July Verbs

Well look at us.  We’ve made it to the second half of the beautiful year 2014.  Part 1 flew by, but writing monthly updates like this really help me see what I’ve been up to.  Here’s July:

Watching: Hemlock Grove

Another Netflix original here, with a creepy storyline and a stunning cast.  I’m about 6 episodes in and I have to be honest, am still not quite sure what it’s about, but I’m loving every minute of it.  It’s absolutely captivating TV and Bill Skarsgard is beaut.

Hemlock Grove

Hemlock Grove

Reading: The Wedding Girl – Madeleine Wickham

Madeleine Wickham is an excellent author, also writing under the name Sophie Kinsella, who brought us the Shopaholic series.  She writes small and easy novels that are girly, gossipy and make you giggle.  They’re light fun reads that fit nicely in a handbag for the train and that you think about all day.  Would definitely recommend.

The Wedding Girl - Madeleine Wickham

The Wedding Girl – Madeleine Wickham

Listening To: Embers – Just Jack

I heard this beaut in the back of a Gossip Girl episode (yep, that’s still happening) and immediately whipped out my Soundhound app to hear what it was.  I was pleased to know this stunning track is on Spotify and it’s been on replay pretty much ever since.  A gorgeous song.

Tune.

Tune.

Wearing on my Body: Havaianas

I bought my black bejewelled Havis in Australia last year, after I fell in love with the same pair which my cousin owned.  In this gorgeous weather, they haven’t been off my feet.  Being black they go with anything, are super comfy and make whatever nail polish I’m rocking pop.

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Beaut.

Wearing on my Face: Instablur

My love affair with Benefit’s Porefessional has come to an end.  I’d read a lot about this Body Shop product Instablur on beauty blogs, so thought I’d give it a go, and we’ve embarked on a fully fledged fling.  It’s a very odd consistency I must admit, but really does minimise pores and act as a great priming base for both foundation and powder.  Again, would definitely recommend.

Instablur

Instablur

Eating: Leeks

Leeks are one of my all-time favourite vegetables and are currently in season, meaning they’re much cheaper and better for the environment than if you bought them at another time of year.  Leeks feature at least daily in my diet this time of year, being great on a roasting tray of vegetables, fried up with some peas and bacon for a side dish, or an ingredient in a healthy vegetable packed soup.  Beaut of a veg.

Yum

Yum

Drinking: Coconut Water

I remember in Thailand we’d drink fresh coconut water every single day.  Back in England however, I was greeted with unattractive cartons and even more unattractive prices.  So I was absolutely thrilled to see M and S have launched a coconut water in a great sized bottle (currently on offer too!).  It’s light, refreshing and almost tastes as good as the real thing!

Yes Please!

Yes Please!

What have you been up to this July?

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Ascot 2014

This weekend marks the King George Weekend (A Modern British Classic) at the Ascot Racecourse near Windsor.  It also marks just over a month since I graced Ladies Day at Ascot with my beautiful girlfriends (from left to right: Georgie, Chaz, Myself, Shona and Becky).  Here’s what happened:

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After a bright and early start we all met at Georgie’s house for the 30 minute taxi journey to Ascot.  As we were in the Silver Ring, we were allowed to take 1 bottle of sparkling wine/champagne/cava per person as well as a picnic taken in a cool bag or hamper. I settled on a bottle of Prosecco and a ladylike burger from a stand inside.  Here’s a snap of us before we all went in.  I’m the short one in the middle.  Whilst I contemplated wearing heels, I also figured there would be a lot of walking involved on the day, to and from the betting stations and the bar (of course).  So I bit the bullet and went for my fancy Dune sandals of 4 summers ago, and I’m so glad I did!  Sparkly feet and no foot pain whatsoever, winning.  Whilst I can’t remember where all the girls outfits are from (but if you’re interested, comment below and I’ll find out for you :)) my #OOTD is as follows:

Fascinator – British Heart Foundation Charity Shop

Dress – Planet at Debenhams

Watch – Vintage

Clutch – Florence and Fred

Sandals – Dune

Cheers!

Cheers!

After we found ourselves a patch of grass amongst the throng, we sat down to toast the day and drink our bubbles.

