Will flirt for gin

I have this really vivid memory of Steven’s 18th birthday. We had a meal at the pub with his family and he was desperate to get ID’ed, just because he could, but no one felt the need. After his parents had gone home, we went to another pub, where he pleaded with the girl behind the bar to ID him for buying gin.

We drank that gin like it was a shot and it burned. I remember thinking that it was vile and vowing never to drink it again. I certainly wouldn’t have thought that eight years later it would be my tipple of choice. I also probably wouldn’t have guessed that we would have been married for three years by now but that’s completely unrelated.

Three gin bottles

Not my full gin collection.

Since I’ve seen the light (that part I don’t remember so vividly), I’ve been a fan of a G&T but it’s only in the last year or so that I’ve properly come to appreciate gin. As a spirit it’s varied, it’s complex and it is brimming with opportunities for creativity. As a drink it’s classy and refined, yet I can still get a decent cheap one from Wetherspoons.

My love was properly kindled in Bath at the Canary Gin Bar. It’s a tiny little place, down one of Bath’s more beautiful cobbled streets (and let’s face it, they’re all pretty beautiful) kitted out in plush red velvet, with moody lighting and the mandatory hipster bar tenders. You tell them your general preference (fruity, herbal, etc) give a few a sniff and enjoy the resulting G&T. It may be a pricey choice but it’s an elegant one for sure.

Unfortunately we have nothing of that ilk in Milton Keynes (where is the gin love?) and I’ve missed the option of the Gin Bar for a Saturday night bevvy. So earlier this year I went to the Gin Festival in London with a friend.

It was fantastic.

Imagine an industrial-chic venue (Tobacco Dock, to be specific), rammed with gin vendors, punctuated by awesome bands and all topped off with pie. Incredible, right?

My eyes were opened to so much about gin. Which tonic to pair with your gin, what garnishes you should use, the size of the glass and the proportion of ice. It really is an art. I’d always known that you’re meant to have cucumber with Hendricks (everyone grows up knowing that, right?) but I had no idea how far the garnish culture went.

I tried umpteen gins for free, marked them in my gin guide (I know, right? Heaven!) and was let loose on the hall of gin, with my free glass in hand (I told you it was good). Aside from having a wonderful evening with my bestie, I now feel so enlightened and informed when I’m buying and drinking gin. Pretentious that may be, but I absolutely love it.

So let’s knock the awful stereotypes, shall we? Gin won’t necessarily make you cry, it isn’t mother’s ruin anymore and it can be damn delightful. Shall I pour?

Advertisements

#savetheculture

A few months ago a friend of mine shared a Facebook status that read as follows (don’t worry, this isn’t a massive invasion of her privacy, it was an international campaign and its entire purpose is to be shared):

We need at least 6 people to participate in a book exchange.
You can be anywhere in the world, the further we get, the better!
All you have to do is buy a book and send it to one person. You will receive approximately 36 books back.ūüďö
If you are interested click “Like” and I’ll send you the details
‪#‎savetheculture‬

Seems pretty simple, right? I liked her post and she told me who to send a book to. Then I shared the same status and told anyone who “Liked” it to send a book to her and share the status as well. Anyone that liked their post sent a book to me and so on and so forth. Make sense? (I know it’s complicated but sit and think about it for a mo and it should make sense. If not hit me up and I’ll draw a diagram or something.)

At first glance I had a naive giggle to myself. As a notorious book nerd, I didn’t think of books as a culture that needed saving. Surely everyone has bookshelves bursting with novels? Doesn’t everyone adore getting books for Christmas and birthdays? Do books actually need saving? Surely not!

But it sounded pretty fun nonetheless. If there’s anything I love more than a good book, it’s a good book that’s completely new to me. A few years ago I had a wonderful book spa (which I’ve just realised, I never blogged about, check back for that!) and, among others, I was recommended Burial Rites by Hannah Kent. I had never heard of the book or the author but my god what a fantastic novel. It’s so unexpected and so fascinatingly written. But before I wax lyrical about that fabulous piece of literature (perhaps I need to review it in full) I will come back to my point: excellent book¬†+ I’ve never heard of it = winning.

Burial Rites is actually the book I decided to send to my book partner, precisely because it is relatively unknown but bloody brilliant. I will admit, a few months passed before I eventually got round to sending the book, but it is now in the hands of its new owner and hopefully being gratefully devoured.

But I haven’t received a single book.

Not one.

Perhaps it’s because none of the people who were involved (that I could see, at least) got the full six “Likes”, maybe it’s because life gets away from us and people forget, maybe those who did “Like” couldn’t really afford to buy a book and then pay for P&P to send it to someone. Or maybe the reading culture really does need saving? Perhaps¬†it was innocent of me¬†to think that people would send a book to a random stranger out of the goodness of their literary hearts.

I will never know. But no matter what, the way I see it, I’ve introduced a fellow book worm to a fantastic read. And even if they never actually crack open that book, at least I gave Hannah Kent a¬†few more quid in royalties. That’s something, right?

