Nostalgic for a time that hasn’t been

Let’s resurrect this blog, shall we?

If you’ve forgotten who I am, that’s okay. Cos I have too. This year has been… This year has been. Right? Let’s leave it at that. We all know what we’re doing here. Though if I’m honest, it wasn’t a world pandemic (take a shot) that ceased my writing as it’s clear I’d fucked this blog off in January. I don’t know what it is. I love writing. With every fibre of my being. I feel alive when I write. Yet I don’t write every day. Certainly not here, but also not to myself via my journal. I don’t always feel the need to, or feel I have anything to say. Which is okay. You don’t need to bash out three thousand words of a novel every day to be a writer. You don’t need to post a new poem to Instagram every other day to be a writer. You don’t need to write for three years to be a writer. It should be fun. There shouldn’t be pressure. So it’s okay if you haven’t written in a while. I’m telling you this but I’m telling myself too.

Sometimes things happen that are a shock to the system. We feel lost or baffled or sad or elated or fucking fantastic. The feeling doesn’t matter. What matters is that sometimes you just need a second to process it. And I mean like in your brain. Some writers process everything by actually writing it down. But there’s no one size fits all here. If you journal when you’re sad but let things slide when you’re having great day after great day, then that’s excellent. Go and enjoy the right now. If you ignore the bad because you don’t want to ever look back on it, but like to blog the happiest moments of your life, that’s boss, go do that! Just do what you need to do. The words will be there when you need them. Respect them. Don’t force them when they’re trying to rest.

And maybe you’re sat there thinking, Sarah, please, I write every single damn day. Five thousand words for my novel, an insta poem, morning and night journaling and oh, I then usually have fuel to write ten blogs posts a week too. Well, friend, that’s perfect. You too are valid here. Life is not a contest. But you should also feel pride when you accomplish personal goals. I envy you, that you have so many words up there in your mind. Honestly, sometimes I’d love that for myself!

So what are we doing here today? Dude, I don’t know. I haven’t written anything outside of a journal for like ten months. I don’t know how it works. I guess part of me wanted to check in. How are you doing? I’ve been wanting to check in but a lot has been happening this year, covid (take a shot) being just the tip of the fucking iceberg. And I want my words to be authentic and genuine. I don’t want them to appear reactionary. And I fucking certainly didn’t want to be another voice in the shout to make a loaf of fucking sourdough (take a shot). No diss if you made sourdough during lockdown (take a shot). Good for you, looks like a lot of work but seems to have delicious results. Personally, I just fell head first into reading. (I’ll update you guys on my yearly goal at some point but let’s just say we’re doing unbelievably well, don’t jinx me.) I’ve read and I’ve read and I’ve read, books that is. I’ve been trying to avoid news as much as possible because no good can come from it. (I’m aware that’s a very privileged thing to say. But honestly, the news is overwhelming even pre-2020 (take a shot). Just be kind to yourself and know what you can handle.)

But yeah, I wanted to see how you were. How are you? Has anyone asked you that recently? More importantly, have you asked yourself that recently? Have you told someone you love them recently? Have you told yourself? Have you drank water today? Have you taken time to do something rejuvenating? Have you moved your body? Have you eaten a celery stick? No? Thank god, don’t. Have you eaten something comforting and nutritious? Have you eaten a donut? Have you smiled? Have you decided you don’t want to smile and therefore not let anyone change your mind (fuck the patriarchy)? Have you spoken out loud today? Even to yourself. Have you gotten away from your desk and danced around? If you spend the majority of the day on your feet, have you sat down and rested your weary body? Have you worn your goddamn mask? Have you had a coffee? Have you admired the beautiful autumn leaves? Have you had a staring contest with the sun to express your annoyance that it doesn’t allow an autumnal climate in your area? Are you happy? Do you know that if you’re not happy you won’t always feel this way? Say it to yourself right now. Out loud. I don’t care where you are. Whisper it. Have you had enough sleep? Me neither. But one day we’re gonna have to learn to survive without five coffees. Have you blasted a good song today? (My brother sent me a song a couple of months ago and I’m now obsessed with the album it’s from. It’s called VHS by CASTLEBEAT.) Have you showered today? Have you brushed your teeth? Have you asked yourself how you are recently? Did I already say that? Oh right, that’s cos it’s an important one.

These are the questions that have been floating around in my head the last few long long (take a shot) months.

