Event Alert: ZOOFEST 29th June

I don’t usually do pre-event write ups, but I’m making an exception for what’s going to be an absolutely fantastic day this Saturday.

My friend Flo, being the insanely talented & hugely creative young whippersnapper that she is, is putting on a festival this weekend in Surrey. It’s to launch her brand new company, The Human Zoo Theatre Company, which if she’s anything to go by, will be a hotbed of new talent…

So if you’re Surrey-based and not going to Glasto this weekend, why not come along and support the arts while also having an amazing time? There ain’t no party like a Surrey party.

 

That’s an overview of what’ll be going down in a Surrey field on Saturday, but the team are constantly announcing new acts and fun things over on their Facebook page and also on Twitter.

I’ve just heard that tickets are flying out of the window, so you need to be QUICK and book your tickets now! Bring your friends, bring your whole family, bring your onesie that looks like a pig, but ultimately COME ALONG!

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Weekends in the Country: Bateman’s

I’ve never appreciated living in Sussex quite as much as I am right now. Of course, during the week, it means I spend what feels like half my day on the train, but at the weekends…well, I’m more than grateful. We’re surrounded by endless fields that come alive in May with lush verdancy, complete with grazing cows and the odd chicken (sometimes the VERY odd chicken…) And of course, we’re in a National Trust hotspot, bordering with Kent. And so, Mama Simmons and I took off in the car for a country road trip.

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Sloping along the winding path through banks of wild flowers at Bateman’s, I stopped for a minute to feel the sun beating on my shoulders, and to breathe in the scent of a nearby azealia. I suddenly felt a million miles away from the dawdling, sweaty, claggy train journeys that bookmark my weekdays now. For those of you who haven’t been card carrying members of the National Trust since you were born (like me…), Bateman’s is Rudyard Kipling’s house, and boasts rolling lawns, overgrown meadows, a working mill, and the occasional friendly chicken.

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At this time of the year, the wisteria was in fine fettle, there was green as far as the eye could see, and lazy bees drifted through rustling trees.

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Ain’t nobody here but us chickens.  (and duck).

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Of course, a true middle-aged Saturday wouldn’t be complete without a visit to a garden centre. I got a bit overexcited. I’m going to be spending my Sunday morning planting up round carrots (wut!), purple cauliflower, strawberries and pineapple mint. PINEAPPLE MINT!

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Bottom line: the National Trust is ace. Find your nearest properties here , but I’d strongly recommend getting a membership card – a young persons card is £26 a year, and you really only need to visit three properties and it pays for itself!

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Kind, decent and thoughtful

Morning lovely readers!

So guess what? I’ve got my voice back! It’s very exciting. I’ve never lost it before, and let me tell you that it was absolutely horrible. I felt like I was trapped in my own body. I LOVE talking. I talk loads. My energy also completely sapped away, so I was just lying pathetically on the sofa like some sort of Victorian invalid maiden thing, wimping about the house and feeling sorry for myself. Suddenly everything seemed like a huge effort, and I actually ended up feeling so miserable and maudlin that I began to question everything in my life. Which was, you know…heaps of fun.

I’ve blogged a little lately about looking for a job, and it really hit home this weekend. I was trapped in the house for about 4 days, and I felt unbelievably lonely. Working from home is amazing in so many respects, but nothing measures up to actually being with other people; not for me, anyway. I love interacting with people. I miss having girly chats while making cups of coffee, and I miss flirting over the photocopier. I even miss the blooming photocopier, for goodness sake! So I started thinking about that, then I got all lonely and sad, and then I missed my friends and the fact I was too ill to see anyone, and THEN I got all sad about being single, because I really wanted someone to hold my hand.

It’s not really typical of me to feel down about things. Usually if something bad happens I bounce back extremely quickly – like the job rejection I got last week, I’d almost completely forgotten about it an hour later. I don’t have a great capacity for sadness (or maybe just a bad memory?!), but when I do get down, I get really quite blue. As a twenty something, things seem to be in flux. Career trajectory, relationships, friendships, appearance…nothing seems settled, as I’m sure is the case for many people. Usually I like it, but at the moment, I’ve had enough, and I’d like some stability please.

The fates conspired this week to remind me of a past relationship. I actually blogged about it before, around Christmas-time, which was when it ended. Suddenly I’ve been reminded of it lately, and it’s knocked me for six. I’ve been so lucky with relationships. Every boyfriend I’ve had has been interesting, kind, and cared about me. I’ve learnt something from each and every one, and I’m pleased to say that I’m a better person today because of them. All apart from one, that is. The last one. Gosh, that was a silly relationship. I’m writing this because I want to try and impart some wisdom about the whole thing, and I hope it might mean something to one of you.

I’ll tell you this now: if a relationship is hard work, then get out. Seriously. We’re in our twenties, there’s no need to enter into a difficult, troublesome relationship. Every other relationship I’d had before this had been so easy – just a matter of liking each other, then being together. The one thing that rang true for me in Caitlin Moran’s book was about a relationship which she said was a kind of ‘penance’. This was mine, my ‘punishment’ for years of easy, lovely romances. It wasn’t abusive, it wasn’t out and out horrible, it just messed me around so badly that my self confidence was completely shattered, and my nerves exhausted.

Around Christmas, about a week or so before I finally took steps to end it, I had a chat with my Uncle Chris – he of the ruby rings in chocolate puddings – and he gave me advice. He said: ‘Millie, it shouldn’t be difficult. It should be easy. If he cared about you he would just show it. He’d do things like bringing you your favourite sandwich, because he knew you liked it’. I listened, because Uncle Chris is a wise chap. I’d like to give you all that bit of wisdom. What’s the point in putting up with something that’s making you unhappy? Don’t be scared of being single. There is no reward for working hard at a relationship. Don’t settle for crumbs of affection when you should have…well, a whole sandwich, to go back to Uncle Chris’s advice.