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We’re all such busy ladies, so it was lovely to catch some sun, chill, chat, drink and giggle catching up.  People watching was beaut too!  (Also can we please acknowledge Georgie’s gorgeous hair?!)

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As you can see, it was utterly crowded in the Silver Ring, but it was great because it added to the atmosphere in so many ways.  It was lovely seeing everyone dressed up and having a good time.  Just before the races started the Queen popped on by in her carriage, we didn’t see her, but had this pretty good view of the big screen!

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Next the races started.  There were 6 in all, between 2.30pm and around 6pm with about 30/40 minutes between each, enough time to pop to the ladies, the bar, or make your bets.  We all got involved in the betting.  Whilst my Dad had very methodically selected 6 horses with the aid of the Racing Post, we all picked the horses we liked the names of!  I came away £25 up!  #Winning

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After an AMAZING day we got our taxi home where we descended on Yates’ in all our finery to watch the England game, and we all know how that turned out!  Nevertheless we had a fantastic time, it was a great experience, and I’d really recommend Ascot to all!

Bella Evening

For the last 3 to 4 years, I’ve been partaking in an event named ‘Bella Evening’.  Or my full and real name evening if you know me well.  Prerequisites require a free house (boyfriend being out and about), wine, cheese and a girlish drama of sorts.  I’ve loved, even craved these evenings for the past few years.  A chance to let down my Bridget Jones, sing youtube karaoke to my webcam in my pyjamas and collapse into the MIDDLE of the bed, without fear of retribution.  So why is it tonight, I’m questioning my company?

I think it’s because generally, these days, I’m alone more.  So the question is, how to be alone?  Whilst one could take inspiration from this incredible youtube video, (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k7X7sZzSXYs) how does one enjoy being alone when it happens so frequently, yet so seldom?  Excuse the melodrama.

I’m alone most days.  These days in #masterslife, I generally work from home.  I look forward to boyfriend returning home at 7pm, dinner and drinks, or a night in front of The Hunger Games.  So when boyfriend heads out of an evening, alone time turns into … lonely.  Yet I do oh-so hesitate to use that word.  I have beautiful and amazing friends, whatsapp and texts could provide me with a cinema or bar buddy in half an hour, yet I choose to stay alone.  Why?  When did my own company, which I love and crave so much, become questionable?

I believe it’s important to be alone.  I’ve always been around people, always.  My family home was full of people coming and going.  One year, I remember 16 souls in a 3 bed semi for a month over Christmas.  At university, I lived in a house of 9.  I’ve always been around people.  And don’t get me wrong, I love people.  And because I love people, I believe in the importance of being alone.  Whilst sociability is an exquisite trait, so is aloneness.  I just need to remember that.

I used to cherish being alone.  And in 6 months, when I have a full time job and am struggling with running a household, seeing friends and family and looking after a boyfriend (ladies, y’all know what I mean), I’m going to cherish it even more.  These evenings are few and far between these days, and will become even more so in the future.  My own company isn’t questionable, its essential.  Not just now, but always, and I will love and enjoy me, myself and I for years and years to come.  So should you.

Thank you for letting me vent, excuse me whilst I go bathe, watch Orange is the New Black and belt out ‘Titanium’.  I believe it keeps me sane.

How We Make It Work

Now, I know I’m no expert.  I haven’t been married for thirty years and I don’t have any children and I certainly don’t have any kind of ring on any kind of finger.  But I like to think the boyfriend and I make it work.  As were approaching the 18 month mark I can see all those people from Halls who thought it was never going to work and I want to throw my head back and chortle.  Cause you know what, it has worked and fingers crossed, it will continue to work for a very long time.  Here’s how.

1) Date Night.  Now whether this comes in the form of an afternoon gobbling pizza in front of Shrek or a romantic table for two in a posh restaurant, date night is stupidly important to make a relationship work.  Despite the fact that man and I do the same course, we’re forever running here, there and everyone with me rushing off to dance or to present a radio show or him to rugby and the pub, so believe it or not, we don’t get to spend that much quality time together.  Note the buzz word there, quality.  Yes he can be in my room all day but that will be it.  I’ll be working, reading journals, writing notes and organising my life whilst he’s doing the same (or playing on Football Manager), so I don’t really notice him.  He’s just a comforting presence in the corner.  Date Night gives us time to exhale and say ‘How are you?’ and really want to know the answer.

