Monday, 24 August 2015

A Little London Life Update

It’s been a quiet two weeks on this little corner of the internet, so it’s time for a life update!

The City – London is treating me well. I’ve been here almost three weeks now and the transition has been so much easier than expected. I’ve quickly fallen into patterns of jumping on and off the tube, keeping busy, and making plans. I’m not sure I will ever quite understand the way some people act on the tube (SO rude), or get used to the fact the air just FEELS different here (I’m from somewhere far more countryside-ey), but it’s going well.

The Job – The reason for moving down here. I’m not going to go into detail, but I’m working in digital marketing at a company I’ve admired for years, and the first two weeks have gone well. I’ve learned incredible amounts already, and I’m feeling very inspired by the amount of knowledge amongst the people surrounding me daily. Working in the heart of Oxford Street is busy, it’s fast-paced, and it’s exciting.

The Room -  I think the room-hunt is sorted. Well it is, but I don’t think I’ll relax until I’ve actually moved! So I will update you on my new room after that has happened… In the meantime, I’ve been staying with family friends not far from King’s Cross, which has been a great introduction to my new city.

The People – I’m surrounded by some amazing people here. Some I’ve known for years, some for months, and some I know I’ve yet to meet. I’m enjoying falling into new routines, and spending time with people I’ve previously been used to being miles away from. I’m also awaiting the arrival in London of two more of my closest friends this September, which is ridiculously exciting.

The Food – Food seems to have featured heavily in the last few weeks, and I’m enjoying sampling new places.  I had my first Wahaca experience this weekend, have enjoyed meals at old favourites like Caluccio’s, and discovered why the Hare and Tortoise in Russell Square has earned its amazing reputation (more to follow soon…)

The Places – I seem to have packed a lot in already. From attending the National Geographic Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at the Natural History Museum, to exploring Covent Garden and Leicester Square on warm evenings, to meeting friends and attending family BBQs, August has been a good one so far.

So that’s where I’ve been, and there are so many things coming up that I’m more than excited about. Plenty of London posts will be finding their way onto these pages soon…

Have a happy Monday!

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Making Plans.

Anyone who knows me will know how important this item is to me:

Every year I have an A5 diary, with an entire page for each day, and it contains EVERYTHING.

The amount of to-do lists I make inside these pages is obscene.

You’ll see the spine is taped up; that’s because the cover fell off about four months into the year because of so much opening and closing and being thrown into every handbag.

I love knowing what’s coming up, noting down friend’s birthdays.

To-do lists.

To-buy lists.

To-visit lists.

To-read and to-watch lists.

I’d probably write lists of lists if I had the time and the space.

When I was struggling the most with my anxiety, these lists had got what you might call ‘out-of-hand’. I would obsess over their contents, and panic when things weren’t ticked off. I’d feel so overwhelmed by the contents that it would be hard to focus on anything or do anything. So things wouldn’t get ticked off. And so began a vicious circle.

Now I’ve learned how to handle my lists and planning differently. Because planning is in my nature. 

I’m an organiser, a thinker, I’m someone who works well from a list of set objectives.

I can now sort my tasks according to priority, whereas in the past everything would scream ‘urgent’.

I can recognise what MUST be done today, and what is a goal for over the coming days, weeks and months.

Lists are now helpful, rather than problematic.

To some people, the amount I write and the comfort I take from plans would still be extreme, but I have friends who function with their diaries in the same way I do (Rosie, I’m looking at you!)

And before you ask me why I don’t ‘just use my iphone calendar’…. Just no. That’s not going to happen. There’s something so lovely about a pen on paper, of seeing my plans and my tasks lying open on the table before me.

I’ve noticed this week images of people’s new 2016 diaries are creeping onto Twitter, and I know it won’t be long before I get my hands on my own…

Saturday, 8 August 2015

The Reading List #30

I feel like I open every reading list in the same way, by saying I’ve read a real mixture of things, and again this is the case. I’ve been finding a lot more time to read again recently, having forgotten quite how much it lets me escape and unwind.

Before the Poison, Peter Robinson

Chris moves to the Yorkshire Dales after the death of his wife. In the same house, 60 years earlier, a man died and his wife Grace Fox was hanged for murder. Chris becomes intrigued by their story and starts to explore the past.

I was impressed by this one; it was just a good, easy read. The plot was good, there were numerous twists and turns, and the characters were well written. I enjoyed the movement between past and present, and the inclusion of the court report and wartime journals kept me turning the pages.

The Orpheus Descent, Tom Harper

Twelve tablets, buried in ancient times, are in museums, and providing the dead with a route to the afterlife. Archaeologist Lily has just found another, when she disappears. Her husband Jonah begins to search for her, but there is no certainty she will ever be able to return.

The novel alternates the ancient world with the story or Jonah and Lily, which is handled well, and I loved the mythological, philosophical and classical references throughout. There were certain plot elements and characters that I wasn’t wild about, but overall I really enjoyed the themes and the way the novel was pieced together.

