The March Round-Up

Birthday month is always a busy one, and this one was no exception!

Born on St. Patrick's Day, therefore Guinness is a birthday essential

It started well enough, with a visit to the Beavertown tap room to drink a lot of their beers with my friends (after a hard morning of nerding in Forbidden Planet with the girls):

I can't help but think that putting the Untappd app on my phone has made drinking beer a bit like a game of Pokemon now. 

I went to the Women of the World festival, to see Queen Gillian, which I told you all about in this post. 

I went to see the brilliant Pippa Evans at Soho Theatre, who was amazing. She's very funny, very quick, very musical  and very British. 

The day after I went to breakfast club at Ping Coombe's restaurant Chi Kitchen

I've developed a heavy addiction to Malaysian sweet coffee after that brunch. 

I started #BirthdayWeek at Book Slam at the Wellcome Collection

I bought myself Elements of the Periodic Table Top Trumps that night. Taking my gaming to a whole new level of nerd. 

I visited to Royal Academy of Arts to see the America After the Fall: Painting in the 1930's exhibit, because I love me some Edward Hopper and I wanted to finally see this Grant Wood piece:

When I was in Chicago in 2014 it was on loan, so I soon as I discovered it was in London I ran to see it. 

I saw Derren Brown's new-ish show, which is a bit of a mash-up of his previous UK shows, as he's cultivating a show to take to the US next month: 

And, most importantly, I finally got to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts 1 & 2.

I've got a whole post coming dedicated to this, which will contain NO SPOILERS, so look out for that next month.

I got SO MANY amazing birthday gifts. I had TWO signed books gifted to me (Buzz Aldrin and Kevin Smith), I got twinkly lights, tshirts, jewellery with stars on, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and graphic novels about physicists. I can't believe how lucky I was to get so many 'me' things. My friends know me incredibly well.

Honourable mention for my OHP birthday card. This is what happens when you go see Festival of the Spoken Nerd, your friend (Martin) mentions that he still has an OHP and you decide to lay down a gauntlet for a birthday card to be created for you (when will my friends learn that if you give in to my requests you enable my behaviour further?)

After birthday, things calmed down a bit. I did some catch ups with friends that I've not seen for a few months, went on a team night out with work to a Brazilian rodizio (and felt so full that eating went out of the window for a couple of days afterwards) and went to watch 2001: A Space Odyssey again, as it needed a second watch on a big screen (and it was even better than the first). 

I've been doing great swims and lots of cycles (maximising the lack of gym membership spending). Now the evenings are lighter I'm hoping to get out on Pendletonpops (yes, my bike has a name) a lot more, weather permitting.

I seem to have gained my road confidence back and my cycling distances have been slowly creeping up. Swimming is going great guns, I'll be swimming a mile per session before I know it! 

March has flown by. I can see why but I'm never surprised when it does. I love March. I love my birthday, I love the clocks changing, I love the daylight and the sunshine, I love filling my home with daffodils, I love thinking about the summer ahead and all things coming up this year.

Looking ahead to April is exciting because I've given myself an extended Easter break this year, with six whole days off, WOOHOO! I've got Secret Cinema's Moulin Rouge to look forward to (and a costume to finish), a Doctor Who BFI event before the new series airs, Yuri's Night celebrations and more theatre. And Malteser Bunnies, obvs. 

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Self-Love with Songs

Achieving self-love is a hard concept if you've never dared to try it, and there's no set method of getting there. However, in the spirit of sharing a lot of my journey in previous posts, I thought I'd share one of the strange-yet-successful methods that I found.

I discovered it by accident and it's something very personal to the type of person I am as I'm very noise orientated. It's self-love with the use of songs.

I've always been more aural than visual when it comes to entertainment. Not that I don't love art and books (and House of Cards on Netflix) but at home (or anywhere for that matter) I spend the majority of my free time listening to music or podcasts. Aural adds to visual, even the Night Tube can feel a bit magical provided you're listening to something which makes you feel warm and fuzzy.
For younger readers, this is a cassette which holds a groundbreaking 90 MINUTES of music

This discovery was accidental. It was during one of my lunchtime walks last summer and a song shuffled on to Spotify. It was Clean Bandit's Rather Be.

I love this song. I love the sentiment behind this song, as I had no one particular in mind when I was singing it, I realised I was singing it to myself.

