- My new job: the people are really friendly, the office is a crafter’s heaven, and the work is very interesting. I’ve learned more InDesign in a fortnight than in the previous two years!
- S’ homemade butternut squash and chorizo soup. It’s May but it’s still flipping cold!
- Finally christening our new tent, eighteen months after buying it, with a trip to North Wales. Stunning scenery, excellent company and a tent so large we could fit ourselves, a bike, all our gear and still have room to host a dinner party, should we so wish to. Plus it’s so large that there’s no way we can forget this one.
- Giving in after ten years and going mountain biking with S. My trousers are not loving this so much: I managed to split my faithful outdoors pair right down the crotch after an ungainly dismount!
- Planning more trips for this summer: added to France and Germany is a visit to Ireland in June to catch up with German friend B and her husband.
- My new Tom Ford lip shine, courtesy of a very nice wedding magazine beauty jolly one afternoon last month. Also loving: Estee Lauder Heat Wave shimmery powder.
- Meeting our niece again, who’s now seven months old and very, very cute.
- The prospect of another bank holiday in two weeks!
I start my new job on Monday, so I promised myself that I’d get all my freelance work finished in advance so I could have a week of doing pretty much nothing before I started. Happily this week coincided with us getting a free Love Film trial for instant films and programmes through our TV, and also with S buying me a new papasan cushion as a surprise (it’s so much squishier than the old one!), meaning I’ve been enjoying a mix of reading, sleeping in, getting small jobs done around the place and gorging myself on old episodes of Dawson’s Creek (please don’t judge me) and Only Fools and Horses.
Through the wedding magazine I was invited down to Harvey Nichols to preview the Tom Ford, Estee Lauder and Clinique summer make up ranges. Although technically it was work, spending a couple of hours surrounded by perfumes and make up wasn’t a hardship, and I was very lucky and ended up with goodie bags filled with more products than I usually buy in a decade. This is in no way a sponsored post, but I do highly recommend the Tom Ford lip colour shine (I have it in Quiver and Insidious, but will be donating the former to my mother) and Clinique’s A Different Nail Enamel, which is formulated for sensitive skin (never thought people could be allergic to varnish, but apparently so). My favourite is Really Rio, a gorgeous summery coral colour, and which has so far lasted two days without chipping. It also matches my favourite hoodie, but I think that’s just a bonus.
We also started doing a really fun interactive story telling event in Bristol, These Pages Fall Like Ash. As soon as I saw that Neil Gaiman was involved I had to buy a ticket, as he’s one of my favourite authors and someone whose use of language and ideas never fail to dazzle me. Once you’ve signed up, you receive a wooden book – which is in itself really amazing – with half a narrative and the locations of where you can wirelessly access the remaining stories. You then walk around the city, finding the hidden routers, and download the pages onto your phone or Kindle.
We spent a happy afternoon wandering around in the sunshine, deciphering the clues as to where the routers were, and seeing the tale unfold. There were a few teething problems – two of them didn’t work, which was a little frustrating – but the concept is so clever and I’m really looking forward to reading more stories as they’re released over the next week.
This week has been a really nice relaxing preparation for my first days at the new job. I know it’s going to be tiring, having to be in the same place at the same time every day – for the first time in five years! – and also doing something I feel I don’t know a lot about at the moment. But I’m also excited to have a new challenge and to be working full time on a job which is going to be very creative. If you had told me two years ago that I’d be doing this role, I wouldn’t have believed you. Sometimes life works out in ways you can never expect or predict. And I’m glad, because it means you can end up in some amazing places.
Yesterday the sun appeared for just long enough to give the suggestion that spring is finally here and summer’s not too far behind. (Today is colder and overcast but I’m ignoring it.) This hint of warmth got me thinking about all the things I’m looking forward to this summer. Pints outside in beer gardens. Trapeze classes with the windows open. Sunglasses, bare legs and shorts. Late night drinks on the harbourside, dangling feet over the edge, always mindful of not dropping flip flops in the water. Camping trips to the sea. Skin being sticky with sun cream. Eating dinner outside in our garden. Those gentle breezes that carry the scent of flowers and cut grass. Taking a picnic to the park to watch the balloons drift over. The cat stretched out in a patch of sunlight, smelling of warm fur and contentment.
