Earthy Teal Recolours of WondyMoon’s Hydrogen Living Set

I adore this set from WondyMoon but I couldn’t seem to find any earthy teal recolours for my game so I made my own and posted them to my Sims 4 Tumblr: Love and Scenery Sims 4. I’m also adding them here for my WordPress followers :)

KAK81 WM RC 01 Continue reading

The Awakening of Hunter Venus – A Short Story – Part 3

To Read Part 1 Click Here

To Read Part 2 Click Here

I spent the majority of my teen years trying to find any sense of solace away from the craziness that was my family.

This included sneaking away from the family house to the local gardens to get lost in a good book.

My mother was pregnant with baby number 9 or 10, honestly by this point I’d lost count. She seemed addicted to having children despite not having much time for those of us that she had already given birth to.

I felt sorry for my younger siblings so I often took on the role of counselor for them.

I’d even got pretty good at using the grill so I made sure the kids always had something to eat.

But my greatest joys were always found online.

I’d been talking to this guy named Deon on a Dr Who and Torchwood fan forum for years and he always knew how to make me laugh.

The day after I turned 18 he asked if I wanted to meet up.

I told my little sister Elise about this and she told me I should go for it.

I was nervous but I decided to put myself out there.
Continue reading

The Awakening of Hunter Venus – A Short Story – Part 2

To Read Part 1 Click Here

Being part of a big family meant that quiet in our household never lasted for long.

My amazingly chilled out older brother Sunny was forever settling fights between the twins, Liana and Lazlo, whilst I rolled my eyes at them from a distance.

Liana was a bit highly strung and often took out her bad moods on the rest of the family. She reminded me a lot of our oldest half-sister Vee. I missed her a lot and had long since forgiven her and my estranged father for what they had done.

Liana wasn’t all bad though. As long as she found an outlet for her energy she could actually be a wonderful sister with a big imagination and plans for the future.

Some of the fondest memories I have from my childhood were of Liana indulging my Star Trek fantasies by pretending to crew the Starship Enterpise with me as captain in the local playground.

And bless her for that as without those retreats into a dreamworld I’d have been living on my nerves.
Continue reading

The Awakening of Hunter Venus – A Short Story – Part 1

Growing up being different leaves its mark on you. The home I grew up in was filled with half-siblings and run haphazardly by my mother Ariane Venus. She was a single parent and a published author who never took time to make a relationship work properly.

Consequently I retreated into myself often spending time alone with my chemistry kit or stretching myself mentally on the chess table.

Another thing my mother wasn’t very good at was using effective contraception. Thanks to this she was almost permanently pregnant and grumpy as the spawn of her many conquests took root within her womb.

My father, J Huntington III, often visited but couldn’t stand the chaos of our house. It was far removed from the rich and privileged life that he had been born into and my mother and I were his dirty little secret.

Despite the way he viewed my family I still loved him. He was my father after all.

My oldest half-sister Vee also seemed to appreciate him, she was always nearby when J arrived.

During the summer Dad would always arrive prepared for a swim in our little backyard pool. Since the weather was hot I didn’t think too much of it at the time.

But one day when I arrived home late from school, after staying on for chess club, I walked into a scene that boggled my young mind.
Continue reading

Sims 4: My View

It’s never easy when one generation of a game you’ve played for several years comes to an end. I think most long-term simmers can relate to the odd conflict of emotions the advent of a new generation of our favourite game represents. We’re excited to see what the new one will be like but sad to leave the fully tricked out last generation behind. However I always find eventually that I gravitate to the new one completely and this has been no different with Sims 4.

Some of my urge to move on was motivated by the almost (totally if without Twallan’s mods) game breaking lag issues with Sims 3 but also it felt like the right time.

Sims 4 has been available to buy since September 2014 so I’ve had a good few months of game play now to really get a feel for it. Maxis / EA has  just released the first Game Pack for it which I haven’t purchased yet but probably will when they drop the price (I’m just not that into camping). Now feels like a good time to share my view of the game.

Below is a brief run through of the features that have really sold me on the 4th generation of the game.


The big sell with the 4th generation of the game is multitasking. Do not underestimate the difference this can make to the realism of the game. Until you actually experience it then it can be hard to explain but I’ll try.

In previous generations of the game it was rare for sims to do more than one or two tasks at the same time. Now they can do three or four things at the same time.

Combinations include

  • Working out whilst watching TV / listening to music and chatting
  • Eating whilst listening to music / watching TV
  • Watching TV whilst talking to other sims and fiddling with a smartphone
  • Cooking whilst chatting to the family and listening to music.
  • Sitting by the side of the pool or in the pool swimming and talking to others

There are so many combinations and this means each room / area that Sims are in seems much more alive as even non-playable characters (NPCs) automatically multitask around your Sim.

Tip: Put a music system in as many of the communal rooms in the house as possible as this will enable sims to listen to music and gain fun no matter what other task they are carrying out.


Something I found surprising in a good way was the variety of romantic interactions that the base game shipped with. As you make the sims flirt even more romantic interactions open up for use. This is the same for all of the different emotions. The more you perform certain activities / interactions the more options for that emotional state you receive.

