I have to admit, when I had the bright idea of doing a monthly real-life round up, I was hoping to be a little more diligent than recapping the month a third of the way into the next month. Suffice to say, August is steaming ahead in typical chaotic Mandy fashion but this post is about July. Before I begin, I’d like to thank everyone for all the love you showed in my last post about my puppy Josey, especially those of you who agreed that she was indeed the most beautiful dog on earth!
Brunch with a Friend
July began with brunch at the Folly at 41 Gracechurch Street with a Twitter friend Vanessa. It was lovely to finally meet up after talking online for so long and it reminded me that I definitely need to get into London more often! The Folly was a really pleasant surprise too – I had walked past it so many times over the years without going inside. Definitely recommended for brunch.
Pixies at Brixton Academy
July was all about the music for me and one of the biggest highlights was seeing Pixies at Brixton Academy. It was the third time that I’d seen them (I think) which I love really given that there was such a dearth of overseas bands in concert in South Africa. Definitely click on the link above for my full write up!
The Dartford Festival
I didn’t have much time to recover from the Pixies gig (I’m slowly learning that I don’t quite have the same capacity to go out to concerts on a Monday night anymore) because that Saturday was the Dartford Festival. Every year, Dartford Borough Council puts on a free all-weekend music festival and this year had a smashing attendance. We went primarily to see Toyah, one of my first musical heroes, but we enjoyed some of the other acts too including The Voice contestant Brooklyn.
The Guards Museum
Have you ever wondered what the various plumes, sashes and buttons represent on the uniforms and bearskins caps of the Royal Guards? Indeed, had you ever noticed that there were five different ranks of guards and that their claim to seniority in some cases stretches back to the Civil War? Well, my friend Sarah and I went to The Guards Museum and it was simply fascinating. Located a stone’s throw away from Buckingham Palace (although I would not endorse throwing stones at the palace), it is a lovely day out and highly recommended.
The Guards Museum, Wellington Barracks, Birdcage Walk, London SW1E 6HQ.
Ghost Invasion at Waterloo
On the way home, we noticed that ghosts had conquered Waterloo Station. Who you gonna call?
Matt Cardle in Concert
If you ever speak to me about music, I will often proudly declare that I like all music except for pop music. Which is kind of a complete lie because I have the biggest crush on Matt Cardle and used to watch the X Factor religiously. That is why Stephen didn’t think twice before agreeing to take me to an intimate gig at Dartford’s Orchard Theatre one Tuesday evening.
How do I describe the gig? Did any of you ever read the Love Is... cartoons where Mr would occasionally accommodate Mrs’s complete obsession with Tom Jones? That was what the Matt Cardle gig was like – a theatre full of very besotted fans absolutely hanging on every note, word and self-deprecating remark. It was a super gig though, one of the best I’ve ever gone too, and his performances of “Nights in White Satin” and “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” were absolutely superb.
Power Up at the Science Museum
Not content with going out once during that week, next up was Power Up at the Science Museum. This was such a fun exhibition and I was sorry to see that it was only on for a couple of weeks.
Crazy Golf at Pirate Cove Bluewater
To round up a crazy week, I joined my colleagues at Pirate Cove at Bluewater for a round of Crazy Golf. As you can imagine, I was too busy taking photos of the scenery to be of any use but it was a lot of fun rounded off with a great meal at Nandos.
Castle Farm Lavender
Towards the second half of July, I was really starting to crave the outdoors and so one day Mo and I took a drive out to The Hop Shop at Castle Farm in Kent to see their lavender which was just about ready for harvest. I am definitely hoping to blog about this one but in the meantime, you can visit Mo’s blog to see her post: The Lavender Farm.
Kelsey’s Farm Shop, Sidcup
I know I said earlier that I wanted to meet for more brunches but my new thing is definitely farm shops. One Saturday morning, my lovely friend Saraiya and I met up and drove to Kelsey’s Farm Shop & Kitchen Restaurant in Sidcup for the loveliest lunch. From the relaxed atmosphere and rustic décor, to the mismatched china and superb food, we loved everything about this venue and are already planning our next visit.
Seeing Dartford as a Tourist
My final outing in July was to invite my friend Melissa to spend a day exploring my hometown of Dartford and I was thrilled to see that Dartford put on her very best for Melissa! We walked from the train station to Lowfield Street where local residents have put up art work to liven up the hoardings on some of the dilapidated shops. We then strolled through Dartford’s Central Park, admiring the gardens, checking out the children’s play area and walking along the river, and then we walked back to my house for an early dinner. It was nice to see my hometown through the eyes of a tourist and lovely to see so many people out and about on a Sunday.
On A Personal Level
On a personal level, July was a little bit difficult because I was suffering from depression. Long time followers of this blog will know that I often struggle with what I call ‘winter blues’ but it took a little while for me to recognise this for what it was. In retrospect, I’m not surprised – burn out with my studies plus moving house plus a new job plus the death of a pet. What did I expect?
There are two reasons I’m talking about this today, well three really. One, there shouldn’t be a stigma surrounding it. The more people are able to talk about it, the more quickly people can heal. Two, to explain what I do when this happens to me. As you can see from this post, I surround myself with my friends and family and keep busy. I also exercise, relax, sleep properly and eat properly. Eating properly for me entails not eating sugar or gluten and definitely no alcohol. Of all the things I do, it is exercise which has the most immediate, lasting and powerful an impact. Three, to let people know that I am always here to talk about depression, especially if it gets scary. I think it’s difficult to fathom when you’re in the middle of an episode but depression can be beaten, even if the process is the hardest thing you ever go through.
That was a bumper post and if you have stuck out for this long, thank you!
What have you been up to and what does August have in store for you?