First Times

You are currently browsing the archive for the First Times category.

I’m definitely getting to that age. As I write this my beloved cousin is in a very protracted labour with her first child, and I am flicking through a summer schedule of hen do’s, weddings, 30th’s, 40th’s and baby showers. It feels like suddenly life has shifted slightly and VERY BIG THINGS are beginning to happen to my nearest and dearest! This weekend was no different. I met my friend Jenny when I worked a part-time job at Cineworld when I was 18. We instantly clicked, and spent a long sticky summer working away in our unflattering baseball caps serving popcorn and cleaning up movie mess. The job didn’t last long, but our friendship has been a permanent fixture and she’s been one of those friends who’ll drop anything if I need her. This weekend was her hen do, as she is getting married to an amazing guy in August. I can confirm he is amazing because he bought me Ghostbusters 2 on DVD for Christmas.

Jenny’s hen do took place in York, so on Saturday we went to the races! I’ve never been to the races before and was so excited to try something new. I’m sure some of you have views on the animal rights side of horse racing, which I completely respect. I exist in an ignorant bliss that the horses are treated like treasures and given a wonderful life outside of the racing element (cynically, because they are worth so much money if nothing else) but for all I know this could be woefully wrong. However, York Races is a flat run, so no jumps and no injuries occurred the whole time I was there. After a week of doom, gloom and grim rainy weather, we were incredibly lucky to have a day of blazing sunshine and balmy heat. I can imagine the event isn’t such a fun affair if you’re cowering under a Racing Post and shivering in your gladrags!

IMG_4495

IMG_4498

We had opted for the champagne garden pass, which meant as well as being able to head down and watch the horses in action, we could take a seat and sup bubbles in the sunshine. I actually enjoyed this part as much as the racing itself. I’m not really one for a decadent lifestlyle, this much is obvious by the fact I still consider Nandos a real treat, so the opportunity to people-watch swarms of ladies and gents  in their finery and drink champagne at 2pm in the afternoon was really novel! I had a new frock to début for the occasion. I mentioned in my last post the Love Birds blouse from Sugarhill Boutique which I bought last month. They kindly offered me another item from their haven of print gorgeousness to review on here, so after ages umming and ahhing I thought it would be nice to pick something I could wear for the hen do. My eyes and heart immediately set on this Butterfly dress. As well as the really unusual butterfly shape for the back and front, I adore the heart print and scalloped edges. The dress is hand-crafted in Bali with intricate cutwork, butterfly embroidery and heart print batik. The hand crafting means all the hearts are slightly different shapes and sizes and it has a real one-of-a-kind feeling to it. I paired it with some cream wedges and a pearl 1920s headpiece (no hats, sorry!) and felt brilliant all day. The light cotton kept me cool as I sweated it out roaring at the horses, and it didn’t have a single crease despite me being up and down like a yoyo topping up my champagne glass. Thank you Sugarhill Boutique for giving me the opportunity to shine in one of your designs, and if you fancy treating yourself to something from their website you can bag 10% off by signing up to their newsletter.

IMG_4428

IMG_4410

IMG_4489

The dress has a real playful element to it, so in-keeping with that I took it one step further with my handbag choice. Last week I met my BBFF (blogging best friend forever. sorry, we are twee!) for a cheap and cheerful Zizzi’s in central London. Kate was carrying this little beauty around with her. Cue lots of silly photo opportunities, where we pretended to be the feline Daft Punk. In my usual style thievery fashion I demanded to know where it was from! Kate let me into a little secret which was… it is a £4 Primark special. The nugget of thrifty wisdom Kate imparted on me is that in Primark (and other highstreet shops) you have to check out their “Tablet Case” section. This “clutch bag” is actually a tablet case.  It functions perfectly as a clutch and the wide design has plenty of space for cameras/phone/giant purse etc!

ab2db8d2c25411e28c8722000a1f90f9_7

Back to sunny York! Apart from a yearly flutter on the Grand National, where I learn all the terminology and jargon and then entirely forget it again by the next year, I don’t have a clue what I am doing when it comes to bets. This was quite obvious by the fact I accidentally bet £20 on my first trip to the bookie stand, when I meant to bet £10 (I forgot that each-way costs twice as much). One of the hens had an uncle who rang in with some last minute tips, so I used a mixture of these and then the standard “who has the nicest outfit colours / which name is funny” method of selection.