Different emotional states and plumbob colours include:

  • Fine – neutral state – Clear
  • Happy – Sims with full needs – Green
  • Energized – Sims who want to / enjoy exercise – Luminous Green / Yellow
  • Tense – Sims with a low need or embarrassed – Orange
  • Angry – Sims in a foul mood – Red
  • Flirty – Sims getting fruity with their significant other – Pink
  • Playful – Sims being silly and having fun with it – Violet
  • Inspired – Sims creating something like art or food to a good standard – Light Blue
  • Confident – Sims proud of themselves for an achievement – Bright Blue
  • Sad – Sims upset or gloomy – Dark Blue

All of the emotions have consequences for the options available to the Sim in question and they can experience more than one at a time however there is always an overriding emotion that is boosted by any others.

Tip: As your sim progresses in their chosen career they are rewarded with objects that have an emotional aura which you can activate to instantly change their mood. Make good use of these valuable objects. Emotional paintings created on the easel can also have this effect.

Warning: Watch out if any of your Sims become so Playful that they become Hysterical as they can actually die laughing. I found this out the hard way (hence the picture above)! Although it has led to me having a playable ghost so all’s well that ends well. lol


Building has always been a big part of the game for me and although I’ve found myself playing more than building this time around I have still enjoyed the process.

At first I struggled with it as some of the tools, the foundation tool being the prime example, were very different from Sims 2 and Sims 3. But once you create the basic shape of a house it becomes very easy to decorate it and shape it how you like.

Standout building options for me include:

  • Malleable roofs – You can push and pull with the mouse to get unique roof shapes and use different tile patterns for each section if you please
  • Three different heights of wall are available and although you sadly cannot use a combination of them this does mean every house can look very different.
  • The foundation can be any height that you want it to be. Fancy tall stairs? you got it!
  • Placement of windows curtains and pictures can be at almost any height you please
  • Rooms can be easily re-sized by dragging the walls
  • You can place more than one thing on the same part of the wall without cheats
  • The two worlds that the base game ships with (Willow Creek and Oasis Springs) lend themselves to different types of building which is inspiring.

Tip: Draw out the shape of your house using the wall tool, even for porch areas. You can then add a foundation and delete and add walls as necessary. 

Note: I know many simmers are keenly feeling the loss of the Create-A-Style Tool however personally I don’t miss it that much. This is because it created massive issues with lagging and crashing in sims 3 for me. Yes it means being a little more creative with furnishings but I’m okay with that and it will get easier with each new add-on.

Shameless Self Promotion:
If you like any of the houses in the pictures above you can find my creations in the Sims 4 in-game Gallery under my user ID of KrazyAngelKat81 or you can login to the Sims website and find my creations under This Link.

The Sims Themselves

One of my major enduring bugbears with Sims 3 was the style of the Sims themselves. Unless you used a ridiculous amount of custom content it was difficult to get them looking anything other than a bit like people molded from dough. It made me long for my Sims 2 Simmies who had looked much more realistic.

With Sims 4 I feel that they have addressed this issue with aplomb.

Yes- you are correct that IS Don Lothario

In Create-A-Sim (CAS) you can now use your mouse to push and pull almost any part of their face and body to achieve the shape you want. This makes for much more realistic looking Simmies. The choices of hair look more real and less plastic too.

Okay there are not a huge amount of clothing options yet but this is getting better everyday and if you like custom content plenty of creators have already been churning out some marvelous work.

Maxis / EA have also made is easier to create parents / children / siblings based on the single sim that you have created. I like this option as in previous games you had to have at least two sims created in order to do this. Pictured above are the Opposite Twins (Georgina and Genevieve – one good, one evil) that I created and started my legacy play with.

Following tradition there are some familiar families to be found and they all look pretty good. Among them are Don Lothario, the Calientes, the Landgrabbs, the Goths and quite a few more. Long time fans will have fun spotting them out and about.

Tip: If you are still in two minds about whether or not to buy Sims 4 try out the Create-A-Sim Demo which you can download for free via Origin


Some people think that Sims 4 looks a little cartoony in style and perhaps that’s true of the clouds but for the rest of the world it really is quite beautiful to look at. Especially when the rays of the sun filter through various landmarks.

You can find pretty places within the mini-neighbourhoods that provide the perfect setting for a private wedding.

I for one appreciate that the two worlds have been broken into mini neighbourhoods that your Sims can explore. It makes for a much faster running game than Sims 3 even if you do have to put up with short loading screens as you move between lots.

Tip: Take the time to use pause and the tab key to take spectacular screenshots when your Sims are out and about. 

Shameless Self Promotion:
I created a Tumbr / Simblr page where I will be sharing all the prettiest shots from my game play. I called it Love and Scenery Sims 4.
I also share generic game play shots in a public album on my Facebook account.

The Downsides

As much as I’m enjoying Sims 4 of course there are some features from previous editions that I miss.

Below are the few things that I’d like to see added to the game in future:

  • The toddler life state – this may be difficult as it would mean changing the core aging structure but I miss the little cuties, even their tantrums!
  • A city world – this might come in a pack as no base game has ever shipped with this so I will wait.
  • University – again I think this will come later. But I always enjoyed hedonistic student sim antics
  • The ability to swim in the sea / lakes etc – I’m glad they added pools for free in an update but I miss being able to get back to nature!

There have been a couple of annoying bugs but you come to expect that with new games and learn how to fix them.

