Adoration for the most average weekends

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I adored the weekend just gone (please come back) yet I did absolutely nothing special during it. I didn’t go out out, I didn’t do anything to my hair or put on much make up, I didn’t celebrate anything, go shopping, drink wine or try anything new apart from putting cheesy nachos inside a fajita which was a dream come true.

Happiness at the weekend can still be dancing until 4am, trying to phone the ‘Night Tsar’ on a help phone at Bank tube station and getting in round after round of Cafe Patron. All of that is still fun, I still like doing it and I get genuinely excited about the prospect of going out somewhere which requires me to think about my choice of shoe and sharpen my eyeliner, but there’s a whole new contented feeling in town come 5pm on a Friday.

These days, weekend satisfaction and all round happy feelings include:

-Cleaning things with bleach that smell like citrus fruits and then commenting on how fresh everything is for the rest of the day.

-Homeware shopping online until I realise I don’t need any of it, saving a few links and then repeating the next day.

-Walking. Walking anywhere with water, trees, ideally swans and maybe a nice photogenic bridge.

-Not sleeping in. The me of five years ago wants to slap the me of right now hard around the face and throw a glass of water over me, but it’s true. Being dressed, functioning and coherent outside of the house by 9am makes me feel like I’m coasting through life as opposed to the desperately treading water and shaking my head feeling I have most of the time.

-Drinking enough wine to feel warm and fall asleep easily and doing it because FRIDAY, but not so much that I wake up and need to stick my head out of a window at 7am and do the ‘phone, keys, bank cards, ID’ bag check that follows a heavy evening. (I haven’t actually had to do this in so long and I sort of miss it but also NO).

-Being able to get in on a Saturday afternoon and stay in where there will be no wind, no rain, no chance of being failed by public transplant, no queues, no general public and no need to have clean hair.

I know the ‘being a granny’ in your 20s thing is hardly groundbreaking but being a bit boring and predictable has never felt better. I also think that after a long time and very up and down 12 months, I’ve finally embraced a better mindset and a rosier outlook, which makes lovely weekend all the more lovely.

5 little coping mechanisms for when life gets you down

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I was supposed to spend the weekend just gone catching up on various stuff, blogging included, after a stressful couple of months but it didn’t happen. Since I’ve been blogging less, I’ve used social media less and I’ve gotten used to being detached from my phone and the internet more and I think that change will stay. It’s no lie that social detoxes do wonders for the mind and for anxiety. I’ve been ill the past week with some sort of virus and cough and stayed inside for 48 hours, so rather than stare at screen all weekend, we drove down to Worthing to visit Dan’s dad and had a lovely, fresh and airy little break. (Thanks @Dannyboyjnr for the photo skills displayed above).

We’ve managed to get on top of  most of our issues including living situation, home buying, car owning and storage issues in the past ten days, but it hasn’t been the prettiest start to the year. I definitely think adult life should come with harsher warnings, or even just a good sit down in a pub for half hour where someone tells you that things will get shit, then probably worse, then be really hard before they get better. Insert mum, dad, Hermione Granger, a wise cat – whoever you like.

These are the things that have got me through this irritating little patch of life and I can confirm they have all eased my woes for at least fifteen minutes, but some for much longer.

1) Walking

You cannot beat literally walking your worries away. The further into my twenties I get, the more I seem to want to go for walks. Obviously countryside and sprawling views of natural beauty would always be preferred, but even walking round the block or a longer way home from the station will do it. We blew away the cobwebs on the Sussex Downs on Saturday then spent Sunday morning strolling around Arundel and I feel a million times better for it.

2) Paying closer attention to sleep

I’m quite bad for letting myself get overly tired then having a casual 12 hour sleep marathon to try and fix it, but it doesn’t work for me. Being extra strict on bedtimes and setting alarms even on weekends (I mean, nothing before 8:45/9 because I’m not an alien) stops me from over-sleeping, which just makes me feel gross and lethargic and is all a bit sad.

3) A ‘three things to accomplish’ list for every working day

I’ve actually found work a relaxing escape from dealing with daunting admin and life decisions lately (no YOU need to sort your life out) and I saw someone on Twitter going on about hand-writing three things you want to achieve every day when you first sit down at work. I did every day I worked last week and a couple the week before and it’s quite nice, if not just because ticking something off a list is satisfying as hell.