I know the end does not seem to be in sight right now. And if anything, it’s looking worse than a couple of months ago (take a shot). And I won’t lie to you, that’s because it is. But. We’ll get through it. You’ll get through it. You’ll be happy again. You’ll smile. You’ll make daisy chains with your friends and dance around the office. I’m joking, you’ll never do that. But, we’ll one day get to feel that sweaty aroma of the commuter squished up against you on the train. You’ll get to shake hands with that person who just sneezed before they saw you. You’re get to minesweep a drink off the side of a bar from an unsuspecting patron (shut up, you know you’ve done it). You’ll get to open the door of a public toilet after hundreds of gremlins before you have opened it without washing their hands. This is the future we’re dreaming of.

Okay, yeah, it’s totally not. But it’s still funny. I was talking to my friend before and I mentioned how I felt nostalgic for a time that hadn’t happened yet. And I think that’s exactly how I’ve been feeling for months now. I just didn’t know how to articulate it. But that’s it. And it’s okay to feel that way. And it’s okay to dream of future holidays and cocktail nights with the girls and date nights with your partner eating endless salt and pepper tofu and taking your nan for lunch and getting a train to work without feeling physically anxious and dancing all night in a club. It’s okay to want that. And you’ll have it again. Don’t lose the faith. We’ve just gotta get through the right now together.

So I just wanted to say hi. And whatsup. And howdy. And sorry. And hang in there.

You should all be sufficiently drunk off those shots now so I’ll leave it there for today.

I’ve missed you.

Heart Still Beats – CASTLEBEAT

Sarah To Zero

Hi!

You’re probably wondering what the heck ‘Sarah To Zero’ means.

We’ll get to that.

Today, I’m gonna share with you my reading goals for the year! But first I wanted to give you a little review and wrap up of last year.

Last year I had ten goals. TEN. Have I met me? I don’t know why I did that. Although, a lot of them were more just intentions and quite abstract. They weren’t massively rigid. So I think I actually did a good job of hitting them all a bit. I read almost every day. I didn’t allow seven consecutive weeks to pass without finishing a book. I read more women than men. So I’m feeling good about those and they’re habits I’d like to carry into the future.

My main goal was of course, the number of books I wanted to read. I set it at 50 again after a very busy December 2018 reading 17 books to meet my goal. I wanted to reach 50 more comfortably before I moved it up. Sensible, I thought.

WELL.

I only went and read 73 books! I was so bloody chuffed with myself, so it’s okay if you are too. Haha. I comfortably reached my goal in about September and after that I just wanted to see how further I could actually take it. I definitely went above my expectations.

But, you know, I can’t take all the credit. A big shout out has got to go out to my new best friends: audiobooks! For some reason I only started listening to these in the later section of the year. My office thankfully allows headphones and WOW the amount of books I’ve been able to listen to. I’ve really enjoyed the different medium as well, to be honest, and have no idea why I waited so long to try them!

So yeah, pretty solid year I think. I had a lot of fun.

But on to this year. The goals. So they’re ambitious. But simple.

They’re twofold.

I want to read 100 books.

Yeah, don’t question it. It’ll be fine. I already know I’ll be taking part in about three readathons; me and my mate are setting up a book club(!) (did you see my last post?); and I only discovered audiobooks in like October or something and that really boosted my book count so imagine an entire year of them! So I feel like I definitely have the tools to push my 73 up to 100. It’s just a matter of whether I use them.

I want to minimise my unread owned books as much as I possibly can.

This is Sarah To Zero. Get it? This is me reducing my owned unread books to zero. This has been something I’ve thought about for a long time, and actively tried to change over the last couple of years.

I love books.

I want to consume every word ever written. So it makes sense that I’ve bought several books over the years. It didn’t help that in university I lived two minutes away from an amazing second hand bookshop; this is the culprit for many of my books! Couple the buying with the fact I wasn’t reading more than twenty books a year and you are obviously left with disaster and disappointment.

But I want to change that.

And I like to be real with you guys. So I’ll tell you. I started twentytwenty with 214 owned but unread books.

Yikes.

Ideally, I think I’d like that number to be 20.

SO.

We’ve got our work cut out for us. But only I can control this number.

Therefore, making no books a top rule in my no buy for this year was paramount. I picked a 100 books to read because I like to push myself, and also because I think I can do it. But imagine getting to December 31st and only having 114 books left on my shelf. That floods me with relief, even though some of you are probably thinking, what the fuck Sarah, that’s still so many books!

For me, that’s not many.

And what’s funny is I’m desperate to read all the books on my shelf. Otherwise they wouldn’t be there. I wouldn’t have bought them. Or I would have donated them by now. It’s just a matter of slowly working through them. I want their knowledge.

