Friday, 24 April 2015

A stonesthrow from Oxford Street

Dear me. April has rather been and gone without a peep from me on this space of mine. And I really do not have any excuse this time around. I will try and not make a habit of it, but then again, I certainly do not want to fall into the net of blogging pressures that I have talked of recently.

In an attempt to work out what I had actually been doing over the course of the last few weeks (the answer is, predictably, reading, writing, eating, cleaning, yoga-ing, wine-ing), I was flicking through my phone when I found some photos from my trip to The Wallace Collection, all the way back in February, a time when we were still wearing winter coats, when it was still snowing, but if my weather app is to be believed, we will be doing that next week.

The Wallace Collection is just a stones throw from my office, and as is always the way, it took me the best part of two years to realise it was there. I was determined to go as I had found out that one of my favourite paintings, The Laughing Cavalier by Frans Hals, lived there. I am certainly not an art critic, I wish I was, but my reasons for loving this painting are as simple as it was on the lid of the board game that we would religiously play with my father growing up.

The Laughing Cavalier aside, the Wallace Collection is perhaps the most perfect place to loose a few hours of your day. As soon as you step through the front door, it is as if you have stepped back in time. From the sweeping staircases, to the glass courtyard, to the wallpapers that are possibly more expensive than anything I have ever owned, the Wallace Collection is another world.

What I liked most about the Wallace Collection is that you do not feel as if you are in an art gallery, but rather, that you are a guest in a stately home. There is a very familiar and welcoming feel, and everywhere you look, there is something to look at. Be sure to pop downstairs where there is armory, which is all together something very different from the rooms above.

It is hard to believe that this is just behind Oxford Street. It may as well be a thousand miles behind Oxford Street. The country is wonderful, but sometimes, London has the places to be.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Ten Lovely Things

1 :: Popping back to Witney for the wedding of Dan's brother,  It was a beautiful wedding (although a little blustery in the gale force winds!).

2 :: Exploring Burford, the one place that if Dan and I did not have to work in London, and had slightly healthier bank balances, would live in a heart beat.

3 :: Afternoon tea on Monday, with the best smoked sandwiches this side of...other places that do the best smoked salmon sandwiches.

4 :: A Tuesday evening meal at Four to Eight, a modern, Italian restaurant in the heart of Covent Garden. The carbonara, which was served with a perfectly poached egg, was egg-ceptional (I'm not sorry).

5 :: Followed by Madam Butterfly at the Royal Opera House. Absolutely sensational if not entirely heartbreaking.

6 :: April Fools Day. Every year I fall for this, and every year, I love it. It's not even 11 o clock.

7 :: Reading the fantastic The Burning Man in the Bryant & May series. This is the first Bryant & May book I have read, and I am not entirely sure why. It is a detective, crime book, that is completely eccentric, and completely enjoyable.

8 :: Listening to James Bay's new album, Chaos & The Calm on repeat.

9 :: Practising Bakasana, otherwise known as the crow pose, and actually managing it for a split second.

10 :: Thinking about tiny wedding details from our readings, to our final hymn. It is all getting very real, and very exciting!

Friday, 27 March 2015

Food for thought.

I have spent a large part of my morning trying to write this. I realise that this is a hugely sensitive topic, and might likely open the flood gates, but here goes.

It all started when I picked up my morning coffee in the train station, and I happened to glance at the newspaper headlines.

Most were full with the tragic news of the Germanwings plane.

And then I saw this particular chestnut on front of everyone's favourite, The Daily Mail (please note sarcasm).

"Suicide Pilot had a long history of depression. Why on earth was he allowed to fly?"

I nearly choked on my coffee.

See this is the thing, The Daily Mail, The Express, The Sun and any other sensationalist and narrow minded  publication, this does not help anyone.

These hysterical headlines are symptomatic of a much wider problem and that is the demonisation of depression and mental health.

What happened to the Germanwings flight, was terrible, it was absolutely terrible. There is really no two ways about that, and my heart goes out to everyone on board and their loved ones, who are trying to come to terms with this awful, awful tragedy,

But to say that because the co-pilot previously had depression, he should not have been allowed to fly is inexcusable. This is nothing but ignorance, fear and prejudice coming together in one entirely unpleasant, and hysterical statement.

It is not yet clear why Andreas Lubitz did what he did, but whether depression was a part of this or not, it is still incredibly sad.

The media are in a unique position to reach thousands and thousands of people. They are in the unique position where they could, if they so wanted, help to remove the stigma that still surrounds mental health.

Instead, insensitive headlines only exasperate the problem.

Depression, stress and mental health are not the privilege of the few. These are illnesses that can affect anyone and everyone, at any time. It is so important to ask for help and to listen when asked. Ignorance does not create the right atmosphere for people to do this.

