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“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” Pablo Picasso

In a bid to gain a few more “culture cells” in my body, on the weekend the man and I went to check out a pop up art gallery just down the road from us in Greenwich village. In the last year or so I have gained an interest in art, and the collecting of pieces. Whether they be paintings, prints or sculptures I’m keen to get on board with collecting pieces that make me happy.

We checked out the Fine Art Gallery housing oil paintings by the Royal Institute of Oil Painters. We were especially interested as all of the paintings featured landscapes and scenes from around Greenwich – where we live and first met. We’ve always said we’d love to buy a painting/print to take to New Zealand one day that encompasses where we found each other and lived in London. Triple cheese, I know.

While I enjoyed a lot of the paintings, sadly I didn’t love any. I’m a firm believer in falling in love with a piece of artwork, no matter the price, as you’re likely going to have to look at the damn thing every day – much the same as picking a partner. If on first sight one thing really annoys you about the painting (or your partner), it never going to improve! It’s always going to be that lemon in an open cut or tiny stone in your shoe that pisses you off. We will keep hunting, we’re only new at this, so really should see as many pieces as possible before plunging our house deposit into an art collection (my other half is far too sensible and would never let me do this).

art

Feature painting source.

BBC Bake sale

The biggest news to hit Britain this week: the Great British Bake Off sale. BBC have sold the rights to the show to Channel 4, a somewhat surprise given its success over the years. Turns out it’s not been a sale of choice, more that the production company in charge of GBBO pocketed themselves in the range of an extra £10 million.

I for one, am an avid Bake Off fan, having never missed an episode. The hosts, the innuendos and the soggy bottoms keep your drawn in. Also of course the nail biting moments when time is ticking down and 24 identical Cypriot flaoumas or a 30cm tall Bavarian clock tower made of shortbread must be completed and standing strong.

While Channel 4 insist they will work hard to keep the integrity of the show – will it be the same? Mel and Sue have stepped down from hosting, and Paul and Mary have walked away from judging. All four created the comfort and entertainment you want on a Wednesday evening, so the next team picking up the roles have big shoes to fill. There are rumours Jamie Oliver could pick up a spot on the new baking edition… no complaints from my side!

Work perks

A big part of my new job, in a new department and new building, is attending breakfast meetings to discuss resources. Do we have enough people? Are they the right people? Should they be perm? Should they be temp? It’s endless. The best part about these breakfast meetings is the chance to chill and enjoy a freshly brewed coffee and a croissant provided by the business.

I swear the powers above and those running the meetings book breakfast slots on purpose. I have no reason to complain, they don’t start until 9:00am – you’d think they’d be cracking the whip to get us in for 7:00 or even 8:00. This morning’s meeting ran over by 15 minutes, but I found that I learnt a lot from the MD hosting it.

Another thing I discovered, yesterday, was our large open deck flooded with sunshine on the 15th floor where we can enjoy our lunch and the 360 degree views of London’s city landscape – it’s stunning! One of my colleagues said to me after I recoiled him on my adventure to find the sunny spot; “there aren’t many perks to this job, but that’s one of them“. I thought to myself that he should do a week in the trenches of HR, then he’d be thrilled by his suntrap lunch spot.

Book Review: A Man Called Ove

This is a five star book for me. I had no expectation going into, it having never read any of Backman’s books. Set in Sweden with a backdrop of a calm suburban street, it’s both comical and heartwarming.

Ove is cranky, he reminds me of Mr Fredricksen in the film Up, they both have the same short temper towards change, other people interfering and have lost their wives, their kindred spirits.

“Ove had never been asked how he lived before he met her. But if anyone had asked him, he would have answered that he didn’t.”

The book is also full of humour, from a grumpy old man’s point of view. Backman’s way with words and clear descriptions of characters and situations had me in giggles on the bus and on the tube on the way to work.

“Ove glares out of the window. The poser is jogging. Not that Ove is provoked by jogging. Not at all. Ove couldn’t give a damn about people jogging. What he can’t understand is why they have to make such a big thing of it. With those smug smiles on their faces, as if they were out there curing pulmonary emphysema.”

