Week One

I hoped I’d be writing this at 3 o clock in the afternoon, curled up with a cuppa and feeling triumphant. Instead, it’s quarter to eight, dinner is nearly ready (thank goodness) and I’m completely and utterly cream crackered.

If a little later in the day than expected, we have been triumphant. We left the flat at 8am yesterday morning, Ikea bound. We were there when it opened and we SMASHED our shop. We’ve then spent the weekend getting stuff well and truly sorted out. We did a general clear out and clean up on New Year’s Day and I thought we’d done well then. This weekend, we took clearing out and cleaning up to a whole new level.

We had the Ikea trip in the diary for a while and the shopping list had grown longer and longer. With the list at the ready, we tried our hardest not to impulse buy, but we did grab a wooden spoon, a couple of fancy hand soap holders and a mini footstool just because. And they’ve all come in really useful already, so there!

I’m super happy with our all new, organised home, but phew am I glad to have it all sorted. I wish I had another day now, just to chill and get a bit more life admin done, but I’ll just have to make the most of the next couple of hours before bed.

The week began with New Year’s Eve. I was lucky enough to be working from home; allowing me enough time to get ready and get on a train, with Dave, into London. I’ve only ever been into London once on New Year’s Eve before and even then, we steered clear of central London. This time, one of my amazing best friends had invited us into her offices near Embankment to watch the fireworks. We took wine and snacks and games and we set up in a meeting room until midnight. At midnight we headed out onto a perfectly positioned balcony where we had the BEST view of the display at the London Eye. I’m not even kidding. It was spectacular and I feel very grateful to have had the chance to experience it like that.

Getting home was a whole ‘nother adventure. It was as if the world was ending. Lots of the roads were closed, of course. There were people everywhere. There were policemen everywhere. The majority of people were just in very high spirits. There were also people fighting and falling and yelling and shoving. It was complete and utter madness. It was completely surreal. As we wondered through the streets back to the tube station, I felt very free and very scared all at the same time. It was a huge relief to be home when we eventually got here at 3:30 am… Almost as much of a relief as it was to know there was no need to set an alarm in the morning. Here’s to whoever declared New Year’s Day a bank holiday!

Despite the bank holiday, last week was extremely hard work. I feel like we can all agree on that. Going back to work after the break was harder than ever before… I’m sure of it. The clocks slowed down, I was permanently hungry (not used to keeping to mealtimes I suppose) and suddenly, when Wednesday came around, staying up past 9pm was almost impossible. Wednesday was my first day back in the office and I started off super chirpy. By the time I met a friend for lunch, I was already feeling the January blues. Then, come the evening, I was desperately trying to keep my eyes open, at the pub, with a great group of friends, drinking coca-cola. I’m desperately hoping that things will be that little bit easier tomorrow.

Only 3 months and 13 days until the next bank holiday! We’ve got this.

Another year older

I’M FEELIN’ 24.

And ‘what does 24 feel like?’ you might ask. Well, I guess I actually do feel a little older.

If I really think about it, I realise that even in the last week or so I’ve done many things a younger me would have been too scared to do. Silly things like carrying birthday cake on the tube and sorting my cars MOT out, to important things like representing my team at a work event and going on a hen do weekend without freaking out. And yes, the prospect of having to carry a birthday cake on the tube would have been absolutely terrifying to me a couple of years ago: I would have gone over and over all the ways in which carrying birthday cake could lead to disaster and probably decided I best not take the risk.

WHAT IF I WERE TO DROP IT, FALL FACE FIRST INTO IT AND SPEND THE DAY COVERED IN CHOCOLATE?

WHAT IF I GOT FUNNY LOOKS OFF FELLOW PASSENGERS?

WHAT IF I GOT ATTACKED BY HUNGRY PIGEONS?

Oh, how far I’ve come.

In some ways, I’ve barely grown up at all. I still can’t wear high heels. I’m currently listening to Avril Lavigne’s Goodbye Lullaby on vinyl. I still don’t like gin and tonic. I’m still terrified of spiders. I’ve never used an iron in my life. I still hate cooking chicken. I still hate cooking full stop (yes – if you’ve been keeping up, the enjoying cooking thing didn’t stick).

