A Season in Pictures: Summer

Now people are adjusting more to life with Covid, I’ve noticed the small talk topic of choice is the weather; very British, obviously.  Hasn’t it been warm this summer?  Then very rainy towards the end… how glum!  Can you feel that autumn is coming?  Isn’t it getting chilly?  The nights are really starting to draw in…

I’ll be honest, I’ve enjoyed talking about the weather again.  I’m hopeful it means some of the really scary things we’ve been through over the last 18 months are easing, and we can go back to worrying about how many clouds are in the sky.

Reading this Summer…

So many great picture books arriving at work at the moment too!

I have been a reading machine this year.  I don’t know how, but I won’t overthink it for fear I break the magic spell.

The Heartstopper series was a standout this summer.  I ship every single couple in the book, and I live for every piece of dialogue or sad symbolic leaf illustration blowing across the page.  Alice Oseman has my heart in her hands, so I hope she will be very, very gentle as she continues writing the series.

I mostly read non-fiction as I felt like reading books I could dip into.  I learnt a lot of great things from some of these books, such as how mind-blowingly incredible your gut bacteria is, and how it basically controls your whole body (Gut by Giulia Enders).  And, how even though I’m telling myself I’m doing good things for the planet, I’m actually lying to myself and should be trying harder (No More Rubbish Excuses by Martin Dorey).

Gaming this Summer…

Since I started posting videos to YouTube, I’ve felt motivated to explore new indie games and play them in a more meaningful way.

I’ve played more Knights and Bikes this year than I have Animal Crossing, but I have a feeling the impending update might change that.  I still want to do a house tour, so maybe there are some more AC hours in me yet.

We didn’t play too many board games this summer.  Our usual gaming friends were busy with work, and we just ended up doing other things instead.

I did gift Neil Terraforming Mars and Everdell for his birthday, so we made time for Everdell, which was so good I had to stop Neil from sinking our savings into the mega version available on Kickstarter at the time.  I managed to talk him down with one sentence: “do you really want to be waiting on another Kickstarter?!”.  Our Bristol 1350 Kickstarter did arrive though, and we’ve played that a couple of times (I keep winning, so I’m a fan).

Our most played game has been Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion.  We know Gloomhaven so well that playing a quick scenario or two is so relaxing.  The book takes away most of the set-up stress too; it’s such a perfect two-player game, I can’t recommend it enough.

Life this Summer…

Life has been full this year.  Now we have the dogs, and Neil is getting busier at work, it feels like the days are always busy.

I did some nice things though, including getting my dream sunset hair.  I usually dye my hair in my own bathroom and stain the towels and bathtub, but I finally gave in and paid a professional to make it look nice.  It was a long morning, and a lot of magazine reading, but I am so happy with the result!  I’ve had lots of compliments from friends, customers and even strangers, someone asked if I did it for Halloween (haha, nope), and one man on a pushbike told me I was ‘more beautiful and lovely than I’ll ever know’ (haha!!).

I could lie and say food wasn’t the highlight of my summer, but I want to be honest… god, I ate some incredible things over the last few months.

My friends took me to a lovely Japanese restaurant in Plymouth called Kuku (website here if you want to drool over the menu).

We also signed up to Hello Fresh at the start of the summer, and have had several months of delicious meals.  We’ve learnt to cook with new herbs and vegetables, we’ve learnt how to cook steak properly and we’re eating much more healthily (and in sensible moderation!).  It has also inspired us to cook together again – there are few moments happier than when we’re both in the kitchen singing along to some tunes or giggling over a podcast.

We took a little day trip to Bristol in August to see some of Neil’s hometown friends.  We went to the We The Curious science museum, visited Forbidden Planet, and had dinner in our favourite buffet place, ZaZa Bazaar.  It was one of the most ‘normal’ days we’d had in so long following the easing of Covid rules, so it was pretty special.

Speaking of normal, it didn’t get much more wild than seeing Bring Me the Horizon last month in Cardiff.  It was a crazy experience, as I attended with my friend who uses a wheelchair, yet the venue had said they couldn’t accommodate the chair.

We decided to go anyway as we had tickets, and through some stroke of miracle, we met a woman on the train who was also a wheelchair user, and whose plus-one had been unable to attend, leaving her with a spare ticket to the accessible seating balcony.  Not sure if we would get away with gaining entry that way, we somewhat ‘snuck’ upstairs and enjoyed the show from the balcony, no questions asked!

It was such an incredible experience to be looking down at the crowd, and I was just relieved we weren’t down in the mosh pit with a wheelchair, which we probably would have been otherwise! (Though I’m sure we’d have had fun with it).

Seeing live music again was so emotional, and the bands made some touching speeches about being back with fans again (I might have cried, just a bit).  I recorded some of the light show the main band used, as I had never seen anything like it live before (excuse sound quality, you know what these things are like!).

Before the shading ~

I also had some new tattoo additions over the summer!  For my birthday, I had this Studio Ghibli piece on my geeky leg (left), followed by the start of a kitsune piece on the same leg, and a chubby little wren on my nature leg (right).  I loved showing my legs off over the summer – having tattoos has given me so much confidence – and I’m definitely a bit gutted I have to hide them away now it’s chilly autumn.

Early days – a WIP shot!

I’ve got a few more booked but have had to slow down to balance out actually paying bills with this fun new hobby (boo for adult responsibilities).

We’re still adjusting to how Covid has changed the world.  We’re both working normally now, but we definitely still a bit wary of rushing out and doing too many *things* again.  We’re taking it easy, and it’s been pretty great actually.

Next year we’ll be finally going to all the major events that got cancelled and rescheduled several time.  We’ve got some big shows like My Chemical Romance, as well as some smaller ones – I Prevail, Bowling for Soup, Poppy.

But this year I think we’ve just enjoyed having an excuse to slow down.  I’ve really liked just watching films, reading books and building LEGO, without feeling so much pressure to go, go, go all the time.

It’s been pretty important to slow down too as my health still isn’t where it should be.  I’ve been referred to a sleep clinic to try to fix some of the issues that have materialised since that cholesteatoma diagnosis several years ago.  It is crazy how one issue has revealed all these other health problems.  I’m excited about being in a place at the end of the journey, where I’ll hopefully have things in place to tackle all of my symptoms.  We’re getting there, albeit slowly…

Lastly, my planner for 2022 arrived and it’s a Hobonichi this time!  I was finding I was running out of space each week in my Passion Planner, and I liked that the Hobonichi Cousin offered a yearly, monthly, weekly and daily spread, all in one book!  I’m having to get used to the different layout, but it’s been amazing to start filling in my plans for 2022.  Neil, the dedicated madman he is, set an alarm for 3am to get me the official Animal Crossing Hobonichi cover.  It took him three attempts to get it.  Three 3am alarms!  It kept selling out in seconds!  But he finally secured one, and it is due to arrive sometime in November.  I love that man so much!  ♥

What did you get up to this summer?

Follow me on: Twitter | Instagram | YouTube