Friday, 4 September 2020

August Life Lately

I'm sure you've heard this a hundred times this week but September, seriously? 

I was feeling quite mournful earlier in the week for my lost summer. We've been under local restrictions here since the end of July (though they have ended this week) so no meals out with friends or visiting my parents, and I've also felt too anxious to go to pub beer gardens or go anywhere that has required me dressing up in my summer dresses.

Summer is in no way my favourite time of year (you know I'm basic), but I'm mourning the idea of summer. The idea that I will eat an ice cream without getting it in my hair, or drink a brightly-coloured drink in a beer garden without being attacked by wasps. 

I've spent more time inside than any other summer. After being able to see friends and visit people again in July, August's month of staying inside has felt repressive, restrictive. But the virus hasn't gone anywhere, even though it sometimes feels like it's been forgotten about now. And I'm anxious at the best of times, let alone when there is a legitimately reason to be anxious.

So this is a very quiet month in review. Lots of books, lots of films, a few long walks, and a LOT of DIY!

I described my One Second Every Day  for August as "DIY and dog", so that is definitely what you're getting here!

What I did

About 6 months ago, we decided we should probably address our wardrobe situation. July marked 3 years of living in our house, and we were still using IKEA rails. The downstairs of the house was basically done after years of saving up for furniture pieces and new carpets and painting and decorating, but we hadn't really touched the upstairs of the house, except the bathroom, since we moved in.

So we had a play on the IKEA website for a PAX system and had a bit of a chat about it. And then you know, we got a dog and kind of forgot about it.

Then Phil had a few days off in July and decided he was going to strip all the wallpaper off the walls upstairs, and the hall. So that was our room, the back bedroom and the hall. Then we went to IKEA and placed the most expensive order of our lives (and also threw in a new sofa for good measure for the front room which might have been one of the most impulsive purchases of my life?)

(Please excuse the mess behind.The front room has become a bit of a dumping ground while we do upstairs, and we still haven't gotten rid of our old sofa!)

So everything arrived and it was... a lot. We still have a few little bits to finish, but it basically took us nearly 2 weeks of building wardrobes almost every evening and weekend to get the wardrobes all ready to go.

And they look awesome! And we love them! All my clothes are finally in one place!

But we are nowhere near done. When we got the plasterers in, it turns out we need quite a bit more doing in our hall and spare rooms than we had planned (yay...) so now we're kind of living in a weird limbo mess where we can't buy paint or talk about carpets and we have four rooms in disarray (including the two we are both working from home in!).

BUT we did manage to paint one room and our spare rooms are so much tidier now we don't have clothes across different rooms and I'm so excited to get everything done! Hopefully I'll have something to show next month!

Seeing as we couldn't do much last month, we did a LOT of walking. We went to Lyme Park twice, once just the three of us and once with my parents, which was so nice as we hadn't really been able to see them with the restrictions, and we went for a walk with Phil's parents too which was amazing because even though it wasn't exactly warm for sitting outside I got to finally sit in a beer garden

And there was also the
big walk. The really big walk. The walk that was meant to be a 3 hour walk. We drove up a few hours to between the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District and it was beautiful. The walk started out well, bit tough early on, up to a waterfall. Then further up to the very very top. Beautiful views up there, all the way to the Lake District. And then after that we thought we'd be making our way back down. Somehow we were still going up? And getting further away? Eventually I said "oh I can see the village we drove through on the way here!" and Phil said, "god I hope not that village was miles away." And reader, it was the village. We arrived there after over 4 hours, four and a half miles away from the car. Six hours after we left on our three hour walk, we made it back to the car. We were tired and hungry and euphoric and utterly exhausted, but honestly, I don't remember one time I wasn't having a good time. The weather was beautiful and the views were amazing and I had my husband and my dog. Cheesy but true.

What I read

Honestly I feel like all I did in August was read. I watched a few films, barely any TV, didn't pick up my cross-stitch, and as you can tell, didn't pick up this blog. 

It's not super surprising that I read my 100th book of the year in August. Weird year.

I read 15 books in August:

  • Outsiders 
  • Sisters 
  • Earthlings 
  • The Killer across the table 
  • Daddy 
  • I Hold a wolf by the ears 
  • Love orange 
  • Real life 
  • Death in her hands
  • Brit(ish)
  • Blue ticket 
  • Betty 
  • Pizza girl 
  • Frying plantain 
  • The paradox of choice
This was made up of three short story collections (Outsiders, Daddy and I Hold a Wolf By the Ears), three audiobooks (The Killer Across the Table, Brit(ish) and The Paradox of Choice) and the rest were novels.

Again, I'm very grateful for Netgalley, which allowed me to read nearly all advanced reader copies (ARCs) last month!

