Things That Made Me Smile #19

051Hello! How are you? How has your week been? And what’s with this UK weather – it’s meant to be June!

My week has been pretty jam-packed. Hectic, long hours at work, followed by the luxury of a long weekend off. My weekends off are so rare that they always fill up pretty speedily with events – in fact two of Sunday’s may have to be snuck into next week’s list, as this list is already so full of little sparks of happiness that it might burst if I try and cram anything else in! (Also, just FYI, there is a lot of good food in this week’s list. If you haven’t already eaten today then you read this at your own peril – you have been warned!)

So, the things that made me smile this week have been:

023– Seeing the dawn breaking across London from the top of Primrose Hill at 4am on Wednesday morning. It’s getting so light at the moment in the run up to Midsummer’s Day! If you squint, you can just make out the Shard, the BT Tower and the London Eye in the skyline of this shot.

017– A lazy afternoon before work spent catching up with blogging, wrapped up in one of my cosiest jumpers and with a mug of fruit tea on hand. Bliss.

016– Chorizo and halloumi salad. This was purely thrown together as a result of the ‘what have I got in the fridge?’ hunt. To make, lightly fry chorizo and halloumi together, before adding a bag of rocket on top (though not as long as I did, as it wilted a tiny bit). The result? An awesome, if not entirely health-conscious, salad. Chorizo-smoked halloumi is the best!

032– Ben baking a gorgeous loaf of fresh bread during the week. The smell of fresh bread wafting through the flat is a joy that cannot be defined! And it was so delicious eaten still warm from the oven with lashings of butter!

106– This installation in Waterloo Station (#JurassicWaterloo) to promote the release of Jurassic World. Raptors everywhere! I’m so excited to see the film now (if you couldn’t tell from this photo!)

034– This salad – taken from a Slimming World Little Book of Lunches, no less! Hot smoked salmon with potato and a homemade dressing – divine! The recipe serves four, and there was enough for dinner for Ben and I one night, and a very large lunch for Ben on Saturday!

075– These neon lights, which are part of a display from God’s Own Junkyard installed at the Southbank Centre for their Festival of Love this summer. I’m a big fan – if you’re passing the Southbank Centre any time this summer, check it out! Now I just need to work out how to sneak one away to install in my living room…

050– Date Night dinner with Ben to celebrate him passing out of the probationer stage at work (two years). My treat when I passed this last month was to see Finding Neverland on Broadway, and his was dinner at The Ivy Market Grill in Covent Garden. Their food is just sublime – and check out this chocolate bombe dessert! SO, so good. (And yes, it is meant to look like that – you pour salted caramel sauce over the chocolate shell, and it all goes gooey and melted. It’s amazing!)

109– A theatre date with Anna to see Bend It Like Beckham on Friday night. We ate noodles in Soho, then immersed ourself in this glorious blend of East meets West meets David Beckham. I love the film, so was curious to see how the stage version panned out. It wasn’t half bad! Full review to come next week.

146– Embracing Open Garden Squares Weekend with Mum and Tony on Saturday. This was the third year I’d attended, and this time we mainly focused on the Bloomsbury area. For such a built up concrete jungle of a city, London certainly has a lot of wonderful green spaces, and they all seem so peaceful, and such a welcome escape from the hustle and bustle of cosmopolitan life. I could have spent the whole afternoon just relaxing in one of the leafy green squares with a rug, a flask of hot chocolate and a good book.

065– Finally finding a dress for my friend Helen’s wedding in August! I’d already bought two dresses online and rejected both, so I set myself the task of hitting Oxford St on Friday afternoon and trawling the shops for a dress. Luckily John Lewis came to the rescue, and I am now the proud owner of a beautiful, summer wedding-worthy dress. I promise I will upload better photos than this in the weeks to come! This was my changing room ‘do-I-Like-it-enough-to-spend-all-this-money-on-it?’ shot!

044– This beauty, which is now mine and Ben’s! Yep, we bought a new car this week. Well, strictly we bought it last Sunday, but collection date was Thursday, and now we are the proud parents of a red Nissan Qashqai. It’s so gorgeous, and I’m so nervous about it getting broken into or pranged by one of London’s (many) careless drivers! It seems like such a massive step for the two of us – especially as this time last year our biggest joint expense had been £100 for four posters…talk about escalation! We’re currently trying to work out a name for him/her – any suggestions?

