Little Loves: May 2023

May was such a busy and intense month.  It was jam-packed full of good things, especially during the first two weeks – there was something happening almost every single day.

The big news is that I turned 40 years old (!) this month so there were several mini-celebrations connected to that: two birthday surprises that Neil organised for me; a trip to Paris with my best friend; visits with family; a gig… and then once all of that was over it was straight into two weeks of GCSE exams for Ella.

A small selection of the beautiful flowers I received for my birthday



Pocket Travel Guide To Paris:  Lonely Planet are always my go-to travel guides, whether I’m going on an epic journey or a mini city-break.  I’m slowly building up a collection – one from every country and/or city I visit – and seeing them all lined up on my bookshelf pleases me immensely.

When I booked my trip to Paris, I dug out my original copy of the Lonely Planet Paris guidebook to flick through and remind myself of what there is to see and do beyond the obvious landmarks.  I’ve been to Paris twice before – once with my Mum and stepdad for my Mum’s 50th birthday when I was almost 16 years old, and once with my best friend when we were both 21.  Those adventures were a long time ago though so when I realised that the guidebook was 20 years out of date I invested in a new, much more updated version.

It served us very well whilst we were there – nothing beats a proper guidebook for information and tips over and above what you can find on the internet.  There’s something much more intimate and authentic about leafing through pages, turning down corners and underlining things you want to explore and experience.  Much better than endless scrolling!

My trusty collection of Lonely Planet travel guidebooks, including the new, updated guide to Paris

The Signature Of All Things:  By Elizabeth Gilbert.  ‘The Signature Of All Things’ is historical fiction – not my usual sort of interest at all but I’m trying to expand the genres of books I read and try new things.  I wasn’t wildly impressed with ‘City Of Girls’ – another of Elizabeth Gilbert’s books I read back in October 2019, but I enjoyed ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ (which I read many, many years ago), and I LOVED ‘Big Magic’ (non fiction, a book which absolutely needs to be read by every single creative person on the planet), so I thought I would give this one a go.

‘The Signature Of All Things’ is set in the late 18th/early 19th century.  I’ve not made much headway into it yet – I’m about a quarter of the way through – and so far it has been a lot of backstory, setting the scene and building the characters, which I’ve enjoyed.  I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes because at the moment I have absolutely no idea.

‘The Signature Of All Things’ by Elizabeth Gilbert



King Charles’ Coronation:  I’m pretty neutral in my opinion about the Royal Family but I did want to watch at least some of King Charles’ coronation.  It’s an historic event that I think was important to be a part of somehow, even if it was via the television.  I had it on in the background whilst I was pottering around at home, so I caught bits and pieces of it here and there.  The girls weren’t interested in it at all (despite my best efforts).  I thought that the pageantry and ceremony surrounding everything was fascinating.  Plus I know someone who was playing in the orchestra during the event, so it was pretty cool to see her on TV.

Sunsets and sparkles:   My trip to Paris with my best friend was for 3 days/2 nights, and we visited the Eiffel Tower on both of the evenings we were there. On the first night we saw the tower all lit up and glittering with sparkles as we were eating dinner at a nearby restaurant.  I hadn’t realised that the sparkles only last for five minutes on the hour every hour though, so by the time we actually got to the tower itself, they had finished.  We were exhausted from being out exploring all day (my friend even more so as she’s six months pregnant!) and it was already after 10pm so we decided not to wait around for almost a whole hour to see them again.  I definitely did see them though, albeit from a distance – I just don’t have any photographs of the spectacle!  It was a breath-taking sight, even from afar.

We went back on the second night to try and watch them again, took the Metro to get there…and missed them by five minutes!  We did catch a pretty sunset though so I’m calling it a win.  I guess I’ll just have to return to this beautiful city again one day 🙂

The Eiffel Tower at sunset was a pretty special thing to see

Strictly Pro dancers:  Neil organised two surprises for me for my birthday and did an excellent job of keeping them completely secret – I had absolutely no idea what they were until the actual day, when he eventually told me.

One of the surprises was to go and see the Strictly Come Dancing professionals live tour at Birmingham Hippodrome.  Anyone who knows me well knows how much I love Strictly, so this was such an awesome gift.  I didn’t really know what to expect from the show and of course it was absolutely amazing!  There were ten pro dancers there, including two of my favourites (Gorka and Jowita) and the combination of spectacular costumes, incredible dance routines, comedy, and entertaining performances was just brilliant.  I definitely gasped out loud several times. If you’re a Strictly fan, I highly recommend going to see it if you get the chance.



