Sunday, 27 February 2011

Moments, V.

This weekend has mostly been about big, intense feeling. It's been a constant trip from one high to the next: I've needed the highs to pull myself away from a looming sense of being out of control. Sometimes we have to let ourselves just be, however many weaknesses we might be uncovering in the process.

Loosening my spirit and conversation to the steady flow of alcohol,
Stumbling home in the rain - a haze of dizziness and nausea, cereal in the early hours to dampen the blow,
Waking to the "I'm never drinking again" clichée: a couple of hours I'll never get back,
Running through it anyway, a hazy mist of rain and a churning stomach,
Racing myself and failing again, but victorious in the discovery that you can actually run off a hangover!
Figs and strong cheese, accompanied by the unveiling of my first chutney,
A particularly wonderful film and Hobnobs dipped in hot chocolate,
Waking up too early but hiding away from the day anyway,
Heading off on the bike for a speedy hour away from real life, blustering headwinds deafening and exhausting,
Wind burn, exhaustion, scrambled eggs and spaghetti hoops,
Curling up on the couch indulging in my gloom,
Soup simmering on the hob and a BBC drama to enjoy. Wishing Sunday wouldn't stop quite so soon.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Fig Friday

Fig Friday, because my lunch plans changed, leaving me with only dried figs and some leftover muesli. Great.

I don't say this very often, but I am planning to get very very drunk at the soonest instance - you've got to go there to come back, after all.

1. I am currently obsessed with the future. I have dropped all of my other thoughts and all I can focus sensibly on is 'where on earth am I going?'.

2. Today I am a tragic wreck because I have been let down too many times, to the point where I can do no more. I am losing faith in most of the things around me, and in myself most of all.

3. The age I am is 23 and the age I feel is 23, sometimes 24. I am standing solidly right here.

4. My favourite place is my kitchen, the heart of my home and the heart of my life right now. I love to sit at the table with a cup of tea/glass of wine, listening to the radio or chatting to Daniel. I love the colours and the shapes of the food on the shelves, the creativity that happens within the four walls, the breaking down and the coming-back-together that happens so regularly around a kitchen table. My life takes place around my kitchen table.

5. Something I have been procrastinating is cleaning the house. Oh my, I looked around on Wednesday and I was horrified by the mess that I had not even noticed! We tend to clean in large chunks rather than small, manageable bites, and there is a house-sized chunk waiting at home for us to clean right now.

6. The last thing I purchased was a copy of the 'i' newspaper, from the Independant. For some reason I can't bring myself to read the free paper, but 20p for news, interesting comments and good writing is a perfectly reasonable price to pay, in my view!

7. The thing I love most about my home is the collection of our things, that have been accumulated over time first individually, and now as a couple. Our childhood teddies sit together in the bedroom, each knowing things about me/Daniel that we will never know about one another. There's my Gran's record player, and Daniel's immense collection of books, each being such a huge part of our own hearts. Then there's our couch, which was our first mega joint purchase, and our growing collection of maps, which mark out our adventures over the span of our relationships. These are so much more than material posessions: they are our stories, our history and our identity.

Take part here. Have a great weekend :-)

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Lovely Things

It is before 7pm on a Thursday evening and I am sitting in my dressing gown drinking gin and tonic. I have had such a testing day; I may have been in tears intermittently since 11am. Now, sitting here all cosy with a glass of gin, I feel at peace, content, aware of the lovely things that life has to offer even when life sends shed-loads of lemons*.

Some other lovely things that have been carrying me through the tough bits lately:

  • At the moment I am leaving the house at exactly the right time to catch the dawn chorus. This is a stunning treat; it makes me fizz delightedly inside.

  • Hot showers. Someone amazing once told me that there is no better fix for sadness then a hot shower. My showers are so long right now that I may well dissolve soon; I justify this less-than-ecological indulgence with the fact that I use natural soap and shampoo...

  • Pyjamas. I love pyjamas - I would wear them all day if I could. It's a good job that Daniel thinks I look cute in my PJs as I put them on almost as soon as I arrive home. I do have some rather gorgeous night attire though; I'd spend my money on PJs over clothes any day!