I think my favourites last month were Betty and Pizza Girl, but I also loved all three short story collections (after getting obsessed with short story collections back in April I haven't been picking them up as much - I have at least 10 unread collections sat on my shelf!).

What I watched

SO many films in August! Normally we manage maybe one film a week on a Sunday night, but seeing as we couldn't really see anyone and weren't super inclined to go anywhere, we did a lot of film-watching in August.

Here's what we watched.

First time watches:

  • Searching 
  • Berlin Calling
  • Host
  • Notorious
  • Ferris Bueller’s day off 
  • The Exorcism of Emily Rose 
  • Carlito’s Way
  • Blindspotting
  • Mystic River
  • Sherlock Holmes 
My absolutely favourite film watched in August was Host. If you haven't seen it, get yourself to Shudder right now and sign up for a free trial. Honestly. It's one of the best films I've seen this year. It's a horror film set during lockdown and FILMED during lockdown, and it's all set on Zoom (which was interesting as the film we'd watched just before was Searching, which I also loved, which is all set on a computer screen). It's amazing and absolutely terrifying and I actually out-loud screamed. I've been recommending it to EVERYONE.


  • Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
  • How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days

Films watched at the cinema (!!!!!)
  • Jurrasic Park
  • Tenet

Guys we went to the cinema!!!!! We haven't been bothered about shops reopening or pubs and restaurants reopening, but the cinema has always been really important to us. We both have Cineworld Unlimited cards and normally go to the cinema at least two or three times a month, so while we didn't rush straight back, we were really excited to be able to go again.

The first film we saw was Jurassic Park in Cineworld's 4DX (where the seats move in time with the film, water splashes at you, air blows at you) which was so so so much fun. I'd never seen Jurassic Park on the big screen before and godddd it's still so good! An absolute classic.

And then of course we had to go see Tenet. We'd been waiting so long to see it. We saw it in IMAX and honestly, I had absolutely no idea what was going on but I had an absolutely great time! I think we're probably going to need a second watch now we've read up a bit more about it!

Other things I've enjoyed 

I've been really enjoying the podcast Nice White Parents from Serial productions, and we've just started the tv series of I'll Be Gone in the Dark which I'm finding incredibly sad and upsetting as well as brilliant. I absolutely loved the book and I think they've done a really good job of making it Michelle's story and about focusing on the victims not the killer. Murder-y stuff isn't really for me normally cause I'm a bit too empathetic and I find most stuff focuses too much on the killer and ignores the victims, but I had to watch this after the book.

Also shout out to this pizza which we've made twice, Nigella's watermelon and feta salad, cooking predominantly from Jerusalem and Falastin and making multi-dish meals on a Sunday which make for the best lunch leftovers, Phil still baking from One Tin Bakes on a regular basis, Dorothy Perkins midi dresses and of course, my dog.

What I read online

Writing Between Pauses - 4 Signs you need boundaries
The New York Times Magazine - Sweatpants forever
A Rosie Outlook - Mum guilty and Mum anxiety
Conquest of the useless - Former NME editor on a bygone rock era

Have a great month!


Sunday, 2 August 2020

July Life Lately

When I came to write this post my first thought was "oh, I didn't get up to much in July. That's weird." And then I realised, no wait, it's not, because on 1st July I went back to work.

I was on furlough for all of April, May and June, and in a truly-me way, I tried to make the most of it. Every single day at 8.30am I was at my desk ready to "work" on online courses or volunteer work with Furlonteer (which I highly recommend looking into if you're on furlough and want to help charities. I helped a food co-operative in London with their social media strategy) or, once we got Bobby, research dog training or pet insurance or dog food. I "worked" all morning and then took the afternoon off for cross-stitching, reading, blogging, Animal Crossing, baking, or whatever else I fancied doing. And of course, at times, it was tough. I'm not very good at not having a purpose, and I'm a classic millennial in that I feel pressure to be productive all the time. I also, of course, worried about my job. I moved to work in the aviation industry back in November, and while every industry has been affected, aviation has been obviously affected pretty badly. Throwing myself into online courses and research and making myself feel productive was the only way I got through my time on furlough. 

But now I'm back at work and it's good to be back. I absolutely love working from home. I think because I've only been doing it a short amount of time (I literally had a week and a half at home before I started my furlough, and I've only been back working a month so far) it's still such a novelty. I love not having to commute, I love being able to make a cup of tea and have a cuddle with Bobby, I love being able to sing along with my music and I honestly feel so much more focused and productive at home. After months of living in leggings and barely wearing makeup or doing my hair, I also make myself get dressed into something I'd wear for work and do my hair and makeup every day which helps.

