Just 134 more things….

At the end of last year I did something rather whimsical. Or at least I thought it was.

I’ve had my eye on the Vinitaly International Academy certification course. It’s basically the most intensive, complex and thus prestigious course you can take if you want to specialise in Italian wines. It’s five days of lectures and tasting that culminates in an exam which if you pass allows you to call yourself an Italian Wine Ambassador. Ever since I first heard about it I’ve wanted to apply, but I missed the deadline last year by a few weeks and having just started my diploma figured I’d dodged a bullet.

During the Christmas break I discovered that applications were being accepted again and I thought “why not?!” Then I realised they only take around 50 candidates a year. Which actually made me feel better. I could apply, with no pressure as there’s no way I’d be selected, get feedback on my application ahead of next year and not have to worry about adding another really serious pressure to my WSET diploma and full-time job filled life. So on December 27th whilst my husband was washing up, I put together my application, sent it off, and then for a month I sort of forgot about it. I mean, not really, I still manically refreshed my email, but in the “waiting for confirmation of my rejection” sort of way.

Then on Monday January 30th I received the email. Congratulating me on my acceptance to the course. Ah….

This means that in April I’m flying to Verona to learn about 134 key grape varieties in Italy. Two months before my diploma finals. What could possibly go wrong? I’m hoping that you’ll join me in this space along the way to find out.

Because, Wednesday. 

A cocktail before bed. 

Because it’s Wednesday and my husband worked from home and we had a long evening together playing board games and enjoying each other’s company. 

Because celebrating the little things, like being able to start our evening at 6pm not eight thirty, is one of my favourite things about how we do things. 

And, because tomorrow I have another four hours of revision to tackle and I’m in denial! 

It comes in threes

So on Saturday morning I made quite the impression on my work colleagues. I fell hook, line and sinker for the traditional company April fool, and advertised the fact with an email to the entire team. Worse? I didn’t even realise until a customer pointed out the joke to me whilst a manager looked on snickering.

Me: 0 – April: 1

Half an hour later I mis-read the rota and almost caused chaos trying to move staff members around when I didn’t need to. Fortunately I caught myself just before the snafu was made completely public…..only one of the directors and the same manager mocking me this time.

Me: 0 – April: 2

Then, the crowning moment; tasting through a new potential range of wines I gestured mid-swirl and threw the entire contents of the glass on the floor narrowly missing the others.

Me: 0 – April: 3.

After today I have a few days off. I’m going to hide at home, avoid sharp objects and hope I can get through the rest of the week unscathed.  How’s your April started? Please tell me others fell for the Fools and I’m not alone!

It’s not zen, it’s bootcamp [2]

I did something this week that I never expected to.

I bought a yoga mat.

Yup, I purchased a six foot long strip of foam in order to find my zen. Well, okay, not quite. I bought it because part of trying to fix my back is about strengthening other bits of me, and this means all sorts of stretching, bending, holding, twisting and other such exercises many of which are based on pilates moves. In order to do this I’ve been lying on the floor slipping round on an old crochet blanket that actually belongs to the cats (don’t worry, they find the amusement of watching me attempt the moves total compensation for the loss of the blanket). However, as the exercises are becoming more complicated it was clear that something more serious was in order.

So a yoga mat it is. I have to admit it’s rather impressive. A dark shade of royal blue, it rolls out and stays flat, is squishy but not too soft and even has a carrying strap – Ha! Like I’d ever take it out of the house, no one needs to endure me doing this in public.

However, despite it’s admirable qualities it doesn’t seem to have done anything to improve my abilities, and whilst I’ll admit the work is doing wonders for my back, everything else now hurts instead.

Is it possible my osteopath is trying to kill me? Please tell me it gets easier eventually?! Right now I’m finding it very hard to believe people do this sort of thing to gain any degree of zen, it feels more like bootcamp.

It totally justifies the extra glass of wine in the bath though right?

Obligatory early January post. (01)

Back to work after the Christmas break with a bit of a bump. Turns out I’m not as rested as I thought because I slept through my alarm, for more than an hour. Oops. Hopefully today isn’t quite a “start as you mean to go on” moment, because if so I need a reboot already.

img_7941For the first time in years January genuinely feels like the fresh start, rather than our usual September new year traditions linked to the academic year that enshrined us for so long. I think partly because like so many others we desperately wanted to bid farewell to the darkness of 2016.

