Wonderful Wednesday: December 2018

2 January 2019

Rounding-off a year's worth of Wonderful Wednesdays with a summary of December's highlights and what a splendid December it was!

I'm finishing this off on the first Wednesday in January, back to reality with a heavy bump so this reminiscing is very much needed! I've got the Christmas tree twinkling beside me, enjoying the last few days before having to take it down this weekend. Christmas seems to disappear faster and faster each year, as does the year itself. It's a real treat to be able to take the time to stop and look back at some of my favourite moments, to savour them just that little bit longer.


♥ Galleries aplenty... I was lucky to be able to visit lots of galleries over the course of December, visiting the incredible Burne-Jones exhibition for a second time as well as a few hours wandering the National Gallery one evening between Christmas and New Year (including a veritable scrum around Van Gogh's 'Sunflowers'), and a last minute invitation to a Yayoi Kusama exhibition in East London just before Christmas.

All incredibly different but offering so much to think about in their own ways. More art this year please.

♥ Puppy spotting... A highlight of *any* month but December's puppy spots were particularly special. One Christmas shopping trip included both a baby boxer dog and a 10 week old black velvet pug puppy. The latter was particularly excited to stop for some friendly behind-the-ear scritches and it made my whole day (/month!)

♥ Trips to the theatre... Not one but two trips, in fact! The week before Christmas, I watched a performance of the Box of Delights, which is an old children's story but one which my brother and I discovered through the magic of a slightly terrifying 1984 adaptation that we were bought on video when we were really young and watched obsessively for years afterwards. I  only actually read the book recently but have the ability to quote the TV series almost verbatim. So, when we saw that this was being dramatised in London over Christmas, we had to go and dragged our long-suffering other halves along too. (Who doesn't love being quoted at really?!) It was absolutely magical - they'd made some changes to the plot as I know it, included some wonderful Christmas carols and some amazing puppetry (honestly, the dog was incredible). I may have cried a few times but all good tears and came away feeling so ready for Christmas. It was being shown in Wilton's Music Hall - a gorgeous old music hall in Whitechapel, which was a magical experience in and of itself, such an amazing building with so much history. If you get the chance to visit, do.

Between Christmas and the New Year, we also donned our gladrags and went to watch the Nutcracker at the London Coliseum. This was a gift for my mother in law, bought at the beginning of the year so we'd had a long time to build up our expectations and it did not disappoint in any way I've seen this ballet a few times now but I think this was my favourite interpretation yet. It was over far too quickly.

♥ Christmas... Christmas this year was such a delight and will always be one I'll treasure because it was the first time that my husband and I hosted Christmas dinner in our own house. There were 7 of us in total in the day, which coming from an Irish family is a relatively small number, but it was still enough when you're juggling 800 roast potatoes and trying to keep the turkey hot. It all came together though and I felt so very grateful as we were all seated round the table toasting the day, arguing over the bread sauce and reading out bad cracker jokes.

♥ The time between Christmas and New Year... I stumbled across a tweet by Matt Haig on Twitter, which said "I love this time of year. I LOVE it. I know we are meant to say 'oh that weird limbo between Christmas and New Year, fuck that' but why? No work. No emails. No expectation. No rat race. No knowing what the actual day is. This is the calendar's safe space. It's bliss." and it summed up the time between Christmas and New Year so perfectly for me, whilst at the same time making me appreciate it so much more. I adore Christmas so much and have a tendency to start feeling slightly down on Christmas Eve because it's all almost over but this made me stop and think, and really relax. It is that one time of the year when you can put everything else to one side for a few blissful days.

♥ My own little desk... We hauled the table we've been using in the garden over the summer out of the shed to add extra length to our dining room table for Christmas day. (Long, tenuous intro but bear with me...) Rather than put it away after Christmas passed, I've popped it in the corner of the room, covered it in a table cloth and am using it as my own little writing table - a little space just for me, where I've popped all of my notebooks and pens, and can sit down to draw/journal/daydream away from the kitchen table. I'm loving it! It's a temporary fix because I'd love a proper desk but that's not high on the list of other things we need right now so this will do for the time being...and hopefully encourage me to spend more time doing all of the above!