So as a result, July has been kind of quiet! Fewer books read, fewer hobbies enjoyed, three half-written blog posts sat in my drafts I really need to finish. I've needed my weekends a lot more to relax than I did when I wasn't working, so they've been spent relaxing and reading. I also enjoyed catching up with friends and family a bit more in July, however as I live in Greater Manchester this will be hugely reduced now we have the new restrictions in place, but I'm very grateful than I managed through July to see nearly everyone I wanted to, and was able to catch up with my family a few times and my closest friends.

So here is the (very little) else I got up to in July, and here's my dog-heavy-as-always One Second Every Day for July.

What I did

I had a lot of mixed emotions about the Hamilton film coming to Disney Plus. I am a Hamilton obsessive. You might remember Phil and I going to see it in March 2018 - we'd booked the tickets in January 2017, which meant we waited longer to see Hamilton than we did between booking our venue and our wedding. After bugging Phil last year about going to see it again, he booked me tickets as a surprise for Christmas, and we were meant to be going to see it again in April, which of course didn't happen. So I was pretty bummed out about that, and it was something so precious to me I felt really defensive about it being "exposed" to the world. 

So we decided to make a night of watching it. We invited my cousin Jeni round, a fellow Hamilton obsessive, and we got a takeaway and had snacks and had a socially distanced watch party and it was amazing! Jeni has seen it twice but we've seen different casts, so it was so good to compare notes against the original. Phil and I listen to the soundtrack all the time (we have the CD in the car. The CD! When I bought it at the end of 2016 it was the first CD I'd bought in probably nearly a decade) so it's brilliant to have the option now to watch the original cast version whenever we want.

July also meant my Mum's Birthday and we were so glad that (at the time) the restrictions were lifted enough that we could actually go round to my parents' house and celebrate with a takeaway. Phil made her a cake (more on that later) and Bobby gave her lots of Birthday kisses and it was so lovely. 

After so much time at home during lockdown, we've finally made a start on doing some more redecorating (July marked 3 years in our house but erm... there is still a LOT to do!). Phil had some annual leave last week so he stripped all the wallpaper in our bedroom, the hall and the back bedroom. We also dropped Bobby off at my parents for our first dog-free trip out and our first visit to a non-essential trip, to go to IKEA to finalise our PAX wardrobe system and also found a new sofa! Our order is coming on Monday and I cannot wait to get all the wardrobes built and get the rooms plastered and painted.  The downstairs of our house is almost exactly how we want it but we haven't done much work upstairs so I'm really excited to make it feel a bit more us (after 3 years...).

I only had a few goals for 2020 - run my 250th parkrun (sob), run 50 parkruns in a year after running 49 last year (double sob), get a dog (check!) and to get a half marathon PB (as well as running two half marathon races). The Great Manchester Run was meant to be in May but got rescheduled to September, but then last month they decided to cancel it and move our places to next year. But they said we could still have a medal if we ran the distance. So the last few weeks I've been training up to half marathon distance and last weekend I ran the full 13.1 miles. It was definitely not a PB (although I'm convinced on the day I could have got one based on my training pace!) but I was chuffed to have the opportunity to do it and still get a medal, and I had a brilliant time running it. I won't get my medal for a few more weeks but I'm really proud of myself for getting it done and glad I got a chance to run the distance.

I talked a bit last month about Genevieve Taylor's Charred and Edd Kimber's One Tin Bakes but they really work my go-to books for July. We've been having "fake BBQ" every Sunday where I make something from Charred on the grill pan, and Phil has some chicken or burgers and honestly, everything from Charred has been absolutely amazing. I made the butternut squash stacks with feta and pomegranate two weeks in a row!

And Phil has baked from One Tin Bakes literally every single weekend since we got the book! I've asked him if he'll help me write a mini review of it for this blog (seeing as I can't really write it myself as all I've done is eat from it...).

What I read

Not a huge reading month, though I did finish three books last weekend which made up for it! I found myself dragging my heels with a book from NetGalley which I just wasn't into, and spent about 5 days trying to read it before I eventually gave up with it and decided not to give feedback. I need to remember to do this more often!

Here's what I read in July:

Perfume: Story of a Murderer
Boy Parts
True Story
We Were the Mulvaneys
How do we know we're doing it right?
Mother Mother

If you've followed me on social media at all you'll know that I am absolutely obsessed with Boy Parts. When I knew I was going to love it when Alice Slater described it as "Patrick Bateman in an E Cup", but I didn't realise how obsessed I would be with it. Definitely one of my favourite books of the year - maybe even top 5? If you like dark (like, really dark) books, with plenty of blood and murder and feminist satire, I can't recommend this more.

