April truly seemed to fly by for me. One moment, I was expecting Britain to come crashing down via Brexit, the next thing I know, I am eating out of date Easter chocolate and writing in my diary for May. This April, I’ve experienced so many great moments, highlights of culture, and interesting purchases, that I thought I’d share My April with you! I’ve split my months into ten categories, starting with Books…
For an English Literature & Drama Studies graduate, I have been woefully lacking on the reading front since I graduated in 2017. However, I am getting back into the swing of reading, and have read (or nearly read) two books this month.
The first is ‘Brave New World’ by Aldous Huxley. I was actually meant to read this book three years ago for my Modernism module, and never got around to reading it (whoops… thank goodness for be able to choose what texts to write essays on). I picked it up randomly from my bookshelf, on a whim to relax in a different way than just watching Netflix or YouTube videos. What a fantastic random choice it was! For those of you unfamiliar with ‘Brave New World’, it’s a dystopian novel, set in a futuristic state where reproduction is now manufactured and the social hierarchy determined by intelligence. It doesn’t sound that appealing when you read the blurb, but as soon as I started reading it, I was hooked. The title itself its a reference to a line in The Tempest, and the text is filled with Shakespeare references, which my little academic brain loved. I also had a stirring moment where the words on the page formed into a song in my head. As a teenager, I was a fan of American soft rockers Meg & Dia, and realised that their song ‘Hug Me’ came directly from the pages of ‘Brave New World’! Although it was written in 1931, this novel seems to resonate with the current state of our world and the future we are building towards. I wish I had read it in 2016; I could have written a stellar essay on this book!
The second book is a move away from Huxley’s modernist novel. The book I am currently reading is Tom Hank’s ‘Uncommon Type’. That’s right – America’s, nay, the world’s favourite actor is not only a great director, an apparently lovely person, but he is also a damn good writer. Hank’s book is a series of short stories, from a multitude of genres, all somehow linked together by a typewriter. I’m only halfway through this book, but I can so far say that it is charming and heartwarming. Whereas ‘Brave New World’ made me consider the future of our planet and culture, ‘Uncommon Type’ made me think about my family, my personal relationships, and sweet, nostalgic memories.
Moving on from nurturing the previously book-less void in my life, let’s move on to nurturing myself! I’m not huge on the skincare front; I have a three step process that I do everyday (well, when I remember to) and have a reliable face mask; what more do I need?! However, my trusty Garnier Rose Water cleanser was reaching the end of it’s shelf life, so it was time to change things up a bit. I have wild combination skin; I’ve got a flaky forehead, an oily nose, red cheeks, sensitive eyes, and a porous chin. Truly thrilling, I know. I’m not someone who buys a product for each problem area, and I’m pretty low maintenance when it comes to skincare (if you hadn’t guessed already). So, I was looking for your bog-standard cleanser, that wouldn’t break me out or burn my sensitive skin, was easy to use, wouldn’t cost an arm and a leg, and did not test on animals. Yikes, not so bog-standard then. Luckily for me, after an hour or so of searching online, I came across a product in the shop most well-known for Mother’s Day presents and Christmas gift sets; the Body Shop. Good, trusty Body Shop.
After trying a sample in the store, I purchased the Camomile Sumptuous Cleansing Butter (although, I would say it is more like a balm). You gather some of the product on your fingers, rub it all over your face, and then wash it off with warm water or a damp cloth. It’s so satisfying to use as you can see it literally melt the make-up from your face! It is designed for sensitive skin, uses plenty of natural ingredients, and uses Norfolk sourced camomile. It’s reacted well to my combination skin, I haven’t experienced any skin burn at all, and it’s really helped to reduce breakouts. The best part? It’s only £10. I’ve had my pot for just under a month and it looks like I haven’t touched any of it, despite using it almost everyday. I know that I will be using this one pot for months to come.
