Project 365 – 2017

I’ve been taking a photo every day for 7 years now.  I’ve managed to train myself so that it feels weird not taking a photo – I’ll admit, sometimes I’ll get to the end of a unremarkable day so I take a panic photo, but at least the photo is representative of the day!

Instagram has definitely helped, but I have got very lazy in relying on my phone – I must make more of an effort with my camera, so I might treat myself to a new lens this year.  Picking out my favourite memories from the year was a little hard as I don’t think I’ve had a particularly memorable 2017, but let’s look back.

January started slowly with a new Eve mattress and my very first Grensons, plus a work trip to Birmingham.  I did have a lot of work trips this year, but nothing as epic as the one in February – over to Florida for an amazing conference which is possibly my favourite thing from the whole year.  I followed this up with a couple of days in New York where I did nothing but blissful shopping.  I finished my management course in March with a lot of typing and spent a two weeks on my own as it was Husband’s turn to be away for work.  April saw two mini-breaks to Brighton and I faced my professional fear of presenting in front of an entire lecture theatre full of sector peers.  Boy, was I nervous.

Back over the Atlantic in May for a family trip to Miami where I introduced my Mum to Surfside – of course, she loved it.  June was fairly uneventful (I’m ignoring the general election) but I managed to continue the Miami vibe by seeing Footloose in beachy themed room in Liberty.  We aroused suspicion again by going to the USA for a third time as we visited New York for the 4th July – they love their fireworks.  And August was the month we bought a new car (although he didn’t arrive for another few months).

The start of semester in September is always crazy busy, but I managed to fit in a Richard Ayoade talk and a couple of back stage tours on the South Bank.  October introduced us to our new garden fox, Little Lord Stinky Butt but was also the start of my epic cold which is still lingering now.  I fell in love with Dungeness in November, and we collected our new baby (our Audi Q3, Murdock).  And the less said about December the better, what with all the sneezing and coughing (oh my god, the endless coughing).

And onto 2018 – hopefully with significantly less coughing.

I see a fever dream before me now

I have achieved nothing these past few weeks.  I haven’t felt 100% since my terrible cold a few weeks ago, and now I’m fairly certain I have bronchitis.  I’ve spent yet another day off work in my Wonder Woman PJs coughing so hard that I’ve thrown up on several occasions.  I’m not normally an ill person, so this is just irritating me beyond belief.

I had planned to blog all about the rest of our Dungeness trip, our new car, seeing Tom Allen, and my Liberty Beauty advent calendar but I just haven’t had any energy.

For now, I’m sticking to inhaling cough mixture (the hardcore stuff from behind the counter *wink wink*) and trying to stay asleep when it wears off after 4 hours.  I miss my old life!

A place of monstrous beauty and endless dark and glimmering light

2016 mosaic2016.  What can I say about this disaster of a year that others haven’t already said.  I think most people got to the end of December a bit shell shocked and worn out.  I’m certainly one of them.

My entire year was defined by my Dad’s illness and his sudden, unexpected death.  It’s hard to explain the impact this has had on me since January.  I’ve felt an undercurrent of sadness in everything I do and at times, it’s been extremely hard to motivate myself.   I’ve cancelled a few things, particularly recently, and weekends have mostly been spent in PJs on the sofa.  If I didn’t have to go to work, I’d quite happily stay under the duvet.

The past month has been particularly hard, so I decided to shield myself from it all and not celebrate Christmas.  It was absolutely the best decision I could have made.   I stayed at home on Christmas day and spent a few hours on my own whilst Husband visited his family – I had a nice bath, made myself cosy, and binge-watched Divorce.  SJP heals all.  I was in a non-festive bubble and was so grateful to Husband for allowing me some time on my own, even though he wanted to spend the day with me.

The mosaic above shows that there were rays of light in the otherwise dark year.  Trips to Brighton, Exeter, Wales, Scotland, and Miami; seeing Adam and Joe and Louis Theroux; lots of shopping including my first Tatty Devine sample sale.  It’s times like this that I’m grateful for my Project 365 giving me the opportunity to remember the good things.

