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 I was prepared for a busy month but it turned out to be a bit quieter than I anticipated! One of the highlights of my month was seeing Green Day live, so this month’s quote will reflect their amazing concert!
‘So take the photographs, and still frames in your mind, Hang it on a shelf in good health and good time…’ – Green Day, Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)
Back in January, I announced I was going to start monthly recaps on my blog. If you missed last month’s, you can find it here. Now, as we head into August, it’s time for my seventh recap. July has been hectic, although not as busy as I’d first expected. I spent one night out of the capital with my family in Wiltshire, but other than that I’ve been enjoying the delights London has to offer, including an amazing rock concert, a day trip to visit Hever Castle, two afternoon teas and some fun trying to escape out of a locked room in under an hour… I’ve also been coding lots!
July was gearing up to be an incredibly busy month, with my coding course getting into full swing and eating into a lot of my spare time. However, it didn’t quite work out as planned and there have been delays to my course now being completed, which is a shame. Despite the delay, I have still had a lot less time to myself for fun this month, although I did enjoy seeing Green Day on the 1st of July, a day spent at Hever Castle with J, some really great nights out (one in particular stands out!) and I spent a night away in Wiltshire with my family, which was really lovely.
- Seeing Green Day play at BST Festival in Hyde Park. My aunt M contacted me a week before the festival to ask if I fancied joining her as her friend had dropped out at the last minute. I leaped at the chance of re-living my youth (big Green Day fan back in the day!) and kick started the month with a day spent at the BST Festival with M enjoying The Hives, Gogol Bordello and The Stranglers before the main event – Green Day – kicked off. What can I say?! Green Day have not lost it in the slightest – I haven’t been to millions of concerts, gigs or festivals but from my limited experience, they were one of the best live acts I’ve ever seen. They literally ROCKED it!! Billie Joel had ridiculous amounts of energy and it was just an amazing show from start to finish. The show started with the crowd doing an impromptu version of Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ which sounds incredible when you watch it back on YouTube. They did all the classics that I know from my teenage years, as well as some newer stuff, and then ended with an acoustic set, which was just perfect. If you ever get the chance to see Green Day live, take it. They’re one hundred percent worth it!
- Visiting Hever Castle with J. J and I planned a day trip out of London and settled on Hever Castle as our destination. I’m so glad we did. The day turned out to be one of the best days I’d had in ages, starting with a great coffee and chat on the train as we headed out of the city. Two changes and three trains later, we arrived in Hever and walked a pleasant mile through the countryside to reach the castle. We paid full price for the tickets to go inside the castle as well as explore the grounds, which I’d recommend if you’ve never been before, but ultimately I’d definitely only pay to enter the grounds if I visited again. I much preferred the outdoors, with all the beautiful lakes, ponds, lawns and gardens to explore. We ended our day with a drink in a country pub beer garden and caught a train home in the evening. I’d now love to go back and spend a night at the B&B there!
- A night away in Wiltshire. My family and I found a weekend window where everyone was free and seized the opportunity to have a night away in Wiltshire to catch up and spend some time together. I hadn’t seen my parents since the end of May and we hadn’t been together as a five since Christmas, so it was really special to have nearly two full days and a night together. The AirBnB we booked was lovely, we ate so much we could barely move and explored some of Wiltshire, a county that is special to me since Bath is located there (one of my all time favourite cities!). The only downside to the weekend was that we didn’t have more time together!
- Two afternoon teas in one week (having never had an afternoon tea before!). I was kindly invited to the first afternoon tea by the CEO of an amazing charity named OPERA that work with recruitment agencies to get young people into jobs. We were treated to a very fancy tea at 1 Great George Street, in the beautiful Great Hall there. It was a lovely afternoon and it was inspiring to hear a talk from one young person who has been helped by OPERA and The Prince’s Trust to enter employment and retain a job after a somewhat difficult start in life. The following Saturday, A invited me to come along with her to an afternoon tea at the Rose Room at Sofitel St James near Trafalgar Square. It was a wonderful experience – the tea itself was amazing, with so many treats and nice little touches (I discovered I love rose!). We felt truly spoilt as we sat enjoying our tea and prosecco with a harpist playing in the background. It was the perfect rainy afternoon activity and I’m so pleased A invited me along!
- Some team fun at Lock’d Escape Rooms. We had a great evening of team bonding when we went along to Lock’d in Bermondsey to try our hand at getting out of their escape rooms! The hour or so we spent there was so much fun – capped off by the fact that my team won and we managed to escape after 44 minutes, with no help or advice from the expert guy who worked there! It was fun to do something different, release C’s super competitive side and see how quickly we could solve all the codes, puzzles and riddles to get out. I’d definitely recommend this if you’re ever looking for an alternative activity to try in London!