My newfound love for audiobooks is also going to help me out here. I have an existing subscription to Scribd (which is therefore allowed to continue according to my no buy rules) and I’ve already discovered that a massive amount of my physical shelf is on here. Being able to listen to them in work is going to hugely impact my ability to crush through them. Last year I listened to a lot of books I don’t own, because the magic of discovery was so exciting. But this year I have a clear focus so listening to the books that I already physically own will really help me reduce my shelf. So yeah, Sarah To Zero. It’s happening.

And that’s it. Didn’t you see in my twentytwenty post that simplicity is my word of the year? I really mean it.

What are your reading goals for the year? I’d love to hear them! Have you set an unrealistic goal for yourself? Do you want to get back into reading after having a long break? Do you own too many books like me and have a similar challenge to reduce them? Let me know!

Since joining it a while ago, I’ve found bookstagram a really motivating place. It makes me want to read more. So if you’re struggling or needing some inspiration definitely check the world out. My bookstagram is @theunreliablereader 🙂

The Wolves (Act I and II) – Bon Iver

 

Endless Worlds Book Club

I’m starting a book club! Yeah, you heard. And I want you to join!

I’ve wanted to join a book club for a few years now but just never acted on it. Partly because I’m shy. Partly because I can’t be bothered with the ‘big personalities’ that are inevitable to any group. You know the ones. They love the sound of their own voice. And partly because I worried I wouldn’t always enjoy the book that was chosen and then it would feel like a chore.

BUT.

No more.

My friend Carina and I have decided, fuck it, the way to solve all these problems is to simply start our own! And then Endless Worlds was born.

So what do you need to know?

– We want the book club to be accessible to anyone who wants to join. Therefore we’ve decided to pick a book bi-monthly. That gives you lots of time to read the book without feeling pressured or overwhelmed. (For you book nerds who read several books a month, it gives you the time to also read all your personal tbr* as well!)

– We wanted to be able to invite friends who didn’t live locally so instead of meeting irl we’ll be having our discussions on our Instagram page. But if you want to sit sipping a glass of wine pretending you’re at a pub with everyone whilst you type away your thoughts then we’re all for it. I might be too! Tea is also acceptable.

– Our Instagram account is @endlessworldsbookclub and we cannot wait for you to see the fucking amazing logo our very talented friend Beth has so kindly designed for us! You can check out her designs at @designsby.bh on Instagram!

– We want you to bring anyone to the book club who you think would love it. A simple way to do this is to share your book around. As there’s two months to read each book, there’s definitely time for a few of you to read one copy. This will also make the club cheaper for you!

– It won’t just be the bi-monthly books. As we get going we’ll be introducing all sorts of extras for you to participate in! Spoiler: they’ll be super fun!

– What books are we reading? Jeez, could be anything. We’re keeping it very open. Our only criteria is that it’s boss.

– January/February’s book will be announced tomorrow!

And that’s about it.

I hope you’ll join and if you have any questions at all just let me know. 🙂

tbr* – for the non-book nerds means ‘to be read’

Ahay – Of Monsters and Men

My No Buy Year: Rules and Exceptions

So I mentioned in my last post that I was undertaking a no buy year.

What the heck is a no buy?

Well! Simply, it’s whatever the heck you want it to be. Or, rather, it’s what you need it to be. The aim is to cut your mindless spending habits. The outcomes are numerous. It’s supposed to help you:

– save money

– decipher needs from wants

– declutter and minimalise

– spend more mindfully

– break your advertising brainwashing

I’m using it as a way to hit reset. I want to spend this year seeing how I feel when I spend less money. What do I need to be happy? That way, I can move forward into the rest of my life with good spending habits and the ability to stick to a budget (this is something that still escapes me). I think it’ll be challenging but I’m excited to see what happens!

So how does it work?

Typically, a lot of people use it to curb their material buying habits, ie. clothes, makeup, shit you’ve seen your favourite influencer use. Now, I’m not going to lie, I’ve been known to buy a thirty quid water bottle and purchase more books than I can possibly read. However, for me, I know material items is not really my problem area. I don’t really own many clothes, instead favouring a Marge Simpsonesque uniform. I own five of the same black t-shirts, a black hoodie, a couple of shirts and a pair of docs. And, I mean, that just works for me. But, if you’re someone who can’t get through the day without scrolling fashion websites, or can’t walk past a sale in H&M without going in, then this is going to be a great area for you to work on.

