Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Prodigal Escapist Returns

OK, I dropped the ball. Apparently, I needed escapism from my blog about escapism.

I'd love to say that the absence of blog posts has, in fact, been the ultimate tribute to my subject matter... an ironic and postmodern exploration of escapism, if you will. But while that does me more justice than I deserve, it's not too far off the mark (however unintentional). Quite simply, I've been busy escaping!

January is often maligned as a dreary, long month of scrimping, saving, dieting and generally dealing with the fairly horrifying return of the full working week. But in retrospect, mine was OK. Largely thanks to friends, food, prosecco and my Christmas presents of box sets and an electric heater, I'd even go as far as to say I rather enjoyed it.

Fig and goat's cheese tart at the Imperial, King's Road
With the exception of the 5:2 diet, which only requires willpower for around a third of the week, I haven't really stuck to many of my half-hearted new year's resolutions (which included 'blog more'). And you know what? I'm not even sorry!

Here's what I've been doing instead so far this year, thus evading the January blues:

1. Blasting away the last of the food-induced lethargy with a walk on Holkham beach in Norfolk

2. Discovering the joys of Game of Thrones, Girls and, um, What Happens in Sunny Beach

3. Revelling after work at the new Piano Smithfield bar - then (regrettably) pestering the pianist for not taking my requests. 'Hey Mr Pianist, I've asked you three times....'

4. Playing endless rounds of Would You Rather... with my housemate (marrying the delightful 'Nips' from Sunny Beach features in rather a lot of these unthinkable dilemmas)

5. Discovering QuizUp, a highly addictive app that allows you to challenge your friends in any subject under the sun: so far I'm faring particularly well at Harry Potter, internet slang and, surprisingly, general knowledge. I am performing less well in the fields of botany and flags of the world. Challenge me if you dare!

6. Gazing awestruck at the incredible images at the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition at the Natural History Museum.

Image: Essence of Elephants, Greg du Toit, Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2014
7. Learning a lot about how to - and how not to - casually interrupt celebrities' conversations at the National Television Awards. Bridget Jones' classic 'Do you know.... where the toilets are?' is a fail-safe.

8. Listening to my friend's rather lovely Spotify playlist, What Love Feels Like, including John Legend, The Wannadies, Audrey Hepburn and lots more.

9. Beating my terrible habit of avoiding life admin:  Proud moment #1, we finally took down the Christmas tree on 26th January, and even prouder moment #2, put up curtains in my bedroom after eight months without them (sorry, neighbours - show's over).

10. Reading Philomena for Book Club. It's the heartbreaking true story of a troubled Irish boy whose mother was forced to give him up, and the eye-opening future that awaited him in his new life in America. So, so good. And not at all like an episode of Long Lost Family.

11. Using my new Taste Card to get 50% off at all manner of random restaurants. Then thinking, screw it, and blowing the budget with fabulous (and very much full-price) dinners at Foxlow and the Modern Pantry - both in Clerkenwell and come highly recommended!

12. And while we're on food, I must mention a recent Saturday brunch of sourdough, grilled halloumi and crushed avocado, and the most refreshing orange juice ever squeezed, at the Imperial in Chelsea  followed by an epic riverside walk past the fairy lit Albert Bridge. Let's just ignore the sore feet and thunderstorm that followed.

13. Catching up on awards-season movies. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty in particular is perfect for the 'new year, new me' mentality, although beware - it may make you want to sack it all in and go on an adventure.

14. Speaking of which, much of the month has been spent planning imaginary visits to friends in New York, Africa, Dubai, New Zealand, Spain and Paris (chances of me affording to go on all of these said holidays? Zero).

15.  Wearing my friends down until they join the Anthony Nolan bone marrow register - and joining it myself of course. Genuinely, this is the most worthwhile thing I've done so far - if you're 16-30, go for it! Simple way to do your bit and, maybe one day, save a life.

16. Saying 'I feel like 2014 is going to be a good year!' A lot. And meaning it.

Image: Pinterest.com

So that's one month filled, eleven to go. Not all very inspirational or virtuous I'm afraid, but we've survived it - January is DONE.
But wait, what? It isn't spring yet? (Sorry, the premature blossom in Holland Park isn't fooling anyone). We've still got months of no-man's land, that void between seasons, before the daffodils, chicks and Easter Eggs arrive to make everything better again.

But on the plus side, we've got a brand new calendar to populate and endless possibilities of how to do it. And fortunately, we have the best city in the world to keep us entertained.

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