Ally Pally boating adventure

At the end of the my last blog post, my parents and I were full of food from my birthday picnic. We decided some adventuring was in order, and made our way up to Alexandra Palace for a walk and a jaunt on the boating lake.

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Actually, first we found the bar in Ally Pally and had a few drinks admiring the view!

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“Stand closer together.. no, not that close, you can’t see the view.. no not that far apart either..” – family photos are the best. We took heaps more with us and the view, but the breeze turned my hair into a beehive, so I won’t be sharing them.

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Best parents.

My mama had been suffering from some knee problems (she explained to me what it is, but in Polish, and for the life of me I dunno what it is in English) so when we decided to go boating (pedalo-ing?), my dad and I said we’d pedal and mama would sit in the back and admire the view.

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We hopped into our car-shaped boat, and started pedalling with great gusto… aaaand about 10 seconds later realised how much bloody effort it was.

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The boating lake is small but cute, with an island in the middle for the ducks. When I was a kid, I loved water (I still do!) and ducks – and with my little toddler Geordie accent, would shout at the site of a duck – “dooook!”. Geordie babies, what a hoot.

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The island in the middle is home to all of the ducks, and they’ve made some cracking nests along the side – there are cliffs and floating nests, like a little hippy ducky commune.

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Beautiful afternoon, thank you parents!

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Birthday girl

It was my birthday last month, and I was fortunate to be able to take some time off work for it.

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My brilliant parents decided to come down to London for a couple of days to see me, the weather was perfect, so I decided to have a brunch picnic in the garden.

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I bought a ton of nibbly snacky things, but also decided to make some food. Two of my favourites – sweet potato and sausage hash, and homemade sausage rolls.

A quick rundown of the hash:

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Whack some sweet potato, sliced onion and rosemary into the oven

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Until it looks like this! (Roasted sweet potato has gotta be one of the most delicious things on earth)

In the mean time, prep some tomatoes (I went for little plum tomatoes) and garlic

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And fry some sausage meat – this stuff looks so gross at first. You can buy big tubes of sausage meat (less faff) or buy actual sausages and squeeze the sausage meat out (I did this for the sausage rolls… it was icky, lets just leave it at that).

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When it starts to look like mince, its good to go. The sausage meat adds a wonderful flavour, and the texture is sticky and smooth, rather than more obvious like mince would be.

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Pop everything into your baking tray, and back into the oven until its all golden. I also chose to crack a few eggs into it, and bake them. Job done.

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Pretty simple, bar some prep time!

I also made sausage rolls – like I said, this was the less glamorous bake – squeezing raw sausage meat out of the casing isn’t as phallic as you’d think. It’s just gross. But! Good sausages, plus some more rosemary, garlic, and some dried herbs, made for delicious sausage rolls. Homemade is always better.

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We ate at the end of the garden in the shade, with hummus, pitta bread, a bottle of fizz, and a huuuge jug of smoothie that I’d made. Perfect.

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My sweet, lovely parents were in fine form

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We sat and ate and chatted for the best part of the afternoon, before moving onto Eton Mess. Luxury Eton Mess, if you will, made with meringues from the Meringue Girls.

The Meringue Girls are a brilliant pair of ladies who’ve created some seriously delicious treats – regular size, and mini size, in some fantastic flavour combos. I first discovered them when I bought their recipe book on a whim, and their love of colour and their outstanding creativity won me over.

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I got a jar of minis with strawberry, raspberry and coconut, and then a box of the regular size

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Gin & tonic, hazelnut, dark chocolate, passionfruit, and pistachio.

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Everything got thrown into the Eton Mess, which didn’t photograph well, but in our defence we’d had a few drinks at this point, and it tasted delicious, which is what matters.

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Happy birthday me! 🙂

Exploring Bordeaux

Last month, Patrick and I flew off to Bordeaux for a week – a weekend exploring the city, and 5 days in a chateau for the wedding of some friends of ours.

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Usually when we go anywhere, we look for gay bars (for him), and cocktail bars (for me), but this time there was a whole other treat instore – the Bordeaux Wine Festival.

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Stretching 2km along the river, this outdoor festival is a new one to me – you pay 20euro for your own wine glass (in a cute little lanyard-pouch combo, that you hang around your neck) and booklet of coupons and info, and then you make your way down the river, stopping at 13 different tasting stations, each one from a different vineyard in the area.

