Last week, I was fortunate enough to have friends who would indulge my blatant fangirling over one of my favourite authors enough to plan an entire trip to Oxford to indulge this whim. What am I talking about, you ask? Why, V.E. Schwab’s Tolkien Lecture given at Pembroke College, Oxford. Of course. An annual lecture, Pembroke College’s J.R.R. Tolkien Lecture series is organised by students of the college and based on the topic of speculative fiction (often, fantasy and sci-fi), it invites an influential person within the field to speak on the topic. Previous speakers have included Lev Grossman and Susan Cooper and, this year, it added V.E. Schwab to its growing ranks.
In my inaugural Favourite Eateries blog post I gushed at length about The Tavern Co in Liverpool. This time, I bring you something completely different – we’re ditching the tex-mex breakfast food and heading to the Iberian peninsula via Lunya in Liverpool.
With independent, family-owned restaurants in both Liverpool and Manchester, Lunya is Peter & Elaine Kinsella’s homage to Catalunya and Spain. Lunya is a combination of Catalan restaurant, deli, and bar, and they are multi-award winning, with the Liverpool restaurant featured in the Good Food Guide North West as Restaurant of the Year for two years running (2015 & 2016). Located on the corner of College Lane and Hanover Street, opposite Radio Merseyside, Lunya is best experienced when you have plenty of time to eat in Catalan fashion, that is to say: slow and social. If you’re looking for a quick get-in-get-out meal I would not recommend the Catalan restaurant, but if you’re happy to sit back, relax, and have some seriously tasty tapas brought to your table as and when it’s ready, then Lunya may well be the place for you.
Last year I did quite well with my yearly resolutions, I think, in part, because I regularly “checked in” with them and had a look at how I was doing. Since it worked so well (not to blow my own trumpet) in 2017, I’ve decided to carry on that tradition into 2018 so this is the first of my Quarterly Check-in posts. I’ll have a look at each of my 2018 Resolutions and see how I’ve fared in the months of January, February, and March.
For those who care to have an in-depth reminder of my 2018 Resolutions you can find that post here. Now let us examine how I’m doing three months into the year…
1. Complete Goodreads 52 Books goal
Verdict: On Track
I’ve managed to read 17 books already this year which Goodreads informs me is 6 books ahead of schedule – go me! If I carry on at this pace all year (which seems unlikely given some exciting holidays planned and a desire to read more classics), I should easily surpass my 52 books target. Fingers crossed?
2. Complete Around the Year in 52 Books
Verdict: On Track
As it stands, every single book I have read thus far in 2018 also completes one of the challenges for the Around the Year Reading Challenge. This is because I’ve been mindful of what books I’m choosing to read and, mostly, because the Reading Challenge is quite adaptable. That being said, once I start whittling the challenges down I am sure it will get harder to match a book to a challenge and I will instead find myself doing it vice versa, i.e. I’ll be picking a book to read that matches a challenge rather than finding which challenge matches the book I’ve just read!
3. Finish off the books in a series I have yet to read
I am definitely failing quite supremely at this because I haven’t given it a moment’s thought after impulsively signing up for Anna’s #SeriestoFinish2018 challenge back in December. I’m feeling very guilty about my complete lack of participation so I hope to get back on the horse, so to speak, and concentrate on finishing off some of those books in a series.
4. Finish War and Peace and read another Russian classic
Until earlier this week, I hadn’t even thought about picking up War and Peace again, even though I know every week is a ticking clock of me retaining any memory of what happened in the first 1000ish pages of this behemoth of a book. I only have about 300 pages left to read so I really need to get to it, it’s not even funny anymore. I won’t let myself move onto another Russian classic either until I’ve defeated this one so I really need to make this a priority – I’ve said I will in my recent Spring TBR post so I’m pretty much duty bound to now.
You’d think this would be Thursday because I tried to make Tag Thursday a thing but, alas, no, I’m all out of whack because on Wednesday I went to see the touring production of Wicked since they’re in town at the Liverpool Empire. Long story short it was amazing and I loved it, but I didn’t post my usual Wednesday post until yesterday and here I am now posting what would have been Tag Thursday on Friday. Are you keeping up? Basically, this is a tag post and let’s just get to it…
I saw this tag over on the hilarious Emma Oulton’s Booktube channel so definitely go watch her video first/after because she’s lovely and such fun – this is the 50 Questions You Have Never Been Asked tag! Not strictly book-related but it’s an interesting mixed bag of questions for sure.
