Seasonal

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I’ve alluded to a tough week, and this is never a blog where I shy away from being honest about my personal life, so I feel like I should just share this before I go back to talking about cheeseburgers and nail varnish. Those of you who were readers through the woes of Rubbishtober 2012 will know that life as I knew it took a nose dive lat year, as I was diagnosed with a whopping ovarian cyst, which proceeded to rupture and I needed emergency surgery to remove. As far as I was concerned, and to be honest the doctors led me to believe, that would be that. Surgery, cyst removed, life as normal. Sadly thought it hasn’t quite worked out like that. I have never been quite right since my operation and haven’t been able to shake a niggly feeling that something still wasn’t 100%. After various checks, tests and me sulking until they sent me for another scan (which is so unpleasant I wouldn’t be begging for it if I wasn’t really worried) and last week I found out that I have not one, but two cysts, on the same place they removed the last one. Well, my mum always said I wasn’t one to do things by halves.

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Anyway, it turns out the surgeons didn’t remove all the endometriosis in my last operation. This is a decision apparently they may have made to try and protect my healthy ovary by not getting too close to it with the surgical tools… However this wasn’t something I’d been told at any point in the 6 months since my surgery, so safe to say, it was pretty devastating. I’d been led to believe everything had been well and truly removed. In a way it was a relief to have some answers to my ongoing wishywashy health vibes, but in another I feel really let down and out of control of my own body. The good news is that the cysts aren’t currently big enough to need surgery again, so I get a break from operations for  little longer. In fact there is a chance it might not grow and I can just live with it (like a really unwanted body-pet). However in a year I go back for a scan and if it’s even grown by a cm, I’ll be back under the knife. So for now, I’m focussing on the positives and all the amazing things I need to fill my life with in the next year just in case I do have another bad patch. I’ve not been able to wear mascara since this happened because it’s made me turn into a weeping willow and has been a real brain battle to get my head around. But so that’s the crummy bit…

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The good bit is how INCREDIBLE my friends and family and of course, Nick the wonder boy, have been. They rode every roller-coaster bump of last October with me and so instantly felt the shock and disappointment of this news too. I’ve been so touched by how supportive and wonderful everyone I’ve confided in so far has been, when I haven’t really been much fun to be around. Craig was immediately on hand with an M&S picnic in Regents Park, as some situations only pink gin & tonic in a can can fix. We sat gritting out teeth and “enjoying the sun” (it was about 15 degrees!) for as long as we could muster before skulking to the nearest Starbucks for a hot chocolate to thaw out. Typical British summer antics! My beautiful Kate literally landed from her holiday in Mallorca and slept for approximately one hour, before rushing to London still in her holiday clothes, to whisk me for a stealthy brunch and much needed vent. My mum was an absolutely champ, taking a dash across London from Paddington to Kings Cross to spend a couple of hours watching the new Kings Cross development being built before taking a train back to Yorkshire. & I can’t even begin to list the millions of thoughtful things Nick has done, precious glimmery sparkly moments to make it impossible to be glum; one of them might have included an AMAZING dance to the entire 3 minutes of Aretha Franklins RESPECT (shhh!). That and chocolate moustaches. Safe to say I have had a much needed word with myself and remembered how lucky I am, whatever happens with my health in the future.

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The BIGGEST thing Nick did for me to put a crocodile grin back on my misery guts face was… he has successfully broken my The National curse! Out of the blue a few weeks ago, they added a random July London date in. From the second I heard the news, I knew I just HAD to be there. Intimate venue, walking distance from my house, super SOON! We embarked on an early morning stroll to work where we sat at our respective office computers frantically pressing f5 f5 f5 on the Roundhouse website. Tickets went live at 9am and predictably with The National, the internet broke! The Roundhouse website wasn’t structured to cope with such a vast quantity of hits and before long the site was down, the phoneline was cutting us off and breaking the curse was looking more and more unlikely as I was cheerily informed I was number 3947 in the queue for tickets… Just as we were cursing ourself for not showing up in person to the box office (the old school method is always the best way!) Nick said those glorious words “I’ve got them”! With some serious hacking prowess he managed to avoid any queues and glide through the crumbling website, to bag us a pair of level one tickets so I can scamper to the front and gaze up at The National. I am welling up just listening to them and imagining seeing them live, so imagine what kind of hysterical creature I’ll be on the night? That’s if I get there though… I’m still imagining a piano will fall our of the sky on me as I walk to the gig doors! Lets hope there really s nothing stopping me this time.

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Anyway sunny sparkly service as usual resumes, but now you know why I had a fortnight of sad facing about the place. Like a Skeleton Key will be a little quiet this week, as I fly to Cannes later today and am work work working all week, my schedule barely leaves time for a pan au chocolat or napping, let alone blogging sadly! I’m really curious to experience Cannes and will definitely be back with a vengeance next week to let you know how it was.

