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 fiancé'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 fiancé 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?


Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Ten films I want to see | The Small Desk

So this is just going to be a short little blog post/list post, but you asked for it on Twitter and so here it is! These are the ten films I want to see, have you seen any? Any recommendations? 

1. Grand Budapest Hotel

2. The Scar

3. Barbicania

4. Persepolis

5. Trainspotting

6. The Wolf of Wall Street

7. The Book Thief

8. A Brilliant Young Mind

9. The Men Who Stare at Goats

10. Anna Karenina


Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Why I like to keep all the books I have read | The Small Desk

I still vividly remember being in year six at primary school and having a diary where you had pages in the front and back where you had to list all the books you'd read over the year. I remember having 12 in total at the end of the year. I was really happy with this and couldn't believe I'd read so much, but then I saw my friend's list and it was over 30, if not 40. I wasn't so much upset by this but merely perplexed. I just couldn't understand how someone could read so many books over the course of a year. To be honest, I still can't. I am still a very slow reader and really struggle to read more than 20 pages in one sitting.

When I first when to school and was learning to write I used to write the letters backwards: the letters were in the right order, just all back to front, mirror writing my Mum describes it as. I've never found it easy to read or write. I've always found it something I've had to really work on and try, try again. I know it's the skill everyone gets taught at school, and it's meant to be the 'core' skill that you then build upon, but for me it's a skill I've always struggled with and the more I think about it the more I realise this is probably the reason I am where I am today.

Today I'm an editor and as part of my job I proofread and correct other people's writing. I write myself, I commission people to write and I read, a lot. If someone told my parents I would end up as an editor when I was at school doing mirror writing, they would have laughed! I think because I haven't found it easy it's sort of given me an obsession to try and improve on both. Sometimes when I read I feel I really have to concentrate otherwise the words are just a jumble. I need to have silence to read and I can't casually read. I need to decide I'm going to have a period of time where I read and have no distractions. I've never been tested for dyslexia but I expect I probably have a mild version of it.

I love to read how other people write and see other people's writing skills, but for me it is a massive achievement to finish a book because I don't find it easy. You will see I've started keeping a record of the books I've read on the About section of my blog, and I keep a lot of the books I've read as sort of trophies to remind me of my reading achievements.

They say that if you want to be a writer, write, and this blog has definitely helped me with that. I know I am not a perfect writer by any stretch of the imagination, but I do enjoy it and I hope to enjoy reading more. I think it's also true to say if you want to be a writer, read.

Does anyone else struggle? Have you found any methods or blog posts that have helped you?


Monday, 3 October 2016

September favourites 2016 | The Small Desk

Weather-wise September has been a funny old month. There have been days where I've been sweating it out only wearing a light summer dress and days where I've been donning my oversized black mac. But I'm happy to welcome back the shit Autumn; the cold and dark Winter days and the relentless rain hammering on the windows. I love sitting inside with a warm mug of herbal tea and using the weather as an excuse to snuggle on the sofa watching crap TV. Don't get me wrong I do like sunshine now and again, just not heat. Heat is the enemy. I hate being overheated, sweaty and out of control. Also, you can't wear a dressing gown when it's hot, nightmare. Anyway, here's to the Winter nights, putting the heating on and drawing the curtains at 4pm!

Work-wise September has been fairly kind to me. The office was broken into, which meant we all had to work in one room for a while, but it meant I got to chat more to colleagues I don't normally have the opportunity to, so there was a silver lining in some sense. Social-wise I've actively had a week where I've done no socialising after work whatsoever, and I'm feeling very fresh and relaxed! I think sometimes it's important to do that. Family-wise my Granddad has been very ill this month and still is, so that's been tough on everyone. On the positive side we've booked our wedding venue close to where they live so I think that gave my Grandparents some happiness. I'm getting more excited about the wedding as it's now only 11 months to go, and the venue is very us, not too formal and a bit wacky. Anyway, here are my September favourites...

