The summer is upon us and we are not broken because the barbarians at the gates will not win. Whilst we live to fight another day, let’s try and get some joy for summer and beyond because it is much needed.
Welcome to the soft summer or summer of softness or soft girl season… whatever you want to call it, I call it the summer session. Welcome to your season; you are not available for anything that does not please you, in any way shape or form. This season is about you and your pleasure however you take it. Let’s take it all the way.
First things first;
Check your breasts often; it takes us five minutes of a morning to make sure we are well within as it is without so often enough, check yourself. There are videos online showing you how to do this, your GP should hand you leaflets on how to do this, so just do it.
Get your smear test; yes you know those letters from our doctors inviting us for the annual or bi-annual smear tests, they are important. Whenever I think about not going for my smear test, I am always late by six months at least because it is uncomfortable, I always remember Jade Goody; her memory serves as a reminder to always take care of ourselves and put our health first. So get smeared it will take you ten minutes if that of some discomfort. Also, a good nurse will tell you what it is and why it is important, and if you test positive for HPV which is what the smear tests checks for, the necessary steps to ensure it does not become cancerous. So please get your smear test done. It is free.
HPV; High-risk human papillomavirus can cause cervical cell changes to develop into cervical cancer.
Get your teeth checked and cleaned; the dentist is never a pleasant visit, I don’t know anyone who enjoys going to the dentist, but what’s worse is a toothache therefore strive for a twice yearly dental clean and check up and more important, make it.
Go for the full medical; check your eyes, check your insides, get a colonoscopy, tests your stamina. If you are fortunate enough to have a private health insurance via work, those things are life savers therefore do not skip getting checked inside and out. If you do not have one, ring your GP and try and get one on the NHS, there are practitioners that offer them.
Do I sound like your mother right now? Good because self-care is also about the basics as well as the fundamentals, and right now, in a world raging, nothing is more fundamental than caring for ourselves, inside and out.
Change your sheets; how often you change your sheets is up for debate, but you should change your sheers regularly and invest in good sheets; these are the foundations of a good night sleep. It is just that simple.
Get A Good Night’s Sleep: whilst some will have you believe diet and exercise count for more, I am of the opinion that a good night’s sleep is the key to a better mental health. Look, I am no expert but I have been doing this long enough to know that when I do not get enough sleep, I am at my worst. The summer months are even more awful because I am an insomniac, one of those who watches TV to fall asleep and sometimes I simply do not get to bed in time enough therefore, I have structured a solid night time routine. I do not always follow it, because life reasons, but I try to stick with it as much as possible and when I do, it works. This post is a start and still rings true.
Go outside often; inside will make the world at large feel intimidating not least because we have been inside for too long so please make time to go outside as often as possible. Make this the summer of outside too.
Get your summer salad recipe on point; summer, the season of salads and easy feeding, eat in season and east your greens, I know I don’t always do that either, but eat your greens. Find a summer salad recipe that you know is tried and tested and stick with it. Something you can chop up with a steak, seafood, avocado etc. This is my tried and tested.
See an exhibition that moves you; the summer is one for exhibitions, therefore see one that moves you, whether it be Munch at the Coultard gallery, or A Year In Art; Australia, at the Tate Tiffany at the Saatchi gallery, see an exhibition or two or three, that moves you this season.
Have an awesome dinner at a fabulous restaurant; La Dame De Pic is such a restaurant at the Four Seasons in Trinity Square.
Ynishir in Wales is a restaurant on my dream list, it is really en experience, about 20-30 courses, they say, with a Michelin star since 2014; seasonal food and all locally sourced. I want to go here and it is on my list. It is a place you stay a while so a long weekend is in order. If it is not on your list, it should be, I have only heard great things about it.
Road trip- Cambridge; Cambridge the enchanting, what an utterly lovely place it is and it is perfect for a road trip/train trip too because what we are not going to do this summer is get on a place because the aviation industry is in flames. Throwback to this post for my trip to Cambridge.
Picnic season; it is finally here!! I love a good picnic because it is the ultimate time for getting together with friends and family so pack a picnic basket and head on out to see your people. Go here for my picnic and here too.
Read some romance; it is the summer of love so read some romance, bring in the softness and find time to read some frivolous meanderings of our beloved characters. Go here for my summer reading list.
Dress up for afternoon tea; tea did you say, why yes of course, I have a whole podcast dedicated to where to have afternoon tea so go here, listen, pick a place and play dress up. Listen here.
Brunch outside as often as possible; I love brunch so much and I make an epic brunch menu which you can find here and most of my brunch posts here. But also make an effort to meet with friends and waste time on brunch; bottomless and beautiful even better.