This doesn’t just go for clothes though. As I say, books is a big one for me. It could also be video games, anime figures, candles, kitchenware, homeware, tech. Like, it’s not about completely quitting your passions. It’s just about wondering whether we need every single thing we set our eyes on.

So when it’s not about material objects, what is it about?

Oh, where to even begin! It’s eating out, it’s eating takeout, it’s coffee, it’s the cinema, it’s gigs, it’s the theatre, it’s exhibitions, it’s lunch. And more than anything, it’s booze. We’re British, we love the pub. It’s not our fault! Haha.

But no. This is my trouble area for sure. ‘Activities’. But mainly, drinking to excess. And don’t get me wrong, I love doing that. I have some of my fondest and funniest memories from nights out or unexpected daytime pub crawls. And I have no intention of stopping them entirely. But I’m getting to a point where I look at my bank account and think, fuck, what have I got to show for it? Good times, yes. But a house? Savings? Trips to California? Nope! And I’d like those things. So that’s my main intention for my own year.

But you’ve just got to find your own.

Traditionally, some people will take the ‘no buy’ idea at face value. They pay bills and buy groceries but aside from that, absolutely nothing is purchased. And I totally respect that. I couldn’t do it. However, I’m not doing my no buy to punish myself. I’m doing it to learn how to be more responsible with money. To be minimal. To focus more on relationships and relaxation than expensive tech and bottomless pints. And that’s okay too.

Some people will probably tell you that you’re doing it wrong. You are not doing it wrong. Because there are no rules. It is not a contest. It is a self-development project. So set yourself some rules to stick to but also list your exceptions. Write them down and then cement them. Having clear rules will help you each time you go to take your card out of your purse. Having clear exceptions will also help you stick to your ultimate goals whilst having fun. If we didn’t have them, our desperate selves would find a loophole and that’s just not what we want.

I think the overarching idea is to have fun. It’s not extreme to take control of your finances and consumerism. It’s actually quite responsible. But with this challenge comes the chance to have fun where you never would have looked for it before. By eating out once a month, you’re not telling your friends you hate them. Simply find ways to hang out with people that are free. Go to the park, go to a free museum, go for a hike. There’s so much out there waiting to be discovered.

I’m really excited about this year. And whether you decide to embark on your own no buy (or low buy, less intense version) or not, I’ll keep you posted on my journey. And maybe you’ll start to think a little more mindfully in your own spending habits!

My No Buy Rules + Exceptions

– No books

– No physical objects

– Replacements/repairs are fine (deodorant, jeans, think one in one out)

– Gifts are fine, so are birthdays (if someone invites me to celebrate their birthday I’ll say yes)

– No new subscriptions but existing are fine

– Things for education/fitness are okay (gym membership, driving lessons etc.)

– Things for the wedding are fine (my sister’s wedding is due to be the event of the year!)

– One day in Dublin (I made a pact with my mum that I’d go there every year of my life)

– One trip each quarter (these will have spending limits. Glastonbury, Scotland..)

– Eat out with Danny once a month

– Eat/drink out once a month with friends

– Six visits to friends outside of Liverpool

– Twelve cinema trips

– Twelve theatre/gig trips

– £15 for food/drink with each theatre/gig trip

– £20 monthly in house budget (beers, ice cream, treats and such)

– A couple of extra Christmas outings is okay

And there you have it! Those are my rules. I don’t know if people think that’s a lot of trips out or barely any. For me, that’s a lot less than I’ve gone out this past year so for me it’ll be challenging to stick to! As I say, you can choose to do your no buy however you like. Some might cut everything but essentials. Others might just do physical objects. Some might do a mix like me. Anything goes, kids. You should know this on my blog by now! Also remember, you can start a no buy whenever you want, it doesn’t have to be January. You also don’t have to do a year. You could do a month or even a week!

Let me know what you get up to!

Say Anything – Girl In Red

twentytwenty

So I haven’t written a blog post in a long time but let’s just skip over that! I’ve kinda made these beginning of the year posts a tradition so I didn’t want to miss it.

I really like resolutions. I know a lot of people don’t. But I enjoy setting intentions for myself. Goals. Challenges. Mantras. I like to spend the last couple of days of the year kind of just collecting my thoughts and ruminating on what I want for myself going forward.

And I’m feeling good about twentytwenty. I know right, how? This year, and quite frankly, the three years before that, have been pretty shocking. For all of us. But regardless, I think it’s important to stay hopeful, even when the world is exploding around you. Especially then. Whether it’s things in your personal life, work life, or the greater world around you, you’ve just got to keep fighting. Wake up each day, be grateful to be alive, and then get to work. And believe me, I know it’s not always that easy. But you’ve just got to keep fighting. Don’t let the bastards grind you down, and all that.