Most have been fixed via game patches but others require a more manual solution. In instances such as the Sims No Longer Able to Cook bug I’ve used community minded Simmer Crinrict’s blog to fix it without losing my saved progress.


In all honestly I’m really enjoying Sims 4. I adore how the sims look and how light moves through the worlds. I also love how fast it is to load and how smoothly it plays.

Yes of course there are things I miss from previous generations but no I don’t miss the open world, I always preferred Sims 2’s game play anyway and Sims 4 is a good mix of Sims 2 and Sims 3 with its own touches on top of that.

I’m looking forward to what the Maxis studio provides us with in future. I’m very, very glad they are back on board as the main creators of the game. They have brought back the personality and quirkiness that EA led Sims 3 lacked.

Let me know what you think of it now we’ve all had some time to play.


12 of the Best Scenery Photographs Taken On My Lumia 1020 Phone in 2014

Anyone who knows me well will be aware that walking anywhere with me will often mean pausing as something catches my eye and I feel compelled to take a photograph of it. As my Instagram account can attest to this happens on a fairly regular basis.

I love finding beauty in the world around me not just in iconic scenery, although I am a landmark fiend, but also in the everyday world that some people take for granted.

The invention of camera phones has come on leaps and bounds in recent years and with my click happy habit in mind I chose carefully in April 2014 when it was time to renew my phone contract.

The Lumia 1020 phone could easily be best described as a camera with a smart phone attached. And for me that is absolutely perfect. It also contains my entire music collection which no other phone has been able to handle so I’m more than happy with it.

I’ve taken many photos on phones over the years but the ones from this phone, edited with a mix of the in-built Creative Studio and Instagram filters are of a far superior quality to anything iPhones or Androids can offer.

I don’t profess to be a professional photographer but I do have a keen appreciation for framing a shot and enhancing its best features.

Below are what I feel are the 12 best photographs I have taken on my Lumia this year.

View across the River Thames from the Tate Modern Art Gallery, London, UK

London is the city I live in but it is so much more than that. The city is a living, breathing entity which has a skyline filled with classic and modern architecture that changes every year. This photograph was taken from the sixth floor of the Tate Modern art gallery which is located south of the river. For me the view of the city is better than any work of art that the gallery holds. The Millennium pedestrian bridge leads across the river Thames to the north of the city where St Paul’s Cathedral keeps a watchful eye over the inhabitants and workers who occupy the more modern buildings like the curvy Walkie Talkie tower that can be on the far right of the picture.

Umbrella Art in Bodrum Town, Bodrum, Mugla, Turkey

Bodrum is a Turkish town that I have come to know quite well since my parents retired to live out in a village close to it. Located on the Aegean coast Bodrum is a tourist haven but it has a sleepy charm and is peppered by stone streets such as this framed by arches and colourful Bougainvillea vines. The best parts of it for me are the hidden side streets like this one which someone had taken the time to make into a piece of public art.

Chain Link Bridge over the Danube River, Budapest, Hungary

I was lucky enough to visit the city of Budapest as a part of a long weekend to watch the Hungarian F1 Grand Prix. The city charmed me so much that I would love to spend more time there. It is full of a rich mixture of architecture thanks to historical influences from Russia, Turkey, France, Italy and Austria and its people are friendly and helpful and the food is a culinary delight. It deserves far more tourism than it currently receives but lets just keep that our little secret.

Grand Anse Beach, St Georges, Grenada

The little Caribbean island of Grenada really is a slice of true paradise. Whenever I visit I struggle to imagine why anyone would ever leave. However leave many did in the 1950’s when work on the island was scarce. This included my in-laws. My mother-in-law still faithfully visits the island every year to spend time with the family that remained and this year was the second time we have joined her on that journey. If you want to spend time somewhere warm, beautiful and slow-paced than Grenada is a place I would strongly recommend.

Uxbridge Lock, Grand Union Canal, Uxbridge, Middlesex, UK 

For the last two years I have worked in an office that backs onto a stretch of the Grand Union Canal. This is a blessing in the summer as it means I can escape the office for a walk beside the water. The quiet tow path is often shared with a plethora of water birds, including the area’s resident swans and even a couple of friendly canal boat cats who enjoy a fuss. When the lock is in action it can be quiet fascinating to watch from the bridge where I took this photo.

Eiffel Tower, Paris, France during the 2014 French Open 

The Eiffel Tower has to be one of the most instantly recognisable landmarks in the world. For two weeks every year a giant tennis ball is suspended from its centre whilst the city welcomes the world’s top tennis players to compete for the French Open title on the clay courts at Roland Garros. This year a giant screen was erected in the park so that people could watch the action in the centre of the city for free. Maria Sharapova and Raphael Nadal were the victors who had their photographs taken in front of the tower with their trophies this year.

Autumn in Northolt, London, UK

This is a very personal photograph to me for two reasons. Firstly it was taken five minutes walk from where I live and secondly it evokes exactly why I love Autumn so much. The last gasp of colour before the season changes has fascinated me since I was a child and this year this tree inspired the following description:
“The flames of autumn consume the bows of a tree in winter’s firm embrace.”

Kos Town, Island of Kos, Greece

Kos is a Greek Island that I have visited twice in my lifetime. The first time I was in my late teens and with a group of friends who partied all night and spent all day in the pool. In more recent times I was better able to take the time to appreciate the traditional Greek architecture rather than the allure of the aniseed flavoured liquor Ouzo.

