What I’ve been in to this Summer…

Summer already feels like it’s waning, we’re about to move into one of my favourite months, September.  Before we get there though, a little bit of love an appreciation for what I’ve been up to:

Bridesmaiding

It was my middle sister’s wedding in June and what an absolutely gorgeous day it was!  It was a traditional English County Wedding at my parents’ house in Kent,  it was a lot of work to get the marquee set up to look as polished and as beautiful as it did, and a fair bit of running around on the day to ensure everything went smoothly, but it was so.much.fun!  Exactly what a wedding should be.  Also my sister is an absolute beauty and looked stunning in her Watters Wtoo gown, plus she dressed us bridesmaids in jumpsuits, which is, you know, totally the coolest thing ever.

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Vocation Coursing

As I mentioned before I went on a Vocations Course through my church throughout most of June and July.  It was my favourite night of the week and I feel so much more at peace about a career change now – I still don’t exactly have all the answers, more complicated by seeing an old friend last weekend who threw a new suggestion/path into the mix which I am investigating thoroughly, but I am happy about it and feel at peace with moving forward.

Days out Visiting

So I have been to Brighton a couple of times to visit friends who live there, it’s always nice to be by the seaside and be still for a bit, even better if you can eat an icecream from Scoop & Crumb whilst your there.  Brighton is fab for general British seasideyness but also for having cooler stuff – lots of live music and a good night out if that’s what you’re looking for.

N.B. The below photo was taken a couple of summers back.

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Madge, Chick and I also went to the Bombay Sapphire Gin Distillery at Lavestoke Mill  for a fun packed day, with lots to see and learn about gin.  Obviously this ended in a gin based cocktail picked for you from the smells you had identified as liking earlier in an interactive part of the tour.  All very enjoyable!

Below is some old style gin bottles and various gin glasses that were on display:

Smelling all the different flavours and choosing ones before our cocktails were made for us:

Finally, me enjoying my cocktail (very much):

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I would really recomend this as a good day out for a group of friends, we had a lot of fun.

Carl and I have also ventured up to Birmingham to visit friends back a the beginning of the month and I went home for my birthday weekend, which involved a gorgeous barbeque in the garden and toasting marshmellows as the sun went down.

Carl took me to visit Higate Cemetery which is somewhere I have always wanted to go since reading Audrey Niffeneger’s “Her Fearful Symmetry” and Danny Wallace’s “Charlotte Street” (very different books, both very good, both feature Highgate Cemetery). It was in equal parts fascinating and creepy.

Odd Mothering

I have become an Odd Mother (instead of God Mother) to a wonderful little girl which is both humbling and very honouring.  I hope I do a good job.  I plan on introducing her to Anne of Green Gables, Pollyanna, Jo March, Aslan and Harry Potter as soon as possible, so I think that’s a good start and I’m pretty sure her actual parents would agree.

Seeing friends and relaxing

Always an important combination!

Watching

Stranger Things.  So so hooked!  Peaky Blinders, which I loved and we have just started Making a Murderer.  We realise we are late to the party.

Reading

So much.  This month mainly “Lean for Life” by Louise Parker, which I am currently doing, and actually enjoying!

I also particularly enjoyed:

Being Mortal by Atwul Gawande and The Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins which definitely lived up to the hype.

Theatre

Funny Girl. Go and see it.  Sheridan Smith gave one of the most powerful and emotional perfomances I have ever seen.

Even though I haven’t had a huge amount of time off I have enjoyed this summer immensely.

Next…

I am not sure why September is my favourite month but I think it might be down to the fact that September always feels like a New Start, a bit like January, I think it’s the back to school, harvest time.  I also love the weather, you get some grogeous long harvest days but the temperature drops a little signalling the start of autumn, my favourite season.

I am already planning away some wonderful Hygge activities for autumn, I am thinking: baking, wedding planning, cosy writing time with a pot of tea, preparing the garden for winter and focusing on all those projects I am yet to complete before the end of the year.  I’m all excited just thinking about it!

I plan on reading The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking and have already ordered it ready for September.  If you are unfamiliar with the concept of “hygge” it is basically happiness or comfort, anything can by “hygge” cosy nights in with a loved one drinking hot chocolate, for example.  Hygge is a theory born in Denmark, apparently the happiest country in the world.  

Also The Great British Bake Off is back – what could be more Hygge?!  As soon as the six weeks of my Lean for Life shred is over I am planning on baking again!  Can’t wait!

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Grateful for friends, and particularly strong female ones. #100DaysofGratefulnessday3

I have always been a girl’s girl, a woman’s woman.  I enjoy the company of my female friends and I have a lot of them.

I never really understood boys.  When I was very young I was too quiet, I am an extrovert on the Myers Briggs enneagram but this does not always mean what people understand an “extrovert” to be.  Certainly when I was younger I was very timid in the presence of boys or children I didn’t know, and I would get quite anxious in social situations involving peers.  In complete contrast I was always totally at home with adults or by myself.  I enjoyed solitary activities like reading and playing imaginary games, quite often on my own or with one or two friends; I didn’t like loud, boisterous group activities.  I have always been decidedly un-competitive so I never enjoyed team sports (I also wasn’t very good at them).

I got on quite well with some of the boys in my class but would never have had boys over for a playdate or been invited to boys’ houses.  This is in complete contrast to both of my sisters who both had more male friends than female friends when they were growing up and are both quite sporty and competitive.

