Horror & Anxiety

There have been loads of studies about how watching horror movies can actually sooth anxiety sufferers. I had never really thought about putting the two things together but it actually makes perfect sense – it also explains a lot. To me, about me.

I’ve always loved horror. When I was 18 I got my own TV in my bedroom. It was like a gateway to a new world and I fell in love with the movies right there and then. I found horror movies for the first time played late at night and I would stay up way past bedtime getting to know the big boys. Jason, Michael and pals. But I also learned about different sub-genres of horror, how they don’t all have to follow the same formula.

Now I rinse as many horror movies as I can, all the time. I just love them. Obviously there are great horror movies and there are terrible ones, and I generally feel as though there’s a place for most of them. Even the terrible teen ones that play their hand way too soon – I just need to be involved. Looking at you, True or Dare.

My favourites tend to be the psychological ones that get under the skin and fuck with your mind. I loved Hereditary this year because it took me to the darkest place imaginable. It gave me something that’s been done before but in such a different way. It shocked me, gave me feels and nightmares at the same time – and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since.

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Not your average feel good movie

I like smaller “anti” horrors that offer a slow burn with a massive pay off at the end the best. I like the horrors that feel real. They make me forget my own anxieties but could also totally happen in real life. It’s almost as if watching something like Hush, a home invasion movie about a deaf protagonist terrified in her own home is something that could so easily happen. While I myself am not deaf, I can put myself in her position. In a twisted way it makes me face up to what I might do in the same situation.

Anxiety for me is about questioning every little detail of my life, living with a constant paranoid fear that I’ve done something wrong and everybody hates me. But it’s also about fearing the very worst case scenario, for instance that my love ones will go out one day and never come back. These are the things I cannot control, the things that could happen but are unlikely. When I see a horror film it either makes me forget my own woes and focus all my feelings on the main character – or makes me stare at my own mortality face on – like I’m the final girl and the worst has already happened, so here I am: ready to fight.

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This is why you always sit with your back to the wall

I found a forum about this very topic on Reddit and user coffeeallthetime said it better than I can:

My rationale: Anxiety is your body being ready for an immediate threat that doesn’t (currently) exist, like a fight or flight response. Watching or reading horror gives a face to this “threat” and lets your mind live out the scenario, giving you a catharsis of sorts, and relieving the anxiety. Kind of like how listening to the song you have stuck in your head all the way through is supposed to help it get unstuck in your head. At least that’s how I think of it.

It’s hard to explain I guess just what I get out of these movies. They excite me, they make me tap in to my dark side, my fascination with the human psyche and how frightening human nature can be. I like the adrenaline shot I get what Laurie Strode fights off her brother – and it makes me feel like I could fight too. Let’s face it, in reality I’m more likely to be the wuss hiding under the bed but you just never know.

So to make myself feel better, I like to forget myself with horror and gore, final girls and ghosts. If it’s horrible, I want in please.

What about you?

You Can’t Handle the Tooth

Ugh, you know what’s almost as scary as ghost sharks, home invasion and getting a paper cut between the fingers? Dentists. They’re terrifying in every way and what’s worse is that we need them in order to… have teeth.

I’ve recently had to bite the bullet and find a new dentist. Turns out I need a root canal, which I’ve had before and to be honest, can handle if I have to. It’s just that initial dread of having to visit the man in the white coat who’s just been waiting about to personally hurt me – both physically and financially.

My last dentist was fine (blunt AF but fine) but during our last appointment I had a panic attack in his chair and I just couldn’t bring myself to go back to the scene of the crime. He was sweet enough and it wasn’t his fault but I just suddenly got so overwhelmed that my body lost control.

I thought I was fine but as soon as my chin started to tremble, my body started to shake and tears started to run – I knew it was game over. It’s that foam stuff they fill your mouth with in order to take a mold of your teeth. The worst invention of all time.

My new dentist, however is doing little to keep the fear going. He’s lovely, reassuring and has a little tattoo of a tooth on his leg. How can I be scared of that? Thanks to him my teeth are looking better than ever and even though I have to have the dreaded RC on November 5th (remember, remember), I feel hopeful for the future of my smile for the first time in years.

