Saturday, 31 December 2016

Wanderings in 2016

Every year, in December, I write a letter to my future self. In it I reflect on the year that's just been and think about my plans for the coming year. When I open that letter a year later, it's strange because the words filled inside describe times that are now two years ago. I like it though, because it's fun to see what things I had predicted for the year and to think of things I did or places I went that I had no idea would happen at the beginning of the year.
These posts are another way to look over the year that's gone and recognise how much I have crammed in. Even when the year has been tough or seemed uneventful or were filled with adventures or even when I wrote about the year in review in September!

These posts help me remember all the things I did, but also put into perspective when these all happened. They have a tendency to blur slightly into one, but going through the photos, I realise that my afternoon tea down the rabbit hole was actually before my visit to the switch house at the Tate Modern and that I went to the Hampton Court Flower show in July, not August.

This year was characterised by one main event; handing in my dissertation. In my 2015 letter, I wrote that I hoped I would get this done but I remember when I wrote that it was so far from my grasp that I didn't think it would ever be over. As I write this I am 1,100 words into my final MA assignment. It's been a hard slog, but it's finally nearly done and I couldn't be more relieved. I am already making plans for post-MA stresses!

Onwards to 2017, Happy New Year!

January

I returned to Berlin with friends Jasmin and Siobhan to celebrate Jas turning 30. This trip was very different to my last - when I visited during my inter-rail trip. Much less pub crawl/hangover and a lot more actually experiencing the city (with a bigger budget to boot!)



I never got round to writing a post about this trip, which is pretty much the theme of this blog and all my trips this year. Re-reading my reflections here, I stand by what I wrote. This is actually interesting as it relates to one of my trips later on this year too.

February

Ah, birthday month! By this time, we had just entered the period of lent through which I had decided to give up meat and be vegetarian. This meant, that I had a special order for the afternoon tea that I went to at Fortnum and Masons to celebrate turning 31. Ne big deal though, because there's no meat in the cakes (or scones that we took home by the box load!)




March

Once again I was up in Oxford, my second student group arrived and we headed to my brother's house for mother's day celebrations. Needless to say, I am fairly familiar with the city now!



April

Jasmin's birthday present from us girls; Alice in Wonderland inspired Afternoon Tea at the Sanderson hotel. I wrote about it in detail, and have a draft post about London's best Afternoon Teas waiting for me to actually finish writing it (in 2017 maybe?!) Anyway, this was really one of my most favourite!



May 

Hmm, May... firstly I had a great little work treat on the 5th May when one of the girls suggested ordering burritos for Cinco de Mayo. It was a lovely day so I wandered out to one of the nearby squares and slipped off my shoes whilst enjoying a little spring sunshine. 

On the 17th I handed in my dissertation. Much to my own amazement I finished it, and even managed to pass which was a miracle in itself!

Finally in May I took my mum for her Mother's day surprise at Hever Castle in Kent (Childhood home of Anne Boylen). I also made a video of this little trip.









June

We managed to pull off a surprise offspring reunion for my mum's birthday, and ended up at a French restaurant on Bermondsey Street which was so great. I can't wait for another excuse to go back.

My netball team ended our losing streak by finally winning the last game of the season. I was totally ill-prepared to run a 5k but managed to drag myself over the finish line at the colour run.





July

I took my Dad to the Hampton Court Flower show on the final day, and watched the chaos of people at the end of day hussling to bag a bargain. I came away with a lavender plant that I have since managed to kill and a lovely picture of restored pages from an old Winnie the Pooh book.

I took a random day off and visited the newly opened Switch House gallery at the Tate Modern and wandered around the galleries sometimes impressed, sometimes disdainful.

In July I also broke my finger at Netball but didn't realise for a few weeks and subsequently have a bend in the end of my finger forever more.






August

I took a solo trip to Greece, and mostly had a relaxing break in the sunshine. I say mostly, as it was punctuated by various people's amazement that I was alone and generally being a bit lost in the evenings. Basically I wouldn't recommended a solo trip to a small Greek Island.

I got about a bit in London in August as well - going Barmy for Sarnies with Siobhan, having afternoon tea at the Houses of Parliament, and using my bonus work holiday to explore a very sunny Kew Gardens.











September

I had a bit of a disappointing Open House weekend in London. I chose the Treasury to explore, only to find out that you actually don't get much access and by the time you realise this, the queue for the Foreign and Commonwealth office  - where we wanted to visit next - is massive. Next time I will be more prepared and plan correctly ahead of time!

In a complete turn around from the previous season, we were unbeaten in our netball league and got a shiny medal to prove it!



October

My plan had been to visit Bosnia in August, but plans got changed and I finally got myself there in October. My friend Vanessa joined me there and we had a lovely couple of days in the city. I took a day trip to Mostar where I was blessed with wonderful blue skies and managed to meet a couple of nice ladies from Singapore who I chatted with over lunch.

