Saturday, 22 July 2017

Pausing the blog | The Small Desk

Now this probably won't come as a surprise to any of my regular readers but I am going to pause The Small Desk blog for a bit. I don't want to shut it down completely and I'll still be posting on Twitter and Instagram under '@alicesdesk' so follow me there if you don't already, but I just feel I've become a bit lost with this blog.

I started The Small Desk back in 2013 when I was 25. I'm now 29 and feel differently to how I did at 25. I care less about posting the stuff that's going to get the clicks and more about the stuff I am interested in. That's not to say everything I posted when I started was to get the 'clicks' but I do see my most popular blog posts on the side and think some of them really aren't what I'm 'about' now.

I've had a week off work this week and wanted to think more about my hobbies, and how I spend my spare time. In this time I haven't wanted to blog about any of my usual blogging topics and the blog post I do the most, 'my favourites', is the one I least wanted to blog about. It is great to look over the month and make a list of the fun things you've done but to write a mini paragraph about each isn't the most thrilling thing to do at the weekend and doesn't really inspire me. I want to look forward more.

My plan as it stands for this blog is to possibly rebrand, definitely have a redesign and focus on four key themes: travel, food, health and money. I am a culture vulture but I really do fulfil this side of me through my job, and if I do go to exhibitions in my spare time I just want to enjoy them and not feel I have to write about them.

The reason I have chosen the four key themes: travel, food, health and money is because aside from culture they are the four things I think about the most and have the ones I have most to share about. I want to make this blog useful and I want to make it inspiring and forward thinking.

I need time to think carefully about how I do this and the content I want to produce and with only 6 weeks until my wedding (what?!) I don't have the brain space to give this proper thought. So hopefully I will be back blogging in late Sept/early October. But for now thank you for your support with The Small Desk so far. Watch this space!

Sunday, 4 June 2017

May favourites 2017 | The Small Desk

This is the first time for a long time I've completely forgotten about doing my monthly favourites. I feel like I've been super busy recently and not had a minute to think! It's only 3 months until my wedding now and preparation is well and truly in swing. So sorry if these favourites are a bit short but I'd rather keep them short than not do them at all!

1. Lemon meringue cake
At the beginning of the month I went on a little trip to a cafe with the boy and had a scrummy lemon meringue cake. Love going for a drink and a cake, especially when it's chucking it down.

2. Chinese for one
One of my new favourite past times when the boy is out is to order Chinese for one and watch trash TV. I think it was in my last favourites as well, it's becoming a tradition!

3. Needle and Thread sample sale
I went to another Needle and Thread sample sale, this time with my bridesmaids. It was a total disaster because we didn't find anything, but it was fun nonetheless!

4. Bike ride with the boy and Dad
I cycled about 14 miles with the boy and my Dad. I'm really getting into this cycling game!

5. Uni friend sleepover
I hate sleeping on my own so my old friend from Uni came to stay over when the boy was up north for his Granddad's funeral. It was fun to chat and catch up, although the power cut we had in the morning wasn't fun!

6. Walk with girls
A couple of my bridesmaids came down to my area and we went for a two hour walk with a pub stop.

7. Eurovision
Then they stayed longer and watched the brilliant Eurovision song contest.

8. Friend's for dinner
One of my bridesmaids had a couple of us over for dinner and made us burrito bowl, it was delicious.

9. Wedding dress alterations
I had some more wedding dress alterations done this month, getting more done next month. It's always a funny experience with my Mum.

10. Friends's bday
One of our good friends had his birthday celebrations this week. We went to a pub and then headed back to theirs for food and games. Was lovely!

11. Boy's uncle and aunt over
The boy's uncle and auntie popped over for coffee and cake one morning and fitted a new bathroom fan for us!

12. Somerset house
We went to the Mat Collishaw VR exhibition at Somerset house, it was fun to have a day out together but I got motion sickness!

13. Hen do
I went to the boy's sister's family hen do this month where we made flower crowns and had tea and cake.

14. Family day
My sister came down from Manchester and we spent the day together. We visited my Grandma in hospital, then went for tea in John Lewis and then had dinner with my parents and the boy.

15. Honest burgers
We went for dinner at Honest burgers in Soho with a couple who we're friends with and then had ice cream afterwards. Was yummy.

Those are my May favourites, how was your May? Can't believe it's June already!


Monday, 1 May 2017

April favourites 2017 | The Small Desk

April has been the month of bike rides and birthdays! It has also been the month where my Grandma's health has deteriorated again, but this is a post about favourites and I will try and keep it that way. Obviously it is important to talk about the lows of life and the struggles people face but I strongly believe that needs a separate post entirely and I'm not sure I will be sharing much about it on the blog. All I will say is that my Mum is an absolute inspiration and continues to amaze me every day with how she is coping with it all.