I kind of need to be a little scared of the dentist though, it seem more natural. We can’t become friends. That would be like accidentally becoming BFFs with Jason Voorhees, it would upset the natural order of the universe. Some things are just meant to make you feel icky.

What is your ‘every day’ fear?

Fall Anthems

I’m a lazy toad at the best of times but there is one physical activity that is totally my jam and that’s walking in the Autumn.

It harks back to my time living alone in Vancouver, a very introspective period of my life. While I was doing my ‘single life’ navel gazing, there were a couple of tunes that just kept popping up as I stomped about getting shit done.

I’m a creature of habit really, so if a song makes my rotation, it very rarely gets booted off again. So I’m basically listening to these songs still, my Fall anthems. In no particular order:

  • Edge of Seventeen – Stevie Nicks
  • Everywhere – Bran Van 3000
  • Army of Me – Bjork
  • Be The One – The Ting Tings
  • Maps – Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  • Cheap & Cheerful – The Kills
  • Buffalo Stance – Neneh Cherry
  • Rhiannon – Stevie Nicks
  • Save Tonight – Eagle Eye Cherry

I don’t think these songs need any introduction, I just love them, and feel strong and motivated when I listen them. I actually might go out for a little wander around the park in a bit, those fallen leaves aren’t going to crunch themselves underfoot.

You can have a cheeky listen to my Autumn Jams here:

What are your favourites?

Final Girl Friday: Sara, Creep 2

Desiree Akhavan is a force to be reckoned with and has been super impressive in front of and behind the camera with Appropriate Behaviour (which she wrote, directed AND starred in), Girls and The Miseducation of Cameron Post to name but a few. So imagine my delight when she also appeared in the much-awaited sequel to one of my favorite movies, the sleeper hit Creep.

And now she’s the star of this week’s FGF!

*Spoilers – beware!*

The Girl

Sara, Creep 2 (2017)

The Situation

Sara is a videographer and student with a sideline YouTube channel called Encounters, in which she meets up with strangers who leave bizarre ads on Craiglist. Her numbers aren’t setting the world alight and she’s about to call it a day when she stumbles across an ad that really sparks her curiosity.

Aaron (Mark Duplass) is offering $1,000 to a filmmaker willing to document him for an entire day, as long as they don’t scare easily. Figuring she can go out with a bang following a brilliant finale, Sara digs in. She might live to regret her decision though, particularly when Aaron reveals he’s a serial killer.

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Nice wallpaper

The Final Girl

Sara is an interesting character. She’s self-motivated and very much doing all of this for the sake of her passion project. She’s also not afraid to use her feminine wiles to get what she wants, including getting in the hot tub with Aaron when he loses interest in their join venture and wants to kick her out. At one point Aaron also suggests they get the issue of wondering what the other looks like naked out of the way by… getting naked.

Sara outwardly is unflappable, though we realise quickly she’s giving herself pep talks in the loo. And also, for the most part she doesn’t believe what Aaron is telling her.
When it clicks, and she realises she might be in danger after all, she has the cunning to outsmart Aaron – and that’s the main quality required in any good final girl.

Sara was the perfect foil for Aaron, a serial killer just turning 40 and losing his desire to murder anymore. When she arrives, she mixes things up and not only does she ignite a new energy in Aaron, she also keeps the second film in this soon-to-be trilogy fresh and exciting. Where Creep had the real Aaron (Patrick Brice) play alongside Josef (who changes his name to Aaron for Creep 2, keep up), Sara bounces off Aaron (Josef) in a whole new way. And that ending!

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Final Girl Rating

4/5. I would watch the shit out of “Encounters”.

Scream Queen Girl Gang (Modern Edition)

These are the actresses I’d most like to have a pint and share eyeliner with because they seem cool. And you know, if we ever happened to get into any trouble, then I’d be confident in their ability to help me fight to the death – which is a pretty good quality to pick in a friend. Just saying.

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Freddy Vs. Jason (2003)

Katharine Isabelle

Horror CV: Ginger Snaps, Carrie (TV Movie), Freddy vs. Jason, American Mary, Torment, Hannibal (TV Series)

I adore Miss Isabelle, not least because she’s the lead in a couple of my favourites (Ginger Snaps, American Mary). She’s Canadian (like me) and she’s lovely – and I just think we’d get along.

