Wednesday, 15 October 2014

My Weekend Was Mostly Spent...

... leaving work ten minutes early because I was just too excited to sit still for a moment longer
... waiting impatiently for L at Paddington Station
... stocking up on train snacks
... helping L transcribe her interview on the train
... watching the most beautiful sunset from the train window
... squealing with delight at the proper darkness and cool, fresh Wiltshire air
... greeting MH at her car with massive enormous hugs
... being greeted at the farm by four very excitable dogs
... being handed a gin and tonic by MK while squeezing JH and N
... listening to J explain his nightmare living situation (does anyone know anyone looking for a housemate in Oxford?!)
... tucking into them most delicious chicken and ham pie
... drinking rioja and chatting about everything
... making an impromptu pudding of ice cream, banana slices, and melted chocolate
... greeting JT and B with squeals and hugs
... having a second pudding of profiteroles
... drinking more wine
... listening to J and MK swap stories of odd things they'd seen at work
... tumbling into bed beside L and hoping she didn't have any nightmares

... waking up early
... padding downstairs in my PJs to be greeted by MH, MK, and MH's brother
... breakfasting on bacon, scrambled eggs, and toast
... sipping cup after cup of tea
... waiting for the others to surface
... pulling on my new jumper
... heading into Marlborough for a potter
... lusting over Joules and Susie Watson bits and pieces
... sipping coffee and eating a giant cookie
... picking up brownie ingredients

... eating the most enormous lunch of cheese, fresh baguettes, and soup
... having a doze on the sofa
... being woken for tea and cake

... taking the dogs out for a little wander
... watching B and MK trying to set a bonfire alight
... getting caught in the rain
... feeling smug that I had worn a raincoat

... feeding the chickens and checking for eggs
... making brownies for pudding
... dressing for dinner
... greeting MH's brother and sister in law and their adorable border terrier
... being presented with a gin and tonic and crisps to nibble
... deciding I didn't like my outfit and changing
... drinking more gin and wine
... sitting down to a supper of pork fillet marinated in garlic and herbs wrapped in parma ham, served with dauphinoise potatoes and green veg
... devouring a bowlful of brownie, ice cream, and raspberries for pudding
... leaving the table for a little chat with JH
... breaking down, venting, and sobbing on JH for a good while
... rejoining the group for a round of the After Eight game
... getting overly competitive
... eating the most incredible cheese and delicious crackers
... moving on to Guess Who (the version where you have to guess the celebrity name on your forehead)
... having my piece of paper stuck to my head with cheese
... stumbling to bed at goodness only knows what time

... waking early
... being greeted in the kitchen by five very excitable dogs
... waving MH, MK, JT, and B off on a bike ride
... having a quick shower
... chatting to MH's sister-in-law, who popped in for breakfast
... checking the chickens and finding nine eggs
... making pancakes on the aga
... eating the most carby breakfast ever and loving every second of it

... lacing up my walking boots and pulling on my raincoat
... holding onto the border terrier while we drove deeper into the countryside
... walking along with the dogs and the girls while the boys (minus JH) stomped ahead
... feeling oh so loved
... saying hello to the cows in the fields as we passed

... throwing a tennis ball for the dogs
... popping into the pub for a quick one
... getting back to the house over three hours after we first left
... sitting down huge lunch of beef casserole and mashed potatoes
... following it up with yet more cake

... saying sad goodbyes
... being driven to the train station
... standing wearily on the platform, wishing the weekend didn't have to end.

Tell me. What did you get up to this weekend?

Monday, 13 October 2014

Happiness Is... (vol. 86)

I hadn't realised quite how much I missed country air, proper darkness, and birdsong until I arrived in Wiltshire with L on Friday night. We stepped off the train, straight into MH's waiting arms (and car) and were whisked off for a weekend at the farm. I'll be giving you full details tomorrow- in a my weekend was mainly spent... style post, but needless to say, it was the most wonderful weekend, and it completely soothed my soul. I hadn't even realised quite how much my soul needed it until I was there.

Anyway! I'm going in to the new week tired and happy and a little more ready to face everything that might be thrown at me. It's a nice feeling. And this week, happiness is... 