IMG_4368

IMG_4370

IMG_4431

For race one I had a case of beginners luck. My pick (who I betted each-way on – meaning you win if they place first or second) came in second place. He had been a total outsider so the odds were in my favour and my £2 turned into a very nice £7.90. This soon vanished back into the bookies pocket though and for the next four races my horses went from bad to worse, to the point where my pick didn’t even make it out of the traps! Just turned around and wandered off for a munch on some grass instead. I can’t say I blame him. After drinking an entire bottle of champers to myself, I decided to take a new, bolder approach on horse selection. I thought perhaps I should watch the jockey parade and pick the scrappiest looking jockey. So I opted for this guy.

IMG_4411

Unfortunately I still didn’t win big so decided I should retire early, because you know you’re in trouble when you start putting £2 bets on your credit card. Although the betting made each race extra exciting, I still enjoyed watching the races that I hadn’t taken a flutter on. The atmosphere at the races is electric, the air filled with shouting and cheering and that feeling that anything could happen. There are obviously people who attend every weekend and take it all extremely seriously, and I think it’s always nice to submerse yourself in a culture that you know nothing about.

IMG_4427

IMG_4429

IMG_4434

IMG_4426

IMG_4494

We were at the races from midday until 6pm, so needed some mid afternoon nourishment. And lets be honest, something to soak up all that flowing alcohol! There was tons of choice for cuisine, but we stumbled across a huge grand dining room with walls adorned in oil painted horses, gold prize cups and rosettes. They had an amazing offer of all-you-can-eat afternoon tea for £7 (yes, you can tell I was not in London any more! Add a 2 to the front of that for a London price of the same offer!) so we took a seat and gorged on endless mini sandwiches, sausage rolls, tiny fish shaped salmon en croute and all the chocolate eclairs we could stuff in our cheeks. It’s hard to believe as I sit her typing and listening to the rain beat down outside, but it was also nice to take a break and sit in the shade at this point of the long hot day. The rest of the hen do was just as fantastic as my first ever Races experience. I think any night that ends in you enthusiastically dancing and singing along to Ghetto Superstar at 2am is a winner.

IMG_4366

IMG_4493

IMG_4497

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

As far as I know I’ve never flown a kite in my life. I’ve certainly watched people do it, but I’ve never had one to call my own or any memories of taking the helm. It sounds like a nice idea in a twee sort of way but I guess kite flying isn’t anything I’ve really thought of in any more depth than liking the song from Mary Poppins.

Then Ali, one third of the magic 3 daytrippers absconded to a life of meat balls and pickled fish (and of course, generally cool Swedish times!) in Gothenburg and now we are a slightly thin on the ground magic 2. To help ease out torment at an Ali-less London, her leaving gift to us was… KITEY!

We felt it was finally time to break out this beautiful contraption and see if we could make Ali proud! We stopped at Starbucks for my first red cup of the year (momentous occasion, although no Black Cherry Mocha? No happy!) and a quick natter which turned into a long natter and we soon realised the light was fading (at 4pm, beyond depressing) and so hauled our cafffeine fuelled bones up to Primrose Hill. I think Primrose Hill is my absolute single favourite spot in London, but it’s somewhere I only usually go on sticky summer evenings with a blanket and a book, or a punnet of strawberries and a beer, or just my ipod and the desire to vanish into the long meadowy grass on the bank. It’s magical, the second you reach the top; London and everyone and everything in it turns into an insignificant little toy town and any woes and angsting just melts away.

Woops, back off the tangent, Primrose Hill didn’t disappoint now it’s dressed in it’s autumnal jacket. On route to the top we kicked leaves and gasped at the colours.

We got aLOT of funny looks as we scrabbled up to the top of the hill, neon garish Kitey in tow! Craig made a good point when he said it’s like they’ve never seen two people in London with a kite before! Oh wait… neither have I! I’m just going to imagine they were all just jealous. And they should have been! Flying a kite is seriously FUN. On our first go, we had a rocky start. Bad technique, a bit of dog poo and slippery grass meant we both ended up on the floor in a bit of tangly kitey mess. But as soon as we worked out which way the kite faced (useful…) and that I was much better as the thrower, with Craig up front manning the string and running like the wind, things were looking up! The first time we got it in the sky was SO exciting and even gained us some woops and cheers from the crowds at the viewing point.

Maybe it’s one of those you-had-to-be-there moments but the tug of the kite behind you or the sight of it in the sky, honestly had us grinning like idiots. I was yelling to Craig as I ran behind him and we were both collapsing in puffed-out laughing smiling heaps every time it worked! I haven’t smiled so much and so hard for a really long time. This is definitely the best in good clean wholesome fun.I guess its a heady mix of the fresh smog air, the challenge and anticipation of whether it will work and all the running around in your own world of kite tactics and string pulling. It’s so typical of how amaizng Ali is, that she isn’t even living in London anymore yet is helping Craig and Ifind ways to fall more in love with it than ever!

