Happy 2021!!! Think we can all say good riddance to 2020 😅 although I am definitely disappointed we are still in lockdown.
One of my favourite things to do in the new year is to make resolutions. I love the idea of setting goals (even if I never achieve them!) and really enjoy the idea of self improvement!
To finish the Duolingo Tree
This will be my resolution for probably the rest of my life. I set it every year and every year the tree grows and I have to try again! Anyway hopefully this year I will manage this feat!
To finish my Book
So this is one that needs quantifying because the book is technically finished but definitely not. I’m in the editing stage. I’m hoping to get a mentor next year in Pitch Wars but whatever happens I’d like to be querying it in 2022!
To post three times a month
Blogging is something that has definitely fallen by the wayside in 2020, given the crazy pandemic and the fact I got a little stressed. But hopefully this year I’ll fall back in love with it. Going to start slow: 3 posts a months. Let’s see if I manage it!
To read 24 books
So this is a super low goal. Much lower than normal but I am beta reading for a lot of people atm so I feel I can’t set my published book goal too high.
To workout more
Working from home makes me feel like such a sloth. I really miss the humdrum of the office. Anyway, starting this year I’m hoping to have a somewhat healthy 2021. I have excises and stretches on apps that I’m hoping to regularly do in my lunch breaks and before and after work so this resolution is to do at least one each day (but hopefully two).
To get to 6,000 followers on Instagram
I finish 2020 with 3,372 followers and I’m hoping to double it in 2021. Which I realise is super ambitious because it took me two years to get to 3,000 but here’s to being bold!
To read diversely
I feel I’ve done a good job at reading diversely this year, having read a bit of everything and it’s something I’m quite proud of.
To publish 3 more short stories
I’ve managed to publish a couple of stories this year! Which makes me really proud. one is in an anthology and another is in a magazine. Hopefully next year I’ll get a couple more of my words out there!
Let’s Compare Notes
Do you set goals? Do you have a goodreads goal? How many books did you read last year? Chat to me in the comments!
As the magic of Christmas and the shortest day sit behind us, the hazy fun of midnight on New Year’s and the crazy diet and exercise plans in the first weeks of January slow down we’re settling into a new year and a new decade. I’ve been spending about the whole of January trying to convince myself to post something on what the new decade means to me. So here goes, a personal post on my reflections on the new year.
I’ll start the post by doing what everyone always does at the end of something- looking back. Given it’s the start of a new decade it seems people are looking way back: considering our 2009 selves, cringing at that bad hairstyle and reminiscing that crazy holiday, thinking of the friends we’ve made, the ones we’ve lost and the ones we’ve kept with us.
As you can imagine, starting 2009 at just 13, the cusp of teenagehood, I have definitely changed. I couldn’t even possibly describe who I was back then. One post I did at the start of 2019 that will always be a favourite of mine was looking back at the books that made me, titled To all the Books I’ve Loved Before. I chose a book for every year of the decade that shaped that year or played some part, in some way.
Going into 2019 I’d just moved into a new flat with my boyfriend, started my first proper job and was a couple months into what I hoped would be my life. Or at least for a few years.
It wasn’t until September this year that the permanence began to stick. At university I’d moved house every year, at boarding school I’d moved rooms. Every year I tacked up the same snaps and posters, arranged slightly differently, printed off a few new ones and stepped back to admire my room and each year I’d stuff them into an envelope, throw them in a suitcase, scratch off and ball up the bluetack and put them away for a summer before using them again in September. This year I didn’t realise until October that I was half expecting to do that. I was surprised when we put our Christmas tree up, in the same place, again. I was surprised we still hadn’t gotten round to putting up those photos, stuffed in an envelope in my suitcase upstairs, still. I was surprised to still be there and honestly totally relieved.
Having come from education, through the sticky years of untucked shirts and being forced outside at lunchtime, to the scrappy binders and cursive pages of slightly more important school, to finally dragging on a hoodie and yawning my way through a 9am lecture with a professor I could hardly hear and a handful of bleary eyed strangers on my first day of uni. It was a decade of total change. I kept being told about the person I would be, planned this monotonous life for myself in the back of my head. I’d do the gruelling 9-5 office job, cook bacon and eggs on the weekend and probably do something dull like clean the house.oj Saturdays. My work changes everyday, my weekends are spent with friends, I’m borderline vegetarian and don’t tend to do fry ups and well, the house tidying does happen. Occasionally. It’s nothing like envisioned but in everyway better.
