Autumn

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I know every blogger and their dog seems to freak out come autumn; but there is a legitimate reason for that. Autumn is breathtaking! I can’t get enough of scrolling through my Bloglovin’ feed and snooping on page after page of burnt colours and leaf kicking and pumpkin carving and conkers and knitwear. In fact I am lapping it up even more obsessively than usual because last year I skipped town before Autumn hit and my A/W 2013 was spent in, well, sweltering tropical heat. This means I haven’t had an autumn since 2012 and that particular gruesome autumn was mostly spent in and out of hospital, and barely participating. Safe to say I have been refreshing the met-office weather app every day, waiting for temperatures to justify the wool tights, woolly jumpers and COATS (ahh lovely coats!) that have sat unloved and unworn for two years. I’m basically delirious because I just ordered my winter coat. What a big decision and one that I used the entire Daylight Savings hour to mull over with a cuppa.

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Whilst a fair amount of my autumnal adventures have included misty ramblings around and stomping about the leaf sodden streets; yesterday it was time to give my cold ears and nose a break and plan something of the cosier variety. After accidentally spending 3 weekends in a row away from London (a hen do, a wedding, our wedding planning!) I have been so giddy all week at the prospect of an entire weekend to do whatever I wanted. So yesterday I did my annual trip to brave the city centre for some perusing up Oxford Street, window shopping on South Molton Street and to spend some time shoving my nose up to the Selfridge’s Christmas window displays. I had wondered where would be good to grab some brunch or lunch and none of my usual haunts were taking my fancy. I wanted somewhere that felt a bit more special than just grabbing a bacon butty somewhere. I wanted somewhere that wouldn’t be heaving, with a queue out the door (I love you Breakfast Club, but you need to have about 100 more tables!) but that would still have a buzzy atmosphere.

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So, I have a (probably really silly) confession to make, and that is despite the fact I LOVE hotels – this was one of my first ever blog posts – and am aware that in London we are spoilt by the quality and quantity of them; I’ve never thought to head to a hotel restaurant for a meal, if I’m not staying at that hotel. In fact (and this is definitely silly) I wasn’t even sure you were allowed to go to one, if you weren’t staying. So, at the grand old age of 30, I can now share this valuable nugget of information – you are! In fact, it is encouraged! And it is such a great option for exactly my predicament of wanting somewhere to cosy up and while away a weekend in-between shops and scuttling about the streets.

With this new life lesson, I was fortunate enough to be invited by the delightful Fiona to the Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill and their restaurant The Montagu to sample their new slant on traditional brunch; an Italian/New York influenced offering that is more of an experience than a meal. Oh, and did I mention it includes unlimited Bellinis? I am such a big fan of the holy Bellini that when I type it in my phone, Syri autocorrects it to caps lock and with three exclamation points which gives a clue as to how many times I must have written BELLINIS!!!

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We had barely stepped foot into The Montagu before a super friendly member of restaurant staff whisked us off by the elbows and toured us around the various treats that laid ahead of us. It was a little bit like walking into Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Delicious smells and heaving piles of gorgeous food covered almost every surface surrounding the dining tables. Oh and a lovely man was serenading us on guitar; playing some really haunting covers of blues, swing and jazz classics.

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The first stop-off was the deli counter. To take the edge off any shopping starvation you might have entered with; this is an open plan station packed with cured meets, carpaccio, a giant cheese board, every bread you could dream up and glass mason jars of aubergine, sun-dried tomatoes, olives and picky-bits… and you are left to go WILD. I really liked this element to the brunch because it gave the meal a relaxed, luxurious feeling where it was totally acceptable to eat a bit of deli stuff, then something else, then go grazing for more. There is also a salad bar, where the friendly fellows will whisk you up anything that takes your fancy. I went for a Cobb, because I like my cheese to green ratio on the less-healthy side!

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As we let our first course settle, we were given the exact amount of space to natter and chatter; but we never felt like we’d been forgotten about, as our attentive waiter was either bringing us square slices of piping hot pizza fresh out of the oven (yknow, just to tide us over through all that exhausting story swapping!) or expertly topping up our glasses.

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The main course (you have to love a brunch that has a main course) is a unique offering where we scampered over to a big marble breakfast-bar attached to a vast open plan kitchen, where you can hover around and choose between fresh pastas, pizzas, risotto, steak and salmon. The great thing about the kitchen being right there, is that you have talk to the chefs about what they recommend, you can choose exactly what ingredients you want and then, if you are nosey like me, you can watch them prepare it and try to pick up hints to turn you into a chef too. I had Conchiglie (pasta sea shells to me) with tomato sauce, basil and meatballs. There is something just other-worldly about proper Italian pasta cooked by someone who knows exactly what they are doing! It was actual melt-in-the-mouth good.

