Friday, 2 December 2016

November favourites 2016 | The Small Desk

For some reason I feel like November has been a pretty slow month, but when I write down everything I've enjoyed this month it seems like a lot has happened, so surely it should have felt fast!? Confusing. I think it may be because the weather has turned. It's so goddamn cold now! I think about going out and then think about how cold it's going to be and decide against it. I've even eaten an apple instead of chocolate because I can't face going to the corner shop! That's how bad it is!

I've not found it the easiest month at work, and I think it's only going to get more challenging. It always seems to go like that with my job: I'll have some months where my responsibilities seem to die down and other people get all the shit jobs, then other months when I'll feel like I'm getting all the hard work and everyone else is getting off lightly! It would be nice if it was just a nice steady stream of work that had minimal amount of stress and responsibility, but then I guess maybe no-one would pay me if it was like that!? Anyway, with all the buckets of money that I earn (not) it means I can enjoy some fun things such as...

1. Wahaca, Soho
This is mainly in my favourites because I didn't get sick! Did you see how many Wahaca chains had to close because of that virus? It was awful! I went to the Soho branch the day BEFORE they shut it down. The funny thing is I was having a free meal there to apologise for the terrible service I experienced last time!

2. Friend's bday meal
It was one of my bridesmaids' birthday this month and we all went to Ping Pong to celebrate. I reluctantly shared some dim-sum.

3. Bedside tables
I am so happy to announce that I now live in a house where we can have bedside tables on EACH SIDE of the bed! #goals

4. Fiance's sister's birthday weekend
We went up to the fiance's (I can't be bothered to find the 'e' symbol) parents house to celebrate his sister's birthday. We had what they call a 'Chindian' – it means you order both Indian and Chinese – it's pretty much the healthiest takeaway you can get.

5. Day holiday and trip to arboretum
I had a day off work and took a trip to a local arboretum with my parents. Yeah, that's right, an arboretum. I now know what one of those is. It's a tree park basically.

6. Exciting filming at work
If I tell you the film I made with work you'll know where I work but trust me, it was cool.

7. Pizza Express with friends
Obviously this is a favourite, who doesn't love P.E.!

8. David Bowie auction
I'm so rich I attended the David Bowie auction. Not reeeeeeally, I went to watch with my friend. We lasted about half an hour before I felt sick with the amount of people who were overpaying on pieces of art that were already estimated to go for a minimum of hundreds of thousands. Not hundreds and thousands.

9. Shopping trip
Shopping in a city near where I live with my bestie from Uni. We went to Anthropologie and Waterstones and lots of other fun shops and spent money and ate burgers (mine was veggie obv).

10. Met up with old work colleague
I went for a drink with an old work colleague and had a ginger beer because I'm cool. We laughed about old work things and cheers to her new house.

11. Manchester trip
I went up to Manchester to see my sister for the weekend and got into some deep chats. We went for lunch and dinner out and lusted after homeware in the city centre.

12. Drinks with neighbours
We went round to our neighbours for drinks again and drank the free bottle of wine we got from the Indian we went to last time.

13. Nutcracker
The. Nutcracker. Ballet. Royal. Opera. House. Go. Now.

14. Bought wedding dress
Oh yeah, casually bought my freaking wedding dress this month! From a sample sale – the whole story is in the post before this one. It was MENTAL.

15. Bedlam exhibition
Went to see the Bedlam exhibition at the Wellcome collection. I would highly recommend – it is incredibly thought provoking and powerful.

16. Snapchatting my sister
I have been obsessed with sending and receiving Snapchats with my sister. It's so nice to have daily contact now that's she's moved up North!

17. Mexican dinner
I went for Mexican in London with an old school friend and had an excellent catch up.

18. Melanin Millenials
Finally, I would highly recommend you check out the Melanin Millenials podcast. Those girls are FUNNY.

That's it for my November favourites! What have you been up to this month? Looking forward to Christmas?


Monday, 28 November 2016

The story of buying my wedding dress | The Small Desk

We joined the queue at 10.50am. The Needle and Thread sample sale was due to start at 11am. I had convinced my Mum to go a little bit earlier as I thought there might be a queue, but nothing could have prepared me for the length of the queue. We walked up to the door of the sale room and before me I saw a thick crowd of women all waiting. I said to one of them, 'Are you queuing for Needle and Thread?', hoping she would say no, but knowing there was only one answer, 'Yes', she said. I looked at the queue thinking it was pretty bad but then I turned the corner. The line stretched all the way down a side street. I looked at my Mum and we both gasped in horror. 'How long have these women been here?' we asked each other.

The air was cold but we hesitantly joined the queue. At 11am the queue started to move slowly, but it wasn't until 11.50am when our toes were numb and our bones frozen to their core that we were finally allowed inside. I was checking on my Mum continually to see if she wanted to give up, but she held strong and we entered the sale room... to another queue...

