Saturday, 30 December 2017

2017: A year on the blog.

Right, well this year has been considerably more 'turbulent' than last year. 2016, with all its natural disasters and celebrity deaths and poor political decisions has, at times, paled in comparison to 2017 with its terrorist attacks, Brexit rulings and celebrity sexual harassment spillages. I guess all we can do, as a nation and a planet, is to keep on and hope things get better. We do it all the time, don't we? Well, let's continue. Continue...continuing...




For me, 2017 was a bit of a shit storm at times. I found myself abruptly out of work in January - thank goodness, that job was killing my creativity - and after picking myself up and dusting myself off, getting into the interning scene at one of my favourite publishers in London...I fell ill. I was then on-and-off ill, in and out of hospital beds and the operating theatres; losing bits of my insides, a dozen kilos and what little mental health I'd managed to hold on to for the couple of years preceding this one. I let people down repeatedly; our family holiday plans were once again scuppered all thanks to me, friends' parties and book events in the city had to be missed and I couldn't even send anything their way to apologise or send belated congrats as I was a) ill, and b) piss poor (still am the latter, tbh), my writing powers dwindled for a while and that no doubt disappointed the lovely literary agents contacting me...

But then, in amongst the shitty stormy nonsense, there were good times. Yes, there were. I'll be devoting a whole post to the best memories of 2017 in the next few days, don't you worry. 

As usual this blog, forever my happy safe space, kept me going and let me vent, rage, release and let go. I know a lot of bloggers who have packed up and quit in the past year, but that will never happen here. I'll never be put off by the 'dramas' in the blogging community, nor the endless stream of 'deals' I'm offered - that when replied to with a 'sounds good, what's your budget?' are met with sudden silence - because this blog is, first and foremost, my place, my therapy, my outlet.

Now, let's look back at what's been happening on here this year...

(Spoiler: one of the best things to happen to me and to the blog this year was finally meeting Erin Veness IRL and having lots of photographic fun)


Thursday, 28 December 2017

A stranger, on the Sandringham line.

   "That's my cat," this older man - with a long, coarse ponytail - says as he suddenly reaches across and puts his phone in my face. 



   I look up from my book, and see a silky black cat staring back at me. I instinctively go "aww!"
   "Yeah, Priscilla, her name is," the man grins. "I had an Elvis once. Before her, y'know? Big guy, he was. Used to pull possums down from trees! Yeah, but after he died I got her, rescued. Named her after Priscilla Black, and well, Elvis' Priscilla. She guards me."
   I then unlock my phone and scroll through the camera roll, quick as I can as I've noticed he's starting to gather his belongings and is now glancing out the window. It'll be his stop, soon. "That's Harv," I say, showing him my best photo of the family cat; sat up, legs splayed, looking up mid-arse lick on the parents' bed. "My boy, back home."
   "Aww, wow. He's a beauty. Very distinguished, like?"
   "He's an aloof yet surprisingly sprightly old man," I nod.
   "Well, mind how you go. Have a great day!" My new friend and cat lover says, jumping up with his oversized sports bag and making for the train doors. I watch him step out onto the platform and tap his MyKi card on the reader, before returning to my book. Smiling, and thinking of home. 

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Grace's Great Voyage Down Under, Week 6: the very fun but un-festive run up to Christmas.

In case you missed my posts so far in this series, I'll reiterate the key point I cannot seem to say often enough: I am not a travel blogger. 

However, I really want to share some things about my recent travels. 

I’ve decided to write posts in the future about my trips to various Other Places – but not necessarily the way a seasoned traveller and blogger might. I’m going to write about specific things, moments; some will exist in a big compilation post while others may stand alone. For instance, if I had an especially magical dinner date, or discovered a secret spot nobody had told me about, or even just had a conversation with a native (of which I have already had many, in Australia!), then that might exist in its own post.


The sky seems bigger here; the stars are backwards, but brighter. The blues are definitely deeper. 
-

Friday, 22 December 2017

Melbourne; a tiny coffee tour.

Now, I'm sure you're all aware of what a major coffee addict/connoisseur/snob I am. No? Well, where have you been?!

To put it simply: I have grown up in a family of coffee lovers, in a house where there is almost an entire cupboard stuffed with canisters of different ground blends and several cafetieres in varying sizes, and mugs of every possible design. According to Mama - who is always keen to add this fun fact into conversation, often with complete strangers - my sister and I would accompany her to cafes most days in our prams, and she'd happily breast feed us between sips of her americanos. Wait, maybe that's why I'm so hooked on caffeine...?! Oh, god. 


*ahem*
Anyway, in my more recent years, I've been an award-winning barista in two of the UK's biggest chains. I never wanted to make a career of it, per se (I laughed in my manager's face when she suggested I progress to a Shift Leader role), but ever since I started making coffee behind the bar in the cinema where I worked at uni I became totally fascinated with the process - the art of it - as much as I was obsessed with the taste. 

I am meet up with friends all over the country in the quirkiest and best cafes - I can safely say I'd always rather meet for a coffee than a drink, or a meal. I'm always being tagged in Facebook posts about the deeply psychotic tendencies of coffee lovers, or tattoos of cups on Instagram. Coffee is my thing, and everyone knows it. 



So when I booked my flights to Melbourne, for one of my 9 weeks in Australia, suddenly all my friends and family are sending me links to specific cafes, recommending shops left right and centre - because Melbourne is a famously coffee-obsessed city...

