Get To Know Me

I found this on The Patchwork Fox so thought I would also give it a go… It’s nice to find out a bit more about the person behind the posts!

Are you a morning or night person?
I can be both depending on what day it is… Sometimes I’m so productive in the mornings, other times I’m pretty sedentary. I do find myself to be more creative at night though.
Are you afraid of the dark?
No – I love the dark.
Are you an extrovert or introvert?
Definitely very introverted, though I’m good at appearing to be extroverted if I need to (definitely have to have the next day off, though).
Are you double jointed?
No.
Are you left or right handed?
Kind of both – I write, throw, and catch left-handed, but I eat, play guitar, and use a PC right-handed. Technically I can write with my right hand but it’s not great!
Are you more of a tidy person or a messy one?
“Organised chaos”. Yes, my house may look like a mess, but I still know where everything is!
Are you on time or always late?
I’m usually horrendously early to the point where I inconvenience myself. Oops.
Are you ticklish?
Awfully – especially my feet. I will injure you if you touch there.
Can you curl your tongue?
Yes.
Can you ice skate?
Yes but it’s not something I do often – it’s a really nice thing to do in winter though and is lovely and relaxing.
Can you wiggle your ears?
No.
Coffee or tea?
I really like both and I can’t choose so I’m giving my favourite types for each instead – smoky lapsang for tea (tastes like bonfire), and nocciolino for coffee, which I first had in Lanzarote (beautiful hazelnut coffee).
Cookies, cake or doughnuts?
Again I love all of them! So oatmeal and raisin cookies, strawberry and cream cake, and apple and nutella doughnuts.
Did you ever participate in a talent show?
Yes, in school – our whole form did a dance to Church by T-Pain and it was so cringeworthy (it’s still on YouTube, to make matters worse).
Did you go to prom?
Yes I went to two – one at 16 and the other at 18. I even got in the local paper! (only because I arrived horrendously early though, as mentioned above)
Did you like school?
I loved it, as I went to an all-girls grammar school and it felt very safe and intimate. I still suffered through being bullied, but at least at school I could really focus on my subjects and I had a strong group of friends by my side.
Do you believe in ghosts?
I don’t – I would change my mind if I saw strong evidence though.
Do you bite your nails?
Not really.
Do you consider yourself a good cook?
To a point – I can cook a variety of different cuisines and recipes, and I really enjoy cooking. Hopeless at not following a recipe though!
Do you enjoy dancing?
Yes – I used to do salsa which I love.
Do you enjoy DIY or crafts?
Again yes! I paint and draw in my spare time, and I also love needle felting. Hopeless at finicky things like jewellery making and sewing because I’m so clumsy and inept but I’d like to get better!
Do you forgive easily?
Usually no – I tend to hold grudges and ruminate on them for a long time.
Do you have a nickname?
My partner calls me Ham, but he’s the only person to do so. It’s got to the point where it’s weird if he calls me Hannah now! My step-daughter also calls me Tinkerbell because the first time she met me (over five years ago now) I was wearing a green dress and had blonde hair.
Do you have any allergies?
Yep, allergic to chillies. (I love them so much though ): )
Do you have any phobias?
I guess I’m afraid of death… My biggest phobia is singing in public though – I absolutely hate it and it makes me so anxious.
Do you have any piercings or tattoos?
Yes – nine ear piercings, one nose piercing, and one nape piercing, so eleven on total. No tattoos (yet!).
Do you have children?
No and I don’t think I want any, but I have a wonderful stepdaughter who is nine and full of energy.
Do you have pets?
Just Chongololo, my Giant African Millipede.
Do you have siblings?
I have one sister who is eight years younger than me.
Do you prefer dogs or cats?
I couldn’t possibly choose!
Do you prefer Mac or PC?
PC because I’m more familiar with them, but I know Macs are better really.
Do you prefer the beach or the mountains?
I absolutely love both, but I’m going to say the beach because I constantly have a yearning to be on one. I live by the sea and couldn’t imagine living anywhere without it now.
Do you prefer to bath or shower?
Shower for convenience, but bath overall because you can also have candles and wine and a book.
Do you sing in the shower?
Only when I know no one can hear me.
Do you smoke?
No I don’t.
Do you speak any different languages?
Ja, ich kann Deutsch sprechen. Tambien aprendo español ahora.
Do you still have your wisdom teeth?
Yes, they’ve finally come through.
Do you still watch cartoons?
Of course! Adventure Time is great.
Do you/have you played any sports?
I don’t, but I do run and swim when I can.
Does your name have a special meaning?
When spelt ‘Hana’ it means Japanese flower, and I think my spelling of the name means Grace (pretty ironic, really).
Have you ever been hospitalized?
No, actually.
Have you ever been on a diet?
Yes, I tried Keto and it was great but I couldn’t keep up the cost!
Have you ever been to a concert?
I’ve actually only been to local gigs, as we have some great local bands in Colchester and the surrounding areas.
Have you ever gone camping?
Yes and I love it – my favourite camping experience was sleeping under the stars at the highest camping ground on Mt. Kenya.
Have you ever met any celebrities?
I mean I did once nearly trip up Lembit Öpik at Victoria Station… Does that count?
Have you ever skipped class?
Who hasn’t?
Have you ever won something?
