Goodbye Blog

I first started this blog when I was 19, curled up under a duvet in my bed, inside a dingy cold room in my grotty student accommodation. I had my gloves on as I tapped away on my laptop, the air so chilly I could see my breath in it. We would only put the heating on for a few hours a day to save money, but suffice to say I was missing the feel of a warm radiator, as my single-glazed windows welcomed in the unforgiving January weather.

I kicked things off with a small space on Blogger.com, with a basic template and a little profile picture of myself grinning into the camera, still looking like a child. It started like a diary, and I just loved having a space where I could write things – not in just an old notepad where nobody would ever see it – but online, where everybody could.

Writing on here felt so freeing, and it forced me to be creative in all sorts of ways, as I encouraged myself to bash things out on days when I wasn’t really in the mood.

I was rarely ever consistent, writing about one subject one day and on the next, something completely different. My timing was never quite on point either; months would elapse between some, while, on really good days, some were uploaded within only a few hours of each other. It all depended on what I was doing that day, week, or month, whether I had a job or deadline or something to keep me distracted, or whether I had a lot of stuff on my mind that I just had to get out.

I think that’s why I worked so well for me, because it was always there whenever I needed it – listening like a friend would, only too happy to sit on the sidelines for a bit when all the craziness kicked in, as you’d palm it off with excuses like, ‘I really want to see you, but I just have too much going on right now’, hoping it would understand.

And even as time passed, I’d still take moments to scroll back – seeing how my writing has changed, watching out for the new lessons I’ve learnt reflected back in the way I write now. I love laughing at the stupid little stories I’d tell, or more often grimacing at the things I would say or the way I used to think, in my early 20s when I was still figuring all this adult stuff out.

For the most part, this blog has been a comfort blanket in so many ways; like a little baby that I would nurture and feed, parting with my own hard-earned cash to pay for it, keep it going in the best way I could. But like all good things, it has to come to an end.

And I won’t deny that I’m sad about it, because it’s been a huge part of my life that I’m grateful for in so many ways. But it’s time for a new chapter; a new place on the internet for my writing to sit (and here’s hoping someone might actually pay me for it).

Lastly, as I come to the end to this mushy, sentimental ode, I want to thank all the people who have sat there in front of their phone or computer screen for a few minutes to read all the waffle I’ve produced these past seven years, because without you, I guess I’d just be talking to myself – and that is the first sign of madness, after all.

Chatalie the Natabox will be live for one month more, before my domain expires on 11th February. In the meantime, it’s been an absolute blast, and here’s to the next new adventure, wherever it takes me…

See you on the flip side x

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Why I loved Ladybird

“I remember seeing Boyhood and thinking: what’s this but for a girl?” said Greta Gerwig when speaking about her new movie, Lady Bird with the Financial Times last week. Her directorial debut has been scooping up accolades and nominations left, right and centre since hitting the big screen in the US last November, and after finally seeing the movie for myself on Wednesday, it’s really not hard to see why.

Set in Gerwig’s hometown of Sacramento, California, the story follows Saoirse Ronan’s Christine, a.k.a. “Lady Bird”, a pale, outspoken, misunderstood teenage girl with pink hair and a complex love-hate relationship with her mother, played by the brilliant Laurie Metcalf.

When I told a friend I’d been to see this film and she asked me what it was about, I wasn’t really sure how to describe it to her. Lady Bird is a story that fits neatly within the classic “coming of age” genre, and Lady Bird’s (the character) journey to adulthood does feature those traditional elements of friendship, romance, sex, identity, being different, being weird… and yet there’s still so much more to Gerwig’s screenplay than meets the eye.

Unlike most movies about growing up, in which the lead actors appear to have perfect skin and look like they’re about 29 years old, Lady Bird feels real. Gerwig even insisted that Ronan’s character not wear make-up so she wouldn’t cover up any blemishes or acne, and asked her to dye her hair herself because she “thought it would be right for the character that there be this badly done loudness about her. Saoirse did it in her hotel sink and it just looked perfectly dreadful.”

