Monday, 29 February 2016

Happy Mondays #6

At the beginning of this week I decided that I could only be happy again once I could breathe, see, hear and sleep. By the end of the week by happiness would solely be determined by a Gossip Girl lifestyle, a lifetime supply of hot cross buns, a beach holiday, and, you know, breathing, seeing, hearing etc. In my head-pounding, ear-ringing, eye-watering, nose-blowing state, I seem to only have been able to appreciate the very simplest things in life, and the most extravagant. A week later I am regaining my simplest desires, and just as far away from my others - but that's ok - because breathing was the main one anyway. 

This week I have been 99% miserable, but the few things that have made me happy are:

1. Unlimited sleep
Feeling under the weather is the only time when you are entitled to unlimited sleep, dozing, time in bed without any questions asked. In practice, when you're face is full of nasties, and if you lay down you can't breathe, sleep is made frustratingly difficult. Neither your scented candles nor your lavender pillow spray are much use when you can't smell anything. But as the week goes on, and you can sleep with fewer than 4 pillows, you can sleep all night long (and sometimes all morning) and you realise that you've probably stored enough sleep to help you last the inevitable sleep deprivation towards the end of term. I hope. 

2. Netflix
Usually sick days are opportunities to read all the books, but this week all I wanted was to sit and do nothing have someone force images into my eyes because my head was too sore to imagine them. It's times like this when I am so thankful for my Netflix subscription, and that I don't have to fill my days with Bargain Hunt and Come Dine with Me. This week was particularly emotional in that I finally finished Gossip Girl, the series I've been watching religiously and been in love with since October. I was worried that the ending would be hopeless, since the endings of my favourite series usually are, but oh my god it was perfect and I was so happy. I have spent every day since finishing researching the NYC Gossip Girl bus tour, how much it costs to stay at The Empire and whether I could ever, one day, possibly become Blair. I also rewatched the entirety of Gavin & Stacey for the millionth time - the ultimate feel good; tried and failed at Game of Thrones and have just started to watch Gotham. I can feel this Netflix habit getting unhealthy. 

3. Marks & Spencer Stem Ginger Hot Cross Buns
By the time Saturday arrived I was going stir-crazy. Having not left the house since Monday morning, I couldn't remember what the outside was like - or how to walk further than from my bed to the kitchen (and back). So I ventured out in to town, ready to buy stuff to make me happy: some eyebrow pencil, pants and cold & flu supplies later I discovered the most amazing creation... STEM GINGER HOT CROSS BUNS. I am a hot cross bun fiend at the best of times, I am a huge fan of everything ginger - and this is the best combination ever in the world. On their own, toasted with butter (and jam), or with ice cream, these are the dream. I recommend you all go and buy some this second. 

4. The pugs of Instagram 
Pugs are one of my main sources of happiness on the best of days. On days spent in bed with only a box of tissues for company, having unlimited access to pictures and videos of pugs at my fingertips is a wonderful reality. It's even better when you don't have to find the pictures yourself, and Simon sifts through them to send you the best of the bunch to cheer you up. I hope that next time I have the flu, there's a real pug laying on my bed with me. 

Sometimes the most mundane things make you the happiest.
Here's for a more exciting, less congested week. 
Happy Monday! x

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Proud Cabaret City: A Review

It's Saturday night. You're dressed in your best 1920-esque attire. You've been for your token date night dinner at Cote Brasserie, and you're now parading through the deserted streets of the City, gripping tight onto Simon's arm so you don't trip in your heels for the hundredth time that evening. You arrive. You're directed down a flight of stairs, the walls decorated with Cabaret memorabilia, and mirrors of all shapes and sizes. Eventually you find yourself at the entrance of a big, smoky room - lit only by dusky lamps and floor lighting. 

