Wonderful Wednesday 14

27 July 2016

I'm sitting here at the kitchen table beginning this post on Monday morning - a lovely long weekend-making day of annual leave stretching ahead of me! Although the purpose of this day off is to run some errands that I wouldn't get a chance to do at the weekend, that's not stopping me from having a leisurely breakfast, drawing out this second cup of tea with the kitchen door open and a delicious breeze blowing in.

Here are a few of my highlights from the last week...

♥ Entertaining like pros... The mister and I had such a busy time this weekend. My hilarious friend O came over for dinner on Friday night - not something we usually do as I'm invariably fast asleep on the sofa by about 9pm, but I managed to keep going until 1am this Friday - probably something to do with the combination of good food, flowing red wine and great conversation.

We then had another one of my oooooldest friends and her husband over for a late lunch, pulling out all the stops to let them take probably one of their first breaks since the birth of their gorgeous but demanding little boy, about a year and a half ago. Then another one of my friends joined us later on that afternoon and stayed on through until later that night. My introverted little soul wanted to curl up into a ball after so much people-time but it really was heaps of fun. Cooking-wise, the mister and I knocked it out of the park too with a delicious mustardy chicken dish served with rosemary and garlic oven-roasted new potatoes and a fresh cucumber and olive salad, followed by a flourless chocolate cake with strawberries and creme fraiche. Clean plates all round!

♥ Christmas in July...courtesy of one of my dearest friends. I came down with shingles on Christmas Eve last year (turns out lots of stress isn't good for you, who knew?!) and was distraught at the impact this would have on my Christmas. It may not be clear to you just yet how much I love Christmas but don't worry, you'll learn soon enough as the weather starts to cool again. I mentioned this to a couple of my closest friends in the new year, sadly whimpering that my Christmas just hadn't been the same and I had been cruelly denied a proper celebration. They suggested reprising Christmas in the summer, which I completely forgot about until this wonderful card arrived in the post this week! It may be warm outside and not really christmassy in any way but this card gave me such a lovely boost...and reminded me to pace myself a little more so that I can truly enjoy the festive period when December rolls around (who am I kidding, as soon as the clocks change and I get my winter coat out). 

♥ Family catch-ups... Like the lovely Kate in last week's Wonderful Wednesday, I met up with my Nanny on Sunday and the mister and I took her out for lunch together with one of my cousins and his wife. I come from a huge family and we always say we don't see enough of each other, with times like Sunday making me wonder why. I'm the oldest of all the (numerous) cousins too so it felt really special having a fun meal and catching up with one of my young cousins, who I remember when he was really small! Spending time with my Nanny is always great too and we enjoyed a really lovely meal together catching up, and discussing holiday plans and the travel adventures of my cousin and his wife who've had an amazing few months travelling around Europe.

♥ Getting up relatively early on the weekend... I used to be such a late sleeper, staying up really late and then not getting out of bed until late morning and wondering where my weekend had disappeared to. This weekend, I woke up around 8/8.30 most mornings and, rather than stay in bed, I actually got up, made breakfast and began the day...and the weekend felt so much fuller as a result. Bliss.

Day off lunches...
♥ Getting.Stuff.Done. ... As I say, we took Monday off as we had some errands to run and it was so satisfying to get things crossed off the list! Some serious adulting took place, which we celebrated with burgers and I curled up and watched a programme about Roald Dahl in the evening. A good mix I think.

♥ A little sprinkling of Sally Tangle...and last but by no means least, I took a leaf out of the lovely Sally's book this week, temporarily fixed our washing line and popped our clothes and sheets out to dry in the weekend's sun. It was such a happy sight, seeing them tossed about in the breeze, before collecting them in a few hours later, sun dried and beautifully fresh-smelling.

Until next week, my lovelies!

♥ Do let me know what's made your week a little rosier by leaving me a comment below (I do love comments!) 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 and Emma - and then join me in counting down the days until the weekend. It's in sight! 