I was able to delve a little into the sad history, walked through a small remaining part of the tunnel of hope (which kept the city alive during the siege), and had an eventful night at a quirky local pub where a German man was celebrating his birthday by buying us drinks of (cheap and questionable quality) wine served in metal goblets. As I always say to Ness, when I'm out with her we ALWAYS have a random encounter with strange characters!

We decided to stay in a hostel in a private room, but this was right next to the common room where people were extremely noisy. This was a reminder that I would rather stay somewhere not as cheap and quiet than in a hostel in future!





November

Fireworks at Southwark Park as part of a very large and international crowd was the best!

Dinner in an old tube carriage was fairly cold but exceptionally cool!

Letting my brother choose the film we went to see at the Electric Cinema in Shoreditch was a mistake! (snooze!)





I look weird because I had just woken up. Ha!

December

And so to the final month of the year.

Mum and I headed off to Switzerland to discover the Christmas market of Montreux. We had a lovely room at a big hotel in the town with a lake view. Unfortunately we didn't get (what were likely) wonderful views of the lake, as the weather was foggy for the whole 3 days. 

We made the most of the trip, despite the rubbish weather. Visiting the nearby castle and nearest town Vevey. I had not heard of this part of the world before, but apparently both Charlie Chapin and Freddie Mercury were frequent visitors and Chaplin is even buried in Vevey.

The end of December has been a whirlwind of Christmas parties (how could we not win the fancy dress prize as the Holly and the Ivy?!). I'm looking forward to my New Year's celebrating with friends and heading into 2017 with positivity!







and below I will leave you with a turkey carving a hot bird.



Saturday, 3 December 2016

Wanderings Lately :: November

November was a great month this year! It started with a sneaky little Christmas cheer, through firework fun and then circled back around the Christmas joy!

I seem to have exactly the same situation as last year as I enter December, in that I have a slew of merriment plans ahead. I'm excited to spend a second Christmas in my house and at my job. Plus we might get some snow this year!

Fireworks






This year on the 5th November a big group of us (housemates and friends) got tickets to the Southwark Park fireworks display - it's free but you have to apply for tickets. Despite the massive queues for mulled wine, it was good fun. The display didn't last as long as the ones I've been to in Victoria park, but it was still fun to watch. I had also picked up some sparklers in tesco that day so we all had a good time after the fireworks waving them around!

After the display we headed to our local pub (which I've never been to before) for food. It was really nice afterwards to just wander across the road back home!

Autumn Cooking




I had a lot to do with food this month - well really i have a lot to do with food every month - but I took photos of it this time! Firstly, I tried this recipe for sweet potato brownies (weird but not unpleasant) and I've also started make a quick but tasty and healthy recipe - basically roasting different veg and mixing with grains. It doubles as a decent evening meal and great left over for lunch the following day! The meal pictured was also all the more enjoyable due to the wine accompaniment!

Bikes



















This month my bike woes worsened, as it just kept going wrong. When I bought my bike back in April 2015 I didn't really expect to be using it every day. But I have slowly come to rely on it more and more for getting about. I cycle to work most days, and often at weekends - depending on where I'm going. One evening in November I had plans with my brother for dinner at his house and to stay at his and cycle to work the following morning. It's pretty much the same distance from his to my work than it is from my house so it wasn't going to be much of a difference. 

My bike decided this was the perfect night for the chain to come off and wedge itself between the gear cogs and the wheel. Brilliant. It was so bad I couldn't move the wheel and I was effectively stuck. Big brother donned his cape and came to find me (so maybe it was good I was on the way to his!) the only way to free the chain was with brute force. 

Since then I've been into the local bike shop near work on three separate occasions. This is either because they haven't actually done the work I've asked for, or my bike has decided to break somewhere else! Definitely time to invest in a new bike! I could definitely do with an upgraded saddle as well (my bum can't take this current saddle much longer!)

Friends & Food









Yep, plenty of eating this month! First photo is of hotpot at Macey's. I don't think I have had hotpot since I left China so this was pretty enjoyable and it was nice to head out of the city to May's. 

Egg and avocado for breakfast at Chez frère

Eating dinner in an old tube carriage with my train buddy Mary.

and lastly plunging ourselves into a immersive theatre performance with food accompaniments in the Chambers of Flavour.

Work, work, work, work, work


the view from the loo...


In an attempt to recreate our staff outing from last year, we went out again on a team building/familiarisation visit at the end of November. This year we went to Shakespeare's Globe theatre, the View from the Shard and a whistle (whisper?) stop tour of St Pauls. We were also lucky that work also covered lunch at St George's Inn.

It's my turn to organise the next one so better get thinking of where to go!

Christmas Spirit

Bros before hoes... (and Santa only has one leg)


Starting with a fairly disappointing 'afternoon tea' (second picture), we ended November having put up or Christmas decorations (managed to coerce my housemates into doing it early this year!) Santa and Rudolf are hanging out on our living room coffee table. Santa is now disabled but he's not going to let anything stop him having a bauble! Ho ho ho!

::How was your November? Do you think it's too early for Christmas cheer? ::