1. What’s your favourite candle scent?
Ok so I mostly hate floral or sickly candle scents (like vanilla and stuff). I’m a big fan of smoky or autumn and Christmas scents so like cinnamon and apple. This Christmas I bought a mulled wine candle and I love it so much that I’m scared to start burning it because I don’t want to use it up.
2. What female celebrity do you wish was your sister?
Can I be a big ol’ cliche and say Emma Watson? I feel like she’d offer some great life advice. Alternatively: Hayley Atwell, for the same reasons. Or Jessica Chastain. Aaaand… ok I’m going to stop now before this just devolves into a list of females I love.
3. What male celebrity do you wish was your brother?
This is a tricky question for me because I don’t know whether to go for like a sweet younger brother I want to protect or an older brother who can be the protector of the relationship. It also can’t be someone I even vaguely find attractive because, you know, there’s that risk of hypothetical incest which I am not about really. Hmmm. You know what, I only have an answer if I have Hayley Atwell as my sister, and that’s James D’arcy purely because them two as a sibling pair would be all kinds of excellent.
4. How old do you think you’ll be when you get married?
Fuck knows. I don’t even know how to meet people so… something tells me it’ll be a while.
5. Do you know a hoarder?
Yes, my grandmother. Is this a thing with older people where they hold onto crap they definitely don’t need and clutter their house with it?
6. Can you do a split?
Hahahaha no. And I’m pretty sure if I tried, I’d break myself.
If you are at all a frequenter of my Instagram, you will find many a picture of breakfast food. The reason for this is twofold: 1) I really love breakfast food, give me pastries and bagels and toast ALL DAY, and 2) I spent a lot of time eating breakfast at The Tavern Company in Liverpool.
Anyone who has been to the Tavern will understand this and I have to say I’m very glad I didn’t go to university in Liverpool because a lot of my student loan would have been “wasted” on said breakfast food. Except when it comes to their food, I don’t really think “waste” is the appropriate verb because oh my god it’s worth every damn penny and every damn calorie.
Is this just really a not-at-all-veiled love letter to one of my favourite eateries? Yes. So buckle in whilst I gush about it.
Welcome to the fourth and final post in my wrap up of my (not so) recent trip to London – you can check out the incidents of day three, what I got up to in day two or take a look a day one. It’s took me far to long to get to the point of talking about the final day of a four day trip but here we are, it’s the home stretch now!
And we started the day off extremely strongly – with breakfast at Dishoom. I’m pretty sure I saw the rec on Twitter at some point, as one of the unexpected perks of following A LOT of London-based publishing people is that you see a lot of yummy-looking food which become instant London restaurant recs! It’s also quite possible I Googled too… because I’m thorough like that. Anyways, the point is, before we got to London I knew I wanted to try Dishoom for breakfast/brunch to see if it lived up to the hype. Reader, it did. Not only did it live up to the hype, it far exceeded it and, in fact, I fully intend to try to work another Dishoom breakfast trip into any London itinerary in the future. It was just that good.
Welcome to the third post in my wrap up of my (not so) recent trip to London – you can check out what I got up to in day two here or take a look a day one here. What has inspired me to finally write up this, you may ask? Well, it just so happens that this very day I (yes I, not someone else) managed to bag some tickets to see Hamilton in the West End again in October! So it seemed about time to talk about the first time I was lucky enough to see the musical during my trip to London back in December 2017. Let’s see how Day Three of my London trip went, shall we? Let’s indulge nostalgia…
Day Three dawned bright and not so early and (not ashamed) we ended up eating leftover Dominos pizza as breakfast. We’re adults, we can make those kind of decisions, ok? We lazed about a bit, not going to lie, but knew we had to make it across to the first destination of the day by 11am – the Houses of Parliament tour – so we finally got up and got dressed and got ready to leave.
As soon as we stepped outside the hotel, I realise one very key thing – it was a shit weather day, there’s no two ways about it. I came very close to a hissy fit on the morning before we’d even got to Westminster because it was very cold and the weather had decided to do what I would call “horizontal rain”. Lovely. So instead of walking along Embankment, we plumped for hopping on the Tube at Tottenham Court Road (via Pret, naturally) and hopped off at Westminster. When you get closer to the River Thames, the wind gets stronger and that makes for a very miserable and very squidgy walk over to the Palace of Westminster.
We arrived at Westminster in plenty of time so we decided to take refuge in Westminster Abbey’s gift shop for a little while, and Liz managed to buy her Gran a nice postcard whilst we were in there. Then, scarves and hats donned, we headed back out into the driving rain for the mercifully short walk over to the Palace. As we approached the security gates at the visitor entrance I quickly realised that I’d been pissy about the rain but at least I didn’t have to stand out in it all day like the security guard did. We’d barely even said hi and started to make chit chat with him when he said “ah, it’s fucking freezing, I hate it” in an extremely broad Scottish accent. Nothing like a bit of weather-based banter to bring together nations, eh?