Aged 11 I went to an all girls’ school.  I know a lot of people have a lot of feelings about single sex education, for me it was the right choice.  I would never have had the confidence to put my hand up and speak up and give answers in a classroom full of boys.  Being surrounded by a lot of women and not having any brothers it meant that I just wasn’t the best prepared for male friendships at University.  I developed a couple of real friendships with boys in my last year at university through my then boyfriend, but as that relationship ended four years later those friendships slowly died a death.

It doesn’t bother me now, I am perfectly happy to be surrounded by women.  I love my girlfriends and I am so lucky to have a lot of them.

I listened to the Sorta Awesome podcast recently when they were discussing the “ten friends every woman needs” (This podcast is good – listen!).  This was their conclusion:

  1. A friend who has made more mistakes than you;
  2. A friend who knows what’s in your freezer;
  3. A friend with whom no words are necessary;
  4. A friend with better style than you;
  5. A “Yes Man” meaning someone who supports you wholeheartedly and who adores you;
  6. A friend who majored in your history;
  7. A friend who speaks your language (they are into the same things);
  8. A friend who challenges you;
  9. A friend who knows all your passwords;
  10. A friend who is the Queen of the call you out.

What I realised from listening to this is that I might be one or two or none of these at the same time for different friends, and that’s okay.  I also realised that I have friends who fall into each and every category.

I have had discussions recently with various friends about how as you reach thirty you know who your real friends are.  You might have (like I do) an “inner” and an “outer” circle this is a fluid arrangement, some friends you can be particularly close to for a season in your life, then you might drift apart slightly for a while as life takes over and later you’ll drift back into each other’s inner circle again.  Some friends are always in one or the other, and that’s okay too, it doesn’t mean you don’t appreciate and love and need those friends in your outer circle.

Here are my friends every woman needs (there might be a bit of overlap with the above list):

  1. A friend whose advice and help you will accept because you trust their good judgment.

I have a particular friend who does this.  I always respect her opinions and I feel better about scary things if I check them through with her.  She is a more grown up version of me, slightly more together financially and slightly ahead of the game in every aspect, always has been.  We lived together when we both had our first proper jobs after university and when I got my handbag stolen she could lend me money from her savings (!) to pay for the lock change, as obviously, I was maxing out my overdraft every month.  Recently, as I was stressing about shopping for my wedding dress (I hate shopping and pretentious places in equal measure) I texted her for info on where she went, because I knew it would be good.  She responded with the info, but more than that, followed up with (because she knows I hate shopping and pretentious places in equal measure) “They served us warm white wine in plastic glasses and the woman who did my alterations had no teeth and a fantastic smoker’s cough”.  I booked my appointment immediately.

  1. A Questioner.

I am interested in people; I ask them a lot of questions, I prefer “interested” to “nosey”. I always thought I would never meet anyone who asked as close to the wire questions as me, and then I met Madge.  I love it.  She is interested in everything and she makes me think about my decisions and my actions.  She makes me examine myself and that is no bad thing.  It’s a great sounding board because she’ll often make you think about something slightly differently.  P.S. Read her blog, she’s incredibly funny and regularly has me snorting into my Tupperware at lunch (work, I only get 15 mins so I eat in front of a screen out of plastic, it’s depressing).

  1. A friend who tells it straight.

I appreciate this quality, the most likely candidates here – my sisters.  They will be (brutally) honest.  It’s refreshing and important.  It’s needed, you know where you stand.  Plus, they can also show you a different way of thinking.

  1. A friend who is able to have what my school girls and I affectionately refer to as “D&Ms” or “Deep and Meaningfuls”.

We used to have a lot of these when we were at school, navigating the perils of the Union Bar, Apple Sours and exactly what black top to wear with our jeans and velvet jackets on a Friday night.  Undoubtedly, some of these conversations were fuelled by alcohol, as they often have been in later life with other friends, but these are conversations which enrich you and make you grow emotionally.  You are vulnerable, you share, you talk, you laugh, you are close.  I have had these with all of my friends at some points and still do.  I have talked about a couple of my friends who helped me through a particularly hard time before.

  1. A friend who is at the same stage as you.

As I mentioned in another blog post it’s important to have friends who empathise with a situation, not just sympathise.  So for example, I love it when my new mummy friends have other new mummy friends that they can talk about baby and kid stuff with.  It’s not that I am not interested in this, or that they can’t talk to me about it – I want them to share (I am learning for the future!) but I recognise that I have no point of reference, so I might not be particularly helpful on every occasion.  Equally, when those friends are busy with things like that you need other friends who can meet you on a whim after work and discuss your broken heart at length.   If you are the only single person in your group, you need other single friends.  Everything in its season.

  1. This is totally overlapping above but – a person whom shares your passions.

I have a few friends I talk to about faith.  One of them I used to work with, we are very similar in a lot of ways.  She’s catholic and I am C of E but we do enjoy a God discussion.  Also, I have friends who are fellow avid blog readers, friends who I can talk books with, friends who you can discuss TV shows with, or sports you like, or anything really.  Friends who like the same stuff as you are important – you need someone to geek out with.  I am very proud of the fact that I have introduced a lot of my friends to Grey’s Anatomy (and anything by Shonda). This means that we can catch up and be suitably outraged/overjoyed at the latest plot twists.

  1. A friend who makes you feel young and mischievous.

This will always fall to one of my oldest friends Chick.  She can make me laugh like no other, and definitely brings out my usually hidden goofball.  I am more relaxed and make a lot more jokes when I am around her.  She makes me less serious and I love her for it.

 

Of course I go to all of my friends for fun, for advice, for emotional support.  They are a group of strong, worldly, educated women.  They work hard, raise families and do interesting things.

These women inspire me, they push me, and they love me.  For that I am extremely grateful, and I love them fiercely.  I hope they know it!