Hello there, 2018!
Unlike the majority of the population, I usually look forward to January. If a month could be introverted, it would be January, wouldn't it? A month of quiet reflection and fresh starts.
It usually indicates a trip to Germany in the Sharples household. This year was no exception, and we duly headed off to Berlin a couple of weeks into January for my annual pilgrimage to the motherland.
But, I can't help but feel... well, a bit flat, to be honest with you.
On paper, it has been a fantastic month. I've had so much to celebrate and be happy about, but sometimes real life gets in the way and it just casts a grey filter on everything. I won't go into the details here, as I would like these reflective posts to be positive in outlook. Suffice to say, I've been listening to Depeche Mode on a loop as the lyrics, as well as that haunting riff, just speak to me right now.
I celebrated my 36th birthday in style at the beginning of the month.
I received the most beautiful hand-stamped Daniella Draper bangle from James and the children, personalised with my motto of "The Body Achieves What The Mind Believes" and with "PERSEVERANCE" inscribed on the inside. Perseverance is my 'word of 2018', and very poignant and apt it has become too: “persistence in doing something, despite difficulty or delay in achieving success”. We had a very enjoyable meal at Pizza Express after school/work on my birthday as you can guarantee it is a fail-safe place to take three children for a meal without having your nerves frayed. Consistently reliable; the Volvo of middle class restaurantdom, if you like.
James and I packed the children off to their grandparents' house the following weekend, ready for our Berlin adventure. We set off about a week before the flight because James gets mad anxiety about delays and missing it. I'm probably being unkind here, as I would jump down his throat if he ever dared to mock my anxieties, but it is rather cute that he checks the M25 traffic reports the day before we travel. Just in case, you know, it is gridlocked for 24 hours and becomes a Darwinist hell of stressed out commuters all out for themselves... ;)
We had an absolutely amazing time in Berlin, and I'll share a separate post with you on this in a couple of weeks. We laughed, we talked, we ate and we walked. That's it, in a nutshell. We walked 40 miles in a 48 hours city break! He's good fun, my husband, and we were very happy in each other's company.
I had a heart-melting moment going to watch my son, Reuben, perform with his school as part of Young Voices at Sheffield Arena. He's been practising since September, and although I could only spot him with binoculars (aided by his uniquely distinguishing funky dance moves!), I was super proud nonetheless. The sheer vision and sound of 5500 primary school children coming together to sing is spine tingling. And of course, he feels like a pro superstar now - as he quite rightly should!
Before the concert, I headed to Meadowhall for a spot of lunch and shopping with my best friend. I introduced her to Five Guys; she introduced me to navy corduroy. We both came away with a new outfit and full bellies. What a day!
The end of the month saw me hosting "Book Club" chez Sharples. Okay, it's not really a book club... it's a group of girlfriends that meet up to raucously cackle and drink gin. Each hostess chooses a new gin and then this sets the theme for the night accordingly. At the inaugural "Book Club" we sampled Bloom Gin and turned up in our wedding dresses. We've since tried Pin Gin from Lincolnshire alongside a feast of tapas, Masons Tea Gin and Sipsmith Lemon Drizzle Gin with quintessentially British scones and cake.
I opted for Monkey 47, a delicious German gin (naturally!), which pairs beautifully with Fevertree tonic, freeze-dried strawberries and sliced pink grapefruit. We had nibbles, we chatted, we laughed... and then we did a quiz created by James. Always has to be involved, that man! It was a really fun evening and I'm already looking forward to the next one in March.
I went to the cinema to see The Darkest Hour with my Dad and was pleasantly surprised by the Churchill biopic. Gary Oldman's transformation into Winston is phenomenal! At home, we've been enjoying McMafia and have just started binge-watching Designated Survivor on Netflix. Seriously, how have I only just discovered this series?!
As a family, we enjoyed a great day out being tourists in our own city. Lincoln is so picturesque and steeped in history, but because we see it every day we don't always take the time to properly appreciate it. We had a lovely walk around Lincoln Castle, picked up a coffee at Basecamp and then ended up in The Collection to view their exhibition on the photography of Tutankhamun. It's a fab little museum; caters for all ages and has a dedicated children's area with historical dress-up and play. The Tutankhamun exhibition has finished now, but the Usher Gallery next door is showcasing some works by Henry Moore from February, so I think we will be back to check that out.
We went out for a lovely Sunday roast last weekend. Where we live, in the countryside, is filled with quaint little pubs and we are trying to make a conscious effort to visit them instead of venturing to our usual haunts in Lincoln when we head out for a meal. The Fox and Hounds at Reepham is owned by the same people who own MaCh, our favourite local Indian restaurant. It is very tastefully decorated, the service was spot on and the roast itself was delicious, with generous helpings of melt-in-the-mouth beef. I'd really recommend it, if you're local to Lincoln. I think we will head back and sample their normal menu soon - I'm all about a good gammon, egg and chips!
As for the upcoming month, we are planning on a quiet one. The Paris Marathon is edging ever closer, so I'm needing to save the miles as well as money in the bank! February also brings Half Term: a week off from school with the little ones. It only seems two seconds since they went back after the Christmas holidays, but I'm looking forward to having them all home for a little while.
So, that's it in a nutshell! If you'd like to catch up on what we got up to last month, you can read that here. Otherwise, wishing you all a happy February and I hope you enjoyed a peaceful January!