seagulls flying against a sunset

Monthly Muses | August 2019

As I write this, September has just begun, and the whispers of Autumn are on the breeze, even if there are still blue skies overhead.

The warmer months seem to drag on a bit, but as soon as we hit mid-September, I feel that the months suddenly rush to the end of the year.

August was a very good month. I spent a whole week relaxing at home, my amazing sister had her first baby and gave me the gift of being an Auntie, and the weather has been lovely.

And alongside all that, I read, watched and ate a lot, as usual! Here are some more good things from the last month.

seagulls flying against a sunset

BP Portrait Award 2019

I try and visit this exhibition every year; it’s short, sweet, free (yep) and celebrates mostly unknown artists from around the world, each with different ages, backgrounds, and styles.

I love choosing my own favourites and it takes me back to my days studying art, which I miss very much. This year I stopped by during an afternoon in London with my Mum. I loved The Poet by Tina Oršolic Dalessio, which I thought was beautiful. I also have a special fondness for Quo Vadis? by Massimiliano Pironti and Arcus by Brendan H Johnston.

I urge you to head up to the National Portrait Gallery if you can, to catch the exhibition before it closes on 20 October, and find your favourites too.

Find out more about the exhibition

“I Haven’t Had A Boyfriend For A Decade. Here’s What I’ve Learned.” by Rachel Thompson

This article is only a few days old at the time of writing this, but I had to share it with you. Rachel shares some insights into ‘chronic’ single-ness which I can fully relate to, and she has such a lovely way of speaking candidly about her experiences.

One of the things she discusses is the idea that many people will mean more to you than you mean to them, which is a point that really bites hard and hits home.

I highly recommend taking the time to read this piece if you yourself are single, or you are looking for reassurance that, hey, it’s ok to be alone for a long period of time.

Read the article

A Powerful Way To Unleash Your Natural Creativity – Tim Harford

I first listened to this TED Talk via podcast on my walk to work early this month, and it sparked a real lightbulb moment for me!

Many of us bemoan our inability to work on one project at once; how, instead of finishing one thing, we start getting excited about the next new big idea, and get going on that instead, meaning that we make slow progress all round.

Tim argues that this is not a cause or concern, but rather something to be celebrated and harnessed.

It’s a good’un, and worth a watch.

Blinded By The Light

I didn’t watch this film until the end of the month, so my feelings on this are just a few days old, but…wow. I am so glad I caught this before it vanished from the big screen.

Directed by Gurinder Chadha, who brought us Bend It Like BeckhamBlinded By The Light follows Javed, a Pakistani teenager, in his quest to find his way out of Luton in the turbulent late 1980s. It is powerful, infectious and fizzing with both joy and heartbreak, and is one of the best films I’ve seen all year.

I genuinely felt a little relieved that I went to see it on my own so that I could have a little cry without feeling too self-conscious.

Wonderful British Cinema. Catch it if you can!

“Things You Only Know If You Don’t Have A Girl Gang” by Amy Jones

Amy has beaten me to it and has basically written the article I had in my head just a few days before this was published, which is simultaneously fascinating and frustrating. Maybe I’ll still write my own version; maybe I won’t.

Nevertheless, this is another topic I’ve been chewing over in recent weeks. I’m very lucky to have good groups of girlfriends around me, but big outings and trips with any large gang of ladies have always slightly stressed me out (as lovely as they always are).

It’s reassuring to know that other people find large get-togethers to be slightly anxiety-inducing experiences and that many people feel more themselves on a one-to-one basis with close friends.

More food for thought, for sure.

Read the article

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

A book that has been on my TBR list for a while, An American Marriage was not what I expected at all, but did not disappoint. In fact, I think that it was even better.

Tayari Jones tells Celestial and Roy’s story through both letters and stories written in different points of view; this could be confusing, but it works wonderfully, and it’s a really beautiful story. I highly recommend!

Breakfast at XOXO Southampton

I had the day off last week and decided to take myself on a little spontaneous date day, starting with breakfast at XOXO, which I have wanted to do since it opened in Bedford Place earlier this year.

I sat with my book and drank a deliciously creamy latte, and ate potato stacks with truffle mayo, spring onions and a poached egg, and it was a fabulous start to my day. I’ll definitely be going back – perhaps to try their cocktails next time!

Avenue Q at the Mayflower Theatre, Southampton

[Gifted Tickets]

I had heard so much about Avenue Q before finally having my chance to see it last month. It was rude; I laughed; I loved it. Read my full review for more.

Glow, Season Three

I LOVE Glow. I love the spandex, the ridiculous characters, the eighties music, and the way it weaves in explorations of humanness throughout ridiculous wrestling scenes. I particularly love Alison Brie. Needless to say, it didn’t take long for me to get through the third season. More, please!

“The Age of Comfort TV: Why People Are Secretly Watching Friends And The Office On A Loop” by Richard Godwin

I don’t know who these other people are, but I make no secret about the fact that I have Friends, Gilmore Girls or Sex and the City on every single day in the background; as I have breakfast, while I’m cooking dinner, or accompanying my writing some evenings. 

It really is a huge comfort; the predictability, the guarantee of a laugh, the relatability (and sometimes ridiculousness) of some plotlines. It’s like having a dear friend chatting to you as you go about your business.

Godwin writes:

“Jambunathan reckons the popularity of 90s and 00s shows in particular speaks to endemic loneliness among younger generations – a yearning for a more innocent time. ‘We often think of elderly people relying on TV for companionship, but younger people do it, too,’ she says. ‘A lot of the less prestigious TV shows contain familiar characters in stories that we can easily pop in and out of, just as we would with friends and family in the real world.'”

It’s an interesting thought and, as someone who lives alone, I have to say I agree.

Read the article

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This was a beast of a book, and yet somehow I read it in under a fortnight; I thought it would take longer. This beautiful and crushing story of life in Nigeria during the Nigerian Civil War (or the Biafran War) is sometimes hard to read, both because of the topics it covers and because it is long.

I fluctuated between devouring page after page, and then not wanting to carry on any longer. I’m glad I did though. The characters I know will stick with me, and it was an education on a period of history I know nothing about.

Everything I wrote in August

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