In regards to birthday times it was my 29th birthday this month. So crazy to think I'll be 30 next year! I'm in a good place for turning 30 but it still feels a bit scary – I feel like everyone says to you when you're at school 'where would you want to be when you're 30?'. It's something that has been made into a massive milestone in society when really it shouldn't be. You don't need to be completely sorted at age 30, it's still really young! If anyone reading this is freaking out about turning 30 – stop, think, age is only a number!

Anyway, onto the favourites...

1. Spring market
I stumbled upon a Spring market in the town where I live with my partner. It was basically a fancy farmer's market. I had a lemon and sugar pancake and it was scrumptious.

2. Work filming in Bristol
I've never been to the centre of Bristol before so it was exciting to see it and all the cool independent shops. The artist I was filming with in Bristol was super talented and really inspirational and only 21!

3. My birthday
On my birthday I went to Bloomsbury bowling with a group of friends. We played for 2 hours and I was terrible. Afterwards we had yummy pizza in the diner next door.

4. Day out with the neighbours
On the Friday of the Easter weekend our lovely neighbours took us to a local antiques market. It had a restaurant attached so we had a delicious lunch there and went out for drinks later as well. We have been so incredibly lucky with our neighbours, I couldn't have wished for better neighbours!

5. Prezzo with family
To celebrate mine and my sister's birthday we all went out to my local Prezzo and had a three course meal. It was lovely to celebrate with my close family, and share pressies.

6. Bike ride with sister
My sister persuaded me to go on a bike ride with her near where my parents live. I was initially a bit nervous about it because I don't think I've ridden a bike in about 10 years! But I really enjoyed it and it made me want to buy a bike!

7. Easter Day dinner with family
This was a funny one as we were meant to spend it with my grandparents but they were too ill to do so in the end. But we had a nice time in the end just me, my partner, my parents and my sister.

8. Staycation
I took a week off work in April and had a 'staycation'. We stayed at home but took day trips almost every day. It was nice to switch off, I really needed it as I hadn't had a proper holiday since Christmas.

9. Brighton
One of our day trips was to Brighton. Me and my partner go at least once a year and it has a special place in our hearts. I think if it it didn't have such a terrible train line (aka Southern) then we probably would be living there and commuting to London. I love the sea, the cute shops and all the veggie cafes.

10. London
We also went to London on one of our day trips, and even though we are there every day for work there is something special about going there purely for leisure.

11. Visiting partner's family
Another of our day trips was visiting my partner's family in Oxfordshire. We went for a lovely walk in the countryside and had a nice lunch at a local pub.

12. BBC Young Dancer 2017
As part of my birthday present my partner bought me tickets to see the final of BBC Young Dancer at Sadler's Wells. It was absolutely incredible. So many talented young people and so great to see such a buzz around all the different types of dance.

13. New mirror
For my birthday my parents bought me a Habitat mirror I'd been lusting after for our living room. It is round with a gold trim and it gorgeous. It really completes the living room. How old am I!?

14. New bike
As I said earlier – I went on a bike ride for the first time in about 10 years and it made me want a bike. Then I found out you can buy bikes on 18 month 0% finance deals and I was sold! I bought a gorgeous new bike and am now a cycling pro... well almost...

15. Wedding dress alterations
I had a pretty intense morning with my Mum going to a wedding dress alternations tailor. It was an experience and a half but we had a laugh about it afterwards. Also very pleased that I've left enough time to get changes made.

16. Bike ride
Is this my third favourite about bikes?! Who am I!? I went on a bike ride with my partner in our local area – we cycled 9 miles and it took about an hour and a half. I have no idea if that is good, all I cared about was that I didn't fall off!

17. Neighbours over
Finally, last night we had our neighbours over for drinks.

How has your April been? I can't believe it's already May!


Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Five ways to shut down being spoken down to | The Small Desk

Ok, rule number one: no-one has the right to talk down to you, they don't deserve your time and they don't deserve to be heard. You need to shut them down, and walk away whilst at the same time retaining your dignity and containing your anger. That way they look stupid, feel stupid and you don't waste any energy and stay positive.

Here are five easy sentences to say to people who are putting you down and that allow you to leave the conversation and stop and make the other person think.

On the phone:
1. "Hang on, I need to call you back. I'll ring you back. Bye." And don't ring them back.

In person:
2. "I just need a moment." Walk out of the room and round the block and go back to what you were doing before – do not put yourself back in the situation.

3. "I don't know the answer, but I'll find out and get back to you." And leave.

4. Zone out, stop listening and answer with "I'll email you further tomorrow". And leave.

Over email:
5. Thank you, [your name]. Keep it simple and do not enter into a discussion.

Basically what I've found is if you hit back with more anger it just gets worse. The most irritating thing for someone who is putting you down or trying to make you feel stupid is you not caring. There are better people in your life to care about. End of.

Also, small disclaimer, these are tips I've found work in an office. I don't have these problems at home!


Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Top 10 ways to switch off from social media | The Small Desk

As with most of the population I often find myself endlessly scrolling through Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, lusting and wishing after other people's lives. Every time I put my phone down after doing this I feel a deep sense of regret for spending that time not living my own life. I'm trying to switch off more from social and live more in the moment; I've been testing out a few different hobbies that I thought would be helpful to share with you.

I'm on holiday from work at the moment, having a staycation and I realise how much easier it is to switch off from mindless scrolling and post your own content when you're not working! So, my tips for switching off from social media are not going to be ones that will involve taking a week off going to a silent retreat, but smaller things that can fit around your everyday life, cost you very little money and are very simple.

I'm sure everyone already does one or more of these things its more about reminding you that these are the easiest ways to switch off and live in the moment.

1. Read a book
I've been a little stuck in a rut recently with reading. I think the fast pace nature of video content is somewhat to blame and I'm finding books a bit slow. I need to read something that is quite fast paced to get me back into it. I get really addicted to reading when I read Jon Ronson books – he's one of my all time favourite writers and I would highly recommend The Psychopath Test and So You've Been Publicly Shamed.

2. Go for a walk
This is much easier for me now as I walk part of the way to work and I live in the countryside. But even if it's just your local park or a walk around your local area – it is the perfect way to clear your head.

3. Tidy your house
Now this one may seem a bit crazy but sometimes having a clear out and a tidy up can actually be really therapeutic. It is the movement of cleaning and tidying and working up a sweat that can leave you feeling like you can justify a bit more social media scrolling!

4. Meal plan your week with cook books
Again this may sound like a chore but it gets your creative juices flowing. Push yourself to create at least one new dish you've not made before and it will get you thinking about how you will present it on Instagram...

5. Listen to a podcast
Lately I've been listening to the new podcast from the creators of Serial. It's called S-Town and tells the story of John B. Macklemore who lives in Alabama and restores clocks for a living. The podcast was created all because John B. wrote to the producers asking them to investigate a murder... It is completely addictive and totally absorbing.

6. Be social IRL
Shocker... go out and socialise! Be that with your home friends, work mates, neighbours or family. Real life face-to-face conversation beats any social media interactions!

7. Paint
The other day I went to Paperchase and bought some felt tip pens and a blank notepad. I'm not proud of my drawings and some are just shapes and doodles but I do find it enjoyable. Everyone can draw even if it is just stick men!

8. Write
Even though this sounds so simple it can be a real stumbling block for a lot of people. People will say but what should I write!? The easiest thing I find to write is just my stream of consciousness. I will write in pen in a notepad what I've done that day, how I'm feeling or just random thoughts. It's a good way to express yourself in a space where no-one will judge you as no-one will read it – unlike social media!

9. Listen to music
Even if you don't have a music subscription service or any CDs you can still listen to thousands of songs for free through YouTube. You can spend hours drifting off listening to the lyrics of your favourite songs.

10. Write a letter
Finally, when was the last time you wrote a letter? Write a letter to someone who might be lonely or isn't going through a great time. It will force you to think about your writing and at the same time give back. You could even decorate the envelope with pretty stickers and drawings.

I hope this has been of some help – how do you switch off from social media?


Saturday, 1 April 2017

March favourites 2017 | The Small Desk

March has been a very busy month for me! I hadn't realised quite how busy until I listed it all here. It's been a funny old month: it's brought mixed emotions. I've felt sadness from hearing about the terrorist attack in London on Westminster bridge, because London is my hometown and I care deeply about it and the people in it. I've felt happiness from spending time with friends and family, and I've felt anxious due to my Grandma having a cancer operation. I've also felt a sense of achievement from giving up chocolate for Lent.

I've been on a few walks this month and enjoyed living close to the countryside. This weekend I'm going to stay in my area and take full advantage of the trains not working! Hope everyone has a nice and relaxing weekend and here are my March favourites...

1. Dancer film premiere and live performance
I've been a little bit obsessed with the ballet dancer Sergei Polunin since watching his 'Take me to Church' video on YouTube. I actually found out about the video through Dogwoof films. I love the films they produce and distribute and was browsing their website and came across this new film, Dancer. I watched the trailer and became instantly hooked on this dancer!

I then found out they were selling tickets to the premiere and that there would be a live performance by Polunin. I bought four tickets as soon as they were released and hoped that my sister and my other friends would have deepened their obsession enough to want to attend it! Luckily I managed to get my sister, her friend and my friend to come and it was magical. It was at the London Palladium and they showed the film first and the performance was after, followed by a Q&A. The live performance was the same dance from the 'Take me to Church' video. It was a very surreal experience because I'd watched it online so many times, I couldn't really take it in! It is one of those nights I will never forget, and if you haven't seen the film I strongly advise you to, it is just brilliant.

2. Day off
The day after going to the premiere I had the day off work. My partner unfortunately couldn't take the day off, so I spent it alone. I hadn't had a full day off since Christmas (except weekends) and I felt I really needed it for my mental health. I did some drawing and some reading, and had a bath. I just took a day for myself. I think it's so important to do this: to sort of reset and get some perspective.

