A holiday in Bristol

In September, I spent a few days staying in Bristol with my partner on the Kyle Blue

The boat is permanently moored in the Bristol Harbor quayside and is really well situated from exploring the city. The top desk of the boat has a really large lounge area with lots of sofas and a couple of dining tables as well as a kitchen area which is pretty small but well equipped enough for self catering. On the lower deck there are a number of private cabins as well as some dormitories. We had a private room which could have actually slept 5 people as there was 2 bunkbeds and 1 single bed.

We arrived on Sunday mid afternoon and wandered from the coach station to the harbour where we were staying. After checking in to our floating home for the next few days and lazing around for a bit, we went out for pizza and gelato at Pepenero (the branch inside the Beer Emporium). I had a tofu sausage and mushroom pizza which was tasty although it was a bit on the floppy side due to the generous toppings. We also had some garlic bread between us and I followed it with 1 scoop of coconut gelato and 1 scoop of tiramisu gelato. It was far too much food to be honest but it was all very good and we couldn’t resist trying lots of things (plus we hadn’t had lunch because we’d been on a coach for hours)

On Monday we caught the ferry just outsides our hostel to the Bristol Temple Mead train station and from there we took the train to Bath. My Mum had kindly brought us a voucher for a spa session at the Thermae Spa. We had visited before but not for a few years and in that time, they had refitted the relaxation suite so instead of just having some steam rooms and a waterfall shower, there was more variety including an infrared sauna, relaxation cosmos room with twinkly lights, 2 steam rooms and an ice chamber which was filled with menthol vapour and had a trough where you could grab a handful of ice chips and run them on your face and body post sauna or steam.

After the spa, we went to Chapel Arts Cafe for lunch as it happened to just be around the corner from where we were. I didn’t really think too much about where to go but this turned out to be one of the most delicious meals I had on the break. I had a marinated mushroom burger with seasoned potatoes. It was the perfect combination of filling food that I needed combined with something that was so delicious but also felt really healthy.

After lunch we had a wander around Bath mainly looking in secondhand book shops and taking the time to visit two of the wonderful independent bookshops that Bath has – Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights and Toppping & Company. The sliding ladders in Toppings are like something out on my wildest home-library based fantasies.

In the evening, we went for some thai food at Koh Thai Tapas. The food was good and vegan options were marked on the menu – however there wasn’t that much choice. What I did have was good though.

After this, we went for a drink at the Bag of Nails – which is a pub that happens to be home to a lot of cats (some websites say 16, some say 15) – either way, we had to have a look. I only spotted 5 cats when I was in the pub – they were happy to lounge on the windowsill, curl up on bar stools and sleep in cardboard boxes on the bar. There were also lots of board games to play, a really good selection of alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks and a chilled atmosphere with records being played.

Tuesday morning saw us heading up to the Clifton suspension bridge for a wander across the bridge, taking in the views and going into the museum. The museum wasn’t large but was one of the more fun ones of this type I had seen because there were a lot of interactive elements to it and it also highlighted some of the personality quirks of the bridge’s designer – Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

For lunch we ended up going to Vx. I’d visited the branch in London a few times but the Bristol branch had a larger space which lent itself better to eating in. We both had amazing vego chocolate milkshakes and I had some mac and cheese (which was the best vegan mac and cheese I have ever had) and some fries. I also grabbed a few bits to eat later.

We had a quick wander around the M-Shed in the afternoon which seemed like a pretty good museum but I was honestly pretty exhausted by this point and the weather was getting windy and rainy so we opted to make some food on the boat and have an evening resting.

On our final day, it was still pretty rainy so after loitering in Weatherspoons for a while over breakfast, we collected our bags and slowly wandered up to Stokes Croft to check out the street art, look round Hamilton House and get some lunch at Cafe Kino before it was time for us to get our coach home. I left Bristol feeling like I had only got to see a tiny bit of what it has to offer and I look forward to going back again.

2017 goals – at the 3 quarters of the year point

My yearly goals can be found here and I reflected on them after 3 months here and then again at the half way point here.

Studying and Learning

After all my wittering last time about catching up with Wanikani, I once again didn’t keep up with it so I started again from level 1. I’m almost done with level 3 and it feels like it is sticking a bit better on the second time through. I’m not always managing to get through my revisions every day but I’m enjoying it.

Travel

Since I last updated I’ve visited Bristol as well as a very flying visit to Leicester for Glitterfest. I still hope to have a few days away with my Mum somewhere although realistically I’m not sure if money and time will get in the way now this year. I’ve also started saving for my next trip to Japan – no plans yet, but starting to put some money aside for it has helped me feel a bit more positive that it can and will happen.

Creating

I’ve started a new hobby – sashiko embroidery. So far I’ve almost completed the stitching on my first project and have another 2 lined up to do. I plan of sewing the finished pieces into quilted table mats.