Olly Murs:  For his birthday, Sophie gave Neil tickets to see Olly Murs in Birmingham.  Neil has always been a fan and we’ve been to two of Olly’s previous gigs.  Sophie is not much of a fan (she’s more a Harry Styles kind of girl), so I got to go with him instead!  This one was his ‘Marry Me’ tour.  I hadn’t heard many of the new songs but they were all catchy.  He played a lot of cover versions too – fun party songs that got everyone up and dancing (including me!).  It was a great show and we both thoroughly enjoyed it.

Scouting For Girls:  I have to be honest though, the highlight of the night for me was the warm-up act – Scouting For Girls.  I have loved them ever since ‘She’s So Lovely’ but had never seen them perform live before, until now.  They played all their classics and my favourites, as well as a couple from their new upcoming album, and they put on a fantastic show – really getting everyone in the mood and raising the energy in the arena.

Subtract:  Ed Sheeran’s new album came out this month and I got given a copy for my birthday.  (Yes, I do still own CDs because my loyal little car is ancient and still has a CD player in it rather than a blue-tooth radio).  It’s a different feel – more reflective and introspective rather than upbeat – and it documents the tough times he’s been through over the last couple of years.  I’ve listened to it all the way through several times now and whilst some of the tracks do sound quite similar I can now distinguish them all.  My favourites are ‘Spark’, ‘Dusty’, ‘Borderline’ and ‘Salt Water’.



Journey to Paris:  Did I mention that I went to Paris…?!  My best friend and I made the journey across the Channel to France via the Eurostar train in the middle of the month.  Our intention was to re-create a trip we went on together nineteen years ago and make some new memories together.  I’d say we absolutely fulfilled the brief – we walked for miles and miles, saw as many of the famous sights as we could, discovered some ‘off the beaten track’ spots that delighted us both, ate delicious food, talked for hours and generally thoroughly enjoyed spending real, quality time together.

Wandering the pretty streets of Paris with my best friend



The birthday glasses:  It’s a family rule that you have to wear the birthday glasses on your birthday so I figured if I was already going to look silly I may as well get all dressed up and take some self portraits to mark the occasion.  I’m actually really pleased with how this little set of images turned out – I may as well start off my new decade with a bit of fun, right?

Me, at forty!



Birthday surprises:  The other birthday surprise that Neil organised for me was to do Go-Ape.  The only information I had in advance was that I needed to wear sturdy shoes with a good grip, so I had absolutely no clue where he was taking me or what we were going to do.  When he eventually told me I was thrilled – Go Ape has been on my ’40 Things Before I’m 40′ list for a very long time.

We had a brilliant time!  It was VERY challenging in places – Neil does not like heights so I was incredibly impressed that he did it with me, and I do not like edges so I found some of the platforms and the climbing sections really tough – but we completed all five courses and made it to the end feeling rather proud of ourselves.  It was really fun too and we were very lucky with the blue-sky weather we were granted that day.  I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

Neil and I at the end of the Go-Ape Treetop Challenge course that he took me to for one of my birthday surprises

GCSEs:  At the time of writing this, Ella has completed two weeks of her month-long series of GCSE exams and is having a well-deserved rest over half term.  She’s only had one little wobble – there were a few tears the night before her first English Literature exam because it really, really matters to her.  Otherwise though, she seems to quite matter-of-fact about it all and to be coping remarkably well.  I get a little WhatsApp update from her after she finishes each exam with a quick summary of how she thinks it went.

She’s revising hard and balancing the revision out by interspersing it with decent breaks.  I’m trying my best to support her by offering hugs when they’re needed, delivering cups of tea to her bedroom whilst she studies, and reminding her that she’s awesome no matter what the end results are.

Ella is now halfway through her GCSEs and almost finished with high school forever

Mimi’s birthday:  Mimi turned fifteen this month.  Fifteen!  I can’t wrap my head around that.  It always feels a little bit unfair having to go to school on your birthday but we made a fuss of her before and after with cake, presents, cards and balloons so hopefully that made up for it.  She celebrated with friends on sleepovers during half term and loved getting to go and see Hamilton at the theatre in London with Neil (her main present).  I’m so proud of who she is and who she’s becoming.

Mimi turned fifteen this month

I love this photo of her!

Chapter five of 2023 is now closed and it’s been a crazy one.  Next month is busy too – Ella finishes her exams (and high school completely!), Mimi has her Year 10 mock exams and we have a couple of fun things planned in the diary too.  It feels like time is hurtling relentlessly onwards and I’m just along for the ride at the moment, trying to stop every so often to actually take it all in and remember it.  Which is precisely the point of these Little Loves posts.

I hope that you found plenty of little things to love throughout May and that you are excited for whatever June brings.

With love,

Chloe x


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