Yeah, I won an art competition in a magazine when I was a kid and won five singing Westlife dolls. I’ve also won some other art-based things as well.
Have you had braces?
Nope.
How are you feeling right now?
On a sugar low – Genuinely ate doughnuts for breakfast which I now regret but I get a unicorn hot chocolate soon to feed my addiction. 😛
How tall are you?
5ft 5.5 (that .5 is important, you know).
If money were no object what would you get for your next birthday?
A round the world holiday with my partner.
If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?
Definitely Fuerteventura – I love it so much I just keep going back! I’d love to move out there eventually, as it’s such a beautiful island and exactly what I like – arid heat, blue clear ocean, and loads of volcanoes and trekking routes.
Were you ever a scout or a brownie?
My Mum wouldn’t let me because it was too far away from our house, so no.
What city were you born in?
I wasn’t born in a city but in Colchester, a town.
What did you last eat?
Cake. (Yes I know, I promise I’ll go on a diet soon).
What did you want to be when you were younger?
A paleontologist – I was absolutely obsessed! I even made my own book, complete with coloured dinosaur drawings, showing all the research I’d done into the subject (this was when I was eight).
What do you do on a typical Friday night?
I usually stay in with my partner and we play games or watch films – sometimes we’ll also go out for food with one of friends. In the summer we go swimming in the sea in the evening which is lovely.
What is one food that you refuse to eat?
I wouldn’t point blank refuse to eat any food but I can’t stand the texture of avocados.
What is one item on your bucket list?
To dip my feet into every ocean in the world.
What is one item you can’t live without?
I try not to be too materialistic but I’d struggle without my PS4!
What is your shoe size?
One foot is 4.5 and the other is 5.
What movie have you watched repeatedly?
Inception, Love Actually, and Baby Driver.
What phone do you have (Apple or Android)?
Android – Huawei P20 Pro as the camera is incredible.
What should you be doing right now?
I should be putting the washing out… I’m sure it can wait another 15 minutes!
What’s one goal you would like to accomplish this year?
To finally have the house sorted out.
What’s one of your pet peeves?
Groups of people walking in horizontal lines on the pavement and refusing to move for you… I hate that!
What’s the last song you’ve listened to?
Does it count if it was in a dream? If so then Psycho by Muse.
What’s the most expensive item of clothing that you own?
I actually have a coat that cost £250 from TK Maxx about six years ago… It’s absolutely beautiful and I feel like a Russian princess when I wear it but I still don’t know what was going through my head when I bought it!
What’s the thing you can’t leave the house without?
Anadin Extra for my migraines!
What’s your best physical feature?
I like my eyes and my ears.
What’s your Chinese sign?
Monkey!
What’s your current obsession?
Getting Platinums in every game I play, my spirituality, and reading.
What’s your dream car?
I’m not really into cars if I’m honest but I’d love a VW Campervan.
What’s your favourite animal?
Octopus! And manta rays. And sea slugs. And anything aquatic, basically. And bugs, I like those too.
What’s your favourite book?
That’s a tough one… Anything by Marian Keyes or Ian McEwan.
What’s your favourite colour?
It depends but I’d say that beautiful shade of blue you get in tropical oceans.
What’s your favourite dessert?
Crimble crumble!
What’s your favourite drink?
Alcoholic would have to violet gin, and non-alcoholic would be tea and coffee.
What’s your favourite food?
Argh, these questions are all so difficult! Probably something Japanese or Korean, or maybe African.
What’s your favourite foreign food?
See above!
What’s your favourite gadget?
My phone because it’s so useful.
What’s your favourite hobby?
I have lots – gaming, drawing, reading, writing, invert keeping, gardening…
What’s your favourite movie?
Either Inception or Baby Driver.
What’s your favourite restaurant?
I love one of our locals, The Albert, for their steak and chargrilled chicken, but I also love Memories (I just can’t afford it most of the time!). The Siege House is also great as they do a beautiful fish mousse.
What’s your favourite sandwich?
Not really into sandwiches, but probably something Mediterranean.
What’s your favourite season?
Summer for sure – I need heat and sun in my life to function.
What’s your favourite series?
For TV I’d say Brooklyn 99, for anime I’d say Attack on Titan, and for gaming I’d say Kingdom Hearts or Spyro.
What’s your favourite snack?
Hash browns!
What’s your favourite sport to watch?
I don’t really watch sports.
What’s your favourite thing to have for breakfast?
I love homemade porridge with raspberries and shredded coconut.
What’s your full name?
Hannah Hebden Read. Weird middle name, I know!
What’s your longest relationship so far?
Over five years, with my current partner.
What’s your lucky number?
11, but I also like 42.
What’s your star sign?
Capricorn – a goat because I’m stubborn and eat too much!
When is your birthday?
January 11th.
Which city did you grow up in?
I didn’t – I grew up in a village.
Which city do you live in now?
I still don’t live in a city! I’m by the sea and I love it.
Who do you miss right now?
My Aunt – she died a few years back and there hasn’t been a day where I don’t miss her.
Who is your celebrity crush?
I don’t think I have one!
Who’s your favourite fictional character?
Again there’s so many… maybe the entirety of the Brooklyn 99 precinct?

