Balance

The weekend before last was a bank holiday weekend and it was sunny. So, in summary, it was the best kind of a weekend. I spent it chilling mostly, but also bbq-ing, shopping and eating.

The BBQ featured lamb and mint kebabs and Pimms and lemonade and chips and dips and olives and cheese and some of my favourite girl pals… Need I say more?

When I went shopping, I went with my favourite shopping companion and we made a truly lovely day of it. I bought a couple of summery tops, a nice dress, the CUTEST Jungle Book and Harry Potter themed Pjs and some running trousers… Because now I have them, I’ve got to get fit right?

Fast forward a little bit and on the Monday night Dave cooked me dinner and we sat out on the balcony drinking wine and eating while the sun set. Goodness, it’s easy to make an evening like that sound super cheesy and romantic but if you wanna know the real truth… We ate, the sun set and then we very quickly retreated indoors to watch the TV because it got wayyy too cold out there.

Sunday evening was the bestest bit of the weekend though. I spent Sunday evening at the beach with my family (sadly, minus my brother who is away at university). I’d popped by my parents’ house for a roast dinner. My mum cooked beef and the yummiest yorkshire puddings. We were all happy and full of food when my sister suggested we head to the beach for the evening. Surprisingly my dad said he’d drive us and before long we were all in his car, speeding down the motorway with the roof down. WOOP WOOP.

Walton on the Naze is one of my favourite places to be in all of the world. It’s been that way ever since I went for the first time with a group of friends in high school. Needless to say, strolling down the beach that evening with my family made me very happy. Nothing like a walk by the sea to clear a head.

In the land of film and tv I’ve been gradually working my way through the Marvel films, watching them in the order in which they were released. Last weekend was the most chilled weekend we’ve had in ages. I watched Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War. Then, this week I’ve watched Thor Rangnarok AND Spiderman Homecoming. You’d think I’d be all Marvelled out, but I. am. loving it. Can’t wait to get myself to the cinema and see Infinity War now that I actually stand a chance of understanding what’s going on.

This week I’ve been reminded how much my routine means to me. I’ve realised just how important it is that I have a routine. My routine’s been all up in the air this last few weeks and life has felt a little too unfamiliar. It’s been full of long weekends and Bank Holidays and exciting things, but it’s been setting me on edge. This week things have finally been back to normal. I didn’t realise how on edge I was until calm was restored again. Any longer and I think I may have popped. And you know what? I think normal is underrated.

That’s not to say that I’m not looking forward to another busy week next week. My birthday is next week! I’ve an exciting event to attend for work one day. And I’ve the Friday booked off for a hen do weekend. Eek! Busy is good… But I’ve certainly appreciated a bit of normality this week too. I guess it’s all about balance. It’s just like Einstein said… ‘Life is like riding a bicycle.’

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.

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.

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 myself 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.

So 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. I just hope to enjoy the summer and give myself the time to think it through. Hopefully time away will help.

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, made plans for the next week, nearly finished my book and spent some more time in the sunshine. Here’s hoping this summer is everything I need it to be. 

Bleary-eyed, still smiling

This week was a tiring one. In fact, I was so tired Friday afternoon I nearly fell asleep in training at work. Every time I closed my eyes it was almost too much effort to get them open again. The information being presented was interesting and valuable and yet I could not stop yawning. I came home with a tummy ache because I ate way too much cheesy pasta at lunchtime and a head ache simply because I needed sleep.

The cup of tea I had when I collapsed on the sofa was absolutely incredible. First things first, I took some time to binge watch netflix (I hadn’t had the chance to do so during the week after all: Spontaneous after work drinks and various family stuff had taken up my time instead) Saying that, I did see the last episode of Game of Thrones Season 6 on Monday. WOAHHH it was fantastic.

Dave came over later Friday evening and we fell asleep in front of a film. We don’t often get time to chill like that so it was greatly appreciated and made me ridiculously happy.

Don’t ask me how, but I got up and went along to one of my fitness classes first thing Saturday morning. My friend and I were both knackered, so we were in it together. We got through it and out the other side with the help of the good music and the sunshine streaming in through the windows. When I got home, I fell asleep, still fully dressed in gym clothes, for another half an hour before getting breakfast. I woke up feeling happy and refreshed. I managed to toss together a really yummy fry-up for Dave and I, before jumping in the shower happy and full of food.

One of my best friends celebrated her birthday Saturday evening. Dave and I went ’round in the afternoon to help put the gazebo up before popping into town for some bits and bobs I’ve been meaning to grab for weeks. We had a great time pulling together to get the gazebo upright and stable and then get the fairy lights just right. We got through a few cuppas along the way, but when we were finished the garden looked perfectly party-ready and rain-proof. It was a really good night in the end. We drank, boogied, laughed and partied to our hearts content.

