A London lifestyle, food and travel This is where I write down all my madcap thoughts, my adventures, the highs and lows of my thirtysomething world. Lots of posts about cooking, Pinterest, books and culture too, as well as London pieces aplentyblog.
I hope you had a lovely evening celebrating Hogmanay, whether it was a giant party, out and about, an early night, or like me with snacks, bubbles, cats and happiness. It's 2018, you guys!
I quite like setting up a few resolutions, and these are the ones I'm hoping to achieve this year.
1. Phase out our use of plastic water bottles
They are so bad for the environment, but I buy and use them far too much. This year I'm determined to use metal water bottles for out-and-about, and have bought some pretty glasses for our nighttime glasses of water - I'm hoping my having specific glasses we'll bring them up/downstairs each day rather than creating a glasses graveyard by the bed!
2. I would like to get better at phone calls
I love catching up with people but the London whirl can get in the way, and before I know it months have passed! I'm going to carve out an evening/afternoon every fortnight and make some phone calls/Skype people. You have been warned, loved ones.
3. I want to get back into my blogging and writing
I love this little space and it's truly part of me (after a dozen years, it should be, right?). I want to focus more on writing, on sharing, on enjoying my blog and on being part of the blogging community. I want to find a post pattern that means I can share and stay on top of things, but not overstretch. Watch this space.
4. I'm going to give up social media for Lent
A funny thing to type after point three, you might think, but bear with me.
I love social media, but it's SUCH a timesuck. And every year around this time I start thinking of what to give up for Lent, and the minute social media popped into my head I knew it was the one. Why? Because I got a vague twinge in my belly. I felt a little worried. And that concern, that pause, is what tells me it's exactly what I should give up!
So during Lent, Mo-Sa, no facebook, instagram, or twitter. Blogging still v much on, and whatsapp, email, youtube etc totally in play. Social, however, will only be allowed on the Sundays of Lent (which don't count towards the 40 days). I won't lie, it'll be a challenge!
5. I would like to do some more London things
I love this city and have lived here for nearly nine years, but there are still so many places I've yet to go and explore. This year feels like a good year to change that!
6. I would like to write up the many, many travel posts I have pictures for, just waiting to share
I've been so lucky to do so much travel in the past few years. And now I'd like to focus a little and write about it more!
7. I'd like to get back into saving a little
For house things. For travel. For rainy days.
Alongside these seven I'm also doing Dry January (Matthew is, so I'm joining in solidarity!) and will be hoping to build on the healthy habits I started cultivating last year. I lost 25 pounds in 2017, and would love to do the same again this year.
This review is becoming something of a yearly tradition....you can find the reviews for 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 , 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014,2015and 2016 by clicking through. It's always nice to take stock at the end of a year and see what's happened over the last 12 months.
1. What did you do in 2017 that you'd never done before?
All sorts of little things - visited new places, met new people, but on the whole it's been quite a steady, serene year, life wise. There's plenty that I'm working on.
2. Did you keep your New Years' resolutions and will you make more for next year?
For the most part, yes. I kept things remarkably simple, and bar a backslide on the iPhone in bed sitch over Christmas, I've built some good habits this year!
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
I'm a woman in her mid-thirties, so, yes! Oodles of babies.
Hello, hello, hello...to quote Ru Paul. How are you all? As the post title says, it has been too long since I sat down to write something here, and I've missed it. I've been writing this blog for twelve years now, and sometimes there are seasons where the words just will not stop...and there are other times when it's time to take a step back and reflect, regroup, and come back stronger. And that time is now.
It's been a quiet time for me over the last few months. The autumn into winter transition is always a favourite time of year for me, but it's also a time when I tend to isolate myself a little, to take a step back from things, and that's especially been the case this year. It was a quiet December, but a pleasant December, and now I'm excited to get back into the swing of things at home, at work, and here on the blog.
How was your Christmas? Ours was calm and cosy, full of relaxation and fun.
On Friday Emily and Adam came for a visit and we have a lovely evening catching up over veggie curry and champagne. Then on Saturday we went to the Wolseley for a delicious lunch before going to see Hamilton. Which was AWESOME. Everything I'd hoped for. Then we waved Adam and Ems off and had a chilled evening of cocktails and Wahaca.
