Tag Archives: medway

The Northern Seaman :: Rochester

The Northern Seaman - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

This Saturday Mr Hello and I decided to go on a DATE. We’d heard rumours of the opening of a new micro pub  down on the Rochester/Chatham High Street, so thought we’d head down to check out the vibe and sample their wares.

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The Northern Seaman 2 - Hello Sam Goodbye SamanthaThe Northern Seaman describes itself as a new micro pub upholding “traditional pub values in a fresh, innovative manner”. And that, my friends, appears to be exactly what it is! It’s a great little bar – I would go so far to say it’s as much a bar as a pub – with trendy (but not too trendy) decor and an impressive range of beers and wines. YAS, YOU HEARD RIGHT – SOMEWHERE ON THE HIGH STREET SERVING PROPER WINE.
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The state of the wine on offer in Medway has been something of a bone of contention on my part for, hmm…years? Kent does a fine old pub, and in fact my favourite pubs in the world are virtually on my door step, but can this West Australian gal get a decent glass of wine anywhere in the region?

Not until now. The Northern Seaman is not only offering ales from such excellent brewers such as Nelson Brewery, Dartford Wobbler and Caveman, but it is also the only bar in Medway (that I have come across, at least) that serves wines from Biddenden and Chapel Down Vineyards, both of which are located in our lovely county! It’s silly, really, but one of the things I miss most about Perth is being able to just pop in somewhere for a really nice glass of wine and a natter with a pal. I hate to be a snob, but the ol’ Blossom Hill just doesn’t cut it!

Having said that, on this visit the ale proved to tempting to resist and I was expertly guided by the barman Tim towards my very own pint of the Golden Wobbler. At £3 a pint it was very reasonably priced, and served at a lovely drinkable temperature.

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We stayed for a couple of drinks, watched the bar fill up with young hipster types (Yay! Hipsters!) and spent some quality time together, on an actual date, being an actual couple.

The Northern Seaman 3 - Hello Sam Goodbye SamanthaIn fact, I’d really recommend The Northern Seaman as somewhere for a date – it’s happening but not too busy, and not necessarily in the part of the High Street where you’ll be interrupted every 5 minutes by someone you know, which, for us Medway-ites, is often a occupational hazard! There was a real buzz while we were there, so it’s obviously filling a hole in the market!

The staff were courteous and friendly, more than happy to share their knowledge, and seemed genuinely pleased to see us there. The decor is contemporary with a handmade vintage twist, and you’re not going to be intimidated out of the joint by regulars propping up the bar.The Northern Seaman 5 - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha Although there seem to be a few new venues of this ilk popping up across the Medway towns, I say bring it on – places like The Northern Seaman can only add to our cultural landscape, in my humble, wine-loving opinion.

Go check it out and let me know what you think!

 

P.S. – I have not been reimbursed for this post at all, I am simply spreading the love!

A Walk by the Medway :: Visiting Temple Marsh

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Last weekend I got a major case of cabin fever, and so Mr H proposed a little jaunt out of the house to visit a piece of land that had piqued his interest over the last few weeks.

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Temple Marsh is, funnily enough, an old landfill site, which is now safe to walk on but not yet ready to be built on. It’s directly over the River Medway from Rochester, and often on our walks we’ve noticed it and wondered what in the world it was. Temple Marsh Map - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

It was a bit of a soggy stomp to get there, and we had to be kindly redirected by an interesting chap who lived on one of the houseboats moored nearby.

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It was a really pretty walk, and we even got to meet a very neat little fox, who actually looked rather surprised to see a human in what I expect is their playground! We walked with no real plan in mind, just soaking up the atmosphere and the opportunity to be out in the fresh air before the heavens opened once again.

Anyone who lives in Kent will attest to the fact that the weather recently has been absolutely diabolical!

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I’ve pulled together a short film of the walk. Take a look:

I’m pretty new to vlogging and video editing, and this is the first time I’ve worked up the courage to post something I’ve pulled together. Lots to learn, but let’s not let the fear of looking a fool get in the way….never stopped me before!

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As we began to make our way back we noticed the tiniest apple tree bursting with fruit!