♥ Wintery walks... I know I've said this a few times already but it's something that I don't think I'll ever stop enjoying and I really hope I don't ever stop appreciating. Since moving out of London, I really notice the change in seasons more and I'm loving seeing these gentle changes as we go for walks through the nearby fields. I'm really enjoying pulling on my boots at hte moment and hauling my chocolate-filled person up a hill, feeling the burn of the cold air in my lungs. Well, the burn is either that or just the sheer quantity of chocolate I've eaten this Christmas. That should really be its own separate paragraph but hey, that's a given right?

Happy New Year, all! 

♥ Do let me know what's made your week/month a little rosier by leaving me a comment below or dropping me a tweet (I'm @happygoluckycat) or better yet, why not join the fabulous bunch of #WonderfulWednesday bloggers? Pop over to their blogs for a dose of mid-week happiness - SallyMichelleHelenKateJo, LauraSarahPetaElMimmiLynseyKatie and Em (I think that's everyone - shout at me if you're not on the list!) - and then join me in counting down the days until the weekend. It's in sight! 

Hello 2019.

1 January 2019

Photo by Sylwia Forysińska on Unsplash

Seasoned readers of this little space will know that, rather than set a number of resolutions for the year ahead, over the last few years I've decided to choose a word for the year instead - an intention, of sorts. I love the feeling of a new year, like a brand new notebook it sits before me fresh and unmarked and full of opportunities.

I usually start pondering which word to choose when Christmas passes, a word that encapsulates how I'm feeling at this moment in time, but also how I feel looking back over the year that was and what I'd like to accomplish over the year to come. Lots of words popped into my head but after a little thought, I quickly discounted them thinking that they would be too easy to forget as the months pass. I wanted something that encapsulated something more, the little things that are important to me but which I so often lose track off as work takes over - family; friends; my little home and transforming it into our space; travelling and discovering new places; art, writing and the time to be creative in a myriad of small ways; health; and also considering our impact on the world and what can be done to make the world a better place.

This year, I've opted for 'priorities' as my word to focus on for 2019, to help me keep sight of the all-important 'life' in the 'work/life balance' and to do my best to prioritise each of the above. 

And with that, I'll leave you in the hands of Neil Gaiman who has written many new year wishes over the years and who always manages to send a message that is both touching and empowering at the same time, and so much better than I feel I ever could:

Be kind to yourself in the year ahead.

Remember to forgive yourself, and to forgive others. It's too easy to be outraged these days, so much harder to change things, to reach out, to understand.

Try to make your time matter: minutes and hours and days and weeks can blow away like dead leaves, with nothing to show but time you spent not quite ever doing things, or time you spent waiting to begin.

Meet new people and talk to them. Make new things and show them to people who might enjoy them.

Hug too much. Smile too much. And, when you can, love.


Happy New Year to you all and thank you for stopping by over the last year, for every comment and every friendship sparked by these pages. Here's to 2019 being everything you wish it to be and more! Do let me know if you've chosen a word or an intention for the year - I'd love to know!

Wonderful Wednesday: November 2018

5 December 2018

Sneaking this post in at the beginning of December because I wanted to include the very last day of November, which fell on Friday. How quickly is this year disappearing? I'm hugely busy, which is making the weeks fly by but I love this time of year so much so I'm still desperately clinging to these last few weeks of 2018.


♥ Spontaneous days off... I've somehow ended up with a couple of days of annual leave left. While I could carry them over until next year, our summer holiday was a long time ago and it's been a busy few months so I've decided to book some days off here and there to give me a few surprise long weekends in the weeks leading up to Christmas. I enjoyed two this month - on the first one I took myself into London for the day, meeting my husband for lunch and then headed to the Tate to see the new Burne-Jones exhibition, which I'd been excitedly looking forward to for months. I might do a separate post on the exhibition actually so I won't comment on it here, save to say that it was everything I was hoping for - I loved it.

