Valentines

Happy Valentines to you my lovely followers ❤️.

Whether you’ve been celebrating today with your partners, your friends, or by yourself, I hope you’ve been kind to yourself today.

This is my first single valentines for a couple of years. So many singletons seem to dread the day. Quite frankly, even those in relationships often turn their noses up at the thought of it.

However, even as a thirty something singleton, I’ve been looking forward to today.

I may not have anyone to have a romantic night in (or out) with, but for me, today has been about celebrating self love.

Ok, so maybe I had a bit of a flirt here and there, but for the most part, I have been celebrating self love.

For possibly the first time in my life, I feel happy with who I am. I feel like a new person since my trip to Portugal. Even my colleagues have noticed a change. I feel lighter, happier.

My wellbeing and my happiness have become a priority. I have spent years trying to make others happy, making myself miserable in the process. But now, I finally realise the importance of self love.

If I love me for who I am, and make sure that I stay true to myself, if I find myself looking for romantic love again, there will be no changing me to make others happy from now on.

I have lost count of the times I have changed for other people. And all it’s done is caused me to lose my identity and to end up as miserable as sin.

I’m done with all that rubbish.

If you’re not going to love me for me, then you don’t deserve me, and you certainly won’t have a future with me.

So today, my friends, has been about celebrating my happiness, my freedom, and most importantly, celebrating finding love for myself.

And this evening, I have celebrated in my cosy little London flat, with my four legged friend, a bottle of wine, and a chocolate pudding.

And I’ve loved every minute ❤️❤️❤️

Kensington Gardens

I’ve been feeling sorry for myself for the last couple of days. I returned to London after my week off on Friday evening, full of cold, and already starting to dread what work has in store for me when I returned.

I spent Saturday in the flat catching up on naff tv, feeling sorry for myself, eating and drinking.

So yesterday, despite still feeling under the weather, I dragged myself out of the flat with Ali and headed over to Kensington Gardens. Neither of us had been before, and it wasn’t somewhere that had reached my bucket list. We didn’t want to travel far, but both fancied some fresh autumn air (although it is still ridiculously mild for this time of year) so we jumped on the bus and headed for Kensington.

Kensington Palace Gardens are one of eight Royal Parks in London, with Kensington Palace being the official home of the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge, as well as the Duke & Duchess of Sussex. Kensington Palace was also home to Queen Victoria, before she moved to Buckingham Palace. A statue of Queen Victoria stands in front of the Palace, whilst a Memorial for Prince Albert (Victoria’s husband) stands proudly within the Gardens itself.

Hungry when we arrived, we had a quick walk around the part of the park closest to the Palace in search of something to eat. Whilst we stumbled across a couple of places (Kensington Palace Cafe and The Orangery), neither really floated our boat. Kensington Palace Cafe had little choice, unless you were looking for a pre-packed sandwich. Built in 1704-5, The Orangery had a lovely menu, with a selection of light lunches as well as afternoon tea. However, dressed for autumn in jeans, boots and a woolly jumper, I felt a bit underdressed for such a lovely restaurant.

Instead, we headed out of the park into Kensington High Street in search of somewhere a bit more down to earth, with a hearty autumnal menu. Just over the road we stumbled across The Goat, which is said to be the oldest pub in Kensington having been established in 1679.

They had a great range of pub food to chose from, including the good old Sunday roast. So whilst Ali feasted on Fish n Chips (£12.99) and a Peroni, I went all out with the Roast Sirloin of Beef Sunday roast (£13.99) and a Guinness. After all, they do say that you have to feed a cold, right? It was great value for money, service was quick, the staff were friendly, and we left the pub full and ready to walk off all that food with a stroll around Kensington Gardens.

Sunday Roast at The Goat, Kensington

With autumn only just starting to show in London, there were few leaves on the ground to crunch our way through, but the trees looked beautiful, their colours just starting to change. Many of the flowers were still in bloom, whilst others were fading, and others, such as the grasses were coming into their own.