Today I enjoyed the longest lay-in I’ve had in a while. My mum cooked an amazing roast dinner, as ever, Dave and I watched a few episodes of Dexter and I popped over to my friend’s house to finally say a temporary goodbye to her because she leaves for Australia tomorrow. I kept my cool while I was there, but got a little teary eyed on the drive home. I’m still proud I wasn’t a complete mess. Right now I’m more excited for her than anything. I just hope she stays safe.

Currently, I’m sat watching the football with my family. It’s been an exciting match. I’m rooting for Iceland. They’re three goals behind (currently losing 5-2 with only five minutes to go), but they keep getting goals back and I’m still hopeful. Ever the optimist! There’s just something wonderful about the spirit of their fans and the fact they’re the underdogs. Can’t help wanting them to beat the odds.

I’m feeling happy at the end of a really lovely weekend. This week was a particularly stressful one and I’m so grateful for the fact this weekend has been everything I needed it to be. Its been chilled, relaxed, exciting and fun all at the same time. For once it hasn’t flown by either. I’m still pretty tired, but I know for sure I’ll be falling asleep tonight with a smile on my face.

British Summertime

It’s a funny kind of day today. Not sunny enough for long enough to sit outside, but sunny enough to make you feel guilty for sitting indoors. It’s warm when the sun’s out, but chilly when it’s not. I’m sat indoors, but I’m sat near the window if that counts for anything. 

*sighs* I’ve got that ‘end of the weekend’ feeling. At least I think that’s what it is. I’ve sat for about an hour and a half now wondering where all my enthusiasm for life is gone. I’m wondering how on Earth I’m going to write a chirpy blog post when I can’t even remember why I was so happy when I woke up this morning. As far as Dave knows, I’m keeping up with the Euros and I enjoy watching a good football match, but when he said he wanted to watch the match this afternoon I could have bitten his head off. I am the definition of melancholy. This week has been fantastic and yet the look on my face right now is probably enough to convince anyone I’ve hit rock bottom. 

Before I get on to talking about how much I’m supposedly enjoying life in my Bronwen-size bubble, please know that I was appalled to find out that the British people have voted to leave the EU. I voted remain and I still can’t quite believe the majority of people didn’t.

I did have a lovely, chilled day at my grandparents last Sunday. My granny cooked an amazing roast dinner and I read a bit more of Life of Pi and I made a start on my scrapbook.

My weekday evenings were super busy. I did go along to help my singing teacher out at ‘Little to Big Voices’ and I was so impressed by all the talent amongst her pupils there. I saw episode 9 of Game of Thrones and it was EPIC and I won’t say anymore than that. I had dinner with one of my best friends. I went along to celebrate my Auntie’s birthday with her mid-download_20160627_130511week. She was so grateful to everyone for being there and her friends had bought her such lovely presents: It was a beautiful evening. I made it to a fitness class and believe me that was a challenge. I did a crazy amount of running around at work this week AND I went on a terrifying high ropes course with the kids. My legs and arms were killing me by the time Friday came around, but I was also feeling super positive about the job and the future.

My friend who’s off to Australia for six months had her Leaving Do yesterday. We BBQ’d all day (through sunshine and thunderstorms) and then went out out in the evening. I had such a good time and I hope she did too. I still can’t bear the thought of her going away for so long, but I just can’t wait to hear all about it when we skype.

I have a good feeling about this week. Adele’s 25 is now finally available for streaming which is going to make the drives to work much more enjoyable. On the topic of Adele, I cannot wait to watch her Glastonbury performance and reminisce about seeing her at the O2 back in March. It sounds like she took Glastonbury by storm. Pretty Little Liars Season 7 is out too. AND Episode 10 of Game of Thrones is on tomorrow night. In fact, there’s so much good tv I need to watch, who needs sunshine? Here’s hoping it rains all week so I can spend my evenings in bed catching up on tv, guilt-free. That cough is still bothering me, so maybe it’s about time I took a week to chill. 

Hip Hip Hip Hip Hooray

I’m sat at my desk, the sun has got its hat on, Passenger’s album ‘All the Little Lights’ is whizzing ’round the record player and I’m making my way through a massive mug of tea. I can’t contain my excitement: It’s GAME OF THRONES DAY. 

Last week, I worked my first day in a school! I was ridiculously nervous; I think I forgot to breathe for the first two hours after I arrived, but when I got back home at the end of the day I was feeling positive. I had a really good day. Everything came to me surprisingly naturally and I was in my element being back in the school environment again. I was too busy getting stuck in to sit back and think too much so I haven’t made any big life decisions yet, but I loved it. I know that much.

