Week Six

This time one week ago, I was in Paris with one of my bestest friends. I think it was Sunday night that we spent up at Montmartre admiring Le Sacre Coeur. We found a fantastic restaurant to have dinner, where two men were playing guitars and the food was great. The French waiter convinced me to order the ‘good wine’ for an extra four euro and he was EXTREMELY peeved when my friend wouldn’t be so easily swayed.

We had a lovely time in Paris. I had received mixed reviews in the lead up to our trip. It seems people either love it or hate it. I loved it. I can’t wait to go back already. We stayed in Bastille (which I would highly recommend doing) and, for three nights, were in a brilliant area full of lively bars and restaurants, cute cafes and amazing bakeries. I didn’t buy macaroons to bring home; I felt like they should be saved for Paris. I regret my decision already. I MISS MACAROONS. (I know I could probably find them in London, but it just wouldn’t be the same!)

We drank plenty of wine and ate cheese and meats and crepes and macaroons galore. One delicacy we didn’t brave was the snails. Did we miss out? My sister would tell me we did, but I really don’t think I could have done it.

We were doing good with the French by the end of the trip too! We definitely gained confidence as we went along. At breakfast on the final day, I successfully told the waitress I’d like a coffee, but then sissied out and ordered my eggs in English. I was half way there at least! Je pense que notre francais etait tres bon!

We came back from Paris on Monday and so for me, week number six began on Tuesday. I expected work to be absolute madness (and by the end of the week it was), but I’d left things surprisingly organised and on Tuesday I was able to ease myself back in gently.

The week actually flew by and Friday came around nice and quickly.

Friday evening just gone was lovely. I spent it at a best friend’s house treating myself to a face mask and a fresh coat of paint on my nails. She cooked me an incredibly tasty chicken stir fry and we watched rubbish TV until I was too sleepy to keep my eyes open any longer.

It’s been quite a chilled weekend really. We had no plans. I’m currently working on my Level 2 assessment for my qualification and therefore have spent the majority of today with my head in a book. The best kind of Sundays are though, right? Now the sweet potato chips are in the oven, steaks are at the ready, the bottle of red wine has officially been opened and we’re going to stick a movie on.

Simply, Paris is lovely, work is mad, weekends are the bestest and let’s please not mention the New Years’ Resolutions again just yet.

There goes April

May is one of the best months of the year (not just because my birthday is in May) and I’m very happy it’s here. The sun starts to shine a little warmer in May. The trees are leafy again and the flowers are all out and about. Summer is officially on the horizon and it feels closer every day. We’re all a little more cheery again come May time. And this year we’ve two bank holidays to enjoy! And whether we love our jobs or not, the weeks always feel long and hard and the odd Monday off here and there helps us power on through.

Talking of work… I’ve officially been in my current position for more than a year. MORE THAN A YEAR I TELL YOU. I can hardly believe it. Time does fly, but I must admit that my first day feels like it was a very long time ago now. I still remember it very clearly and fondly. I feel as though I’ve come a long way in a year. In fact, when I think about how far I’ve come I begin to wonder how it can be that it has only been a year.

Somehow, it’s been nearly a month since Naomi and I were at Rhossili beach in Wales. Since then, Manchester United lost to West Brom, Dave and I bought furniture for the balcony, Britain was hit by a mini heat wave (perfect timing dontcha think?) and I went to Dublin for a few days with one of my best friends.

Dave, myself and his parents journeyed all the way up to Manchester to see United lose and we were not happy bunnies. However, that same weekend we bought the furniture for the balcony AND a shoe rack for the hall way and triumphantly put it all together. You lose some, you win some. SO excited to play host this summer and make use of the new set up.

The mini heat wave was simply amazing. It came just as we all felt like we couldn’t take one more day of doomy gloomy skies and chilly temperatures. It was just what we all needed. Besides me, everyone seemed so prepared too! Summer clothes were out in storm and the smell of sun cream filled the tube I got in the mornings. There I was stood in black trousers and a black blazer because my summer clothes were still hidden away and my legs were not in any state to be shown off to the world.

Oh well. I still enjoyed the sunshine plenty. Some friends and I had drinks outside a country pub. A work colleague and I spent a lunch break down by the Tower of London eating ice creams. AND my mum made the most wonderful jug of pimms when I popped by to see her and my dad at the weekend.

