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Nottingham's Winter Wonderland



Christmas cheer

There's nothing quite like the so-thick-with-anticipation-you-can-cut-it-with-a-knife buzz that this time of year radiates. Comparable only to the joy that packs the air in the happiest place on earth (because, trust me, you can't walk around a Disney park without flashing a mega-watt smile with every pace - it's infectious), Christmas puts a spring in the step of everyone (I might be stretching it - let's go with a huge proportion of the people) it touches. 

Winter Wonderland

From around mid-November, Nottingham's Old Market Square comes alive with groups of people helping to put together the city's Christmas market; a flurry of activity busies itself around the base of a - pretty humongous - Christmas tree, which is later strung with baubles, only matched (and then some) in size by the glitzily-gaudy numbers that find themselves dotted around the wooden huts that arrive emblazoned with words like 'Fresh Chips' and 'Mushy Peas' (we've got our priorities right). Then up pops the Helter Skelter, it's flag waving merrily in the autumn air, filling passer-by's thoughts with 'it's nearly here'-ness, before work is started on the 30m ice-skating rink home to terrific-twirls, swirling-slides, and flat-on-your-face-falls aplenty (the latter of which I'm adept at) - and the bright-as-they-come Carousel, replete with plinky-plonky music, nestles into it's spot, towered over by the Christmas-decoration-adorned façade of the Council House


Deck the halls

After making my way over to, and through, Bird in Borrowed Feathers Winter Market which I'll fill you in on soon - I wasn't quite ready to take the trip back across town to an empty apartment (let me point out I'm making this sound far-lengthier than it actually is - more like a 5 minute walk), so I thought I'd wander slowly through the Christmas-crowds (I was surprised by how busy it was for a Sunday, especially as it was near-on 4pm; see what I mean about Christmas? It brings out the people!) to have a gander at what was on offer.  

However, I got a little more than caught-up in the Yuletide atmosphere, and - instead of browsing the stalls - spent the majority of the time I was there happily snapping away at the sights, getting only glimpses here-and-there of the wares for sale. Thus another visit will be paid this week, when I fancy a break away from the screen (it's time to start another essay over at Tori's Tales HQ!), and am keen to indulge in some festive-frolicking

Have you visited a Christmas market this year?

Between Lenses - Urban



The new month afforded me another opportunity to collaborate with two of my favourites - Trina, from Of Trees and Hues, and Tara, from Tara Victoria (who has a brand new design - be sure to check it out!) for the 11th edition of their beautiful Between Lenses series. 


I have shared views from my window fairly regularly, both here (in fact, you'll see two featured in the post prior to this one!), and elsewhere on the webs, and one of the reasons for doing so (besides the fact I think it’s a pretty darn-awesome view!) is that it’s just so different to that which I grew up with (and witnessed changing over the near-on 25 years I called it my own). Back home - a village outside of Winchester - the view I woke to every day featured a green-green garden, a conservatory roof (situated just below my window which, for those of you who love to fall asleep, or wake up to, the pitter-patter of rain (and then some) would adore, but for light sleepers like me, downpours proved a little trying! – a swimming pool (which is now no longer there), a workshop, a patio, and trees, trees, and more trees.

When Trina and Tara announced this month’s Between Lenses theme was to be ‘Urban’, I did my best to think outside the box – to come up with something original, unusual, maybe even a little gritty, but ideas escaped me (even after wandering around town, camera in hand). It wasn't until the sun came up this morning (after which rain soon followed) that I realised I could actually stay within my box (quite literally - the 4 walls of this apartment) and capture the view that I now wake to. These roofs, the pipes, the old factory buildings, the ambulance sirens, the morning car horns and steady flow of traffic noise throughout the day (and night), even the raised voices from the street below – they all encompass what urban means to me, and serve as a reminder of the shift in my life, from village to city living


Sun up to sun down



Sun up

It's 7:12 am.

I 'dismissed' my alarm, got out of bed, and shuffled upstairs all within a minute of waking. At 6:21 am I switched on my laptop, navigated to Yoga With Adriene's YT channel, and picked her latest flow to start my morning with - Yoga For Digestion. I'm not really a flow kinda-gal - vinyasa's bore me; all those downward and upward dogs - but I decided to give it a crack anyway. I was pleasantly surprised, and so headed to the shower feeling revitalised, and with a 'today is going to go well' feeling in my bones. 

Ain't nothing bad about that. 