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The route back is not what I’d call particularly peaceful, as Temple Marsh more or less backs on to a somewhat grotty industrial estate, however, this little gem is also nearby:

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Temple Manor is a 12th Century building that was once owned by the Knights Templar. The fact that I have 12th Century buildings virtually blows the mind of this here colonial, so Mr Hello and I simply had to pop in and have a look around.

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While the building is essentially empty now, once upon a time it was an important Manor House on the side of the River, supporting many farming tenants on its land and monitoring the comings and goings of the bridge crossings.

After WWII it fell into terrible disrepair, but was thankfully restored by English Heritage in the 1970s, I believe. It’s a real little treat amongst the fading industry of the area, and relatively under appreciated I think! There’s definitely something lonesome about it, rising up proudly from its now-modest surroundings.

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Another interesting day out for the Hello Family. More to come soon!

HSGS Does Half Term

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On Friday afternoon I skipped out the door of work and said a jaunty ‘HELLO’ to a whole week off.  I say a week, but in fact today I headed back in to prepare for next term and write about 3,000 school reports. But that fact paled into insignificance in the face of what is officially known as ‘Half Term Holiday’ in the HSGS household.

Mr Hello also booked a week off, and we kicked off the break by getting into the garden. BIG TIME. I’m talking allotment, I’m talking back garden and then we headed to the Kent Garden Show to pick up a few treasures.

Over the weekend we had a few friends over who brought their little girl over. This meant a couple of hours of delicious food, great conversation and an excellent round of the game ‘Off The Pudd’, for which no-one seemed to know the rules apart from a three year old. What a delight.

Mr H and I then journeyed forth to Suffolk, to hang out with his sister and her delightful son, and the only thing to somewhat spoil the day was that our clutch failed on the motorway as we headed home, so instead of an evening on the couch we spent an evening sitting in the carpark of a motorway hotel scoffing chocolate while we waited for a tow!

With a couple of days left before TERM 6 (I repeat TERM 6)  starts,  I plan on pottering around the house a little bit, finishing off some report writing and faffing around with my camera settings! I’ve also got some more seeds to plant out, and am looking forward to seeing all my new plants in the garden.

How’s your week been, pals?

Wedding Roundup: Portraits on The Pier

There’s no point having your wedding reception at a venue called Sun Pier House if you don’t take advantage of the actual Sun Pier. After we’d downed a drink and had a bit of a natter with the guests, my wonderful maid of honour and sister T rounded us up for some formal portraits on the pier.150801_Sam+John_Slideshow_weheartpictures0065150801_Sam+John_0208

Mr Hello and I aren’t generally a fan of staged wedding photos, however we had seen some great examples in Hector’s work and so were quite happy to spend half an hour getting a bunch of photo frame ready shots.

This is something I would definitely recommend to someone in the midst of wedding planning. Find a photographer whose work takes your breath away. Don’t choose someone and then ask them to take photos in a specific style – find someone who is an expert in the style you love. We did, and I couldn’t be happier. In fact the day we got our wedding photos back was the first thing that broke my Ice Queen heart and had be quietly crying on the High Street. I adore our photos.

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Both the bride and groom’s party wore navy blue. We asked our friends to choose whatever they wanted to wear, as long as it was navy blue. Some were a little hesitant, because they didn’t want to choose something and then realise I hated it, but after I reassured them that I was not fussy at all, they went ahead with the idea.

We both just really wanted our friends to look like themselves, and feel comfortable in what they were wearing.

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I am actually yelling at our nephew R here saying ‘get him right in the face!’. Nothing like a fresh bunch of flowers in your chops, hey?

 

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I really adore these photos of Mr H’s family. I think they sum up the family I’m marrying into so well!

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Classic Dad shot. He thinks he’s being a comedian by blocking me out of my own wedding photos. (I actually think this shot is hilarious, so perhaps I have actually inherited his sense of humour).

 

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I think my Mum looked absolutely wonderful. This suit is pretty much exactly what I imagined her with and she totally rocked it. My sister kept getting called ‘Liz’ by Mr H’s family, because they thought she looked like Elizabeth Taylor – I actually have to agree!

