26 Feb 2018

An open letter to my phone

Smartphone addiction

Babes, I think we need to break up.

I know you’re thinking woah where has this come from, and that’s fair. You and me are close after all. So close that we didn’t even notice it got weird.

No, no, no, don’t argue with me. I spend more time with you then I do literally any other human being. I mean, come on, you sit on the table when I’m out for dinner with my friends (and, okay, their phones do the same but that doesn’t make it right). You distract me when I’m at work. You’re coming to bed with me. You’re coming to the bathroom with me for crying out loud. It’s fucking weird and enough is enough.

I know it will shock you, but I’ve thinking about this for a while. It’s been building gradually, this thought that maybe you and I don’t have the healthiest of relationships. It’s just hard though, because nearly everyone I know also has a similar relationship with their phones, so it’s kinda difficult to realise there’s a problem here. But the idea has been there, building slowly.

And then I read this article. Which led me to read this book. And then things kinda just… spiralled.

So here goes.

Phone, I think I’m addicted to you.

I know, it sounds dramatic. But if you think the idea of being addicted to your smartphone sounds dramatic, chances are you’re probably addicted yourself.

You’re amazing babe, you really are. The things you can do, the opportunities you can give me. Seriously, bravo. You’re acing life.

It’s just, the problem is, I think your awesomeness is kinda preventing people from actually living. From being in the moment.

Take Singapore for example. One night, we were watching the Gardens by the Bay light show. You know this; you were there of course. And the experience was slightly hampered by the two people next to us who decided to film the show. And, hey, don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with that in theory. But I couldn’t help but watch them. I watched how they raised their phones, pressed record and then watched this amazing light show happening right in front of them, through their screen.  They then stopped recording and watched the video back there and then. Oh and then they went on Instagram to upload it. Not only was this friggin’ irritating for those around them, the more worrying aspect was I’m not convinced they actually looked at this amazing light show happening in front of them with their own eyes. And let’s face it, this is not an uncommon occurrence.

Sorry but, I am not okay with that. And I doubt most people would be… yet we all seem to be doing it.

And that’s not all phone, my dear. The facts are scary, and I don’t think they can be ignored any longer.

You’re designed to addict me, I am addicted to you, and yet it’s considered normal to be constantly glued to you. You and your friends are messing with our lives and no one is doing anything about it. You’re so new to us that we’re not taking this addiction seriously.

Phones are designed to manipulate our brain chemistry, to trigger dopamine and activate addictive behaviours. And it gets worse. Phones are actually changing the way our brains are wired. They’re killing our attention spans, messing with our memories, ruining our sleep and dampening our creativity.

These are not bold claims phone, these are proven facts. That is what you are doing to me. It’s just taken me a while to realise.

This isn’t the end for us. You can still be a part of my life, still bring me joy. But phone my dear, we’ve hit a point where I feel like I can’t live without you. And, well, that’s not normal is it? So things have to change, because I want my life back. A life not lived through a screen.

And that’s why I have to break up with you.

23 Feb 2018

Postcards from Singapore

Postcards from Singapore

I’ve been back from Singapore for three days and, honestly, it already feels like a distant dream. Was I really chilling in Asia, in 35 degree heat, just three days ago? Given how cold my feet currently are, I’m not entirely sure.

I have long wanted to go to Singapore. I seem to know a surprising amount of people who have been and come back raving about it, which has only fuelled my desire to go over the past few years. Despite this, I have spent a long time assuming it was a place that I wouldn’t go in the near future. As it’s a casual 13-hour flight away, I’d decided it was where I would stop-off for a few days when I finally get round to visiting Australia and New Zealand (and who knows when that will be).

Recently though, after doing more research, I began to think that Singapore was actually somewhere that deserved to be visited in its own right and it was an idea I couldn’t get out of my adventure-loving mind. After mentioning it to my friend Alice, things spiralled surprisingly quick, circumstances aligned themselves, and suddenly we were booking flights and a hotel with just five week’s notice.

Gotta love a January deal.

Postcards from Singapore

Postcards from Singapore

Postcards from Singapore

I very nearly didn’t make my flight thanks to an accident on the M25. There was the full works; flashing blues, air ambulances and a fuck load of stationary traffic. We sat unmoving for an hour and a half.

It was a teensy bit stressful.

Okay, that’s a lie; I very nearly had a meltdown.