Have you ever tried singing a love song to yourself? I found it disgustingly hard. Despite battling with disordered eating and negative body image for years, it's been a long time since I said terrible things about myself. I wasn't even one of those people who said awful things about themselves when they looked in the mirror (I quite like my thighs, actually). However, singing something to myself, especially a love song, felt alien. Aren't these songs meant to be for someone else? Someone who inspired the writer so much that the muse brought the lyrics into their brain? Someone who they worship for all they do for them? Someone who is a constant companion? Someone who they can't live without? 

'When I am with you there's no place I'd rather be ...'

That's me! I'm that. I'm all those things to myself. I genuinely would prefer my own company to that of most people on the earth, too (small handful of exceptions apply).

Suddenly silly love songs (romance quota = zero) seemed to have a whole new meaning and yet I also understood what people were singing about all those years, Maybe that's not the intended purpose for the song but if something so simple and easily accessible can be used to help heal? Spotify, take my money!

It obviously won't work for every song. For example I think the most romantic song in the world ever is John Denver's Annie's Song; that's one I see as intended for another, so I can't work with that. Fleetwood Mac's Everywhere works a treat (and makes me really happy, as it's one of my favourite songs). 

Okay, it's a bit weird but for me this worked and still works. Singing nice things to myself is on par with standing in the mirror, looking at your reflection and saying nice things to yourself (and it makes that easier too). 

Self-love is something very personal and can seem like the easiest or hardest thing in the world to achieve depending on how you treat yourself. Healing is not linear. However, next time a silly love song comes on and you want to skip past it, try thinking about saying those things to yourself and why you deserve to hear them. 

Because hanging out with yourself can be pretty awesome, as you're pretty awesome to hang out with.

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WE: Gillian Anderson & Jennifer Nadel

Last week was the Women of the World Festival in London, an event which champions gender equality, celebrating the achievements of women and girls everywhere and examining the obstacles that keep them from fulfilling their potential.

Women of the World Festival 2017

I was new to the festival last year, when I went along to see Caitlin Moran launch Moranifesto on IWD, so as soon as the festival was announced for this year I had a good browse of the brochure to decide which event I wanted to go to. 

Of course, as soon as I saw this book launch announced, my tickets were purchased. 

WE: A Manifesto for Women Everywhere is an uplifting, inspirational, and intensely practical manual for change, providing nine universal principles that offer a path for dealing with life's inevitable emotional and spiritual challenges. It's for anyone who wants to see her own life and the world around her change for the better.

By combining tools that are psychological, political and spiritual, WE takes readers on a life-changing journey. It asks: Why are so many of us—and our daughters—still, in the 21st century, locked in depression and addiction, self-criticism, and even self-harm? How much more effective and powerful would we all be if we replaced our current patterns of competition, criticism, and comparison with collaboration, cooperation, and compassion?

Putting these principles at the center of our lives offers an antidote to our me-first culture and allows each of us to be freer and happier, and to replace unhelpful habits with a more positive, peaceful, and rewarding way of living. WE is a rallying cry for women to join together and create lasting change in our own lives, our communities, and across the world.

Authored by ... Gillian Anderson and Jennifer Nadel.

Gillian Anderson Jennifer Nadel

Empowerment with a hint of woo? Sign me up. 

I'll fully admit I came into this with my Gillian Anderson fangirl flag waving. I love this woman and have done since I was 15 years old. She's one I've grown up with; from Agent Scully to DSI Stella Gibson, Gillian has championed strong female roles in her TV work, and in all her work -  if you caught her in A Streetcar Named Desire you'll wonder how she didn't win all the awards for that performance, it was incredibly powerful. She's involved with a fleet of charities and is a fierce advocate for getting involved in volunteering. 

Jennifer I knew very little about until I bought tickets for this event, but a bit of research soon rectified this. A journalist, writer, environmental activist, a Green Party member and champion for women's rights. A decade long friendship between these two women had to lead to something incredible and WE seems to be it. 

The ladies, along with Jude Kelly, spoke to a 2000 strong audience at the Royal Festival Hall for an hour, explaining their motivation behind creating the book. Jennifer described it as the book needed before things got too much in your life; both her and Gillian answered very candidly questions about their difficulties in life and they put so much emphasis on self-love and the need to be kinder and more accepting of ourselves in order to be of use to others in life, something I'm fully onboard with.

After a good half an hour of questions from the audience, both kindly took up residence in one of the conference rooms and signed copies of the book.

