Wonderful Wednesday: February 2019

27 February 2019

I read an article in the Observer this weekend that talked about the meme that I'd never heard of before but suddenly is everywhere I look. You know the one, which sets out the various seasons that we now have rather than the four we'd always thought there were - Winter, Fool's spring, Second winter, Spring of deception, Third winter, Mud season, Actual spring, Summer, False autumn, Second summer and Actual autumn. 

We're well and truly in Fool's spring at the moment and while it has been so lovely to feel some warmth on my face when I pop out at lunchtime, it does feel unnervingly early doesn't it?! It's been inspiring me to consider a few other things I can do for the environment because this really isn't right - we should be snugging into our knitwear for a little while longer yet. I've been making a real conscious effort to carry tote bags with me and try to cut down on plastic where I can but are there any other wee things that you do already to make things just that little bit more sustainable that are easily adoptable?

In the meantime, on with the highlights of February...which, unlike January which was the longest month ever ever ever, has just flown by...


♥ Shetland... The new series started this month and I've been so excited to have it back on the screen. One of my colleagues was complaining that it's too slow but I completely disagree - I love the fact that the details are drip-fed over the course of the series, generally keeping me guessing until towards the end. Every time I watch it I long to visit Shetland itself too. Bleak, yes, but absolutely stunning. Perhaps this year will be the year I finally make my dream trip up north?!

♥ Signs of spring... They're starting to pop up everywhere, have you noticed? And not just because of the unseasonably warm weather. At the beginning of the month, when it was still chilly, I saw my first snowdrops and now I'm noticing them everywhere. We've got some little narcissae daffodils in a jug in the house now and their scent greets me as soon as I walk through the door in the evening. It's lovely. Everything seems to be unfurling after winter and I do hope that they're not all scared away in the no-doubt impending cold snap, or Second Winter if you will. 

♥ Kitty excitement... This is a highlight from this month but is also *more* a pre-emptive highlight for next month. My mother in law has adopted a 9 year old cat to look after and I'm already SO excited to meet him! He hasn't had the easiest start in life, poor thing, and he's apparently nervous, very vocal and already super affectionate, with huge paws. I can't wait to shake his little paw for the first time and my vicarious pet ownership can live on in him for the time being. 

♥ Misty mornings...Just as high on my list of favourite things this month as the first signs of spring are the eerily misty mornings we've been having, before the mists burn off as the sun shines brightly for the rest of the day. I've been loving my walk in the morning, fringe tucked securely under my hat to prevent unsightly frizz, trudging through the park watching the ducks and geese disappear into the mist in the distance and the church tower suddenly loom up in the distance. It's quite magical.

♥ Podcasts... I've always loved a podcast but I've really been enjoying tuning into my favourites for my walks to and from work over the last few weeks. I'm so glad that the High Low is back because I feel just that little bit more well-read and erudite just by listening along, and I always come away from an episode with a lengthy reading list, which to me is always the sign of an excellent conversation - and to me, that's what that podcast feels like, a conversation with some supremely well-read and charming friends. Love it. As I mentioned last month, Dolly Alderton's Love Stories is back too (although for the final series, sob!) and I'm celebrating by re-listening to some of my favourites from the first series as well as enjoying all the new episodes. I'm listening to Vanessa Kirby's at the moment and their chat about the pleasure/horror that was MSN Messenger rang just as true as it did during my first listen. 

♥ A trip to Honest Burger... I've had a couple of delicious meals out this month, I've been very lucky! Early in the month, I met up with an old friend for a long-overdue catch-up over sushi. And later on in the month, my husband and I went into London to visit the Good Grief, Charlie Brown exhibition at Somerset House followed by a trip to Honest Burger. The exhibition was good, wonderful in places, but let down, I felt, by odd 'modern art' interpretations from artists inspired by Peanuts...some of which felt a little too tenuous for my taste. During our visit, most of the people there were crowded around the actual Peanuts comics, initial drawings and videos of Schulz drawing his much-loved characters that it made it difficult to look at them for any length of time. It could have been spaced out a little better if they'd lost some of the filler. I felt.

But after a few hours wandering around the exhibition and enjoying some artwork that I can't have seen for years and years, we were suitably hungry and burgers were just what we needed. Honest Burger is a real favourite of mine because the restaurants are just so good for us coeliacs. As we were both ravenous, we decided to opt for the monthly special - the poutine burger, which consisted of the burger, smoked bacon, Westcombe smoked cheddar and cheese curds, shoestring fries, cider and onion gravy, onions and pickles, all served alongside rosemary chips. My word, it was fantabulous. I didn't need to eat at all for the rest of the day. Definitely a place to bookmark if you're on the look-out for a good burger in London. 