Henley Business School, Greenlands Campus, Henley, UK

Henley Business School is situated on the same part of the river Thames near where the famous Henley Regatta takes place. I was there as a part of a team building exercise with work. However if I’m honest I think I got more from the beautiful quintessentially British countryside scenery than I did from the course we were on. Britain on a sunny day really can take the breath away. All that green almost, almost, makes you grateful for all the rain we endure at other times of the year.

Torquay Beach, Torbay, Devon

The UK can surprise you on a long hot summers day which inevitably sends city dwellers to the coast to soak up some sun. Torquay, on the south-west coast, is a brilliant place to be on that sort of day as it can rival any Mediterranean resort with its beaches, bars and restaurants. It’s just a shame it dies such a death every winter. I know this is true because I lived there for two years. I still enjoy a visit but I try to keep those visits to the summertime to see it at its best.

Tower of London taken from the river Thames, London, UK

London has a lot of landmarks but one that has taken a lot of publicity this year is The Tower of London. It played host to the frankly awe-inspiring installation of ceramic poppies to commemorate those members of the armed forces who died during world war I and drew unexpectedly huge international  crowds to it. The day I took this picture I was on a tourist boat with my husband and you could see the crowds surrounding the tower. I have never seen so many people there. Aside from the poppies it has always been one of my favourite London landmarks anyway because of all the history tied to it and the fact that it houses the Crown Jewels. If you visit London I thoroughly recommend putting it on the itinerary. Although I suggest ignoring your partner if they suggest, like my husband did, that you be dragged through the Traitors Gate that can be seen here.

Bodrum Town Harbour, Bodrum, Mugla, Turkey

The final picture of my 2014 collection is a study of bright colour from the patriotic Harbour of Bodrum town near the beautiful Bodrum Castle. Turkey flies its national flag with real pride and it is seen everywhere you go. I think the British could learn from that. Also if you ever do visit Turkey be sure to take a trip out onto the ocean on a Gulet. It is a wonderful way to explore the waters of the area and enjoy a tasty lunch whilst you’re at it.

So there you have it. The 12 scenic pictures that sum up my year and make me incredibly glad I bought my new camera phone. Let me know which one is your favourite and why.


Should People Stop Asking When Are You Going to Have Children?

As a recently married woman in my early thirties I often get well-intentioned people casually asking when I’m going to start having children. Also if I mention that I’m feeling sick or bloated the first conclusion is “Oh! You might be expecting.”

Whilst I understand that none of this is done with malicious intent there are only so many times I can smile and say “No, that’s not the case I’m just ill” or “If children happen that’s great but we’re just happy as we are right now.” and then carry on with my day unaffected.  Speaking to my husband reveals that he is rarely asked the same question which means that it is an irksome double standard.

Society seems to have trouble understanding women around the age of 30 that haven’t yet produced a child. There is even more head-scratching if that woman is married as many believe that the primary purpose of marriage is to have children. For me, and I suspect a few others, that is not the case. I married my husband because I love him and cannot imagine life without him. If children happen to enter into our future then that’s great but if they don’t then that’s okay too.

Thanks to my social conditioning I feel guilty for admitting that last part. It is true that most little girls grow up playing with dolls and assume that one day they might have a child of their own but the fact is that in reality it doesn’t always work out that way.

Some of my friends have children and I am happy for them and I find their kids adorable but I’m equally happy for my friends who don’t have children. Watching my parent friends is a great education into just how much having a child changes the way that you have to live your life. Everything with children has to be pre-planned until they are old enough for spontaneous days out and sleep becomes a thing of the distant past. Those of us without children are still able to decide what we want to do and where we want to go at any given moment and if we want a lie in we can have one.

I think it’s because of the lifestyle differences between those that have children and those that do not that both sides become a little less able to understand each other. Those with children naturally want everyone else to experience the joy of becoming a parent and those without are happily enjoying their lives also being free to do what they want when they want to do it.

Ticking Clock

The way society pressures women to have children can be quite demoralising. There are many articles in national newspapers warning that western women are leaving it too late which implies that a women who doesn’t have children is automatically failing her gender in some way.

What about the women out there who don’t want to have children? Are they failures too?
Some women are happy as they are whether in a relationship or not. Others accept that biologically it is not likely to happen and throw their energy into other aspects of their life. I remember reading the warnings about Career Women “missing their chance to become a mother” as they focused on their jobs instead and I always thought that it was an unfair assumption.

Maternity leave laws in the west, the USA in particular, are not very generous and are generally geared towards women being the ones to take time off work. Some countries have addressed this better and even the UK, where I live, is introducing legislation that will make it possible for both parents to share maternity leave should they so wish which should make it fairer on women although it might be an administrative nightmare for companies.

However workplace attitudes remain somewhat antiquated in places with a few managers secretly dreading an employee telling them that they want to take maternity leave. This can lead to some women feeling that they have to make a choice between family and career. Some businesses are more enlightened and offer flexible working contracts, to enable employees to balance their work and life better, but I know this is not the case everywhere.

Even if your place of work is accommodating, parents then have to deal with the astronomically high costs of childcare should they wish to return to work and leave their child in the care of professionals. Some are lucky enough to have family close by who can help out but many do not so cost becomes a factor as to whether a couple has children or not.