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T was chief joozjer. She kept barking at me to move a piece of hair (much appreciated) and would also spin around and show her knickers to all of Chatham just to make Mr H laugh in the photos. What more could you ask for in a bridesmaid?150801_Sam+John_0244 150801_Sam+John_Slideshow_weheartpictures0086 150801_Sam+John_Slideshow_weheartpictures0085 150801_Sam+John_Slideshow_weheartpictures0082 150801_Sam+John_Slideshow_weheartpictures0079

I really love these photos against the exposed brick wall. I may be about to totally break the wedding mystique here, but this wall is actually the back of Staples in Chatham. Very glam, very cool.

I suspect that in post-production Hector picked out the blue of Mr Hello’s suit, the blue in the wall and my eyes. The photo of me looking over his shoulder makes my eyes zing! Such precious photos.

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We could not have been luckier with this mural – it was painted perhaps a week before we were married! Talk about timing.

These formal shots to me show the love and joy that we felt on our wedding day. I don’t find them saccharine or overly romantic – the romance was there, we didn’t need some carefully posed shots to remind us of it! The main point is that I don’t look back at these photos and cringe. I look back and my heart sings.

That’s what it’s all about at the end of the day, isn’t it?

 

This post is made in loving memory of my Uncle. He very generously helped our wedding day to be exactly what we hoped it would be. Vale.

Wedding Roundup – Party Time!

Once we arrived at Sun Pier House, it was straight into our ‘cocktail hour’. I use the term ‘cocktail’ incredibly loosely, in fact I shouldn’t really use it at all, because no cocktails were in fact, served. There was an abundance of champagne, wine and beer, which I expect more than made up for it.

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Full credit where credit is due – our wonderful wedding party showed up on Friday to help us decorate Sun Pier. For the most part the venue is exactly to our taste, but there was some extreme pom-pom action we wanted to incorporate, and the odd vintage doily never really goes astray, now does it?

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My sister and I had run up the white bunting ourselves. You may remember in my former life I had a little bunting business. So the skills were there to be used. I had been tempted to go for a very cutesy bunting wedding early on, but as the big day approached I realised my tastes had changed, so in the end I went for (lots of) plain white bunting – festive but not chintzy.

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The pom-poms were sourced from various places, the fan shapes and the pom-pom wreaths from Tiger, but the vast majority were brand new from Ebay.

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My sister picked up our plain card guestbook from Paperchase in the days before the wedding. My Mama, also known as the calligrapher-extraordinaire, illustrated the front and also was the muscle behind our seating plan, which was a limited edition print from IKEA, of all places!

We also caved in to our inner hipsters and bought a Fujifilm Instax Polaroid camera, for a visual guestbook. I am not going to lie here, that darn thing was expensive. Like £90 or something stupid like that. But it was  a hell of a lot of fun, and if we never use it again, we both feel like we got our monies worth. We passed the camera around for our guests to take photos, and then peg them to our ribbon wall.

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This ribbon wall was an inspired idea by Mr H. I had bought these reels of 2cm wide ribbon for the tops of the ribbon sticks, but hadn’t ended up using it all. On our prep day, Mr Hello used the hooks that Sun Pier House already had to display their menus, and wound each spool of ribbon around them, forming a great backdrop and, bonus, somewhere to hang our polaroids!

I read quite a bit of advice on A Practical Wedding that said if you want to include an impromptu element in your wedding, it’s really helpful to ask someone in your party to take responsibility for it. That way, you can forget all about it while you’re talking to everyone, because you know you have someone trusted going around. It was invaluable to have my wonderful bridesmaid N in charge of the Polaroids. She flew all the way over from Australia for the wedding, and I could not be more grateful. I like to think the Polaroid duty also helped her to meet people, but perhaps that’s wishful thinking!

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Luckily, due to the shape of the venue, we were quite easily able to include a little ‘kids zone’, where we put down some astro turf (left over from our Mr H-designed centrepieces), added some puzzles, wooden blocks, crayons and colouring books and let the kids run wild. Sort of.

