Monday, 31 December 2018

2018 Best Bits

Last year I wrote a post called "2017 best bits" and it was one of my favourite posts of last year - instead of going through my goals for the year, I looked back on my best bits of the year, from the big (getting engaged! Buying a house! Finishing my marketing degree!), to the smaller (crying while watching Joshua Radin perform in Berlin).

While this year hasn't involved a house purchase, engagement or qualification, there are still so many things I want to look back on and remember from 2018.

So here are my highlights from the year...


I don't talk lots about my job here, but in July I was promoted and I'm really enjoying the challenges of my new-ish role! I've learned so much this year and have done so many things that I wouldn't have imagined I'd have been doing 12 months ago!

Two half marathons 

I've had a tough time with running and injuries over the last 18 months - I was disappointed with my Manchester Half Marathon time last year after struggling with injuries, and I was still suffering at this year's Great Manchester Run Half Marathon (plus it was absolutely baking hot so even if I had been fully fit a good time would have been out of the window!).

But over the summer I cautiously trained for my 7th half marathon, and along with hours of strengthening exercises and many trips to the physio, I felt okay for my third Manchester Half Marathon in October.

I wasn't sure what to expect and was trying to manage my expectations after injuries, but after 3 miles I realised if I kept up my pacing and ran negative splits I could hopefully, maybe manage another sub 2 hour.

The last mile felt 5 miles, but I crossed the finish line with another just-ducking-under-2-hours with a 1:59:41 finish time. I was absolutely over the moon. 

CIM results and graduation

At the end of last year I handed in my last piece of coursework for my Chartered Institute of Marketing Diploma in Professional Marketing. I had a nervous wait until February when I started to convince myself I'd failed. My last module was by far my hardest but it turned out I passed with merit and got my best grade of all my modules!

It was so great last month to go down to London for my graduation ceremony with my parents and Phil and walk across the stage after all the hard work!

Wedding planning

Did I mention we're getting married?

It's crazy that last Christmas we weren't even engaged and by next year we'll have been married for 8 months!

We've done so much wedding planning this year! I absolutely hated wedding planning at first (okay, for like, the first 6 months) and just found the whole thing completely stressful, but eventually everything started to fall into place, we got over our decision fatigue and now I'm so excited!

We booked our venue in February, then I found my dress in May, we've booked pretty much everything now, including our honeymoon to Canada next September!, had a wonderful day with my bridesmaids picking their dress earlier in the month, plus had a few sneak peeks at our day with an overnight stay at our venue when it was one year to go, and a pre-wedding photoshoot with our amazing photographer!

It's all getting very real and very exciting!

Reading every day

I hit my Goodreads reading goal of 40 books for the year in July, and had hit double that by November. At the time of writing I've read 95 books this year - more than I read in 2017 and 2016 put together!

I have read a book every day this year - some days that's been one page, other days a whole book. I've read before work, on the way to work, on my lunch break, drying my hair, in supermarket queues, waiting for the bus - I've had a book with me at pretty much all times this year!

I'm going to write another post on the best books I read in 2018, but I've read some absolutely amazing books and I can't wait to see what I read in 2019!

House changes

I don't share a lot about our house because I think I'm always waiting for a room to be "finished" even though I know a room is never finished!

We started 2018 with bare walls in our living room and on the stairs and landing after spending 2 days between Christmas and New Year stripping off all the old textured wallpaper, and now we have a lovely fresh off-white across the rooms and a bright mustard feature wall in the living room that I love.

We also spent weeks in dust and dirt as we had new flooring put down in our living room, and had a week without a kitchen with a toaster and a microwave in the front room while we had our new kitchen fitted!

Our main living room is almost finished (we've bought a dining table, new chairs and a sofa - due in 6 weeks - this week!) and then on a whim in August we decided to paint our front room dark blue which I absolutely love (and I'll never get the paint off my slippers!).

There's a lot more I want to do on the house next year so we'll see!


I ran 43 parkruns in 2018, and volunteered twice, which means I only missed 7 parkruns over the year.

I've done 8 new-to-me parkruns this year too, and ran at 12 different parks.