Another reason I think that people need to stop asking whether someone is planning to have children is that some people have trouble conceiving. For people in these situations this seemingly innocent question can be extremely distressing. People who long to have a child but cannot find such a personal question extremely hurtful. So unless you plan on being there to counsel the person that you ask, please just avoid the topic unless they bring it up first.

By asking such an intrusive question you are opening the door to an emotional torrent in some women’s heads.Whether this is because the person you asked doesn’t want children or hasn’t decided yet and is sick of being asked about it or they do want children but they are having difficulties conceiving, doesn’t matter. I think it is time we stopped thinking it is okay to ask such an emotionally loaded question and just enjoyed each other’s company.


Additional Reading:
10 Things Never to Say to Childless Friends (MSN)

Concert Review: R and B Superstars Valentines Special – Wembley Arena London – 15th February 2014

Is there anything better to do on Valentines weekend than to go and see some live music with your partner? For me that is a rhetorical question as both my husband and I are crazy about the music that we love. So it was inevitable that when The Show Tour announced a 90’s R&B valentines line up that we would be present.

I have to admit that although I was already a fan of En Vogue & Blackstreet, it was not until the late 90’s early 2000’s when I really began to get deeply into music. Because of this my husband has been my main educator of the era before that. As we have been together for a decade I have had time to develop an appreciation for the other artists on the billing also.

On the day, we set off early for Wembley Arena  as we thought the show might start promptly due to the number of artists in the billing. However once we reached the arena we had to wait until after 6pm to be let in to find our seats as sound-checks were still going on. Whilst this is not unusual when multiple acts are billed, it meant the show was definitely not going to start on time. It did however give us a chance to get some drinks in!

Eventually some music blasted to life from the sound rig and Frisky DJ and Rampage appeared on stage to warm up the crowd and introduce the first act. Comedian Eddie Kadi was supposed to be doing the warm up with them but he is notorious for being late and this night proved no exception to that rule.

Frisky and Rampage handled initial hosting duties well, including the difficult news that Silk would not be appearing as they had not travelled to the UK as expected and it was not long before Changing Faces were on stage.

It is never easy to be the first act on stage and as the ladies were accompanied only by a backing track it meant that they were quite exposed.  The crowd, some of whom were still arriving, took a little while to get into the occasion despite the duo opening with hit record G.H.E.T.T.O.U.T. They persevered however performing other hits such as Fooling Around as well as some new material and the atmosphere really got going after they invited one tall muscled guy on stage to perform Stroke You Up with them to hilarious effect.

By now the arena was filling up and Eddie Kadi finally arrived to some good-natured ribbing about his time keeping skills. As soon as he walked on stage with Frisky and Rampage his natural charisma and skills for working a crowd were evident. The hosts soon had us all laughing whilst the set was rearranged for Kut Klose. This would continue to be the format for the night in between acts although Eddie’s dancing techniques should be restricted to his house for everyone’s safety.

Kut Klose followed a similar format to Changing Faces by singing to backing tracks yet seemed to receive a warmer reception from the crowd who no doubt appreciated their unique throwback dress sense also. They completed a relatively short set that included I Like and both Twisted & Get Up On It that were originally collaborations with their mentor Keith Sweat.  

By now the crowd was ready for the show to really get going and the stage had been set up for Mint Condition’s instruments which were sure to impress. The volume of the music audibly went up a notch with real instruments in play and it certainly would have woken up any audience member that was feeling too relaxed after the opening acts.

Lead singer, and multi-talented musician, Stokley Williams impressed everyone by getting the crowd to join in as well as playing a variety of instruments. The whole band seemed jazzed to be on stage and threw a lot of energy into their performance. Their set encompassed of a wealth of tunes including I Want It, U Send Me Swinging, Forever in Your Eyes, You Don’t Have To Hurt No More, Girl Of My Life, What Kind of Man Would I Be and their finale was Breakin’ My Heart (Pretty Brown Eyes) which had the crowd on their feet.

At this point there was definitely an excited atmosphere in the place which would continue thanks to a fabulous turn from Tony! Toni! Toné!.

Even without soul maestro Raphael Saadiq, Tony! Toni! Toné! put in a flawless enthusiastic performance that had the crowd happily singing along to songs like the new jack swing inspired If I Had No Loot & It Feels Good and the soulful goodness of It Never Rains (in Southern California) & Let’s Get Down.

Next up was a highly anticipated set from Total. A lot of the crowd had never had the opportunity to see these ladies perform live so there was definitely a peaked interest.

Some were disappointed that original member Keisha Spivey was not present and felt that this took away from the performance. Personally I thought that, despite the ladies being in amazing shape and singing in good voice, their performance paled in comparison to the two acts that had come before them. But many of the crowd seemed to be enjoying the medley of tunes including What About Us & If You Want Me and Notorious B.I.G collaborations Hypnotize & Can’t You See as well as catchy new song You Don’t Have to Worry.

It was with a mixture of trepidation and excitement that I awaited the penultimate act, En Vogue, to grace the stage. Trepidation because I knew that they were without vocal powerhouse Dawn Robinson but excitement as having seen them live before I knew the crowd was in for a real treat.