Welcome to Proud Cabaret. Located in the middle of the City, Proud Cabaret is a cabaret and burlesque experience to any punter brave enough or drunk enough to venture there. Designed primarily to be a dinner show, hosting more hen parties than you've ever seen simultaneously in one venue, but tickets are available to just come and see the show at a very reasonable £10 per person. The show-only package was the one we went for, after receiving tickets as a Christmas present, and, after reading the food reviews on TripAdvisor...and then finding out the cost of the menu, I was relieved. We arrived just before the show started at 8.15pm, grabbed some drinks and found ourselves a booth. Since we were some of the last guests there, most opting for the dinner package and arriving much earlier, we had no choice but to sit at the very back of the room where the view of the stage wasn't awful, but it definitely wasn't great. The venue clearly prides itself on its cocktails, with an extensive menu, but I was left feeling unimpressed. At an average of about £13 a cocktail, I was disappointed that my Mojito was 90% ice, feeling like I'd paid for a lot of watered-down white rum, and wishing that I'd opted for a £5 beer. 

Right on time, at 8.30pm, the show began. Miss Chastity Belt, our compere for the evening, introduced the show with a number from Cabaret the Musical - which was the perfect way to set the tone for the evening and get the audience engaged. She was a great host, and made a point of chatting to and charming the audience - perfect for the hen night heavy audience. The show proved much more slapdash and boozy than I'd anticipated. I don't think I wanted a really classy evening, but it was about the laughs and the banter substantially more than the art or the talent. Having said that, it wasn't necessarily a bad thing, just a different thing. I was pretty excited for the show, having read good reviews about it beforehand, and it was ok - but it was just ok. We started off with a performance from a belly dancer, which was good, I'm sure, but it just wasn't very entertaining - particularly for us who were located at the back of the room, unable to see the dancer from the waist down. Next we were treated to an acrobatic performance from a man hanging from/manipulating a hoop, which was actually very cool. That man had some serious flexibility. This was followed by a burlesque dancer, which was pretty cool - and there just wasn't really anything to get the audience going. Maybe it would have been more invigorating if there'd be a group of ladies, but with just one on the stage, everyone just sort of sat and watched without the excitable atmosphere I'd hoped for. 

We were looking forward to what the second act, post-interval, would bring and then disappointed to see the same 3 people just do a variation of their earlier performance. The belly dancer did a belly dance with a sword; the acrobat a slightly more fast-paced routine in his boxers, instead of fully dressed; and the burlesque dancer with some different coloured nipple tassels and glitter to blow at the audience. None of it was bad, it just felt a bit cheap to have the same acts again. I refuse to believe that there aren't enough unemployed performers in London not to be able to mix it up a bit. The host, however, was great and held the whole evening together. In fact, she really made it. From singing a song about the boy who made her latte, to a rendition of Let it Go, before finishing the evening with Total Eclipse of the Heart - she was awesome fun, really working hard to keep the pace of the evening up, and made the evening what it was. 

I had a fun night, and I'm really glad we went. It was a laugh, like nothing I've been to before, and who doesn't love a Bonnie Tyler sing-a-long? It's an event perhaps more directed towards hen parties or boozy ladies out for a birthday treat, and we were in a very significant minority as one of two couples there. I also just thought it was going to be a bit sexier. Introduced as a room of debauchery, we saw some boobs, but that was pretty much it and there wasn't much of a sexy atmosphere - more a boozy one. I would recommend it: I definitely think you should dress up in your best Gatsby gear, have plenty of drinks (before you go...or beers when you get there!) and take it for what it is. Sing, heckle and dance! But I think it's a one time thing - I won't be rushing back any time soon.


Monday, 22 February 2016

Happy Mondays #5

On a Monday morning where you wake up at 3am with daggers in your throat, a face so congested you feel like it could explode at any minute and ears so sore you can't hear properly AND THEN you have to battle with commuters, delayed trains, signalling problems, rain, unnecessarily chatty taxi drivers, all before you get home to put on a clean pair of pyjamas and drown your sorrows in Lemsip and know it's not looking to be a very happy Monday. I did get looked after by Simon and have raisins on my porridge though, so it's not all bad. And I've had a nice week with plenty to be grateful for. I've enjoyed my last ever reading week at university - mostly spent watching crap tv with my brother and procrastinating essay writing - but I feel slightly more back on top of things and ready to face my last half of term head on...I think. 

Today I'm happy because...

