Categories
Adulthood Non-fiction Observations Seasonal

Happy Love Day

Valentines day can be lovely. Huge bouquets of flowers, champagne for breakfast and a celebration of the many strong relationships out there. #couplegoals

It can also be sad, lonely and make you feel sick to the stomach. I have heard people in long term healthy relationships wretch at the gushy messages they see or extravagant presents for this commercial celebration.

I’m pretty chill about being single because for the past few years I’ve been working on myself. I now can say I feel I’m better at being me than ever. I’m happier in my own skin and not relying (too much) on others to make me happy – the healthiest way to be. Yet on valentines day afternoon I found myself avoiding social media due to the constant stream of soppy status’ and displays of perfection.

While scrolling and inwardly weeping – mostly due to the fact that my car battery was flatter than a flat thing and I had spent my entire weekend trying to fix it – I found a few gems hidden among the gush. One was from Fearne Cotton. Another from Dawn O’Porter. A third from Charlie Mackesy and all were expressing the same, wonderful idea.

‘Today I’m celebrating all the love in my life,’ said Fearne. ‘The family, the friends, the special people who turned up later down the line, the ones I can’t see or hug.’

This is just it. Everyone has a little love in their hearts. Some more than others but everyone has something. Even, heaven forbid, those who are ‘on their own’ at valentines. And this year this notion is more important than ever. I’m going to celebrate love on valentines day for years to come. Even when I’m in a relationship I will continue to think of it as a day to celebrate treasured relationships that portray, Charlie Mackesy’s words, love in all its forms.

Happy Love Day for a week ago to you all. Love wins, always.

All blog posts can be found at https://www.harrietmills.co.uk/ and to read my published work visit my portfolio. My debut novel, Dear Brannagh, is out now.

Categories
Adulthood Non-fiction Observations Seasonal

My small and local Christmas shop

This year has been different, dreadful and dire for small businesses. Month after month businesses were faced with new restrictions to work with on top of losing business altogether during each lockdown.

I remember sitting at home after a long week at work and watching the news. It was just after Liverpool were put into Tier 3 of restrictions and pubs had to close…AGAIN. I felt tired, gloomy and considered how much longer I could carry on this way. Until I heard her. Until I heard a lady on the news crying out of despair. She wasn’t asking for any more financial support from her boss because she recognised that he was in as desperate situation as her. She wasn’t asking for anything. She was just sobbing at a hopeless situation.

It brought it all into perspective and I felt grateful.

This is why this year I set myself a challenge. Christmas shopping for me in the most recent years has always been a rush. I work in retail and Christmas is our busiest time. I go to bed at night thinking about Turkeys, Hams, Fruit and Veg. By 24th December I know what half of Suffolk are having on their tables the next day, item by item. It’s so easy to head to Amazon and have everything bought within the space for three hours. But Amazon are doing fine.

This year is so different.

I decided I would start my shopping early and on each Sunday during lockdown 2.0 I spent a little time searching. I was well prepared so I wasn’t panicked and my aim was to buy EVERYTHING from small and, if possible, local businesses.

Guys, I think I’ve done it! And I am very happy with my gifts. I even received a package the other day and on the label was a handwritten message thanking me for buying from a LOCAL, FAMILY business. It made me feel warm inside.

Here are a few small businesses I’ve used if anyone is struggling for ideas:

Cocoa May

UK Inside & Out

Pom Pom Etoile

Yorkshire Blankets

All blog posts can be found at https://www.harrietmills.co.uk/ and to read my published work visit my portfolio. My debut novel, Dear Brannagh, is out now.

Categories
Adulthood Non-fiction Observations Seasonal

How’s your January?

Bleak, dismal, grey, tiring, sad, long, monotonous, cold, dark. These are a few words that people use to describe the month of January. How is yours going?

The period after Christmas is always strange. The new year brings a lot of excitement and anticipation initially, but a week in and everyone is scared of the change, worn out by the darkness and fed up with the cold.

I am a firm believer of the condition S.A.D which stands for seasonal affective disorder that many people suffer during the darker winter months.

I’m not afraid to admit that some days during this difficult month I have cried for no reason. I have panicked about the future unnecessarily. I have felt tired and exhausted wondering where I am going wrong in life and then I look outside and realise that it is pitch black and only 3pm.

I wake up in darkness, walk to work in darkness and leave work in darkness. My toes and fingers have threatened to fall off due to being freezing cold. I am running out of warm jumpers because they are all in the wash. My motivation is lacking most days. I feel overwhelmed with my year’s to-do list!

The memes fill social media describing the ninety fifth day of January. The weather reporters bring news of more rain, grey skies and the big freeze. Outside looks bare and spring seems miles away.