But where the authenticity really shines through is the way Lady Bird interacts with the people around her, particularly her mother. Their conflicted, spectacularly unpredictable relationship is laid bare merely minutes into film, and some of the best bits of the movie come from the snappy, passive-aggressive exchanges between Ronan and Metcalf. It’s that lack of synchronisation – that feeling of “you don’t understand me and what I’m going through” – that’s kind of cliche but also brilliantly familiar if you’re a mother or a daughter (or both). They clearly love each other an enormous amount, but the fact they constantly clash just demonstrates how unwilling they are to see things from the other person’s perspective.

As for her relationship with Julie (played by Beanie Feldstein), a sweet, overweight girl with a crush on her maths teacher, this is an example of female friendship not shown often enough in cinema – it’s a friendship that feels genuine, and you really believe in those moments when they’re bent-double laughing, not able to hold back the tears (talking about boys while snacking on communion wafers is a particular highlight).

Julie also isn’t just the side-kick who exists only to “serve the main character,” says Gerwig. She has just as much depth as Lady Bird, with some even going as far to say that Julie is the “scene stealer” of the film. In fact, “if you followed any single character, they would have their own movie,” Gerwig adds. She even encouraged each actor to make up secrets about their character and not tell her what they were.

The family’s financial struggles make for another interesting subplot, a topic not often explored in classic American coming-of-age stories. Lady Bird jokes that she’s “from the wrong side of the tracks”, but there’s something also quite heart-breaking about this storyline – the way Metcalf’s character Marion looks at her husband Larry (Tracy Letts) as they work out just how they’re going to get by with what money they have, and how Marion tells her daughter that “Dad’s been struggling with depression for years” and Lady Bird replies, “I didn’t know.”

It’s a rare thing that we find ourselves invested in more than just the problems of the protagonist – we sort of want everyone to get their happy ending. This isn’t really an ensemble cast, but the level of depth associated with each character almost makes it feel like it should be. We probably know just as much about Lady Bird’s parents, her brother, her friends and her “lovers” as we do about Lady Bird, despite the fact Ronan’s character undoubtedly spends more time on screen than anyone else. And I’d say that’s a real achievement.

This year’s Academy Awards take place on Sunday 4th March, and Lady Bird is up for an impressive five awards, including Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Actress in a Leading Role (Saoirse Ronan), Actress in a Supporting Role (Laurie Metcalf), and Best Director (Greta Gerwig). Here’s hoping it gets something, because oh boy, does it deserve it.

Cornflakes

In autumn, as the leaves on the trees turn yellow, orange, brown,

They fall the way snowflakes do, dancing in the breeze.

They crunch underfoot, freshly toasted,

Or like cornflakes in a bowl,

Sharp, crisp and golden.

 

But when it rains, they turn moist,

And soggy,

As though the milk has gone in,

But left to sit for too long,

The crunch, gone.

 

Just a wet, sloppy mess,

Scattered across the pavement,

On a wet November day.

Moving in

Something pretty big happened this weekend, and it’s something I guess I’m sort of still coming to terms with.

I moved in with a boy.

And not just any boy either – one I’m quite fond of. Like, really fond of.

It’s a big step, but one we’ve been actually talking about for over a year; it’s just taken us a while to actually do it. Partially to blame for the delay was the location – I worked in one part of the country while Michael worked in another (these days our offices are only a few tube stops apart).

Also to blame was the headache of finding somewhere decent that didn’t cost the earth: somewhere that didn’t have extortionate up-front fees, wasn’t in a horrendous part of London and wasn’t so foul that even rats would question residing there. Neither of us were in any big rush to move out of our parents’ homes, either, where the rent was cheap, the meals came cooked, and the heating and water bills were covered.

But there does come a time when you get fed up of being the ones that have to leave the party early to make the monumentally long journey home, and the ones stood on the platform at 7 o’clock in the morning waiting for a train that is running late, again.

And while we are lucky to have two sets of parents who didn’t mind us both hovering around the house at the weekends, constantly saying “mine or yours?”, when all we really wanted was our own space, was becoming a little tiresome, too.

