Favourite things: Returning home

I’ve been back home in London for a few days now. The weather is about 30 degrees (celsius) cooler than when I left Melbourne on Sunday and while I love the sun and heat, I have been enjoying feeling the brisk air on my face when outdoors followed by that cosy rush of warmth when I venture inside again. The real test will come tomorrow with temperatures forecast to get down below zero overnight and remain that way for the next week. I’m guessing there will be little opportunity to show off my holiday tan.

Speaking of holidays, I am due a post about my month away – an indulgent week in a Thai resort followed by two and a half weeks in Melbourne with family – and there’s a whole lot of stuff milling around inside my head but it’s resisting taking shape right now. But rest assured that something will appear soon…in some form or other.

But right now, I am battling the jet lag and indulging in some cocoon-like time at home enjoying some of my favourite things to do.

Sleeping

I love a good night’s sleep and I haven’t slept through the night since my return. I went to my first yoga session in a month yesterday – which no doubt will hurt quite a bit tomorrow – and then managed about five and a half hours sleeping straight through last night so it’s all going in the right direction. I am trying to be patient with myself / this but I wish it would all just hurry up.

Reading

After an absolute glut of Kindle reading at the end of 2016, I returned home inspired to read some of the stuff that’s been on my bookshelf for a while. At the moment I am really enjoying Michael Chabon’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay before I see him interviewed next week.

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Catch-up telly

My mid-December departure meant that I missed the final episode in season two of the sci-fi series Humans – which has had me glued to my TV screen each Sunday night – and the Strictly Come Dancing Grand Final. Both have been addressed and enjoyed with equal fervor. I also saw that the first episodes of two new shows – The Voice and Let It Shine – had aired so have gotten these under my belt too. My particular jury’s out on these but may return with a more positive verdict in the coming weeks.

Cooking

The thing that I’ve loved the most since being back at home is cooking. I ate so many fabulous meals during my trip but after a month, I couldn’t wait to get back in the kitchen and cook for myself. It was with much excitement that I got my grocery order delivered on Tuesday and made a quick trip to my local fruit and veg shop to fill the fridge again.

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I’ve been planning different meals each night and in my pottering in the kitchen, have managed to try some new things as well.

The day that I returned, I was so pleased to find a portion of my vegetable and chilli mince in the freezer and so I stirred that through some spaghetti for one of my favourite comfort meals.

I’ve also baked some beetroot, a tip I picked up from Mum’s partner Mr Licensed-To-Grill who BBQ’ed these scrumptious suckers while I was Down Under. It was lovely with my crumbed chicken breast and steamed greens. And I’ve been mindful of getting my leafy greens quota up again by stir-frying some chard with onion, garlic, ginger and chilli to have with my Thai salmon fishcake last night. Tonight’s plan is a roasted butternut squash and turkey bacon pasta with a cube of my kale and walnut pesto stirred in…and I can’t wait.

The funny thing about all this is that when I left Australia almost thirteen years ago, my family and friends would never have said that I was great in the kitchen. Oh I could whip up a basic tuna pasta but I was a competent compiler of platters and carpet picnics and the fridge was generally used for wine, cheese and little else. But a penchant for pottering about among the pots and pans has definitely snuck up on me and it was with some surprise that I found myself pining for it.

So until I sort the holiday stories into some semblance of interesting reading, I will be sleeping, reading and wielding my spatula with enthusiasm…and wondering at how Julie Andrews’ trilling about bright copper kettles as one of her favourite things became one of mine.

Strictly Heartstopping…

Every so often I experience something that affects me so deeply, I just cannot get it out of my mind.

Settling in last night with a bit of Ben & Jerry’s, I was all ready to be entertained and uplifted (to a degree) by my regular Saturday night double dose of guilty pleasure, Strictly Come Dancing and X Factor.

But not like this.

After nine amazing performances on last night’s Strictly, this happened:

I was mesmerised. Absolutely spellbound. For the whole 90 seconds, I think I actually stopped breathing.

I kept seeing it over and over in my head all night, despite the brilliant performances on the X Factor Final (part one) that followed.

