April Life Lately

Happy May! I'm super late with this update due to spending the start of May in beautiful Barcelona (more on this below!) and also because I tested positive for Covid just after we got back so I've been recovering from that! While I had a fairly mild case I did feel pretty rubbish for a few days and I'm still mourning the plans I had to cancel, but I think I'm thankfully over the worst of it now! My concentration has also been all over the shop since I was ill so I think this is my fifth attempt to finished this post!

Anyway, before I came down with Covid I had such a good April!

April involved two trips away, to both Chester and to Barcelona. To continue the theme of 2022 being the year in which I finally do all the things I was planning to do in 2020, not only did we finally get to go to Barcelona but we actually had a few days away for our wedding anniversary too! (Can you actually believe we've been married for 3 years?!)

I've also had loads of brilliant nights with friends and family lately which has been so great. As much as I love a quiet night I absolutely love looking back on a busy month, especially after the last few years!

So here's everything I got up to in April, and here's my One Second Every Day for the month.

What I did

I feel like cheese has been a real theme around here this year! I mentioned in my last post that one of my Birthday presents from Phil this year was a 3 month Cheese Geek subscription, and in April we had two deliveries to enjoy.

The first was my actual first box which Phil gave me as my Birthday present, then we had a second one towards the end of the month. We make a proper evening of it, with wine and lots of crackers and homemade bread and fruit and chutney, and we rate each one on the scorecard which comes with the box and add our notes. It's so much fun!

We have one more box left and I'm not sure I'll keep the subscription, but come winter-time monthly cheese nights will definitely be back on the agenda.

On another cheesy note, we also had a cheese and games night with friends in April which was so much fun! We all brought food to share and played Socialist Monopoly which was a great laugh, if confusing if you're used to normal Monopoly!

If you follow me on Instagram you might have seen a (rare!) outfit post of me showing off the incredible dress my friend Riven made me! For my Birthday, I was allowed to choose a fabric and a pattern and Riven literally made me a dress. I am obsessed! It's so beautiful and perfect for me and I am so impressed and fascinated! I'm so inspired, in fact, that I'm desperate to learn to make my own clothes and I've actually booked on to a dress making class in June. I'm so nervous but excited!

In exciting parkrun news, in April I managed to get my first all-time parkrun PB in nearly 6 years! We took a trip to Peel park which had been on my list for ages as it was my NENDY (Nearest Event Not Done Yet in parkrun nerd speak!) and also a nice flat course compared to my usual hilly Bramhall! I'd been feel really good with my half marathon training so I was really hopeful I'd snag a PB so I was thrilled to beat my previous best time by over 15 seconds!

And speaking of parkrun, I volunteered to pace at Bramhall parkrun a few weeks ago and it was so much fun! I managed to secure 30 minutes which I was so happy about because I remember this being a huge goal for me when I first started running (remember this post on the myth of the 10 minute mile?). It was funny being the 30 minute pacer because I kept hearing people going "oh no I need to beat her!" as I went around and I felt bad whenever I overtook someone! I ended up going a bit fast on my second mile so I'm desperate for a chance to pace again soon and be a bit more accurate!

Where I went

We had the best few days away for our wedding anniversary last month! We stayed at the Oddfellows in Chester as we love the Oddfellows in the park near us in Cheadle. It's such a great hotel! So quirky and fun, and our room was enormous!

We had our anniversary dinner at The Sticky Walnut as I remember reading a review of it in the Guardian years ago and the name has always stuck with me. It was absolutely fantastic and they made a fuss of us for our anniversary.

It's become an anniversary tradition for us to have a massage, and we had a fantastic one at Scented Garden in the rows in Chester. We had a brilliant few days walking the walls, eating amazing food and discovering cool bars (shout out to Prohibition - I love a secret bar!).

On the way back we stopped off at Chirk Castle as you know we love a National Trust, which was fantastic. The only downside was it was only when we got back that we found out there were dungeons - definitely one to visit again!

And of course, April brought out our incredible trip to Barcelona, two years in the making. Wow I have never fallen for a city like I fell for Barcelona, I absolutely adored it.

We arrived on Friday and headed straight for a walk along the beach. We were staying quite far out of the centre, but a beachfront walk was the perfect way to start our trip. 

We walked to the edge of La Rambla where we had some gorgeous tapas and did some people-watching in the sun, then we took a cable car up to the castle which was really cool and had some great exhibits on! 

After coming back down in the cable car we explored the 1992 Olympic park and then had a drink at the coolest bar ever in the seats overlooking the Olympic pool with the most spectacular view of the whole of Barcelona. The sun was shining and it was warm and beautiful and we had the most stunning view and we'd just waited so so so long for this trip, it was just so perfect. 

We finished the night with some amazing food at La Pepita which was recommended to me by two people, and a cocktail at Les gens que j'aime.

My absolute favourite thing to do on a city break is a Sandeman Walking Tour - I've done them in Amsterdam, Prague, Budapest, Berlin, Bruges... if I've done a city break there I've probably done a walking tour there! We headed down for the tour early and grabbed some breakfast before the incredible Leon took us around Barcelona's Gothic Quarter. It was absolutely fascinating and Leon was so fascinating and passionate and a fantastic storyteller. We just loved the Gothic Quarter and spent a lot of time around there over the weekend.

After lunch we headed to Camp Nou for the stadium tour and museum. We had tickets to see a Barcelona game on the Sunday night but we wanted a chance to explore a bit more on the tour than you are able to do on match days, so decided to go the day before. While the stadium tour was amazing, my favourite part was the museum! I loved all the artefacts and reading about all the players and hearing the stories, and seeing all of Messi's Ballon d'ors was a highlight for me, even if it was bittersweet as when we originally booked the trip in 2019 we had tickets to see him play for Barca.

We headed back to the gothic quarter in the evening where we found another amazing bar and had some excellent Spanish food for dinner.

On Sunday we got up early and headed to Park Guell for opening time. We were a bit confused when we arrived as we'd seen a video online which said it was free to see some of the park but extra to view it all, but the video must have been a bit out of date as now entry to the park is 10 Euros but wow is it worth it! We didn't pay the extra to see the extra Gaudi exhibits but there is still so much to explore! The views are incredible and we got to see the famous gecko - it was so beautiful and I'm so glad we made the trip!

From there we walked down to the Sagrada Familia. I'll never forget the moment we turned a busy corner and it was just, there! The most beautiful building I have ever seen. Even though I'd seen so many photos of it I could not get over it in real life.  I'm glad we were told by our tour guide to book tickets in advance to go inside as it was so busy when we arrived for our slot. And going inside was even more amazing! Wow it was just incredible. I'm so glad we discovered the museum underneath while looking for the toilets because that was just amazing too.

We spent the rest of the afternoon soaking up the Barcelona sun and general vibes, drinking Sangria and eating tapas and wandering around La Rambla (and buying some very official Barclona shirts) before heading to the Nou Camp to watch Barcelona. We were actually hoping to grab some food near the stadium and really struggled, but can confirm a cheese sandwich and a bag of crisps at the Nou Camp did the job! The match was great fun and the atmosphere was amazing. We had a brilliant time.

Our flight was back early on Monday but it just gave us enough time to go for a walk around La Boqueria market hall and get some excellent baked goods and smoothies!

Barcelona was so so so so worth the wait. It's honestly the best city break I've ever been on - I'm already desperate to go back!

What I read

Seven books read in April:

That Green Eyed Girl by Julie Owen Moylan
The Sentence by Louise Erdich
Wet Paint by Chloe Ashby
A Tidy Ending by Joanna Cannon
Promising Young Women by Caroline O Donoghue
Lapvona by Ottessa Moshfegh
Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton

I really love Caroline O'Donoghue's podcast Sentimental Garbage and despite having a couple of her books on my kindle, I hadn't read any of them, so I really enjoyed reading Promising Young Women (not to be confused, as I did originally, with the film Promising Young Woman!).

The new Otessa Moshfegh, Lapvona, is as weird and brilliant as I expect from her. This one is definitely going to divide and confuse people, and I'm always here for the discourse.

And finally I really liked Chloe Ashby's Wet Paint.

What I watched

Two new-to-me (but not new!) films at home in April of  The Handmaiden and Everybody Wants Some!! plus a trip to the cinema to see The Northman, which I realllllly did not fancy and ended up enjoying a lot!

After the Northman we also rewatched Robert Eggers' The Witch which I still absolutely love.

We've also started to watch Severance which I am just soooooo into. It's just so dark and weird and smart. I am obsessed.

What I read online

I've reread this piece so many times already - Greg James on worrying about things that don't matter

Two excellent but depressing pieces on the cost of living - Jack Monroe doing what they do best, responding to idiots on Twitter who don't understand poverty and Money Saving Expert tips on keeping warm without the heating

I love this fascinating piece on a TikTok star exploiting his middle-aged audience

Absolutely loved this from Haley Nahman - "Are you a baby? A litmus test"

And finally, my monthly Virgina Sole-Smith appreciation - The Myth of Visible Abs and this piece, No-one Needs Your Workout Selfies which made me think a LOT

I'll be back soon - hope you're having a great May!

Charlotte x


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