I would highly recommend to anyone buying a kite. I actually cannot wait to get back out there for more kite antics, and I don’t care if it’s massively uncool to the rest of the world! In fact this dinosaur kite has just zoomed right to the top of my Christmas list!

Tags: , , , , ,

You might have seen me talking about a super secret scary thing recently on twitter. Well, it happened last night and now it is over and I survived without melting into a pool of embarrassed Bee goo, I can talk about it!

I first heard about Cringe just a couple of years ago.  The concept is the brainchild of  the delightful Sarah Brown, and the story goes – The first inklings of Cringe came about back in 2001, when Sarah  found her old diaries at her parents’ house, and decided it would be a good idea to send the most painful excerpts to her friends in a weekly email. Two years later, she moved to Brooklyn and told roommate Liz Schroeter about this endeavor, prompting Liz to dig out some old teenage zines of her own. The first Cringe Reading Night was held April 6, 2005, at Freddy’s Bar & Backroom. Since then, Cringe has traveled around the U.S. and across the ocean as well, and is currently held once a month in London, England.

When I first heard about Cringe I was instantly enamoured. I’ve always been an avid diary keeper, and realise now how precious (and hilarious and mortifying) diaries are to look back on. I’m very glad I didn’t give in to numerous desires to burn the lot of them and that I have painfully hidden and moved them with me to every house I’ve lived in (not easily hidden when they are all bright pink, fluffy and covered in hearts and stars) I think I’ve only recently got to the point where I can see the humour in my angst ridden, painfully detailed 15 year old ramblings. So, I took a deep gulp and when Sarah put a call out for contributors for Augusts Cringe Night in London, I volunteered.

On Sunday I met up with super Susie and did a practise run, choosing which of the many toe-cringingly embarrassing escapades to focus on but despite this planning, I still spent yesterday quaking like a leaf as I’m NOT a performer by any means. If I see a stage I am usually running away from it, and I do not like being in front of a crowd of people I know, let alone strangers, let ALONE reading my most inner thoughts and painful prose. I was suddenly starting to realise that I’d signed myself up for, well, my worst nightmare!

Despite my nerves, I knew that now I’d volunteered I had to really go through with it and that it would make a good blog post to do something massively out of my comfort zone. I didn’t tell anybody except Susie that I was doing it as I really wasn’t ready to share and spill in front of friends or work colleagues and was terrified if word got out, they’d all come along! The night starts at 7.30pm and is in the top venue room of the wonderful George Pub off The Strand. I have to say, I started getting mighty sweaty as more and more and more people crammed in and the room gradually packed out.

The night started off with a few readers who had previously read at Cringe nights and it gave me a chance to see the general tone and style of the content and delivery. The readers were all so witty, so funny and with great delivery skills that it eased me and panicked me in equal measures. It was really fascinating to see the difference between the first volunteer (her 12 year old girl diary about periods, shaving her legs and the pains of not knowing what a wanker was!) and the next volunteer, a guy, who read his diary from a smiliar age (“ate 4 iced buns today”. “went to Gemmas party. It was shit.” “Gran came round. She gave me a quid.” etc!)

So after about 4 readers and a 10 minute interval, just as I thought I would definitely hyperventalate with fear, it was my turn. As soon as I got on stage, the lights meant I could barely see the audience, and this made it much easier to pretend I wasn’t infront of a huge room of strangers! I was amazed how easy it was just to start reading and quickly get into my stride. It helped that the audience were SO receptive, I was getting cheers and claps and awwws and a lo of laughs which was unbelievable as I hadn’t expected that kind of reception to my inane teen traumas!

My time on stage passed quickly and after the initial shock, I really really enjoyed it! It felt great to be able to make everyone laugh and feel everyones mutual mortification at my hideousness – like everyone was really laughing with me, not err at me. I even got the guts to share some horrific song lyrics I wrote about an unrequited crush which I would previously have been sick at the mere thought of my best friend seeing, let alone anyone else. I left the stage feeling like I’d literally just lived through a realy Hollywood movie scenario! After all my fretting and worry; it had gone down so well and I almost felt like I could jump off the stage and crowd surf back to my seat or high-5 everyone as I walked off – because they had been so supportive and lovely. It was such a confidence boost and afterwards lots of people approached me to say how funny they found it and to thank me for reading. Aw!

I would absolutely recommend at least attending a Cringe night, even if you don’t have the material/nerves to read. I think the joy about them is that everyone there can instantly relate to the themes and questions and issues that all the readers diaries cover. It sparks long buried memories and feelings and is just an absolutely feed-good night out. If you can’t treck to London, then you can buy the book inspired by the event for the bargainous £3.50 on Amazon at the moment.

Tags: , , , , ,