Sunday, 31 August 2014

Outside and Dancing Slightly

I really craved some fresh air today so I pootled over to some nearby hills and took in the scenery. It was a lovely day today: light cool breeze with warm sunshine that peeked out from behind the clouds every so often. Together with rolling hills, blue skies and fluffy clouds, I was very much taken by it all. Here are some pics:

I love the rolling hills in the UK. It's so comforting!

I like the little rows of houses in this shot. They seem so neatly lined up along the curves of the valley.

Happy Zan - outside and dancing slightly.

When I got back home, I knew I needed that fresh air! I did a whole load of work that I've been putting off and had some new ideas for crafty projects. Stay tuned for more! :)

A Good Looking Loaf

So my mum and I are both experimenting with baking that is suitable for my Dad's diet. He's borderline diabetic, but would like to keep it that way, but it doesn't stop him staring sadly at the delicious bakes we make, unable to have any. In a bid to also keep him fueled with baked goodies, my mum and I have been experimenting with lots of different recipes, and making a whole bunch up too!

And with that, the first thing we explore is wholemeal bread. I think I have the recipe down to a T now, I just need to do it a few more times to ensure that it comes out like this every time:

Loook! It looks like the loaf that everyone draws when they draw loaves of bread! I know I sound crazy, but look at that top!
100g strong white, 400g strong wholemeal.

Yay, Zan and bread! Hello! :)

The texture was good, nice distribution of holes, springs back when you squish it, and has a nice taste! Yaay! Bread success! :) There will be sandwiches and so forth tomorrow, and the loaf will likely be gone by mid-week, but hey! I call this a success! Hoorah! Diabetic friendly bread! :)

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Doodle Me Paint Chips

When I walk into a DIY shop, I am almost always drawn immediately to the paint area, specifically the colour selection area. I love staring at those pieces of card with different hues, carefully arranged to compliment eachother as you carefully select your favourites to be made into paint. I've never known what they were called until I went to the US where they call them paint chips, so that's what I will call them from now on!

Quite a while back, I found this project idea on Pinterest and pinned it securely to my doodle board. I haven't had the chance to explore the project, mainly because I'd completely forgotten about it until today. I was wandering around my new neighbourhood and stumbled across a decorating shop. It was completely unmanned, so I could have totally run off with more than a few paint chips, but needless to say, I spent a good 10 minutes selecting my favourites and then scarpering off home. After doing the very important PhD things I had to do, I couldn't wait to get cracking - here is my end result:

I really like the effect of this, I especially like the orange paint chip on the right hand side there. Hoorah! :) Yay for rainbow paint chips!

This project is remarkably therapeutic, the only drawback being that you really need the right pen for the job. A sharpie kinda works, but wasn't quite dark enough when it dried so I used my trusty muji pen for the right colour. Only problem is, muji pens don't like writing on the shiney surface of a paint chip so it took a little longer to complete than I'd like. It worked out in the end so that's fine! :)

I'm adding this to the Pinterest board that I now have that documents my completed Pinterest projects. Click here to see! :) And of course, if you want to see more of my doodles, please visit my doodle page. Hoorah! :)

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Challenge Accepted

My lovely friend Rick nominated me for the now infamous ice bucket challenge. Now, the Ice Bucket Challenge has become something of a viral thing - someone gets nominated and within 48 hours of that nomination a bucket of water is thrown over that person's head and evidenced as a video. That person gets to nominate more people to be challenged by this feat. It has been vastly propelled by famous people who have recently wanted to help the ALS Association raise both awareness and money, and now millions of dollars have been donated to fund research that people didn't previously know existed. Personally, I am quite amazed at how much money has been given to the cause!

Okay, so some people aren't doing it properly, and others are actually getting hurt doing weird stunts on camera. There are a vast number of people who are only doing it because everyone else is. But what is my motivation? Well, I'd like to continue the chain. I have founded a charity and work for it daily and know the struggles of keeping it alive. Sharing stories, challenges and ideas are the ways in which a charitable organisation can keep afloat. I invest time in the causes I believe in because for 3 years I was working for free for my own charity and all I was able to give was time. And if awareness can be brought to a charity just because I film a short video of me throwing a bucket of water over my head, then that's great, I'm in. I will do my part to perpetuate a movement, as I continue to work hard to push my own movement forward. Sometimes you have to risk stepping out of your own comfort zone to reach out to others. And believe me, if you know me well, there's one thing I hate most in the world, and that is being wet.