Anyhoo, in case you can’t tell, my birthday has left me feeling reflective and reminiscent (oh my, how time is flying by). It’s also left me feeling very loved and extremely grateful. A massive thank you to everyone who posted on facebook, sent cards, celebrated with me and helped to make it so special.

The celebrations started with some awesome work colleagues and wayyy too much prosecco. I also went out for a lovely lunch with my family. I highly recommend Cote Brasserie in Chelmsford if you’re ever over that way… Superb service, lovely food and a free bottle of champagne to say Happy Birthday! My sister came into London to meet me on my lunch break on the actual day and we spent a really lovely hour up in the Sky Garden. I went for a wonderful dinner with some girl friends later in the week. AND some time soon Dave and I are going to be climbing the O2 in London which is admittedly a little nerve-racking, but VERY exciting too.

We had another bank holiday this week and I’m oh so glad. The hen do was absolutely amazing and if I’d had to go back to work on Monday I’d have been super mopey.

Instead I spent Monday sat in a park with a lovely friend I hadn’t seen in OVER THREE YEARS, in beautiful sunshine, eating ice cream and sipping coke.

When I woke up for work yesterday morning I was super sleepy. However, once I’d sat at my desk and had a cuppa, I must say I felt pretty refreshed and I’m actually quite happy to be getting stuck in again.

This Friday night I think Dave and I might finally go see Avengers: Infinity War. Saturday, I’m looking forward to catching up on life admin and giving the bathroom a proper clean (see! That’s something I’d have never said two years ago). Sunday I’ll be seeing the family again, which will be lovely.

Going into my 25th year thinking, life’s not too shabby. Not too shabby at all. In a way I think I’ll never leave my younger self behind, not really. I’m always going to love Harry Potter and Disney in general. I’m always going to love cocktails and prosecco and a good boogie. And I don’t think I’ll ever really like cooking. I guess that’s where that saying comes from. The one that says you’re as young as you feel. TOO RIGHT.

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.

Yoga, Tagine, Prosecco and a Shark Tale

I made it to my first yoga class! And I’ve been again since and I’m already looking forward to going again this week. I’ve found me a truly wonderful class. I’ve been to a few yoga classes before and found that they’re all different. I think it is worth taking the time to find a class that really works for you and I am very pleased to say that I think I have done just that. The instructor is amazing and the session left me feeling refreshed and renewed both times.

Life’s been busy, good busy and this weekend has been a good’un.

Friday night I headed to the George Tavern in Whitechapel with some people from work. It’s a live music venue and the musicians who played were all so talented! ‘Friend of Dave’ was a beat-boxer equipped with a maraca and a harmonica and you would not believe the textures he created all by himself. He played feel good tunes that put smiles on everyone’s faces. ‘Austrumkalns’ were a Latvian ensemble. They are a flautist, cellist, violinist, guitarist and percussionist and they played Latvian folk songs. They were beautiful. They even planted Latvian dancers in the pub to get everyone on their feet. I had one of them ‘must mentally capture this and store the memory vividly forever’ moments. The headliners were ‘Erin Black and the Devil’s Hand’ who were fantastic. Every member of the band was super talented, all introduced individually at the beginning of the set. They had every single person captivated until the set ended and everyone darted out for their last trains home, myself included.

Saturday I met a good friend for lunch in Kensington before heading over to the V&A for the Opera Passion exhibition. I highly recommend the Lebanese restaurant we went to (Comptoir Libanais), which I believe is part of a chain. I had halloumi and tomato and a lamb tagine and loved every single bite. We finished the meal off with a mint tea and a hot chocolate (hot chocolate for me, of course) and then headed back out into the rain to get to the museum. The exhibition itself was brilliant. No spoilers, go check it out if you can! I’d never been to the V&A before and I’m going to have to go back. So many things captured my interest on the way through! May need more than one visit. I had no idea how humongous it was.

Another lovely friend of mine came to stay last night. We had a proper girls night and it was simply lovely. Highlights include listening to Sam Smith’s new album, popping open a bottle of prosecco and face masks.