The year 2020 is going be big. I’ve been on the grad scheme since 2018 and I still have pictures on my phone of us all huddled outside work in thick winter coats up in Manchester proclaiming ‘Class of 2020’. And now I’m actually staring that straight in the face.
On the outside not much has changed: I’m still commuting into London, bleary mornings, lashes laden with sleep and too cheery train announces offering to sell me a five pound KitKats, to the hectic world of work to the calm evenings spent flopped on the sofa with my boyfriend that will no doubt dot our wild early twenties. Getting settled into a permanent team at work, rather than rotating around, is one thing 2020 will bring that I’m looking forward to. Starting to climb the greasy pole, seeing my work all the way through to production and getting really great friends and colleagues that I stay with for longer than six months.
The word balance is sort of what I’m desperate to achieve this year. I have sunken into that crazy exercise fad that, as a teenager, I’d roll my eyes at. I have started doing strength exercises every night before bed and am trying to go to indoor cycling classes at the gym once a week. I’m pushing to stay a tad healthier although I am still scoffing leftover Christmas chocolate.
I want to be more bold in my writing this year. Posting more personal and discussions posts to really push myself out of my comfort zone and to have some more unusual stories on the blog, hence this post. I also want to get my writing out there. I love writing fiction but I hate sharing it, showing it, discussing it. I actually think I’m sort of rubbish. But I can never improve if I don’t try, and being too afraid to start is probably not the best way about it. So c’mon 2020 me, I can do this!
The last thing I’m hoping 2020 will bring is a better balance with my friends. I’m hoping to build up lasting relationships and also hoping to reconnect with some of the ones I’m starting to feel I’m loosing. I still have crazy relations with people from uni who I occasionally talk to and meet up with to reminisce, which makes me feel like the friendship has sort of stagnated, but I would really like to reconnect properly. I want to make some really close friends at work, a trip to the cinema today being the first time I’ve done anything with work mates besides the pub. One day I’d love to invite them over to my flat but it still feels like we’re not at that point yet.
So there you have it. Let’s see what 2020 me can accomplish. I’m always overly ambitious at the beginning of the year, I’m 100% that person who throws their all in at January and, as my snarky friend pointed out when I said I’d practice French everyday, most resolutions don’t last to the end of January. I’m desperate not to burn out. But I’m also just looking forward to a new year in what has so far been a great build up.
It’s not often this blog sees a post not about books. Originally designed to focus on my life around novels as well I wanted to push myself to write at least one post about something else for Blogtober. In this post I’ll take you through the way I’ve celebrated my birthday since hitting adulthood.
Growing up in a pokey flat meant birthday parties were never an option. Not that I could have one anyway, given boarding school rendered my friends miles away, strewn across the country and the world. But for my 18th I begged my parents to let me show just a couple of my closest friends the world I grew up in. My four closest friends made the long trek down, flooded my flat with life, before squeezing into a hotel room for cards and games, wondering round the town where I grew up and taking a day trip to Oxford the next day for a Sunday roast and trip back to boarding school. It was exactly how I wanted to welcome in adulthood, day trips and board games being just how my life would look for the next few years.
By my 19th birthday I was at university. Living with six strangers in a student flat in halls my birthday was celebrated under the dingey florescent lights surrounded by the yellow walls and white surfaces of our shared kitchen. Oh and did I mention that kitchen was filled with pictures of my face? Those six strangers, fast becoming friends, had blown up, printed out and cut pictures of just my face to tack up on all the yellow walls of our student flat. It was all fun and games until my first ever boyfriend of about two days came over that evening and became very confused by my face tapped to the underside of our kitchen table. 19 year old me was horrified but 22 year old me can confirm he wasn’t that great a boyfriend anyway.