We had a fab time in Dublin and I’d recommend a visit. The people are simply lovely for one thing! I highly recommend the free walking tours, the Guinness Storehouse and the food, in general. I loved literally everything I ate while I was there. I particularly recommend a little place called ‘Boxty’ where potatoes are cooked to perfection. This place is proof that potatoes are the best of all foods.

BOXTY

Our walking tour guide was GREAT. He gave us heaps of insight into Ireland, it’s history and it’s people. Dublin Castle, St Patrick’s Cathedral, the infamous ‘Spire’, they all have amazing histories and they’re all excellent spots for photos too.

DUBLIN FREE WALKING TOUR

I reckon the Guinness Storehouse had to be the highlight of our trip. (Although, one evening spent in a pub in Temple Bar listening to traditional Irish music was particularly magical too.) The storehouse experience was so great, because it was all new. I’d never tried Guinness before (believe it or not I actually quite liked it), never learned how to properly taste a stout before and never poured my own pint before either. You have to breathe in through your nose, then sip, then breathe out through your nose… that’s the secret to the tasting. Thank me later.

Saying yes to new adventures

Oh boy oh boy. I cannot believe how time is flying!

First up, you need to know about a little cafe in Croydon called The Ludoquist. Nearly a month ago now Dave and I were staying with a couple of our loveliest friends. We spent a whole afternoon at The Ludoquist and were sorry to have to leave. It’s a board game cafe. They’ve more board games than you can imagine and to top it off, they sell great coffee and sweets in little glass bowls! There’s other, more substantial food and beer too! You pay £3 if you wanna play the board games and it’s so busy that you’re best off booking a table in advance.

Actually, while we’re talking recommendations, a couple of weeks back Dave and I went to the Secret Cinema in London. Secret location, secret world, secret identity, all that jazz. Secret Cinema are a company who literally build the world of the film. You enter a whole new world, full of incredibly talented actors and spend the night in character, as if you were a character from the movie. Then you sit and watch the film and then you party in the world after, until you decide it’s time to retreat back to real life. The website might do it more justice than I’m doing it, if you’re really interested.

SECRET CINEMA LONDON

I actually felt dubious to begin with. The film showing at the moment is Blade Runner and while I appreciate that it is an incredible cinematic masterpiece and the music is AMAZING, it’s not my kind of thing. Also, the future world depicted in Blade Runner is kinda scary if you ask me and I wasn’t sure I wanted in. I needn’t have worried. We had a brilliant night. I wouldn’t be surprised if we make it a yearly thing, like so many people seem to do once they’ve discovered it. No spoilers here, but WOW. If you can get tickets, go!

I spent last weekend in Wales with one of my best friends. We had a lovely time. From drinking cocktails in Turtle Bay and brunching in Cosy Club to exploring Cardiff and strolling down Swansea beaches, we did about everything you can do to make the most of your weekend. The sun even shined on us.

Brunch in Cosy Club was amazing, but it was well and truly trumped by brunch on Sunday in a little place called The Junction, right by Swansea Beach. We both ordered the Junction special and we had no regrets. £8.50 for poached egg, potatoes, chorizo, cheese, lardons, avocado and spinach all fried up and served in one grill. A FEAST FOR THE TASTE BUDS I tell you. And they did a vegetarian option too! Recommendation number three, if you’re ever in the area.

I did not intend for this post to end up being a list of recommendations, but I’m not sorry it did. I love that I’m discovering all these new and amazing places and that I can shout about them too! Life has been busy and exciting recently, but I’ve had plenty of chill time too. I’m feeling happy and calm and balanced and by golly I hope it lasts.

To infinity and beyond

If you’re a close friend of mine I’ve probably had a rant or a grumble at you this week. Its been one of them weeks. I’ve oozed negativity. So much so, when it came to yoga on Wednesday I was excited as ever, but just couldn’t get into it. I spent the whole class feeling awkward and tense. You’ll hopefully be glad to hear, that right now I’m feeling chirpy and wondering what on Earth I’ve had to moan about.

The highlight of this week has to have been my afternoon spent in London’s Sky Garden.

That’s where things started to take a turn for the better. I highly recommend a visit. It’s free of charge for starters! They advise that you book in advance to skip the queues, that’s all. London looks so beautiful from up there. It doesn’t take much to bring out the cheese ball in me and being up there definitely did. Looking out at St Paul’s through the massive glass windows I felt all gooey and happy and grateful. I remember when working in London was something I dreamed about and now, it’s my every day. Eek!