According to IMDB there was friction on set between her and the director of Freddy Vs. Jason because she refuses to do nudity – and I like that she’s not afraid to stick to her guns. You do you, boo. I just wish she was in way more – my favourite modern-day Scream Queen 4 lyfe.

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Don’t Breathe (2016)

Jane Levy

Horror CV: Evil Dead, Don’t Breathe, Castle Rock (TV Series)

Jane Levy first popped up in Suburgatory and was the best thing in it. Then the remake of Evil Dead came along and she was brilliant. Genuinely. The film itself took fresh liberties with the story which kept it modern and set it apart from the originals (which are amazing) – plus she was the final girl!

Jane herself has gone on to star in Don’t Breathe, a film I wish I liked more and I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore, which is a GREAT movie that also stars one of the other members of this gang (see below). They incidentally also star together in Stephen King inspired TV series, Castle Rock.

I don’t know, I just think she’s cool and hopefully as sarcastic as some of the characters she’s played. Sarcastic is good.

Brittany Snow stars in Screen Gems' thriller PROM NIGHT.
Prom Night (2008)

Brittany Snow

Horror CV: Prom Night, Would You Rather

I feel sometimes like the world needs a doe eyed Brittany to keep things on an even keel – and without Brittany Murphy (RIP), the crown fell naturally to my girl. This Brittany has done the rounds as a teen icon but she’s so much more than that. She’s so convincing in Would You Rather than I often think about that film and how I’d fare in the same situation. She can also tow the line between popcorn movies (the Pitch Perfect trilogy) and lesser appreciated indies (Bushwick).

Brittany has been quite open about her struggle with depression and self-harm in the past and in 2010 she started the Love is Louder movement to support anyone feeling mistreated, misunderstood or alone – which is awesome.

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Melanie Lynskey

Horror CV: Rose Red (TV Mini-Series), XX (segment “The Birthday Party”), Castle Rock (TV Series)

I love Mel, the Indie Sweetheart. Jill and I are such fans we enjoyed a Melanie Lynskey month on the Blog Collab in 2017 – spurred on by the aforementioned I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore. We both heavily related to her seriously pissed off character Ruth who is driven to drastic action when she’s let down by the feds following a burglary.

Imagine my delight then when she popped up as Mary in the St. Vincent directed segment of XXX called Birthday Cake. Now she’s rocking her part in Castle Rock alongside Jane Levy – and even though I’ve been quite slow on the uptake, I’m enjoying her very much in it.

Melanie is my age so she’d get my pop culture references and she looks like a laugh so I’m confident we’d be the best of all BFFs.

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American Horror Story: Cult (2017)

Sarah Paulson

Sarah Paulson would be our mate from out of town who pops up occasionally to hang out. I don’t need to go into why she’s great as I’ve been banging on a lot about American Horror Story lately, she just is.

And that, my friends is my Scream Queen Girl Gang.

Who would you choose?

The Monday Feeling

I have a super power. I’m not sure why but wherever I go, people tell me things. Deep and meaningful snippets of detail from their lives that I don’t ask for. I love it though – it makes me feel good to be trusted and it must mean I have an open face.

I think sometimes if you make eye contact with someone you tend to connect with them whether you like it or not. This can backfire in certain social situations, like on holiday when you want to be left alone or on the bus. On the plane to Copenhagen, which was delayed for 2.5 hours, I got talking to the American guy beside me and by the time I’d landed I knew his fiance’s name, how he proposed, their upcoming wedding date, where he worked in Chicago and his favourite film. Not to mention his political views and where he stood on religion.

For the most part I wouldn’t change a thing – I’d much rather be approachable than not. I’m giggling as I think about the handful of friends I have that would seriously disagree with me.

Anyway, I was going to write about my favourite witch films today but have decided to bump that post in favour of this one because I’m kind of buzzing about a conversation I had with the woman in the Co-op last week, and this morning.

Before I start, I should write a disclaimer to say that the Co-op seems to be the scene of a lot of these scenarios for me. Years ago I befriended a guy behind the counter who used to give me leftover flowers most mornings and then went off to have a tummy tuck. My friend Darren found it hilarious how much information I would be bombarded with while handing over money for my cheese & pickle sandwiches. And all while the queue backed up behind me considerably.