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There’s been lots of little glimmers of sparkly shiny stuff in my life recently that I don’t want to let just trickle out of my brain without being recorded, and hopefully you won’t mind reading a mishmash of life lately. I noticed that everything has had pink or purple hues lately, so at least there’s random theme tying it all together.

My magic 3 adventurer Craig & I were born a week apart. I don’t know why I can’t seem to retain this information, but every year I am surprised all over again. This year we we decided to have a VIP party for two bam-smack in the middle of our big days. I snuck home early enough to prepare a kids party table of treats and covered Craig’s eyes as he walked in. There was all the classic 90s faves; cold pizza slices, cheesy shapes, hula hoops, cucumber & ham sandwiches cut into triangles (no crusts!) and of course… cheese & pineapple on sticks! I’m not sure if it was all the E numbers or the orange food power but we chatted away for hours until we basically exhausted ourselves, like cranky toddlers. We were planning to watch a Ryan Gosling movie but even the prospect of topless Ryan action couldn’t tempt us into staying up and we crashed out at 11.

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My work had its annual Bake Off last week. I really enjoy baking but usually opt for cupcakes over big decorative cakes – my current favourite being Rolo Cupcakes where you bake an entire rolo into the middle creating a molten caramel sensation. As a result I ended up stood in my kitchen at midnight, with one cake in the bin that resembled jammy scrambled egg. I have no idea what went wrong (actually I blame the recipe! Surely 3 eggs is excessive…?) and the whole house stank like a greasy spoon cafe fry-up. Luckily the second attempt came out a little less yolky, but still had a soggy bottom that Mary Berry would have destroyed me for. Luckily I had planned for this eventuality and woke up early, donned my pinnie and covered the whole thing in cream, jam, edible petals and my secret weapon… popping candy! The cake crackled the whole bus ride into work and scooped a prize for “most attractive bake” – note that it didn’t get a mention in any of the flavour-related categories but I’m still so chuffed to have won something and now have some nifty silicone spatulas & kitchen tools to play with.

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Blossom is making me so happy. Even though temperatures seem to have plummeted again (on the bus this morning every single person was in a winter coat and I counted 4 pairs of gloves and 2 scarves, including my own – WHAT is going on?) I’m happy that natures confetti seems to be indestructible and surviving the rain showers. I also found my first dandelion clock yesterday. I know it’s childish but they fill me with absolute glee. I still love working out the time with giant wolf-blows, although these days I do then get an attack of the guilts over the garden I just spread weed-seed all over. Sorry North London!

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In Tufnell Park, directly opposite the underground station, is a very average looking corner shop. You could even go into the corner shop, grab something quickly, and leave NEVER knowing that you have in fact stepped foot in the shop of dreams. The reason it’s the shop of dreams that lurking through a narrow doorway, at the back of the shop, is the worlds largest biscuit collection. It is an entire AILSE dedicated to every cookie, biscuit, digestive, creme  and cracker you could think of; most of the imported from exotic lands and packed with unusual ingredients. This is just a third of the offering so if you are a fan of something to dunk in your tea, you really need to hop on a tube to this promised land!

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& Finally. Yesterday my (social media) LIFE PEAKED. It will never, ever get better than this! I’m a huge fan of Simon Reeve, he is one of the many brilliant things that wise-owl-Nick has introduced me to. He is a British writer/presenter of the best travel documentaries where he visits little-known areas of the world and as well as reporting on the treasures to be found, he also shines a light on some of the murkier goings-ons. He is incredibly brave, risking life and limb over and over in order to publicise stories that others have been too scared to approach. He has also written books on international terrorism, modern history and about his adventures. If you haven’t had the joy of experiencing Simon Reeve (although a deserved 2.7million tuned into his new Australia show on BBC2 last night so I don’t think he’s exactly obscure) then I really recommend the Tropic of Capricorn / Tropic of Cancer series for a starter. Frustratingly so much of his series are barely available on DVD or download so you need to do a bit of digging, but these are both currently listed on amazon. His books are also all well worth investing in, particularly The New Jackals where he basically prophesies 9/11 in spooky accuracy. An extremely savvy, smart man and my number 1 pick for that “who would you invite to a dinner party” question. Anyway yesterday as we settled down to watch episode 1 of Australia with Simon Reeve (on iplayer here), I sent a cheeky tweet about him and he REPLIED! And he complimented me! I’m not really one that goes in for tweeting celebs but to have one of your idols respond directly had me absolutely shell-shocked. I feel like I need to shout it from the rooftops but the moment has passed in twitter-land, like most things. So please indluge me in dorkily sticking the screengrab here for posterity.

