Snaps

O2 features ME!

I am still tickled pink! ¬†On Sunday, O2, my mobile network, featured a photo I took of St Paul’s Cathedral on the O2 UK Instagram account.

It’s already Thursday evening and I still grin like a Cheshire cat when I remember!ūüėć

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Snaps

Strength and safety in numbers

This is one of my favourite streets in London.  Mostly because it has so many museums and it leads straight to Hyde Park.

At the moment, it is the focus of of news reporting because of an incident.  Apparently a car hit a number of pedestrians.  If you want to keep updated on news, you can either google or follow this link to the BBC website.

As bad as it sounds, I’m just hoping this is just a serious road traffic accident instead of an act of terrorism.

Keep safe everyone.  Stay alert.

UPDATE as at 19:00

The Met Police have advised that this was a road traffic accident.  More details on the BBC website link I placed above.

But still…STAY ALERT. ¬†KEEP SAFE.

Blog

Forgiving myself

I have deliberately held off writing on the blog for a long time because I was dealing with a personal struggle. ¬†I know myself well enough to know that if I allowed myself to write about the experience before I’d processed it, the entry would become a rant. ¬†That was the last thing I wanted to do because I needed to understand how I was feeling and why I was feeling what I was feeling. ¬†Cryptic enough?

I was going through a period of self-doubt and I was asking myself a lot of questions that demanded a lot of self-honesty, looking at myself in the mirror very critically, a lot of soul-searching and I was praying a lot about a decision that I’d made. ¬†I felt torn between deeply regretting having to act on the decision, and knowing, with absolutely certainty, that what I’d done was the, really, the best course of action.

I’ve never really known how to cut myself off from people who affect me negatively. ¬†I always thought that holding on and not giving up on relationships meant that you cared about the person. ¬†I always thought that if I continued to treat the person in the way I wanted to be treated, it would eventually lead to them doing the same thing. ¬†I was, also, never a quitter. ¬†I never gave up on things, tasks, and most especially people. ¬†I am a Christian, with my faith so steeped in my life and my psyche that it was difficult to switch off the “not giving up on people” because God never gave up on me. ¬†So stepping away was not an option.

Also, I can’t remember where I learned it, whether I heard it from someone or I read it somewhere -that what you despise in others is what you hate in yourself. ¬†I wondered whether in this situation, it was the case? ¬†I had to ask myself that several times. ¬†Was the negativity I was feeling a reflection of how I was feeling about something in my life.

I kept asking myself, what lesson was I supposed to learn from this experience?

After all that thinking, praying, reading and soul-searching, I came to the conclusion that I needed to learn to look at the unhealthy patterns in certain relationships and learn to put a stop to it. ¬†To learn to extricate myself from the situation so that I would be set free – from the negativity, from the unkind thoughts, from the self-doubt, from the annoyance. ¬†My response to this negative situation was eating away at me. ¬†I didn’t like how I was reacting.

I was struggling to find what the Christian response was to this situation. ¬†Then I read something that Debbie McDaniel wrote. ¬†She said: “God‚Äôs greatest desire is to set us free‚Ķand what propels that change is for some brave soul to be willing to say ‚ÄúStop, no more.‚ÄĚ One who will choose what is better‚Ķand set boundaries.” ¬†Because, in the end, if you remove yourself from the situation, the negativity stops, the unchristian thoughts stop. ¬†Because in the end, sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind…to everyone, including yourself.

Maybe one day, when the opportunity presents itself, I will tell this person how much their behaviour has affected me.  Because I believe authentic relationships require honesty.

One day, maybe.

Until that day comes, I will tell myself that I did what I could in my position.  And while it is still a challenge, I am going to have to forgive myself for walking away.  Because at the end of the day, I wanted to stop myself from being mean and unkind, if not in deed, it was certainly in thought.  For now, that will have to be enough.

Blog

You win some…

Sometimes you have good weeks and sometimes you have bad weeks and the days before Open House London were…challenging. ¬†A storm had been brewing in my personal life and I was wondering about the choices I was making.