I’m curled up on the sofa with a cuppa right now. Shark Tale’s on the TV and it’s just coming to the end credits. Car Wash is playing, you know the scene?, and I’ve just turned the volume up. I think once I’ve finished writing this I’m going to have chicken kievs for dinner. I’m going to carry on reading Lauren Graham’s autobiography while it cooks. It’s based around her time spent playing Loralai Gilmore in Gilmore Girls, it was a Christmas present and I’m loving it. It’s a lot of fun.

I’ve started learning a Katie Melua piece on the piano, so I ought to get a little more practice in tonight too. I’m pretending like it’s not Monday tomorrow. What is it about Mondays? I’ve butterflies just thinking about it. In this case though, we’re really truly in it together. We’ll all struggle through Monday morning and we’ll all be alright once we’ve had a cup of tea or coffee or two.

Until further notice

I’m the happiest of Bronwens today. Autumn simply is the second most wonderful time of year (Christmas being the most wonderful time of the year, of course) and I’m so happy it is here.

What’s not to love? Good TV. Jumper weather. Beautiful crisp colourful leaves. Monthly reasons to get together with friends and family and have a good time in the form of Halloween and Bonfire night and Christmas (oops I said it again). Yes, it’s too soon to talk about Christmas, I know, but we all know that really that build up starts here. HOW EXCITING!

Tuesday night just gone, Dave and I went to see Foo Fighters at the O2 and it was unforgettable! My goodness what a night. If I didn’t already think they were an incredible band, I do now. They are mind blowing. They all have such presence! They’re all so talented and they’re innovative too. They’re growing all the time. They’re concert was the perfect mix of old and new and even featured Rick Astley! In the flesh. Singing ‘Never gonna give you up’. No word of a lie.

I also helped out at a couple of Alzheimer’s Society’s memory walks this month and I’m so glad I did. I was so overwhelmed. I attended the Watford walk first. The event site was at the bottom of a hill and we’d barely finished setting up before people started emerging over the top in blue memory walk t-shirt after t-shirt. They all looked amazing and even more so when they eventually headed off on the walk itself. I had a lump in my throat for the duration of both events. So many people and each one there for the same incredible cause and all with names and pictures on their back. All remembering someone. It was simply amazing.

Today, I’ve had an epiphany and, although it’s been a long time in the making, it’s today I feel like I’ve got a kind of a plan for the future.

Leaving my parents’ home and moving out. Moving away from my home town and starting a new job. It all threw me off balance just a little bit. I’ve been tumbling through. And, hey! I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with tumbling through, but for the first time in my twenties so far, I kind of know where I’m going. Or where I want to go. I think. And it feels FAB.

The wonderful thing is that for now, I think that for starters, I wanna stay exactly where I am. I’ve always been a floater, thrived off change. I get bored quickly, but as much as the change does good things for the part of me that is always seeking the new and exciting, each and every change drives the butterflies in my tummy into flutters.

I feel very lucky to be where I am right now and I know that with enough determination, I can get to where I want to be, starting from right here. I don’t need to jump head first into another deep sea full of unknowns and drag my mental health down again with me.

For a little while I’m just doing more of the same. And I’m so excited for all of the joys staying put will bring.

After that? These lips are sealed I’m afraid. Until further notice.

Let go of the familiar and embrace the new

I was super happy and excited, but goodness I was nervous.

A small part of me was just rationally worrying about the new job itself. Whether I’d be able to do it, whether the people would be as nice as I hoped, whether I’d impress like I wanted to.

I was also having nightmares. Nightmares that varied from stressfully realistic to scarily weird. I had one in which I kept trying to get through doorways, but random people in my life would be standing in them telling me it wasn’t safe. By the end I was shouting (luckily just in the dream) at the top of my lungs that they had to get out of my way, because I had to get to work! You don’t have to be a psychologist to figure out I was very scared I’d be late.

Most of me was simply just terrified about the change from unemployment to employment. Even with 7 days a week free to do as I pleased I felt like time was going too fast and there was never enough of it. How would I cope? How would I find time to do the things I love? How would I keep in contact with all of my friends and family? How would I sleep and eat enough? How would I live!?