I am a huge fan of The High Low podcast and in July I got to read books by both the presenters! I was buzzing when I was approved for Dolly Alderton's Ghosts on NetGalley, especially as I had it preordered. It was absolutely brilliant and just as good as expected. I read the whole of Pandora Sykes' How do we know we're doing it right? in one (very rare) night home alone this month. It made me laugh, made me actual cry, and made me feel very seen. I always really related to Pandora on the podcast, and this book was an amazing mix of the personal and the well-researched.

I also loved Rory Sutherland's Alchemy which I listened to on audio last month. I adore Rory Sutherland (if you haven't watched his TED talks you really should - Life Lessons from an Ad Man is my favourite), especially as a marketer, and this is one of the best marketing books I've ever read, which isn't even really about marketing.

What I watched

In between all the football, we did manage quite a few films this month. I think this is partly because apart from I May Destroy You, we haven't had a TV show properly on the go since we finished The Americans back in May.

Here's what we watched in July:

Films I watched for the first time
Saving Mr Banks
Taxi Driver
The Ritual
This is Spinal Tap

Rewatches in July:
Donnie Darko
Game Night (always)
The Truman Show
Cabin in the Woods

What I read online

(If you read one thing online this week please make it Jack Monroe's You Don't Batch Cook When You're Suicidal)

Biscuits and Blisters - Dear Louise, again 
Writing Between Pauses - 3 Habits to Stay Organised
Anne Helen Petersen - Taking Stock

Hope you're all doing okay!

Charlotte x

Sunday, 5 July 2020

June Life Lately

When I looked back over my notes for June I was surprised to find so little on my list that I did in June. And then I realised it's because oh yeah, we have a dog now.

June was consumed with Zak George dog training videos, online orders of Kongs and dog treat holder bags and cutting up pieces of cheese and researching dog food and pet insurance and collars and leads and training techniques and worrying incessantly about our dog.

I have so, so, so much I want to write about dog parenting, but the reality is we've only had Bobby for 4 weeks so I'm hoping my endless worrying and research and oh-my-god-this-does-get-easier-doesn't-it will begin to slowly eradicate, if slightly, over the next few months. Of course, we adore him. He is our best boy and the best addition to our family, there's just a lot we didn't know about having a dog!

Gonna be honest, my one second every day video for June is a good 50% dog (if you want to see even more Bobby, watch Phil's video for June) , but here's what else I got up to:

What I did

I've been super, super hesitant about the easing of lockdown rules and actually being able to see people and do things, so it took me a while to finally be okay with even a social distanced garden meet up at first, but while I'm still being extra cautious and nervous, it's been so good to finally see friends and family. It's been so nice to be able to introduce people to Bobby too, so we had a few garden meet ups, been to a couple of BBQs and sat in a lot of other people's gardens! 

We've also been able to enjoy getting out and about a bit more. We managed to get tickets to Lyme Park, one of our favourite places, through the National Trust ticketing process. We got the tickets on a Friday for the following Saturday, not knowing at the time that by the time the following Saturday rolled around we'd, erm, have a dog?! So Bobby got his first National Trust day out last month, which is something we had been so excited to do with a dog.

Similarly, Phil had a few days off at the end of June so we took Bobby to Tatton Park too. We don't go to Tatton often as there is still a parking charge even for National Trust members, but as it wasn't ticketed (it's big enough that it's easy to socially distance) it was so nice go somewhere new. I hadn't been in years and it was so beautiful!

My Great Run Solo medal arrived last month, and a few days later came the news that the Great Manchester Run won't be happening this year. I've rolled over my entry to next year, but also signed up to run the 13.1 distance alone before September, for which I'll still get a medal! I'm up to 10 miles in training so I'm hoping to be able to do the full distance in a few weeks (admittedly, a lot slower than I would have on race day!)

I finished the most-me cross-stitch ever.

Seeing my friends last month also meant some late Birthday presents! One of my best friends got me a llama cross stitch kit which is my current project, and Animal Crossing: New Horizons which I am really enjoying playing! It's so soothing and Phil has started playing too on my island which is so nice.

Unsurprisingly, we have watched a LOT of football since it returned, and not only are we still buzzing from winning the league, Bobby was featured on the Liverpool FC social media channels!

We've also been really enjoying One Tin Bakes by Edd Kimber which I bought last week (you know I love anything made in a tin!). My copy arrived on Saturday morning and by Saturday afternoon Phil had whipped up a batch of the tahini cookie bars! Phil definitely enjoys baking a bit more than me and he's really excited to cook more from this book.

