Back in the UK

I’m back from my amazing trip to Tokyo. This isn’t the post where I am going to write about that though as I have been full of germs since my flight back and I’m feeling rough.

Small things that are soothing my poorly soul at the moment
♥ Wearing cozy slipper socks
♥ Burning lots of scented candles
♥ Taking warm baths with Lord of Misrule gel
♥ Knitting yet another pair of socks (this current pair I started on my flight to Tokyo)
♥ Making plans for the last 2 months of 2016
♥ Getting cuddles from a warm, fuzzy cat

I saw a short film the other night called Curmudgeons that Danny Devito directed and it really made me smile. I’ve also been enjoying browsing the animation category on Vimeo
I haven’t got great concentration at the moment but

I’ve also been enjoying the latest EP by Deathsex Bloodbath which they launched the day after I arrived back in the UK, which I may or may not have played some part in.

Now I’m back and my long planned for trip is over, I’m thinking up some survival plans for the rest of the year. I’ve booked tickets to go and see the Adventures in Moominland exhibition in London with a group of pals in December and I’m also going to the Los Campesinos! curated all-dayer in Leeds.

I also want to make another zine, sort more house stuff out and y’know…actually properly empty my suitcase which is currently still in the middle of the living room floor. Oops.

Tiny Things Tuesday #47

Wow…it’s been months since I wrote a Tuesday post. I’m off work tomorrow for a day of admin and getting shit done. Before I get into my lazy evening, here’s some things I’ve been enjoying;

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1. I’m probably a bit late to the party but I started listening to the My Dad wrote a porno podcasts when we were travelling to Luxembourg. For anyone who hadn’t heard of it – one of the presenters gets together with two friends to read out loud the self published erotic fiction that his father has written. Each week covers a different chapter of the novel which is called Belinda Blinked and honestly seems to be written by someone with NO knowledge of anatomy or what could possibly be sexy. It is ridiculously funny though. I was crying with laughter on the train to the airport at one of the episodes. I ended up finishing the whole of season 1 over the course of the holiday so I’m saving season 2 for my Tokyo trip.

2. I’ve been getting back into knitting socks lately – I usually get bored when making them when I’m on the second sock and don’t end up finishing them. I’ve tried making some slightly more complex ones and that seems to have piqued my interest again. Right now, I’m working on this pair of socks from this book and I’m really enjoying it. I’ve brought some bamboo needles and more yarn so I can knit some on my trip.

3. After procrastinating for ages and adding far too many links to my Pintrest boards – I’ve finally started a bullet journal! I’m using a cheap dotted notebook that I picked up from Tiger and it’s working out pretty well for me. I’ve been using it to keep track of things I want to do each month as well as my daily to-do lists and appointments. I’m also tracking some day to day health stuff and using it to make many to-do lists for Tokyo. Its also give me an opportunity to finally use some of my stash of washi tape and stickers too.

4. AUTUMN!! It’s gone from feeling like summer in the last few weeks to suddenly feeling really autumnal. I’ve been enjoying seeking out the squirrels that live by the cathedral in town and feeling them monkey nuts. They are so cute and friendly ♥

I keep listening to this song on repeat at the moment –

This is the official videa but annoyingly they cut out a lot of the intro so if you like, you can hear the full track here.

Till next time…

A few days in Luxembourg

I’ve just got back from a short break in Luxembourg city with J. We originally planned to fly from Birmingham with FlyBe but they pushed the flight to Manchester instead which would have been impossible for us to get to at the right time so we re-booked to fly from London City Airport instead with LuxAir.

What a view!

Day 1 – travelling there and wandering around the city

Once we’d landed in Luxembourg it was pretty easy to get to the city from the airport. You can catch the 16 bus outside the terminal and it will cost you €2 to get to Luxembourg city. In fact, the buses are one of the best value for money parts of the country. A single journey is €2 or you can get an all day ticket for €4 which we used for our day trips. You can pretty much travel anywhere in the country by bus or train for this cost.

We did have another slight hiccup as I got on the bus with my case and settled in my seat, only for the bus to pull away and for me to see Joe standing outside on the platform still. Thankfully, it was easy enough for him to get the next bus and we met up by the main station (Gare) which also seemed to be the bus station too. Even the train station had some impressive stained glass in it.

