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.
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.
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 →
I’ve always found something quite liberating about the clock striking midnight on New Year’s Eve. Despite the fact that it is just one minute, the transition between New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day brings a sense of excitement and the notion that anything is possible.
A year ago The Bloke and I rang in the new year with the fireworks display from the London Eye on the TV, singing Auld Lang Syne with the cat and making promises that 2020 would be our year. I had plans. I had spent weeks carefully making lists of all of the things that we were going to do: the places we would go, the things we would see, the experiences that we would have. Continue reading →
With less than a week to go until Christmas, The Bloke and I have taken to adulting to get everything prepared in advance. I was determined (especially after a such a crazy year), Christmas would be a period in which we could actually relax, do something positive for others and then take some time for ourselves without worrying about last-minute things, and we’ve managed most of it (although the found myself on a mad dash to the postbox yesterday to send off a whole bunch of Christmas cards.
The last quarter of the year is always the busiest. Between October and December there are five birthdays within our family including mine and The Bloke’s and we had our third wedding anniversary at the end of October. Normally we would take a trip somewhere to celebrate at least one of these (last year we went to London for the weekend with my sister and her boyfriend to see the Tutankhamun exhibition at the Saatchi and the year before we fed giraffes at West Midlands Safari Park and went to the Harry Potter Studios Tour) but most of the last few months have been spent trying to stay safe and well at home. Instead I have created almost mini staycations and celebrations indoors, finding interesting things to watch and trying to support local businesses by ordering from them rather than going through the giants that now monopolise the online shopping world (except Lego of course, because The Bloke loves it).Continue reading →
Comparisontis, the compulsion of comparing your accomplishments to those to others is the worst, but is not a new concept – keeping up with the Joneses is an idiom that is well-established within the English vocabulary. While it is a rather ridiculous (and immature) notion, it’s a surprisingly easy mindset to develop into once it has started and at its most extreme comparisonitis has the ability to rob us of our self-esteem, leave us feeling depressed and anxious and become judgemental towards not just ourselves, but those around us.
I’ve been blogging and working in social media management for a number of years and for the most part it has been an amazing experience. I love my job – I usually wake up in a morning excited to start work, and there’s almost nothing better than the feeling that accompanies a sudden wave of inspiration, a new-found connection or a well-received response to a piece of content.
While I’m fortunate to be doing something that I enjoy, the consequences of turning a favourite hobby into a source of income means that time spent, perspectives and goals shifted from a hobby to a business mindset. Of course, this is necessary to ensure continued success, but when the majority of my day is spent online I found that the cold doubt of comparisonitis was gradually starting to creep in, especially over the course of this year.
I have always had role models and mentors that I have looked up to and respected within the blogging world, but for the majority of my blogging life I have largely been unaffected by it, usually preferring to follow my own schedule and content in a way that suits my lifestyle. However, in recent months I became more aware of the negative feelings that accompany comparisonitis as I was working my way through my daily checklist and planning my content. Continue reading →
Last week I had the opportunity to join the team from Moonpig and a whole bunch of bloggers for an fun evening of Christmas cards, flowers and cocktails with the Moonpig Virtual Event.
I’ve spent a lot of time on Zoom this year, but not for a blogging event before. It had been a rather exciting week – I had received lots of different goodies from Moonpig in preparation and it was something I had been looking forward to. Let’s face it – after the year we’ve all had, an evening of Christmas cheer was very much needed! Continue reading →
What has become abundantly clear amidst the chaos and confusion of the last seven months is just how essential the arts are, with many turning to art and culture within their own homes as a form of mental stimulation, creativity and self-care.
While I certainly count my blessings, some of the things I have missed the most during lockdown and COVID-19 restrictions have been the theatre and museums. Seeing a show or an exhibition – usually several times a month – provided an often much-needed opportunity to switch off from the stresses of the day, relax and immerse myself in an amazing performance or stunning piece of artwork by talented performers and creatives.
I’m a huge Van Gogh fan, being lucky enough to visit the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, see The Starry Night at the MOMA in New York and Sunflowers at the National Gallery in London and consequently I was ecstatic when I saw that the world-renowned Van Gogh Alive Experience was being premiered at the Birmingham Hippodrome. Continue reading →
The atmosphere in the house has been difficult to adjust to. It has been a week since Poppy passed away and for the first time in seventeen years there hasn’t been a cat in the house to get under my feet, yell at me for breakfast or test out the acoustics of the bathroom by singing their favourite songs at 3.00am. I have found it difficult not to walk up and down the stairs in a certain way to accommodate a feline zooming past me, or to open a door slowly just in case their was a cat sitting behind it, and for the first few days the sight of an empty kitty bed made me break down in tears. My lovely neighbour works with an animal sanctuary and so she very kindly agreed to pass all of Poppy’s things on so that they can go to help another animal in need, which has made me feel a little better. Continue reading →
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