4) Separation from the news

I can’t ever be that far from current events partly because I work in a press environment and partly because I just don’t like it, but a little bit of down time is good for the soul. The news is freaking mental 99% of the time at the moment, and when I’m not pulling ‘WHAT THE F’ faces I’m feeling sad about the state of the world, so time away from Twitter and news sites has been cathartic.

5) Eat better, feel better

Yeah, yeah, yeah I know, LAME. But as someone who doesn’t really have a bad diet anyway, I really notice the difference in how I feel physically when stress eating kicks in. Roaming the kitchen looking for anything carb-laden and chocolate covered has been a 2017 hobby of mine. I need to stop though, and I have mostly (apart from this weekend because cake and red wine and life) and when I eat well, I do feel a billion times better for it. Now I just need to dose up on willpower and I’ll be dandy.

Books and Netflix shows you should get involved with

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At the start of January I signed up for a Goodreads account, in the hope it would push me to read more and so far it’s working. I’m on my fifth book of 2017 already, and I’ve read some seriously good ones so far.

I’ve been spending much more time with a book (or the Kindle app) in hand, which has meant less Netflix viewing, but still enough to recommend some good stuff available on the UK version. If you’re spending time indoors with your duvet and Netflix or if you’re looking for new reading material, I give all of the below many shiny stars.

READ The Vinyl Detective by Andrew Cartmel

I read this because my boyfriend had downloaded it to Kindle and I liked the cover. That was it. No other reasons, but I’m so glad I did. I enjoyed this book from cover to cover. It’s a properly good novel with some mystery, likeable characters, a few laughs and a lot of is set on the streets of London which I love. It’s about a guy who tracks down rare records for people, and gets hired by a secretive Japanese man which leads to a wild goose chase all over the country and eventually to the US. The next book is out in May and I will 100% pre-order it.

WATCH Hunt for the Wilderpeople

It’s worth getting a Netflix account solely to watch this film. It’s an indie New Zealand flick and I laughed myself stupid watching at the cinema last year. It’s heartwarming, hilarious, brilliantly acted and extremely feel good. One of the funniest thing I’ve watched at the cinema ever.

READ Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

This book gets rave reviews all over the place and for good reason. The story follows a group of people who are brought together during a disaster and delves into what their lives were like before and how they change drastically after.

WATCH Curious and Unusual Deaths

Another documentary recommendation to add to my many (find more here) but this is something a bit different. It’s really weird. When I saw the title I immediately thought yes, this is me all over (not that I’m really into death just FYI, I just find this stuff interesting), but it’s very odd. Odd in a way that after one episode- only 20 minutes, you’ll feel like you have to watch more. From the cheesy narration to the comical/disturbing re-enactments, take it with a pinch of salt.

READ The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes

I didn’t think I would last through this when I first started. I found it hard to get into but after about 25 pages I got there. It’s far from my usual type of novel but it’s written to perfection and you feel like you’re being made more intelligent as you read. It’s set in Russia under Stalin rule, and is definitely one for any history lovers or those who like the arts and a good gritty life story. It’s also quite sad and shocking to think life was really like this for people.

The ‘January started quite badly’ note to self 

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The January blues have been running high so far in my world. I tried really hard to be all gushy and optimistic for the new year but instead life just got in the way. I’ve been walking around scowling with the temperament of Argus Filch and a grey cloud above my head for the past week.

I’ve been seeing all these positive posts on social media about owning the year and being successful and making all these grand plans and I’ve just been sat in the corner, drinking tea and death-staring my phone screen. I reached the point of “you dare try and tell me to cheer up man who clearly wants to speak to me” while fighting life and limb to squeeze on a train during the glorious strikes this week.

I am ready to get over myself though. I’ve had good reason to feel as grey as the sky has been this week, but as my boyfriend keeps telling me, being glum won’t help matters. To try and shake off the negativity and feel better about the start of 2017, I want to do things.

I don’t mean just get out or make plans, I mean have stuff to fill up practically all of my time so I have less hours to spend stressed and less nights filled with teeth grinding and dreams about becoming an unsuccessful farmer in France (no idea). I would be a bloody terrible farmer.

And these are the things I will do (I say will because then I feel more inclined to do them rather than go back to the tea, death-staring and Filch vibes from under my duvet)

1) Up-cycle a piece of furniture

I dragged Dan into a charity shop near my house last weekend that has been there for years and I’ve always ignored, and we found loads of really rather nice furniture. Some of it was a bit too pastel coloured and time machine looking, but there were a few little bits like lamp tables, little shelving units and small cabinets that could be stripped and painted and made to look brand new. I don’t even want to do this because it’s cheap, I want to do it because it’s a project and I’ve always loved the idea of up-cycling, I just fear I am inept at DIY. We will find out.

