three of my particular favourites. See more here.

Janine. Janine is a phenomenal character. Brimming with attitude, an 80’s wardrobe to die for and without a shadow of a doubt, the influence behind many a Spectacle Wearer of the Year Award winners look. I’d have like to have seen a romance blossom between her and Egon as opposed to necking on the sofa with Louis in the sequel. We got one!

Peter & Dana. From the moment Peter claps eyes on Dana and proceeds to jump over the office gate to greet her, you just know he’s going to pursue her. She fends him off, he turns up to her orchestra rehearsal, they agree a date and she goes and turns into a woman possessed, like, for real. They’re so cute together and the story progressing in the second film is the icing on the Manhattan cake.

The soundtrack. My teen and I once watched a misheard lyrics vid on Youtube and one of the absolute corkers was ‘who you gonna call…..? THOSE BASTARDS and since then it’s actually ruined that catchy Ray Parker Junior track. It’s still a belter though, and hearing it performed live by an orchestra is even better.

The “special effects”. Okay they’re crap. But by early 1980’s standard they’re all kinds of amazing. The streams, Slimer, the ghosts, the shit-scary dog thing that chases Louis through Central Park, the list goes on. They’re crap, but we love them.

Egon Spengler gets his own entry into why I adore this flick. He’s socially awkward, intelligent, quiet yet fearless(ish). When he smiles or is shown any affection (from Janine or Dana) his face lights up and frankly, some days that’s all you need in life. Team Spengler.

The Ghosbusters save New York City. In a sea of thousands of flicks set in the city that never sleeps, this one goes the extra mile and brings in a 20 storey high Stay Puft Marshmallow Man – and he’s pissed. These guys save the world and they do it in manky boiler suits while driving a former funeral hearse. Legends.

I could easily continue, for hours. A thesis if you will. It’s an incredible film, for hundreds of reasons and for me it will always be special. Go on, drop me a line with your thoughts katereillyjames@gmail.com. I’ll consider any other 80’s film as a worthy challenger.

 

 

 

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Black Friday

Bloody hell, everything seems so difficult just now. Heads up, this is a rant + breathe = gratitude type post. Just to bring you up to speed. 

So, the country has gone to shit. If you disagree with anyone on social media, you’re not only wrong, you’re also a kn*bhead as well. Everton can’t decide on a manager nor find their balls to sack the current one and to make matters worse – there’s more brawling going on at the school gates than ever before – and once again, it’s the parents not the kids that are fighting.

It’s been a whirlwind of a year. Disgusted I’ve not blogged since Spring but with comic work, ALL the what’s on at The Guide Liverpool, new podcast series with The Blue Room and three kids growing at a speed of knots, I’ve had about four days off. I spent my laptop free time in Paris – on the anniversary of the Yellow Vest Protests. You should have SEEN the tear gas and police parades. Spellbinding.

About the brawling. The school my kids go to if falling apart. I know parents who moved house to get their kids into the catchment area just a few years ago. The latest Ofsted was a shambles and nothing seems to have improved since. In fact its gotten noticeably worse. Police involvement in adults fighting and persistently using bad language in the school yard and resulted in some deep discussions about our future in the suburbs.

Letters have been written. Applications to new schools complete. Now we wait. And wait. And wait. Does anyone home school these days? Drop me a line, genuinely interesting in how that all works.

Comic book work should see a shift in the new year thanks to a brand new story and a little confidence boost from my friends in Texas. Ever wondered what would happen if the River Mersey ever burst its banks and engulfed the city? Bringing with it some big ass monsters?

This summer I interviewed Sister Sledge, I rocked out at Kings of Leon and interviewed so many inspiring people including former England Netball captain Ama Agbeze. I also assumed the role of Auctioneer for the very first time for the amazing, Clare House Hospice. Alongside celeb chef and Sunday Brunch presenter, Simon Rimmer, I was able to help raise more than £130,000 for children and families who need it most. An incredible 2019 highlight.

Doodling aside! I trained as a sports journalist as the sensational use of language that bridges punditry and media, has always fascinated me. Earlier this year I joined the guys at The Blue Room EFC podcast and gave my two cents worth on the Everton focused chat. It’s a brilliant laugh and I’ve been welcomed with open arms. So much so that we’ve launched a brand new strand of the podcast and now, Youtube channel.

Women on The Ball is a monthly podcast with Everton Womens captain, Lucy Graham and players Simone Magill and Maeva Clemaron and me as your host. Want to know what it’s like to be a female pro footballer? Tune in!

This week I joined the gaffer at The Guide Liverpool, the one and only Jay Hynd on a secret press trip down to London. We crossed the most famous zebra crossing in the world and visited the iconic, Abbey Road Studios! Stuff of dreams.

