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.
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.
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.
The Bloke asked me the other day of my opinions of the last twelve months. Admittedly, my initial thought was to respond with “dumpster fire.” On a general day to day basis it has been tough. Working from home sometimes means that it is difficult not to get into your own head and can feel like you’re spending 24/7 within the same four walls, and during moments of extreme stress there is little escape. However, amidst the lows there have been a number of highs.
The start of 2021 was indeed a dumpster fire of epic proportions. Within the first month The Bloke got covid (this was before the vaccinations were available) and was incredibly ill for weeks while being quarantined upstairs, two family members had heart attacks (both are thankfully doing okay), the roof in the kitchen started caving in after five years of asking the landlord to fix it and when I lost my temper he put our rent up in retaliation. A few weeks later I had to have a tooth removed – a small filling fell out just before covid hit in 2020 and dentists were closed for months – and after a year the tooth became so damaged the only option was to take it out.
Ever waited for a bus for ages and then three all arrive at the same time? Perhaps that’s the wrong opening sentence to follow my title 😂 I’m married – I’m talking about theatre.
That’s what the last few months has felt like. After a horrendously long period of restrictions and seemingly very little to do, the last few months have been full of fun and interesting things that have made me stop at times and wonder if the last year-and-a-half actually happened.
As you can probably tell from my recent posts there has been theatre. Lots and lots of theatre. It’s been bloody marvellous – going from seeing nothing in over 450 days to then watching eight shows in about two months has uplifted the soul. I’m so pleased for them – the theatres, performers and everyone in between – the entertainments industry was one of the hardest hit and took the longest to return, and I’m delighted that it is all up and running again. Long may it continue!
I love Sunday mornings, particularly when the sun is out after several weeks of torrential rain. It’s hard to believe that September is only a few days away – it seems barely ten years ago that we were starting August…
Sundays are often my most reflective, and looking back it has been a long rollercoaster of a month.
Over July I posted every single day for a Gratitude Challenge… and then promptly burnt myself out. It was fairly inevitable at the time – my work schedule was crazy, lots of places were still under lockdown and I barely left the house, and while I never mind my own company (preferring more of an introverted lifestyle), I think staying indoors was beginning to get to me. Continue reading →
Day 18 of the Daily Gratitude Challenge focuses on food. Food is a necessity and possibly the thing that is taken for granted the most by those who have unlimited access to it. Do you stop before a meal and consciously give thanks for what you are about to eat? Continue reading →
It’s been a while since I blogged without purpose. I’ve missed it – the act of writing has always been therapeutic. On a personal level I’ve been busier than ever – I’ve met a whole bunch of brilliant people and my workload has reached capacity, which is amazing, but the downside of this is there’s little time for doing nothing.
I received a message from my friends from 6th form to meet up for a meal in Manchester – we have known each other for over twenty years and have stayed in contact, meeting up every so often to catch up. They’re a great group of women – all are doing well for themselves with families and jobs, and I love the fact that even though I don’t see or speak to them for months at a time, we slip back into conversation as though I had seen them yesterday.
Emmeline Pankhurst’s house
I decided to make an extended trip out of it and booked myself into a hotel room for the night. To my recollection there has only been a single time I’ve done that during the time The Bloke and I have been together (which was when he had a minor heart operation) so the concept was somewhat of a novelty, despite the fact that The Bloke is more than supportive of any time I want to myself.Continue reading →
For me, Christmas dinner represents everything about the festive season perfectly. Several weeks of planning, shopping for the ingredients, a few hours of prep followed by the whole cooking with different temperatures and timing debacle… and it’s all done and finished in seemingly the blink of an eye, leaving behind an epic amount of washing up and a personal vow never to eat that much in one sitting again.
Christmas was awesome, but was over far too quickly.
Despite the minor panic in the last few days leading up to it, I somehow managed to end the day before Christmas Eve with a full fridge, wrapped presents and some clean laundry. The Bloke and I stayed at home for the third year in a row, and we decided that we would have a much more relaxed approach to the holiday, spending most of the time on the couch with the cat (who had a rather fetching new hat that he was obviously delighted with) on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and popping in to feed Paddy (my friend’s bunny that hates me). Continue reading →
The Bloke and I were invited to the newly revamped Marmalade restaurant at The Rep in Birmingham last week.
The Marmalade team have been working closely with local businesses and artisan suppliers to provide customers with an all new dining experience that is inherently Brummie and combined with a new outdoor terrace that is capable of seating up to 200 people overlooking the recently developed Centenary Square, it is perfectly situated for both lazy summer lunches and date nights.
I liked the fact that the menus are environmentally conscious, utilising local suppliers with a focus on low environmental impact, including the use of heat exchange technology to reduce energy consumption and natural wetland systems. Continue reading →