Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Fun Days in February 🌞

Hi everyone! I thought I'd chat to you guys about a couple of recent social outings I've had. The title is a teensy bit inaccurate as one of said outings actually happened in late January, but that's all right! Well, let's get into it.

Last month, I got together with Maddie and had a really lovely day out in a very chilly Oxford. I ended up somehow getting the train times wrong despite looking everything up beforehand online, and found myself rushing to the train platform, only to find I had plenty of time, and didn't even need to take the long winded route I'd initially planned in order to arrive at the correct time. Oh well-- better to have time to spare, I suppose! 

Oxford is a city I find to be far too busy considering how small so many of the eateries are, but Maddie introduced me to a café where we were able to get a seat, order some food, a hot drink, and talk in the midst of the hustle and bustle around us. I'd not had a proper catch up with her in so long, so it was great to talk in depth about life, our interests, things we've done, things we want to do, and everything in between. I went for scones with jam and cream, and some Earl Grey-- the perfect companion to a confab. The cream to jam ratio was incredibly odd, though (I got plenty of cream but only a dab of jam in a tiny packet), and I wasn't offered any milk for my tea. It's a good thing I like tea with or without milk!

After a while we decided to go for a little wander, visiting a cute sewing shop where we were complimented on our lolita coats, and into the covered market which I don't think I've ever been to before. Back on the street, I couldn't help finding the masks in the party shop hilarious, particularly due to the fact the Dumbledore one came with its own little spectacles. I was also very tickled by Voldemort's teeth.

Seriously.

We rounded off the day in the warmth of a Costa, drinking hot drinks to warm ourselves up from the cold, before heading back to the train station. 
It was a very relaxed, peaceful day out, and I am so glad I got to know Maddie better. Passing conversations at meets or events definitely aren't a patch on sitting down with someone one on one and sharing different aspects of yourselves. I am really looking forward to seeing her again soon, and watching where her artwork and creativity will take her. 

🌞     🌞     🌞

Last weekend brought more festivities in the form of a day out to London with a few friends whom, once again, I'd not had a real catch up with in so long. The wonderful thing about old cycles ending is the way new ones begin. Hindsight is a powerful thing, and I've been able to fully process the extent to which I had been held back. After feeling unfulfilled socially for longer than I wanted to admit here, or even to myself given how isolated and trapped I had been made to feel, I'm so pleased I've been able to begin building a real network of friends. I'm really excited to be reconnecting with some lovely people, deepening friendships I hadn't had the chance to before, and having more fun than I've had in ages.

Some bad luck
The day started out pretty terribly. I had issues driving down the steep hill that leads to my local station and finally arrived with the sense that I'd probably earned myself a speeding ticket (reviewing my dash cam footage later revealed it seemed unlikely, but I was too busy panicking about other things like being late to think rationally at the time!) I took too long parking and the parking payment machine was aggravatingly slow to process my card. I was just paying for my train ticket when the train I needed pulled up at the platform... on the other side of the bridge. I began running up the stairs and at the top step, my boot got caught and time seemed to go into slow motion. I saw my ticket sailing through the air, my keys springing from my unzipped AP bag, and I watched as I came crashing towards the gravelly ground. I stuck my right hand out, and my body twisted to the right. Most of the impact was caught by my right thigh and my middle finger.

Shaking, I scrambled to pick up my things, taking a split second to marvel about the fact neither my bag or Baby coat were damaged, and continued to run across the bridge, figuring it would all be in vain. As I hobbled down the stairs, the train conductor seemed to be stalling even though the train doors had shut already. "You getting this train?" he called to me. "Yes, please!" I said, and he unlocked the doors for me. Not quite believing my luck, I yelled out a thank you, and clambered on, before collapsing into the nearest seat available, and feeling so grateful that the conductor had been kind enough to wait for me to reappear on the other side of the bridge to make sure I wasn't about to miss the train I wanted. 

