Hangin' Tough

What a fun Saturday evening!

After all the drama and busy-ness and lack of sleep, I took a little time out for an unexpected gig. Four of the lovely girls from JLL (Angie, Rebecca, Bejay and Christa) were heading to the o2 and when Bejay emailed to say they had an extra ticket, I leapt at it.

Well, my teen self would have been disgusted if I'd turned down tickets to NKOTB and BSB in concert! Such a fun gig - dancing, red wine, screaming....just the break I needed! More on the house soon, but for now, musical awesomeness ;)

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Five Minute Friday: Community

I love Five Minute Fridays.  Just a lovely chance to take a break from it all and just write.  Head on over to Lisa-Jo's to find more samplings on the same theme.

This week's theme is....COMMUNITY.


I love community, the sense of belonging to something bigger, of feeling connected.

I love the community of my school, boys and teachers and parents all working together to encourage and achieve...the day to day sense of a common purpose, to help these wonderful young men achieve all they are capable of.  Looking around my classes I love the glowing feeling of knowing that these boys, these little creatures, are going to go on and achieve so much.

I love the community of friends I have - the letters, the emails, the late night cups of coffee.  Chatting about marriage and houses and babies and work over bottles of rioja or plates of pasta.  Feeling proud of my friends for their achievements - climbing Kilimanjaro, getting that big promotion, running that marathon.  Walking alongside them in the tougher times - jobhunts, break ups, bereavements.  Being so filled with joy for their happy times - weddings, babies, longed for adoptions taking place, successes and excitements.

I love the community of this little blog and of the blog world as a whole.  The fact that people read what I have to say is such a gift for one as verbose and filled with words as me!  I love reading what others are up to - what they are making, seeing, doing, thinking....

I love the community of Join Me - the raggle taggle bunch of folk, linked by a book and a promise to do a RAoK (Random Act of Kindness) every Friday.  These people have been such a gift to me, and their love and support and the friends I've made through Join Me are such a delight.

I love the community of JLL - of women coming together to make a difference.  In the past eight months I've met and made friends with a whole cohort of smart, talented, amazing women.  I love spending time with them and learning from them!

Last, but never least, I love the community of our little family unit, Matthew and I.  Two silly people, working together as a team.  Whenever I count my blessings he's right at the top of the list - how blessed I am to have a partner in crime like him!  And tomorrow, we move into our first home together.  Happy, happy, happy badger.


Huzzah for nearly weekend/almost moving time!
post signature PS I'd love to have some questions for 'Ask Me Anthing', if you have a spare moment. PPS My book giveaway runs until Monday :)
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Are we nearly there yet?

Nearly. Right now life seems full of boxes and lists and being on hold with ikea....but the end of this journey is in sight! This time in 48 hours we will be snuggled up in our new home. And that makes all the chaos more than worth it. Bring on the unpacking, organising, and visitors arriving to see the new pad! How are you all doing?
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Back to school!

Back to work, to fun, to silliness, to markbooks, to planning.

Birthday cupcakes and class catchphrases.

Middle of the lesson dances to wake us up.


Reading in 'the pit' with pillows.

Friday snack.

Mental maths tests.

The smell of freshly sharpened pencils.

Giggling boys.

New displays.

It's time...

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Project Life Tuesday (catching up): A Trip North

The Mom Creative

After a few weeks without posting because of holidays and gallivanting and moving house, it's time for me to catch up with my project life posts!  I'll be sharing two this week and two next, which should catch us up pretty nicely.  Over Easter break I deviated from the one-piture-a-day system, simply because some days were super busy and photo fabulpous, whereas others were more boxes and me.  In a room.  From yesterday I started again with the photo a day system, but I like the themed pages too.  Linking up with the lovely Jessica, as ever!

The first themed spread is photos from our trip north over Easter break.  We spent time in Cramlington with Matthew's family, I zipped up to Edinburgh to see my sweet friend Jenna, her husband Chris, and her family (Jenna lives in Dallas now, so any chance to catch up is a real blessing!), and we went to Keir and Hannah's beautiful wedding in Pontefract too.  Such fun!

