Little Loves: November 2023

November has been a bit of a strange month – it seemed like the longest month in the world and at the same time I feel like I blinked and suddenly Spotify Wrapped is out and it’s less than three weeks until Christmas.  Ella came down with covid mid-month, which I guess was almost inevitable after all the travelling around we’ve done recently.  She ended up missing a whole week of college and felt really rough, bless her.  It seems like there has been a bit of a relentless succession of illness in our house in recent weeks.

Even so, November has been full: birthdays, open days, new jobs, mock exams and trips to London all jostled for space in between the ordinary, everyday moments of school and work and family life.

Here are all the little things I’ve been loving lately throughout November…



Stillness Is The Key:  by Ryan Holiday.  Not counting travel books, this is the first non-fiction book I’ve read for a while.  I tend to associate non-fiction reading with ‘work’ and I do a lot of work in general anyway, so the thought of spending my downtime doing it as well felt altogether too much.  This one has been on my to-be-read pile for ages though, and I loved the previous book of his that I read (‘The Obstacle Is The Way’) for it’s philosophical nature and hoped that this one would be along similar lines.  Plus, none of the fiction books I had lined up to read next were really grabbing me at the point, so I figured I’d give it a go.

I forgot how much I actually enjoy reading non-fiction books, and this one has short chapters so it’s easy to pick up and read one or two and then get on with another task.  I’m about halfway through so far (I’m reading it in tandem with the fiction books below) – there are lots of nuggets of wisdom in there, a lot of which I already knew but found it useful to be reminded of.

November 9: by Colleen Hoover.  Well of course I had to start reading this on the eponymous date!  I got given it as a gift on my birthday back in May and I’ve been saving it specifically.  As with all of the Colleen Hoover books I’ve read this year so far, I didn’t want to stop reading once I’d started.  There were difficult themes of physical scars, trauma and grief, but it was easy to read and enjoyable despite the topics.  It took me less than a week to finish it.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes:  by Suzanne Collins.  I have loved The Hunger Games trilogy of books (and all four movies) for a long, long time so I was very curious about this new installment.  I knew it was a prequel, following the story of how President Snow gets to his position of power in the original trilogy, but that’s all the information I had.

With the film coming out in cinemas and my two older girls desperate to see it, I figured I needed to read the book first (I much prefer book-before-film because, for me, the book is always better – the film just brings it to life in a more visual, tangible way.  I’m about 2/3 of the way through and so far, it’s brilliant.

‘Stillness Is The Key’, ‘November 9’ and ‘The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes’ – all the books I read in November



Little Women:  Whilst Ella was poorly with Covid she asked if we could watch a movie together on the Saturday night.  She’s been absolutely desperate to introduce me to ‘Little Women’ for ages – it’s one of her favourite films.  I only know it from the TV show ‘Friends’, when Joey reads the book – I’ve never read the book myself (it’s on my list!).

I really enjoyed the film – I’m not usually a fan of historical fiction or period drama but the cinematography was beautiful and even though it was a fairly ‘slow’ movie, I loved the storyline and the way it tackled the topics covered.  Lola joined us on the sofa and really liked it too.  Now I want to read the book even more!



Christmas music:  As soon as Halloween ends, the Christmas music begins – both in our house and in my car on the twice-daily school runs.  Personally I would prefer to wait until the 1st December, but the girls absolutely love Christmas and insist on this early start to the festive season every single year and, well, who am I to stand in the way of something that brings them so much joy?!  Bring on Mariah and Buble…

Job news:  Ella has been applying for part-time jobs for months now.  There are plenty around, but the competition is fierce with lots of applicants for each role.  She finally got an interview just before she got sick with Covid, and, a week later, got offered her very first job!   She was thrilled and we’re really proud of her – her confidence really has grown exponentially since she started college.  She’ll be doing eight hours a week over Saturdays and Sundays on a temporary contract with a high street retailer and is looking forward to earning a bit of money for herself.

I’m ridiculously proud of Ella, who has landed herself her very first part-time job!



Trips to London:  I made two separate trips to London this month, to see two separate friends.  The first was to catch up with one of my best friends – we went to see The Butterfly Experience at The Now Building (next to Tottenham Court Road tube station), which was really quite incredible.  Then we went to get a hot drink to try and defrost a little as it was bitterly cold, and we ended up sitting in the cafe for three hours straight, just talking and catching up.  It was lovely.

The other friend I saw is someone I’ve known through my line of work for probably at least twelve years now (if not longer) – she even came to my wedding.  We haven’t spent quality time with each other in absolutely ages, and it was a joy to see her.  She invited me into her beautiful home, we visited Kenwood and went for a long, sunny-but-cold walk on Hampstead Heath, and we talked for hours.

The Butterfly Experience at The Now Building in London really was quite a spectacular thing to see!

Travel vlog:  I made my first travel vlog in over a year!  I have so many to catch up on from 2022 and 2023 – it’s quite ridiculous.  I love making them and looking back over memories we’ve made as a family, they’re just time consuming to create and I’ve simply not had the breathing space to sit down and do it for quite a while. I finally managed to make the time to put this one together from our trip to Bude in Cornwall back in April 2022, where we celebrated a special 60th birthday, and Sophie & Jack came to stay for the second half of the trip.  I hope you enjoy watching it.



Big coat:  When the temperatures suddenly dipped into the minus numbers and we got the first really heavy frost of the season at the end of the month, I knew it was time to get out my big winter coat.

I also invested in some thermal long sleeve tops from M&S and honestly, they’re an absolute game changer.  I am always freezing cold in winter no matter how many layers I put on, but when I wore one of these for the first time I genuinely felt warm – it was like magic. I was so impressed I went out and bought three more!  And yes, I am now officially old.



Sophie’s birthday: Sophie turned 22 years old this month!  It’s hard for me to wrap my head around because that means I’ve known her for almost twenty years.  We’re loving seeing her more often now that she lives with us for half of the week so she can study her Masters degree at a university near us.  During her birthday week she stayed for an extra day: Neil took her shopping; we got pizza; and I made a fuss (as I do with all our girls) with balloons and a cake.

We celebrated Sophie’s 22nd birthday this month

Birmingham University:  Ella and I made a spontaneous decision to go to the Birmingham University Open Day.  We thought it would be to cross it off her list of potentials but actually, we were both surprised by how much we loved it!  It had a really lovely campus, she liked the content of the History course, we learnt more about what a Liberal Arts degree would involve, and the accommodation options were pretty good.

It definitely taught us a valuable lesson in going to future university open days with an open mind and no preconceived ideas or expectations.  Birmingham has now moved up her list of possible places to attend.  We still have lots more unis to visit next Spring and Summer, but it was a very useful experience to have, as well as a fun day out and an opportunity for the two of us to spend more time together.

A tea (her) & hot chocolate (me) break at the Birmingham University campus during the Open Day

Mock exams:  Mimi had a gruelling couple of weeks of practice mock exams (PPEs) straight after half term.  It was intense – she had seven exams in just one week, which is far more than she’ll have for her real GCSEs next summer.  She coped very well, revising lots the night before each one and seeming to stay relatively calm about them from what we could see.


The penultimate chapter of 2023 is now closed and we are in the final stretch towards Christmas.  Next month is busy with more birthdays as well as festive fun and we have lots of things to look forward to as we come to the end of the year.

I hope that you found plenty of little things to love throughout November and that you enjoy everything that December holds.

With love,

Chloe x


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