Now it’s a woman in town who’s a little bit younger than me. On Friday she was all over the place so I asked her if she was okay. She revealed that she was in a 17 year relationship that had gone off the boil and was now messaging someone else. While I didn’t ask, she was pretty willing to go in on the fact that her long-term boyfriend was taking her for granted and the new one was exciting and super-attentive (they always are at this stage, babe). I had to tell her I’d been there in the same situation because I have – and that she should seriously try to do what’s right for herself.

Well! This morning she greeted me with the biggest smile and told me she’d ended it over the weekend. Nothing about the new guy because it isn’t even about him. It’s about her. She said she was walking on air and that it went so much better than she’d anticipated. Now she has the rest of her life to look forward to – and won’t be turning 40 in a horrible relationship. And man, I FELT HER. I felt it all.

I have been there and I remember the absolute high of finally being free, the greatest feeling of all time. The fear, the anticipation, the realisation that all future decisions were my own, that I had a choice – and that I could change everything if I wanted to. She’s going to feel up and down for a while but over all, she’s going to feel on top of the goddamn world and it makes me so happy for her. You go for it, girl, enjoy every minute!

So people tell me things and I love it but I particularly love it when it’s a good story and one I can personally cheer for. She’s so nice this lady that I imagine we could be friends in IRL. And as for all the other secrets well they stay here with me, not to be blogged about. Ever.

“That’s why her hair is so big, it’s full of secrets.” ~ Damian, Mean Girls

Horror F(r)iends

I might not have made it clear enough on this blog: I live for the movies. All movies really but mainly horror. Good horror, bad horror, cheap horror – most of it has a place in this old heart of mine. My absolute favourites of all time include Candyman and Hellraiser – with a whole lot of variety in between – and what better month than this to revisit the classics and discover new and exciting horror gems?

This post isn’t strictly about those movies though (we’ll do a 31 Horrors recap at the end of the month), it’s about the like-minded friends who love the same movies I do (specifically horror). People like this, the ones who really really get you are like gold dust I swear and this post is for them.

Of course anyone who reads this blog will be familiar with my blog wife Jillian already. We originally bonded over our love of odd movies and are now three years deep into our Great Blog Collab. Our specialty, and favourite month just happens to be Halloween so you could say we’re on the same page when it comes to horror films (and shark movies but they get their own month). In fact, Ginger Snaps is the first film we ever reviewed together, FACT FANS. We also appreciate women on murderous rampages, Film Noir and women who look good smoking.

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Katharine Isabelle, werewolves AND smoking? The holy horror trinity (read my review here)

Jill and I have had some real hits and misses over the years but most times seem to more or less agree on the ratings. Sometimes the films we pick are too good and that can be a problem when our original MO is to snark the hell out of the things we watch – but you can’t win them all. I’m so thankful for Jill, one of the best things to come out of blogging for me – a gorgeous friend online and IRL now too.

James, my podcast partner also deserves a shout out for sitting through some of the dreck I’ve made him watch over the years in the name of content. Cat Sick Blues, anyone? (I do NOT recommend). We’ve also explored a lot of anti-horror together. To name but a few: Felt, The Sacrament, Magic Magic, Spring and Digging Up the Marrow – all of which could be categorised outside the genre comfortably but are definitely shining examples of horror done well.

Honestly, the podcast has brought me so much joy and being able to just waffle on about films until the cows come home is the best thing ever. There’s a limit to how much people want to talk to me about these things so to find a like-minded partner is priceless, honestly. I hope we never stop. Even if James doesn’t rate The Exorcist III.

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Felt (2014)

And last but by no means least my lovely friend Matt who unwittingly inspired today’s post. Matt is the most knowledgeable horror fiend I know and even though we’ve only known each other for a year, I feel like he’s my horror twin. This morning we compared notes via messenger on what we’ve watched this month already and those are the conversations I live for.

We’re even planning a really cool project off the back of our interests and it is going to be so ace I can’t even tell you. I’ll share more when we’ve actually got off our bottoms and made solid plans. This week we’re just treading water until Halloween (2018) is released.