What things have made you smile this week? I’d love to hear them all!

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Family Fun: Kent Photo Diary Day 3

Kent Photo Diary Day 3On our last full day in Kent, we finally hit gold, and the sun graced us with its presence! Miracle of miracles. We decided to celebrate with a day by the seaside. However, first up we had to pay a visit to one of the nerdiest attractions on the face of the earth: the Hornby Museum.

1-316Yep, this is possibly one of the saddest things known to man! For those of you fortunate enough not to know what this is, Hornby are the company behind model trains and cars, and my dad has a small collection of them at home. He’s always been a fan of steam trains (and their models), so we couldn’t not visit. I entirely understand if you want to skip over this part, but I promise there is minimal train involvement!

1-321Firstly we stopped for a cup of tea…

1-328And a nose at the artwork.

1-331^If only!

The museum itself contains Hornby and Corgi models and Scaletrex, laid out in various exciting ways. I’ll spare you the details and just give you a few photos to spare you the boredom! Suffice to say that if you have an anorak in your life and you find yourself in Kent, I’m sure they’d enjoy a visit!

1-3471-3581-3811-404The two above, in case you didn’t recognise them, are the Reliant Robin and the Capri Gear from Only Fools and Horses. I will admit I had some nerdy enjoyment in seeing those!

1-320Though not as much fun as my sister had – see that happy, train-loving face? She actually preferred this to the Roman Museum! I can’t fathom why…

And that’s the end of the trains, promise!

1-426Next up, we headed to Broadstairs, a pretty little seaside town which my dad and aunt went to on a family holiday when they were just children back in the 1950s. I doubt it’s changed much since to be honest, although these days it looks to be a favourite sort of town for OAPS. HAving said that, we all really liked it (the beach has real sand and everything, not just a few inches of it by the shoreline and a mile of shingle in between!) Some of the Kent seaside towns we passed through (Margate, Ramsgate, I’m looking at you) were a bit washed out and tired, but Broadstairs still retains its charm.

102We had lunch in a place called the Charles Dickens, which does awesome fish finger sandwiches, proper chunky chips and has a killer view of the sea, before going for a stroll along the beach.

1-455104Broadstairs is a very quaint, pretty little town, full of tea rooms and cafes, nautical sounding pubs (Neptune’s Rooms, The Dolphin), and with a large number of furry inhabitants, who were also all enjoying the sunshine.

1-4311-4871-500I am so proud of that above shot – talk about perfect timing! And such cute subject matter too!

1-4691-446Broadstairs is also full of quaint little shops. My favourite was a rock and fossil shop, full of semi-precious stones, sharks teeth and fossils. Of, and a very scary ‘guard dog’, of course…

1-4711-4741-4771-482From Broadstairs we made our final stop of the day at Richborough Roman Fort.

1-506As Kent was so close to mainland Europe, it was the first place that the Romans marched through and really established roots on arriving in Britain in the first century. The fort came about as a result of this, and parts of the walls are still standing to this day (all hail epic Roman building skills). It is situated on a slight hill, and when you look around you all you can see are sweeping vistas of flat green fields.

1-566It has great historical importance in the field of Roman history when studying Roman Britain, but I’m not going to lie, today Richborough Fort is just a pile of stones in a field.

1-5541-5341-528Don’t get me wrong, it was very pretty, but if you don’t like fields or history it won’t be for you! My poor sister – when Dad went into tour guide mode it wasn’t appreciated as it should have been…

1-577But I think we all enjoyed walking around the site and soaking up the peace and calm of the countryside.

1-5841-564I personally took a step back from the history side of things for a change, and just took time out to enjoy the tranquility of the fields and the beauty of the area. And, of course, to make friends…

1-514Once we had had our fill of the fort, we meandered slowly back to Whitstable for dinner. We had reservations at a rather posh looking fish restaurant on the seafront for our final night, and as an early Father’s Day treat for Dad.

