30 Jun 2017

Little Gems: 27

I just realised that the last time I did a proper Little Gems post was March. MARCH. Last month, I didn’t feel quite right writing a normal one and April was far too preoccupied with being in the Big Apple.

So HI.

After the wonderful chaos that was going to New York and then flying out to Corfu just a few short weeks later, June has been a quiet month. But still full of the little and lovely.

Twenty years of Harry. TWENTY WHOLE YEARS since the first Harry Potter book was published. This made me feel actually, genuinely, old but also warmed my soul (which is wholly intact) because I love it just as much as I did when I was 6 and that’s pretty special. Can’t wait to still be loving you and forcing you on my own children in another twenty years Harry.

Peonies. Finally joined the Instagram cliché crew and bought a punch of peonies (can’t believe it took me so long tbh). Are they not just the most beautiful flowers? Aaaallll the heart emojis.

Line of duty. This was one of those tv dramas I always intended to watch but it never happened and suddenly, there’s four series and everyone is banging on about how good it is. So G and I started watching and, yup, binged watched all four series in a few days. If you’ve watched Line of Duty, you’ll know this was intense. But omg, IT’S SO GOOD.

Harry Potter in concert. Just before we went to Corfu, I took my sister to the Royal Albert Hall to see Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in concert (basically where you watch the film but all the music is played by a live orchestra) for her 21st birthday. To say it was good would be a massive understatement. The music gives you chills and I love how involved the audience we're allowed to be. My favourite moment has got to be when Harry sat down on the stool to be sorted and some lad yelled out 'GO ON HARRY'. That and when everyone clapped when Alan Rickman's name came up in the credits.  

Couch to 5k. I mentioned in my exercise post that G and I have started the NHS Couch to 5k running programme. We’re two weeks in and I HAVEN’T GIVEN UP YET. No one is more surprised than me.

First grad job. My sister managed to get a graduate job after her first ever application and first ever interview. So happy and proud of her (if a little jealous at how quickly she managed it).

Food shopping. After a year and 3 months of living together, G and I have finally got our act together and are doing weekly food shops. You know what’s nice? Already having the ingredients in for that random recipe you wanted to try… Also, it’s cheaper and means we eat better. Yay for nailing one aspect of adulting.

ALL the street food last weekend (more here). Aw man, it was all so damn scrummy *googles nearby food markets*.

#HappyBirthdayOllie.  If you haven’t seen this thread on twitter yet, I implore you to go check it out. It will restore all your faith in humanity and the internet.

29 Jun 2017

A week in Corfu

A diary-like description of a holiday in Corfu, Greece

I love Greece. I have done ever since I first went, aged 9. We started in Athens and then went to the island Skiathos. My sister, aged 5, famously declared she didn’t understand how the Acropolis could be really old when it ‘wasn’t finished yet’. We missed our ferry and got stranded. I ate baklava on a coach trip and thought it was the best thing I had ever tasted.

You get the gist; Kate’s a fan of Greece.

So I was pretty darn excited when, a few weeks back, I finished work for the day and headed out into the torrential rain wearing a sun hat for a mosey on down to the Hilton hotel at Gatwick airport where we had a wild Thursday night. Lol, jokes, we went to Giraffe and watched the ITV leader’s debate.

And then we were greeted with a delightful 4:30 alarm the next morning.

Fast forward through a Pret croissant, a three hour flight, an oh-they’ve lost-our-luggage moment and a nerve wracking drive/battle through Corfu’s questionable highway code, we arrived at a rather sexy looking villa clinging onto the hillside. We stayed near Agios Stefanos cos we’ve been before and it’s a bloomin’ gorgeous area. There’s beautiful white houses and pebbled beaches and tavernas so close to the sea that you can eat dinner whilst dipping your toes in the water.

