Friday, February 27, 2015

word of the week #9

As you may have established from all of the black and white photos taken late at night, I have had a long few days at work this week. It was long in a positive way, as some of the late evenings were due to meals out with colleagues, so it was good to socialise and catch up with people. It still felt good to get home at the end of each day though, and after another lengthy day today, I am glad it is now the weekend.

Another thing that made the week longer, again in a good way, was joining in with the 5 day black and white challenge. I know if I hadn't chosen to join in I wouldn't have blogged at all this week, convincing myself that I didn't have the time. It's good to look back and see the days punctuated by posts, and stopped the time passing by in a blur of working, eating and sleeping.

I'm also managing to keep getting up early at the weekends, and it is making such a difference to how balanced the weeks feel. It is great to look at the clock and realise it is still mid-morning, and that I have achieved loads already, especially when previously I wouldn't have been surfacing until later, revelling in a lie in. The days feel much more substantial, and I also feel like I properly switch off for a few hours, knowing that I've got done what I wanted to earlier in the day.

It's easy to think I've chosen this word as a negative reflection of the past seven days. Before I get too saccharine, there were definitely moments this week when I couldn't wait for Friday to come, and after the late nights and early starts I am excited at the prospect of a gentler pace to the next few days. But, I much prefer feeling like the days aren't flying by, and time not passing unnoticed, and so, perhaps with the comforting prospect of the weekend ahead, I can genuinely say I've enjoyed my long week.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

day 5

For my final day of the "5 day black and white challenge" I have done a little time travelling. Four weeks ago today we were still in Australia, The Husband, Grandad and I celebrated the final evening of our trip with a meal at the top of the Sydney Tower, in the revolving restaurant. For a couple of hours we had a delicious meal and watched the sun set over the city and its suburbs. We slowly saw the landscape change, taking in the landmarks, trying to locate familiar places and pinpoint areas where our beloved family lived. It was a lovely end to a memorable trip, and it seems such a long time ago now already. Life has settled back into the daily routine, work fills the days, and yet something remains. As well as the relationships forged with our relatives, and the memories created, I have continued to feel buoyed by our travels. Partly because our parents had done such a wonderful job of making our home so welcoming for our return, partly because I have managed to maintain the readjusted body clock and life feels so much better for being a morning person, and partly just a simple sense of joy that has stayed with me. The trip reminded me how lucky we are, and just how much good the days can be filled with, and so it is with much happiness that I choose this picture, taken of one of the incredible lights on our final night. 

For the last nomination I have chosen two people! I'm not sure if that's allowed, but in my defence, Laura from Circle of Pine Trees, who I nominated yesterday, had already done the challenge over on Instagram! I have not yet succumbed to what I am sure would be another daily distraction and don't have an account, so I hadn't seen them, but I have checked them out and they are as beautiful as I would have thought. So I go to two extremes with my choices today, Tess from driftwood whose fabulous blog I have followed for a long time now, and who even used to be kind enough to comment on my old blog, and Kim from Spiral Spun who I have only just begun to follow, but who has a beautiful blog that I am enjoying exploring. As with Penny, Kriss and 76sunflowers, do not feel any pressure to join in straight away or at any point. Finally, thank you so much to Jane for the kind nomination, it has been a really enjoyable challenge, and it encouraged me to blog in a week when I would otherwise have ignored this site altogether, and I feel all the better for it!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

day four

My fourth day of the 5 day black and white photo challenge. I really enjoyed taking a bit more time over this picture, rather than snapping it as I strode down the street! This has been a great little project to join in with so far, and it has been lovely to link up with other blogs that I really admire.

Today's nomination is for Laura at Circle of Pines, another blog I adore, I always enjoy visiting. Her recent post immediately made me think of the project, but please do not feel you have to join in! My previous nominees have been Penny. Kriss, and 76sunflowers, if you want to look around their blogs too - I highly recommend it!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

day three

Another architectural image tonight, and another picture taken as I dashed across the city in the dark after a long day at work. Hopefully a bit of variation tomorrow, I will perhaps take a picture indoors, or maybe in daylight!