Gillian Anderson Jennifer Nadel Book Signing

It was great evening listening to other women say that sometimes they struggle too, which shouldn't have to be said to glean understanding, but at the same time it's nice to hear it. It's comforting and reassuring to see that even someone who you can admire so much that they seem beyond your realm is just as human as you are.

I left very keen to read my copy, I think it's going to be a very useful book to have in the world.

Gillian Anderson Jennifer Nadel WE Women Signed Copy

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The February Round-Up

February over and done with. Hooray and BYE. Spring, I am ready for you.

I mean, it's not as bad as January, but it's not as good March. Thankfully February IS short, so it's done with before you can really get ticked off about it.

I started the month like this:

I needed a weekend at home to clean up the place and not talk to anyone for a couple of days. Those introvert resets are so blissful and result in a lot of sleep.

And beer, because at the end of January I treated myself to a big box of Brewdog. Gotta keep my investment going! 

Once again, my month went a bit crackers after that. I went to watch This House at the Garrick Theatre. I love a good political comedy drama and this one has the best set design - it's like having Westminster on the stage, you can even sit in the seats ON the stage and use the Westminster bar during the interval. I'm able to laugh at politics again, which is a good sign that I've managed to distance myself from the screaming chaos that is UK and US Governments right now however watching UK politics from the 1970's; discussing devolution of Scotland and leaving the EU filled me with a little despair. Don't things ever change? I mean, yes, they do - in the 1970's at least the opposition parties worked ...

I went to see Richard Herring at Leicester Square Theatre do a mash-up of work from his last 10 years of Edinburgh shows, which was great value for money.

As part of my 2017 goals, I wanted to get more involved with causes I believe in and I went to my first demo with the Sister Supporter team this month. This is a group who demo outside the local Marie Stopes clinic to drowned out the religious vigil that stand outside it every day and have the audacity to judge women for having autonomy over their own bodies. I've watched them do this for the 10 years that I've lived in my borough and it makes my blood boil. So, when I discovered this group I couldn't wait to get over there and support women. There's no legal buffer zones outside clinic to prevent women being harassed by religious groups and Sister Supporter are actively campaigning to the Government to discuss this. 

My friend Keira cooked me the most amazing dinner. Fois gras, pasta, a pancake stack and loads of wine? Yes please!

And finally my friend Emily came to stay. I hadn't seen Emily since she before she left for Australia last January, so we were well overdue some cocktails and catch-ups (we had 16 hours of both, that led to a fierce hangover!)

I watched a couple of films this month. Arrival was one I missed the first time around but it appeared at my beloved Prince Charles Cinema, so I went along to see that with Martin and a ton of Maltesters. I really enjoyed it. There's a lack of smart sci-fi around which involves alien life (why does everyone assume they'd be hostile and looking for a gun fight?) and as the premise of this film was based in linguistics it really intrigued me and I wasn't disappointed. It's one I will be rewatching. 

T2: Trainspotting was an absolute delight. I cackled so much when I watched this film. It was so good to see the cast back together and I loved the plot of the film. Well worth the wait for a sequel so well done. 

Aside from making sure I keep a clear weekend to myself this month, my 2017 goals continue:  my swimming has been going well:

I'm enjoying my Great Barrier Reef challenge on SwimIO and can easily cover well over half a mile in 30 minutes, it's crazy how much my fitness has improved over 7 weeks. 

Oh, and I bought myself a bike as an early birthday present.

I can't wait to get out and about on this more during the warmer months. I've not owned a bike for well over a decade, so I've got to start slowly, getting my road confidence back up. Between the swimming and this my gym membership has been binned off, less outgoings mean more cash in the fun savings account.

March is a busy month because it's birthday month! My long wait to see Harry Potter & the Cursed Child is almost over. We also get International Women's Day, which I'll be celebrating by going to a book launch by someone I'm very excited to hear speak about feminism, I'm going to see some magic, I'm going to eat some cake, I'm going to do celebratory drinking. It's already looking like another great birthday.

The final thing I have to mention this month is the new addition to our knowledge of exoplanets; the Trappist-1 planetary system.

source: NASA


This might be the most exciting thing discovered in my lifetime. Seven planets orbiting a star and three in the Goldilocks zone. I cannot wait to find out more about this system, the planets within it and whatever those planets may be home host to. Life just got a little more sci-fi and a lot more exciting.
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