I had bookmarked the idea ever since I read something similar on Franky’s wedding round-up on Love My Dress. I thought it would be a great way to keep the kids entertained when the grown-up side of things got too boring, and would give their parents a bit of peace so they could enjoy a drink! I’m pleased to say I got excellent feedback…

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Before too long we were sitting down for our main meal. We went for a Middle Eastern style buffet, catered by our great local restaurant Café Moroc. Partly because we knew we had a lot of vegetarians and vegans in attendance, and we all know that Middle Eastern cuisine is big on the ol’ chickpeas, but also because we really like that kind of food and have had some great meals there before.

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It was delicious and I ate so much at that point that I didn’t manage to have any of my wedding cakes. Dis. A. Pointed.

I have two little regrets about the food. Well, little niggles at least. Firstly, we ran out of time to make signs for the food, and I wish we had made the extra effort because my veggie pals had to faff around and ask people to taste things before they ate them. Not very hospitable of me! Oh well…lesson learned.

The second niggle is that there was heaps of food left over and I forgot to tell the caterers that we wanted to keep it. Mr H and I would have loved to have binged on hummus for the next few days, but it was cleared away before we had the chance. Again, lesson learned, and in the grand scheme of things, not a big deal.

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We then moved on to the speeches. We never wanted endless speeches or toasts, and I am so delighted to report that the speeches by both of our families were everything we could have wished for at the start of our marriage.

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Mr Hello blubbed delightfully throughout the whole thing. He was the focal point of this part of the day, for sure. As discussed in my ceremony roundup, I am evidently an Ice Queen because I remained composed throughout. It’s a strange thing. Definitely a combination of trying to remember it all, not being able to believe that it’s actually your wedding, and the slightest amount of unexpected stage fright. Anyhow, just call me Elsa.

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My Dad sang some wonderful songs, one was a version of Waltzing Matilda with amazing references to Rochester within it, and a couple of others. He had the crowd in the palm of his hand, let’s just say that.

My sister’s speech was the one that almost tipped me over the edge into Emotionville. She’s bloody great and I am so lucky. She did however, bring up an ear biting incident that happed A LONG TIME AGO SO JUST GET OVER IT ALREADY.

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Mr H’s lovely sister K had then organised a game to get us all in the party mood, complete with papier mâche representations of our goodselves. I am pleased to report these remain in our household. So hilarious, and strangely, so anatomically correct.150801_Sam+John_Slideshow_weheartpictures0133

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Then we boogied! Our first dance (which is a completely weird experience, let me tell you) was to Come and Get Your Love by Redbone, because every time we heard that song, we couldn’t help but dance.150801_Sam+John_Slideshow_weheartpictures0137

I am a very earnest dancer. And singer-alonger, it seems.150801_Sam+John_Slideshow_weheartpictures0138

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I cut some serious shapes, believe you me. We chose to hook up our laptop and used our own curated playlists for the evening. It was great, it was cheap and we had exactly the music we wanted, although if I did it again, I think I might have put a ‘no touchy’ sign on the laptop to stop people from skipping songs. Hey ho, again, a minor detail which had no real impact on the day.

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I’m not sure if you can tell by my face (note: you totally can), that I was so delighted to have so much of my family there. We are all scattered all over the world, and it meant so much to have people who have known me for much longer than the five years I’ve been in England with me as I start this next phase of my life. I love my family.

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We snuck off at a couple of moments for some quality husband/wife time, which I truly recommend, and we also got some more formal shots done, which I will share with you in the next couple of days.

My biggest take-away from the wedding reception was that Mr Hello and I are so totally loved. We’re loved by each other, by our families and by our deliciously wide circle of friends. What a better way to start a marriage.

Launched.

If you have been reading Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha for a long time, you may know that I have been a regular features writer for the Kent based WOW Magazine. It’s an arts and entertainment listings magazine, covering Medway, Maidstone and the ‘accessible beyond’.

I’ve always been so proud to be connected to the magazine, as it’s become a touchstone for the creative community in these difficult economic times, and its sleek yet approachable design has given credibility to a host of entrepreneurial endeavours.