I finally received my 100 parkruns tshirt and I ran my 150th parkrun in September. I'm looking forward to my 200th parkrun in 2019!

Relearning old skills

I started the year having not been behind the wheel properly for 7 years, but after a refresher driving lesson at the start of the year I've felt so much more confident and it's been great to be able to drive again!

I've also picked up the piano again, something I did not expect at the start of the year! I bought myself the La La Land piano book and I'm learning Mia and Sebastian's theme and it's been so fun to have a hobby without goals I'm working towards - it's just fun.

Hamilton + Bruges Birthday

Apart from my wedding, I had never been as excited for ANYTHING as I was to see Hamilton. After 14 months of waiting (we will have waited less time from booking our wedding until our wedding day) it was honestly the best thing I've ever seen in my life. I cried so much.

I am now even more obsessed with Hamilton (no, I didn't think it was possible either!) and I cannot wait to see it again!

Days out and trips

I've had so many good trips and days out this year! 

In April we went to see Jaws in Concert with a live orchestra, which was my present to Phil for Christmas last year and we saw The Killers in July which was absolutely incredible.

In June I took my first trip to Center Parcs with Phil's family which was so much fun.

But the highlight has to be doing The Crystal Maze for Phil's Dad's 60th in June. It was honestly one of the best things I've ever done in my last - I cannot recommend it more.

Self care

One of my goals for 2018 was to find what works for my anxiety, and I've done some really positive work this year. I completed 32 days of yoga in January and after rereading that blog post last week I signed up next January's 30 days too!

I've also really cut down on my social media usage this year. I was finding that Instagram and Facebook just weren't making me feel good! I deleted all social media apps off my phone in May and now only use them in browser (so sorry anyone who has ever tagged me in an Instagram story or sent me an Instagram message - I can't see them in Safari!), and more recently I've just been logged out of them and only check my notifications every few days. I almost never scroll through and I don't feel like I'm missing anything! It's made a huge difference in me not comparing myself to other people constantly.

Finally, I've just completed a year of HappyFeed. It's a super simple app, but it's been brilliant for me this year. Every day you put into it 3 happy things about that day. That's it. Some days are easy, some are MUCH harder. And then through the year you can look back, or shake it for a random day. I think I've only missed 5 days this year (and I am so mad about those 5 days!) and I'm looking forward to carrying on with it in 2019.

I've had a great 2018 and I am so (SO SO SO SO) excited for 2019!

Have an amazing new year and I'll see you in 2019!

Charlotte x

Monday, 3 December 2018

November Life Lately

So here is is, Merry Christmas! December is here!

I absolutely love December - Christmas is my favourite time of the year and this year we have our engagement anniversary to celebrate too on Boxing Day!

But enough about December, here's what I got up to in November...

What I did
As Phil and I were both brought up Catholic and are getting married in a Catholic church (it's actually the church my parents were married in!) we had to attend marriage classes which we did this month. It sounds a bit weird, but it actually made a lot of sense (I mean, it is a pretty big commitment!) and we actually found the parts about communication really useful!

In other wedding news, I picked up my wedding dress this month! I was so nervous! I was so scared I wouldn't fit or I wouldn't like it or it wouldn't look like I remembered, but it was amazing and beautiful and I fell in love with it all over again! I was in a pretty stressful place with wedding planning when I picked it, but going back with nearly everything sorted for the wedding and feeling so excited was amazing. It's so weird that it's just hanging at my Mum's house! I've got a few adjustments to have done in the new year but I can't believe it's mine and we have it!
On the same day as I picked up my dress, Phil and I went out to celebrate 5 years together! Our anniversary was actually the Thursday but we spent the evening of the day getting prepped for having friends over for dinner the following night. Five years feels both so long and so short - longer than all of high school!, a year longer than my whole degree!, but I also feel like I can barely remember my life before Phil. It really has been the best 5 years of my life so far.