So I’m moving into twentytwenty hopeful.

I think my word for the year is simplicity. Because there’s just so much noise and bullshit in the world that I just need to keep my mind clear. So my goals are super simple this year. When I think about my life it always comes back to three words: writing, saving and health. So that’s what I’m going to work on. How? Lots of ways. But my main plans are:

Writing – Last year during nanowrimo I managed to write 50,000 words towards a novel. I KNOW! Still can’t believe it. Also yes, I’m writing a novel now, cos why not. Starting January, after a month break, I’m going to begin organising my work by editing, structuring and then writing to fill the gaps. I’m also attempting to read 100 books, because I’m an idiot but I also love an unachievable challenge. Also, I’m in the midst of a project called Sarah to Zero where I try to minimise my owned unread books to well, zero. We’ll see how that goes.

Saving – I’m continuing to fuel as much money as humanly possible into my house isa. I’m also undertaking a no buy year! Yes, I have jumped on the bandwagon and I’m now consumed by the idea. More on this some other time. The basics are you just stop buying things. Maybe learn a bit of mindfulness along the way.

Health – I’ve recently joined a gym which I hope to work into my daily routine. I’m also five months into a yoga for 365 days journey, loving it so far. I’ve also been experimenting with intermittent fasting for a couple of months so I’m going to keep working at it until I find a system that works excellently for me.

And there you have it. I just want to press pause more in twentytwenty. I had so much fun in twentynineteen but I feel like I was always moving. I want to relax this year, lie in bed and read, journal, meditate, cook, do yoga, go for walks, and just hang out with Danny. So that’s what I’m going to do. Hopefully you’ll see me around here more too.

What are your twentytwenty plans?

Vulture, Vulture – Of Monsters And Men

Songs To Cry Your Eyes Out To

I’m actually having a pretty good day today. I’ve had a nice string of them recently. However, on good days I often think about bad days. Not in a way that makes me sad. But in a way that makes me smile. Any bad day you have will eventually lead to a good day. I like to be thankful that I’m experiencing a good day. And whilst I know I’ll have more bad days in the future, I try to push that from my thoughts and just live in the present. Don’t question it. Good days also make me respect the bad days. Because sometimes they are needed. Sometimes we need to completely reset and the only way that happens is by having a truly rubbish day. So I want to focus on that day. Because I think on those days just being by yourself and having a good cry can be really healthy. You should never suppress tears. You also don’t need a reason for crying. People will tell you the opposite but they are wrong. If your body and mind are telling you that you need to cry then do it. If you are able to release something, whatever it is (maybe a bit of stress, some anger from something that’s happened that day, or maybe you just feel like you’re drowning a little less today), then you’re that little step closer to having a good day. And a good day doesn’t have to be the goal, working through the bad days step by step is impressive enough. But having that little inkling of future adventure or warmth or contentment might just push you forward. So to help you on those bad days I’ve compiled a playlist of 100 songs To Cry Your Eyes Out To. Because we all know there’s no better combination of sadness and slow, atmospheric, acoustic music. So close your door, ignore your notifications, lie down and just breathe. Maybe you need to get up and dance when the moment takes you. Maybe you need to thrash your head to get the energy out. Maybe you fall asleep as you listen and feel refreshed when you wake. Whatever it is, these songs are here to help you. I hope you find some new favourites. Personally, the only two songs I might possibly ever need to live are I Shall Cross The River – The Black Atlantic and Human – Of Monsters And Men. They allow me to breathe. I’m sure you have some of your own. I hope this playlist does something for you. Moves something in you. And then who knows, maybe tomorrow will be better.

Songs To Cry Your Eyes Out To Playlist

End of the Year Book Tag

Can you believe we’re already well into September? The concept of time creeps me out. How can minutes and whole months tick away almost without notice? Spooky. Anyway, September is where we are so it’s time to see where I’m up to with my reading and reassess my reading goals for the end of the year. This book tag was created a couple of years ago on Youtube by Ariel Bissett. I thought I’d translate it to my blog cos like fuck I’m making a video.

Are there any books you started this year that you need to finish?

