Ah September. A month of fresh start feelings that almost rival January’s new-year traditions. No matter your age, this time of year usually conjures up memories or thoughts of new stationery, lessons learned, and the beginning of the end of the year.
I write this now in a world that has slipped back into the grips of pandemic panic; retrospectively, perhaps we should have been less busy last month. But September ended up being a hectic but lovely (and safely done) month for us; so busy, in fact, I barely wrote anything. It made a nice change, however, to be unproductive due to a full diary, rather than a lack of inspiration and motivation.
(I can assure you that I am back in the clutches of the latter excuse. Don’t worry).
While life continues to be unpredictable, you can at least count on me to share my favourite things each month – whether you like it or not!
Here are some of my favourite things from September. I hope you find something that tickles your fancy.
What I loved in September
I bought some earrings from fellow Southampton resident Jo at Sea Clay Studio after I spotted her stuff at last Christmas’s Etsy market (I know, I play the long game). I remember thinking her pieces would be perfect for my mum as a birthday present, and I was right!
There was a slight hiccup with the item I ordered, but Jo was incredibly helpful and lovely, and mum adores her mustard-coloured earrings; so I’ll definitely be buying more from the shop in the future! I’m so grateful for finding another lovely local seller to add to my favourites on Etsy.
I’ve heard a lot about Hocking’s ice creams from my partner, who grew up in North Devon where the company can be found, and a good friend of mine. It is, I was promised, the very best ice cream around.
I finally got to have a Hocking’s for myself in September and I wasn’t disappointed. If you find yourself in North Devon and spot a Hocking’s van, treat yourself. I recommend a chocolate waffle cone, with a dollop of clotted cream on top of your scoop. YUM.
Breakfast at Tea on the Green, Exeter
On our way to Devon for a family visit in September, we spent a night in Exeter. I’ve only ever been to the city for a university open day (yes, years ago) so it was great to explore the area a bit more.
After waking up in our comfy hotel room, we stumbled across Tea on the Green, and decided to have breakfast in the shadow of Exeter Cathedral. I had a halloumi eggs benedict, and a moreish amaretto latte under a beautiful blue sky. It was a lovely start to the weekend, and we’ll definitely be back when we’re local again (which I’m sure won’t be too far away).
Going back to the theatre
[Tickets gifted by Mayflower]
September saw us stepping foot inside a theatre for the first time since March; for someone who used to review, on average, around 2/3 shows a week, it’s something I’ve really missed.
Southampton’s Mayflower theatre invited me along to the opening night of their Musical Movies series, and it felt so good to be back. it was a different experience, but really great to see the measures they had put in to make the event as COVID-secure as possible.
As usual, I’ve been pretty slow catching onto the hype of this TV show, but when I finally got into it, I really got into it.
It was every bit as emotionally raw but witty as I’d hoped. I’ve never watched anything that conveys the complexities of mental health, loss and heartbreak, and how it can all exist simultaneously alongside joy and humour and love. It is so full to the brim with the tenderness of searching for the good in life, and the value of the Little Things. Wonderful stuff.
Voices of the West End
In another venture into the world of pandemic performances, we bought tickets to Mayflower’s Voices in the West End event; an outdoor concert of musical numbers in the grounds of Broadlands in Romsey.
It was a little chilly, but we snuggled into our hoodies in our camper chairs with a flask, and enjoyed a very surreal, but special, evening.
We were a tad late (because it’s very easy to mis-read times on tickets!) which led to a few issues actually getting in – so the only constructive feedback I’d give would be to consider accessability for latecomers (because delays to happen!). Otherwise, it was a really lovely, memorable evening, and quite moving in its own way.
Each household had their own ‘pen’ to sit in – and to be honest, it made it really nice and private. That’s a measure I could get used to!
Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo
This was another one of those books that I thought ran the risk of being overrated. You know – when everyone raves about it, you start wondering if there’s a bit of an ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’ situation going on.
Everyone was right.
This is a really special book: unlike anything I’d read before, and broaching some pretty important topics through a number of gripping, unexpected and moving stories – giving characters to people you rarely hear from in literature. It’s unusually written, and it’s definitely worth buying into the hype.
Another new Etsy favourite! I ordered a couple of earrings from local maker Melissa Badman’s new online shop, Baked&hung, in September, and they are incredibly cute. These ones are also made of polymer clay, and they’re unconventional, quirky and unique.
I love both of my pairs, and am excited to order some more soon. It’s definitely a great option for presents – Christmas is coming, after all, and it’s great to shop local and shop small!
The Social Dilemma
Have you watched this yet? Take some time away from your social media feeds and prepare to be stunned. I finished watching this with a sense of doom hanging over me. I won’t lie, it’s pretty bleak and scary; but it also explains so much about why we get so addicted to our screens. Not only did I learn a lot, but I also found a weird kind of comfort in realising my addiction isn’t just down to my weaknesses – these sites are designed to suck you in, against your will.
It didn’t take long for me to go back to my old habits after we saw this, but it’s always in the back of my mind when I scroll; and that’s a (small) step in the right direction at least.
A Mile in My Shoes
September saw our first exhibition trip, as well. We stopped off to experience A Mile In My Shoes at Westquay; a project by Empathy Museum which asks you to literally follow in someone’s footsteps, wearing their shoes while listening to a recording of their story. The project came to the city as part of the Mayflower 400 anniversary programme.
It sounds a little strange, but it was a simple idea that created a rather moving experience. I heard two very different stories, from two very different people – one made me laugh, and the other broke my heart. It’s amazing what tales are hidden in peoples’ lives; there’s a podcast too, which I plan to check out too.
Roast Dinners at The Cricketers
We read somewhere last year that The Cricketer’s Arms in Southampton had been voted as serving the best roast dinners in the city – so when they finally re-opened, we booked ourselves a table on a Sunday and sat in the blazing sun with our mountain of food. We’ll be back!
It’s only about an hour away, but I’ve never been to Durdle Door – the iconic coastal landmark in Dorset. That was, until we hired a car for a long weekend and made a detour to finally check out that view.
We were lucky to visit on such a beautiful day, and after the summer crowds had (mostly) gone. It was great to finally see that famous sight for ourselves and spend some time watching the waves – especially after so much time indoors.
Nescafe Gold Cinnamon Bun lattes
I’m a sucker for a sweet sachet of coffee, so naturally I picked these up for an autumnal treat. They taste delicious – but I can’t seem to find them in stock now, so I’m saving them for really special occasions. Like Fridays, Mondays, and days when the pandemic feels too much.
(That doesn’t really narrow things down, does it?)
I ordered a string of hearts from Canopy Plants to mark one year since we met. It arrived the next day by courier, and in great condition. Our plant now lives in our corridor, hanging from the attic door, and it’s already grown a fair bin just a few weeks! Great service, great plant; I’ll be using Canopy Plants again for sure.
I’d heard about this film long before I saw it, and the events surrounding its release. I found Blue Story an incredibly powerful and educational window into gang culture and violence in London, and far more emotional and gripping than I expected. I’d really recommend taking the time to watch this.
What I wrote in September
- Poem | The Lentil Soup My Mum MakesWhenever I make my mum’s lentil soup recipe, I’m back home with my family, at the wooden kitchen table.
- 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.