Happy Easter everyone!
Whether you are spending the bank holiday at home doing a bit of upcycling...
... or channelling your inner child;
enjoying the delights of your home town...
... or escaping to the country...
have WONDERFUL Bank Holiday!
Good evening folks!
Well the weekend is drawing to a close, and a new week will soon be upon us. I admit, I found the last one quite tedious - the 9-5 grind was getting to me and, coupled with a lull in the old social life, I was more than a little bit grumpy. Alas, I managed to pull myself out of my gloom. How? Well I decided to book a little holiday...
Yep, that's right - in September I will be spending 10 days in San Francisco - and I can't wait! Sad as it is, knowing I have this to look forwards to seems too have perked me up no end. Coupled with the good weather, this weekend I've been pretty chirpy, getting up early and getting on with a new writing project and a bit of spring cleaning. Today I bagged a bargainous four dining room chairs and a coffee table for 40 quid, which I can't wait to paint up along with my ten pound TV stand. In fact, by the time I have my official housewarming in May, I reckon I'll be pretty close to having my flat as I want it - with perhaps the exception of a posh new three-seater sofa bed..
My point? Well, I know I'm lucky to have the means to travel to the West Coast of the US and to play at being Kirsty Allsop, but I also know that I function a lot better when I know I have something to aim for; a reward to all my hard work. At the end of the day, it is that often-tedious job that has enabled me to book that flight and pay the mortgage on the flat that I am so faithfully - and frugally - doing up.
So, as I traipse into work tomorrow, I will do my best to the thankful for all the opportunities it gives me - from stability to adventure, with the odd bit of inspiration thrown in for good measure. And, whatever you do and however challenging it can be, I hope that you feel able to do the same. And, if you can't, book yourself in for a little reward sooner rather than later, whether it be the trip of a lifetime, a jolly to the seaside or an afternoon mooching around your favourite local haunt. I doesn't have to cost a lot, or be particularly flashy. But it does need to happen.
Because Shelly said so :-)
Well, the weekend is nearly over, and I don't know about you lot but my thoughts are turning to the coming week. Whilst the 9-5 will no doubt dominate the next five days, I'm feeling newly motivated to get on with my creative pursuits. Why? Well, I've just had a rather inspiring weekend in Skegness. Yes, really...
You see, my friend and fellow graduate of Visual Arts at Keele University, Laura Stamps, has put together a show of her work in the theatre at her seaside home town. Not only that, but she's managed to get it all together around the demands of her day job - and pulled it off with aplomb. I was really impressed by the professionalism of the show, down to the advert in the theatre's brochure, and the sheer amount of work she has created. In short, I'm damn proud of her - and perhaps a little bit envious too. But not as much as I am inspired...
This week I have managed to do some creating myself. Whilst I'm still not 100% happy with the painting above, I'm rather chuffed with how my yoga mat bag turned out. Next week, however, I shall be returning my focus to the writing. My latest short story is poised for posting right here on the website and my top secret project is well and truly underway. Watch this space...
Anyway, I'm off to have a soak in the tub before calling it a night. All that sea air has taken it out of me!
No, no, I'm not talking about the whiskey and Jaegermeister I've consumed over the last week - I'm talking about that goodwill to all men, women, animals and anything in-between! I've been feeling pretty Christmassy all month, but the last week has seen my festive fever grow - and spread. Whilst I admit I've had some pretty fun nights out recently, it's been the things I've been able to do for other people that has really given me a glow. For example, on Tuesday I contributed some home-made German spiced biscuits to a bake-sale for Crisis - adding £19.50 to the £180 raised. Yesterday, I was thrilled to see my mate laugh out loud at the slogan wristband I made her for Christmas. And, the day before, I spread the love among my neighbours by delivering them all a Christmas card and gingerbread muffin - and was really touched to see the family who live below me followed by lead and everyone some chocolate on their doorstep the following day.
That's what I love about Christmas - making other people feel good, whether it's by giving them a present they love, helping them out when the stresses of the season start to get to them, or just making them smile on their commute to work. Today, after a rather frantic shopping trip, I was sat on the tube when the driver wished everyone a Happy Christmas. He probably didn't know anyone on the train, and it wasn't part of his job description, but he did - and it made me smile, despite my fatigue.
Some people of course believe in the religious origins of the holiday season. I personally don't, but embrace it whole-heartedly as an excuse to show people I love them and to spread a little cheer, whether it's by offering a complete stranger Season's Greetings, funding a bed space for a homeless person over the holidays or being there for a friend who is having a hard time. That, in my book, is the true Christmas spirit.
Yep, you guessed it - it's my birthday and I've been to Berlin! And, as I'm busy recovering and relaxing with a glass of red, I'm going to keep this short and sweet.
