February culture round-up


I finished exactly one book this month, The Thirteen Problems, which is a collection of early Miss Marple stories. It was quite fun. Good for dropping off to sleep with. I’ve got several other books on the go. I’m chipping away at Eat Up! by Ruby Tandoh. I’m enjoying it, but it’s presenting a challenge to my eating disordered brain. I’ve started Sovereign, the third in C.J. Sansom’s Tudor mystery series. I’m halfway through Finders Keepers by Stephen King and not liking it as much as Mr Mercedes, mainly because I find the bad guy deeply uninteresting and a lot it is told from his perspective.


We went to the cinema twice to see The Shape of Water and Black Panther. I really enjoyed both films and the interesting discussions they’ve sparked online. We also watched Crimson Peak on Netflix, which was enjoyably ridiculous, and a lot less ironic than I expected.


Star Trek Discovery generated the most excitement about television. I have quite few problems with this show (which I won’t get into here because it would need a longer post), but I still enjoyed watching and found it really compelling. We finished up the second season of The Good Place. I was very lukewarm until about halfway through season one. I’ve got into it, but I wonder if it can live up to its ambition and it does poke me in my ex-catholic sore spots a bit! We started watching Welsh mystery series, Hinterland (Y Gwyll). I like the dark, atmospheric, Gothic bleakness of it, plus it’s set in the area around where I was born. Finally, we are loving Wynonna Earp  – so much fun and we both fancy most of the main cast.


It was all about First Aid Kit this month.


Cookbook of the Week, ‘Appetite’ by Nigel Slater


My greasy, ripped copy of Appetite (2000) which I purchased in Oxfam for £3.99.

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Soundtrack to the Week

Top track/band

I’ve been listening to a lot of First Aid Kit recently. I love the new album, RuinsStay Gold is amazing too.

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Slowly, self-care has moved from “doing the things you need to do to keep functioning” to “buying loads of luxurious stuff and pampering yourself”. In doing so, it’s stopped being helpful for the people who need it most – having a bubble bath is lovely, but if you feel crushed by your own sadness, it’s not going to make you feel OK again.

The Goopification of self-care misrepresents how hard looking after yourself can be 



I turned forty-one at the weekend.

I found hitting forty much harder than I expected. It’s not that I’m scared of getting older (yet, anyway!), but my fortieth brought up all this existential angst about life and meaning and my value and place in the world. The experience taught me that it’s a good idea to be aware of your subconscious beliefs about birthdays and not to treat any particular birthday as some kind of referendum on your life.

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Weekend Cooking – Root Vegetable Cobbler


I love cooking and I’m trying to make sure I get the time to cook something a bit special at least once a week.  This weekend I made the Root Vegetable Cobbler from Ruby Tandoh’s Flavour. There are not many cook books that make me want to work my way through pretty much every recipe, but Flavour is one of them.

This cobbler is basically a vegetable stew with a simple scone topping. It’s delicious and filling. After a lifetime of hating swede (thanks 1980s school dinners!), it’s also the first recipe that’s brought me around to the vegetable.