Shamefully, July is nearly over and I haven’t blogged in so long. Another casualty of Brexit.
Delightful living conditions
The freezer was defrosted due to necessity. To be honest, it’s been on my list for a long time, but defrosting is always such a hassle, especially when you have a fridge freezer and even more so when there are two people sharing a fridge-freezer combo.
Hilariously, once my flatmate had put her ice cream in the icebox of our backup fridge (it’s all very complicated, I can’t explain it, because I don’t understand it!) and put a teatowel on the floor, she felt things were handled.
This was not my first rodeo, so I took over. Tea towel, begone with your lack of absorbency! Hello kitchen hand towels which were due a wash anyway! They went on the floor and so began the exchange of hot water trays.
Should you ever need to defrost a freezer in a hurry (a few hours, rather than all day. Let’s be real here, this is a CAVE OF ICE), I would suggest removing the drawers, rotating a selection of oven trays filled with hot water on the shelves with the door closed, a plastic spatula (NEVER A KNIFE!) for chipping and a good deal of patience.
The trays should be half filled with hot water. This will melt the ice. The melt water will collect in the trays and in the bottom of the freezer where you have placed rolled up towels. On the floor in front and under the freezer, you will have placed more towels to collect runoff. All these are important. Every twenty minutes, empty the oven trays, wring out the towels, see if you can chip off any big chunks of ice, replace the hot water oven trays and towels, close the door, walk away.
Remember to take out and clean the ice tray at the top of the freezer.
When everything is empty, be sure to clean the inside of the freezer and the drawers properly and also the seal of the freezer door (ideally a whitening toothpaste on an old toothbrush to really clean it out effectively). Leave it for a bit to cool down before you replace the drawers and switch it back on.
To be honest, I can’t quite remember any fabulosity coming from me, but I did see people. I connected with some former friends of my ex-boyfriend and travelled to Guildford to see them. I had been quite nervous about it, but it was actually fine! People are generally lovely.
I met with the boyfriend of a former colleague (who is now a friend of mine) and his nephew on the day of Brexit and, aside from some spectacular cursing and some light despairing, I did a good job of showing them around the area and being welcoming. The pressure of leaving Europe had begun. I wanted these Americans to like the UK, damnit, even if we are overrun with racists. Plus, we saw some unexpected peacocks, so that was also great. I very much pretended this was a regular occurrence and that I had anticipated their existence. And I taught the boys how to get nibbled by koi fish.
I didn’t do any hosting at all, but I did show my mum and some friends of friends around London without anyone getting lost or bored.
Confident in the kitchen
Somehow in June there was a screw up with our freezer. I think one of us left the door open. Anyway, everything thawed and, rather than panic, I defrosted the freezer (see above), determined what could not be rescued (various meats, sadly) and then spent an evening in the kitchen making things with what had to be used.
It wasn’t until afterwards that it struck me that I knew what I was doing. My flatmate doesn’t love the kitchen, so she only had to eat a tub of icecream and throw out some bread. She watched me make a bread and butter pudding (I keep the ends of bread for this exact reason), whip up a petit-pois-heavy macaroni and cheese, create actual meals from frozen spinach and, other than sweating over the oven on a hot evening, I didn’t stress about it. I just did it.
Okay, none of the things I made were gourmet and yes, my dinner that night was an inadvisable three kippers and a LOT of peas (note to self: don’t have more than one bag of peas on the go at a time), but I managed to make things that I could restock the freezer with and I didn’t unnecessarily waste food. Pretty good result.
I did not find a husband this month. What I did do was “get good” with being single again. There was a point, and I’m not proud of it, where I was pushed up against a man on the tube and I may have leaned on him longer than was necessary. That was when I thought I might need to stop being single immediately before someone reports me to London Transport Police. I may also have sniffed him. I miss the smell of aftershave and the weight of a person next to me. A man person. Most of my girl friends are tiny birds compared to me (actual quote from a friend “wow, you do not look this heavy!”) and if I leant on them, they would be squished.
That being said, I am well aware of the danger of longing for a man just to tick some boxes. I read a few articles which really spoke to me. I often feel I am “too much” for the men I meet or that maybe I should just “get past” that weird thing that annoys me and stop being quite so picky. This month I decided that actually, no, I should still just hang on a bit longer for someone who fits better.
In active developments, I went speed dating twice. Once with my flatmate in Richmond for an older crowd (I lied about my age to get in. I did then have a fabulous chat with a man about spa treatments, off the back of his “you look very young, you must look after yourself” comment) and once in a cool bar in Soho.