Anyway, serious stuff over, are you ready for my video? :)

A big thank you to my friend Lee who helped me video this. And to my parents who found the whole thing hilarious.

Best of wishes to my friends Shazia, Ricky and J as I nominate them to be next. Hoorah for donating what you can to worthy causes!

PS - I also had a late nomination from Valerie Lee! Hoorah! CHALLENGE COMPLETE!

Monday, 25 August 2014

Teardrops for the Rain

My parents and I decided to spent our rainy bank holiday Monday trawling through the stalls of an antique fair. Today, we went to one in Halifax.

It was a good space inside the sports center, nicely lit and with a good variety of things to look at.

I only found me one Sylvac bunny this time. My favourite ceramic bunny of all time.

I came home with these crystal teardrops. Not sure what I'll do with them, but they're lovely and were a nice little bargain. And a nice metaphor for the weather today.

When I got home, I suddenly realised that I've developed habit of acquiring glass-like things. My love of sea glass, my recent antique purchases and some of the souvenirs I brought home from the US were all made of glass! How funny! I'm sure there will be more to come! :) 

I had a nice day - it was drizzly but somehow comforting. I got some work done and did some things I've been meaning to do, so it was all found kinda productive. I hope this continues onto tomorrow! Hoorah!

Saturday, 23 August 2014

GBBO 2014 - Bread Week

This week was bread week on the Great British Bake Off. I love baking bread, and have had fun with the white loaf, wholemeal bread, brioche and just as a pretty harvest decoration piece. But I have never done anything with a fun filling in it, so I thought it was about time to try for a showstopper bake, and here it is:

Here it is! My sundried tomato, basil and olive white bread centerpiece! Hoorah! It's huge!

I had loads of fun creating the sunflower look by cutting a line then twisting twice. Made it quite pretty really, and very easy to share.

Here's my Dad being really very pleased with the loaf, but also lamenting his one segment-a-day allowance, due to his diabetic friendly diet. Both parents were very pleased with the outcome of this bake.

I'm really pleased with this bake, but I wish I had a bit more filling, and that it was a little more blitzed up (instead of just chopped up) so it created more of a filling. Saying that though, the flavours were great and the bread texture came out really nicely so I'm really very chuffed! It wasn't dry, and the crust was lovely, and it was nice and soft inside. So much goodness! Hoorah! A great addition to my baking repetoire! 

So my swiss roll and savoury biscuits have been joined by my fun sunflower bread. I think the GBBO challenge is going really quite well so far! Looking forward to next week already! :)

Friday, 22 August 2014

Travel Play Cues

When I burst through a crowd of passengers and into a seat on my train today, I was greeted by a playful little arrangement:

These are Czech Koruna, arranged playfully on the train table I was sat at.

This got me thinking. I wonder why these peeps left these coins here? Maybe they were at the end of their holiday and didn't want to carry the change around. Maybe this was the winnings of an unfortunate bet. Maybe someone got bored on a train and was playing with the change in their pocket. Or maybe they were left behind in case someone else had a better use for them.

This also got me thinking. If a child comes across these coins, will they take a moment to enjoy them as loose parts? Or if an adult sits down, will they arrange it into a new formation for the next person to come along? Will this inadvertently become a tiny moment of play, with it's own play history?

This got me thinking more. If an object of little monetary value, but of high play value was deliberately left on the train, how would it be used? Would it be disregarded by the adults as pointless, or will it get interacted with? Will children be allowed to play with the item as they go on their journey? How will they use the items? How will their adults react? What would happen?

