Living my Best Life in London

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child  I have a love-hate relationship with London. For so many years, London was an inevitability. All of my friends from home and Uni moved there (or at least work there whilst living in the commuter belt). I expected to do the same, until a cocktail of chances lead me to starting a life in Leeds – a city which I love with all of my heart. Since I fell for Leeds, I’ve found London to be a bit too much. Too busy. Too stressful. Too expensive. You can walk from one side of Leeds to the other in the time it takes to walk from the entrance to the underground to the train doors (Kings Cross, I’m looking at you mate). So, sometimes, when I’ve visited London I can’t wait to get back on the train to Leeds and find a little space. Other times? I don’t want to leave. 

Burger and Lobster Soho

This last trip was one of those times. The times when I remember why London is so wonderful. I have my gorgeous friend Amy to thank (I think almost half of my friends born in 1989/90 are also called Amy…) as she was a wonderful tour guide. Basically, I just lived my best life. There was day drinking. There were doughnuts. There was a lot of food, really. Lobster. Bibimbap (which was new to me and is basically my new obsession – Leeds, please indulge me). There was Dishoom (the egg naan roll did not disappoint and I *will* be back). 

crosstown doughnuts

Book Club Shoreditch Brunch

And best of all? There was Harry Potter and The Cursed Child. I am an unashamed Harry Potter fangirl, so I nabbed us some tickets as soon as I could get my hands on some. You won’t find any spoilers here, don’t worry – but please do go and see it if you’re a fellow fan. It was basically like the best fan fiction going. Totally magical. The effects were insane. And grown-up Harry is very easy on the eye. I laughed (a lot). I cried (a lot). And I want to go again already. 

amy and amy

So, London. Maybe you’re not so bad after all. See you again soon? Maybe. 

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Weekend Link Love

campfire

[Photo by roya ann miller]

Let’s get the kitchen talk out of the way early, shall we? It’s still not there… BUT the builder has said it’ll be in by next weekend. So can everyone please cross their fingers for me? Thanks, you guys. We’ve done lots of painting this week so the littlest bedroom and the room that will eventually be the kitchen/dining room are both bright white. It’s amazing what a difference it makes. Things are coming together slowly. Very slowly, but surely. 

Other than DIY-ing and complaining about the kitchen, I’ve mostly just been trying to keep cool this week. It’s obviously very British to complain about a rubbish summer, then complain equally when it becomes hot and sunny. And I’m not ashamed to be that way. I just want a bit of sunshine, a light breeze and a reasonable temperature. Is that too much to ask? I think it might be. 

I hope you’ve all had lovely weeks – I’m hoping to get a bit more up on the blog in the coming week, so do check back (and tell me off on Twitter if I’m being lazy and not blogging!). 

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Our New House: One Month On!

bedroom progress

I always think I’m going to be the exception to the rule. I’m not sure where this belief came from, because I’m pretty much the most average human that exists. A basic bitch, if you will. So when everyone told me that house renovation always takes twice as long and costs twice as much as you expect, I didn’t believe them. Sure, that happens to everyone, but it won’t to me. Oh, how naive I once was. Note to self: you are not the exception to the rule. Evidence: all situations ever. 

house progress 1

So here we are, a little more than a month on from moving in and things are still pretty much chaos. I thought we might have a new kitchen within 3 weeks of the builder starting, but we’re going on 5 weeks now and nary a cabinet is in sight. Our sweet friends have been feeding us and letting us use their washing machines, which has been a life saver. If there is anything I have learnt from this, it’s that having a tribe is necessary in life and that I could not be more grateful for ours. Other than that, we’ve been eating takeaways and a whole lot of slow-cooked food, and washing up in the bath. Tuna has been most put out by the whole process. And, for all my complaining, I’m actually bored of talking about the kitchen now. 

house progress 2

I know it won’t be much longer, so I can hardly complain really. Once the shiny new kitchen is in and I’m rolling out pastry on the island, or proving bread in the proving drawer, or pulling a chilled bottle of wine out of the wine fridge (yep, you heard right) then I will be full of joy. But the kitchen is not the only problem. We only have one decorated and unpacked room in the house, and whilst the downstairs is in such disarray, I am loathe to set to and start painting and sanding and generally making a mess in the other rooms. So everything is on hold – although this weekend may see the end of all that. We have guests coming up in less than a month, and I am determined that everything should be presentable by then.