Catch a matinee; what are you doing on Wednesday at noon? Let’s go see a matinee of whatever is on in the cinema, indulge in sweet and salty popcorn, hot dogs and massive cups of fizzy fanta without ice because who are you heathens having fizzy fanta with ice?
Get a National Art Pass; see as many exhibitions for half-off as much as possible this summer with a national art pass for fifteen quid for three months. It is likely that you will extend this to a year because Art is Awesome (cheese!) but get an art pass and indulge in some truly spectacular exhibitions. Go here for the art pass.
See To Kill A Mockingbird; Aaron Sorkin has written an update on this classic that Harper Lee would most certainly be on board with. Its in the theatres in London so do go see it. Tickets on sale here.
Use sunscreen; often and always.
Spend 8 hours in Paris; the joy of living in the proximity of France is that a trip to Paris is always a good idea. Paris has grown on me, a lot in recent months, maybe its that thing of being indoors and only dreaming of travelling when we most wanted to do it, but we are at an advantage that means we can hop on a train because planes are not our friends. See what I got up to when I spent 8 hours in the city of lights.
Mani Pedis season; yes I know, cost of living crisis but sometimes we just gotta live a little so whilst we are not going to our favourite nail salons to get the gel done, we are painting our fingers and toes. Essie always has an incredible range available in boots. The quick dry is a game changer.
Eat Spanish; Brindisa is one of my favourite places to recommend for friends coming to London and in need of some flavour. The gambas al ajillo; garlic king prawns is literally the best thing ever so eat here.
Host your nearest and dearest privately; If you are still gun-shy about dining in a restaurant, then try a private dining room with your nearest and dearest. One of my favourite places to dine privately is The Crypt in Fortnum and Mason in Piccadilly. From the original structure of the store the rare gem hosts twelve with a wine cellar that has some incredible vintages. It’s pretty spectacular and one of the incredible spaces in which to hold a welcome to life type party post pandemic. Good for wine tasting too.
Wine Tasting In London; I know, I know, wine tasting and London are two things that do not go together, but I promise you, it does. London Cru winery in South Kensington offers up a really wonderful wine tasting experience with all British grown grapes, made and bottled in the UK. For more details, go here.
Chase the sun; catch the sunrise or let the sun catch up with you by waking up just before for the most spectacular moment of day, as the night goes to sleep and the sun makes her grand entrance. It is something magical.
Days at the beach; make time for beach days near or far, make time to be near the water because water is restorative for the soul. Mwnt is my favourite beach in Wales, possible in the UK and if you can go there, you totally should.
Roadtrip to Wales; what do you do when you have sister with a big barn on a farm in one of the most picturesque places in the UK? You go there for some sister time. Which is why Pembrokeshire is always a good idea. (sorry I am never going to stop using that expression) See what I got up to on my last visit here. Also I did a whole podcast about Wales which you can listen to here.
Another of my favourite beach is Worthing; sandy, and more peaceful than her rebellious older sister in Brighton which is full on pebbled.
Take long baths; even in the summer take a long and indulgent bath every evening, push the boat with a glass or bottle of bubbly, throw on your favourite podcast and get swept up in the moment.
Do Nothing; I am big fan of empty moments, by dint of being an introvert, I love the quiet therefore I have moments of doing nothing, maybe too much of that but take the time to do nothing; empty your brain of everything and do nothing.
Siesta; as a child in primary school, we always had to take a siesta and I rebelled against this so much. Right now, I would kill for an afternoon nap. So bring back this time honoured tradition and have a siesta as often as you can.
Table for one; take yourself out on a solo date, I am wild on solo dates because it reaffirms the most important relationship you have; the one with yourself.
Babysit the babies; you are an aunt or godmother for a reason, pay it forward by gifting your people with a night off and babysit the babies. Popcorn? Check. Hot chocolate? Check. Movies? Check. Blankets and cushions on the floor? Check.
Fair warning you will watch Peppa pig, and Sofia, and frozen and all those weird and wonderful things children love… go with it, it is just for the weekend.
Champagne; its the morning after babysitting weekend; crack open a bottle of champagne and drink from the bottle because you survived.
Soft Life Summer; do not start a new project because you will simply stress about completing so put things on pause, we are all about the enjoyment this season; projects will wait, life won’t.
Make memories in the unknown; my sister booked tickets to see the killers in concert by herself and I wish I’d gone with her when she had me on Facetime as they closed with one of only two songs I know; Mr Brightside. It ended up being the most memorable night for her. So here is to making memories with unkown and unexpected.
