Canterbury tales: taking a break, end of July 2017

One thing I’d like to be better at is taking time to remember the positive, tiny things that make a difference in every day life: the things that get me laughing in the morning or thinking ‘huzzah!’ when I get in from work. So, this week’s good things are…

There’s no way of sugar-coating this week’s blog post: this week has been really, really hard. Having somewhat seen the warning signs coming and not really acted on them, I’m taking a (temporary) break from work and have been signed off for a bit to get my mental health better. There’s a lot more to say on this matter, and it’s probably best off in a separate post, but for the moment: I am very, very lucky to have such good supportive employers and bosses who understood this decision. Stigma is real, but possibly what has been to my detriment has been my own refusal to acknowledge in practice that mental health should be treated like physical health. If I had been unable to recover from a bad cold that wouldn’t go away whilst at work, I would have had no hesitations in taking sick leave to get properly better. I didn’t do this here.

There are still good things. The joy this week is a little bit harder to find, but it is still here:

My friends

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There is no doubt about it: my friends rock beyond belief. Our Facebook group (set up last year to bridge distances as we all live in different places) yielded many many good ideas for how to self-care when I posted there earlier this week.

On Thursday, confusion reigned when I had a parcel arrive, considering the one item I’d bought had turned up the day before: cue teary happiness as I unwrapped a beautiful new Pusheen plush from two of my besties <3. Chris has, predictably, been amazing. I am very, very lucky.

Disney movie marathon

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Another ‘grateful for good people’ moment occurred over the weekend, when I spent the day with a friend determined to educate me in the ways of all the Disney movies I’ve somehow missed (most of them). A rainy day, tea, cake and Disney? YES. Anyway, I’m now up to speed on Inside Out, Moana and Big Hero 6. There will be more to come.

Reading

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In a ‘I don’t know if this is a good sign or a bad sign’ way, all I’ve been able to do recently is read (and sleep). As a result, I’ve finished one book this week and completed another two. Verdicts: Alone in Berlin is an excellent exploration of every day German life under the Nazi regime and the extent to which anyone could attempt ‘resistance’; Curtis Sittenfield’s Eligible has the worst UK cover for a book I’ve seen in years, but its modern-day retelling of Pride and Prejudice is quite fun if not entirely accurate/fair; Mara Wilson’s memoir is utterly brilliant, sharp and funny and I couldn’t put it down.

Lush’s face masks

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I’ve been a big fan of Lush’s face products for a while now; Ultrabland is easily the best cleanser I’ve ever tried and I’m completely hooked on Celestial for a daily moisturiser. Now, after returning five clean pots to them last weekend, I have a new favourite thing: their Catastrophe Cosmetic face mask. My skin is super sensitive, but this has done wonders in calming it down and balancing it out. SO GOOD.

Getting outside

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I’ve been trying to continue exercising this week as per normal, but I woke up today with a real urge to go for a walk. We’ve had annual passes to Leeds Castle (not in Leeds) for nearly a year now, and today’s trip confirmed that we’ll renew them next month: it is easily one of my favourite ever places. It’s a popular day out but the acres of walks, gardens and rolling hills around the castle mean you can go off the beaten track and chill on the lawns easily. And the views are spectacular!

This week, I’m resting up still, recovering from a wisdom tooth infection and looking forward to a) our four-year anniversary on Thursday and b) heading back to Oxfordshire  to see family next weekend!

How was your week? What’s been bringing you joy?

Canterbury tales: still-July 2017

One thing I’d like to be better at is taking time to remember the positive, tiny things that make a difference in every day life: the things that get me laughing in the morning or thinking ‘huzzah!’ when I get in from work. So, this week’s good things are…

Leeds for work, Leeds for catch-ups

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I was lucky enough to have my (first ever) paper accepted for the annual Association of Performing Arts Collections (APAC) symposium, this year held in Leeds. I went up the day before because trains are so expensive, but it gave me a bit to explore the city and – most importantly – catch up with a friend from uni who I haven’t seen properly in years. We went to the excellent Belgrave Music Hall & Canteen which won me over with a) its rooftop bar, b) its veggie burgers and c) the rather delicious strawberry and black pepper  gin cocktail, aka YUM. It was such a lovely way to spend an evening and see somewhere in Leeds totally different!