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This time last week I thought I would be in London this weekend, pottering around a market or watching Django Unchained and zooming about on the tube. Actually, I am back home in Yorkshire! During the week I spoke to my Mum and had a sudden urge to pay her a post-birthday visit. I started scrabbling through the pages of my already-scrappy 2013 paper diary and with a heady combination of Morocco holiday, NY & LA working weeks, a 30th, an engagement party and two hen do’s (suddenly realising that I am so that age!) I wouldn’t have been able to get back to Yorkshire until April at the earliest, so quickly booked myself a ticket for this weekend and here I am.

It is never a hardship for me to come back home. I’m fortunate enough to remain extremely close to my parents so any real-life time (rather than Skype time) is always much appreciated and only a 3 hour train ride away. I also still get massively homesick for the village, the city, the country and the NORTH that I grew up in and feel like I breathe easier the second I walk through the door to the home I have lived in my whole life. I’m sure nowadays it’s quite unusual to have only had one family home and I appreciate that I’m very fortunate to still be able to bluster in full of London stories and tense work shoulder stresses and dump myself on the sofa and be in the first and only proper home I have ever known. Now that I visit at the age of 28, being well and truly moved out for approaching a decade, it’s sometimes almost like going to a museum of memories. In every part of every room I have existed as a baby, a toddler, a child, a teenager… and sometimes the ghosts of yourself in days gone past creep upon you when you least expect it. I’m a nostalgia sucker anyway and constantly pick the scabs of good and sad times gone by, but the anonymity and scale of London makes it far easier to avoid triggers of past times and constantly recreate yourself and your life. Once you are back in a land of everything familiar and covered in layer after layer of people and moments and heartaches and experiences it’s like opening the floodgates to everything that’s ever happened to you.

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So I seem to have transformed myself into a SNOW HUNTER! This time last week my whole weekend revolved around snow, and this weekend… despite London swooning away in positively balmy sunshine, I have been back out in the snow as about 7 inches fell overnight here. It was my mum who suggested taking the sledge (!) so we bundled up with some serious knitwear (and showing her increased intelligence, my mum opted for waterproofs too, whereas I typically had to slope home with a soggy bottom and jeans dripping in thawing snow). The amazing thing about this snow day was the bright blue sky overhead. I’ve got used to the claustrophobic low mushroomy London sky this week, so it felt like we were somewhere far more exotic and piste-like than Bradford. The snow was so incredibly deep that my first attempt at sledging involved me sitting on the snow, moving about a foot, and then sinking. Clearly my weekly 5k run/pilates/swimming regime has not shifted enough of those Christmas pounds yet!  We had to adopt a very scientific approach to creating a proper sledge route which involved compacting the snow down with our wellies and then sledging over and over again until it was super-speedy and slick. I am definitely a far worse driver than my mum though, as I kept nosediving into snow banks and twice the sledge stopped and I carried on going, getting some classy derrière friction burning.

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We even tried once going down together in the sledge and recreating Cool Runnings. Luckily there weren’t too many people around to see two fully grown women trying to fit onto a tiny piece of plastic and whooping down the hill! Can you see how hideous my wellies are? They are bright neon pink with yellow Mr-Blobby spots and I can very clearly remember buying them when I was 15, so its a good job my feet haven’t grown. That’s another thing I love about my family home, there’s always the odd old item around for emergency weather. After haring up and down our sledge track for a good half an hour, I was scampering about like an idiot and DROPPED my iPhone in the snow! The snow was so deep that it instantly covered the spot where my phone had fallen in, like a vortex. I am ashamed to say that I think I reacted with the speed and fear of a parent who’s child has just fallen in a lake or something! I dove head first and dug dug dug until I found my (white – helpful) phone and ripped the cover off, trying to get the melting snow to stop creeping into all the nooks and electricity ports. After giving it a big wipe with my jumper and blowing on it a bit,  it miraculously seems completely fine? I am aware that after 5 minutes buried in melting snow this should not be the case… so really hope that in a few days it doesn’t die a death, but its charging away and sending messages and happily posting my 1000th photo to instagram, so perhaps I got really lucky.