A diary-like description of a holiday in Corfu, Greece

A diary-like description of a holiday in Corfu, Greece

A diary-like description of a holiday in Corfu, Greece

A diary-like description of a holiday in Corfu, Greece

A diary-like description of a holiday in Corfu, Greece

A diary-like description of a holiday in Corfu, Greece

A diary-like description of a holiday in Corfu, Greece

A diary-like description of a holiday in Corfu, Greece

A diary-like description of a holiday in Corfu, Greece

A diary-like description of a holiday in Corfu, Greece

A diary-like description of a holiday in Corfu, Greece

Things to note about the villa: it had a panoramic view of the ocean, boats and Albania that was so sexy, I wanted to marry it. It basically had an infinity pool (yaaaas) that they’d put bars across to stop you falling out which kinda got in the way of the view (not so yaaaas). There was enough hot water for one person to have about half a shower a day so that was real great for a house designed for six.

There you go; a lowdown of the important stuff.

It was a lil slice of paradise, I’m not gonna lie.

We spent a lot of time soaking up the sun and eating Greek salad, baklava and kleftiko. Cos who needs a ‘beach body’ when there’s Greek food eh? I’m glad you agree cos one day, we did buy 21 euros worth of hummus and I wouldn’t want you to judge. Most evenings were spent eating three course meals in the same restaurant whilst stray cats, children and bloody enormous birds (the jury’s still out on whether they were ducks, geese or turkeys) wandered around the beach. I chased the stray cats a lot (love me you fools). I jumped in the pool, watched a couple of epic thunderstorms, drank wine every night and read books in one sitting. I watched G bond with my family which was cute at first but then like, okay you’re wearing the same shirt as my step-dad, stop now.

The third day could have been a disaster. We were woken up by some pretty epic thunder and rain bouncing off the swimming pool. But we kinda just went with it, taking a wander around the taverna’s, eating a lot of tapas and oh mumma, some pretty sexy custard pie. We took a lil walk around the Corfu coast, the rain cleared and, lol, my mum was wearing a fleece in the sun. Sure it left slightly cooler temperatures and a bit of cloud but that did nothing to the colour of the sea.

Have ya seen the sea in Corfu? It is so damn clear! My absolute favourite place to see the colours of the sea in Corfu is this nearly-always-empty pebbled cove which has a rickety little jetty. You can stand at the end of it, look down and see right to the bottom of the ocean through the transparent green and blue water *insert alllllll the heart emojis*.

We woke up to the awful news of the Manchester bombing on my sister’s 21st birthday. It was shocking and scary, and left us feeling like we almost shouldn’t have fun. But then it’s like the terrorist’s win? So we celebrated my baby gal’s 21st in style. We went to a gorgeous harbour taverna for lunch (did I mention the custard pie…?), we swam in the sea (well G and my fam did, I just kinda sat in it to cool down), we went out for an evening meal and the owner of the restaurant presented us with the most gorgeous chocolate mousse cake complete with 21st birthday candles and sparklers. I mean, the birthday girl couldn’t actually eat it (lol Greek’s did not understand veganism) but the rest of us enjoyed it…

I took my laptop with me with this idea that I would have all the inspiration and time for writing but, apart from the occasional hour here and there, it mostly remained untouched and I read books whilst eating crisps/ice cream instead. And that, quite frankly, was marvellous. I mean, sure, I’d have loved to have come back with several novel chapters written but I also just really enjoyed switching off for a while. One of my favourite things about these kind of holidays is that they always give me perspective. Switching off from reality for a few days, and talking at length with some of my favourite people allows my brain to relax, therefore see things clearer and come home with a better idea of what I want, or need to improve in life.

I don't really know how to finish this post so I'm just gonna tell you that I ate some form of pastry for every meal whilst I was there, and I have no regrets.

Until next time Greece, you sexy thing you.

A diary-like description of a holiday in Corfu, Greece

A diary-like description of a holiday in Corfu, Greece

A diary-like description of a holiday in Corfu, Greece

A diary-like description of a holiday in Corfu, Greece

A diary-like description of a holiday in Corfu, Greece

A diary-like description of a holiday in Corfu, Greece

A diary-like description of a holiday in Corfu, Greece

A diary-like description of a holiday in Corfu, Greece

A diary-like description of a holiday in Corfu, Greece

A diary-like description of a holiday in Corfu, Greece

25 Jun 2017

A Weekend Full of Street Food

“Street food is the future” the girls and I declared last night whilst sat in a warehouse drinking champagne and dipping bread into a baked camembert.