Catharsis: noun ca·thar·sis \ kə-ˈthär-səs \
1 a : purification or purgation of the emotions (such as pity and fear) primarily through art
b : a purification or purgation that brings about spiritual renewal or release from tension
2 : elimination of a complex by bringing it to consciousness and affording it expression
I’ve always been the person who over-thinks things. The person who is indecisive because of this. The person who worries about whether what she has to say is worthwhile, or whether it’s whiny, or problematic, or just plain self-indulgent. Over-thinking is not a bad thing. But it does lead to a tendency to bottle things up and to let them fester, not expressing them, and thereby not releasing any tension they cause. My “cure” for this is a form of catharsis, my own personal brand of therapy, you might say, and since we live in a digital age it looks like I will be making the utterly foolish decision to put said thoughts onto the Internet instead of telling them to a licensed professional. But I’d like to be honest on this blog and I’d like this blog to be a true and accurate reflection of who I am… and who I am is sometimes self-centred and in dire need of a means of expulsion. So here we are, a new series of blog posts called Catharsis. I don’t know how frequent they will be, I don’t know how worthwhile they will be for anyone else reading them, but I know they will help me. And that’s kind of the point.
People say never compare your chapter 1 to someone else’s chapter 10. I’m paraphrasing completely but in a nutshell, that means that you shouldn’t compare your own life to someone else’s because even if they seem to be at the same point in life, they’re probably not. Their stories might just have a slightly more squished up timeline, their denouement and conclusion might come before yours, and you don’t know this by simply comparing and contrasting.
I used to be a big believer in this idea. I’m not so sold on it any more.
You see, when you hit your twenties something I have dubbed The Twentysomething Acceleration Effect happens. It will happen to some people, it won’t happen to others, and it will create a gap in experience that is difficult to breach. People who you thought to be ‘at the same stage’ in life will suddenly seem to be miles ahead. And it will happen what feels like overnight.
I like to pride myself on my empathy. Thanks to a rich childhood full of books of every type, I’ve lived in fictional worlds alongside characters both alike and unlike myself. This means that I’d like to say I can ‘think myself’ into quite a lot of points of view – I can imaginatively walk quite a few miles in different shoes, all in my head. But, as I get further into my twenties, I’m beginning to be unable to wear those metaphorical shoes because of said Twentysomething Acceleration Effect. For those unaware of the term (and let’s face it, I just came up with it, so why would you know?), I’ll explain…
You will have witnessed, if not knowingly, The Twentysomething Acceleration Effect in action. Symptoms include logging into Facebook and seeing yet another proposal post. It’s scrolling through a friend’s Instagram and seeing a sonogram. It’s hearing a couple of friends talk about house-hunting for their very first house together. It’s witnessing these things whilst you sit alone, with your biggest responsibility being putting up a blog post to maintain your regular posting schedule on your mediocre blog, and your biggest worry in life being whether to have pizza or fajitas for tea tonight.
Yep, as you can see from the title of this, this is one of those posts – an overly optimistic goal-setting for the year ahead in the form of New Year’s Resolutions.
For the first time in years, I had a pretty good year in 2017 in terms of resolution fulfilling. I finally stopped just saying I’d do things and actually did them. This was all in the spirit of putting my money where my mouth was and a just do it attitude. I think this was the secret to this year’s success, along with a healthy realisation that life is too fucking short and you can’t take it with you, this is it, this is life, so if you have the chance to live it and to do something, do it, before you can’t.
It sounds simple, doesn’t it? Realising it and enacting it are two very different things though… and in that spirit, I’m going to continue into 2018 and hope that the upcoming year is as successful. Let’s get to these resolutions and goals which, I warn you, are probably far too numerous… buckle in, guys!
Greetings folks! Today I bring you the last of my check-ins on my 2017 Resolutions – the final review of how I did with my goals this year. Around this time last year, I set some resolutions or goals for 2017. It’s something I try to do every year and every year, without fail, I forget my goals unless I keep them on a handily placed sheet of paper or, as is this year’s case, in the front of my bullet journal. This year I also did quarterly check-ins to keep myself accountable – click to peek at my first quarterly check-in, my second quarterly check-in, and my third quarterly check-in – and it turns out regularly checking in on the progress of your resolutions might actually help you achieve them. Who would’ve thought it?!?
Before I decide upon my 2018 resolutions, I thought I would do a final review of how I did in the final quarter and for the year overall!