In October 2013, I wrote a post called ‘Busy is Best’.

You’ll find it in Chapter One, Finding Bronwen:  https://bronwensamantha.wordpress.com/2013/10/24/537/.

When I went back to university for my second year, I very quickly discovered that I was noticeably happier when I kept myself busy. To this day, I swear by it. A busy life is a happy one; for me at least. Time to think has never done me much good. A day in with my best mate Netflix only ever turns my brain to moosh.

I’ve had a wonderfully busy week. I’ve been to the cinema and I’ve been out for dinner. I popped into town for cheap work clothes. I’ve been to work. I went along to a fundraising quiz night, in aid of a brave young girl who has been diagnosed with a rare terminal illness and whose family are raising money for her treatment*. Saturday was such a long day that when I woke up Sunday morning I blamed my aching muscles on the dancing I’d done Saturday night, forgetting about the fitness class I’d done first thing Saturday morning. Yesterday was spent eating BBQ food and drinking Prosecco to celebrate my beautiful twin cousins’ birthday. I cannot believe they are going to be 18.  I’ve also come to realise that keeping busy isn’t the only thing that makes me happy: I’ve done a singing practice every day without fail. I don’t think I’ve truthfully been able to say that since I finished my degree.

I’d began to forget just how much joy singing brings me. Tuesday, I rang Dave at the end of the first proper singing practice I’d done in ages. I tried to explain in words how I felt and how much it meant to me. I tried to explain how it had made me feel and in the end I just told him that nothing compares to it. Nothing gives me more freedom than singing. Nothing makes me feel stronger and nothing makes me happier.

I’m off to set up at the piano for a little while. If you can, go play your favourite song at top volume and whether you think you can or not, sing along at the top of your voice. After all, I don’t sing because I’m happy, I’m happy because I sing. 

 

*Follow the link to donate to help fund treatement for Phoebe Flo: https://www.gofundme.com/phoebeflo

Sunshine, Cocktails and Flappy Birds

I am no expert, but I think I’ve been suffering from a serious case of the infamous winter blues.

January and February, through no real fault of their own, have very bad reputations. January signifies the end of the holiday season and our return to every day life. It is as we struggle through January’s wind and rain that we begin to realise just how far away the summer really is. February is infamous because by February most of us notice we’ve already failed the New Year Resolutions we were determined to keep. It always tends to be a struggle for us single folk, no matter how much we claim we love the single life and completely oppose Valentine’s Day.

As someone who has always been just as fond of the winter as the summer, normally I wouldn’t sympathise. (Snow, wooly jumpers, wellington boots, yummy Christmas leftovers, what’s to complain about?) This year, for the first time, I understand. Since coming back to Cardiff I’ve spent an unjustifiable amount of time in my onesie, drinking wine, eating chocolate and ice cream, cuddling my hot water bottle, watching TV in bed, singing love ballads and wishing I were Bridget Jones. I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of time complaining about slow internet connectivity, my lack of boyfriend, the cold, the wind, the rain, and my subsequent lack of determination.

Then last Friday, Cardiff woke up to sunshine. Me and my flatmate spent the day making the most of it. Sat on a bench, eating hot cross buns in the sun, I found myself smiling hugely. When we left the pub after getting cocktails that evening and it was raining again, I didn’t even grumble. I walked home alongside her, sharing her umbrella and singing songs from various musicals. It failed to bother me when it rained Saturday night because I was babysitting in a warm house, on a sofa, curled up with a cat, a cup of tea and two lovely children who introduced me to the infuriating world of Flappy Bird. When it was raining on Sunday, I was in the library, feeling abnormally determined and powering through reading for the history seminars of the week.

I am sure that days like today can be blamed for winter blues Wales-wide. To say that the walk into the university was difficult would be an understatement: Gale force winds pushed me forwards, backwards, sideways and very nearly straight into someone’s dustbin. BUT, university today was well worth the journey. I went to two and a half hours of music lectures which were probably the most interesting lectures I’ve been to since coming to Cardiff. In the afternoon I had a meeting with my history lecturer, who in just half an hour, managed to make me feel like I could conquer the world. I couldn’t tell you what it was he said that gave me so much enthusiasm, but I left his office wanting to run home, boil the kettle, make tea and immediately start writing my essay.

Now, I’m sat smiling hugely and wondering what on earth I had to moan about. I’m not really sure where this determination came from… exposure to sunlight, introduction to Flappy Birds? How ever it got here I hope it stays. As for the winter blues, no matter how much rain I have to power through this week, I hope I’ve seen the back of them.