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?

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.

Adulthood

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! 

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.

Work in progress

Almost halfway through the month and I’ve suddenly realised that I was supposed to have made resolutions, goals, objectives for the year ahead. Oops!

Last year I made two rather large goals. The first, to cut myself some slack, the second was to spend some time figuring stuff out. Well, 2015 certainly stepped up to greet my challenge. It was definitely a “game of two halves” as the saying goes. In the first six months I had three different jobs, the first I left due to choice, the second due to redundancy. Fortunately I’m still in the third and it’s been a total game changer.

When I was made redundant (the second time around for me), I decided it was time for some serious regime change. I needed to do the two things I’d promised myself in January. Cut myself some slack about the situation, and then really, seriously sit down and consider what I wanted. Not just in the next few months, but long term. I spent over a week just in thought about what was next, and more importantly, why it would be next. Taking that time was one of the best things I did last year. As a result I’m now in a job that I genuinely love and am working toward the future I want both professionally and personally. Like I said, game changer.

When I saw this post by Tracy I was struck by the third photo in particular, as it sums up so well how this year and last year fit together. Last year I had expectations, and this year I’m going to continue to build the foundations. As a result all my “intentions” for this year will be small. Little things that fit together to be the building blocks to solidify the bigger picture.

All I have to do now is figure out what those things will be!

66, 42 and 1.

If my grandparents were still alive they’ve have celebrated their 66th wedding anniversary this week.

Last month my parents marked 42 years together in their usual understated wonderful way.

This weekend we’re enjoying a well earned break from work and the 1st anniversary of our wedding.

Pictures from the Wedding of Rebecca and Nathan in Montepulciano, Tuscany

This last 12 months has certainly put us through our paces. It’s shown us plenty of what life can throw, but also how as a team we’re pretty good at catching. I’ve come to understand the importance of an institution I was never entirely convinced I needed. Married life agrees with me. I just hope my husband would say the same thing!.

Peaks and troughs

I don’t often talk about work on here, (unless it’s to commiserate about having once again found myself out of a job!) but I had a day last week which I found rather amusing, and thought would illustrate a bit of truth about working in the wine industry.

I should have know that this day would be unlike any other as it started with an hour of in-depth cigar training. Not something I ever thought my career would give me, and not something I have any experience off, except a brief visit to a cigar museum whilst in Cuba when I was actually counting down the minutes until we could start drinking rum in their bar, rather than paying attention to the different sizes, strengths and smoke lengths. IMG_3908

As we were packing up from this session a colleague rocked up proudly toting four bottles that he had enjoyed the previous evening. Very kindly he’d saved a small portion of each bottle for us to try and I was incredibly excited. Tasting wine never gets old for me, and working in an industry that is constantly changing and evolving you can never know everything. So it’s taste, taste, taste to learn, learn, learn. Your palate is a muscle and it needs practice to be at its best. Already I’m discovering that my palate is vastly improved from when I started out, but that it has a long way to go. Which is why I’ll never turn down the opportunity for a taste of something new. (Perhaps one day I’ll talk about the difference between tasting and drinking, there is a difference, honest!).

I sipped and sloshed, and spat my way through the four wines, desperately trying to commit them to my sense memory and fighting to pick out the nuances of each. It’s not everyday that you get to try such exclusive and expensive wines. It was a wonderful start to the day.

But it was all downhill from there!

It’s not all cigar training and tasting impressive wine. I continued my morning by washing up around 100 tasting glasses from the weekend. Whilst I rinsed and polished my way through a mountain of ISOs, another colleague unearthed a selection of samples that had been conveniently forgotten about. IMG_3906

These were the antithesis of our mornings offering. Foil-topped plastic glasses with detachable stems in “white” “rose” and “red”. Just peeling back the tops made us nervous despite the rep having assured us that they were “actually very good” (the “actually” says it all I think.) Duty bound we poured a small amount of the white into tasting glasses, and begin the swirl. We soon stopped as the smell wafted towards us. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a collection of wine professionals spit so quickly.  Although the red did elicit the high praise of “well, that’s borderline below average” I can say with certainty that these particular wines won’t be on offer to our customers.

And so my glamourous wine life is revealed. Whilst those hundred pound bottles do appear from time to time, it’s mostly washing glasses, shifting boxes and tasting things that are “borderline below average.” When I got my new job I went out and bought three new dresses to bring some glitz to my everyday life. So far I’ve only worn one and I very nearly ruined it when a colleague smashed a bottle of rosé in my vicinity! The reality is that you need comfortable smart casual clothing, shoes that won’t hurt your feet after 12 hours of standing, and a sense of humour for when you’re shown the plastic glasses with foil lids!