Sorry, another wedding-related one - we went to look at wedding rings! I'm not sure if I talked a lot about my actual ring when we got engaged cause I was so thrilled and excited, but my ring was actually custom made. Phil made several trip to the ring man (unbeknown to me, of course, who was in the middle of studying for my marketing diploma!) and chose everything from the setting of the diamond to the style of the band to the diamond, so we knew we had to go back to discuss our wedding rings. I can now completely appreciate how hard it was for Phil to design a ring! I think we've chosen our rings now, but we're going back next month to finalise them. I can't wait for us to both have wedding rings!

Speaking of my marketing diploma, I had my graduation! It feels so long ago that I finished (I handed my last piece of coursework in a year last week!) but it was so good to actually celebrate graduating! Because I did my course through distance learning it was really nice to chat to other people who have done the course - I'd never had that while I studied - and I loved going down to London with my family and Phil and getting dressed up in my robes! No more degrees for me for a while now, okay?

So at some time in 2012, I started talking to Sarah on Twitter. Neither of us remembers when or how it happened, but over the last 6 years we have spoken at least every week, if not every day, and we decided this was the year we would finally meet up! So back in August we made plans and last month we booked our train tickets and met up in Birmingham. We had the absolute best day and we had even more in common than we had expected! It's so cool to have met properly in person and I hope we can meet up again soon!

Where I went

One of my work friends, Emily, was nominated for an award at the Manchester PA Network Awards at the start of the month, and I was thrilled when she invited me to come along. It was so nice getting dressed up and going to a proper awards ceremony - I was buzzing about the goodie bag!

Last year for our anniversary, Phil and I went to El Gato Negro in Manchester and it was honestly one of the best meals we'd ever had, so we really had to raise the bar for this year's anniversary. We do British Military Fitness in Bruntwood park and every time we're doing burpees in the cold or press ups in the mud we say, we should really go for a meal at the hotel in the park. And given it was a particularly special occasion, that's what we did! Oddfellows on the park was absolutely amazing - the food was incredible, the service was wonderful and we just had the best anniversary meal. And we got to dress up and get my parents' to take a photo of us and accidentally both wore the same jackets and did the same pose as we did on our one year anniversary 4 years ago.

One thing we really wanted to do while we were in London for my graduation was go to see The Clock exhibition at the Tate. Phil's auntie and uncle could not have recommended it more when they went to see it, and as film fans we were instantly sold. We queued for about an hour, and managed to catch it between 5pm and 6pm. I didn't want to leave! I wish so much we'd had more time - if it ever comes to Manchester I think I'd do a full day. Honestly, if you're in London before it closes, make sure you catch it. It's brilliant.

Finally, this month, my cousin took me along on her birthday trip to see Kinky Boots on Friday and it was so much fun!

What I read
8 books read this month! I'm thrilled that this month I doubled my reading goal of 40 books and read my 80th book of the year. 

Here's what I read this month:

Since we Fell
The Bus on Thursday
The House of Impossible Beauties
The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
Convenience Store Woman
The Future Won't be Long
I am, I am, I am

This was a bit of a mixed bag. It was the first time pretty much all year that I ran down all my library returns so I was struck with serious decision fatigue! Two of these books I really didn't enjoy and unfortunately read them in a row (thankfully quickly!), but I really loved The House of Impossible Beauties, Convenience Store Woman, and I am, I am, I am  was amazing and made me cry.

What I watched
Not a big watching month November. Only one cinema trip to see Widows, which I loved, and Phil did not.

At home we watched Susperia, Life Animated and Insomnia.

And then we finished The Haunting of Hill House and I cried and seriously I am bereft. The best thing I've watched in months, if not years. I am still sad it's over.

What I bought
I love Felicity Cloake's Perfect columns in the Guardian, so as soon as I found out about her book Completely Perfect I raced down to Waterstones! It's a collect of some of her best "perfect" recipes, from poached eggs to brownies to hollandaise sauce. So far I've only made a few things but it's a brilliant reference and a book I'm finding myself picking up and browsing regularly.

Oh and I bought the brightest of bright pink jumpers after wanting it last year from Oasis and finding it on Depop for £15. Needless say, this got a LOT of comments at work.

What I loved
Last moth I caved and bought the Mowgli Street Food book because I love the restaurant so much (I took Sarah when we were in Birmingham!) and I'm so glad I did because everything has been amazing! The Mowgli paneer in particular is incredible and having tried the green rhubard dal in the restaurant I really want to give that I go.

