Monday, 21 January 2013

My Favourite Places: St Werburghs City Farm

Still somewhat a country girl at heart (after spending my teens desperate to escape the seeming confines of open space), one of my favourite places to go in Bristol is St Werburghs City Farm. The route I take to get there cuts through allotments and brings me out by the pig pen. Sometimes it's easy to feel like fresh air doesn't really exist in a city, even a green, leafy one like this. This walk always reminds me and brings me back down to earth. These photos were all taken in October, on my first visit to the farm.

St Werburghs City Farm cafe - it feels like a hobbit hole!
The house in the middle of the allotments. 
Everyone needs a place to go when they need to feel at home. What's yours?

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

My Monday: always late!

Snacks and telly with Lori.
I don't usually go in for new years resolutions, but in 2012 I vowed to stop being late. I was no stranger to the flustered guilt and warm cheeks that accompany being tardy - to everything. I did well. I stopped letting friends down, scurrying into the back of lecture theatres and missing the first five minutes of Hollyoaks. In 2013, it seems my standards have slipped. So let's pretend it's still the start of the week: still Monday.

My Monday was spent under precisely four blankets at my friend Lori's house, with two flavours of Dorito's, a tub of hoummous and season one of GIRLS. I'd never seen it before and, while the character of Hannah still rubs me up the wrong way, I'll admit I like it.

I've been LISTENING to a lot of Allo Darlin' and have just finished READING P. Robert Smith's Up a Tree in the Park at Night with a Hedgehog (a bit of a mouthful but a great read). My WEEKEND comprised poached eggs, dancing in rubbish bars on Park Street and cuddling up to watch telly with Lori.

Friday, 11 January 2013

My 21 days of Christmas: ringing in the new year!

This new years eve brought with it a surprise: my friend Sabina booked last minute flights and came down to Bristol to see me. In preparation for the night of dancing we had ahead of us, we had to build - and save - our energy, so we started off her visit with a trip to Tart for breakfast (the fluffiest pancakes with maple syrup), then strolled home where we spent hours catching up and watching Twin Peaks. After an afternoon of ogling Special Agent Dale Cooper, we headed to Cox & Baloney for tea (Catherine of Braganza) and generous heaps of lasagne, before stocking up on Archer's, vodka, elderflower cordial and lemonade. In a splash, we had the most refreshing cocktail and soon we were dressed in our gladrags and on the way to the Cube cinema.

Catherine of Braganza tea @ Cox & Baloney

Dressed in my finest
The Cube hosted a 99p NYE party and as we arrived I could hear "Rapture" by Blondie playing and knew the night was going to be a good one. After meeting Lori and co, we guzzled ginger beer all evening and shook our tail feathers to a brilliant soundtrack of hits. Lori couldn't wait until the "unwanted gift swap" (did that ever happen, anyway? I don't recall it happening!) so she persuaded a girl to hand over her foam "BOO" hand for the princely sum of four party poppers.

Lori, me, and Sabina booing.
 As the all-important hour came close to striking, everyone piled into the cinema itself, squashing into the gilded red seats, to watch the countdown on the screen: film scenes and numbers flashing across our retinas as the excitement bubbled towards its climax. Lori had brought enough party poppers for our little group and we perched at the edge of the room, ready to unleash streamers over the heads of the other gleeful Cube-goers.

Party poppers!

Countdown ft. Lori
 Suddenly, the place erupted: it was 2013! The year you learn to unicycle, put a deposit down for a mortgage, finally learn how to use that fancy coffee machine your girlfriend got you in 2010, get a fringe cut in, take up yoga, learn to knit, find true love, eat a lot of cheese on toast. Or just be yourself.

We streamed back towards the bar, learned they'd run out of ginger beer (Sabina and I shared the last bottle, sorry everyone) and resumed dancing like it was 2012. Around 3.30 our feet protested and we made our way home, singing the praises of garlic sauce (something Southerners just don't get).

The next day, we walked for over two hours to get to Lori's house and the feast she had waiting for us. And you know what? The start of this year may be worlds away from the life I had at the start of last, but I wouldn't change a thing.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

My 21 days of Christmas: solo Christmassing

There's a strange taboo that lingers in the air around the notion of spending Christmas alone. Rushed offers are extended: You must join us! I'll cook you a roast! It'll be nice to have company on Christmas day! The last is the indicator: we should spend time together because it's Christmas. Not that the people who made these offers weren't people I enjoy spending time with. But a Christmas without my own family was always going to be a bit odd and I wanted to indulge myself and have some "me" time. To most people, the very idea of being alone on Christmas day is a hideous tragedy, but I've test-driven it for you and let me assure you, a lonely Christmas is the new nicking the green triangles out of the tin of Quality Street and wearing your Christmas cracker hats while you watch Doctor Who.

I spent the morning at work, rising before the crack of dawn (if we're going to make this an accurate account). The atmosphere was fairly cheery, all things considered, but soon we were all finished and people were rushing off to see their families and tuck into their turkey dinners. I returned home in soft sunshine and finally looked in my stocking (it was sent, sealed, down from Durham with me the week before Santa was kind to me), before setting out on a walk. It felt like the right thing to do. At home, we always used to take the dog for a long walk in the snow after we'd given our dinner time to settle. Here, there was no snow, nor a dog, but St. Andrew's Park was bright and after following the winding paths around and reading of the parks history, I found myself climbing higher up the paved hills into Montpelier, spending fifteen minutes on a swing set and walking back up a deserted Gloucester Road.

St Andrew's Park


Berkeley Road looking onto Sommerville Road

The Arches
I stayed out far longer than I had planned, returning home in darkness and more than ready for my Christmas dinner - but I still had to cook it from scratch! I swapped roasties for double helpings of roast parsnips and enjoyed the whole thing with a glass of Crabbie's ginger beer and the Outnumbered Christmas special.

Christmas dinner for one
I must have done something right because after that I was too full to move! I managed to peel myself from my chair and into my bedroom, where, after opening my presents, I constructed the perfect den, clambered inside and watched Love Actually with a box of M&S chocolates.

Monday, 7 January 2013

My Monday: the first of 2013

This Monday has been a quiet one. I stayed up too late on Saturday night, twirling and laughing and eventually walking home and crawling into bed, and my body is still catching up with the lag from that.

Lazy mornings journalling in bed
I can't quite believe that it has arrived: 2013. It sounds all a wrong in my mouth and it's the first year in thirteen that I haven't begun in the northeast. I began it instead with a handful of friends and a bottle of ginger beer, screaming out my elation in a microplex cinema.

And today, I began with coffee, a crêpe, and a spot of READING (Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Leviathan) and bringing my journal up to date before flinging myself out into the sunshine to buy out half of the greengrocer's shop and pick up a spinach tortilla from La Ruca, all while LISTENING to Blondie.

A Spanish tortilla and a blood orange.
This WEEKEND is all but gone, but the week ahead will be a good one: after all, I've got a fridge full of fresh fruit and I'll see my Dad towards the end of it.