It makes me sad to realise that I’m still suffering a bit from that relationship. After it ended, I didn’t cry once. I felt amazing. Maybe I should have cried – I’ve been holding on to a lot of pain, and I hadn’t even realised until the last week or so. I think it’s about time for me to let go, and to start caring for myself again. If you feel like me, I want you to do the same. Trust in your instinct; don’t stick with something you know isn’t right. As I’ve found, you can work unbelievably hard at something, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right thing to work at. Have courage.

All I’ve ever hoped for is someone decent, kind and thoughtful. And I’ve been lucky enough to experience that in large amounts, so I know it exists. I hope you all do too, even if you’ve had a bad experience or two. I look to my family, and I see so much love, so much respect. I blogged the other weekend about how moving I found it seeing my aunt and uncle so in love and supportive of each other after 40 years of marriage. Don’t be cynical, and don’t let anyone treat you in a way that you know isn’t right. ‘Respect’ sounds like an old fashioned concept, but it’s absolutely essential for any relationship to work, in my opinion.

Be decent, and people will treat you decently. And if they don’t, they’re definitely not worthy of your time. Keep your chin up, feel happy in yourself, and never let anyone bring you down. I did, but I refuse to let it happen for a minute longer. I’ve learnt enough about myself to know my own value, and I know that I deserve to be treated very well, and so do you, I promise. Don’t be afraid of change or the unknown, and don’t be afraid of being on your own. Let go of baggage, because what good is it clinging to bad memories? Only you can change the way you feel. Be proud of yourself and get to know your own worth, because it’ll make it a lot easier in future.

So there we go, a bit of an odd post for me, but I wanted to say it. I know I might have fairly old fashioned values, but I’m proud of that. Please, women – and men, too – care for yourself, and care for others. Ditch the bad eggs. Life is much too short to be with someone who doesn’t bring you your favourite sandwich, just because.

My family and other dinosaurs

(Not a rude title. I genuinely saw some dinosaurs)

So my last blog post finished on Thursday night, because I’d broken through the 1000 word mark with a vengeance. On Friday I headed back up to London for some National Gallery and dinosaur fun, because it was the perfect remedy to a champagne and fashion filled week. I love the Natural History Museum very much, and I spotted two amazing things on Friday that I’d never seen before: 1. A dinosaur whose name translated as ‘chicken mimic’, and 2. A dinosaur called ‘Albertosaurus’. I’m not sure if I can describe quite how delighted I was about this. Watch out! Here’s the Tyrannosaurus Rex…and over there, you can see the Diplodocus, and ambling over the hill is….Albertosaurus.

The Natural History makes me very happy, and if you haven’t been in a while, I strongly suggest you do so IMMEDIATELY. Well, maybe not right now, but, you know. That said, if you can get to Oxford, their Natural History Museum is wildly superior because you can actually TOUCH STUFF. Yes. I know. It’s an illicit thrill. And the National Gallery is always fun, and I’m always wearing the noisiest shoes in the world. Again, I would urge you to make a visit. It’s so easy to overlook places like this, because you went when you were at school, or you think they’re too touristy, but honestly? It’ll make your life a bit better if you go. Also, you can tell me if I’m odd because I still find the animatronic T Rex in the NHM really rather scary.

So Friday was perfectly lovely, and Saturday I raced over to beautiful Italian restaurant La Luna in Godalming, for a family party. Specifically, my aunt and uncle’s 40th wedding anniversary. I’m quite conscious these days of writing stuff in my blog that only I will care about, and that I should just write it in my diary and be done with it, but I wanted to share this. My family are absolutely wonderful, and I am so so proud of all of them. We’ve got quite a big family, and quite a few different generations, making family parties absolutely brills.

As I said, I’m not going to bore you with infinitesimal details, although the food was absolutely tremendous, and if you’re in Godalming you should definitely give La Luna a try. But I will just say briefly what an absolutely megadude my Uncle Chris is. A 40th wedding anniversary is a Ruby thingamajig, and Uncle Chris had bought my beautiful Auntie Sandie a gold ring with three rubies in it. Here’s the bit which qualifies him for megadude status: as he knows the staff of the restaurant really well, he’d got them to pop the ring into my aunt’s chocolate mousse, where she was amazed to discover it. What?! Absolutely adorable, and such a romantic gesture.

He then made an amazing speech about how much he loved her, and how lucky he was – my Auntie Sandie is a completely phenomenal woman, so I don’t blame him – and then she in turn made a speech. I tried videoing them, but I was crying AND laughing so I’ve achieved a Blair Witch style shaky cam effect. When we were back at their house afterwards, Uncle Chris spoke some wise words to me about love and life, and also told me that he’d managed to secretly book the honeymoon suite they stayed in after their wedding, for this weekend.

They’re both such sweet, kind, thoughtful people, and it made me feel so proud and happy to be at the celebration. The loveliest thing of all is that, when talking to them, they each thought they were so lucky to be with the other! I just wanted to share the experience with you all because I found it really moving and inspiring to see how in love two people were after 40 years, despite life’s ups and downs. I feel like being a part of my amazing family has taught me some great values, as well as making me believe in love! I hear so many cynical people talking these days that I love things like this. It probably explains why I’m a bit of a romantic idealist, and that isn’t something I intend to change. I’m a lucky girl. If you’re still reading, why not give your family a call? See your parents? Hang out with your cousins? Family is the most important thing, and let’s not forget that.