I normally add a quote to the beginning of each post that sums up or enhances my writing. However, I’m going to use my monthly recaps as an opportunity to sum up the month – be it the mood, the weather, my feelings… Anything really! This month has really been all about my wonderful friends and family, so here is a quote for February that just about sums up how I feel about them all:
‘How I measure riches is by the friends I have and the loved ones I have and people I care about in my life, and that’s where my values are and that’s where my riches are.’ – Ann Romney.
Back in January, I announced I was going to start monthly recaps on my blog. The first, from January 2017, can be found here. Now, as February draws to a close, it’s time for my second recap, this time on a month that has been a lot quieter and much less busy!
Whilst January was busy, with barely space to breathe at times, February was a lot quieter. It wasn’t deliberately planned that way, but I am very glad it turned out like that, since March is due to be another hectic month and it was good to get a breather in between!
That’s not to say there haven’t been things going on. It’s mainly been another month of hanging out with friends and family, exploring London and enjoying life in the big smoke. In fact, I’ve not left London this month! After Bruges and Cardiff in January, and what with popping home to Wales for a weekend and two weeks in Israel and Jordan coming up in March, time to chill out at home in London was much needed.
The main events in February included the christening of my two adorable baby second cousins, a Sunday spent exploring the Barbican and visiting the Museum of London after brunch with my cousin V, an unplanned and great night out eating dim sum and drinking mojitos with P, a day out with L who has been travelling around the world and seeing C, who was home from New Zealand for a few weeks. Throw in a few drunken nights, a really excellent film and a visit from my sister and you’ve got the makings of a great month in London!
- Visiting the Barbican. I’d heard about the Barbican for years, but never got around to visiting before now. However, following a lovely brunch with my cousin and her baby one Sunday in Angel/Islington, I decided I’d stroll home and set off, not really following any map or particular route but using the high rises in the Square Mile as reference points. It was pure chance, really, that I ended up at the Barbican, but I’m so pleased I did! I spent a good hour or two wandering around the estate, taking countless iPhone photos of the Brutalist architecture and generally enjoying the contrasting architecture – the grey tower blocks, the glowing limestone church in the middle, the glass skyscrapers in the background and the merry fountains and green lawns dotted around the estate itself. I followed the Barbican up with a visit to the Museum of London, which didn’t blow me away if I’m honest, and then decided I’d done enough walking for the day and caught the tube home.
- P coming to visit for the day. My sister P lives in Bristol and I don’t see her as much as I’d like (or as much as I see my other sister anyway, who lives basically down the road from me in Clapham). So when she said she was going to come and stay a night in London before heading to Brighton the next day, I made sure I had the evening free to see her. Long story short, she decided not to go to Brighton the following day, I happened to have the day off work (score!) and we ended up having a lovely day together, seeing E for lunch, walking from Green Park to Borough Market, browsing the wonderfully delicious array of foods, grabbing coffee and even spotting Liam Neeson filming on South Bank!
- Seeing friends who usually live in New Zealand. Regular readers of my blog are probably aware that I miss New Zealand pretty much every day – not all of it, and not all the time, but it is always at the back of my mind. So it was really great to be able to see not one but two friends from New Zealand this month – L who is currently travelling the world before heading back and C, who is British born and bred, but now lives in NZ full-time and may soon be getting residency! It was so awesome to catch up with them both, show L some of my favourite London spots and generally get a bit of Kiwi in London.
- A great impromptu evening out. I love evenings that just happen, so when P messaged me about five minutes after I’d arrived home one night saying he was in Waterloo and asking if I wanted to hang out, I walked straight back out the door and within half an hour, we were sitting at a bar on South Bank catching up. When hunger kicked in, we headed to a dim sum restaurant near the station named Ping Pong and had mojitos and really good food before heading back out into the unseasonably warm evening and strolling slowly home along South Bank. What I’d planned to be a quiet evening in with toast and a movie turned into one of the best evenings I’ve had in ages with P.
- And a great impromptu evening in. I rang A last Saturday near the end of my day. I felt drained and exhausted and I had a real need to see her. She answered in surprise – ‘I was literally just messaging you!’. Great minds… I ended up buying a bottle of wine, heading to her house and we had an evening in with Chinese, alcohol and snacks, putting the world to rights and listening to trance and dance hits from the 90s and early noughties. I left at 1.30am feeling happier than I’d felt all week. Sometimes, you just need to see certain people to lift your spirits.
