Showing posts from February, 2016

The Reading List #36

The speed at which I’m getting through books has reached new levels with my daily commute. A 35 minute tube journey at each end of the day is a decent amount of time for me to get completely absorbed in a book, and as a fast reader anyway I‘m speeding through titles. Here’s my latest round-up:-

The Children’s Book, A. S. Byatt

Olive writes a private book bound in different colours for each of her five children. Each family in the story has its secrets, and the sons start to rebel as daughters dream of their independence in this Edwardian setting. The writing was stunning, as I’ve come to expect from Byatt, and it was a well-written family saga with stories and fairytales woven in. There were so many layers, and the whole book is just gorgeous.

The Somnambulist, Essie Fox 
Mr Samuels offers 17 year-old Phoebe the role of companion to his reclusive wife, and sobbing noises in the night lead her to discover she was not chosen by chance. This is a story of lost love, murder, and madness, wit…

The importance of escaping London every now and then

I love living in London. It's so different to where I grew up (Cheshire) and to where I went to university (York). There's so much to do in terms of work, culture, socialising and the opportunity to see this amazing city. In many ways, London is great.

But London is busy. It's pace is like nowhere else, and nobody slows down. 
Which is why it can be so important to press pause.
Sometimes, you need to escape the city for the weekend and press the refresh button.

Fresh from a weekend away recently, here are the top five benefits of that weekend escape:
Pause. We're not designed to run at full speed 24/7. Sometimes you just need a break.Reassess. Time away allows time to think about what you're doing and when you're doing it, Reflect. A break from the day-to-day allows you to re-order your priorities, and think about what matters most.Refresh. Unwinding properly is like hitting the reset button, allowing you to return to London with renewed energy.Enjoy. Experience…

Dissertation survival tips

All over Twitter at the moment I’m seeing people moan and fret over writing their dissertations. Some are proud of themselves for powering on through and some are in that period of despair where you think you’ll never possibly be able to write enough words, or make them make sense. I feel your pain.
I handed in my dissertation almost three years ago now, in May 2013, and thought I would share five of the lessons that writing process taught me.
I was studying English Literature, and my topic was a prize for short stories by African writers. I was proud of the final piece, but my goodness it took hours upon hours of work, and I know if I tackled it now I would approach some elements differently.

ONE. Planning is everything. I know this may not help for those of you approaching your deadline, but for people with it coming up over the next year or so, please prepare. You have a long time to write it because you need a long time to write it. The process of coming up with a topic, developing it…

Podcasts are my favourites

Podcasts are my new favourite things.
I’m late to the podcast game, I know, but over the past couple of months I’ve become mildly obsessed.
I get a bit bored just listening to the radio, as I get fed up of ads or certain songs on repeat, and I don’t like the pressure of having to choose songs from my iTunes or Spotify accounts. My music choices cannot simply be played on random, as you’d end up with some Phantom of the Opera followed by cheesy 90s followed by something that might feature in the UK Top 40 if I even knew what was in that coveted list right now. That’s all just too confusing for my brain.
So podcasts have won.
I’ve got a little selection of my favourites as a newbie podcast-listener.
Here they are:
Serial Of course. Who doesn’t love Serial? Series one followed a murder case where there are a lot of unanswered questions, and the current season is about a Taliban abduction, and a survivor who is remaining quiet. If you’ve never listened to a podcast, listen to Season One i…

That Sunday feeling

I’ve got that Sunday feeling.
If you work Monday to Friday, you know what I mean.
Or you might remember it from your school days.
I’d understand it more if I didn’t like my job or something, but I do!
So it’s not that there’s any real reason for the Sunday dread, other than the fact the weekend is almost over.
Even though there will be another one in a week anyway.
I feel it like a physical reaction, that moment when my brain realises it’s Sunday afternoon.
It’s almost a panic feeling, telling me I’m running out of time.
I watch the time tick over, and it seems to move so quickly in that final part of the weekend.
I’m running out of time.
My free time is almost over.
I’m running out of time to…. What?
Usually, my Sundays are empty.
I have a bit of a thing about keeping them free, or at least the afternoon free, to relax and do nothing before a new week starts.
So I’m not really running out of time to DO anything, because I purposefully set aside the time to DO nothing.
What is it tha…

Ashford International Hotel

Last weekend I headed off on a little escape from London, to Ashford in Kent.

The Ashford International Hotel was my home for the weekend, and what a beautiful home it was. Part of the Q Hotels group, it's situated just off the motorway and a perfect hub for business or for relaxation.

Everything looks brand new and clean, and the reception area is huge and nicely furnished, complete with a warm welcome from the staff.

The room was hidden down a maze of corridors, but although the hotel is pretty huge you certainly don't feel like it's busy. It's not often you bump into anyone in the corridors, and the shared areas such as all the seating in the lobby were always comfortable and quiet.

The room was far more spacious than I had expected, and the red and pink decor felt plush and luxurious. Everything was spotlessly clean and the bed was unbelievably comfortable. The bedding was also really soft, and didn't have that starchy feel you get at some hotels.