That took a surprising amount of thought! If you also answer these questions then please drop a link in the comments as I’d love to read them!

Biddy’s Tea Room, Norwich

Norwich is a wonderful city, full of quirky and original experiences. One such place is Biddy’s Tea Room on Lower Goat Lane, rated as the best café in the city centre. It’s so popular, in fact, that when I went at lunchtime I ended up being turned away as it was completely full, however just walking inside told me that it would be worth the wait, and when I went back just after 2pm I managed to get a seat (one of only a couple available, mind).

Biddy’s Tea Room is the type of café one might describe as quaint, with cosy decor including bookshelves and various artwork on the walls, and the cutest tables made out of chests. The premises consists of two floors – I didn’t see the top floor, but tables here can be booked out due to the café’s busy nature, and the ground floor consists of several rooms and the main food area. They have different menus for different times of day, with a wide range of options to please every visitor.

One of these menus is particularly special – their tea menu. Biddy’s Tea Room don’t just offer the regular coffees and teas, but also their own unique tea blends which sound just fantastic. Whilst there I tried out the Russian Caravan, a blend of Ceylon and Lapsang, which was as wonderful as it sounds. The tea arrived in a gorgeous dark green teapot alongside a porcelain teacup and saucer, and the menu was quite useful in that it explained what made up each tea and how long it should steep for. There were also plenty of caffeine-free options.

Onto the food… All I can say is wow. Due to the time of day I decided to opt for something a bit lighter for my lunch with a dessert alongside it, yet I was still stuffed by the end of it! I had to eat it all though as the tastes were so beautiful. For my main lunch course I opted for a latticed pork sausage, apple, and sage sausage roll – an exquisite blend of flavours. It almost looked too good to ear, but I’m glad I did! The sausage roll slice was served with a side of coleslaw and dressed salad, and as well as filling it felt healthy.