Keir and Hannah's wedding took place on Easter Monday, in lovely Yorkshire.  I only had my teeny tiny camera with me so failed to get many pics (and none of the bride and groom, oops - but there are tonnes on facebook far better than anything I could have captured!).  Hannah looked gorgeous, Keir was hilarious as ever and the whole wedding was a lovely affair.  Keir and Hannah have been friends of Matthew's for a long time, so it was lovely to have the chance to share their special day with them.

 Laura and James.  James is a uni friend of Matthew's who we see quite a bit in town for football watching and beer drinking, but this was the first time I'd met Laura.  She is so funny!

 Matthew and me at the reception.  Hannah's colours were teal and fuschia - gorgeous!

 A snap from the train of the view at Berwick-Upon-Tweed.  One of my favourite views on the East Coast (the other being Durham).
 The giraffes outside the Omni centre in Edinburgh are the perfect place to meet up with someone!
 Edinburgh Castle and Princes Street Gardens.
 Love this lot!  As well as meeting up with Jenna and her husband Chris in Edinburgh, I also got to see her brother Ross and his girlfriend Emma, and Jenna's parents too.  We also met up with Burton, so it felt a little bit like a Texas wedidng of 08 reunion!
 Love this girl so much.

 Jenna's folks in the pub.

 It was great to catch up with Matthew's family too.  As well as spending lots of time with his parents we also got to see his brother Nick and sister-in-law, Elly.  Elly is a riot - she and I had lots of chats about houses and moving and all that jazz.
The Angel of the North.  A sure sign you're heading home.

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Moves several made but not filled boxes to the side.

Shunts a few full boxes to the other side.


Here in London we have full on packing madness....and there's still a week or two or three of packing/painting/unpacking/fixing/making ahead.  In the nicest possible way.

It's so lovely to look around our house and think 'wow.  This belongs to us.  We can choose how we decorate it, organise it, use it.'  On Saturday evening we slept over (hilariously we slept over on the couchbed.  In a house with six bedrooms.  Because none of the beds are delivered yet!) and it was so cool to spend the majority of the weekend over there.

Now it's all about living between there and the flat this week, packing and getting ready for the big move across next weekend.  I'll be sad to leave this flat behind - it's been a lovely home - but I am so excited for our very own house.  And I won't miss the neighbours here at all (smokers below, door slammers next door, shouty lady down the hall).  They've been entertaining at times, but I'm ready to have a little more space!  This block echoes a lot, so a little noise carries a long way.

As well as all the moving shenanigans, Matthew went back to work today and I'm back at school tomorrow.  It's going to be quite a frenetic few weeks!  If I'm not commenting on your blogs, please know I am checking in, but often on my iPhone so comments are trickier.  Can't wait till we're settled and set up and into a groove in the new place!

Better close for now - laundry and yet more boxes beckon!

post signature PS In case you missed it, my latest giveaway is here.... PPS ....and I'm doing an 'Ask Me Anything' prompt here. :)
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Ask Me Anything....

It's been a while since I've done an 'Ask Me Anything' post, so I felt it was high time we did one! It's simple really - post some questions in the comments, and in the next few weeks I'll answer them, either in one big post or in a few smaller ones!

I always enjoy doing these - I can never guess what people are going to ask! In the past we've had questions about faith, food, books, favouite things.... I look forward to reading your suggestions!


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PS My latest giveaway runs until April 30th. Free books!

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DIY (with help :))

Our first few days as houseowners has proved to be exhausting.....and productive.  HUGE thanks to Hannah, Siobhán, Laura, James and Dave for all of their help painting, building and fixing!  The house is really starting to take shape (although there's still and awful lot to do!)...more details and pics aplenty in the coming weeks!

 Two of the painting divas :-)

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Five Minute Friday: Together

Linking up with the lovely Lisa-Jo once more, for five minutes of writing.  Just five minutes.  Which is lucky, as today, more so than usual, five minutes is about all I have going spare!

Today's prompt word....is TOGETHER.


I'm a big fan of togetherness, of belonging.  Being part of a group of friends, a team, a sisterhood, a family, a nation....I like being part of something bigger and better than myself.