I think I'm to blame for all the awful weather lately as I finally bought a vegetarian BBQ book in the form of Genevieve Taylor's Charred. We couldn't have the BBQ we had planned last weekend as a result of the weather, but thankfully loads of the recipes can be made with a grill pan. The tofu and spring onions skewers are incredible.

I also completed my Goodreads reading challenge for the year - in June! Lockdown has definitely given me plenty of chance to read more than usual so my 70 books goal is done. I think it's going to be another 100+ year!

What I read

Like a lot of white people, I've been really trying to educate myself about systemic racism and understand more about my white privilege. Last month I read Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race and So You Want to Talk About Race?, both of which I hugely recommend. I'm embarrassed by how little I knew and am continuing to educate myself.

I've also been grateful for Netgalley again last month, with 8 of the books I read last month coming from there. Here's what I read:
- Small Pleasures
- The Vanishing Half 
- Writers and Lovers
- Around the Sun
- Summerwater
- Ordinary Hazards
- Scabby Queen 
- The Inconvenient Need to Belong

Both The Vanishing Half and Scabby Queen had been on my books-I-can't-wait-to-read list for months so I was thrilled to get advance copies of these. They were the two of the best books from Netgalley I read last month too, along with Summerwater.

I'm also in deep with dog training books (I have the new Zak George book to read too), so I also read Think Dog which was a gift and was really helpful!

What I watched

Not much that wasn't football or dog training videos in June!

We rewatched Booksmart, cementing it as one of my absolute favourite films, and discovered that The Gift is on Netflix, so we watched that again for the first time since seeing it at the cinema (there is one particular jump scare that we always remember everyone in the cinema jumping at, and so we were really trying to anticipate it. Nope, we both jumped and so did Bobby!).

For our lockdown film club this month we watched Extraction, Love Birds, On the Basis of Sex and Your Name. Your Name was Phil's choice as we'd wanted to watch it for absolutely ages and it was incredible.

We also watched 13th, the Netflix documentary, which absolutely blew me away.

On TV, we've just started the absolutely brilliant I May Destroy You, and I found out that Michaela Coel not only went to my university, but at the same time, and studied joint honours English Lit?! I must have walked past her so many times!

What I listened to

Without my commute, I've not listened to as many podcasts as usual, but I am trying to squeeze them in when running, cross-stitching or just generally cooking, cleaning and getting ready.

I've been revisiting This American Life, which I took a break from a few years ago because I kept accidentally listening to repeats of episodes I'd already heard. I definitely recommend "Our Pulitzer Prize Winning Episode" (I hadn't realised how much this affected me til I got home from my run and burst into tears), "Time Out" and "Here Again".

I've also gotten super into You're Wrong About, especially the "book club" episodes on Michelle Remembers (perfect after just listening to the Satanic Panic episode of American Hysteria) and Jessica Simpson's autobiography (can't explain how much I loved this), and the episodes on Tonya Harding. I have so many episodes I need to listen to!

My current favourite podcast is the Six Degrees of Song of the South series of You Must Remember This. I have a couple of episodes to go and I'm sad it will be over soon as it's absolutely brilliant.

What I read online

Black Our Story on Instagram - From slavery to George Floyd Part 1 and Part 2 (I cannot recommend these posts more to explain systemic racism and how it affects modern day black lives)
Writing Between Pauses - Why I love having a morning routine

Catch up soon!

Charlotte x

Wednesday, 17 June 2020

Meet Bobby! Our dog adoption story

At any one time over the last year, I could probably pretty accurately tell you the exact number of dogs on the Manchester Dog's Trust website.

We'd been refreshing the website dozens of times a day between us for probably the last 12 months, waiting for our dream dog.

We've grilled every dog owner we know (and some we don't!) about getting a dog, asked thousands of questions, googled hundreds of things, taken doggy pals for walks and signed up for Borrow My Doggy.

We knew we wanted a rescue dog, but we also knew this drastically lowered our chances of being able to get any specific breed, and also increased the risk of getting a dog with behavioural or medical issues, which we didn't feel prepared for as our first dog.

We also knew that our "dream dog" - 1-5 years old, medium/large sized, no huge behavioural issues - would be a lot of people's dream dog, so when a dog we loved did come up, we'd have to move fast and be ready.

But even though we'd be talking about getting a dog for months, we always had a reason to not get one right now. We had the wedding, then the honeymoon, then we both got new jobs in the autumn. So we decided at the start of 2020 we would continue to keep our eye out on the Dog's Trust, but we would seriously start looking after our trip to Barcelona in April.

And then, of course, lockdown started.

We spent a lot of lockdown bemoaning the lack of a dog - with us both at home all day we could spend time with the dog, we could take it on the walks we were going on regularly as our only form of entertainment.