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Our hotel (Ibis Styles) was right by the station – the rooms were small but really clean and comfortable. A continental breakfast was provided each morning including a place to squeeze your own fresh orange juice (I am easily pleased). We got checked it, I used the wifi to download the map of the whole of Luxembourg into GoogleMaps (Seriously – this is one of my main travel tips when going somewhere – download an offline map for the city/country you are visiting and you can use it to navigate even without wifi/data connection – If you want to know how to do that – click here)

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We went off for a wander around the city. We didn’t really have much of a set agenda but just kept wandering and looking for places that looked interesting. We saw some pretty amazing views and eventually ended up by the Bock Casemates. We looked around the Casemates and took lots of photos of the city in the late afternoon sunshine.

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We carried on walking down the hill, away from the centre and found ourselves in an area called Les Rives de Clausen – which is where an old industrial area full of factories has been converted in restaurants and bars. It was pretty trendy and I felt a little out of place wandering around in the same clothes I’d been travelling it but it was a good place to have a drink and unwind before walking back up the hill (urgh!) into the city. We did something like 19,000 steps on our first day so by the time we go back to our hotel, I was truly ready to sleep.

Day 2 – Vianden

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For our first full day in Luxembourg, we headed to the town of Vianden which is right up by the German border. It took us around an hour to get there by bus (we had to change at Ettelbruck – you usually get the train to there and then get on the 570 bus to Vianden but there was a rail replacement bus instead)

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Our first stop after getting our bearings was to take the chairlift up a big mountain so we could eat chips and admire the view at the top. From here, we could see Vianden Castle which was our next stop.

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The castle was originally build in the 11th century but has been added to and altered over time. It’s pretty hard to miss it when you arrive in the town but once you start climbing up the steep road to it, it vanishes from view and you start to wonder where the hell you are going. It may mean when you finally see it, you have to take a picture like this…

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We actually only ended up having a fairly quick look around as we didn’t want to miss the final bus back to the city. It was a really beautiful town and well worth the visit.

Day 3 – Mondorf Thermal Spa and Am Tunnel Gallery

As the other two days had featured a lot of walking, we headed for a more relaxing day for our final full day. We got the bus to the town of Mondorf in order to visit the thermal spa based there. You can take the 177 or 175 bus from the Gare to Mondorf and get off at the stop by Casino 2000 (which is the only casino in Luxembourg). Once you get off, you can walk through the park opposite the casino to the spa. If you see the fountain below, you are in the right place!

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I recommend hiring a towel from the sports shop before you go in. It’s €2.20 and the towels are HUGE. It was easily large enough to wrap around me (and I’m a chubby size 20-22) you can also get robes for around €4 as well. It was pretty hard to find the prices for the spa on the website – for 3 hours, it cost us €24 each and seems to be an extra €2 more if you go on a weekend. There were also options for 2 hours sessions (€18) and 4 hours (€30) and the whole day pass is £37.50.

Once in the spa, there is a main outdoor pool and an outdoor Jacuzzi. There is a thermal pool and a women’s only area that I didn’t venture into. In the outside area, there was a lot of sun loungers and it didn’t seem too busy (however, we were there on a week day). There are also a number of saunas that vary in temperature from 65°C to 95°.

A note of warning – all of the saunas at the spa require you to ditch your swimsuits and go in naked! (you can wrap yourself in a towel though – and in fact, you will be required to sit on a towel in there)

Just before we finished our time at the spa, we went into the largest sauna for what was advertised as a white chocolate session. One of the staff came in and kept putting different scented water onto the coals so the heat increased. He then waved some fans and flags around to waft the hot air. Half way through, we had to go outside and quickly shower, then were given a handful of white chocolate scented scrub to cover ourselves with. Once we’d basted ourselves up as if we were about to get cooked – we went back in the sauna for more of the same. I really thought that towards the end I was going to have to leave before it finished because it was the hottest I can ever recall being in my life, but when we got let out and showered off again, I actually felt really good for having done it.

When we got back to Luxembourg city, we decided to go to an art gallery before going out for dinner in the evening.Am Tunnel is an art gallery that is situated below the ground in tunnels that were originally used to connect a number of banks together. There is a permanent collection of photographs by Edward Steichen and while we were there, we also saw another photography based exhibition by Dimitri Soulas.

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Finally, we fished our break by having a drink on our final night in the Coco Mango bar which is on the top floor of the Sofitel hotel. I had a tasty but expensive cocktail while watching the sunset over the city ♥

Some advice for vegan travellers – there are a few vegan friendly places to eat in Luxembourg city BUT we didn’t get a chance to try many as one was fully booked by the time we found it and many others were closed on Saturday night/Sunday all day. If I visited the city again I would go mid-week.