As Christmas rapidly approaches, you’ll find me writing gift guides, helping others to promote their independent businesses in Liverpool and donning my blue santa suit to rock up a BTR Santa Dash 5th medal! If I make it around the 5k course!

How’s your 2019 been?

 

 

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Dear Liverpool, I think I love you

It’s been one of those on/off things for 36 years. I think it’s love. 

Adopted as my hometown, I grew up in this spectacular city. I’ve spent the longest time under one roof here (5 years) and moved away only to come running back when the shit hit the fan. I couldn’t be any more of a wool if I tried. Born on the other side of the world, my mums scouse roots pulled her back to Merseyside when I was just 7 weeks old.

Living in the North East for a while as a kid, my favourite memories of coming to Liverpool were going to the markets, bonfire night in Sefton Park and absolutely anything from Steve’s chippy in Aigburth Vale. Not much has changed.

I’d go back to my little market town with all the latest gear. Clothes, trainies, hair accessories. My country-bumpkin friends jealous of my modern threads. I first went to school in L8 at the age of 8 with a Geordie accent. Safe to say I was ripped mercilessly for that and it soon gave way to ‘shiiikkkkennn’.

After a stint in Germany I was back again at the age of 10 to join a rough as shit school in L14. Having the audacity to tower a whole inch over the tallest girl in my class, I got my arse handed to me one day after school and was promptly moved to the upper echelons of……another, much nicer L14 school.

I moved back home to Sydney in 2000 for a short time. After working the Olympics I fucked up massively and needed my family and familiarity. So I came home, properly home. That’s when I knew this thing with me and Liverpool was serious.

I’ve made life-long friends here. I made vows here. Twice. I made some of the most incredible memories within Liverpool’s cityscape that will stay with me until my last breath. I know this city like the back of my hand. Each and every bump. It’s soundtrack, pulse and layout.

Liverpool Women’s hospital is an important place on the map for me. It’s where I changed. I shed my skin and took a new path. I grew up.

All three of my incredible little dudes were born there. Aided by equally incredible, local staff who work around the clock delivering miracles. I left my dignity at the door in exchange for knowing what love really feels like.

I’ve truly lived here. My life has fallen apart here. I’ve grafted, cried, hurt, loved, messed up, laughed til it hurt. Walked home from town in the small hours, watched the sun come and go and stared, open-mouthed as the full moon passed over the illuminated Liver Birds – for real, this actually happened.

I love the people. The polar opposites of the north and south of the city, red and blue. The scouse-ims, the drive and ambition. I adore the ‘don’t give a shit’ and ‘because I said so’ attitude. More than anything I love the solidarity. Scousers care, they love hard. And because of that, so do I.


Say hi! Twitter & Instagram.

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Fear of Flying

Alright so straight off, I’m not scared of flying, I love nothing more than starting my holiday at The Kissing Gate at LJLA with a glass of prosecco before being crammed into a tiny seat with no space for my long legs…..

I am however utterly terrified of taking the first step off the top of the Radio City Tower (St John’s Beacon), backwards on Friday 4th May 2018. Which as far as I’m concerned, is about as close to experiencing flight as you can get.

 

Jay and the team at The Guide Liverpool totally duped me into volunteering for this charity challenge, and don’t get me wrong, Cash for Kids deserves all the help and fundraising it can get to help disadvantaged kids and their families in our local area. I’m just absolutely bricking it.

Friday 4th May 2018 is Superhero Day for Cash for Kids and the Skyfall abseil is just one of many fundraising activities happening on the day. The icing on the cake for me is that I’m (hopefully) completing my free fall abseil at silly o’clock in the morning with my fabulous friend and fellow Guide Liverpool presenter, Claire Simmo. She’ll be laughing her head off, no doubt dressed as Robin/Harley Quinn, or bloody Tinkerbell, while I’ll be more concerned about not losing a Nike trainer or indeed my stomach when I approach that roof edge.

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It’s a 452ft drop, and I’d really love to hand Cash for Kids £452 for the opportunity of a lifetime to see the city like never before……and likely never again!

If you can spare £2, seriously, £2 is more than enough to reach my total before next week, please head to https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/superkatejames and do something amazing for those in need.

Thanks so much x

 

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Close All Browser Windows?

It’s 08:21 and so far this morning……..

I have stripped beds, put laundry on, made breakfast for the kids, washed up last night’s dishes, emptied the household bins, tripped out the front door in my pjays and ugg boots with said bin bags, re-wound my toddlers first yo-yo 3,985 times, checked to see what’s in for dinner, stuck the heating on, put cartoons on, organised colouring in, finally nipped for a wee and boiled the kettle……..twice.

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Whatever

I was supposed to be writing a minute by minute account of what my day is really like. It’s Thursday morning, the kids are off on half term break and I necked two Kopparberg and two glasses of wine while watching Sleepless in Seattle last night, so I’m less than fresh.