The next day, I gave my paper (which went well, I think) and we were treated to a tour of the Special Collections at the University of Leeds, nestled in their Brotherton Library which was “modelled on the British Library’s reading room, only bigger”. It’s such an impressive building, all polished wood and marble columns! The architecture in Leeds is such an interesting mix, with the glorious industrial-era redbrick campus contrasting against the very modern high rises of lights and shiny glass. I loved visiting the city for a couple of days; daft as it sounds, there is so much country beyond the Southern bubble I often inhabit and every time I leave that bubble I just want to see more.

New gym class

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Having missed my normal Monday spin and Tuesday abs classes, I finally got around to attending a kettlebells class on Wednesday. I’m so, so glad I did! I love my gym because it’s so small and personal which has really helped me feel at ease (I’m not the most sporty person ever, to put it mildly). When I got there, the instructors were all “you came!” and it was great to catch up with everyone. The class was hard, and I’ve been aching all week since, but it was SO satisfying. This week I’m gonna try and do all three Monday – Wednesday classes, so let’s see how that goes…

Discoveries: David Lloyd George’s copy of Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’

University of Kent Special Collections & Archives, SPEC COLL LLGC 2.2
University of Kent Special Collections & Archives, SPEC COLL LLGC 2.2

We’ve been collaborating a lot with the School of Music at work recently, and in amongst all the forthcoming pantomime activity there’s a bit of Dickens in the midst. A colleague recommended having a look at David Lloyd George’s copy of ‘A Christmas Carol’ for images and – wow! It’s a gorgeous 1930s edition, with an intact bookplate and some utterly gorgeous woodcut illustrations. Definitely one to remember.

Best friends in Canterbury

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This weekend we broke our guests-in-the-house record by having FIVE people stay over at one time! (Duvets were more of an issue than space, once it was agreed that it was totally fine to sleep in the conservatory). On Saturday, we ate so much homemade pizza (and snacks) (and Pimms) (and these chocolate brownies) whilst generally hanging out and playing Mario Kart, which we’ve rediscovered. (In accidentally stereotypical ways, the girls were very noisy  – “Oh NO! I’m going to DIE! No not the LAVA ARGH I’M 12TH!!!!!!!!!!!” – whilst the boys silently fought it out for 1st and 2nd place. Though I’ve still not forgiven Chris for bashing me a lot because his car was bigger than my bike…)

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Sunday saw us pretend that last night’s food fest hadn’t happened and the obligatory brunch in town was needed. By chance, The Refectory had space and so eight of us merged outside tables together and desperately prayed that the grey clouds overhead wouldn’t get any ideas. They didn’t, and WOW the food was incredible! Great coffee and one of the nicest lunches I’ve had in months – a spinach and chive crepe with baked egg, artichokes, goats cheese, mushrooms, caramelised onions and parmesan. I can’t believe it’s taken us a year to get round to trying this cafe, because I think it’s a new Canterbury favourite…

But the best bit of the weekend? Laughing my head off with friends I’ve known, in part, since we were 10. They are the best humans and it always feels like coming home when we meet up, even if the adulthood contrasts are getting a bit marked: we like sleep, and good coffee, and acknowledge that takeaway isn’t always the best thing ever. But they sure as heck are.

This week, I’m starting on my MA assignment, attempting three gym classes on three consecutive days, finishing up Master of None (STILL SO GOOD) and continuing reading Hans Fallada’s WW2 resistance novel Alone In Berlin.

How was your week? What’s been bringing you joy?