... my uni bests. Oh my god, I absolutely adore my university friends. I never feel quite so much myself as I do when I'm with these people. We caught up, laughed, ate unbelievable amounts of incredible food and generally enjoyed each other's company. I love the seven people I spent this weekend with so, so much, and I am so happy to be able to spend time with them.

... sending stroppy emails. We're having a whole host of issues with our flat at the moment, not least the fact that we have had a number of sightings of mice. It's awful, and incredibly upsetting- but I wrote the most stonking grumpy email to our letting agents about it all last night, and I felt so much better as a result. It was great fun!

... time spent with dogs. Historically, I have described myself as a cat person. But I spent my weekend with three labradors, a young border terrier, and an old (mostly blind) Jack Russell. Safe to say, these dogs (and my brother's adorable sproodle) are pretty quickly turning me into a dog person. I want one! (Just not while I'm living in the big city)

... after dinner games. Oh my gosh, we had so much fun playing the After Eight game and Guess Who (as in, where you have to guess the name of the person written on your forehead). Absolutely hilarious- there's nothing like some gentle competition after a small feast to round off your evening nicely.

... a successful practice of a wedding cake. I made a practice of the sponge layer of the wedding cake I'm making this weekend, and I was so happy with how it came out!! (It's the one on the right of hte picture) Perfectly light sponge, not too sweet, and didn't stale too quickly. And the uni bests gave me some pretty great feedback too, which is always pretty lovely.

What's making you happy this week?

Friday, 10 October 2014


I had a hard day yesterday.

Yesterday, I was reading a report which brought up a whole host of memories of very difficult things. And then I looked at the calendar, and all of a sudden realised that those very difficult things happened exactly six years ago today. 

I emailed my boss (who sits opposite me), and told him I was struggling. He pulled me aside, told me off for apologising for the tenth time that day, and told me to "put away the damn report" for the time being, and deal with it at another time. "Look at something else, Alice. While we have a particular affinity for issues that have affected us directly, I do not need you doing this today, certainly not tomorrow, or until you are ready to do it."

My boss is a very compassionate man, and for that, I am incredibly grateful.

But in having this conversation, I realised how far I have come. How much stronger I am now than I was six years ago. Mama spoke to E a few days after I saw him, and he told her that I'm "the best I've seen her in a long time". I am so much more capable now of dealing with the things life throws at me. Before, I completely shut down. There was no part of me that could cope with the things that were going on six years ago. But now I can at least try to deal with the things life throws in my path.

And while I will never again be the girl I was seven, ten, fourteen years ago- now, I know that even when things get really, really difficult, there is a now small part of me which will not give up. I have dealt with some incredibly incredibly difficult things in my life- as we all have, really- but I am still here. I'm still walking tall, and smiling, and laughing. I haven't given up on the world. I may be cynical, but I still believe that people are good, that things can change, and that the world may be a difficult place but nothing so far has been insurmountable. 

I am so much stronger than I ever really knew I could be.

And if that night six years ago had not happened, I would not be who I am today.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Blogger Book Club- Here We Go Again!

It's back! Now that there is a giant Great British Bake Off sized hole in your lives, Jenny and I are going to fill it with a new Blogger Book Club book!

We were originally hoping for our next chat to be in person- but because Jenny and I (your Readers in Chief) are completely incapable of finding a free weekend at the start of 2015, we're looking to have our physical chat somewhere around April. This chat will, as before, take place on Skype at 8pm on Tuesday 27th January. Put it in your diary now- I'll be missing korfball training for the occasion, so you'd better all turn up. 

So we have the time, we have the date, but what about the book?

Our survey says...

(Do you think that's really her surname? How very Sherlock Holmes)

Anyway. Jenny and I had a giggle on whatsapp trying to work out precisely what the husband's secret could be. My theories included everything from incest to terrorism by way of time travel. So I'm expecting good things. Though not that great, purely because the fact this book has a cover quote which misuses literally has put my back up. Unless it was literally stuck to your hand Sophie Hannah, you could have put the book down. But I'm willing to be persuaded.

What do you think of our latest choice? Will you be joining us on 27th January? Let me know!