Daisy Buchanan is one of my favourite writers, so I was really excited when I found out she was releasing a podcast, and I was even more excited when I found out it was about books!

I always say I was raised on country music as my parents listened to the country music channel constantly throughout my childhood, so when I do listen to country music I tend to stick to my 90s favourites. But I've got Phil listening to country and he's got me into more modern country and now it's all I listen to! I absolutely love using Spotify to find loads of new-to-me country artists!

What I read online
Grazia - Some women can't afford to exercise and telling them they're lazy is not okay
The Pool - What is the point of a body that looks good but can't do anything?
The Pool - How to stop being busy (and get more done)
The Pool - When your social life is booked months in advance, it's time to take radical action
The Guardian - Why we need difficult books
Vulture - How scary is The Haunting of Hill House really?
Buzzfeed - Girl, wash your face is a massive best seller with a dark message
Lauren Bravo - Thoughts on becoming
The Guardian - Why there's no such thing as the perfect vegan
Yes and Yes - Everything is socially contagious (and what to do about it)
Yes and Yes - How to be more self aware of your knee-jerk bad habits
Thrillist - I found the best burger place in America. Then I killed it
Andie Mitchell - How I felt after having James
Be more with Less - A Toast to the tiny steps
Lauren Bravo - An open letter to my online shopping parcel
Vogue - How to be thankful (when it feels like the rest of the world is going crazy)
This Twitter thread
The Pool - I changed my antidepressants. This is what happened next
The Pool - Do you care too much about what other people think?
Glamour - Why I'm never cooking dinner for a man again after my divorce

I'll be back in the next few weeks with my yearly round ups and reviews - I'm weighing up a separate post to talk about all the books I read and loved this year too!

Charlotte x

Sunday, 4 November 2018

October Life Lately

Hey, November! I'm a couple of days late with this because I've been ill with a cold that turned into maybe a chest infection and then probably laryngitis! I think I'm almost over the worst of it, but losing my voice over the weekend was especially fun!

October was a lovely month. We spent lots of time with friends, watched lots of scary films and TV, read lots of books, and I ran another half marathon!

Here's what I did in October...

What I've been doing
We've booked our honeymoon eeeee!! I am SO EXCITED. We going to do a little minimoon straight after the wedding, and we're doing the "megamoon" in September. We're flying to Vancounver and spending 5 days there, then hiring a car and spending a few nights in a few areas around the Rockies. We're most looking forward to going to Banff which looks incredibly beautiful! Then we're flying to Vancouver and spending a few nights there, before we take a trip to Niagra Falls and spend a night there. I don't think I've ever been so excited for a holiday in my life

I booked some annual leave this month around the weekend of my half marathon which was perfect. I got my nails done, met my friend Kayleigh for lunch, went to the cinema and went to our friends for dinner on the Friday (and met their dog, Kojak, and we are officially in love!)

Saturday I volunteered at parkrun and then we, erm, went to the cinema again! Then we had coffee with my best friend, Eve, which turned into a trip to the pub (and a lime and soda for me!) with Kayleigh and her boyfriend joining us too.

Then I was up bright and early on the Sunday for half marathon number 7! I was feeling incredible apprehensive about this race. It was my first race in nearly 18 months where I hadn't been fighting injuries, I'd trained hard and diligently been to the physio and done the recommended exercises, but I'd had some illness a couple of weeks before and I really wasn't feeling my best. I was feeling frustrated and disappointing that after months of training, I wouldn't quite get there on the day.

This was always supposed to be my "come back" race. I'd run a 2:05 last year and a 2:10 in the summer, and I'd gone into training hoping for a new PB. As time went on, I had no idea of what I was going to achieve, but I'd decided a PB wasn't going to happen, but I knew I'd be thrilled at under 2 hours. Even though I'd run sub 2 hours twice, it's still a huge achievement for me, but I was killing myself looking back at my times from parkruns and long runs from 2016 and convincing myself I wasn't in the peak fitness I needed to be at to run sub 2.