We were at Mercato Metropolitano, a food court near Elephant & Castle, London. It was SO good guys, so good.

We started with a trip to the Miami Beach Backyard Cinema, tucked within the food court. We kicked off our shoes, squidged our toes in the oh so soft sand and sank into a beanbag to watch Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them with a pina colada in hand.

You know what’s underrated? How soothing it is to spend the entirety of a film with your feet buried under sand. Seriously, there’d be a lot less anger in the world if everyone just did this once a week.

When we emerged back into the daylight, we had a drink outside before setting up camp right next to the Champagne and Fromage stall. Totally not deliberate. Honest.

The evening was spent chatting and laughing whilst working our way through gourmet cheesy wedges, tender strips of steak and chorizo on a bed of sweet potato fries, a baked camembert with garlic and herbs, a cheesy pizza and a good few glasses of the bubbly stuff.  Oh and gelato OBVIOUSLY. Pistachio gelato is too sexy for its own good if you ask me.

There was future talk and sex talk and how good is this cheese talk. I was all light headed and happy as I sat on the train back home and then a tad headachy when I woke up this morning.

Note to self: a Sunday morning run will be a lot less sluggish if you haven’t drunk champagne the night before *insert shrug emoji*.

It’s Alban Weekend this weekend in St Albans and today was the street festival part of it. Given it’s literally outside our front door, it would have been rude not to right? No one ever said there was a limit on how much street food one could eat in one weekend…

There’s a market twice a week in St Albans and sometimes, in those moments where you just need to get to Tesco for some milk, you find yourself feeling irritated by the sheer number of people in the centre. In that I KNOW YOU WANT TO LOOK AT HATS BUT COULD YOU NOT JUST STOP DEAD IN THE MIDDLE OF THE PAVEMENT AND FORCE THE REST OF US TO FORM AN ORDERLY QUEUE kinda way. But then you also know how flippin’ lucky you are to live where you do… it’s the very definition of a first world problem.

Today, though, we just went with the crowd, enjoying the luxury of having all the roads shut off, and the music and street theatre. G enjoyed some beef brisket and I had genuinely one of the best pizzas I’ve had in a long time; with chilli, chorizo and so much cheesiness.

There was a cocktail bar so I had my second pina colada of the weekend, served in a pineapple and then we crammed our faces with some flippin’ sexy churros covered in chocolate and nuts with toffee sauce for dipping. Oh god, so dreamy.

And naturally, I’m now on the sofa resembling a stuffed slug. So, yeah, hope ya had a good weekend folks. I’m gonna watch Glasto and enjoy the high associated with a weekend of good people and good food.

23 Jun 2017

My relationship with exercise

Thoughts on and experience with exercise. NHS couch to 5k programme.

If you know me IRL, read this blog or have glanced at any of my social media for more than five seconds, you’ll probably be aware that I’m not the world’s biggest fan of exercise.

It sounds kinda dramatic, but I do genuinely think a lot of it stems from my year 5 PE teacher. I have no memory of hating exercise during the first few years of school. My step-dad still likes to tell the story of how I came home from my year 4 sports day and proudly declared that I’d come ‘fourth in skipping and last in running’. Lol at me. So, yeah, I was shit but still pretty enthusiastic.

And then we moved to a new area and I started a new school with my new PE teacher and it all went downhill. She was pretty cliché tbh; i.e. she was really supportive to anyone who was good at sport and borderline bullied the kids who weren’t. I spent the first few months of year 5 in a state of near-hysterical anxiety because I couldn’t do a forward roll. True story. My parents (both sets) used to help me practise on the living room rug in the hope I would improve enough that it would stop the cow going on about it in gym class. But I really was hopeless (I was never destined for a career as a gymnast) and I used to lie awake the night before a PE lesson feeling sick with nerves about how she would treat me.

Because I couldn’t do a fucking forward roll. I WAS NINE.

Eventually my step-dad had enough, rang the school and shouted at the headmaster. I like to think he pointed out that he couldn’t do a forward roll either, and it hadn’t prevented him from pursuing a successful career.