When I got to my connecting station a few minutes later, I hesitated on the platform. Maybe I should simply stay on the slow, stopping service, especially as the fast train would likely to be very full and wouldn't have seats available. I got back on my train and patiently sat through a long winded journey, googling to see if my numb middle finger was something to worry about. It wasn't, various websites assured me, and the feeling gradually came back into it over the course of an hour.

By the time I made it to London, I was running late to meet my friends. The circle line wasn't running to the station I needed, so I had to do a bit more long-winded travel. For all intents and purposes, I should have had a very easy journey that day but sometimes, things decide to work against you!

The good bit
Despite all these setbacks, like having an awkward limp all day, and spending the following day in bed to recover from the injury, I was so glad I went on this day out. I met my friends, Emmy, Sabeela, and Taylor, at King's Cross, before heading off to Bibimbap for some food. I'd never been there before and hadn't had much in the way of Korean food yet, so it was an interesting experience for me. I ordered tofu bibimbap, and when it came, I stirred it as instructed by Emmy so that the heated bowl it was served in could distribute the warmth to everything evenly. 
The tofu was cooked to perfection and the vegetables were delicious! I've often had really disappointing vegetarian meals in western style food places like pubs, so this was a wonderful change of pace, and I really enjoyed my food! The prices were also really good for London, and I'd definitely visit again.

Having a good old chat with everyone was so lovely. We'd been part of a lolita community together that sort of disbanded due to people leaving lolita or simply never coming to another meet. We ended up staying in touch, and have now vowed to meet up amongst ourselves as regularly as we can manage even though two of our group have moved to different areas. We reminisced about past meets and strange experiences we'd had in the lolita community, as well as updating one another on our work lives, love lives, and whatever else was new since we'd last talked. Chatting to them about even personal things felt natural and easy. It was really nice feeling so comfortable and un-judged.

After lunch, we headed to Japan Centre, where I thought it would be nice to get some matcha chocolate. I picked up a couple boxes of biscuits that looked promising, but were to turn out to be absolutely ghastly! I should have kept it simple and got some Pocky and melonpan instead!

Taylor, despite the fact it was literally snowing, decided to get matcha ice cream from a stall outside. It admittedly looked heavenly but it was way too chilly for me to indulge! Perhaps in warmer weather I'll give it a go! The colour looked gorgeous and she confirmed that the texture was perfect. 

We warmed up in a café for a little while, then had a look around Primark. Emmy walked past some band t-shirts and commented on how cringey it was the way these bands had essentially become brand names... before doubling back and buying two of them herself! I love it when people can poke fun at themselves! After checking out, we headed back to a tube station so we could begin to make our way home.

I loved how we all came wearing a different style! Sabeela looked super classy in her fluffy coat, Taylor went for a casual goth look, and Emmy went for a comfy alt outfit.

I suppose the feeling I have right now is gratitude. I'd gotten to a point where I was so afraid of trying to reconnect with certain people due to low self esteem,  and convincing myself I would seem strange... and yet so many people have welcomed me with open arms when I asked if they wanted to hang out, and I am overwhelmed by the love and support they have shown me. Yeah, not everything in my life is where I want it to be, but I feel so much better for having had a ton of fun, interesting conversations with some amazing people, and knowing that I'm finally in the place I needed to be to allow this positivity into my life. I've been kicking my anxiety in the arse and it makes me want to do a happy dance. I've got more days out to look forward to in the near future, and for now at least, things are good.

Had any fun days out recently? Ever gone through a process of rebuilding your social life? Do you like Korean food? How about matcha products? I'd love to hear all about you guys in the comments! Thanks for reading and I'll see you next time 

10 comments:

  1. Ooooh, what was that cafe in Oxford you went to? I went to uni there, so I know exactly what you mean about the crowds and not being able to find anywhere to sit (unless it's like a Wednesday morning), but even though I don't get to go back often, it'd be nice to check it out next time I'm down.