The Boot Camp, Kate Harrison

At the beginning of a new year, we join a seven day ‘luxury’ bootcamp. Steph is trying to prove to her ex that she can change; TV presenter Darcy is trying to let go of the past; mum-of-three Vicki is on doctor’s orders to lose weight.

This is the definition of what my mum calls a ‘trashy novel’, but it was a fun one. The characters were a good mixed group, there were some funny, touching moments, and it does have heart. Ideal for a lazy, relaxing read.

The Twins, Saskia Sarginson

Isolte and Viola are twins, and used to be inseparable, but as adults lead very different lives. The novel covers the events of one summer.

This was an absolutely beautiful read. The language trips over the pages and there are some heartbreaking sections. It flits between a third person narrative and the voice of Viola, and also in between time periods, mirroring the way memories can often seem disjointed. Plenty of facts were kept hidden until very close to the end. And I thought the ending was brilliant. I’ve recommended this one to a fair few people already.

So, that’s the next four books done.

Have you read any of these? And what do I need to read next?

Friday, 7 August 2015

Pressing Pause. Restart Date: Monday

On 29th May, I left my job.

Without a new one to go to.

There were lots of reasons why, which I won’t go into, but the main one was that the role taught me exactly what it was I wanted to be doing. And it wasn’t quite what I was doing there.

I think part of growing up is learning to acknowledge when things aren’t working.

Work will never be perfect, all of the time. All jobs have stressful periods. Most jobs have great periods.

Throughout my childhood, and on into university and graduate life, I’ve taken huge comfort from stability, from always knowing what’s coming next.

I moved through primary school, to secondary school, to sixth form, and straight to university. After university, I got a job, and I’ve been working full-time for the past two years.

But when you leave university, or education at whatever stage you leave it, the world is a big place, and there are so many routes you can follow.

And part of growing up is sometimes not sticking with something because you think it’s the right thing to do, or it’s ok, or it’s comfortable.

I met some amazing people in my last role, many of whom I still speak to regularly and expect to continue to do so.  I learned some great skills and some great lessons.

But my passion lay in another field.

So I left.

I decided to give myself time to throw into the job hunt, and also the move, as I was relocating to London.

That was two months ago, and now here I am: London. And my new job starts Monday. It’s at a company I’ve admired for years. It’s a role I’m so excited about, and it feels like this is exactly where I’m supposed to be for this stage, for this next chapter.

Yes, the end of May was scary, and the weeks without a job and with no money coming in were scary.

But sometimes you have to close your eyes and take a leap of faith.

So wish me luck for Monday, and let yourself be brave in whatever it is you need to do or change.

Happy Friday J

Thursday, 6 August 2015

North to South: Moving Tips

As you'll know by now, on Tuesday I made the move to London. I have moved in temporarily with a family friend as I hunt for a room to rent.

Today I thought I‘d share 5 things the moving process taught me:-

1. It’s baffling how much ‘stuff’ you accumulate. I had a huge clear-out before the move, and couldn’t believe how many things I’d acquired through last-minute shopping trips, gifts, and things passed on from family and friends. When you have to pack up everything you own to either move with you or be stored, it forces you to take a critical look at what really matters. Bearing in mind I was moving from a spacious flat to a single room, this stage was much-needed!

2. Never underestimate the value of family (or friends) who are willing to help you. My mum helped shift things out of my flat, and with final bits of cleaning. Dad drove Mum, me and all of my stuff the 4 hours to London. My parents then helped unload the car, before pausing for lunch and turning round to drive the entire way home again. They’re pretty great.

3. Being somewhere new is exciting. Unpacking, exploring the area, and getting used to a new routine, and a new living space. It’s also a lot to take in at once; this evening I got stuck in the bathroom as I hadn’t been warned about the ‘temperamental door’. Luckily, a housemate was in to help me out!

4. If you’re organised, it’s not TOO stressful. Ok, it’s stressful packing up your life and ticking off everything you need to do, but if you’re methodical and pace yourself it’s doable.

5. Make your new space homely and comfy as soon as you can. For me, that means the first job is making the bed. This was a tip from my mum and various other family members when I first moved to university back in 2010. That way, as soon as you’re worn out from moving and unpacking, you can fall into bed and sleep. There’s nothing worse than reaching the point of exhaustion and THEN having to make your bed.

So there we have it. Do you have any ideas or tips you would add?

London, I‘m here J

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

The Reading List #29

The big book news this week is I’ve finally set up my Kindle! So tips and book recommendations are most welcome…

But in the meantime, here’s the latest wonderfully random mixed instalment of The Reading List:

The Russian Concubine, Kate Furnivall

1928. Lydia and her aristocratic mother, Valentina, have been exiled from Russia and taken refuge in China. In her new surroundings, Lydia resorts to theft and is saved from death by a communist, Chang An Lo.

My auntie lent this book to me, and I could immediately see why she had loved it so much. The writing is absolutely beautiful, and the descriptions of love and loss are expertly handled. Within the beauty of the writing are some horrific scenes of clashes, kidnap, fighting and an unsettled Jungchow. This was a page-turner both for the plot, the context, and the beauty of the writing itself.