On the day, I told myself I'd be happy with anything under last year's 2:05, but I knew I was secretly going for that sub 2. I found myself in the third pen from the front with a 1:55 pacer (I'd obviously been ambitious with my predicted time!) and no 2:00 pacer in my starting group, so I held back as much as possible, and was one of the last of my group to cross the start line.

I had my pacing plan sorted. Negative splits - a 9:20 pace by 5K, 9:15 by 10K and then by 10 miles a 9:10, giving me some wiggle room for the finish. When I crossed the 5K mark at 29:14, I knew I was going to do it.

I am so proud of myself on a day where I didn't think it would happen. I was so determined that I forced myself to be patient, even when the 2 hour pacer who started 5 minutes behind me overtook me a few miles in. I had to trust my pacing, trust my training, and keep my focus. I crossed the finish line with another 1:59 under my belt, and it felt just as good as a PB!

With the wedding and honeymoon next year, I don't plan to run any half marathons. It will be my first year since 2014 that I won't have run one, but I know I won't have the energy or time to focus on what the distance requires of me, so that made this race extra poignant. I'm hoping to run a few 10Ks next year instead, and look forward to my usual two halves a year in 2020!

And then on the Monday, still hobbling a bit, we had our pre-wedding photos done! They were supposed to be on Saturday, which was exactly 6 months til our wedding, but the weather was awful so we rescheduled for Monday. We got a sneak peek a few weeks ago and this week got the full set back and we love them! I cannot wait for Amy to photograph our big day!

Where I've been
A couple of weeks ago we went to the Plaza in Stockport to see a special screening of The Prestige with a talk about Victorian magic and science, as part of Manchester Science Festival which was really cool!

We also did Foodie Friday at Stockport market for the second month in a row.

We also did some parkrun tourism at Wythenshawe last week, ticking off another one from our list! (I genuinely have a list...).

We had a little Halloween gathering at my friend Riven's last weekend too where I had my face painted and ate some delicious food and it was lovely.

What I've been reading
9 full books and one short story this month:

The Ruin
The Pool - Life Honestly
The Overstory
Bird Box, and the short story Ghastle and Yule
The Friendship Cure
Washington Black
Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant
What would the Spice Girls do?

While I've read a lot this month, I've not loved much of what I've read! I enjoyed both The Pool's Life Honestly, which is a collection of articles from The Pool, some I'd read and some I hadn't, and Lauren Bravo's brilliant What would the Spice Girls do?

I also loved Bird Box as a scary story for Halloween, and Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, which was my perfect quiet family story. I'm looking forward to reading more of Anne Tyler!

What I've been eating
I finally (begrudgingly, sadly), broke into my pumpkins this week so it's been quite autumnal around here!

I made my favourite sri lankan pumpkin dal, then this week we've had pumpkin stew, an amazing pumpkin curry from Fresh India and my friend Cate's amazing toffee apple cake.

I also bought the Mowgli book after our friensd cooked us dinner from it, and what I've so far has been amazing. I also made my own paneer this month and couldn't believe how easy it was, so paneer is definitely going to be on the menu more around here!

What I've been watching
We vowed to only watch scary things at home this month, so we watched The HauntingInterview with the Vampire and got my friend Eve to watch The Thing for the first time, but then we started The Haunting of Hill House and that took over our usual Sunday film time. We have one episode left and while I have out-loud screamed twice it has honestly been one of the best things I've watched in ages, and this former horror-scaredy-cat is feeling quite proud of herself!

Oh and I've also started the TV series of Salt Fat Acid Heat and Samin Nosrat is the cutest.

We've been to the cinema 5 times this month - The Hate U Give was a secret unlimited screening and I was thrilled when the name popped up as I loved the book and it was a pretty good adaptation. We also saw First Man which didn't quite live up to my insanely high expectations, and A Star is Born which I reallllly didn't fancy and ended up adoring. We also went to see the new Halloween and Bohemian Rhapsody.