'Have you coats ready for the cloakroom', the security guard barked, 'but I'm cold', I said. Rules are rules I was told. You had to pay a pound entry each and then you were allowed to enter the chaos. Women were skittishly darting around the room trying to find a dress they liked. Some were hoarding dresses on a rail for others they had helped seek the perfect dress for. There were queues for communal dressing rooms that blended into one. Others gave up on the queues entirely and stripped down to their underwear behind a rail, and some just in the middle of the room. Dignity had escaped some and they had turned into animals fighting for the best bargain of the day.

Prices were at rock bottom, clothes more than 50% off their recommended price. It was no wonder these women were going crazy; here was a chance to buy something otherwise out of their reach. Some were there looking for a bargain for the Christmas party and others, like me, had come to find their wedding dress.

Often a wedding dress can cost in the thousands but I was determined to find something I loved in budget. I've done that for a lot of items I own in life; I buy beautiful designer furniture from outlet stores, scour the internet for discount codes and have signed up to banks purely for free money or vouchers.

Ever since I got engaged I knew my dream dress would be a Needle and Thread dress. They were out of my price range at around £600 to £950. But then one day I found this sample sale and everything changed.

We had been there for just over an hour and then I saw a girl trying on the dress I wanted. Then and there in that moment I knew that was the dress I wanted. I just stared at her, and said to my Mum, 'that's it'. Out of nowhere she put one of the sizes of the dress back on the rail. I saw her put it back, I stared at it in disbelief. I didn't know if she really had meant to put it back, but then my Mum said 'get it!', and it was like in slow motion I took the dress off the rail, looked at it with wonder and amazement that it was my size.

'How am I going to try it on?', I asked my Mum. 'Well, you might just have to take your top off', she replied. I thought for one moment and then looked at the male security guards around and thought, 'no, I don't, I'm not doing that for a dress'. I tried my wedding dress on over my T-shirt and jeans. Yes, that's right, no ifs, no buts, I put it over my entire outfit. Even over the top of jeans and a T-shirt it looked stunning and I felt incredible in it. 'That's it, that's the one', my Mum said, and that was that, it was decided.

Even though I had budgeted it for it, at the last moment before we got to the check out my Mum said 'I'm paying for this', I was so surprised and tried to argue against it but she insisted and it was a beautiful gesture. My Mum bought my wedding dress for £150 (down from £650) in a sample sale in Mayfair. In amongst the chaos, madness and down right rudeness of a lot of the women there, we managed to maintain our dignity (just) and succeeded in winning at the art of the sample sale.


Sunday, 13 November 2016

Five reasons I gave up reading Bill Bryson | The Small Desk

I like to do book reviews of all the books I've read. You can read them all here. I was determined to read Bill Bryson's The Road to Little Dribbling, as it had such good reviews and was a Sunday Times bestseller. Plus it is littered with interesting bits of British history that I thought would be interesting. I enjoyed his book on Australia but did find his moaning a bit irritating at times, despite this I never thought I would actually stop reading The Road to Little Dribbling because I found it too offensive and rude! I got to page 231 out of 474 and gave up. I wasn't enjoying it, and if I'm not enjoying a book I find it very hard to motivate myself to read it, which eventually means I just give up reading completely! I find it much easier to decide to stop reading a book and move on. I'm such a slow reader anyway (as I explained before) that I need to read books I love.

I didn't want to put all that 231 pages to waste, and I thought it would be a good idea to explain to you all why I gave up reading this book and why I won't be reading any more Bill Bryson.

1. Bad jokes
The book is full of bad jokes, or little incidents that have happened to him he thinks are funny, but are really not, sorry to sound so harsh! For example:
p.19 – he goes to a hairdressers and thinks they say his hair will be cut by 'a vet', when the hairdresser is actually called 'Yvette'.

p.102 – he meets two women on a walk back from a memorial - the women ask if he's come from the memorial and in the book he says '"No, I was having a dump in the bushes", I wanted to say'.

2. Everyone is an idiot
He complains about restaurant and shop staff a lot. As an ex-employee of two shops where I know customers can make your life hell it only made me sympathise with the shop staff! For example:
p.39 – he says to McDonald's staff 'I can't believe you are all this stupid', when they make a mistake with his order that he himself has admitted to stumbling over.

p.83 – 'Well, you're still an idiot' he says to a staff member at H&M after he (Bryson) mistakes it for an M&S and asks where the food hall is.

3. Too dry about being a grandfather
I don't like how unemotional he is about becoming a grandfather, and doesn't see that his role is to support his daughters emotionally, for example:
p.78 – talking about both his daughters due to give birth at the same time he is instructed to be near London hospitals - he write 'I was under strict instructions to be nearby in order to - well, I don't know what. Boil water perhaps. Stand around in a willing but useless manner.'

4. He always calls his wife 'my wife'
Why not call her by her name?! The way he talks about his wife really irritates me, he speaks about her as though she is a constant nag, or even worse, like she is his mother!