Christmas Eve was a day at home (I love how festive our sitting room looks!), wrapping the last few gifts, reading and relaxing with the cats. I made a piri piri rice dish and then we curled up with popcorn and cups of tea to watch Elf.
Christmas Day began with Smudge working out how to get into our bedroom through the window and making fast friends with our little tree up there. Then coffee and baked good before opening so many lovely gifts. I got thoroughly spoiled with books, toiletries, stationery, and the Kate Spade bag I'd been lusting over for months!
Matthew was a bit coldy, so he curled up for a sleep while I set the table and cooked dinner, while watching Love Actually. We had a proper feast - chicken and beef; roasties and mash; peas, sweetcorn, carrots & sprouts; stuffing and Yorkies; cranberry sauce and gravy. I don't have the sweetest tooth so the meal was a big treat! After the dishes were conquered we had an evening of Monopoly and poker, as well as finally drinking the port we had been gifted for our engagement (four and a half years ago!).
This picture of Poppet sums up our Boxing Day succinctly.
For supper I used the leftover beef to make a pasta sauce, along with peppers, onions, tomatoes and chilli. It was yummy, if I do say so myself, and so nice to enjoy a 'proper' meal after a day of snacking.
Boxing Day evening was booking hotels for our February trip (more on that to follow soon) & watching football for Matthew, and reading and It's A Wonderful Life for me. A perfect, quiet Christmas. And now it's the time for tidying, for catching up, and for getting back into the swing of things!
How are you spending your time between Christmas and New Year's? What do you have planned for NYE?
It is I, Poppet-cat. It has bin proper long since I did type a message fur you all, but I have managed to sneak up to the pooter while Clur is messing around wiv some wrapping paper and I thoughted I would write you all a quick hello.
So helloes, from the house of cats. We have been here for over five years now, so we is well and truly in charge. A politician would purr pretty darn hard to have a mandate (or, if you will, a paw of approve) as strong as ours.
I are still in charge and am enjoying the new season of the warms coming on. I are also growing fond of invading the hoomans raum at night time and tucking up for a nap wiv them.
Leela is still her usual scraggly self. She did hate all the fireworks noisehs and bangs but those seem to have calmed down now.
Her favourite spots to be are at the very top of the stairs, curled up in a box, or having a sits on Maffoo when he is trying to work. She continoos to make some proper silly kittun noises, from chirrups to miaooooows to her high pitched purr.
Smudge, the noo kitten, is settling in okays. When he first arrived Leela-paws did NOT like him, but now they get on okay. He and I are friends, except when he challenges me for chikun or tries to sit on me. I ARE NOT FOR SITS!
Clur and Maffoo do like Smudge manehs and have done a okay job of teaching him the ways of the Poppet. And when he does forget I do employ my paw of disapprove, for I are boss. Smoodge has also made good frens with other families around here and likes to go there for snuggles and noms when our hoomans are buseh.
Fry are the same as ever, sweet and shy and not a fan of cameras (unlike me, I do looooooove them). He has been doing some guard-catting recently and loves to check everyone is safe safe safe.
Fry and Smoodge are great frens and I think Fry does love having another boy cat to hang out with. That does meen he can get pretty sad when Smudge goes off on bimbles, but he's getting used to it.
So that are our kittun news. All is well, there should be more chikun, and we are looking forward to Christmas when there will be many snuggles, many presents, and many hooman times. How are oo, hooman frens?
Right, I need a naps after all this work. Purrs and paws, Poppet-cat (BOSS)
In the winter a sort of hush seems to descend, as the world gets a little quieter, a little more private. Home calls in a whisper and it's a season for cups of tea and toast and board games and cuddling cats.
In spring, lighter mornings make waking up easier. Fresh greens and yellows pepper the landscape. All seems fresh and new. In the summer all seems bright and busy and the water and the green spaces call my name. It's the season of late, hot nights sharing a bottle of wine in the garden, of ice lollies instead of dinner, of fast, quick meals that don't involve much actual cooking, and of frozen margaritas at sunset.
And then, there's autumn. The season of wholesome, hearty, comforting food. Of rich bologneses cooked low and slow. Roast dinners. Apple crumble, apple pie, apple cake, apple everything. And all those gorgeous autumnal side dishes - roasted pumpkin; butternut squash; and last but never least, the mighty potato.