But all the rehoming centres were closed, the Dog's Trust website wasn't being updated and we started to think it just wasn't going to happen to us anytime soon.

Then a few weeks into lockdown, the Dog's Trust website slowly started to add new dogs and unbeknownst to us, one of them would be our boy.

Why we adopted from Dog's Trust

We first visited Dog's Trust Manchester towards the end of 2019. We wanted to have a look around, see some of the dogs that were available and be sure of what our options were as two people who worked full-time.

We ended up visiting a few times before we actually got Bobby, and we knew that in our ideal situation we'd find the dog for us at Dog's Trust. They were really helpful, the facilities were lovely, the process to rescue seemed good, we loved all the after-care and support they offered after a rescue (which was extra important to us with it being our first dog), and they were happy for us to get a dog while working when we explained we would be getting a dog walker in during the day or taking him to doggy daycare.

When it came to the actual dog, we had a few breeds in mind which we were keeping our eye on - we liked spaniels, collies, labradors and any cross-breed of these. We wanted a medium/large dog which was active and up for lots of walkies and running, but more important to us was the dog's temperament.

Dog's Trust were always super upfront with us about any behavioural issues - there were a few dogs we went to see or had calls about which looked perfect on the website (I call it their "dating profile") but in when we spoke to Dog's Trust to get their full profile they had lots of issues which we would have struggled with as first-time owners. We always felt that Dog's Trust had the dog's best interests at heart and were always honest about any concerns.

We had visited other rescue centres, signed up for hundreds of Facebook groups for rescue dogs abroad and looked on loads of other websites, and were open to getting a dog from these places, but Dog's Trust was always where we wanted to get our dog from if possible.

Our rescue story

Bobby (as he is now known!) appeared on the Dog's Trust website on a Thursday afternoon. We loved that he was a lab cross (although he looked much more like a staffordshire bull terrier on the website than he did labrador!), sounded active and fun and was a good age for us. We phoned up to registered our interest and were told he was already reserved, but we would be added to a waiting list. We were disappointed but not surprised.

But then the following morning we received a call from Dog Trust - he was now available and were we still interested? Of course we were, so we had a call about his background to give us a bit more information, including some videos of him, and asked to complete a home questionnaire and send some photos of our house and garden.

(For context, this is not the usual process for rescuing a dog from Dog's Trust, but this is their protocol during lockdown. Normally you would be allowed to visit the dog in person and usually there is a home visit too, both of which aren't possible at the moment.)

After we sent the photos and questionnaire, things escalated very quickly! We had another call in the afternoon to confirm a pre-adoption call the following day, formalise our reservation, and to confirm if we could meet and greet him, and take him home (!), on Monday!

Friday was a bit of a daze, but on Saturday the reality started to sink in! We told both sets of parents and then went straight to Pets at Home to get some essentials. We'd asked how big he was and nobody had an exact figure, so getting everything from a bed to a Kong toy was guesswork, based on freeze-framing videos and guessing how tall things were in comparison! We had an amazing pre-adoption call too which gave us loads of extra information about him, plus loads of tips and advice on what to expect from the first few days which was absolutely invaluable.

At this point too, we still hadn't even met him, so we didn't tell anyone except our parents, and we kept the receipts for all the dog things we bought. We were so scared and excited but also so hopeful it would all work out.

On the Monday we had a call from Dog's Trust to confirm everything again, and at 4.30pm we arrived to meet him. We waited anxiously in the car for him to be brought out.

Then suddenly he appeared and it was love at first sight. Our brilliant, happy boy came over to say hello and he was even more amazing than we had expected! We had brought a long-line lead with us and we were taken to a secure area to play with him. He was a very excited boy with so much energy! Then we were left to play with him ourselves and it was so scary and exciting! I couldn't believe he was going to be our dog!

After half an hour of play we were asked if we wanted to take him home, and of course we did. We signed some paperwork and were told there would be a call the following day to finalise adoption, and then Bobby jumped into our car and off we went!

He was such a good boy in the car, and super excited when we got him home. In fact, we were a bit worried when he wouldn't stay still for 30 seconds the first night! When it was time for bed he cried and barked a little bit (and I had a panicked call to my Auntie who is our resident dog expert about what to do!) and then he settled down to sleep and slept all night til I came down the following morning.

The next day we had a final call with Dog's Trust to confirm his adoption and we paid his rehoming fee and he was our officially our boy!

Welcome home, Bobby!

I have so so SO much I want to say about being a dog parent, and it's only been a week. I'm not sure I was prepared for how exhausting it would be, how wonderful it would be, how guilty I would feel 99.9% of the time and how desperately confused we would be about "doing it wrong", but that is definitely a post (or many posts!) for another day.