I think the universe knew I needed a distraction because I was overthinking things (as I usually tend to do) and I was starting to doubt my decisions.  So I got this message on Instagram on Friday.

I was so excited! ¬†I’d been looking at my friend Ella’s little Apple pen offerings on Instagram and I was missing being able to doodle and I thought I’d get myself a few drawing pencils and a few watercolours and I’d start waving a brush around! ¬†But as luck would have it, I won a gorgeous “starter” set from Reeves from an Instagram competition that Boxpark in Shoreditch ran. ¬†Reeves was running a pop-up shop in Boxpark for a couple of days and this competition was part of that promotion.

I was asked to go to their pop up shop to claim my prize and we were served with welcome drinks and invited to colour postcards, paint plant pots and colour fish themed flip books. ¬†We were also given canvas totes with more art supplies samples. ¬†I wanted to stay and colour the postcards because they were “I love London” postcards but we had an appointment with 55 Broadway (we’d signed up for a tour of the TFL office which was participating in Open House London) so we had to quickly say our goodbyes.

When I finally got the chance to open my lovely prize, I couldn’t quite believe how generous Reeves were. ¬†In my lovely prize box was:

  • a 6 piece acrylic paint starter set with brush
  • a 9 piece watercolour pain starter set with an HB pencil
  • a 12 piece soft pastels
  • a 6 piece set of sketching pencils
  • a 4 piece set of acrylic paint brushes
  • a pad of watercolour paper
  • postcards to colour with 7 coloured pencils
  • a watercolour mixing plate

Thank you sooooo much Reeves, I can’t wait to get started!‚̧ԳŹūüĎ©ūüŹĽ‚Äćūüé®

…well, okay, to be honest, I’ll have to recover from Open House London first!ūüôą

Bites

Something about the Bird

So…I’m all for second chances.

Last year, we went to Bird in Shoreditch because I wanted to try the chicken. ¬†I think I’ve written about my love of chicken so many times that this trip to try Bird’s chicken is completely self-explanatory. ¬†I also had my Chicken Bucket List (I will be posting an update to that post in the next few weeks, so please watch this space!) to consider. ¬†So off to Bird we went!

And needless to say, I was quite disappointed.  If you want to find out how dismal our dining experience was, read about it here.  The chicken was dry and overcooked, the service was a lackadaisical and a bit blasé and I said I was never coming back to any Bird branch ever again.

Until we saw a voucher for Bird on TimeOut London for a three-course offering (sides, a chicken burger and a dessert). ¬†Alan said there was no harm in trying Bird again, especially at that price (I can’t remember exactly how much that voucher was for but it was something like ¬£15 per person plus drinks). ¬†So I reluctantly agreed to purchase the vouchers and off we went.

The two visits couldn’t have been any more different! ¬†It was like coming into a different restaurant all together. ¬†I mean, same name, same decor, same menu, same venue…BUT totally different¬†dining experiences.

The staff were absolutely friendly, and wanted to talk about their food.  I know the word passionate is overused in the food business, but they were.  They were actually excited about their food!  They were completely happy that we had the vouchers and they explained how we could get the most out of our vouchers.  So order the food we did!

We both ordered wings as sides.  Alan ordered wings with the honey and ginger sauce.  The sauce was on the sweet side but had that lovely ginger hit that stopped the honey from being sickly sweet.  It was a lovely sauce for the perfectly cooked wings.

I ordered the buffalo wings. ¬†I loved it because it wasn’t blow-your-head-off spicy. ¬†I love spicy food but I like it when it’s not so spicy that you can’t taste what you’re eating because it was too hot! ¬†It was just the right blend of spicy, tangy and the floral peppery notes. ¬† Plus, the accompanying blue cheese sauce was yummyyyyy and was an absolute bonus.

Then we ordered the chicken burgers. ¬†There are 6 burgers to choose from the menu. ¬†Being the buffalo addict that I was, I ordered the buffalo blue chicken burger. ¬†This burger is a battered boneless chicken thigh fillet served on a brioche bun with buffalo sauce and a blue cheese slaw. ¬†I don’t think I got a chance to take a photo of Alan’s burger but he ordered a bacon cheese burger.