It was the first thing I thought of when I woke up this morning. And just to double-check I wasn’t imagining it all, I watched it again before posting – twice.

My heart still skipped a beat.

Exciting. Aggressive. Passionate. Uncompromising.

I have nothing further to say on the matter.

ps…oh wait, hang on. I need to let you know that there are only 14 sleeps before Christmas is upon us. That’s only 14 shopping days left so chop chop peeps. You don’t want to be late!

Inspired By…Strictly Sparkle…

So Strictly Come Dancing is over for another year…no more ballroom frolics and latin antics (or should that be ballroom antics and latin frolics?) to fill my Saturday evenings with glamour and wistful longing…and every year there’s a tiny part of me that wonders why I don’t go back to it.  Obviously not at the level that these guys dance at…but that all-consuming obsessive passion that from the very first time, filled me with joy.

It makes me wonder what the next year will bring, where I will find the moments of joy and passion that seemed a little thin on the ground this year. 

There will be those small things like this week’s ‘snow’ moments or great customer service (had a fab experience with John from Oyster Card this week).  And then there are the big changes – life as a single girl and an amazing new job to start in January – which whilst presenting some waters which have not been charted for a while, I have to admit are a little inviting.

In the meantime, there’s a holiday to have and the small matter of a large gent in a red suit that may be popping in to sprinkle a little Christmas cheer.  And as life in 2010 has been a tough ride (for many people), a little more magic seems to me to be just ‘the thing’ for 2011.

So as there are only 13 days left in 2010, I’ve decided to look for a little extra sparkle every day to make sure I get plenty of practice for 2011…does welling up during the Strictly Final count?

ps…and on another matter, 1 week people, 1 week…that’s 7 sleeps to go (just in case you missed the widget-thingy on my blog).  Hope you’ve been good this year!

pps…and congrats to Strictly winners Kara and Artem – you were my favourite!

12 Festive Sleeps to Go…Winning Performances

Well it’s that time of year when  two of my favourite shows start drawing to their inexorable close – Strictly Come Dancing and X Factor.

X Factor will finish tonight in a blaze of stage effects, judge’s tears and testosterone now that it is down to Olly and Joe and for my part, I would love Olly to win.  Entertaining, cheeky and gutsy…although it will be a fight to the end and in two hours time, the artist with the ‘Christmas Number One‘ for 2009 will be announced…

But more than that, I loved this weekend’s Strictly.  All of those amazing, amazing performances and the most wicked Argentine Tango from Ricky and Natalie…I just so want them to win.  So nothing pleased me more than to see them go through to next week’s final. 

So there it is – my votes for the winning performances.  Saturday nights will just not be the same without them…

Strictly Super…

Dear Strictly Come Dancing

How excited am I…you are back – with two nights and 16 dances a week…wicked!  Brucie’s on form, Tess looks great and I’m lovin’ the new two night format. Giving the celebs the chance to do a Ballroom and a Latin routine right from the start is definitely ‘the goods’…just think, we’ll never know what hidden talents all those poor early-exit-ers from the prior series may have had that we never got to see. 

So who are my faves at this early stage?  Well here’s my top 3:

  1. Craig Hollins – he looks way too cute (bit like Dec from Ant ‘n’ Dec don’t you think?) to bring on a mean tango and then a rauchy rumba. But bring it on he did – way to go sunshine!
  2. Ali Bastion – gorgeous and talented and can’t believe she’s not danced before. But time will tell – I’m not so sure I can see her in a cheeky salsa or sexy samba but amazing for week 1 – you go girl!
  3. Ricky Groves – the dancing technique may be a bit suspect but man o man the boy can give it some!  Could not stop grinning at his cha cha cha…fab-u-lous!

And about Martina Hingis being the first to go? Honestly, I was not really fussed either way and Len did hit it bang on with the donut-without-the-jam comment (looks great on the outside but a bit disappointing once you get into it) but she was very gracious and kept smiling so good for her.  More gutted about Matt Cutler exiting with her…sigh…

5 days to go until my next fix of sequins, stars and Strictly…how nice to have your glitz and glamour back for a few short months…and looking forward to your brightening up the chilly evenings ahead.

Yours in dancing

Quickstep Kym