On our first night we ended up getting a very good avocado salad bagel from Coffee Fellows which was marked as vegan on the menu. There was also another vegan bagel and they had soya milk. I had a really nice banana and chocolate frappe made with soya milk. The other branch (near the Gare) we went to wasn’t quite as good because their blender had broken so they had very few cold drinks on offer and they also only had 2 types of bagels in stock (one of which had cheese on top)

We ate dinner on our last night at Cafe Nirvana which was good value and the staff were very friendly but in all honestly the food was only so so. Another night we ate at Sushi Lovers which was pretty good but expensive (our bill for 2 people came to €60) we did get to order by ipad though which was pretty good cos we had time to study the menu and allergies for all dishes were clearly marked). There was a pretty good choice on the menu but it did seem they had saved all their most experimental ideas for the dishes that featured fish or other seafood.

42 days till Tokyo

As my heading says, I arrive in Tokyo in 42 days time. Due to time zones and the length of the flight I will leave the UK on the Sunday and arrive in Tokyo the following evening.

I’m starting to go into planning/panic mode (which are pretty much just different sides of the same coin for me) Part of the fun in travelling for me is in the planning through so I thought I would jot down where I am at with my planning.

I decided that I really wanted some internet access on phone when I was away so I can check maps, keep in touch with my Mum and J, update instagram with some picture and of course, play Pokémon Go! I considered hiring a pocket wifi but I decided instead to go for a 2 week SIM card from this website. I can’t comment on how well it works yet but I can say that it was straightforward to buy the card and it was delivered (via signed for mail) 2 days later.

I’ve booked myself into this place for a night so I can experience a capsule hotel.

My ticket is booked for the Ghibli museum for my second week. I’m going with friends and we booked our tickets through this site.

I still feel like I have a lot of other planning to do – I need to buy a suitcase cos mine is too small for all the stationery I plan on bringing back. I also need to have a read of the books I brought and decide where I would like to visit aside from lots of shops and the other things I have mentioned. I want to go to an Onsen (Japanese spa) and to visit the sky tree. Other than that, well…I need to get on with reading my guides. The only issue is, the more I read – the more places I discover to go.

Coventry Skyride 2016 – or that time I got to cycle around the Coventry ringroad

Yesterday I took part in the Coventry 2016 Skyride with my partner Joe and our friend Cait. Last year I happened to be meeting a friend in town on the day of the ride but I didn’t know much about it other than seeing lots of people wandering around in bright yellow cycling bibs.

We heart cycling text by the Godiva Statue

We really lucked out in terms of weather – blue skies, hardly any cloud but a decent amount of breeze while riding. I still didn’t manage to drink enough water though which left me feeling pretty dehydrated.

The route started at Broadgate in Coventry which is right in the centre of the city. From there, it took us round by the cathedral and some of the Coventry university buildings before leading out of the city centre to Fargo village where we had to dismount and walk through before hopping back on to cruise back into town (via a diversion through one of the Coventry university buildings which was one of my favourite parts) and then TO THE RING ROAD!

I think the idea of getting to ride around the entire ring road without having to avoid cars or be choked with fumes was part of the draw to this ride for me. As someone who doesn’t drive, I rarely go on the ring road at all so this was a chance for me to really explore the views of the city from up high.

Motor vehicles were still allowed to drive clockwise around the road, but the anti-clockwise side was given over to bikes only from 11am-3pm. There was a sprint section where people could check out their timings but I just focused on enjoying riding on such a clear wide surface.

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I don’t ride my bike very often so I was a little worried about getting round the course. In the end we rode around twice in total (although skipped the Fargo diversion the second time) I probably could have gone again but I was mindful that I needed to cycle/walk my bike home afterwards as well (and that that part of my journey started with a hill).

I haven’t ever been a fan of Sky and I think Rupert Murdoch is utter scum so I was a bit leery of attending an event that was so heavily “Sky” branded. Credit where credit is due though – the event was really well run, the signposting and marshalling were great. There were lots of other sponsors/partners too like Halfords (who pumped up both my slightly flat tyres for me before the ride) the local Council and British Cycling. I hope the council puts on some more things like this.