However, while running on an extremely bright and beautiful morning this week I discovered some perks to this godawful first month of the year and decided that there are ways to appreciate January as much as any other month:

  • the hope of spring is around the corner
  • there is still beautiful sunshine
  • glistening frost
  • wood burners
  • appreciation of a thick coat
  • there are buds on the trees
  • the first signs of daffodils start to appear
  • dogs look really cute in coats

So there we have it. January. A depressing yet hopeful, beautiful month.

Categories
Observations Seasonal Writing

Appreciating England

There’s a place that I go to and it’s on the coast. Whenever we drive there along the winding roads and through the leafy trees of summer with banks scattered in wild flowers, I am happy. Some flowers are planted for purpose, looking content where they are, some just sprouting as wild as the weeds – I appreciate England.

It’s on the Suffolk coast where I go and the drive continues on roads that are pathways between the never-ending green hills, something that I would miss if ever I move to a city. It is why I appreciate England.

Somebody said to me once “as soon as you reach Dennington the world and everything around you changes”. Look it up on a map, go there. It does. The people get fewer but friendlier because everyone is so relaxed by the fresh sea air that is never very far away. It is why I appreciate England.

That is a reason why we are so very lucky to be living on an island that is surrounded by the sea, never is it far away (the sea that is). Unlike in parts of America, Australia, Europe and Africa, little old England offers a seaside escape wherever you’re anchored. It is why I appreciate England.

The countryside, though in my opinion is the best, is not the only wonderful aspect. The cities are also exciting and have their own reasons to be celebrated. We have old towns like York, huge towns like Manchester and London, pretty towns like Bury St Edmunds and Ely – and these are only ones that I personally love – this is why I appreciate England.

The simple things like glorious sunny days which we look out for more because they don’t happen very often when the sky is deep blue and the sunshine warms the skin. It is why I appreciate England.

The birdsong starting in the early hours of the morning and continuing when rush hour begins for people who are lucky enough to walk to work listening to it. It is why I appreciate England.

The old cars driving along country roads on sunny Sunday’s when everyone is enjoying a day off. It is why I appreciate England.

The sheep filling the fields, and cows and horses and lots more animals. It is why I appreciate England.

The smell of cut grass when the temperature exceeds fifteen degrees Celsius. It is why I appreciate England.

Warm cups of tea and shortbread biscuits. It is why I appreciate England.

Old churches, old ruins, old buildings, just oldness. It is why I appreciate England.

The traditions, the royals, the character traits of moaning and queuing. It is why I appreciate England.

ROAST DINNERS AND LOTS OF GRAVY. It is why I appreciate England.

So there we go, it isn’t all bad and these are only a few of the reasons. It is why I appreciate England.

Categories
Observations Seasonal

5 things that make February great that isn’t Valentines Day

Hello to all you singletons out there, or those in happy relationships who steer well clear of the mushy, gushy romantic yet commercial products that come with Valentines Day.

The heart shaped balloons in all card shops and petrol stations; the cards plastered with ‘I love you’ followed by lengthy verses declaring this love with empty words; the chocolates and sweets that never sell so us lone rangers wait for them to be discounted after the big day is over so we can indulge in the tastiness while binge watching Netflix on our own – bliss.

I may sound rather cynical and though I would happily welcome a relationship into my life, I highly doubt that Valentines Day would be an occasion that I would celebrate – I simply don’t see the point.

I’m all for telling friends and family I love them every day, declaring our love for one another more enthusiastically after a few too many G&T’s at the pub and I am sure I would be the same with my partner, all very true expressions of love. However, Valentines goes that extra mile and quite frankly makes me want to spew.

After filling up at the BP Garage yesterday and witnessing the scenes, I thought I would share with you five things that I think make February a short but sweet month. Here is all that is great about February minus the Valentines garbage.

February means eggs

Yes, though Easter is still a long way off, the British marketing teams don’t fail to impress by bringing out eggs into stores before the end of the festive season. The aisle are filled with tasty delights just when everybody is trying to shift the pounds that they gained over Christmas.

But really, can anyone refrain from demolishing entire packs of Galaxy Golden Eggs in one sitting? Delicious!

February brings lighter days

Yesterday was the first time in as long as I can remember that I walked to work at seven thirty in the morning and it was light. No more torch on to guide me, no more slipping on ice (I hope), no more checking the time to see if I have left an hour or two early by mistake becasue who wants to start work in the dark?!

Not only are the mornings getting lighter but the evenings are drawing out too. I do love the elongated days that we are so lucky to have in England. This was one thing I found when travelling the world. In Australia despite the glorious sunshine throughout the day, it still got dark at 6pm or just after.

Bring on the long nights, the pub garden post work in the bright sunshine and perhaps time for a morning walk too.

