Archive of ‘Monthly Review’ category

Looking Back ~ January 2017

Who can believe that the first month of the year has come and gone already? Of course anyone with a basic understanding of how time works probably can believe it, but January always feels like a challenge, and getting through it is something that has to be ticked off, instead of enjoyed.

Whatever else has happened personally, January 2017 will always be the month when I was scared to turn on the news. Unbelievably, as I write this, it’s been nine days since the inauguration, and each new day just brings more terrifying developments. I can’t imagine what the next four years will bring.

But to forget about the macro, and concentrate on the micro, January was a fairly uneventful month, as the long first month of the year tends to be. I spent the first weekend of the month working at an event at Alexandra Palace, where I managed to grab a photo with Evy Lynch, also known as Harry Potter’s Luna Lovegood. I try not to be a total loser, but inevitably from time to time it spills out, but luckily she was happy enough to let me take a photo with her. (In the writing of this, I’ve decided not to share the photo here. It’s on my Instagram if anyone cares enough to take a look!)

Pizza Express Prosecco

I toddled along to Pizza Express to try out their Ultimate Comforts menu, review can be found here; I also went to The Den at 23 in Colchester so my friend Hannah could try their Quarter Pounder Cheeze Burger, which is apparently a vegan version of a Big Mac. I didn’t have it, opting for the hot dog instead, but Hannah gave it a massive thumbs up.

Vegan hotdog

And finally, as ever with a monthly round-up post, I should mention another Mark Kermode in 3D has been and gone with myself and my buddies in the audience. He’s booked in for another year there, so no doubt you’ll hear me mention it a lot again, though I think my attempts to attend them all will once more be stymied. January’s saw two top guests; Anna Smith, president of the Critics’ Circle and film critic, and none other than Mark Gatiss, who was on top form, very funny and engaging.

Mark Kermode BFI Southbank

Fun to Come in February

• Another MK3D at the BFI Southbank

• The wedding of a very dear friend from school 

• Hopefully another weekend with my niece and great-niece

Looking Back ~ October 2016

October was a busy month. So busy that I didn’t actually have time to blog about September, because I was far too busy having lots of fun. For the most part.

It was the month of two weddings, a holiday, the biggest work event of the year, and birthdays. I always knew that it was going to be stressful, when my niece told me that she was getting married in Spain a week before I left for the aforementioned massive work event. Looking back, I’m able to just enjoy the memories of a lovely holiday and a beautiful wedding. But while it was happening, although it was fun, it was hard!



But to start at the very beginning (a very good place to start), the month more or less began with a different wedding; that of my university friends Montanna and Ryan. Their’s is one of my favourite love stories – they met on the first day of university, became the best of friends, but took a while to get together. She had to go to Canada on a year abroad to realise she was in love with him, and he went out to see her on a moment’s notice, and the rest is history. Their wedding was beautiful, and I had a lovely time, until I had to get back from the middle of Surrey due to a broken down car, and the journey was fairly hellish!




The main event of the month though, was the wedding of my niece (I know, right?) in Nerja, Spain. It was a very fleeting visit, I was only there from Wednesday night to Sunday night, but I’m very glad to have gone! It’s a really pretty town, and the wedding itself took place in a beautiful old Catholic church. I got to spend lots of time with my sister and her family, and my dad, none of whom I see that often now I live so much further away. It was a lovely four days!

Unfortunately, the timing of the wedding meant that I had to miss three days of work in the lead up to our biggest event of the year. It was unavoidable, but it did mean a lot of work had to be caught up on in the short time I had at my desk between getting back and leaving for the show! But it was a great event, hugely successful, and a good time was had by all!


Post-show relaxation has only been interrupted by a couple of social events (this is most social I have been in the space of a month ever, I think!) – the wedding party at home to celebrate with people who couldn’t make it to Spain, and a birthday party for my best friends little ones, who turn one and three within a week of each other. For someone who likes being at home, this month has been a challenge, and I’m not going to lie, I’ve done a fair amount of stress-crying. But it was a very happy month, celebrating and having lots of fun! Roll on November! (When I’ll be hibernating for a large part of the month.)

Looking back ~ August 2016

Here we are, yet again, at the end of the month, with a look back at last month! (In my defence I started this post at least two weeks ago, and then didn’t complete it!) Ah well, I’m committed to the idea now that this is never going to be something the I post at the ‘right’ time, so you’re getting it now!

August had a big gaping hole in the middle of it where I didn’t get to go to Mark Kermode: Live in 3D, because there wasn’t one. I know that sounds melodramatic, and of course, it is, but it is something I look forward to, and so it feels like a long time since the last one! The next one is on Monday, so I’m very much looking forward to that.

In other news, you know all about my trip to Liverpool, as I blogged about it here. The five days that I took off was the longest I’ve had off work since Christmas, and will be the longest I have off until January, so it was a very welcome break, and I had a lovely time.

I also went to a hen afternoon at the beginning of the month; it was for my lovely university friend Montanna, who is getting married in October, and she had a whole weekend of fun planned, but I only joined in for the Afternoon Tea at the Royal Garden Hotel. It was very lovely, and it was great to catch up with some university friends that I haven’t seen in a while. I wore a dress that I bought specially from Lindy Bop, and I even tried some victory rolls in my hair. I’m not sure the hair really worked, but I loved the dress!


I also managed to take and pass my theory test. I started driving lessons a little while ago (something I need to blog about as it’s a 34 Before 34 item), but I have had to take a short break for now while I work out how to change driving instructors! But my theory test is done and dusted, which is nice.

