10 Feb 2017

three-oh!


I am 30.

I am 30 and it feels fan-bloody-tastic!

To celebrate this magnificent feat of aging I did several excellent things:

1. My work colleagues surprised me with prosseco, cake and an awesome gift (astronomical binoculars!!!). They are the best.

2. I hired out the 70s room at the Jam Circus in Brockley and a load of my friends came to booze the evening away with me.

3. A lovely dinner with my parents and sis in Richmond.

4. For my actual birthday, Mitch treated me to what was, essentially, a perfect day: breakfast, a visit to the wildlife photographer of the year exhibition at the Natural History Museum, followed by cinema (La La Land - loved it) and a v.lush dinner.

So yeah, here's to 30. Time flies when you're having fun, especially when you have the best husband, friends and family ever (and a tiara and handmade William Morris dress to celebrate in). ❤

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20 Jan 2017

2016: in review

Back in January I made a vague list of ideas to keep in mind for the year. I've been attempting to write a review of 2016 based on that vague list for the past 15 days (15 days people!), so instead I'm going to ignore that list and write what I like.

Although lots of shit things happened in the world in 2016 (brexit still hurts, watching Charlie Brooker's 2016wipe gave me heart ache about it all over again) it was also the year that Mitch and I moved into our new home which was (and continues to be) the best thing everrrrr. We've hosted dinners and a christmas party, had our parents over for lunch and friends for tea, but actually the best thing about it is lounging around in our pjs watching netflix at weekends. Because. We. Can. 2016 has also been the year that we got stuck right into Peckham - the pubs, the restaurants, the library, burgess park and the community garden (FYI, I bloody love l living here).

It was an excellent year for travel, both around the country - weekends in Brighton, the Brecon Beacons, Edinburgh and the Peak District - as well as a couple of trips abroad - four days in Helsinki and a glorious week in Sicilly.

2016 saw me get my craft on, particularly in the dressmaking department. I made more clothes this year than any other (10(!) In case you were wondering, 5 dresses and 5 tops). I think I'm most pleased with the two recent dresses (the tartan one and the William Morris print dress) although it's the good old zippy tees that got the most wear over the summer. Aside from the dressmaking, I got back into crochet, quilting and (right at the very end) knitting. Yes, all in all, a very productive year.

In other news 2016 brought a new hobby (bee-keeping), a new job (hello astronomy!) and the start of something I've been meaning to do for over 10 years: learn to drive.

As well as the tragic national and international events that took place in 2016, there was also some sad news closer to home; in November, my granddad passed away. He was 92 and had had a full and exciting life, although things hadn't been the same since his wife Nancy, my nana, died two years ago. His passing meant that my dad and his brother had the emotional job of going through all my grandparents things in order to clear their house. I've inherited a few choice items: my granddad's giant spoon (carved with the accolade: World's Biggest Stirrer), a couple of my nana's cook books as well as a handful of the old games my sister and I used to play when we went to stay with them. I have great memories of granddad - going to Great Yarmouth and sitting in a deck-chair refusing to take his shoes and socks off, wearing a knotted handkerchief on his head; showing me how he took cuttings to grow all his tomato plants; his shed full to bursting with every kind of 'handy man's' kit you can imagine; his laugh (watching Norman Wisdom or Tommy Cooper); the bowl of sweets he always kept by his chair (humbugs, worther's originals, fox's mints); his most over-used word: "saff" to be used in most contexts, "saff me" being my favourite. The last time I saw him, he was smiling, I was telling him about the delicious Horlicks-flavoured icecream I'd tried recently (he loved Horlicks, it's all he would drink at the end) and that's how I'll always remember him, smiling a big toothy/gummy smile very similar to my own.

Yes, a year of ups and downs, and I'll bet that 2017 won't be plain sailing either. Given the national and international events of last year, 2017 will mean more change, change that will hopefully inspire action and pull people together rather than drive us further apart.

In my own little world, I have a feeling that 2017 will be big year - my 30th is in a couple of weeks, I'll hopefully pass my driving test (fingers crossed) and we have some rather ambitious travel plans (everything crossed!). Saying that, I actually keep coming back to a 'less is more' mantra for 2017. Inspired by multitude of documentaries on Netflix (thank you The Minimalists) and my friend who recently moved into a new flat and ALL her belongings fitted into a taxi, I am ready to recycle/give away/sell some of my things, as well as give serious thought about what I do decide to bring into our flat. The bottom line is, I need to stop buying stuff, particularly stuff I don't need, I want to have a proper go at making things myself or better yet, doing without it, we shall see...

A very belated, but no less genuine, happy new year to you all :)

12 Dec 2016

It's beginning to look A LOT like christmas

case in point:

1. We bought a tree and decorated it! (Our first tree since the days of Surbiton.)

2. I've only got one Christmas present left to buy (*smug feels*)

3. We dressed the work christmas tree whilst munching mince pies and drinking mulled wine.

4. Christmas biscuits have been made (twice!)

5. I joined the work choir (why not) and spent the last five Wednesday lunchtimes rehearsing for our imminent Christmas carols performance in the courtyard of Burlington House (the nerves are yet to kick in).

6. Lastly, mitch and I are staging our first proper gathering at our flat and - you guessed it - it's a christmassy affair! Mulled wine, cheese and both kinds of crackers :)




29 Nov 2016

experiments in dressmaking: the tartan dress

Over the last three months I imposed, upon myself, a spending ban on fabric. This is because I've got a big old stash, full of lovely stuff, that wants using (or losing). I started my crusade against the over-flowing stash box with my chambray dress, and this tartan beauty is the follow up...