Best hot chocolate; I am not a lover of hot drinks but there is one place I make exception for; Dark sugars, the hot chocolate laced with alcohol is the stuff of dreams. Besides that, here is also where you will find some the most delicious chocolates in London, handmade with pure cocoa from Ghana. Insanely great.
Cocktails; I love a good cocktail and mixing up something for the season is one of my favourite ways to usher in the season, so get your recipes in order; two or three or four tried and tested recipes will do. Actually have friends around and host a cocktail masterclass. Go here to break it all down.
Have great sex; whether you are in a relationship or solo- make sure you seek pleasure and have great sex. Sex toys are your friends, orgasms are essential, if your hot boy is not getting you off like you want him to, do you; literally.
Check in; on your strong friends, your quiet friends, your happy friends, family you have not really jived with… check in, check in, please check in. Life is mad these days so we only have each other to rely on so do check in.
Set boundaries; I am a serial boundary setter with friends and loved ones, the only people i have no boundaries for are my nephews because I adore them. But I protect my peace by setting boundaries and changing my locks if needs be. I am big on protecting my peace and sanity and luckily for me, I live alone therefore I can do this but if you don’t this quote from Devi Brown can really help drive this practise home in conversation with Angela Rye which you can listen to here.
I’m not available for anything that is not mutually beneficial, like nothing. (…) Not in work not in home not in friendship. So for me I don’t think I’m ever pouring from an empty cup because I say no, all. the. time. I say no all the time… I am also not going to be moved by someone using tactics on me that are usually coping mechanisms, like guilt or people pleasing, or let me ask you a few different ways I’m not available for that. I’m not judging you because that’s the tools that you are pulling from but its still no… be okay with that or not, but its okay for me.Devi Brown
Switch off the news; because nothing good is going on right now and you do not need to hear it so switch it off and quieten things down.
Head to a festival; the Edinburgh book festival is my favourite festival; I am not one for a large crowd therefore most music concerts are a hard no for me, crowds concentrated in one place when I cannot drift freely makes me nervous therefore you would be hard pressed to find me in Glasto or some such. Book festivals though, my jam. Edinburgh book festival is the best there is and best time to visit the city.
Roadtrip- Gleneagles; I wrote about my dreamy trip to Gleneagles in this post, this magical playground that encompasses fantasies and a good time. It is delightful and you should escape reality for a little bit and head to a place waiting to welcome you, because it really feels like that.
My favourite place outside of London is Edinburgh, I love that city so damn much the people are lovely, the views are incredible and it is such a joyous place to be during the festival, there is everything to do so head to Edinburgh for a long weekend if not the festival. To listen to what I got up to go here.
Negronis; Besides Stanley Tucci’s home bar, I’ll tell you where you can have the best negroni because they have it in all varying types and mixes. The Amaratto Bar at the Four Seasons in London. Here, the negroni is not just a run of the mill cocktail it is an art form and a way of life. Four seasons also serve a decadent afternoon tea.
Eat Italian; Padella in Borough market is one of those places that blow your mind away every time. There is always a queue so you know the food is incredible. Italian is my second favourite cuisine only next to Nigerian, so I know of what I speak. Here is my previous post on it.
Another favourite of mine is Franco’s in Jermyn street; this is the only other Italian besides Al Boccon di Vino that I recommend most often; the food is great, the service is exceptional and you will thank me later.
Take a cooking class; the Avenue cookery school has a pretty spectacular line up for their cooking classes; intimate and fun. book a group for something bonding to do with the family and friends. Go here to see what’s one offer
On a random Monday; spend an evening with a mate in a wine bar on a random Monday, and I know just the one; the 1707 bar in Fortnum and Mason; if you have not caught on yet, this is my favourite store in London.
Truffle Making on a Sunday morning; what do you do when you just want to do something non tasking and absolutely fun? You go chocolate truffle making with your besties. And that’s what we did on a random Sunday morning as should you.
Gather your tribe around for movie or quiz night: find some feel good movies where everything ends happily ever after; these are the times we need to go HAM on the fantasy people so let’s spread the joy and up the ante on happiness by leaning into belly laughs and joy with cheesy one liners and high stake quizzes.
Eat Mexican; El pastor in Borough market is one of my favourite Mexican restaurants in London; it is my second favourite, my first favourite closed down during the pandemic, I am hoping it is still temporary but for now, El Pastor is a very close second with incredible tacos and tequila. Go early.
Another favourite of mine is Santo Remedio where the vibe is fun and the food is good. If it ever opens again, the restaurant is Ella Canta… they have these cocktails served in a skeleton head; it was just as deadly but good, so, so good.
This is is a good list even if I do say so myself so use this as a guideline for what I hope is an awesome summer