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The afternoon was a hazy but enjoyable one, with Patrick showing off with his fluent French, my schoolgirl French slowly improving, and maaany different wines drunk. We had our favourites, but I’ll be damned if I can remember now.

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We also explored the city over the course of weekend (navigating like locals by the end of it – admittedly its a small city…).

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La Grosse Cloche (15th century), the second remaining gate of the Medieval walls.

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I loved the French buildings – generally, old French architecture always woos me.

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We made a little friend – this sweetie was so happy, wriggling on a doormat. Simple pleasures.

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A walk through the park near our hotel and near our new-favourite restaurant revealed this pretty statue – a memorial to the children of Gironde who died during the Franco-Prussian war, 1870-1871

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French posters and a shop sign – beautiful Rob Ryan style lettering.

And of course, at the end of the wine festival, we went foraging for food and… more wine.

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All in all, an awesome weekend, before we headed off to the chateau to relax!

Hackney Wicked

Today saw the final day of Hackney Wicked, a weekend art festival championing local artists, with open studios, exhibitions, performances and more.

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I grabbed Patrick, and we headed over to east London to take a look!

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Of course, we made a (few) customary detour(s) for lunch and drinks first, and I warned Patrick he’d be my glamorous assistant for the day (basically he’d be holding my bottle of cider as I took photos).

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First stop was Hackney Hardware, which had been transformed into a popup bar – we got there just as they were opening, but 2 glasses of wine for a fiver was not to be sniffed at.

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We took a stroll through Victoria Park – seriously beautiful, not that busy, with dedicated bike lanes, lakes, and acres of space.

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When we got to Hackney Wick, the whole area had a cool buzz (coincidentally we saw a lot of people dressed up for Back To The Future at Secret Cinema… The men in braces and indenti-kit women started to blur a bit…)

We got stuck in exploring the studios.

I didn’t get a card for this artist (Patrick got the last one!) but her work was made by photocopying hair she collected, and then screenprinting it.

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This exhibition was interesting, but I didn’t get a chance to speak to the artist or find out the back story.

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The next studio we visited looks how I imagine my own place would look – eclectic, art supplies littering surfaces, sewing, knitting and crochet work all over, and a general outpouring of ideas.

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Of course, being a fan of multiple projects, I’m not sure I’d have finished work.

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I loved the next series of photos – 2 women displaying their typographic letterpressed cards. Simple but so beautiful.

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We explored other parts of Wicked, including:

a human beatboxer (he was so flippin’ good!)

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street artists, painting the side of The Lord Napier building

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some awesome skateboarders – one little kid in particular was so good!

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And of course, no jaunt with a camera would be complete without some graffiti and street photography.

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Lovely day, happy Kat.

North London lunch (with a special date)

Recently I decided to start exploring my neighbourhood a bit more – namely, Wood Green/Palmers Green/Tottenham/Walthamstow. North London at its finest.

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Last weekend I spent a lovely afternoon roaming the Turkish shops on Harringay Green Lanes (up near the North Circular) and today I did a little bit of wandering, and a little bit of lunching (pro tip: the Turkish and Greek supermarkets are brilliant – just under half a kilo of hummus for 99p, or a full kilo for £1.99, and a packet of pita bread for 39p – no need to go to evil Tesco!)

The Turkish and Greek shops and restaurants of Green Lanes are legendary – in fact, Green Lanes as an entity is pretty famous. Stretching 7.5 miles or so, with many of the side streets being one-way only, it’s an easy place to lose half a day to, exploring and eating your way along.

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For lunch I went to Fatisa. Named after the town of Fatsa in Northern Turkey, this Italian-Mediterranean restaurant is a sweet little local spot. Less than 10 minutes walking from Wood Green tube, the restaurant has expanded a lot in the past few years and has a new 2nd floor, an extended terrace, and a lovely little garden, where locals hang out.

I started with a summer special – the goats cheese, roasted pepper and aubergine bruschetta.

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This was the stuff of dreams, it really was. Rich, creamy goats cheese fresh from the grill, soft roasted peppers, and delicious smoky aubergine.

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Total gem of a starter, so simple too.