1. I got to spend the week with Matt 
Since writing the guest post on Sibling Love a couple of weeks ago I've been looking forward to Matt coming home from uni for the week. Living at home, with my parents, by myself is kind of lame and made infinitely better by Matt being around. Who doesn't want someone to watch Tattoo Fixers and Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares with; to bitch about their essay to; and to beg them to utilise their marketing degree and help them think of a catchy dissertation title? It sucks that the week's already up, and he's back at uni, but at least he's not eating all the good food any more. 

2. I got to book lots of exciting things
Booking tickets for my graduation this week was exciting, primarily because it feels like the end is not only in sight, but in reach. I'm looking forward to graduating with my friends, celebrating with my family and feeling like there's a really definitive end to my time at university. I also booked a trip away for Simon and I as a surprise birthday holiday. Even though his birthday isn't until August, and we're not going until September, my combination of compulsive organisation and love of buying / booking birthday presents was just too much to wait any longer. The only trouble now is that I've got to keep the location secret for such a long time! 

3. I had a hilarious night at Proud Cabaret City 
Proud Cabaret City is a venue located near Fenchurch Street, putting on cabaret and burlesque shows every weekend. I was lucky enough to receive tickets for my birthday. so we went along last Saturday, dressed like we had just stepped out of the 1920s, not really sure what to expect. The show began with our compere for the evening, Miss Chastity Belt, and a number from Cabaret the Musical. Throughout the evening we saw performances from a belly dancer, a burlesque dancer and an acrobat (a man in/on/hanging from a hoop) - all of which were good fun. I don't think I'll ever go back, but it was a real laugh and I'm definitely glad we went (full review to follow). 

4. Harper Lee
Hearing about the death of Harper Lee last week was really upsetting. To Kill a Mockingbird was the first grown up book I read, and has definitely been one of the most influential books I've ever read. There are some books that we've read that really make us feel; they make us think differently, they change our perspectives, they help us "climb into his skin and walk around in it". As bizarre as this sounds, reading To Kill a Mockingbird made me interested and very genuinely concerned about discrimination from quite a young age. It wasn't something I'd ever experienced and, as a pre-teen, not something I knew very much about. It was certainly a trigger to make me want to understand and change the prejudice faced by many, and I'm sure it's had an effect on rallying this kind of support and disgust amongst many others. Embarrassingly, Go Set a Watchman is still on my bookshelf, untouched - but I think now might be the time to pick it up. 

Happy Monday all!
Hope yours isn't as snotty as mine

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Putting a Price on Culture

Internationally acclaimed, playwriting debut, Matthew Perry, world premiere. 

Seeing these words scrawled across my email inbox made me ridiculously excited. I love the theatre, Matthew Perry is my favourite F.R.I.E.N.D.S (huge statement, I know), and the dad/boyfriend we wish we all had in 17 Again. This couldn't be a better combination of some of my favourite things. So, it was a huge disappointment to discover how painfully expensive it would be to go and see this show. With prices starting at £15, for restricted view of course, and it ranging from £40 to an extortionate £125 for a decent seat, it is elitist and unaffordable for so many. This is the price we're paying, or unable to pay, for culture and it's fast getting out of hand. From theatre to concerts to ballet to the cinema, we're seeing the price increase disproportionately, rapidly excluding huge proportions of the population. 

Culture as we know it has long been exclusive. Defined as "the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively" culture has been considered something for the most intelligent, most affluent and of the highest standing. You know, in the same way that owning a car used to be or going to university. So today, when large proportions of the population own/lease/drive a car in some capacity, and there are opportunities for people, irrespective of their socioeconomic, racial or religious background, why are cultural activities going the other way? Why, in a time and a place of greater accessibility, are we reducing access to culture? 