I'm now sipping tea, a towel turban on my head - which stinks of garlic bread; the woes of having to let things air-dry in the apartment - and am getting ready to schedule a few tweets for the day ahead. I like to do this first thing; share posts from fellow bloggers, interesting articles or quotes found across the web - whatever catches my eye. It's important for me to keep that connection going throughout the day - I'm not one for radio silence

Friday's are my longest day at university - a two hour lecture at 9 am (the busiest 9 am the Philosophy department has even seen (I'm assuming), which is really all down to it being a module on biomedical ethics. Today we're going to be discussing genetic screening - I'll leave you to form your own opinions on that subject matter), then a two hour break during which I prep for my seminar at 1 pm (Free Will and Action - the less said about that the better, especially as it's the module for which I'm writing my next essay, due in a week's time. Gulp), then another two hour break during which I prep for my last seminar at 4 pm (on that morning's Biomed module topic).

Now, however, is the time to get on with eating toast, drinking Oj, and having an internal debate over what to wear today. It's grey out, threatening rain, so I'm thinking polo neck, jeans, scarf, and mac. My winter coat is still firmly attached to the back of the chair over which it is hung - I refuse to wear it before the weather drops into the low single figures. Plus, the university's heating/air con system is whack, my friends - yesterday I was suitably dressed for the outside weather but my lecture room was like a bloody sauna. I'm amazed we all (the 9 of us that bothered to attend) managed to keep our eyes open! 

Whoops....back to the's now a little before 8 am, my hair is still wet, my eyes un-mascara-ed, and my clothes for the day un-ironed. I'm off to pull myself together, pack my bag for the day, and head out into the wet-weather with my mahoosive Cath umbrella for company!

There's something about rain (not even just the torrential kind, but that fine rain, that soaks you through - 10 points if you know where that comes from!) that causes the transport system to almost completely shut down. This morning (and, ok, I do have to admit to the fact that I may have left a little later than I'd planned) the 34 just did not want to play nice. Delays featured heavily on the journey in. I did, however, manage to arrive only 4 minutes late for my lecture (I spent the first hour impatiently-waiting for my Snack-biscuits-and-tea-break at 10am), and am happy to report that the rest of the day went by rather smoothly. The boy arrived to meet me in the library at 11 am before we trudged over, 'brellas akimbo, to Trent building (where he then spent the rest of his day - up until 5 pm, when he met me - making notes for his dissertation). Despite plans to head to the pub after walking home, we were met with crowded rooms, and a lack-of tables, so ended up back a little earlier than expected. We then proceeded to fall asleep on the sofa (standard practise after 'long' days!) before I awoke our tired selves with hot drinks and the promise of veggie burgers for dinner!

It's now 7:45 pm.

Chips are in the oven (sometimes only chips will do), footie is on the laptop the boy has plonked himself in front of, and I'm sat at the table, going over blog ideas in my head, and day-dreaming about the downtime I'm hoping to indulge in this evening. Weekends for us nowadays aren't really like those we knew in the (distant) past - they're full of essay work, and going-over notes, and working events. Well, that's what the boy does with his away-from-university-work time; tomorrow, whilst he works a party (I've just joked that, who knows, maybe it's an office Christmas party. Can't say that went down well!), I'll probably settle down with a film for company (last week I watched Obvious Child, and thought it was brilliant. Definitely recommend it), or catch up with another episode of Jess' show (and, because I must mention it, spend time counting down to the next episode of Serial. Anyone else a fan?).  

I've often spoken about feeling grateful for the small moments - times like these, when dinner is on, I'm finally warming up, I've an evening with my boy ahead, and I'm sitting, doing what I love (that is, writing to you) - that shift my focus towards the NOW. Moments that make me stop, take a deep breath, and think this is what it's all about. Because, it is. And, right now, I'm feeling pretty blummin' good about that.

Sun down

It's now 9:17 pm.

Our bellies are full and we've another couple of hot drinks on the go. I've my last piece of birthday cake waiting on a plate beside the laptop, ready to be wolfed down, and the boy has just popped my last Ferrero Rocher in his mouth (yes, sometimes I do share food. But only when I have something else to eat. Hence, the cake).

I've about a thousand tabs open with articles ready to read, and posts ready to catch up on (Ever Thine, Muted Mornings, and Nice & Quiet are next on my list), and videos to watch, and more podcasts to listen to (I realise I'm dreadfully late to that bandwagon - it is well and truly out of sight - but I'm here now, and that's all that matters to me!). We have been early-to-bed-ers of late; come 10:30, if we aren't already in bed, you'll find us traipsing down the steps down towards our bedroom, ready to use our (frankly bloody awful) herbal/salty toothpaste (yeah...), and to clamber under the sheets for some (if not well-deserved, then well-needed) zzzz's.