I’ve also been listening to Cariad Lloyd‘s podcast, Griefcast, and have taken some comfort from Adam Buxton talking about his Dad’s death a year ago.  He talks about how he too feels his grief all the time, just at a low level, always there.  It was a hard podcast to listen to in places, but having been worried about how low I’ve been feeling, it was reassuring to hear that it’s all pretty normal.  At times, it does overwhelm me and that undercurrent is going to stick around for a bit but that’s ok.

So I start 2017 with a few things on the horizon, and with more of an understanding about what I need to get myself through them.  I’m not going to pretend that just because it’s a new year, everything will be magically better because it won’t be, but I am slowly coming to terms with the fact that my whole world has changed.

2016, you sucked, but I’m cautiously optimistic that 2017 will be better.

The big moments are going to come, you can’t help that

BlerchTo say this year has gone from bad to worse for me is wrong – it started off bad, got the worst it could ever get, and has stayed at a solid level of just awful.

Earlier this week, my phone stopped working.  I didn’t think I’d ever be one of those people who is lost without their phone, but I will admit that I cried when it happened, and cried on the phone to Google when getting the replacement.

I cried, because it’s full of text messages from my beloved Dad which I can never get back, the link I have to him, where I can scroll through my phone and pretend he’s still here.  Objectively, I know that the texts don’t matter – he was never that eloquent in SMS form and most of them are one word replies – but it still feels like a kick to the stomach to know that they’re gone.

And then the morning after my phone melodrama, I woke up to the news of that fool being elected into the White House.  And I cried again as I tried to get ready for work.  I sat in stunned silence at my desk as I did when we voted to leave the EU, and couldn’t comprehend how everyone was just carrying on as normal around me.

It feels like an utter rejection of all the values my parents have instilled in me.  They encouraged me to go to University, read, learn, improve myself.  Now no one trusts education, no one trusts the “experts”.  People who want to find out truths are looked down upon.  I read a quote from someone who was tired of having tolerance “forced” upon him.  That astonished me.  Why is tolerance seen as a bad thing all of a sudden?

A broken phone and nutcase president hasn’t been my worst week of 2016 but everything that’s happened this year has left me a bit unable to keep perspective so actually, it does feel like an utter disaster.

I hope I’ll get over it and stop feeling so angry at everything.  Mainly because I’m going to Florida in four months which I don’t think will be a good place to express my political rage…

The lattes go from vanilla to pumpkin

Campus autumnIt’s been a bit of a quiet Autumn for me so far, with not much planned until our Scotland trip in a couple of weeks.  It’s even featured a weekend spent at work which is most unusual for me.  Other than being so very cold, campus was a dream with no one about and an entirely silent office – it’s almost worth considering trying to do all my hours solely on weekends.

With my weekend taken up by testing, I took Friday afternoon off to do a bit of dress shopping for an upcoming wedding.  Didn’t actually find a dress, but I did buy some dream shoes from the Irregular Choice store in Carnaby Street.  LOOK AT THEM!

They’re so glittery!  They are the Irregular choice Kanjanka shoes and I love them so much.  Even the soles – LOBSTERS!!

Now I just need to find a not-black, wedding appropriate dress to match.

I’ve been spending most nights on Google Flights planning for my next trip to America.  Not a holiday, but for a conference.  I was incredibly excited to find out I’d won a bursary from a professional group I’m a member of, so I’m off to Tampa in February – I’m going to be able to geek out in a work capacity for four days on the beach!

I say that this isn’t for a holiday, but I am planning on going home via New York.  I’m a bit sad that Husband won’t be able to join me, but also secretly thrilled that I’ll have my first solo trip.  I used to spend all day on my own in Copenhagen  with Husband at work, but we’d always go out together in the evening.  New York will be just me all day and I cannot wait – no whinging outside Sephora!

I’m currently deciding on a hotel – I want to be more towards lower Manhattan than we we’ve been before, so I’ve bookmarked a bunch of places and I might need to do a bit of spreadsheeting before I finally decide.  The only thing I’m a little nervous of is solo dining but I’ll take my Kindle with me and see how I go.