I wasn’t planning on getting a main meal, but the lovely waiter recommended the homemade burgers, so I gave them a whirl. The fries and bun were okay, but really this was all about the burger itself.

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Of course, I couldn’t get a nice photo of it – but it was so good – juicy, full of flavour, and not fatty or padded out with bread! I let most of the fries and bun, and instead tucked into the fresh, light side salad, with a really good dressing (the simple ones are always the best).

Together with a few drinks, my meal came to less than £20, so thumbs up from me!

But possibly the best part of it? This little pup who decided to hang out with me.

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I heard the dog described as both a he and a she, and the dog was called a “naughty dog!”…as it slept soundly. Also, apparently the dog “belongs to everyone”, so I’ve not acquired a timeshare dog.

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Those puppy dog eyes!

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Afterwards, I went for a little walk through Woodside Park, and headed home before the rain tried to catch me.

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If you’re ever in Wood Green or Alexandra Palace and fancied a lovely lunch, check out Fatisa – summer al fresco lunches are the best!

London sunsets

The past few nights in London we’ve had some pretty fantastic sunsets, as well as the big thunder and lightning storms…which unfortunately I didn’t photograph. I did however take some snaps of the colourful clouds and sunsets that I wanted to share.

Friday 18 July 2014

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Saturday 19 July 2014

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Even though I didn’t get any photos of the lightning, I did have one of my tweets about the storm featured on a Metro.co.uk article, which made my life. I laughed so damn much as this.

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The full article here.

Its the little things!

Warsaw eats

Hello from (my garden in) Warsaw!

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I actually have a backlog of blog posts to write about my travels in Bordeaux and Berlin, but those posts require some serious photo editing (weddings in both cities mean I have so many pics!) but in the meantime I wanted to share a couple of foodie places I tried in Warsaw over the past few days.

Let me say now that one is very typically Polish in general, and the other has a hint of Polish misogyny, but that’s about it.

On Sunday night, we went to a place called Rybna Chata – basically, a fish hut. On ul. Piaseczynska, in Prace Duze (outskirts of Warsaw, to the south), it’s a very sweet new little place, built in traditional Polish style, serving a fresh and changing menu. Prices are per 100g, and range from 11zl to about 15zl per 100g.

There are some simple side salads (all traditional Polish), some basic drinks, but the real stars of the show are the fish – there’s no guarantee of what they’ll have, but when we went there was cod, whitefish (whitebait?), carp, pike perch, halibut, trout and salmon, amongst others. We got a couple of portions of code, a portion of whitefish, some fries, side salads, beer and wine.

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Freshly fried cod with garlic butter, and fries. This was really delicious, and miraculously for me there were no bones in it!

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This was the whitefish – also apparently delicious, but it didn’t fancy wrestling with fish bones to try it!

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We ate outside on the terrace out back which was lovely – pretty unspoilt at the moment!

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But I can imagine it being a really lovely place in the winter too – really cosy and warm!

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It was relatively expensive for Polish roadside eating – not crazy expensive, but not knowing the weight of the fish you get can give you a surprise when it comes to pay!

The other new place I tried out is an American diner on Zwirki i Wigury road in Mokotowskie. Apparently it’s been open for a couple of years (Foursquare tips told me a lot!) so I went in for breakfast.

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The breakfast menu is pretty short – a full fried breakie, a Jeff’s version with steak, muesli, and pancakes with either butter, bacon or syrup (you could buy more extras).

I went for the pancakes with syrup…

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Three thick American style pancakes, with a dusting of icing sugar, a pot of syrup, a slice apiece of grapefruit and orange and.. a lettuce leaf.

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They were… okay. They weren’t anything amazing, the portion was fine, but given how much I love pancakes from The Breakfast Club back in London (a tower of delicious thick fluffy pancakes, with a wonderful syrup/berries/whipped cream explosion on top!) these were just okay. Filling, and pretty cheap – 11.90zl for the portion (about £2.40).

Weirdly, they were the same price as a cup of coffee – I got a latte which took a while to arrive:

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Coffee and pancakes for a fiver ain’t bad I guess.

A couple of things kinda bothered me about Jeff’s though – first up, the decor is SO forced American – it’s so busy, it could be headache inducing after a while. Secondly, the service was pretty crappy – this was 10am on a Monday, there were more employees wandering around than customers but it still took a while for me to get service.