I went for a rather decadent dessert after a recommendation from staff – a banana, caramel, peanut, and chocolate truffle. I probably didn’t need it given how filling lunch was, but the richness and sweetness of the dessert was well worth it. It was also beautifully presented, and something I’d definitely order again.

I don’t have anything but positive words for Biddy’s Tea Room – the environment was cosy and relaxing, the staff were brilliant and more than helpful, and of course the food was gorgeous. The only downside is it’s not right next to my house! I know for sure that if I go back to Norwich I’ll just have to visit the café again, and I strongly recommend you do as well.

Emotions Go To Work

Artist: Zoe Beloff
Gallery: Firstsite, Colchester
Dates: Sat 19th Jan – Sun 24 Mar 2019

Out of all the different types of art in the world, installations are something I’ve always been drawn to for the way they can take over one’s senses and provide a multi-dimensional insight into the mind of the artist. Zoe Beloff’s latest installation, ‘Emotions Go To Work’, does just that with an immersive and evocative experience.

Technology is weaved into our worlds now whether we like it or not, and Beloff’s aim with this installation is to explore the history of it in the sense how it is has been anthropomorphized, from a retro Betty Boop cartoon to the emojis of the current day. She looks at how both we have shaped technology and how it, in turn, has shaped us back, and asks us to strike a balance between the two.

When I first walked in I’ll admit I had no idea what was going on, presented with a variety of different videos and art pieces with QR codes next to them. Booklets were also on display which are necessary to appreciate what Beloff is presenting us with, but no individual signs by the art. The space the exhibition is hosted in is small with lots of things happening at the same time; printed pieces of art showcasing faces and emojis, cardboard cut-outs of ‘smart’ devices such as a washing machine and a TV, and several videos playing at the same time – the Betty Boop cartoon by Dave Fleischer, illustrating everyday objects suddenly coming to life with excessive emotion (a 1927 cartoon called ‘The Little Screw’ is also played, portraying a similar concept), an Internet of Things video based on a commercial for IBM, and a short, silent video of the Marey Motion Studies, showing the instrumentalisation of moving image media from the very beginning.

I didn’t get as much from the cut-outs, needing an explanation to truly get what they were saying, but what did catch my eye was the Internet of Things video – exploring what technology can do for us now and how personable it is, whilst slotting sinister words such as “carcass” and “terror” into otherwise positive and empowering sentences. Loud, strange laughter from the Betty Boop video in the background reinforced this, making it a powerful watch. The artwork of faces were also interesting to explore, capturing both freedom and limitation within expression, but the videos were what truly made the exhibition for me.

The topic is certainly current and I found ‘Emotions Go To Work’ to be thought-provoking, especially in the context of how readily our species is being transformed by the things we ourselves have created. I wanted more from it but I can appreciate the concerns of Beloff, and perhaps her exploration of the topic will allow us to delve deeper into this world we designing and achieve that balance before it becomes unattainable.

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine

Author: Gail Honeyman
Genre: Romance/psychological fiction
Published: May 2017

I’m not sure what I was expecting when I first picked up ‘Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine’. It was a book I’d had my eye on for a while, despite not reading the synopsis – I think it was something about the cover, and the title. I guess I’d imagined some sort of cosy, simple read – not too thought-provoking, perhaps, but an enjoyable story that I could easily get my teeth into. Interestingly I was both right and wrong with my expectations, but in a way that meant it was better than I’d hoped for.

Eleanor Oliphant lives her life in the most basic of ways – Monday to Friday she goes to work and comes home, and at the weekend she stays in her house and drinks vodka. She’s perfectly fine. Different, maybe, but nothing wrong with her life at all. Until she discovers her first friend, IT guy Raymond, who makes her realise that there’s more to life than tinned spaghetti hoops and avoiding social interaction, and instead helps her to journey from isolation to discover who she really is.

