31 Aug 2017

August reads: The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

A review of The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Republic of Gilead offers Offred only one function: to breed.

If she deviates, she will be hanged at the wall or sent out to die slowly of radiation sickness. But even a repressive state cannot obliterate desire - neither Offred's nor that of the two men on which her future hangs.

Before you ask, no I haven’t watched the television adaptation of this yet. I had to read the book first!

It’s hard to know what to say about this classic piece of feminist fiction because I want to implore you to read it whilst giving as little away as possible.

The Handmaid's Tale is a horrific portrayal of a future that, alarmingly, feels like it could possibly happen. It’s a dystopian reality, oddly quiet, yet digs deep into your soul. The author unfolds the story gradually, subtly painting an image of stifling oppression through the main character of Offred.

There are many themes to be taken from this book, and each reader will interpret it differently. But I can guarantee you will find yourself hanging on to every word.

Honestly? The Handmaid's Tale is terrifying. It doesn’t feel dated or far-fetched and that’s what makes it all the more disturbing. I’m a few pages from the end but I can already tell you it’s a book I’ll never forget.

And now for the TV show...

30 Aug 2017

New Job, New Blog

An introduction into my new blog design

I imagine it stems from the back-to-school vibe but I always associate the beginning of September with a fresh start. So it seems appropriate that G and I are having the last week of August off before he starts a new job and I start a new role at work. It’s been an uncertain couple of months but we’re looking forward to new things. I mean sure, I’m slightly alarmed that I suddenly have a lot more responsibility for things at work. I forget to brush my hair sometimes but that doesn’t mean I can’t project manage stuff right? Also it feels slightly weird that G won’t be working in London anymore (he no longer has to get on a Thameslink train and I’m not jealous AT ALL…) but I imagine our routine will adjust in no time.

With this new-start vibe in mind, it also made sense for this week to be the one to give the blog a bit of a jazz up. So yes, welcome to the new blog design! I’ve given my little corner of the internet a little spring clean, an ironing out of the niggles if you like.

I wanted it to be more streamlined but with a touch more of ‘me’, of some fun and creativity, and I really like the end result. Every time I open the blog at the mo, I get that satisfied feeling like when you’ve just cleared out the bathroom cupboards.

The template is more minimal and I’ve also re-touched my ‘about’ page. My favourite thing though, is my new blog header. It was designed by Alohalola Cards and if you’re looking for a personal logo/greeting card/caricature or other digital designs, I would really recommend working with Claire. She makes a lot of effort to establish what you want and works really closely with you until you’re happy. I was impressed at the level of detail she went into for such a reasonable price!

The header includes a lot of my favourite things/hobbies and brings that aspect of fun/creativity to go with the minimalist vibe. Plus it’s cute and makes me smile. Look at my cats!

So, yeah, hope ya like. I’m off for a pedicure on a Wednesday afternoon and yup, I am just a teensy bit smug about it. I would very much recommend this holidaying at home malarkey.

An introduction into my new blog design

An introduction into my new blog design

28 Aug 2017

British Tapas at Number 23, St Albans

Restaurant review of Number 23 (British Tapas) in St Albans, UK

G and I have an ever-growing to-do list of St Albans restaurants; for a small city, it sure does have a seemingly endless supply of places providing good grub.

Number 23 is a stone’s throw from the cathedral and set back from the street; down a quaint little alleyway decorated with plants and fairy lights. Through the bold red door is a handful of cosy, low-beamed rooms filled with an excellent playlist and plenty of atmosphere.

Restaurant review of Number 23 (British Tapas) in St Albans, UK

Restaurant review of Number 23 (British Tapas) in St Albans, UK

Restaurant review of Number 23 (British Tapas) in St Albans, UK

They recommend 3-4 tapas dishes per person, and so we picked out 7 different plates between us.

In my opinion, the pulled pork wasn’t anything to write home about. Nice, don’t get me wrong, but fairly standard.

Everything else though, I’d order again in a heartbeat. Particularly the sugar and spice chorizo, soaked in a touch of merlot and drizzled with manchego cheese; we practically licked the bowl.

The Cumberland sausage & duck egg scotch egg went down a storm with my scotch-egg-loving companion, although I only had a small portion of it as I was distracted by the cheese. The warm honeyed goat’s cheese served with beetroot and sautéed peppers & onions was a thing of beauty and the deep fried brie served with cranberry sauce went down a treat.

The haddock and ginger fishcake was soft with just a touch of crunch from the breadcrumbs, and so very tasty. The ginger was subtle, adding just the right amount of ‘zing’, and it came with a garlic mayonnaise that went perfectly with the triple cooked chips, which were utterly dreamy. Perfectly crunchy (just how I like them) and cooked in salt, pepper, garlic and red onion; I’m hankering to go back just for these guys alone.

We were full to bursting by the time we’d finished, but couldn’t resist trying some of the tapas puddings. We went for the tiramisu, amaretto chocolate mousse and blueberry pana cotta. G and I firmly agreed that the blueberry pana cotta stood out by a mile (not to discredit the tiramisu & chocolate mousse which were fine indeed).

The staff were friendly and attentive, and the bill came in a mini chest full of sweets which I thought was a cute touch.

The cherry on top was the music played throughout the rooms (and for the tables outside). We both commented several times during the meal that the play list was on point. It was a mixture of funk & soul, old school ‘proper R&B’ (G’s words) and, towards the end of the night, the Rolling Stones. As G put it: ‘any restaurant that plays a Rolling Stones album gets a thumbs up in my book’.