For Christmas a couple of years ago I bought my boyfriend tickets for us to go and see The Book of Mormon. I opted for the £50 tickets (£50 each, that is) - which was at the lower end of the price bracket, with top price seats setting you back £202. I wasn't sure whether I'd regret not forking out a bit more for the 'better seats' but, when we got there, my god was I glad I didn't. We had a perfect view. We could see the whole stage really well, but weren't so far away that the actors looked like tiny singing dots and had an aisle seat for extra leg room. So whilst I was relieved that we could enjoy the show and weren't constrained by my bank balance, it was infuriating that they were charging four times more for tickets that certainly wouldn't have increased my enjoyment fourfold. So how are we justifying 1) the price in the first place and 2) the disparity in the price of tickets? It's a similar situation with the cinema. The BFI revealed that the cost of a cinema ticket has increased by 26% in the last 5 years. Inflation has averaged 2.8% a year over the period, and I'm not sure why we are seeing cinema tickets increase in price by so much. The cost of seeing a film is one of the biggest deterrents - especially alongside the growth of Netflix, Google Play and other streaming and online services - and it's unjustified. Arguably the cost has gone up as a response to decreasing popularity, but it's creating a vicious cycle - one in which we may, one day, expect to see the end of cinemas. Culture is a privilege, reserved for the privileged. We're going backwards, and we're squeezing people out. The cinema is a treat; the gig ticket offset by cutting down elsewhere; the theatre a hobby enjoyed by the wealthy, London's tourists and those making the most of LastMinute offers. Culture is something we save up for, a significant outgoing, and something which are expectation are often, and reasonably, too high to meet. 

And this brings us to another important question: what value do we place on cultural experiences? Is the price tag indicative of the high value we place on it...or is it the opposite? Do we not consider it important enough to be made accessible? We like to sideline the arts in favour of more rigorous, more important things like science and technology and money. I can attend the Science Museum for free, but I'm paying £14 for a cinema ticket in Central London, or anywhere up to £250 for a theatre ticket - suggesting that my experience of science is valued substantially more than an artistic experience. I think this is ignorant. I was lucky enough to grow up in cultural communities, going from dance class to play rehearsal to singing lesson, and it has been more fundamental in shaping me than any hard, scientific experience. It opened up my imagination; it made me think, and try to understand, "what is it like to be them?"; it made me open up and express; it provided a space where being me, and where not being me, was ok; I learned about history, and music, and literature; it taught me about other people and other places in other times. The arts was a community which brought different people together, and introduced me to people I'd never otherwise have met. It provided a space to help people escape their own lives, build confidence, learn to move and be themselves, to speak - in public - as themselves and as others. It was a space for the majorities and the minorities: where the I met a boy with a stammer who learned and recited poetry to help him overcome it; where I helped look after a boy with learning difficulties who just wanted to move and sing; where I spent hours with little girls pointing their toes as much as they possibly could; where I met my friend who wanted nothing more than an escape for her own life; and where I met all the people who just love to sing and act and dance and express. And I can't put a price on that. 

I want to go to the museum and the theatre, and I want that for everyone - the millionaires in Knightsbridge, the children desperate to see Wicked and the elderly just about making ends meet on the old age pension. Cultural spaces are not just spaces for learning, but for experiencing, expressing and feeling. They make us want, encourage us to create, and learn to imagine. They are spaces we should value and make available for everyone, not price out the masses and exacerbate the exclusivity. 

Monday, 15 February 2016

Happy Mondays #4

It may be Monday, but it is also the start of my final EVER university reading week. So that means that it's basically still the weekend (even though I don't go to uni on Mondays anyway), and I can stay in my pyjamas, enjoy a leisurely breakfast, read, watch tv and make a list of all the things I'm going to do...maybe start that essay, maybe. Plus, my brother's coming home from uni! This week has f l o w n by. I can't really remember what happened all week, or what I've done, but  it was finished with a perfect weekend, celebrating Valentine's Day with Simon. 

The things making me happy today are...

1. Valentine's weekend
If you've seen this weekend's post, you'll know that I am experimenting with Valentine's Day this year for the first time, properly. When I say properly I mean that I whipped out a nice bottle of wine, cooked some scallops and made a sticky toffee pudding. If that doesn't say romance then I don't know what does. A day of flopping in our pyjamas, watching Traffic Cops and eating houmous was followed by a day out at Wakehurst Place, walking off our meal from the night before, breathing all the fresh air and enjoying being away from London/work/uni/the indoors. It wasn't fancy, and we didn't dress up or go out or buy lavish gifts, but it was fun. We got to spend the whole weekend together, just the two of us, and chill really hard. I think I like Valentine's Day. I'll be seeing you again. 

