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My favourite things

15 Jul

(Don’t worry, I’m not going to go all Sound Of Music on you.)

I declare that something is ‘my favourite thing’ every day, at least once. By now, I must have about 10,000 favourite things but here are just ten that never change (in no particular order)…

My family

They have always done everything for me. I’ve not been easy to take care of but they have given up so much to do so. We have our silly in-jokes and we drive each other crazy but we’re really close and I wouldn’t change that for the world. 

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Listening to the rain whilst wrapped in a duvet

Apparently the sound of the rain on the top of a tent is one of life’s greatest sounds, but I don’t really do camping. I like hearing the wind and rain bash against the windows whilst tucked up under my duvet. Lights off, eyes closed.

Big cities

I grew up in the Kent countryside, in between the beach and London. Looking back now it was perfect because I had access to everything I needed but it was London that drew me back time after time. I spent my weekends up there as a teenager and still get a heart swell moment every time I go back for visits. New York and Paris do the same – but London will always be the most special. 

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Chocolate 

Not all day, not every day but cosying up with a good book and a bar of chocolate is one of my happy places. 

Playing with my friends’ babies

I’ve always loved babies but there’s something special when they’re tiny versions of your favourite people in the world. With their chubby baby wrists and heart melting giggles, spending time with them always makes me feel happy. And gives my friends a break.

Ollie

New shoes

I love the feeling of slipping on a new pair of shoes for the very first time. How a perfect pair of heels can make you feel like a different person and transform an outfit. My feet never change size so I shall spoil them.

Standing up high and watching the world go by

I love heights. Some of my favourite places in the world are up high – standing at the top of the White Cliffs of Dover and looking out to sea, the top of the Eiffel Tower/Empire State Building. It helps me think. From up there you can see the whole world spread out beneath you and suddenly whatever problem you have seems rather insignificant. 

Paris

 

Lengthy, crazy text conversations with my friends

My friends and I text a lot in group messages. I can go for a shower and come back to 40 messages waiting. Coming home after a day at work having left my phone behind nearly sends it into meltdown. We talk about everything. Silly things, personal things, things we’ve never told anyone else. I’m one of those crazy people that laughs out loud to their phone. 

Football

I used to beg my dad to let me stay up on Saturdays to watch Match of the Day. I love how it brings people together from all over the world. How it means the same in any language. Liverpool FC became my team of choice early on and were my first professional football match. I love the passion and the pride of Anfield. 

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Milkshake

I have amazing memories of visiting tea rooms with my grandma. The kind with net curtains in the windows and chequered table cloths. Tall sundae glass, full to the brim with flavouring out the bottle and milk so frothy you can see the bubbles, topped with two bendy straws. 

Tour time

From 2001 – 2012,  I spent pretty much all my spare time (and some time when I was meant to be elsewhere) travelling around the country with my friends to watch Westlife. It started when we were in our early teens and just carried on, getting bigger and bigger. It was an excuse to catch up, go dancing and act like teenagers again. I miss it but there’s so many memories that make it all worthwhile. 

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Being married: Two years

7 Jul

The day of our second anniversary dawned in a fashion not unlike that of our wedding day. I woke up with a start because I’d set my alarm incorrectly, bleary eyed from last night’s medication, and pulled open the curtains to blue skies and sunshine. Unfortunately though I didn’t get to put on a pretty dress and spend time with all my favourite people in one place.

When I was little I used to say that I wanted a wedding but not a marriage. I wanted an excuse to get all dressed up, spend a fortune on a pair of shoes and dance the night away with my loved ones. I didn’t want a husband or having to consider someone else in my decisions. Now, two years in to our marriage, I know that back then I didn’t have a clue what being married was really like.

Being married is making difficult decisions. It’s thinking about how little things will affect your future together. It’s putting someone else before yourself. It’s trying your best to keep it together when it feels like everything is against you.

It’s having someone who knows exactly which buttons to push to wind you up. And exactly how to calm you down afterwards. It’s having someone pick up chocolate at 11pm. And telling them to hide it when there’s only four squares left by half past.

It’s getting frustrated when they flood the bathroom during a shower, and leave clothes strewn across the bedroom. And them getting frustrated with you because there’s shoes and earrings and hair grips everywhere. It’s sharing your time with football and computer games.

It’s having someone laugh at you when you can’t parallel park the car after six attempts and abandon it in the middle of the street. And then sulking when they do it first time. It means laughing at their impressions of people (which are always the same). It’s having someone who makes you laugh so hard when you’re on the phone ordering pizza that the restaurant thinks you’re drunk.

