4 September 2015

Plans for September

August flew by in a total blur.  First of all my birthday, where we went for a lovely spa day, then my friend's wedding, Cowes Week, then lots of sorting and decluttering and re-painting the bathroom, then a bit of curious house-hunting, then Reading Festival, and now here we are in September.

September is shaping up to be just as busy, and just as exciting! Next weekend is looking very awesome indeed, with a meetup with Sarah (which inevitably will involve lots of food and lots of catchups) and then on the Sunday we get to help Princess Cruises celebrate their 50th anniversary with yet more amazing food and a nose around one their ships! I cannot wait for that.  It's really nice to be able to get involved in more nautical/maritime type events as it's so closely linked to my job and where we live.

The following weekend I think we're going to hop along to Sturminster Newton Cheese Festival.  I mean - have you ever heard of a better idea for a festival? There will be cheese, ale, cider, and more cheese. I'm excited just thinking about it.  I've booked camping at a nearby campsite so we can take the van (and Bodhi!) - I'm just hoping it doesn't rain so we can sit out and have cider and a barbecue and enjoy ourselves rather than hiding in the van!

The real highlight of September is a bit later when we go to Porto, Portugal for a few days.  We're flying out of Gatwick on a Thursday morning and come back the following Monday, so we have a good few days to explore.  Please do let me know if you've ever been to Porto before as I'd love some tips for things to do! I can't wait to eat lots of yummy food, have some drinks in the sunshine and generally explore.  I've been doing lots of pinning of pretty looking cultural quarters and architecture - it just looks stunning!

I think the last week of September will definitely be spent chilling after all of those adventures! I mentioned house-hunting at the beginning of the post - this is something we are not doing in earnest but we are casually keeping our eyes open for somewhere new.  Where we live now is very rural and it's not easy to walk to any shops or restaurants etc, and whilst I've tried to embrace the vegetable patch and cosy nights in lifestyle, I find myself getting a little lonely (we don't have friends in close proximity), and frankly a little bored.  I used to live in Southampton in the city centre before we moved to Dorset and I do miss being able to walk into town or go for lunch at the weekend without getting in the car.  So we're now searching for somewhere that's a bit more central to Bournemouth but still has nice walks and the seaside within easy reach - we shall see!  

So definitely lots of exciting things on the horizon - what have you got planned for September?

2 September 2015

Reading Festival 2015

Reading Festival was the second festival I ever went to - my first was Sziget in Budapest (a pretty awesome first festival!) in 2007, followed by Reading in 2008.  I really didn't know what to expect back then for my first British festival and hoped it would be like Sziget - lots to see and do, good food, and plenty to explore and enjoy during the day.  I found Reading Festival to be completely different - the bands were amazing for the 2008 lineup (Rage Against The Machine were the best band I've ever seen live at a festival) but it was very much more focussed on the music than having lots of different acts and activities like Sziget did.  And the atmosphere on Sunday night was a little frightening (people set one of the nearby toilet blocks on fire...) - I was not expecting that.  But overall it was a totally amazing time, and whilst I've mostly been frequenting the calmer, folkier festivals (three years of End of the Road festival, which I love!), I've always fancied going back to Reading Festival one more time.

So naturally, I jumped at the chance when my good friend Fleur offered me a guest pass for the Saturday and the Sunday this year.  Fleur is one of my closest friends, but she moved to Ohio a few years ago so I don't get to see her as much I would like.  Her husband is the singer in the band Beartooth, so we were able to hop onto their guest list and rock up on the Saturday for a weekend of seeing awesome bands and having lots of fun.

S a t u r d a y

I picked up the lovely Soraya from Southampton at lunchtime on the Saturday and we arrived at the Guest Parking with no issues - easy peasy.  What then followed was definitely not easy peasy.  My FitBit says that I walked 15km on the Saturday, and most of that was the two of us walking with about 8 litres of liquids in a cool bag, a four man tent, three sleeping bags and two huge bags of our stuff.  We got the boat up to the Green Weekend area only to have to walk all the way back to get to the Artists Entrance.  I reckon it took about an hour in total to get there and get in.  Not cool.

Off to Reading Festival

We met Fleur at the Artists gate and then had to find the Guest Camping and put up the tent.  In the drizzle.  With some very limited instructions.  Soraya and I are big Alexisonfire fans and both went to their Farewell gig last year in London (they had a reunion for some festival shows) so to hear them playing whilst we threaded tent poles through the tent in the rain was pretty heartbreaking! Luckily we managed to get the tent up and ditch our stuff in time to hear their last few songs.

Reading Festival

We then went on to see PVRIS (who are great - if you haven't heard of them, definitely check them out (here's one of my favourite songs - St Patrick).  We then watched a bit of Atreyu and then Bring Me The Horizon.  The Saturday night ended up being spent in the Guest area, where lots of gin was drunk and the night was a little hazy.  I ended up being curled up in my tent by about 1am though - I'd like to say it was comfy but even my amazing North Face sleeping bag couldn't make sleeping on that rock hard ground a relaxing affair!

S u n d a y

We all woke up, as you do in a tent, about 7am.... ouch!  We were all looking forward to the Sunday as Fleur's husband's band Beartooth were playing, as well as my best friend Nicole's boyfriend's band, Bury Tomorrow.  We went in search for breakfast at about 9am but after paying £2.50 for a green tea we couldn't find much that was open.  All the other youngsters were clearly still in bed! After a bit of wandering around we went back to the Guest Area for a nice sit down (this is how 31-year-olds do festivals - we get up when no-one else is awake and then prioritise sitting down!) We saw Against Me! first around lunchtime.  I thought they were really good but there was a pretty small crowd which was surprising.  By then we'd met up with Nicole and went over to The Pit Stage backstage area to prepare to see Beartooth and Bury Tomorrow.

