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. Despite a wonderful holiday and lots of fun with friends, October hasn’t been the easiest for me and I’ve had a few sleepless nights worrying about this and that. This quote just about sums up that time I spend overthinking when I should be sound asleep!
‘Worry is a cycle of inefficient thoughts whirling around a centre of fear.’ – Corrie Ten Boom.
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. This month has had its share of ups and downs. I had a great holiday that I didn’t want to return from. I spent lots of time with my friends, as always. I brunched and laughed and danced and walked and drank way too much Prosecco and ate roast dinners, sat transfixed watching breakers roll in from the Atlantic and enjoyed the leaves turning glowing orange on the trees across London. But on the other side, I’ve been conflicted about work, getting frustrated with my living arrangements and generally a bit blue. Fingers crossed that November brings less worry and overthinking for me, and more fun escapades instead!
- Walking nearly six miles from St Thomas Hospital to Primrose Hill through all the central London parks. On the very first day of the month, having left A in the hospital, I needed to clear my head. I took off and walked nearly six miles through the central London parks from Westminster right up to the top of Primrose Hill. It was just what I needed to blow the cobwebs away and think through everything. I stopped along the way for a roast in a pub on Baker Street and then wandered through Regent’s Park, admiring the leaves on the turn as autumn began to set in properly. The view from Primrose Hill was well worth the long walk, and as I strolled back down again I couldn’t help but feel both slightly smug and very satisfied with how my day had turned out.
- Not one, but two, lovely evenings out with A. Time with A is precious, and we often go several weeks, if not a month or more, without seeing each other. So it was lovely in October to spend not one evening with her but two, and on the second, she and P finally met after over a year of us all living in London. On both occasions, we had some drinks before heading for a very tasty pizza on the first evening, and to Dip ‘N’ Flip with P on the second outing. Both meals were delicious, but the pizza just edges it…
- A walk around Richmond Park followed by a roast and Prosecco. Whilst eating my roast at the beginning of the month, I sent a photo to E who got jealous and said she wanted one. The following Sunday, we headed to Richmond to do just that – get her a roast! After a lovely walk through Richmond Park, surrounded by multiple dog owners and tourists taking photos of the deer, we headed back into the village and settled in for a feast at The Cricketer’s Arms. It was really good too – we treated ourselves to Prosecco, I had an extra Yorkshire pudding and we ate stilton drizzled in truffle honey afterwards. It was the perfect ending to the day, and just what we needed after our walk!
- Two market dinners. Followers of this blog will know that I’m a big fan of eating at London’s many markets. The food is cheap and invariably delicious. Although I steered clear of Flat Iron Square after my excessive number of visits in September, I did make sure I headed to Pop Brixton with P one evening for a great Italian sandwich and A and I checked out a new market near Elephant & Castle just before I headed off to Ireland. Mercato Metropolitano is the biggest market I’ve been to in London yet, with ample sitting room and loads of great food trucks to choose from. I played it safe and got a pizza, whilst A tried squid ink stuffed pasta. She said it was good, but pricey for the amount she got, whilst my pizza was well priced but similar to others I’ve had elsewhere in terms of quality. We had churros from another food stall to finish which were excellent. I definitely want to head back here soon and try some of the other food stalls… Maybe get a little more adventurous with my food choices next time!
- Learning some of my family history in Allihies. On the first day of my holiday, I headed to Allihies to see my aunt and uncle and after a brisk walk on the beach, I headed to the copper mine museum opposite their house. I’d never been before and was fascinated to learn that the surname ‘Hodges’ originally comes from Cornwall and my ancestors were brought over to Ireland during the 19th century to help run the mines in Allihies. It was a really good display of local history and I was lucky to get in, since the museum closed for the season the very next day!
