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


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


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.



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


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



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: mid 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…

Getting on top of health issues

From ‘Moominland Midwinter’ by Tove Jansson. Sometimes I am the anxious Moomin, looking down rather than up at the sky

My week started on a bit of a wobbly note, when I rushed out the door to work on Monday morning and forgot to take any of my medication before leaving. I got diagnosed with asthma last year, and it’s slowly been getting worse after an inappropriately-timed June cold. 5 minutes into being outside, I started really feeling the effects of not taking my preventer. Chris has been urging me to reschedule the review I was supposed to have in February, so I managed to get an appointment the same day and lo! I now have a new, stronger inhaler along with a peak flow meter and more backup relievers.

I’ve also been in a bit of a mental health low point lately, and it started to get on top of me this week. The fun game I have to battle now is that I’ve only got one more counselling session left and I’m really scared of falling back to where I was. But I took some steps to try and make things better and things turned around pretty quickly. At least I know the symptoms – and triggers – now.

Hastings and Rye


Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

When your First-World-War-historian partner gets called to go on TV at the last minute, sometimes it’s fun to tag along. Which is how I found myself on Hastings Pier at 10am on a weekend. I hadn’t visited Hastings in many years, but it was worth it for the brief pier soujourn and coffee stop alone; plus, the early start meant we had lots of time to go on to other adventures in nearby Rye! Rye is such a gorgeous little town, with historic houses and churches around literally every corner along with so many cafes you could eat cream teas for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We’ve been taking a bit of time this year to explore around Kent/Sussex more, and I’d love to go back to Rye when it’s properly sunny and explore the harbour and countryside further.

Homemade pizza


Still on my spend-very-little kick (the weekend’s coffee out was a real treat), one of the habits I’m finding hardest to kick is takeaway food. I was exhausted on Wednesday and really, really wanted pizza…but we compromised and made our own pizzas from scratch/the bread maker on Thursday. It turned out to be a great call; I used up veggies for toppings, but splurged on some goats’ cheese to give it a lift. Plus, we got four pizzas out of one portion of dough – so dinner for two nights! Definitely a win.

Continuing MA work


Having finally finished the cataloguing module that lost the fight between me and the busy job, I’m onto social sciences research methods and determined to get it done a lot more quickly. I’ve been skimming the module this week and although I don’t think it’ll go down as the most interesting course in the MA, it’s getting me to think about research through different eyes which can only be a good thing.

This week I’m delivering my first ever conference paper at a symposium in Leeds, continuing watching Master of None obsessively (it’s SO GOOD) and eagerly anticipating/plotting the arrival of lots of friends next weekend!

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