2)  The Best Friend Role.  Now, I’m a sucker for a cliché, I always have been and I certainly hope I always will be.  It makes life much more dreamy and romantic.  The boyfriend is my best friend, my best best friend, and I would actually be lost without him.  Not in a lovey dovey way, but in the way I wouldn’t have anyone to play computer games with, play Simon Says on rainy afternoons, run around the room tickling or have impromptu midnight feasts with.  Well I would, just not in the same way.  Another buzz word there, play.  Playing brings about feelings of youth, happiness and laughter.  Relationships don’t have to be boring and serious.  They can be fun, so so much fun.  Just enjoy being with your best friend.

3)  Don’t Get Comfortable.  I may not have chosen the correct words there.  When I say ‘Don’t Get Comfortable’, I mean don’t settle for less than what you deserve.  As Samantha from SATC so notoriously says in her break up ‘I’ve been in a relationship with me for 50 years, and that’s the one I need to work on’.  If myself or boyfriend are unhappy about a comment or an action, we won’t let it fester and bottle it up, we will sit down and talk about it, work it out.  We push the boundaries of discussion, debate and sometimes argument, so we know that we are both being the best we can be for both ourselves, and for each other.  Because let’s face it, if there comes the time that the other person isn’t the best thing for you anymore, then it might be time for a rethink.

4)  You Time.  Now this can be a tricky one.  If you’re exhausted and just want to cuddle up and the boyfriend says ‘Sorry I’m going out with the boys’, it can be a little down heartening.  But it’s so so important.  There have been many a night when he’s rung up and wanted to pop by and I’ve said, no, sorry, I’m downing wine and watching SATC.  Whether it’s with your boys, your girls, your housemates or your family, time with you and your friends is incredibly precious.  Because if it all goes belly up, who will be there?    I blow boyfriend off for Bella time all the time.  ‘What are we doing now then?’ he’ll often say.  And I’ll say ‘I don’t know about you but I’m buying myself a magazine and a coffee and sitting on that bench for an hour’.  For me, you time is crucial to not only a relationship, but also general wellbeing.

Just a few tips.  Yes I’m loved up, and I love it.  And what?

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Explanation

I’m back! Well at least for now. Hitting Uni has left me with a lack of routine, structure and motivation for work. I knew it would be like this to an extent, but not like this! My life has changed so much. It is now 2011, I live in Southampton studying Geography at University, I have the most incredible friends in the world and a beautiful man in my life. It sounds poor, pathetic and uncommitted, but I simply haven’t had time to write. My days are filled with recovering from the night before, maybe an hour or two in a lecture, an afternoon nap before a quick pub stop then heading out again. Monotonous, perhaps, but not when you attend the most incredible, busy, liveliest pubs and clubs on the South Coast, see some of the most amazing live acts, and share it all with the most beautiful people you’ll ever know. I’m loving every second of it. 2010 Year of Culture did not fly out the window. I just didn’t write about it. I’ve visited Southampton galleries, a few museums, been up to London countless times, trekked it to Bristol for a weekend, not to mention all the gigs and music venues available round here! I’ve never been happier. I’ve never been more in love with my life. I know I’ve always said it, and always been content, but it’s true. After a whirlwind, soap opera like start to my new life (that I’m sure everybody has one way or another) I’m now settled with an incredible boyfriend, the most amazing friends who I’m sharing a house with next year and an absolutely fantastic social life. Things have never been better. It hasn’t all been perfect, it never is. I’ve missed home and my girls more than I ever thought I would and my Christmas was a bit of a nightmare with a family tragedy. All that complete with not seeing my Isle of Man man for 3 weeks did get on top of me. So it’s been a bit stressful, but all on the up now  I guess it’s growing up. For me, leaving home was never a chance to be who I wanted to be, because I’d already been doing that for so long. But I’ve seen so many people around me develop and grow into new, wonderful people and I’ve never been prouder and happier. I’ll try and blog more, I really will. But I needed you all to know I’m happy, I’m well and haven’t dropped off the face of the earth. How are all of you?