But finally, after months of viewings and calls with estate agents, we found somewhere that gave us pretty much everything we would want from our first flat, and we went for it. We moved in together on Saturday, and so far we are loving it.

Living independently can be a pretty scary thing – there’s no Dad to capture spiders for you or fix that thing when it breaks… you have to fix it yourself, and if you don’t catch that spider it’ll eat you in your sleep. You’re the one who’s responsible for the utility bills, the council tax and finding a broadband provider that won’t rip you off. And apparently putting the bins out is a thing? Dad? … Dad?

Despite having already done this sort of stuff for three years at university, part of me still feels like a rookie who has no idea what she’s doing. But the important thing to remember is that we aren’t on our own – we’re kind of taking on this new challenge on together.

There’ll be bad habits to adjust to and things we’ll learn about each other that we might have to learn to love. It’s literally been three days – we’ve got a while to go and a lot to get through yet. The good news is, Michael can make me laugh even when I’m in the foulest of moods, and I make a pretty decent cup of tea.

So, I think we’ll be fine.

Paris

Last Friday, Michael and I hopped on a 7.01 Eurostar and headed off to Paris for a five-day trip, something we’d been looking forward to since we’d arranged it last October.

To say I had been excited about our Parisian holiday would be a mild understatement – I mean, I’d installed a countdown app on my phone the minute I’d found out we were going, and driven my colleagues and friends mad for the best part of nine months with tales of what we’d do when we eventually got there.

Finally, the time had arrived! And it was so worth the wait, because it was more than we could have ever hoped for. Here are just a few highlights.

#1 The sights

We got stuck into all the proper touristy stuff as soon as we arrived – from the Eiffel Tower (obviously), to Sainte-Chapelle, Arc de Triomphe, and lots, lots more. There’s a lot of these to tick off in Paris, and I think our five-day visit was just the right amount of time to get most of the big ones in.

The thing to bear in mind is that there’s obviously huge numbers of tourists at most times of the day – as is the case with any enormously famous landmark – which means that to get inside anywhere involves at least some queuing (but we Brits are quite good at that). Getting there first thing in the morning is advisable, but because we’re lazy we didn’t quite manage the early starts… not even once. Hey, we were on holiday!

#2 The food

It’s safe to say that most of the money we brought with us on holiday was spent on food. Then again, it is Paris.

Naturally there were croissants (among other pastries) a-plenty, not to mention a quest for crêpes following a drunken Saturday night out, but few things consumed during our stay could beat the majestic edible beauties from Princess Crêpe, a Japanese/anime-themed creperie with a vast selection of out-of-this-world fillings and flavours. Michael opted for the chocolate gateau option, and he was pretty damn happy when this work of art appeared from behind the counter.

Among the other treats we tried were “the best macarons in Paris” according to Google and TripAdvisor, from a gorgeous Pierre Hermé boutique not far from our apartment, and snails (yes, really!) from a lovely restaurant called Maison de Verlaine. Drenched in garlic butter with just a little meatiness, they were delicious and definitely the biggest surprise of the holiday. I should add though, we were drunk when we ordered them.

 

#3 Coldplay

The reason we had planned to go to Paris in the first place was because Michael generously bought me Coldplay tickets for my 24th birthday last year. Anyone that knows me fairly well should be aware that Coldplay are my favourite band in the whole wide world – I even blogged about how wonderful they are on my blog a few years ago. So you could say I was pretty excited.

We made our way to the Stade de France via the Metro on Sunday evening, prepared for an incredible night of flashing wristbands, dancing, jumping, singing, whooping and (for me) crying emotionally at songs you’ve been in love with since the age of 9. They put on the most incredible, colourful and creative show, and we were so, so happy.

#4 Our first night, Bastille Day

Quite coincidentally, we arrived in Paris on Bastille Day – the French National Day – and the atmosphere was awesome. We had sadly missed the parade down the Champs-Élysées in the morning, but we were determined to make our way to the Eiffel Tower to see the evening firework display. The sun hadn’t long set before the tower illuminated with stunning gold colours and flashing lights, as everyone made their way to the surrounding areas of the famous landmark for a night of celebrations. Everyone was so happy, and as La Marseillaise (the French national anthem) sounded, each and every person seemed so proud to be getting involved. Part of me wished I knew the words so we could join in. It was a real once-in-a-lifetime experience, and we felt lucky to capture it.