2) Give blood again

3) Make a new financial planning spreadsheet

My life is a thrill a minute. I stopped using my old one when we finished saving but it turns out I really like living my financial life through the medium of Microsoft Excel. I spend far less on seemingly nothing when it’s all there in black and white.

4) Run 5k (nearly) every Sunday again

I stopped this over Christmas partly through laziness, being put off by the cold and dark and also because I had an injury to my shoulder which put me out of action. Now though, apart from the odd snow flurry, I have very few excuses. Running is as good a stress-buster as I’ve ever found, so I need to get back to it pronto.

5) Get another five books ticked off my Goodreads challenge

If you read, or you want to read more, I cannot recommend Goodreads enough. It’s making me read every single day and instead of mindlessly scrolling on my phone on the train or in the evenings, I’m reading instead.

6) Make appointments for all my niggling health problems

As someone who suffers with bad health and chronic illness, you’d think I’d be on top of this sort of thing, but I’m quite the opposite, and that needs to change.

Keeping busy is a good antidote to feeling like the world against is you, so if I don’t do these things, I only have myself to blame when I morph into Filch.

 

Pulling the good out of 2016

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It feels weird to try and say anything about 2016 in a general context. It’s been a very odd, often sad year and also one that I’ve found confusing and frustrating. I know I’m not alone in that though. I was talking to my colleague yesterday while we hovered in the kitchen making tea and we were talking about the good things that have happened this year.

It was mostly sentences formed of ‘well 2016 has been quite shit but…’ and the but is important. There’s got to be some good to pull out of times we find hard, even if it is just on a personal level. My good bits are a weird mixture of stuff, some of which sounds very insignificant but has been important to me.

The big one- saving enough to buy a house The whole process of house buying has been long and stressful and not something I’m keen to repeat any time soon, but it’s also momentous and I feel relieved we’re nearing the end of it.

Running my first 10k This didn’t seem like it would be possible a few years ago due to my joint issues and Ehlers Danlos syndrome, but I actually did it. To me running a 10k felt like running marathon in terms of achievement, because  I didn’t ever expect my body to be able to run 3k let alone 10.

Changing my health and fitness This has been a long and not always successful journey but I feel like enough has changed for me to be happy and to know what I need to focus on to keep up the much improved wellness I’ve been feeling.

Falling in love with New York City This has been a relatively quiet travel year for me because of saving, but before we moved and started putting away our money like real adults I saved up for a trip to NYC for Dan’s birthday as a surprise and we LOVED it and can’t wait to go back.

Watching loved ones fight back aganist cancer My mum and best friend have both fought cancer in the last couple of years and while they’re now in the clear they’re both still fighting the long-lasting effects of treatment and mentally overcoming the journey. They’ve done a lot this year to kick cancer in the backside and make everyone proud.

Spending time at home I thought moving home for the year would feel weird and be suffocating as taking Dan with me has meant we’ve been tight on space, but it’s actually flown by and been nice. It’ll feel strange to be away again once we finally move.

Two weeks of glorious sunshine I spent two weeks in August soaking up the sun and relaxing with my family in Cyprus and it was so lovely. I spent a lot of time there when I was young and it was nice to go back and see the village we stayed in and the people we  know there. Oh and the amazing Greek fusion food.

The weirdest trip to Wales ever My friends and I go on an annual trip where we rent an Air Bnb house in the middle of nowhere, stock up on food and wine and become recluses for a few days. This year we went to Wales and it was a disaster. Two of us had horrific colds, one person got ORAL SHINGLES, we went to A&E, an emergency dentist, we bought burn cream, we drank Lemsip and we still had a good time. Proof that my friends are probably for life.

You have been awful 2016, but there has been fleeting moments of life being beautiful and all that jazz.

8 things I want in my kitchen

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The closer I get to actually moving, the more I keep letting myself look at homeware. One of the only rooms we have stuff for is the kitchen, so it feels easy to just build on that rather than face facts that we have other entire parts of a functioning home missing. These are all the fruits of random phone shopping on the train this week, apart from the teapot, which I found in Westfields. I’d never heard of  T2 before stumbling upon it a few weeks ago but I can see myself getting VERY well acquainted. If you know of any other places that sell homeware that I can browse online during my train strike fun times, link me up.