I liked how alternatives to different parts of the route were offered and it was great to see such a diverse crowd taking parts. There were lots of families with young kids riding, groups of teenagers, serious looking cyclist who zipped past me on the ring road with their proper gear and speedy bikes. I loved seeing so many different body sizes taking part too. I wasn’t made to feel too fat to ride or like it wasn’t an event that I wasn’t welcome at just because I wasn’t able to race around the course.

It is rumored to have been the last ride in Coventry of its kind but equally it may just be that it’s the last one under the current sponsorship. I’m really glad I did it because it showed me a different perspective of the city I’ve called home for almost 5 years. If it does happen again, I’ll be there!

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New music

Just sticking my head in to recommend some new music for you all.

imageMy partner spent the weekend at home, playing with various instruments and software and the end result was this ep under the name of year without a summer. I may be biased, but I think it’s some of the best stuff he has ever written and I’m really proud of him.

You can listen and download for free on bandcamp or give him some cash for it if you are feeling generous.

Hello June & goodbye 35

It was my birthday at the end of May. I’m 36 now which feels kinda weird. I still feel like I am in my 20’s most of the time (and it turns out most people don’t really know what a 30-something looks like and underestimate my ages by a good few years)

I managed to stretch my birthday celebrations to over a week thanks to all the lovely people I know and them offering various plans for me and them to celebrate.

First of all I went to see Slow Club play at the Warwick Art Centre. On the day of my birthday I had to work but my colleagues gave me a lovely bunch of tulips, a bag full of vegan chocolate and sweets and some lush bath bombs. The following day I went with J over to Birmingham to do a book binding workshop at the Birmingham Printmakers space in Digbeth followed by food at café soya.

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Here’s a couple of pics I took of the beautiful graffiti around Digbeth.

The workshop took us through the whole process of making an A5 codex bound book including sewing the headbands which was so fiddly but something I think I would have really struggled to pick up from a video or written instructions.

imageHere’s a rough and ready picture of my half assembled book half way through sewing my headbands.

It’s the busiest time of year at work and I’m feeling a little like I’m avoiding being online too much as a result. It’s been pretty draining being on social media lately with all the talk about the upcoming European Union vote, the awful event that happened in Orlando and coverage of the Stanford rape case all taking up a lot of space on my feeds. It’s so important to talk about these things and I feel really strongly about all of these things but it’s also useful for me to be able to step away when it all feels too much.

I’ve been hanging out on Pinterest a little more lately. Pinning ideas for organising myself/my space/my time, craft and yarn projects and other bits that catch my fancy. I have also been burying myself in books and at the end of May zipped by my goal number of reads for the year that I’d set.

Sometimes I wonder if I should push this blog a little more, write more regularly and structure my content. It can feel a bit lonely writing into the void (although I know a few of my friends do regularly read this – hi!)

I’m pretty excited about how the rest of this year is looking – two trips abroad (Luxembourg in September and Tokyo in October) a few gigs and new albums coming out, the opportunity to do something a little different from my day to day stuff at work and…

…well, I’ll figure out the other stuff when exams are over (& I have had more sleep)

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To finish this post off, here’s a picture of my 36 year old face complete with the new dress that I just brought and kitten necklace.

Tiny things Tuesday #46

The weather today has been ALL THE WEATHER – we’ve had sunshine, hail, snow, blue skies, snow, grey clouds and rain. I don’t know how to dress for weather than changes from one hour to the next.

At work we’re getting in to our busiest time of year so I’m gearing up for that while at the same time making sure to carve out time in the evening and on weekends to work on my own projects and to rest and recoup. I’m actually starting another Japanese class tomorrow night, but it’s only a 10 week course this time (and isn’t being assessed)

I’m looking forward to the upcoming long weekend. I’m off to Sheffield zine fest on the Saturday so I’m excited to see some of my pals there.

Here’s this weeks things;

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1. I watched this incredibly cute documentary on Netflix called Twinsters which is the true story of two adopted Korean girls finding each other online and the crazy few months they had getting to know each other and exploring their history to see if they were related. I wont go into too many details aside to say that I found the documentary so uplifting and emotional. It was wonderfully shot, I loved the music but most of all – the two girls (Samantha and Anaïs) were so charming and funny that it was a pleasure to spend time learning about them. I actually enjoyed the film so much that I brought the book that they wrote too – Separated @ Birth and finished that yesterday.