YES. About a hundred. I’m a famous ‘pick a book up, read two chapters, LOVE IT, then completely ignore it for the rest of my life’ type of reader. But to pinpoint a couple? The Fifth Season by N K Jemisin is one I purchased a couple of months ago and have heard nothing but good things about. I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read so far and think it’ll be a great wintery read. Pride by Tim Tate is one I’ve started last week (but famously already put down). I adore the movie Pride and think everyone should watch it. It restores your faith in humanity, recharges your activism and makes you bubble with solidarity. This book is sure to give the exact same feelings. It is set up as a book-long interview with many of the real people from the movie’s story. Lastly, Milkman by Anna Burns. Wow, has this book been hanging over me. I just haven’t been able to get into the reading style yet. But I can’t imagine it won tons of awards for no reason. So I just need to try again.

Do you have an autumnal book to transition into the end of the year?

What else could be said for this question other than Harry Potter? I mean, come on. But in all seriousness, I am wanting to get to Chamber of Secrets this month since reading Philosopher’s Stone in July. I’m working my way through the beautiful illustrated editions in preparation for the fourth book getting released next month!

Is there a new release you’re still waiting for?

I’m actually not usually one for new releases. As in, I don’t really research new books for the sole reason that I despise hardbacks. So I find it pointless getting hyped for a book that I’m not gonna be able to buy for eight months or so. I find books on the grapevine just as they’re coming out in paperback! That being said, the series I’m listening to on Audible right now (Keeper of the Lost Cities) is bringing out its eighth book this year! That’s Legacy by Shannon Messenger. I’ve been listening to one a month so will get to that one right on time. Another book I’m excited for is The Testaments by Margaret Atwood, which is actually out today! I never dreamed this book would have a sequel so I’m pumped for that (in eight months).

What are three books you want to read before the end of the year?

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy, because I’m insane but have just been staring at this book on my unread shelf for years now. A book shouldn’t intimidate you. Right? More Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin because, although these books remind a lot of summer, I just cannot wait any longer to see what happens with all these characters! Just Kids by Patti Smith has been sat half-read on my shelf for too long now. Also, there’s just something about New York in the autumn.

Is there a book you think could still shock you and become your favourite book of the year?

I waited for this book alllllll year (see my earlier comment about hardbacks). All I’ve heard is amazing things about this novel so I just had to read it. Now I finally have it I’m almost too scared to read it because I’ve built it up so much in my head. I’m really excited to read it though! The book is Motherhood by Sheila Heti.

Have you already started making reading plans for 2020?

I have. Have you met me? I’m an obsessive planner. My project is called Sarah to Zero. That’s all you’re getting for now. I’ll give you more details in January!

Called Out In The Dark (Reworked) – Snow Patrol

Vegan Liverpool Pt.2

I’m coming at you today with four new eatery’s that are a must-visit on your next trip to Liverpool! We’ve got a mixture today: one place is fully vegan, the others have some damn good vegan options. I hope you like delicious food, otherwise you’ll hate this post!

Chamber 36

I don’t think I can fully articulate to you just quite how amazing this food is. The salt and pepper tofu is known to change lives. Fair warning. This restaurant is situated right next to the largest Chinese arch outside of China. Makes sense that they serve Chinese food then! They’re actually a Pan-Asian dim sum (think tapas) place that also boasts award winning cocktails. The vibe inside is very chill with some nice private booths. I like it because you could go in jeans or dress up fancy and you’ll always fit in. The tofu and aubergine is a must, as is the tempura. Couple it with an espresso martini and your taste buds will be thanking you for days. Also, I was actually facetiming in the bathroom here when my sister told us she was engaged! So I’ll always love this place.

Frost Burgers

This has become a new obsession of mine. I’m just thankful that it’s nowhere near my office otherwise I’d be buying this every day. I’d seen a couple of Monami Frost’s Youtube videos a few years ago but when this venue was announced I had absolutely no idea it was the same Frost. Turns out it is, she lives in Liverpool, who bloody knew. Anyway, the clue is in the name really, they do burgers. But they also do the most incredible skin-on fries, they have donuts and milkshakes and their famous soft-serve vegan ice cream too. Don’t kill me but I haven’t tried that yet! The burger is just so filling! I can definitely stand behind the garlic mayo chicken burger, that thing is unreal. Their dips are amazing and, to me, the mayos may be even better than Down the Hatch’s! If that wasn’t enough, you can also crush your own can before you recycle it.