Commuting for the first time was a strange experience. When I walked onto the station platform singing quietly to myself at 8am, I felt like I was walking into a school assembly late. Everyone looked miserable. Everyone was sat or stood in silence. Everyone seemed to glare at me as I walked past. Pretty girls looked me up and down like I didn’t belong.

Of course, half the issue was that I was so tense and uncomfortable. The minute I walked onto that platform I forgot all about where I was headed. All I knew was that I felt small and unsure and this was all new and I wasn’t sure I liked it and a big part of me wanted to run back home to bed. I was more nervous than I knew and it didn’t take much to knock me off balance.

However, from the moment I got to work onwards, my first day ROCKED. Everyone I met was super lovely. I really enjoyed the work I did and the more I found out about my role the more I knew I was going to love it.

There came a point when I realised where I was, both physically and just in life and suddenly a big goofy smile spread from cheek to cheek. I was in my favourite city, working in one of them fancy office buildings, wearing fancy office clothes and doing a job I already took pride in and loved, in the hope of saving money to do something else I take pride in and love.

This change didn’t happen gradually. I didn’t go through a period of adaptation. Maybe you aren’t supposed to. Maybe the reason I’ve struggled with change so much in life is because I’ve always had too much time to think about it. This time was like no other. I’m not being dramatic. Literally, one minute I was panicking; I felt like I was spiralling, losing control, time was running away with me. The next minute I realised I was calm and I settled into the swing of things and before long it was like nothing had changed at all.

I’m another 5 commutes down now and its not strange anymore. If the pretty girls are still looking me up and down I’m not seeing them because I’m too happy and confident to notice. Or my head is in my book which I’ve already mastered the art of reading wherever I am.

It doesn’t feel like I’ve just been through a change. 3 days into the job and everything is second nature. It honestly feels like I’ve been doing this for years and that is strange and wonderful all at once. Life never fails to amaze me.

Sunshine, friends and dodgy signal

I’m on a train, London bound and the sun is out and I’m happy as Larry but the signal keeps dropping in and out so this will have to be a quick one.

Feeling wonderful this week! Volunteering again has genuinely been so much fun and I’ve caught up with a few close friends who I haven’t seen in a really long time. Somehow, catching someone up on life always helps me see everything from a new perspective.

Taking things a day at a time is the key. Thinking short-term, I’m pleased to be helping the Alzheimer’s Society out again. Thanks to the fact I’m pretty good at saving and I’m very good at keeping busy, life’s pretty fine and dandy. It’s looking too far into the future that’s daunting. It’s expensive houses and expensive masters degrees that have every twenty-something year old grumbling about the fact there’s no hope. Even when I go back to working, I don’t know how I’m meant to make enough money to adult properly. 

I’m meeting up with two more wonderful people I haven’t seen in months today and they always inspire me. We’ve got a whole afternoon and I know that it’s going to fly by, so I am determined to make the most of it. At least I’m not alone in this finding my way thing.

I love being on trains. Even busy ones. It doesn’t matter how much I do it, the novelty just doesn’t wear off. Okay, so if you’re standing like sardines on a hot summer’s day, perhaps that’s the exception. That aside, I always enjoy it. Can’t help wondering where everyone’s going and what they’re doing.

Here comes the sun (do dee do doo)

Genuinely struggling to piece this week together. It’s been a long one, a busy one, a stressful one at times, but ultimately a good one. 

Wednesday was a very good day, I remember that. For my birthday, Dave bought him and I tickets to see The Woman in Black at the Fortune Theatre. For those who don’t know, The Woman in Black is a spooky, thriller that has been running at the Fortune Theatre since 1989. Both Dave and I have wanted to see it for years. It’s infamous for scaring audiences silly, but well known for being an exceptional play.

I had booked the day off in advance, planning to spend the whole day with him. We took our time getting up and out of bed and then grabbed an amazing breakfast in a cafe called ‘A Canteen’. I 100% recommend it. We chilled in central park in the sunshine for a long while and then we headed into London. We popped to Maccy D’s super quick before the show started and then we got to the theatre just early enough for the nerves to build before it began. I’m not going to lie, while we sat waiting I began to wonder if going had been a good idea after all and whether I was going to be able to sit through it beginning to end and I’m glad it started when it did because a minute longer and I may have sissied out and walked straight back out the theatre.