Beartooth played first and they were absolutely amazing, they totally smashed it.

Beartooth at The Pit Stage Beartooth at The Pit Stage, Reading Festival

Bury Tomorrow played next and they were similarly amazing.  I didn't get any good pictures of them, annoyingly! It was so cool to be stood on the side stage with my friends seeing their husbands and boyfriends play Reading; it must be such an awesome moment for them.

After a little bit of chilling out - and one of the best burgers of my life courtesy of Gourmet Burger Kitchen (best festival burger I've ever had), Nicole and I went to see Years & Years at the NME stage.  I'd only heard a few of their songs so I wasn't sure what to expect but they were really good.  It was actually nice to see a bit more of a chilled, laid back band after all the metal, ha!

Reading Festival

Then it was back on to some metal to see While She Sleeps play The Pit Stage.  I hadn't heard them before but they were awesome, really energetic and really got the crowd going.

While She Sleeps at The Pit stage, Reading Festival

By now it was about half 10 and I was driving back to Bournemouth that night so we went back to our tent to grab our stuff and head back to the Guest Car Park.  I thought it might be an easier walk back than the one there - but it wasn't! On the Sunday we racked up 16km on the FitBit, meaning that over the weekend we walked almost 20 miles in total, most of that carrying really heavy bags! Not sure how I wasn't a size 8 by the Monday morning! (Probably the burgers and all that alcohol...)

I was so happy to be back in my own bed when I got home (about 1.30 on Monday morning).  Even one night of camping ruined me - this is why we go away in a van rather than sleep in a tent! Overall it was such an awesome weekend - so nice to hang out with some of my favourite ladies.

Reading Festival

All my photos were taken on my new LG G4 - the camera is ace and I kinda love the 'soft skin' function a little bit too much, ha! Even soft skin mode couldn't hide those bags under my eyes from sleeping in a tent though, ha!

Have you been to Reading Festival before?

1 September 2015

Ten favourite things 002

001. I'm currently reading Dept. Of Speculation by Jenny Offill.  I saw someone share a quote from the book on Twitter and immediately knew I would love her writing.  It's really unique - almost like poetry rather than prose, but some of the lines are so beautiful I can't help but read, then re-read, then scribble in a notebook to absorb again later.

002. I've also finally dipped into the workbook section of The Desire Map and come up with a first draft of my 'core desired feelings'.  The Desire Map is a way of setting goals based on how you want to 'feel' rather than something material or something you'd like to achieve.  So instead of saying that you want to lose a stone, you might say that you want to feel 'strong' or 'healthy' - that way you make meaningful life choices that align with your goals (or 'goals with soul' as she calls them), rather than just tick sheets and to-do lists that end up just burning you out.  I'm excited to share my 'core desired feelings' when I'm 100% settled on them!

003. I made Sarah at Essbeevee's Salted Caramel Peanut Butter Bars (are there even five better words in the English language?) again last week for a friend who was leaving work, and they were divine. This is just a rubbish phone snap but I feel it captures just how good they are....

salted caramel peanut butter bars

004. I have been watching presentations and speeches from Steve Jobs lately (I now want a 'Stay hungry, stay foolish' tattoo after watching his commencement speech at Stanford University) and I love this quote particularly.  Really resonates with me right now.

005. Particularly loving the band Broods at the moment - they're rarely off my Spotify. They're like sort of lazy, chilled, electronic pop.  Really good for listening to on my journey to work! {Spotify link | YouTube link}.

006. I am mega excited that it's September - part of me is praying for an Indian summer, and part of me is praying that Autumn arrives early! I've been looking again at my Autumn Pinterest board (some of my finest pinning, if I do say so myself) and getting excited for walks in the forest, cinnamon candles and making soups!

007. I've been cheering myself up amidst all of this bad weather by planning lots of adventures.  Tom and I are going to Porto in Portugal in a couple of weeks, and I've also booked a little weekend away camping in September (I say camping, I mean going away in the camper-van, tents and I are not friends after this weekend at Reading Festival!)  We are also trying to plan a weekend in Paris with our Bournemouth Bloggers gang - I would love to get to Paris again before the year is out, I just love it.  I'm definitely going to enter this competition by Leisure Jobs where you can win a weekend in Paris, a Michelin star meal, with flights and hotels included.  I don't think you should enter though because I want to win - ha! (You should really, and you should take me if you win).

008. It's that time of year when I go coat crazy and end up buying ten different coats to get me through autumn and winter.  I might already have picked up this beautiful Poppy Lux Duster Trench Coat - I almost wore it to Reading this weekend but it's so beautiful I couldn't bear the idea of it getting dirty!  

009. I've not been able to do much running lately, as in order to run in the mornings and then get to work on time I have to be out and running at 6am (and I have been so tired lately!) but I managed a run on Friday morning and it was so beautiful.  It was quite a cold morning and it felt really autumnal - the mist rising from this field was particularly picturesque.

2015-09-01 12.16.40 1

010.  Not really one favourite thing but three favourite things that I just can't decide between, and I need your help choosing! I've been saving John Lewis vouchers from a couple of gifts and other bits and I now have enough to treat myself to something but I just can't decide what! I was pretty set on a Michael Kors Selma bag, but then it occurred to me that I have enough bags to sink a battleship and I don't really need another one.  I thought I'd go for something functional I'll really use and enjoy instead - but I can't decide between the beautiful Canon f/1.4 50mm lens (I have the f/1.8 already), or maybe a videocamera for doing more filming - I like the idea of the TomTom Bandit and its mobile app, or also the Sonos Wireless Music System.  Please help me decide! (This isn't some kind of weird list of links, I genuinely am stumped on this - let me know if you have any of these and whether you love them!)