Forwardrollgate came to a close but it was the start of 4 years that firmly cemented a hatred of PE in me. The teacher never outright bullied me after that but there were subtle digs on a regular basis. Like, for example, the time she forced me to come last in cross country the ONE time I wasn’t actually doing too bad because she made me stop half way round so she could have a go at me for wearing navy joggers instead of black.

I know, I know, it will be listed as one of the major crimes of the 21st century. I’m so gangster.

After 4 years of this, I moved to upper school and away from the cow. But, really, it was too late. At upper school, I did the bare minimum of compulsory PE lessons up until I was 16 and stopped as soon as I hit sixth form. I also refused to participate in a sports day for the five years I was there. Still not entirely sure how I managed that. I did attempt a few times to do some kind of exercise outside of school. I was part of a dance class for a while, although that was more for fun more than anything, and there were various half-hearted attempts to go running. None of this was particularly successful in keeping me fit, and eventually I just stopped trying. Nowadays, my exercise consists of walking between home and the station and the station and the office; on the three days I go into London (if I’m not late or the weather’s not awful, in which case I end up on the tube). I’ll occasionally do a few mins on the exercise bike or a bit of yoga but that’s the general gist of it.

I can’t solely blame my school PE teacher for my relationship with exercise because a part of it is that it’s not something that particularly interests me either. I’m not even a little bit competitive and a lot of sport seems to be about winning whereas I’m more like, cool story bro, can I go read my book now? And there’s just the general fact that I’m a woman of a certain age and a lot of us seem to avoid doing exercise for fear of feeling embarrassed or uncomfortable or awkward cos, lol, sweat dribbling ain’t really that sexy. AND I’m asthmatic which just adds to the whole sorry affair.

BUT, I do often wish I could ask that teacher what her effing deal was. I feel that, as a PE teacher, it was her job to encourage all kids who came her way that the most important thing about exercising is that it keeps you healthy. That it’s good to live an active life. Anything else, playing sport competitively etc, is a personal preference/choice.

But all she taught me is that exercise is about winning, about what you wear and about being humiliated. And it has taken me a long, long time to begin to unlearn this.

One of my goals for 2017 was to move past my reluctance and start exercising regularly. When I set that goal, I was imagining I would go swimming more. The one type of sport that PE teacher didn’t ruin for me was swimming. I’ve always enjoyed being in the water; I find it quite soothing. But tbh, it’s not really worked out. My local leisure centre is disorganised and always heaving at the times I’m available to go. There were several occasions where I was kicked in various areas or I arrived and paid, only to find that there weren’t any lanes available despite what was advertised *insert eye roll emoji*. Could someone build me a private pool pretty please?

I would class running as my least favourite form of exercise; I have never, ever enjoyed the experience of running. EVER. So no one was more surprised than me when I suggested to G that we did the NHS Couch to 5k running programme. G has wanted to get back into running for a while (before an injury a few years back, he was a super keen runner. He enjoys it and everything. Weirdo.) so he was up for it. We live next door to the park so it’s probably the least-faff form of exercise available to us. And it’s free which is an added bonus.

As its name suggests, the programme is designed for people who do no exercise and it gradually trains you up so by the end of nine weeks, you can run 5k without stopping. We’re only on week two but, so far, it’s not been as entirely hideous as I imagined it would be. I haven't cried, had a tantrum or given up. Win. It’s challenging me, physically obviously, but also mentally; to change my perspective and attitude towards exercise. On our last run, I started to feel conscious of that fact that G is already faster than me but then I reminded myself that it doesn’t matter one little bit. He can run at his pace and I’ll run at mine. The whole point is just to do it; I don’t need to be competitive, there’s no PE teacher to humiliate me – just fellow runners who smile at me, and I can wear whatever flippin’ clothes I want.

Get this PE teacher, I’m wearing BRIGHT PINK TRAINERS AND JAZZY LEGGINGS. You can take those navy joggers and stuff them up your…

21 Jun 2017

A Grumpy Gal's Guide To Surviving A Heatwave

Surviving a heatwave in the UK

It's currently 34 degrees celsius and yup, I’m that person. IT’S TOO EFFING HOT.

