October. That was a month… And November has been so brutal that this is coming supremely late in the day! But back to October: Two jobs, one crashed and burned the other one stuck, so I can now say I work in London, how surreal is that… I commute on the tube, there is a boy, a routine is slowly coming into being, and all these wonderful people I have known all over the world are popping up all over London. I’ve no idea how life works, but it does so in mysterious ways, that’s for sure!
October has been another month of fact buried deep under the weight of untruths, opinion posing as fact, and illusion. In the run up to the US mid-term election, the world has been watching the already sinking ship be battered by ever more waves of racism, anti-semitism and white supremacy, all wrapped up in the neat package that is “Make America Great Again.” At time of writing, the results of the mid-terms have been coming though, and the Democrats have taken a majority in the house.
In a world where borders are becoming increasingly meaningless, no matter what Trump and company are trying make people believe, I take a vested interest in what’s going on across the pond. As of today, whilst by no means a fix in any stretch of the imagination, things are looking a little brighter for our friends in the states.
It’s a start.
Having a job is an amazing way of getting the diet (by which I mean regular meal times, because diet, who’s she? I don’t know her!) My month hasn’t been completely bereft of food or cooking, however, but I am ashamed to say that there is a lack of photographs – what kind of blogger have I become (one who is remedying this in Novembers post, that’s what kind, but for now imagination will have to suffice.)
First up, the Thai round the corner. A few minutes walk from the homestead is a pub-come-Thai restaurant by the name of Latymers, which is as good as the Thai round the corner from my flat in Hong Kong. The food is good, the atmosphere is great and the staff are so utterly delightful I wish I could go more frequently just to see them! A Thai Red Curry is always my default, however they’re also surprisingly easy to get wrong. I’m please to say that the Red Curry at Latymers is everything you could wish for (I always have the beef) and Ali informs me that the Pad Thai is on point also.
I think it was early October I ended up in Neal’s Yard with my sister. It was time for food and as we were in the area, went to the Wild Food Cafe. The food was utterly delicious and we felt very virtuous. Neither of us are vegan or vegetarian, but we appreciate our veggies and good, seasonal, healthy food. The menu has changed since we went, so I won’t bore you with the details, but I highly recommend checking it out. Take a friend and share so you can try lots of things!
One delight I have found, in returning to the UK, has been brunch. There is nothing like a full English for making your Sunday great, and there’s a fantastic wee place near the boy’s that’s that good we’ve made return visits. My stomach is not enough of a bottomless pit for me to handle the supreme breakfast, or whatever it’s called, on my own, but it’s well worth it, and the boy makes no complaints at having extras!!
Cooking wise, it’s still been pretty simple. Honey ginger chicken is a regular, Chili con carne is back on the rotational menu, spiralised courgette salad was a thing for a week, and parsnip and butternut squash soup has been made. My cooking is still haphazard as I’m still (well into November) lacking a solid routine, but I’m, closer than I was!
When it comes to reading, I’m having a bit of a love-hate battle with the tube. On the one hand, you have a designated reading slot thrust into your lap. On the other hand, I’m still enough of a noob to the London Underground that I dare not read for fear of zoning out and missing my stop. I find I get quickly engrossed and miss a handful of stops. I’ve not overshot my stop yet, but I have a feeling it will happen one day.
Despite this inner battle, I have managed to get a fair bit of reading done this month – some old favourites (which is apparently a weird thing to do, re-reading books…) and some new ones.
Matthew Reilly has been high on my reading list, with the newest Jack West Jr. book, ‘Three Secret Cities‘, being released on Thursday November 8th in the UK (I’m going to go ahead and assume it’s already out by the time this is published) I’ve been re-reading the earlier books, and other Matthew Reilly books too.
I forced one of his books, ‘Temple’, upon the boy. I think it’s a pretty good introduction into Reilly’s world of fast-paced, action-movie-in-a-book fiction. A stand alone that weaves a modern day and historical narrative together, it was demolished within no time – and to my shame it was taking me a lot longer to read a book in the same time frame! The Reilly books I’ve read this month are, in no particular order, ‘Four Legendary Kingdoms’, ‘Six Sacred Stones’ and ‘Area 7′, the latter being the second Shane Schofield book.
Other books I’ve read this month include, in fiction, Ruth Hogan’s ‘The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes‘ and Mo Hayder’s ‘Birdman‘, and in non-fiction ‘Natives‘ by Akala.
There has also been much reading of cookbooks after the discovery that was Leon, a fast food joint in the UK which is utterly delicious. And yes, cookbooks are their own separate category. It was the ‘Little Leon: Lunchbox‘ that kicked it off, and the possession of an iPad consolidated. I have a lot of cooking to do… and if I were to recommend any Leon books to you, they would be ‘Leon: Fast and Free‘ and ‘Leon: Family and Friends’.
So, I have a job. Phew!
I actually love my job. A bit of researching, a bit of writing, a lot of learning about all sorts of new things, and a lot of stuff I can’t put here.
But that’s ok, because this blog is for other things. So in a work related sense for the teachers out there, I’m working on updating my Narnia Winter Camp, and (finally) making templates for my felt advent calendar. I’ve been using mine for years before finally getting round to this! But, it is the season, after all.
Look out for posts on these coming soon!