- The Christening. It was lovely to go to my two baby second cousins getting christened this month and get lots of cuddles from two of my favourite babies! This was Day Two of my epic hangover (see below), but the food afterwards was excellent and definitely helped my recovery process! It was also great to see my aunt do her thing in church, as she is a minister and I’ve never seen her in action before. Granted, it’s not likely that I’m ever going to be regular church-goer, as I’m not at all religious (I’ll keep it limited to christenings, weddings and funerals I think!), but it was nice to glimpse that part of my aunt and cousins’ life and see what they get from their church community by way of support and friendship.
- Anxiety. I’ve been feeling anxious quite a lot towards the end of the month, and I’ve not entirely been able to put a finger on it as to why. I think some of it is work related (I was super busy for a few days and it never felt like I had enough hours in the day!) but it is lingering on despite the busy period passing so there must be something else causing it on a sub-conscious level. See the next two lowlights – I daresay they haven’t helped!
- Feeling exhausted. Despite not leaving the city, I’ve been busy burning the candle at both ends a bit too much, and last weekend, it finally all caught up with me. I went to bed on Sunday at 8pm and pretty much slept solidly until 8am on Monday morning. Monday evening came around and I had the light off by 9.30pm and slept until 7.30am. Two super sleeps have really helped beat the tiredness, but I know I need to stop staying up so late going forwards and start taking care of myself a bit better!
- The worst hangover. Literally. All my own fault (never drink that much wine on an empty stomach) but honestly. I couldn’t move. I got out of bed twice to have food and that was it. I’ve not been that hungover in months and months, and it carried on over into Sunday as well. Get those violins out and start playing folks, it was a shitty day!
Posts This Month
Movie of the Month
Denial. I went to see this movie right at the beginning of the month with A. We decided to see it at the Picturehouse in Clapham, which is a really nice cinema with a bar and a more personal vibe then say, an Odeon or Vue. The film itself gripped me – I’ve not been so involved in a film in such a long time! I thought the cinematography was beautiful and the acting from Timothy Spall and Rachel Weisz was great. Plus, Andrew Scott, literally one of my favs after his performances as Moriarty on BBC’s Sherlock! He was excellent in Denial too and really helped make it the great film it is. I’ve had conversations with others since who didn’t enjoy the film and found it clichéd, but I stand by my claim that it’s one of the best films I’ve seen in a long time.
Check out the trailer to Denial here!
Instagram Pictures of the Month
It’s been a quieter month on Instagram for me as well – I’ve posted far fewer images than I did in January. I’ve posted from London, but I’ve also put up some throwback shots from New Zealand and Mongolia as well.
Ship Creek, New Zealand. I only visited this beach twice during my time in New Zealand, but it was my favourite beach in the entire country. Found on the West Coast near Haast, the wild Tasman Sea rolled in, huge breakers swelling and crashing against the shoreline, sending up a cloud of fine spray and mist. This picture was taken the second time I visited, with my DSLR. The beach is littered with logs thrown ashore by the waves, and my eyes played tricks on me, making me think people were up ahead, making me squint to try and make out the shapes. I was into the second week of my solo road trip and I was heading north to Fox Glacier, this beach an important pit-stop on my journey. I spent about an hour wandering, taking photos and watching the waves, enjoying my own company.
Houses of Parliament, Westminster, London. As we wandered slowly home after our impromptu dim sum, P and I stopped to take photos on our phones of The Houses of Parliament. It was a particularly calm night, the Thames wasn’t raging or apparently trying to break its banks and the reflections were good. I am often pleasantly surprised at how well my iPhone camera performs in darkness, and was really pleased with this shot. Sure, if I’d used a DSLR, I could have set it on a long exposure to turn the water silky and give the whole image another dimension, but I don’t carry it around with me on a daily basis and quite often, my phone has to do. Beside the London Eye, South Bank is crowded with people, milling around, even at 10pm. Walk just under Westminster Bridge to the other side, to Albert Embankment, and the crowd disappears as if by magic, leaving behind just those who want to meander slowly home or set up tripods to capture those long exposures of the Thames and Big Ben.
Blue Pools, New Zealand. The throwback images to New Zealand were popular this month on Instagram, and this photo actually garnered me the most likes of the month! I took this the same day as I took the photo above at Ship Creek, but at this point the rain was coming down in torrents and I was worrying about my DSLR getting soaked! My lens was a little blurred, but I carried on taking shots, cleaning the lens as best I could in between. Despite the weather, the pools remained their incredible blue hue, so typical of glacial waters. It looks almost fake, but I’ve barely touched this image, that is all real blue! By the time I got back to the car I was drenched, but it was worth it!