I want to find out some of the answers to these questions. I think it's time for Zan to do some undercover research. Shhh, don't tell anyone.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Little Critters

The weather today was nowhere as pleasant as yesterday, so I decided to have my adventures indoors. I went to visit some pet shops to visit the little critters who were hanging out, and being pawed over by sticky children. Here are my favourite photos of the day:

This little fishy is spectacularly coloured! Look at it! It was staring at me for ages!

This little bunny was the king of his house. No nonsense from this bunny! Look at that ear!

Fluffy guinea pig! His fluff looks like how mine was yesterday!

I have no idea what this little critter was, but he was very intent on eating whatever he was eating. Nom nom nom.

I actually had a nice little wander, visiting all these little creatures. Had a couple of little PhD brainwaves and one creative idea too, so that's always an added bonus! Hoorah! More fun tomorrow :)

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

The Late Summer's Sun

Some time half way through last week, I seriously considered digging out all my winter clothes. The weather in Manchester has been glorious this summer, and for 2 whole months we actually had hot Summer sunshine. And then, of course, it was all change. It rained for about 3 days and then everything went a lot cooler. I reckon we'll get another week of sunshine before the leaves start falling from the trees. Let's hope it stays mild until we get to September.

So in a bid to capture these final days Summer sun, I took my camera out for a walk today. I took lots of photos, but one of them stuck out:

I have no idea what this bug is, but the loop tail is really interesting. I was intrigued about how spiders could distinguish between the wind blowing on the web, or the wriggling of its next meal.

I think I'll have another walk in the sunshine tomorrow, if it's sunny. I should take advantage of the sun while it lasts, and perhaps hold out on bringing out the jumpers until a little later on.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Holly Zoodle

I know it's early, but I couldn't help it - handmade Christmases take up a lot of time, and I want to be prepared!

Christmas Zoodle! Hoorah! Hello holly! :)

This doodle was particularly satisfying. I'm really getting into the really fine line doodling, that gives an almost textural finish. My favourite is the spaghetti looking one, but I also like the one that's a box weave? They're really really satisfying to do.

I think that people will see this doodle again but in miniature around Christmas time! Hoorah! :)

For more of my crazy doodles, click here. It's a happy place! :)

Monday, 18 August 2014

GBBO 2014 - Biscuit Week

Last week, my friend Shazia and I challenged ourselves to bake something from one of our favourite TV shows, The Great British Bake Off. Our Swiss Rolls worked out a treat, which was a great way to start a series of bakes so this week, we were super motivated!

This week was biscuit week, so Shazia and I decided to try for savoury biscuits! Shazia did cheese biscuits and some really nice looking chutney. I decided to go with one of Mrs Beeton's classics and made some simple Crispy Crackers. With no photo to go with, I had no idea what they would look like when they were complete, so I put my trust in Mrs Beeton and this was the result:

Look! I made some spaceships! The biscuits all puffed up and looked like little pillows. No idea if that's how they should look, but that's what I got!

I made red onion chutney to go with my crispy cracker biscuits and cheese. Yaaay!

I'm pleased with this bake for a number of reasons. Firstly because Mrs Beeton's recipes still work really well. Secondly because I made biscuits basically out of 8oz flour and one egg yolk and some milk. And thirdly because it all came together properly, and I trusted my instincts to go with the flow. Hoorah!

I'm glad that Shazia and I are going on this baking adventure. Looking forward to next week already! :)

Friday, 15 August 2014

The Big Chop

I have always had a lot of very thick hair. Ever since I was a kid, my family have joked about how I have so much, I could sell the stuff, and I'd have some left over! Well, today that all kinda came true! But first a little background.

I've only had short hair once. I was 11, protested a lot, shed some tears, but alas 3 hours of home-haircutting later, I had very very short hair. I didn't like it much but you know, I was 11. Since then I have insisted on having long hair, with any haircut taking it to shoulder length and nothing shorter. I didn't really want to go back to that 11 year old hair cut that I really didn't like. You all want a photo of 11 year old me now don't you? Maybe next time!

I wish I have some photos of me with my hair down but sadly, as a result of my dislike of styling my own hair, I always seem to have it up for the thousands of selfies I have of myself. Here's a pic of me from Seaglass Beach with my hair down - that's the most recent photo of me with my hair down and it was in March so my hair got LOADS longer after that.