3. Went to see the fiance's family
On the first weekend of the month we went to see the fiance's family. They took us to a pancake house and we went to see his sister's new house. It was lovely to spend time with them and to talk about how the wedding plans are going.

4. Dinner with ex-colleague
One evening this month I went for dinner with an ex-colleague. We had Mexican and moaned about work and wedding planning. It was great!

5. Chinese 
I had Chinese takeaway with the fiance twice this month. I'm so obsessed with our local Chinese takeaway. There's nothing like a Friday night in watching the TV with a full table of Chinese takeaway!

6. Makeup trial
I had my wedding makeup trial this month. I've found a really lovely makeup artist who I feel really comfortable with. The trial actually took about 3 hours and we chatted that whole time!

7. Indian with the girls
I went for an Indian meal with my school friends in town. The meal was great and I love love love seeing my friends, but the journey home was hell. The trains failed me completely and it took me 2.5 hours to get home instead of an hour! So that part was not fun.

8. Parents over for dinner
My parents came over for dinner and I cooked salmon en-croute, and my Mum brought a delicious apple crumble. It was lovely to be able to all sit round the table and cook them a full meal as obviously they've done that sooooo many times for me in the past!

9. New pans from my Mum
My Mum got a bit worried about the health effects of scratched non-stick pans and when she came for dinner I showed her scratched mine were and so she bought me a new set of stainless steel pans! And, she even dropped them off at my house! Total legend.

10. Grandma operation
My 87 year old Grandma had keyhole surgery to remove cancer, and she's going home next week! I went to see her in hospital last weekend and she's back to herself, reading poetry and refusing to watch TV.

11. Beauty and the Beast
I went to see Beauty and the Beast with one of my besties and it was amazing. I hadn't expected it to be quite so good but the soundtrack is brilliant and I'm in love with Gaston!

12. New cafe with the fiance
I went to the new cafe in the town I live in with my fiance and had a scrumptious avocado on toast dish. It's so nice to be able to stroll down the street to good food.

13. I, Daniel Blake
I've been meaning to watch this film for a long time, and one Sunday afternoon I decided to rent it from Google Play. It is an incredibly moving film and really makes you think. If you haven't watched it, I highly recommend you do. It's about the benefits system in the UK and how bureaucracy can stop it from doing its job properly.

14. Franco Manca
We went for pizza with a couple of friends – one of whom is an usher at our wedding. We had a good catch up and some tasty bread.

15. Work conferences x2
I've been to two conferences with work recently where I've met new people from my industry and actually found networking slightly easier. They're in my favourites as I think I've made progress on my social skills!

16. Wedding ring
This month I got my wedding band sorted. I went to pick it up with my Mum and we went for a delicious meal at Carluccio's afterwards. It was really nice to spend some one-on-one time.

17. Mother's Day 
This Mother's Day we went for a walk with my Dad in our local area, and then my Mum joined us for dinner at our house, as she had been working. I cooked salmon and sweet potato wedges, followed my lemon cake. This time I managed to do main AND dessert! She's been looking after my Grandma almost every day this month so I felt it was very necessary to treat her.

18. Neighbour's for drinks
After work one evening we went to our neighbours for drinks again. We are very lucky to have such nice neighbours who we can socialise with!

19. Filming with work
I've not made many films with work before but we're making four at the moment and we started the first one yesterday. I'm not doing the filming, merely supervising and looking after the performers, but it is really fun and nice to get out of the office.

20. Staying off chocolate
Finally, I still haven't eaten chocolate! But, it's not easy and I say, bring on Easter and ALL the chocolate!

How has your March been? Looking forward to April and all the light evenings?


Sunday, 19 March 2017

Keeping it simple: my everyday wear | The Small Desk

I've been wanting to do a post like this for a while, but I have struggled to find the time. But now, I'm sitting here on a Sunday morning with nothing to do, it felt like the perfect time.

In the past few years I've been saving a lot of my money and trying not to buy any clothes, however this isn't always the best idea as clothing can have an enormous impact on how you feel day-to-day. I think it's important to revisit your style and your wardrobe once a year and see how you can make it easier for yourself to know what to shop for with your everyday wear, and to evaluate what's missing from your wardrobe.

For years my style has been about trying lots of different things and especially when I was a teenager I experimented a lot with what worked for me. Anyone remember Punkyfish!? Ahhh dear! But now I'm almost 30 I feel I know what I like wearing the most and what I feel most comfortable and confident in and that is the good old simple T-shirt, jumper and jeans combo. As long as all three are fairly up-to-date and new I think it can look professional for work and stylish for socialising. I'm also thanking my lucky stars that trainers have made a comeback in a big way!