Today has been quite the study in togetherness, with the person I'm the most 'together with', both in the eyes of the outside world and in the way we operate together.

Yesterday Matthew and I picked up the keys to our first house (that we've owned) together.  Today we have spent fifteen long hours working together to make the house a home.  Walls have been painted, furniture built, and seemingly a hundred and forty different deliveries arrived.

Throughout, we worked as a team.  A team I'm so proud to be part of.  Not only is Matthew clever, talented, hardworking (and handsome, of course :)), he's also such a great person to work alongside. Together.  He doesn't mind when I get livid at atrocious customer service (well, livid in my little Claire way - a bit sad and cross!), and he's very proud of my achievements, however small (I built a mirror!  I didn't paint the skirting board inadvertently!).

We're building a home together, little by little.  Our friends and families are helping too, adding to the feeling of community and togetherness.  It's a lovely thing.  It's going to take a while, but I intend to enjoy the journey.

But for now, we're back in the flat now, and about to tuck up together with pizza and something silly on TV.  Happy together.


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Things I Like Thursday, 19th April

Taking time once again to count all the blessings which make this life more wonderful :). If you'd like to join me with a list of your own, or something else that makes you smile, there's a linky at the bottom of this post. I'd love to read your thoughts!

1. The fact that in just a few hours we complete on our house and can start making it our home :).

2. Feeling rested after a week away (useful, as the next month looks like it is going to be crazy-busy!).

3. French bread with butter and jam. Fill-in meal of champions.

4. One week till payday! Holidays always encourage me to spend more, haha!

5. Being back on the fairly healthy eating plus plenty of movement wagon.

6. Filling in my diary with lots of exciting things to come in the next few months.

7. Naps. Or as they have it in Spain, siestas.

8. House planning - orders and paints and boxes, oh my! Tiring....but worth it!

9. Playing poker with my boy, and planning lots of fun poker evenings in the future.

10. Freckles and a hint of sunkissed on my skin.

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Changing gears...

Picture from Wikipedia

It has been an amazing week away. A chance to relax and talk and sleep in and spend time together away from the demands of London, work, life in general. Puerto de Mogán is such a perfect destination for us - quiet (but not too quiet), sunny, cheerful - and the break has made both Matthew and I look look visibly happier and healthier. It has been grand.

But now, London calls us back. We complete tomorrow, then have a weekend of DIY and house stuff. Monday is back to work for us both, as well as the start of a huge week of packing for the big move next Saturday. It's going to be busy, stressful, exhausting....but all the more easy to deal with after a nice chilled break in the sun. Well, that's the hope, at least!

Where do you like to go to for a relaxing holiday?
Do you have a favourite sunny spot?

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PS My latest giveaway runs until April 30th. Free books!

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Giveaway...and this one's for the bookworms...

I really enjoyed writing my recent posts on reading and books, and am really feeling inspired and interested in the written word again. After a couple of years where I really felt like I was on the back foot when it came to reading, lately, over the latter half of 2011 and as we romp through 2012, I'm feeling way more in the zone!

I love to read....and what better way to share that love than by hosting a BOOK giveaway? One lucky reader will receive not one but two of my favourite books (as mentioned in the past posts), delivered to their door. To refresh your memories, here's the full list - whichever way(s) you decide to enter, do please let me know which two books you would like to receive! There's a brief paragraph about each and why I've chosen them in the two earlier posts.

1. Nothing To Envy
2. Love Is a Mixtape
3. The State of Africa
4. High Fidelity
5. Little Women
6. Clara Callan
7. Anne of Green Gables
8. Pride and Prejudice
9. Matilda
10. Pies and Prejudice
11. Join Me
12. Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood
13. Thank You For The Days
14. The Hunger Games
15. Hear No Evil
16. A Game of Thrones
17. Gone With The Wind

To secure an entry in this giveaway you can:

1. Leave a comment on this post (please and thank you!)

2. Become a follower of this blog (please let me know in the comments if you do).

3. Blog about this giveaway (please let me know in the comments if you do so).

4. Tweet about this giveaway (please let me know in the comments if you do so).

5. Mention this giveaway on facebook (please let me know in the comments if you do so).

6. Like this blog on facebook (please let me know in the comments if you do so).

(One entry per item, maximum of six entries per person)

Oooh, I love a good giveaway! Best of luck!