So today, I decided to cut off the lashings of long hair I had and donate it to charity! I have been carefully cultivating my hair for this purpose for over a year and a half, and today, I chopped it all off. There is a gallery of photos on my facebook page on how it happened - all thanks to the hairdresser at LupaTom.

I was a little bit sad, but because I have been preparing myself for this day for a while, I didn't shed a tear. Actually, I was pretty excited! I really want to help people, and this particular way of helping a person is of no personal loss to me whatsoever. Well, apart from over a foot of hair, but that sort of goes without saying. The peeps at LupaTom were lovely and very encouraging about the whole thing so I didn't feel weird about chopping all my hair off at all. The customers at the hairdressers were really surprised about what I was doing, and were super curious about the whole process too. And when it was over, I'm pretty sure people clapped. They might have clapped in my head though. Ready for the photo?

Here I am! The shortest hair I've had for 19 years! In fact, other than my siblings and parents, and maybe Nancy, noone that I am still in touch with will remember Zan with short hair!

This is a lot shorter than I was envisioning, but the hairdresser reminded me that since I was donating it, every inch counts, so I thought - alright then. Short hair it is! Deep breath! I quite like the results though, but I will have to look after it a little now otherwise I could look insane.

I really hope that all that hair will be able to help someone who needs it, to increase their self confidence and make them feel pretty. I've asked for my hair to be donated to make wigs for children - I hope I can bring a little joy to the lives of little people with no hair. 

And now I will have to get used to life with short hair. I'm looking forward to bed hair in the morning, and I know that there will be some epic windswept selfies in my future. I'm excited - new hair times! Hoorah! :)

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Antiquing Weather

My parents and I have been staring out of the window for a couple of days at the insta-sun, insta-rain weather we've been having. It might have been the remnants of Hurricane Bertha, but I suspect it was just good ol' Manchester, reminding us of what it is capable of after almost 2 months of sunshine.

But today I had had enough. I did a quick google, bundled my parents into the car and we went antiquing! We went in search of new antique centers and found one about 40 minutes from where we live and we were very pleased! It's in an old mill (they all seem to be in old mills) but seemed to pride itself on clean, well restored antique furniture and nik naks.

They didn't allow photos inside so here's a pic of the door! Hoorah!

I really liked how this antique center is well laid out. You don't feel claustrophobic, and you don't really feel grubby when you come out. What it lacks in dust it makes up in quirkiness. Preston Antiques Center has a lot of a really cool, really odd stuff in there and someone has taken the time to look after it so it doesn't look like it'll burst into a cloud of dust the moment you touch it. Hahaha.

And of course I couldn't resist buying me a little something. I found a tiny little baking measure - the same size as a shot glass, but it's for measuring teaspoons or tablespoons of things. I bet this thing isn't very old, but I love the finish on it, and I am totally going to use it when I next bake! :)

Hello tiny little measuring glass :)

It was nice to do a little exploring after a couple of days watching dvds. Let's hope the weather dries up a little so I can go on some fun outdoor adventures! Yay for antiques! :)

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Doodle Mug

A while ago I was completely inspired by A Beautiful Mess and their sharpie mugs. I hadn't managed to get plain white mug to coincide with nice new sharpie since discovering the idea until I was getting stuff together for Nancy's birthday. She gave me an awesome baking pan, and I got her a variety of little gifts, one of which was this:

Yaaay, doodle mug! :) Why not, right? From paper to porcelain! :)

I'm super chuffed with how this turned out, but I have to admit that I didn't use a sharpie in the end. I used a porcelain marker instead, which needed half an hour in the oven to be fully cured. Now it can even go in the dishwasher, which is pretty awesome actually! :)

I didn't end up using the sharpie because I needed to find the right type. But without being in the US (where sharpies are plentiful and affordable) I decided not to risk the longevity of the project and go with a specific pen designed for porcelain.

The effect was sooooo good - I'm really pleased with it. I think this might be the beginning of much more crockery doodling. Oh my, the possibilities are endless! Hoorah!