Makeup-wise I've tried and tested a fair few foundations over the years and the Revlon colour match foundation wins by far for me. Although I did have a wedding make-up trial recently and she used Giorgio Armani and if it wasn't so expensive I would definitely buy that! Anyway, without further ado here is how I keep it simple...


Hair: dye it every 6 months – usually a balayage

Skin: Liz Earle superskin moisturiser, unfragranced – it smells weird the first time you use it (a bit like fish), but you get used to it and I can't smell it anymore. No-one else could ever smell it. I've used lots of different moisturisers in my time and this is by far the best and worth the money.

-Revlon colour match foundation
-Collection 2000 lasting perfection concealer
-Bobbi Brown shimmer brick
-Body Shop bronzer
-Maybelline lash sensational mascara

Top half
I usually keep it very simple and just wear a t-shirt and jumper, but if I'm going to an event I might wear a shirt. I've listed a few recent purchases...

This is where I'll go for a bit more detail.
Monki Floral Sweatshirt
Cos dot stitch high-neck jumper

Always stripped or plain.
ASOS stripe crew neck 
ASOS linen mix fabric

Topshop vine floral embroidered chambray shirt

Bottom half

Topshop Leigh jeans – two black pairs, one blue pair. Although I really need to invest in some new ones as these are very old now and started to look baggy...

Occasion dresses and skirts (accepted normally only wear once)
Places I would buy these from:
-Anthropologie (if in sale)


Black socks – because then you never have to pair socks ever again!


Black 60 denier tights for dresses and skirts.

New Balance trainers
These are the first trainers in a long time to not give me any blisters and I think they may have actually made me feet softer!

For occasions I often buy myself a new pair of heels from ASOS or wear my Whistles boots that I got in the sale and keep getting reheeled.

So that's it! What tips do you have for keeping it simple with everyday wear?


Sunday, 5 March 2017

February favourites 2017 | The Small Desk

February has been an month of progression, change and celebration. This has been the month I celebrated 9 years with my partner and the month my cousin had her first child. I also cooked dinner for my Dad for the first time in the house he helped us buy, which was well over due considering we moved in in June last year! I also made pancakes for the first time, which officially makes me a grown-up, obviously.

We also started booking and buying more wedding stuff, for example my shoes and my ring. It's also been the month I've come to the conclusion that it's near impossible to dress four women who are about to turn 30 in all the same dress and expect it to work. Bridesmaid dresses are weird. Weddings are weird in general, but I'm just thinking of it as a big party with delicious food!

Although it's only 5th March whilst I'm writing this, February feels like a distant memory and I'm struggling to remember what I did last month! Luckily I keep a diary of events, which means I can list them here...

1. Chinese for one
I rarely get a takeaway for one, in fact I think this is only the second time I've done it, but my oh my was it great. My partner was out and it was a Friday night so I treated myself to a takeaway from our local Chinese and got everything I wanted and slobbed out and watched trash TV. It was bliss.

2. Wedding shoes and wedding ring
This month I bought my wedding shoes (two pairs for two dresses, diva!) and my wedding ring. I got my shoes from Kurt Geiger in Covent Garden.

3. Dinner with Dad
I went for a curry at Masala Zone with my Dad after work one evening. It was lovely to spend quality time chatting about life whilst enjoying delicious food.

4. Curry with neighbours
We tried out the local curry place again with our amazing neighbours. It was great to spend time with them but there was so much food and I'd had Masala Zone the night before!

5. Bridesmaids dresses day
I bought a shit ton of dresses from ASOS for all my bridesmaids to try and to pick one. It didn't quite work out but we had a lovely afternoon as one of them cooked a scrumptious vegan macaroni cheese.

6. Friend's birthday in East London
We celebrated my partner's best man's birthday all the way out in East London. It was lovely to see all his friends and I even bumped into one of my old school friends on the way home!

7. Friends over for dinner
We had our friends, who are my partner's friends from home but have been going out for 9 years as well, over for dinner. I cooked salmon en-croute (from a pack) and chips. It was yummy and so nice to spend quality time with them as we used to live round the corner from each other.

8. 9 years Chinese
On 15th Feb we celebrated 9 years by getting a takeaway Chinese!

9. Dinner at friend's – avocado pasta
We had another bridesmaid trying on session that didn't work out at one of the other bridesmaid's houses and she cooked a delicious vegan avocado pasta dish. Whether or not the dresses work out it's always a great excuse to spend quality time with friends.

10. Thai restaurant with partner
On the Friday after our anniversary we celebrated properly by going out to an amazing Thai restaurant not far from where we live. See photo above for my beautifully presented Pad Thai.

11. Grandma visit
We visited my Grandma who is very ill at the moment and shared some tea and biscuits with her.

12. Uni talk
I had the surreal experience this month of being invited back to my old Uni to talk about careers, and specifically my own career. I had to provide a biography of myself and everything! I had to talk for half an hour, which is the longest I've ever spoken for, and then there was an HOUR Q&A!