1. Dishoom with friends
On the first of the month I spontaneously met up with a couple who I am friends with through my fiancé, so friends for eight years! We went to Dishoom and had a delicious curry and catch up chats. 

2. Gallery wall
We finally got back lots of our prints from the framers and created a gallery wall in our living room. I love having a mismatch of frames and prints all hanging next to one another like the eighteenth century galleries of London. 

3. Rowing with Uni bestie and sister
I am obsessed with rowing now, and it was a pleasure to take my Uni bestie and sister out for a trip and show them my rowing skills, haha! 

4. Friend's new flat 
I went to see one of my old school friend's new flat that she bought by herself, so proud!

5. Farmstand dinner with Dad and fiancé
Another spontaneous after work meal! I work really close to both my Dad and my fiancé, and my Dad had some time to spare so we had dinner with him at Farmstand. It's a really cute little canteen-style restaurant that has some really healthy options.

6. Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park
For one of my friend's birthdays a group of us took her to see Pride and Prejudice at Regent's Park Open Air Theatre. It did get a bit chilly and I had to buy a blanket but it was such a lovely evening and the performance was brilliant. I've now borrowed the classic Colin Firth series off a friend at work, because can you believe, I've never watched it!

7. Neighbours over for drinks
We had our lovely neighbours over for drinks and chatted about horrible work stories and our favourite furniture. 

8. Home for dinner 
Since moving over an hour away from my parents I've not been home after work for dinner like I used to. However I did it this month! It was a trek and I only stayed two hours, but still, I proved it's still possible!

9. Riverford boxes
I've signed us up for Riverford farm fruit and vegetable boxes! This means we get organic fruit and vegetables delivered to our door every week. It's forcing us to eat better, which is what I'd hoped for. This week I've got a HUGE bag of kale to get through, wish me luck! (Is that the most middle class thing I've ever written?!)

10. Found wedding venue
As I mentioned earlier we found our wedding venue! The deposit is down, the registry office is booked and we're starting to save... well nearly, ha!

11. 10 mile walk
One Sunday I decided to use an Ordnance Survey map to take me and the fiancé on a long walk near where we live. We managed to walk for over four hours and covered 10 miles. I felt this month I really needed that thinking space. I felt great the next day and would really recommend long walks as an enjoyable form of exercise. 

12. Wahaca with friends
The third spontaneous dinner with friends! One friend was in central and then it just spiralled. However we went to the Wahaca in Soho and the food was awful, I love Wahaca but I won't be visiting this branch again!

13. Lunch with old school friend
One of my old school friends is off to Oz for three weeks. She works just around the corner from me so we met up for lunch before she left. I wish I could go back to Oz!

14. Rowing with old school friend, Franco Manca and Bridget Jones' Baby
I did some more rowing at the end of the month and combined it with a trip to Franco Manca and to the cinema to see Bridget Jones' Baby. I thought the film was good but good in a chick flick way.

15. Parents over for cake 
My parents came over to our house and we had shop bought cake and tea and my Dad fixed some stuff in our house. Classic Dads!

16. Home every night for a whole week
I said this earlier, but this past week I've been home every night after work and it has been bliss. We've got some wedding things sorted out and had the opportunity to just chill out to the max.

17. Reading The Girls
I posted my review of this recently, so go check it out!

18. Watching 'Kew's Forgotten Queen'
BBC Four has really been upping its game with the art programmes recently, and this one, presented by Emilia Fox, really impressed me. It is about Marianne North, an artist whose work is now held at Kew Gardens. I think it's still on iPlayer, do check it out!

19. Making Save the Dates and asking bridesmaids
This month we've been making our Save the Date cards and I've asked all my bridesmaids to be my bridesmaids and they've all said yes!

20. Tried out my local swimming pool
My final favourite of the month is trying out my local swimming pool. It's only a ten minute walk away and they open late enough for us to go after work.

How is it already October? What have you been loving this month? Book, TV and film recommendations needed please!

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