My 2018 Resolutions

Happy New Year!

I hope you had a lovely evening celebrating Hogmanay, whether it was a giant party, out and about, an early night, or like me with snacks, bubbles, cats and happiness. It's 2018, you guys!

I quite like setting up a few resolutions, and these are the ones I'm hoping to achieve this year.

1. Phase out our use of plastic water bottles



They are so bad for the environment, but I buy and use them far too much. This year I'm determined to use metal water bottles for out-and-about, and have bought some pretty glasses for our nighttime glasses of water - I'm hoping my having specific glasses we'll bring them up/downstairs each day rather than creating a glasses graveyard by the bed!

2. I would like to get better at phone calls


I love catching up with people but the London whirl can get in the way, and before I know it months have passed! I'm going to carve out an evening/afternoon every fortnight and make some phone calls/Skype people. You have been warned, loved ones.

3. I want to get back into my blogging and writing


I love this little space and it's truly part of me (after a dozen years, it should be, right?). I want to focus more on writing, on sharing, on enjoying my blog and on being part of the blogging community. I want to find a post pattern that means I can share and stay on top of things, but not overstretch. Watch this space.

4. I'm going to give up social media for Lent


A funny thing to type after point three, you might think, but bear with me.

I love social media, but it's SUCH a timesuck. And every year around this time I start thinking of what to give up for Lent, and the minute social media popped into my head I knew it was the one. Why? Because I got a vague twinge in my belly. I felt a little worried. And that concern, that pause, is what tells me it's exactly what I should give up!

So during Lent, Mo-Sa, no facebook, instagram, or twitter. Blogging still v much on, and whatsapp, email, youtube etc totally in play. Social, however, will only be allowed on the Sundays of Lent (which don't count towards the 40 days). I won't lie, it'll be a challenge!

5. I would like to do some more London things


I love this city and have lived here for nearly nine years, but there are still so many places I've yet to go and explore. This year feels like a good year to change that!

6. I would like to write up the many, many travel posts I have pictures for, just waiting to share


I've been so lucky to do so much travel in the past few years. And now I'd like to focus a little and write about it more!

7. I'd like to get back into saving a little 


For house things. For travel. For rainy days.

Alongside these seven I'm also doing Dry January (Matthew is, so I'm joining in solidarity!) and will be hoping to build on the healthy habits I started cultivating last year. I lost 25 pounds in 2017, and would love to do the same again this year.

What do you have planned for 2018?

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2017: The Review



This review is becoming something of a yearly tradition....you can find the reviews for 2007200820092010 , 2011201220132014, 2015 and 2016 by clicking through. It's always nice to take stock at the end of a year and see what's happened over the last 12 months.

1. What did you do in 2017 that you'd never done before?

All sorts of little things - visited new places, met new people, but on the whole it's been quite a steady, serene year, life wise. There's plenty that I'm working on.

 2. Did you keep your New Years' resolutions and will you make more for next year?

For the most part, yes. I kept things remarkably simple, and bar a backslide on the iPhone in bed sitch over Christmas, I've built some good habits this year!

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

I'm a woman in her mid-thirties, so, yes! Oodles of babies.

5. What countries did you visit?

Scotland, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Denmark & Germany.

6. What would you like to have in 2018 that you lacked in 2017?

A little more confidence in my own abilities and a dash more get-up-and-go. Mine sort of got-up-and-went at points various!

7. What date from 2017 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

None in particular. It's been a pleasant, steady year for the most part!

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Working hard. Shrinking a little.

9. What was your biggest failure?

I let my blogging and writing slide a lot from October or so. I really want to fix this! I'm happier when I write.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Nothing major.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Presents for people I love. And theatre/travel tickets.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?

The kind, the warm, the friendly, the clever.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?

I'm not in charge. But some people's ability to judge others has made me a little sad at points. We are all just trying our best, right?

14. Where did most of your money go?

Books, travel, wine, cheese.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Hamilton.

16. What song will always remind you of 2017?

Probably Shape of You by Ed Sheeran. as we travelled around Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Germany this summer it was everywhere.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: Happier or sadder? Thinner or fatter? Richer or poorer?

A little happier, about 25 pounds thinner, and a little richer.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?

Sleeping. Spending time with friends. Reading.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?

Worrying. Procrastinating. Comparing.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

At home with Matthew and the kits, days full of food and rest and laughter.

21. Did you meet anyone special in 2017?

My new colleagues are lovely, and Smudge-cat is the sweetest (and entirely unexpected) member of our household.

22. What was your favourite TV program?

Ooooh, tough call.  I loved The Marvelous Mrs Maizel. I'm still a massive fan of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. And Real Housewives of Beverly Hills is my catnip.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?

Not really. Hate is a poison, I try to avoid it.