Mayflower

Also situated in Chinatown is this amazing restaurant. (We’re Liverpool, we have the oldest Chinese community in Europe, you better believe we’re all obsessed with Chinese food.) Now let me paint a picture for you. You’ve been out since 6pm, a couple of drinks with friends turns into a messy night out, because when does it not? You get to 3am and you’re just gasping for some food, you skipped tea (remember the spiralling drinking?) but you really can’t face another kebab (or vegans, another side of plain chips). What you’re actually craving is a delicious Chinese meal. You know, like a sit down, classy affair? Well, look no fucking further. The Mayflower opens in the evening and serves at their restaurant until 4am. You did not read that wrong. This place will change your life. For all you naysayers, I’ve eaten here sober before and it was equally as incredible. You can’t go wrong with the tofu with straw mushrooms and the salt and pepper tofu (I’m obsessed, can you not tell?).

Wagamamas

I have a lot of time for a big food chain who takes time to make a boss vegan menu. People might be surprised to know that even two/three years ago, vegan options were almost non-existent in mainstream restaurants. All veggie options were heavily cheese-based. So the chains who got out there early (Zizzi, Pizza Express etc.) I actually am happy to give my money to. Wagamamas is definitely one of these. I love having them everywhere in the country for those evenings when you’re starving and just can’t be bothered to work out where will actually have decent options. I can’t lie, every time I go into one I swear I’ll try something new, but every single time, without fail, I’ll order the vegatsu. What can I say? That’s some damn tasty seitan! Even the side salad it comes with is unreal, that’s the level we’re at here. I’ve had the yakisoba before though (back in those pre-vegatsu days) and it was great. Recently they’ve added a dish to their menu that includes a vegan egg. Like come on. Just go!

And that’s it! If you’re mouth isn’t watering then you must be a robot. I’d love to hear your veggie/vegan recommendations – whether they’re in Liverpool or elsewhere!

Confusion – The Zutons

Tattoo Origins: Create Explore Learn

It turns out I haven’t done a single tattoo origins post this year. So it goes.

Today’s origin story is a little quick one because the meaning behind it is important but not complicated.

This tattoo, of all my seven, is unique in the sense that it is the only one without words.

Years ago now, I was looking at people’s tattoos online. Does anyone else do this? I find it has the ability to black hole me, not dissimilar to how YouTube or Instagram can. But anyway, I saw a couple of times these little triangular glyphs and thought they were cute. I wondered if they meant anything or were just geometric artwork. Then I stumbled across a table that had all these glyphs written out with their meanings. They’re things like connect, express and challenge. I liked them. They’re so simple yet would have a private meaning to myself. I’m pretty into coded tattoos, don’t know if you’ve noticed!

I decided I needed them. I looked at all the glyphs but three words instantly stuck out to me and I knew exactly the order I’d get.

So why these words?

Create: I love to write but I often forget this fact. This triangle reminds me to always keep finding words. In my journal, for my blog, or maybe one day for something bigger. Enjoy the magic of building and curating something that’s mine. And do it to move people. In some way.

Explore: Because I love to travel. Who doesn’t? Whenever I feel in a rut or just a little unfulfilled, this triangle reminds me that’s okay. I just need to alter my mindset. And maybe my location. Whenever I go to a new city I search for an Irish pub, a bookshop and a vegan place. It makes each city my own. When I go to the countryside, or the mountains, or the ocean, I take a minute to close my eyes and breathe. To remember I’m alive.

Learn: We are never done learning. And I think people are naïve to say the opposite. Why would you ever want to stop discovering new information? I find the world utterly fascinating. I want to know it’s secrets. But you won’t learn them until you ask. So this triangle reminds me to read, to listen, to build, to try, to have humility. To have patience. And to have persistence. It also reminds me to be empathetic. To be an ally. And to love above all else.

And there you have it.

Wild Roses – Of Monsters And Men

August/NEWTs Readathon Wrap Up

Guys, I did it! I read my nine books for the NEWTs readathon! I’m now a qualified Curse Breaker if someone wants to hire me! Haha, in all seriousness though, I surprised myself there. I can be quite the procrastinator and nineteen days into the month I had only read one book. But I think I’m just so stubborn when it comes to finishing a book challenge (and I really can’t do anything in life without an imminent deadline that I’ll almost certainly miss) that with ten days left of the readathon I just read like hell and did it! And some great books I read too:

The Love & Lies of Rukhsana Ali – Sabina Khan

A YA contemporary that I couldn’t stop reading. On my latest trip to Gay’s the Word in London, I saw this book in three separate sections of the shop! How could I say no? My interest was fully piqued. Moved into action by the deaths of numerous openly gay people in Bangladesh, Khan has fictionalised an American Bangladeshi coming out story. It’s heartbreaking and well as heartwarming. Learning about cultures different from your own is always fascinating and I loved how the simple parts of a culture were also present: food and clothes etc. Whilst I thought the end was a breakneck change from the start, I still enjoyed the journey.

