May felt like a month of two halves. The first two weeks involved a lot of rain (the inevitable flipside of the glorious weather we had during our week in Cornwall in April perhaps?!) and a lot of waiting. Waiting for the weather to improve (we had the heating on. In May!). Waiting for news on when restrictions might lift. Waiting to find out whether we’d be allowed to go on a trip that had been planned for almost two years. Waiting to be able to see people.
In contrast, as soon as permission was granted by the government, the second two weeks sped by at warp speed, a whirlwind of hugs and warmth and new landscapes and balloons. Birthdays were celebrated, the sunshine came out to play, family visited (inside our house!) and we embarked on a half term road trip full of adventures to somewhere we’ve never been before – Scotland! It was wonderful.
Here are all the little things I’ve been loving lately throughout May…
The Starless Sea: I LOVED this book. ‘The Starless Sea’ is by Erin Morgenstern, the same author as ‘The Night Circus’ which I read (and fell in love with) back in March. It’s a completely different storyline with unique characters but it has a similar, distinctive style of writing that entices you right from the beginning and keeps you mesmerised all the way up until the end of the final page. I couldn’t put it down. There were stories within stories within stories – it was just captivating.
Honestly, words can’t describe how beautifully written this book is. Every single sentence is so carefully crafted to tell each story. I knew from the very first line that it would be a book that will stay with me forever, one that I can read over and over again and still find new things each time. There were elements of fate and time and magic and meaning. I could have stayed lost in that world forever – it’s one of those books that you emerge from feeling utterly and inexplicable altered inside even thought the rest of the world remains unchanged around you – the use a quote from ‘The Starless Sea’ itself, it’s the “disorientation of being pulled out of one world and back into another”.
10/10, definitely recommend. Read it now.
Blog posts & Lonely Planet Guides: In preparation for the first part of our trip to Scotland, which we spent in Edinburgh, I immersed myself in my friend Zoe’s Instagram accounts (@mylittlewildlings and @mylittleedinburgh) as well as reading her blog which had incredibly useful posts such as the best places for hot chocolate and the best ice cream spots in Edinburgh. This, combined with re-reading my faithful Lonely Planet Edinburgh book (originally bought and read cover-to-cover when we first started arranging our trip), meant we had a VERY long list of must-dos for the four days we were there. I think I love planning and researching trips almost as much as I love actually travelling!
Moxie: As I mentioned, the start of the month was pretty much non-stop rain and there’s only one thing for it on a cold and wet Sunday afternoon in our house: a movie with sweets and popcorn and blankets on the sofa. I have a list of movies that I think the girls would all enjoy that we’ve not seen yet but they can never agree on what to watch, so this time I chose the film and opted for ‘Moxie’, which I’d heard lots of good things about.
It was probably a tiny bit too old for Lola (she’s 11, I’d say parts of it are probably more appropriate for 13+ but the majority of it was fine). All three girls sat and watched the whole thing all the way through, which is pretty much unheard of. Usually at least one of them gets distracted, bored, fidgety or wanders off!
Overall it had a good message and we definitely had some really positive and open conversations both during the movie and afterwards about the topics that were raised. I have to be honest and say that I felt it was trying to cover too many things all in one go – the main message was feminism but there were ‘token’ mentions of racism, trans issues, sexuality, disability and more – I thought that those messages got diluted somewhat because they weren’t given enough time to be fully and properly focused on so they lost their power a bit. Despite this it is of course really important to introduce those concepts and, as I said, it did lead to some interesting discussions. Worth a watch.
Friends Reunion: I grew up watching Friends and it formed a huge part of my teenage years. I love the show, introduced my stepdaughter to it when she was younger and now both Ella and Mimi have watched all ten series too. I was SO excited when it was announced that there was going to be a Friends Reunion one-off show. Watching it brought up such a mixture of feelings.
I really enjoyed it, felt sad at the impact their fame has had on some of the actors, had a little cry, laughed a lot and memories of Friday nights at my Dad’s house came flooding back. It’s hard to put into words what Friends means to me (and, I’m sure, many other people too) – it’s familiarity and relatability are a comfort blanket that’s so easy to curl up underneath and no matter what episode it is that you happen upon, you can’t help but feel better after watching it.
Mare Of Easttown: I wasn’t sure about this TV show at first. I just couldn’t get my head around Kate Winslet (who will always be Rose from ‘Titanic’ for me) playing the role of a tough-but-vulnerable detective in a small town in America but by the end of the first episode I’d changed my mind and she got better and better with every scene. An utterly brilliant show with fantastic acting and we couldn’t wait for the next episode each week. I thought the ending was good too and it was left open enough for a second series so fingers crossed they decide to make one.