Quiet, Susan Cain

Non-fiction, now, and it’s a book that was lent to me by my dad. Exploring ‘the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking’, Cain delivers a fantastic case for not always being the loudest in the room, both personally and in the business world.

I won’t say too much about this, as different sections will, I’m sure, appeal to different people, but it’s thoughtful, it’s well written, and at every page-turn had me thinking ‘wow, she’s describing me’. I found it so interesting to read something that seemed so specifically targeted to certain elements of my personality, and to then hear how Cain herself and many others, in many contexts, used their attributes in different ways to reach success. I’d encourage anyone who may even have a few qualities of an ‘introvert’ to at least have a browse. I’ve lost count of the amount of people I’ve recommended this one to.

Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy, Helen Fielding

Now a mother-of-two, Bridget is still dating, weight-losing and wondering about life. Fielding manages to keep up that same refreshing tone of voice as is in the original book, but still making it clear that this is an older Bridget.

Bridget Jones is still funny. The life stories sharing woes familiar to us all are still entertaining, and that distinctive stream-of-consciousness diary format works just as well as in the original novel. In terms of the actual storyline, I don’t think this sequel comes even close to the original, as there are parts of the story I just don’t believe, but it was touching and a good, fun read.

Tigerlily’s Orchids, Ruth Rendell

Stuart Font is hosting a flat-warming, and invites the residents of the whole building. ‘Tigerlily’ lives opposite, and her spell and actions on the night of the party will change everything for every guest.

This was set up brilliantly, the characters were all believable, and I liked their personal stories. However, once the main ‘mystery’ took hold, I felt the plot ran away with itself, and I fairly quickly lost interest.

Have you read any of these books? And do you have any thoughts on what I should try next?

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

The First Night

Well, today has been a long old day.

A 4-hour car journey brought me to my temporary home, a ‘stop-gap’ whilst I find a room to move into.

I’m unpacked, I’ve learned the ropes and found the nearest tube station, coffee shop and supermarket.

So here we go…

New city.

New room.

New job.

New routines.

It’s here! And it’s time to get started…

Just let me have a good sleep first! Zzzzzz…..

Monday, 3 August 2015

London Bound

Over the last seven months, there’s been one particular train route I’ve done a lot of.

Macclesfield to London Euston.

The London trips started with work, and before long I was staying through the weekends too.

I’ve taken the train there for work.

I’ve taken the train there for fun.

For day trips to London Zoo, to Guildford, around Canary Wharf.

To watch shows. To see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Book of Mormon, Made in Dagenham.

To hear music, specifically an intimate Pixie Lott concert at Pizza Express’ Strand restaurant.

To visit Wimbledon. To sit in Centre Court and watch Venus and Serena. Federer. Andy Murray.

To spend my 23rd birthday.

To eat. Lots.

To meet new friends, and re-connect with old ones.

And this week, the train journeys will stop (apart from trips home to see the family!)

Because this week I’m moving!

London is the venue for the next little chapter in my story, work-wise and in my personal life.

And I couldn’t be more excited!

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Victoria Park

Opposite my flat, there is a park.

I’ve done a lot of sitting in it, a lot of thinking.

In the six months I’ve lived here a lot has changed, lots of decisions have been made, and lots of thoughts have been thought.

It’s only small, a combination of grass and trees and flowerbeds, but it’s the first time I’ve had a regular outdoor space that lets me clear my head.

The luxury of having it outside my flat is one I’ve made sure I enjoy.

One thing I’ve learnt over the past couple of years is how important it is to lend proper time to thinking, to your thoughts.

When you go through a period where your thoughts become ‘out of control’, or ‘disordered’, or ‘unhealthy’, you have to reassess the way you deal with those thoughts.

My head would be spinning with a thousand things at once, all screaming at me that they were urgent, and none of which I could switch off.

In a previous job, I took the decision to walk the 3.5 miles each way, every day, to work. This was originally motivated by being in a place where anxiety meant I couldn’t step on the bus, but it turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve made.

I had spent so long trying so hard to block out my thoughts because they had become too overwhelming, and it wasn’t working.

What I learnt on those walks was how valuable it can be to let those thoughts run wild. Give them a bit of space to speak.

But do it on your terms.

I learnt that I could let those thoughts run their course, and when I got to the office or got home, I could distance myself from them, as I’d had time to work through them.

That time and space for thoughts has now been happening in this park.

A little, quiet sanctuary, with the wind, weekend strollers, and dogs for company.

Space to think, time to think, on my terms.

This is what I have learnt.

And when I move away, in a matter of days, I will find a new space, a new place and new pockets of time.

And the learning process will continue.

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Hello, August

Hello, August.

I feel like you’re going to be a great month this year.

I’m moving to London.

I’m starting my new job.

That’s two pretty huge things.

Exciting things.

I’ll be making new plans, new memories, settling into new routines.

Meeting new people, taking on new responsibilities, learning new things.

Exploring new places, visiting new attractions, taking in new sights.

Visiting old friends, meeting new ones.

Finding my feet in the Big City.

Swapping hourly trains for tubes travelling minutes apart.

Swapping a quiet town for a bustling city.

August, I’m excited.

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