Date Night in the City

Part of my Happiness List for July is Date Night – spending time with The Bloke for no other reason than just because. An opportunity presented itself recently to go out into Birmingham and do just that.

Those of you who have followed the blog for a long time will be aware of my obsession with the musical RENT. It has been something that has been a big part of our relationship – he has ‘No Day But Today’ engraved on the inside of his wedding ring, we walked back up the aisle to ‘I’ll Cover You’ after we got married, he even went along with it when I wanted to go and find Antony Rapp when we went to watch it in London in 2016 (read about the whole adventure here). While it’s our favourite show it’s rare that we get the chance to see it, so when an ad appeared on Facebook that there was a performance at the Blue Orange Theatre in the Jewellery Quarter that evening we booked tickets and decided to turn it into a pseudo-spontaneous date night. 

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Creating a Happiness List

In light of recent revelations about changes that needed to be made and breaking out of the little bubble I have built for myself, I decided to start by breaking everything down and working out what it was that I actually wanted to do to make those changes in a productive way. 

I was talking to my sister-in-law recently and she suggested creating a Happiness List. It was quite a profound idea – thinking about what it is that creates happiness and actively working towards it. 

It’s sometimes difficult to remember that we are responsible for our own happiness – there is nobody else that knows us as well as we do – and a Happiness List is a great way to take charge and create a personal level of accountability.

I thought I would give it a try…

Image: Ivan Samkov on Pexels

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Breaking Out of the Bubble

At the halfway point of the year I have found myself reflecting on the last six months. At the beginning of January, when everything was feeling fresh and exciting with lots of new possibilities, I set just a single goal. Hitting the ground running I threw myself into making it happen, and so far it has. Unfortunately, the quest to achieve has started to have a detrimental impact in an unexpected way, and so I have decided to make a few changes.

I love my job. Genuinely. I love, love, love it. I get to work with fascinating people, learn new things and don’t have the confines of working for someone else. I don’t have a daily commute, my schedule is my own and I can take time off to suit my own lifestyle.

At least, that’s how it should be. 

Image by Andre Furtado – Pexels

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When the Universe Steps In…

… or, Queen + Adam Lambert, doing too much and getting covid.

At the beginning of May I proclaimed that my goal for the next few months would be to take it easy.

The intentions were good, but I ended up doing the exact opposite. 

That is, until the universe stepped in. 

May and June were filled with lots of positive things and brilliant opportunities. 

Work-wise, it was crazy busy, in a good way. I often find that freelancing is comparable to buses (ie. you wait for one for ages and then three all arrive at once) and this is what happened as soon as I decided to take a bit of a step back – it went nuts. I LOVE what I do it, but it isn’t the work itself that takes the time, it’s the calls, meetings, planning and set up that really sucks the minutes from the day. Admittedly, there was a period of a few weeks where I was worried that I had taken on more than I could handle. I eventually figured out the best way to move forward, got into a routine and it has been much better since, but I’ll be more cautious in the future not to take on that amount all in one go again!

On a Saturday morning a few weeks ago, I was downstairs in the living room watching TV, and I heard The Bloke thundering down the stairs. He rushed into the room, almost yelling:

“Want to go and see Queen and Adam Lambert?” 

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Press Review: 25 Years of Lord of the Dance at The Alexandra Theatre

In 1994 I watched (along with millions of others around the world) as Michael Flatley, Jean Butler and a troop of incredible dancers performed a new take on Irish dancing during the interval show at the Eurovision Song Contest in Ireland. A rare moment where the interval act eclipsed the main show, Riverdance went on to become a worldwide sensation.

I still get goosebumps thinking about it. 

Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance debuted on July 2nd, 1996 and 25 years later, I sat in The Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham as the next generation of dancers, singers and instrumentalists (most of who weren’t even born during the original performance) brought Lord of the Dance to life on stage.

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Taking It Easy

After spending over a week down south, I returned home for a few days and then travelled up north to Manchester.

The main purpose of the trip was to catch up with a group of friends that I have known for nearly 25 years. It has been two years since I last saw them – they were the last social event I had before the pandemic hit the UK in March 2020, so I was looking forward to it. 

I was staying with my mum for the weekend and we had a bunch of things planned around it. I was feeling quite smug when I left the house initially due to being somewhat organised for once, only to discover when I arrived that I had forgotten a whole bunch of stuff including socks, make-up and a phone charger. Who forgets to pack socks??? 

Socks quickly acquired, we went for a meal at our favourite Chinese restaurant on the Friday night. We’ve been going there for decades – I remember having my 18th birthday celebration there, I turned 40 last year and I couldn’t count how many meals our family has had there in between. I was delighted to see that one of the staff members, George, who greeted us during our earliest visits, was still there. There is one particular dish – a sharing platter for two – that both mum and I are obsessed with, so instead of ordering a starter and selection of mains we decided to treat ourselves and had one each without mains. It was fabulous – I couldn’t help but laugh with sheer excitement as they were brought out – but I was so full by the end I thought someone would have to roll me to the car afterwards.

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It’s Oh So Quiet

Yesterday was a little strange. Not that it was bad in any way, but it took me a while to settle in. 

I’m currently dog-sitting at my friend’s house. It isn’t the first time I have done this, so I was already familiar with the area and the dog’s routine and we immediately got back into it. Admittedly, I was feeling a bit tired as her barking had woken me up at 1am when the neighbours returned home, and then again at 2am when she vomited on the floor. (While I miss having the cats, I don’t miss waking up to the sound of retching in the early hours of the morning). We walked, had breakfast, I did some work while she snoozed, we walked again etc. It was a fairly relaxed and peaceful day with glorious weather…

Image credit: Nathan Cowley, Pexels

I suddenly realised yesterday evening just how quiet it was. 

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My Nine Year Blogging Anniversary and a Working Staycation

Yesterday was my nine year blogging anniversary. I received a notification at 6.30am as I was sitting in a very cold train station. 

The reason why I was travelling yesterday is because of a friend who I met through the blog 2015. In fact, she was one of the first blog friends who became a social media client. Since then we’ve been to events, a writers retreat and on holiday to Dubrovnik together, and yesterday I travelled down to her house to look after her dog while she and her family are on holiday. 

One of the views on my walk this morning… not a bad way to start the day!

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Great Foodie Instagram Places in London

I love London. I’m lucky in that I live 90 minutes away on the train and, when booked in advance, tickets are pretty cheap. The Bloke and I used to visit three or four times a year before the pandemic, usually staying overnight. We would take a section of London that we had never visited before and I would map out ideas of things to see and do. 

Now that there aren’t any more restrictions, I have very tentatively started to visit again. Our last trip was last September for my not-quite 40th birthday, and I went on a shorter trip with my mum a little while ago. 

I have noticed a huge difference in the last decade of how Instagram has become an integral part of the marketing strategy for many cafes and restaurants. Flower walls, neon signs, even highlighted sections on menus advertising ‘Instagram-worthy’ dishes and drinks have appeared. 

Suzie Speaks London Foodie Instagram Places

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Playing Catch-Up… Again

I started February with the best of intentions. I had just completed a No Spend Challenge over January and was feeling a massive sense of achievement, so set myself a whole series of goals over February. One of them was to blog at least twice a week… and now it’s March and to say I failed spectacularly would be an understatement. 

However, despite the storms and constant rain, February was fast-paced and pretty exciting at times with lots of both short and long-term unexpected opportunities. 

Ever heard the analogy about waiting for a bus for ages and then three all arrive at once? 

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