#5 Our last (drunken) night

The night that began quite calm and civilised, and resulted in us both getting the worst hangovers either of us have had in a long while.

The evening began with a walk to Maison de Verlaine, a beautiful, authentic French restaurant that my friend from work had recommended. Upon arrival, we were told that a table wouldn’t be ready for us for another 40-50 minutes, but “no matter”, we thought – there were a few fun-looking bars around, so we went to explore.

We came across a place called The Mayflower, which Michael was happy to discover sold Belgian beer, while I found myself captivated the cocktail menu. Our two drinks came to 13, but with a15 card-minimum, we thought we’d throw in a couple of 1 glasses of punch, too.

It was, however, this lethal punch – packed with god-knows-what – that set us off on a downward spiral from which we shamefully failed to recover. By the time we were ready to leave for the restaurant, we were essentially hammered.

The food in the restaurant (including the snails) was truly delicious – following our starter, we both had rump steak with vegetables and the most gorgeous croquettes I’ve ever tasted, with tarte tartin for dessert for me, and profiteroles for Michael.

As our hysterical state of drunkeness continued – a bottle of red and two glasses of champagne later – we then went back to the bar for more lethal punch, cocktails and beer, at which point the night became a little fuzzy, particularly for Michael, who still doesn’t seem to remember much of the journey back to our apartment.

We needed to be out of our airbnb by 10am the following morning, and with a day set to experience 34-degree heat, I was not prepared.

Home by around 9pm British-time, we were gutted that the trip for which we had been waiting for so long was finally over, but it was truly magical and I’d do it all over again – maybe even the hangover. I think it was a city that really suited us, and we are desperate to go back and explore the nooks and crannies that we didn’t have the time to see this time around. And if you can, a trip on Bastille Day is so worth it.

à Bientôt, Paris – you were magnifique!

Learning to love bath time

Magazine journalists are sent free stuff all the time, but working in education publishing means you usually only end up with stacks upon stacks of children’s books. Don’t get me wrong – most of them are lovely (and especially useful when you have an eight-year-old godson), but they’re not exactly the sort of thing I can stick on Instagram and brag about my hot-shot #workperks.

This said, a few weeks ago I received two samples of bath oil from a company called Olverum. I’m usually less than convinced by the hype around baths – not that I’m opposed to maintaining good personal hygiene, of course, but I do often think they’re overrated. I just don’t have time to sit there and wallow in a big tub of water. Give me a short and sweet ten-minute shower any day.

And it’s not just lack of time that’s an issue – I  actually find baths pretty boring. It doesn’t seem to matter how many fancy bath bomb things I throw in or which music I put on to get me in the mood; five minutes in and I’m ready to get out again. Sometimes I even clock-watch to make sure that a decent amount of time has passed in said bath, so I don’t feel bad for wasting all that water.

But in spite of these hang-ups, I was excited to receive my free bottles of bath oil from Olverum in the post, and they did smell really good. Their PR had assured me that they possessed ‘destressing qualities’ that would help me relax and sleep better. So last night I gave them a go.

 

 

The two bottles I received came in cute little boxes with instructions on the back, with a statement that told me the oils would “bring [me] back to [my] complete and natural self.” They had me intrigued.

Olverum suggests you use a third of the bottle, which I’d say was about right providing you’re keen on the smell of lavender – I found the scent fairly powerful, so anymore than this would have been too much for me. The oil itself is really smooth and has a gorgeous texture, but pours out quite quickly, so watch you don’t throw the whole lot in by accident.

As for the bath itself, I genuinely found the whole experience a lot more enjoyable than normal – the lavender scent really added to the ambience of a classic Sunday-night pamper, and I actually felt… relaxed?! Could this be possible?

I also had a really great sleep that night – and while this could have been a factor of returning from quite an adventurous holiday that weekend, I’d also like to think it was actually the dreamy lavender-scented Olverum oil working its magic, and I was thankful for the chance to chill out and properly unwind before bed, which is something I rarely do.