February welcomes snowdrops and daffodils

At risk of sounding fifty years older than I am, I noticed the snowdrops coming out on our dog walk the other day and recently too I have seen the start of daffodils creeping up from the ground.

The winter months draw out and after the stunning scenes that autumn brings when the leaves turn a warm orange in contrast to the temperature outside, the bareness of winter can get you down. Seeing the beauty that is spring developing through February is another great thing about this month.

February means warmth

FINALLY, after so long there is hope that in the not too distant future we will be able to venture outdoors without our coats on. No scarf, no gloves, no hat, no layers!

For the first time in a long while I felt the heat of the sun on my back yesterday and it felt good.

February is short

In opposition to January, February is the shortest month of the year and will fly by bringing March. Not wanting to wish my life away but merely looking forward to the positivity that comes with spring and summer.

Happy people, happy days, sunshine, cocktails, lighter brighter months and so much more.

So whether you’re single or not, if you like the soppy romantic lark or loathe it, there is so much in this short month of February to be happy about.

On that note, I best get this post published before the month is out!

Categories
Seasonal

8 things I’ve learned in a festive fortnight

So we’ve done it. Congratulations. We have all survived the festivities, the copious amounts of drinking, the spending too much time in close proximity with family, the last minute shopping and wrapping on Christmas eve, JUST before midnight.

We’ve reached the in between days when, as many memes on social media will tell you, nobody knows what day it is and it is perfectly acceptable to crack open the champers at 10 am.

Almost as if illustrating the slow motion way of life that these days bring in taking hours to get anything done, I have been writing this post for about four days.

So, without further ado, I shall now present to you eight things I have learned over a festive fortnight.

  1. Biscuits are better than chocolates, this year at least

I have found myself living on a biscuit here and there to increase my sugar levels so that I don’t fall over rather than substantial meals during the lead up to Christmas day. Working in retail means that the week before Christmas is chaos and so the consumption of a nutritious sandwich at lunchtime flies right out of the window. Instead, a can of coke or a nice tasty biscuit for breakfast suits perfectly fine.

2. Four legged friends are the best except when they steal your biscuits

Not only has work been frantic over the festive period, but I’ve been house-sitting so been making sure I take good care of a feisty, excitable kitten and the most loyal chocolate Labrador you’ll ever meet. This has been fun and they’ve definitely kept me entertained making me smile throughout the day, however a certain kitten takes a fancy to EVERYTHING I eat. Yesterday she paw planted my scone and took half for herself. Ridiculous.

3. NOBODY is EVER ready for Christmas day

Constant questions to create small talk within shops ‘Are you ready for the big day?’ Who is ever ready? Absolutely no-one. In fact what does that statement even mean?!

4. Sometimes there simply isn’t enough time

Now, I’ve written about making time for yourself and ways to make efficient use of your time so that you have more of it, but I have realised over this year’s festivities that sometimes there simply isn’t enough of the stuff. While sitting down for my forth viewing of the first run through of the film Love Actually and noticing that I’d not even reached the half way mark, I decided that at Christmas, nobody has enough time. This is something you simply must accept.

5. There are so many benefits to walking

Whether it’s a mile long stroll or an eight mile serious hike, there’s so much good that comes from walking. From burning off the extra bubble and squeak portion you gave yourself on Boxing Day to a therapeutic escape with a good friend, if ever you’re at a loose end go out and walk. I have walked so much over the festive period and I always feel great for doing so.

6. Coffee Liqueur is a massive hit

It all started at the work Christmas party when I fancied something (alcoholic of course) different to wine. I was recommended a sort of Irish Coffee which went down a treat and became my night cap that evening too. Then, as if telepathic, my Dad bought me a lovely bottle of coffee liqueur for Christmas. Served on ice, in a cocktail or ice cold from the fridge, the stuff is wonderful and one of my new favorite drinks to end an evening. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!

7. Setting reminders to reply to people is still a thing

Yes, even with three whole days off I found myself setting reminders on my phone to reply to texts that I received days ago yet hadn’t responded to. Texts from friends I don’t see very often and those it was wonderful to hear from. I always find having more time makes me procrastinate more and this showed from my failing communication abilities. If you give me half an hour to do twenty tasks no doubt they will all get completed and if you give me four hours to do the same amount they will still get completed just take four hours.

8. It is never ever too early to start drinking

It’s New Years Eve, I’ve just finished work and I have a bottle and a half of white wine chilling in the fridge accompanied by some sloe gin made by friends and, of course, my coffee liqueur.

It’s never too early, there is always something to cheers to I just have to decide which to consume first! However, my loyal Lab is lying next to me so before things get messy, I shall enjoy our final dog walk of 2018.

I hope it’s been a good year for everyone and I hope 2019 brings you all lots of happiness.