I made it to the airport at 6:04 and bag drop closed at 6:05 (BIG shout out to the cheery British Airways guy who still got my bag on the plane for me – his exact words were ‘you’ve made it by the skin of your teeth’).

Anyway, the point is, I did make it, survived the 13-hour flight and jet lag that followed and found myself in Singapore for a full seven days.

Postcards from Singapore

Postcards from Singapore

Postcards from Singapore

When we arrived at our hotel, slightly disorientated because we’d essentially lost a day, there was the most beautiful sunset over the city and as we watched it, it felt like that M25 traffic was a long way away and I was so excited for the week ahead.

In a world of heavily-filtered Instagram posts, I think it’s important to keep things real so I’m just going to flag now (whilst I’m banging on about sunsets) that Singapore was not instant, all-consuming love for me. It was not somewhere, like NYC for example, that immediately had my heart. There were moments like that, areas that I instantly loved, but there were also areas that required more than one visit for me to decide if I liked them; and then there were the places that I thought were somewhat disappointing. I found the hawker centres hard work, Sentosa island overrated and was perplexed as to why the Night Safari was listed as one of the top thing to do in my lonely planet travel guide. Also, I suspect we may have gone on the wrong day, but the bar at the top of Marina Bay Sands (somewhere everyone tells you to go) was like some shit club, with excessively loud music and no where near enough room to enjoy the amazing view.

Postcards from Singapore

Postcards from Singapore

Postcards from Singapore

Postcards from Singapore

Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy Singapore. I had a bloody brilliant week, and came away very much in love with the place. But I fell in love the more I moved away from what I’d been told was good and towards what worked for me.

Singapore was honestly one of the most interesting and culturally-varied places I have ever been to. It was a hard place to get a ‘feel’ for because each area differs so vastly from the other. One minute you were in India, the next in a futuristic city and the next in a jungle. It was an assault on the senses (in a good way) and felt like we were jumping between completely different places every day. I think this is why I found there were some disappointments along the way; the areas are so different that, actually, it’s down to taste. I can see why some people may find Sentosa island a lot of fun and recommend it but so much of it didn’t appeal to us. No one told me to go to Little India and yet it was one of my favourite places.

Of course, all areas did have the overpowering humidity in common. Unless you were sheltering somewhere with air con, there was a constant presence of sweat. So dreamy. Whenever I look back on Singapore, it will be hard to forget that heat. Oh and the shopping centres. Seriously, there are SO MANY freakin’ shopping centres. You’d end up in one even if you had no intention of being there and they were so big, you’d wonder if you were ever going to get out again (we got lost in several – it became a bit of a theme).

Not sure why I’m chatting about shopping centres. I guess, as is always the way when taking a trip, it’s the small, slightly random things that stick in mind. And I have so many of those little memories from Singapore. Eating prata bread, Alice’s singing causing me to have a new song in my head every day (Hey Jude cropped up more than once), getting lost in a never-ending supermarket in Little India trying to find cough syrup, eating kaya toast & eggs on my birthday, trying a lassi drink, watching a wild baby monkey play on St Johns Island, buying a kimono in Chinatown, throwing peanuts on the floor in Raffles Hotel (an old tradition), getting henna done on our last afternoon, dozing on the beach at the Southernmost Point of Continental Asia, waiting to cross the road for about half an hour at every single flippin’ crossing point (why did they take so long to turn green, whhhyyyy), the constant sound of drums for Chinese New Year, Alice’s dislike for the rucksack she’d had to buy last minute before leaving, the sheer number of insanely cute kids running about, eating two loads of ice cream in the space of half an hour on Sentosa island, the delicious peanut sauce I ate at Satay by the Bay (a hawker centre), the amount of merlion statues I saw… I could go on.

I’ll also overwhelmingly remember the colour. The colourful streets of Little India, the vibrant shops of Haji Lane, the bustling gardens, the endless amount of vivid light shows; there was colour absolutely everywhere and I loved it.

Singapore was vibrant. It was beautiful. It was completely unique. And you can bet all you got, I’ll be going back one day.

Postcards from Singapore

Postcards from Singapore

Postcards from Singapore

Postcards from Singapore

20 Feb 2018

Honey, I'm home


HEY.

Guess who plonked down at Heathrow airport at 4:45am this morning? Complete with jet lag, sunburn and a chesty cough; a crackin’ set of souvenirs don’t ya think?