I love babies, a lot. Every time I see I baby I feel all warm and fuzzy - unless it's crying, doesn't have sufficient chub or someone's asking me to look after it for more than 20 minutes. My next-door neighbours had a beautiful little girl last week, baby Sadie, and I got to see her and hold her and hold her TINY FINGERS last Thursday. It was awesome. Seeing how absolutely enamoured her parents are with her, and how adorable she is immediately made me think I want one of these. Then her mum told me about the horrors of her C-section, breastfeeding and was over the moon that she got a whole 6 hours sleep the night before - interrupted by a breast feed, of course. If there's one thing I love it's an 8 hour sleep. I'm not giving that up in a hurry for anyone or anything - tiny and cute, or not. 

3. 'Me time' 
Living back at home is kind of weird in that you very rarely have time to yourself. My weekdays are spent at uni, at the library, working; my weekends are spent in London with Simon; and my evenings are spent with parents/friends. It's been a long time since I've had an entire day, or even an entire evening, to myself - uninterrupted with very little else to do. This week, whilst my parents have been on holiday, I've had so much time to chill and do exactly what I want to do - after I'd searched the house for murderers and before I was too scared to sleep (lol). I was definitely ready for Simon to come up at the weekend, and for Matt to come home from uni tomorrow - there's only so many evenings you want to watch Hell's Kitchen by yourself - but it's been nice for a bit. 

4. Gossip Girl
I'm not even a tiny bit embarrassed that this is one of my favourite things about the last week. After an epic scare last weekend that Gossip Girl was going to be removed from Netflix today, and I'd have to watch 23 episodes in a week to finish it before it disappeared forever, I discovered it was a vicious rumour and I can return to leisurely watching. I was super late to the party with Gossip Girl, only starting in October/November 2015, but it is one of my favourite tv series ever - if not my absolute favourite. I feel like my journey with Gossip Girl has been a real rollercoaster, and other fans will totally understand what I mean. I've gone from loathing Chuck Bass to developing the biggest crush ever on him; from wishing I was Serena to actually feeling sorry for her and wanting to give her a little pat on the head; and from aching to live on the Upper East Side to thinking that I would actually love to live in the loft in Brooklyn. Gossip Girl is life. 

Happy Monday all
Have happy, lovely, s p e c t a c u l a r weeks! 

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Valentine's Day

Whether you've seen the "look how easy it is to send your girlfriend some roses" Moonpig tv advert, or been tempted by the Tesco special offers on cucumbers and whipped cream, we're all being reminded that, love it or hate it, it's almost Valentine's Day. I can't say I've ever been a pro V-Day kind of girl, but this year I thought I'd try something different...and try and be one of those girls. Before you're all sick in your mouths, stop reading and imminently exit this tab, I have some explaining to do...

My problem with Valentine's Day has always been how fake and soppy and commercialised it is. Every time I see a card with "To the most special person in my life ever in the whole wide world universe space and time" (or something of that nature), or Clinton Cards rammed full of tiny helium balloons and all the stupid, meaningless crap you could have ever imagined existed, I get angry. I get angry that people actually buy this stuff because it's so painfully impersonal and cliché that it becomes totally trivial. Christ, if someone ever buys me a teddy bear holding a heart... I get angry because this is what Valentine's Day has been reduced to. What started as a celebration of romance and of love is no longer really about that. It's about paying an extortionate amount for a meal just because it's Valentine's Day, being forced to drink Prosecco when you really wanted a beer because it comes free with your set menu, and a means to buy a present you don't want to buy and you don't know what to buy in case your s.o. has bought you something and you don't want to be that guy whose girlfriend honestly didn't care (but definitely really did). 

