Topics of conversation

I find myself talking about the weather a lot recently. We’ve had frost, high winds, days of rain and 22 degree heat – all in the last couple of weeks.

I also find myself talking about the traffic.

Deansgate interchange traffic during the day

Deansgate interchange traffic at night
Day or night, rush hour or not, the express way is rammed thanks to roadworks. Works which aren’t due to complete until August 2019!

I’m so, so glad I don’t have to drive that way to work anymore. Which is another thing I find myself saying a lot recently.

The end of September

The weather has turned in the last few days. The rain was icy cold last night and I took a hot water bottle to bed. We’re steadfastly refusing to turn the heating on in our house, but I know it won’t be long before I crack. I saw my breath in the cold air this morning and I swear there was a glisten of frost on the grass, but I’m choosing to ignore it for now. It has only just turned October, after all.

The last two weeks of September were spent with family and friends. A particular quirk of my current job is that I don’t get to pick when I take my annual leave – it’s fixed into my rota. A fact I wasn’t particulate pleased with initially, but being forced to have two full weeks off work is actually rather nice.

Unusually for me, I didn’t make any travel plans and instead tried to focus on spending time with my people, and relaxing.

Monday

I finished my stretch of night shifts and after a particularly infuriating journey home – travelling into Manchester during morning rush hour is my own personal hell – I made it back and was reunited with my bed. A 90 minute snooze later, I went into town to meet a friend for brunch at Pot Kettle Black – the merguez eggs were divine. I wandered over to the Northern Quarter to take a coat to the tailors before treating myself to a fro-yo, finally cashing in all those loyalty cards I have been holding on to.

Tuesday
I relaxed.

Wednesday



There was afternoon tea to celebrate a birthday and an opportunity to catch up with old friends from my last job – I miss those nutters.

After tea, I drove across the Pennines to see my family.  I finally gave into the germs that had been threatening to ruin my week and went to bed at 7pm. My cousin was up from London and we spent some quality cousin time together in the hours that I managed to stay awake.

Thursday, Friday, Saturday

More sleep and lots of sorting through piles of knick-knacks for a car boot my mother and I planned to have on Sunday.

I also successfully made salted caramel without a thermometer – I like to think it was skill, but really it was just pure luck.

Sunday

I woke up at half 5  for our car boot. We didn’t make much money but we did shift a fair amount of stuff and I had fun people watching. Our unsold wares are to go to the charity shop.

Then it was to Leeds for tea and a catch up with Lyds. We made a friend, who was more interested in our food than she was in us.

Monday

Lunch with my in laws

Wednesday
I went to my first ever book club. We discussed Normal People by Sally Rooney. I did not like the book, but I really enjoyed the evening.

Thursday

I popped back to Yorkshire to go to an event at the Redbrick Mill – a wonderful, converted mill which I have enjoyed visiting for years. I went with R and we chatted about mortgages and solicitors and felt very grown up. We listened to some wonderful bloggers speak, drank bubbles and ate vegan brownies. I resisted the urge to buy all the yellow things.

Friday

I met Em’s gorgeous beagle and we took her for a walk along the river Mersey. Then I met another friend and ended up on another walk. We covered 8 miles and stopped for food along the way. He ordered soup and then nicked my chips.

Sunday

My cousin came to visit. She told me she didn’t eat breakfast because she knew our day would involve lots of food.

We had an insanely delicious pineapple and coconut donut from Siop Shop and then filled our savoury bellies with snacks at Bundobust. We hopped on a tram to the Quays to see the poppies at the Imperial War Museum. I made my cousin share an ice-cream and fed her pho and summer rolls before sending her home.

R’n’R at the Woodland Spa

The Woodland Spa has been on my radar for the last year and I finally visited on Tuesday. I picked up a sore throat and sniffly nose on my nights, so a spa day with new friends was just what the doctor ordered.

I haven’t known Han and Em very long, but three days into working with each other, we were already dressing alike, so I knew we would get along.* And what better way to bond, than to spend the day relaxing and eating.

Lunch at the Woodland Spa, Burnley

A wonderful time was had gossiping in the hydropool, slathering ourselves in mud and steaming it off, almost falling asleep in the serenity pool.The Woodland Spa, Burnley

We eschewed wine in favour of virtuous fruit juices but then had chips with lunch, drank tea whilst indulging in pudding, then drove home through thick Manchester traffic. But it was all good, because we were relaxed.

I had a very good day.

 

* we wear stripes8D1B001F-97F8-4B51-8F1B-55770EE8EBD9

6 Alternative things to do in Berlin

Husband and I visited Berlin three summers ago. We had just quit our jobs to embark on a year long trip around the world. Our first stop was Copenhagen where we spent a wonderful few days eating Danishes and being tourists. My brother-in-law joined us for that first city, and after he left, we ventured on to Berlin.

Here are a few of the things we recommend to friends.