Above all else, being married is an adventure. And our adventure is just beginning.

2years

 

Happy Days – the result

12 May

At the beginning of the year, I blogged about 100 Happy Days. I needed a bit of a kick start to 2014 and it was just the thing.

I’m naturally optimistic and I’m often told that I’m easily excitable and smile a lot (sometime too much). I think that’s quite a positive thing and, if this is how I’m remembered by others, I’m quite alright with that. So thinking about it, 100 happy days shouldn’t have been too much of a challenge.

I tried really hard to make each day’s photo different and I more or less managed it. There were days when it was harder than others, but I think that it was on these days that the project really came into it’s own. Despite everything, there’s always a little glimmer to make you feel that life’s not all bad – even if just for a moment.

The pictures range from babies to boybands, cake to old letters and football to my friends. They make quite the collection, don’t you think?

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People watching

14 Apr

I love the way people gasp when they reach that bit of a book. And the way they lean forward in their seat as the movie they’re watching takes a dramatic turn. I love watching their eyes narrow and their lips purse as they try to work out what’s coming next.

I love the way people watch football matches from behind their fingers. And the way they fling their arms around the stranger next to them when their team scores a goal. I love the way people look up at their idols on stage and dance with their arms above their head like nothing else matters.

I love the way people play with their hair or bite their lip when they’re talking. And the way they twist the stem of a wine glass in between their fingers. I love the look in people’s eyes when they watch someone they love and realise that they never want to look at anyone else for the rest of their life.

I love the way people close their eyes and transport themselves to somewhere far away. The, sometimes heartbreaking, glimpse of disappointment when they wake up and realise they’re still right where they always were. I admire the strength of people when they blink away tears, take a deep breath and carry on regardless.

I fall in love with people and their lives all the time. I fall in love with their mannerisms and their character before I’ve even had chance to ask their name. Sometimes our paths cross for just seconds and we’ll never meet again but I remember them fondly anyway.

I fall in love with people’s strengths and their weaknesses. With the twinkle in their eyes or a cheeky smile that hides a million secrets. I fall in love with their daydreams, their nightmares and their ambitions. I fall in love with their resilience, their determination and the innate belief that things will work out.

There is a certain kind of wonder that only comes from watching and experiencing the world through the lives of others. People are too complex and too beautiful to ever make perfect sense.

Autopilot

22 Mar

“We don’t really have a choice.” We needed to whack my medication right back up after years of slowly – oh so slowly – tapering it down.

My doctor was smiling at me, but she had also tilted her head a little bit like they do when they say something they know you’re not going to like. I sighed a little but smiled and replied, “I know.” Because I did, and I’d known that this was coming even before I’d stepped foot into the consultation room.

Clinic often feels like my second home. It might sound strange but I feel comfortable there. I always go on my own but I’ve never felt alone. I have a kind of routine that comes from so many visits over the years, and it goes something like this:

***

Pop my head round the door of the nurses room for a sample pot as I’ve forgotten mine (again). The nurses roll their eyes and hand one over saying “the day you remember, is the day I become a millionaire.”

Dig through the supplies I’ve bought for the waiting room. Usually snacks, water, notebook, pen, and reading book/magazines.

Get weighed and have blood pressure taken by nurses who greet me with a big smile and always a comment on my shoes.

Share supplies with other patients who weren’t quite prepared for the long wait.

My doctor apologises for the delay and laughs when I say it’s ok because I’m used to it.

Throw my things on the spare chair in the consultation room and when my doctor asks how I am, reply with a ‘fine thanks, and you?’. He always shakes his head at me and tells me off for giving him ‘a line’.

We chat for a while, they decide what they want to do with me and then I leave the room.

Stop off at the pharmacy to leave them my prescription whilst I have tests done. I always forget to bring spare cash.

Expertly navigate the corridors to the blood test room, choose a number and always sit on the same chair. Just outside of the waiting area, just behind the door so I can’t see what’s happening.

The nurse calls me in (I admit it, there’s only one I’ll let me near me), hands me a cup of water and counts the blood bottles as I check which arm has the best veins today. It’s always the left.

Recite my date of birth, sip my water and hum to myself as the nurse moves closer.

Clench my fists and my toes, hold my breath and keep on humming whatever is in my head.

Feel a huge sense of achievement that I’ve not cried, fainted or both.

Hand my next appointment card in to the receptionist, wave goodbye to the nurses, collect my prescription and leave the hospital.