The Easter Rising: A Guide To Dublin In 1916 – Conor Kostick, Lorcan Collins

A book that I stole from my dad and has been on my shelf for years! It’s no secret that I love Ireland. If you didn’t know that about me then, hi my name’s Sarah and I most definitely prefer my Irish heritage to my British. I traveled to Dublin in 2016 on one of our many trips to the capital city. This one was pretty special though. We went at Easter, an April that marked 100 years since the Easter Rising. The rebel’s goal? To demand an Irish Republic separate from the British, in simple terms: freedom. This book takes you on a tour of Dublin through all the significant buildings and landmarks of the Rising. It also introduces you to all the keep players. Very informative and has lovely little human anecdotes to compliment the facts. Also, the writers curate an actual walking tour in Dublin if you’re ever there!

The Mermaid’s Voice Returns In This One – Amanda Lovelace

The last book in this poetry series and I’m honestly gutted. These collections have been amazing and are books I’ll keep coming to again and again. They are not for the faint-hearted. But if you want to get uncomfortable and become a better ally or friend or if you want to work through your own demons then read this. It’s quite honestly perfect. Poems will leave you hollow inside whilst others will steal a smile from your lips. To do both in consecutive pages is a real talent.

The Testament of Mary – Colm Tóibín

I love a good recommendation from a friend. Occasionally they can come with a lot of pressure because what if you don’t like it? Is the friendship over? Fortunately, I won’t find out today as I loved this book. It takes a look at Mary’s life after the crucifixion of Jesus. And damn, this Mary is cool, why does nobody talk about her? She’s strong willed but quietly so. She’s empty after the loss of her family. However she doesn’t believe her son did these miraculous things so she’s finding it very hard to consider him the messiah. Mad right? Just read it.

Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit – Jeanette Winterson

I was supposed to read this book in uni. I wish I had. A lot of the books I chose to read this month had heavy themes of religion. Which is odd as I am an atheist. However, each is uniquely critical of certain aspects of religion. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not actually anti-religion. If it works for you that’s cool. But what these books I’ve read show is how people twist the definition of god with power. They’re not a synonym; at least they shouldn’t be. People abuse the bible and what they think is a good way to live simply so they can have power. In this particular book we’re focusing a lot on homosexuality. Knowing it’s a semi-autobiographical text wounded me a little. I’ll simply never be able to understand why people must try to oppress other people’s right to be authentically themselves.

Women Talking – Miriam Toews

For two years in a Mennonite colony, hundreds of women were drugged and attacked in the night. They were told they were being violated by demons who had come to punish them for their sins. In actual fact they were being raped by a group of men from the colony. This is a real thing that happened. This book is a fictionalised tale of the women’s response and how they fought for their freedom back. It was narrated really interestingly through the minutes of a meeting of eight women from two families. Their friendships and rivalries will restore your faith in the human spirit.

After Dark – Haruki Murakami

I loved this book. I’m not sure it’s going to be for everyone. If you love heavily plotted books with explicit, explained endings then don’t read this. If you like something just a bit bizarre but fascinating then read it. Set in a Japanese city, it explores what happens on the streets when the last train ends and before the first one begins. I think I just really felt affinity with the night people because I’ve always been a night person. I can pin point the moment when I was fourteen and messaging a boy I liked on msn; since then I’ve been staying up past four am. The night is quiet and full of magic. I don’t know, I just liked it.

Neverseen – Shannon Messenger

I’m really getting into this series and I love seeing the characters grow as the books go on. The blossoming moments of friendship are some of my favourite parts of the novel. I don’t read many series so it’s hard to tell you anything about this that isn’t a spoiler (this is the fourth book to the Keeper of the Lost Cities series). However, I enjoyed the change of location for this book as well as the new characters. And that’s all I’ll say..

Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life – Hector Garcia Puigcerver, Francesc Miralles

A solid 3.5 book for me I think. I found it very slow to get into, often getting overwhelmed with references to other works instead of making its own point. I enjoyed the parts about finding your ikigai or your passion/reason for existing/etc., and it was quite inspiring and renewed my own goals for my own life. But ultimately the endless focus on being 100 years old put me off. Getting to that age is amazing but it’s not what makes a happy life and I don’t think ‘being old’ is what we should be aiming for. Life is fleeting and we don’t know when it’s gonna end so I’d say don’t even plan for your golden years, just live the ones you have right now.

And that’s it! I’m moving into September with five books left on my yearly Goodreads challenge! Let’s go 📚

Under A Dome – Of Monsters And Men