So for now, my news is that there is not much news. I hope that by this time next month I will have much more to share – pretty pictures and finished rooms and the beginnings of a home. For now we have a house, that is covered in dust and plaster. Keep your fingers crossed for me, will you? 

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Weekend Link Love

palm trees

[Photo by Thomas Lefebvre]

It’s totally cliche for bloggers to apologise for their absences, so I won’t do that. But I do wish I was posting here more often. I have plenty of ideas for posts, but something about the abysmal state of our house right now is just sapping all my motivation. I have blogs to write, blankets to knit and books to read but all I want to do when I come home to another evening without a kitchen is to watch mindless TV and go to bed early. I know that’s silly, but it feels so like we’re in limbo right now. However, I have just had the most wonderful long weekend, so I shall not complain too much – I went to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in London and all I will say is that it was totally magical. If you get a chance to see it, please do. I also ate all of the best food in London, and then came home and spent some relaxed time with Paul. We can’t make food at home, so we went for pizza, and cake and drinks. It costs too much money, but sometimes you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. I hope you’ve had a similarly lovely weekend! 

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Why Mrs Weasley is My Literary Hero

mrs weasley

Sometimes I think re-reading books tells us more about ourselves than about the book. Whilst you may stumble across a revelation or a pretty passage that you may have skipped over the first few (hundred) times, the way you feel about the book may actually show you something you never knew about yourself. For me, this revelation came to me whilst re-reading Harry Potter in preparation for seeing The Cursed Child later this week (NBD…). 

Where once Hermione was my ultimate hero – I imagined my own brainy bookworm nature translating into heroism – now, I realise, that I have changed. Mrs Weasley is now the one I watch for, lingering over the passages that contain her. Don’t get me wrong, I still have all the love for Hermione and her feistiness, her sense of justice and the way that she solves basically all the problems of the books. But I no longer see the story through her eyes. It’s the eyes of Mrs Weasley – or someone like her – that reads the books now; I balk at how children are placed into the line of battle, worry for their safety and know far too much of what is to come for my own good. 

I will never not bawl my eyes out at the scene where Mrs Weasley faces the Boggart at Number 12 Grimmauld Place, as it shows her in turn her family and loved ones slain by the battle that they must wage. And yet, she never falters. She is the first to sign up, giving her life in service to the pursuit of good without question. At times she seems overbearing, but the more information is revealed, the more she seems justified in her ‘nagging’. She won’t sit down and be quiet, and whilst her kids (and husband) might roll their eyes, you know they value her fierce love and loyalty. 

I can honestly think of no other literary heroine who I would be happier to emulate some day. She opens her house and heart to everyone who needs it, regardless of who they are. She knits everyone a jumper every Christmas and cooks up a giant feast every night. She will champion your achievements and push you to be better. And she’s also a pretty powerful witch underneath it all. Basically, she’s just the best. The world needs more Mrs Weasleys, please. 

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Weekend Link Love

blueberries

[Photo by veeterzy

Hey friends! How is your weekend shaping up? Mine has been a mess of chores, laundry and dodging the builder. I am very much over living in a building site with no kitchen (which you might know if you have spent any time with me recently…). That said, progress has been made – the wall is down, the doors and windows are in and things are about to be plastered. So it surely can’t be much longer, can it? Other than that, things have not been very exciting around here. I’ve been re-reading Harry Potter ready for my trip to see the Cursed Child in a couple of weeks (!!!) and looking after the very lovely Happy Cat for the weekend whilst her owners are away. So, until next week, you’ll have to let the rest of the Internet do the entertaining: 

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July Goals

july goals

[Photo by Death to the Stock Photo

Get my new book blog set up for launch in August 

I’ve been toying with the idea of setting up a separate book blog for a while, and I think it’s time to take the plunge. I do share little book reviews with you here on this blog but I’d like to do some more detailed ones and I don’t want them to take over the other content here. I’d like to keep this blog as more of a personal/foodie blog but we’ll see how things go! 

Finish basic decorating downstairs

We currently have two free weekends in July, so I’m hoping that we can put them to good use to actually finish some basic decorating downstairs. By that I mean painting the walls, laying the floor and putting things in their rightful place. This is maybe a bit of an ambitious goal but if we can at least make headway with things, I’ll feel a lot better. With our first guests coming to stay in early August, I want things to be as spic and span as possible! 