My 20th birthday was nearly six months after I got together with my current boyfriend. After telling him my family don’t make a big deal of birthdays he was determined to do mine right. The day started with a homemade present: a box of envelopes containing a date idea in each, so we could randomly select our days out. I was instructed to pick between two envelopes and the one I randomly chose was Brownsee Island. I’d been as a kid when I was in the Brownies, believing they owned the island given the name, and only remember sucking lemon flavoured sweets picked out from a jar and put in an old paper bag at an old fashioned sweet shop.
For this trip we wrapped up warm and headed down to Poole to catch the ferry on the last day the island was open before closing for winter. We wondered round it’s circumference, idly chatting, admiring the peacocks all the while desperately trying to spot the rare squirrel the island houses. Half way through we came to a beach covered in rocks that people had scattered stones across in pretty patterns. We arranged the stones in the pattern below before heading off to warm our icy fingers on a cup of hot chocolate. We said that, when spring hit, we’d go back to the island and see if our rock creation had survived it’s wintery closure but sadly exams got in the way. I’ve always wondered, if we ever went back, would our stones still be there?
I welcomed in my 21st birthday unwashed on a church floor. Attending a small almost holiday a university society was running a couple of hundred of us were staying in Winchester for a weekend of scavenger hunts, hog roasts and fun. Obviously being students the society had elected for the cheapest accomodation possible and we all slept on the wooden church floor, the room smelling very much like a pack of unwashed students. I woke up to find my friend Esther laughing into a red balloon she was trying to blow up, the rest of the packet already full of air and strewn across the room. Face on roll mat to try and stifle her giggles the room was quickly awake and confused in this touching display.
Next I was given the job of ferrying the band to the next location, being a student lucky enough to have a car, and I didn’t see my friends until we were all set up in a Winchester university lecture theatre ready for a bidding auction where students were raffling off prizes like an acknowledgement in their dissertation or a Mexican feast (which my boyfriend is yet to deliver on I believe). Before the auction began the entire group of over a hundred students sung happy birthday to me before I was presented with a box chocolates. That evening, after a quick shower and a fresh set of clothes that did wonders for the sleeping on the floor look I’d been sporting all week, my boyfriend gave me his gift of a candle powered lava lamp, some scented candles (which is an inside joke) and we went out for dinner.
Now I’ve taken you all the way through university and back out again. Last year’s birthday cropped up just as we’d finished decorating our new flat. With my lava lamp giving the room a homely glow in the corner a group of my uni friends came over for sandwiches, games and cake. Reminiscing our uni days and admiring the decor we’d wondered round IKEA and Next for hours picking out, the day seemed the perfect way to spend my first birthday since leaving education.
Let’s Compare Notes
There you have it! A non Bookish post. I hope it wasn’t too radical. What’s a memorable birthday event you’ve had? Do you have a candle powered lava lamp? Looking forward to hearing from you in the comments!
Having just left university you can imagine my boyfriend and I are not loaded. In a bid to do something cheap and fun with our days off we headed down to the Devon coast for a working holiday, where we worked in exchange for food and board for a week with the rangers of Arlington Court.
I embarked on a week in a pokey bunkhouse overlooking a glittering turquoise sea, rocky outcrops and picturesque hills with thirteen strangers I’d never met before. As you can imagine, it was unusual.
With the announcement of a new Hunger Games I never felt more like Katniss, wrapped in a light waterproof, wearing thick leather boots and loose, muddy black trousers wondering the forest undergrowth, crawling over streams and trudging up mud in fields, all the while measuring plant life and tracking nature. With a quick lesson in fauna and flora from the ranger, we did a couple of squares in meadows and woodlands, as we tried to identify the foliage they had across the property to discern its progress in future surveys.
Pizza, Bats and Moths
The highlight of the holiday for me was Wednesday evening. We lit an open air pizza oven and topped pizza ready to cook and eat al fresco. Being the future ranger that I’ll never be I learnt to use an axe and chopped up the hard and soft wood for kindling while my boyfriend and the rangers stocked the open fire, the rest of the group topping pizzas eagerly. It wasn’t long before we had a smokey flame and finally a hot enough oven for our pizzas.