  • Marmite on toast. Because sometimes, all I want and need is buttery toast smeared with loads of Marmite. And it hits the spot every time.

  • Early nights. 8:30pm is now a perfectly acceptable time to curl up in bed. With a Horlicks.

*actually, if life had sent me lemons, I'd be enjoying a nice lemony wedge of one in my G&T right now. But no, simple G&T will do just fine.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

To Bordeaux and Back

I am a lucky, lucky thing!

Last week, on Valentine's Day, as it happens, it was mine and Daniel's two-year anniversary. It was a Monday and I had an interview (which was unsuccessful, sadly, but more on that soon) and so I hadn't really been expecting much. I was delighted with a bouquet of flowers, a lovely card (and poem) and an absolutely delcious homemade curry; I must say it was much more special than I had anticipated, and I was all a-glow the following day.

Then, on Thursday morning, I came downstaires to find an envelope on the breakfast table. Inside was an invite to a 'Carbernet Sauvingnon Around the World' evening at my favourite restaurant in the world ever. Oh my!

I love wine; of this much I am sure. But in all honesty, I know absolutely nothing about it, other than the fact that a glass of chenin blanc is often all I need to put my world to rights. I rarely drink red wine, mainly because I have no idea what I like and what I don't (sometimes it's amazing, sometimes I want to spit it out, but I can't work out the correlation between these two poles of taste), and so an evening of tasting red wines, learning about oak and sweetness and grapes, was the best and most enjoyable way I ever could have learned that, actually, I absolutely love an oaky red from the soils of South Africa, whereas Bordeaux is much too complex for my naive palate.

A picture speaks a thousand words, so I will spare my fingers of any further typing and let my below-par photography tell the tale. All I can say is: eight wines, two incredible courses and the most delicious coffee to finish off the evening left me with a smile not even the merriest of Cheshire cats could manage. And no hangover, to boot!

(The wine I am drinking in this flattering picture is a second growth £100 Bordeaux. Never in my wildest dreams had I thought I would get to taste something of such calibre! Anyway, it sort of tastes wine. Luckily for me, I left the evening with a certain fondness for an £8.99 South African wine - still pretty expensive in my book, I must say!)

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Moments, IV.

A delicious and slow weekend after a testing and busy week.

A Friday night cleaning splurge; up to my arms in bubbles and enthusiasm,
The best sweet potato wedges of my life*,
A cool pint of cider and aching-belly laughs at Black Books,
Pouring rain and sleet through the kitchen window; content to eat warm porridge and drink tea,
A wonderfully soggy run, splashing through puddles and celebrating the joy of mud,
Rain running off my eyelashes and nose, exhaling white puffs of steamy warm air,
A hot shower; tomato soup and grilled cheese,
Kneading bread, singing along to Joni Mitchell and Regina Spektor as the rain pours outside,
Sitting on the sofa reading free magazines and drinking tea,
Homemade pizza - decorating, baking, eating - finishing off too full to move,
German cinema, and remembering that I still am who I used to be, if a little more sensible now,
The sort of sleep that leaves you forgetting who and where you are for a while,
A morning under the duvet, hiding away from the cold house,
Breakfast-table debates and buttery toast, in pyjamas until noon,
Exploring urban beauty: terraced streets, creative windows and hidden allotments.

*roast unpeeled wedges of sweet potato with sea salt flakes, dried chilli flakes and cumin. Once ready, squeeze lime juice over them and serve!

Friday, 18 February 2011

Still Here Somehow

After the longest, hardest week, I am still here! I am still smiling! It is Friday and I intend to celebrate!

Fill in the blanks here, if you like!

1. I am at work, eating broccoli and butterbeans with soy sauce in my lunch hour. I am sitting at a desk, with a computer before me, doing a job that is both awesome and relevant to the world and to my own passions. I am very aware of how lucky this makes me, and incredibly aware of the single secure month that remains in my current career.