Some of my colleagues just couldn't get their heads around my choosing to spend time on my own, not at home but going out to tea or to an exhibition. They just couldn't understand it. Of course it's always good to share experiences with people you love, who are enjoying it too, but sometimes there's just something so freeing about taking yourself out and just spending some time on your own doing whatever you want to do. Perhaps it's something I couldn't have done when I was younger and granted, I wouldn't want to do it all the time but I enjoy my own company or just relaxing with a book and a cup of tea. It's not to be feared. 

On Friday, I hopped on the train to Cambridge to visit one of my oldest and dearest friends, and her beautiful new baby. We went out to lunch, cooed over the newest littlest member of her family and I read endless stories about trains to her (slightly) older kiddo. It was fun to catch up but equally fun to escape to my aunt's that evening, who lives close by, for dinner and lots of red wine. I even managed to start my Christmas shopping the next day, a very productive trip!

♥ Autumn walks... We've enjoyed some quintessentially-autumn walks over the course of the last few weeks - kicking our way through the fallen leaves on a crisp day before heading home to enjoy something deliciously warming from the oven. It's stew season and I couldn't be happier!

♥ The first frost... Another highlight from this month, waking up and opening the curtains to see frost glittering across the grass and the hills in the distance covered in the most delicate of white sheens. Leaving the house to walk to work, I noticed my breath clouding in front of me and my eyes stung. I snuggled deeper into my scarf and curled my hands in my pockets as I trudged along. I really need to dig my gloves out from wherever I packed them earlier this year...

♥ Internet meet-ups... At the beginning of November, I was able to meet up with the lovely Sam who was visiting London for a few days. We went to Honest Burger and spent an enjoyable few hours putting the working world to rights and laughing a lot! It's so great that the Internet, which is so huge, can enable you to meet some like-minded souls. I've met some dear friends through the magic of my little circles on social media, it's a special thing and worth remembering when the algorithm continues to kick you on a regular basis and it can feel like you're looking into a void at times!

♥ Netflix Christmas specials... I know they're cheesy (beyond cheesy really!) and if you drill down into the storylines, they're not the stuff of Booker prizes but they're warm and cosy and comforting, which is a lot of what Christmas means to me. I've just watched one so far (The Christmas Switch) but I've book marked the others to enjoy in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

♥ Getting in the Christmassy mood... Along with my deep-rooted love of Netflix Christmas specials, I've slowly been marking off other little Christmassy snippets to  build up the enjoyment and anticipation. I visited the Country Living Christmas fair at the beginning of November with my mum and we enjoyed it so much we've decided to make it a yearly event to visit together. I think I was most excited about visiting the food suppliers - sampling heaps and heaps of cheese, along with a cheeky few festive beverages. I opted for some amazing cheddar and two delicious chutneys, which I'm really excited to bring out on Christmas day...along with a fair few more cheeses that I need to pick up in advance. Pickled onions too, as if there was ever any doubt.

We've bought our Christmas cards and I've written the list of people I want to send them to. Now I just need to find some time to curl up and write them. I've picked up a few Christmassy CDs and we've planned our epic food shopping list. Dare I say it, I'm starting to feel a little organised? Here's hoping...

Hope you all had wonderful Novembers and that the next few weeks are full of love and laughter - the next time I sit down to write this list, the new year will almost be here!

♥ Do let me know what's made your week/month a little rosier by leaving me a comment below or dropping me a tweet (I'm @happygoluckycat) or better yet, why not join the fabulous bunch of #WonderfulWednesday bloggers? Pop over to their blogs for a dose of mid-week happiness - SallyMichelleHelenKateJo, LauraSarahPetaElMimmiLynseyKatie and Em (I think that's everyone - shout at me if you're not on the list!) - and then join me in counting down the days until the weekend. It's in sight! 

A festive to-do list

11 November 2018

Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

Yesterday my Mum and I visited the Country Living Christmas Fair in London where we spent a wonderful few hours browsing all the festive goodies, picking up some treats and enjoying planning the weeks to come (primarily food-related!) I treated myself to a Christmassy candle, some new decorations for our tree (I do this every year!) and some amazing cheddar and chutneys, which I'm already excited about digging into on Christmas day.

I love this time of year, it's my favourite. As Autumn gets colder and crisper, the leaves change colour and fall, and then the nights get darker but interspersed with the festive lights twinkling from windows and trees. This year will be our first Christmas in our own home so it feels extra special.