I’ve also resumed joining together the squares for my crochet blanket now that its starting to get less warm. I’m also still carrying on with my drumming lessons (although life conspired to get in the way of these over the last month or so) I’m pretty happy with my progress though and hoping to get a kit once we (finally) move.

Other

I hit my Goodreads goal for 2017 at the end of July so I was pretty ahead of the curve on that one. I’ve carried on reading a lot specially since I discovered that my local library allows me to borrow e-books and had quite a few that were on my to read list. By the end of September I’d read a total of 101 books.

Here are the books I have enjoyed the most in the last 3 months;

Eleanor Oliphant is totally fine – Gail Honeyman
Fetch – Nicole Georges
Queens of Geek – Jen Wilde
Station Eleven – Emily St. John Mandel
The No Spend Year – Michelle Mcgagh
Moxie – Jennifer Mathieu

I’ve finally made some progress of the de-cluttering front. I’ve got rid of a lot of books, DVDs and clothes – either through donating to my local PDSA shop or selling via ziffit. Over the year, I’ve also found that I’ve been using social media much less especially in the evenings and I think it’s helped me a bit with not feeling like I compare myself and my life to others.

1 second everyday – September

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My September started with a sunset from a train window and finished reading in bed. In between there were squirrels, cats, reading, re-sit exams at work, swimming under the moon, Glitter fest, a short holiday to Bath/Bristol (proper post to follow about this), burning candles, getting ready for autumn, eating tasty food, finally watched the Office (UK version), a party to celebrate a wedding anniversary and another to say farewell to a friend who is moving north.

Indietracks 2017

Our decision to go to Indietracks this year was a fairly last minute one. Joe was offered a ticket to the festival in order to review it for Birthday Cake for Breakfast (his review can be found here) and I got attend as his…emotional support? I don’t know exactly what my role was but I was happy to get to tag along.

   

We got set up our tent on Friday afternoon but then ended up waiting out the rain for a few hours in our tent before venturing to the site to see Chorusgirl, Kid Canaveral and Martha play. It was my second time seeing Martha that month and I found myself welling up during their set because of how very important and vital their music feels to me. I was feel grateful that even though it had been a really rubbish few months, I was glad I was there. I particular enjoyed the 90’s rave lights that accompanied their set too.

   

Saturday was thankfully dry (as our slightly crappy Argos tent was already leaking at this point) so we got to dry off, hang out with our camp mates and laze around for a while before going to see Crywank who were AMAZING. I think seeing that they were going to be playing was what convinced me to go to Indietracks this year. I was very happy to hear them play Forelorn Leghorn as I’d been listening to it a lot over the last few weeks. Dan is one of my new drumming inspirations.

   

Sunday I was excited to see Grace Petrie play (and I’m pretty sure she was excited that a sudden downpour sent a load more people dashing in to where she was playing) Lilith Ai blew away everyone who managed to get into the Church stage to see them. When the sun came out, I finally got to ride the singe gauge train.

   

I completely failed to make it to any workshops this year and once again didn’t make it to the campsite disco due to a combination of feeling achy, going back early to check our tent wasn’t under water and then feeling too lazy to move.

Highlights

Can crush! Martha covering Semisonic’s Closing Time, whoever made the Indietracks Ultras stickers, hearing 2 new ONSIND tracks being debuted in the merch tent, the great burgers, chips, nachos and ice cream from the Teatime Collective, seeing some cute owls, walking up the lane from the campsite to the festival and it feeling so familiar and comfortable, getting excited at how many excellent drummers I saw play and the fact that everyone I spoke to over the weekend was so friendly and just there to have a good time whether it rained or not.

1 second everyday – July

Here is my 1 second a day video for July. It ended up being a much better month than I expected. This was in no small part down to a last minute decision to got Indietracks Festival at the end of the month. I’ll try and do a separate post about this in a the next few days.

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My July included seeing Martha twice, helping at a Graduation ceremony at work, a real mixed bag of weather, watching Glow, eating far too many bags of McCoys chip shop crisps, reading a lot of books (as well as hitting my reading goal of the years 7 months in!) starting to ride my bike again and appreciating small details in Coventry.

2017 goals – the halfway point

I think it is fair to say that in a lot of ways, I’m not where I wanted to be at this point in the year. I lost a member of my family in May and it hit me quite hard for a variety of reasons that feel a bit too raw to go into on such a public forum.

My yearly goals can be found here and I reflected on them after 3 months here.

Studying and Learning
This has actually been one where I have made some progress on all of the goals I set out to do. I let Wanikani practice slide over the last few months and I debated restarting at a lower level but then spent last weekend working through all my outstanding reviews and feel like I am getting back on track and am now finally making some progress towards completing level 5.