This giveaway will run until 12 noon, BST, on Monday, April 30th.

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PS No 'Project Life Tuesdays' for a few weeks for me due to holidays and moving, but am doing four photo selections which I'll post in early May and link to PLT.

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On reading...part two!

Last week I wrote about why I love to read and offered a few recommendations/must-reads. Despite me best efforts to pare down the list, there were still far too many titles to keep to one post, so here, as promised, are the other contenders :). Good heavens, I do love to read!

I'd love to hear some of your 'must reads' in the comments!


I've read this book several times, and never fail to take something different away from it. As a bookwormish child, I was always going to empathise with the heroine, and I love the whole story that Roald Dahl weaves here. Dahl is never afraid to discuss the darker sides of things and often goes out of his way to include the grim and grotesque, but it's the gentler notes of this book that keeps it in my favourites pile - the parts about belonging, kindness, and loyalty. The Trunchbull still terrifies me!

Pies and Prejudice

I absolutely adore Maconie's writing - he's pithy, witty and fiercely clever, and he writes with such affection for his subjects. This was the first of his books on Britain that I read (I also very much enjoyed 'Adventures On The High Teas', his look at cosy Home Counties Middle England), and I was thoroughly charmed. He has a marvellous way of telling a tale!
Join Me

A book that not only entertained me, it changed my life. The book follows Danny Wallace's efforts to set up a collective....which became 'Join Me', the random-acts-of-kindness group I belong to. I very much enjoyed the book - it's funny, silly and inspiring, and as it has brought me so much joy through the wider auspices of Join Me it seemed only fair to include it! A great read.

Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood

One of those cases where I adored the book and loathed the film adaptation (yes, One Day, I'm also looking at you!). Crimes against cinema notwithstanding, this book is a firm favourite and one I am forever pressing on friends to read. Charming and evocative, the central characters of the title are thoroughly charming and make me yearn to live in the Deep South and raise young 'uns alongside my best girlfriends. Which considering I'm British and childless is a pretty fair testament to the quality of the writing...

Thank You For The Days

Mark Radcliffe used to broadcast alongside Stuart Maconie, from further up the list, and he also went on to write a book I love. This tale of music, radio, and life is inspiring, charming and highly entertaining - it makes me want to go for a pint with Radcliffe to hear even more!

The Hunger Games

Good Lord, it's good. I know everyone is reading it at the moment and there's all the hype about the (also excellent) movie, but it's just a really well-written YA trilogy. Moving, dark, interesting, it's a real pageturner and well worth enjoying.

Hear No Evil.

I've long been a fan of Matthew Paul Turner's blog, Jesus Needs New PR, and his books are full of the same wit, humour and wisdom. He writes in a very real and warm way about faith, music, and life. This is a charming read! Fun fact, his other half is the multitalented Jessica, who writes at The Mom Creative, and organises Project Life Tuesdays!

A Game of Thrones.

Martin's heptalogy is enormous in its scope and range, but from the very first book I was keen to plow through. The story-telling and conjuring of worlds is spectacular, and the huge cast of characters are compelling and full of surprises. I'm currently halfway through the third in the series - I have to take breaks between books as they are so heavy and dense! Fantastic stuff.

Gone With The Wind

(cue Tara's Theme)

I love the book even more than I love the movie. And that's saying something, because Vivien Leigh rocks the Scarlett O'Hara role so hard the movie is easily in my top ten. A huge book (1066 pages!), but such a rewarding and interesting read. I read this every few years or so, simply because it's wonderful.

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Something to remember :)

Wishing you countless blessings to count today!

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And, relax.....

As I type I am sat beneath the lovely cool ceiling fan of our little rented holiday apartment in Puerto de Mogán, Gran Canaria. Outside the window the balcony is inviting me to sit back down with a chilled beverage and enjoy the sunshine, and after writing this, that's precisely what I'll do. From the balcony our view is a sweep of the valley - up towards the mountains, down towards the sea.