I was slightl…

Wahaca, Westfield Stratford

Before moving to London, I'd never set foot in a Wahaca. After being introduced by friends, it's now reached my favourites list.

The concept is Mexican street food - lots of small tapas-like dishes, which arrive to your table and and when they're ready. Always fresh, the food is of delicious quality.

I've been to the Oxford Circus and Covent Garden branches, but recently headed into the Westfield Stratford branch for the first time.

The Westfield branch was much quieter than the other two usually are, although it was a Friday evening, and we were seated immediately. It has the usual colourful, distinctive decor and huge menus on the table.

Drinks-wise, they offer a huge range from the bar, but  personally always go for the apple juice. They juice about 5 apples there and then in front of you at the bar, and it tastes amazing.

Time for what we ordered.

On this trip, our list was made up of:-

Grilled British steak tacosPork pibil tacosTender marinated chicken taquitosChil…

Let's talk about Instagram

I was really late to the Instagram game – we’re talking 2015 – so am still a newbie and finding my way around.
But I think I’m getting my head around it.
And as so many people had warned me would happen, I’ve fallen in love.
I love Instagram.
One thing that sticks out was an ex-colleague, Sarah, who told me she loves it because ‘it’s really hard to be negative via an image’.
Now of course there are exceptions to this, and I’m not going to go into the whole discussion of real vs fake here, but I agree.
It’s hard to moan or slate anyone or anything with a picture.
When I log onto Twitter there are rants and moans and sadness, and I’m of course guilty of these things too.
But on Instagram, I’m greeted by beautiful images.
Instagram has made everyone a photographer.
With simple edits and filters, the most ordinary of photos take on a gleam of professionalism, and scrolling down my Instagram feed is lovely.
I follow friends, I follow bloggers, and I follow people who inspire me.
I’m greet…

Time to Talk Day

Today is Time to Talk Day.

I've written and deleted this post so many times over the past month.

There are things I want to say, and things I'm not ready to.

So today I'm just going to talk about the need to talk.

When you suffer with any kind of mental health problem, one side effect can be that you become secretive.

When my anxiety first began, I was embarrassed and didn't know what was going on.

Once it had been diagnosed, I remained embarrassed and confused.

Nobody had explained to me how I would feel day to day.

That some days are bad, and some days are brilliant.

That sometimes you can cry for hours because you just need to get out that frustration that's an invasive ball of emotion in your stomach.

That sometimes you'll feel nauseous for days on end, and nothing will shake it.

That logic doesn't come into it and your thoughts are in a constant battle.

That talking helps.

Sometimes, I want to be quiet and alone. But sometimes, being alone is the last t…

The Reading List #35

It’s reading list time again, and there are a few here which I’ve recommended multiple times already.
Mini-reviews lie ahead…
Half of a Yellow Sun, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Set in 1960s Nigeria, against a backdrop of civil war, this tells the story of Richard, an English university lecturer, Olanna, who has left a life of privilege to be with him, and Ugluu, Richard’s houseboy. The horrors of war touch each of these individuals and those around them, and loyalties are tested. I knew very little about Nigerian history, including this particular period, and it was a fascinating, if brief, insight which made me want to research a little further. The characters and writing were stunning, and this is a novel I will recommend again and again.

Elizabeth is Missing, Emma Healey

Maud keeps forgetting things, but the one thing she is sure of is that Elizabeth is missing. Her scraps of paper and fragmented memories lead to an investigation into a 70 year-old mystery. This book had an interesting prem…


Happy birthday, little blog of mine.

I couldn't believe it when I realised that my blog started three years ago today.

I've certainly not been consistent, and I've fallen in and out of love with it, but it's been mine for three years.

This year, that consistency is going to improve.

I find writing so relaxing and am determined to do more of it and document my year.

In January, I posted on this blog 28 days out of 31. I'm not saying I will continue to post almost daily, but I wanted to really commit to making the content on here more regular.

So that's what I'm doing.

I have so many posts planned for the next month and beyond and can't wait to continue this routine of writing and sharing more often.

A lot has happened over the last three years, and I want to make sure that the years ahead are ones where I collect even more memories.

The fourth year will be a good one.

Hello, February

Hello, February.

You've waited patiently; January seemed to last forever.

There's a quote on Instagram at the moment which says '2016 starts on 1st Feb. January was a free trial month'.

This made me laugh, and part of me agrees, but then I realised the miserable month of January was quite a positive one.

I've overhauled my eating habits and am getting more healthy. I've started exercising daily before work. I had the most wonderful weekend away. I went to two brilliant theatre productions.

It could have been a lot worse, let's put it that way.

February, I love the fact you start on a Monday.

There's something so neat about a new week and a new month coinciding, it's always a favourite day of mine.

I feel like this is the month to try and learn to like pancakes.

The month to continue eating better, and working on my fitness.

We're moving towards Spring, and the lighter hours are making a huge difference to my mood.

I've got a weekend away in …