Restaurant review of Number 23 (British Tapas) in St Albans, UK

Restaurant review of Number 23 (British Tapas) in St Albans, UK

Restaurant review of Number 23 (British Tapas) in St Albans, UK

Restaurant review of Number 23 (British Tapas) in St Albans, UK

Restaurant review of Number 23 (British Tapas) in St Albans, UK

Restaurant review of Number 23 (British Tapas) in St Albans, UK

Restaurant review of Number 23 (British Tapas) in St Albans, UK

Restaurant review of Number 23 (British Tapas) in St Albans, UK

26 Aug 2017

Video | Adventures in the Brecon Beacons

B A N K  H O L I D A Y.

I'm currently lazing around with un-brushed hair, no make up and no bra and if that's not a crackin' start to a bank holiday weekend, then I dunno what is.

G and I are are 'hosting' a St Albans pub crawl this afternoon with some of our favourite people so I probably should make myself look half decent are some point, but it the mean time, here's the video from the famous we-saved-a-sheep weekend in rural Wales (read more here).

Have a wonderful bank holiday weekend!

23 Aug 2017

That time we got stranded in Brussels

Back in October last year, G and I were travelling back from Holland and, as the title of this post suggests, the journey went a tad wrong.

I kept a sort of diary during the bizarre 24 hours we were stuck in Brussels and here it is for your reading pleasure…

20 Aug 2017

Life after graduation: comparison, making it up & the fear of failing

Life after graduation: comparison, making it up & the fear of failing

I have this memory from my childhood. I think it may be a combination of a few all blurred into one. It takes place on the landing in a house; either the rented house I lived in with my mum and sister the year my parents split up or the house we lived in after that, that my mum and step-dad still live in now. I can never quite work out which house it is. Anyway, I remember being told one day, if I wanted, I could go to university to study writing. I feel like I was probably clutching a Harry Potter book (I’ve done that for most of my life tbh) and probably talking about my desire to write (I’ve also done that for most of my life).

13 Aug 2017

Easy like Sunday morning

Easy like Sunday morning

I’ve been feeling pretty content recently. I spend a lot of my time planning things, planning for the future. I’ll always be a planning, mainly because I genuinely really enjoy it. But, recently, I’ve been feeling chilled and happy with our little life here in St Albans and, although the where-to-buy-a-house saga continues (and shall do for a while I imagine), I’m so appreciative of where we are right now.

This morning, I woke up, pulled on a pair of shorts, grabbed my sunglasses and headed out with un-brushed hair and no make-up. It just looked so glorious outside that I wanted to get out there asap. The sun was beaming, the cathedral bells were chiming and the monthly Sunday farmers market was bustling away.

I took a wander around it all, taking the time to lazily look at the stalls. I came home with a bunch of sunflowers and a really big and really sexy almond croissant which I ate whilst listening to the new Imagine Dragons album (it’s a good’un; go listen).

I felt so lucky to be able to do that, to just pop out and be in the middle of a farmers market within seconds; buying flowers and pastries like I’m on holiday or summin’.

There’s changes coming at both me and G in the world of work at the moment. G is starting a new job in September and I’m taking on a new aspect to my job in a couple of weeks which will mean a lot more responsibility. I don’t write too much about the ins and outs of work on here for obvious reasons but, whilst this is obviously good news for both of us, the logistics and details haven’t made it an easy ride.

So it’s nice to just take the weekends slow, be calm and appreciate the small things. Things like the utterly divine smell of the ‘cheer up buttercup’ Lush bath bomb and a tiny little BBQ on our tiny little terrace.

Happy Sunday <3

Easy like Sunday morning

12 Aug 2017

A mini staycation in Hertfordshire

A mini staycation in Hertfordshire

That white fluffy slice of heaven below is my cousin’s cat, Luna. AIN’T SHE GORGEOUS?

Last weekend, she needed looking after whilst her parents were away and so G and I headed over to Berkhamsted for a spot of cat/house sitting.

We didn’t really have any plans for the weekend other than ‘show up and feed Luna’ but do ya know what? It was freakin’ GLORIOUS.

It was slow and peaceful and made me feel all calm and actually like I was prepped to do battle with Monday. Which is a good job, cos it’s been a hell of a week.

So I thought I’d detail all the domestic beauty so that next time I’m all like I NEED TO GET AWAY, I don’t cripple my bank account by attempting to get back to NYC, and remember that it’s just as restful to take time out in your local surroundings.

5 Aug 2017

Wine, puzzles & saving sheep: a weekend in Wales

A weekend in the Brecon Beacons, Wales

I’m currently sat in the Waterstone’s café with a slice of Bakewell tart and my hair scraggily pulled up into a top knot.

Like am I peak hipster or peak old woman, I dunno.

Anyway, Wales.

A couple of Fridays ago me and the gals (minus one of us – you were missed Ele) headed off on a picturesque drive through the Cotswolds to a cottage in rural Wales aka the Brecon Beacons.

4 Aug 2017

Little Gems: 28

A list of little, happy things

I feel a tad broken. I am sure you will be keen to hear that I spent a goodly amount of time retching over the toilet bowl on Tuesday night, thanks to a bad reaction to some sea food. Isn’t that just delightful? For some insane reason, I didn’t call in sick to work and have spent the rest of the week feeling like I’m operating on zero energy.

Woe is me.

Anyway, even though the rainy weather would suggest otherwise, August is here. Which I’m finding slightly alarming because holy heck, where is 2017 going and why haven’t I done ANY of the things I wanted to do this summer yet? But I’m also secretly a little bit excited because it means Autumn is on the horizon and I bloody love those last few colourful, fairy light-filled months of the year.

Here’s what I’ve been loving recently: