February Life Lately
March is always my favourite month of the year because it starts with Phil's Birthday and ends with mine, and this year means we're getting married next month!!
February has been a quick one - time flies when you're having fun! (You can see my One Second Every Day of the Month here!)
Here's what I got up to in February...
Where I went
The start of February meant one thing in my calendar - my hen weekend! I'm sure I've mentioned before but I'm a huge fan of surprises, and along with the debilitating decision fatigue I've had throughout wedding planning I didn't want to get involved in any of the planning for my hen. All I said I wanted a weekend away, in the UK, and who I wanted to come.
So I knew absolutely nothing about where we were going. On the days leading up I started to ask for weather updates and a list of what I was going to need to bring, and then as it got closer I started to panic about how little I knew!
Then the day before my hen I received a message telling me to meet at Manchester Piccadilly at 10.30am on Friday morning, and I was given a list of items I needed to remember. I was very happy to see trainers were on the list, and pleased to find out my sequin dress would be "perfect for Saturday night". I was intrigued!
So I packed my bag and headed to the station, and my hand rushed to my mouth as soon as I saw two of my bridesmaids. They'd made a huge life-size photo frame in the colour and style of our wedding invitations with real flowers stuck on! It was absolutely amazing! Straight away I knew they'd done an amazing job.
They followed this with a goodie bag of essentials (hairspray, nail polish, phallic straws) and then I received my sash and veil and... bouquet. And finally, an itinerary...
We were off to Bristol!
Five of us headed for the train, with three others joining us on the second day. We had such a laugh on the train with plenty of snacks and a giant wheely suitcase full of hen decorations!
On Friday we went to the pub and while we had drinks, my two bridesmaids who had organised decorated the entire Air bnb with balloons and banners and sashes and signs - the amount of effort they made was absolutely incredible!
Friday night we went off to a secret cocktail bar which looked like a hole in the wall for drinks, but we knew we had to be up early on Saturday morning...
Yes, I know. And I've lost count of the number of people who have come up to me since going, "you did parkrun on your hen do?", and yes, yes I did. Before Phil and I were even engaged (although, it turned out later, when my best friend asked me, hypothetically speaking, back in October 2017 what I wanted to do for my hypothetical hen, she already knew Phil had the ring!) I said I wanted to do parkrun on my hen.
And even though nobody else would have normally gotten up on a Saturday morning to do parkrun, they flipping did it!
So we went to Ashton Court parkrun, and I ran in my sash and veil and a Bride to Be vest top they'd bought me, and I was absolutely thrilled they took me to do my favourite thing on a Saturday morning! It was the absolute best!
Next on the agenda was brunch, and then the rest of the party arrived for an escape room! I love escape rooms so this was perfect, and was the perfect bonding activity for my group of girls. Once we'd all escaped we headed to the Slug and Lettuce for a pornstar martini tree (!), and by that point it was time to get ready to go out!
We all got our gladrags on to go out, and then we were ready for some hen games. My maid of honour had met up with Phil earlier in the week and recorded Mr and Mrs-style questions with him, so we played Mr and Mrs which was so much fun (I did pretty well!) and then we went out for dinner.
At Zsa Zsa Bazaar after a brilliant meal, I discovered a photobooth that took contactless and spent £20+ on photobooth pictures. No regrets.
And then we were onto Popworld for a night of dancing and 90s music. And for the first night out ever - I didn't want to leave! I could see everyone was flagging and it's normally me at 12.30pm who is ready to go home, but at 1.30pm I was still begging "three more songs?" until I eventually gave in - I was just having such a good time!
After cleaning out the apartment on Sunday morning, we had one last activity - a scavenger hunt of Bristol! This was one of my favourite things we did. We had a murder to solve and clues to find from landmarks around Bristol - it was so much fun! It was a great way to explore the city and I definitely want to do one again!
Finally, we finished the weekend with a roast dinner and my girls presented me with a washbag with Mrs Cantillon on and I cried.
I had the absolutely best weekend ever with my favourite people and I felt so so loved by the amount of effort they put in! It was one of the best weekends of my life and I'm so so grateful for all the amazing women in my life!
And then the week after that, I headed down to London for a Chartered Institute of Marketing course on leadership which I absolutely loved, and while I was there I had dinner with Sarah! It was so nice to meet up again and we had such a good time.
And then that weekend (it's been a busy month!) I had "mini-hen" with my Mum and my Auntie and we had a lovely spa day and lunch at the Oddfellows. We had facials and massages and manicures and far too much prosecco for a Saturday lunchtime! It was fab!
What I've been doing
While Phil was off in Amsterdam on his stag I took myself out for the day and had a lovely day of me-time. I got my nails done for my hen (pink with glitter, obviously), went into town and bought myself some new dresses, looked at presents for Phil, took myself for an oat milk latte (I am a complete convert and had a paddy on Friday when my Asda didn't have any Oatly barista!) and made myself a delicious dinner that Phil wouldn't have liked. I obviously missed Phil but it was so nice to have a day to myself.
February obviously means Galentine's so as always, my friend Riven hosted a Galentine's party where we of course, had waffles, and did an exchange of presents. It's always so nice to celebrate every year!
Wedding stuff is obviously getting real now (as I write this we have 5 and a half weeks to go!) so this month we had our food tasting. It was so nice to get dressed up for a fancy date night at our venue and try some amazing food, although the wine tasting might have been ill-advised on a Monday night!
I've also had my first dress-fitting and alterations meeting, with one more lot of alterations this month before we pick up my dress forever - eeek!
We've also had friends over for dinner this month and I realised that Ottolenghi is a genius and yes, you definitely should put feta and oregano on chips.
What I've read
After a bit of a disappointing January in terms of reading, where it felt like a quantity over quality, I decided I wanted to dive into some really meaty books in February. I often find if I read a book too quickly, especially if it's short, I miss that time to reflect in between reading and nothing stays with me at all.
So I decided I wanted some books that were a bit longer that I could really get into. Here's what I read in February...
An American Marriage
A Prayer for Owen Meany
An American Marriage was one of the those books I didn't want to get through quickly because I was enjoying it so much but I just couldn't put it down. I read this over a weekend and absolutely adored it.
Next I carried all 800 pages of A Prayer for Owen Meany around for nearly 2 weeks. I can't explain how brilliant this book was and how real the characters were. I know this will stay with me for a long time. I finished it at 6am in a hotel room on my own in London, crying.
I enjoyed A Natural and have since lent it to Phil but Crimson wasn't really for me, but Hydra left me absolutely completely gripped! It's the sequel to Six Stories which I read last year but this is even better. I was completely hooked and I love the podcast-style storytelling. I've got the third book of the series, Changeling, but I'm saving it!
What I've been watching
I feel like I didn't quite know what I was in for when I put Abducted in Plain Sight on while Phil was on his stag do, but so people were talking about it so my best friend and I decided to both watch it at the same time so we could discuss. Oh my god. I made Phil watch it as soon as he got home and have since convinced everyone I know to watch it so I can discuss it with them. I am all the memes.
In other films we keep telling people about, we've told lots of people not to watch Velvet Buzzsaw. We are massive Jake Gyllenhaal fans but this was just... not for us.
I also watched the Fyre Festival documentary on Netflix while recovering from my hen weekend.
And this week we've had an animation week, with me watching Big Hero 6 and Wall-E for the first time. I am now hoping for a plush Baymax for my Birthday. Hint.
What I've been enjoying
I decided this week to go back to daily yoga until at least the end of March. It's going to be a stressful few weeks and it was making me feel good mentally and physically, so I've switched out a couple of my midweek workouts for yoga, combined with parkrun (of course!) and my two Military Fitness sessions each week.
The house gets a bit quite while Phil is away, so I looked for a full-series podcast I could listen to while he was in Amsterdam and really enjoyed the Gladiator podcast. I've heard about the damage playing American Football can do to players' brains from an episode of Malcolm Gladwell's podcast but this goes way further. I definitely recommend it.
I've also been listening to The Happiness Advantage on audiobook from the library (side note - if you don't already know this, you can get audiobooks from your library! My library is on BorrowBox and while they don't have a huge selection, I've managed to get a few books I wanted and it's been a good test of whether I want an Audible subscription. I only listen to non-fiction on audio so I'm trying to determine if it's worth £8 a month with Audible, and this has been a great test!). This book is absolutely blowing my mind - I keep boring Phil and my colleagues with amazing facts from the tests they carried out on the power of psychology. I've also ordered the physical book so I can make notes.
I got myself two new recipe books this month which I am super excited about - The Essential Vegan Instant Pot, and Laura Goodman's Carbs. I've not made anything from either of them yet, but I've been reading Carbs constantly since it arrived and I'm so excited to cook from it!
What I've been reading online
Yes and Yes - 9 morning habits that are do-able and day-improving
Yes and Yes - When to start a new habit (and when to keep plugging at the old ones)
Man Repeller - The Modern Trap of Turning Hobbies into Hustles
The Guardian - The Deadly Truth about a World made for Men - from Car Crashes to Stab Vests
The Guardian - Burned out? Why you should embrace the power of no
Ruth Writes - Marie Kondo-ing my Life
The Washington Post - Want to be happier? Stop scheduling your free time <--- this one has been huge for me!
The Times - Dolly Alderton tackles privilege and guilt
Yes and Yes - How to make an unpleasant situation suck less
Rebel Angel - Maternity Style and Body Confidence
Yes and Yes - Five ways to document travel without a scrapbook <----I am definitely doing some of these in Canada!
Yes and Yes - Everything you need to plan a roadtrip
The New York Times - Let Children be Bored Again
And now we're onto March which my Birthday and the last month before our wedding and I'm so excited!