Monthly Muses | August 2020

Life post-lockdown has been, obviously, more active – and so I think it’s time to kick these posts off again!

I’ve missed writing these, even if nobody’s missed reading them. I enjoy looking back at the month that’s just gone and reflecting on what I’ve done, read, eaten, watched, seen, and thought.

Though I’m not quite back up to the busyness of the months before COVID-19, I have been much busier, and therefore finally have some things to share with you that I’ve enjoyed in the month of August.

I will warn you, in true pandemic fashion, the majority of it is food related.

What I loved in August

William the Conqueror, Rye Harbour

August was the month I went to visit family for my niece’s birthday – we stayed in a hotel nearby and made the most of the heatwave we were experiencing. One of our day trips was to Rye Harbour, which is a favourite of my parents, and we had lunch at William the Conqueror. Thanks to Eat Our To Help Out, our order was blindingly cheap and utterly delicious: my halloumi and roasted veg salad was absolutely massive. I’ll definitely be going back to this pub on my next trip to Rye.

Robin’s Nest at 129

I finally made my way down to Robin’s Nest at 129 in Southampton to explore their treasures. It’s fantastic to have a vintage shop in our city and I’ll definitely be going back to buy trinkets and upcycled goodies regularly. Now that Tumble and Rose has a stall, I’m even more keen to get my hands on some new jewellery.

Brunch at XOXO

Again, another Eat Out To Help Out treat at my new favourite haunt in Southampton. I always enjoy their food and cocktails, so getting their potato stacks on a discount was such a joy. I recommend this place for cocktails, brunch and coffee. You’ll probably see me there.

Lunch at the Pantiles Cafe, Tunbridge Wells

On our way to visit family, as I mentioned earlier, we stopped off in Royal Tunbridge Wells for lunch and found a sought-after outdoor spot at The Pantiles Cafe.

Liam ordered a classic fry up, but I plumped for the Mushroom brunch with featured a poached egg on truffled mushrooms and smothered in parmesan, on sourdough toast. It was utterly delicious and in a lovely setting too. If you’re in the area, I really recommend.

The Noise We Make

I listened to and reviewed The Noise We Make by NST Young Company (now the Nuffield Collective).

You’ll likely know my bond with Nuffield Southampton Theatre, and how devastated I was when it closed thanks to COVID. Fortunately, the theatre lives on through its young creators, so I was delighted to experience their audio drama – which thoroughly impressed me.

You can read my review – and find the link to the show – here.

Zoielogic’s The Grid Experience

Performance finally returned to Southampton in August thanks to some ingenious social distancing from local dance organisation, Zoielogic.

A dance rehearsed in lockdown and performed in a grid that reflected the squares of online video chats, The Grid Experience brought people together safely (!) and finally brought some colour back into Guildhall Square. It was fantastic to see and brought real hope for the local arts. Thanks so much, Zoie and team!

The Unexpected Joy of the Ordinary by Catherine Gray

Self-help books can be pretty hit or miss, but this was the second one I’ve read by Catherine Gray (the first being The Unexpected Joy Of Being Single) and it was just what I needed. Lockdown has changed our outlook and potentially goals in life, and this book is the ideal companion for that journey.

In a world when we might be looking to find joy in the smaller, simpler things in life, we need this book on the journey.  

If you’re feeling a little lost, or need a bit of reassurance that a simple life is a good life, this book is for you.

Dinner at Smugglers, Southampton

I didn’t feel like I made the most of the Eat Out To Help Out offer, but looking back, we did manage quite a few meals in retrospective! We enjoyed a wonderful meal at Smugglers in Southampton, which is another favourite of mine.

Sitting in the beer garden in the sun, I tried sea bass for the first time (with parmentier potatoes and tenderstem broccoli – yum!) and we nabbed 2-4-1 Long Island Iced Teas which went down a treat too. I’ve only ever had a drink at Smugglers before – incidentally, it was the location of our first date!! – but I’ll definitely be returning for food.

The Love Square by Laura Jane Williams

It’s been a long time since I read a book in under 48 hours, but Laura Jane Williams’s latest publication had me hooked enough to do just that. It’s another smashing romcom read, much like last year’s Our Stop, and the perfect escape from everyday life. 

The Love Square is also a reminder that books don’t need to be over complex, or about tough subjects, to be enjoyable, valuable and absorbing. Laura brings in some important subjects in a light way (this story incorporates illness and infertility), as well as seamlessly bringing in a diverse mix of characters. 

If you’re looking for an easy, enjoyable read, with notes of Nora Ephron, this is the novel for you.

Mango Thai takeaway

Mango Thai in Southampton (honestly, I should write a list of my favourite local eateries) is one of the places we’ve been dreaming of eating at throughout lockdown. We haven’t been been able to go to the restaurant since it’s opened up again, but we finally managed to grab their curries to takeaway in August – and shared it with my lovely friends when they visited for the first time in years – and it was well worth the wait. 

I can’t wait to go back – in fact, I’ve already got a table booked!

Hannah Fitzpatrick prints

In August I won an Instagram competition run by local artist, Hannah Fitzpatrick. The prize was a set of her four Mayflower 400 prints – marking the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower ship taking pilgrims to America. 

The prints are gorgeous and all the more poignant as we live in Southampton; the ships final port of call before it left for the ‘New World’.

I can’t wait to find a home for them in my flat; but in the meantime, you can find Hannah’s work on her Etsy store, or over on Instagram.

What I’ve been writing in August:

  • 10 things from September 2022
    From life drawing to the best brownie recipes, here are ten things I fell in love with in September 2022.
  • A garden of one’s own
    I love my parents’ garden. Until recently, it was always ‘our garden’: the garden I first met aged two, and the one I still pine for when things get tough. There’s nothing like going Home (with a capital H – where the roots are) and sitting in the lush green space my mum and dad … Continue reading A garden of one’s own
  • What I’ve loved lately: April/May 2022
    While the world still seems to be nose diving into some sort of bottomless pit, life has continued to offer up joyful moments and experiences. Here are some of the things I’ve enjoyed the most over the past couple of months.
  • What I’ve loved lately: March 2022
    Before more time escapes, or I get distracted by something else, here are a few of the things I’ve loved lately, from the first two-and-a-bit months of 2022.
  • Looking back and moving forward
    As we approach two years of pandemic life, I’m realising more and more that it’s unrealistic to expect my writing habits to have remained unchanged in this time. I’m not the person I was in January 2020. Neither are you.


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