This photo is my third entry for the 5 Day Black and White Challenge. I was very kindly nominated by Jane, and my nominees so far are Penny and Kriss. For tonight's nomination I choose 76sunflowers, another recently discovered blog full of great photography. I first thought that 76sunflowers was already taking part, but now realise, thanks to her comment* on yesterday's post, that is a different black and white photography project running on a weekly basis. As previously, no obligation to take part, but please do if you would like to!

*Thank you so much all for your recent comments, and I will reply to each and every one soon. I do so love getting them, I just haven't been home much to reply these last few days. In the meantime, a general thank you to everyone who has visited these pages!

Monday, February 23, 2015

day two

I was dashing through the rain tonight to meet The Husband, who had so kindly come to pick me up after I saw those three dreaded words - rail replacement service, such an unpleasant phrase, particularly at 10.30pm after a long and busy day. As I headed over to where he was waiting, I couldn't resist taking a moment to pause and take a quick picture of the Cathedral doors by lamplight. Another beautiful building I walk past really regularly, and I finally got the chance to photograph it tonight, as no-one else was around. I did feel guilty for keeping The Husband waiting after he had driven all the way to pick me up so late in the evening. I'm pleased with the end result though, so hopefully he would agree it was worth it!

This photo is my second entry for the '5 Day Black and White Challenge' which I am joining in with this week. For today I would like to nominate Kriss from Wild About Here, a blog full of beautiful pictures which I have discovered fairly recently. Again, please don't feel you have to join in immediately, or at all. Thank you again to Jane for my nomination, I'm really enjoying joining in.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

challenge accepted

I visited Jane's wonderful blog yesterday, and saw that she had been invited to do a photo challenge which sounded particularly promising. Popping back there today to see her second part of the challenge, I was thrilled to see that she had nominated me to join in.

It is called the '5 Day Black & White Challenge', and the title is fairly self-explanatory! The two rules are:

1. Post a black and white photograph each day for 5 days.

2. Invite another photographer to participate each day.

So here is my first of five, taken today on our visit to Manchester. I walk past these gardens fairly regularly and always want to stop and take photos of the sculptures in the water. Having earlier spotted Jane's nomination I thought this challenge was the perfect excuse to finally take a photo, helped along by the fact that The Husband was with me so I felt slightly less conspicuous sheltering under the umbrella with him as I took it.

For my first nomination (this feels very apt for the evening of the Oscars!), I choose the lovely Penny of The Homemade Heart. As Jane said to me, no pressure if you don't wish to take part straight away, or at all!

Hope you all had lovely weekends.

365: week 8

46. Beautiful new pyjamas that my very kind grandad bought me as birthday present. A lovely way to finish the weekend, although Millie did try to claim them as hers.

47. The bright lights of the city at night as I walked from work to meet The Husband and my parents for a lovely dinner and a fabulous gig.

48. Millie refusing to make eye contact with me when I came downstairs to find she had destroyed her pillow. I think she knew she had done something she shouldn't!

49. One of the lovely dinners we cooked as part of the HelloFresh box we bought this week. Expect a longer post soon; this Korean beef dish was delicious.

50. Finished this book, and handed it immediately over to my mum with the strongest of recommendations. More on this when I do my year in books post at the end of the month. (Also, how are we 50 days into 2015 already?!)

51. Millie looking on enviously as we tucked into our third and final HelloFresh dinner. She is an expert at those pleading eyes, luckily we are immune!

52. Spring is definitely in the air. So cheerful to have blue skies and sunshine as we walk the dog, although I still regretted not wearing gloves!

Linking in with The Boy and Me

Friday, February 20, 2015

word of the week #8

There have been some wonderful moments shared with family this last week. In between the routine of work and chores we have had some lovely times.

The Husband and I went for dinner and a gig with my parents on Monday. It was great to meet them all from work. What really stuck in my mind was the waiter asking what we were celebrating as we clinked glasses and said cheers. We weren't celebrating anything in particular, just the joy of sharing the evening together. The gig was fabulous and it felt like a brilliant start to the week.