A few years ago I sat down and wrote a wishlist of things I wanted to do over the festive season. It was a really good chance to reflect on what's important to me and all the little things that I look forward to this time of year, so I've decided to do it again this year.

Here are a few things that I'd like to spending some time doing over the course of the weeks leading up to Christmas and the festive period itself:

  • Write Christmas cards while listing to my favourite Christmas songs.
  • Crafting some more Christmas decorations - last year I made reams of paper chains and it was so fun to do and they looked wonderful!
  • Go out to look at some Christmas lights while sipping on something hot and preferably mulled!
  • Visit a Christmas tree farm and choose our tree.
  • Buy a tub of Christmas chocolates (we're a Cadbury Roses household!) to enjoy over the Christmas period.
  • Decorate the tree by candlelight - bring on all of the hygge cosiness. 
  • Bake some festive treats.
  • Donate to our local Foodbank and Toybank.
  • Enjoy my favourite Christmas films - Gremlins, White Christmas, Home Alone, Muppet Christmas Carol, The Holiday, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, Scrooged...it's a long list and that doesn't even include the cheesy holiday specials on Netflix, which I looooved last year.
  • Attend a carol service.
  • Partake in some favourite festive foods - mince pies, cheeses accompanied by chutney and picked onions (I could eat them on their own really!), sprouts, bread sauce and allll of the chocolate. 
  • Go to the ballet - this one's already booked, we're going to watch the Nutcracker!
  • Wrap presents by the tree.
  • Jólabókaflóð - this is the Icelandic tradition of exchanging books on Christmas Eve before spending some time together reading. Isn't that a lovely idea? Apparently people tend to take their books to bed with some chocolate, which sounds extra cosy. We'll probably be very busy on Christmas Eve as we're hosting this year (eep!) but I'm hoping that we can make the time to do this.

Do you enjoy this time of year? What would be on your festive wishlist?

Wonderful Wednesday: October 2018

31 October 2018

I can't believe that a whole month has passed since I last down here and opened up a new tab on my blog page but just like that, I've blinked and it's the end of October. Autumn is properly here, the nights are colder and darker, and I'm ready for all of the cosy things.

I've had a really productive day today (I'm typing this intro on Sunday) - there's something about having that extra hour in bed after the clocks go back that really encourages me to make the most of the day and still feel rested. We've decanted all of our grape vodka into bottles ready for Christmas, I cleaned the bedding and washed the windows - only inside, mind, I didn't go full Mary Poppins but I now feel extra ready to curl up for the rest of the evening with a book and all of the tea.

And without further ado, here are some other October highlights...


♥ Watercolour painting... Did I mention that I signed up for an art class? I've been going for a weeks now and I love it so much. I haven't really done any drawing since school, not properly, and it's something I always enjoyed but wanted a little tutoring in basic techniques to give me the confidence to do a little more. I've always wanted to bring a sketchbook with me when I go on holiday and do a little sketching but then get scared at the last minute.

I've been going for a few weeks now and for the last few weeks, I've been able to try watercolour painting which is so difficult but I love it. I love the different shades and textures you can achieve with just the smallest amount of paint. I need to practice more and am hoping to have a real chance to play over the Christmas break but for now, the classes are the highlight of my week - which is saying something for a Monday night! And actually having a proper excuse to buy art supplies is everything I've ever wanted.

♥ A weekend in Derbyshire... At the beginning of the month, we got up far too early for a Saturday morning to make it into London for an 8am train from St Pancras up to visit friends in Derbyshire. Breakfast-less arguments on the tube aside, it was completely worth it. We arrived in Derbyshire mid-morning to be met from the train and we headed to our friends' house via the Chatsworth farm shop to pick up some supplies before heading back to the House itself that afternoon. I'm absolutely fascinated by the Mitfords so it was supremely exciting to go on a Debo-pilgrimage and walk halls she would have walked but even if I didn't have that, I would have still loved every moment we spent at glorious Chatsworth. The leaves were just starting to change colour and it was a beautifully bright day so we spent a good few hours just exploring the grounds (some of that time may also have been spent getting lost in the maze). By the time we stopped for some fortifying tea and cake and wandered over to the house itself, they were letting in their last few visitors of the day.