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Grace's Great Voyage Down Under, Week 5: beach days, the move to Burleigh and the last, long-awaited arrival.

In case you missed my posts so far in this series, I'll reiterate the key point made in it: I am not a travel blogger. 

However, I really want to share some things about my recent travels. 

I’ve decided to write posts in the future about my trips to various Other Places – but not necessarily the way a seasoned traveller and blogger might. I’m going to write about specific things, moments; some will exist in a big compilation post while others may stand alone. For instance, if I had an especially magical dinner date, or discovered a secret spot nobody had told me about, or even just had a conversation with a native (of which I have already had many, in Australia!), then that might exist in its own post.

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Who even *is* Winston Bishop?

I warn you now: this post may seem very niche to the majority of you readers. And well, perhaps a little too intense, at least for such a seemingly trivial subject. But guys, I'm really perplexed and passionate about this. Please humour me, and tell me I'm not the only one struggling with this. It's very important to me. 

Okay, here it is.


Who even IS Winston Bishop?!




Right, so, back when 'New Girl' first hit our screens in 2011, they hit a snag almost immediately. The pilot featured Coach (Damon Wayans Jr.), a straight-talking sport nut who just liked to get home after work and 'let his beans out'. He asked new roommate and effectively human plot point Jess (our girl Zooey) for help speaking to women as she curled/burned her hair, because he'd been told he was a little harsh (cut to him screaming at a weeping female personal training client 'I'M TRYING TO HELP YOU!'). He seemed like a strong character, a perfect complement to lazy Nick (Jake Johnson) and anal Schmidt (Max Greenfield). We, the audience, were all on board.

But then, he vanished! Coach had to abruptly depart, no doubt for sporty work commitments (and coincidentally actor Damon's series 'Happy Endings' was unexpectedly renewed for another season).

And swooping in to take his place...Winston Bishop.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Grace's Great Voyage Down Under, Week 4: Mama's here!

In case you missed my 3 posts so far in this series, I'll reiterate the key point made in it: I am not a travel blogger. 

However, I really want to share some things about my recent travels. 

I’ve decided to write posts in the future about my trips to various Other Places – but not necessarily the way a seasoned traveller and blogger might. I’m just going to write about specific things, moments, and some will exist in a big compilation post while others may stand alone. For instance, if I had an especially magical dinner date, or discovered a secret spot nobody had told me about, or even just had a conversation with a native (of which I have already had many, in Australia!), then that might exist in its own post.

Glad we got that out of the way...for the 4th time. Now, let's look back at my 4th week, out here in the land Down Under. (whoa, that's like, a month?! Mad.)


Monday, 11 December 2017

My *mostly* Sober October.

This year my month of September ended, and my October began, in Berlin. As we travelled back from the airport together, my gorgeous friend Maddie (who put me up and took care of me for the duration of my stay yet again but this time for 5 days, what a babe) and I talked about anything and everything – what my stay was going to be like, if there was anything in particular I wanted to do while I was there, the latest goss reported from our ex-workplace... Oh, and how did I feel about red wine, as there was some in the flat they weren’t going to have if I was interested?

This led to chat about drinking plans while I was there. I admitted that I can feel slightly self-conscious when visiting Germany as I am not a big fan of craft beer – or any kind of beer, really. My usual poisons are whisky, gin and the occasional red wine. I did go through a fruity cider phase at uni, but that ended after a few too many windy hangovers and a little too much bloat in the belly and chub in the face, to be honest. And anyway, my drinking preferences wouldn’t matter after a few days of this trip, because I’d decided to do the Sober October thing…


(I just love how ominous this image is?!!)

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Grace's Great Voyage Down Under, Week 3: mostly chilling, and some city time.

In case you missed my first post in this little series - and the second one - I'll reiterate the key point made in it: I am not a travel blogger. 

However, I really want to share some things about my recent travels. 
I’ve decided to write posts in the future about my trips to various Other Places – but not necessarily the way a seasoned traveller and blogger might. I’m just going to write about specific things, moments, and some will exist in a big compilation post while others may stand alone. For instance, if I had an especially magical dinner date, or discovered a secret spot nobody had told me about, or even just had a conversation with a native (of which I have already had many, in Australia!), then that might exist in its own post.

Right, now we're all caught up I'd say it's time to get into my third week out here, half a world away.


Saturday, 2 December 2017

Freaking talented arty people I love very much.

There are very few things I'll splash out on, online. I can honestly say I've never gone on an ASOS shopping spree; I don't habitually splurge in the LUSH Christmas sales after the 25th, nor do I fill up a digital basket with Shop Dixi jewellery...I mean, not that much...

However, I must admit nothing has me reaching for my card as quickly or as often as a gorgeous Etsy art page. 

I am fortunate enough to have found and followed some truly excellent artists on Instagram and Twitter. I've even befriended some of them, and they're all so angelic I could not be happier to have their work adorning my bedroom walls.  

This post is just going to be a shout-out to some of my favourites - and a feast for your eyes, no doubt! And of course if any of you readers want to recommend any artists you follow and love, please do comment or tweet me!
So here they are - in no particular order...


(Photo: my bedroom wall, taken by little sis Floop, on my request from the other side of the world.)
© Almost Amazing Grace.. Design by Fearne.