Go on at least 10 runs 

I have really let the exercise thing slide over the past couple of months. In all the chaos and exhaustion of house moving and DIY-ing, it’s easy to find excuses not to go out for a run. But, with the Abbey Dash coming up in November and me currently not even being able to run 3k without collapsing with exhaustion, things need to change. 10 runs is definitely do-able so I’m committing! 

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June

june

Moving into our new home. 

Dodging boxes everywhere. 

Plotting to start a separate book blog. Watch this space. 

Eating more takeaway curries than I care to admit. 

Hiding behind my hands for almost all of Game of Thrones. 

Taking afternoon tea with Jess at The Tetley on a very sunny afternoon. 

Loving having all my siblings in one place. More of that, please. 

Feeling a lot of despair at the state of the world right now.

Getting a bit despondent at the state of the house right now. 

Building a wardrobe. 

Spending far too much time (and money) at IKEA. 

Brunching with Eloise at House of Koko. 

Dressing as Hermione for our work Harry Potter pub crawl. (Natch). 

Re-reading Harry Potter before my Cursed Child trip next month… 

Having Sunday night baths. Is there anything better? 

Making exciting plans for when the house is more normal. Friendsgiving, anyone? 

Trying to be better at Instagram. Mostly failing, but enjoying it nonetheless. 

Enjoying the new series of Orange is the New Black. Think it’s got its groove back. 

Avoiding looking at my bank balance (moving is expensive). 

Celebrating Paul’s birthday (today!). 

How about you? 

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Apricot & Almond Cake

Apricot & Almond Cake // Amy Elizabeth

Okay, so I know summer has barely shown its face so far this year, but we can still enjoy all of the yummy summer fruits, right? Obviously I am a big fan of sweet strawberries and raspberries, but there’s no denying that they get more than their fair share of airtime at this time of year. What about the other fruits? They’ve been waiting for their time to shine all year and then they get overshadowed by showy strawberries. Apricots, blackcurrants and cherries are all pretty damn delicious right now and I think we need to spend some time with them. This apricot and almond cake was a delight to make – a simple batter dotted with little golden jewels (it’s worth taking the time to arrange them in a pretty pattern, if just for you own satisfaction), which comes up smelling absolutely gorgeous and is perfect served warm with a dollop of cream. This is the cake we deserve this summer. 

Apricot & Almond Cake // Amy Elizabeth

Apricot & Almond Cake
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Ingredients
  1. 110g unsalted butter, softened
  2. 150g caster sugar
  3. 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  4. 90g ground almonds
  5. 40g self-raising flour
  6. 1 tbsp. milk
  7. 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  8. 4-5 apricots, quartered
  9. sprinkling of flaked almonds
  10. dusting of icing sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Prepare a 20cm cake tin by greasing with butter, lining the bottom with baking paper and dusting with flour.
  2. Place all of the cake ingredients (butter, sugar, eggs, ground almonds, flour, milk and vanilla extract) into a bowl and beat with an electric mixer or whisk until light and fluffy.
  3. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Place the apricot quarters on the top, pressing down lightly.
  4. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Check after 20 minutes if the top is browning too quickly and cover with foil if needed. The cake should be springy to the touch when cooked, and a skewer should come out clean when inserted into the centre.
  5. Turn out onto a wire rack and dust with icing sugar. Allow to cool completely or serve warm with cream or ice cream.
Amy Elizabeth http://amyliz.co.uk/
Apricot & Almond Cake // Amy Elizabeth

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Weekend Link Love

balloon

[Photo by Manik Rathee]

What a week, you guys. I have a lot of Thoughts, but I am sort of tired about talking about Brexit, and Orlando, and Jo Cox. They’re important conversations to be having, for sure, but they’re also kind of a bummer and it’s Sunday so I just want to read a book and go for brunch. I think that’s probably okay. You don’t come here for my pithy political commentary, anyway.

In other news, my house still resembles a bomb site (pop back tomorrow for photos!) but I did manage to make a pretty excellent slow-cooker lasagne in my garage kitchen last night so it’s not all doom and gloom. We also watched Legally Blonde on Friday night, which is maybe the most happy-making film of all time and I would recommend it if you need to feel better about the world. Shall we see what the non-Brexit Internet has for us this week? 

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