2. I got sent a mystery package last week and it was a buddy box from the Blurt! One of my friends has sent it to me as a surprise. I had heard of the boxes before but this was my first time receiving one. Mine was a mini box and contained a lovely smelling foot scrub bar, some really cute bird shaped post-it notes and a cute sheep pin badge. There was also some postcards with uplifting pictures and words on. It was a really lovely thing to receive in the post.

3. My lunch today was some of this delicious smoked hummmus with some crackers. I don’t get to eat it very often because I can only seem to find it at Waitrose and that’s not my usual shop. I got to go to the store n a nearby town this week so I made sure to pick up some goodies including 2 pots of this hummus, some fancy dark chocolate and a 6 pack of my favorite soda (San Pellegrino grapefruit)

4. My Mum came to visit last week so I had a couple of days off of work. We went to the Herbert gallery to see the new exhibition of Grayson Perry’s tapestries called “The vanity of small differences“. I loved seeing all the tapestries in person and how amazingly detailed they were. I sneakily snapped a picture of this one as I was drawn to the scene in the kitchen with the mugs and cafetiere.

and now I’ve off to work on a secret craft project and watch something on Netflix.

Tiny things Tuesday #45

I haven’t been in the mood to write here on a Tuesday for a few weeks (in fact, looking at the calendar, I didn’t post at all in March). I think because I had been attending my evening class and we had tests to study for so I was a little reticent to cut into my studying/panicking time with writing here. Class has now finished and I’m waiting to see if they are going to run one for the summer term (which will be a refresher course rather than covering much new stuff).

I’ve got so much out of taking these classes even if I didn’t actually “succeed” in the sense of passing the certificate. I can now read hiragana pretty well and I’m taking baby steps towards learning katakana ready for my trip later in the year. I would say that I know at least 100 words or phrases which is about 95 more than I knew before I started the class! Plus it’s really increased my confidence in the sense that I am able to set out and do what I planned to.

and that leads me to the exciting news that…I’VE BOOKED MY FLIGHTS! I’ll be taking a solo trip to Tokyo for 11 nights in October. It actually feels real now that I have booked and I’m starting to make many, many lists of things to do and places to visit.

Here’s this weeks things;

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1. I did an order from iHerb a few weeks ago for the first time. One of the things I was excited to get was this lip balm. I have a lot of other crazy rumors balms as they are sold in Holland and Barrett in the UK but they don’t stock this flavour. It’s so good! just like cinnamon rolls with frosting.

2. Life is Strange – I have been re-playing some of my old favourite games recently rather than looking at anything new but then at the weekend – this arrived! I haven’t played much of it yet but it’s an interesting premise and so far I like what I have seen in terms of the application of it. From what I’ve seen so far, it’s not a typical action game – more like an immersive story similar to Gone Home (which I also enjoyed) – I love being able to read through diary entries and look at all the things you encounter in the environment.

3. Zombies, run! – Speaking of games, I got a new phone a few weeks ago and for the first time in years – I actually have some spare space of it. This means I’ve re-installed this game and gone out for some walks while playing it. So far, I’m re-listening to episodes that I have heard before to catch up on the story but I’m looking forward to hearing more.

4. I had a mini bottle of this Chocolate cookie syrup in a gift set a while ago but decided to treat myself to a full size bottle for when I am drinking coffee at home. The other benefit is that I can have fancy coffee at home when I feel like doing that instead of going out to get it.

Till next time…

Looking forward

I’ve been kinda fed up over the last few weeks. I’ve struggled to get myself out of a mental slump and to find things to care about. Everything just felt a bit much.

I’ve had a really nice weekend hanging out with J and some other pals as well as spending time alone. I’ve been thinking tonight about how many things I have to look forward to, so I thought I would jot them down as a reminder to myself. I may come back and add more as I remember them.

★ The guidebook to Tokyo I ordered arriving so I can start planning my trip.
★ Being able to book my flights in the next few months.
★ Seeing my Mum in April.
★ The announcement for the first lot of bands playing Indietracks in the next few days
★ New season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt in April.
★ A second album from Martha coming out at some point in the hopefully not too distant future.
★ Going to see Deadpool again on Tuesday with my friend Kate.
★ An afternoon tea at a beautiful venue to celebrate a friends birthday.
★ Working on and hopefully finishing my crochet blanket ready to snuggle under in winter.
★ Making a coffee with the freshly ground pecan flavoured beans I brought at the weekend.
★My Seed bottle arriving from the indiegogo campaign that I supported.

Now I’m going to read in bed, because I’ve spent far too much time on my laptop today.