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Now anyone who knows me can imagine that despite troughing my way through all of this, I really had my mind and my eye on the prize. The pudding prize! As we entered the restaurant I had already clocked the staggering dessert tray and thought “well I just want everything on that”. Here is a small sample of the choices that faced me:

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After an excessive amount of umming and ahhing, I opted for a slice of NYC style baked cheesecake and a tiramisu; just to be equal opportunities and trying something traditional from both sides of the ocean. The cheesecake was quite simply the best cheesecake I have ever eaten in my life. The vanilla tang, the crunchy super-buttery base and the cake itself being the perfect gooey texture. I feel like I’ll never want to order a cheesecake anywhere else in my life because there is no way it can be that good. The tiramisu was dreamy too; I loved the way it was served in a class tumbler, it means all the boozy coffee liquid had pooled at the bottom and just gave it the most amazing potent flavour. I polished both off in record speed despite being so full already. The pudding belly is a totally different thing right?

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I couldn’t believe it when I realised we had been brunching for almost three hours. We had completely pushed the official brunch-time-limit and passed through lunch and almost into afternoon tea territory. The fact this could happen without even noticing is a testament to the staff and the brunch. I hadn’t known what to expect from brunch at a 5* hotel; and worried it could feel stuffy. Instead, I felt totally relaxed. I absolutely loved the mixture of food you could choose yourself and create exactly what your heart desired, versus the food that the expert chefs could whip up. It meant that the experience felt really special, and like I was made a real fuss of, but it also felt really welcoming and intimate. Everyone we came into contact with was genuinely friendly, chatty and completely focused on making the occasion as dazzling as possible.

I am already trying to look ahead at my calendar of when I can go again; as I only had the stomach-space to try about a quarter of the delicacies on offer. The Montagu Italian meets New York Champagne Brunch is £39 a head; and that includes the unlimited bellini/champagne top ups and as much munch as you can muster. The Montagu also do something amazingly called “Sex & The City Par-Tea” which says it all really. I desperately want to take Lol; as she knows every word of every episode so could entertain me whilst we ate shoe shaped biscuits, by doing a one-woman performance of seasons 1-6! Thank you so much to Fiona and the staff at The Hyatt Regency Churchill and The Montagu for hosting me and treating me to such a marvellous menu.

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On the way out, I mentioned how the cheesecake had been the best I had ever had in my life, and an incredibly generous chap boxed up THREE slices for me to take home and so Nick could try some, rather than have me just describe how amazing it was.

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Now I am back home and whilst it’s great to have an extra hour of weekending, I feel a bit distressed about why there isn’t someone here to constantly top up my glass with BELLINI!!!

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This time last year I sat down in an excruciatingly hot & sticky cyber cafe in a tiny Venezuelan coastal town and wrote the first blog entry of my travels over on Twentysomething Burnouts.  In the strange way that time meddles with the mind; it feels like just yesterday and a million years ago at the same time. The next six months are going to be jam-packed with this sort of anniversary; this time last year I was in trekking up Machu Picchu Mountain, this time last year I was sleeping in a hammock, this time last year I was on the Amazon river spotting pink river dolphins, this time last year I shared a bed with the worlds deadliest scorpion… and every single one makes me take stock of where my life was then… and where my life is now. I’m learning that this has its (obvious) pros and cons! Whilst I love thinking back to the once-in-a-lifetime trip and the incredible memories; I also feel like a hostage to the past at the same time, and don’t really wish to live in a fog of reflection and comparison until next March. I have so many important life-things to focus on in the present (dream job! wedding! new flat! London stuff!) but I can feel the clawing clutch of nostalgia and wistful “I wish I was back there” gloom settling on me almost every morning as I pack my backpack and set off for the daily work grind (despite the fact I adore my current daily grinding and it’s in here:

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which kind of helps)

Something to help banish those blues has been making the most of living in one of the best places on earth! Forget my trip of a lifetime, some people aspire to visit London just once and I get it on our doorstep every day. I have to have a word with myself occasionally and remind myself how lucky I am (even if my lungs aren’t; living in London = now asthmatic)