Stop to buy a bar of chocolate from the shop in reception and head back to work.

***

But sometimes, I just get this feeling that it’s not all going to go to plan. And this time, I was physically shaking and felt sick to my stomach because I knew that something was going to happen. I’d had a bad few weeks, I’d been in for an ’emergency’ steroid injection and it hadn’t worked. It’s never not worked. Steroid injections are the only thing that do work. They’re my fail safe, my fall back plan, my comfort blanket.

And when the one thing that you have come to trust and rely on doesn’t work anymore, it’s a little bit terrifying. And really overwhelming.

I left the consultation room with everything running through my head. I was trying to keep it together, telling myself that it was all ok. I moved from the consulting rooms to pharmacy to blood testing with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. I couldn’t let myself break down. I couldn’t let everyone see me not coping. I was on autopilot, like so many times before. But when I got into my car, I couldn’t hold it together anymore.

Various things came together to floor me and I didn’t deal with it very well. I called D and my parents from the car, sobbing incoherent sentences down the phone at them. They couldn’t do anything to help from where they were but I just needed to let my guard down for a few minutes.

I took a deep breath, wiped away the tears, text D and my parents to say I was sorry for worrying them, reapplied my mascara and went back to work.

Despite everything. Despite knowing that I need to rest and telling everyone else off for pushing themselves.

This is my autopilot.

Happy Days

5 Jan

I won’t go into detail right now but 2013 didn’t end how I’d have liked it to. I found myself just putting one foot in front of the other and remembering how to breathe. It feels almost symbolic that all this happened in the last month or two of the year so I can now start 2014 with my head in the right place.

And, I am pleased to report, I have. But, you know, sometimes we all need a little help to remember that it’s not all bad. I was once asked why I am always so entertained by little things. I think that by appreciating the little things, the big things just one day fall into place right in front of your eyes. And, whilst I’ve not been the greatest advocate of that recently, I know that I really do still believe it.

A friend of mine shared this – 100 Happy Days – and I fell for it almost immediately. (I’m a sucker for yellow.)

I thought I’d give it a go to remind myself that the little things really are still the best and that there is always, always time (and reasons) to be happy.

Follow my #100happydays on Twitter or my shiny new Instagram.

For the love of boybands

16 Aug

When I was a teenager, I fell head over heels in love with a boyband. I watched every TV show they appeared on, bought every magazine they were in and learned all the words to every song. I watched the same concert on tour more than once. I got up at stupid o’clock on Saturday mornings and took myself to London to wait at television studios. We’d drive two hours down the motorway just for five minutes. I spent hours online chatting away to other fans. We’d spend time outside hotels, in bars, sat on walls, running around to meet them – often having to make do with a wave as they got in the car.

I felt compelled to watch the Channel 4 documentary “Crazy about One Direction” last night. I’ve had some experiences with the ‘directioners’ which have been a little bit intense and I think I’d almost expected the programme to show me that they’re doing something different to what we did back in the day. But, for the most part, they’re not.

As the girls were filmed in their bedrooms adorned with posters of their favourite boys, I smiled as I remembered that my room was just like that. I had a life size poster by the door, I’d carefully line up all the others to cover all remaining wall space and the ceiling too. It got to the point where Mum commented that she didn’t like coming into my room because she felt like all the eyes were watching her.

As the girls were filmed standing outside the venues and hotels, I remembered the days where we’d spend hours doing the same thing. And the days fans have so very often been ‘moved on’ from hanging around outside.

Yes, some of the One Direction fans shown on the documentary do take it too far. But I could reel off a list of names of people who did exactly the same when we were doing it. Social media plays a huge part in it now because fans are given so much more access to the bands without even having to try. It also appears to encourage more competition because your success can be immediately beamed across the whole fan base for everyone to see. But the result of that is not really any different to how it’s always been. It’s just done differently.

Before One Direction there was Westlife and Take That. Before them, The Beatles and Bay City Rollers. The whole crazy process will soon enough start again with someone new.

Teenage girls will always fall head over heels in love with boybands. They will always lose their heads, scream at concerts and cry when they meet them. They’ll always make friends with other fans because their school friends just aren’t interested. They’ll always make excuses to miss school or use all their annual leave at work but, in the end, they’ll turn out OK. We all have!

And, years down the line, they’ll cringe a little at the insanity of it but above all else they’ll remember how bloody brilliant it all was. How going a bit bonkers over a boyband gave them the best memories and some of the best friends a girl could ever have. And when you look at it like that, how could it possibly be anything other than worth it?

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