1-049We picked a beautiful night for it – Whitstable really shone for the first time since we’d arrived.

1-6131-104We rocked up to find the beach suitably packed with people, and the restaurant filled up pretty sharply as well while we were sitting inside.1-622

1-6201-621The Whitstable Oyster Company is lovely inside – clean, bright and white, accentuated even more so by the sunshine streaming through the windows. This view out of the window nearest to us was wonderful, but the only problem was that it lasered directly into my eyes, so I had to wear my sunglasses indoors during dinner – until I gave in and moved to sit next to my sister on the other side of the table to avoid getting sunburnt indoors. That would have been a new low…

1-625My sister and I started with the Hot Smoked Salmon Salad with dill and lemon. It was delcicious – full of complimentary flavours – and we could have eaten another plateful easily.

1-628Dad went for Moules Mariniere, an old favourite of his. I can’t say I sampled them (not my thing!), but Dad informed me that they were up to standard!

1-629For the main course, I went for the Lemon Sole with parsley and lemon butter. It was light considering the amount of butter, although obviously the lemon helped to balance it out and give it a tang. It was a fresh and delicious dish.

1-631My sister went for the Chargrilled Organic Salmon with salsa verde. It was a whopper of a salmon fillet, and tasted wonderful.

1-632Dad went for the Pan Fried Local Skate with butter and capers. We tried some of that as well, and it was really nice. In fact all the fish was top notch, and it’s clearly all fresh in, with as much of it sourced locally as possible.

1-634My sister and I both managed to find space for dessert, but mine was the only one that got a photo, as my sister wolfed hers down as soon as it was placed in front of her. She went for the Salted Caramel Chocolate Pot, and swapped in salted caramel ice cream for the cream it originally had. It was epic. I had the lemon curd ice cream, which was delicious and refreshing without being too sharp and tangy.

1-612After a monster dinner, and with it being such a glorious evening outside, I chose to walk back to the hotel from the restaurant rather than take the car. The half hour stroll was lovely – it was a nice temperature out and a gorgeous sunset, and if I’d had the time I’d have lingered by the beach all night, just for more views like this.

1-619And that’s that! A whirlwind few days in Kent with my much-loved family, and we all returned home Thursday to our normal lives. Typically, it was glorious sunshine on Thursday, which we didn’t get to enjoy half as much as we’d have liked. However, I think we made the most of our holiday, regardless of the seesawing weather conditions! I always have a fantastic time with my family, and my sister and I were already planning ahead to our next big family meet up – a joint birthday collaboration for her, me and my aunt at the end of the year. Watch this space – if it happens you’ll definitely see the highlights here!

Have you been to Kent before? Have you got any favourite sights from this suburban county? I’d love to hear about it, or any other family holidays you’ve had or have coming up. Fill me in!

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Family Fun: Kent Photo Diary Day 2

Kent Photo Diary 2Our second day in Kent dawned just as miserable as the first, only with the added extra of rain. Yep, we’d found ourselves on a typical British summer holiday!

1-117Seeing this window display just made me laugh, so I had to have Dad and my sister pose in front of it, just to enjoy the irony!

To counter the rubbish weather, we decided to head to Canterbury and spend our day popping in and out of the shops and places of interest. My sister encouraged me to spend a small fortune in Boots on skincare and nail varnish, then we spent an inoordinate amount of time browsing Cath Kidston (I may have bought the Clouds Mug which matches my sister’s bag and shoes…). Finally, we decided to keep Dad happy and head to the cathedral.

1-135I quite like cathedrals. I find they are usually crammed to the rafters with beautiful things and historical facts, a place of peace and reflection. Of course they can be sad too – we always light a candle to remember those in our family (and sadly there are many) who have died. But there is a certain calm to every place of worship, and Canterbury is no expection. Except, perhaps, for this…

045This memorial to Thomas A Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury in the C12th who, it is believed, was murdered on the orders of King Henry II, though this is still disputed to this day. The memorial, titled ‘Martyrdom’, is more than a little sinister! Of course, considering that Becket was stabbed to death in this spot in the cathedral, it is highly fitting of his violent end, but I still found it a strange placeement. My sister loved it, and it does have that Game of Thrones kind of impressiveness.