It was completely by coincidence that I ended up there on the 25th anniversary of the Berlin Wall coming down, as well as Rememberance Sunday, and it was all the more poignant because of this - the Holocaust Memorial even more haunting and the East Side Gallery all the more inspiring. The original position of the wall was mapped out with a line of white balloons, and projectors showed a film detailing the historical moment at key locations across the city. I admit that,as a little girl celebrating my 10th birthday, I didn't really understood what all the fuss was about when it happened, but now,as an adult, it renders me speechless to think that so many people were essentially prisoners of the Communist regime - and many died trying to escape.
Along with my 35th birthday, the weekend turned out to be one of reflection - personally and politically. But it was also one full of inspiration and exploration - all the more enjoyed with a German beer and good company to hand.
I might not be a Berliner yet, but I think I'll be back.
Yep, I'm watching the American Football live from our very own Wembley. It's been a busy weekend, what with another installment for Operation:Pizza, upcycling (I WILL finish that bookcase, I WILL,) editing, and booking a foray to Berlin for my Birthday, so I'm enjoying watching someone else run around for a change...
I've also been doing my bit for the planet. Earlier this year I came to the conclusion that, rather than solely supporting charities that help people, it was time to help the physical world that we rely on to exist. So, on Friday, I joined the Conservation Volunteers at Lloyd Park for a few hours before heading out to a fundraiser for Greenpeace. Okay, so I know some of you might find their methods extreme, but until our Government starts putting sanctions on those corporations that seem hell-bent on putting profit before the environment, someone needs to take action - and action Greenpeace take.
Anyway, mini rant over, it was a great night, and I fully recommend their dos to anyone who wants to support their work whilst enjoying live music, comedy and cake. Besides, who says giving to charity has to be completely selfless? Weeding around sapling trees and clearing rosebeds of litter on Friday was a very calming experience and one I probably wouldn't have signed up to if I hadn't expected some personal benefit. Even after giving blood on Tuesday I got a packet of ginger nuts and several glasses of squash. It almost made the dizzy spell worth it!
So, so forth people - do something for charidee. Just make sure you enjoy it too...
It's Saturday night! WOO HOO! So, what are your plans? A romantic meal out with the love of your life? A pint down the pub? Or a night on the town, dancing until the wee hours? Well, it all sounds very appealing, but tonight, my friends, I am staying in, on my own, with nowt but a bowl of olives and a glass of wine for company. Why? Because such a night is well overdue...
Last weekend I came down with tonsillitis - AGAIN. I was at my mate Darrens' catching up with my old chumlies when I woke up feeling decidedly ropey. My mates blamed the Red Stag I had been drinking the night before (I strongly recommend the Black Cherry variety) and I put it down to being a bit run down. By the end of the day I was dropping penicillin and huddled under a duvet next to the barbecue. NOT fun.
Of course I tried to push through it, but Alison made me go to bed for a few hours. Very sensible. Lisa then pointed out that maybe my immunity would be a bit better if I actually took it easy once in a while. I have no idea what she means. Okay, so I'd been out late on the Thursday, attended an evening meeting on the Wednesday and enjoyed a bevvy or two on the Tuesday, but that's normal. Right?
Maybe she has a point - maybe I have been burning the candle at both ends. But then, maybe it is a symptom of my recent rise in the responsibility stakes. Okay, so I've had a job that requires a level of maturity since I graduated, but this home ownership thing has thrown me. All of a sudden, I am responsible for the upkeep of the roof over my head, owe Virgin Money more cash than a bear to imagine and not only need to get Critical Illness cover but a Will to boot! Well, I'm sorry, but whilst I have to accept that this means I have reached a new milestone in my life, I refuse to "settle down". In fact, I think I am rebelling against the notion.
That said, my nesting tendencies have also kicked in. I spent the last week decorating my lounge with my dad - and it is looking fantastic. Of course, this means that I have an overwhelming desire to paint all the other rooms, go out and buy more furniture and get all my pictures up... whilst still wanting to go out and party. Along with my creative pursuits, I guess it's no wonder I'm falling apart at the seams.
Yes, I need to slow down - so tonight I am going to stick on a DVD and do my best to keep my diary as free as possible for the next couple of weeks. Okay, so I have plans on Monday (pizza!) and Tuesday (plumber!) but after that nothing for over two weeks other than an appointment to give blood and a date at a spa. And I plan to keep it that way. Sadly, to quote Oscar Wilde, "I can resist everything except temptation" - and there are tasty morsels of fun all over the shop.
Wish me luck...
Well - you don't have to but I seem to be doing rather well at getting out of the big smoke these days. In fact, if I count next weeks Bank Holiday (house party in Stafford coming up!) I will have been away four out of five weekends! No wonder I'm struggling to get anywhere fast with the decorating...