I’m writing this from the flat after spending the day unpacking, eating pasta pesto and watching Gavin & Stacey. It’s currently 1am Singapore time so attempting to stay awake for the next few hours is going to be a jolly hoot, I’m sure.

Not going to lie, I’m a secretly a little glad to be reunited with my jogging bottoms, British food and the same time zone as G (kinda hard to maintain regular conversations when one of you is 8 hours ahead). Oh and being back in the land of no humidity. There’s only so much sweat a girl can handle before she’s crying over how much she misses fresh air (not a concept in Singapore; it’s humidity or air con – take your pick).

Despite that, our trip was amazing and I have a lot to report so expect my rambles to be rather Singapore-heavy for the immediate future. I’ll be chatting about my favourite days, what we loved and what we were like, erm what’s the fuss about exactly (cough Sentosa cough).

In the meantime, I’m going to go splash myself with some cold water in an attempt to still be awake when G gets home from work. As much as I’m sure he’d love to come home to me snoring on the sofa after 9 days apart.

I’ll be back typing when I’m not struggling to stay awake at half 4 in the afternoon. See ya x

11 Feb 2018

Singapore, I'm coming for ya

Travelling to Singapore

It’s a bright Sunday morning and I’m plonked on the sofa with a blank page, when I should be doing something else.

What else is new eh?

In approx. six hours time, I shall be in the car for a pootle down the M25 to experience the delight that is Heathrow’s Terminal 5. Which is just kickstarting the joy that shall be a casual 13-hour flight.

THIRTEEN HOURS.

A three-hour flight has been known to make me anxious so this should be an interesting experience (excited for raiding Pret for plane snacks though, ngl).

This will be the longest I have ever spent on a plane, and the furthest I have ever travelled. This both thrills me and makes me slightly anxious; for no real rational reason other than I’m prone to being an anxious Annie, particularly where planes and airports are concerned.

But at the other end after, no doubt, a touch of travel sickness and ear popping, a whole new country awaits. A whole new place, a whoooooole new woooooorld…

Stop Kate.

Basically, I’m anxious about the flight but am attempting to take it in my stride because if I push those anxious thoughts aside, I am full of excitement for going somewhere fun and new and once-in-a-lifetime.

When I’ve told people that I’m off to Singapore with a friend, a few of them have said to me ‘but what about G?’ He similarly has had people say to him ‘but what are you going to do?’

My honest answer to these questions: we are not attached at the hip.

Shocker, I know.

We continue to function whilst the other is not around, funnily enough. I think, when you’re happy, it’s very easy to get comfortable. Yes, I will miss G and our little flat but if I allowed that to stop me from doing anything by myself, I’d never do anything. And it wouldn’t be healthy.

It’s good to shake things up once in a while, to do something a little different; a little out of your comfort zone (like hop on a long-haul flight when you hate flying).

As life happens, as I plan a wedding, save for a house and yes, even start considering having children, I know my priorities will change. And I’m okay, excited, for that to happen. But, in the meantime, I’m taking the opportunity to spontaneously decide to travel half way round the world with just a few weeks’ notice whilst it’s easy to do so.

So yes, I will miss G (but have no doubt he’ll manage to stay alive whilst I’m away) and yes, I am anxious about that thirteen hours on a plane. But I’m still gonna pack my suitcase and get my arse to the airport.

Because life is short, and Singapore looks incredible.

9 Feb 2018

Lessons From My Longest Ever Relationship

Lessons from my longest ever relationship

It’s been three years since G asked me out for a drink in the darkest depths of January. Three years since we kissed in St Pancras station. Three years since he made me pancakes in his shared house and three years (nearly) since we decided 14th Feb was probs gonna be our anniversary.

And here we are: sharing a flat and planning a wedding (and, right this second, having a conversation about whether we have any Cajun spice in cos it's gonna be a wild Friday night).

I will actually be spending our third anniversary in Singapore with a friend like the top-notch fiancé I am. I leave on Sunday so we’re having a lil celebration tonight by making jambalaya; the first meal G ever cooked for me (you can read that story over here).

But it’s important to acknowledge that 3 years means this is the longest amount of time I have ever chosen to spend in a relationship with the same person. So here’s a few lessons I’ve picked up in the last 1095 days:

It should be easy

Oh mate, I want to go back and tell my past self this so bad. It should be easy. It should be simple. It should be we-want-to-be-together-so-we-will. Obviously life throws challenges at you and there can be hard times, and compromise and disagreement. But there’s that and then there’s trying to unicycle across the ocean whilst drunk. 