(Pictures to follow, of course, but all my connectors and stuff are back in the UK)

The weather here is absolutely glorious - 20-25 degrees each day, dry heat with a lovely sporadic cool breeze. As we're so much further south here, and closer to the Tropics, the mornings are cool with afternoons and early evenings of high temperatures. Perfect for sunbathing, swimming, or wiling away a little time with a chilled beer or a cafe con leche by the harbour.

Puerto de Mogán is beautiful, and as it's a little off the beaten track is far quieter than the other resorts such as Playa des Ingles, Maspalomas or Puerto Rico. We're heading over to Puerto Rico on a couple of days to play mini golf, check out the scene and feast on tapas and Rioja, but for the most part we are happy to stay put in our sunny little town. Having been here before it's easy to know the whens and wherefores, and the town is so pretty and friendly it's a thoroughly charming place to be. On our first night here we wandered down to the seaside to have a late supper and went back to a restaurant we'd enjoyed last year. The waiter remembered us (apparently not many English girls who follow Barca make it this far) and it was fun to once again watch a football match and enjoy some delicious food while listening to the Atlantic lapping on the beach beside us.

We are having such a relaxed time here, and that's precisely what was needed. On top of the usual work demands and social whirl both Matthew and I have been so busy with house plans and preparation its been great to just have a little time together away from it all. We are being very lazy, reading, cooking, playing cards, going for wee bimbles here and there....perfect.

And perfectly timed too....we get the keys to the house Thursday. Get deliveries starting Friday. Have a painting party Saturday. And move in a week after that. Something tells me we'll need all the energy we can bank to get through this ultra busy stage! That said, it has been a godsend to stay somewhere with wireless this time - checking orders and emails and suchlike has been invaluable.

Right, enough from me. I feel the need to go cook something delicious and retire to the balcony.

How's everyone?

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Five Minute Friday: Goodbye

Linking up with the lovely Lisa-Jo, for five minutes of writing....just writing. No editing, no worrying, just five whole minutes of words on a page. Writing this in our little apartment in Gran Canaria as the sun starts to warm up the valley, before we head down to the marina for market browsing and lunch. Bueno!

Today's prompt: is Goodbye.


All my life, the goodbye has felt like it's always lurking in the background.

The years of moving round, of boarding school, of being the new girl, made me adept at the hello, but also at the goodbye. The letting go, the leaving.

But somewhere along the line, I realised that there were two things in play - the goodbye (final, absolute, firm), and the other goodbye (farewell for now, I'll be thinking of you, I hope I'll see you soon).

There's a time for the former - at the end of a love affair or crush that ended badly or hurt you, leaving a flat behind when you move house, changing habits or ways of life. For example, I am currently in the midst of say a firm-but-fond goodbye to myriad little habits that are making and keeping me fat (snacking in front of the TV, too much wine, comfort eating, skipping workouts). I'm also preparing to move from our lovely little flat to our first real, proper, oh-my-goodness-we-(well-we-and-the-bank)-own-this home. These goodbyes are final. There's no real going back. Real goodbyes force permanent change.

When it comes to relationships and friendships, the other goodbye is my favourite though - the one I've learnt. It's the goodbye I say when I hug my parents and I know I won't see them for months and months. It's the goodbye I sign off Skype talks with Christy and Amber with - a fond goodbye, but one that's temporary, transient, full of good wishes. The goodbye I say to my class at the start of a break: part goodbye, part see you soon. I like this farewell, this see-you-later, this 'to be continued' goodbye.

Goodbyes are powerful, wonderful, and there are a proably a thousand kinds in addition to the two I've mentioned. But now my time is up, so I must bid you goodbye (of the second kind!).


Have a lovely Friday, all!

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Two awesomely talented ladies....one amazing megameal.

Have a wonderful Thursday, all!