1-1551-184I have an unhealthy obsession with stained glass. I dream of having a front door which comes with its own central panel of colourful glass (yep, middle-age has found me at 24!)

1-1791-209I like the reflection of the cathedral window in this case, hence its inclusion despite the poor lighting!

Canterbury is pretty, and don’t be put off by the fact that we had rubbish weather. You get pretty twisting, cobbled streets for your troubles if you visit, just like this:

1-240I loved this, as it made the town seem so olde world and reminded of Early Modern England (1500-1750, roughly), which was one of my specialist periods of history for my degree.

133After the cathedral and a little bit of shopping, we retreated to Strada for lunch, where the above picture was taken. This holiday was rife with #FamilySelfies! Since we introduced Dad to them, it’s become something of a tradition with us. Perhaps the family that selfies together stays together?

074We had a divine lazy lunch at Strada (just look at that amazing Creamy Chicken Cavatappi!), and then once the weather had improved a little we ventured back out into the rain-slicked streets in search of more history and culture. And we found this…

1-2441-2741-2791-291I may have mentioned before that my dad and I are big history buffs. I even took a degree in History, I loved it that much, and part of the credit for that choice has to go to my dad. We enjoyed ourselves pottering around the museum, looking at samian ware pottery, ornate silver spoons, votives of various gods and this rather impressive mosaic floor (and only vaguely considering burying the party of noisy teenage schoolchildren rampaging through the museum underneath it…)

My sister does not share our interest. She spent her time getting to know the patrons of the museum…

1-2501-300Though I’ll admit, I joined in too…

1-307Our poor father having to put up with us! But then I did catch him reading Hello! magazine when he thought no one was looking…

162Well, can you blame him? Who wouldn’t want to know all the details of Mark Wright and Michelle Keegan’s wedding?

(Disclaimer: I bought the magazine. Remember that thing I said about having no shame?)

Coming soon: Our final full day in Kent, featuring (whisper it) *sunshine!*

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Family Fun: Kent Photo Diary Day 1

132Growing up, did you have a tradition of family holidays? You know, the same place that you would keep visiting over and over again, or that few weeks of the year when your whole brood were forced to spend time together and enjoy it?

My sister and I didn’t grow up together, and there is a sixteen year age gap between us. Perhaps it is because of this that she has always held the ‘Cool Big Sister’ title to me, and every holiday we took where she came along was automatically twice as fun. I probably annoyed the hell out of her each time – the little sister tagging along and trying to pick up on some of her adult mystique when she just wanted to read her book by the pool!

Luckily she hasn’t held it against me, and we have since revived the family holiday between us and our dad. I know that, out of any present I could possibly give my dad, he would only ever want for two things: better health, and more time spent with me and my sister. Unfortunately these are the two things which are most of my control, and so whenever my sister and I can coordinate our schedules and spend some time with Dad together we do, as we know how much he enjoys it.

In the past few years, we have visited North Wales, Edinburgh and Devon, and in the first week of June we added to our UK staycation repertoire and took a little trip to the county described as ‘The Garden of England’ for a few days: Kent.

Kent Photo Diary Day 1I last visited Kent about ten years ago with my parents and some family friends, but haven’t been back since. What with it being so close to London for me and my sister, and within relatively easy distance of Dad in Suffolk, it seemed like the perfect choice for a short break. We booked ourselves into a Premier Inn in Whitstable, and found ourselves rocking up to a grey and gloomy seaside town on Monday afternoon. It was freezing! So much for June being the official start of Summer! But, in true British style, we toughed it out with our layers and went for a stroll.

131We have no shame on these holidays, in case this and our selfie with the (other) fisherman at the top of this page wasn’t a giveaway!