1) Printed porcelain mug – H&M – £4.99

2)  Stripe gold rim mug – Matalan – £3.00

3)  Salter vintage scale – Dunelm – £16.99

4)  Skyscraper coasters 4 pack – H&M – £1.99

5)  Leaf salad servers – H&M –  £12.99

6)  Agate bottle opener – Anthropologie – £16.00

7)  Dazed & Dazzled teapot – T2 – £46.00 Salter vintage scale

8) Denby halo cereal bowl – Dunelm – £8.99

5 things worth watching on Netflix right now

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I’m doing the opposite to what I usually do at this time of year at the moment- planning lots of exercise and outdoor running. As much as I love a good winter hibernation period and annually purchasing festive fluffy Primark PJs to wear around the house, I feel like I need to be out and active to stop myself waking up in January feeling awful about myself in the post-Christmas lull.

Now, as much as I am committed to this, I am also still committed to lots of Netflix watching and hanging around under blankets etc etc. I’ve watched a few really good things on the old Netflix lately, and while I’m hardly ahead of the curve I feel a couple of them aren’t being watched/discovered enough. So if you’ve got some solid plans to spend some quality time with N coming up, I can highly recommend you give the following a watch:

1) Love Sick

I’ve been trying to talk everyone I know into watching this. It’s on its second season, and both are on Netflix but it actually started life on Channel 4…and it was called Scrotal Recall. I think the name might have put a lot of people off, which is a shame, because it’s absolutely brilliant, perfectly hilarious and very endearing. Season two is funny on a whole other level. It’s essentially the story of a group of uni friends continuing life after the student dream ends, and the main story is of Dylan, the main character, who has chlamydia and has to track down his past conquests to let them know. It develops into more of a failing love story as the show goes on and it’s brilliantly done. Plus the episodes are short- around 25 minutes, so it’s binge perfection.

2) Catfish

I’m unashamedly thrilled this is now on UK Netflix, and I don’t use the word thrilled lightly (or very often). I LOVED this when it came out on MTV. I’ve mentioned it on here before, probablt more than once, but I’m doing it again. This is a documentary more than a film, and is about falling in love online with a person who turns out not to be what they say they are- or more to the point, who they are. It inspired the MTV show Catfish, which is also really good.

3) Force Majeure

I started watching this with my housemate back in 2014 and having remembered it exists after seeing it pop up on Netflix I will be revisiting it. The idea of the show is to explore ‘adult responsibility’ and it gets pretty much every issue it looks at perfectly right. It’s funny, but is definitely a dark comedy and certainly not all light laughs. The first episode really dives straight in and while the humour is strong, it’s also really quite dramatic. Massively recommend this.

4) An education

This came out when I was a student and I went to the cinema to see it at 11am on a Wednesday. Remember when you could just do that? It’s a film starring Carey Mulligan looking incredibly young and it’s absolutely brilliant. It follows the story of very young woman who is all set to go to Oxford, but gets swept up by a man twice her age. It’s funny, relatable and weirdly feel-good.

5) Clueless

Because obviously, duh.

Image: Pixabay

5 times the internet has been good lately #7

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It’s been quite hard to find much good in the past couple of weeks. The news has been doom, gloom and fear and I’ve spent much more time reading about what we can expect from THAT election next year rather than my usual random selection of articles. However, not everything is bad, I have read some nice stuff and watched lots of videos of cats staring out humans to try to keep the balance at bit. These are the links I think are worth clicking if you find yourself with a spare half hour and a cup of tea, or a cocktail in a cup clearly meant for tea (it is winter, we need to treat ourselves):

1) The Obama years, through the eyes of the White House photographer – The Atlantic

So I know this is election related, but I am such a massive Obama fan, and I really love these photos.

2) You can fall in friendship at first site – The Pool

I have a couple of friends who I knew I needed in my life pretty much the first time I met them, so I kind of believe this. I’ve never ever been a believer of ‘love at first sight’ because I find soppy thing horrible, but this is different.

3) Why you should buy from independent brands this Christmas – The Little Plum

I wholeheartedly support this. As someone who has recently been swallowed up by sites like Etsy, I can see a lot more value in shopping this way, avoiding chains and finding gifts for people they aren’t going to get from anyone else. It’s also nice to support people who are out trying hard to make a name for themselves.

4) 15 things that happened the year the first Harry Potter film was released – The Radio Times

It makes me feel almost uncomfortable that 15 years have passed since Philosopher’s Stone hit the cinema, but it’s true. We are all getting older every day. Happy Friday.