- All the wonderful scenic drives and walks on the Beara Peninsula. My entire holiday was absolutely wonderful, and exactly what I needed. However, it wouldn’t have been half as good if I hadn’t jammed in as many walks and scenic drives as I did! The Beara Peninsula is a beautiful sliver of the world, where the mountains drop down dramatically to meet the ocean and waves smash against jagged dark rock on the sea shore. I explored caves, saw a couple of seals, strolled along countless beaches, rode a cable car to Dursey Island and hunkered down as ex-Hurricane Ophelia battered the peninsula before moving north. I’ll be writing a longer post about this wonderful place soon, but needless to say, I am already planning my next trip back!
- Two brunches in one weekend. Since leaving New Zealand, I’ve brunched less. It seems more of an effort in London somehow… But last weekend, I brunched not just once but twice! On Saturday, I met J having not seen her in months, and we ate a delicious brunch in New Cross before moving on for coffee and cake in a cafe down the road. We had loads to catch up on, so it was great to finally meet up again after so long! On Sunday, I met A, J and C for brunch at The Piano Works in Farringdon. I’d been recommended this place by a colleague and it did not disappoint. The place is well priced – £15 for bottomless Prosecco and then the cost of your brunch on top (mine was £8.50). The food was excellent. The main selling point of this venue is the live band that play requests and after two hours bottomless Prosecco, we were well up for a party and more drinking! Cue three more bottles of Prosecco, lots of dancing, some song requests and a McDonald’s stop on the way home… Monday was not fun…
- Getting tickets for The Streets in April! They sold out in five minutes. I was on my mobile phone using dodgey 3G in rural Ireland. They went on sale at 9am whilst I was on holiday. The odds were kind of set against me… But I got a ticket! And I’m so excited!
- An ongoing broken cooker saga. We have not had a great time with the flat lately. First the leak in September, and then a broken cooker this month. It was an irritating, ongoing saga that thankfully has now been resolved, but needless to say it’s caused a bit of a headache and has meant quite a few takeaways have been consumed!
- A difficult week. Right at the beginning of the month, a few things happened that amounted to a difficult week for me and I ended it feeling slightly overwhelmed, angry, upset and pissed off. Thank goodness for my wonderful friends who let me vent at them, stay over at their houses when needed and picked me up when I was feeling down. Although I had my trip away to clear my head, as I mentioned at the beginning of the post, it hasn’t been the easiest of months, so I’m glad to roll into November and see what it brings!
Posts This Month
- The Irresistible Urge to Write. A short piece on how much I love to write, and how much I missed it during my enforced rest.
- HTMW Recaps: September 2017. My September recap, giving an overview on the month’s activities.
- Postcards from Chefchaouen. The third in my Postcards from… series, this time with photos from my new favourite Moroccan city.
Book of the Month
La Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust by Philip Pullman. ***Spoiler Alert*** I want to begin by stating that this is my book of the month because it was released in October and I bought my copy on the release day as a result, full of anticipation and with huge expectations. I would now like to say that I feel more than a little let down by this book.
Pullman’s ‘His Dark Materials’ trilogy was supurb. I still listen to these books on audio from time to time and everything about them is just wonderful – the characters, the storylines and plots, the subjects that are tackled. I expected great things from La Belle Sauvage – Pullman had explained that it is the first book of a new trilogy that ‘bookends’ the ‘His Dark Materials’ trilogy. This first book is meant to be an ‘equal’ rather than a ‘prequel’. But I felt sorely disappointed by this book.
I feel that Pullman let the plot run away with him. The ending is unsatisfactory and it feels rushed, whilst the beginning of the book is slow and steady. I know that there are two more books to come, so perhaps all will be explained in those (I bloody hope so!), but as far as I understand it these two follow-up books will be set when Lyra is an adult, not a baby, so I’m not sure how the plot holes (that I see) will be resolved.
The book isn’t all bad. The characters are great, and there is some good development. The subjects tackled are difficult and Pullman manages to pull it off quite well, on the most part. However, it is not love at first read, which I had hoped. I will read it again, more slowly, taking it in more thoroughly, but I don’t really look forward to this. I can only hope that books two and three will bring about conclusions that are missing from this book.