For now, I am so so so grateful to Dog's Trust for bringing our amazing boy into our lives. They have been so helpful and continue to be brilliant and our boy is well and truly settled in already! I'm so happy we could give a dog a home, and that he has brought so much joy to our lives already! 

Welcome to the family, Bobby!

Charlotte x

Sunday, 7 June 2020

May Life Lately

Edit: I've had this sat in my drafts for a few days. So much of what I wrote now feels so ridiculous in light of the awareness the last few days has brought to many of us. I have to be honest in my woeful misunderstanding of how racist the world is, and I've spent the last few days learning and getting uncomfortable and vowing to do better. Thousands of people have put the way I feel into words better than I ever could, so I encourage you to find those people and those places (as a white woman, Gemma has been sharing some great resources on her Instagram). I should do better and I will do better. Everything here was done and written in May, so I'll be sharing more of the resources I've been reading and using in my next post. For now though, I want to highlight the importance of writing to your MP about the UK selling rubber bullets and tear gas to the USA, this charity who are fundraising for more diversity in publishing and diversity of stories we're telling, and this list of places to donate to.

Here's what I got up to in May (and here's my One Second Every Day for May).

Where I've been

Okay this title is a tiny bit misleading because, of course, I haven't really been anywhere really, but we did do a few nice walks. At the start of the month we walked from our house to Marple along the Middlewood Way and back along the canal which was really lovely, and Phil had a day off before the Bank Holiday so we drove to the Peak District and walked up to Mam Tor and did a 3 hour walk around the peaks. We are so lucky to have such beautiful places on our doorstep.

I also got to go somewhere that wasn't my house, my garden or the supermarket... for a blood donation! It was my 13th donation and I am so squeamish I can't even watch injections on TV (or fights, or any blood, or basically anything even vaguely gory!) and I look away the whole time, but I was very brave and extra careful to make sure I followed all the guidelines, and I was so glad I could give something back, especially now.

What I did

What I've been cooking and baking

I finally, finally made the baked gnocchi with mozzarella and basil from the original Roasting Tin. So many people had told me to make this seeing as I love all the other baked gnocchi recipes in the Roasting Tin books so I finally gave this a go. And wow. Wow. I'm planning to make this again this week. It's a shame I wrote my Top 10 Roasting Tin recipes too early. Hands down a new favourite.

As it's going to be a while before I can browse a cocktail menu, we decided to have a night making cocktails. We had a look in our cocktail-making books and found some recipes we could make without spending double figures on spirits and I made a batch of double-strength simple syrup. We didn't have a cocktail shaker but I can confirm a gimlet tastes just as good when it's been shaken in a takeaway coffee cup!

I've also been doing lots of baking - Rukmini Iyer's Rocky Road (which I talked about here), a simple lemon drizzle, a vegan banana bread from The Quick Roasting Tin when I realised I didn't have enough eggs to make the cookies I'd planned to make (I only had two bananas, walnuts instead of pecans and an orange instead of clementines but it was delicious) and Laura Goodman's super-thick homemade pizza from her book, Carbs, which is absolutely amazing.

What's been keeping me entertained

I'm currently obsessed with Mariokart as we now have a weekly Mariokart night on a Wednesday with an accompanying Zoom call. I am so bad that I always come last but it's great fun.
I finished my second cross stitch project and have just started my third one with a fourth on the way. I love putting on a podcast and having an hour or so of solitary stitching.

After months of being football-starved we now seem to watch basically every Bundesliga match and it's so nice to have football on TV, especially at the weekends.

I was obviously gutted when my half marathon, which was meant to be in May, was rescheduled. My last race was October 2018 but I took all of last year off with our wedding and honeymoon, and I was looking forward to a comeback (I'd also got up to 10 miles in training before it was called off). I've still been running as though I'm training (though not quite as far), so I jumped at the chance to sign up for Great Run Solo and signed up for 100km (62 miles) over 28 days. You complete the challenge of whichever distance you prefer (there were a few options, up to 280km (!)), pay a £10 NHS donation to enter and complete the challenge in the timeframe, and when you're done, you submit your evidence and they send you a medal in the post! Phil signed up too and it was great to have the motivation of each other to keep us going. I had a few rest days after giving blood and managed to complete my challenge on the 28th day and ran in total 65 miles (105km). I'm really excited for my medal!

To create the experience of missing our favourite festival, Buckle and Boots, we really enjoyed the Buckle and Boots live stream though throughout the weekend the festival should have been. It was the closest thing we could get to the real thing!

What's been keeping me going

Coursera courses are still giving something to focus on - in May I completed The Strategy of Content Marketing and The Science of Well-Being.