5. Rude about women
Only 100 or so pages in and he's already being rude about women. For example:
p.111 – 'Why Thomas Holloway and his wife Jane decided to sink much of their wealth into a college for women isn't known, any more than it is known why they decided to fund a companion building'.

p.115 – He sticks up for a woman in a bookshop who gets shouted at by a man with a mental disability, who he calls a 'madman', which I do not think is ok either, but after he sticks up for this woman she smiles at him (probably just politely), but he takes this as her adoring him and then says '...who knows where this encounter might have led? Unfortunately she was only about four feet tall and nearly spherical, so I simply shook her hand and wished her good day'.

I could go on, but I'd rather not waste my time any further! Have you read this book? What did you think?


Sunday, 30 October 2016

October favourites 2016 | The Small Desk

I cannot believe I'm sitting here about to write my October favourites for 2016... this year has gone so fast! So much has happened and I'm looking forward to writing a year in review post, but for some reason I feel like this month has gone quite slowly. When I look back to the beginning of the month and see what I was doing it feels like ages ago. 

I always find October a weird month, well I guess Autumn in general, because it's not cold and wintry or hot and summery, it's just sort of 'meh', grey, boring weather. I know everyone bangs on about how much they like Autumn, and yes, I know some colours are nice in Autumn, but the weather is so boring here in the UK. Anyway, how stereotypical am I being talking about the weather! I know it's not quite the end of the month, there is still one day left tomorrow, but I haven't got much planned other than having some paving slabs laid so I think I can safely say there won't be anything to add to this by leaving it any later! Let's get on with my October favourites!

1. Stayed over at parents and Harrods with sister
At the beginning of October I had a sort of 'mini-break' at my parents. My sister was down and I was going into London on both the Saturday and Sunday so I thought it would be easier just to stay over. I went to look at possible wedding dress options from designer brands in Harrods but trying to find a white dress that could act as a wedding dress in October is near impossible!

2. Wedding fair
A friend of mine had free tickets to the Brides wedding fair in Angel. It's a favourite because it was nice hanging out with her, but the wedding fair was a tad scary, apparently you need a fancy £100+ pen to sign your wedding certificate with... I think not.

3. Hair cut and dye
I have my hair cut about every six months and my hair dyed about every year, so it's always a real treat when I get it done. This time I tried the Charles Worthington salon as I had a voucher, and I must say, I would really recommend.

4. RA with old colleague
The Royal Academy of Arts has an exhibition on at the moment called 'Abstract Expressionism', it has a lot of Jackson Pollock and those sorts of artists, and whilst I love art, I still don't get abstract art, it's pretty but that's as far as I get with it. It was nice to spend time with an old colleague though!

5. Gardening day
This month we had to help clear up the communal gardens where I live. I wasn't particularly looking forward to it but it turned out to be quite fun in the end, who knew gardening could be fun!

6. Tea with old colleague
This was a different old colleague, and it was really nice to catch up over a cup of tea. We always end up having deep chats about life and she really intellectually challenges you, in a good way!

7. Pub dinner with neighbours
We've been to each other's houses for drinks but this month we actually went to the pub for dinner with them. They're such lovely people and I feel so lucky to have them as our neighbours. It's always challenging moving to a new area where you don't know anyone and they've made us feel so welcome, it's such a relief.

8. Walks with parents
I went on a couple of countryside walks with my parents this month. It's good exercise and a chance to have a really good catch up whilst looking at beautiful views.

9. Painted living room with fiancĂ©'s parents
Our living room used to be a sickly green colour, and this month we repainted it white, so it looks a lot fresher. I'm so glad to see the back of that horrid green!

10. Week off to do life admin
This month I had a week off to sort house things out and work on wedding plans. It was nice to lounge around the house and get to know our new area a bit better.

11. New boiler
Hurrah! We have a boiler that actually works and doesn't turn the heating on when we turn the hot water on! It was a flipping nightmare in the summer when it was 30 degrees and you had a shower and then came out to find the heating on full blast!

12. Saw grandparents
I popped over to my grandparents this month for a cup of tea and a couple of brownies. My Grandma is in her late eighties and still makes the best chocolate brownies! Also, my Granddad is out of hospital and back at home, which is a relief.

13. Lunch with friends
I went to Mildred's in Soho for lunch with my school friends and had a tasty burrito. The queuing system there really needs to change though.

14. Shopping with old Uni friend
After lunch I met up with my old Uni friend and we went shopping in all the big department stores in London. We always have the best fun shopping together!

15. Afternoon tea with friends
A couple who we used to live really near to and who the fiancĂ© went to school with invited us over for afternoon tea, and it was yummy. We had scones with vanilla cream, delicious.

16. Wedding food tasting
Yesterday I went to taste some potential food for our wedding and it was scrummy, hopefully we've found the one!

17. Dinner with family
Last night I had dinner with my family as my sister was down again, it'll always be a favourite having home cooked food!

18. Curry with neighbours
Finally, this evening we are going for a curry with our neighbours. I know this happened yet but I'm sure it'll be fun!

That's it for my October favourites, bring on November! What have you enjoyed most this month?

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