There is absolutely no shame in putting up your hand and asking for help. There is no shame in suffering from depression or stress, and we need to be far more accepting of this.

The Daily Mail is nothing but insensitive and sensational, and once and for all, can well and truly sod off.

Right, rant over. I'm off to go and get another cup of coffee.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

:: the anti-bucket list

There is a philosophy in life that you should try everything at least once.

I could not disagree more.

We live in a world that is brimming with pressure at every stage in life, and a bucket list is just another thing that the Sunday supplements add to your to-do list before you really have realised what has happened.

So here is throwing caution to the wind, here is throwing away yet another list of pressures, and here is my anti-bucket list.

There are of course the big ticket items such as major surgery, serious illnesses, and loosing loved ones. But, sadly, we have little control over these terrible things, and I have already ticked one off my list as it is.

So what about the things that we do have control over?

For starters, I do not ever want to go bungee jumping. Or sky-diving for that matter. Yes. I realise that this makes me vastly uncool, and in some circles, dull as ditch-water, but actually, I am okay with that. I like having my feet firmly on the ground, and jumping off a bridge, cliff, building or otherwise, firmly goes against this.

Next up? Cigarettes and drugs. I have never dabbled in either, and in my late twenties, I do not intend to start.

Whilst we are on the topic of slightly risque items, body piercing is a complete no-no. If I ever have the urge to have my nose, toes, or similar pierced, someone remind me of this note.

Wear heels so high that you cannot walk in them. I did this fairly recently and have regretted it ever since. This is going straight on my anti-bucket list and is staying there.

Running.  I have the utmost respect for runners, for the fun runners, for the old dudes who complete the marathon, for those who do it in banana costumes, and I absolutely adore watching running events. But here is the thing. I have run / struggled through a half marathon and it is an experience that I never want to go through again. Do I enjoy running? No. Did I enjoy running? Absolutely not. Life is too short to do something you don't enjoy (with the exception of paying your taxes), and besides, I have terrible knees.

An anti-bucket list would not be complete without some form of travel mention. There are plenty of places that I do want to visit, but I have little to no desire to visit Las Vegas. Something about the bright lights of the big city just does not appeal. Oh, and on the subject of travel, you will never find me on a cruise either. Setting sail with two thousand strangers and being stuck on a boat while you do so? No thanks.

And lastly. Scary films. I will never watch another horror movie. I never liked them when we were forced to watch them as teenagers, and a fifteen years after my teenage years began, I still don't.

So this is my anti-bucket list. For the record, I should say that runners dressed up as bananas, who love Las Vegas and cruises, who do like to jump off bridges, cliffs, buildings, or otherwise, whilst simultaneously smoking something potent, in high heels that they cannot walk in, whilst watching a scary film are bad people. Of course they are not. They are just probably far more adventurous than me and that really is okay.

Monday, 23 March 2015

ten lovely things

There is something especially lovely about the early days of Spring. There is always the first day of Spring, where bright skies and above freezing temperatures lure everyone outside for a few precious hours. Of course, by the next day, it is winter once more. But now that we have had a few days like this, now that there are daffodils on every street corner, and I have officially dried my laundry outside, I think it is fair to say that Spring has finally, and ever so gloriously, sprung.

1 :: The haberdashery department in John Lewis. I needed a tape measure, and ended up walking away with a sewing kit. I think I finally might be a proper grown-up.

2 :: Blossom on the trees.

3 :: Sending our save the dates (eventually), and having my hair trial. Despite my earlier skepticism of hair trials, I thoroughly enjoyed it, and am delighted with what we ended up with.

4 :: Visiting the florist to talk about wedding flowers, and what lovely ladies they are. Can I just pack it all in and go and work in a flower shop?

5 :: Spring Piggy. The most perfect Spring, pork stew from Jack Monroe's fabulous cook book.

6 :: Sunday walks without having to dethaw for hours on end, or still pick off mud days later.

7 :: Nearly finishing Wolf Hall. I tried to read this a year ago, and didn't get very far. Now, I only have 100 pages to go, and am actually enjoying it. Not the most relaxing of reads, but a thoroughly good one.

8 :: Yoga in the morning. Before work. Admitedly, it only happened once, but what a treat it was.

9 :: Layered salads. Pinterest is full of Mason-Jar salads, a genius way to take a salad to work without it getting all soggy. Of course, the pragmatist on me did not think transporting a glass jam jar was the most sensible of ideas, so a regular, plastic container would have to do. But my goodness, does it work like a charm. Dressing at the bottom, filling on top, and leaves at the end. Simple, but wonderful.

10 :: Spring cleaning. The cupboard under the stairs obviously remains a den of destruction, but the rest of the house is sparkling clean. Exhausting, but definitely worth it. The mattress has even been flipped. Domestic goddess, coming your way.