Also, it’s going to be flipping freezing so that’s something to look forward to!

I need you so much closer

Heathrow T3

The last month has been the usual Fresher’s madness at work – September and October are dominated by just utter craziness.  This is my eighth Freshers though, so I can’t pretend to be surprised.

This October also features a solo week for me, with Husband off on a last minute work trip to Texas.  Once again, I have a trip to an airport which does not end up with me getting on the plane.  Boo.  The trip was a bit unexpected, but he’s promised to try to get to Sephora for me so I suppose I’ll let him go.

So, what am I up to whilst he’s away?

  • I took a trip to Swindon outlets this morning for some make-up, Skechers, and hair dye which I then used to…
  • Dye my hair pink – well, the ends anyway.  It’ll wash out in about five minutes though.
  • Going to see Louis Theroux and Adam Buxton at the Royal Festival Hall.  I am super excited about this, even though I’ll be a Billy No-Mates
  • Getting a fancy manicure with my Mum

I haven’t got anything else planned for October or the beginning of November, so I’ll be scrambling around for blog content.  Eep.  This could be disastrous.

We’re all alone in our own universe

Strøget at Christmas, CopenhagenAs woman whose normally high emotional level is even higher at the moment, I’m sure you can imagine that every little thing has the potential to lead to tears right now.  To say that I’m fragile is  bit of an understatement.  However the decision that 51.9% of my country made earlier this week has utterly devastated me.   I really don’t know how I managed to get myself into work on Friday as I was just completely shellshocked.

I’ve have never felt particularly proud to be British or English.  Not ashamed, but just not patriotic at all (growing up, I would have given anything to be Scandinavian, not British).  However I have always felt proud to be European.  The diversity of culture from north to south, east to west, the history, the art.

So despite the fact that I am now being dragged out of Europe kicking and screaming along with 48.1% of my fellow Brits, I will always call myself European.  I can’t begin to imagine not being European.

And yes, the title of this post is from a Eurovision song.  Hell knows what I’ll do if we get kicked out of that as well.

Blazing beef, and big old buns

Cau1I ended this week by having two burgers in two days.  Not particularly healthy but they were insanely tasty.

The first was at CAU in Guildford with some friends from work.  I haven’t been to CAU in about three years – not for any reason other than I don’t go out in Guildford that much – but I definitely need to put it back on the roster.  I love the decor and love the food, so it’s a shame I haven’t visited more.  Plus, the chairs are swivel chairs.  What’s not to love!

Cau2I didn’t have to have the burger of course, but it’s a bit crazy to go to an Argentinian beef restaurant and not have beef.  The chips were triple cooked, and I was very sad there there were only a few of them as they were delicious too.  I followed dinner with some gorgeous churros and dulce de leche.  The only regret I have is driving there, so I couldn’t try one of their amazing sounding cocktails.

When we got there, the restaurant was completely empty, but it soon filled up – we stayed for 2 and a half hours in the end.  So long, that we were gently nudged out by the staff.   It was super nice though, as we had a good solid 2.5 hours of chittle chattle.  We then got inadvertently shamed by the waiter who asked us what our plans were for the evening.  Uh, this was our plan for the evening!  We’re old women!

Heron1My second burger had a very different view.  As much as I loved CAU, the traffic on the A3100 outside just isn’t as inspiring as Fleet Pond.  On Saturday, Husband and I took a walk to what we call our local – the Heron on the Lake.  We’ve been regular visitors ever since we moved to Fleet and loved it even more when they improved their decking area a couple of years ago.  We took advantage of the sunny skies and sat outside for the first time this year.

Heron2For the first time, I noticed that sweet potato fries were an option and my god, they were good.  I have tried so hard to replicate restaurant cooked sweet potato fries at home but everyone must just use magic because mine are awful.  The Heron burger has a mystery ‘burger sauce’ which is crazy addictive.  I wish I knew what it was.

Just looking at that photo is making me feel sad and hungry for sweet potatoes.

Things I love this week

There is nothing connecting the things mentioned in this post, other than they appeared in my life this week and I want to marry them all.