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As we were leaving there was a mum with two toddlers setting about a sledging session herself, and I was really tempted to point out to her that she could very well still be doing this in her sixties with her grown up kids if she was anything like us! Considering I had no idea or plans to be here this weekend, it’s definitely turned into a memory I’ll always treasure and never forget. I better go retrieve my clothes that are drying in various places all over the house and go get an afternoon bath (such a guilty pleasure) and attempt to finish my current book. I’m reading The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern which fits well and truly into the modern fairy tale genre that am a total fiend for (if you haven’t read any I’d recommend Of Bee’s & Mist, The Man Who Rained & The Snow Child). Sometimes a book comes along that just captures your attention and heart immediately, and The Night Circus is definitely one of them for me. The writing style is incredibly evocative and uses every sense to ensure you feel that you not just reading about the circus, but that you’re actually a part of it too. It so vivid that I’ve had three dreams about being at the circus from the book now, and quite like the way it’s dominating my sub concious slumbering (way more fun than dreaming about keynote presentations and VFX job jargon). I’ll be quite sad when I finish the book but I have to stop dawdling as I am falling way behind in my pesky 51 book challenge.

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SNOW!

I really wasn’t going to do a snow blog, because my brain is bursting with other things to blog about at the moment and I know you can’t blink on twitter/instagram/facebook without seeing another photo or reference to the cold white stuff but… it’s just SO pretty! And I get the hype, it’s so rare that we get a decent depth of snow to roam around in that it just brings out the sparkly child in everyone and what’s not to like about that?

I’m very fortunate that Hampstead Heath is basically my back garden and after 18 months of living around the area, I know it’s nooks and crannies pretty well. I know the best tree to climb and the secret sledge runs and even the areas you can be guaranteed not to see another soul (not even a shifty character!) But I don’t think I’ve ever seen it looking more beautiful than today. Snow definitely suits the heath. The sky was as bright white as the ground, obviously full of more snow just waiting to fall again. This transformed the winter trees into spindly silhouettes and the hoards of sledgers on parliament hill took on a ghostly Lowry-esque quality.

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When people ask me what my favourite season is, I don’t really have a favourite. I just like proper seasons. I like my spring to be cherry blossom cardigan weather. I like my summer to have long balmy evenings drinking cider on a picnic blanket in the park. I like my autumn to burn through yellow orange and red colours and finally I desperately want my winter to dazzle me with Hollywood snow. So far winter has just been wet in London. Grey, wet, glum and with the occasional chilly night (always at the most inconvenient times when I’ve braved massive heels or left my woolly hat at work) so I knew it was vital to make the most of this fleeting snow day. Nick was a very willing companion as we bundled up in thermals and woollens and started a near-2 hour trek from one side to the other of the heath, stopping to do as much cheesy snow stuff as possible – snowballs, snow men with twig afros, snow angels, nearly falling into the frozen lake…

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I haven’t made many snow angels before and Nick had never ever made one (I think they are quite an American thing? I only learnt about them as a kid from watching Groundhog Day obsessively) so I gave him the patch of snow that didn’t have a single footprint on. I was at least smart enough to wait to the end of the walk to go rolling around in the snow as once you’ve angel-ed it manages to find it’s way in everywhere and suddenly I had damp patches and icy trickles everywhere, brrr! I really liked getting so cold though,  there’s no point being all adult and sensible in the snow.  We soon warmed up with a giant cup of tea and a big wedge of cheese & chutney on toast at home. We also finally finished True Blood season 4 – Did you watch it? What did you think? I have been a huge True Blood obsessive since season 1. I even have a Merlotte’s tee-shirt! I loved everything about it; the southern drawls, the incredible opening titles, the theme tune, the sultry Sookie, the vampires, the concept of true blood itself, Sam… In fact I thought season 3 was the best so far and was so excited for season 4 but wow. What a mess! Half way through the season I just couldn’t care less about any of the characters and the stories seemed to have gone off in a witchcraft weird tangent and there were constant wtf moments. I barely watch TV at the moment so when I do have a boxset feast I want it to be really good! I’ve never been so underwhelmed by a season finale and definitely won’t be watching season 5, I’ll probably just read the episode summaries on wikipedia and continue to be disappointed! The first one I looked up had the phrase “giant blood spraying vampire goddess” in it. Next up for boxset viewing for me is The Hour (which is a bit ridiculous I never started watching as I adore Mad Men and this is meant to be the UK attempt) and Community which my sister is desperate for me to watch and discuss and that’s a good enough reason for me. Ok, end of TV tangent…

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^By far the classiest photograph of me on the internet! Also Nick, despite being a first timer, is certified more angelic than me. We saw lots of sights on our snow mission; like a jack russell being pulled along on an old fashioned sledge, alot of questionable snowboot footwear oh and I absolutely loved creeping up to what I call Hansel & Gretel’s fairytale cabin which is actually the mens toilets (!!
but in typical Hampstead style, super stylish) and Nick thinks my obsession with it is ridiculous as he claims “if you’d visited them, and smelt them, in the height of summer you wouldn’t love it so much”! But look how cute it is…