13. Pub quiz
We tackled the pub quiz again with our neighbours. We didn't do well but I learnt that the old capital of England was Winchester!

14. Friend for lunch
I met one of my old school friends for lunch at the British Museum cafe. It was lovely to see her and to catch up.

15. Sister and Dad over
My sister and Dad came over to my house and I made them dinner and pancakes! As I said before it was a great feeling to finally cook dinner for my Dad in our now not-so-new house.

16. Cousin's new baby
Finally, my younger cousin, who is only 18 months older than me (scary!) had her first child, a little girl. We went to visit her and had a lovely photo taken of all the women in my family except for one of my aunties. She is super cute! I can't wait to see how she develops and grows.

How was your February? Spring is just around the corner! Bring on 26th March when the clocks go forward!


Sunday, 5 February 2017

January favourites 2017 | The Small Desk

So, we thought 2016 was a bad year for the world... 2017 doesn't seem to be getting much better! With the travel ban and MPs voting for Brexit everything looks as bad if not worse for 2017... in my opinion anyway! January is always a month everyone dreads, and the politicians of this world didn't make it much better.

One thing I'm really concerned about for 2017 is climate change, and so I've made a promise to myself to enjoy more of the outdoors. This month I went on two really long walks and took advantage of the vast amount of public footpaths the UK has to offer. I used Ordinance Survey maps and their app to put together a 12 mile walk that had a pub stop midway. As much as I love the little house we now live in I need to be outside to gain perspective.

In terms of doing my bit for climate change I am still yet to purchase a car and use public transport to get everywhere. I also don't eat meat and I'm trying to get better at recycling. If anyone has any tips on how I can do more for climate change please let me know in the comments below. Anyway, trying to be positive, here are the best bits about my January...

1. Wedding food tasting
This month we invited a caterer over to my parents house to do a food tasting for our wedding. The food was incredible, the caterer was such a nice guy and so we booked him! It's such a relief to have the food booked as I keep reading about how it's the bit most people talk about after the day has finished! We also always said we wanted to have amazing food at the wedding but on a budget and I think we've just about managed it. The only thing major to book is the band, which is proving tricky! If anyone has any good wedding band suggestions please let me know.

2. Practice walk with partner and Dad
Now that I live in the countryside I have to think of ways to entice my friends out here to visit me... I suggested a country walk but the answer was only if there is a pub halfway... Now, I don't normally visit a pub on a walk but I managed to find a route that did. Before I took a group of friends I thought I should practice it and bring my Dad along who is the King of map reading! It was about 10 miles in total and was knackering but so energising at the same time.

3. Pub quiz
This month we've started going to our local pub quiz with our next door neighbours. It's so nice to be able to go out after work in my local area and not worry about the last train home. We've now been twice, the first time we got an awfully low score of 7 out of 30 and the second time we went we significantly improved and got a much better 23 out of 30!

4. Partner's birthday
This month it was my partner's birthday and we celebrated by taking a half day off work and buying his suit for the wedding, and then at the weekend we went to a pub in Pimlico with 10 or so of his friends. I bought him tickets to a coffee festival, a scented candle and a beautiful coffee mug from Heal's.

5. Big walk with friends
Of course the big walk had to be in my favourites considering how much prep it took! We had to go a a slightly different route back because of some maintenance work being carried out on the route that wouldn't allow you to pass so the route ended up being 12 miles! It was so much fun though and everyone ended up staying for pizza at ours afterwards.

6. Coat hooks up
Really lame one I know but after 8 months of living here we now finally have somewhere to put our coats! We got the hooks from a Danish company called Normann Copenhagen. We actually managed to buy them with an Amazon voucher my partner got from work, which was handy as they are pretty expensive.

7. Dinner at Franco Manca
I went for dinner at Franco Manca with a really old friend and talked deep about various life topics and enjoyed good pizza.

8. Garden sorted
We had some work done on our garden and now we finally have a nice area to put a table and chairs for when the sun comes out. Bring on summer!

9. Day of art
I work in the arts so sometimes I avoid going to galleries and museums on the weekend as it can feel a bit like work. But I have to remember how much I love art and that it's ok to love what you do enough to sort of do it on the weekend as well!

My oldest friend who I've known since I was born came over from Ireland and we visited the Pace Gallery exhibition that is in collaboration with teamLab and had lunch in the Royal Academy cafe. We chatted loads about life and relationships and it was great to catch up with her.

Then on the same day I met one of my bridesmaids and went to the Tate and the cafe for cake. We played guess the artist, because we're cool.

10. Dinner with parents
My final favourite of the month is going to my parents' house for dinner where my Mum cooked us a delicious vegetable curry. Also, I got to cuddle my cat, which was obviously the main reason for visiting, he he.

How was your January? Did you get up to anything fun?


Sunday, 29 January 2017

January films 2017 | The Small Desk

January 1st
1. Minimalism: A documentary about important things
I wanted to watch this documentary after seeing the trailer: it talked about how we are always on the hunt for some'thing' to improve our lives and make us happier. I really related to this idea and wanted to hear what they had to say.

