Hello from a very soggy Sunday morning in Leeds. We are in the middle of “Storm Brian,” which is pretty full on. I’ve been awake since 5am (great Sunday lie in) after waking up from a horrible zombie nightmare. Maybe I need to stop watching The Walking Dead right before we go to sleep…
Parker is delighted that I’m up so early and has pushed my laptop off me and has started giving me a slightly scratchy massage.
When I first started my blog in 2015, I gave myself something fun to do, and also to write about by setting myself 25 challenges to complete before I was 25. I didn’t really complete them all, but it was good fun. You can click the links to read about when I tried lobster, caviar, and meditated for ten days.
Now I’m picking up my blog again, I’ve decided to give myself a new set of challenges. (With no more fishy business – now I’m a veggie)
Although I’ve just turned 27, I’m sticking with 25 challenges (seems like a more manageable number haha)
Here we go, here are my challenges for the year!
1- Visit India
2 – Hike one of the three Yorkshire Peaks
3 – Read “Shantaram”
4 – See live comedy
5 – Watch “Gone With The Wind”
6 – Get a tarot card reading
7 – Take a language class
8 – Donate 200 things to charity
9 – Spend no money for one week
10 – Go to a pilates class
11 – Learn to salsa dance
12 – Play piccolo in an orchestra
13 – Learn to sew and make something wearable
14 – Host a dinner party for my friends
15 – Go plastic free for a week
16 – Try making my own cosmetics
17 – Go Christmas shopping in York
18- Go to Ireland
19- Go to a concert of music from another culture
20- Go vegan for a week
21- Read sixty books in a year
22- Volunteer to help out with a charitable cause
23- Start drawing again
24- Have a car-free week
25- Do yoga every day for thirty days
So there we have it! I’m excited to get going. How nice to have a list of stuff to fall back on when I’m bored.
I’ll keep you posted with how I get on.
P.S. apologies for the photo overload! These are all photos I took on our visit to Harewood House yesterday where I had my mind blown by the dahlias. I am no longer using instagram, so you can expect a lot of photos making there way on here.
It’s been a while hasn’t it? I’m writing this sat in the lounge of our house in Leeds. I’m fully dressed with my dressing gown on over the top because I’m refusing to put the heating on. I’ve got some candles burning to cheer myself up a bit, a mug of chai (standard) and Eva Cassidy/Joni Mitchell on in the background to stop my urge to put Christmas music on because I’m feeling really Christmassy but it’s still not December so I’m trying not to start everything off too early.
I haven’t blogged for ages but I’ve been missing it, and work’s still slow so I don’t really have that much to do, so I thought I’d give you all a little update on how things are at the moment. I also thought I’d do some cheeky subheadings for your viewing pleasure.
When we got back we saw our close friends Joe and Lauren get married. It was a lovely lovely day full of laughter. Tom pulled off his best man duties well, including a speech which had everyone chuckling. We are so happy for them both.
(That’s Tom below the feathers)
Our friends Kate and Ed announced that they are expecting their first baby, which is such wonderful news! I can’t wait to get my knitting needles out and make a start on Baby Robert’s hand-knitted wardrobe.
Tom and I celebrated a year since our engagement, and also our six year anniversary. Can you believe I was 19 and Tom was 20 when we got together? We were babies! Still are really… but we’ve got a wedding to plan! Far too grown up for my liking!
I’m at a weird equilibrium of still enjoying my home comforts whilst feeling the post-travel blues. I miss not knowing where I am for a few seconds when I wake up, but at the same time, I’m loving seeing my family, getting drunk with my friends and making up new songs to sing to my cats.
I’ve found a new lease of passion for decorating and changing up the house since we’ve got back. I think being away for a while gives you a bit of perspective and inspired me to make some changes.
I guess the biggest thing that’s happened is Gaby and Peter have sadly moved out. We loved living with them for a month when we got back! We decided to rent our room out via Airbnb. We used airbnb several times whilst we were away. (For those of you who don’t know, it’s a website where you can find spare rooms to rent, or rent out you own spare rooms. At first the idea of staying in a stranger’s home can be a bit weird, but we discovered it’s actually a great way to make new friends and a cheap way to visit new places.)
So we painted the top spare room and bathroom and put it on the website. So far we’ve had three sets of guests, and it’s going really well. Our current guest, Paul, has been with us for a few weeks and is staying until Christmas, and we all get on really well, so that’s nice. Luckily he’s quite understanding with my late night piano lessons plonking away right under his bedroom! Phew!
(Here’s the room – fancy, no?)
We’ve also painted the kitchen and dining room, and painted the outside steps. Tom fixed the doorbell, and I’ve just ordered an outdoor light, which makes everything much more inviting to my students arriving in the darkness.
I’ve been on a shopping rampage recently, and I’ve bought new knobs for the chest of drawers in our room and the Welsh dresser in the kitchen. I also discovered the website Desenio which is great for cheap prints. I went a bit bonkers and bought a tonne, but they’ve given the house such a lift. Our next step is painting our bedroom.
Tom has started working in primary schools doing music technology on iPads, so he’s doing that on weekdays. He also works in a pub up the road on some evenings and weekends, and he has a third job working for a local radio station.