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100 Things About Me

While looking through old blog posts (what can I tell ya, there's something about a late night, a cup of tea, and a walk down memory lane...) I found an old '100 things about me' piece. So I thought I'd update it for today's me, changing a few things, keeping some others. It was quite interesting to see how much has changed, and how much has stayed the same! Et voila:

1. My middle name is Rachael. If I’d taken another one at confirmation, it would have been Elizabeth.

2. I hate caviar. Yuck!

3. I want to live in America at least once in my lifetime.

4. I can quote much of the movie Bring It On.

5. And have fallen asleep on three different occasions attempting to watch the whole on Battleship Potemkin.

6. I wish I didn’t swear as much as I do.

7. I won awards at high school for drama, French, music, religious ed., modern studies and most deserving (whatever that means). Yay, non-core subjects!

8. I love making lists. And planning stuff (even imaginary stuff).

9. I have previously auditioned for The X-Factor, How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria? and I'd Do Anything. I was *thisclose* to the London levels for the latter.

10. I once got thirty one demerits in a week, while at boarding school.

11. I once shaved my arms. Yes, my actual arms.

12. I was supposed to be called ‘Ben James’. My mum was adamant I was going to be a boy.

13. I once swore at a teacher – unintentionally. And managed not to get into trouble.

14. I only have one, proper, honest to goodness ex-boyfriend.

15. This is the same boy my father described, simply, as “spotty”.

16. I’ve had the same signature since I was 6.

17. I didn’t get on well with money when I was younger. Now I love a good budget spreadsheet.

18. In one of my dorms, I felt the presence of a ghost. Temperature dropping, radio switching, water stopping, the whole shebang. Scared the badgers out of me.

19. My favourite children’s names include: Katherine, James, Jack, Lucas, Eleanor, Mackenzie, Felicity, Moray, Hope, Iain, Willow and David. I spent a lot of time when I was younger reading baby names books though, so these could change.

20. I am 5’5” tall….but I spent five years stuck at 5’4 and three-quarters”.

21. I love making mix CDs, and receiving them. It's been a while!

22. I hate long fingernails. Particularly if they're dirty!

23. I have lain on the floor to listen to the person below playing ‘Under The Bridge’.

24. I cannot talk about gross stuff and eat at the same time.

25. I have lived in over 24 different houses or flats…so far.

26. I used to have a bad relationship with food. I have comfort eaten for twelve or thirteen years, I’ve been bulimic and I’ve gone through periods of starving myself or crash dieting. I stopped this a few years ago, and most of the time I have a good handle on it.

27. I love reading, and have done for the past 28 and a half years. I’ve (pretty much, bar a two year blip) always been a voracious reader, a habit which once resulted in me being picked up by the hair by an evil teacher.

28. I’m a ridiculously stereotypical Monkey. I don't believe in horoscopes especially, but I definitely fit the bill.

29. I used to hate public speaking, so now I make myself do more of it. I'm hoping that practice makes perfect.

30. I love my job.

31. If I wasn't a teacher, I'd like to be a writer, a singer, a cinema manager or a mum.

32. I fractured my wrist the first time I ever tried rollerskating.

33. In my younger years I was very very VERY good at falling in love with people who didn't love me back.

34. I can be hard on myself.....but....

35. I don’t think I’m hard enough on myself.

36. Another one of my ideal jobs would be graveyard shift DJ – just playing music and autowittering…how much fun would that be?

37. I am good at keeping secrets (proper ones).

38. I have never been to a proper music festival.

39. I have weird feet. My right one is super wide from a fall when I was twelve, when I fell 15/20 feet and fractured it in 4 places.

40. I am terrible at jokes – I can never remember them.

41. I have now made this into a trademark of my classroom, and a whole generation of boys are enjoying my 'dad level jokes'.