    I feel like I'm rebuilding my social life now, though I'm not quite as brave as you to reach out to people and suggest we hang out. Maybe we genuinely don't know each other that well or maybe I am overthinking it and worried, but I feel like I need more time to build myself up for it first. Though having said that reading your post was very encouraging, it's amazing that you're kicking anxiety in the butt and hopefully I'll be able to do that too one day soon.

    Oh my Lord, I fell in love with Korean food when I discovered it! <3 I think if I based my degree choices on food (having the knowledge I have now, not the one I had when I was actually applying), I would've chosen Korean over Japanese, just so that I could gorge on all their delicious stuff. Especially since I'm not too keen on matcha :P

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    1. The café is called Combibos Coffee. It's a cheap and cheerful place, and I was pleased we were able to get seats on a Saturday at lunchtime on a really chilly day! If you're ever visiting Oxford again and you have the time, it would be lovely to meet you as it's an easy trip for me ^_^ I'm hoping I will see you at TPC 10 at least.

      I'm so glad you found this post encouraging!
      It can be incredibly nerve-racking. In my situation, while I had been liking people's photos/commenting on their stuff for a long time, I'd only spent time with them in person on a few occasions and had convinced myself I was too far removed from their real lives at this point (after having wasted so much time isolated within a group that had become overwhelmingly toxic) to be able to approach them. When I finally escaped from the negativity, everything felt very “do or die”. Telling myself the worst that could happen is that people wouldn't get back to me, would make up excuses, or say no prepared me for disappointment, but thankfully, no such disappointment came. I think, for the most part, people are open to anyone who is enthusiastic about making an effort, and comes across as being friendly. Take as much time as you need to build up courage and rapport, and good luck! <3 Anxiety is a tough thing to fight against, but for every time it gets the better of me, there's another time I end up surprising myself, and the result is always so rewarding. Where mental health is concerned, we have to try not to beat ourselves up when things don't go to plan, and focus on the times we do triumph ^_^

      I don't know how I hadn't had any until now! It's so delicious, and there's so much flavour! I've never had matcha "properly" as a cup of tea (I think I'd find it too bitter) but at a past lolita event, I was given the most amazing matcha chocolate in my VIP bag. When I tried to get more, I found out it was a limited edition chocolate, and ever since I've been on the hunt for matcha items that are on a similar level of amazing! The quest continues!

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    2. Oh yeah, I actually know it and I've been there. I discovered it by accident when a friend of mine visited and we wanted someplace quiet to sit down, warm up and play Bananagrams - and that was a Saturday or a Sunday too! One of the students at the college I work at was applying to Oxford and that's made me all nostalgic, so I'd love to go down for a long weekend or something to enjoy it without having much to do, but if I don't manage that then definitely TPC 10. I'm so hyped for it! *.*

      The sort of "prepare yourself for the worst so you can't be disappointed" approach has worked for me in the past as well. And it's true, more often than not things work out well for us rather than the opposite. If only anxiety was a rational thing, then maybe it would've been that little bit easier to overcome or at least find a strategy to beat it more often than not. But one step at a time and a constant reminder not to beat yourself up when things don't quite work out will hopefully get us there.

      As much as I love bibimbap, I think my favourites are actually all the little side dishe that you get. So much variety and flavour, so even though you kind of want to categorise Korean food as spicy, you can't really because of all the other flavours that are incorporated there. Pajeon, which is a thin savoury pancake, is also really nice and pretty easy to make too, I'd recommend that! With matcha I can have very small quantities of it, so up to 2-3 small chocolates or one small cup of tea is enough for me to satisfy the taste. Anything more than that and it starts to get a bit too dry for me, I get bored of it very quickly. Although it's still miles better than mugi-cha, barley tea which the Japanese drink a lot of during hot weather. I can see why it's good for summer, it does quench thirst pretty well, but man, it was horrible, I'll take the I-bore-of-it-quickly-matcha over that any time! :P

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    3. Ah cool! I don't know how it always manages to have seats when nearly everywhere else seems to be a perpetual nightmare! I understand why you'd be nostalgic-- it's a very pretty city and you must have so many memories there. I really love the botanic garden, and would like to visit it again when the weather gets warmer. I find it so relaxing and beautiful there compared with how busy the shopping areas can get.
      I'm hyped, too! It should be a really fun event!

