Not much is making me happy at the moment, but this video (and song) really is

“i’m sorry if i accidentally implied
i’m sorry if i explicitly promised
i’m sorry if i swore on lives other than mine
my cat my dog my sister
i hope they’ll be alright”

Better late than never…

I haven’t written my goals for the year here yet – a combination of trying to decide where the line is between pushing myself and setting myself up to fail by setting goals that are too strict or too ambitious plus using the majority of my energy up with working and fighting off winter germs.

I’ve also been struggling about how much I want to share of my “real” life here. This is both in terms of how vulnerable to make myself when discussing issues like my physical and mental health, but also how much I want to make certain facts public about myself.

On the flip side of that, I don’t want to present too much of a sanitised view of my life. I focus on the positives quite a bit here and a lot of what I share is only about certain topics. I guess I don’t want to give the impression that I am wafting my life away in a polka dot haze of instagram filters, whimsy and laughter. I can be twee as fuck but I also live in a pretty messy house, I can be quite lazy and slobby at times and I go through periods where it’s all I can do to scrape myself out of bed in the morning.

Anyway, on with my goals. My caveat to all of this is that I plan to buy a house this year, so a lot of my goals will be written with the knowledge that I will have that going on in the background.

Studying & learning
 I want to carry on with my Japanese study and reach level 10 on Wanikani, as well as complete the Japanese for Busy people textbook and workbook. I’m currently about half way through level 3 which is the last free level. I’ve found it a bit hard to pitch a reasonable goal here as I have no idea how steep the learning curve will be once I start on the paid for levels.
 I would like to attend at least one evening or day class where I learn a new creative or practical skill.
 On top of this, I would like to take some drum lessons as I’ve really enjoyed drumming as part of the Wasp drummers in the last few months

Travel 
 I would like to go on one short break either in Europe or the UK with my Mum
 I would also like to go away somewhere with Joe for a few nights
 I would like to visit at least 3 cities or towns in the UK that I haven’t been before

Creating
 I would like to complete the colourful crochet blanket that I have been working on. The majority of te squares are made for this, I just need to join them together and then crochet a border on them.
 I would like to finish the o-w-l-s jumper which I recently re-started after leaving my previous version half finished for ages and being unable to work out where I was at on the pattern.
 I would also like to try more general creative “stuff” by keeping a sketchbook of sketches, doodles and collages

Other
 I’ve set myself the Goodreads goal of reading 70 books this year. For context, last year I read 98 (and my goal was 52)
 This isn’t very quantifiable – but I want to cut down on the amount of time I spend on social media, particularly facebook as I find it both a time suck and something that doesn’t really aid my mood a lot of the time
 Finally, I would like to work more towards having a space to live where I feel at home rather than just somewhere that all my stuff happens to be

Tiny Things Tuesday #48

Ah January, you are kind of a bitch. I’m struggling with my mental health at the moment. It’s nothing big, just January blues (at least I think) so I am trying to set myself small goals each day, find things to look forward to and plan lots of chill out time for my evenings and weekends.

I have got out of the habit of writing my Tuesday posts here but I wanted to make an effort to write in here again especially when it’s not always as easy to see the small positive things.

img_6759   img_6760

img_6761   img_6766

1. I wore this pin from Punky Pins today to work to cheer me up and remind me of the joy of coffee. If you don’t recognise the quote – it’s from Stranger Things – you can see a gif of the scene here. I’m looking forward to series 2 coming later this year and the pin is also a pretty good summation of how I like my mornings.

2. Even though I am not going to lessons any more, I am still carrying on with my Japanese study. At the moment I am using wanikani to start to learn kanji. The system they use really seems to work well and I like how from the start, you learn some useful kanji.

3. I’m still going to visit my squirrel pals when I am in the city centre. Last time I went looking for them, they were all hiding from the rain but I did see this trio of pigeons. I love their markings.

4. Look at my amazing scarf! I got it in the winter Pusheen subscription box (which was a Christmas gift) I wont go on about everything in the box but I will say that it is really good value and I’m so excited to get my other boxes through out this year.

Till next time..

So, 2016 then…

I wrote about my goals for 2016 just over a year ago on this blog. I thought I would write a little about how those worked out before writing about what my plans are for this year.

star Complete and pass my Japanese for beginners class – I finished my classes but I didn’t get the certificate as I struggled with the listening particularly. I’m still carrying on learning on my own though so it still feels like a positive
star Renew my passport and plan a trip to see my friend Lisa in Tokyo in October – I did this! I still haven’t written up my trip. I was also lucky enough to go to Luxembough for a break with J which I hadn’t originally planned.
star Grow my hair and get a fringe cut back in (I’ve tried to get away for it, but I always end up with fringe envy!) – Yup, my hair is slowly growing and I’m back to having a fringe (which is currently in need of a trim)
star Take a second silversmithing class (This is something that I’m almost sure will happen because my Mum generously paid for this as my Christmas gift) – This actually didn’t happen because I didn’t seek out one to do as I got caught up with both work and my travel plans.
star Have a massive overhaul of my possessions and our current house (ready for the next point) – I did this a bit but not as much as I wish I had (which means there is still a lot to do)
star Keep saving towards buying our own place – Yup! I did this every month bar November and December
star Carry on writing in this blog on a regular basis – ish! I mean, I didn’t write a lot but I did still post a few things here
star Write another perzine and another issue of Rebel, Rebel – I didn’t make any zines at all in 2016 aside from a tiny mini zine about stationery that I made just before Weirdo zine fest.
star Read at least 52 books (an average of 1 per week) – Yup! I read 98 books in the end

On reflection, I think I did ok. My year was personally a good one even though I felt upset, dejected and shaken at times by the state of the world and what seemed like a non-stop stream of bad news on a local, national and global scale.

Aside from getting to travel – I rediscovered a love for knitting socks, enjoyed watched iZombie, Crazy Ex-girlfriend and Gilmore Girls, drank a lot of coffee, got to hang out with friends at various events, went to a few gigs and also started walking a lot more.

2017 goals are currently brewing in my brain so I will write about those in the next few days

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;

img_5388     img_5389

img_5395     img_5396

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.

dscf5131

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)

dscf5017

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.

dscf5064

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

dscf5141

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)

dscf5170

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.

dscf5158

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…

dscf5211

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!

img_5284

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.

img_5297

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.

image

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!

image

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.