Sidenote: I feel that I’m literally the only person who feels this way about this book. Has anyone else read it and had similar feelings as me? Let me know if so, I’d love to discuss it!
Instagram Pictures of the Month
My photos this month were taken in London, Ireland, and there are a few from Chefchaouen and one from Berlin, reminiscing over my trip there last year. I posted a lot more this month than previous months, mainly due to my trip to Ireland.
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!
Regent’s Park Grandeur, Regent’s Park, London. I had just eaten my roast and was still heading north, almost aimlessly, as yet unsure where I would end up or what my goal was for the walk. Regent’s Park felt autumnal, with carpets of golden brown leaves littering the grass and paths and squirrels running this way and that, seeking nuts to store for the winter months. This was only my second visit to the park, and I dipped down a different path to the one we had taken last time. This way edged around the fringe of the park before turning inwards, towards the The Broad Walk. The grand houses that line the park could be seen through the foliage of low-hanging branches and I paused only a moment to get this photo, waiting until a large group of people had ambled out of the way before capturing it. I love how the trees frame this wonderful building, adding to the sense of opulence and wealth. To live in one of those houses and have this vast and beautiful park on your doorstep must be wonderful. A throwback to bygone eras when women in beautiful dresses, carrying parasols, would have strolled the park’s many pathways and gentlemen in top hats would have paused to let them pass, bowing their heads respectfully in the process.
The View from the Hill, Primrose Hill, London. I took this photo on the very same walk as I took the image above, from Regent’s Park. It turns out that my goal was to climb Primrose Hill and spend ten minutes or so admiring the view that greeted me at the top before I headed home in the gloaming. I love the city skyline from all angles, near and far. This is distant view of the city I love so much, but it is quite clear what and where everything is. From the left, sweeping over the City, with the Walkie Talkie clearly visible, bulging incongruously at the top. Like it or hate it, it’s a bit like Marmite. Dipping down, briefly resting on St Paul’s, before the Shard rises up with its needle point, elegant and classy. My favourite building in London. To the right, passing over Elephant and Castle’s Strata SE1 (nicknamed ‘the Razor’) and onto some more obscure high rises in central London, north of the river, before coming to the BT Tower and, to its right, the wheel of the London Eye before the image crops. Nearly every part of London is here, some more easily seen than others. And in front of it all, the mass of trees on the turn, proving just how green London actually is, with its many parks and gardens.
Through the Rain, Glengarriff, Beara Peninsula, Co.Cork. My flight landed in Cork just before 10am, where I collected my hire car and started the drive south towards my destination. When I left the city, the sun was shining, albeit through scudding clouds, but the further I drove, the more the clouds moved in, blanketing the sky and looking increasingly threatening until at last, the first drops of rain began to fall. I pulled over in Glengarriff with the idea that I’d get something to eat and take a stroll around the gardens. I’d visited briefly before and vaguely knew the lay of the town. I shrugged on my jacket and wandered down the street, pausing at each cafe to read the menu outside, deliberating over whether to go in or not. Nowhere was busy and nothing appealed to me. My jacket soaked up the rain rather than keeping me dry and by the time I crossed the road to pop into Quills, a shop largely selling souvenirs for tourists like myself, I was already drenched. I picked up four postcards and then found a rack of reduced waterproof jackets. I’d forgotten mine and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to get a new one, especially since the rain looked to be setting in for the majority of my stay. I picked up a half-price green jacket and pulled it on before venturing down through the gardens to the sea. Around here, it laps gently at the land, protected from the large swells and massive ocean currents by banks and cliffs of land all around. This is a tongue of water creeping into the land, never fully exposed to the elements. The rain came down in sheets and obscured the views, so I took a few moody shots and then dashed back to the car. I’d have food once I reached Castletown instead, although stopping here had been worthwhile after all… Not only did I get the waterproof coat and postcards, but I also got this photo…