1-013We had a stroll along the seafront and through the town, keeping an eye out for unusual little curiosities along the way. Seaside towns are often full of little quirks, and we came across a good few…

1-003Whitstable is best-known for its oysters, which is a shame as none of us actually eat them! But this heritage is certainly visible around the town, as you can see in these pretty painted oyster shells. It seems to straddle seaside and tourist town with some difficulty, and I found it a bit of a strange place over the few days we spent there. But despite this (and the gloomy weather), we still found some quaint and interesting sights in our little stroll around the town that first afternoon:

1-0141-0211-0461-0661-0351-0901-0911-0511-0951-098Just look at that iron sky! I have to admit that it wasn’t particularly nice out. It would have been wonderful to watch from a beachside cottage, wrapped in a blanket with a cup of tea and a good book while the weather raged outside. But we took it as our cue to cut loose and head back to the hotel for dinner and drinks, so we could start the next day refreshed.

Coming soon: Day 2! Which may or may not consist of rubbish weather and Romans…

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Sloane Rangers: Made in Chelsea Walking Tour

1-070What’s your guilty pleasure? Everyone has one: whether it’s still cuddling up to the teddy bear you’ve had since you were five, wearing that tatty old shirt that you love too much to throw out, dancing to cheesy 90s boybands around the kitchen while doing the washing up, or the binge eating of Nutella with a spoon, straight from a jar, on Friday night.

I may or may not have done all of the things on this list, but none of these incur a great deal of guilt (except for the Nutella…) But the one thing I do get teased for, mercilessly, is my ability to seek out trashy TV. I’m like a magnet for it – Jon and I were watching TV one night and I managed to track down Ladyboys of Bangkok for us to watch in about five seconds of scanning the TV guide. It’s a skill! I love trashy telly as the ultimate way to wind down and switch off at the end of the day. My work can be stressful and demanding, and often when I get home I often just feel like disengaging my brain and enjoying something glitzy and trashy and inconsequential. Over the years I have been an avid watcher of Made in Chelsea, The Only Way is Essex, The Real Housewives of Cheshire, Don’t Tell the Bride and My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding. I love them all!

1-045One of the longstanding faves though has to be Made in Chelsea. I have been with it since the start: the ups and downs, the polo and the boat parties, the cocktails and the spur of the moment trips to France and Dubai. I have envied Millie and Caggie’s outfits, raged at the (many!) infidelities of Spencer, laughed with Ollie, Binky and Cheska and gloried in the unlikely friendship trio of Lucy, Stevie and Andy (They remind me a little of an inverted Harry Potter trio. You know, the one where Hermione has resting bitch face, Harry is an angsty songwriter, and Ron writes poetry?)

Although I will be the first to admit that it isn’t as good as it used to be (there’s only so many rehashes of love triangles, break ups and cocktails being chucked in people’s faces that you can watch before it gets a little repetitive). But the people are beautiful, the music is good, the slightly sepia filter on filming gives it a glamorous edge, and who doesn’t enjoy snooping on the glamorous locations that these rich kids call their playground?

087

L-R: My aunt, my sister and me – family selfie time!

My sister and I are very different people. It comes from a sixteen year age gap, different mums and growing up in completely different parts of the country. So we are often surprised at the things we bond over, and trashy TV is right up there with Harry Potter on our mutual interests file. So when Ben was scanning for a Christmas present for my sister, he stumbled upon an absolute gem. He found a Made in Chelsea Walking Tour.

Yep. You really can get a walking tour for anything these days. But my sister and I leapt at the chance, and we even dragged our aunt along too. So on Bank Holiday Saturday, way back at the start of May, we found ourselves congregating at Sloane Square Station, all looking suitably sheepish for turning up to a tour for a reality TV show. Brit Movie Tours are the brains behind this operation. They cover a whole range of tours, including Harry Potter, Sherlock and Downton Abbey, which I imagine makes them pretty popular with tourists.

1-004This is Gina, our tour guide. She looked a little Sloaney herself in her attire, which was maybe the idea. She spoke well, without consulting her notes, and had a whole range of tidbits and facts about the show at the various locations we were wandering to. The tour itself took place over two hours, and covered about twenty locations in total.