The documentary focuses around two guys who have a website called 'The Minimalists' but you also hear from neuroscientists and other strong believers in minimalism. It looks at minimalism as a way to escape capitalism and its endless circle of consumerism. For a while I watched it thinking, 'ok, yeah two bachelors living as minimalists, but what if you had kids?', and then they spoke to two fathers who had families and they do still try to make it work, but it doesn't look easy.

I think what I liked about the documentary is that they weren't being too strict about minimalism, they were saying that you could take the parts of it you liked and put that into your life in an attempt to make yourself happier.

One thing they did talk about that I might try one day is about having 33 items of clothing (including shoes, coats and bags) – I went and counted my clothing and I have over 110 items... they say it frees your mind to have less, and I completely understand where they are coming from. I like the idea of living with less but even if I lived with less I know I would still spend the same amount of money, I'd have fewer things but they'd be more expensive! It's a thought provoking film and I would recommend it, I'm just not sure how practical the movement really is.

Watched using: Google Play

January 2nd
2. The Lobster
This film is devoid of emotion yet it is about finding a lifelong partner. It is a bizarre film, it reminds me a bit of Wes Anderson films. It is beautifully shot and has a great cast with Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz as the main characters. The actors speak in a very matter of fact way and have conversations about facts rather than emotions.

The premise of the story is that Colin Farrell's character goes to a hotel that allows you to stay 45 days to find a partner, but if you do not find a partner in this time you will be turned into an animal of your choice. Most people do not want to be turned into an animal and so if they have not found a partner in this time they escape to the forest, but there are still rules there. There is also the option to escape to the city, but again there are rules there. It is a weird portrayal of societal norms around relationships and the implicit rules that govern us.

I think you need to watch it more than once to really understand it, but it is a difficult watch and not one I particularly want to watch again anyhow. I'm glad I watched it but I'm not sure I'd recommend it. It's a difficult watch but clever and thought provoking. I'm really not sure how I feel about it. It's in English but feels like world cinema, not surprising though as it was co-written by Greek producer, Yorgos Lanthimos.

Watched using: Google Play

January 8th
3. The Hunt
A friend at work lent me the DVD of this film, as I said I really enjoy world cinema, and she said this was one of the best. It is an incredibly powerful film – you forget they are all actors and become completely immersed in the film. I hardly ever jump at films or react that strongly because I know they are actors but this one made me jump out of my seat, I've never had such a strong reaction to a film before.

The plot is harrowing, and I don't suggest it's one for evening viewing. I watched it at about 4.30pm after a really long walk. It is set in a small Danish village and is all in Danish, so you have to watch with subtitles. It is about a man called Lucas who is accused by a little girl named Klara of sexual abuse. He works at a nursery and Klara attends this nursery, but she is also his best friend's daughter. Klara shows strong feelings for Lucas and gives him a present of some beaded hearts, which he rejects and tells her to give it to one of the boys at nursery, as sort of revenge she tells the head of the nursery that Lucas has shown her his genitals. Clearly as she is so young, she has no idea what this sort of accusation means for Lucas.

The film shows how the accusation develops and how Lucas and the small community he lives in deal with this. Lucas is also trying to regain custody of his child from his ex-wife. Basically within one month his whole life has fallen apart. The director of this film has clearly put a lot of time and research into this subject matter and it is incredibly sensitively written. It's the sort of film that doesn't leave you and you'll be thinking about it for days afterwards.

Watched using: DVD

January 12th
4. My Scientology Movie
It was my partner's birthday and we decided to rent a film from Google Play: this one came up as a suggested film. To be honest, anything with Louis Theroux in I'm 100% going to watch and pretty much guaranteed to enjoy. He is such an entertaining journalist who is extraordinarily clever with his approach to interviewing.

The film is absolutely genius. At first I'd heard some criticisms of it because it didn't really get into the practicing Scientology church but the way he decided to direct the film instead was creative brilliance.

The fascinating thing about the Scientology movement is the film production and how they use actors, and how many actors have become scientologists. Theroux in parallel uses actors for his film to portray the scientologists he cannot get access to. The film edges on the focusing solely on the dark side of the church but it is careful to balance it with other schools of thought and reads aloud letters from the church to him that express their concern of their portrayal.

I would thoroughly recommend this film if you enjoy Theroux's interviewing style. I'm not sure how much 'new' information I learnt, but it is worth watching just for Theroux.

Watched using: Google Play

January 25th
5. The Brit Who Tried to Kill Trump
Michael Sandford tried to kill Trump at one of his rallies campaigning for presidency, but it's not as simple as that sounds. Michael has long suffered with mental health issues and has a history of being a very loving, caring person with no criminal past.