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Spiral Cake of Awesomeness :)

My lovely friend Nancy bought me an awesome birthday present - a bundt cake pan. This one to be exact. It is looks stunning, feels solid enough to survive a nuclear war, and so well made that I just want to stroke it - I love it so much!

So today, I decided to try it out! With yesterday's lesson in whisking under my belt, I knew that today's bake was going to be fine! :) Ten egg whites and much oil spray later with some help from my mum, I felt like I'd created something magical:

This is a plain Angel Food Cake with a dusting of icing sugar.

The inside was almost pure white. And no we hadn't eaten all that. I gave some to a neighbour :)

The cake was lovely - very light and fluffy, and almost melted on your tongue as you ate it. Everyone was very impressed but everyone also said it was a bit too sweet. I'll know for next time! I've never made this kind of cake before so I wasn't sure how things went, but I reckon I nailed it :) Hoorah! :) Next time, I might explore a unique taste and perhaps add some form of decoration. :)

Coincidentally my mum's friend was here and was very excited about the cake because her oldest daughter is called Angel. She took lots of photos. Hahaha.

Anyway, this was a very impressive bake which turned out much better than I thought it would! Hoorah! Thank you Nancy, and hoorah for amazing bakeware! :)

Sunday, 10 August 2014

GBBO 2014 - Cake Week

In the run up to the start of this year's Great British Bake Off, I was really excited. I've been looking forward to it sooo much that I almost wrote it in my diary when I found out the date of the first episode! Hahaha! It wasn't until breathing a sigh of joy after watching the show, that it had occurred to me that I too could be part of the the Great British Bake Off, triggered completely by my friend Shazia's status update:
"GBBO! Within the next week I will bake a Swiss roll!"
What I have decided to do is pick one of the three challenges from each episode, and bake it before the next episode. I reckon that that's a fair challenge, and a fun way to regularly do some baking! So the first week was cake week and featured Swiss Roll, Cherry Cake and 36 identical mini British classic cakes. Since the parental unit are uniformly unsuited to eating large amount of tiny cakes, I had to choose from the other two cakes. The cherry cake looked huge and again, I didn't have it in me to eat the whole thing myself so Swiss Roll it would be! Here it is:

This is a plain swiss roll with strawberry jam - the simplest that you can make a swiss roll!

This bake was actually a team bake. I decided to whisk the batter by hand and, well, after about 15 minutes my arms were screaming at me. My parents came over to take their turns with the mixture, all the while laughing at how silly our left hands were at whisking. It took us about an hour to reach white an fluffy peaks. Oops. Nonetheless we got there and 10 minutes later - voila! A small Swiss roll! Hoorah! 

I think it was over baked by like a few seconds, so the outside cracked just a tiny bit. The texture of the sponge was lovely and I was really very pleased! Hoorah for swiss roll awesomeness!

Of course next time we'll make sure we'll get the electric whisk out. I coulda made about 3 in the time it took to hand whisk that bad boy up. Now I know! :)

Anyway, looking forward to next week's bake! Hoorah! :)

Saturday, 9 August 2014

"You're only 5? I'm 7 and I can't do that" - Reflections from a Play Day in Wyke

I spent the day today at Wyke Community and Children's Centre where I was going to serve as a volunteer at their annual play day. I volunteered a couple of years ago and was super chuffed when Andy said that they were running another one this year.

I wanted to work today as a playworking photographer, rather than simply a playworker. Reason? I wanted to get some good photos. But of course, you simply cannot take the playwork out of the playworker - that's where all the good conversations and magical playful moments get noticed. So I did a little playwork too. Here are some of my favourite moments:

1. The slip and slide is always very well received. It's exhilarating to skim quickly across the surface of the water at a speed that seems a bit too quick. This young lad looked right into the camera as he slipped past me. We had a little giggle at the bottom of the slip and slide only then for a member of staff, Emma, to whoosh past at a surprising speed onto the grass. We laughed together and I moved on to take photos elsewhere. Later on in the afternoon he ran up to me with a smile and said "Remember when Emma slid passed us?" And we just stopped to share a giggle together before he ran off. It just goes to show that moments that we adults take for granted are important to children!

