(Prepare yourself, it’s a long one today as I need to catch up on 3 weeks of happenings!)
Can you believe it? We’re into the sixth month of the year already! It seems like only yesterday I was listening to the gentle tones of Auld Lang Syne and kicking 2017 out the back door to let 2018 in the front, and yet here we are, just a few short weeks from being officially halfway through the year.
Since my last diary entry, time seems to have flown by. It’s coming up to Year End for my company (we have it at the end of June for some reason?) and with colleagues taking time off for holiday, it’s been very busy with lots of pressure to hit targets etc, so my life has basically been one long blurred mass of emails and spreadsheets – my brain is a mush right now!
Since I last wrote, we’ve been busy with boring house-type stuff and some more fun things too. A couple of weekends ago Ben and I decided to pop along for a few hours at The Royal Hotel in Southend-on-Sea. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned before how much I love it there… oh wait, I have; here and here and here. But I do, I love it. The last time we went was all the way back in January – the day I was told I was officially Cancer-free and celebrated by drinking my weight in whisky – so we were definitely overdue a return. We had a few cocktails and a bite to eat and, as always, it was lovely.
On a very much sadder note, the week before last my furry niece crossed the rainbow bridge. She was a lovely little dog with such a great personality. She had a natural gift for sniffing out treasures and during her lifetime she must have discovered – literally – hundreds of tennis balls hidden in bushes whilst out and about. But she didn’t reserve her skills for her own gain, she found lots of other things – sick animals, someone’s missing wallet (which was reunited with them later that day) and a cannabis grinder. Police Dog wannabe, for sure. And she would have been a brilliant one.
On a happier note, I have to just tell you how proud I am of my friend who is donating her eggs to a couple who are unable to have their own children. It’s such a selfless act and it makes my heart swell to see someone I love doing something so incredible. As someone who knows that the route to having children will be difficult-if-not-impossible, I know what an amazing gift she is giving them and it makes me incredibly proud of her. I’m very lucky that I am able to call a person like her my friend.
In other news, I have recently discovered a brand called Dancing Leopard and OH MY WORD I am literally in love with them! This year I’ve started to embrace myself and the person I am, rather than always fighting to blend into the background. I’ve started buying clothes I actually like, rather than the plainest things I can find on the shelves, and it’s making such a difference to how I feel. I decided to treat myself to a dress I saw on their website for our upcoming holiday and, honestly, I feel like an absolute bloody 10/10 when I wear it. Sure, I know I’m not actually a 10/10 but who cares what other people think when I’m absolutely buzzing about the outfit I’m wearing?
On the same note, I’m trying to write a post at the moment about how I’ve suddenly found a sort of love for myself after a lifetime of self-doubt and self-deprecation. We live in a world where “Oh she loves herself” is perceived as a negative thing but, seriously, we should all be loving ourselves! You don’t have to be conceited, self-centred, rude or condescending with it, but it is possible to be kind and good and love others at the same time as yourself. Self-love and self-appreciation is nothing to be ashamed of and should, in fact, be strived for. I’m working really hard to look in the mirror and love the person I am and since I started being kinder to myself life has been so much better!
This weekend just gone was really lovely and very chilled. Friday night was spent at home, winding down after a busy week, and Saturday we ran around doing a few errands before popping along to Hopefield Animal Sanctuary in Brentwood, Essex, and spending a bit of time with the animals they care for there. I’m going to be doing a dedicated post about Hopefield and all the great work they do, but if you live in Essex or can get here easily, then I definitely recommend paying them a visit – the work they do to rescue and rehabilitate animals is absolutely priceless and they run purely on donations, so dig deep if you can!
Yesterday we popped round to my brother and sister-in-law’s house for a BBQ. It’s our second one of the year and we took Poppy along with us for a puppy play date with their dog. As I’ve mentioned before, Pops has a fear of the outside world so the drive over there was pretty hard work, but once we got there she had such a good time and she loved spending time with them. I know everyone thinks their dog is the best dog in the world (and everyone is right!) but I seriously do love Pops and she made me so proud yesterday. It’s going to be a long road to get her happy with the outside world but I’m hopeful we can get there one day and eventually she’ll be able to join us for walks in the countryside and maybe – one day – even a little holiday.
Coming up over the next 3 months I have so many exciting things happening. This year as a whole has been pretty good but June, July and August are going to be particularly brilliant with gigs, shows, holidays and birthdays, plus all the other little bits and pieces that come along. I’m going to be absolutely skint come September, but I think it’ll be worth it for all the good times on the horizon!
