Inspired by this amazing Etsy poster and my holiday, this year I’ve vowed to collect moments not things. Yes, it only took a ridiculously expensive holiday for me to start living in the moment. There’s something about changing the scenery which helps me be mindful and aware in a way I don’t when they are familiar.
Sadly, it turns out my plan to spend the rest of my life travelling is fiscally unsustainable, booo. So I’ve been looking at ways to recreate that feeling of being tuned in at home. Life is really busy at the moment. So unless I ‘schedule’ time to have fun and see the people I love I find weeks have slipped by like sand through my fingers. I want to be somebody who is mindful, who does stuff, who lives.
So here’s a catalogue of all the stuff I’ve been eating, seeing, reading, making and doing this month post holidays.
The day after we flew back from Australia in a frantic attempt to beat the jetlag, we were tourists in our own city*.
*We wondered aimlessly marvelling at how a) freezing, and b) dirty everything was in comparison to Japan and c) taking lots of photos.
In Brighton there’s been a sudden influx of Mexican restaurants and I’d heard La Choza a bright pink restaurant in the North Laines was one of the best. The decor is amazing, bright and vibrant with día de los muertos skulls everywhere. It really helped stave off those post holiday blues for a couple of hours at least.
I ordered a burrito tortilla filled with *takes deep breath* roasted spicy squash and sweet potato, green salsa, guacamole, refried beans, green rice, cheese and sour cream. It was huge and so filling I couldn’t completely finish it or even have room for the churros I’d been eyeing up for desert.
One of the things that seem to vary quite a lot is the portion size. HSWNBN ordered two sets of three soft corn tacos (gluten free options FTW): one stuffed with prawns the other with hand pulled pork. But despite having two meals, which I mocked him roundly for because thats how I roll, when they arrived they seemed minuscule in comparison to my mega burrito.
I’d heard beforehand that the service could be patchy and it despite getting in before the lunchtime rush it it took a long time to get our food and service was a little chaotic.
Verdict: Nommy, but I might avoid during busy periods.
Passionfruit Bubble tea
Do you ever get into a bit of a taste obsession? In Japan I couldn’t get enough of matcha (green tree). I am on a bit of a passionfruit kick this month. I’ve eating it mixed into yoghurt and granola for breakfast, as a quick snack before I see clients and in my newest obsession: Passionfruit Bubble tea. They’ve been selling at work for ages but it looks so odd I’d never quite plucked up the courage. Think sugary fruit tea filled with gelatinous jelly balls that burst in your mouth. I’m not making this sound that appealing. But I genuinely can’t get enough of this drink.
The Grand Budapest Hotel
One lazy Sunday I and a bunch of lovely people watched the Grand Budapest Hotel, Wes Anderson’s latest masterpiece.
As with every Wes Anderson movie the set design and colours are just stunning. I wanted to freeze each frame and study it like a painting.
Has anybody else noticed how much Wes Anderson loves centering shots?
A friend told me, and now I can’t unseen it.
It was very evocative and made me long to go to Eastern Europe again and stay in the faded glamour of an old world hotel.
But what made this movie for me was the humour. I love Ralph Fiennes and I’ve always seen him as a dramatist but his comic timing was out of this world. The room perfectly played into his luvvie wheelhouse. He was absolutely pitch perfect.
Plus Tilda is my homegirl.
Verdict: funnier than Moonrise Kingdom but I was less emotionally invested. Still scoring in my top 3 Wes Anderson movies, is no mean feat. I’m sure Wes will be so happy he’ll put it on his posters!
Veronica Mars: the Movie
I’ve raved on this blog many times about my obsession with teen detective Veronica Mars. Snarky, vulnerable, committed to justice – Veronica is my kind of girl.
So when a Kickstarter was launched to raise money for a movie I was beyond excited. And all the antics on social media only fanned the flames.
The show’s ending, well before it’s time, was ambivalent to say the least. And ten years on I wanted answers. Did Veronica ever get into the FBI? Was her dad voted out as sheriff? And most importantly was her and Logan’s love story still epic?
*Wipes away drool*
So HWSNBN and I sat down to watch it. He’d never seen the show so was slightly lost in a mass of in jokes and spot on cameos from notorious characters from Veronica’s past.
The central mystery was a little weak in comparison to the character work surrounding it. (SPOILER a character we’ve never seen before is the murderer, even HSWNBN could see that one coming.)
But it delivered the bittersweet, noir ending I wanted. Veronica might be a marshmallow but she hasn’t gone soft. Not one bit.
Verdict: for a LoVE fan like me this was an absolute bliss. I only hope that the success of the movie leads to more show. Please TV gods?
This month Daddy Janvier and I become the proud co-owners of an allotment.