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I turned 30 in May, and for my birthday I’ve been spoilt rotten over the summer by family as I cashed in IOU’ed London based experience gifts (the best kind) and kept milking the celebrations as hard as possible! Firstly my sibling Meg took me for my first ever tasting menu. This is where you are treated to a 6-course meal and each course has a wine selected to match the food selection. My inability at Geography did hamper the start of the night. I had diligently googled The Don, and as I know it was south, which is basically all the same to this northern lass, I headed off to the address provided. It was only when I had caught two buses and walked about 20 minutes in brand new Lotta From Stockholm clogs (breaking in shoes that contain brand new leather AND hard-wood is not the one) that I rocked up to a restaurant that looked… well… a little sketchier than what I was expecting. And sure enough there are TWO The Don’s in London and I was at entirely the wrong one. Already late and now in a bit of a sweaty state; I did something I never ever do. I hailed a black cab and it zoomed me over Tower Bridge giving me a “wow I’m a real life Londoner” moment; and in mere moments I had a glass of chilled bubbles in my hand and could rest up my sore feet.

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Meg and I opted for the tasting menu at The Don; which was perfect in every way. The Don provided us with flawless food, impeccable service (polite and knowledgeable, but never stuffy or judgey) and a buzzy atmosphere where no one sat close enough to eavesdrop as our conversation got more scandalous as we drank more dessert wine! The absolute BEST bit of the night however was the cheese tray. More cultured readers may have experienced this delight before; but to me it was completely new. Basically at the end of your meal, a very smart cheese-expert wheels over a huge tray that is mounded up with about 50 cheeses. They are laid out from hard > soft, strong > mild. Oh and BLUE. Luckily these siblings share a passion for anything strong, sticky and stinky and loaded up our plates with everything that ticked that box. The waiter was happy to stand for about 20 minutes as we made our selection; patiently explaining where every cheese was from, how it was made and what was unique about it. We even tried one that had a line of charcoal running through it. Although every course was a taste sensation in its own right, I think I could probably have just eaten 6 courses of the holy cheese mountain.

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My next spoiling session was courtesy of my big sister Jess. As children we shared a bedroom and a unshakable love for My Little Pony’s. We tried to progress our toy pony love to real life horses, but sadly Bradford isn’t exactly big on wildlife. We managed to get to a couple of riding lessons in one summer holiday; but rather than scampering around with enchanted pastel coloured ponys, we were both a bit shocked when we were expected to clamber onto these stinky, snorty, huuuuge creatures. I have one really strong memory of forgetting to take a riding hat one time, and therefore being late because I had to go back and borrow someones, and by the time I arrived to the lesson there were no horses left. (On grown-up-person reflection, that seems like pretty bad planning) As a result they brought out the “naughty horse” who usually wasn’t trusted to have a rider. His name was Duke, he had a mohawk, he was about three times taller than me and it took him about 4 minutes between me saddling up to him chucking me off onto one of the jumps. Thanks Duke! Despite this sad story; both Jess and I have maintained a curious interest in horse riding and ever since we both moved to London have had “Horse Ride Around Hyde Park” firmly on our must do list.

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Because she’s a super smart cookie, Jess actually got organised and sorted this out for my 30th. We had to wait until the horses were back from summer holiday (!) so a recent autumnal Saturday we met in Hyde Park and headed off to find the Ross Nye Stables. The stables are tucked away down Bathurst Mews; an idyllic little collection of terraces where you suddenly feel like you are a million miles away from the sirens and hubub of central London. Now that I’ve ticked off a key must-do list item, I might just replace it with “Lurk around cute Mews more often”.

We were met by a friendly lady who pointed us in the direction of (super chic) riding boots and (less chic) hats. Jess was introduced to her gorgeous, placid horse and easily hopped on. I was introduced to my horse, the naughty one, and nearly fell right off the other side as I tried to graciously get on. We hadn’t been sure what to expect from our jaunt out, but had thought that as we had stated we were absolute beginners, that we’d get on a horse and then have someone just drag us about on a rope – a bit like riding a Donkey at Blackpool.

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What actually happened was that we both had a teacher who accompanied us on a horse next to us. Jess had a really chatty teacher about her own age. My teacher was 13 years old. (Are you spotting a theme?) My slight witheringness at her age quickly went out the window when the first thing we had to do with our horses was ride them out onto the MAIN ROAD to get to the park. Panic! Luckily my very capable teacher shouted instructions and occasionally reached over and gave my grumpy horse a nudge in the right direction. After successfully negotiating the road without any motorbikes, sudden car honking or anything else that might frighten the horses into doing something scary, we were in the park. I actually needn’t have worried about the road-scares, as it actually turned out my horse had one single phobia and that was… plastic bags! Totally rational! Luckily the litter collectors had been pretty over-zealous in the park that day, otherwise my joy-ride would have been over pretty quickly.