42. I think Monica Bellucci, Kate Winslet and Angelina Jolie are the most gorgeous women on the planet.

43. I once wrote fanmail to Isaac Hanson.

44. I like to give my all.

45. I’ve never seen Return of the King. Or Matrix Revolutions.

46. I love to dance.

47. I'm also a pretty rubbish dancer.

48. I don't hate anyone.

49. I wasted far too much time in my teens berating myself for being too fat or too ugly.

50. I still do this sometimes!

51. I believe that people have a right to be happy.

52. I like eating random combinations of food.

53. Napping is the best, as is bedding down with a good book.

54. I adore my friends – they are simply brilliant!

55. When it comes to drinking, I am a lightweight.

56. I like hot baths. Reeeeaaaallly hot.

57. I can spend eight hours online or reading or watching movies with no problem whatsoever, stopping only for comfort breaks or snacks. This used to worry me.

58. I rarely get a chance to do this.

59. I have a mind like a sponge when it comes to trivia.

60. I cannot burp.

61. In my high school yearbook I was voted Weirdest Girl, Most Likely To Win Eurovision, Most Likely to be a Politician, Most Likely to have a Number 1 and Least Likely To Calm Down. I came second in the Brainiest, Most Likely To Win An Oscar and Most Likely to Become Insanely Rich categories. Whatever I did, surely I was destined to underacheive?

62. I just found my high school year book to find that out for you!

63. I think I am a romantic at heart, but not a hopeless one.

64. My favourite beach is Primrose Bay, Scotland; but I really like Findhorn too.

65. I used to dream about winning the Best Supporting Actress Oscar, and attending the ceremony with my date, Leonardo DiCaprio. I had this as a recurring dream for two years off and on.

66. I LOVE good crème brulee.

67. I once got the worst carpet burn of my life doing yoga.

68. I’ve always said I would like between 3 and 9 children.

69. Now I'm in my thirties, I think I'd just like 'some' children.

70. I like cheese more than chocolate.

71. My teddy bear is one day older than me. He is called Jockey.

71. Kindness and consideration drive me.

72. When I was a toddler, I was once so hungry I grabbed a raw cauliflower in the greengrocers and started eating it. Old people in my hometown still remember this.

73. I wrote my Senior Dissertation on Moulin Rouge specifically, and the genre of musical film in general.

74. I love having conversations that incorporate as many lyrics or film titles as possible.

75. I am vaguely OCD – I'm a checker, I can find patterns mesmerising and I have/had a bit of a number fixation. This used to be much worse, with mantras and a equal touch thing running concurrently.

76. I have moshed with Joe Mangel (Mark Little)!

77. Singing is one of my favourite things in the world. I could sing forever. I feel totally confident and at peace when I sing.

78. I love pub quizzes. And kareoke.

79. I met my boyfriend at the Edinburgh festival.

80. The first time I ever met him, I was speaking with a fake French accent.

81. The first time I met his family, I brought up donkey sausage (a foodstuff in the South of France) during our chat, much to the amusement of some family members.

82. I am a member of the Junior League of London.

83. I love baby showers.

84. I like collecting books and DVDs, but I'm not a hugely worldly person.

85. Connected to this, I'd rather spend my money on experiences, travel and people than on things.

86. I love cats, and hope to get two kittens later this year.

87. I've been a bridesmaid 4 times (twice as a child, twice as an adult), with time number 5 up next year! I love bridesmaiding.

88. I've been blogging here since 2005.

89. When I'm stressed I like to bake or take long walks.

90. My favourite outfit is my PJs.

91. I don't like letting people know I'm angry.

92. I love to write letters and thank you notes.

93. I am obsessed with badgers.

94. I think showing up & listening are two of the most important things you can do for your friends.

95. I am the eldest of three. I have a little sister, Sian, who's 26, and a little brother, Peter, who's 25.

96. I don't like needles, small dogs that yap, industrial techno music or marmite much.

97. I teach at an all boys school.

98. I live in London.

99. I am slightly addicted to post-its.

100. My favourite colour is blue. And purple. And red. And green. And pink.

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Fun, fun, fun


As holidays go, this one is proving pretty tiring!

Turns out buying a house, packing up a flat, trying to organise furnishings for said house, visiting family and taking a holiday all in the same four week gap is pretty frenetic.

Fun, too.

More blog soon, but now I must go make sure I've packed toothbrushes/underwear/shoes!

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On reading

This post was originally entitled 'Books I think you should read (if you haven't already)'. Yep, I was feeling a little soapbox-y!