Although I love the hustle and bustle of my life in London, it is nice to get away from it all. Three weekends ago I came up north for a friend's hen do - and saw her get married this Saturday. What made it all the more special was the rural setting of the reception - said friend lives in the middle of the Nottinghamshire countryside where you can see nothing more than fields as far as the eye can see, and the nearest convenience store is a good 15 minute drive away - and even that closes at 10.
As a city girl of thirteen years, I forget what it's like to live out in the sticks. When I was camping near Stratford Upon Avon recently I was delighted to learn that there was a bus service into town so the dedicated driver in our party could enjoy a drink. Needless to say my plan was foiled by the last bus, running at a mere 6.10pm. Oh well...
I guess both ways of life have their pros and cons. Whilst London offers me everything I could possibly want when I want it, getting away from the 24 hour society helps me to slow down and recuperate - something that I really have to work at back in the city. So, whilst I will be relieved to see my local Co-Op open when I get back to Walthamstow tonight, I know that I will have to make myself breathe more deeply and let the chaos wash over me once in a while.
And on that note, I shall say adieu - I have some serious chilling to do...
I hope you are all feeling nicely refreshed after the weekend? I have to admit that, after three nights of camping, I'm quite tired - but then there's nothing quite like sitting around a smoldering BBQ at 11 o'clock at night, playing cards and supping Jameson's whiskey (a new and rather dangerous discovery for old Shell) to re-charge the batteries. Okay, so as camping goes we were pretty well looked after (electricity supply, showers AND clean toilets? Wow!) but cooking outdoors, sleeping with nothing more than a sheet of waterproof fabric between you and the elements and being without all those creature comforts we don't need but depend on is certainly good for the soul. Even if not the back...
It isn't just going camping that has helped me detox my mind - if not my body (one thing at a time people!). I've been reading a book by Gabbi Bernstein, Yoga and Meditation buff whose 108 Miracles Now breaks down developing your spiritual side - and maintaining your well-being - into easy to follow steps. Whilst some of it isn't for me, it is full of handy hints to improve your relationship with the world and look at life with a more positive slant, something I admit I sometimes find tricky.
On Thursday, I found myself seeing positives in what could have been a rather crushing situation. After several rejection letters confused by some very positive feedback from publishers and competition judges, I decided to ask a professional to look at my first novel, Faith, Hope and Chocolate. Deep down I knew it wasn't my best writing by any means but had grown attached to my characters - and still loved the concept. Claire's feedback confirmed this - and her comments helped me see where it wasn't working and think about how I could develop the story line. We concluded that the best course of action would be to start again - and, this time, write with a bit more of a purpose and a plan, something I admit not really doing the first time round. So, watch this space people - just don't hold your breath, as I have novel number two to edit first, plus a couple of other ideas floating about...
Now, with all that in mind, I'm going to run myself a nice bath, read some more "Miracles" and write in my journal - the detox isn't complete yet!
It's been a while since I last blogged, but life has been even more manic than normal - and the lack of broadband in my bachelorette pad has made blogging even trickier. But I'm now connected, back in London - and trying to chill. Because I think moving wiped the ability to do so from my memory...
In all honesty I can't really say that I've been completely wrapped up in unpacking and decorating. There was a little foray to a house-party in Yorkshire over the last Bank Holiday, followed by a much needed holiday in Split, Croatia. The trials and tribulations of being a new homeowner were getting the
better of me (think leaks, lack of hot water and more leaks) and I desperately needed to escape. It was on our last day when we were sat on the beach at Marjan Park and I was bemoaning the amount of things I needed to do to my flat that my friend asked me if I could remember what my New Years' Resolution had been. She had a point; it was to do less. So, after an epic unpack and an overwhelming trip to B&Q, I am having a beer and writing this blog before heading down to my old stomping ground Islington for a party.
The thing is... it's easier said than done. When in Yorkshire I was trying to convince my friends who had just bought a four bedroom house with land up there (read: Mansion) to chill out.
"Take it easy - and enjoy doing it up." I advised.
"Yes - but we want it all done now so we can really appreciate it." They whined. Fast forward two weeks and I completely understand. Whilst things are slowly coming together, I can't wait to get the place painted, some proper curtains up and my pictures on the walls. Even today I was chatting to my dad about what kind of ladder to get for my loft.
"There's no hurry is there?" He asked. "I mean, you only need it for storage." Wise words, but... I want them NOW so I can clear away the excess clutter for my housewarming party - where everything needs to look perfect - PERFECT, do you hear??!!
Okay, so maybe I need to take a chill pill here and try to pace myself. At the end of the day, there is plenty of other good stuff going on in my life which I am in danger of neglecting if I get carried away - including my writing and art - which is really more important than having a flat worthy of a spread in Home and Gardens. So if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go get glammed up for this party. Just as soon as I've cleaned the extractor fan and put up the caddy in my bathroom...
Here you will find my latest news, including what I have been up to and what I have been writing (and making). Hopefully you'll like what I have to say - and perhaps I will motivate you to get creative too...