This documentary is one of the best and most sensitively told I have seen on BBC Three. It follows his family's journey to find out his sentencing with a republican judge in an American court with Trump now as president. It is an incredibly moving story and well worth watching. I won't tell you what happens as I don't want to spoil it but what I can say is that it's a completely unique story that will be remembered for a long time.

Watched using: BBC iPlayer

What films did you watch this month? Any recommendations?


Monday, 2 January 2017

December favourites 2016 | The Small Desk

December has been a really fun month, apart from having a very stressful beginning to the month at work. However from the 22nd December onwards I didn't have to go to work, which has been absolute bliss. I need to take more weeks like this where I just hang around at home, get up really late and watch films and read books. It's so damn relaxing, and it makes you feel you really have a life outside of work.

The end of December is one of my favourite times of year because so many people are off work and de-stressing and there is a positive feeling in the air. This month has been about enjoying being with my partner, friends and family and not trying to achieve anything! So refreshing!

1. Friend's bottomless prosecco birthday brunch
At the beginning of the month I celebrated a good friend of mine and my partner's birthday at Villandry on Great Portland Street.

2. Christmas lunch with old school friends
I invited three of my old school friends round for a Christmas lunch and 'craft' day. Needless to say the crafting element was more for the lols than to be taken seriously!

3. New curtains
My mum made us new curtains for our living room. They are absolutely gorgeous and make our living room so much cosier. I'm obsessed with them.

4. Neighbours over for drinks
Our neighbours came over to ours for some mince pies and wine. It's so nice to be able to socialise with our next door neighbours as it's so easy to get home!

5. Work Christmas party
We had our work Christmas party this month where we played a quiz and then had a late lunch at a swanky Italian restaurant.

6. Winchester Christmas market
My partner and I went to visit Winchester as he has never been before. The Christmas market was on and it was so festive. We went for a piece of cake and a smoothie and browsed the cute little independent shops there. If you haven't been I thoroughly recommend going, apparently it is the best place to live in the UK as well!

7. Seven and a half mile walk
Now that I basically live in the countryside we've been trying to go on more walks and this month we successfully went on a mega long walk straight from our front door. The weather was perfect for it as well.

8. Pizza Express for friend's birthday
Always love a Pizza Express – this time I went with my bestie from Uni to celebrate her birthday. We splashed out and had all three courses – it was excellent.

9. Mince pies with parents
My parents came over to give my partner his Christmas presents and we went to our local cafe for mince pies.

10. Partner's parents over
I've started using partner instead of fiance because I can't be bothered to find the 'e' with the accent all the time! Sorry! Anyway, yes, the partner's parents came over to swap presents and we put on a nice buffet-style lunch for them.

11. Christmas with my partner
We celebrated with a meal of salmon and roast potatoes and then opened presents to each other.

12. Christmas Day

13. To the neighbour's for drinks
We went over to our neighbour's for drinks and to see their new bathroom!

14. Lunch with my partner
We just went out in our local area for lunch but we don't go out for meals much anymore as we're trying to be good and save for our wedding, so it felt like a real treat.

15. Home day
I've had a few of these now, and ahhhhh, dream!

16. New Year's Eve
Finally I celebrated the last day of the year with my old school friends and now my head hurts.

Happy New Year! How was your December?


Sunday, 1 January 2017

New Year's Resolutions: 2017 | The Small Desk

Happy New Year!

I'll start by reviewing 2016 New Year's Resolutions...

1. Only eat one sweet thing a day
Hmm... yeah, not sure this one really worked out! I have been more conscious, but not really succeeded.

2. Get a bike
Sadly, this one didn't happen either but I'd like to roll it into next year.

3. See more of the UK
Well, I went to Snowdonia and I've moved to a different area – so I'd say I have achieved this.

4. Earn more

5. Buy a house

6. Experiment with new recipes
Meh, not so much!

7. Go to more shows, exhibitions, talks, gigs, etc.
I guess I sort of did, but nowhere near as many as I'd like to have been to.

8. Learn a new skill
If you count house buying as a skill, then yes!

2017 New Year's Resolutions

1. Go on more country walks
This should be an easy one now that I live in the countryside. Basically. I've lived in cities all my life so living in a town is the countryside for me!

2. Eat less chocolate
Every year I try to do this and fail, but maybe this year I can defeat my addiction?! Maybe...

3. Go to more cultural events
Rolling this over from last year as I didn't go to enough.

4. Watch more film
Think I might go on Amazon now and buy a load of DVDs... ah such a hard life, hehe.

5. Get an amazing camera
This may or may not happen as I'm saving for my wedding...

6. Do more good
This is a weird one but I do often feel my life is very self-indulgent and I would like to try and take the time to do more good even if it's only small things.

7. Blog more
Looking back on 2016 and seeing I only achieved 34 blog posts makes a little sad and I don't want to let this blog die, so I will try harder this year.

8. Write more of my novel
I think I've written about 3,000 words so far...

How was your 2016? Have you set any New Year's Resolutions?

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