I've also gotten really into Behavioural Economics and have watched so many TED talks on the topic. I have loads of books about it on my to-read list and I'm hoping to do a course on the topic over the next few months.

Like everyone in the world ever, I know how good meditation is for you and I've been paying £5 a month for Headspace for at least a year but I've never managed to make it a regular habit. I am super proud to say I have meditated every single day now for over a month! At first it was a novelty, then I found it really boring and didn't see any benefit, and now I really feel like I'm starting to get it and feeling better as a result. I even practised a meditation while waiting to give blood and I really felt like it calmed me down! I really hope I can keep it up.

Finally, I've started tracking my moods through the day using an app called DaylioI'm finding it really useful to keep an eye on what is triggering my moods (which are all over the shop at the moment). I'm using the free version for now which seems to do everything I need but I'm weighing up getting the paid version in the future. I'm planning a series of blog posts about the apps and tools I use every day for organisation and my mood so keep an eye out for those.

What I read

Unsurprisingly, another big reading month, with 18 books read last month. 

Here's what I read in May:

The Glass Hotel
The Green Road
How the Light Gets In
The Hour I First Believed
The Book of American Martyrs
Nothing to See Here
Jesus' Son
The Rearranged Life of Oona Lockhart
The Lager Queen of Minnesota
The Blazing World
The Choice Factory
The Mothers
The Harpy 
Can't Even

After reading Animals over a day, I decided to embrace some longer books, so I tackled 740 pages of Wally Lamb's The Hour I First Believed, and then Joyce Carol Oates' The Book of American Martyrs (752 pages). The Hour I First Believed was good but nowhere near as good as Wally Lamb's I Know This Much Is True - one of my favourite books, but I loved The Book of American Martyrs - my first Joyce Carol Oates!

Other notable mentions - I adored Nothing to See Here, The Mothers and The Harpy.

As I mentioned earlier, I've gotten really into behavioural economics so I found the application to marketing in The Choice Factory fascinating and spent a few days reading that any making notes.

I finally properly started using Netgalley this month which I how I managed to read LusterThe Harpy and Can't Even (which I actually had preordered!). I've been a member since 2016 but only this month properly looked into what I needed to do for approval and I have loads of books on my shelf I can't wait to read. I definitely recommend it if you are an avid reader and blogger or reviewer.

What I've been watching

We finally finished The Americans! Ah, what a final season! We're now trying to consume every single piece of writing about it (surprisingly, not as much as we expected. Why aren't people watching The Americans?!). I keep feeling myself getting sad about how much I miss Philip and Elizabeth, and especially Paige (our favourite character).

In May we also started Killing Eve (you know what we're like for being about 3 years late for everything) and watched all of season 1. We really enjoyed it and I'm looking forward to starting season 2.

We've watched about half of Normal People so far - I really loved the book so I'm enjoying it coming to the screen (though it's makes me sooooo glad to not be a teenager anymore!) and like everyone else in the world, we are obsessed with The Last Dance.

How can I even talk about TV in May without talking about the Parks and Recreation special? Yes, I had a bit of a cry. I loved it so much.


In our "film club" in May we watched Red Joan, The Circle, Phantom Thread, Peanut Butter Falcon and The Farewell. The Farewell was my pick and I'm really chuffed because I absolutely loved it! I remember exactly where I was when I listened to the This American Life episode it was based on (way back in 2016).

We also watched Three Identical Strangers which I've wanted to watch for ages. I'm so glad it was on Netflix!

As I mentioned in April, we've had more time for rewatching films in lockdown which is something I don't do often. This month we rewatched some of our favourite films -
Silence of the Lambs, Inception, You've Got Mail, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises.


Ooh, a new category! Also in May we watched the National Theatre production of Frankenstein when it was available on Youtube. It was nice to watch something different and we really enjoyed it.

What I've been listening to

I'm on a bit of a podcast bender at the moment, which is hard because without my commute I'm struggling to squeeze them in.

We got really into the Slate Americans podcast while we were watching the final season - I wish we'd discovered it earlier and we loved the debate after each episode.

I've also been enjoying Decoder Ring, The Butterfly Effect, Brought to you by (formerly Household Name) and Uncover: The Village.

One-off episodes I loved in May - the Satisfied episode of Strong Songs and the episode of This American Life called On Delight - I can't recommend this more if you are feeling blue.

What I wrote

Hey, nice to see this category again! Here's what I wrote in May:

What I read online

I've recently become obsessed with both the Refinery 29 and Bon Appetit newsletters. I absolutely love seeing these drop into my inbox, so a lot of my links this month are from these sources!

Food and cooking
Health and Well-Being

Charlotte x