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Finally, just to fashion up this blog a bit, here is my winter hat, glove and scarf combo. As you can see not a single item matches! Higgedlypiggeldy or what? The hat is long suffering bluey that I bought in San Francisco Urban Outfitters for $2 after arriving there and realising that my hotpants, vests and sunglasses were not going to fly in 7 degree fog (I just assumed it’s in California = it’s sunny. Wrong!) Then the scarf is a snood, I’ve recently discovered the wonder of the snood. I think I’ve avoided them because of the silly name but it’s just a giant extra toasty scarf without the long dangly bits that I always get caught in the tube door/any door. Finally my owl gloves. I know that animal covered knitwear is totally played out, and everyone owns a panda hat or hood with ears, but I quite like clothes that straddle costume/fancy dress so they still make me smile. These are the only version of animal knits I own though, they were a very welcome Christmas gift and I’ve barely taken them off since (except to roll snowballs!)

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As you’ve probably gathered, I have never been so happy to kiss goodbye to a year as I was as 2012 ticked into 2013. I know resolutions divide opinion and of the blogs I read, it seems to be pretty evenly split by haters and hopers. Personally, I never reflect and mull (get it!) more than I do over the festive December period. I think it’s a combination of being around loved-ones and family, the kind messages scribbled into Christmas cards, spending time back in the house and town I grew up in… oh and the fact I am drunk at some point most days. This means that when December 31st comes around, I couldn’t be in a better position to really give myself a shake and think about what I want from the year ahead.

They are probably of way more interest to me than anyone else, but I feel if I put them out for the world-wide-world to see, then perhaps I’m more likely to achieve them.

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2013 New Years Resolutions

01. Read 51 books: In typical fashion, after basking in my 50-book reading challenge victory for about ten minutes, I decided it had to be upped to 51 for this year. So far, so good, and I am on book number two. I’m currently reading Invisible by Paul Auster which from the description I was desperately hoping for something similar to one of my absolute favourite books The Secret History by Donna Tartt. It doesn’t really bear any similarities other than being based in an American university but it is a very captivating read. I am only a quarter through but the fact that whilst reading it I was stood in the kitchen cooking my dinner and let the the pasta boil over for about three minutes whilst I got through a particularly tense bit says quite a lot.

02. Learn to surf: In February I’m finally taking the holiday I was meant to have in October but my cyst Vs body take over hijacked. Nick & I are spending a week in the depths of the Atlas Mountains in Morocco, and amongst many activities (hikes, a bird sanctuary, haggling at souks, star gazing… oh and a few massages and dips in the pool of course!) we are going to spend the day learning to surf in the bath-water warm sea. I’m so excited to try something so entirely new, although not too hopeful at my ability since I am clumsy enough walking on two feet in flat shoes.

03. Visit 3 countries (not including Europe) and 10 new cities: This sounds like a vast amount but with Africa already booked, then being fortunate enough to travel with my job (although it’s not like a holiday as I used to naively imagine work jet-setting would be. Oh no! Try 15 presentations in 14 days, with jet lag and a broad accent that not a single person understands thrown in) and a few other tricks up my sleeve… well lets just say I think I’ll be a different person come 2014 with a much broader view of the world and my place in it. I’m going to buy a big map and some coloured stickers and chart all the place I go. Note how I even manage to make something fun and spontaneous like travelling, organised and colour code-able.

04. Climb Snowdon: I’m also keen to make the most of the UK and see more of it this year. Part of this is a pact I have made with a good friend to join him on his conquering of Mount. Snowdon in Wales (his new years resolution is to climb a mountain in England, Scotland & Wales). I know it’s probably wrong that at the moment I’m most excited about what things I can bake for a picnic (!) but it will definitely feel like a real achievement.

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05. QUIT caffeine: Caffeine is pretty sinister. I highly recommend the you are not so smart blog on it. I never really thought I was addicted to caffeine, I just knew that I loved coffee in all it’s forms and also as a proud Yorkshire girl had an excuse to drink 20 cups of tea a day. I’m not kidding, I regularly had 2 or 3 cups on the go at my desk (the difference in shades of tea-brown was very aesthetically pleasing!) Then had my C-scare and all round month of medical misery, and I did everything I could afterwards to find out how to avoid a relapse. Part of this was seeing a nutritionist who believes that the key (in my case) is to keep everything in my body as balanced as possible, and part of this is avoiding spikes in blood sugar/adrenaline. And part of that? Quit caffeine. At the point I was given this I was having 3 coffees a day and yes, about 20-25 cups of tea.