Honestly, I’ve barely watched anything. There’s been much Star Trek (again) some Doctor Who (because UK Netflix rocks) and Stephen Colbert, naturally!
There are a millions and one things I’m keen to watch, should I ever get round to it… but we’ll see!
London is full of so much stuff it’s overwhelming, and blink and you miss it. Unless you know people. One of the most amazing things I saw this month, and possibly ever, was the Thomas Cole exhibition in the National Gallery. Ali took me, wanting to see the paintings in person. I had no idea who this guy was, let alone anything about the series of paintings in question.
They were incredible.
Not only is he an incredible landscape artist – the way he captured the afternoon light on the aqueduct outside Rome was as good as any photograph, but the depth of detail, and the brutal yet ethereal constant truth of The Course of Empire series, leaves an impression that still has not been shaken.
If you are ever lucky enough to see them for yourself, I highly recommended you go.
Another art museum I visited in October was the Tate Modern. Not the easiest to navigate, but full of some fascinating and varied artwork. The Magic Realism exhibition particularly resonated with me. Feature art from Weimar Germany, it’s fascinating, disturbing and so, so compelling you can’t look away. I still need to get my hands on the book of 5 essays that accompanies the exhibition.
Another exploratory trip with Ali was to the Cutty Sark, a former tea clipper. She is an utterly beautiful ship, a masterful piece of engineering combining all the beauty of a wooden ship with the industrial nature of steel as nautical engineering moved into the Industrial Age.
She has been beautifully preserved, and it’s amazing being able to clamber about her and go in and out of her cabins. It helps when your pal is a wee bit of an encyclopaedia giving you all the cool info (no, I’m not going to tell you – where’s the fun in that!)
We went home via a Thames ferry, which gave us a totally different view of London, driech day though it was, and it was fascinating seeing all the through ways, doorways and passageways that are still here or blocked up on the banks of the Thames. You just don’t see them when you’re on land and, pricier though it is, I would highly recommend a wee trip on the Thames if you can!
The limit of my crafting this month has been my letter writing. I’ve not had the time, or the wakeful brain, to do much else. It’s a slow return to form, and it’s been knocked back by life in recent weeks, but slowly and surely the creative buzz is returning and I’m desperate to let it run wild! Watch this space. I hope.
Autumn brings with it a rush of releases. I don’t know if that’s because of Christmas, or if the summer months are more conducive to creativity or song writing (I say that like there are rules to how long it takes to write an album) but hands down the best release – or acquisition for October – has been SIX. It absolutely has to be the first to go in here, because oh my days, what an album! Telling the stories of Henry VIII’s six wives, it’s clever, funny, insightful, packed with cracking tunes, and if I were still teaching, I’d be working this into a class (there goes that creativity, and hopefully worksheets will be coming to a post soon!!!)
Six is, for me, one of the best musicals I’ve heard since Hamilton. It’s touring the UK just now, and will be back in London after Christmas. I can’t wait to go and see it on stage! Until then, you can find me busting out ‘House Of Holbein‘ (and ‘Couldn’t Get It Up‘ from Hot Gay Time Machine, another cracking tune, I highly recommend.)
Outwith music from the stage, there have been some stellar releases this month, some I know I’ve missed, like the new Black Eyed Peas. There have been offerings from Twenty One Pilots, You Me At Six, KT Tunstall, Monsta X, Stray Kids, Ella Mai, Jess Glynn, Tom Odell, BoA, Lukas Graham, Zion. T, IZ*ONE, among many others, and an honorary mention goes to Christine and the Queens, as I’ve only been listening to the new album solidly since early October, so I’m counting it despite its September release.
There’s too many to go through them all individually, but I think it’s about time for another Mixtape Monday post!
I’m going to be honest, I am all at sea trying to deal with a British autumn, and one in London, which carries it’s own set of challenges. One day it’s warm, the next it’s freezing, but I’m still not sure it’s cold enough to warrant the layers, and thickness thereof, that I see on the tube any given day. My Northern Pride as returned with a vengeance. It’s pretty much been rotating striped jumpers… I’m a woman of simple tastes (in bright colours…)
Makeup wise, I’m holding on to my Korean faves, but have also moved on to The Ordinary. At my sisters persuasion, we headed off to Covent Garden (the same day as Neal’s Yard, in fact) and she wheeled me into The Ordinary store. I’ve been using their hyaluronic acid, foundation and primer for the about a month now, and they really are excellent. It’s the best primer I’ve ever used, my skin is better than it’s been in quite some time, and they’re so affordable! 10/10 would recommend.
I’ve also been enjoying the BaByliss Tight Curls Wand. This little baby makes tiny curls, that stay in your hair and fall out beautifully. It may take a hour to curl my hair, but it’s worth it (well, debatable, but I’m sold!)
It’s hard to think of any miscellaneous items or events when most of your time has been spent job hunting, working, sleeping or just trying to re-assimilate back into your home country – not the easiest of walks in the park, I can tell you.
If I’m pushed, what shall go here is my lamp. Because, you know, buying a lamp is a sign you’re staying put in a country!
The lamp in my room peaced out early in the month, and Ali picked out it’s replacement before I did (I mean, she is an Architect with an on-point interior design eye!)
So, yes, I have a lamp (mine has a grey shade) it’s beautiful, and it’s good to be home.
If you fancy keeping this geeky teacher running, chip in for that finest of energy juices: coffee!