You may think my axe swinging evening was the highlight but, hold on dear reader, it gets better. Grabbing the rangers adorable Labrador, Dasher, we set off to the house at twilight and watched the bat camera, seeing the bats leaving their nests in Arlington Court’s attic. We saw between 90 and 120 bats stretch their wings and prepare for flight. Then we grabbed some ultrasonic bat sensors and stood in their flight paths. With mine and my friends sensor angled at the drain, going off with intermittent chimes as it picked up the bats echolocation, I stood in the dimming twilight as bats wizzed around my head, some even somersulting in front of us as if they’re showing off.
Dragging our slightly reluctant Labrador friend we headed to the lake and shone our torch across it, attracting moths to the lakes surface. The bats were quick to cotton on and, as our sonic sensors went mad, we watched in the torchlight as the bats ducked and dived along the waters surface as they ate the moths. In the dim lighting we did pick up two massive fish at the waters edge, probably the length of a leg, and Dasher, being the fearsome dog he is (think Fang from Harry Potter), was quick to cower when we were startled by them.
The bats were, of course, the highlight of my evening (by this point night), but our adventures weren’t yet over for the day as we all crowded round a light beacon and helped catch moths with a professional. We veered around the lake in an attempt to keep the bats away from the crowding moths jumping near the open light of the moth trap, and I admired their pretty wings and furry bodies as we attempted to identify them. The traps filled up overnight and we headed back the next morning to find a plethora of colour waiting: almost like butterflies I learnt the names of green, yellow, black, pink and speckled moths as they lay sleeping at the bottom of the mouth trap. My favourite moth that we caught can be seen below, a surprisingly common hawk moth.
Hunting for the third rarest species in Europe we trekked through marshes and meadows trying to find a certain type of butterfly, last seen in these parts thirty years ago, called the Marsh Fertilary. Despite damp conditions, after wading under a car bridge in a gushing stream, we emerged onto some neglected fields that seemed a promising home for butterflies and soon we found plenty fluttering around. Most of the group tailed off after lunch to have a cup of tea after the mornings adventure, but the few of us left did then venture in our wellies into the dense marshlands around the estates finding perfect habitats for these rare butterflies, although we never managed to see one.
Burnt Ruins and Water Power
On our day off we went up to a manor house that was burnt down over 100 years ago. Now reclaimed by nature, we wondered through the ruins. It was mysteriously burnt down, potentially by suffragettes, although we suspect it was insurance fraud in 1913. it’s eerie walls still shape the scenery today. We then wondered through the quant town of Lynton and Lynmouth, ventured up to the creatively named Valley of the Rocks, and finally took a joy ride up and down the highest water powered funicular cliff railway in the world. The day ended, of course, with hot chocolate and chocolate flakes.
Biodiversity Water Study
After a nice sit on a tree branch hanging over the river earlier in the week, where I was stationed to spot kingfishers and dippers and record their numbers, we were tasked with discovering what was actually in the stream with a waterways professional. Donning my stylish and borrowed wellies again we waded in with a net to catch river fly and then inspected the debris to categorise the bugs. We used the species diversities to estimate the water pollution levels.
Showing the Dormice some Love
Earlier in the week a few of the group grabbed some screwdrivers and hammers and made Dormice boxes. We travelled to a nearby farm and installed the boxes amongst the brambles, strapping them to trees, before getting a tour of the farm by the farmer as he demonstrated his conservation techniques. He described the difficulties and advantages of laying hedges, sheep rearing and storing hay and the tight rope he must tread between feeding the animals and conserving the wildlife and letting the grasses grow long for bees and butterflies. It became clear that even in rural locations conservation isn’t easy.
Can We Make a Difference
Beside my abundance of newfound knowledge about trees, grasses, moths, bats, bugs and farm animals, I’ve learnt that yes, we can make a small contribution towards conservation. Planting nectar producing flowers, like lavender, in gardens can help bees and butterflies. The butterfly specialist suggested looking out for butterflies and if you see them gravitating towards one plant, plant more of it. Leaving bits of your garden looking rougher, with a variety of longer grasses, wildflowers and even rubbish likes bricks, can encourage natural habitats and breeding grounds for butterflies. Not killing all the caterpillars on cabbages will, obviously, encourage more butterflies and buying local honey will keep bee keepers in business. If you’re really keen you can do water fly surveys for the waterways agency.