Then we ordered Bird’s doughnuts for dessert. ¬†Alan ordered a doughnut ice cream sandwich which I thought was a dessert big enough to feed a family of four!

I ordered the daily glazed doughnut special – which was, on the day, a mint chocolate glazed donut. ¬†I thought it wouldn’t be as formidable as Alan’s desert of choice, but when my dessert arrived, it was bigger than I thought!

It was such a HUGE MEAL and which came to about ¬£20, including drinks and service charge, per person. ¬†But it was such a different experience from our first Bird meal. ¬†We were looked after, but it wasn’t saccharine-sweet sincerity. ¬†It felt very genuine, and they really wanted us to have a really good Bird experience. ¬†We didn’t feel smothered and I was quite impressed because they asked us if the food was okay before we took bites, which I thought was nice. ¬†It’s never nice talking around a mouthful of food.

When they saw me taking pictures, one member of staff, a cheeky but charming French guy (I wish I’d taken his name), encouraged me to take photos and to tell people about Bird and to write a review on TripAdvisor! ¬†I thought was brave because he hadn’t asked me yet whether we had a good time. ¬†I think he knew that we ate well and that the food was good. ¬†That confidence in their product speaks well.

And to be fair, we like it so much, we went back again for just the wings!

Blog

Colchester charm

I used to work in Colchester and I do love the little town. ¬†I think it was when I started working in Chelmsford that Alan and I stopped going to Colchester often enough for it to stop feeling familiar. ¬†I don’t know why, really. ¬†It’s got great shops, both independent and popular chains, really good, small independent restaurants (there’s a Caribbean restaurant that does an absolutely divine goat curry that you can get with peas and rice! ¬†They even have an all-you-can-eat buffet for ¬£8 on Saturdays; drinks are separate of course. ¬†Look for the S&S Restaurant on St. John’s Street) and restaurant names, with more to come as Colchester High Street seems to be making quite the revival (with a Bill’s already established, a Byron’s coming soon and Wagamama opening in the near future as well). ¬†Apart from that, it’s got history in shedloads as it’s got a gorgeous 11th century Norman keep, ruins of an Augustinian priory, and the remains of a Roman chariot race track!

Colchester was known as Camulodunum and was mentioned by Pliny the Elder who died in 79AD (and by this virtue it is called the oldest recorded town in Britain). ¬†It was the Roman capital of Britain (yes, before London!) but was attacked and destroyed by Boadicea’s (Boudica) rebellion. ¬†It was soon after the destruction of Colchester that London became Rome’s provincial capital. ¬†Colchester held such a romantic link to the Romans that some historians postulated that it might have been a possible site for the Arthurian city of Camelot.

What I love about Colchester is the history that is all around the town, quite literally.  The town is still surrounded by Roman walls that were built after the rebellion led by Boadicea.  The Romans wanted to fortify the town and fortify it they certainly did.  Parts of the 3,000 yard-long walls still stand.  One of the biggest and oldest parts is the Balkerne Gate that stands right next to where the Mercury Theatre is.  The history geek in me was excited to find that you could actually touch the Balkerne Gate.  There were no protective walls around it.  It was literally history you could touch!

Colchester is a mixture of old and new but still has that lovely small town feel that makes you smile. ¬†It still has lovely old houses nestled in between relatively new Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian houses. ¬†During a trip to Colchester to see what Invasion Colchester was all about last Saturday, Alan and I stopped off at North Bridge in Middleborough in Colchester to photograph this small, charming collection of Medieval houses that were sitting along the River Colne. ¬†I’ve seen photographs of it and it has always been biscuit-tin pretty. ¬†These lovely pink houses did not disappoint and I got my Instagram-worthy shot (pity about the shadowban, or I’d post it on IG really…maybe I will (if) when the ban gets lifted!). ¬†Even the River Colne cooperated and made like it was glass. ¬†Pity there was so much coverage on the river or else you’d see perfect reflections of the lovely cottages with their exposed timber frames.

With the fastest train journey from London being an hour and 2 minutes, if you love history, Colchester might just be the place to come and visit.