On Tuesday I was working from home and something went wrong with the study door. Millie and I were stuck in the room as the handle had stopped working. I called mum who promptly dispatched Mal who turned up a moment later, opened the door with ease, walked in and shut it behind him to see what the problem was. Suffice to say mum then had to come down to let us both out. It was a perfect comedy moment, and Mal immediately redeemed himself by fixing the door before I'd even had time to put the kettle on.

Yesterday would have been my grandparents diamond wedding anniversary and so my lovely mum did a special dinner for my grandad and us to mark the occasion. It was a perfect way to commemorate such a significant date. It has been a week filled with family, and that is my favourite kind of week.

Monday, February 16, 2015

a few of my favourite things

I always try to celebrate birthdays each year. I figure that over the course of a lifetime, however long it may be, birthdays will only make up 1/365 of your days so why not make the most of every one. I don't really worry about growing older, it is too inevitable! Whilst my birthday celebrations are not particularly outlandish they always make the day feel special, and this year seemed to be filled with things that I love!

There was breakfast in bed courtesy of The Husband (and Millie), which is always a treat. Then there were some wonderful gifts to open in front of the fire. I seemed to get lots of really perfect presents this year, ones that were exactly what I would have chosen for myself, and which I am thoroughly enjoying getting use out of. Posh pyjamas, the perfect new work bag, the book I was looking at in the bookshop window as I walked past the other day, fancy new kitchen knives, secateurs for my burgeoning herb garden, and theatre tickets too.

After a lovely few hours with my parents, enjoying gift opening and some Buck's Fizz (another birthday tradition and one of the many joys of having them around the corner!) it was off on a mystery trip. First stop was treating myself to some make up (mostly for the amazing free gift set!) from Estée Lauder, before a coffee and a pastry watching the world go by.

Next stop was breakout! I'm going to do another post on these next week but suffice to say it is my favourite thing to do at the moment. The basic premise is that you are locked in a room for 60 minutes and you have to find clues and solve puzzles to escape. Each room has a backstory and this is the second we have done, and we have escaped both times so far! One of my presents from my parents was a booking to do another one this weekend (with a different company) so we will see if we can manage a hat trick and then I will report back!

After our successful escape we went for a lovely late lunch. It was nice to try somewhere new and sit and chat. Mostly we were dissecting our breakout attempt,  and it felt like a real treat to be out for lunch on a work day.

After a quick stop for some new stationery, it was home for a small family gathering. There was tea, sandwiches, cream cakes and birthday cake. It was a really relaxed evening with lovely company and a great end to the day. So far, 29 is proving to be a fabulous age, and I'm feeling very lucky indeed.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

365: week 7

39. The Husband made some damper in reminiscence of our Australian holiday. It was good, especially warm with golden syrup, which is known as "cocky's joy". It seemed to disappear a little too quickly though!

40. A late night shot as I headed to bed, my, now well-worn, line a day diary, and a note-book I found in the bottom of a drawer. The joy of rediscovering stationery!

41. A very witty present from The Husband for my birthday, it made me smile a lot. I had a thoroughly wonderful birthday, but more on that tomorrow!

42. Another last-minute shot, of some detritus on my bedside table! I have a terrible habit of leaving bobbles everywhere, and then never being able to find one when I need it.

43. A hastily snapped picture as I dashed for the train, after a lovely evening catching up with a good friend. Every time I walk past this building I wish I was braver (and had more time), as I would love to take some proper pictures of it, it is beautiful.

44. Millie out for a Friday night on the cobbles. It was bitterly cold, and we were all glad to get home and warm!

45. Beautiful views of the sunlight on the water as we spent Saturday afternoon taking Millie for a long walk at a local nature reserve. There were some pretty threatening clouds overhead as we set off but we managed to dodge the rain and had a lovely afternoon.