2. The bravest thing I've ever done was saying no. Choosing to make changes in my life and choosing the life that I knew I'd regret never having otherwise. Coming out of a comfortable situation into the unknown was the best and hardest decision I ever made. Other brave moments: white water rafting, cutting off all my hair, signing up for Keswick Half Marathon, presenting my research at a conference.

3. I feel prettiest when I've come back from a long run, afer I've had a shower. I always feel so elated and so positive, and I really do think that the essence of beauty is happiness.

4. Something that keeps me awake at night is Daniel. He often goes to bed later, after I've already fallen asleep, but he still insists on snuggling up to me and talking to me until late into the night!

5. My favourite meal in the entire world is my Mum's lasagne, or a spicy vegetable curry with fluffy basmati rice and naan.

6. The way to my heart is through laughter, good food and great conversation.

7. I would like to tell you about my amazing wine tasting experience, but I will wait until next week :-)

Have a great weekend folks! :-)

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Zoning In to Zone Out

Yoga has been a big part of my life, for the most part my daily life, for almost four years now. The majority of that time hasn't involved a class; just me, a yoga mp3 or video, and my yoga mat. I love the freedom of practising when I want, when I feel like it, and though I would love to attend a class once a week, I'm still in search of that class that does yoga the way I love to do yoga. For now I'm happy with a variety of mp3s and videos to guide me through - if nothing else, the freedom suits my current lifestyle absolutely.

My current lifestyle is seriously in need of a regular yoga practise!

Since I started working, my yoga capabilities have changed so vastly. Luckily, so have my needs, and yoga is no longer just a way to complement my running and build up my strength; it has become a way to unravel my body from the day, uncoil my sore back and stretch myself back to who I want to be. Even Child's Pose can be difficult on some days, as my hips and groins don't want to give in. Finally when they start to let go I feel as if I'm melting away from the busyness and the exhaustion, and what used to be the 'easier' poses are now the most challenging and the most rewarding. Balancing just isn't an option: I wobble and I stress out and I give in just like that.

Today, for the first time in six months, I managed some super balancing in my practise. Actually, I managed to balance better than I've ever balanced before, coming into a full, strong Side Plank and holding it for a good few seconds for the first time ever.

The reason for today's super sense of concentration? I reckon it was because, at the start of my practise, I was worrying about one specific problem. A problem that has been on my mind all day long. Right at the start, while in Child's Pose I held on to this problem, held it tight and then let it melt away as my hips melted down towards the mat. For the first time in a long time, if not ever, I actually let it all go. Before letting it go, I had to grasp it, hold on and acknowledge it, and once i had a strong hold of it, I was in control, and I was able to let it float away into the evening.

So, today for the first time, my idea of yoga has evolved into what I always wanted it to become. It can be a way of letting go, of becoming one moment and one posture. I'm excited to experiment some more with this; excited to see where it might take me, and where it might let me take myself.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

A Moonstruck Ouch! of Love

Two years on, I am still struck every day by the 'ouch' of love.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Moments, III.

Just as planned - a weekend of indulgence.

Sharing a newly-engaged friend's joy over a bottle of good wine,
Chunky marmalade on nutty toast,
An adventurous run in the sunshine, enjoying the first colours of spring peering out from the verges,
Strolling around the city arm-in-arm, peering through shop windows and exploring church yards,
Walking York's ancient walls at dusk, enjoying the dimensions of the city and the noises of the early evening,
A celebration dinner with celebration wine,
A lie in so long I was afraid to look at the time; the first morning spent in my pyjamas for weeks,
Broad sheet newspapers, hot pretzels fresh from the oven and sweet milky coffee,
Singing along to my new Joni Mitchell LP whilst ironing shirts for the week ahead,
Preparing for an interview tomorrow (!); writing notes and reminding myself that I can do this,
Wobbling in trikonasana; hearing my body's response,
Cauliflower and cream cheese soup with a homemade salted pretzel.

Friday, 11 February 2011

On Indulgence

Indulgence can be a wonderful thing; something I've been enjoying regularly lately. I like the theme of this weeks blanks, and hopefully it will be the theme of my weekend, too!