I spent Friday night celebrating a friend’s birthday at Dinerama, Shoreditch. I highly recommend a visit to Dinerama too. It was AWESOME. Converted to suit winter with a ceiling and walls and heaters, this collection of street food stands and pop up bars catered for everyone. Music, food, drink and lots of friends made for a fab atmosphere and a super chilled, very fun evening.

I guess I have to admit that it is probably no coincidence that my new found positivity arrives just after Dave and I spent a whole day together yesterday for the first time in a long time. I’ve sat in enough counselling sessions to know that your happiness should never be dependent on the presence of another human being and I’d like to think I’d have turned things around anyway, but yesterday just helped… A lot. And hey! As I get older I believe more and more that most of the time, the best advise any one can give you is that you should just cut yourself some slack. If you need someone else or to be somewhere else just for a little while, to make yourself feel strong again, then sometimes you just gotta embrace it.

Brighton, England

brighton-uk-16

I spent last weekend in Brighton with four girl friends, celebrating my friend’s birthday and I fell in love.

I arrived in Brighton tired, hungry, sweaty, clueless and with heavy bags in tow after a very long day at work.

The lively atmosphere gave me an immediate boost. Between the squeals of girls on hen nights, the excitable chatter of everyone around, the yells from lads on tour and the booming voices of train conductors, came the occasional squawk of a seagull, welcoming you to the seaside.

I needed to buy Aperol for the birthday girl. I couldn’t find it anywhere, which was a shame, but I did find that every single person I spoke to was jolly and helpful. Every off-licence owner tried to help me out, the people in Tesco and Sainsbury’s were eager to do what they could and even when they were telling me they didn’t sell what I wanted, they kept on smiling.  The people I passed on the street all seemed super carefree and happy. The driver of the taxi I eventually got was lovely too. I felt like I could have spoken to absolutely anyone and they would have tried to help me out.

The home we stayed in was booked through air b&b and it was absolutely stunning. The perfect seaside escape. It was a little way from the coast, but the seagulls could still be heard, never fear.

In my dreams I live in a house like this one when I grow up. It’s so tastefully decorated, so light and airy and everything has it’s place, but it looks lived in too. It’s just the right mix of old and new and it’s not too big or too small. It’s perfect. Aside from the fact it’s on a really really steep hill. Not only was the walk a challenge, but can you imagine trying to parallel park outside!?

I could have spent days exploring the centre of Brighton and I’ve still no idea how we got from one place to another. All I know is that on your way down to the coast you wonder through ‘the lanes’. There’s bunting everywhere, it’s a maze of madness that transports you to another time and there are shops and stools selling all sorts of bits and bobs. There’s something for everyone. There are so many cute independent shops. There’s so much street food and so many cute, eccentric cafes to be explored. Including Choccywoccydoodah which just has to be the craziest dessert cafe on Earth!

There are loads of cool independent bars and clubs on the seafront too, individual to Brighton. Not forgetting the cute arty shops down there and the fish and chip stands! Fish and chips is obligatory of course.

Brighton has the best of both though. There’s a big shopping centre with all your big name stores, there are chain restaurants and big bars and clubs with names you’d probably recognize.

The pier itself is the epitome of British Sea Front fun. There are arcades and fayre ground rides. I wasn’t crazy enough to brave the waltzers but those of us who did said they were sure they were the spinniest and fastest they’d ever been on. There’s donuts and ice cream and candy floss galore and there’s even a sit down restaurant and bar.

There are many other must-sees we missed simply because we didn’t have enough time. From the stunning Royal Pavillion to the Museum and Art Gallery, Brighton has culture and history too.

Wherever you wonder along the seafront the views are lovely. There’s even a massive 360 degrees moving observation tower you can go up, if that takes your fancy and you have the time. I imagine the views must be wonderful. Brighton’s beach isn’t sandy, it’s a pebble beach, but this doesn’t take away from the fact it’s really very pretty. I couldn’t take enough pictures. Particularly on a sunny day, the sea is so beautifully blue and everything looks so colourful and alive.

Colourful and alive. That’s Brighton for you. I can’t recommend it enough and I’ll definitely be back! I imagine there’s even more to discover than I know.