Linking in with The Boy and Me

Friday, February 13, 2015

word of the week #7

Somewhat clichéd choice the day before Valentine's Day I realise, and I am also acutely aware of how often I use the word lovely on this blog, but it has been a lovely week! I had a great birthday spent with The Husband and my family, and felt very spoilt indeed.

I've also seen a few different friends this week, including a nice after work catch up last night. We got some new lights for the hall which I'm really pleased with, they really finish it off and it makes me smile every time I come in. It finally feels like home as soon as I walk through the door.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

365: week 6

32. A highly filtered picture of the daffodils on the dressing table. Sunday was spent still getting over jet-lag and doing washing so this was a last-minute heading to bed photo!

33. Early starts as my body clock readjusted, and I spent this week loving the sights of home. It was lovely being outside in the bright February mornings.

34. There is something of a theme to this weeks photographs, early morning landscapes that caught my eye!

35. And again, the blue skies and old buildings drew my eye as I waited to cross the road on my way into work.

36. An early dog walk with Millie before a day working from home, definitely enjoying being a morning person this week!

37. The window at the train station caught my eye so I snapped a sneaky pic, only to be mortified when I realised someone was stood round the corner watching me. I wish I was more brazen about taking pictures, I still get very self-conscious about it! All of the city pictures above were surreptitiously snapped as I was walking down the street, or waiting at crossings!

38. After we came home to our beautifully redecorated hall, thanks to our parents, we bought some new lights and I'm thrilled with how they finish the room, and also the fabulous pattern they cast on the ceiling!

Friday, February 06, 2015

word of the week #6

Apologies for this week's drawing, not my finest attempt at an illustration but I tried! 

This week has been all about adjusting. Adjusting back to bBritishtime zones, which Grandad managed far more successfully then either I or The Husband. We feel back on an even keel now but there were a few days of waking very early and being exhausted by late afternoon. With it, though, I seem to have adjusted into being an early riser and I am revelling in it. It is so lovely to get up in a morning feeling alert and ready for the day, so much better to go to work feeling prepared, and I'm really enjoying actually chatting to The Husband in the morning rather than grunting at him from under the covers. Even when I was working from home and didn't need to do my commute I got up and took the dog on a long walk rather than spend the extra hour in bed and felt all the better for it. Maybe it's time to stop telling myself I'm not a morning person and see if I can make this stick!

The adjustment to the British weather hasn't been too difficult as we had quite a lot of rain while we were away. In fact I've been quite enjoying the crisp blue February mornings and feeling like spring is just around the corner. It's part of the joy of being home after a long spell away but I seem to have been noticing my surroundings a lot more, the buildings, the birds, the sun turning the sky glorious shades of pink! It all sounds very Disney I realise but I have been appreciating the little things, and feeling all the happier for it. I've joined back in with Amanda's #celebratingdailiness project, and I think that has been contributing too - check out my contributions on twitter.

The adjustment of being back at work hasn't been too painful, and it has been lovely to be back in our own house, particularly as it was looking so homely! I've been making an effort to keep on top of the little chores and keep things relatively tidy, to maintain that feeling of calm and sanctuary for as long as possible.

I came home with lots of big ideas, it was a new month, the end of our trip and I was going to start a whole new way of life. Daily yoga, regular running, meal planning, meditation, organisation, I was going to be the best possible me all at once. As soon as jetlag hit it became quickly apparent that it wasn't going to happen quite like that. I have had to adjust my perfectionist tendencies, and resist the urge to berate myself when by Tuesday I had opted for an early night instead of ticking off the jobs list and going on a run. I'm still on the quest to make some changes but I've accepted it isn't all going to happen this week. Rather than giving up on it all and writing it off as a failure, which would be my normal approach, I'm keeping the same goals in mind but taking it step by step.