August also saw a trip to Scunthorpe, which is where my friend and housemate Hannah is from, for her niece’s christening. This was a lovely weekend, for which I had to buy yet another new dress (I know, right?).


With that, I’m struggling somewhat to think of anything else that I did! Instagram is usually my friend for this monthly post, because I tend to upload photos of most major social events onto there. I guess I just wasn’t all that social in August.

Now, shall I promise that my September post will be a bit more timely? Probably best not to…

Looking back ~ July 2016

One day before the end of August, and here I am recapping July. I was tempted to miss it out, but I actually had a lot of fun in July, and I didn’t want for it not to be documented!

I began the month by taking a holiday to Camber Sands with my best friends. As I so often say on here, we are so rarely all together, but there are a couple of times a year when we try really hard to be all in the same place. One is a Christmas date, and the other is a weekend in East Sussex, where my friend’s mum has a caravan. Freebie holiday with my favourite people – there’s nothing not to love!


We got fake tattoos, we played Pass the Pigs, we went to the beach, we played Cards Against Humanity, and we generally had a lovely weekend.

My dad turned 70 and had a party, so I got to see all my family. And if it’s difficult to get my four friends and me in the same room more than twice a year, it’s actually impossible to get my entire family – all 25 of us – in the same room more than once every couple of years. So that was nice.


This is just my siblings and my dad – the photo of all of us contains too many children for me to comfortably upload it onto my blog. But this is one of my favourite photos of the year!

I went to Bedford for the Bedford River Festival in July – my brother and sister-in-law live there, so Hannah and I drove up to see them and take part in the festivities. It was a very busy and hot day; I had fun, but I was glad to get home!

Bedford River FestivalI also headed along to the BFI Southbank for yet another Mark Kermode Live in 3D. It feels like such a long time ago, because there was no August date, so I feel like I’ve been waiting forever! This time we were treated to Hadley Freeman and David Arnold as guests, as well as a special video message from Jordan Vogt-Roberts, especially for us!

Mark Kermode BFI

And last, but by no means least, I went to YALC, which is the Young Adult Literary Convention. I had planned a full post on this, and I still hope to do it, but in the meantime here’s what went down: I met up with my friend Chloe, and we saw two panels, one with Simon Mayo as a panellist, talking about revolution in YA fiction, and one with him as the moderator, with panellists talking about music in YA literature. Then afterwards, I met him, he signed my book, and was as charming as ever. Yay for YALC!

YALC Simon MayoSo, that, in a nutshell, was July. See what I mean about not wanting to miss this one out? Usually I have to scour my Instagram looking for fun things I did, but this month was all about the fun!

I’ll be back soon (probably in a couple of weeks, knowing my track record), to round up August!


Looking Back ~ June 2016

I always think that marking the months off in such a way as so many bloggers do appears to make the year go by so quickly. I can’t really believe that it’s July already; I’m sure it’s the same every year, but it really does feel as though it was Christmas five minutes ago, and we’re already halfway there again!

June was a fun and busy month – I managed to spend time with friends and family, read some great books, see some nice films, and enjoy a few sunny days here and there. The big thing was finally getting to a theme park after a few years of not going; my friends and I used to go once a year, but life has somewhat got in the way, and it’s been five years since we went to Thorpe Park together. There’s a proper blog post coming, because it’s a 34 Before 34 item; it was a wet but lovely day, spent with some of my favourite people!

I had a lovely day at Thorpe Park today.

A photo posted by Jane (@itydarling) on


My month also included, as always, a trip to the BFI Southbank to take in a Mark Kermode in 3D performance. It’s an important part of my month now (though it looks as though we’ll be taking a break for August), and I look forward to it immensely. June’s felt like a slightly different affair; it came hot on the heels of the Brexit disaster result, and I think that was reflected slightly in the tone. It was still a lot of fun of course, and we were treated to an incredible array of special guests; Wendy Ide, Anthony Baxter, Amma Asante, and none other than Jason Isaacs! I had actually caught a glimpse of him in the corridors of the BFI, having arrived early, as I always do. I had no idea to expect four such amazing guests though, and it really was an incredible evening, which went a long way to cheering me up after a pretty awful couple of days.

And then this happened. So this Harry Potter, The West Wing, and Wittertainment superfan can die happy.

A photo posted by Jane (@itydarling) on


On that same day, I also toddled along to the House of Minalima, a pop-up exhibition in Soho that contains the graphic art from the Harry Potter films. It’s a tiny exhibition, but it’s fascinating; being able to really study the props from the film is a real treat. I’d recommend it to anyone that is in the area.


I also got to spend the day with my sister and niece, who had just been to the Warner Bros Studio Tour, meaning that my niece was full of beans about Harry Potter (I’ll happily talk Potter until I’m hoarse!).

In online news, I wrote a blog post for the lovely Haydy, to help her out while she was surviving the mud at Glastonbury. It’s about books (of course), and gives some ideas for reading challenges you might like to try.

Elsewhere, I think I finally had an idea for a novel that I really want to, and potentially can, write. It’s been a long time coming, but I’ve actually started doing research, and I’m feeling confident!

In more wide-reaching events, I feel as though this month floored me with national and international events. Between Brexit, Orlando and Jo Cox, I’ve never felt quite as pessimistic about the state of the world as I have felt over the last few weeks. I’m still terrified, but the initial panic and feeling of being completely overwhelmed has abated, as I’ve reflected on all the good stuff that I have going on.

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