It’s a book I know I will go back to and an author I will research more on. I have read another of Backman’s books, Britt-Marie was Here, I did enjoy it but the character of Ove is what made me fall in love with his first novel. The book has also been made into a film, which I’ve not seen, but as always I would say read the book first!

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Come Dine With Me

A couple of girlfriends and I have embarked on our own Come Dine With Me (CDWM) challenge: taking turns to cook each other a three course meal. This is what we do now that we are proper grown ups, in our 30s. No nights out on the tiles, eating fried chicken and vomiting in the back of a taxi. But, damn those were good times last month.

Both the girls have already had their turns, highlights would include a succulent rack of lamb, mixing our own cocktails and playing Twister with a Butler in the Buff. On October 1st it’s my turn to host and I need to impress.

I’ve decided to go with a Jamie Oliver themed menu, as of course, I adore him. When they arrive I will start with a prosecco based cocktail and an hors d’oeuvres I’ve not yet decided on. The menu will then consist of:

Potted crab with asparagus
Seafood paella
Lemon pavlova

I figure my menu will be light enough that they will actually want to eat each course, they’re also technically tricky, but not impossible to make. It helps that I have made them all before on different occasions. The hard bit will be making sure I time them correctly, but with these girls, I know I can always throw a bottle of wine their way and it will keep them happy in between courses.

Recently I bought a new cast iron paella pan, as I was previously just using a large frying pan, so I now need to make at least one paella before October as a practise and to season the new pan.

Watch this space for the follow up and reviews I receive post meal from my hopefully sizzled friends.

Birchbox

I signed up to Birchbox in June of this year to test out new products, keep with the trends, and receive a package each month filled with goodies – because who doesn’t love that? The best part is that everything that arrives is travel size, perfect to use when you want to jet out on a cheap airline with only a small bag/carry on case. That’s my excuse anyway.

While I love the products I receive and am thrilled at opening up the package to  get stuck in and test them, I find that a week or two later I haven’t touched them again, umodel_co_highlightnless I’ve gone travelling as above. On top of this, I am a creature of habit and still go out and by the normal products I love on top of it. I’m basically spending more on beauty products than ever before and my bathroom cabinet and bedroom are starting to look like a mini department store. I need to make the effort to use these products regularly, or pass them on to friends and family. There’s no point in holding on to stuff if I won’t use it. Is it cheeky to gift them in presents if unused? That’s totally something I’d do.

My favourite product in my September box would have to be the ModelCo Highlighting lollipopTrio, never have my cheekbones looked so fierce. That would probably be my most used product received, that, and of course my Merci Handy hand cleansing gel in Lollipop flavour.

If you’re in the mood to try some new products and brands (some I’d never heard of!) definitely get yourself signed up, even if just for a month! If you do decide to sign up, use this link and tell them I sent you – you’ll get a £5 welcome and a pretty bracelet!

Isle of Harris

Over the weekend, my other half and I went to visit his Uncle and Aunt on the Isle of Harris, Scotland. The place is phenomenal. The break from London was well needed, the fresh air incredible and the hospitality likened to the Kiwi’s.

When you see the views, it’s hard to believe you’re still in the UK – although the bitter wind that picked up on the odd occasion soon reminded you that you weren’t on a tropical island in the Caribbean. But the sea sure gave the same turquoise beauty.

While we were there we enjoyed the local seafood which is so fresh it reminded me of the treats from the sea in New Zealand. Unfortunately London based seafood, no matter the price you pay, just doesn’t compare to seafood by the coast. I gorged myself on all seafood at every moment I got; scallops, monkfish, seafood linguine, fresh mussels and prawns. We ate at a bunch of beautiful spots that I would recommend; The Anchorage, The Crown Inn and Skoon Art Café to name a few.

It’s becoming more common for people to have stay-cations (holiday in their own country) and I completely agree with it. Why not see the beautiful places right on your doorstep? Not that the Isle of Harris is on anyone’s door step, the dodgy flight from Glasgow in a tiny aeroplane seating 30 people was not a highlight for me. But get out there, see the country you grew up in.