Was this holiday the unusual, cheap break were after? Yes. Definitely, and I’ll definitely be going on another working holiday soon. The activities were excellent, I learnt lots, and now appreciate the wildlife, nature and conservation in a way I didn’t before. Lastly, I met a wonderful group of friends and made some fabulous memories. Topping those off being us all climbing the hills one last time on the last night and watching the sun set over Wales on the summer solstice. So long, Devon, hope to see you again soon.
The default for Lent is food: give up chocolate, carbs, alcohol, biscuits. All great and difficult things to abandon for 40 days. But can you live without plastic? That’s the question my boyfriend and I were asking two nights before Lent began, on a bit of a whim. We spent a pensive dinner thinking of plastic items we’d struggle with. At first only one dragged up: loo roll, because there’s no way we could last Lent without buying a multi pack of Andrex, all wrapped up in a glossy death trap for the oceans made from crude oil. But other than that we optimistically thought we’d maybe manage it.
Then we devised the rules. Don’t worry, they’re simple: if it’s in plastic and we can’t recycle it, we can’t buy it.
If you live in London you’ll think this easy, nearly everything is recyclable: plastic wrappers, fruit punnets, tubs even bags. If it’s clean they’ll take it. But where I live, out in the middle of nowhere where bin day is every two weeks and stops at Christmas and bank holidays, they only recycle bottles. So we could basically only have milk in a plastic carton all Lent.
Two days before Lent started we did only one bit of preparation: my boyfriend nobly took it upon himself to buy fancy chocolate wrapped in cardboard and tin foil, just to make sure it was plastic free. I know, he’s a saint.
When Lent began the first week was surprisingly easy. We found we had stocks and stocks of plastic in the cupboards- we had pasta, rice, cereal, biscuits. We were up to ours ears in the see-through stuff. It was also convenient Lent began on the Wednesday and we’d only decided to give up plastic on the Monday, we’d been shopping over the weekend and still had our nicely plastic packaged meat from Tesco, all our vegetables were unnecessarily air tight and our bread was snuggling down in a wrapper.
So we made a new rule: we could only eat perishable items in plastic that we owned pre-lent. The cupboards were off limits, the meat and bread were stowed in the freezer and we were, essentially, at square one. I was dreaming about that pack of Boarders biscuits stowed away, painstakingly obvious in the cupboard all Lent, not to mention the pasta and rice were tempting when we found ourselves in a squeeze. But we desisted.
So this brings us to week two. Also a doddle, my boyfriend was on an all expenses paid business trip and found himself eating out every night and for lunch, courtesy of his company. I was in slightly more of a pickle but thanks to my dad spontaneously being in the country (he works in Mexico) I was treated to three meals out and cooked two meals by friends. Lunch proved to be more difficult but again not impossible, I had tins of chickpeas and sauce, soups, and potatoes and beans. I did frequent the canteen a bit more than my budget would have necessarily allowed, but it was, by the by, ok.
Then we were at week three. This where things got real, and our plastic free existence really began to hit home. Our first trouble was meat. Go into Tesco and find any meat that doesn’t come wrapped in plastic. Want to know the only bit we found? Some frozen chicken Kiev’s, and a frozen box of Birds Eye chicken dippers. These became our staple quick meal, alongside a loose potatoes and broccoli (honestly I ate so many broccoli heads in the quest to find unwrapped vegetables, I think I’m turning green).
But with weekends there came time to plan, and if you give up plastic you really need to plan. Quick tortellini’s and pizzas on the fly, meal deal lunches and snatched cereal bar breakfasts are not an option. Luckily, our part of the middle of nowhere is surprisingly environmentally friendly and we have a butcher at the farm shop who wraps everything in paper and wax (take that London!).