      I think that's the worst part about anxiety. Even if you know what you're feeling is irrational, it's so hard to fight against. I'm definitely not done where learning exactly how to overcome it is concerned (sometimes gradually building up to things works, and other times plunging myself into the deep end is the only way for me to get something done. It's so inconsistent lol) but I am getting better at being patient with myself. I also find that people are slowly but surely beginning to understand it better and be more open about it in general, so there's usually someone you know who you can talk about it with ^_^

      I hear that. Two of my friends got side dishes, so I got to sample spicy rice cake. The only rice cakes I'd ever had before are those crunchy ones that are usually in the diet section of the supermarket so I was not expecting the chewy goodness that came instead. I also tried kimchi pancake which was super delicious, and the flavours are definitely more complex than being merely "spicy". Argh, I already want to go back and try more things!

      I've watched a couple of YouTube videos and apparently matcha chocolate is something you can make at home quite easily (mind you, these tutorials always look easier than they really are). I'd probably only add a little to the white chocolate so it's not too intense/bitter, as it's definitely not a more-ish flavour! Haha, I'll make sure to stay away from the mugi-cha, then XD

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  2. I have a similar problem like you, I'm afraid to ask people out because I have fear that they don't like me that much (anymore) or that we have nothing to talk about and it will became an ankward situation. But recently I'm also rebuidling my social life in the sense of that I choose better with who I spend my time with. I always had some kind of 'friends circle' in my local Lolita community, with people I know since many years, but over the time I realized how negative and even bad some of the people are. But I still met with them, because my other friends where friends with them. However I dediced several months ago to just not attend the meetups anymore. At first I felt a little lonely and left out, and wondering if I will ever be able to attend a meetup anymore, because there will be always at least one of those negative girls. But then I decided to take it in my own hands and just organize a few little meet-ups, even when I was afraid if anyone would attend, but in the end I met lovely new people, and even if I know most of them for just 3 months, we already build a good connection. And of course those 'old' friends who really liked me were also attending, so it showed me again who I can really count on and don't have to be afraid of asking for a meeting.

    Now to another topic, I looove matcha! Actually I don't like the 'traditional' tea, because it's too bitter for me, but I love it in food and all kind of beverages! A local japanese café just announced that they will produce matcha soft ice again after making a break for winter, so I hope that this or next weekend I can acutally check it out haha!

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    1. It's incredible just how similar your experience sounds to mine! I'd had my own circle that formed via a lolita community, but over time, things got more and more toxic and I dreaded having to deal with the constant negativity. It was disappointing to realise that those who I had come to know as good friends were actually pretty horrible people, and I had missed out on spending time with decent people because I was stuck in this miserable situation. I knew I needed to get away but was worried about the loneliness that might follow, as I wasn't sure other people would be open to getting to know me better. But things became so bad that I didn't even care about that anymore, as I knew it would be better to be alone than surrounded by negativity. Getting out of that circle was the best thing I could have done and I feel so much happier and more positive for it! Rebuilding your social life is difficult, but I'm finding it rewarding as, like you, I have the chance to choose better who I spend my time with.

      I am so glad that you have taken the initiative and have created all these nice little meetings where you can be around people who are pleasant and kind. I know how strange it can feel when you're no longer involved in a group, and aren't sure of how to proceed next, so it's wonderful that things have improved for both of us! I'm glad some of your old friends have been supportive, and maybe when a little more time passes, these new connections will get even stronger ^_^

      I've not had the traditional tea as I assumed I'd find it too bitter! I had amazing matcha chocolate free in a VIP bag at a lolita event and since then have sampled different matcha snacks! I'd like to try making my own matcha chocolate, and I will definitely be trying matcha ice cream soon! Have fun at the café and be sure to blog about the experience, haha!