My dear friend Emma (who has been duly requisitioned for bridesmaid duties) has skilfully grown the magazine from a petite 2,000 copies, to a massive 10,000 in early 2015. One of the problems of the physical magazine has been that we’ve only ever had room to feature local and upcoming events. There was literally no space for retrospectives, opinion pieces or reviews, let alone events from further afield.

Until now.

After days and days of typing, uploading, resizing images and the odd bout of arm flailing while I try to think of the perfect sentence, WOW Kent is now here.

WOW Kent Arts Website

We want the website to become a kind of one-stop-shop for events and classes in the whole of Kent. We now have room to publish all the articles we’ve dreamed of for nearly 5 years.

I admit, I’m totally biased, but I love this darn website. It’s colourful and engaging without ever being overwhelming on the eye. It’s sleek and clean – the information we share is clearly the first priority, not the (huge and wonderful) team behind WOW or the designers. There’s still work to do, but it’s here, and you can use it now. I urge you to have a poke around, you never know what you might find!

I am absolutely chuffed to have been a part of this.

Peanut Butter Appreciation Day at Bruno’s French Bakes

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Yesterday I continued my patronage of small businesses in Rochester (you can see my post on The Henderson’s here), and I journeyed forth to partake in the inaugural Peanut Butter Appreciation Day at Rochester’s tiniest French patisserie, Bruno’s French Bakes.

The café is at the far end of our High Street, which unfortunately is notorious for a slow footfall, even for such a busy part of town. I’ve known of a number of cafés that have started out there, only to close up shop down the line, because they just can’t capture enough customers.

I’ve always thought that there was a relatively easy cure to this: make your café a destination. Make it the reason people come to the High Street! I know, I know, that’s much easier said than done.

Unless, apparently, you’re Bruno or Rick. This pair have done a remarkable job in publicising their delectable products, and I am yet to go to Bruno’s and be the only customer in the joint. That place is heaving. From my point of view, part of their success is due to the fact that they do create these wonderful celebratory events, like Peanut Butter Day and 2014’s Doughnut Day, both of which have been widely advertised. Who am I to refuse? Seriously, it’s a siren’s call.

Ultimately, the proof is in the (literal) pudding. Their cakes are to die for, and the look you can see on my face above is one of half joy, and half despair at the sheer beauty of the Peanut Butter and Chocolate pie I was consuming. Despair that it would end, and despair that it was surely too calorific to enjoy again immediately. Mr H had something similar, but with waffles, maple syrup and bacon topping. I mean come on. JOY.

If you’re in town, please go here immediately.

This Week I Was Grateful For #4

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I’ve posted a similar picture of The Vines in Rochester before, but this is the park seen through new eyes. It all feels wonderfully similar, and wonderfully different since my Australian jaunt.

The path in this photos reminds me of the journey I’m on at the moment. I’ve got a few professional challenges coming up this year, and instead of freaking out about it, I’m choosing to be grateful for the opportunity to stretch my comfort zone.

I hope you all have a great start to the first week of March 2015. Do let me know what you’re getting up to in the comments!

The Hendersons Will All Be There

Last weekend I had the pleasure of singing an old favourite Beatles tune for about 30 minutes after visiting the newest addition to Rochester High Street. Reader, I give you:

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Situated in the wonkiest shop in Rochester, possibly the world, The Hendersons is a treasure trove for vintage lovers and discerning shoppers alike. I know the shop well, by which I mean I know the physical shop, as I used to live in the tiny flat below!

I had heard rumblings of the shop opening as The Hendersons have held a stall for months at the Rochester Flea. Mr H and I are known for a deep and enduring love of a good rifle about for treasures, but we’re so overwhelmed with charity shops in Rochester that a bit of careful curation makes a real difference to my mental state, and therefore my likelihood to have a proper look around.

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There was a rather fabulous orange sectional sofa in the store that looked decidedly 70’s, but I didn’t manage to get a picture, because there was someone purchasing it!

