Monday, 23 March 2015

Senses Turned Up

Working a 9 to 5 (or in my case, a 9 to 9) job can leave you feeling, well, meh. It’s all too easy for life to become a bit monotonous and senseless – you get up for work, scribble some make-up on your face, office, lunch, coffee, train home, dinner in front of Eastenders and then bed, only to do the same thing all over again the next day. It’s not a good way to live, and I’ve found it takes me a lot of effort to avoid slipping into. I’ve said it before, but it’s the small things that can really make a difference, that can turn your senses up such that life is a little less grey and a little more multi-coloured. 


I am genuinely rubbish at running (think Phoebe in Central Park) but it makes me feel good so I do it anyway! I hated running at first, it would always give me a stitch and I felt like I was making no progress at all with it (I’d reach the end of the street and would feel like I’m dying), but over time it has gotten easier. I get a rush running around the lake at Burgess Park as the sun is going down – it’s worth the pain for the pretty view alone. I also think it’s been good for my mental health, I’m not quite sure why but life seems a bit more together since I started running.


My first thought when I wake up in the morning? TEA! I know this makes me awfully British, but I can’t function without a decent cuppa. I’m quite particular about my tea. It has to be in my favourite mug, with just a dod of milk, and the water has to be boiling hot. My in-laws once bought us a kettle for Christmas which allowed you to choose the temperature of the water – needless to say, it went straight back to the shop because there is only one acceptable temperature for tea water and that’s boiling (Texans…). 


Whether it be a weekend break in the Cotswolds or a super duper trip to Japan, I can’t get by without having a holiday on the horizon. It’s almost impossible to work late nights without knowing there’s some reward at the end of it. A new city to discover, the seaside, a dip in the pool – the prospect of new adventures keeps me sane on grey, rainy days in the office.

Vintage hunting

Anyone who has followed Take Courage for any amount of time will know all too well how a shop filled with rails of vintage clothing and bric-a-brac gives me heart flutters. When we head to Sunbury Antiques Fair, I can feel my adrenaline kick in as we park the car – I’m itching to get to the stalls and find all the treasures before anyone else does! Some people get a buzz from hard drugs, I get a buzz from vintage hunting.

Playing the ukulele

I started learning to play the ukulele when I sat in the Corporate department for three months. 3am finishes were a daily occurrence, and I couldn’t take it anymore – I needed something new in my life, something fun and relaxing and frivolous. The ukulele is all three of those things. When I’ve had a bad day, I just pick it up, serenade Chutney, and life gets a little rosier. 

Eating out

I eat out far too often than my bank budget (and waistline) allows, but there’s nothing I love more than sharing a burger with the Texan, or catching-up with friends at one of my favourite restaurants in London. I have barely planned a thing for our trip to Japan, but I have already planned all the places we’re going to eat at! For me, eating out is a treat which I can’t do without on a Friday night.

How do you live your life with your senses turned up? Are there any small things that you do, without which your life would become a little too meh for your liking? 

Twining’s have launched a weekly competition where you can win prizes on their Facebook page – all you have to do to enter is post a photo on the theme of the week using the hashtag #drinkitallin on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. This week’s theme is – you guessed it - "How do you live your life with your senses turned up?". You can find more info on the Twining’s Facebook page!

Friday, 20 March 2015


“It’s the safest form of travel” is what people usually say to me when I tell them I’m terrified of flying. Or “The journey to the airport is more dangerous”. Or “You’ve got more of a chance of being struck by lightning”. I know they’re only trying to offer some comfort, but those familiar phrases simply enlighten an aviophobic like me to the fact that I’m going to be in a car crash on the way to Heathrow, immediately after being hit by a lightning bolt, and immediately before I fall out of the sky from an aeroplane.

I wasn’t always so scared of flying; it’s something that has developed over time. A little nervousness in my tummy grew, with every flight, until I had heart palpitations and uncontrollable shakes in my legs. It’s not true that it gets easier the more you fly. I used to fly to Austin by myself, I lived in France for a year and flew several times a month to London, but my fear just worsened and worsened.

Everything about the experience of flying is horrendous to me. The sound of the wheels turning in, the relentless wait for the seatbelt sign to turn off, the nightmare-inducing turbulence – I hate it. The tipping point was an internal flight that we took in China in 2008, from Xi’an to Guilin. It was a disaster from the start, when the flight attendant sitting next to me (I presume he was going home after his shift) took two big sleeping pills and was spread out unconscious across the aisle. If he needed that to get through the flight, I thought, then this is going to be really bad. The plane took off, not at a nice steady incline, but almost completely vertically. Passengers were spitting onto the ground of the plane (we were in China…) and the toilet was essentially a smoking room for the entire flight. All I wanted to do was get off, but of course I couldn’t.

When we arrived in Guilin after what felt like an eternity, I vowed never to fly again – but I couldn't do that either, I had to get home to England first…

In the years since, I avoided flying at all costs – I found it just too stressful to put myself through. But by last summer I’d had enough. The Texan and I were approaching the end of our training contracts, and it had been a tough two years, rotating departments, having to prove ourselves with every seat move, appraisals every six weeks, the uncertainty of qualification – by Jove, we deserved a holiday! So I booked flights to Greece. What the hell am I doing?, I thought to myself. I hadn’t been on a plane for two years. But I was determined to see this through.

My nerves about the flight grew in the weeks approaching our holiday. I kept thinking about whether I’d even be able to make it onto the plane. What if I’m unwell? What if I can’t do it? I went to see the doctor, who prescribed me diazepam to “take the edge off” the flight, but it’s no fun being a groggy drugged up mess and I didn’t want to take it.

I mentioned my nervousness to my boss, and she told me about a friend of hers who was also scared of flying. She had tried everything – drugs, CBT, she even went on one of those courses that airlines run, where you learn all about how a plane works and then do a little flight around the airport – but nothing worked. Until one day, she just decided she wasn’t going to be scared anymore. And since then she’s been able to fly all over the world.

Can you decide not to be scared of something? You know what, I think you can – I followed that example and managed to get to Greece and back without the need for diazepam, without any heart palpitations, and without a panic attack. So, fingers crossed that I haven’t since subconsciously undecided to be scared of flying, because I’ve got a lot of air miles ahead of me this month…

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Short + Sweet

I'm on the verge of a nervous breakdown tonight, so I'll keep this short and sweet! We fly to Tokyo tomorrow morning and there are just not enough hours in the day to get everything done - I've still got to pack, I've got a ton of emails to respond to, and a list as long as my arm of other bits and pieces that need to be done before we go... So while I cry into my pillow, I hope you enjoy these pretty photos which we took in Amsterdam this weekend. What a beautiful city - guide to come (when I have more time!).

What I'm wearing  |  Chambray shirt: Banana Republic  |  Skirt: Miss Selfridge  |  Breton top: Labour & Wait  |  Shoes: c/o Clarks  |  Bag: Longchamp