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Hai bae ❤

I can’t not shout out my husband as well, who puts up with all my shit and still seems to like me. Who hasn’t wavered (yet) when I’ve forced him to get involved in my 31 Horrors challenge. Who suggested The Company of Wolves for tonight’s viewing – and who’s just super-cute most of the time. How lucky am I?

So today I am feeling extra blessed to have these people in my life so we can share our common interests like the beasts that we are.

Thanks for being as horrible as I am deep down 🎃👻🔪

The Scariest Tale of All

I often think about fear and how it affects me. All my life I think I’ve been afraid to try too hard. Sounds pretty general (and maybe relatable?) but if I’m honest, if I’d pushed myself harder in certain areas, things could have been different. Higher education for instance or my so-called talent for spinning a sentence – I’ve been scared to put myself out there in such a way that I actually get some of the things I want.

I am content with what I have though, and I’m genuinely happy with my life. We could always do more or have more but it’s important to appreciate our lot too – so I’m not lamenting anything really, or wishing I’d done things differently. I was meant to be a underachiever and that’s okay, I’m alright, kid.

The one thing that truly terrifies me though is getting older. On one hand we gain wisdom (supposedly) with every passing year but I’m genuinely afraid to get to a point where I’ve lost all my teeth and my knees don’t work anymore. The world is still so obsessed with youth and beauty – and even though I barely have either now, the complete loss of it is very hard to come to terms with. One day I will be a real and true elderly woman with a blue rinse and there’s nothing I can do to stop the process.

I once read an article by a woman who wrote that being middle-aged was the hardest thing to get used to because nobody sees you anymore. I thought at the time this sounded stupid but turns out to be true. You hit 40 and you’re suddenly invisible, the see-through best friend to all your hot younger pals. I am sort of joking, but only because if I don’t I will cry.

So if right now you asked me what my greatest fear is, after sharks, I would say it’s getting older. I’m scared and it is inevitable: I will age. I’m ageing now – every second of every single day I am getting older and I can’t slow it down – so I have to accept it. I can’t let the fear rule my life – I have to remind myself that with every thing I lose, I gain something new. Experience, wisdom, wrinkles.

Since I can’t beat the passage of time, I’m going to have to own it.

CopenYAYgen

I’m not the best traveler in the world. I get kind of angsty when I have to step outside my comfort zone, particularly when it comes to the practical aspects of the actual travel. But of course it’s always worth it and I love nothing more than mooching around a new city. My favourite ever thing to do is watch people going about their day while I sit and drink coffee.

I thought I’d share our trip to Copenhagen with you with that in mind. It was a really lovely time away with Tora and we did all the things we really love to do, namely eat, drink and wander about. Here are a few of the places we visited.

What We Ate (most importantly)

Wulff & Konstali Food Shop

We enjoyed a simple and delicious breakfast at W&K on our first morning and I think it might be one of the best meals we ate. Once you’ve grabbed yourself a seat, you go up to the counter and tick off the items you fancy on a card. For a set price you can get five or seven items (I opted for 7). The breakfast portions are small, like breakfast tapas.

The interior has a clean canteen feel to it but it’s cosy and bright inside while the service was fast and the food really was excellent – the price was reasonable too. Copenhagen is an expensive place but there are so many options you can opt for more thrifty choices if you want to.

We stayed in the lovely neighbourhood of Nørrebro and this was about a 10-15 minute walk from our apartment. I’m still thinking of the crispy bacon and the incredible sesame seed danish I had to start.

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Møller Kaffe & Køkken

This was also a dream. Breakfast is such a luxury when you’re away from home and it should be as fancy as possible. When we arrived (it was Saturday morning) the queue was pretty hefty with a wait for a table to match – which is how we knew it was going to be worth it.

Again it was a selection of small dishes including tiny beef sausages, waffles and chicken nuggets. I also enjoyed an exceptional hot chocolate which came with the cream on the side, to be plopped it in your own good time.

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War Pigs

This was a recommendation from a friend of Tora’s (who had visited but not been able to eat here because of vegan friends!).

We walked to the Meatpacking District to find War Pigs and it was a really interesting area but unfortunately it was also mostly closed. We found that on Friday a lot of places didn’t seem to have much action going on, in our neighbourhood especially. Things were much livelier at the weekend which is probably a good thing to know for future visits.