Talk about money, share money

Ah money. That tricky bugger eh? People can be so hush hush about money but in my opinion, if you can’t have an open, honest conversation about money with your partner then you ain’t getting very far. G and I actually share all our money, in one account, which works for us. Not only does it make life so much easier, it makes us feel like a team. It’s not about what each of us earn, it’s about combining our collective resources and knowing what we have together. Yes it takes a lot of trust in the other person; in a way, it’s a bigger level of commitment than getting married, but man does it just make money and life easier to deal with. 

I need someone who is self sufficient 

On balance, I’m pretty independent. I enjoy spending time alone just as much as I do spending time with my favourite people. I work better out of the office, am regularly working on my own projects and get angsty if I don’t have regular time to write. It’s only since being with G that I’ve realised how important it is to be with someone who a) understands that and b) is perfectly happy to entertain themselves. Some of my favourite times are when G and I are just chilling on the sofa on a Sunday afternoon whilst he reads the paper and I write. Comfortable silences are so the one. 

Establish what you want early on 

A friend told me recently that someone they knew had broken up with a v long-term partner because that partner had said that they didn’t want marriage or kids. I was honestly astounded that they’d gone, literally, years without having this conversation. I don’t remember the exact conversations but I feel I was pretty clear with G from the start that I wanted children some day. These conversations can be a bit nerve wracking but so is getting seven years down the line and finding out you’ve invested your life in someone who doesn’t want what you want. 

You need the same mindset about work

If G had an all-hours-in-the-office mindset about his job, we’d have very quickly fallen out. Work can be important, for sure, but so is eating nachos on the sofa or spending the evening in the pub. In my opinion, no one ever lay on their deathbed and wished they’d spent longer at the office and this is fundamental to my way of living, so I need someone who agrees with me. And hey, it can work the other way round as well. If you both want to work until 10 at night, great; you guys do you. 

It’s what works for you 

Comparing yourself to other relationships is about as useful as sticking pins in your eyes. Every couple is different, with different desires and ways of doing things. G and I do not do everything together, we don’t buy Christmas presents and he knows better than to expect a phone call when I’m with my friends. That’s how we roll. Everyone should just do what works for them; what makes them happy. 


So thanks, future husband, for loving me, for putting up with me, for also wanting to get married in a pub and for not even looking mildly disgruntled when I leave my stuff absolutely everywhere (soz). You da best. 

4 Feb 2018

A Make-Over For Bill's, St Albans

Bills refurbishment, St Albans

I’ve mentioned more than once that Bill’s in St Albans is a favourite of mine. It’s the restaurant G and I ate in the first time we came to view our flat. It’s my default for a casual catch up with friends, for when G and I just want tasty, reliable food surrounded by cute interiors.

Plus it’s literally two minutes from the flat so convenient if nothing else.

In early January, on my way to work, I noticed that Bill's was closed up and there was a hub of activity going on inside. Every time I’ve walked past in the last few weeks, I’ve wondered what it was going to look like after a refurbishment.

So when my pal (and fellow blogger) Lisa invited me to join her at their re-opening, I was happy to go have a nosy whilst we enjoyed a catch up.

It’s immediately obvious that Bill’s has had a make-over from the outside. There’s retro ‘movie’-style lighting around the restaurant name, window box flowers, and elaborate decorations of red flowers and a fake peacock surrounding the door. It’s certainly eye-catching and inviting.

Inside, there’s a lot more colour everywhere, right down to the wallpaper in the staircase up to the loos. There’s vintage, chintz-type chairs and sofas, all bold colours, with mirrors, pots, frames and plants decorating the walls in a v Instagram-worthy fashion.

It’s all a bit more polished than before, but manages to maintain elements of the shabby-chic vibe and still feels very Bill's.

Bills refurbishment, St Albans

Bills refurbishment, St Albans

Bills refurbishment, St Albans

Bills refurbishment, St Albans

Bills refurbishment, St Albans
The main difference is the new seated bar area, encouraging you to pop in for cocktails and nibbles in a way you wouldn’t have done before. We sampled a few different cocktails; the Hedgerow Fizz, the Raspberry & Rosehip Collins and the English Country Garden (as well as a cheeky glass of good old prosecco) and they were all right up my street; exactly the kind of cocktail I’d want on an evening out. My favourite was the Hedgerow Fizz if you were wondering (I am far too keen on prosecco)!