V Festival 2010

3 girls road tripping to a music festival in the remote English countryside … what could possibly go wrong?!  Nothing.  Yes, that’s right.  Absolutely nothing.  It surprised me too.  With bull in a china shop over here with 2 of my like minded besties, Rosie and Maddie, we imagined something catching on fire, getting slashed or stolen.  Nothing!  Just one of the best weekends of my life …

I admit I was anxious.  With an online festival guide kindly telling me I could **** Off if I was going to V and reading in a magazine that only ‘Dave from the IT Department’ would be there, I had my doubts.  Rocking up in Brunton in my dungarees and converse (standard fesitval wear, naturally), Strongbow in hand, my fears were in vain.

We instantly befriended our neighbours over beer and burgers and talked long into the night.  Our initial party of 7 multiplied to over 20 of us singing, shouting ‘Alan’ at any passer by possible, drinking Skittle Vodka and wine straight from the box.  At 10am we were still there.  Such a bonding experience!

Despite our tiredness, we headed to the main Arena where the V stage greeted us.  Just 3 rows from the front we saw Feeder.  Absolutely incredible.  With their beautiful children dancing side stage and ‘Buck Rogers’ (player, player, player …) making the crowd go crazy they were definitely one of my highlights.

A sloppy pizza later Paloma Faith greeted us.  I have never had more of a shock when someone opened their mouth!  Underneath that sophisticated, lampshade (yes, she wore one), gorgeous exterior was a broad Cockney accent rivalling my Nancy days!  Shock of my life!  Whether she was drunk or happy I’m not too sure but she made us sing along, dance along and genuinely have an amazing time.  ‘New York’ was my song of the set.

Shifting further and further forward we saw the beautiful Newton Faulkner.  Knowing he was a school friend of one of my friends and that his actual name is Sam definitely worked in his favour.  He just came across so kind and genuine, and talented, so so talented.  Despite just him, his odd socks and his guitar, his set was captivating from his cover of ‘Teardrop’ to making us sing ‘Gone In The Morning’ like rabies infested pirates (yes, that actually happened) to ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’.  So good!

An alcohol fuelled afternoon with our neighbours (think Jay’s double thumbed ‘Friend’, Inbetweeners, duh?!) later we scooted back to the Main Arena.  It was so impressive by dark.  A theme park with hundreds of food vans, shops, bars and tents with enough rubbish to feed a landfill.  Dazzling lights and music with every kind of person under the sun.  We saw Hen Parties, nakedness, pure lads, drunkenness and just general fun in all fashions, shapes and sizes.    And everyone was so happy, so friendly.  No bitchy angst, just a complete mish mash of people who were so happy and excited to be there.

Now I try and see the best in everything, I really do.  Kings Of Leon.  Such hype, such expectation … such a let down.  Thousands and thousands of people crammed together, the atmosphere just buzzing.  So disappointing.  I hate to admit it but I was bored, I even resulted to vodka jelly for entertainment rather than watch a sweaty front man practically eat his microphone.  Granted, some people loved it.  Other than the beautiful drummer and ‘Sex On Fire’, the whole set was a complete dud for me.  But I did get to dance on a wheely bin.

After a night much like the previous the rains came.  The paths turned into rivers and the bikini mud fights were in full swing.  A relaxed morning later Paolo Nutini awaited.  Absolutely stunning.  I love his Caribbean influence.  Even the old stuff had the trumpets and the Gospel style backing singers.  Beautiful!

Shuffling forward again, The Kooks were next.  I’ve always listened to them, but couldn’t have told you what they looked like.  I did not expect a Gordon Ramsay esque drummer and a 5 foot front man drunkenly running about the stage.  So entertaining!

Then hell broke loose.  In the 40 minute odd wait before Faithless, carnage, absolute carnage.  The standard festival concept of bottling went absolutely wild.  It was raining, pouring bottles, cups, clothing – anything people could get their hands on and lob.  Liquids flew through the sky as we got well and truly concussed.  I don’t even want to know what ended up in my ears and hair!