5) Scrotal recall, now called ‘Love Sick’, is coming back – Digital Spy

So this isn’t the usual kind of thing I stick in these lists, but this made me happy. I loved this show. I think I  watched it for the first time in bed when I couldn’t be bothered to change the channel or something, and I massively got into it. If you haven’t seen the first series, give it a go if you can find it. Series one was called  Scrotal Recall (lol) but it’s back soon on Netflix as Love Sick soon.

The spring 2017 travel hit list

I currently really need to crack on with saving up for important stuff like a fridge and a bed, but the cold and the dark keep leading me to Sky Scanner. It’s like I’m magnetically drawn to looking at holidays I definitely cannot book at least once a day. We already know where we’re going for our next big trip and it’s been in the works for almost a year now, but there’s also this growing list of places that can be done on a weekend, with cheap flights and a cheap Airbnb, so it’d be rude not to visit them. Travel logic.

If I had unlimited funds or just happened to stumble upon an envelope of money with ‘Lauren, please have a good time with this cash’ written on it, these are the places I’d book up for spring next year:

1) Lausanne, Switzerland 

I will hopefully get here in the spring next year on a road trip, but a school friend went for work recently and spammed social media with the most beautiful photos. It looks like the kind of place you want to visit while it’s still crisp outside.

2) Florence

This has been high on my Italy hit list for ages for all the obvious reasons like food, history and now this sunset photo.

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Image: Maelick

3) Plockton, Mull, Scotland

I went to Skye a couple of years ago, and we could see straight across to Mull, which looks equally as stunning.

 

4) Segovia, Spain

I read about Segovia in this Guardian article and did a lunchtime google image search of it (how I pick basically all of my travel destinations) and now I must go.

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Image: Raul A

5) Lake Skadar, Montenegro

Me and my boyfriend have been talking about going here for about four years, but it’s not the easiest place to get to. I want to travel around Montenegro and my many research sessions on it suggests late spring is a nice time, particularly for the lakes. The whole country looks postcard perfect.

10 sources of happiness at age 26 and a half


The past few weeks have been stressful, busy and really long. When I say really long, obviously I mean they’ve gone ridiculously fast and here we are staring down the barrel of 2017 and more importantly, CHRISTMAS AGAIN! I’m just saying they’ve been long because it fits with my current ‘life is hard’ mantra. 

How it’s time to start wheeling out mince pies and making plans with every friendship group you have to go ice skating, I’ll never ever know, but this year it’s welcome. I need festive fun and lighthearted gingerbread snowmen and twinkly lights and all that other jazz. The lead up to Christmas is full of stuff that remind me of childhood happiness, which leads me onto happiness now. 

Happiness. Happiness when you’re aged 26 and a half like me, or you know, a few years either side of that. The past weekend has been a chance to breathe and do stuff that oozes happiness- mostly edible, but still, and I’ve realised how much happiness has changed for me. These days, these are the things that make me feel fuzzy or say YAY out loud: 

1) A really well baked cake. Like, a cake you can try while it’s baker eagerly looks on and comment on how moist it is and how perfect the filling is and ask what the recipe is even though you know it’s blatantly BBC Good Food. 

2) Rain. A day where it rains like the world is ending (let’s say Sunday) so you have the perfect, damp excuse to just stay indoors and not do the washing you had planned and not move much and feel actually rested. 

3) Waking up in a house that was cleaned the day before. I never thought I would be this person. I never thought the faint smell of bleach and clean bedding and lemony stuff would make me feel content BUT IT DOES. 

4) Waking up after 8am. Every week that passes sees my ability to sleep in diminish slightly further, even more so with a hangover. 

5) Quiet public transport. Yes, this is essentially a list of what’s most boring but isn’t it true? Isn’t people not shouting, not having loud phone calls with their cousin, not cackling and not arguing on your train carriage the greatest thing? 

6) Caffetiere smell. Needs no further explanation.

7) Those amazing ‘dine in for two’ meals that M&S started and now most supermarkets have copied that sometimes come with wine and can definitely be a dine in experience for one when the hunger is real. 

8) A really well ordered and empty inbox. 

9) Jeans that fit. I never really appreciated well-fitted jeans until this year when I discovered well-fitted jeans. There’s no going back to jeans that bunch up at the knee or slide down your bum. 

10) A clear, sunny view of my home city.