24. What was the best book you read?

It's been an odd year for reading - I've only read about a dozen books. Of those The Power and The Underground Railroad were the two frontrunners - both excellent!

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

90s playlists on spotify.

 26. What did you want and get?

Hugs, love, a new kitten.

27. What did you want and not get?

Eh, I'm not sure now I think of it! I'm a pretty lucky girl.

28. What was your favourite film of this year?

Probably Girls Trip. Funny, filthy, refreshing good fun.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 37, was granted a snowy birthday (pretty rare in London!) and celebrated with southern comfort food and karaoke at Lucky Voice with Matthew and two of my besties. Perfection.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

More sleep, more travel.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2017?

Lots of blue, lots of stripes, lots of Boden!

32. What kept you sane?

Friends, cats, husband.

(I've retired question 33 too!)

34. What political issue stirred you the most?

Poverty. Something needs to happen.

35. Who was the best new person you met?

My little work crew. And Smudge (cats count, right?).

36. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2017.

Same as last year: be kind. But also, keep growing, make time for what's important, dream big, and be the best cheerleader you can be for the people and things you love.

37. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

None of the songs I've liked this year have lyrics that sum up my year - I'm not perfect, I can come to the phone, and my shoes aren't bloody.












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It's Been Too Long


Hello, hello, hello...to quote Ru Paul. How are you all? As the post title says, it has been too long since I sat down to write something here, and I've missed it. I've been writing this blog for twelve years now, and sometimes there are seasons where the words just will not stop...and there are other times when it's time to take a step back and reflect, regroup, and come back stronger. And that time is now.

It's been a quiet time for me over the last few months. The autumn into winter transition is always a favourite time of year for me, but it's also a time when I tend to isolate myself a little, to take a step back from things, and that's especially been the case this year. It was a quiet December, but a pleasant December, and now I'm excited to get back into the swing of things at home, at work, and here on the blog.

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How was your Christmas? Ours was calm and cosy, full of relaxation and fun. 

On Friday Emily and Adam came for a visit and we have a lovely evening catching up over veggie curry and champagne. Then on Saturday we went to the Wolseley for a delicious lunch before going to see Hamilton. Which was AWESOME. Everything I'd hoped for. Then we waved Adam and Ems off and had a chilled evening of cocktails and Wahaca.


Christmas Eve was a day at home (I love how festive our sitting room looks!), wrapping the last few gifts, reading and relaxing with the cats. I made a piri piri rice dish and then we curled up with popcorn and cups of tea to watch Elf.


Christmas Day began with Smudge working out how to get into our bedroom through the window and making fast friends with our little tree up there. Then coffee and baked good before opening so many lovely gifts. I got thoroughly spoiled with books, toiletries, stationery, and the Kate Spade bag I'd been lusting over for months!


Matthew was a bit coldy, so he curled up for a sleep while I set the table and cooked dinner, while watching Love Actually. We had a proper feast - chicken and beef; roasties and mash; peas, sweetcorn, carrots & sprouts; stuffing and Yorkies; cranberry sauce and gravy. I don't have the sweetest tooth so the meal was a big treat! After the dishes were conquered we had an evening of Monopoly and poker, as well as finally drinking the port we had been gifted for our engagement (four and a half years ago!).


This picture of Poppet sums up our Boxing Day succinctly.


For supper I used the leftover beef to make a pasta sauce, along with peppers, onions, tomatoes and chilli. It was yummy, if I do say so myself, and so nice to enjoy a 'proper' meal after a day of snacking.


Boxing Day evening was booking hotels for our February trip (more on that to follow soon) & watching football for Matthew, and reading and It's A Wonderful Life for me. A perfect, quiet Christmas. And now it's the time for tidying, for catching up, and for getting back into the swing of things!

How are you spending your time between Christmas and New Year's? What do you have planned for NYE? 

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A pretty speedy Poppet post


Oh helloes, hoomans.

It is I, Poppet-cat. It has bin proper long since I did type a message fur you all, but I have managed to sneak up to the pooter while Clur is messing around wiv some wrapping paper and I thoughted I would write you all a quick hello.

So helloes, from the house of cats. We have been here for over five years now, so we is well and truly in charge. A politician would purr pretty darn hard to have a mandate (or, if you will, a paw of approve) as strong as ours.

I are still in charge and am enjoying the new season of the warms coming on. I are also growing fond of invading the hoomans raum at night time and tucking up for a nap wiv them.


Leela is still her usual scraggly self. She did hate all the fireworks noisehs and bangs but those seem to have calmed down now.

Her favourite spots to be are at the very top of the stairs, curled up in a box, or having a sits on Maffoo when he is trying to work. She continoos to make some proper silly kittun noises, from chirrups to miaooooows to her high pitched purr.