In reality I feel as though our new approach began at 5.25pm on Christmas Eve when I returned from work, we cracked open some fizz and finally relaxed after months of being flat out. I had half a glass and then a nap whilst Mr L rattled off a festive crossword and put the finishing touches to playlists ahead of the traditional trip to the pub.

What followed were days of relaxation, indulgence and reflection and a general “getting back on track”-ness, and so once again I start the year with a series of intentions for the year ahead. I’m hoping that by using single words as my guide it will be easy to remind myself of the small things that should hopefully make 2017 positive.

  • Outside – over the Christmas break we re-kindled our love of walking and getting out into the countryside, despite the cold, fog or laziness that might stop us. I want this to return to being a big part of our lives this year as I always feel better for it. Despite a long working week I need to remember that getting outside is a pleasure not a punishment, and doesn’t require getting out of bed at the crack of dawn.
  • Strengthen – Since November I have been having real problems with my back. Usually things like that go away, but this time it hasn’t and I know it’s my body telling me to take better care of it. Osteopathy is helping, but I need to learn to help myself by working to strengthen my muscles to help support me through my physical job (wine life is 3% glamour and 97% lugging cases of bottles around) and in turn finding ways to relax when I’m not working. I’m hoping the above plan to get outside more will help, and in the meantime I’ve ordered a yoga mat. Wish me luck!
  • Play – We dusted off the board games over Christmas and added a new one to the collection. It reminded both of us how much fun an evening round the table is. I want to make this year the start of many where we enjoy more play. We both work so hard that sometimes I think we forget we should play hard too.
  • Quality – We have always been a household who try to focus on quality rather than quantity where we can. I want to stretch that further this year, I want to invest in quality time as well things.
  • Listen – I don’t think I was very good at listening last year and I want to change that more than anything. If I fail all the other things on this list, I am determined not to fail at this.

Last year I worked hard at work. It was great, and rewarding, but also meant things got missed. 2017 is going to be when I start working hard at life again.



The importance of sisters

I’m an only child. I’m also in possession of an overactive imagination and spent many of my early years hoping for older brothers and not entirely understanding why this wasn’t going to be possible.

Instead I got an older sister.

My earliest memory of her is finding a woman (and she was very definitely a “woman” to me) hunched over the very large, very plastic, PC in the spare room of our house surrounded by towers of thick books festooned with post-it notes. I must have met her previously, but I don’t remember anything before the afternoon after school when I walked up the stairs and was greeted by this image. Knowing her now as well as I do this memory couldn’t have been a more perfect introduction, and in my minds eye this is still how she appears, in a grey Cambridge hoodie, hair scraped back into a messy short ponytail, determined look on her face, long elegant fingers frantically typing.

Debs came into my life in a flurry of books and literary arguments and has become one of my closest friends and biggest inspirations. I know now that she was one of my father’s students, that my mother always not-so-secretly would have liked to adopt her, and that this memory is from a period when she was writing her dissertation.

Since then my, my sista from anotha mista as she styles herself, has been there and guided me through all my exams (yup, I still have the lucky pants she bought me when I did my GCSEs!), let me stay in her flat whilst writing my own essays, picked me up after breakups and fed me a diet of ice cream and Sex and the City. We’ve attended each other’s weddings and I’ve baked cakes with her daughter. She’s taught me all the valuable things big sisters are supposed to, such as to embrace your love of Britney, that a proper pair of running shoes are worth the money and to stand up for yourself no matter what.

I mention all this because today her first novel, My Husband’s Son, has just been published in ebook form (the paperback is out in Oct). You can pick it up for an absolute steal on Amazon at the moment and I think you should. I know I’m biased, but I think I have a right to be. I’ve seen the dedication of this women to the pursuit of writing, I’ve watched her mind at work and been in awe of it since I first met her all those years ago, and am so proud I could burst to know that tomorrow when I get on the train to Falmouth I’ll be reading her novel all the way.

So please, treat yourself to a new book by my wonderful (sorta) big sister. my husbands son


I like Pie.