We went on Sundays mornings to stock up, the meats normally nicer than the supermarkets’ and since you can order the amount you need we found ourselves having less food waste. That recipe that asks for 350g of mince, but you can only find 500g in the shop? Only need three rashes of bacon but they come in packs of 8 at Tesco? Scaling up a recipe and need a strange number of casserole steaks? Not a problem with a butcher. Only downside is the meat was expensive. We paid slightly more on some cuts (although it’s cheaper than Tesco for topside), but it was all ethically sourced, not plastic wrapped and free range.
Next there was dried foods to contend with. Again, weirdly environmentally friendly middle of nowhere, we have a plastic free shop. Bring your own containers. We washed up glass jars, grabbed all available Tupperware, and even brought a fairy bottle or two and my boyfriend heading over there. We still have plastic free rice jostling in a cereal container on the counter, it’s great. Again, slightly more expensive, but you know the food miles are low, it’s environmentally and locally sourced and the soap (which is £7 for a full Fairy Bottle equivalent) is safe to go in rivers or streams without any impact on the lovely fishes.
Bread proved more difficult, we brought fresh loaves from the baker in paper bags only to find neither of us could slice it very well. My chutney and roast beef sandwiches were created with the most unevenly sliced bread it became a running joke at work. We couldn’t get baguettes or rolls since the paper bread bags had a little (and pointless) plastic window. The bag is open at one end, if people really wanted to see what their bread looked like couldn’t they just peer in? Is the window really necessary??
Bread also had the added complexity of going off. We don’t have a bread bin so by day two it was pretty stale and since our Tupperware was previously engaged holding out plastic free pasta and rice we couldn’t always freeze it. It became a real difficulty that I even turned to kneading my own bread, to a varying degree of success.
We could get sauces, soups, chopped tomatoes and chutneys all in tins and jars (when they didn’t have that pointless plastic seal at the top) so we were ok to get some dried goods from Tesco. The real, and surprising struggle, turned out to be cheese. At the deli counter the chesses were all wrapped in cellophane so that one was out. We did find one, small pretentious wax cylinder that cost a fortune and was impossible to cut. We sparingly used it for sandwiches for a week but there was no chance it was being sprinkled over hunters chicken. Defeat, even after we managed to find a glass bottle of BBQ sauce.
And now theres the product that is most pointlessly wrapped in plastic: vegetables. And don’t claim its necessary to wrap them up, I’ve found peppers, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, lettuce (which is basically not wrapped up the bag is so open topped), cucumbers, onions, garlic, broccoli, spring onions all plastic less and can confirm the packaging makes no difference. They go off in just the same time.
We thought we could just head to the farmers market for these (again, middle of nowhere for the win) for some low plastic, low food mileage veg. This didn’t really pan out since the markets are only on when we’re at work and neither of us fancied getting the groceries at lunch and stowing away fresh veg in the office all afternoon. So we were left with Tesco’s selection of ‘free range’ veg. Queue the copious amount of broccoli I ate. Some things were sadly out: we couldn’t have salad, recipes that required celery (not a great loss in my opinion) and could only buy one type of potatoes- the ‘baking potato’. Not a great hardship though.
We got to the end of Lent making only a few mishaps. I ordered a milkshake in a restaurant and was thwarted by a plastic straw, my boyfriend got a sandwich which seemed to be in a paper bag but was lined with plastic and I brought a cardboard box of frozen mozzarella sticks which were in a pointless plastic bag inside the cardboard box. They tauntingly remained in our freezer all through Lent, alongside everything else wrapped in plastic.
There were some close calls: I ate a very undignified noodle dish with wooden chopsticks on a team lunch in a park since the forks were made of plastic, we got loo roll given to us by a kind church friend to stave us off from buying that glossy Andrex. Honestly, make the woman a Saint.
Then there were some genuine moments of hardship: a colleague brought in some plastic wrapped chocolate bars which it turns out he didn’t like, and offered them to the office, we went for a walk down the pier we used to visit as students and I had to turn down our traditional Frijj milkshakes, they were giving out free cereal bars at Paddington station and Lent’s possibly the only time I’ve ever turned down free food.