Bill’s menu has also had a make-over; after a quick inspection, I could see that they now have an ‘all day’ menu instead of separate breakfast, lunch and dinner menus and, honestly, it looks dreamy. There are loads of new things to try (although I was pleased to see my favourite halloumi burger is still kicking about); I particularly want to eat everything in the ‘lunch plates’ section and get a group together to try the ‘sharing dinner’ small plates.

We got the chance to try a whole host of stuff from the new ‘nibbles and starters’ section; the spiced nuts (these guys were surprisingly moreish), giant olives, fried halloumi sticks, devilled chicken skewers, beetroot & goats cheese crispy rice balls, duck puffs, spicy lamb & beef meatballs and gratinated prawns. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the duck puff personally, but everything else was really tasty. Special shout out to the halloumi sticks and meatballs!

There was a bit of a party whilst we were there so I’m keen to go back and inspect those new interiors when it’s a bit quieter, and I can’t wait to go give their new menu a proper try.


Bills refurbishment, St Albans

Bills refurbishment, St Albans


Our drinks & nibbles were complimentary but all opinions my own. V much a fan of Bill's!

3 Feb 2018

New month, new random rambles

February life catch up

Ey up chaps.

I’m currently sat on the sofa (shocker) curled up in a blanket and considering wearing gloves because my hands are FREEZING. It’s one of those days where it feels dark by midday; it’s raining, it’s cloudy and the flat feels gloomy. So I’ve lit a bunch of candles and it probs looks like I’m about to have a séance or something. Meh.

It’s February, in case you haven’t noticed. I saw a lot of people tweeting about how they felt January was slower than a snail but I honestly don’t know what happened to it.

It was pretty manic from the moment we got back from Brighton. This week was the first week of the whole month I didn’t have several deadlines at work and, what do ya know, it’s actually quite nice to not be attempting to type faster then is actually possible or doing work on a Saturday morning. We’ve planned the wedding, planned holidays, been to Kent, been out for several celebratory drinks with friends; yes, we have been haemorrhaging money but hopefully that’s going to calm down a bit now.

She says as she orders currency for Singapore.

Oh and yeah, we booked flights to Ireland this morning (we do have a wedding there in May if that goes anyway to making me sound less holiday-mad…)

I don’t really know what this post is by the way. Just a random ramble.

What can I tell ya?

I have a minor hangover cos G and I went out for drinks, dinner and more drinks last night. We went to Busaba, a Thai place round the corner which I think is pretty new to these parts. G went so far as saying it might be his favourite place we’ve eaten in St Albans ever which I thought was a pretty bold claim. But, I gotta agree, I was a big fan of the chilled vibe to the place. We stayed for about 3 hours, just chatting, and they seemed quite happy to let us sit there long after we’d finished our food.

I think I’ve found a dress to wear for another wedding we’re going to in March. I really like it, usual irrational body hang-ups aside, but I’ve realised it’s definitely one to wear with heels. When I said this to G, he looked at me funny and was like ‘but you don’t wear heels?’ and I realised that I haven’t worn heels in approx. 200 years. I dug out some from the back of the wardrobe, that I probably bought back when I was a student, and it was like Bambi learning to walk, no joke. So yeah, am now browsing ASOS for heels I might actually be able to walk in without falling over and flashing my pants to 100 wedding guests.

I was hoping February was going to be a bit quieter but it’s a short month and I’ll be spending 9 days of it in Singapore, plus starting my new role at work, so I doubt it. March. March will be slower and cheaper. Hopefully.

Nice problems to have though eh?

In other really-not-that-interesting-news, am contemplating deleting twitter off my phone (lol so groundbreaking Kate) because I keep finding myself mindlessly scrolling through it despite the fact that it just seems more depressing every day. It can be a v witty and brilliant place but can also make you think the world is about to end any second and people are horrible beings. And I get enough of that from reading the news headlines tbh.

And on that note, I’m going to turn off my phone, have a bath filled with an excessive amount of bubbles and bath bombs, before whipping up some homemade pizzas and resuming my position on the sofa.

Happy Saturday and all that.