What I've been reading online

WYNC - The story behind the greatest Halloween video on the internet
A Rosie Outlook - Pure, unadulterated joy
The Pool - For years I thought of Topshop as a feminist space. Not any more
The Pool - Why we all need to stumble more
Rebel Angel - Dealing with emetophobia while pregnant (a hugely important read for this emetophobe!)
The Washington Post - Netflix's Salt Fat Acid Heat is unlike any other food show on TV
Writing Between Pauses - Things I love
Yes and Yes - Replace a bad habit
Joe Rivers - Popfessions
The Pool - Why does "good" TV have to be challenging?
Rebel Angel - Slow living: My plans to parent a baby sustainably

What I'm excited about in November

So this Thursday is our 5 year anniversary (!) so I'm looking forward to getting dressed up and going for a nice meal. I've also got my first wedding dress fitting (eeeek!) next weekend and also a meeting with the guy who Phil worked with to custom-make my engagement ring to discuss our wedding rings, which is very exciting!

We're also heading down to London in a couple of weeks for my graduation from my Diploma in Professional Marketing, and I'm also going to be meeting up with my friend Sarah towards the end of the month!

Charlotte x

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

The Pros and Cons of a Backpack

After years of being perpetually wonky from carrying a full bottle of water, purse full of copppers, notepad and at least a couple of books around with me at all times, I decided a few weeks ago to make the switch to a backpack for work.

I'd dipped my toe in the backpack water over the summer when I bought a light backpack for holiday and I absolutely loved having both hands free and being able to go on long walks without feeling lopsided, and realised the perpetual fear of being robbed was mostly unfounded.

But after seeing a few stylish backpacks around the office, and accepting that my big black bag was 90% receipts and tissues, I decided to take the plunge.

I asked my Twitter pals for recommendations and got a list together of the best options (people love their backpacks!) and had a look at a few different options.

In the end I went for this backpack from Amazon as it seemed a similar style to the Anello backpack which was recommended to me, but at only £17 (ooh it's £20 now!) it was a good opportunity to try out if I liked it without a huge investment. I went for classic black, and I liked that it had wire inside to keep it open (more on this later).

It arrived the next day and instantly I loved it. For less than £20, it looks really smart and it's huge, and the straps are really comfy.

But it's definitely been a learning curve but here's what I've found so far:


  • I love having both hands free
  • I can fit everything in it, including my lunchbag, so I don't have to carry any other bags
  • It's good to have all the weight of my bag on my back, and definitely makes me feel less one-sided!
  • It looks cool!
  • It has a cool little side pocket for your water bottle (two, in fact!) so you don't end up with a water bottle leak and everything inside getting soaked (this has happened to me SO many times!)
  • There's plenty of space inside and I can get my work laptop in it
  • I like that it has a top handle too for carying
Mine has a zip on the back (the side facing your back) so you can get things out without taking it off (I haven't tried it yet) and also wire inside to keep it open which is quite cool.


  • Taking it on and off takes some practice!

  • Having to take it off to get anything in or out. I know this is an obvious one, but so far it's definitely testing my patience! I have to lock the front door, then take it off again to put my keys away, get my bus pass out, then when I get to the bus stop I have to take it off again to get my book out! Otherwise I'm just carrying everything to the bus stop which doesn't seem to be the point!

  • I find myself switching bags at the evenings and weekends. Normally my big black (scruffy, falling apart) "work" bag is my everything bag, and I only change into a different bag if I'm going somewhere specific. Now I find myself switching to a smaller bag for going to the cinema or to someone's house or for dinner, which I wouldn't normally do. A backpack just feels too big and not smart enough to carrying around as a handbag, to me at least. This is good because it means I am using all my other bags, but I know I'm going to leave something important in the wrong bag at some point!

  • It has to be completely zipped up at all times. This is where the wire gets annoying. It's useful that it holds the bag open, but it means you can't just nip in and grab something - you have to open the whole back. This is partly just a design of my bag, but having to have everything zipped up is applicable to all backpacks.

  • Even though I use it for work, I don't feel comfortable bringing it to really important work stuff

  • I have to make sure I'm aware of the space behind me!
I know that seems like a lot of cons, but I knew a lot of people who love their backpacks and I think it would have been useful to know the downsides of using a backpack too! I really love mine and will definitely carry on using it for work, but I am really glad I didn't spend too much money just yet!

