23 November 2016

The Rest

It was over two months ago that I flew to LA on my own. I was meeting a group of people – some I knew, some I didn't. I wasn't nervous. I guess I should be thankful that my anxiety is irrational. The scary things don't scare me. It might be easier if they did.

I welcomed the heat to my skin like an old friend. I had left a long summer behind, over 5,000 miles away, and was happy to see this one. This place I had known from a distance my whole life. 

Happiness hit me, like it does, but with the fog that the drugs promise. I'm figuring it out, I tell myself daily. There aren't enough resources for mental health, you know. Just drugs. The sun's rays fought through, resting on my eyes, lighting me up. What a place to absorb, a scene picked right out of The OC. I forced myself to believe it. A sky with its fresh coat of paint and that pool, a haven, whirring beneath us. How far I had come.

Rest takes many forms. For years I would tell people 'I'm an introvert.' I needed time on my own to recharge. Maybe I grew up, or changed, or trained myself to enjoy talking to people, because now I don't know what I am. Now I like time alone with others. Lying, sitting, standing, in comfortable silence with almost strangers. I am fine on my own, but then it scares me more than anything else. At what point do you tip over? By day five I was ready for the 11-hour, solo flight home.

Home to my new home. Home to my not home. I cried for a week, like I was 18 again, except I had no one to latch onto. I had responsibilities. My mum, instead, took the phone calls, and my God took the night calls. 

When does it start to feel okay again? When does something painful turn into something positive? Four months of misery in my mind, a weight on my head, somehow lifting without me even noticing. My rest – I saw friends more, made new ones, said yes, spoke up, answered, asked – adjusting to a fresh new way of life, richer than I could have ever imagined.  

Now perspective is sinking in. Hindsight – they say it's a wonderful thing. 

I realised I didn't need a home away from home. I didn't need a replacement mum and dad. I didn't need what they were dangling in front of me, but not quite offering. I didn't need church 24/7. I needed to be on my own, to be afraid, to push the boundaries of my faith and what it truly means to be a Christian – to step outside of my comfort zone. Why would I let anyone, or anything, else do that for me?

You have to thank God for the way He is so right about everything. Something shifted. I began to thank Him for it all. For all the stress, the tears, the time. Where would I have gone had I stayed where I was? Nowhere. He gave me the push I needed to go. And I came up for air.

14 October 2016

The Art Shop & Chapel – Abergavenny

There is something very special about The Art Shop & Chapel. I lived in Abergavenny on and off for 11 years and during that time there was never one cafe that struck gold. Until, finally, when I left, of course.
The Art Shop & Chapel is a favourite of every single member of my family and I make a conscious effort to pop in whenever I'm home. As you can see the decor is just gorgeous, it's so warm and homely but not at all old fashioned or twee.
There is always plenty on the menu here, and this time I ordered the smoked salmon and avocado sandwich – probably the best combination I've ever tried. The quality of the ingredients helps, and I know they serve only the best here.

Sarah had the cod which came with a mixed bean salad kind of side dish. I love this place because it offers something for all appetites, from small bites to full main meals, and it's all super fresh and delicious.

Another great thing about The Art Shop & Chapel is that they do an incredible selection of gluten-free cakes. I'm not gluten intolerant but I love trying these options anyway.
Sarah and I got a slice of the chocolate, courgette and hazelnut cake to share, and the waiter gave us a pot of cream to go with it which was soooo good. With cake must come tea, so I chose Jasmine which came with a medjool date – such a sweet touch – and Sarah had opted for the Breakfast. 
We loved the cake! The fact that it wasn't too sweet ensured the taste of the hazelnuts and cocoa really shone through. I couldn't taste the courgette, but perhaps that's a good thing. Regardless, I have to try making this myself soon, it was one of my favourites to date!

If you're visiting Abergavenny you really must visit The Art Shop & Chapel. It's only now that I'm living in Bristol that this wonderful little place has popped up, but that just means I enjoy visits home that little bit more. Find out more about The Art Shop & Chapel here.

7 October 2016

Eatchu – St Nicks Market, Bristol

I don't think I'll ever get sick of Japanese food. Some people have Chinese or Indian as their takeaway of choice, but Japanese will always be my favourite. I could honestly eat ramen and dumplings at any time of day – even for breakfast.

Bristol is not short of Asian eateries, but I'm always going to welcome any new ones with open arms. And so, I was super excited to try the newest addition to St Nicks Market, Eatchu, on my lunch break last week. Gyoza are their thing – a Japanese-type dumpling that I love so much.

Eatchu's process is simple; you choose your filling, sauce and any toppings you want (and you can have as many as you like). I went for chicken (free-range, from Ruby and White butchers!), tonkatsu sauce and added rice and pickles. The gyoza were so delicately uniform and identical, and the filling was compact and flavoursome. The rice was sticky and fragrant, but the pickles were my favourite – I'm not sure what kind they were, though. (I seriously need more pickles in my life).

My colleagues were impressed, too, and we all agreed we could have eaten the same again, right there and then. But, alas, work was calling.

Have you been to Eatchu yet? Guy and Vic are at St Nicks Market at lunchtimes from Monday to Saturdays serving up their incredibly tasty gyoza. A box of six dumplings will set you back as little as £5 and I think that's a great price for what you get. 

Find out more about Eatchu here!
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