To be honest though, the timing worked out really well. Have you ever visited a beautiful country house just before they're closing up, as the evening's drawing in on an autumn day? I hadn't and it was perfect. We had so many of the rooms to ourselves and the silence behind us as the lights were being switched off and the doors closed made me imagine, just for a moment, that I was living there. It was such a beautiful house. I want to go back and spend more time looking at every picture and all the stunning sculptures too.

The rest of the weekend was spent catching up over a lot of delicious food and cosied up in front of their woodburning stove. The cosiest time with good friends.

♥ Autumnal cooking... And on the subject of delicious food, I'm so excited about all the tasty treats ahead as the weather's colder. We came home to an amazing beef stew on Saturday after a long walk - my husband had made it in readiness the night before, so it tasted even more delicious the next day when we got home. We served it with some creamy mashed potato and red cabbage cooked in butter and balsamic vinegar, and it was perfect food for a cold day. I've also enjoyed my first roast dinner of the season this month and here's to lots more, followed by an apple and blackberry crumble please. I think this might be my favourite season for food!

♥ Gothic fiction... When I visited my brother a few weeks ago, he was raving about a book he'd just started called 'The Haunting of Hill House'. I hadn't heard about it but as we happened to pop into an amazing bookshop near their house, I picked up a copy, read the back and had to buy it straightaway. (support your local independent bookshops, folks!) I had a couple of books to finish initially and wanted to save it until the nights got a little colder and darker anyway. Saving it until October also meant that I managed to coincide with Jenny's gothic fiction read-along on Goodreads.

My goodness, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book but was completely unnerved by it at the same time. I would usually read at least a chapter each night before bed but at one point, when I was close to finishing it, I had to hide the book underneath by bedside table because I was too scared to even glimpse the cover during the night! This book really plays on your imagination and the fact that, for most people, all the terrifying things are already there inside your heads just waiting to be let out. As I said over on Instagram, I read an article about this book recently and one particular quote stood out - "houses aren’t haunted – people are. All the most terrible spectres are already there inside your head, just waiting for the cellar door of the subconscious to spring open so they can get out, sink their icy claws into you". That summed this book up completely for me and is why I can't stop thinking about it after turning the final page.

After finishing 'The Haunting of Hill House', I picked up 'The Silent Companions', which is another piece of gothic fiction and equally gripping. I devoured it over the course of a few days and, while I don't think it'll stay with me as long as Hill House will, it was still deliciously creepy. I think the author has a new book coming out soon (if it hasn't already been released?) and I'll definitely pick it up at some point. 

♥ Gilmore Girls... I know they've made one of these lists before but as the weather started to get a little cooler, I decided to start working my way through the series again. There's something about autumn and Gilmore Girls that goes hand in hand for me. It may raise my coffee-craving levels but that's not really a bad thing, right?!

♥ Autumn spotting... When we visited Derbyshire at the beginning of the month, we went on a mud and mushrooms walk on the National Trust's Longshaw Estate. I don't think I've ever looked so closely at the ground around me on a walk before but we spotted so many different kinds of stunningly-beautiful mushrooms. I'm looking out for them wherever I go now, although it really put me off ever wanting to do any kind of mushroom foraging - there are too many poisonous types, I don't think I'd ever trust myself to get it right!

And that's it for my little October round-up. Happy Hallowe'en to you all - stay safe and warm if you're out trick or treating, and here's to fireworks, spiced hot drinks and the countdown to Christmas during the month ahead!

♥ Do let me know what's made your week/month a little rosier by leaving me a comment below or dropping me a tweet (I'm @happygoluckycat) or better yet, why not join the fabulous bunch of #WonderfulWednesday bloggers? Pop over to their blogs for a dose of mid-week happiness - SallyMichelleHelenKateJo, LauraSarahPetaElMimmiLynseyKatie and Em (I think that's everyone - shout at me if you're not on the list!) - and then join me in counting down the days until the weekend. It's in sight! 

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