Smudge, the noo kitten, is settling in okays. When he first arrived Leela-paws did NOT like him, but now they get on okay. He and I are friends, except when he challenges me for chikun or tries to sit on me. I ARE NOT FOR SITS!

Clur and Maffoo do like Smudge manehs and have done a okay job of teaching him the ways of the Poppet. And when he does forget I do employ my paw of disapprove, for I are boss. Smoodge has also made good frens with other families around here and likes to go there for snuggles and noms when our hoomans are buseh.


Fry are the same as ever, sweet and shy and not a fan of cameras (unlike me, I do looooooove them). He has been doing some guard-catting recently and loves to check everyone is safe safe safe.

Fry and Smoodge are great frens and I think Fry does love having another boy cat to hang out with. That does meen he can get pretty sad when Smudge goes off on bimbles, but he's getting used to it.

So that are our kittun news. All is well, there should be more chikun, and we are looking forward to Christmas when there will be many snuggles, many presents, and many hooman times. How are oo, hooman frens?

Right, I need a naps after all this work.

Purrs and paws,
Poppet-cat (BOSS)
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Autumnal cosiness, and lashings of comfort food

I love the differences that each season brings.

In the winter a sort of hush seems to descend, as the world gets a little quieter, a little more private. Home calls in a whisper and it's a season for cups of tea and toast and board games and cuddling cats.

In spring, lighter mornings make waking up easier. Fresh greens and yellows pepper the landscape. All seems fresh and new.

In the summer all seems bright and busy and the water and the green spaces call my name.  It's the season of late, hot nights sharing a bottle of wine in the garden, of ice lollies instead of dinner, of fast, quick meals that don't involve much actual cooking, and of frozen margaritas at sunset.

And then, there's autumn. The season of wholesome, hearty, comforting food. Of rich bologneses cooked low and slow. Roast dinners. Apple crumble, apple pie, apple cake, apple everything. And all those gorgeous autumnal side dishes - roasted pumpkin; butternut squash; and last but never least, the mighty potato.

Baked, roasted, boiled or mashed, potatoes are very much enjoyed in this household. I like them, but Matthew? Matthew loves them. So needless to say they are a foodstuff which feature on our table often.

That being the case, when I was invited along to an event last month by a brand who said they could make instant mash that tasted just like the real thing...my interest was well and truly piqued. I grew up in the 80s and 90s, when instant potato products tasted a little like dusty cardboard, so I was intrigued to see if a better product was now available.

To put it mildly....yes.

Idahoan potatoes are flipping delicious! At the event they were turned into a whole range of dishes, and we had to tell the difference between Idahoan potato products and fresh potatoes - which proved to be very tricky indeed.






The meals were all created and made by the lovely Billy and Jack, who had us all guessing which dish might be Idahoan, and which might contain fresh potatoes. It also remains the only time I can think of where I've had potatoes in a pudding...


After the event I was sent home with a range of the products to try out (available in all good supermarkets, potato fans) and they've really been a tasty addition to our meals. As we both can work long hours weekday suppers are often leftovers from the weekend, and it's wonderful to have mash which takes minutes to go alongside a slice of pie or some stew.

When time allows at weekends I've also tried out the dauphinoise and gratin, both of which are yummy (below is the gratin alongside my friendly BBQ pulled chicken (which contains no chicken, hence the 'friendly')).



Disclaimer: I was kindly invited to this event last month by Idahoan. All thoughts and opinions and general enthusiasm for tasty autumnal fare, my own.
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7 things to do in Bergen, Norway


When we were planning our visit to Norway, Bergen was high on our list of places to visit. The second largest city in Norway is a beautiful place and filled with history, culture, and exciting places to visit. If you're planning to visit, here are seven things to do in Bergen, Norway.

1. Take the Fløibanen funicular up to the top of Mount Fløyen and revel in the views of the city and its environs from the most awesome of viewpoints. The mountain is full of attractions too, with cafes, parks for children, shops, nature walks, mountain bikes for hire and more.





2. Explore the Bryggen, with its old wharf and wooden buildings - a UNESCO World Heritage site and full of history.



3. Take a wander around the buildings and grounds of Bergenhus Fortress, located at the entrance to the harbour.



4. Sample fresh fish and seafood at the dockside markets, and enjoy people-watching (and yacht-watching) as you devour your dinner. Also take a walk and get some amazing views across the harbour.



5. Visit the Rosenkrantz Tower for more history and great vantage points.


6. Take a stroll around Nøstet and some of the other areas a short walk away from the city centre and the harbour. Stop for a coffee in a charming café as you wander among the beautiful, old Norwegian style houses.


7. If it's summer and you're feeling brave, seek out one of the swimming spots along the shoreline where you can swim in the fjord!



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