2. I approached a very busy mud kitchen with a view to taking some subtle photos and then moving on, but when I got there, the children were so immersed in their own play, they barely noticed me snapping away. I moved towards this table of baking gear just time in time for someone to say "The cakes are ready" and then hand over a baking tray. Everyone took one of the "cakes" and dumped the mud into that pan that they have their hands in. I felt really honoured to capture that moment.

3. As the Play Day came to a close, two little boys lingered. They were very taken by the tree in the middle of the site and climbed in, up, round and through it. The boy in the stripey t-shirt seemed to be working through something, I suspected he wanted to go higher, but couldn't quite get it together. Having dawdled for long enough, the smaller boy in a white t-shirt made his way past the stripey shirt, and then up the tree. You can just about see his feet in the photo, on the horizontal branch above the stripey boy. Until this point, the conversation was fascinating enough, but the best exchange came just after this photo: 
"How old are you?"
"I'm 5"
"You're only 5? I'm 7 and I can't do that"
"I do this a lot"
I guess this just goes to show that everyone's abilities are different, nomatter what age you are, and that you should never underestimate the younger children!

I had a wonderful time at Wyke today. I'd like thank Andy for letting me come play, and the team for treating me as one of their own. They do such wonderful work at Wyke to serve the community and provide playful opportunities for children. I hope that they'll have me again for next year's Play Day :)

Friday, 8 August 2014

A Gift From Far Away

Today I heard the postman fight with a parcel at my door. There was quite a scuffle, which lasted for long enough for me to make my way to the door and stare at it, until eventually, he rang the doorbell. Turns out the parcel wouldn't fit through the letter box! It was very exciting because it had my name on it! Hoorah!

As it turns out, it was a parcel from far far away in Hong Kong from my cousin Karen (who came to visit us recently) and her family! They sent me a purple rain coat and a pretty hand made card, signed by everyone! Hoorah!

Here I am, super happy and very purple!

From far far away!

Thank you so much to my HK family for this thoughtful gift and thank you so very much for such a lovely card! I know it must have taken a while to track down all the children to sign the card too, so thank you for working together on that! Yaay! This has made me very happy! :)

This was a lovely surprise, and has really added to the awesomeness that has been my Level 30 celebrations. This is turning out to be quite a marvelous start to the year. I might take the opportunity to make a year of it. Hahaha :)

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Patchwork

Our lives are made up of many things. There's family, there's friends, there's education, there's work. We have beliefs, we have experiences, we have pets, we have favourites. We love some things, we hate others. Stuff we enjoy, stuff we abhor. Each of these particulars are patterned patches on a quilt, coming together to become a technicolour blanket of warmth that is your life:

I really enjoyed this doodle. New pencil crayons = new colouring adventures! :)

Sometimes the patches on our quilt may unravel at the seams, ever so slightly coming away from the whole. It might be under stress, or perhaps it got damaged. It might have gotten wet and is loosing its colour, or didn't quite make it through the wash. Sometimes the patches on our quilt just won't stay together.

It's what you do next that's the big thing. Do you try and fix it yourself? Do you use some tape to keep it all together, hoping noone will notice? Do you just let it fall apart, giving it up as a lost cause? Maybe you choose to replace that patch with another, better patch. Maybe you patch over the hole hoping that the new threads will keep the old patch on?

And every so often, you let someone else help you patch things up. Because sometimes you can't see the patches coming away and you need a kind friend to gently point it out. Because sometimes you don't have the strength to re-patch again and again, but those who care about you will help you to sooth over those holes. Because it is our friends and family that make us strong, even at our weakest. It is those who are close to you who will stick with you, nomatter what the state your patchwork quilt is in. Because that's what friends and family do.

You know that big purple starry patch on your technicolour patchwork quilt that doesn't seem change very much? That's me. :)

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Keyboard Zoodle

When I met up with Nancy on Friday, we were too busy having adventures to exchange presents. To rectify this, we met up today to shower eachother with loveliness. It was, of course, a great excuse to hang out again. :)

Nancy treated me to some lovely gifts, which I will be posting about at a later date. I showered her with a variety of lovely little things, the one that she was most taken with was the Level 30 Super Zoodle. We had a lot of fun looking through it and giggling at the craziness I drew on a massive scale.