Am I now a bath convert? Don’t hold your breath – showers have my heart and there’s little that can be done to come between us. But will I be using Olverum again? I’d certainly say so… just give me a free half-an-hour and a good book, and I’m there.

A good way to cure grumpiness

My mum told me last night that she thinks I’m becoming a grumpier person, and it struck me as I laid awake in bed this morning that she might actually be right.

I think it’s since I started commuting to London that I’ve become far less tolerant of the general public and their incredibly annoying behaviour, such as taking phone calls on silent trains, sniffing, incessant coughing, bag rustling, dawdling, getting in the way, or just being loud and generally irritating. (Tourists with suitcases and small children: I hate you the most).

I have become a constant complainer. I pick things apart when they  don’t need picking, and even whinge people who are probably just being nice and trying to help me. In my 25th year I have become the grumpy old woman I expected to be at 85. I despair at whatever the next 6 decades have in store.

When I mentioned this irrational grumpiness to my boyfriend, he agreed that it might just be “the London commuter coming out” in me and that I should probably just roll with it, but I know if I continue like this for much longer I’ll drive myself mad.

So this morning I decided to set myself a mini experiment: to write a list of all the positive things that happened to me throughout the day. I left out things like “the traffic lights turned green as I approached them” because sending you to sleep as a result of reading this is the last thing I want to do. This said, I did try to pay attention to the simple things and little victories that made me smile, only in the hope that by the end of the day, I’d look less like Grumpy Cat, and more like this:

 

Image result for smiling person

 

Here’s just a few of them.

  • I left the house on time, and to my surprise it wasn’t raining, or too cold, or too windy.
  • I made it all the way to Clapham Junction on the train without hearing any announcements from the “onboard supervisor”, and even when he did pipe up, he kept his chatter to a minimum. (Take note Southern Rail staff: I know I probably need better headphones, but I don’t need to hear your life story every time the train approaches a new station).
  • Remembered that Stylist is out today! Picked up a copy at Victoria.
  • Nearly got hit by a car en route to the office. Survived.
  • Arrived at work in one piece and there was just enough milk left in the fridge to make a cup of tea.
  • My superwoman Editor swooped in and saved me from dealing with the really awkward client I’ve been stuck trying to please for the past two days.
  • Received the itinerary for an event I’m attending tomorrow morning, and these magical words cropped up

  • One of my lovely colleagues offered me a chocolate during what I call my pre-lunch hunger hour (12pm-1pm), when I am always absolutely starving.
  • Lunchtime finally came! Went for a walk and the sun came out. Arrived back at the office and missed a total downpour by about 30 seconds.
  • Finished for the day, walked to the station with a work friend and had a great catch-up about our recent holidays and life in general.
  • Had a tweet ‘liked’ by a fairly well-known comedian who I really admire. I’d posted something on Twitter last week about how happy I was that his sister, author Zadie Smith, was on a podcast I listen to, and he came across it somehow. Pretty cool!
  • Showed my Dad the latest edition of the magazine I write for, and he seemed really proud of me. Which was nice 🙂

Collecting all these moments was a really pleasant and heartwarming experience, and made me realise that getting wound up by menial things (such as the lady who was blasting Britney Spears’ back catalogue on the train home this evening), is just a surefire way to put yourself in a bad mood. And life’s too short for all that – time to start appreciating the good stuff.

Why Master of None is the best show on Netflix right now

Season two of Emmy-winning show, Master of None hit Netflix last Friday, and like a shameless superfan I managed to get through all ten episodes in just three days – relieved that season one’s follow-up had not just met, but exceeded my expectations a bucket load.

Master of None tells the story of Dev (played by Parks & Rec’s Aziz Ansari), an Indian-American actor who lives in New York. And like any single-and-ready-to-mingle human living in 2017, we see Dev regularly getting screwed over by the complexity and horrors of 21st century dating – from the agony of guessing how many emojis to put in a flirty text, to the dread of being “ghosted” by someone you really like. Add to this friendship debacles, work drama, odd and embarrassing parents, the stunning NY location and a brilliant script, and you’ve got yourself a pretty great show.