I think I’m going to knock my monthly “I’ve Been Loving…” posts on the head because there’s no point me doing a monthly round-up and repeating what I say in this diary posts, so from now on I’m going to be telling you about what I’ve been watching on TV, what I’ve been reading, blog posts I’ve been loving and products I want to shout about from the roof tops, in these diary posts instead. It’s just so much easier!
What I’ve Been Watching
Evil Genius (Netflix) – I saw a lot of hype over this and it came up as a recommended suggestion by Netflix based on the fact that 99.9% of what we watch is true crime based, and it wasn’t wrong; this was right up our street. Based around the bizarre-but-true story of the Pizza Bomber back in 2003, it looks at the case as a whole, the reasons behind it, and the fall-out from it. It was a truly strange, wouldn’t-believe-it-if-it-was-a-film crime and I remain completely baffled by it as there are still so many unknowns. A real binge-watch style documentary.
Agents of Shield (E4) – I’m a big fan of the whole Marvel Universe. I always liked the films but when I met Ben he started me again from the very beginning, watching all the films and TV programmes in the right order, and now we keep up to date with them as they’re released. Of all the TV series, Agents of Shield is my favourite, despite so many people telling me I’m wrong, but I can’t help it – I love it! I found the beginning of this series a little confusing (I struggle with jumps in time/space sometimes – I still have not a clue what The Matrix is about and I’ve seen it about 3 times!) but now I’ve got a grip of it I’m really enjoying it. It can be a bit cheesy, but then most Marvel has an element of humour in it, and for me this programme is the ultimate in escapism.
Mother! – We watched this film on a Sunday evening and here I am, over a week later, still absolutely baffled by it. What the hell is the film about?! What was going on?! I think I spent the entire 2 hours staring at the screen with my mouth open and a frown on my face because I had not a clue what was happening. Since watching it, I’ve read a few reviews online, plus theories by others as to what they think the meaning of it is, but I’m still none the wiser. No idea. I definitely won’t be watching it again though; my brain hasn’t got the capabilities for it. That said, the house they filmed it in was nice (if a bit creepy) and Jennifer Lawrence was good (plus kudos to the hair and make-up team for making her messy up-do’s look better than my hair has ever done, even when I’ve had it done by a professional).
Winchester – I’ve wanted to see this film ever since I first heard it was being made. I have a bit of an obsession with the real Winchester house and this film focuses on the urban legend that Mrs Winchester kept building rooms to trap the unhappy ghosts who lost their lives to the Winchester repeating rifle. The real life story is just as bizarre, with workmen extending the house 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for 38 years, until it was a huge mega-mansion. There are internal doors that open on to brick walls and stairs that lead nowhere, but there’s also incredible innovations for the time such as an irrigation system for Mrs Winchester’s plants, and pipework that allowed her to speak to other people from the room she was in on the upper floors down into the basement or any number of other rooms in the house (and there were lots of them – it’s 24,000sqft and has over 2,000 doors!) Mrs Winchester was very forward-thinking and I am desperate to visit the house one day just to be able to say I’ve seen it with my own eyes!
I’ve Been Reading
In Cold Blood – I finally finished reading it! I’ve been a bit rubbish and my commutes to and from work have been spent having much needed train-naps, but I got there in the end. This was such a fascinating book and pretty interesting in that there was a full and frank confession from the perpetrators which allows us to see both sides of the story and how it all unfolded. It did leave me with a feeling of sadness though for all those lives, needlessly lost and ruined.
Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery – Ah yes, another true crime book, obviously. I’m only a couple of chapters in to this book so the scene is still being set, but I’m enjoying it so far. It follows the story of a serial killer in America who targeted seemingly troubled young girls and, as yet, has not been caught.
Blog Posts I’ve Loved
I haven’t managed to do much blog reading this past few weeks as I’ve been so busy, but I’m trying my best to rectify that and I’m going to try and make time for it on a more regular basis – wish me luck!
Love Island 4.1: We Meet The Islanders, They Couple Up, Samira’s Really Not Into Alex and Yep, Dani Dyer is Danny Dyer’s Daughter – One for all you Love Island fans out there! Vix is working her socks off creating awesome Love Island content on all her social platforms, including Twitter, InstaStories and her blog, and each morning after the show she posts a recap of the latest episode along with her thoughts and observations. I don’t actually watch it (not because I’m a TV snob, just because I try not to watch anything that needs too much commitment!) but even I enjoy these post as she’s her usual observant, witty self and let’s be honest, we all love Vix don’t we?
