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.

Tiny things Tuesday #44

It was (pretty much) still daylight when I left work today. YES! Spring is coming.

I had a good weekend where I went to a gig in Birmingham on Friday to see T-shirt Weather, Okinawa Picture Show, No Ditching and Jesus and his Judgemental father. They were all really good live and it was nice to hang out with pals too.

On Saturday I slept a lot to make up for my late night (we got home at midnight which is pretty much now classed as a late night for me) On Sunday I went to the cinema to see Deadpool with J and we ate katsu curry at Wagamamas. I loved Deadpool (aside from that one really transphobic “joke” which pissed me off) and it was nice to have some ridiculous escapism on a Sunday afternoon. When we came out of Wagamamas there was even a few flakes of snow falling.

Here’s this weeks things;

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1. Look at this valentines card that my sponsor owl Iolo sent me! What a cutie!

2. I was also treated to this cute mug from J (and made breakfast in bed) I had spotted it in town before but thought it was a bit egocentric to buy it for myself so I was happy to get it as a gift.

I feel like I don’t have much to write about these but that doesn’t matter. I’m filling out a gratitude diary each night that a friend sent me from Flow and it’s really nice to just write a few things about positive stuff.

Till next time…

Tiny things Tuesday #43

My laptop is back! The positive was that it wasn’t the harddrive so I haven’t lost any of my data. It’s so nice to be able to type properly and listen to all the music that I didn’t have on my ipod.

I’m finding that I have too much to do at the moment and not so much a case of not enough time but a case of not enough time to relax AND do the things I need or want to do. I’m still learning my own limits. Taking one evening a night to attend a class leaves me a little exhausted the following night so I find that I just spend evenings either at class, studying or relaxing. I feel guilty sometimes like I should be doing more but then when I try to do more, I wipe myself out.

Here’s this weeks things;

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1. I have been hoarding this unicorn horn bath bar for month now and finally used it on Sunday evening. It was lovely to relax with after a weekend of tidying and sorting. I also put on a face mask and concentrated on stretching out my achy back and legs.

2. The sad ghost club does some wonderful work around mental health support and awareness as well as making some super cute illustrations. I treated myself to one of their shirts last week and its so soft and lovely.

3. I love pancakes! They are a staple thing that I will make for people who stay over at our house (and just for me and J on a weekend if I am feeling fancy). I usually make crepe style ones but after having some amazing american style ones that my friend Sarah made, I tried making my own tonight (and last night as a practice run) I used this recipe from Edgy Veg and it worked so well. I substituted the coconut oil with standard sunflower oil and found the trick was to wait until bubbled came through the batter to the topside before flipping them over.

4. I haven’t finished reading the whole of “The life changing magic of tidying up” by Marie Kondo but I liked what I have read. I’m working on overhauling my house at the moment and at the weekend I used Marie’s method of organizing clothes to sort my wardrobe and drawers. Look at all my neatly folded tops! I hope it’s something I can maintain.

Till next time…

Tiny things Tuesday #42

I went to Weirdo Zine fest in London at the weekend. I even managed to make a tiny zine to take with me dedicated to my love of stationery.

The zine fest was a lot of fun and I’m glad I went although it did wipe me out energy wise pretty much all of yesterday. I’m so glad that I booked the day off of work to sleep and recuperate. It was really good to be able to visit DIY Spare for London too. Such a good idea and I would love to see something like this happen in the West Midlands.

Here’s this weeks things;

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1. I haven’t really had chance to read all of the lovely looking zines that I picked up yet but I just wanted to highlight this beautiful patch that I got alongside the SAD care zine from Kim Searle – there were a few designs to choose from in the patches but I loved the look of this one most of all. The other designs came on stickers in the pack though so I didn’t feel like I missed out on them.

2. Someone added me to a crochet group on facebook and I keep meaning to leave because it’s pretty high traffic but every time I do, I see loads of lovely projects and yarn so maybe I’ll keep on there for a while. A lot of people on the group have been making C2C blankets (corner to corner) and I really liked how they look especially with variegated yarns so I decided to start my own at the weekend as a more portable project that the other blanket I am working on (which uses 14 colours of yarn so isn’t that portable) I used this post and video tutorial to learn how to make this blanket.

3. As today is the start of my working week, it was good to have the added motivation of going out for a curry and catch up with some friends tonight to get me through the day. I’ve had such a craving for curry lately (possibly as I have been drooling over Jack Monroe’s Instagram feed. Everything that they make looks so delicious)

4. I got my fringe cut back in on Friday so today I have been revelling in all of the “ooh nice hair” compliments. I’m unsure if I am going to keep dyeing it purple and green shares for much longer so I combined my left over bits of dye to give myself a mixed shade new look! I feel much more “me” with a fringe again. It’s hard to explain but it just feel really right.

Wanna know what David Bowie was doing when he was your age. This website makes it easy (to realise you are wasting your life!)

Till next time…