If you’re new to Master of None but fancy giving it a watch, I’d recommend that you exit this post sharpish until you’re at least up to speed with at least the first season. I really wouldn’t want to ruin it for you, but (in spite of my attempts) I can’t guarantee that this post is completely spoiler-free (sorry).

If you’re already a fan, or just don’t care that much, then obviously read away! I’d love to get your thoughts and opinions, too – just leave me a comment on social media or in the little box below.

So, why IS Master of None the best show on Netflix at the moment?

1. THE CHARACTERS

You root for and fall in love with all of them – from Dev, the show’s charming protagonist who’s life you become far too invested in, to Arnold, best described as a hilarious and adorable BFG-type who’s always on hand to impart wisdom and humour upon his buddies. Not to mention Dev’s straight-talking childhood friend, Denise; Dev’s sassy agent, Shannon, played by Orange is the New Black‘s Danielle Brooks; and there’s even an episode in which Colin Salmon plays the best possible version of Colin Salmon, and bakes batches upon batches of cinnabuns. Need I say more.

2. THE DIALOGUE

The writing is slick and sharp whilst still being realistic and relatable. The magic of Master of None is that it balances dramatic, engaging storylines with quick one-liners that make you physically laugh-out-loud. It’s never, ever boring.

3. THE PRODUCTION

The quality of the production is outstanding, and even more so in season 2. Each episode has its own quirky way of telling a story – from the charming, black-and-white “old movie” style of ep1, or the year-on-year insight into Denise and how (as a black lesbian) she came out to her family in ep8. You never really know what you’re going to get from one episode to the next, and as an audience we’re constantly left in suspense and awe of how each storyline is composed and put together.

4. “PARO” THE ROBOTIC SEAL

Master of None is the show that introduced “Paro” the robotic seal to the masses, and like pathetic teenage girls, we fell for him. Sadly, “Paro” was absent from season two, but I still have hope for a spin-off.

5. THE MUSIC

The soundtrack features a polished and suave collection of tracks that include a mixture of old and new. The music also manages to reflect the circumstances or mood of each scene without being so on-the-nose that it comes across as annoying or lazy. Check out the playlist here.

6. THE FOOD

Never, ever watch this show when you’re hungry because it will drive you to the point of starvation. Dev eats out a lot and at some incredible places, and in the real world he’d be the size of a house.

7. THE HARDER HITTING STUFF

Master of None isn’t afraid to tackle issues like racism, homophobia, gender inequality and the sexual harassment of women, and it does so without being at all preachy. Other topics include the importance of family heritage, the cultural values of minority groups, plus modern romance and the dating scene in the 21st century – all pretty interesting stuff.

8. MEET THE PARENTS

I can’t not mention Dev’s mum and dad, who happen to be Aziz Ansari’s parents in real life. They’re so fantastic that they really deserve their own dedicated spot on this list. Ansari is clearly passionate about involving his parents in his career, even bringing them out on stage at his Madison Square Garden stand-up gig back in 2015. (Also available on Netflix, well worth a watch).

But his decision to cast them in Master of None comes off so well because it portrays an authentic parent-child relationship, which is really prominent in the scenes they have together. His dad in particular is a proper comic star, best loved for his bluntness, cheeky-chappy-charm and repetition of the expression “hey man” every time he addresses Dev.

Seriously, what’s not to love?

My new best mate is a piece of technology

At lunch time today I finished a book for the first time in about two and a half years, and I couldn’t have been happier. I practically skipped back to the office.

And while this might sound pathetic, and calls me out as being probably one of the worst literature graduates of all time, I really couldn’t care less. BECAUSE I FINISHED A BOOK.

The book in question was Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari, best described as a funny, fascinating insight into the 21st century dating scene – a bit like his Netflix show, Master of NoneModern Romance is packed with hilarious quips, lots of food chat, surprising stats, graphs and stories contributed by everyday, ordinary people from all over the world. It covers everything from how dating has changed and the impact technology has had on modern romance, to finding our soulmates, sexting, open relationships, and cheating… and it’s super interesting.