I literally cannot focus, get comfortable or sleep in this weather and the more it goes on, the more of a grumpy cow I become. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike summer, I would just rather the temperature didn’t nudge over 25c whilst I’m in a country where the houses are designed to RETAIN heat, have to go to work, and there’s no pool to jump into every five mins.

With the temperature still creeping up, the lack of sea breeze (note to self: move to the seaside) and Argos having sold out of fans, it's extremely tempting to just go set up camp in the freezer...

For the oven that is your flat/house
Quite frankly, I’d probs give my right arm for a garden and paddling pool right now. But, alas, I have a small flat squashed between other flats and sitting over a cafe. Refreshing no? SO. Have all windows open and the blinds down/curtains drawn to keep that pesky sun at bay and hopefully create some kind of air circulation. Fill up every ice tray you own for a constant supply of cool drinks. Take cold showers for obvious reasons. Empty the bins basically every day to prevent that delightful smell of boiled garbage circulating the place.

For the commute
I’d say work at home but sometimes a) it's not possible and b) the air conditioned office is more appealing then becoming an oven-baked walkers crisp in your flat. Either way, there ain’t no denying that commuter trains are basically the worst place in existence during heatwaves in the UK. They're simply not designed for this shit and it's surprising how many don't have air con (SWEET JESUS WHY). You'll need a full bottle of water, something to fan yourself with, probs a change of clothes and hopes&prayers to make it to the other side.

For attempting sleep
If, like me, you’re someone who can’t sleep with nothing over them, then chuck the quilt and just go with the quilt cover. Change the sheet every couple of days cos mmmm sweat. Scoot as far away from your other half as possible (love ya babe but you're producing body heat...) Windows and bedroom door wiiiiiide open (if poss). Earplugs on hand for when the bloody birds start squawking at 5am. Fuckers.

For food/drink
Don’t fuck about now. WATER WATER WATER. Probs should just eat nothing but ice cream and/or milkshakes. Maybe a cheeky fruit cider if ya gonna rebel against the NOTHING BUT WATER warnings. You daredevil you.

For clothing
As light and 'breathable' as flippin’ possible. Carry plenty of plasters for the inevitable sandal/sweat rubbing scenario. No or minimal make up cos let’s face it, that shit will just melt off your face. Burt’s Bee’s lip balm is so the one for those dry lips.

For the thigh rub
URGH. I’ve heard good things about roll on deodorant but I swear by Lush’s ‘silky underwear’ dusting powder (here). Feel those thighs gliiiiide girl.

Update: have recently discovered Bandelettes. You can thank me later. 

For the heat-loving folk
Because they’re there. Telling you not to be grumpy. Outraged at your dislike for the heat. Assuming hating the heat means you must hate everything to do with the summer months. Uh huh, sure pal. That’s what I said. Basically, avoid them like the plague. Potentially steal their ice cream.

For day-to-day life
Accept very little is gonna get done and then don’t bother to attempt it. Sure, you do still have to go to work if you want to continue being paid, but your hoovering can bloody wait Margaret. Stalk the weather forecast and count down until the moment the temp drops to a healthy 24c and you can resume your life.

Good luck...

18 Jun 2017

My New Favourite Flowers

Photographs of Peonies

Peonies are probs the most instagrammed flowers right? So I think it's fair to say that I'm late to the party cos this is the first bunch of peonies I've ever bought.


In my defense, the market stall and/or the Tesco local where I usual buy my flowers from never sell peonies so it's more a lack of supply rather than my lack of effort.

But then Friday night, G and I decided to do our food shop at Sainsbury's, cos vouchers, and there was just one lonely bunch of peonies sat in the flower section... MINE.

And I've basically spent the entire weekend marvelling at how beautiful they are. They began opening up on Saturday morning and I keep find myself gazing at them like they're David Tennant or a cake or summin'.

They have managed to become my all time favourite flowers in the space of one weekend. Congrats guys.

Also the vase they're currently in used to be an instant coffee jar and I'm really rather smug at how well it works...

Hope your hothothot weekend has been full of ice cream, fruit ciders and a lack of thigh chafing.

Photographs of Peonies

Photographs of Peonies

Photographs of Peonies

Photographs of Peonies

Photographs of Peonies

Photographs of Peonies

Photographs of Peonies