April was a month of personal saving for me (more to come on that later), so I didn’t plan to gain any new items of clothing. I’m also working on buying less fast fashion, and only buying pieces that will last years and can be worn across the seasons. As said, I didn’t plan to buy anything, but of course I did (however, it was just one item!). I currently have a love for midi-skirts, and have always had a love for stripes, so when I picked up a skirt in New Look that combined the both, there was a chorus of ‘GET IT!’ from the friends I was with. And so, I did – and have not looked back.
This skirt (called Off White Stripe Linen Blend Midi Skirt on the website, for those interested) sits just below the knee, and it made of a very soft linen blend. It has an elasticated waist, which is perfect for those with a pear or hourglass shape like myself (and also leaves room for post-meal stretch). The material is light enough to be worn in the summer, but thick enough so your pants aren’t on show if it’s a ‘oh god I haven’t done the washing, I only have neon pink pants left’ kind of day. It’s also a great transitional piece for the seasons, as it will look just as good with tights, boots, and a turtleneck in the winter, as it will with a white crop top, sandals and denim jacket in the summer. Not only is it flattering, it’s stylish, it’s comfortable, and it has pockets. They are on the front of the skirt, and are extremely spacious; you can safely and easily fit your phone into a pocket, or your medication if you are out on an errand, or just a safe place to keep snacks. This skirt has become a staple for my wardrobe, and will fit any event I throw at it.
This April, I have been pretty lax on exploring new music, but I do have some recommendations for you. Firstly, Spotify have an incredible playlist called All Out Nineties. It tends to veer towards the indie-Britpop-rock scene of the nineties, with bands such as Primal Scream, Pulp, REM, Blur, and Manic Street Preachers. However, poppy gems crop up throughout, like All Saint’s ‘Pure Shores’, Gabrielle’s ‘Dreams’, and Fat Boy Slim’s ‘Praise You’. I listened to this playlist whilst deep cleaning my flat, and it made the job much more enjoyable. It also reminded me of how lovely Sixpence None The Richer are, and why I should add them to my personal playlist.
Secondly, American pop/hip hop star Lizzo has taken the world by storm and I could not be happier about this! She first came onto my radar of January this year, when she released her single ‘Juice’. This has since become one of my body-confidence, getting ready, pick me up jams, and it has been on constant rotation in my playlists. She has also just dropped her album ‘Cuz I Love You’, which I have not listened to yet, but I am already presuming it will make my favourites of May 2019!
This month’s food favourite actually comes from the kitchen of Chez Moi! Healthy food has not really been in play this month (I don’t want to talk about the amounts of buttery pasta, Wetherspoons chips, or various takeaways I’ve had, amongst the soups and risottos). I adore cooking, it’s the hobby that I am most passionate about, so I was incredibly happy to get back in the kitchen and whip up something from scratch. The best meal I made this month was a Burrito Bowl. I made three portions; one for my dinner, one for me to take to work, and one for my partner to take to work. Here’s the issue – I was so excited by how it looked and smelled, that I didn’t photograph it, I just simply wolfed it down. I did manage to take a Boomerang on Insta Stories, so here’s a poor quality picture of my work lunch.
It was so damn tasty, and contained so many different textures and compatible tastes. It’s a sort of a build-your-own meal, where you can add your favourite toppings to a bed of rice. Here are the toppings I made.
- Diced chicken breasts, coated in black beans and paprika
- Garlic fried mushrooms
- Broccoli, cauliflower and peas coated in a chilli infused tomato sauce
- Guacamole with black pepper and lemon juice
- A sprinkle of lactose-free cheese, and handful of spring onions for some crunch
It took about 45 minutes to cook, and is perfect for those with allergies and intolerances as you can make it your own! It was truly delicious, if I do say so myself.
My bullet journal has fallen on hard times recently (a.k.a I haven’t filled it in). I mean, the intention was there; I created some beautiful monthly spreads at the beginning of April, but didn’t continue on making weekly spreads. However, I’ve noticed that I’ve been much more disorganised without my bullet journal, so have made the active choice to work hard on it for May! So, the thing I am most pleased about in April regarding my bujo, is the cross-over week between April and May.