What Not To Say – This is a hard one to summarise but a blog post that hit me square between the eyes and right in the feels. Being told you have Cancer is a funny thing. Telling other people you have it is even stranger. It’s such an overwhelming and frightening word that when you say it – “I’ve got Cancer” – you see the a physical change in the person in front of you as they morph into a deer in headlights. You can practically see the thoughts rushing behind their eyes as they try to work out what to say. And I had some very strange things said to me, not through malice or lack of care, but through the fear of not knowing what the right thing to say is. There’s no guidelines for how to react when someone tells you they have it.
I’ve said it before and I’ve said it again, I was incredibly lucky with both my Cancers that they were caught in the very early stages so I needed no more than a few surgeries, but it’s that word, that problematic word, that causes people’s vocabulary to fail them: Cancer. It gets right into the soul of you and once its little grabby hands have taken root there, there’s no way of removing it and there’s no way of taking it back. It’s always there. Grace talks so eloquently about her experience and to be honest, I think that right there is the key – TALKING ABOUT IT. Turning it over in your hands and your head; looking at it and discussing every single part of it. After all, monsters lose their power once you coax them out of the cupboard.
Products You Need To Know About
First of all, these babies have got their very own post where I tell you how bloody marvellous they are, right here (go and take a look if it’s your kind of thing!) They have a 5-star rating on Amazon, are just as good as my GHD’s and they cost me £26.00. TWENTY SIX GREAT BRITISH POUNDS!! They are my bargain buy of the year and I am so chuffed with them. If you’re in the market for a new pair of straighteners (or a back-up pair for your drawer at work/to take on holiday) then these babies are for you!
Poppy eats at warp-speed and I wanted to slow her down a bit. Why? Two reasons: 1, She can’t possibly be actually enjoying/tasting her food and 2, Gulping down all that air isn’t good for her (or us to be honest; gassy dogs are not friendly on the old nose). I decided I wanted to buy her a new bowl as her old one was a looking a bit old and tatty, and stumbled across this foraging bowl during my Amazon scrolling session – designed specifically to slow the speed of your pet when they’re eating. It had really good reviews so I thought I’d give it a go and I’m really glad I did! It holds the same amount of food as her old bowl despite not being as big, and it definitely slows down the pace of her munching. I 100% recommend this for anyone with a dog who is so food-focussed they gulp their food down at a rate of knots.
If you’re not following me on Insta, why not? My username is @apenny_for_them – come find me!
This has to be my favourite of all my Instagram photos in the past couple of weeks – just look at that little sleepy face!
I saw this car parked up one morning and couldn’t walk by without taking a photo. It’s just so cool and reminds me of a character off of the Cars film! I love the patina finish, it’s just a stunning set of wheels.
Some of the beautiful horses at Hopefield Animal Sanctuary. There’s just something about horses that seems so magical – does anyone else find that?
I took a stroll through London one evening while I waited for Ben to finish work – I will never get bored of this City.
I spend so much of my time looking up at the sky – the sun, the moon, the stars, the occasional planet… it grounds me and reminds me of how incredible this planet of ours is.
I absolutely love my ear climbers from Sacet – I wrote a full post about them here, if you missed it? As well as making beautiful products, they’re also incredibly ethical as a company which is always a plus point!
A little weekend date with Ben is always one of my favourite way to spend a few hours. I don’t even know what we talk about but we never stop chatting… he really is my soul mate.
Speaking of soul mates, here’s my other true love, an Old Fashioned… They make a particularly good one at The Royal Hotel – dangerously good in fact as they’re very easy to sink and very moreish!
That face! Ultimate comfort.
Back in the 1800’s my relatives lived in this building. It’s so strange to stand outside it knowing that they used that door, saw those same bricks and walked the same street. I would love to be able to go back in time to see how they lived.
This week we got to pop along to the 20th Century Fox offices in Soho for a screening of Die Hard to celebrate 30 years since it was released. It’s now available in 4k Ultra HD on both DVD and Blu-Ray so you can watch it with a clearer picture than ever before!
I was wandering through the streets of London last week, feeling sleepy and wondering why I haven’t won the lottery yet, when I came across this sight which cheered me up no end! It turns out they are part of Small Car Big City who provide tours, company team building days, hen/stag do’s, and treasure hunts. It sounds like a really fun way to spend a few hours!
I am now the proud owner of The Shoes Of Dreams. These beauties were only £10 from George At Asda and they’re really comfortable too, so all in all, absolute winners! I love them so much.
I decided to knock up some homemade ice-lollies for a slightly healthier option on those days when we need a quick fix to cool us down. These are just banana, strawberry, apple, coconut water and some coconut flakes (not ham, as somebody thought when I posted this photo on Instagram!)
Have a good week everyone – back soon (and hopefully the next diary entry won’t be so long!)