The ladies did not disappoint. Terri, Cyndi and Rhonda belted out hit after hit such as Free Your Mind, Never Gonna Get It and Don’t Let Go that had the audience singing loudly and dancing wildly. The also provided a medley of retro covers including Got To Be Real and Lady Marmalade. For me they were the absolute highlight of the entire night and they were not afraid to call out a couple of idiots in the crowd who decided to start a fight for some reason.

Unfortunately by this point, thanks in part to the late start of the night, time was running out for the event. Blackstreet 2 (or BS2 as they are known) were the headline act and it was evident that they would not have as much time for their set as they would perhaps like.

With this in mind it made little sense that they chose to keep in time-wasting videos about Teddy Riley’s career (a pointless history lesson of which most of the audience would already be well aware) and added many unnecessary pauses into their songs. Long time fans also felt disappointed that this was, with the exception of Teddy Riley and Dave Hollister, an almost entirely different band. The sound just was not the same as when founding members Teddy Riley and Chauncey Black worked together and it left many longing for the good old days. With the new line up they need new songs in order to create an identity that the fans can relate to.

The group managed to get through a few well-known songs such as I Like It & Don’t Leave and a solo mix of Teddy’s production hits before Wembley Arena pulled the plug and they were forced to vacate the stage. By this point many of the crowd had left anyway in order to catch the last underground train home so it would have been pointless to go on any longer.

Overall the show was an enjoyable way to spend valentines weekend and we certainly felt like we got our money’s worth. When a concert has a multi-act line up such as this there is always likely to be some acts that the crowd will enjoy more than others but it does also mean that time is of a premium for each act. It is a delicate balancing act which, in general, the organisers handled well. It is just a shame that it overran to the point at which the venue cut the power.

However I thank The Show organisers for a good night and I’m already looking forward to what they might host next.


Thyroid Disease and Me: A Continuous Learning Experience

January is Thyroid Disease Awareness Month in the USA. Even though I live in the UK I’ve decided to join in with the campaign turn social media blue because thyroid conditions are often overlooked, poorly understood and under-treated no matter where you live in the world.

Since changing my profile picture on Facebook and Twitter to the below graphic I’ve had no less than four friends in different countries tell me that the information I’ve been posting has opened their eyes to the realization that they too might have an issue with their thyroid. This is awareness in action and I wish them luck with their quests. It’s the start of a long winding road to understanding the condition and how best to treat it.

944844_10153632749545487_681510664_nUntil there is something wrong with it most of us are not even aware of the butterfly shaped thyroid gland that quietly goes about its business inside the front of our necks. The best way to understand its function in plain English is as follows:

Every cell in the body has receptors for thyroid hormone. These hormones are responsible for the most basic aspects of body function, impacting ALL major systems of the body.

Thyroid hormone directly acts on the brain, the G.I. tract, the cardiovascular system, bone metabolism, red blood cell metabolism, gall bladder and liver function, steroid hormone production, glucose metabolism, lipid and cholesterol metabolism, protein metabolism and body temperature regulation.

You can think of the thyroid as the central gear in a sophisticated engine. If that gear breaks, the entire engine goes down with it.”
(Quote taken from the Thyroid Sexy Facebook Page)

thyroid glandThis gland is highly important as it regulates so many functions of our body and when it goes wrong boy do you know about it! You might not realize that a faulty thyroid is the cause of your problems as most medical professionals base their diagnosis on a very basic TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) level blood test. Whilst this can diagnose some people it should not be the only test performed as the levels of Free T3, Free T4 and Reverse T3 all have an impact on how effectively the gland is able to work. A great post from Thyroid UK explains exactly why the extra tests are necessary. The Free T3 is particularly important as this is the active hormone that is created by conversion of the T4 hormone. Some patients have issues with this conversion which causes them to remain ill despite treatment with the synthetic T4 hormone (thyroxine). Personally I do not have issues with conversion but I do have issues with vitamin deficiencies (specifically Iron and Vitamin D). Getting your vitamin levels checked and supplemented is important too as if any are deficient then the medication given to you to treat your thyroid will not work correctly.

You may be wondering how I know about the challenges of this illness and what gives me the right to judge the way that the medical profession handles it. So let me tell you my story and then you might begin to understand.

Kat at 18 with hyperthyroid and 32with hypothyroid

Me at 18 with hyperthyroidism                                                     Me at 32 with hypothyroidism

I’m now in my early 30’s but I’ve been living with a malfunctioning thyroid gland since my mid-teens. My late paternal grandmother had issues with her thyroid in her latter years and this was put down to a consequence of her being an elderly woman. I sincerely believe that kind of dismissive attitude is dangerous and I’m astounded that the link was never made between her thyroid condition and the development of her dementia as well as to the problems I experienced in my teens.

I think that this condition has strong hereditary links that must not be ignored. If the disease runs in your family you must make it your responsibility to be aware of the symptoms of both crazy Hyperthyroidism (Overactive Thyroid) and it’s slower opposite cousin Hypothyroidism (Underactive Thyroid).

From the age of 14 when my menstrual cycle began my body began to act strangely. I was constantly hungry and ate anything I could get my hands on and yet perversely I seemed to keep loosing weight. Whilst this might sound fabulous to anyone longing to be thinner I can assure you it was not. I also suffered from dizzy spells, racing thoughts, heart palpitations and fast speech. Extremes of temperature made me feel nauseous (and still do) and friends voiced their worries that I had developed an eating disorder. I had not of course. I simply had no idea why I kept losing weight.

