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!

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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.

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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!

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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!

 

Derren Brown ~ Infamous

A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to go and see Derren Brown’s show, Infamous, at the Cliffs Pavilion in Southend. I’m fairly new to the whole Derren Brown thing, having only really cottoned on to how totally fabulous he is at some point last year, when I binge watched Trick or Treat with Anna, and then went through all of his live shows on DVD. When Anna found out that he was going on tour and that tour was coming to Southend, where she lives, we decided we had to go, so she booked seven tickets and then we waited. And waited, and waited. Seriously, it took so long for the day to come around, but it finally did at the end of May!

Writing about the details of the show is strictly forbidden. Or, at least, Derren Brown asks specifically that you do not reveal anything about the show, because it spoils it for anyone that is yet to see it. I know that I would have been devastated if someone had told me anything about it before I went, so I wouldn’t dream of doing that to anyone. All I will say is that if you are lucky enough to have tickets for the remainder of the tour, you’re sure to have a really, really good time, and if you’re a fan of Derren Brown, you won’t be disappointed. I found myself sat watching the show with my mouth agape on more than one occasion, and I gasped and whooped and cheered and applauded all the way through. It’s a fantastic show!

 

Before we went in, we tried a selfie. Seven people in a selfie is not easy, but we just about managed it. Of course, we had to be a bit silly too. These are amongst my favourite people in all the world, and I loved spending the weekend with them. Derren Brown was obviously a huge amount of fun, and then we got home and stayed up half the night talking about it (and everything else under the sun). Then we went for breakfast, and then to see X-Men: Days of Future Past the next day. Pretty perfect couple of days, all told.

As Infamous took place in a theatre, I’m totally claiming it as a win for one of my 2014 goals – go to the theatre!

The Sands Bistro ~ Southend-On-Sea

On Sunday I went for Afternoon Tea at The Sands Bistro in Southend-On-Sea, to celebrate my best friend Anna’s baby shower. When I thought about it afterwards, I realised that I have never really been to a baby shower before, nor have I been for Afternoon Tea before!

I have to say that I am not really fond of baby showers and all they entail. Mainly because I think that it’s an American thing that has crept in over here, and although I love America, I don’t think we need to absorb all of their traditions. But, Anna is my BFF, and when your BFF asks you to do something, you do it. Especially if it involves tea and cake.

These are the gifts that I knitted. I had worked really hard on that monkey, and then when it came to it, I was totally disappointed with the way it looked! It looks a bit odd, and will probably scare the baby. But I was pleased with the hat, because it is quite cute. And all my friends want me to knit them one each now!

I didn’t take a photo of the present table, but Anna got a lot of presents. A lot! I plan on buying a lot more stuff for the baby once she is actually here, and I have some more money. Lots of super cute outfits, of course!

 

The Afternoon Tea itself was lovely, lots of sandwiches, cakes and scones, (and most of us were good and ate some sandwiches before tucking into the cakes and scones!), with lots of tea to wash it all down. It was really good value as well; we paid £8 each (there were thirteen of us), and that included a couple of people having a few extra drinks that weren’t included on the tea menu. They charge £14.95 for two people, which includes a pot of tea and a selection of sandwiches and cakes. I think that’s really reasonable!

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One of best things about The Sands is the location; it’s right on the seafront, and we were lucky to be there on a very sunny October day, meaning that we got lots of lovely sunshine as we ate, and then as the sun went down we were treated to a spectacular sunset! I didn’t take as many photos as I would have liked to from the restaurant itself, but I’d love to go back there and sit on the balcony all afternoon. The views are stunning!

View from the restaurant (above), and as we walked back to the car (below).

I had a really lovely afternoon; I also got to have a cuddle with Anna’s baby niece, Emily, who has the most hair I’ve ever seen on a baby, and is just lovely. I can’t wait for Anna’s baby to arrive now! Not long to go!

Afternoon Tea in a Box

It has now become a bit of a tradition for me to blog about what I have made for my friends’ birthdays. It turned out this year that, as we all turned thirty, I didn’t have the money to splurge on lovely gifts, so I had to resort to making them in one way or another. You may remember that I made a scrapbook/photo album for Anna, and a Lord of the Rings cross stitch for Jen. The last of our gang, Vicky, turned thirty a couple of weeks ago, and of course I wanted to make something special to mark the occasion!

In a spark of inspiration one evening, I decided that I wanted to make her an Afternoon Tea in a Box. I don’t really know where the idea came from, but in my head, it was perfect. A vintage tea cup, some lovely tea, maybe some baked goods, and some recipe cards for her to make some of her own goodies, all packaged in a lovely box.

In the end, of course, it didn’t turn out quite as I was expecting it to. You know when you just have this idea in your head of the way you want something to be, and then in reality, it’s nothing like it? That happens to me all the time when it comes to creative things. I’m a tryer, but I don’t always quite hit the nail on the head.

Talking of being a tryer – I took some photos, but they aren’t the best photos in the world!

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As you can see, Afternoon Tea in a Box consisted of a cup, saucer and plate set, three different types of tea bags, some shortbread that I whipped up, and though you can’t see it, a little pot of Wilkin’s jam. I also made some bunting (this was one of things that wasn’t as I pictured it in my head, because I couldn’t find all my craft supplies!), and labelled each item with a little card that I made by stamping a heard shape and threading with ribbon.

I was actually quite proud of the finished product, and I know that Vicky loved it, and that’s the main thing! I hope she gets to drink lots of lovely tea, and thinks of me while she’s doing so!