November 2017 Highlights

Things have been awfully quiet around here this year.  Instagram, which links to my blog, suddenly started suggesting I follow everyone I’ve ever been friends with on Facebook.  I had intentionally kept the two separate, using different email addresses etc, and when real-life acquaintances started popping up in my online world, I got a bit of stage fright.  Then I increased my hours at work (to 4 days a week in April and 5 days in August) and it became harder to find the time to blog, and the backlog of overdue and half-written posts became overwhelming.

I thought a good way of getting myself back into the swing of things would be to start doing regular highlights posts.  I really enjoy these on other blogs (Sophie’s weekly ’10 Favourites’ and Alex’s monthly ‘Great Escape’ round-ups to name but a couple) and I hope that committing to posting at least once a month is both feasible and will let me feel a bit more on top of things!

Paris, France - Emma's Picture Postcards

Paris

The first and best highlight of November happened the first weekend, which was my 30th birthday.  James and I went to Paris for just over 24 hours, and it was a magical autumnal trip.  On the Saturday evening we visited Sacre Coeur and had a delicious dinner of beef bourguignon nearby, and then on the Sunday we visited the Musee de l’Orangerie and walked along the Seine to the Eiffel Tower and then back to the Louvre and the Palais Royal.

Friends

It’s been a good month for my friendships.  We went for dinner at new favourite Byron with my best uni friends Andy, Emma and Pete.  Laura and I went for drinks and to support my colleague at an ice hockey match.  Doro and I caught up via a Whatsapp video call.  I booked a trip to Alicante in February with my year-abroad friends.  And I received exciting baby news which is not mine to share but made November feel extra special!

Autumn - Emma's Picture Postcards

Last of the Autumn Leaves

I’m very much a spring/summer kind of person, and autumn usually fills me with dread as the sun sets earlier and earlier.  This autumn has been quite mild though and the leaves have been absolutely spectacular – October was a blaze of orange and November was a vibrant red.

Exercise

I quit the gym in March after they messed around with the timetable one too many times, and although I do miss the routine, company and fun of group exercise classes, I definitely don’t miss the monthly hit to my bank account, and I’m proud of myself for keeping a good exercise routine going on my own – particularly in November as the weather took a turn for the wintery.  I’ve been for a run almost every weekend, and when the weather really is too bad (snow, ice, very strong winds or an actual storm) then I’ve been using Les Mills On Demand, which lets me do the same classes I used to do at the gym, but to my own schedule, in my own home, and for £15/month rather than almost £40.  I was just doing Body Balance and Barre at first, but James got me the weights I’d been saving for for my birthday so I’ve now added Body Pump back into the mix too.

London Grammar

I adored London Grammar’s first album and was delighted when they snuck out a new song on 1st January.  I decided to wait for the deluxe edition before I bought the second album, but forgot to actually do so until I got an Amazon voucher for my birthday, so I’ve spent the month immersed.  I do feel it’s missing a more upbeat track the likes of ‘When We Were Young’, but ‘Here’s to the Liars’ is so beautiful it made me shed a little tear the first time I heard the Kolsch remix on the radio, and then again when I heard the original on the album!

Mental Health Progress

Another huge highlight of this month was realising how far I’ve come in improving my mental health.  I might go into this in more depth at some point, but for now I’ll just say that I started counselling in September, and if you feel like it would be in any way helpful to you I 100% recommend just going for it.  The biggest thing I’ve gotten out of it has actually been to give myself credit for the progress I’d already made on my own in trying to think rationally about my feelings and experiences and develop strategies to deal with them.  When I first started, the thought of there only being ten sessions made me feel really panicked, but I have two left now and feel pretty calm.

How was your November?

Happy Things, Oct ’15

Garden Birds - Emma's Picture Postcards

I am 100% a summer person and dread the colder months, but so far, so good this autumn. Here are some little things keeping me cheery:

  1. Autumn itself has its perks: scarves and boots; crisp, cold, sunny days; pretty coloured trees; soft daylight; candles. I also realised tonight that I really love a dramatic fog haha, it makes me feel like I’m in a mystery novel!
  2. I’ve made it through the awkward growing-out phase of my pixie cut and my hair is now the perfect length for a little bun – quick and easy, and a lot more flattering than the strange creations I was resorting to involving hair bands and pins!
  3. Working from home is an absolute dream, for a whole load of reasons:
    – I can work when I actually feel productive. And I can go shopping on weekdays!
    – My commute home from the office was so draining that I never did anything in the evenings except eat dinner and lounge around, trying to muster up the energy to do the dishes or go to a gym class. I’m naturally quite lazy and messy, especially when tired, but at the same time I really like to have things clean and tidy, and feel drained and distracted when they’re not – a vicious cycle! Now I’m home all the time I’m completely on top of my chores, and have really noticed a difference in how I feel.
    – I also no longer have any excuse not to go to gym classes, so have been going once or twice every week. I’d go more often but twice is usually more than enough for my abs! 😀 As a result I’m feeling fitter and sleeping better.
    – Another health perk is that I’ve finally, properly, started drinking water. This is always a vague goal, but in an office environment it’s so easy to drink endless cups of coffee. Plus, although tap water here in Scotland is good by any standards, I prefer bottled water, but felt guilty about the unnecessary expense, and all those plastic bottles! I’ve now accepted that if I don’t buy bottled water I’ll just drink coffee and/or fruit juice, which are more expensive, have just as much packaging and are worse for me, so I buy large bottles and use them to refill a small glass bottle which I keep on my desk. Why not drink out of a glass or cup, you ask? Not when you have this little monkey around, who will only drink out of her own dish if she has no alternative:
  4. Speaking of Lucy, she’s been so happy to have company during the day, and also that we’ve started turning the heating on again so she can lie on her favourite spot on the landing, which is warmed by the hot water pipes! She’s such a sweet-natured, affectionate cat, and so playful – some time soon I’ll post a video of her playing, if I can manage to catch one with decent lighting and without me laughing too much in the background!
  5. We’ve made lots of progress on the house in the last month or two. We had such amazing luck finding this place, as it’s bigger and better than we thought we could afford, and was in good condition (well, apart from the boiler…!) There were a few things starting to need patched up though, and now that we no longer need to try to coordinate tradesmen with days off work, we’ve flown through the check list – we had someone clear the gutters and do a small repair on the roof, and replaced the oven and a section of fence that had blown down.
  6. My aunt gave me this cute owl-shaped bird feeder for Christmas, and we bought this “feeding station” to hang it from. It’s been such a pleasure spotting the different garden birds, and hearing their birdsong. So far we’ve seen sparrows, pigeons, starlings, blue tits, great tits, coal tits, chaffinches, gold finches, blackbirds and a robin, who is singing his little heart out now autumn’s here!

Garden Birds - Emma's Picture Postcards

Garden Birds - Emma's Picture Postcards

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