Eleanor is an interesting protagonist, because she’s just so odd – at the start her actions and mannerisms seem bizarre, and it took me a few chapters to get used to her way of thinking. I was quite taken aback by her, if I’m honest , for she wasn’t what I was expecting. She’s a strongly developed character that certainly has her own voice, and Honeyman’s clever and consistent writing style allows us to become immersed in her personality – a difficult feat, as there are many facets to Eleanor that the reader won’t necessarily be able to relate to. I could sympathise with her experience of loneliness (as I’m sure many of us could nowadays) though her way of thinking was quite unusual, yet somehow Honeyman manages to make Eleanor’s confusing and quirky mind accessible.

Raymond is a wonderful character as well – the exact opposite to Eleanor in a way, yet also isolated. His completely different approach to the world enables Eleanor to cautiously emerge from her cocoon of a life, and he too begins to see things differently through her. Eleanor’s first impressions of him are quite harsh, noting his slovenly dress and smoker’s aroma, but she eventually warms to him as she realises that there’s more to life than her way alone.

The interactions between the two bring so much warmth and humour to the book, and once they’d met I just couldn’t put the book down. Much of the comedy comes from Eleanor herself, unintentionally, as she struggles to grasp with concepts most of us take for granted (why someone would want a Hollywood wax, for example). It’s not just humorous though, with a much darker and more poignant side to the book that increases as she embarks on her change of character. As we read further through the book more and more is understood about her past, and the reasons behind her strange outlook on life start to make sense.

The main message is focused around loneliness, but it’s actually much deeper than that – I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but let’s just say that it’s not as simple a plot as one might think. That’s what makes it so brilliant though, and why I physically couldn’t stop reading it, finishing the whole book in under two days and sneaking every opportunity I could to pick it back up. It’s been my favourite book of 2019 so far,
the world so beautifully crafted and the characters so unique. Even with a satisfying and wholesome ending I felt sad that it had to finish – that’s a sign of an excellent read to me. 5/5

Welcome!

The first post is always the hardest for me – I’m itching to get on with a whole myriad of posts, but I guess I better introduce myself first!

I’m Hannah – I’m 26, and I live in the rural depths of Essex, UK. We’re right at the end of the line in my town – if you go too far you drop off the edge. It’s a beautiful, thriving, seaside town in the summer, and a beautiful, desolate, seaside town in the winter, and even though I love it I constantly have the desire to explore further afield.

Me in my sandy, salty comfort zone

There are many people more well-travelled than me, but my adventures have lead me throughout the UK, into a variety of different European countries, and into Kenya, with Diani Beach being my furthest point away from home so far (Technically I’ve also been to Turkey and Dubai, but apparently it doesn’t count if you just visit the airport…). I have so many more places I want to go to, and that’s one of the things that inspired me to set up this blog – not only do I want the experiences for myself, but I want to share those experiences with other people.

Expect a lot of reviews about Fuerteventura, my favourite holiday destination

It’s not all about going abroad though, as I also want to share what our wonderful tiny island in the North Sea has to offer, from cafés and restaurants to galleries, exhibitions, and outdoor experiences. Often we take our homelands for granted and never truly explore them the way we should, so from this year forward I’m going to put a stop to that (for me, at least, but hopefully for you as well!). Another passion of mine is reading, and so I’ll also be reviewing books both new and old, for those days where it’s actually much nicer to just sit at home, cosy in your pyjamas and with the company of a cup of tea and a good read.

Sometimes there’s nothing better than a good book (or fifty)

I’ve done a lot of other writing in my spare time as well – I currently reviews films and games for CEX, and I’ve also had a column in a local magazine and written voluntary pieces for various different publications. I used to write for eHow, too, but now it’s time for me to focus on what I love to write about – sharing my experiences with the world so they too may make the decision to experience them as well.

I want this blog to be a space where comments are made and discussions are held, rather than just my voice, so I encourage as much interaction as possible! I want my posts to be inspiring, and convince others to maybe try something they haven’t (or something they have – sometimes you just can’t have too much of something). I’m not going to sell you anything, but rather give you some ideas. If I’ve made you think about trying something new for yourself, then I’m happy.

The blog will undergo some redecorating soon so is a work in progress, but any feedback is gratefully appreciated! I’ve added all my contact details and social media to the ‘About’ section of my blog so feel free to get in touch, otherwise I’ll hopefully see some of you around on my future posts. 🙂