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.
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’.
What I’ve been writing in August:
- My goals and intentions for 2021It seems silly to try and put too much expectation and pressure on this new year. After all, we’re mere weeks into January, and already 2021 is keen to follow in the footsteps of 2020.
- Why I’m grateful for 2020As with any year, there have been lessons learned, events upon which to reflect, and shining moments for which to be thankful; it’s just that this year, the shining moments are ever brighter against the pitch-black of the bad.
- Theatre Review | Sunset Boulevard In Concert – At Home – Curve LeicesterWith online live streams and pre-recorded shows beaming straight into living rooms and onto all kinds of devices, we’re experiencing a whole new kind of theatre experience – often with the best seat in the house. One of the latest shows to grace our screens is Curve Leicester’s Sunset Boulevard In Concert – At Home.
- Poem | This ChristmasLamenting the loss of even the less-than-shiny aspects of a family Christmas, and yearning for time with loved ones – even if it does mean arguments, discomfort and awkward moments.
- Turning thirty in a pandemic: why I’m grateful for my isolation celebrationNot only was it the start of a new decade, but I would be entering it in entirely alien circumstances. While a year ago I would have imagined a good old family ‘do’, a large gathering, a night out with friends, a fancy meal, or a city break abroad, I would instead be spending the day mostly on my own, in the confines of my one-bedroom flat, as many others will have experienced this year.