And as much as I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, I’ll admit that it wasn’t just the book that had me gripped. It was in fact this little guy (see photo below), which I’ve now had in my possession for just over a week, and I would probably go as far to say that it is my new best friend.

Until recently, I had always disliked the idea of Kindles. I’d heard that the experience of using one just isn’t the same as reading a proper book, with the soft feel of paper pages and the smooth finish of a well-illustrated cover.

In fact, when Kindles came into being in 2007, by that time I had kind of gone off the idea of reading altogether ­– it was only something I associated with homework, essay-writing and exams, ugh. Don’t need to be reminded of that, thank you.

My opinion only changed when I visited Cornwall with my boyfriend, Michael and his family earlier this year – sitting on the beach and with nothing to read one afternoon, Michael could see I was bored so kindly lent me his Kindle. He showed me what to do (press this button and read the words on the screen), and before I knew it I was off, flying through the pages at a pace I hadn’t managed since Twilight (yeah, alright, don’t act like you didn’t read it, too).

This is lovely, I thought, and how easy it is. I didn’t have to faff around with balancing a book on my lap whilst attempting to hold it open, or remind myself which page I was on when I was finished – no need for bookmarks at all. It was just a really simple way to read, and I had become hooked.

And so I was pretty damn delighted when Michael gave me my very own Kindle as an anniversary gift last Wednesday. He’d hoped it would help with my “lack of reading problem” (and as an avid bookworm, I think he did see it as a problem), and I, too, hoped he was right. After all, every normal human instinctively wants to play with their new toy (no euphemism intended here), and getting to grips with this gadget only meant one thing: I would have to read.

Oh boy, I read. I read and read and read. And it felt fantastic, because I was back to doing the thing I really loved doing as a kid, and it wasn’t at all forced or strenuous. Reading a book had become a hobby again, like the easiest thing in the world, and a welcome escape from my dull humdrum commute.

I started my paperback copy of Modern Romance back in October 2016, and only one week ago I was a mere 25% of the way through. Now in just six days, I’ve finished it, and I’m so so happy.

So… what next? I have The Martian, Jane Austen’s EmmaRed Rising and The Host on my list so far – among others – but new suggestions are more than welcome!

24 things to do in 24 hours on my 24th birthday

A few weeks ago I started planning a list of 24 things I wanted to do on my 24th birthday – and I wanted to try completing them all with 24 hours. A few of them were bigger and more exciting challenges, while others were smaller milestones and first-time experiences that I probably should have done years and years ago. The whole day was magical and went by in a flash, and I loved every second!

Photo Credit: To my boyfriend, Michael – I’m sorry that I forced you out of bed at 6am on your day off to race around London taking photos of me. Thanks for being awesome, I really wouldn’t have been able to complete this list without you. Thanks also to my friend Daisy for inspiring the idea, and my Mum and my brother for their contributions and for joining us on the adventure!


#1. Cross the Meridian Line

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#2. Wear a Fitbit for the first time

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#3. Eat breakfast at The Breakfast Club

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#4. Have a cocktail for breakfast

Cocktail breakfast club

 

#5. Visit Borough Market

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#6. Buy an amazing coffee in Monmouth

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#7. Buy my first ever lottery ticket (I didn’t win, sadly)

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#8. Climb the O2!

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#9. Have sushi for lunch

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#10. Try a new food (Octopus – it was yummy)

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#11. First-time visit to Harrods

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#12. Have a chocolate overdose at the Harrods Chocolate Bar

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#13. Watch a street performer in Covent Garden

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#14. First-time-visit to Chinatown

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#15. Visit Trafalgar Square

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#16. Walk around Hyde Park

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#17. Buy a book from Foyles Southbank

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#18. Wander along the Southbank

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#19. Walk across the Millennium Bridge

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#20. Visit St Paul’s Cathedral

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#21. Listen to Big Ben chime

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#22. Go on the London Eye at night

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#23. Eat delicious Mexican food at Wahaca

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#24. Drink a shot of Mezcal (tastes just like Tequila but more smokey)

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