I was so impressed. It was clever, funny, unpredictable, gripping and terrifying and I loved it. It was everything I hoped it would be and more and I am so glad we went! It was just the right amount of scary. Not so scary I couldn’t watch, but scary enough to give me chills.

When we left the theatre it was a beautiful summer evening and I was ridiculously happy. We wandered home slowly via embankment and Hungerford Bridge. I do not think I will ever tire of looking at the view from that bridge. Nothing beats it.

Friday was the last day of this school term and I think I’ll remember it for a long time to come. It was probably one of the best days I’ve had at the school. We had a lot of fun and I admit, it all left me feeling a little emotional. Working at the school has been challenging, you’ll have gathered that if you’ve been keeping up, but it has also been amazing in so many ways. Many life decisions are to be made over the next month or so. Whether to stay at the school or not is something I’ll have to decide before anything else and right now, I feel so torn. Where from here? Teaching? On the job training? Back to University?

This weekend has been super summery and a lot of fun too. I’ve caught up with friends, been out for a fantastic Chinese dinner, had a glass of wine or two and nearly finished my book. Here’s hoping this summer is everything I need it to be. Time to think is a luxury not everyone has and I hope I can make the most of it. Come September I have to pick a path and walk down it and whatever will be, will be. 

Peri-Peri: A spice so nice it’s been named twice

Surely not? Surely it can’t be Sunday again.

Not much has changed. I might have a job, but as long as I have to put the word might in that sentence I’m not getting carried away. I’m officially signed up to a teaching agency and they seem optimistic about finding me something. My nose will not stop running. I’ve rediscovered the wonder of lip balm and my love for Avril Lavigne. I’ve also used ‘deliveroo’ for the first time ever and ordered Nandos chicken to be delivered. That blew my mind.

I spent this weekend in London. For those of you who don’t already know – London is my favourite place to be in the whole wide world. Admittedly, I still have much of the world to see, but of all the cities I’ve been to, it is by far the best. It is the one place on Earth that isn’t home, but feels like home. It is the only place I can go, that I never want to leave.

I was visiting one of my oldest friends and I was ridiculously excited.

I made it up and out of bed early Saturday morning to head to a fitness class. I nearly didn’t make it off the sofa again once I’d got home, cooked bacon and sat down in front of the TV, but I got up the stairs, dressed and packed eventually. I was in a world of my own for the entirety of the train journey in and I don’t think I completely woke from my daydreams until the moment I saw my friend outside the station.

That was one of them good kind of moments. You don’t really notice at the time, but one of them you can’t help looking back at through rose-tinted glasses. I saw her, my face lit up and, as I quickly began to realise just how much I’d missed her and how happy I was to be there, we hugged. In my head the sun came out at that moment, but if I’m honest, the weather was pretty gloomy.

I got through two cups of tea while we caught up on life. Then we ended up on the ‘deliveroo’ website and before long Nandos was on its way. We put the last episode of Gossip Girl on while we waited (always my go-to time filler) and it arrived just in time for my tummy to start rumbling. I couldn’t have been happier munching on my butterfly chicken (medium – I’m not a wimp, but I’m not that brave either) and my creamy mash and knowing Michael McIntyre was soon to be on the TV. I got peri-salted chips too, but shh.

We thoroughly enjoyed Michael’s Big Show, very nearly fell asleep when the credits started rolling, but picked ourselves up and headed out for cocktails. Three cocktails later we wandered home and fell asleep very shortly after our heads hit our pillows.

The sun really was shining brightly today. We had nutella on toast for breakfast and then we put our tourist hats on. We spent some time wandering aimlessly, enjoying the sunshine and taking photos and I must have said the words ‘I love’ and ‘this place’ a zillion times. Eventually we ended up in a really lovely pub serving even lovelier roast dinners.

I always leave London feeling like anything is possible. Right now, all I want to do is curl up with Dave and binge watch TV, but I feel like this week I might just conquer life. Even if all I do is get on with my scrapbook, get outdoors even more, get an update from my teaching agency and finish my book.

London I Love You, xoxo