Wonderful Wednesday 13

20 July 2016

How wonderful is the sunshine, lovely people who have waited far too long for summer to arrive?! Don't get me wrong, I'm only enjoying it as long as I'm out of the office and not in a suit but it's still glorious. On Tuesday afternoon, our department head surprised the entire office with ice lollies...such a treat and so needed - it was that point in the afternoon, not too long after we'd all got back from lunch when just going inside expended far too much energy and we were starting to reach peak-sleepy. A few ice lollies also counts towards your 4 pints of water each day, right? Totally healthy.

And without further ado, because I really am struggling to focus with all the sunshine going on outside (I actually said "can't brain" to my friend yesterday when I couldn't find the words for "I'm too hot to think") on with the joy...


♥ Parks... I do love the little park near my office, particularly so at the moment. Yesterday lunchtime, a few of us went to get iced drinks and took them back to the park, where I hid my pearly white limbs under the shade of a tree and they perched on the edge of the shade to catch some sun. It was wonderful and so difficult to drag ourselves back to the office (thank goodness there were ice lollies to come...) I snapped the wee picture above before we left, my view from under the shade - glorious blue sky and the hint of sunshine. It was wonderful.

♥ Iced tea... Tea lover that I am, I am drinking lots and lots of iced tea this week. Excitedly, I discovered some iced tea that I found during our trip to Germany a few months' ago, which I didn't think I'd be able to find over here. It's not as sweet as some iced teas can be and they have so many delicious flavours, with pomegranate being a particular favourite, closely followed by blueberry. Mmm. The chap in the shop is starting to recognise me now that I keep visiting to stock up on a few bottles every few days.

♥ Birthday-ing... So as I mentioned last week, it was my mister's birthday on Thursday and I have to say that I pulled out all the birthday stops this year, culminating in a trip to the Globe on Friday evening. (Shameless post plug here). I keep thinking about the play and trying to encourage everyone I see to visit the Globe. Honestly, I can't believe it's taken me so long to get there.

♥ Mum catch-ups... On Saturday I went into town to meet up with my mum for lunch and a long-overdue catch up. We grabbed some food straightaway before wandering around the shops for a few hours, and then stopping for tea and cake before heading home. We're all going to Ireland together in August for a family wedding so we were planning that trip and she filled me in on years of family history. I am so excited about this trip!

♥ Orange is the New Black... Incredibly late to this bandwagon but I've been marathoning this over the last few weeks and I'm now on series 4, not too sure what I'll do with my evenings when I finish. I should probably try to make this series last a little longer but I.can't.stop.watching.

♥ Dancing sheep... Yes, you heard me. On Sunday we went to the Lambeth Country Show, which takes place in Brockwell Park each year and is designed to be like a traditional country fair, but with a special South East London vibe. I had never actually been before but was lured by the premise of owls, a petting zoo area and dancing sheep. After a rocky start when I called a sheep a goat (#citygirl), we settled down with some cider in front of a huge van with various named podiums ready for the action. Disappointingly, the generator died about halfway through the show, just as the opening bars of the music started to play so I didn't actually get to see the sheep dance to the music (apparently that makes all the difference...) but we did get to see some impressive sheep run up when called and stand on their wee podiums, and demonstrate their signature moves. Some sheep were slightly more impressive than others... *ahem*

And on that note, I hope you all have a ball today.


♥ Do let me know what's made your week a little rosier by leaving me a comment below (I do love comments!) 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 and Emma - and then join me in counting down the days until the weekend. It's in sight! 

Adventures at the Globe Theatre

18 July 2016

As mentioned in last week's Wonderful Wednesday, it was my mister's birthday on Thursday. I started thinking about gift ideas a few months' ago in a very organised moment.  This time last year, we were in peak wedding-planning mode and both of our birthdays (mine is at the end of August) were slightly overlooked in the process. (Evil of all evils, I'd organised a pre-wedding getting to know you photoshoot with our wedding photographer on the actual day of the mister's birthday last year - I don't think I'm forgiven yet.)  The mister always thoroughly spoils me though and I really wanted to plan something special to do this year, something slightly different.

As I'd started looking a few months' ago, I decided to have a look on the Globe's website to see what was on around his birthday...it's something I've looked at before on previous occasions but usually looking for something to do in the near future, when tickets have always been very much sold out.