1. The TV show/website that I watch/read that I'd be embarrassed to tell anyone about is possibly the endless number of recipe websites that I scroll through for inspiration. Not exactly embarrassing as such, but it certainly leads me to indulgence!

2. An item of clothing that is worn and torn, but that I love too much to throw away is my red pyjama bottoms with dogs on! They're so compy and baggy, but they're old to the point of causing horror when I do wear them, so I leave them safely in the drawer!

3. My grocery store impulse buy is cereals. Give me a box of cereals over wine or chocolate any day of the week (hint hint, lovely Valentine!)!

4. Something I do at work to pass the time that I don't want my co-workers to know about is blogging! Obviously I'm not ashamed of my love for reading and writing blogs, but while others are checking the news or reading interesting articles/books, it feels a little naughty to be delighting in a vegan chocolate brownie recipe, or a new idea for a hot chocolate!

5. One thing in my life that I could give up, but never will, is a massive splodge of honey in my porridge every morning. That extra teaspoon is always necessary!

6. A little indulgence that I have is eating tea from a bowl, on the couch, when I am on my own. It's probably normal practise for many folk, but I come from a very strict table-manners-are-life sort of up-bringing.

7. The junk drawer in my house is breeding, and creating junk drawers elsewhere! We also have a junk box, a junk basket and a junk shelf :-)

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Early to Bed

It's only Wednesday, but already I feel as if this week has given me much more than I want to take. Last week I felt as if I was taking on the world; this week I feel as if the world is laughing hard in my face.

I'm trying to remind myself that this is ok. That next week, or maybe even the rest of the week, may well be much better. It's ok not to know my place or my sense of purpose. It's ok to feel as if everything is failing, falling like sand through my fingers. It's ok to be tested and to see how far I can be pushed. It's ok to not understand why but to avoid asking anyway, just in case. The future is wobbling like jelly; decisions will be made and some of them will be hard. Some things will be out of my control, others will be too much in my own control. This is life. Life is, in fact, pretty hard at times.

On nights like this I feel I am allowed to wallow; I have the house to myself. It's ok to cook in a dressing gown. It's ok to heat up a tin of soup in an unwashed pan every once in a while. It's ok to go to bed at 8:30 with a mug of Ovaltine and a favourite poetry collection.

Actually, maybe it's pretty wonderful to feel like this every now and then.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Moments, II.

Fighting through gales to reach the local pub,
Tipsily fighting through even worse gales two hours later,
Bustling Saturday markets bursting with noise and colour,
Carrying a bunch of tulips home under my arm,
Beetroot, lettuce and warm egg yolk: a pleasing contrast in colour and taste,
Warm granola eaten straight from the pan,
So long spent in down dog that I cry out loud,
Board games and Black Books with peanut butter hot chocolate,
Preparing a picnic before sunrise on a drizzly Sunday morning,
Driving through stunningly bleak moors with good friends,
A day by the sea, hunting for fossils: soaking wet feet and a pocket full of treasures,
A Goddess-ifying Sunday night bubble bath,
Leek and parsnip soup, and endless chatter.

My weekend was refreshingly different, and not at all how I'd planned. I feel incredibly satisfied, and exhausted in that really good way.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011


I am craving some sunshine, a warm glow on my head. Some fresh flowers to sit on the hearth promising spring. Fresh coriander scattered on every meal, plump tomatoes fresh from my back yard.

I am wishing for a few more hours' sleep each week, a little less structure, a little more spontenaiety. I want to stay up late, lost in a book. I want to be able to stay up late, to have more will to read.

I am craving a fat glass of fizzy farm cider, a whole evening tucked in the corner of a pub. Belly laughs and a loss of all my coherence. A blurry slumbering daze to stumble in.

I'd love an evening on a sofa, watching episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm or Frasier one after the other. Gathering in one place with friends, drinking wine in pyjamas and discussing the finer points of sandwich fillings, French cinema and sex.

I am craving a day by the sea, wind in my hair, munching chips with a wooden fork and writing love messages in the sand. Edinburgh in the Spring as the daffodils appear, or a museum day in London.

Something is missing, somewhere, and I am on a search for it.