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Monday, 12 November 2018

I wonder all the time, why worry..?



I'm always being told that I should worry about things less. Whilst on the surface I can give a fairly good impression of having my shit together, I'll admit that I do worry about pretty much everything.

I'd just like to point out here that I'm talking about low-level worrying, and nothing serious enough that I would consider falls under the term "anxiety". I've never mentioned this to the doctors and am not in anyway suggesting that what I experience is anything like what I'm sure a lot of people have to live with. It's sad that I have to even mention this, but it gets tiresome reading people's complaints about "competitive illness" and that's something I don't want to get into.

Some examples: Aside from work, money and the other usual suspects, I worry a lot about people I know and love - if I haven't heard from them or they're supposed to be meeting me and they're late, I run through all of the gruesome possible ways in which they may have met their demise; I worry about what the best choices are for our future; whether and when we should have children; whether the chickens are okay; politics and the future of our country; why the tortoise hasn't eaten as much today as usual; that a friend I've forgotten to reply to will take offence and no longer speak to me; etc etc etc. Honestly, they range from silly, trivial things right through to huge issues which I couldn't have an effect on if I tried. And it's maddening. However much I try to switch off, it's nigh on impossible.

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I'm not sure what the solution is. I've taken to writing things down - I've always been someone who has found writing to be something of a release. I used to write in a diary every day; it's a tradition I started without fail, every New Year's Day. I'd usually make it to about June before giving up. Sooner if I actually had to go somewhere, as I used to like to leave my diary in the safety of my own room. Once I fell behind with it, that became another thing to worry about. Ugh. But, it did help a little, for those first few months of the year. 

I've also always been a bit of a list-writer and I do find that a decent To Do list can help with worrying about forgetting things, or getting everything done. So much so, in fact, that I've dedicated one of the kitchen walls to be a chalkboard, so that we can have plans and lists drawn up on there constantly. 

Do you have any tips for dealing with the worries? 

Friday, 9 November 2018

Friday Favourites 293..




This week I've managed to swing it so that I've had a couple of full evenings at home, which has meant that I've managed to get on with some of the list of things on the house to-do list. Cleairng out, unpacking boxes, organising cupboards and storage and repainting furtniture which has been gifted to us, all of which has given me chance to think about the things I would still like to acquire as finishing touches to some of the rooms. 
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001: These beautiful chairs aren't yet available but are the stuff of dreams. We've decided on our sofa, when we get onto the living room decor, but I'd like a little armchair in a contrasting colour and texture and this would be perfect. 

002: I know I've mentioned them before, but I think I probably dream about these clocks every night, lately. I'd absolutely love one and have been saving up my clothes sale profits in the hope that I'll be able to afford one someday. I'd put it on the living room wall, where it would be seen by everyone. 

003: These salad servers would look perfect on our new dining table, which we picked up for a total song from eBay last weekend. 

004: I have a little cloud pendant lamp in our bedroom, which I love and am planning pale blue walls when we get around to repainting in there. I think these shelves would look lovely on the wall by the window, to hold little keepsakes. 

005: These are actually little hooks, not chairs. I think they'd look great by the front door in the hallway, where they could be used mostly for show, but also for guests' coats when we have visitors.

006: I've been looking for an alternative to the hideous lampshade on one of the landing lights - they're a little bit oddly distributed, but I think that the fact this pendant is glass would mean the light would carry further. Is that a thing?! 

007: We've got a whole family of visitors staying in a couple of weeks' time and I have to get the little spare room hastily looking a little more kid-friendly, but don't think we will have time to actually hang any wallpaper there for the time being. I figured that this rug would be a nice addition - not overly childish, but would add a little whimsy to an otherwise fairly plain and dull room. 

008: I spied this jug in store when I was in Paris a few months ago, but had worries about getting it home in one piece. I'm hoping it will still be around in the sale. Isn't it awesome?!

009: I was actually meant to be looking for some bedding suitable for the single spare room, but got distracted by the fact that I don't have any festive bedding for our bed. It sucks that I no longer have any need for my old double-sized bedding, but this deer print is super cute.

Ahh, so many things. 

Thursday, 8 November 2018

#bloggersecretsanta 2018 update

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Just a little reminder that sign-ups for this year's Blogger Secret Santa close today. I'll be sending out emails with details of your recipient tomorrow. 

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Paris: Musée du Parfum

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I mentioned that we had one day in our Paris trip where the plans went a little bit off-course as a result of us not doing our research on Paris museum opening times properly. We spent a morning at the botanical gardens, which was great. As it neared lunchtime, the weather was taking a turn for the worse so we headed back to the metro and back into the city centre. 

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After a ridiculously expensive street cafe for lunch (it began to rain somewhat biblical proportions, so we dived into the first place we spotted!) we carried on down towards Opera and to our next stop: the museum of perfume. 

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Situated in part of the building which houses Frangonard, a French perfume company who I must admit I hadn't heard of before, the museum is free to visit and there are regular guided tours in several languages. We hadn't booked places but when we arrived we were pleased to find that there was an English-speaking tour leaving in ten minutes. 