Every time I mention the inkling to make pie there comes the inevitable and resounding chorus of “I like pie!” This comes from a Flight of the Conchords song (1.14m if you don’t want to watch it all) and is sung in exactly that tone at the point of which the steaming dish is presented from the oven.

We do love pie, but it’s not something I make very often. I’m not sure why, but fruit in this house tends to find it’s way into jams and chutney before I think to wrap it in a delicious coating of crisp pastry. Silly really as it isn’t hard to make (as long as you’re not hung up on perfect pie crust presentation) and the filling options and combinations are near limitless. IMG_5964This week three entirely coincidental happenings resulted in the ideal pie making opportunity and so I had no excuse. Rolling pin and G&T in hand (because baking without refreshment is a dangerous business, you gotta stay hydrated people), pie dish and cherries at the ready, I set to work.

The three things? A friend arriving to meet me for coffee laden with cherries from her rapidly defrosting freezer, the publication of my new recipe in PomPom Magazine, and the return of the husband from his business trip hankering for home cooking and treats.

I like pie! Just as much as I like a series of happy happenstance.


There are times when being an adult can be a real drag. Like when you have to get up for work at 6am everyday, or when those bills come through the letterbox, or you’re cleaning up an ex-mouse from outside the bedroom door that the cat thought you’d appreciate while the aforementioned animal excitedly tries to trip you down the stairs and kill you. 

But to balance those things are the moments, like this afternoon, when you realise that it’s total legit to enjoy a cocktail in the garden at 4pm on a Friday afternoon with some completely inappropriate appetite-for-dinner-destroying carb-y snacks, just because it’s Friday and the sun is shining and you fancy it. 

Cheers everyone! Happy Friday! 

Almost there

I’m sitting in the garden (for the first time in 2016, yay!) and procrastinating. I’ve just poured a second cup of coffee so that I can take refuge out here a little longer and enjoy the gentle chirping of the birds and scent of cherry blossom wafting across the grass.

I’m hiding out here because on the dining room table there is a pile of notes, a stack of flashcards, a textbook, workbook and numerous powerpoint print outs that remind me that tomorrow is my WSET Level 3 exam and there’s no way of getting out of it.

IMG_5819I ought to be revising soil types, studying region maps and winemaking flowcharts. But instead I’d like to sit here for a little longer, in denial, and enjoy the peace and quiet before the panic sets in.

I finished my first big fairisle project of the year and think it might be time to cast on some socks don’t you think? In fact, why don’t I do that right now…IMG_5684

Admitting defeat

Last week I made a conscious decision to try and get all my wips (work in progress) finished before casting on something new. “Startitis” is legendary in the knitting world and has a tendency to strike in times such as the new year when you’re done with all the gift knitting, might have received yarn during the festivities, and everything else just feels so last year.

I was determined not to fall into that trap and suddenly find myself with ten things on the needles rather than five, so I dutifully totted up the floundering projects and set to work.

Top of the list was “the tent” I have been knitting this project since September. It was supposed to be finished for our holiday in January. It wasn’t. The waves and waves of 4ply linen in dark grey seemed to defeat me every time I picked it up. It never seemed to grow and so I stopped and strangely it didn’t grow in the slightest whilst sitting in the knitting basket. With some cheerleading in the background from my mum I made it my priority, knit on and on, round and round, kept track of decreases, learned how to box pleat and suddenly it was done!

I excitedly blocked it, dried it and then pulled it on. I dashed to the mirror and it looked…meh. I was completely and utterly underwhelmed. The pleats looked like they were too far down my shoulders, the drape wasn’t actually very drapey and quite frankly it didn’t suit me.

It’s remarkable just how many projects I have like this in my chest of knitwear. I think all knitters have them; things that didn’t quite turn out as expected or hoped for. In the past I have simply left them in the box, reluctantly wearing them every so often to try and justify all the time and effort I put into them. Today I’ve decided that needs to change. I am going to admit defeat, accept that this was the wrong project for me, rip it out, re-wind the yarn and use it for something else. I feel liberated by this decision. It’s only knitting, I can rip it out and start again!

Excuse me while I dream of unravelling all those floundering projects and lose myself on Ravelry searching for new exciting things.