1-002We started off by the fountain in the middle of Sloane Square, where Stevie took part in the ALS ice bucket challenge last summer. However, it has also been the scene of many a meeting, between couples and friends, walking their dogs or having angsty conversations. It was here that Gina told us that new cast members on Made in Chelsea have one season to make an impression in order to guarantee their return next season. If they don’t make an impression (good or bad), then they’re axed. They’re also only paid £50 per episode! If you make it to be a long-term cast member like Spencer or Binky, then you get paid the slightly more respectable rate of £400. Off the back of that info, it’s no wonder that every cast member seems to have some kind of business that they want to use the show to promote (Caggie’s singing, Proudlock’s t-shirts, Lucy’s jewellery), and that they offer up their private lives so willingly. Better telly means bigger bucks!

1-007Next we crossed to Duke of York Square, a former army barracks, now home to a range of glossy designer stores and cosmopolitan cafes. It also houses this salon, which Gina told us offered the exemplary Chelsea Blow Dry. Anyone else think that you could easily make a slip of the tongue after one too many glasses of prosecco and end up ordering something far less innocent than a cut and blow dry?

The initial concept for Made in Chelsea was reportedly the brainchild of Hugo Taylor, one of the original cast who has since moved on to designing his own sunglasses range. He previously dated Princess Eugenie, and in 2008 he pitched the idea of filming a group of socialites to MTV. Of course MTV didn’t take it up, but MiC found a home at E4 within two years, and they’ve never looked back!

1-013Next, we went to Chelsea Farmer’s Market, open every Saturday and purveying a smorgasbord of food and drink from around the world. We gawped over the cheese, debated over a cocktail to go, and swiftly carried on to The King’s Road.

1-017We passed the Royal Hospital, home to the Chelsea Pensioners and the scene of an afternoon tea party held by the cast.

1-022I do love Chelsea townhouses. The whitewash, the curling black railings and the leafy green squares all just seem to scream summer in London.

1-041This is Chelsea Town Hall, where George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin had their London wedding last year…

1-063…And this is The Phene, the pub owned by Lucy Watson’s father, and the scene of the flatwarming drinks she held with Stevie.

1-031We gazed down this alleyway at Proudlock’s design studio…

1-047…And walked past this pretty pub, where teenage Caggie Dunlop was first introduced to Spencer Matthews.

1-082Our tour ended, of course, at The Bluebird, iconic Chelsea cafe and a regular haunt of pretty much every long-standing cast member throughout the years.

1-075fter the tour ended my sister, my aunt and I hadn’t quite had enough of the leafy streets of Chelsea, so we decided to go for a little wander before heading back. I couldn’t help but admire the gorgeous wisteria covering so many of the houses at the moment. Their delicate lilac colour is just lovely at this time of year.

1-046We all enjoyed the tour – it was silly but fun, and Gina was certainly knowledgeable about her subject. It’s a perfect little random present for that person in your life with a penchant for trashy TV! We left with our Chelsea knowledge enhanced, and promptly found ourselves a Byron to refuel at before heading home. All in all a very civilised afternoon with two of my favourite people!

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Things That Made Me Smile #18

107So, last week’s things that made me smile. I started off June on good form, with a few days holiday in Kent with my Dad and my sister. The British weather did not. We had wind, rain and cold for approximately half of our holiday, and then on the day we returned home it was gloriously sunny! Isn’t that always the way with holidays in the UK – so fickle! But I loved our family time together – it’s so much fun to reunite me, my dad and my sister when we spend so little time together during the year. I really hope we can make the effort to have more little holidays like this together. My sister and I currently have plans for a bigger family meet up in November. Watch this space!

These are my little moments that made me smile from last week…

020Finding little hidden gems in the most unexpected places – like this nautical-style wall in a side street in Whitstable. I’ve never been to Whitstable before, and although I don’t think I’ll be going back any time soon (the highlights for me were the beach and the Whitstable Oyster Co, where we ate on our last night), I did enjoy our few days there.

045The very Game of Thrones-esque memorial to Thomas A Beckett in Canterbury Cathedral. Titled ‘Martyrdom’, it is such a sinister monument to see in a cathedral, but at the same time I can’t help but be drawn to it. Is it just me?

047Also in Canterbury Cathedral, and in complete contrast, this beautiful little chapel in memory of the Bucks Regiment. It is just so elaborate and detailed, yet with that peaceful feeling of calm that you get in a place of worship. I could have stood there for an hour just taking in every extravagant detail.

