Sunday thoughts: 3rd August 2014

Happy August from France, where August = holiday!

I had completely forgotten how much of an institution summer holidays are here; it’s not unusual to find local businesses closed for 2-4 weeks during August, and it’s not frowned upon. This might sound crazy if you’re used to the 24/7 everything-NOW city lifestyle, but I think it’s nice to see, actually see, people taking time off – not just posting photos of their coconut water on the beach on Instagram.

So with that in mind, a slightly lengthy post with plenty of links to places you can waste time and soak up some words. They all contain plenty of other links to other places you can while away some time. Remember, that limbo of in-between-things might be all we have. Enjoy the journey.

New things I have learnt this week

  • Well, I went to my first bikram yoga class! I know I’m about three years late to the trend, but I think I waited until the right time; missing structured training sessions, missing sweating, missing the pressure to push through slight discomfort. I am putting together a post on my experiences for you!
  • I’ve also been reading about stretching – should you do it? Should you not? I am still gathering the evidence and opinions and will come back to you all soon with that too!
  • I’ve been watching a lot of the Commonwealth Games with Ben, which has offered all the learning opportunity that watching any sport will: watching the differences in discus-throwing techniques, noticing how different runners carry themselves according to their distance or the country in which they train, and having Ben explain to me the more intricate rules and processes, such as having to run in a straight line when you are leading the race, how to set starting blocks, and how to begin training for pole vaults (not that flicking yourself backwards into the air with the help of a long stick multiple times longer than you will ever make sense to me).
  • And as I took a couple of hours to relax with a pot of yerba maté on Friday afternoon, I flicked through some articles linked to in Joy the Baker’s Let It Be Friday! post – I particularly enjoyed Kapitalism with Kim Kardashian, which led me to Why Not Admit We Didn’t Wake Up Like This?. Both of those articles really highlighted the things that make me feel uncomfortable about social media or my supposed role as a blogger (am I polished enough? am I casual enough? do I post enough photos of me doing cool stuff? do I do enough cool stuff?) in a way that I found refreshing: no, everybody is not just effortlessly amazing, and I am allowed to try to be better, just like I am allowed to not care. And as little interested as I am in the Kardashians or anyone who is interested in them, it is refreshing to have people out there who aren’t afraid to be exactly who they are or what they want to be, no matter how much effort it takes.

New things I have eaten this week

  • Mum brought me back another flavour of NomNom Chocolate from Hay on Wye: fig jam! Although the chocolate was as delicious as always, I couldn’t really taste the glossy fig jam inside – though it did add a nice gooey mouthfeel, and I have a thing for their bright and delicate foil packaging inside the brown paper wrapper… is that weird? 
  • As I met up with Viv on a chance Tuesday afternoon off and we wondered about food, she suggested we check out some falafel place on the way to hers which had advertised a falafel wrap for £1.75. Sold! It turned out to be Fresh Falafel, and my mouth is watering just thinking about them again. Viv got a huge falafel wrap for her £1.75, stuffed with 5 crushed falafels, a dollop of hummus, plenty of pickles and salad, tahini and chili sauce. I forked out a fiver for a salad box plus falafel: a giant salad box filled with a selection of about 10 varied salads (green beans, beetroot salad, roast sweet potato, lentils, barley, and I forget what else – and I didn’t even pick all the salads!), a generous dollop of hummus, and a bag of 4 freshly deep-fried falafels on the side. I was stuffed and very, very happy – but as delicious as everything was, I didn’t take any photos as my salad box was so crammed full of various foodstuffs. Plus, the guys were super friendly! I can’t wait to go back.

Other highlights this week

  • Tuesday was a wonderful almost-spontaneous day: a morning client to get me out of bed, then out into the sun to meet Viv, back to hers with the aforementioned weighty bag of salad and falafel to visit her beautiful new flat, chat about everything, and share some dates and freshly picked mangoes from Dubai with her before rushing off to my first Bikram yoga class. After that I threw together a delicious salad of roast beetroot, grated carrot, celery and sundried tomatoes with a tahini dressing whilst I chilled out and caught up on blog posts.
  • As stressful as Wednesday evening was (our landlady had sent an energy efficiency surveyor to ours, who turned out to be fairly incompetent and severely unprofessional, whilst I turned out to be very easily stressed and to be stuck on a journey that took 40 minutes more than usual), I was SUPER excited to receive a delivery I had forgotten to expect: my prize of Urban Fruit goodies from Lauren at Powered by Peanut Butter, a UK-based vegan running blog. Urban FruitI have often eyed the colourful packets up, before steering myself away, reasoning that 1. I could get cheaper dried fruits from the baking aisles, and 2. I eat more than enough sugar as it is. But I was running low on fruity snacks, and I was grouchy, and the surprise made me excited enough to dance around in circles (my usual post-delivery pre-opening ritual) – Urban Fruit totelittle did I know I didn’t just receive a couple of sample bags as I had expected, but a waterfall of fun and bright packets of gently baked fruit, in an impressively sturdy and cute tote bag (yeah, I just said “cute” and “tote bag” – who am I?).
  • I felt super relaxed on Friday night after coming home from yoga – and I had just enough time to put the laundry away, get changed and empty my bag before pizza was delivered. Then we flaked out and watched the Commonwealth Games, devoured pizza and ice cream (vanilla Booja-Booja for me topped with carob molasses – SO good).
  • Yesterday evening was a typically peaceful evening in France: the first family dinner I can remember for months, a bit of blog-reading, a bit of tippity-typing away on my blog, and an early retreat to my room to meditate and read before bed. Another wild Saturday night, of course.

Lastly, a few things that touched me/amused me this week:

  • I don’t normally go in for Buzzfeed-style “List of things that will BLOW. YOUR. MIND!” articles, but this collection of 21 Powerful Photos of People’s Eyes… I found really quite beautiful.
  • I can understand why guys might not understand why (most?) women get irate about cat calls, wolf whistles, tooth smacking, and various comments that get made at them in the street or on public transport. “Surely you should be flattered?” “It doesn’t do you any harm”… here’s a great account by a man about how unsolicited attention gets irritating no matter what the motivations behind it are: Can I Buy You a Coffee?
  • On a slightly related note… Confused Cats Against Feminism. Cats and satire. I can only dream of that being the title of my biography. (then: Confused Dudes Confused by Confused Cats Against Feminism)
  • Whilst wasting time on Facebook (why?), I clicked on a link to a uni acquaintance’s blog. I knew she had gotten into yoga and recently qualified as a teacher, but I never knew she was artistic. Check her blog out – I found it beautiful and inspiring, and it made me happy to write to her and tell her as much.

If you’re still with me and haven’t wandered off to a far more interesting website yet… Thank you and happy Sunday!

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