Saturday, 30 January 2016

Hello 2016

I meant to do a 2015 recap way sooner than this but due to an eventful start to the year i.e. I was holidaying in SE Asia with my family, developed a nasty cold on returning home and then the brand new series of X Files started, I'm a little late to the party. Better late than ever they say so here I am reflecting on the year just ended and looking forward to the next 11 months.

2015 was great, one of the best years I've had in a long time actually and it basically boils down to a couple of reasons.

I got a new job.

Those who know me will absolutely reiterate how unhappy I was in my previous job. I spent over 4 years working for a large company in a traditional science based role. My issues didn't stem from my colleagues (they're great and I miss working with them very much) but from the management who basically didn't give a flying fuck about my job or how I wanted to progress career wise. I was left feeling completely demotivated, unhappy and disrespected. It was only on my last day that my boss realised how important my job actually was and that my contribution to the team was valued. I know I should have said more to him about my discontent whilst I worked there but I'm not good at complaining and I know this is a problem I need to deal with. I'm irked by the people who complain about being super busy whilst fretting around the office not actually doing any work as I sit at my desk and get on with my tasks. And that's were the issue lay, to succeed you had to play the game and I am frankly not interested in such childish exploits. I work, not because I love it, but because it pays for me to do to things that I do love so the less stress the better. Work is not the be all and end all to life so working in a place where it felt like it was did not sit well with me. Everyone in the office seemed unhappy and I'm pretty sure it was thanks to management's 'live-to-work' attitude rather than the other way around. To top it off, I spent at least 3 hours commuting everyday which meant I was spending almost half my day either at work or travelling, and for a job I quite frankly hated this wasn't ideal.

In August I got a new job in the field of science communications. This means I do stuff like social media, outreach and writing media content on a day-to-day basis and I am so much happier for it. Not only do I have a quick train journey to work but I am working in an environment where people are encouraging of what you do and gaining experience in your areas of interest. Everyone works hard but there isn't the expectation to spend every waking hour of your week in front of a computer screen.

Changing jobs to a more pleasurable environment, location and role has definitely contributed to my increased state of happiness and general well being.

Wow, I didn't actually mean to have a massive rant about my old job in this post but looking back on the past 6 months I realise just how crazy the previous years made me feel. I think I have some unresolved issues with my time there but I'm moving on and starting to feel more like myself and a valued member of staff. I've always been a laid back person and it never occurred to me that my job could play such havoc with my emotional state but now I realise just how easily it can. My advice to anyone in a job they don't like is to focus on finding yourself a new position and reminding yourself that a job isn't forever. Job hunting is a pain and you really do need to give yourself ample time during the application process but it will pay off in the end. Life is too short to be in a job that makes you unhappy.

The second thing that has contributed to my happiness is my boyfriend Steve.

I kind of hate to admit that a person, other than myself, can have such an impact of my sense of being but when I met Steve in December 2013 my life changed and 2 years on I am still living in a continued state of absolute glee. Steve and I met online on the music website Tastebuds. Back then I was kind of embarrassed to admit that but now I give zero fucks about telling people the truth. The website is a sort of music discovery, find a gig buddy type place that you can also use for online dating. Back then you didn't have to pay to privately message people but now you do which is a real pity because I don't think Steve and I would have ended up meeting if we'd been required to splash the cash.

Anyway, back to my sickening love letter, Steve is the most perfect human I've ever met. I'm an independent gal who doesn't need looking after but Steve makes me feel safe, loved and super duper can't even describe it happy. We have been on so many exciting adventures and I know there's a million more yet to come. 2015 was another amazing year for travel and we spent a long weekend in Paris, 2 weekends in our favourite UK city Glasgow, an out of this world 2 week road trip around Iceland, a foodie tour of the Basque Country, a Christmas weekend in Germany which is soon becoming a tradition of ours (Cologne and Düsseldorf this time) and a couple of trips to Ireland to see our families. I've always been a big traveller whether it was on my own or with friends but I wouldn't have been able to do some of these trips if it wasn't for Steve. We are so similar in terms of the things we love and I really do think Steve is the male equivalent of myself. We both love music and we spend a lot of time going to gigs, festivals, discovering new bands and rummaging through charity shop for second hand vinyl. The thing we love most of all is food and Steve is just as eager to explore the new restaurants of London as I am.