So even if we aren’t sending¬†books to one another, I live on in hope that people still settle in for a good read every now and then. Don’t you?

Am I missing out?

Last time I wrote around here, I was talking about appreciation. How important it is that we remember to appreciate the people around us and the things that we do have. It’s so easy to lose sight, and it’s important to take a breath every now and then to remind ourselves of how lucky we really are.

But there’s something that often stands in the way of that. On our paths to zen we encounter, in the modern age particularly, FOMO.

Fear of missing out. Yup, it’s so prolific it has it’s own acronym. That’s when you know a concept has made it to the big time.

Oh man, I suffer from FOMO so much you wouldn’t believe!¬†The amount of times I scroll through Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and see people I know living glamorous, exotic lives while I shove instant noodles into my gob, is unreal. It’s enough to put a girl off her carbs (and it takes a lot to put me off carbs). All joking aside, it makes me feel like I’m doing something wrong, not living life to the full and (dare I admit it?)¬†wasting my youth.

But before I descend into the shame spiral of being in my jammies at 2pm on a Saturday, I have to remind myself that it’s all posed. Social media is¬†a particular representation of reality. Think about it, you aren’t going to post a selfie that shows just how long it’s been since you’ve washed your hair, or just how tired you really are. You’re going to run through the shower and put some slap on first, right? It’s the same across all of social media, no matter what people are posting about.

A brief visit to a coffee shop can become a thirty minute photo shoot, if you want it to. A catch-up with old friends can be an elongated selfie sesh, if that’s your thing. I love a selfie and an insta-snap as much as the next girl, but if I have to sacrifice that to get to work on time, or really talk to an old friend, then that’s fine by me.

My online presence might not be as inspiring as some, but I’m ok with that. Because in the physical world, I’m doing my best. I care about the people in my life and I try to make time for them, weather we’re doing something worth posting about¬†or not. After all, it’s not the version of ourselves that we project, but the version that people actually interact with, that counts.

Besides we all know that sometimes, instant noodles on the sofa are all that will scratch that itch. Am I right?

2, 4, 6, 8…

I’ve been thinking about appreciation a lot recently.

As we move through life we care about different things to varying degrees. What once seemed like the main priority, the crux of your life might, in ten years, become insignificant. School worries are replaced with university issues that are subsumed by work stress Рuntil you start a family. As a kid I appreciated rolling pennies down the shopping centre and chasing after them. These days I appreciate a decent gin bar. In amongst all that change some things are constant and we must find the time to always be grateful for those things, those people, the good times.

If we are lucky, we have people around us who make it worthwhile getting out of bed every day. People who put a smile on our faces and hold the pieces of ourselves together when times get tough. Friends, family, colleagues, in all walks of life there are people we must remember to appreciate.

A simple thank you.

Making them a cup of tea.

A hug.

It costs nothing to show how grateful we are and it means the world to be told. In the paraphrased¬†words of Beyonc√©, no one wants to feel like they’re being walked all over.

Who do you appreciate? Be sure to let them know.

Scattered on the wind

I don’t know about you guys, but I seriously suffer from social media envy. You know what I mean, right? You’re scrolling through Instagram or Facebook or reading your favourite blogs and the jealousy starts to bubble.

“How can they afford that amazing holiday?”

“Why can’t I make a living baking stunning cakes all day?”

“How come I don’t have a coconut to drink my cocktails from?”

It’s daft, I know that, but it’s just one of those things I have no control over. And recently, there seems to have been a bit of a theme to things I’m really jealous of.

All these people on the internet get to see their friends whenever they like.

IMG_0584

When we moved to Bath it was a bit of a whirlwind. I was swept up in the new job of a lifetime and how beautiful the city was. Once we got here, there were only a few months to go until the wedding and so every waking moment was dedicated to finishing, organising and preparing for that. It’s only recently dawned on me just how much I wish all my friends were closer.

IMG_2596

I have some lovely friends here who have made me feel really welcome and I am very grateful for that. But sometimes I want the nostalgia of drinks with my school friends or a mad night with my uni girls or a cathartic catch up with my best friend. But there’s a catch. They aren’t here. They’re scattered about in different cities and I really, really miss them.

IMG_2760

Of course it’s wonderful when they come to stay and I get an intensive dollop of time with them to find out what they’re doing and how they are getting on, but it’s not really the same as the regular drip feed and checking in.

IMG_4051

Essentially, I’m starting to realise just how far away my friends are, now that I’ve had some time to stop and think. And I think I can make it into a good thing. I think it will make me try harder and appreciate seeing them more.

So, who’s up for the pub?

P.S. Yup all those photos are mine, yup I’m dressed up in all of them, yup that’s how I roll. Oh and I haven’t managed to capture every last person that I wanted to in photo form. It’s nothing personal. It’s my photo collection’s¬†fault.