My parents were at a loss as to what was wrong with me and encouraged me to go to the doctor. At 16 I made an appointment with a locum doctor (our family one wasn’t available) to discuss it only to be told that it was probably “Gravity affecting your age”. I wish that was a joke. Sadly it was not. I was not offered any further tests. The locum doctor probably assumed I was a teenage hypochondriac. What I actually was is a naive and trusting youngster who would never have thought to question the wisdom of a medical professional.

I left school with average GCSE results and began my A-levels at sixth form college.

By this stage my concentration and energy levels were beginning to take a pummeling. My thoughts were racing at a hundred miles a minute and yet my energy levels were plummeting no matter how much or how often I ate or slept. My eyes had also begun to bulge out of their sockets and were often dry and irritated. At the time I put this down to the contact lenses I wore, unaware that it is one of the most obvious signs of Hyperthyroidism.


Classic signs of hyperthyroidism
NB – I did not however have a goiter

I managed to somehow pass my first year of A-Levels but the second year, when I was 18, would be the year when it became clear something was seriously was wrong.
My energy levels became so poor that I started to fall asleep during my classes and yet I could not sleep at night due to the racing thoughts and pounding heart palpitations. I did not know it at the time but I was experiencing a Thyroid Storm. The disease had gone undiagnosed for so long that I was in real danger of having a heart attack.

The college contacted my parents concerned about my behaviour. A conclusion was jumped to that perhaps I was taking recreational drugs. This assumption upset me as I am and have always been very anti-drugs. I walked out of the house in tears and kept walking until my Dad came after me. I honestly thought I was starting to lose my mind. However I am lucky that my parents love me very much and they decided to take me back to the doctor for a second time and vowed not to leave without a diagnosis.

This time my symptoms were so pronounced that our family GP diagnosed me on the spot. I remember her words “If that isn’t hyperthyroidism I’ll eat my hat!”. She didn’t have to eat anything. I will be forever grateful to the late Dr Sturdy from my family practice for saving my life that day. She made an emergency referral to a local ENT (Ear Nose and Throat) hospital unit for me as well as taking thyroid function blood tests that day.

With a diagnosis at last I was ready to start getting better. However my studies had been so damaged by my condition that it was agreed with the college that I could defer my final year of A-Levels and retake them the following year if I was well enough. This was hard as it meant all of my friends would finish a year ahead of me and I would be taking classes with students I did not know but in the grand scheme of things I was lucky to be alive so I accepted the bump in my life plans.

After seeing the ENT Consultant at the local hospital and starting a course of carbimazole and beta blockers I began to feel better. I was not keen on the side effects of the beta blockers but as they were a temporary measure to calm my hyperthyroid symptoms whilst the carbimazole took effect I learned to live with them.

However after 18 months of treatment it became clear that carbimazole was not enough to get my hyperthyroidism under control. It was at this point, during the summer of my first year at university, that I was given a choice. I could either have an operation to remove part of my thyroid gland or I could try Radio Iodine Therapy which would destroy part of my malfunctioning thyroid gland via ingesting the treatment orally. Both treatments came with the risk of the condition flipping to Hypothyroidism which the doctors convinced me was easier to control than Hyperthyroidism. I chose the Radio Iodine Therapy as I didn’t want to go under the knife.

IodineTherapy1It is a little disconcerting when the ENT doctor hands you the Radio Iodine Drink. They hand it to you wearing protective gloves and yet you have to drink down the liquid that they pass to you. The reason for this is that it can adversely affect people with a normal functioning thyroid and because of this you have to keep your distance from those you love for a month following treatment.

At first I felt a hundred times better after this treatment but a few months later I realised that all was not right again.

I began to feel very tired and forgetful for no reason and developed dry skin and constipation problems. I was also gaining weight rapidly and often felt dizzy and nauseous. I had developed hypothyroidism.

Hypothyroidism-Symptoms-in-womenAlthough I diagnosed myself and had it confirmed with blood tests at the University doctors surgery, I did not yet realise that my journey with this disease was far from over.

I was put on a high dose of thyroxine to begin with as I had become severely underactive from the treatment for being severely overactive. My TSH level was monitored every 3 to 6 months for 2 years with gradual dose adjustments. No other course of treatment or lifestyle changes were recommended. Check ups were gradually reduced to a annual medication review and blood test.

Until 2013 I too assumed this minimal treatment would be enough. But in the run up to my wedding I began to experience severe symptoms again. Particularly noticeable were the bloating after eating, poor concentration, exhaustion and crying for no reason and heavy, long and very painful periods.

I told my doctor about the symptoms but I was ignored as my TSH level was within range from a test taken earlier in the year. My doctor even suggested that I was simply depressed. This was not the case as depression is a symptom of under treated hypothyroidism not a problem on its own.

It was at this point, desperate to be well on my wedding day, that I began to research in earnest other factors that can affect thyroid function. I discovered the crucial link between vitamin levels and treatment effectiveness and also began to look closer at my diet and what changes I could make to help (such as cooking more food from scratch rather than relying on convenience food). With my husband’s support I went back to my Dr and demanded a full thyroid profile of blood tests as well as tests for my vitamin levels.