Baked, roasted, boiled or mashed, potatoes are very much enjoyed in this household. I like them, but Matthew? Matthew loves them. So needless to say they are a foodstuff which feature on our table often.
That being the case, when I was invited along to an event last month by a brand who said they could make instant mash that tasted just like the real thing...my interest was well and truly piqued. I grew up in the 80s and 90s, when instant potato products tasted a little like dusty cardboard, so I was intrigued to see if a better product was now available.
To put it mildly....yes.
Idahoan potatoes are flipping delicious! At the event they were turned into a whole range of dishes, and we had to tell the difference between Idahoan potato products and fresh potatoes - which proved to be very tricky indeed.
The meals were all created and made by the lovely Billy and Jack, who had us all guessing which dish might be Idahoan, and which might contain fresh potatoes. It also remains the only time I can think of where I've had potatoes in a pudding...
After the event I was sent home with a range of the products to try out (available in all good supermarkets, potato fans) and they've really been a tasty addition to our meals. As we both can work long hours weekday suppers are often leftovers from the weekend, and it's wonderful to have mash which takes minutes to go alongside a slice of pie or some stew.
When time allows at weekends I've also tried out the dauphinoise and gratin, both of which are yummy (below is the gratin alongside my friendly BBQ pulled chicken (which contains no chicken, hence the 'friendly')).
Disclaimer: I was kindly invited to this event last month by Idahoan. All thoughts and opinions and general enthusiasm for tasty autumnal fare, my own.
When we were planning our visit to Norway, Bergen was high on our list of places to visit. The second largest city in Norway is a beautiful place and filled with history, culture, and exciting places to visit. If you're planning to visit, here are seven things to do in Bergen, Norway.
1. Take the Fløibanen funicular up to the top of Mount Fløyen and revel in the views of the city and its environs from the most awesome of viewpoints. The mountain is full of attractions too, with cafes, parks for children, shops, nature walks, mountain bikes for hire and more.
2. Explore the Bryggen, with its old wharf and wooden buildings - a UNESCO World Heritage site and full of history.
3. Take a wander around the buildings and grounds of Bergenhus Fortress, located at the entrance to the harbour.
4. Sample fresh fish and seafood at the dockside markets, and enjoy people-watching (and yacht-watching) as you devour your dinner. Also take a walk and get some amazing views across the harbour.
6. Take a stroll around Nøstet and some of the other areas a short walk away from the city centre and the harbour. Stop for a coffee in a charming café as you wander among the beautiful, old Norwegian style houses.
7. If it's summer and you're feeling brave, seek out one of the swimming spots along the shoreline where you can swim in the fjord!
All pictures taken from Zeal and Heart's gorgeous archive.
There are words which conjure up a feeling.
Words which inspire.
Words which are a call to action.
For me, right now, in this season, the words 'Just Go' have a resonance and a depth I wasn't expecting. They are words that speak to adventure, to change, to new beginnings, to fresh starts. My mid-thirties, far to the calm and slightly dull era I was expecting, have turned out to be a time full of potential, of 'what ifs', of dreams, of exploring.
That these words are the ones that Bangarang chose for our collaboration with Zeal and Heart feels especially special (wow, that phrase is a pyramid of awesome, non?).
The Bangarang girls are some of the awesome women I love to navigate the joys of the blogosphere alongside, and we were delighted when Rebeccaapproached us for a motto to make into a necklace.
It's a phrase that our wanderers' hearts felt was perfect for a pendant, and crafted in beautiful sterling silver it's an ideal gift to share, or treasure to cherish.
Do you love the thrill of the unknown? Does your heart sing for new horizons? Then the 'Just Go' pendant from Zeal & Heart is perfect for you. From £25, with all proceeds going to Headway, it's a beautiful way to remember the journeys you've had....and the journeys yet to come.
I don't have any holidays on the horizon at the moment, for the first time in a longtime. With various other areas of life demanding attention, it's not the time to be booking a holiday. Friends and family are off to Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Japan over the next few months, but I'll be living vicariously (thank heavens for social media!). I've been utterly spoiled with travel over the past twelve months, but it feels super odd not to be jetting off on the next few calendar pages!
Which is probably why my holiday daydreams are in hyperdrive. The most recent ones have all involved Las Vegas, one of my very favourite places. What I'd give to be going there again soon.
Landing after a fun flight, refreshed and ready for fun, getting picked up by a limo driver...