Then, another day.  

What happened to you between sun up (the start of your day) and sun down (the end of it) today? 

Local: Bird in Borrowed Feathers Market



'Tis nearly the season

With the holiday - you know the one - just around the corner, thoughts (no matter how hard I try and point them in the direction of my next essay) are beginning to centre around festive gift ideas. Lately the push to shop independent has been amped up, and although I struggle with gift-buying at the best of times (and when there is only one person on the receiving end!), thankfully the talent that Nottingham (and other local towns) has to offer makes shopping for the perfect gift less of a struggle and far more pain-free!

Local talent

Back in July, I shimmied myself over (rather less delicately than it sounds, due to the bursts of showers we experienced over the weekend) to the Vintage Warehouse to attend Bird in Borrowed Feathers Summer Market, where I spent a fair wee-while browsing through all the wonderful stalls displaying locally-made wares. 

Click on the images below to take you through to the designer/creative's website!

Bird in Borrowed Feathers Market loom flower workshop
Bird in Borrowed Feathers Market main hall
Bird in Borrowed Feathers Market photobooth

Winter Market

Luckily for me, Bird in Borrowed Feathers are back with their Winter Market during the weekend of the 22nd-23rd November, and will be showcasing lots of local talent (to find out more about those whose work will feature, head over to their Facebook page!).

I know I'll be popping over to Cobden Place with pennies in my pocket, a spring in my step, and a hope-filled heart that I'll find something to tick off my 'just-right' list! 

Will you be shopping local/independent for Christmas? 

Turning 29



On Friday, the day after my birthday, I posted a version of 'Turning 29' that I then went on to take down the following morning, because I'd realised not only that I had more to say on the subject, but also that I wasn't happy with the original post. I'm not someone who believes in hitting that publish button just because (in fact, I advise against it!), but - after a very weird-mood-filled day Friday - I did exactly that (I really must learn to accept my own advice!). Safe to say my discomfort Saturday morning (which may also be a little to do with my perfectionism!) meant a revision was necessary, so here I am, back in town, and turning 29 again!

Turning 29 feels both significant and insignificant.

The former for, I would guess, quite obvious reasons (one step closer to that big 3-0), and the latter because that one day difference - between which I shifted from 28 to 29 - had little impact on my life, beyond offering me the opportunity to guiltlessly spoil myself a little (by allowing myself a day off uni work). I still went into university for my 10am lecture (big HUGE mistake!), though I followed it up with tea and birthday cake (and lots of eps of The Mindy Project). I still did my washing, and tidied up the flat a little, and made sure I ate properly (sausages and home-made chips!) before I went out for cocktails at Boilermaker (mainly because I'm not much of a drinker, but also because I am a very un-becoming drunk!), I just did it all in my time. 

Oh, and I listened to lots of Prince (in fact, I still am. When Doves Cry is serenading my writing session!). 


Advice, lessons learnt, and honest truths

I have no advice to give you from lessons learnt as I've grown older, like those offered in Shannon's 'All That Lives In Me' post (though I very much agree with both her and Dory's suggestion to 'just keep swimming'). No 'what I know now's, like the ever-wonderful Meg, in her post on turning the same age. Nor am I here to chat honest truths with you about getting older, à la Jess in her TLS Mini Edition podcast (though I completely applaud Jess for her openness in discussing wrinkles, thoughts on botox, and turning 30).

I just want to say that birthday's should be as you want them to be.

You can accept them, reject them (much like my boy, who isn't the 'celebrating getting older' kind), spend them alone, spend them with everyone that you can, fill yourself with cake (actually, indulging in birthday cake is the one piece of advice I do offer), or fizz, or you can laze around on the sofa, watching movies, or whack up the volume on your laptop and Shake it Off with Taylor (been there, done that). There is no right or wrong way to celebrate. And there is no need to focus on turning that one year older. 

It's all up to you.

The embroidery hoop seen above on my 'sewing' shelf was a birthday gift from my darling friend Megan, of Moonbeamwishes, who has a super-sweet Etsy shop - Dear Moonbeams - where you can purchase hoops with all sorts of wonderful quotes and sayings. Heck, you can even go all out and get one personalised! So be sure to check out Megan's work, and give her shop a 'favourite'!