I went on a lino printing 1 day course in June at the Herbert Art Gallery where I made this print of a squirrel. I’m hoping to do some more printing at home (once inspiration strikes)

I’m still having drumming lessons and I’m about to go from having fortnightly lessons back to having weekly lessons which I’m looking forward to.

Travel

This is the area where I have made the least progress. So far, we haven’t booked any holiday or breaks away anywhere and the only cities I have visited are ones I’ve already been to.

Creating

I haven’t done much under this category. I’ve been working on bits and pieces of crochet but I haven’t really made progress of the blanket or jumper. I have done a few more pages in my sketchbook though so that’s something.

Other

I’m making great progress on my Goodreads target as I’ve currently read 54 books out of total goal of 70. I’m pretty confident that I’m going to hit this way before the end of the year as I’m finding reading it one of the few things I have been able to commit to at the moment. Plus kindle sales have meant I have plenty of things to read that take my fancy.

Here are the books that I have enjoyed most in the last 3 months;

 Infinity Net – Yayoi Kusama
 Becoming Betty – Eleanor Wood
 The Upside of Unrequited – Becky Albertalli
 Our Chemical Hearts – Krystal Sutherland
 Beartown – Fredrik Backman
 You and me and him – Kris Dinnison

I actually ended up deleting the FB app off of my phone during the lead up to the election which has had the bonus of cutting down my casual FB browsing time. I’m still using it (and twitter) but not as much I have been so that feels quite positive.

Going forward, I think I want to try and focus on building some positives for this year. I’m still looking for houses but I also want to make sure I have some other things to look forward to whether it’s more day courses, short breaks away or gigs. I’m heading to Manchester this weekend to see Martha play with Joyce Manor.

1 second everyday – June

A few people I know have been using 1 second everyday to make monthly videos and I decided to give it a go starting on the 1st of June.

So in just over 30 seconds, here is my June – it was a month that included an election, a funeral, squirrels, cats, heavy rain, blue skies, a golden bunny, giving blood, vegan pizza and some lazy days at home.

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It was really fun to see this build up day by day and to figure out what 1 second of video would best sum up each day.

Absence

Life kind of got in the way of me posting here. The longer I don’t write, the more I don’t know what to say about it so I suppose this entry is me drawing a line under that and trying to move forward.

I had a birthday a few weeks ago and went to Manchester to see some friends, have a mooch around and eat lots of tasty vegan food at V-Rev.

 

Other than that, I’ve just been focused on getting through the summer exam season at work. I’ve been trying to remind myself that it’s ok for me to get home in the evening and just relax. I’m anxious about the upcoming election. I’m pretty much hoping for the best but bracing myself for the worst. Josie Long wrote this piece which sums up how I am feeling – They say we can’t win, but on Thursday vote for Labour anyway

2017 goals – 3 months in

I thought it would be helpful for my own reflection and accountability for me to look at how I am doing with the yearly goals I’ve set myself at the end of each 3 month period.

The house hunt continues. Not at a particularly fast pace because there isn’t much on the market that suits what we are looking for and when we *do* find one – I don’t seem to have much luck at getting estate agents to return my calls. We’ve already lost out on two houses that we loved so far which has quite frustrating and hard but on the flip side, I am getting to learn a bit more about the process and how it all works.

I’ve started having drum lessons. I had a hour long introductory lesson and then have been following up it up with weekly half hour lessons as well as practicing basic rhythms at home by hitting cushions and other soft furnishings. As part of the lessons, I’ve been learning about drum notation and type of beats. I’m just really enjoying the whole experience and it has been fun to see the little improvements I am making each week.

I’ve booked myself onto a 1 day lino printing course at my local art gallery for June. It’s run by local artist Adie Blundell – whose work I have seen before (and been blown away by). I’m really looking forward to this as it falls in a busy time at work for me so it will be nice to take some time out to do this.

I’m now at level 5 on Wanikani. In fact I’ve only just started level 5 – level 4 took me quite a long time and at times I didn’t really push myself with it. I did find it useful to read about how Koichi – the founder of Wanikani studies himself. Him saying that even a small bit of study each day is more useful than cramming every now and then so that’s what I’m aiming for.

Book-wise I’ve ready 25 books so far and my goal for the year is 75 so I’m 1/3 of the way through. So far the ones I have enjoyed most this year are –

Flawed – Cecelia Ahern
One of us is lying – Karen M McManus
The Year of living Danishly – Helen Russell
Beautiful Music for Ugly – Kristin Cronn-Mills

Travel-wise I don’t have anything much booked although my Mum is coming to visit over the Easter weekend and we have plans to go visit some alpacas which I’m excited about.

In terms of everything else…I’m doing bits where I can but also trying to accept my own limitations and need for down time in which to relax from work.