In which there is a lot to catch up on


I’m sitting here looking out on a grey sky and with the leaves whirling off the trees, so it’s safe to say that autumn is most definitely here.

August, September and October passed in a haze of work — I’ve been mostly fully booked as a freelancer, to which, yay! — but also lots of much more fun things. We saw a comedy gig in the zoo, we watched one of the comedians from that gig (Adam Hills) film his television show The Last Leg a week later (stalker alert!), we went to the Edinburgh Festival for a week and saw a load more comedians. (No more Adam though, that would just be weird.)

While in Scotland we knocked off another off the Three Peaks, accompanied by my dad, and managed to be the highest people in the entire UK for a few minutes.


I also took part in my first ever official bike event, the Stroke Association’s 25/60/100 route in September. I went for the 25 miles, as I felt the latter two were a bit much for me, but the aim was for a sub 2 hours time. I didn’t quite make it but was near enough, and it got me my first ever medal for something sporty! Hat tip to S for moral support and buying me a very stylish cycling jacket, which has special back pockets and everything.


My freelancing has also given me the freedom to take some weekdays off and visit lovely people, so I’ve finally met two friends’ new(ish) babies, and spent a lovely weekend in the warm autumn sun in Oxford with my mom.


More friends’ babies were born, so more booties were made, and I’ve started knitting my first mini teddy bear in anticipation of the five babies already expected by more friends in 2016.

We celebrated five years of marriage by spending a weekend in Lyme Regis at an amazing cottage, which was part of an old Victorian estate that had its own private beach! We kept up with tradition and ate Italian, finding a lovely restaurant in Lyme where we toasted half a decade over Prosecco and scallops with butternut squash puree and melanzane parmigiana. Then a week later we got a final dose of sunshine via a week in Portugal, staying in a little wooden hut on a farm just outside Olhao, in which pastel de nata, books, beer, fish, a trip to Seville and swimming in the sea all delightfully featured.



We have also had an offer on our old house, and fingers crossed that everything should go through by Christmas, as it would be lovely to think that the new owners can start a new year in a new home.

And now it is late autumn, and winter is coming, but we have the woodburner so all is well.

In which there is some gardening


I have to admit, my enthusiasm for home improvements is pretty low at the moment and still recovering from the epic work we did on the house. But the itch for DIY never completely goes away if there is still stuff to be completed, and boy are there definitely things to be done on the garden.

This is what the garden looked like when we bought the house in September 2013:


After being neglected for a year, and used as a building site for balcony construction, by this spring it was running a little wild. We cut down the insanely tall and light-blocking leylandii and a hell of a lot of shrubs earlier this year, having a mad chipping and burning session. We then did nothing over the summer and it ended up looking like this.


In order to create what we wanted, we decided that the best course of action was to start afresh, strip everything back to nothing and have a blank space to work with. Although it doesn’t look like it, there are some great plants in there that are well worth keeping and destroying these would have been a real shame, so we hired a gardener I’d met at the allotment in order to dig them up and pot them. Best decision ever, I have to say. I could have done this, but crucially I didn’t want to, plus this guy has way more knowledge than me and made sure the plants made a happy transition from ground to pot. After four days of his hard work and a session with his rotivator when the ground was clear, this is what we’re left with:

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Unlike the house, there’s no deadline with this so we can take our time over what happens next. We’ve got drawings, we’ve got ideas, all that needs to happen now is for me to get more enthusiastic about actually doing the work!

Oh, and in line with the rest of the country, it’s been a great year for our apple tree. Eight bags picked and still so many on there!


In which those were the months that were: June and July edition



Trips, barbecues, picnics and birthdays… June and July had a great mix of fun stuff that was planned in plus some more spontaneous things.


Watched Jaws in the woods and Dirty Dancing in a hot tub
This summer is clearly a time of watching films in odd places. As part of a Two Wheeled Cinema event, we cycled over to Leigh Woods and watched one of S’ favourite films on a lovely warm night, while eating Munchies and cider on a picnic blanket. We then rode back in the dark through a deserted Ashton Court, which was eerie but quite beautiful. Dirty Dancing in a hot tub was as much fun as it sounds — six ladies in a hot tub, waiter service to bring drinks over, a room full of equally excited girls (plus a couple of boys) and then an 80s/90s music video party afterwards.