So I reckon I'm going to do it differently. For a start, there's no gifts. There's no cards. No flowers. No nothing. There's nothing I want, there's nothing I can think to buy Simon, and why should a celebration of love involve the exchange of gifts. Aren't I present enough...? Second, there's no going out for a meal and surrounding yourself with other couples who are feeling just as awkward as you about having this weird, artificial evening out and being forced to drink Prosecco, even though you just want a beer, because it's included in your set menu. There's no set menus, because I bloody hate a set menu, and I just want to eat what I want to eat. It's time we started personalising Valentine's Day and being a bit more creative about it. For us, Valentine's Day is going be more like a date night, well, a date weekend - a chance for just the two of us to be together and do the stuff that we like doing. Our current plans for having epic lie ins, eating tasty food, going on long walks and watching good films don't actually sound that different from our usual weekend plans... but this time I've placed orders with both a butcher and a fishmonger, and we've got National Trust memberships (thanks Mum...) so it's going to be awesome. It's a chance to get away and be together and hang out and appreciate each other and everything we have. To me, that's what Valentine's Day should be about. 

So next time you're hating on Valentine's Day, forget about the the token mug/keyring/fairy lights/endless amounts of stupid rubbish sold by shops that's everywhere, and think about it as a day for loving. Whether that's romantic love, or just grabbing your best pal or your mum or sibling and hanging out. In the wise words of Hugh Grant (or the screenwriter of Love Actually): if you look for it, I've got a sneaking actually is all around. 


Monday, 8 February 2016

Happy Mondays #3

It's been a long week, a really long week. And a really short weekend. The realisation that I'm almost half way through term, with plenty of impending deadlines has meant I've been confined to my desk, and in a bit of a eat - sleep - work routine. However, it has been a productive week with some fun things interspersed! 

Today I am happy because...

1. I got to spend Tuesday evening at the theatre with some lovely friends 
Theatre dates with drama friends are the best kind of dates. This week I was lucky enough to be invited to see my talented friend Corey play in the band for Cabaret The Musical - and went along with our friend, Fred. I haven't been to the theatres in a g e s so it was really nice to go and see a show, especially one that I already know and love. I'd forgotten how good the songs were, and keep finding myself singing them. Obviously the show itself was made by the wonderful band - particularly the violin...! Show aside, it's always lovely to catch up with these guys - and plan in plenty more trips, lunches and gatherings

You know when you're reading, writing, researching, staring at something for so long it, first, becomes stale and, second, starts to drive you crazy? Yeah, that. After 6 months of dissertation work, particularly in the last month or so, I was starting to get really frustrated with it, aching to finish a draft, and get my supervisor to take it off my hands for a couple of weeks. I promised myself I'd finish a draft this week and get it sent off if it killed me and I managed it and I am, just about, still here. I'm relieved that I've managed to get this far without getting bored with it, and when I am working on it, it is interesting and I feel like it is actually a bit meaningful - but man am I glad not to have to look at it for a few weeks. Just trying not to think of all the editing, improving, cutting I'm going to have to do when it comes back...

3. My mum 
Sometimes it's really hard to be a grown up and, during those times, having your mum around to be a grown up for you and tell you what to do and fill the fridge with food is excellent. I feel like everyday last week, I got home and was like "MUM HELP ME SORT THIS PROBLEM" - be it the fact I've got 30 mins to decide, cook and eat dinner or realising the first part of your gap year of dreams plan is gradually becoming less and less of a dream and you don't know what to do about it. She's there. And I needed that this week. 

4. Sunday bed day 
Breakfast in bed. Run to the shops, buy lunch, get back into bed. Dinner, followed by bed. 

Happy Monday! x

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Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Dissertation playlist

There are only so many days you can sit in silence. Then you have two options: create a playlist or become slowly submerged in hysteria. I thought I'd attempt the former first. The purpose of the playlist was:
1) So I don't have to sit in silence
2) Keep me motivated
3) Mellow me in moments (hours) of frustration and confusion