This year we have some wonderful trips planned including a quick weekend in Luxembourg, our annual pilgrimage to Scandinavia (this time to Gothenburg), a huge 3 week trip to Japan and South Korea for my 30th birthday and of course a visit to Germany in December (location pending). Even when we're not abroad we spend our weekends discovering areas of London we haven't been to before or trying to find local gems that make us feel better about living in Wimbledon. We've been in our flat for over a year now and whilst we're both not totally fond of South London, Wimbledon in particular, we're trying to make the best of it. Steve is from North London and these last 2 years I've fallen in love with the area. I hope that one day we can move back to his home town of Highbury as it's a wonderful location. Until then Wimbledon will have to do and to be perfectly honest, when I'm here with Steve it really isn't too bad.

So as you can tell I'm really excited about 2016. We've got lots planned and that's means lots of planning which I love. I've got my guidebooks ready and have already been making notes, we've got quite a few exciting gigs lined up and over the next couple of months we'll be making up our minds about which summer festivals to hit.

I haven't really made any resolutions for 2016 but I would really like to get back into running as it's been far too long. Also, trying not to go out and spend so much would be a bonus, that trip to Japan and town house in HIghbury isn't going to pay for itself!

Please do leave my any tips if you've ever been to Japan, Korea, Luxembourg city or Gothenburg as it really will help with the planning process.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

RESTAURANT REVIEW: The Exhibit, Balham

Despite it's proximity to Wimbledon, Balham is a place I haven't visited many times so when I was invited to check out the newly refurbished Exhibit Bar I was intrigued to see what this local Balham restaurant had to offer. The Exhibit is a multi purpose venue with a bar on the ground floor, restaurant and private dinning room on the first floor and a cinema which does public and private screenings at the top.

I visited on a Thursday where all you can drink prosecco for £20 is on offer to all diners. Paired with a selection of tapas from the restaurant, Steve and I had a very nice dinner.

Chilli pork taco

Fish taco

White bean and avocado taco

Patatas Bravas

Jamon croquettes

Deep fried braised pork and potato ball

Braised ox cheek and macoroni cheese

Chocolate mousse

The menu had a nice mix of traditional and fusion inspired tapas. I really enjoyed the tacos, the fish one in particular as it tasted light and fresh. The braised ox cheek was incredibly rich, made even more so by the mac n cheese accompaniment. They may be simple but jamon croquettes are one of my favourite Spanish foods as are patatas bravas, both dishes here were very nice. We finished the meal with a lovely little pot of chocolate mousse. I liked The Exhibit, the atmosphere was relaxed and the interior made the large space feel cosy. It's a great local spot for anyone living in the nearby area.

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Monday, 30 November 2015

Christmas Gift Guide: for people who like burgers

To follow up the success of my previous travel gift guide, initials gift guide and music gift guide I bring you my highly sought after burger gift guide. My previous Christmas gift guides are still current today so I definitely recommend you give them a look over for some festive ideas. Like the others, burgers are another passion of mine so here's a list of some great gifts for the carnivores in your life.

burger gift guide

Hopefully there's something on here to fulfil all your burger dreams. From burger themed jewellery we have this wonderful acrylic perspex burger necklace from Black Heart Creatives, a decadent chunky gold burger chain necklace from Wolf and Badger, an amusing chicken burger necklace and a delicate burger necklace with 9 cute little burger charms. John Lewis have a cute eraser and sharpener set and ASOS have this fabulous set of House of Holland burger themed fake nails. In terms of clothes pick up this retro looking burger tshirt or a quirky pair of burger socks. Get cooking with this burger shaped cook book and look super cool at your Christmas party with these novelty burger glasses. The burger plush toy is super cute if not a little over priced and this burger iPhone case is ridiculous and huge. Wrap everything up in the burger gift bag with a set of burger stickers for good measure.

Finally, get yourself down to Paperchase and pick up a decadent burger bauble for a fiver.

How many times can someone write burger in one blog post?

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