Overall, I love having everything on my back with both hands free, and I'm really happy I found a style that I think still looks smart, but it's definitely a learning curve when you're used to just dipping into your bag to grab something!

I hope this is useful if you're thinking of switching to a backpack!

Charlotte x

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

September Life Lately

Everytime I start writing one of these I think, flipping heck this month has gone fast! But then when I start looking back on everything I've done over the month I realise how long a month is!
Here's what went on in September:

What I've been doing
Wedding planning seems to come in bursts - we have a few weeks of doing very little, then suddenly loads comes at once! This month we got absolutely loads ticked off!

At the start of September we had a lovely day in Macclesfield with Phil's Mum and sister helping Phil pick his wedding suit. It's funny because I watched Phil go through the exact same thing I went through picking my dress! Initially he was really excited and keen to try anything on, then he got tired, and then he got frustrated and then he got sick of everyone making him try things on! But the trip was a success and he chose his wedding suit (eeeee!) and a few weeks later we went back and chose the combination for the groomsmen and Dads. This was a big one ticked off, especially as I wanted Phil to choose his suit before I started looking at bridesmaids dresses so I can start looking at getting this big one crossed off soon!

On the same day we also went to a bakery which we've chosen to make our wedding cake! Yes, we did get to taste the cake!

This month I also booked the makeup for myself and my bridesmaids and we also booked our wedding transport. Oh and we also went to the travel agent to discuss our honeymoon! We're pretty much sorted with what we want to do and where we're going for our "megamoon" (and have a few ideas for our mini moon) - we are SO excited!
This month also brought my 150th parkrun! I've been so excited to hit a new parkrun milestone after running my 100th last year. We always run our milestones at Heaton Park as they have bibs you can wear for your milestone runs, and everyone was saying congratulations to me as I ran along! I've already checked there's a 200 one I can wear next year.

I also got a parkrun PB at Heaton Park which led the way for three parkrun PBs this month! I had no idea I'd got a PB until I got my text as I'd misremembered my PB time, and then I looked at my Wilmslow parkrun personal best and thought hmmm, I could beat that. So the following week I ran a 40 second PB at Wilmslow parkrun. But I knew I could do a little bit more, so the last two weeks I've asked Phil to help pace me to get another PB. Two weeks ago Phil's watch wouldn't charge and we missed a PB by a few seconds, but this week, thanks to Phil's amazing pacing, I scraped a PB by 9 seconds! 
In other running news, September always means Stockport 10K. This was the first race I ever ran in 2013, and I've ran it almost every year since. It's a tough, undulating course (seriously, my second mile was 2 minutes slower than my first as the whole mile was a steep uphill climb!), but I finished feeling good and I'm really excited now for my next half marathon in less than 2 weeks.

This month was also sponsored by board game nights and street food markets (we did two of each this month!).

Where I've been

As a late Father's Day present, I took my Dad (and my Mum, and Phil) to Dino Falls adventure golf. It was crazy busy but a gorgeous day so we didn't mind standing around in the sunshine waiting at each hole. It was so much fun (the dinosaurs ACTUALLY MOVE!) and really well done (even though I lost!)
Another highlight this month was going to see Deborah Frances-White at Manchester Central Library (one of my favourite places!) launching her book The Guilty Feminist, based on the brilliant podcast. She read from her book, did some stand up and did a Q&A, and it was so amazing and empowering to be around so many badass feminists! She also took the time to sign our copies of her book. I've been a fan of hers and the podcast for a few years and went to a podcast recording last year, so it was incredible to meet her!

What I've been reading

I think September might have been my absolute best month for reading, not only in terms of the number of books I read, but the quality. I am sure many of these books are going to make it into my favourite books of the year.

I read 10 books in September (and I'm half way through two more!), bringing me to 67 so far this year. Here's what I read this month:

Everything I Know About Love
The Guilty Feminist
Normal People
An Unremarkable Body
Skin deep
Us Against You
The Tidal Zone
The Necessary Marriage

Everything I Know About Love is one of my books of the year. I read it in a weekend and it was beautiful, nostalgic, funny, sad and unputdownable. I cried when it was over.