By the time Faithless began we were three girls surrounded by sweaty grown men.  As the familiar keyboard tunes played, we had no hope as the well known circling began pre mosh pit.  I’m not going to lie, I was pretty nervous as the windmilling and kicking began.  4 songs later we were ready to head off, but not without the most fun attempting to mosh I’ve had in a long time.  I’m still feeling the injuries.

A quick stop at the God tent later we saw Imogen Heap.  Despite her electrics and sound failing, she was extraordinary.  She turned the audience into her music and sang her ‘Speeding Cars’ and ‘Hide And Seek’ with such feeling I thought she might cry.  Such a beautiful and talented lady!

So that was it!  After a water logged night we headed home on the four hour journey back to sunny Wokes, feeling rough and exhausted, but in no doubt of the incredible weekend we had had.  I learnt how to put up a tent in the roaring winds, I learnt how to use a camping stove, I learnt how to use a She We (that’s another blog…), how to music festival and how to mosh.  Never have I laughed and loved so much, and felt so full of life.  I had one of the best weekends of my life with two of the best people in my world.  And despite being concussed, having a near broken foot, sun burnt and hungover, I’d do it all again tomorrow.  Amen.

Just a smattering of our amazing neighbours!

This is quite possibly the best photo I have ever taken!  Maddie’s wristband plus Feeder front man :)

In the Oxygen Lounge, looking rough, sun burnt and terrible but I don’t care!  Such a great experience, I giggled for hours!

Paolo Nutini – God.

Imogen Heap – just beautiful.

Field Of Dreams?

Field of Dreams?  Quite possibly.  Camp, otherwise known as Mid Wessex Christian Camps located in the heart of the New Forest which I have now been attending for 10 years, and it’s as incredible as it was a decade ago.  After a long drive home yesterday and a stupidly long, and warm, sleep I am now ready to write about it.

Not having a set role at Camp this year (I normally lead a tent for children aged anywhere between 9 and 15) I was pretty apprehensive about my week away.  I didn’t want to be a ‘Floater’ and I was so scared I nearly didn’t go.  As soon as I got there though, all my fears were put to bed.  My title was a ‘Hostess’, I did everything from organising mini bus logistics, to cooking, to cleaning out toilets to being in the worship band.  It was incredible.  I was busy every moment of every day and I absolutely loved it.  It was so amazing being involved in the practical side after 10 years and appreciating Camp for what it is and how it runs, and I’m so proud I could be a part of that.

One of the best bits of my week was running a Forest Adventure/Challenge … all by myself J  Normally, the 60 campers and 30 odd leaders trek it to the heart of the forest to be greeted by an authoritative looking, muscle bound, manly early 20 year old guy.  This time, they had me.  Armed with my Army rucksack and walking boots, I hiked into a clearing surrounded my horses, cows and even dogs (those of you who know me well will know what a big feat this was for me) to set up my Challenge.  Walky Talky in toe complete with code names (This is Caffeine, Roger that, over and out), 8 groups of people successfully completed my challenge, and enjoyed it!  It was so nice abolishing the standard and breaking through with the unconventional.  Girls can do it too!

The Camp Fire is always a special one.  Ever since I can remember it has been full of tears, testimonies and love.  There is something just so intimate and personal about sitting in front of a blazing fire in the dark with people you know and love, and feeling comfortable enough to share how you are, how you’re feeling.  Complete with songs, shakes and sermons the Camp Fire has been and will always be my favourite evening of the week to be both respected and appreciated together.

Line Dancing was pretty incredible.  Quite possibly the most hardcore workout I’ve had all summer, dancing and jumping about like a lunatic!  So much fun.  As every evening did, it led to 15 odd leaders sitting around laughing until we couldn’t breathe.  I will miss those people the most.  I could go into every event that happened in so much detail but to be perfectly honest I don’t have the energy, and have well and truly exhausted my caffeine supply for 2010.  Camp is always wonderful, as was this year.  I feel so much happier in myself and in Christ, I have rediscovered my love for jeans and I have fallen realised the beauty of caravans.  I have reconnected with old friends and made some amazing new ones.  I’m loving summer and that Field of Dreams was no exception.