Thursday, 15 March 2012

Buy a gift Spa Day Review

A few weeks ago, an email popped into my inbox, asking me if I'd like to receive a voucher from Buy-A-Gift  for a Spa Day for Two. I, of course, jumped at the chance. My back is utterly screwed, and the thought of a lovely, calming massage was extremely welcome after a month of incessant stress and faff and difficulty. Spa Days, in general, freak me out a bit - I don't ever quite know what to do with myself - but massages are lovely.

The Buy-A-Gift process is wonderfully faff free. They send you a box with your voucher on, which you then activate online, presenting you with a list of places offering your treatment. One of the things I really like is that the vouchers are transferable - so say you buy someone a voucher for a spa day for two, but instead they decide they want a luxury spa day for one... they can transfer it. There's also the option to add money to your voucher to upgrade it, as well as retaining some if you swap for a cheaper treatment. Lovely idea, very easy to navigate site - brilliant. Not a bad word to say about them.

The spa experience itself wasn't really that great. We were at Bannatynes, Millbank. It's small and a bit scummy looking. It didn't feel clean and airy, it felt like we were trapped in a basement gym with tiny corridors, surly staff and a swimming pool full of agressive men (well, I say it felt like that... it was that). We didn't really stick around in the spa itself - there was nowhere to just sit and lounge (apart from one slightly broken looking lounger) so instead we just waited in the lounge, read the papers and drank free tea until my friend's treatment (I missed mine due to someone jumping in front of a train, and they were unable to rebook it or offer me any sort of compensation - not even a smile)

The conclusion? I'd most definitely use Buy-A-Gift again - I may well get my sister something from them for her next birthday as there's a huge range of options but Londoners, you'd do well to avoid the Millbank Bannatynes, unless an underground gym full of grumpy people is your scene. In which case, know yourselves out!

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Thursday, 8 March 2012

The (Wo)men of Twitter

So today is International Women's Day. I hate this. I truly, truly hate it.* I hate that we still need to have an International Women's Day. That we need to have a day for any gender pisses me off. Why can't every day just be "International Accepting That All People of All Gender's Are Ace" Day? Why haven't we yet reached a point where exclusion is no longer acceptable, where discrimination isn't allowed to pass by with an "if we ignore it maybe it'll go away" attitude?

Why is it that women do 66% of the world's work, earn 10% of the world's income and own 1% of the world's property? Why is it 1 in 4 women are victims of domestic violence and yet the Government are removing funding from Refuge and domestic violence shelters are going to shut down? Why is it that there are so few women in positions of power and influence? I mean hell, even the Independent's Top 100 Twitter list only listed 1 woman in the top 25 and around a fifth overall, which sparked this article on whether or not women support one another on Twitter.

If you know me well, you'll know that Twitter is my true love. I tweet to excess about the general stuff and nonsense of life, about the beautiful things I see, about the things that make me angry, the things that inspire me. I also have a policy of sharing whatever's going on in my life with the Twittering world (you poor, poor things). If I'm happy, I'll let you know. If I'm sad, I'll let you know. And do you know what? I've never seen or experience a support network and community like it.

It's rare you'll see me talk exclusively about one gender group in a certain way, but today I'm making the exception to talk about the women of Twitter and their support and love for one another. That's not to say men (or people with a variety of other gender identifications) are complete and utter bastards and offer no support at all - they most definitely do - but I've been lucky enough to have been supported by some of the most wonderful women I've ever known on Twitter. I've been helped through some of the most difficult times of my life by a support network of women who, despite the fact they're from disperate parts of the world, band together around one another. Many of them are bloggers - be it health or beauty or politics or relationships. Networks of women, communities of women, willing to offer near complete strangers a shoulder to cry on and an email address to rant to.

Through Twitter, I've seen women supported through the potential fear of breast cancer. I've seen women supported as their lives are turned upside down, facing homelessness and dealing with shitty people making their lives terrible. I've seen women cheering on other women to turn their lives around, to discover that they're able to do things they never thought possible, giving each other helping hands to start new businesses, new projects, new ways of living their lives. When we're told that women are not supporting one another, it saddens my heart. It makes me want to run out into the streets and show the beautiful community I'm lucky enough to be exposed to. Women who find each other lawyers, who give each other pep talks, who help each other move through the shit of life.

I'm fully aware this is a bit of a soppy love letter to the women of Twitter. I'm fully aware that it's not just the women that do this. But I think there's something wonderful about day after day after day being exposed to groups of people supporting each other just because they can and I sort of want to share that. To be honest, their gender is irrelevant, and I'm slightly hijacking IWD as an excuse to wax lyrical about the love and support that can come from small communities of people with varying connections, but it just hit home for me today, as I shared some confidence wobbles, that the women of twitter most definitely do support one another, contrary to what Laura Davis thinks. Although the statistics may not show it, although women may not be high ranking, that doesn't mean that the love and support isn't still there. The flurry of tweets of received this morning looking after me prove that indefinitely.

*Just to clarify, I don't actually hate International Women's Day itself... I hate the fact that we still have to have it.

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Monday, 5 March 2012

Dear John Letter: The Reply

I know a lot of you were wondering whether or not my letter would get a reply... well, it did. It arrived last week, and this is what the Archbishop had to say to me:

"Dear Emily,
Thank you for your e-mail regarding my column in The Sun last Sunday.

I do remember you from your baptism outside York Minster in 2006. I have for a long time wondered what happened to you and what you are doing. Thank you for getting in touch. However, I am saddened to hear that since that time you feel you have lost your faith. As far as I know God has not abandoned you. You are still dearly loved.

I write articles for a variety of newspapers across a wide spectrum. For example, in recent months I have written in The Guardian, The Observer, The Times, The Sunday Times, The Independent, The Independent on Sunday, The Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday, The Telegraph, The Sunday Telegraph, The Yorkshire Post and The York Press, amongst other titles.

I will continue to use these opportunities to spread the Gospel message as widely as possible.

I hope that you had the opportunity to read my full piece from last week's Sun. I have attached a copy for information in case you have not.

One of the main points I was making is that we need to remember that God loves us and forgives us no matter how many times we mess up, and whether we deserve it or not. That applies no matter who we are.

It is clear from the Leveson Inquiry that there have been serious failings at News International and other news organisations for a number of years. We need to encourage a media in this country which is both responsible and fair. We also need to encourage people to make fresh starts. My writing does not mean condoning what was illegal and scandalous in the past.

All proceeds from articles I write are donated to local charities - in this instance, St Leonard's Hospice in York.

Please do keep in touch. Why not come for a cup of tea?

I appreciate you taking the time to send me your concerns. I will pray for you that God will reveal himself anew in your life and strengthen you.

+Sentamu Ebor:"

And before you ask, yes I might go for tea.
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