Similarly, I read Deborah Frances-White's The Guilty Feminist in a weekend. A few of the stories I knew from the podcast, and some parts she read at her signing, but this is the book I want to give to every woman I know.

In fiction, Sally Rooney's Normal People was everything I wanted it to be. I loved Conversations with Friends, but I haven't stopped thinking about Normal People since I finished it three weeks ago. It's one of my favourite fiction books of the year so far.

Honorable mentions to An Unremarkable Body and The Tidal Zone, which I really enjoyed. Transcription was brilliant but nowhere near close to my beloved Behind the Scenes at the Museum or A God in Ruins, and while it was great to be back with the characters and town of Beartown in Us Against You, I found the sequel a little over-the-top, schmaltzy and lacking the quiet subtlety of the first book (though I will, of course, keep reading any future books in the series).

What I've bought
As a owner-but-rare-user of not one, not two, but three Ottolenghi books (Plenty, Plenty More and Jerusalem), I definitely fall into that category of people who love the idea of Ottolenghi's recipes but most of the time are far too intimidated! So of course I was intrigued by Simple. I've made a few recipes so far that have been good, but I haven't decided yet if I'm going to do a review, so watch this space.

This month I also nipped into Asda for a loaf of bread and came out with a stripey jumper. No regrets. It was a tenner.

What I've been watching

As a surprise-that-I-accidentally-figured-out, Phil took me to see Gravity in 4DX this month. I'd only seen Gravity on a teeny TV screen so it was more to get the wow factor of it on a cinema screen. The 4DX was fun too!

At home we watched The Master (not enough Scientology), The Apartment (hey who knew old films were really great? See: All About Eve) and Halloween (as part of our only-watch-horror-films-in-October-but-let's-start-on-30th-September).

And we've also started Gavin and Stacey - which I've never properly watched all the way through, and The Good Place, which I am loving so far!

What I've been loving

Phil's Auntie Jane (HI AUNTIE JANE!) is over from Australia and we both love Ottolenghi, books, amazing food and podcasts, and she told me that I had to listen to The Teacher's Pet podcast and tell her what I think. Well, I am 6 episodes in and I haven't listened to anything else since because I am completely hooked. If you are into true crime podcasts, this is your new obsession.
Guys, it's autumn and I am basic. Sorry not sorry. I went to Aldi the other day and squealed when I saw they had all the squashes out. I then proceeded to run towards our trolley with my arms full of pumpkins, much to the amusement of the shop assistant.

Speaking of autumn, I implore you to make this mac and cheese. You can thank me later.

What I've been reading online

The Pool - Being a woman means being good-greedy or bad greedy

Cooking on a Bootstrap - Stop throwing away your food

The Pool - The sudden concern about Tess Holliday's health is a big fat lie

The Pool - It's okay to sweat the small stuff - sensitivity is a super power

NY Times - Never cook at home

Medium - Bubble baths are for washing, not for fixing mental illness

Cooking on a Bootstrap - Jack Monroe's student essentials for under a fiver

The Pool - How to hold onto that holiday feeling

Wit and Delight - Stop being intimidated by these stupid things

The Times - Dolly Alderton on why she's done with dating

The Cut - Why it's so hard to stop reading books you don't like

Biscuits and Blisters - 25 things I unapologetically don't care about now I'm 25

Real Clear Politics - Tracey Ullman hosts woke support group

Little Winter - 29 things I've learned in 29 years

The Guardian - The Guardian review of lengthening books

Highline - Everything you know about obesity is wrong

Buzzfeed - 21 tweets you'll enjoy if you're frankly exhausted by men

What I'm excited for

October brings our pre-wedding photos which I'm really excited about, and my next half marathon (desperately hoping a few days of being ill and one missed long run won't make a difference to my fitness!). The 13th will be 6 months til our wedding so I'm hoping to get a few more things ticked off, and I reckon we'll book our honeymoon!

We've got a few days of annual leave booked in for October and we've got a few nice things in the diary with friends, so I think it's going to be a great month!

Charlotte x