The reasons that I am chuffed to bits about The Hendersons opening in Rochester are thus:

  • Small entrepreneurship (especially where women are employed in key roles) is ace
  • The Hendersons is run by a young couple – see, the youth of today aren’t too bad after all!
  • That shop gets so much attention because of it’s unusual shape, that there should be something in there to benefit from it all!
  • Their stock and styling is so deliciously on point that it makes me feel excited for Rochester. The more design-y and bespoke that Rochester gets, the better, in my book.
  • Stores like this breed other stores like this, which makes people like me want to stay in Kent. We don’t need to go to London to get fabulous homewares, or to find that perfect gift for that friend that likes things just so.
  • I bought a candle from there that smells good and though it cost a lot more than I would usually spend on a candle I didn’t feel remotely guilty because I am supporting a small business. Altruism for the win! (not sure it actually counts as altruism but I don’t care)

Mr H and I had a good all poke about, we got lovely attentive (but not too attentive) service and afterwards we got a delicious piece of cake from Bruno’s French Bakes to celebrate.

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All in all, not a bad Saturday indeed.

The Everyday Rhythm

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Week 2 of my return to England is imminent, and so I thought a little catch up might be on the cards to let you know how I’m settling in. It’s been an up and down sort of a week to be honest, but let’s start with the positives because that makes us all feel better, no?

UP:

  • Actually making it through Customs at Heathrow. Despite the fact I am doing absolutely nothing illegal, somehow the powerful stares of the Border Agency staff make me regret every decision I have ever made, particularly in the lead up to the moment when I’m asked to plonk my passport on their tiny desks. I made it through, as you may have guessed, and it was a GREAT MOMENT.
  • Home. Bed. Cats.
  • Wandering around Rochester and feeling both the foreigner and the local. An odd yet pleasing sensation.
  • Picking up long awaited packages from the Post Office. Hello engagement present vouchers and Liz Earle Skincare. Nice to meet you.
  • Having time to make dinner in the evening. I love to cook, so this is fun for me!
  • Catching up with dear friends and feeling as if nothing has changed. Em, I adore you.
  • Snuggling with Mr Hello in the morning for five more minutes before walking him into work.
  • Getting excited for phase 2 of Operation Finish The House Before the Wedding. The phase where we freak out, that is.
  • Exciting meetings with exciting people about future potentially exciting jobs. I may very well soon be an employed teacher! EXCITING.
  • Catching up with Mr Hello’s folks. They are totally delightful and indulged my loves of their son, eating lots of delicious food, and looking at old photos. A Sunday well spent.
  • Sitting in our study (above) and watching people walk past our house as I type.

DOWN:

  • Turns out it’s not that much fun not having a job. On the one hand, there is more time for Parks and Recreation viewing, but on the other there is more time for getting the guilts about being a burden on society, and more to the point a burden on Mr H. Plus it’s a bit boring.
  • No Polish passport as yet, which means no working until it arrives. A couple more weeks, but then hopefully I will have that burgundy booklet it my hot little hand!
  • Missing my family. Goddamn it, why do I have to feel the feelings?
  • Extreme hair has arrived. Something in the British water takes a while for me to adjust to, and in the meantime my hair freaks out in an unmanageable way, making me feel more self conscious than I already was. Thanks Life!
  • To top it off, I am having a particularly bad skin phase, hence the timely arrival of the Liz Earle goodies.
  • I have a wedding to co-plan in six months. How, where and why did that happen? Last time I checked, it was over a year away. God preserve me.
  • It’s effing cold here and I am a delicate flower who has become accustomed to a certain level of UV radiation every day.
  • This may well be the most boring thing in the world to approximately everyone, but last night I had a dream that Hannibal Lector (yep, that one) was showing me his latest victim, and opened up a hole in the ground to reveal a naked and screaming Jodie Foster within. I was subsequently stabbed. Got a bit freaked out by that one, I must admit, and it was only worsened by the fact that when I checked the time it was only……11:57 pm. Not even midnight, shamefully. I then had to calm myself down by reading blogs and looking at silly gifs on Tumblr until 2am. Whoops.

Hope all is well in your lives. Seeing as I am currently a member of the unemployed, I suspect I will be dropping in to HSGS Headquarters on a semi regular basis. Here’s to seeing a bit more of you!