The Sunken Garden, which was a favourite of Princess Diana, looked absolutely stunning. I could’ve stood taking photos of the garden for hours trying to get the perfect shot. These are just some of the photo’s I took in The Sunken Garden today…

Other highlights included The Pond which was swarming with life and looking beautiful in the autumn light, The Flower Walk, and the Albert Memorial.

Having grown up just down the road from Althorp House (I also had a summer job as a cleaner on the Estate many moons ago), the house in which Princess Diana spent much of her youth before her marriage to Prince Charles, I have always been fascinated by the Royal Family, and like much of the population, loved Princess Diana. We were therefore quite keen to visit the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain while we were in Kensington Park. We spent ages looking for what we expected to be a glamorous fountain. We were slightly disappointed to therefore find a rather strange circular stream type attraction just over the other side of West Carriage Drive, which had been constructed in her memory. The concept is lovely though, and it is very ‘Princess Diana’. It is easily accessible for all and people have the opportunity to dip their feet into the stream. It is a lovely, peaceful spot, albeit, not entirely as grand as the fountain we were expecting to find.

Despite feeling grotty this weekend, it was lovely to get out and about today, and see yet another part of London neither of us had explored before, enjoying the beautiful sunshine as the leaves slowly start turn with the darker nights and colder days just around the corner.

Bucket List

A few months ago I had a complete panic over the things I had achieved since I moved to London.

More to the point, what I hadn’t achieved since my London adventure began.

I had of course packed a lot into my new home life. I had met Ali for a start, and following a whirlwind romance, we had moved into our cosy little flat together after just 6 weeks…

But aside from my relationship, I was starting to feel like life was passing me by again. A feeling I cannot abide.

Nearly 2 years into our relationship, Ali and I had also found ourselves in a bit of a ‘comfort rut’. Weekends would pass by and we had done the same old things.

Nothing new.

I needed to feel that sense of adventure again.

So it was time to make some changes.

I had been living in London for 3 years and realised I had barely scratched the surface of it.

I have no idea how long we’ll continue to live in London, but I knew that if I didn’t start to make the most of it soon, I would regret it later on.

I sat down with Ali and told him I needed things to change, and he happily obliged.

And it was then that I started to make my ‘London Bucket List’.

So now, mostly at the weekends, we try to do something different and new.

It doesn’t have to be hugely extravagant, just different. Something or somewhere we haven’t tried or been before.

One of the first things I ticked off the list was riding what was formerly known as a ‘Boris Bike’. There is a cycle station just across the road from our flat, yet we had never tried to hire or ride one. So one weekend in August, we did just that. Admittedly it was a bit of a disaster (they are way more difficult to ride than they look and not that cheap to hire either!!). But we laughed a lot and were excited at having tried something new.

Another tick on the list went to our local coffee shop which turns into a wine bar in the evenings. It is only a short stroll from our flat, and whilst we had visited for coffee, we had never experienced the wine bar. We had become hermits in the evenings, so it was lovely to get dressed up, head to the wine bar, have a few drinks and some nibbles, and listen to a local musician singing and playing the guitar. We finished the night with a walk to one of our favourite London Bridges and we went home buzzing after a wonderful evening.

I haven’t actually added an awful lot to my bucket list yet, but we are enjoying plenty of new experiences.

In a way, it has become greater than the bucket list.

Sometimes the new experiences we need in order to feel more fulfilled are as simple as walking down a road we have never walked down before, trying a new cafe, or even trying something different at home, like a new recipe or learning a new skill, such as meditation.

For me, it doesn’t matter where I am in life, I need to experience the buzz of trying new things and going to new places. Plodding along doing the same old thing just doesn’t work for me. It makes me restless.

That’s not to say that I can’t be found vegetating in my flat over the course of a weekend. Of course I can.

However, after a weekend of vegetation, you can guarantee that I will be busy planning the following weekend, filling it with lots of new experiences…

I have been busy snapping away as I start to tick things off my bucket list, taking photos of all the amazing places and new experiences I have had. When I am having one of those days when I feel like I am plodding along again, I can look back and remind myself of everything I have achieved.