It was a difficult battle with my local doctor but it paid off. I discovered I was slightly anaemic which meant I needed to supplement my iron levels in order for the thyroxine to work. My vitamin D3 is also lower than necessary. Because of this I now take multivitamins especially during menstruation. These supplements alongside an adjustment to a lower dose of thyroxine seem to have settled me again for now. I do however still have issues with how my body reacts to extremes of temperature (standing up in a hot crowded space is not something I can do for long before I pass out) , I bloat when I eat and I have dry skin conditions.

I am currently considering cutting gluten out of my diet to see if it will help with easing the bloating. It is just a thought in my head after reading how it has helped others but I have consciously begun cutting down on my intake anyway.

This is the stage I am at with this disease. For each person with thyroid problems the journey and treatment is a little different. But what is so frustrating for all of us is the attitude of the medical profession towards the condition and standard treatments for it. No doctor advises you on how your personal body chemistry and genetics effects treatment or what you can expect from the condition. And if you want a test or treatment outside of the standard you will have a fight on your hands.

lbKiHVxnEYPcpzx-556x313-noPadI for one am prepared to go on fighting for better treatment and I hope everyone will sign the Global and UK petitions to that effect.

I hope my story will help another lost soul who does not know what is wrong with them or maybe even be read by a dynamic brave medical professional who is not afraid to go against the grain and actually work with their patient to define a better individual treatment plan.


Our Wedding: Family and Friends

One thing that was particularly special about our wedding was that it brought most of those we love, but do not often get to see, together in one place for a happy celebration.

Today families and friends are less likely to live in close proximity to each other and it is not unusual to have those we love living in four different corners of the world.

For me this is particularly poignant as my parents retired and went to live in Turkey a few years ago. It was wonderful for them to be reunited not only with me but with some family and friends that they might not have had the opportunity to visit otherwise.

It is life landmark times like this when you realise just how important family and close friends are to you. One of my good friends was not able to make it because her Mum was ill. Although I missed her presence on the day I more than understood her reasons. You only get one family in this life so you have to make the most of it.

I, for instance, would have given anything to have had my paternal grandmother present on the day but as all my grandparents have passed on this simply wasn’t possible. However I made sure she was there in spirit by attaching a picture charm of her wedding day to my grandfather to my bouquet.

One of the best decisions I made in regards to the big day was to get ready at home.
My parents were staying with us so, not only was it easier to have the bridal party all in one place, but it allowed our photographer Louie to capture some very special moments between my parents, bridesmaids Jem & Heather and myself.

Amongst those moments was the first time my Dad saw me in my dress. For any girl who is lucky enough to have her father still close to her this is one of those fairytale moments that you will remember for a lifetime.

Once we were all dressed and ready to go we shared a few celebratory toasts with some champagne brought by one of the bridesmaids. It was a great start to what would be a fantastic day.

Waiting for us at the venue, whilst our friends gradually arrived, were Roger’s parents and his best man Lanre. Roger’s parents and his sister Sandra have been very welcoming to me since we’ve been together and, as his Dad suffers with various ailments, we had kept the wedding as local as possible so he didn’t have to travel far.
It was great to see them all dressed up and enjoying themselves.

With everyone in place it was time for the formalities to commence. The pictures taken during our ceremony prove why it is so important to invest on a good photographer to capture the moment. When you are a part of it you are so caught up in the moment that it is hard to take in everything that is happening around you. Our photographers caught some touching reactions from our families and friends.

We also have a new appreciation for the work that they have to do with group shots. It is really hard to get everyone to gather when they need to and to look at the camera all at the same time. Dads it seems are particularly bad when it comes to looking at the lens! My Dad for example was intent on telling Rog’s Mum that he liked her hat so had to be told several times to face the right direction.

However some of the big group shots are my favourites from the day as they capture most of the people who were there. This is great for me as my memory isn’t the greatest so it’s a good reminder. It’s also fun to see everyone from our past and present standing together in support of us as a couple.

Although a few friends and family members somehow managed to completely avoid the camera, there were also some surprise shots that I’m glad were captured such as one of me with my Dad’s brother and his wife and one of Rog with his cousins and their kids.

Speeches are a traditional part of most wedding days and mine was no different. My Dad’s speech kicked off proceedings as soon as our meals were finished.  Although I’m surprised at how tame his speech was, my Dad is not known for holding back with his sense of humour, I’m still impressed that he managed to both flatter me and include the football team that both he and my Mum are avid fans of.

“…I must admit that I am the proudest dad in the world to have accompanied Katherine today. I think you will all agree she looks stunning!…This is where I am supposed to say a few embarrassing things about her when she was younger, but as she has probably, no, change that to definitely, got more against me, so I am saying nothing!… We are both happy she has someone who she loves and is loved in return. I am so glad to still be alive to celebrate three events. Here they are in chronological order Our beloved Chelsea winning the Champions league (eat your hearts out, Spurs and Arsenal); Andy Murray winning Wimbledon; And todays Wedding. To Katherine and Roger I wish them enjoyment for today, the fulfilment of the hopes and dreams for tomorrow, and love and happiness always…”

Everyone at our wedding seemed to get along well and had a good time. I’m still feeling thankful about the good vibe that lasted all throughout the day and just wish that we could do it all over again.

To all our friends and family, including those that were not able to be present, never forget that we are thankful to have you in our lives and even if we don’t say it enough, we love you and appreciate you all very much.