Soooo… I didn’t go cold turkey obviously, but I started replacing tea for the wonder that is Rooibos (rank on it’s own, yet a taste sensation with milk). I also made the glorious discovery that my beloved Yorkshire Tea make a decaf version and are still are polite enough to use the lets make a proper brew tagline on it, even though I am from Yorkshire and definitely don’t think it’s a proper brew with non of the good (hmm, bad) stuff in it. 3 Months on and I now just have one coffee a week, as a treat on a Saturday! Cutting down was far more brutal and painful than I ever imagined. I got the absolute worst splitting headaches that no pain killer could touch. I swayed deliriously between napping on the bus and nights of sweaty insomnia. I know this is very un-PC but at one point I did say “If it’s this hard to come off coffee, how hard must it be to come off heroin?“. I just massively under-estimated that yes, I was addicted to coffee. In fact (and my bank balance could have told me this years ago) I was a heavy user. Anyway, this year I aim to cut out all caffeine entirely.

06. Finish knitting my scarf: For a decade my new years resolution was consistently to learn to knit. I have finally succeeded! So proud! I’m so nauseatingly twee that it was ridiculous that I couldn’t actually knit before. The other day I found myself knitting, drinking herbal tea, wearing a floral dress & listening to the Magnetic Fields. I actually out-tweed myself.  So I am well on the way with a neat maroon/navy striped scarf. I need to get a wriggle on and finish it in time to gift it next winter, and to finish the knit-your-own-owl (!) of dreams Craig bought me.

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07. Brush up my Spanish: I did Spanish GCSE and got a B. Nowadays I can still pronounce the funny j noise and I can say I’ve got a hangover. Then it all gets a bit fuzzy. In 2003 I backpacked in Spain and after a week of stuttering and stammering over my hola’s, me and my backpack buddy went to a Spanish rock club and drank aLOT of bodka and suddenly I was conversing with everyone in there about how many brothers/sisters they had and whether they preferred the beach or the forest. Important GCSE level questions  My friend couldn’t believe it and thought I had been lying the whole time about my level of Spanish ability… but it proves that with me it’s a confidence thing as much as a forgetful thing. So I signed up for a 10 week course (beginner level as I miserably failed the intermediate online test!) and am really looking forward to getting grips on another language again. And I got given a really beautiful handprinted notebook for Christmas that I can use for my homework. New stationary makes any project instantly exciting non?

 08. Write half of the secret-project: Well isn’t this annoying? It’s something I am sworn to secrecy until the future, so this is all I can say… for now!

09. Blog more than 2013: Given the fast and furious pace I am blogging at the moment I have probably already achieved this! You’re going to be sick of the sight of me. It feels really good to be writing for myself again, rather than just at work, and it seemed such a shame not to be using my little slice of the internet pie that actually costs me money every year. I’m not really hung-up on the fact it’s not a beauty blog, it’s not a fashion blog, it’s not a book blog etc etc. It’s a lifestyle blog. That covers all bases right!

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09. Alter my work/life balance: I graduated university, I moved to London and I became a rat race face and never looked up. I dread to actually think the hours I have worked in the last 5 years and getting ill made me realise that the body can only take a certain amount of burning the candle ferociously. So I have thrown myself back into my pilates, swimming and am being really strict not to book & doublebook every evening, night and weekend up with seeing people and going places and packing and unpacking and then tossing & turning all night having feverish work-dreams. Something definitely has to give, and I’m determined not to end up on the operating table again any time soon.

10. Be brave: I never associate myself with being brave, and it’s something I aspire to be and know I am really, but this year more than ever I will be putting myself in positions out of my comfort zone just to keep on growing into a big tough lion girl… woman.

11. Get back in music: I used to be surgically attached to my mix tapes, homemade CDs and always ahead of the curve with new bands. I am now SO sick of the same songs on my itunes and the fact that I ‘forgot’ to get the new Metric CD… who are one of my favourite bands?! Also that I didn’t even know about the Kings of Convenience side project? Poor show. Going to End of the Road festival  really whet my musical appetite again and since then I’ve enjoying some of the lesser-known acts I discovered. I’m currently listening to a lot of Alessi’s Ark, Tennis, Dead Man’s Bones, Foxes, Kimbra, Band of Skulls, Kurt Vile, First Aid Kit, John Grant, Django Django, Miracle Fortress and Tame Impala. It’s so nice not to be stuck on a permanent shuffle-shuffle-shuffle-same-old-stuff cycle.

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12. STOP saying “Oh my God”: Why do I say this? Why oh why. I have actually adapted it to Oh my gosh but that’s still very annoying. How do other people express surprise?? I hear myself saying Oh my godgosh in my shocked-voice and I must say it multiple times a day and I hate it. Can you please recommend other words? Or maybe I just need a shocked noise?