But my biggest bugbear was the fact the waitresses were in uniform that consisted of a very tight football shirt, knee high socks, and tiny denim hot pant shorts with butt cheeks hanging out. The waiters? They were wearing jeans and tshirts. For me, this gave such a crappy message and reinforced shitty misogynistic tendencies I’ve experienced in Poland. Not cool.

Finally, this evening we went for dinner in our regular haunt, a brilliant homemade pierogi place. Except it wasn’t brilliant tonight, I was pretty disappointed, and won’t bother reviewing it. C’est la vie.

The brunch that grew and grew

I’ve been lucky enough to have a week off work for Easter – my first longer period off work this year. My first port of call when having so much time off is to come north and see my best friend and my parents. So on Wednesday I trekked up and got together with Lauren for first a gig, and then a day-long brunch on Thursday.

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This isn’t a recipe post really, it’s too simple to justify calling it that, it’s just a ~look at beautiful foodstuffs~ post.

We started off by doing a lot of shopping the night before… adding more and more food to our baskets, without a clear idea at first. Ultimately, we decided on a biiig frittata, a brioche bread and butter pudding, a meat and cheese platter with crackers, crumpets and snacks, and we did buy some other snack foods that thankfully lay unopened.

It was definitely a case of eyes bigger than our bellies, and we did NOT eat all of the food… Just a lot of it…

Frittata is the easiest thing to make, but in case you’re interested, we used:

1 yellow pepper
1 red pepper
2 small sweet potatoes
2 small regular potatoes
bacon (enough for a small army, or however much you want really)
1 bunch of spring onions
5 eggs (3 pictured, because this is a play-by-ear thing)
milk
garlic (we used crushed garlic from a jar – about 2 cloves worth)

For both dishes, preheat your oven to 180c.

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It really is very simple…

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Chop all of your veggies…

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Cleaning the ones that need cleaning…

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Peeling the ones that need peeling…

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Beat some eggs and milk together – we started with 3 eggs, but added 2 more, so 5 eggs + about 170-200ml of milk, a pinch of salt, and your garlic (it’s way better to get the garlic into the eggy-milk mixture, because it’ll be distributed more evenly)

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Chuck all the veggies, and chopped up bacon, and whatever else you want to add, into a dish, pour on the eggy-milk mixture, and top with cheese…

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Into the oven it goes! About 30-40 minutes, until the cheese is more crispy than gooey!

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We also decided to make a little somethin’ somethin’ sweet – a chocolate and cherry brioche bread and butter pudding. Calm your artery-clogging boots – it’s naughty, definitely naughty, but it’s not the worst thing in the world… That’s how I’m justifying it!

If you’re interested, to make what we did, you’ll need:

1 large-ish chocolate brioche
Butter (not a little, little blobs here and there)
Nutella
Cherries
4 eggs
Milk (about 150ml)
A little bit of sugar

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Start by slicing your brioche into 1-2cm slices, spreading with a little bit of butter, and a healthy dollop of Nutella, before lining the slices into a baking dish, slightly overlapping…

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Fill the baking dish with slices, stud with cherries, and make another eggy-milk mixture (NO garlic this time – add a little bit of sugar if you like!), pour onto the slice brioche, add a couple of blobs of butter around the dish, and a little sprinkle of sugar for a crispy top. Into the oven that goes! About 35-45 minutes should do it!

Brunch with Lauren

While that’s cooking, go and indulge in other food, because that’s what sensible people do, honest… Make some coffee, get some juice, light a candle, snuggle up. Anything to pass the time before this guy is ready…

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Isn’t he handsome?

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What a babe!

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Brunch with Lauren

At this point, you can stop waiting, put down the camera, and forget all dignity. Just eat, nobody needs to know that you have seconds, thirds or mores.

My life definitely needs more brunches – especially with my best friend.

Bonus pic – we have matching Mailchimp tshirts, you can join our snugglefest food parties if you have one too! (I may or may not be kidding)

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Project 365 – part 4

The final chapter.

This is the part that feels most relevant to my life at the moment – that might be because the last photo was taken 6 days ago, so it’s not that surprising. But this final quarter starts at the beginning of December, and actually, it’s a pretty good quarter.