Linking up with Jocelyn's Word of the Week project.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

a hunting dog

Millie tends to have an affinity for small scraps of material. Generally any blanket/cushion/soft toy tends to get gradually chewed to pieces only for her to form an attachment to one tiny remnant. She alternately lies contentedly with the piece between her paws, chewing it further, or in her more active moments flips it around her head chasing it excitedly across the floor. Inevitably this second approach leads to it getting lost under chairs, behind doors or, as happened today as I worked from home, flung into the nearest open bag requiring an intense retrieval operation.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

the year in books: february

January's choice for the year in books project was The Humans by Matt Haig. It took me a few pages to get into the book, just to get to grips with the premise of the plot and who exactly the narrator was. I found it a really interesting idea and a good read although there were one or two lines in it that irked me a little. Overall I was glad I had read it, and it was one of those novels where I found myself amazed at the imagination of the author to come up with such a plot.

I got a set of two Mitch Albom books at Christmas which I took on holiday and really enjoyed. Tuesdays with Morrie was a lovely read and I was frequently found sitting in my seat on the plane having a little weep.

The five people you meet in heaven was also a pleasant read. I almost felt it got a little lost towards the end but I enjoyed it and thought it was a nice concept. I was glad I had taken these two books away and found them both quite short and perfect for dipping in and out of on my travels.

The first book on the list for February is the Rosie Project. I decided to read this next as I've been reading recently about the sequel having come out and so this got pushed to the top of the pile.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

first things first

The first day waking up at home after our long trip away. The jet lag is still in effect, and we were both up and about before six. It does mean that all of the washing is done, and we have spent a relaxed morning in front of the fire, enjoying our cuddles with Millie, and watching the tennis.

The first time I have blogged on the laptop in a long time, and I have finally managed to reply to all of your recent comments. I was thrilled with how many people have commented on recent posts, I really do appreciate people taking the time to say something, and I'm sorry it has taken me so long to get round to writing back! Next up is reading through my bloglovin backlog, though I fear that may take a little longer.

The first senses of getting back into a usual routine, getting ready for work tomorrow, planning the week ahead, and settling back into the rhythm of daily life. I also hope to join back in with Amanda's #celebratingdailiness throughout February. I really enjoyed taking part on twitter for the first few days of January but it didn't seem right to link up with it while were having our Australian adventures. I think it will be a lovely way to enjoy all the small things that make home, and everyday life, so special, as we return to normality.

The first of February also means that my birthday is fast approaching. Which means that this will be the month in which I enter the final year of my twenties. After a lovely holiday, and a great homecoming, I'm feeling happy and positive about the year ahead.

365: week 5

Slight confession before this weeks photoset - some of these pictures are courtesy of The Husband! We shared the camera during the holiday and so on some days we had loads of pictures but none that I had taken. I hope that doesn't break the rules of the 365 project too much, and from next week they will all be mine again!

25. Our first views of the Sydney Opera House, as we travelled into the city, and then on to Manly Beach for fish and chips and a paddle in the sea.

26. Wearing my Aussie "thongs" for a big family celebration on Australia Day. There were flags, fireworks, a barbecue, vegemite, and green and gold jellies. A brilliant day despite the drizzle and fabulous to gather all the family together for the day.

27. The Harbour Bridge at night, after a brilliant trip to see Madama Butterfly at the Sydney Opera House. Our first ever visit to the opera, and what a place to watch it. 

28. My Gran's sister moved to Australia with her young family many years ago, and now we have a huge extended family out there. She is now in her late eighties, and a great lady with a brilliant personality. For our last family gathering of the trip, she made her infamous lamb hotpot, with a thick pastry crust. A little bit of home in the middle of a Sydney summer!

29. On the last night of our trip, The Husband, Grandad and I enjoyed a brilliant meal at the 360 restaurant at the Sydney Tower. Beautiful views of the incredible city as the sun went down and the lights came on, and delicious food as well.

30. The days get a little blurred here as we travelled between time zones from Sydney, to Hong Kong and then to Manchester. This was the ceiling at Hong Kong Airport as we sat, slightly dazed and travel weary, waiting for our connecting flight.

31. Home at last. To a newly decorated hall, stairs and landing, a spotless house, all the washing and ironing done, flowers in the hall, our broken toilet and car problems both fixed, Millie newly groomed and the bed freshly made. My parents are, quite simply, the best.