There’s one more thing that I didn’t expect. My boyfriend’s told me to stop mentioning it in polite conversation but here it is: our bins stunk. Filled with just scraps of food, without plastic to bulk them out, they filled up quickly and smelt grim. That, and the lack of cheese, is what I’ll always remember from this Lent.
So has giving up plastic for 40 days changed our lives? Yes. Undoubtedly. First, I went really broke. I was down to £37 two weeks before pay day in my account. The lack of meal deals meant that forgetting lunch was a sit down meal, quite expensive given I work in London, and the whole venture was just a bit pricey. Secondly, plastic is often so unnecessary. With a little effort you can avoid it, but really supermarkets don’t need it. Use paper bags for fresh bread, wrap meat in wax and paper, do away with the unnecessarily confined plastic wrappers on vegetables, let people decant rice, pasta and cereal into their own containers. Sell loo roll in paper. It’s all so unnecessary.
We’re going to keep a few things from the last 40 days: get our meat from the farm shop, although we’ve cut down on eating meat since it’s very expensive (probably for the best given our planet), buy pasta and rice and soap from the plastic free shop and I may actually not always reach for a meal deal when I forget my lunch. Buying fruit and vegetables loose and favouring jars and tins over pots and packaging. But we’re not going fully plastic free, sliced bread is a must, and I’m not going without cheese again. And, of course, we’ll be buying that big pack of Andrex first chance we get.
and if you were wondering what happened to all that food we froze, an unfortunate over night power cut on the last day of Lent meant we had to bin the meat and meals we’d dumped in the freezer over the last 40 days. But, defrosted and refrosted or not, I did finally manage to eat those mozzarella sticks.
Desperate to try out my new, second hand camera my boyfriend and I laced up our walking boots, pulled on our thermals and drove to our nearest henge to take photos. And yes, we do genuinely have a local Henge. Welcome to the English countryside.
Avebury henge was built 6000 years ago, making the Collesium seem almost modern. The Henge consists of large stones in a circular fashion, made by Pagans and largely left untouched for all these years (with the exception of when someone rudely toppled them over and buried them, luckily still in their original positions). Although the Henge might not have the curving arches or dome shaped walls of the Collesium and may not look quite as impressive, these stone are still a magestic sight.
Although weaving between the old stones and snapping pictures of pretty landscapes and unsuspecting sheep was fun, my real highlight of the trip would be the manor and I’d definitely recommend the visit.
I didn’t manage to snap a picture of the manor, sadly, although it looked very impressive, because at this point in the trip I accidentally switched the camera into a mode that doesn’t take photos. I’m not wholly convinced it’s the most useful mode my new camera has, but oh well. After much playing and googling we did manage to fix the camera in the manor’s garden and snapped some pictures of the back of the house.
The house itself had been recently refurbished in a project to show its history. You could wonder through a different age in every room: the dinning room was Tudor, the sitting room was set in World War Two, the kitchen was 1912, complete with genuine newspapers showing the Titanic sinking. Each room described the manor’s occupants at that time and told the tales of their lives.
My favourite manor occupant was Deborah Moody (originally Dunch). Outliving her husband she moved to the states because of her religious beliefs to start a community where religious freedom would be allowed providing it wasn’t breaking any laws. Having been described as a ‘dangerous woman’ back in the UK she became the first female land owner in the New World. She built a small community called Gravesend which is now apart of Brooklyn, New York. It was very cool reading her story in the bedroom where she grew up, furnished to look like her home.
My second favourite room in the manor would be the kitchen, set in the time of 1912. Here the story of the six ‘live in’ servants was described based on the information provided by a census. At this time their was a tax of 15 shillings on male servants but not women so female servants were preferable. Alongside the couple who owned the manor these six women would live in house and the using the census data and other information gleaned from their jobs, their story was told. It was a lot of fun peering into their lives and really brought the scene to life.
Lets Compare Notes
So there you have it. A small break from books to share with you a small adventure I had this weekend. What did you do this weekend? Have you ever been to a Henge? Did you enjoy my post? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section.