13. Daily Records (Thirteen resolutions for 2013!)Last year I took a photo every day and it was so useful for my sieve brain to remember events and orders of occurrences that usually drop out of my head as soon as they’ve happened. This year I am going to continue taking a photo a day as it’s a natural habit, but I’m also going to take a photo of my face everyday! I’m not really vain I promise, but as I head towards the big 3-0 (not til 2014, phew) I am really curious to track my outfits/hair style and well skin to see if I start to look older. I’m not going to put them anywhere public, just for my beady eyes. I’ve shared one below though, which perfectly illustrates my current no-make-up state and also the lions man hair that I couldn’t tame. The final record I am keeping is that I bought Lol & Craig this for Christmas. You get asked a question a day, and keep it for 5 years. Then another one arrived from Amazon randomly so I get to partake too. The questions are brilliant and go from the deep (Can people really change?) to the inane (What was the last restaurant you went to?) I never know what on earth to write in a diary, so the daily prompt is perfect.

& That’s it. Have you got a resolution? Have you seen any other good bloggers list theirs? I’ve seen a few but I’d love to see more. Roll on 2013, I have a really good feeling about you being sparkly and shiny and super.

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Rubbishtober

Today I was lazily browsing my inbox when I spotted a boring looking wordpress admin email creeping around under nice messages from friends and Amazon. I’m glad I opened it because it was a massively overdue reminder to cough up the $ to own my little slice of the internet, my likeaskeletonkey domain. Having paid up, it was a harsh reminder that perhaps I should add something a little shiny and new over here and get my moneys worth!

I guess I have never really settled myself on what my blog is exactly. It started off as a fashion blog until I got camera shy. Then it turned into a higgeldypiggely list of film & bookworm reviews. Then it just turned into a mix of all of these things with a few rants about Yorkshire Tea, Grandparents & Kindles vs Books chucked in. Funnily enough, my most viewed post EVER is this little nugget about The Tragic Demise of the Point Horror as it still racks up a good 100 hits a week; maybe I should accept my niche? The one thing I haven’t ever done is get particularly personal on here, despite the fact every element of my life has changed unrecognisably since I started writing here and now. So forgive me for skirting over the gory details but I do have to get a little bit personal to get past the last month… and onto writing about cheeseburgers and ghost stories and big collars again.

In mid September London had a day of fake-summer. I trotted into town and got my hair done, happily reuniting myself with my fringezille before Autumn crept in. I came home, and my boyfriend took this photograph of me in his garden, and at the time I had no idea I’d look back after a month of  lost-life and think it was the last time I was truly happy and healthy. The following Monday I went to the doctors for a standard check-up, and made an off-the-cuff comment about some pain that had been niggling me, which I followed up with but I’ve googled it and I know its absolutely normal and nothing to worry about. It turns out, it was something to worry about after all. I had a week of blood tests, other tests and aLOT of people using the C word that no one ever wants to be told is what they are beetling around looking for in your previously pretty healthy body. Fortunately it wasn’t that, but I was eventually diagnosed with a cyst that had been quietly growing inside me for long enough to be the size of a satsuma, caused by endometriosis.

And then it ruptured (make a promise to me right now, NEVER google ruptured cyst however curious you may be, as I can never unsee the horror) causing internal bleeding and me to be unable to do anything for 3 weeks except stay as still & horizontal as possible until my surgery date. I’d never had surgery or anaesthetic before, in fact all my knowledge of that area came purely from the boardgame Operation (I honestly occasionally ponder whether humans actually have a breadbox?) so it was pretty scary. The operation itself went smoothly, but everything else didn’t. From lost notes, to lost scans, to general confusion, to crumbling falling down hospitals, to low blood pressure, to blood clots, I collected quite a lot of harrowing medical memories… but all that matters really is that I’m feeling healthier now than I have for years, which makes them all worthwhile.

I think the reason I wanted to record something about this here, is that I have learnt a huge lesson which I think it’s important enough to share on the internet. Listen to your BODY. If I’m honest I had known something wasn’t quite right for ages, and if I hadn’t had a very thorough doctor it’s unlikely I’d have been diagnosed yet. Spending 6 weeks incapable of going into work, socialising, and my only trips out being to the hospital… it’s made me have such a new perspective on what is important in life and your health is something that you should be prepared to do anything to protect. My body may now be a little franken-girl-y but I’m determined to appreciate it every day and be far more attentive to any questionable goings-on in future.

I also need to use the most public place I can to thank my world-greatest boyfriend (who deserves an entire blog post in itself), parents, family and amazing friends; who barely gave me opportunity to feel glum as they ensured I was constantly bombarded with reassurance, cards, love and best wishes. Oh and even a homemade pork pie!