I used pastel tones in this spread, colours that evoke spring and summer, and it is based from a spread I started and never finished for April. It’s a simple spread, easy to navigate, without a specific theme; that’s sometimes all you really need!
Entertainment (no spoilers!)
For film and TV viewers on the more “nerdy” side, this month has been IMMENSE. Marvel released ‘Avengers: Endgame’; the culmination of over ten years of Marvel films; and HBO has started to release the final episodes of ‘Game of Thrones’. So, I’ve been a very happy nerd, watching superheros and kings battle it out on both the small and big screens. For me, the entertainment event of April was ‘Avengers: Endgame’. I went to an Avengers double bill with my partner and our friends, to see ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ and the midnight showing of ‘Endgame’. What. An. Experience. Everyone who was in the screen was a Marvel fan; you could feel the electricity in the air. It did mean we were in a cinema from the hours of 8pm to 3am, but I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. By seeing the previous film, you become aware of the nuances and small details in ‘Endgame’ that you would have previously missed. I will not post any spoilers for the film, but I will say that I really, really enjoyed it; as a lifetime fan, I found it to be a great ending to the Avengers franchise.
Regarding TV, I have been enjoying ‘Game of Thrones’, but my TV favourite comes in the form of something I’ve had on My List on Netflix for a long time – Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown. This is a docu-series from the late, great chef, where he visits culturally unpopular or lesser known locations, and he explores their culture and cuisine. I’m only two episodes in and I am obsessed. He has such an interesting delivery, you feel like you are listening to a friend walk you through their experiences, with such honesty and realism. I can feel a mass watch of this programme coming on, so I may even talk about this next month!
This month, I started rehearsals with my arts company, StormCloud Arts & Theatre, for an adaptation of ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ we are taking to Stroud Shakespeare Festival. Our production takes place in the 1940s, has modernised language, and a lot of dancing. My evenings have been taken up with script tweaks, character rehearsals, and travel planning, and I’ve loved every minute of it. However, my favourite moment happened at the first dance call of the rehearsal process. I was sat on the floor, unable to join the dancing because of a sinus infection (I’m always ill, it seems), and I watched our choreographer teach the first dance. It looked fantastic. The cast picked it up so quickly, they were so focused, and were also enjoying themselves. I sat there, and took it all in. Our show was coming together! We have a talented and wonderful cast. We’re performing at a festival. It was a personal moment, where I just reflected on how far my company has come, and how all of the hard work is completely worth it.
Although based in Winchester, I was brought up in South Wales. This month, I travelled back home for a fleeting 48 hours for my great-grandfather’s 90th birthday. My family all gathered in his garden for a party, including both sides of my parent’s families (the pro, and sometimes con, of growing up in a small town is that everyone knows each other!). I saw grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and old neighbours. The sun was shining, homemade food was plentiful, and the smiles infectious. It reminded me of the birthday parties of my childhood years. I was so swept up in the event, that I didn’t think to take any photos. But, doesn’t that show how much I was enjoying myself?
My wildcard category for the month is ‘Purchase’. I mentioned earlier that April was a month of personal saving for me. And that’s because my partner and I booked a trip to Disney World Florida. Whoops.
We are both graduates, on graduate salaries, trying to make our way in the third most expensive place to live in the UK, so obviously don’t have a lot of money. However, we are both at what feels like a crux point in our life. The big ‘life things’ are on the horizon, so we thought we’d take the plunge and book something we can enjoy before all of our focus turns to them. So, we put down the deposit for staying at a budget resort, have each made a saving plan, and the countdown has begun! We are going at the beginning of November, and have set the challenge of watching 94 Disney movies before we go. So, be prepared for many Disney themed blogs at the end of the year!
Thanks for reading ‘My April’, and I hope you found some recommendations. Let me know in the comments what your April favourites from the above categories!