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  3. It was so much fun meeting up with you in Oxford, and I think the cold kept a few tourists away, so I didn’t mind it being freezing! There are some lovely cafés in Oxford once you start looking, although some of them can be a little pricey. I like the one we went to as it seems a bit more laid back. I think some places don’t offer milk with Earl Grey as it’s “not traditional” but they didn’t give you a slice of lemon instead, so it is a little strange.

    Those masks were terrifying! I wonder what they actually look like on a person. I don’t imagine anyone would actually look like Dumbledore wearing that…

    I’m looking forward to planning our next get-together ^_^

    I hope you weren’t in too much pain when you fell, I’m impressed that your first thought was to check if your coat was ok, I would have done the same! It must have hurt a lot. It’s lucky the conductor was so nice, even if the rest of your journey wasn’t so good.

    I’m glad you spent time with friends in London, and that you have friends that look out for your wellbeing a lot more, they sound really nice, and you deserve to be with people that can let you be yourself, and encourage you.

    I love Japan Centre! I always feel like such a tourist surrounded by people doing their weekly shopping, but it’s so much fun to look around at the food and magazines. I’ve had good and bad experiences with matcha – the best ones so far have been when there has been minimal matcha and a lot of sugar, as it’s so bitter (then it’s more like white chocolate with a matcha flavouring) although I’m trying to get accustomed to the taste of matcha tea since I love the preparation ritual.

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    1. Ah, that's true! I suppose going on touristic outings when it's that cold isn't appealing to a lot of people! Yeah, I found it a bit odd they didn't ask me my preference but it didn't affect my experience at least, and I think the prices are really good. I definitely wouldn't mind going again, and also prefer the laid back vibe. I've had full afternoon tea in a hotel in Oxford before and I spent the whole time feeling like I wasn't allowed to speak above a whisper because of the stuffy atmosphere!

      I always find masks like that hilarious in the context of a shop window but I know I would find them super disturbing if I came across people wearing them! That Dumbledore is so tragic XD

      Aw, thanks for your concern! It didn't hurt at first due to the adrenaline but once I'd calmed down it was quite painful during the day (though having fun very much distracted me from it!), and especially in bed that night when I was trying in vain to find a comfortable position! I'm really thankful that not only was my burando intact, but that I didn't fall more awkwardly as I could have ended up with a ~real~ injury then! A day in bed was more than sufficient, and I ended up having a good time relaxing with YouTube videos ^_^
      Unexpected kind gestures from strangers are the best!

      Thank you so much for the kind words <3 I couldn't be more grateful for the opportunity to rebuild a social life for myself, which I wouldn't have without kind people like yourself who have been so supportive and open! If there's anything I've learnt, it's not to put up with bad situations... you could be enjoying your life instead! I wish I'd had the courage to reach out to people sooner but better late than never, and it's great knowing I now have so much to look forward to ^_^

      Haha I completely agree! I always seem to get overwhelmed and make bad choices because of how busy it can get, so I'd like to take my time a bit more next time I'm in there and get a basket of things to try out. Yes, the lovely matcha chocolate I once had was essentially white chocolate with that hint of matcha, which created a nice flavour. I'd like to try making some myself at some point having watched a couple of YouTube videos that made it look (probably deceptively) easy. I love seeing matcha being prepared traditionally, but I have no doubt whatsoever that I'd find it too bitter to drink XD

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  4. Those masks reminds me of David Bowie in 80s movie Labyrinth.
    I think you look happier in last photo. I think you are on the right track by trying to reconnect with people, surely you must be a really nice person to hang out with, since everyone is welcomning you back.

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    1. I sort of know what you mean, though I think David Bowie looked a lot less horrifying!
      I definitely feel a lot happier so I'm pleased to hear that it shows ^_^ Aw, thank you so much! <3 I appreciate the kind words.

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