I had my operation in St Bart’s hospital, which it the oldest hospital in London. It was founded in 1123 and is also the oldest hospital in the whole of the United Kingdom to still exist on it’s original site, having survived the Great Fire of London and the Blitz. St Bart’s also has a museum, which I’m very much looking forward to visiting in order to spend time in the grounds as a curious guest and not a squirming-in-pain patient. A final fact that heartened me to the hospital is that Bart’s is  the location for the first ever meeting of Sherlock Holmes & Dr Watson in A Study in Scarlet. Given it’s rich historical and cultural offerings, I can’t resist sharing my own personal addition! Following my surgery, I was taking my sweet time recovering from the whole ordeal, so was admitted to a cardiac ward overnight. The ward was in one of the oldest sections of the hospital with vast windows, church bell chimes every hour and trees tapping the walls with bony autumn fingers. I’d already slept for 5 hours when I woke up at midnight and could tell the anaesthetic had mostly left my system as I could now easily snaffle two shortbreads and a cup of sugary tea, that the nurse stealth-snuck to my bed whilst the rest of the ward slept. When I fell back to ‘sleep’ I had the most paranormal experience of my entire life!

For the rest of the night various medical staff came to visit me in my bed, it felt relentless. Constantly checking my pulse, temperature, tucking me in, bringing blankets, and most frequently – gathering at the end of my bed and staring at me, occasionally whispering to each other. But these were no ordinary modern-day doctors and nurses. They were all dressed in old fashioned medical dress from various eras. I wouldn’t bet that I had the imagination or knowledge to invent these in my (at the time) drug-addled mind, and there were so many different faces and uniforms and hats and even the equipment had transformed into archaic looking items. Make of it what you will, but I was so relieved for my night in the past to be over once the sun came up. I’m looking forward to scouring the portraits that cover the museum walls and seeing if I recognise any familiar faces…

During my time in my ‘bedroom prison’ I did sneak out occasionally to breathe in a bit of Autumn, and to be honest I probably saw more than if I’d been crouched over my desk in the office. Safe to say I can’t wait to get back out there and into the world again, and enjoy what November has to offer (and hopefully blog a little more about it), as October 2012 will forever be written off as rubbishtober.                                                            .

  

  

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It may be grotty ‘summer’ weather, but I still think London is the most beautiful, diverse place I’ve ever lived. These are all photographs taken within one week of each other. I think I walk around gawping and gaping more than any tourist who visits!

 

 

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If you were wondering what I’ve been doing all summer…

I have a serious case of instagramatitus. I’m no longer interested in any element of life that I can’t apply a sun-dappled nostalgic filter to and swoon at it’s beauty!  Although, just as I got into the addict spectrum, my iPhone broke. Overheated and apparently it’s terminal! I wonder if there was a connection between discovering Instagram and this…?

So for now I am stuck with a £12.99 brick that doesn’t even have predictive text! In fact the only thing I have worked out how to do is set the ‘Greeting Message’ (remember them!) to “I’m a stupid hunk of junk”. Yup.

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I Am A Tourist

I think I’m a little bit, a little bit, a little bit in love with you.

London has been extraordinarily pretty lately. I think February suits it.

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I hate to be disparaging about Leeds because it was my home for five years and I did love it dearly, but sometimes I am reminded how much BETTER London is (sorry!!!) and Winter Wonderland was a very good example indeed.

In Leeds we got the yearly Christmas German Market (actually otherwise known by me and Lol as the German Market of Heartbreak & Doom owing to the fact that everytime the German Market came to town for my 5 years of life there; one of us seemed to on the cusp breaking up/be broken up with by someone and crying into our giant sausage about it.) anyway I digress, for a change. The German market is cool. There are a few little huts selling homemade things, gingerbread and the like. There is a small carousel. There is ONE beer/sausage/schnitzel area that you have to queue in the cold for about 30 minutes to even shuffle inside. And there are some dodgems.

This is what I was expecting when I met up with magic-two-Heathcote for a festive jaunt to Hyde Park. He had been to Winter Wonderland before, a few years ago, and I had never been. Mainly I had never been because I was expecting it to be like the German Christmas Market of Heartbreak and Doom and really once you’ve seen one, you’ve sort of seen them all. BOY WAS I WRONG! The Winter Wonderland is honestly the place dreams are truley made and if you live in London you have top get yourself down there! Website & Tickets Here.

There are no words, it was just magical and enchanting and amazing and if you want to feel the tiny-child Christmas way then this is the only guarentee. Plus there are endless little wooden chalets with fires and mulled wine to rest as you venture round in the cold. We were there 3 hours and didn’t even get around the whole thing! I am going MULTIPLE TIMES next year! Who’s with me?

One regret though, is not having the guts to order a cool power. I want one of those, whatever it is.

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