Went to Copenhagen
My Canadian friend Steph was out there with her family, so it was too good an opportunity to pass up meeting them and visiting another country at the same time. Plus it was the week before my birthday so I claimed it as an early present. It was very similar to S’ birthday jaunt to Amsterdam earlier this year — lots of cycling, nice beer, just in a lot warmer temperatures!
Turned 33
The sun (just about) shone on my birthday week (although it was super windy), so on the Saturday before I had a picnic in Queen Square followed by drunken pizza at Renatos, and then on my actual birthday, a Wednesday, I met some friends for dinner and lots of rose. S was supposed to be away that week on a cycling trip (with my blessing) but he broke his bike (oops) and so made an appearance on the actual day after all.
Celebrated a friend’s wedding
This was one of the most fun weddings I’ve ever been too, with lots of delicious food and a lovely Somerset location. As the bride is half Indian she had a sangeet (a traditional ladies’ henna event) the night before the wedding, where I had a gorgeous pattern put on my hand as part of the celebrations and ate an amazing curry cooked by her dad.
Had a reunion in the New Forest
Best friend Z was back for a bit from Australia, so we gathered a group of university and school friends and went on a mini break to a cottage in the New Forest for a weekend. Much fizzy wine was consumed (as a starter, four of us got through four bottles by 6pm on the Friday), we saw some super cute ponies and I got to hang out with some of my favourite people.
Spotted sheep in the city
Bristol is currently hosting a Shaun the Sheep trail, where individually decorated Shauns can be found dotted around. There are 70 to ‘collect’, so over the course of a bike ride two weeks ago we got 22, then we added another 12 to the mix last weekend in between buying nice coffee and eating tiffin.
Gone freelance!
And so far it’s going very well — I’ve learned a lot about gluten free cooking and papercrafting.

In which my working life changes yet again


In a situation that I’ve encountered several times before, in just over a week I will be made redundant from my job. Unlike previous times, however, this role was maternity cover so it didn’t come as a surprise that my services would no longer be required; in fact, I’m quite amazed to discover that I qualify for redundancy pay (I’ve done two fixed term contracts back to back which have gone over the magic two years.)

In the past few months I’ve been applying for jobs in the same company, but while I was offered a role, it just wasn’t right, and something was holding me back from saying yes. Hitting ‘send’ on the email where I said thanks but no thanks was simultaneously terrifying and liberating: what if I’d made the wrong decision?

But ah, what if I’d made the right one?

And I believe I have: as of mid July I am going full-time freelance. It was a decision that took a lot of mulling over both in my head and with S, but now that the die is cast I’m really pleased I’ve done it. Going part time freelance in 2010 worked out super well and led onto wonderful things — including my current publishing career — so I have every faith that this will too.

I’ve already got work booked for the rest of July and all of August, which is fab, and the aforementioned redundancy pay will also provide a nice cushion, so for the next few weeks at least I am set. I’ll give it a go until Christmas, and then re-assess, and if my dream job comes up in the meantime then I will apply for it. But I’m excited at the prospect of being able to branch out and try new things, work for different magazines, and also at the thought of being able to go back into working for the third sector in addition to publishing. I am ready. Let’s do this!

In which that was the month that was: May issue


You’ve gotta love May, with its double bank holiday action. Shame the weather wasn’t playing ball all the time though! So this month I…

Went on another 20s’ themed hen do


I’m very glad I kept the accessories from my previous 20s hen dos as I had another one this month down in Torquay. I love a few pearls and ankle strapped shoes though, so all good with me, and this one featured a murder mystery which was fun. The bride was challenged to take a selfie with each of us that demonstrated how we knew each other: since we’re trapeze friends, that necessitated finding somewhere to go upside down! We ended up hanging from our hocks on the fence outside the Torquay big wheel — and just got the photo before we were angrily told off by a cafe owner.

Continued working on the garden


S hired a breaker and filled up an entire 6 yard skip with concrete, which I helped to load, and the absence of piles and piles and piles of concrete means we have more of a blank canvas to start with. A friend from work is training to be a garden designer and has offered to do some sketches for us of what we could do with the space, so I’m excited to see what she comes up with.

Enjoyed two bank holidays

For the first one we mostly lazed on the balcony, which had its glass put in on the Sunday, and drank Prosecco to celebrate. For the second we had thought about going to North Wales but the prospect of bad weather put us off, so instead we did a lush bike ride to Chew Magna for a pub lunch on the Saturday when it was actually sunny, then I spent the Sunday finishing off the painting inside the house (it’s done! Finally!) and visiting the allotment on the Monday. I also tried a Black Espresso Magnum and a peanut butter Cornetto, so the ice cram quota was nice and high.

Knitted more booties


Two more friends gave birth this month so the needles have been busy with more booties. The next step is to start following more complex patterns and attempt something that’s properly shaped.

Took one of the nicest train journeys ever


I popped down to Totnes this week after work to see a friend, who’s back briefly from Germany, and got to travel along the stunning section of railway that borders the sea by Dawlish Warren. Looking out and only being able to see water is pretty special, and even more so as this was the bit of line that got washed away during the 2014 floods but was rebuilt within two months. Hurrah for engineers!


And then got depressed. Let’s hope the next five years pass quickly.