Singapore seems to be one of those places that people visit because of a flight stopover, not because it’s a destination in its own right. We certainly fell into that category: we had to change flights there, so decided to take some time to explore the city. I’d heard it was similar to Hong Kong, which I really liked, and anywhere that serves noodles and dim sum is fine by me.
I’m very glad we did get out of the airport, as we both really, really liked Singapore. Our two days there was just the right amount of time to walk around and get a feel for some of the different neighbourhoods. Plus I finally got to buy a mah jong tile bracelet, something I have been wanting for years after first seeing them in HK.
Oh, and eat. A lot.
For me, Singapore was mostly about the food. We weren’t expecting it to be so cheap to eat out, so we made full use of all the food courts with their excellent selection of stalls. Pork floss buns, Indian sweets, laksa, pig’s organ soup, sour cherry juice, pig’s trotter, pickled vegetables, sugar cane juice – lots of delicious things to try!
Also, you can’t go to Singapore and not visit Raffles.
Sadly there wasn’t enough in the coffers to partake of a Singapore Sling there, but hopefully next time.
The weather in Singapore always seems to be stormy, and it was no different for us. We got caught in a thunderstorm that lasted two hours, so we – along with two hundred other people – took shelter under a bridge and watched the lightning fork across the sky.
I was also incredibly impressed by Changi airport. I’d heard good things about it, and it didn’t disappoint. It seems strange to wax lyrical about a nation’s aeronautical hub, but honestly, Changi is a dream (especially compared with, say, Heathrow). Free sweets at immigration, wifi, an amazing kinetic sculpture in the departures lounge, and one of the best meals of the entire trip while we were waiting for our flight to be called. I still dream about that dim sum.
After Singapore, we had another short stopover in Bangkok, again as a requirement of our ticket. Both S and I had visited there before separately – him in 2000, me in 2010, so it was lovely to be there together. We realised after my trip there that we’d stayed in the same hostel on the Khao San Road – what are the odds? – so we decided to go there again, for old time’s sake.
For S, revisiting the Khao San Road was like being in his own version of Hot Tub Time Machine.
A lot had changed in the intervening 12 years, and the first few hours of the trip were him exclaiming things like: “There’s a MacDonalds!” “Where’s that lovely bookshop gone?” “Why are there so many women selling wooden frogs?”
It was even quite different from my time in 2010: a lot busier, less fish massages but more food stalls. There was even one selling deep fried insects. (We didn’t try them.)
Since neither of us had gone to the floating markets before, we did a half day trip outside of the city to see one of them. It was very touristy and ridiculously hot, but I’m glad we did it.
Afterwards we walked to Jim Thompson’s house and saw the gardens, where they were making silk.
And then – I am slightly ashamed to type this, but do bear in mind that we’d been travelling for two months, and we all need a break – we went to an air conditioned shopping mall and I had a hair cut at Toni and Guy. Which was one of the best cuts I’ve ever had, and the fact that this amazing stylist is in South East Asia and not in Bristol can only be called sod’s law.
We also visited a temple in Bangkok, because I think it’s obligatory. There were a lot of bells there, and we had a lot of fun ringing them.
Although we didn’t know it at the time, Singapore and Thailand were good bridges between Bali and India, taking us from the laid back atmosphere of Bali to the insanity that was awaiting us in Delhi.
- Thursday night TV – new How I Met Your Mother followed by Nashville – great storylines and also great hair.
- My Neutrogena Wave power cleanser – keeping my skin happy in this ever-continuing cold weather.
- Lapsang Souchong tea – it’s smoky! And delicious!
- S’ homemade fruitcake – we’ve had one on the go in the house since Christmas.
- My new turquoise jeans – springtime colour even though spring itself seems to have got lost.
- Instagram – just discovered it (late to the party, I know) and am loving it. I’m @westcountrypostcards if you want to come and see multiple photos of Olivia stalking things.
- A Song of Fire and Ice - I’m currently half way through Book 3 and already impatient for George R R Martin to finish the series.
- Having a haircut after five months – my hair is a lot easier to tame when it’s short.
- Our new Tassimo coffee machine – we got it for free from our neighbour in return for selling a juicer for him on eBay.
- Lie ins on a weekday – before they disappear next month!