In contrast, I’m not really working as much as I’d like. I have twelve private flute and piano students who I teach in the evenings, one daytime school teaching flute and recorder, and a Saturday music centre where I teach big groups of piano students, and a music theory class. Having seen that written down, I realise I’m working more than I think… It’s just taking a while to build up, but I accepted that when we went travelling!
(New prints above the piano too 🙂 )
We’ve been to a tonne of gigs since we got back: Kate Rusby, James Vincent McMorrow, Tom Odell, the Low Anthem, and we’ve booked tickets to see Bon Iver in January.
I love live music, and it’s a constant reminder of why I do what I do and love doing it! I must say, Tom Odell was truly mind-blowingly good. He’s my second favourite gig of all time. (Number one was José González at the Sydney Opera House, incase you’re wondering.)
I’m enjoying having Spotify working again. For some reason it gave up the ghost and refused to work whilst we were away. Can someone let me know if I’m allowed to listen to Christmas stuff yet?
This is getting a little dull isn’t it? Ha! Well, I like to think of this blog as my diary, so I know I’ll find it interesting in years to come, plus you may find some film/tv recommendations in here.
When we got home we were massively behind on our TV watching schedule. So we’ve been catching up on Orange is the New Black, Bates Motel, and Game of Thrones. New shows we’ve discovered and loved have included Stranger Things, Happy Valley, and the new series of Planet Earth.
I’ve been binge watching Outlander, since we met Dave who worked on the show when we were in Laos, and he told me all about it. I read the first book whilst we were away, and I’ve been watching the show since we got back. (I’d just like to add that it’s quite gory and not for the faint-hearted!)
Whilst I loved the convenience of having a Kindle whilst we were away, I’ve loved getting my hands back on real books. They are such a pleasure and comfort to me and always have been.
A few highlights of my general bookwormishness since we got back:
IT by Stephen King (I’m a massive Stephen King fan, and I’ve been meaning to read this massive tome for years. It took me a good three weeks but I bloody loved it. I also read this at the same time as we were watching Stranger Things and fell into an eighties nostalgia black hole. (I do realise I wasn’t alive in the eighties but yeahhh))
Pretty Honest by Sali Hughes ( Hughes is a beauty writer for the Guardian, and I’ve always loved her writing. I treated myself to a copy of her book and, girly as it sounds, it’s inspired me to change up my make up look. I always used to wear the same make up every day, but it’s so fun to experiment and try new looks!)
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett ( A beautifully written novel, about a hold up in a big country house in an unnamed country. The whole book takes place inside the house, and quickly becomes not about the hostage situation but the relationships that blossom.)
Into Thin Airby Jon Krakauer (Non-fiction account of a Mount Everest disaster. I’m obsessed with Mount Everest, and I’ve read other works by Krakauer, so this was an obvious choice. Definitely read if you’re wanting something that will leave your heart in your throat and appreciate the lengths human beings can go to.)
Quiet by Susan Cain (Currently listening on audible. A book about the power of introverts. I’ve now realised there’s an actual reason why I’m exhausted after big social gatherings and absolutely love time to myself – hello introversion. Weird that it’s taken me this long to realise, as I’m not a shy person! But this is a really interesting and insightful listen for me, and I’d highly recommend it!)
Wedding planning is going well I suppose. People keep saying to me “oooh how’s the wedding planning??” and I’m just like “WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO BE DOING”
SO the ceremony and reception are booked, I’ve found my wedding dress, we’ve sorted the bridesmaids and best men, working on bridesmaids outfits then colour scheme…. blah blah blah. I’m excited! I am absolutely over the moon about marrying Tom but I’ve realised I’m just not the right type of person who gets excited about wedding favours and all that bullshit. Show me the champagne.
Honeymoon? Now we’re talking!!
We’ve been through a million options… Cuba, transiberian railway, Madagascar. I think we’re settling on inter railing around Europe. Once the travel bug bites you’re never cured, and I can’t be doing with luxury lying on a beach all inclusive holidays – it’s just not for me. Gimme that backpack!!
Why hello there. It’s been a while hasn’t it? It’s been a bonkers time of year here – end of the school term, so work has been mega busy, ergo little time for poor old bloggy blogs. Anyway. Amongst the madness, I’ve been travel planning: got my rucksack sorted and I’ve booked my travel jabs for Friday. Eek!
Those of you who know me well will know that I am one of life’s stress heads. If I’m not worrying about something, I feel worried. So I decided meditation was something I wanted to try. I’ve heard it calms your mind and stops it going into overdrive – perfect. So I downloaded the free Headspace app and began meditating every morning before I got out of bed.
Headspace has a free ten day guided meditation system.
Something that surprised me: It felt different every day. Some days I was entirely focused, and felt irritated when reminded to “bring the mind back if it has wandered.” Other days when this was mentioned I realised I was in a complete daydream.
Also, I didn’t feel the benefit of meditation until I stopped. The day after the ten day course was complete I felt really frazzled and stressed. It took me a while to realise that it was because I was no longer meditating.
Something that made me laugh: Quite often I’d forget to go to the toilet before beginning the session. Don’t do that. Opening my eyes to find Tom’s face in mine was another highlight.
What did I learn?: It’s not as hard as it seems. It’s also more beneficial than it seems, and less silly. I’m going to keep going 🙂