I don't know a lot of Shakespeare's plays and didn't really enjoy the few that we were forced to read at school but I've watched and enjoyed the comedies that I've seen, so that was what I had in mind when choosing which play to buy tickets for. There was 'A Midsummer Night's Dream', which I'd seen a few times before, 'Macbeth', definitely NOT a comedy, and 'The Taming of the Shrew', which I opted for...knowing it was a comedy but not much else. In fact, all I knew about it was derived from 'Ten Things I Hate About You', which I haven't watched in aaaages...might be time to dig that out again. I was a little concerned about what the weather would be doing by the time mid-July rolled around (and until today it's been rubbish!) so decided not go to for the uncovered standing section but booked tickets for the Middle Gallery. The tickets arrived a few weeks later and, after a little panic that I'd been busted because 'The Globe' was stamped on the envelope (thankfully I have a very unobservant husband), squirreled them away and excitedly kept quiet until I popped the tickets into the mister's birthday card last week. We were off to the Globe!

After some dinner in down, we headed over to the Globe with enough time for a drink beforehand and, as we had tickets for the show, we were able to go to the outside bar and watch the crowds
walking along the Embankment and other theatre-goers start to pour in excitedly through the gate. Shortly before 7.30, we joined them and headed up the steps of the north tower to find our seats. Despite choosing the seat somewhat blindly, squinting at the theatre layout, I was so pleased to see how good a view of the stage we had. Although you have a seat number, there are no separately defined seats, just numbers on benches...so prepare to get cosy with your neighbour.

Onto the play... All I knew about the plot was that it focuses on a chap with two daughters - Bianca, the youngest, wants to get married but her dad won't let her until her elder sister, Kate, the 'Shrew' of the title, gets married...so much, so Ten Things I Hate About You (swap 'get married' with 'date'). What I did not realise (or hadn't really considered) was the controversial, misogynistic element to this whole story, which so many people have found so unpalatable - the taming of a fantastic, wild woman by forcing her into marriage. This interpretation didn't seek to apologise for that though or try to excuse it or brush it under the table - so much so that the wild comedy of the first half gave way to almost a haunted tragedy in the second half.

When I bought the tickets earlier this year, I also didn't realise that this version would be portrayed by an all-Irish cast. They set it in Ireland in 1916 at the time of the Easter Rising, also the time when Irish women were granted equal rights to men. Interspersed with gorgeously evocative folk music and freedom ballads sung (almost howled) by the fantastic Kate, we were transported into the play...caught up by Kate's whirlwind of fury and then dashed into the rocks with her as we watched her crushed by her imposing husband.

There was a wonderful amount of classic Shakespearean clowning too, which kept the whole audience laughing...particularly when it involved the groundlings standing in front of the stage - I don't think one chap is going to forget being ridden by a cast member anytime soon, and that was just for starters.

Honestly, even if you're not Shakespeare's number one fan, this was such an experience and if you have any chance whatsoever to go and get tickets for this performance of 'The Taming of the Shrew', you really must. My few words in no way do it justice - it was superb.

One tip though, if you're booking seated tickets, definitely opt for a cushion! A few hours on a wooden seat lead only to a sore derriere, even after the slightly numbing effect of a few Pimms...

Wonderful Wednesday 12

13 July 2016

Back with a healthy serving of Wonderful Wednesday goodness after, my goodness, a few (?!) weeks off.  It is not good, not good at all when I cannot get my head together to even think about what's making me feel happy and I've noticed the effect it's had on me. It wasn't all news-related gloom getting me down though, I was also massively glutened when given an actual pizza in a restaurant despite telling them I was coeliac! Grim times. Why dwell on the rubbish though? I've done enough of that over the last few weeks! On to the Good Things!

♥ London... I don't think I say I love London nearly enough and as frustrating and expensive as it can be, it can also be truly wonderful. One of my closest friends came to visit a few weekends ago and I think I do appreciate London more when I have an excuse to spend all weekend wandering around the big smoke, rather than putting some time aside for dull tasks like laundry and/or sorting out the recycling. (It may be dull but it's no fun to get to Monday and already run out of tights for the week.)