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The tour guide took us downstairs into the depths of the basement for the start of the tour and explained that the building we were in used to be a theatre, and before that a bicycle school, where women would learn to ride a bicycle. 

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The main floor now houses a large still, which is used in perfume blending, and plenty of other displays of historical bottles and designs, as well as lots of information. The desk above, surrounded by tiered bottles, we were told is a traditional perfumier set-up, where they would blend scents using the base notes, middle and top notes. 

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We spent a good while perusing the various displays and it was lovely to have such a relaxed tour. There were other groups also on tours around the museum but at no point did we feel rushed and we were left for some time in each room to take photos and take all of the information in. 

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Once back upstairs we were able to have a go at matching some of the most commonly used scents to their labels, and to have a go at deciding which scents complement one another. After that, we went back into the factory shop section of the building and were able to try smelling some of the Fragonard scents. 

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At this point we did get a bit of a sales pitch, where the staff were really pushing sales of small gold bottles of their scent in giftboxes, at a reduced price. For some reason they weren't able to sell single bottles at these deal prices, which meant that we didn't end up buying anyway even though we'd have been quite happy to. I later looked for the scents we liked best in shops whilst we were still in Paris but couldn't find them. 

All in all, I would recommend this to anyone who's interested in the perfume process. 

Friday, 2 November 2018

Friday Favourites 292..



I'm not sure what happens but each year it seems as though once Halloween is out of the way and we can stop posting pictures of pumpkin patches, suddenly the world flicks a switch and it's Christmas. 
As I'm a bit of a Scrooge anyway, I'm not wild about the thought of listening to piped festive music for the next couple of months. 

In a fit to be a little more organised and also to avoid some of the festive mayhem, I've decided to try and get as much of my Christmas shopping done online, so this week's wishlist is a little different- it's a collection of the things I'm picking out for presents, rather than just for me. 


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So, I see Christmas as an opportunity to share my love of shoes with other people - they're something everyone needs, so they make a great present. Right?

001: These are one of the designs from the new Irregular Choice x Disney collaboration and my little sister would die for them. She loves the movie and would be super stoked with all of the colours on this.

002: If I were looking to get her something more practical, I'd have to go with these boots. Flat, lace ups and comfortable without being too unexciting due to the animal print, these would be perfect for her walks to college etc.

003: Not a pair of shoes, I know, but I like that this bag is not just nice to look at, but practical too. One of my gift recipients is a new mum, so I know she likes bags which can carry all of her baby essentials. This could be the perfect pick.

004: My mum has always been the ankle boot queen, and I love to track down new and different brands for her. I love the detail on these leopard print shoe boots and think she'd love them.

005: Although she doesn't really share my Irregular Choice addiction, I think I could persuade her with these pretty Abigail's Party boots..

006 // 007 // 008: With a growing collection of nieces and nephews to buy presents for, I got sooooo excited when I discovered these baby shoes. Obviously the dinosaurs are my favourite, but I can see them loving Super Bunny, too. And I think the rabbit boots would work for a toddler who takes after me with her love of pretty shoes...I'm definitely encouraging this.

009: Can't forget the OH. He's tricky to buy for as he knows what he likes when it comes to shoes, but I think these boots could be a solid contender.

How do you shop for other people? I think my favourite part of Christmas is finding presents that I know my loved ones will appreciate.

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Paris: Jardin des serres d'Auteuil


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After the wordiest post yesterday, I thought it was high time I shared some more Paris pictures. Another throwback post, I'm afraid, as it's been a while since I did anything photo-worthy.

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 Although we had a bit of a list of things we wanted to do whilst in Paris, that never quite made it into an itinerary. Which isn't a problem until you come to decide you'll do all the museums you want to tomorrow, and then Google informs you that museums close on Tuesdays. Back to the drawing board we went.

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After a little research and checking out some of the guide books which our AirBnB host had kindly left for us, we settled on a day of firsts, picking one destination each to visit. First stop of the day took us further out on the Metro than I'd been before, as we headed for Jardin des serres d'Auteuil.

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A short walk from Subway - Porte d'Auteuil we hadn't been sure what to expect and the weather looked as though it was about to take a turn for the worse, as a few rainclouds gathered overhead. We weren't sure that we would be staying here for long, but as soon as we turned into the main gates, we were a little bit spellbound. The selection of plants and the mixture of different leaves and flowers, with differing colour schemes across various borders and areas of the garden gave us so much to look at, that immediately we knew that the botanical gardens had been a good choice for our first stop of the day.

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Dating back to the late 1700s, the Jadrins des serres d'Auteuil are one of the four botanical gardens which are looked after by the City of Paris. They're beautifully maintained and are open daily between 8-6pm for most of the year with a few exceptions, which are detailed on the website.

My eyes were drawn immediately to the glasshouses. They weren't built until much later - 19th century architecture still going strong - but they're just amazing. I'm a little bit obsessed with greenhouses and the colour and design of these is probably the best I've ever seen. Although there was one which wasn't accessible, the majority are open to the public and it's completely free of charge to visit and explore the gardens.