Checking into a suite and taking in the views, maybe hitting the pool....
Cocktails and some delicious dinner - Julian Serrano for tapas, perhaps?
And a show - Cirque, Le Reve, Mariah...
Before nightcaps, a flutter on the roulette wheel or the blackjack table, and then to bed.
Gosh I miss that town.
I'll get back before long, I'm sure, but for now there are displays to put up, books to label, and stationery to organise - my classroom isn't going to organise itself!
In the interests of sheer good fun, let's play a game.
This is a meme that used to do the rounds on facebook and myspace (yes, myspace!) back in the day, as well as being featured on this here blog a few times and it's just good fun. Who doesn't love a pub quiz moment where you get to show off your knowledge?
Step 1: Put your music player on shuffle. Step 2: Post the first line (or a few ;)) from the first 30 songs that play, no matter how embarrassing. Step 3: Italicise the lyrics and post the details when someone guesses both artist and track correctly* Step 4: For those who are guessing -- looking the lyrics up on a search engine is CHEATING! Step 5: If you like the game post your own
*I'll even add a YouTube link, because music is for sharing :)
1. It’s okay, I’m good. Let’s go.
2. What an amazing time
What a family
How did the years go by?
Now it's only me
3. Don't you know
So many things they come and go?
4. I gotta take a little time
A little time to think things over
5. She was a fast machine she kept her motor clean
She was the best damn woman that I ever seen
6. I been livin for the weekend
But no not anymore
7. The world was on fire and no one could save me but you.
It's strange what desire will make foolish people do.
8. I ain't the kind you take home to mama
I ain't the kind to wear no ring
9. Hello, hello, baby, you called?
I can't hear a thing
10. Oceans apart day after day
And I slowly go insane
11. It doesn't hurt me.
Do you want to feel how it feels?
12. Don't be so quick to walk away
Dance with me
13. People like you always want back the love they gave away
And people like me wanna believe you when you say you've changed
14. Popping bottles in the ice, like a blizzard
When we drink we do it right gettin slizzard
15. I hopped off the plane at L.A.X.
With a dream and my cardigan
16. I would take the stars
Out of the sky for you
17. Worn and haggard, weathered and torn
Drug through the keyhole of that back door
18. Oh, well, imagine,
As I'm pacing the pews in a church corridor,
19. It was a theme she had
On a scheme he had
Told in a foreign land
20. I wanna walk that line a little crooked
And live my life a little on the rocks
21. What if I told you about my little nothing town
The two room house where I came from
22. To the left, to the left
To the left, to the left,
Everything you own in a box to the left
23. There's nothing like summer in the city
Someone under stress meets someone looking pretty
24. Bet you think I'm sitting at home. No.
Bet you think that I'm all alone. No.
25. I'm busy throwing hints that he keeps missing
Don't have to think about it
26. Right now you are down and out and feeling really crappy
And when I see how sad you are it sort of makes me...
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness...as soon as the calendar moves over to September I'm ready for all things autumn. One thing I like to do in each season is make a list of things I'll try to do - soem are basics for that season, others are personal favourites for this time of year, and still more are new things I fancied adding to proceedings. I'll keep you posted on progress as we move through the season!
1. Make flapjacks
2. Go for an autumn walk in each of my favourite London parks (Hampstead Heath, Regents Park/Primrose Hill, Hyde Park, Green Park, St James' Park, Victoria Park, and the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park)
3. Unpack warm clothes
4. Buy a new bubble bath
5. Stock up on goodies at a farmer's market
6. Read Pride & Prejudice
7. Make some mulled cider
8. Bake a pie
9. Have corn on the cob with lashings of butter
10. Watch When Harry Met Sally 11. Write letters
12. Get up early for a walk and catch an autumn sunrise
13. Plan and serve an Oktoberfest inspired meal of beer and brats
14. Make granola
15. Celebrate Halloween (and actually dress up!)
16. Cook using apples & pumpkins & squash while they are in season
17. Watch Hocus Pocus 18. Decorate a pumpkin
19. Make veggie soup
20. Buy some candles with autumnal scents
21. Make chilli
22. Get out of London for a walk in the woods
23. Donate items to a Harvest festival
What things have you feeling super autumnal? Do you have any yearly traditions? Do you make a list of your own?
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