Anyway, the food here was outstanding and absolutely my kind of grub. I opted for spare ribs, potato salad and coleslaw, while Tora had pork shoulder, chicken wings and the mac ‘n cheese. Unfortunately I made a rookie error at the counter and accidentally ordered the super hot link sausages and couldn’t eat them. Would 100% eat the ribs again and again. Sorry vegans.

What We Saw

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The Little Mermaid Statue

I’m so glad I got to see this girl for myself but she is surprisingly tiny (perfectly formed though). I think she could be easy to miss if you don’t go out of your way to find her. Basically, you have to keep an eye out for the flock of tourists crowding her – and you’ll be fine.

The light wasn’t great for photos and I had to climb down on some slippery rocks to get her in shot but she’s so beautiful, it was totally worth it.

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Design Museum Denmark

It was raining on our first morning so after our lovely breakfast we made our way to the Design Museum which was really interesting. Danish design is very distinctive but it’s fascinating to see where it got a lot of its influence from.

I particularly enjoyed The Danish Chair An International Affair permanent exhibition which pays tribute to the diversity of… well, chairs.

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TorvehallerneKBH Food Market

I was actually too full to eat anything here but it is ace and a really nice space just to sit and watch the world go by. Offering you all manner of cuisine and goodies to try, there’s something here for every taste.

Where We Stayed

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A Home From Home

Our apartment was stunning and felt very traditional, with amazing lighting and clean space. We spent a good amount of time just doing our thing there, watched a bit of Netflix, eating sugar cookies and reading in the nook. Damn I miss that nook.

You can find similar deals on Airbnb here.

~ It was such a good trip and I really recommend Copenhagen.

My only small disappointment is that Tivoli Gardens was shut for Halloween decorating so I didn’t get the chance to visit. In some ways this might have been a blessing in disguise as our Airbnb host pointed out, it’s in an area that Danish people never visit because it’s so touristy – she wasn’t wrong.

Copenhagen, I miss you already. Thanks for the memories.

*Featured image not mine (via Unsplash)

Autumn Bucket List

I haven’t really planned much for Autumn apart from my trip, which in itself is a pretty cool thing to cross off the bucket list. I’ve always wanted to visit Copenhagen, so I guess I’ll start there.

These are the things I’ll be doing this Autumn, in no particular order.

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Copenhagen

Tora and I have been friends for years, ever since I got back from Vancouver. My old BFF was always trying to force us together, even before I left and neither of us were that into the idea. But on our own terms we inevitably fell in love and have been close ever since. This will be our first trip away together and we can’t wait.

We have rented our own apartment about 45 minutes from where all the action happens in the city and have a very vague to-do list – I want to visit The Little Mermaid, Tivoli and the design museum and just generally mooch, and Tora’s in agreement.

This is exactly what I need right now, good company, good surroundings and a shitload of good food and drink. And as you read this I will be away enjoying myself. Catch you on the flip side.

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The Perfect PSL

In a pinch obviously Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte will do but it’s not great. Much better if you have it made with soya milk. This Fall I will be searching for the perfect PSL – I have a suspicion it’s out there somewhere just waiting for me to rescue it.

I do love a seasonal drink in the late Autumn sunshine, leaves crunching satisfyingly underfoot as I amble on my way to wherever I’m going.

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Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

IMDB Synopsis

As her 16th birthday nears, Sabrina must choose between the witch world of her family and the human world of her friends.

I’m quite certain Jill will be with me on this one, and I really hope it’s great. Riverdale, like Sabrina is based on the Archie comics and was a pile of trash (sometimes in a good way, ultimately not).

Any 90’s kid worth their salt had a soft spot for Melissa Joan Hart’s Sabrina, the Teenage Witch in all it’s cheesy, all-American splendor. To be able to revisit the source material with a darker twist sounds blissful and I’m very excited about it. I’ve missed Salem the cat.

Whisper after me: Please be good. Please be good. Please be good.

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Doing Nothing

There’s an art to doing nothing and I think I have it down pat. I’ll be making far less plans in the evenings and I shall be nesting with the best of them. Heaven.

What have you got planned?