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I have a whole new respect for horse riders and pony people. I had always looked at anyone on a horse and thought; i could do that, just sit on the thing and it does all the work. WRONG. Actually even staying on a horse is pretty tricky! You have to hold the reins right, position your legs properly oh and tell the horse what to do using special secret signals. At first we had a pleasant stroll around; taking in the flame tinted autumn leaves, enjoying the cooling air and waving at the tourists taking photos. Then it was down to the hard work. In Hyde Park there are amazing horse-lanes that have existed since horse was the main form of transport in London. It was on these lanes that we learnt to trot, and canter. Jess was a natural, trotting away and looking elegant. I didn’t realise at first that you need to lift up and down out of the saddle in time with the horses movements. My first attempt at trotting just worked out to be me lifting up and down at exactly the opposite time to the horse and as a result I sat on a hot water bottle for about two days afterwards because of the damage I’d done to my poor glutes!

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I was full of enthusiasm though, if not talent, and soon we were hammering along and I was really enjoying the unusual feeling of moving that fast and that freely around the park. The lesson lasted an hour, and was so thorough. My teacher talked me through everything really patiently and answered all my inane questions such as how are police horses trained and how you can tell if the horse if miffed? I had imagined that Jess I would just be strolling slowly around the park swapping gossip and having a good natter, but we actually didn’t get to talk once. Luckily we’d had a good lunch and chat time first.

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After braving the main road again, and then scampering back into the mews, my legs turned to jelly trying to get off the horse. I hadn’t realised how every muscle in my body had been tense and active in the riding and I basically melted into a pool of ouch and relief that we had survived. It was such an amazing experience and so much better than I’d expected. It was really special to have that one on one teaching and to get to basically be riding independently from the off. We felt so proud of what we’d achieved and I definitely feel like getting straight back on the horse (ho ho) but maybe somewhere a little less public next time.

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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’s been over 6 months since I last went to see my grandparents but it feels like I just blinked and the time vanished. Since I last saw them I’ve bought a flat, flown half way around the world and back, spent hours exploring London sites and secrets and become a qualified first aider. So it was high time I crept onto the train that takes me to their countryside hideaway. Getting an East Coast train from Liverpool Street is a really good way of getting a sneaky view into the 2012 Olympic build. The train slows to a crawl as it passes through Stratford and you get long, open views of the stadium, the new train station and most impressively; the bare bones of what will be the Aquatics Centre. The thousands of seats towering over the empty ground look so strange and isolated at the moment but it’s easy to colour in the crowds and water and chaos with your imagination.

The surrounding of my grandparents house look so different compared to the last time I visited, when everything was sprouting green with Spring luciousness! I love visiting any time of year though, and even though the trees were mostly bare or bowing with rotten fruit, and the air was freezing cold and the ground was muddy, it still felt a million miles from work and tubes and crowds and Oxford Street Christmas shoppers which was what I needed for my tired brain!

My gran looked quite tired this visit, although at 91 she is certainly entitled to look a little weary. However she still chatted non stop and told me a few stories I had never heard before, as well as teaching me how to make brussel sprout soup (don’t make that face, it has to be tried to be believed, it has a really tasty smokey flavour and is delicious!) (and no, I don’t like brussel sprouts with my Christmas dinner either!) and when my aunt, uncle and cousins pitched up for a game of our family invented card game Racing Demon (it’s rawcous, rowdy and involves lots of shouting and distraction techniques) she still beat us all. Twice. My Pa was in good spirits and less confused this visit, although he has started talking about death more. On Saturday morning he looked distracted and I thought he’s misplaced something so I asked him are you looking for something Pa? And he said yes, to die. d. i. e. (nice of him to spell it out for me!) I sound like I’m making light of it, when obviously it’s not nice to hear your grandfather speak that way, but it’s the sullen attitude he does it with and then the fact that in the next breath he is right as rain again and talking about his old car or his favourite holiday to Ireland or asking for Yorkshire Pudding with golden syrup for his pudding. I think it’s probably quite normal for elderly people to talk about dying so that they feel more in control and accustomed to the idea? Either way I’ve told him he is absolutely not to go anywhere, and then I distracted him with the iPad which I think completely blew his mind and he enjoyed playing and typing on it and looking at photos of his feline great grandaughter for a good 30 minutes.