074This delicious lunch from Strada. This is Creamy Chicken Cavatappi – Corkscrew pasta with chicken, mushrooms, creamy tarragon sauce and salsa verde. And it was utterly divine. So indulgent but so worth it!

077Indulging my inner geek at the Roman Museum in Canterbury. I miss History and studying, and my degree feels like a million years ago, so it’s nice to remind myself that I used to do something vaguely intellectual with my life!

086My sister’s sense of style. She’s always perfectly coordinated and it puts me, her scruffy little sister, to shame. She took it upon herself to teach me a beauty regime and how to paint my nails properly (I am not the tidiest at such skills…) She also had a blue and white themed wardrobe for our week away, pretty much epitomised by this delightful Cath Kidston Clouds Bag. I may have bought a mug in the same style the day we visited Canterbury…

139We made a stop at Richborough Roman Fort on our last afternoon in Kent, and while my dad took photos of piles of stones, my sister and I took tours of the grounds. I spent quite a while sat on one of the ruined walls admiring the greenery. Vast open skies, flat green fields and wild flowers. A perfect view for some quiet comtemplation.

149The view of Whitstable beach on our final night. It was absolutely stunning, the sky and sea bathed in shades of gold and peach, and a tinge of evening warmth hung in the air. It was idyllic, and if we didn’t have dinner to go to I could have spent all night there just basking. In fact I walked back to the hotel from the restaurant that night rather than join my dad and sister in the car because I wanted to enjoy it.

183Coming home from Kent and cutting loose my responsibilites for a few hours to sit in the park with my book (The Girl On The Train) in the sunshine. It was glorious, and I need to make time for it more often.

189This very handsome young man, spotted in my local park on the way home from my marathon reading/subathing session! I know some people aren’t a fan of squirrels, but I think they’re adorable!

Yay, I’ve finally brought that up to date! And now normal business can resume. I have so much to update you on – New York, Kent, and some other bits and bobs that have been a while in coming! Bear with me and it’ll all be up on here soon.

In the meantime, what has been making you smile recently? Update me on your life!

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Things That Made Me Smile #17

Hello everyone!This has been FAR too long coming, and I can only apologise again for how slack things have got on this blog recently. I’ve been so busy careering around from one holiday to another (it’s a hard life!), and then catching up with work and trying to settle back into normal life that I can’t seem to get on top of my writing. But I’m determined to make the effort now, and hopefully normal service will resume soon.

So, cast your minds back to the week following the bank holiday at the end of May. Yep, it’s been that long…

This week was all about adjusting to routine life again after holiday. Going back to work makes me feel almost as though I never left (does anyone else find that happens to them?), and I am longing for the temperatures of America already! But as well as returning to the grind there have been some good bits, and the things that have made me smile this week are:

027– Going home for Bank Holiday Monday to see my mum

034– This dinner. Enjoyed at home and pretty much succesfully recreated for me and Ben during the week.

043– These roses. I saw them on my way through Camberwell the other day, and I couldn’t resist snapping some shots of them

005– Due to work running way over, I missed work drinks, a birthday party and dinner with my mum and Ben on Wednesday. However, I did receive this wonderful selfie of them taken at dinner. It made me smile but also made me want to cry, as I wished I could be with them. Next time!

029– This pouffe. Bought form Graham and Green this week as a treat to myself, because on going home on Bank Holiday Monday. I will devote some more page space to it soon, don’t worry! And please excuse the state of the living room – there’s holiday laundry and Eurovision decorations aplenty sharing space in the living room at the moment!

026– My colleagues making me laugh. Dave and Alec gave me a lift to the station after work when I ran late last night, and then bombarded me with videos of them singing during the night shift. I was in stitches watching them this morning, and have rewatched on repeat ever since. For their own dignity I’m afraid I can’t post them on here, but let’s just say that their rendition of ‘Morning Has Broken’ is just priceless! It gave me such a warm glow inside to feel liked and cared about, especially as I feel like I’ve struggled with fitting in at work over the past few months. These guys are two of my favourites at work, and I couldn’t get through my days there without them!

Next up, last week’s Things That Made Me Smile, and then I can finally get back on an even keel!

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