Like the chambray dress, it's from Tanya Wheelan's Ultimate Dressmaking Guide - basic bodice and gathered skirt but with the addition of capped sleeves and a little white collar. Given my history with zips (and the fact that the last two were disastrous), I opted for a side one and I'm rather pleased with it! It's not invisible (let's not run before we can walk) but it's neat! (Gotta take the little victories.)

The skew-whiff bodice is rather annoying but I can honestly tell you I didn't notice until I'd finished adding the collar (which I redid three times!) and by that point I'd had enough (and that's why I'd never make an good dressmaker). The collar too, is a bone of contention. It really should go all the way round to the back but it was driving me nuts and I just wanted to stop. And that's the mature and measured reason why it's only collared at the front. At least she's one of kind, eh? :)

All criticism aside, I am very pleased with it, she's had four outings already and a few compliments to boot. I've already started on another dress (all in aid of using up my fabric stash of course), here's a sneak peek...!


18 Nov 2016

a weekend in the peaks


Autumn really is the best time of year and never is that more apparent then when you're hiking through beautiful countryside, the peak district did not disappoint.









At the beginning of the month, 11 of us stayed a couple of nights in a cute little village in the Hope Valley. The weather on the Saturday was perfect for our 9 mile walk on and around Stanage Edge, insanely windy yes, but also gloriously sunny. I took a lot of photos. The rest of the afternoon/evening was spent in the pub(s) drinking local ales, eating hearty grub, playing games back at the hostel and, as it was bonfire night, watching the fireworks and playing with sparklers. Sunday was a bit of a wash out but we did manage a quick wander around picturesque Castleton before driving back to the big smoke.

As I always say, I'm super lucky to have an excellent bunch of friends to escape from the city with. The peaks was our last adventure this year, but rest assured there'll be lots more to come in 2017 :)

14 Nov 2016

Reading & Seeing 30

The Year of Living Danishly
One woman's experience of living in 'sticksville on sea' (a town not far from Legoland headquarters) in Denmark after her husband gets a job with the tiny brick giants. It's an insightful and amusing account as she navigates the Danish way of doing things (work, the school system, childbirth, numerous traditions, pastries and flag poles). The book really made me want to live in Denmark or at the very least, made me think that I could manage somewhere other than London and even the UK!

Homegoing
An incredible look back through history told through the bloodlines of two Ghanaian sisters, torn from their families and forced into the slave trade, in one way or another. The story starts in the 18th Century and spans two hundred years, each chapter focusing on the next generation. Every character faces prejudice and adversity even in the decades after slavery is abolished. Despite only having a chapter with some of the characters, I was very invested in them, which made it harder to have to leave them behind and move further forward in time. I can honestly say this is one of (if not the)  best book I've read this year so far.

All the light we cannot see
Work book club's choice and a good one too. Set during the second world war it follows the experiences of two children: an orphan boy from Germany with a talent for radios; a blind French girl with a very special item in her possession. It's beautifully written and terribly sad, a strong reminder that nobody wins in war.

Acceptance
The third and final book in the Southern Reach Trilogy and I had hoped that it would answer all my (millions of) questions. Some fascinating stuff happens - my tiny mind nearly exploded - but I can't say I'm completely clued up on what actually happened... My sister tells me that a film is the pipe works which I'd be keen to see, perhaps it'll shed some light on things!


I've seen some great films in the last couple of months, starting with Bridget Jones' Baby. My expectations were pretty low but it was very funny. It's a tried and tested formula but it works and Renee Zellwegger is on form! Next, probably my favourite movie of the year so far, Hunt for the Wilderpeople. I don't want to give too much away, but it involves a boy and his foster father being hunted through the New Zealand bush. I really like the humour (see also, What We Do in The Shadows) and the scenery is stunning. In Swiss Army Man, Paul Dano is marooned on an island and is about to kill himself when he finds Daniel Radcliffe (a v.flatulent corpse with other various hidden talents) who inadvertently saves him and brings him back to society. It's weird, very weird, like nothing I've ever seen before. I'm glad I've seen it but I don't need to see it again. Lastly, Doctor Strange. Another Marvel romp and a surprisingly good one! Dr Strange is a highly successful neurosurgeon until a car accident damages the nerves in his hands beyond repair. Reaching the limits of western medicine, he takes a trip to Kathmandu to seek the help of The Ancient One (the fabulous Tilda Swinton). The cast is great, particularly Cumberbatch (arrogant, grumpy, comical - definitely a little sherlock-esque), the story is well-paced and the special effects are rather spectacular. The clip in the end credits reminds you that it's a Marvel production but Doctor Strange is a welcome change to the 'hero' movies of late.


Around the middle of October we saw Aurora perform at the Shepherds Bush Empire. It was great to go to a live gig again and she was awesome, both her voice and her candid chatter between songs. I've never been to a music gig where the artist talked so much! Highlight was probably Conqueror.


Also last month, I saw an interview with Tim Peake (and Tim Kopra) at The Royal Albert Hall. It was a fascinating insight into what it's like to be an astronaut and live on the ISS. All the astronauts seem to be really into photography, spending much of their free time down at the Cupola observation module on the station. The pictures of the earth are breathtaking. Tim Peake comes across as such a lovely, down to earth (excuse the pun) man, which makes a lot of sense, as Tim Kopra said, you have to be smart to be an astronaut but at the end of the day what you really need to be is someone people don't mind spending lots of time with :)
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