 

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Where Mummy’s go for a bit of peace

 

I’m taking the kids into the city today to do some cultural shiz, art gallery, museum, central library etc. They’re so desperate for a Gumball and Darwin figure from McDonalds that they’re willing to appease me through a couple of stories and ten minutes admiring my favourite Impressionist painting of all time. It’s the little pleasures that matter on days when you’ve got 469 mental browser windows open and battling with being all things to all people.

 

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I wont look better than this today

 

A friend suggested writing a blow by blow diary of a ‘normal day’ to see if I can take a different view on how I manage my time and commitments. It’s a great idea in essence but because I suck as time management I’ve not been able to fit it into my day – hmmm.

So here I am, typing with one hand, the other is holding Miraculous Ladybug as she kicks Spiderman’s arse, I’m being forced to watch Power Rangers and I’ve still got a 500 word article due before I bath the kids, wash breakfast dishes, grab a shower, iron, pack a day bag and head out the door for some R&R.

What’s your day looking like?

x

 

 

 

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01.01.2018

Good morning and happy new year, here’s to another 365 days to smile, make memories and live life to its fullest.

Last year I vowed to give up taxis, takeaways and spend at least 30 days out of the country. I managed absolutely none of those things. On the plus side made a considerable effort to ensure Delta (local taxi company) and Khan’s Indian takeaway had a prosperous year while wasting hours of writing time scouring the internet looking at faraway places, I couldn’t afford to visit.

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I did however manage a couple of awesome city breaks which made for some brilliant memories and so, travel is the only resolution I’m carrying forward into 2018.

The name of the game for me is discipline. Woah kinky, not like that. Discipline to spend more writing words, photographing people and places and ultimately spending more quality time with my kids. I’m acquiring new ways of thinking, focussing on the things that make me and others happy which basically means spending huge chunks of time with my phone switched off.

Kate Reilly James

All You Need is Love……and discipline

My equation looks something like this…..

DISCIPLINE = Mornings – iphone + Fun time with the kids + travel + focussed writing time = 2018

I never was any good at Maths. Whether you’re rolling into the new year as fabulous and carefree as the last, or you’re on a mission to change, switch up or improve, I hope you smash it. Every single day.

I’m back on Radio City Talk this week (Wednesday 3rd January 2018) from 12-1pm, click here to tune in and let me know what your New Year’s plans are.

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This Could Be….

It’s no secret that my 2017 dating escapades have been right up there on the crazy scale and so, on the very last day of the year, I’m vowing to do it all again in 2018. No regrets, these are the guys that made up a year in the dating game.

I have to give an enthusiastic high five to the multitude of dating apps that have aided my year as a singly, as hours of message tennis, back and forth until someone plucks up the courage (usually me) to arrange a date, has provided a number of fun adventures…..and a few I’d rather erase from memory. Bumble is my current fave but with a jam-packed January on the cards, I’m going to swerve the apps for a while and see how I get on in full 3d, rather than swiping for love!

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You know what’s worse than being stood up? Meeting your date knowing they bare face lied to you. I have an issue, a deep rooted issue from way back when –  I don’t date guys shorter than me. It stems from a lack of confidence (I know, me!?) and a crappy experience when I was 17. It is what it is and I’m really upfront about it.

This year I’ve matched with no less than 3 blokes who’ve sworn blind they’re 5ft 10, yet stretched up on tip toes to kiss me hello. Why? Why lie about it? Don’t smoke, be up front about your height and DON’T LIE! Am I asking too much?

Anyway, here’s to the guys that make up my dating history for 2017, the good, the bad and the awkward…..

The suited and suave, the epic first kissers, the muddy proposers, the man in uniform, the engineer, the one off the telly, the model, the chef, the property tycoon, the high school sweetheart, the one who made me laugh so much it hurt and the one who said he missed me, just a little, tiny bit. It’s been one hell of a ride.

Huge shout out to my best boy and girl friends who have listened, laughed, encouraged and offered up advice this year. I love you all very much.

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Initially I was all up for big New Year statements such as ‘no more f^&k boys or chasing men who aren’t available’, ‘I’m working on loving myself’ and ‘I’m letting love find me for a change’, but in reality, I really quite enjoy meeting new people and seeing where it goes. I’ll be writing my column on How to be Single in Liverpool over at The Guide Liverpool so keep your eyes peeled for regular, honest and frank accounts of my escapades there.

So while I’ll be focussed on my amazing kids, my bloody awesome job and training for GNR this year, I’ll still be playing the game, in hope there may just be a Prince Charming, Mr Big or 1970’s Harrison Ford out there for me. This could be the year I find my happily ever after.

Happy New Year Guys!

 

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