December through to February saw me do some more travelling (Warsaw, Jersey, Cannes, Manchester), spend super happy times with my family and best friend, throw some colour into my life, and learn some new stuff.

Festive December…

December saw a lot of pre-Christmas crafting, my nails snapped (need moar calcium?), I got a new iPhone, I had another trip back to my parents (see photos with my mama and my Lauren), I acquired a super sassy hat (blue glittery tophat!) and sated a work-Christmas-party hangover with a trip to Five Guys. Christmas was spent in Poland which was relaxing, with board games (including a Polish game about queueing in front of shops in the 1980s) and walks in the forest. New Year was spent with my best friend, eating a lot of Turkish food, playing with sparklers and having sekrit times.

New Year – January…

The New Year continued with time spent with my best friend – on the first of January we went on the London Eye, which I absolutely loved. We also visited Winter Wonderland (btw HOW BIG is the German Beer Hall there?! it’s amazing!). In contrast to last month, my nails were now screwed because of wearing false nails. C’est la vie! This month also saw me get my bangs cut back in, travel to Jersey for a beautiful few days for work, try a street dance class and do Fire Marshal training for work.

The final month – February…

February was the final month of my Project 365 – by now, it was completely ingrained in me to photograph something everyday. The month started with a weekend in Cannes for the Midem music hack weekend. Such a surreal weekend, I loved it. I also became a qualified First Aider (spent part of the afternoon flouncing around pretending the mannequin was my boyfriend.. I thought more people would do this, apparently not..). I travelled to Manchester to see Childish Gambino, ate the biggest pancake ever at My Old Dutch, received the most beautiful flowers for Valentines Day, went to a London Fashion Week event, visited Greenwich, bought a dress, and generally continued to love London.

Phew.

Once again, I have to say thank you so much to you guys for reading and revisiting my year in photos with me. Part of me looks back and thinks not much has changed, but a bigger part of me is amazed at how far I’ve come. I’ve loved looking back at the little details in my life, laughing at how silly things have been, seeing myself move on from sad times and throw myself into the good times.

I’m already 5 days into my next 365, and can’t wait to share that with you.

Project 365 – part 3

First up, I want to thank you all for reading my garbled round-ups of the first half of my Project 365, for clicking through my snaps, and for putting up with my constant banging on about how great it is.

I especially loved the comment from one of my mama’s friends, that she enjoyed looking at the randomness of the photos.

That’s how I like to see it myself – even during the most mundane of days, where I stayed in bed ‘cos I was sad, or said very little at work ‘cos I was uninspired, I still think documenting the little details, and remember why they were important enough to photograph (or conversely, why my day was crappy enough to warrant a photo of an apple), is important to me.

The next quarter covers September through to November. This was as rocky as the previous months, in all honesty, and my closest friends were there for me a lot. This quarter spans heartbreak, mistakes and distracting myself from that, but also some brilliant times spent my best friends and parents, Christmas cake and seeing Newcastle play.

September up…

September started with Patrick and I going to London Mela, a huge south Asian festival in west London. This involved dressing up and eating a lot. September also saw some crazy rain vs crazy sun, spiderwebs, a new passport and some vegetables. This is the month I started my hexagon quilt, which grew rapidly; but probably the real highlight was a weekend in Amsterdam with my best friend – one of the best trips ever, I’m still so happy from it.

October here…

October saw me leaving my job at Reading Room, an agency I’d worked at for 18 months. I left behind some brilliant colleagues and clients, and a social life that will never be beaten. I also spoke at 2 conferences (The Digital Barn, and 12 Devs), which were so much fun. Thank you to the people who listened to blahblahblah on! In between leaving my old job and new job I went home to my parents for a week, which saw a haircut, dancing with my best friend, and cuddles with my mama bear. I also baked Christmas cakes this month, including the little mini cake shaped like a rose. A pretty good month actually.

November saw the suckiest moments of the year, but also a great big whopping highlight – I started my new job at feelunique.com – as witnessed by photos cropping up of freebie products, and dressing up for the COPRA ball (an annual ball for retailers in the cosmetics/perfume industry). I spent more time crafting, took a late-night rickshaw with Patrick (drunk + G.A.Y = makes sense), and went back to my parents for a weekend where we ate a lot of Christmas cake and went to a football match.

All in all, a successful autumn.