Wise words and inspiration: At the start of May I attended Phlock Live – an online photography conference. It was supposed to take place in person in Manchester last year but it was just as the pandemic really took hold so it got postponed to this year instead. With all the uncertainty and ongoing lockdowns continuing longer than anticipated, the team behind Phlock took the initiative and decided to shift it to a virtual experience as an alternative – it worked brilliantly!
Two days stuffed full of practical information, actionable tasks, inspiration, education and community. The teachers were fantastic and varied, I loved Anna Hardy and Kirsty Larmour‘s classes in particular and I still have more to watch that I haven’t had time to work through yet. Hopefully next year it will be able to take place in real life and I’ll get to meet everyone face to face instead of through a computer screen.
Scottish accents: I’m a sucker for an accent – Irish, American, Australian – I love them all. Scottish accents though… *heart eyes*
The long drive to Edinburgh: We spent May half term in Scotland – the first half in Edinburgh and the second half (at the start of June, so you’ll find out about that in June’s Little Loves post) in Loch Lomond. This trip should have taken place this time last year but the pandemic forced us to reschedule it for this year instead which actually worked out in our favour as we were so lucky with the weather whilst we were there!
We’ve all been looking forward to this particular adventure for the longest time – Scotland is somewhere I’ve always wanted to visit. The journey wasn’t actually as bad as I was anticipating (ever grateful to the husband for doing all the driving), it took us just over five hours in total and the scenery as we arrived in Scotland was breath-taking. Our whole trip was every bit as beautiful as I’d hoped it would be.
New hair: Both Ella and I had long overdue haircuts this month. It had been eight months since Ella’s last visit to the hairdresser and two years (!) for me. Nothing drastic, just a decent amount of length taken off to make it healthier and happier and it’s made such a difference to how I feel. No photos because I forgot to take any!
Heart Monitor: I’ve been having a few health problems in recent months and the doctors think I may have a minor problem with my heart. To get everything checked out properly they wanted me to wear a portable heart monitor for 48 hours. Obviously I don’t love that I’ve not been feeling 100% but I’m happy that hopefully this might give me some answers.
I had to keep it on for the whole weekend, including while I slept and I wasn’t allowed to shower whilst I was wearing it either – that was the hardest part as I don’t function unless I’ve had a shower! There were three sticky pads on my torso with wires attached to them, all of which converged into a little black box that I wore on a ribbon around my neck which recorded all of the ECG information. I had to press a button on the recorder every time I felt any of the symptoms I’ve been getting and I had to keep a diary too. Hopefully I’ll find out the results next month and will understand a bit more about what’s going on in my body.
Vaccinations: Neil has now had his 2nd dose of the Covid vaccination (Astra Zeneca) and I’ve had my first dose (Pfizer). It feels like we’re getting somewhere now and that life might get back to being a little bit more ‘normal’ by the end of the year.
Birthday celebrations: We have two birthdays to celebrate in May – mine and Mimi’s. My birthday, near the start of the month, was a very rainy day so we didn’t do much at all. I got given some thoughtful cards and three beautiful bouquets of flowers (from Neil and the girls, my parents and my in-laws) all delivered by Bloom and Wild.
Mimi’s birthday, nearer the end of the month, was a bit of a special one – she turned thirteen! We now have two teenagers in the house and that feels more than a little bit surreal. Her birthday fell on a Monday, a week after the next stage of restrictions lifted so we were able to actually celebrate with other people at the weekend rather than it just being the five of us like last year. She loved all the gifts she received and I don’t think she stopped smiling all weekend bless her.
Hugs: My parents came to visit for the day on the weekend of Mimi’s birthday so they could bring her gifts up for her. We last saw them in August when lockdowns were lifted but we stayed socially distanced. This time we were able to hug them for the first time since last February – 460 days! It felt SO good.
We also saw Sophie for the first time since September and she stayed overnight. We’ve missed her terribly and the girls were overjoyed to have her with us again. We’re already counting down the days until her next visit! Honestly, reconnecting with the people we love has made such a huge difference to my mindset and my mood. There’s just Neil’s parents left to go now, which will hopefully be next month. The power of hugs is real and I’ll never underestimate them again.
Chapter five of 2021 has now drawn to a close, it’s been a positive month and although international travel is still off the cards (rightly so in my opinion, as hard as it is to say that because the wanderlust cravings I have are intense!) it feels like things are heading in the right direction and hopefully the restrictions that currently still remain in place will lift even more by the summer holidays.
I hope that May has been kind to you all and that June is full of good things.
Stay well x
(Joining in with Sincerely Anna and #LittleLoves)