My boyfriend and I (being about 90) have recently been making photo albums for the two holidays we went on last year, and we’ve just finished the Paris one. I thought I’d make a quick post about my Parisian food recs (Ok, I’ll admit it, I just like food). I’m planning on following this up with something vaguely interesting about what we did in Paris at some point… 😛
If you ever go to the continent then you’ll know that they can bake. Patisseries and Boulangeries are the best thing since sliced bread (excuse the pun) and make the best food ever. I enjoyed a baguette everyday for lunch slavered with French butter and their tasty and creamy cheese. And, of course, there was a daily pain au chocolat for breakfast. Because I might actually have an addiction.
Armed with our baguettes we’d wonder around all day and just tuck into lunch whenever (although I’m a child usually complain around 11 that I’m hungry and we usually end up eating quite early). Good, cheap and maximises doing stuff. One of the places we ate our baguettes was the Jardin du Luxembourg, which I snapped a picture of and attached to this post.
But I’ve not talked about the most amazing food yet. We went to this massive, converted theatre which had turned into a workers eating room and then, more recently become a restaurant. But here’s the catch: they never stopped it being like a workers eating room. The servers would show people to tables that had free space, so as we were a two we’d often squeeze next to someone or have someone sit with us.
The restaurant was called Boullion Chartier. They served all the classic French food on a very affordable student budget. I tried all manor of delicate French dishes and lightly cooked meats topped off always with a faboulous dessert. And because it was an old theatre the place looked awesome. All golden railings, high ceilings, pretty gas lamps, crammed with people and good food. If you ever go I’d really recommend the place. We went there twice because it was such a unique and excellent experience!
Ok, I should probably stop talking about food now! (Lol, no, I love food). But I will recap some other wonderful Parisian moment in another post, which will include our most romantic moment yet- falling asleep in front of some Van Gogh paintings. We’re nothing if not classy, am I right?
Anyway, thank you for stopping by my blog! Have you ever been to Paris? Or eaten the incredible baked goods over in Europe? (You definitely should). Or have any other cool holiday stories? Or just don’t want me to get lonely because you’re a lovely and sweet person so will comment regardless? Talk to you soon!
I’ve just come back from London having had a great day out with one of my best friends, consisting of a picnic lunch, laughing ourselves silly over frappuccinos, and a delicious meal at one off her favourite haunts (pictured). Basically a whole day of us eating. However, the journey home was one of the most traumatising journeys of my life.
We’d been after dinner clothes shopping, because apparently in London the shops never close, and had to split up to take different tube stations to get home. Not all the underground lines stop at all the stations so this just made sense. My friend dropped me off at the end of a very long street that would take me straight to the tube and I nobly insisted that I could find my own way, knowing I would be adding a good half hour to her journey if I asked her to drop me off.
After a quick squeeze goodbye I was left on the dark London street slightly alone (apart from the stopped line of traffic that is constant to the capital). I found the tube station pretty easily, it was a literal straight road so even I’d have struggled to mess this one up, but due to engineering works the station was closed.
A night porter or whoever (he had a walkie talkie so was either attempting a tube station heist or worked there) told me some directions through the fence like shutters that I failed to hear. I nodded convincingly, turned away and went to walk in the direction he’d vaguely indicated.
This is when my resourcefulness comes in. I not only avoided crying but managed to find a bus going to my stop! Only took me twenty minutes! I was quite happy when I squeezed into the seat on the overground that would take me home, flicking open my book.
Sadly my quiet train home, snuggled up with a good book, was not to last. Mere moments before the train was going to leave the carriage became flooded with a troop of rave goers. They packed out the isle of the carriage, all noisy as they puffed smoke into the air. For a girl who had attended all girls, Catholic, boarding school this was a whole new level of terrifying.
The particular rave goer plonked down next to me was an aspiring lawyer doing her A levels. From her I learnt, well lets face it, everything I now know about raves. The ravers were very pleasant, they kept apologising and assuring me I’d be able to squeeze through and get off (I think I looked quite terrified). They all shuffled around to let me out at my stop and thought it was hilarious when I wished them a good wave as I left the train.
Not too bad a journey but I felt very relieved when I returned to my overly warm home (I’d left the heating on, sorry polar bears!). How about you? What’s the worst train journey you’ve ever had? Ever been a situation like mine? Feel free to comment below!