So where to start? Well, 2016 is the year I become an unashamed Belieber so, inevitably, the playlist had to kick off (and end) with Biebs. Sorry has a place in my head 24/7 at the moment, and I find myself singing it, in my head and out loud, in the shower, when I'm driving and whenever I decide someone is lucky enough to deserve a performance. The Weeknd's 2015 album Beauty Behind The Madness was one of my faves of 2015, and is so perfectly chilled for working music. A bit of Ryan Adams for an extra dose of chill, before delving into something a bit more old school and impulsive in the form of Sum 41. I love rediscovering a classic song, especially one that reminds me of a time when I wasn't writing my dissertation, and that's why I chose to include some blink-182 and my most recent incredible rediscovery, Michelle Branch. I don't really like Adele and I think 90% of all her songs sound the same, but my god do I love singing along to Hello - I picture myself in the music video every single time and pretend I'm a mysterious lady. Ed Sheeran is perfect for any occasion; Hotline Bling makes me want to get moves like Drake; I'm psyched about seeing Pvris live; and Bring Me The Horizon create the most epic rhythms...which I'm learning to type in time to. 

I'm hoping this playlist will spur me through the next 47 days. See you on the other side!


Monday, 1 February 2016

Happy Mondays #2

It's been a bit of a dark, wet and windy week - and I don't really do well at winter weather. Waking up when it's dark, feeling like it never really brightens up during the day, and it being night time again before you know it are the worst days. But, even in the darkest days, there is light and plenty of things to be grateful for. 

This week I am happy about...

1. Dissertation progress 
I have been reading for, researching or writing my dissertation for almost a year, and in the last week I've really started to see it all start to come together. The reading's behind me, the research is collaborated and now the analysis is finished. This week has been about putting it altogether, tying up loose ends, realising I haven't included interesting/unusual/hilarious things, and finally feeling like I might have a proper project to submit come March. I'm simultaneously excited and terrified about handing in a draft - relieved to get it off my hands for at least a week or two, but super nervous that it'll come back covered in comments and improvements. The good news is, I'm not bored of it yet, so if it needs another month's work, it hopefully won't be too arduous. 

2. A blog rebrand
I started this blog back in 2013 and it has, admittedly, evolved quite considerably since. I'm still not 100% happy with it though, and feel like it needs a bit of a revamp. I've spent lots of time this week coming up with new designs and ideas for a new name with the help of some very patient friends/brother/boyfriend, and feel like I now have a vision. It's been a really frustrating process - coming up with names and finding out they're already taken or are actually a Hugh Grant film; designing logos which your brother tells you look like a crime novel or a shoe brand; before finally hitting the jackpot. After a long weekend of logo designing (here's looking at you Simon), domain buying, layout altering and code fiddling, I am much happier with my blog - its name, how it looks, and feel like it better suits my writing. I hope you guys like it too!

3. Friday treats
I've decided that 'Friday treats' are going to be a thing. For the last few weeks, with thanks to O2 Priority Moments, I've been buying Simon treats (cookies) on a Friday afternoon, which basically guarantees a good weekend. The only problem is that I can never eat any of them because they're always full of milk chocolate/butter, and I get cookie envy. This week I O2 Priority treated us to a free Hotel Chocolat slab - but, of course, you can't just get one slab. When it's buy two get one half price, you obviously need to get three to maximise on the bargain. I went for a white chocolate cookies and cream (for Simon), a dark fruit and nut slab and some hazelnut and ginger dark chocolates (for sharing me). Hotel Chocolat chocolate is always amazing, and they have such a good selection of dark/dairy free products which is literally my dream. May this be the beginning of a long reign of Friday treats.   

4. A really nice week at uni
So when I say week I actually mean Thursday and Friday, because those are the only days I have lectures. But they were a really nice Thursday and Friday. I had some good lectures, coffee/lunch with friends, a nice meeting with my tutor and, for the first time since I started my degree, I think I actually know what I'm supposed to be doing and I'm doing it. I've got 6 weeks of teaching left which is a weird thought and, although I am really looking forward to all the essays and exams and stress being over, I also feel a bit sad because I'm just starting to enjoy it. Time is going crazy fast compared to this time last year where it just d r a g g e d and I've still got so much left to do. Wait for me to catch up! 

I hope you all have a good week.
Happy Monday! x
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