Since being in the UK I have managed to hit all the corners; Pembrokeshire in west Wales, Brighton in south England, Southend on Sea in east England, and now Stornoway in north Scotland. Really, the next spot I need to visit is Ireland, then I would have completed the four corners of the UK plus a trip to the island.

mussels linguine

Edinburgh

In anticipation of my long weekend in Scotland’s capital for the annual Fringe Festival I asked around for the top 10 must-do’s. I thought I’d write a list of recommended to see/do’s and then revisit the list once I returned to see if I would rate them the same.

  1. Edinburgh Castle. I see this remaining in my list – I do have a thing for castles.
  2. Sample the local tipple. I shamed myself at work when someone suggested I drink whisky in Edinburgh; “do they make it there?”. Oh they laughed, and I learned.
  3. Eat local = haggis, venison and stovies. Enough said.
  4. Visit the seaside! Portobello beach, right in the city.
  5. Laugh, sing and dance with the festival – we planned our trip around Fringe so we could check out all the gigs while taking in the city.
  6. Climb the extinct volcano in the urban park; Arthur’s Seat, the tallest of Edinburgh’s seven hills.
  7. Soak up the architectural sights in the centre of town.
  8. Hit the Old Town; small streets lined with wool shops, pubs and historical monuments.
  9. Pop by Elephant House Cafe where writers such as JK Rowling, Alexander McCall Smith and Ian Rankin put pen to paper and let their ideas flow.
  10. Finally, just wander. Stroll the cobbled streets and pass through the historic Royal Mile.

Have you been to Edinburgh, what would you suggest? We’ll see if this list matches up when I return.

Lemons

Lemons are a magical fruit. Not only are they cheap and pack a punch of flavour, but they can clean limescale from your taps and more importantly they provide a whole bunch of health benefits.

I’m not talking about doing a lemon water cleanse/diet, because they scare me. I’m simply adding a cup of hot lemon water to my morning routine – before the tea or coffee. Even Gwynnie swears by it, however she’d have you cut out the coffee which is just crazy talk.

So what are the benefits of drinking lemon water? It aids with digestion, strengthens your immune system, aids weight loss, helps to detoxify and cleanse your insides, and does wonders for your skin and hair, among other things.

A couple of slices per cup does the trick for me. But I do find the fruit here in the UK turns very quickly, so as a tip, I slice up the whole lemon and pop the slices into a freezer container so they’re ready to go in the morning when I add them to my boiling cup of water. They defrost right away and cool down the cup so it’s ready to drink.

Try it, and if you don’t enjoy, simply use the frozen lemon slices in your gin and tonic instead.

Book Review: Shtum

I was blown away by this book. We’ve all heard of autism and think we know the general jist. But reading this book really opened my eyes to the everyday challenges people with autism and their loved ones must manage through.

Parts of this book made me laugh out loud, Lester’s descriptions of shit smeared walls and the complete frustrations you feel for Jonah’s parents make this book heartfelt and endearing. Points in this book are hard to read, the sacrifice and struggle, and a bout of alcoholism doesn’t make a story of plain-sailing, however it does capture your interest and you won’t be able to put it down.

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Next chapter

I’m currently in London “living the dream”. Only, I don’t think I am still living the dream. Sure, when I arrived four years ago I loved every minute, every bustling commute, every new sight and was even fascinated by each rude individual. But now the rosy tint has definitely worn off. This could be age, this could be the fact I’ve had enough of the fast pace and want to move on.

Recently I started a new job and I thought it would propel me back into the excitement I first experienced in London, be the Band-aid to keep me here. Don’t get me wrong, I love London. But I feel like I’m in a rut and I’m very keen to start the next chapter of my life; house buying, baby making… settling down.

I have these conversations with my partner regularly, well really I just throw questions at him: when can we move? How much longer do you want to stay here? He’s British born, but not from London, so while he’s eager to move to NZ (having fallen in love when I took him at Christmas 2015/2016), I feel he’s also more apprehensive than me. He’s also more of a grown up than me, setting us savings balances to meet before we can move there. He’s right, we’ll never earn the same money there as we do here. But I no longer care. I just want to stamp my foot and pout until I get my way. Kids nowadays get away with it, so why can’t I?

This blog will be aimed at the changes that go on with entering ones 30s. Changes in lifestyle, friendships, family, body and ultimately the view gained from hitting another decade. Stick around for more on the dirty thirties.

 
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