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.
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.
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.
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 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?
I look forward to Christmas every year. Since we got married (can you believe that was over four years ago already??!) The Bloke and I spend Christmas at home, visiting family and friends in the weeks before (although last year we weren’t able to do that). We have developed a bit of a routine and traditions – when we buy presents and send cards, when and how we decorate, when we go food shopping etc. Usually by now everything would be done and ready to go well in advance – the cupboards would be full, presents would be wrapped, our Christmas watchlist would have been planned to the nth degree to avoid missing any of the Christmas specials, The Bloke would have braved Marks and Spencer to grab a pre-rolled turkey and stuffing (there’s only two of us and there’s no way I’m spending half my Christmas Day cooking a massive frozen turkey that will go to waste) and I would have posted on the blog several times about how drunk the tree looks etc.
A few weeks ago I turned 40. Those of you who read the blog regularly will know that I had my birthday celebration in September – The Bloke and I went to London for a few days and did lots of eating and exploring. (In case you missed it, you can find the post here). Rather than sending me a present in November, my family and friends had very generously gifted me some birthday money towards it – it was very reminiscent of our honeymoon in New York four years ago in which we did as much as possible, took photos of what the money was spent on (which were predominantly glorious meals in random places all around the city) and sent them to everyone with a thank you message.
Consequently, my plan for the day of my actual birthday was to do nothing. My Out of Office was switched on, my social media clients were informed that I was on annual leave and I told The Bloke that I didn’t want to go anywhere or do anything other than watch my favourite films and have food brought to me. It was definitely the right decision – it was freezing cold and we had an unexpected and rather large amount of snow (yes, I can hear my Canadian friends laughing at what we term as a large amount) which would have made a trip anywhere difficult.
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 wake up each morning full of enthusiasm and intentions and tell myself that I’m going to write a blog post today. I get up, turn on my laptop… and then it’s 6.30pm and I find myself finishing work for the day and feeling mentally spent. It isn’t that I don’t want to blog – even after eight years I still get an enormous buzz from pressing the ‘publish’ button, but it has become less of a priority as other things have taken over. I’d like to change that, especially after receiving so many nice messages from bloggy friends who were wondering where I’ve been.
As I haven’t posted for several months, there’s a lot to talk about.
I’ve already spoken about this in previous posts, but lockdown started slightly earlier for me than most. The Bloke and I regularly reviewed theatre shows for the press nights at the Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham, and we were in the bar area eagerly waiting to see Everybody’s Talking About Jamie and talking to our friend who works there. Suddenly the theatre manager appeared, called everyone together and announced that the show had been cancelled in response to the government announcement that had been made that day, and that was it. I remember seeing the worried and emotional expressions on the faces of the staff and public and felt awful for them. Continue reading →