Sunday Summation 21: Coastal adventures, London and Stargazing

It seems that all of my good intentions have not manifested into a steady stream of blog posts. 

I must admit that my creative energy has been focused elsewhere recently - The Guild, Bright Ethics, my Google Squared Course, another business project and work on a longer form piece of writing. I'm not sure if this will take the form of a short story or if there's material enough for a novella, all I know is that I'm 4000 words deep into a project that *feels* deeply satisfying.

As a child with a bedroom next to my father's study, I used to hear him tapping away at his computer late into the night. I used to wonder why he spent so long at work, didn't he want to play computer games, read or go to bed? As an adult it has become clear that I have inherited the same sense of compulsion when it comes to work - a bored Bethan is a sad Bethan. 

Whitby Abbey

1. Roadtrips to the coast

Last weekend I picked up a new car, replacing the old hunk of metal which has been my travelling partner since I was 19. 

After a serious period of deliberation over whether I should indeed get another car, as opposed to simply relying on pedal power, I made the somewhat non-eco friendly choice to invest in another set of wheels. As someone with a long term chronic pain condition, a vehicle gives me freedom on the days where I simply cannot use human powered transportation. Needless to say, I have gone for the most eco-friendly option in my price range (an electric car will be the next step in a few years.)

Having lived with a less than reliable car for over a year now, Des and I took the first opportunity to test our new set of wheels as part of a longer range journey. The drive over to Whitby certainly put the new motor to the test, especially on the steep ascents which transport you onto the North Yorkshire Moors plateau. 

Once safely in Whitby we took a short stroll along the pier, arm in arm, headfirst into the cold breeze. This was followed by an obligatory visit to The Magpie Cafe for fish and chips which we then ate back on the pier, vigilantly watching out for seagull raids.

With a couple of hours of winter sunlight left we ascended the steps up towards Whitby Abbey, a place I visited first on a school trip when I was around 7 or 8 years old. 

Whilst up on the clifftop I had a moment of "oh shit, I'm so much older but this place has barely changed and will be here probably for hundreds of years after I'm dead." The only reasonable action after this revelation was to seek warmth and a hot drink in the nearby Youth Hostel (conversely the place I stayed during said school trip). 

Bethan and Catrin

2. Sister Reunion in London

Apologies for the slightly grainy photo on this one - I had limited choices!

A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to be in London for work and managed to meet up with my extremely talented sister, Catrin (she's in a band and is way cooler than me). 

We had a great catch up over pizza and even managed to get into an argument with four men over Donald Trump (not the best pick up chat...).

Orion Nebula Amateur Photo

3. Staring at the stars

When he was younger, one of Des' hobbies outside of music was amateur astronomy. 

He still has most of the gear hidden away in our garage and come a clear night, is known to get everything out for a spot of star gazing. 

Despite being bitterly cold, the recent crisp winter evenings have provided the perfect setting for looking at the heavens. Using our very loved Cannon D2300, Des managed to rig up a pretty decent photography setup, which we used to capture an image of the Orion Nebula above.

The light pollution where we live is pretty heavy, so the images aren't as detailed as they could be.

Pairings Platter York

4. Friday routine

Des is currently working from York City Centre on Fridays' - which has become the perfect excuse to head into the city and meet in the early evening for an end of week celebration.

Our current unwinding routine starts at Parings Wine Bar, where we held our engagement party last year. This can involve both wine and food - both of which are excellent. Last Friday we indulged in the Deli Platter pictured above.

5. First class hacks

My colleague tipped me off about Seatfrog whilst we were in London and both facing a mid-evening train back to York after a long day. 

The app essentially allows users to bid on selected first class seats before departure, starting from £5. Whilst the auction process is not completely transparent, I did manage to bag a first class upgrade from Kings Cross to York for £14, which was well worth it for the lounge access and wifi on the train. 

Currently it seems that the service is only running on Virgin East Coast, however the website does indicate that they have plans to expand in the near future!

6. Great Medium articles

My love for blogging platform Medium is ongoing. Here are a few of the excellent articles I have read over the past few weeks:

50 Things You Probably Forgot To Design

Find a way to do more for others than anyone else is doing: A 9-min Guide to Winning at Customer Retention

63 Best Digital Marketing Tools You Should Know About in 2018

7. Song of the week

Just because. 

That's all folks! Speak this coming week (I promise)

Sunday Summation 20: The post Christmas catch up

So, time for some weekly reflection. 

It's been quite a while since my last post of this nature, so I'm not too sure where I last left you - probably sometime back in deepest darkest 2017. 

I'm slightly late with this week's Sunday Summation as I spent most of Sunday evening trying to come to terms with the fact that my two week holiday was well and truly over.

Despite my body clock resetting itself back to my university routine (bed at 2am, wake up at 11am), I actually managed to have an activity filled festive break, the highlights of which did not include multiple trips up and down the M1 and M62. 

Some things have changed for the New Year, others have stayed the same, so I thought I would use this week's round up to recap a couple of events/bits of news from the last few months (as opposed to a scintillating overview of my past week spent in PJs watching Mad Men).

Nancypuss

Saying goodbye to Nancy

In November we sadly said goodbye to our much loved cat Nancy. 

As an old lady with multiple health issues, she had surpassed all expectations in living well into old age. In mid November it became clear that her back legs were failing fast due to a spinal tumour or cyst (the vet was unsure of the exact diagnosis, but sure that it would be fatal either way). This was severely impacting her quality of life and in all likelihood was rather painful, so we decided to let her go peacefully.

Almost two months on, I'm still surprised at my grief. Whilst she was not a child, a close friend or family member, she was part of our family. 

River cruise Budapest

A winter trip to Budapest

I suspect I may elaborate on my experiences in a longer post as there's a lot to say about this city. 

In mid December we set off from Manchester airport on my Birthday for four days in Hungary's capital city, staying in the luxurious and central Hotel Prtestige Budapest.

Most of our trip was spent exploring the city on foot, on one day I clocked up over 26,000 steps as we carved out a trail along the river and through festively lit streets. 

The highlight for me had to be the river cruise we took along the Danube late one afternoon which included a glass of fizz and a stop off at Margaret island. 

Making more Peach

In the past I have described Peach as the "creative vehicle" which Des and I use to make music together, but that sounds a bit wanky. Basically it's the name under which we post our various jams and musical experiments, some good, some less than mediocre. 

Being cooped up together in inclement weather over Christmas provided a prime opportunity to work on a couple of new tracks, including the one below. (Apologies for my sub-par vocals, I'm definitely out of practice).

Getting back on the bike

After falling out of love with cycling in 2017, I have decided that this year will be the year of the bike.

My car is essentially dying a slow but certain death, so at some point I'm going to have to decide whether to get another one, or try and go without.

I'm lucky to live a few miles away from my work and am also only a 7 minute cycle from York city centre and the railway station. My favourable location, coupled with the cost savings and undesirable environmental impact of car ownership, are good reasons to err on the side of no car. Plus the feeling of cycling right past stationary traffic is like no other...

In order to test my hypothesis, I've decided to try going for one month without a car whilst I still have one, just to confirm to myself that it is indeed easy, cheap and good for my health. 

One of my biggest obstacles to cycling everywhere is mainly concerns over safety (I am lucky to be in reasonably good shape so the fitness aspect should be OK).

To make sure I'm doing everything I can to protect myself, I've invested in a new top quality helmet and some extremely good high vis clothing - opting for this impressively luminous and lightweight gilet

If you're a fellow cyclist on the streets of York, do say hi!