Go on the Alternative Walking Tour, here

Street Art Street 2

One of my favourite things to do on a city break, is go on a free walking tour. This one was a bit different than the usual and took us through markets and curiosity shops, past artists squats and to a riverside beach club.

Sing your heart out in Mauerpark

Mauer Park Karaoke Pit

On Sundays this leafy green park, which was once slap bang in the middle of no-mans-land, turns into a massive flea market full of stalls selling trinkets and secondhand clothes… aaaaaand there’s a giant karaoke pit! We didn’t partake in the singing – for the sake of our fellow patrons, but we massively enjoyed seeing people from all over the world belt their hearts out. If you go late in the day, you can get some really delicious food for cheap as the vendors lower their prices to sell the last of their grub.

Be a film geek at the Messedamm underground pass

As we were speeding walking through this underpass to make our bus to Bremen, it recognised it from a scene in the film Hanna. Once you’ve recognised it – you’ll notice it pops up in the cinematic world a lot!

Drink all of the Fritz Kola

I like Fritz KolaAll the varieties of Fritz Kola

You’ll often find me in Brew Dog on a weekend, not because I like beer, but because they sell my beloved Fritz Kola which is the best soft drink ever, in all the land. Try it. Try all of it!

Be silly in a Photoautomat

PhotoautomatYou’ll run into more than one of these as you wander round the city. The cheapest, and in my opinion best souvenir you can buy. Pop in a couple of Euros and SMIIIILE

Stand above the Government in the Reichstag Building

The Reichstag 2The Reichstag 1Did you know you can visit the dome of the Reichstag Building for free? You can walk up the dome and peer down into the debating chamber of  the German Parliament. All you have to do is sign up here.

 

How to survive a night shift

After a glorious, year long reprieve, I’m back to shift work.

I hate, HATE having my sleep messed around with, but I’m getting better at dealing with it these days. A good thing, because night shifts will be a part of my life for a couple of years yet.

Here are a few of the ways I’ve found to make my night shifts a little easier.

Silence the outside, as best you can
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Our blinds don’t do a great job of keeping the light out so I sleep with a merino wool buff over my eyes. I discovered these whilst travelling as they were fantastic for shutting out the rest of the world when I was trying to get some shut eye in a hostel. They’re breathable and stay on your face unlike eye masks, because they fit a little tighter.

Sometimes I wear earplugs – especially if it’s the weekend or school holidays, because quite hideously, the rest of the world does not stop just because I am on nights. Rude.

Watch your caffeine intake
I have had nights where I’ve downed cup of tea, after cup of tea in the hope it would pep me up a bit. Instead, I’ve found that the caffeine makes me feel jittery and nauseous. Sadly, being up at 4 am just isn’t natural so you’re going to feel tired. Keeping hydrated does help – but I find it’s better to stick to water.

Time your break
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I try and take my break a little after halfway through my shift. Purely because psychologically I find it a boost to have less than half of my shift left to go when I get back to work.

Combat nights nausea with mint
Working nights sometimes makes me feel nauseous and I find that having something minty helps with that.

Eat well
7CE93377-01AE-4B36-A64E-8B8D62B35B62Every night shift I crave stodge, but after making the mistake of eating chips and lasagne one too many times on shift and trying to fuel myself on coco pops, I’ve  learnt that having all those carbs in your belly does not make for a happy worker. The post-prandial slump is made worse by fatigue.

I find eating small snacks throughout the night the most helpful, but everybody is different. Find your own rhythm and consider sticking to fresh, wholesome foods. Having said that, sometimes all you want is a bar of chocolate. Eat it. You deserve it.

Have nap before your first shift
I try to wake up at my usual time the morning of my first night, but then have a nap later on. If you can’t sleep during the day at least try and have a time of rest before your shift. Stay off your phone and let your mind relax.

Plan a treat for the end
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I try and grab breakfast with my colleagues after I’ve finished my last night. It’s something to look forward to whilst you’re working and it’s nice to be able to commiserate with friends who understand how damn tired you are.

What I wore, turning 30

Jasmin, newly 30

Dress – Oasis
Bag – Tu by Sainsbury’s (a birthday gift from my mother-in-law, last year)
Sandals – The Poet Sandal maker, Athens

I bought this dress 6 years ago, to wear to my university graduation. Since then, it has seen me through some of my favourite memories of my twenties.

I wore it the day husband and I went to buy our wedding bands. We bought cheap silver rings from Argos and went to Beef and Pudding (since closed) for a celebratory dinner, that cost more than the rings combined.

I also wore it on our wedding day. We had our ceremony at a registry office and then a barbecue with family. I changed out of my wedding dress so I could slather my burgers in ketchup and not worry about ruining it.

And yesterday, I wore it to see in a new decade.

(Maybe I’ll learn how to iron my clothes in my thirties?)

Tired

The other day, I was complaining to husband about how tired I was.

So tired in fact, that my words came out all in a jumble and I exclaimed, loudly
‘I pooped myself!’

Not quite the phrase I was aiming for.

But now, husband won’t let me live it down…

 

Tired texts