And of course, the doodles don't stop there. I've been sitting on another one for a couple of days:

Guess what I was inspired by! Hahaha. Keyboard zoodle! :)

For some reason, I feel compelled to doodle sometimes. Don't tell anyone, but there have been many-a-sermon and many-a-lecture which I have doodled through. It helps to focus, helps me to listen, and sometimes it even helps me to process abstract concepts. I like it. It feels like play. Anyway, should you want to see some more of these Zan doodles, please click here.

It was lovely to catch up with Nancy again today - we very seldom see eachother since she lives down south and I live up north. I feel very blessed to have seen her twice in a week, and I'm also really chuffed that she likes my work :) Hoorah for Nancy and hoorah for doodles! :)

Monday, 4 August 2014

A Deep Orange Sunset

On my way home from an evening drive, I double backed on a lovely orange sunset to take some photos. The sun was just touching the treetops in the distance and was a very unusual, deep orange. I was eager to take a couple of pics:

Look at the light on the trees - it made it look very strange.

I wasn't the only one admiring the sunset. Hello cat!

Goodbye orange sun - see you tomorrow! :)

Watching the sun sink down beyond the trees gave me an lovely sense of piece. It's always very nice to breathe in a little bit of nature, and experience life beyond the computer. This was a beautiful end to a gloriously sunny day, a welcome return to the sun compared to the dreariness of the weekend. Let's hope the blue skies and sunshine sticks around for a while! :) 

Saturday, 2 August 2014

My Birthday 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

I have been showered with love from my friends and family over the last week or so. Birthday celebration number 1, 2 and 3 was awesome, but I've managed to get the number celebrations up to seven! Here's what I got up to:

4 - Cake with Ricky - I met Ricky when he first came to uni in Manchester over 8 years ago when he was a mere fresher. I'm really glad that we still hang out, even after he completed his bachelors and PhD, and has moved back down south. He came up for a wedding and it coincided happily with my birthday weekend. This is blueberry and ginger cake from the Manchester Craft Village. 

5 - Curry with Rick and Ash. I know Rick and Ash from when I worked at the video game store for a brief spell. Rick was the assistant manager and Ash was the supervisor. After I left there, we kept in contact because having worked together, we knew we would have so much more fun outside of work! I'm so chuffed that I kept in contact with these two gentlemen, cos they are great! We had naan as big as your torso at East Z East and it was awesome!

6 - Shopping and Thai Buffet with Andy. You all know Andy - he's my classmate, Pop-Ups director, my awesome friend and fellow playworker. The few short years I've known him he has become one of my go to playwork peeps. It was lovely to spend some time with him for my birthday (he's normally really busy) and great to catch up about the world of play. We went to the Trafford Center and had went to ChaoBaby, mostly for unlimited Pad Thai.

7 - A Day with Nancy. I'm sure you all know my best mate Nancy. I've known her for 19 years, which seems crazy really given that we're both only turning 21 (AHEM). We decided to celebrate our birthdays together this year (her's is in August) and we went out on an adventure that started at Quarry Bank Mill and ended up at Piccolino in Manchester. We had all three courses of food and felt exceedingly full but mightily proud of ourselves for a day well spent, and a friendship well preserved. I love my Nancy. 

8 - Brunch with Ric and Rach. My friends Ric and Rach live in Guernsey. They only come to the main land 2 or 3 times a year but I usually see them every time. I've known Ric since college and with Rach, they make a lovely couple. They too came to Manchester for a wedding and was able to sneak in a quick meet up with me. Today we went to have brunch at Newbank Garden Center then had a good wander round indoors while it was pouring outside.

I think that this concludes my birthday celebrations for this year. Goodness me, I've been been so busy than I have this week, yet I've never quite felt so loved! Thank you all for being part of my birthday, and I hope that we can celebrate again for many more years to come! :)