We’ve been on the list for years now but finally I got the call and as we were top of the list we could come and choose from four vacant allotments. Eeek! Just a five minute walk from our house, was a hive of weeding, planting and watering. There was only one problem, Dad was away and I was going to have to pick the plot myself. Uh-oh. This was a hell of a responsibility for somebody with a notorious green thumb. It’s an affliction!
HWSNBN and I were in agreement and plumped for a sunny yet secluded plot with our very own shed! I’ve since learnt this is allotment gold. We’re currently twiddling our thumbs until we could get the keys. But after inspecting Daddy Janvier couldn’t help do a bit of digging. I think he’s pleased.
Verdict: there go my evening and weekends. But I’m so excited to learn more about gardening, bond with my Dad, and spend some time making things grow.
After packing and unpacking (read throwing unironed clothes back into cupboard) my wardrobe looked like a hurricaine had been through. The items I wear regularly were in my clothes basket. And all of the unflattering, weird fitting, odd coloured clothes were still hanging up.
So I had a wardrobe cull and donated three bags of clothes to charity. And now look there’s actually space in my wardrobe. I feel like I can see what I own and actually want to wear. The only challenge is keeping it this way.
‘It was as if I had privately discovered life on another planet, or a parallel universe where life was at once recognizably similar but entirely different. I can’t tell you how exciting it was. Insofar as I had accumulated my expectations of Australia at all in the intervening years, I had thought of it as a kind of alternative southern California, a place of constant sunshine and the cheerful vapidity of a beach lifestyle, but with a slightly British bent – a sort of Baywatch with cricket…’
Of course, what greeted Bill Bryson was something rather different. Australia is a country that exists on a vast scale. It is the world’s sixth largest country and its largest island. It is the only island that is also a continent and the only continent that is also a country. It is the driest, flattest, hottest, most desiccated, infertile and climatically aggressive of all the inhabited continents and still it teems with life – a large proportion of it quite deadly.
In fact, Australia has more things that can kill you in a very nasty way than anywhere else. This is a country where even the fluffiest of caterpillars can lay you out with a toxic nip, where seashells will not just sting you but actually sometimes go for you. If you are not stung or pronged to death in some unexpected manner, you may be fatally chomped by sharks or crocodiles, or carried helplessly out to sea by irresistable currents, or left to stagger to an unhappy death in the baking outback.
Ignoring such dangers – yet curiously obsessed by them – Bill Bryson journeyed to Australia and promptly fell in love with the country. And who can blame him? The people are cheerful, extrovert, quick-witted and unfailingly obliging; their cities are safe and clean and nearly always built on water; the food is excellent; the beer is cold and the sun nearly always shines. Life doesn’t get much better than this.
When I’m abroad I like to read thematically. There’s something about immersing myself in fictional representations of where I am visiting that adds another layer to this experience. So while in Japan I read Murasaki, a lot of Murasaki. And when in Australia it was time for some Bill Bryson.
He is such a roundly brilliant writer and I adore his enthusiasm which spills through for his subject. Whether he’s musing on how many things in Australia can kill you.
Or roundly mocking the explorers who took off to find a way across the centre hauling an oak writing desk. You need to read this book.
Verdict: I loved it so much I read half of it aloud to HWSNBN.
Leah Cypress’s Death Sworn
From the back cover copy
Ileni is losing her magic. And that means she’s losing everything: her position as the rising star of her people, her purpose in life, and even the young man she loves. Sent to the assassins’ cave, hidden deep within the mountains, she expects no one will ever hear from her again. The last two sorcerers sent died within weeks of each other. Accidents? Or something more sinister? As Ileni navigates the dangers—both natural and human—of the caves, she’ll discover secrets that have been kept for decades. And she’ll find an ally in Sorin, the deadly young man who could be the assassins’ next leader. With Sorin determined to protect her, sparks—magical and romantic—will fly. But will even he understand the choice she must make in the end?
I love fantasy and I love my heroines with a piquant touch of cynicism. Cypress writes so well perfectly capturing Ileni’s fatalistic streak and determination to investigate the death’s of her predecessors no matter the cost. I enjoyed the tension of knowing her magic was fading when she was surrounded by assassins poised to strike at any moment. However, just as the book was getting started it ended. Plus the ‘twist’ ending was ridiculous.
Verdict: Will read the sequel for the atmosphere alone but the plot better tighten up and soon.
After having technicolour nails for technicolour countries. I’ve been feeling a little grey this month.
I love this shade, it’s almost lilac but not quite. Plus this George nail varnish from Asda is cheaper and more durable than some expensive brands.
My newest charity shop find is this olive green patterned Pearl Lowe at Peacocks dress. HWSNBN thinks I look frumpy, but I think I look foxy. You decide.
Tell me anything I should be reading or watching in April in the comments.