The Danish String Quartet
A slightly out of left field musical obsession for me, the Danish String Quartet are three Danes and a Norwegian, “your friendly neighborhood string quartet with above average amounts of beard”.  Their Wood Works album has been on constant rotation for me for the past few days.  One review says “Every now and then a disc creeps into your ears and stages a peaceful protest, politely but determinedly refusing to leave” – the reviewer couldn’t be more accurate.
Danish String QuartetThe first song I heard of theirs was Waltz after Lasse in Lyby (thanks, Google Sound Search!), however the song that has made me regret all of my musical choices for my wedding is the Sønderho Bridal Trilogy – part II, a Danish folk song which makes my soul soar.

It has also led to the discovery of a wonderful Danish word – hipsterhår

Pretty Scandi boys playing stringed instruments – is there anything better?  (So pretty – I have a giant crush on Rune Tonsgaard Sørensen).  Why wasn’t I born Danish?  Speaking of which…

The Year of Living Danishly
This book is making me miss Copenhagen like nothing else, even though it’s set in Jutland.  It’s also making me desperately wish we’d had the chance to live there.  Working for Lego, of course.  One day.

Ridiculous clutch bags
I bought my first Kate Spade bag.  I imagine I’ll only use it once in my life and never again, but I don’t care – it’s red, glittery, and has HORNS.

Kate Spade clutch bag

Kate Spade Place Your Bets Ravi

Naturally, Husband hates it.

My new tattoo
My fourth tattoo (fifth time being tattooed) was done at the Black Rabbit Tattoo Collective in Newbury.  I had an idea to get a tattoo of the deer I met last year at Fleet Pond, and fell in love with Jessi James’ geometric designs soon after.  Jessi designed such a beautiful piece for me!

Jessi James Tattoo

I love the pattern work in combination with the watercolour style – it’s more perfect than I thought it could be.  Deer have been a repeating theme in my life.  They’re are the symbol for my home town and my current town, and the ‘mascot’ for my Uni workplace.  They were always part of our family stories when I was a kid, as my Dad worked in a forest (basically) surrounded by deer.  He, my brother, and I would see them wandering around site, but my poor Mum always missed them.  She thought we were making it up to annoy her.  Essentially, I love deer, so I slapped one on my leg.

Apologies to Tim for yet another picture of my pale legs.

They’ll make you a mix tape, to give you a clue

Discovery1We are currently in the middle of putting in some Pax wardrobes (well, Husband is.  I’m sat on the bed blogging) which has led to the discovery of things I’d long forgotten about, including the above box.  It was shoved right under the bed, and I don’t think I’ve thought about any of this stuff in a really long time.

I was so proud of my Mr Men floppy disks.  I don’t think I ended up using them all because half of them didn’t actually work.  I like how my serious stuff (my dissertation and script) were not on the Mr Men disks – I decided they weren’t professional enough for that.

The tapes have various ‘radio shows’ that my friends and I did at school (they’re actually stolen from school as they all have my school’s address on them…) and the one on the top, with “Chamber Music” in my Dad’s handwriting on it, is A-Ha’s first album Hunting High and Low.  My Mum copied it from a friend of hers for little-me – I was obsessed with that album.  I don’t know what the Chamber Music that was originally on it was though.  Also in the picture on the right is a roll of film with who-knows-what on it; a micro-cassette which may have interviews with film editors on it; the rose hair clips I always wore in my hair in the ’90s; and a Batman Forever blank tape which I thought would be worth a lot of money.  HA!  And thank goodness I’ve found my Blockbuster Video card.

The VAST ticket is signed by Jon Crosby – I got that when I met him after the ULU gig.  The other VAST things are random stickers and a badge I collected along the way.  There’s also a Patrick Wolf ticket and badge, a Rammstein badge, and a HMV wristband for a signing.  Really can’t remember who though – maybe Gary Numan?

And then various Whedon badges – did I buy these or were they given to me?  And the classic Browncoat wristband.  The arms are Angelus’s – I have an Angelus figure somewhere in the house who has interchangeable arms, but I preferred the ones where he’s holding stakes.  God, what a nerd.