I had planned the Saturday of all Saturdays - I met her off the train and then we pootled off to Beyond Bread for some brunch (any excuse to have more gf pastries - cinnamon bun this time!), then to Soho to check out the exhibition by the graphic designers from the Harry Potter films. They've taken over an entire house in Soho, with each floor focusing on different themes of prints, from newspapers to the books for each class and all manner of adverts for Weasleys' Wizarding Wheezes...so many wonderful little details to exclaim over. If I had lots of money (or, really, any...thanks London landlords) I would have chosen a few prints to take home. They're lovely but a little pricey. The exhibition itself is free though and well worth a visit for a Potter fan - House of MinaLima on Greek Street in Soho.

We then headed over to the Wallace Collection, via a comic shop and a few coffees, and spent a glorious few hours there exclaiming over all the wonderful treasures on display, choosing our favourite rooms (oval drawing room for me please) and shrinking from an absolutely terrifying portrait of a crying little girl. Seriously scary business. Why hang that on your wall?? I would share it here but seriously, it is NOT wonderful. So the oval drawing room it is...view from a writing desk...

♥ Richard Herring's Leicester Square Podcast... In more comedy podcast discoveries, I've stumbled on these after listening to Adam Buxton interviewing Richard Herring - had absolutely no idea that he used to be in a double act with Stewart Lee - but anyway, I'm loving the podcast. Yes, I'm the loony girl walking through the park chuckling to herself but it's totally worth every single suspicious look (NO ONE smiles in London, right?!) There are so many episodes available to listen to - they're basically interviews with all kinds of comedy guests. I do choose people who I adore anyway and I have not been disappointed. I'm listening to David Mitchell's one at the moment, who I always feel that I'm learning something from as well as laughing, even if he's wittering on about nothing in particular. 

♥ The Allergy and Free From Show... Ahhh so much coeliac love for this show, which took place last Friday to Sunday. When I first went I was just so excited to find some gluten free cake but those are ten a penny now so I was determined to concentrate on the essentials this time - some really good pasta and gf flour. Four packets of gluten free pork scratchings, a cake mix and some gluten free beers later and I was leaving the show with some very heavy bags (hooray for husbands!) I did get some pasta though, fresh pasta at that!

♥ Belated wedding presents... The mister and I will be celebrating our first wedding anniversary in September but last weekend we went for lunch to Browns in Covent Garden, courtesy of one of our lovely wedding guests. We had some vouchers to use up but I'd been wary about what options I could have until recently when I saw that they now have a gluten free menu. So we decided to head into London on Saturday for a three course lunch and far too much red wine for so early in the afternoon. It was really lovely - I had smoked salmon to start followed by a steak and, joy of gluten free joys, tasty thick cut chips. The mister opted for scallops followed by lamb. We were really pleasantly surprised and they were so very careful with pointing out what I could have. Funnily enough, lovely Emma from our little Wonderful Wednesday crew was also in Browns in Bristol on the Saturday sampling their cocktails...think I'll have to do the same next time we go.

♥ Birthday Planning... It's my mister's birthday on Thursday (don't ask him how old he'll be, he'll only cry) and I'm excitedly planning some little surprises. He's going to a gig with some friends that night but I've planned something else for Friday and I'm really looking forward to it! Isn't there something wonderful about treating people?

♥ Hanging Pictures... In new 'making our wee house feel more like home' news, we've started hanging some pictures up - our Eggleston print in the sitting room, and my treasured Mucha exhibition poster and Pre-Raphaelite favourites up in the hall. We have some lovely large high walls, perfect for some fab pieces...I think I'd like to find something new and special to hang above my dressing table. The search begins.

Hope you've all had Wonderful-last-few-Wednesdays and that today will be no exception to that parade of wonderfulness! Drop me a comment and let me know how you've been.

♥ Do let me know what's made your week a little rosier by leaving me a comment below (I do love comments!) 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 and Emma - and then join me in counting down the days until the weekend. It's in sight! 

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