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Each glasshouse has a theme and a type of plant, and it was amazing to see all of the different specimens grown, all fully labelled with lots of information (although mostly in French so this did test my translation skills a little!) As you get further into the gardens, one of the houses even has an aviary with a selection of pretty birds, and a pool with plenty of huge fish swimming around and it was so relaxing to watch them in such tranquil surroundings, despite being only moments away from the busy ring-roads around the city!

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One of my favourite things, hands down, was the existence of these amazing ant planters on the main lawn. Seriously, though. How coo are these and where can I get one?!



Wednesday, 31 October 2018

I do...n't.



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 The past few months have been peppered with big, exciting life events - both mine and those of some of the people close to me, and it's so easy to fall into that trap of thinking that the traditional life goals imposed on us by antiquated societal norms are the only way to go. Weddings, baby showers, christenings; they're all perfectly good ways to mark milestones in your life should you so choose, but I don't think they're necessarily any guarantee of emotional contentment. 

I've known plenty of people who got married and ended up leaving their marriage because it turned out that a marriage certificate doesn't act as a relationship bandage. I also know people who have cohabited,  some of whom have raised children and been a perfectly happy family unit without feeling the need to arrange a wedding. I'm aware that there are perfectly valid arguments both for and against the concept of marriage, and that what's right for one person isn't necessarily right for another.

Personally, I have never felt any desire to get married. Even from a really young pre-school age (before the Let Toys Be Toys generation, where visiting your aged relatives would result in being showered with faux vacuum cleaners, ironing boards and doll prams to entertain your visits). One of the options in the dressing up box was an old lace curtain, which was used by my sister as a bridal veil. I'd always opt for the floaty vintage nightgown instead and be the bridesmaid, or the vicar, or the horse to pull the carriage. Ageing relatives used to try and reassure me: "You'll change your mind one day." I guess they were wrong.

As someone who shuns religion, a wedding would feel hypocritical, if nothing else. I would not be able to bring myself to spend the kind of money people brag about their weddings costing, on a day full of stress and anxiety. I can't think of anything much worse than being the centre of attention on a regular day, and I figure those feelings would be heightened tenfold.

Over the years, I've lost count of the number of times I've been told that when I meet the right person, I'll change my mind. I don't know how one is supposed to know right from wrong people, but as someone who is part of a committed-enough relationship to have joint life insurance policies and share a mortgage, I don't quite see how standing up and repeating vows would change the way we feel. Or act as proof of how committed we may be. I don't feel the need to validate my relationship by getting married, but I've lost count of the number of people who, since picking up the keys to our new home, have inferred that we're doing things in The Wrong Order.  

Having said that, I know that some people consider that the first part of showing their commitment to someone else is to marry them. Some people I've asked told me that they couldn't consider entering into something like buying a house without first having made a solid commitment to their partner. For us, that wasn't really a consideration, but I appreciate that priorities differ from one relationship to the next.

I have to admit, I'm becoming pretty au fait with having to rebuff hints from well-meaning family members. I mean, if it's not questions to do with when we are planning children (a topic for another day, but just note that it is NEVER your place to comment on someone else's decision on whether to procreate or not..), someone will say something like "so, when will we be getting the save the dates?" or "how can you consider yourselves a family unit if you don't share the same name?!". Christmas dinners seem to have become bingo games to me, these days. 

I know that some people consider their family unit to be more complete if they're married and they share the same family name. I don't really have any particular thoughts on surnames. Perhaps that would be something I'd feel differently about if we did have children. If I were ever interested in getting married, keeping my surname wouldn't be something which I'd consider a deal-breaker. I'm not particularly attached to that and wouldn't be interested in a shared name or a hyphen.

For a society which is so progressive in so many other ways, it just feels a little backward to me that we rest *so* much on this antiquated tradition. Why is marriage still seen as the correct choice, when according to recent stats from the ONS, around 42% of marriages end in divorce. Certainly, of the small number of weddings I've attended, more than half of those had broken down within the first few years. Do people enter into it more quickly than they did in the past? Or is vowing to stay together forever not considered as important as it once was? I know that previous generations didn't seem to consider divorce as readily as our society does, perhaps because they didn't see another option. 

I asked for other people's opinions on marriage too and have had a mixed bag of thoughts. For some, the religious aspect of marriage is off-putting, but the recent Civil Partnerships Bill could, if it progresses through the House of Lords and becomes part of the legislation, be an alternative for those wishing for more legal recognition of their relationship. Perhaps that would be a possibility worth considering. Where people have married in the past because it made more financial sense than drawing up legal paperwork to give powers of attorney, this could provide a solution. 

For some, the things which scare me the most (big parties surrounded by family and friends and having to be the centre of it all) are the main selling points. It's funny how we can all be so different. I'd just like to underline that this is an opinion piece and that I am in no way judging anyone for their views or beliefs, however they may differ from my own. I'm going to leave this here as I realise this is becoming super long. so have yourself a cookie if you made it to the end and please feel free to share your thoughts with me. (Feel free to do that by DM or email or to keep your comment anon if you'd prefer).