Most of you who have been reading this blog for a while know that I am a little obsessed with books (insert eyebrow raise at will). I was a budding Matilda when I was little, reading my way around each and every library of the RAF camps we were stationed upon, and went on to read English (jointly with Film Studies) for my four-year Scottish MA. I still, ooooh, at least every six months, declare that I'm going to go back to school and do a Masters, if not a PhD, in something literature based. And as part of my day job I teach 8 to 10 hours a week of English to little boys.

Girlfriend likes to read.

I read so much it can be a joke. Matthew can have a whole conversation with me, only to realise that I'm actually miles away, immersed in espionage, 17th century France, or 90s pop culture. Left to my own devices for a weekend, I'll subsist on toast, tea and cheap red, book clutched in my hand as I move from bed to couch to chair to coffee shop. Good times.

It feels so good to be back wearing the badge that declares 'voracious reader'. I lost it for a few years, tucked it in a drawer behind teacher, friend, girlfriend....but this year I plucked it back from the depths of the melee and now wear it once again with pride.

Books are beautiful, fantastic, amazing things. They have improved my life in more ways than I can say. So.....I thought today I'd share with you a handful of my very most favourite books (to employ some flawed and juvenile grammar!). I'd love to hear some of yours in the comments!

Author's note: my ambition to jot down 'a handful' was in vain....therefore I'll share some this week and some next Monday, no doubt having made some heinous omissions!

Nothing to Envy.

I love well-written, compelling, interesting non-fiction, and this book checks all the boxes. North Korea is such a fascinating place, and Merrick threads together the information she has managed to glean with consumate skill. This book was genuinely unputdownable and has forever changed my ideas of North Korea.

Love is a Mixtape

As well as being a bookworm, I'm also a music and movie nerd (what a ctach, right? ;)), so this book, revolving around a man's life and his mixtapes, totally called to be. I wasn't disappointed - it's warm, charming, heartbreaking in places and full of musical goodness. This book is so good that I wrote to the author (as in honest to goodness, picked up a notepad, addressed an envelope etc. wrote to him) after finishing. Genius.

The State of Africa

When I'm not watching cheesey comedy shows or cooking, I do like to put my brain into gear with some challenging non-fiction, which is precisely what The State of Africa is. This book pulls no punches and expects you to keep up, and is a truly fascinating look at the past 50 years of African politics and history. I highly recommend this book.

High Fidelity

Ah, another music based book. What makes it for me is the protagonist, in all his navel-gazing, angsty wonder. We've all been in his shoes, wondering what it all means; and many of us (myself included) have turned to music as solace and soothsayer, all in one.

Little Women

Aw yeah. I was borderline obsessed with Louisa May Alcott growing up, and this book is still a firm favourite. The picture Alcott paints of the March family is aspirational and interesting, and I spent much of my childhood feeling I was definitely a Jo (I've now resigned myself to the very real fact that I'm probably a Meg. Could be worse, could be an Amy!). Just a beautiful book, and one (of a pair) that I try to re-read every year, just because.

Clara Callan

The beautiful Christy, a fellow bookworm, passed a copy of this book to me a couple of years ago. It's compelling - unusual, and cold in places, and challenging, but rewarding and interesting too. I love hearing what people make of it.

Anne of Green Gables

I didn't read this book until I was in my twenties (I still have no idea how I managed that!). My dear friend Amber, who I met in my freshman year of university, said I reminded her a little of Anne (with an e!), so naturally I sought the books out, and instantly fell in love with the scrappy, sparky, silly, soulful Anne. A definite kindred spirit.

Pride and Prejudice

A.k.a. the other book I reread each year. I came very late to the Austen party, managing to study English until age 22 and never read one of her books (in my defence, I rocked the heck out of Dickens, Shakespeare, Atwood, Flaubert, Marvell et al.). My friend Hannah was dying to show me the Colin Firth Darcy moment (another thing that had passed me by!), so I read the book post haste. And it became an instant favourite - the language, the observations, the setting. Pure literary deliciousness.

I must close now....I feel the need to read!

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