- Paying well above the odds for a return train ticket to Swindon. My return flight to Morocco in June cost me £52. My return flight to Ireland in October just cost me £35. How much is a return train ticket to Swindon, of all places? £50! Yep, you read that correctly. I can’t even make sense of how a return flight to Morocco can cost only £2 more than a return ticket to bloody Swindon. To cap it off, the train was delayed both ways, seriously busy both ways and on the way back, the air con wasn’t working so I was practically melting by the time I arrived back in London. The whole experience really annoyed me and made me angry that I can travel abroad far more cheaply than to a city just an hour or so outside of London. Utterly ridiculous!
Posts This Month
- A Brief Interlude. I wrote this post to explain why I’ll be writing a bit less on this blog in the near future. I am determined to focus on my coding and get better at that in the next few months! I’m off to Ireland in October by myself and will be returning to writing then in earnest…
Album of the Month
Alt-J – RELAXER. This album has been out for a little while now, but it’s only in the past month or so that it’s really started to make an impact on me and I’ve started playing it on repeat. I’ve been a massive Alt-J fan since their first album (I even have a triangle tattoo on my ankle as proof of my undying love) and think that their third album is their best after An Awesome Wave, with their second album now ranking third. Some of the lyrics in this new album are just beautiful – ‘I want to love you in my own language’ – and the voices and music are sublime. The whole album is seamlessly put together, much like their first, with a flow right the way through it, which I feel the second album lacked. Needless to say, listen to it NOW if you haven’t already! Best taken alongside a warm cup of tea, a slice of chocolate cake and with a great book…
Film of the Month
Dunkirk. I had been dying to go and watch this movie from the moment it was released. It’s had rave reviews and I was itching to head to a cinema as soon as possible. Waiting for a spot to open up in the iMax was like waiting for paint to dry, so in the end I persuaded E to come along with me and I bought us both tickets for a Saturday evening viewing at Clapham Picturehouse. The film did not disappoint. It is gritty, thrilling and keeps you on the edge of your seat. I jumped right out of my skin on more than one occasion and was literally biting my nails at one point. This is more of a thriller, if anything – definitely not your average war film. There is very little, if any, blood or gore and the aim of the film seems to be to keep you in suspense. If nothing else, go for the soundtrack. Hans Zimmer has outdone himself – the music is superb and woven beautifully with the picture. There is an obvious lack of dialogue, but the music ensures you’re never out of the loop and builds the tension fantastically. This is a must-see film!
Instagram Pictures of the Month
My photos this month have all been taken in London or the English countryside, bar one that I posted from Chefchaouen. I choose these three images based on which got the most likes on Instagram and then tell the story behind the picture. Disclaimer: They are not necessarily my favourite photos!
Don’t Want to be an American Idiot, Hyde Park, London. I took this photo of Green Day as the sunset behind us in Hyde Park. This was probably about the mid-point of the set, and we were enjoying all the classics. The crowd was lots of fun, singing along to every single song and I could see other people turning around occasionally, as I was, to look at the sky as the sun sank below the horizon. The clouds threw up these amazing ripple-like shapes and as it grew darker, the show only improved. Green Day completely rocked it! This image got loads of likes on Instagram and was featured in the top nine images for three of the tags I used – so I was super pleased that I took it!
Staring down the Lines, Hever, Kent. I took this image at the end of our day out in Hever. The station was quiet, only a few people waiting on our side of the tracks to catch late trains back into London. The air was heavy and warm, it was quiet and peaceful and we’d just had a great day out. Neither J nor I were super keen to head back into the city – a day out in rural Kent had been the perfect antidote to the London summer and it was so relaxing not to hear a siren for an entire day! Still, when the train arrived we boarded reluctantly and returned to the real world, tired and satisfied.
Parliamentary Sunset, Westminster, London. After one too many wines with J on a sunny Thursday evening, I opted to stroll home along South Bank and paused just after Westminster Bridge to take in what is one of the most photographed, but still one of my favourite, views in London. As I stood there, slightly tipsy and buoyed up having just spent a couple of hours putting the world to rights, I found myself thinking how much I fucking love London and the fact I now call this city my home. I want to right a longer post about this moment in the future (when I’m back on the blog more!) so will just say this: I literally did think ‘I fucking love London’ whilst I was taking this photo. What a picture perfect scene!