I’ll probably do a separate post about those evenings, but ultimately I didn’t meet anyone special. I met nearly 40 men and had an amusing time with most of them.
This month I met nearly 40 strange men, stood up to difficult colleagues at work and went to a fancy work event where I had to network. That felt like enough.
Healthy Mind & Body
I had a good few evenings in where I went to sleep and I had a good few evenings where I phoned friends rather than felt miserable. I also did quite well at drawing boundaries at work on contentious issues, rather than become embroiled in drama.
Art and culture
SO MUCH ART AND CULTURE IN JUNE. Firstly, I went to a talk at the Fashion & Textile Museum which was hosting a series of talks to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday. “Creating The Queen’s Style” was presented by Michael Pick and focused on Norman Hartnell and Hardy Amies, the main designers who helped Her Majesty create a powerful and fashionable image in the early years of her reign. It was fascinating to have someone so knowledgeable explain the details behind the outfits, how the Queen Mother was quite creative and flamboyant, whereas the Queen couldn’t follow fashion, but needed to still be of the fashion of the times. Princess Margaret had all the fun, as one could imagine.
The Fashion & Textile museum also had an exhibition on Missoni at the same time, which I highly recommend. It focuses on the influences from a range of artists and the productions of Missoni’s pieces. They’re so colourful that you can’t help but be amused.
Less amusing this month was the Call Me By My Name exhibition in the Migration Museum in Shoreditch dedicated to the refugee “jungle camp” in Calais. A friend from book club was part of the team and a group of us made an excursion to see it. I had anticipated being moved, and that was definitely the case, but I hadn’t expected to experience such hopefulness. The camp has it’s own mini-economy and recording studio and people have done what people always do: get on with life. That being said, one of the first pieces was a collection of counterfeit life jackets which refugees had paid a small fortune for and which would never have saved a life, had they fallen in the water. They were often just polystyrene blocks inside a fabric jacket with branding on top. That was difficult to look at.
I went a bit mad and treated myself to a ticket to the ballet on a random Saturday afternoon. I sat with an Australian woman who had just run a marathon and left her 5 month old baby with her partner for the afternoon. My achievements that day were breakfast and a shower. It was nice to chat to someone who had an idea about ballet, because while I enjoy it, I don’t necessarily understand it. The afternoon in question was the Royal Ballet’s Trio: Obsidian Tear / The Invitation / Within the Golden Hour, the first one of which was very modern and predominantly male dancers. Very impressive.
June was when I kicked some arse at work. The UK has changed it’s regulations with pensions and the government is rolling out a scheme which will see every (eligible) employee enrolled in a workplace pension scheme. Previously, you had to opt-in to a scheme, your workplace just had to provide one but didn’t have to pay in and a lot of people just…didn’t. Now everyone will be automatically enrolled in a pension scheme, your workplace will pay into it as well and if, for some reason, you don’t want to, you will have to opt out and in three years you will be re-enrolled and have to opt-out again in the future.
The idea is to make it easier and more attractive for people to save for their future.
After a huge row with my ex-boyfriend, I got on our pension scheme at work. It was terrible. Work didn’t pay in anything, but at least I was putting away some money.
Then we were given our auto-enrolment staging date. Without going into details, the whole management of the system was a shambles. The HR/finance colleague who was dealing with this just chose not to. We were given incorrect information and discouraged from asking questions. As it approached our staging date (1 July) the few colleagues who had pensions with the company already were having more and more frustrated conversations. I decided, as the native speaker of the group, that I would write to HR/Finance and get this sorted out. We talked about it, strategized and came up with a plan. We played to our strengths. I can write a good email. Another colleague actually knows about pensions. The other colleague is good at research. Together we made a good team.
This was lucky, because it turned into a fiasco. There was even some yelling (not from us, thank goodness). The end resolution was that our colleague who was supposed to sort this out, just…stopped. She escalated everything to our Director and he suggested we have a quick meeting. I prepared a five page questionnaire and refused to leave until all the points were covered.
I learnt a lot that month about pensions, fees, projections and investments. I also had to work out my own contributions and get myself organised. This was a Good Thing, albeit terrifying to a certain extent.
In June I went to Brighton to see one of my best friends, eat ice cream and watch The OC. It was bliss. We walked along the beach, (I) ate far too many sweet potato fries and it was an absolute delight.
I continue to struggle with this. Mainly because I don’t know what I want to do or what I should be doing and it’s easier to give priority to other activities.
I have been called by the Bullet Journal and I think it may well assist here.