♥ Kickstarter Project... Some of my favourite Instagram accounts are illustrators and I love browsing their feeds either for inspiration for crafty ideas or for creative gifts/cards to give other people. One of my favourite illustrators is Nina Cosford - some of her drawings make me laugh aloud, others hit very close to home and I adore her location drawings and travel journals. A little while ago, she announced that she would be going on a trip on the Trans-Siberian Railway, which is one of the things I'd love to do and has probably been on my must-do list for longest, and that she was doing a Kickstarter Project to fund a book of the trip. I've donated to it and excitedly watched the tracker count down until it was well over the target and I'm already super excited to receive my book of the journey sometime this summer. Perhaps it'll finally push me towards actually booking a trip?

♥ Neighbourly cakery... Mid-way through February, a message popped up on my phone from my neighbour saying that she had a glut of courgettes and was planning to turn them into a gluten free cake if I'd like to pop over later that afternoon. You don't need to tell me twice. A few hours later, I was cosied up on her sofa with a huge slice of lemon courgette cake, a large mug of tea and her small dog. The perfect Sunday afternoon.

♥ 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! 

Wonderful Wednesday: January 2019

30 January 2019

I'm not going to lie, this month has felt about 800 weeks long. Have you all felt the same way? Thankfully, when I stopped to think about it, there were lots of good things to look back on that made January stop feeling quite so very 'January'. 


♥ Barbican adventures... We visited the Barbican twice at the beginning of the month. I bought my mister membership for Christmas so we used the card to go to the cinema there because it's like going to the cinema in an old theatre, it just makes it that little bit more special. It's so lovely to get the opportunity to travel to a favourite part of London and spend some time together - regular adventures with my favourite person. We also discovered the members' room, a quiet place to people-watch (it's right over the gift shop) while sipping a cocktail. Methinks we'll be using the membership a lot this year!

♥ Dinner with an old student... After university, I moved to Japan where I taught English and foreign culture in a senior school. It's one of my life highlights and I have so many wonderful memories, not least all the incredible students I was lucky enough to teach while I was there. I received a message from one of my old students before Christmas, saying that she would be in London for a few days in the new year if I'd be free for dinner one night. You know how strange it is seeing people completely out of context? That. But incredible too considering how so much time has passed! She was 15 when I interviewed her for part of the English test to enter the senior school and I was 22 - my goodness, how time has flown!

♥ Homemade ragu...the perfect dish for a cold evening. Nuff said really. I raved on Instagram on Sunday about the new episode released of Dolly Alderton's series Love Stories. If you haven't listed to it before, I huuugely recommend the series in which she talks to famous people about the relationships that define them. This new series starts with Stanley Tucci who I could honestly listen to for hours, particularly when he's talking about Italian food. There's something so special about listening to people talk about something they clearly love and this episode had so many moments like that. I listened to it at about 8am on Saturday, curled up in bed with a cup of tea and by the end of it I was craving pasta like nobody's business. I managed to get through the whole day before falling on a plate of homemade ragu later on that evening. Carby bliss. 

♥ Harry Potter and the Cursed Child... It was absolutely magical. When can I go again?! It brought back all the joy, anticipation and excitement of the news that films were being made of the earliest novels and a new book being released. I can't say anything at all because they really encourage you not to share any spoilers (hashtag keep the secrets) and honestly, I went into it with absolutely no idea what to expect and it was incredible. 

♥ A mid-week treat... I follow a variety of artists and designers on Instagram, it's such a fantastic place to discover wonderful creative folk and an array of thoughtful gifts that are just that little bit different. One of my favourites is Kate Rowland, who I was really sad to miss at a craft fair in London before Christmas but I took the opportunity to treat myself to some items from her shop in the earliest weeks of January. 

It was delivered in the middle of what felt like an interminably long week. The postman had left the parcel behind our pots and even having to shake off some rather large spiders didn't lessen the excitement. I'd ordered a hand-made brooch and a zine about her time looking after three shiba inu in a farmhouse in the mountains in Nagano - gorgeous photos and paintings. It's inspiring me to do something similar...perhaps during our holidays this year. It's really one step up from a scrapbook diary, which I love to do for special holidays already.

♥ Snow... I've realised something. I only really like snow when it first falls, I'm wrapped up warm and walking on an entirely flat surface or I'm cosily indoors looking at it falling through the window. It is very very pretty though but if this realisation is what being an adult is all about, I'll take it.

♥ Easter chocolate... Yes, you heard me correctly. The Christmas trees are only just down but the Easter bunny is alive and well in the supermarket. I am ever so slightly outraged but only slightly, as I adore Cadbury caramel eggs and I'm making the most of this early bounty! I draw the line at anything else though. Maybe.

♥ 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! 

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 ForysiƄska 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! 

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