I felt extra sad to leave them this time, because next Easter seems like forever away to go visit again. As soon as I go I miss my Pa’s papery skin on his hands, and my grans smells and her perfectly set white hair and just how insanely happy sitting with them for hours on end just chatting and questioning and reading and eating makes me.

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I’ve often read on beauty blogs and fashion forums, people asking how to/whether to go from brunette->blonde, blonde->brunette and having now covered basically every base of hair colour imaginable I thought I’d write a little how-to guide. I’m aware this might seem quite shallow and superficial compared to topics I could be covering. Sorry big-brains, but it’s Sunday evening and I did my first 5k run after a summer of eating, boozing and lounging and it’s left me a wilted leaf of a girl so tapping away about hair colours is all I am good for!

I was born with… well no hair actually. I looked like the childrens book character Burglar Bill and whilst my dad called my other sisters angel, or sweetheart, when he walked in the door from a long day at work… I’d simply get ey up baldy! My parents didn’t seem overly concerned that I was folically challenged and I don’t remember it bothering me particularly until I got THROWN out of ballet class for not having enough hair to get into a bun (!) By the time I was 5 it started to grow and this is me aged 6, in the middle. With less hair than any of the boys. Nice pinafore though!

No one knows (or maybe cares) why I was such a slow starter to have hair but at least once it started growing it’s never stopped and gradually turned into the pretty descent sized mane of curls I have now. It also serves for some pretty hilarious toddler/school photos and I am a lesson to any future parents who have comically ugly duckling babies, that they really might turn out ok. Ish!

So my hair is naturally dark browny black, which is that same as my dad. I had various hair-dye attempting disasters growing up (anyone remember sun-in?!) and then a phase where I discovered henna and my hair was more reddy brown, and a bit stinky. But mostly it has stayed brown, brown and more brown. Mainly because any attempts to dye it were fruitless. Like the photograph below, where it was meant to be ‘ravishing red’ but actually after sitting with the dye and carrier bag on my head for an hour… washed out leaving my hair the exact same shade as before, just smelling a bit like ammonia.

About this time last year, I started getting obsessive thoughts about going blonde. I can’t really pinpoint why, but I think it was mainly that I felt so much had changed in my life and in me psychologically (2007/2008 were pretty hefty, for good and bad reasons) but it niggled me that to an outsider I still looked the same. So in December last year I walked into Toni & Guy Essensuals in Covent Garden and said MAKE ME BLONDE! I was expecting to walk out of there instant platinum, surfy blonde tresses. My magical hairdresser however quickly bought me back to reality and told me that to go from so dark to so light, whilst keeping good condition locks, was going to take a couple of tries.

So at first, I came out with a sort of caramelly colour – light brown I suppose. Next I had a dodgy few months of chunky blonde bits where the dye had caught, but big darker sections, and all a bit higgeldypiggeldy. Luckily it was cold beret wearing season and easy to hide. After five months I eventually got where I wanted, a certified blondie.

But after trying to maintain the blonde (when I earn peanuts, frankly, and have £mega monster London rent to pay) was difficult and it felt like my dark roots were always creeping in. Luckily ombre hair dying had become somewhat fashionable but it still bugged me and so this weekend I asked my hairdresser for something new. She had suggested a red/copper colour and I never really question her so rather than pin her down to a specific shade… she said she’d surprise me. Yikes! Luckily the surprise is lovely so far.I feel like an autumn leaf!

Here is a little back to back of my journey through the lands of brunette, blonde and now redhead. Which do you prefer? I think I look like April from Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles now. Like that could ever be a bad thing?

If you are thinking of making a drastic change then I would whole heartedly recommend it. The pros of changing your hair colour regularly is that it’s like being a stealth spy. People I know constantly zoom past me on the street because they don’t see me. And you can hide easily from people you might not want to talk to. Being a spy is fun.

a) Try and research whether the colour you want will suit your skin tone/eye colour etc. This can easily done by just photoshopping a photography of yourself with a hairstyle you like from the internet! Also don’t despair, because colours can always be toned warmer or colder by the hair dresser; meaning nothing should be an out and out no.

b) Also do consider that some of your favourite outfits/colours may no longer suit you once you change; so try getting a swatch first and checking against any beloved items. I think I have to kiss goodbye to my favourite orange check shirt dress whilst having tangerine hair as it might all be a bit OJ overkill.

c) Be PATIENT, because to do it properly and get the exact do you have your heart set on can sometimes be a commitment. Go to a hairdresser you trust or had recommended, and in general don’t take too many shortcuts for a mammoth change – I think it is worth paying for a professional to do the hard work.

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