Despite the hot and sticky weather, we had a fantastic book club event this week.
One of the things I love about our book club group is that we share what we’ve been up to and that usually means I come away with a couple of recommendations. So in today’s post, I’m going to spread the word (about books, food, drink, meditation, mindfulness, podcasts, travel) so you too might discover something new.
- The Wrong Knickers – written by Bryony Gordon, author of our June book club read, this book tells the tale of how she survived her adolescence by dreaming about the life she’d have in her twenties. The reality was something of a shock. Bryony dispels the glamorized myth of what it means to be a young, single girl about London town, and shares the horrible and hilarious truth about picking up a colleague at the STI clinic; sinking into debt to fund a wine, crisps and vodka habit; and how it feels when your dream man turns out to be a one night stand who hands you someone else’s knickers in the morning.
- Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman: Sephy is a Cross – a member of the dark-skinned ruling class. Callum is a nought – a ‘colourless’ member of the underclass who were once slaves to the Crosses. The two have been friends since early childhood. But that’s as far as it can go. Against a background of prejudice, distrust, and violent terrorist activity; a romance builds between Sephy and Callum – a romance that is to lead both of them into terrible danger…This is the first book in the Noughts and Crosses trilogy. Although this is young adult fiction, and written more than 10 years ago, it is one to put on your reading list.
- Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig: Aged 24, Matt’s world caved in. He could see no way to go on living. This is the true story of how he came through crisis, triumphed over an illness that almost destroyed him and learned to live again. This book is an exploration of how to live better, love better and feel more alive.
- The books for our next three book clubs have been decided: His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet (July), Island of Secrets by Patricia Wilson (September) and The Girl Before by JP Delaney (November). If you’d like to join our St Albans book club, you can become a member and reserve your place via our Women Aloud meetup page.
Food and drink
- Galvin at Centurion is a Michelin starred, 84 cover restaurant at the Centurion Club [Hemel Hempstead Road, HP3 8LA – approximately 15minutes drive from central St Albans.] With a bar and outside terrace, the restaurant is a great place to treat yourself. They also do special dining offers with a 3-course Sunday lunch for £25.50, a 3-course lunchtime set menu for £19.50, and regional wine dinners – the next one is on Thursday 20th July, with 5 courses, wine, coffee and petit fours costing £75.
- 50 Nine is another new(ish) name on the St Albans food and drink scene. Open from 6am-8pm for coffee, juices, smoothies and light bites – takeaway or there are a few tables to eat-in. The owners have a passion for healthy food with a menu featuring: yoghurt, granola, berries & honey; chilli, lime & avocado on sourdough; vegetarian sandwiches; plant based soups. You’ll also find a selection of healthy treats like breakfast bars and protein balls – and they also do vegan and gluten free. [59 Stanhope Road, St Albans].
- One for the non-coffee drinkers is Kanuka Tea, a website and tea-house dedicated to the world of loose leaf tea and the tea drinking experience. In-store you’ll find 40 blends from around the world; try before you buy and find your favourite taste. They also have a selection of foodie treats to accompany your tea. Buy your favourite tea to take home, or tea accessories and gift sets to share the tea love (also available to buy online). [3B Christopher Place, St Albans].
Meditation and mindfulness
If you’re looking for a way to ‘calm’ your mind, get some ‘headspace’ and be more present in life; how about giving one of these a go…
Calm and Headspace are really useful apps to help you to meditate. They offer a free trial, which is worth doing so you can decide which style of app you prefer before you commit to a paid subscription. Both apps have beginners programs to introduce you to meditation. Once you’ve completed these, you can move on to themed programs (lasting from 7 – 30days) to help you target areas of your life that may need some attention – stress, anxiety, happiness, gratitude, self-esteem. And depending on how you feel on any given day you can choose from a selection of one off sessions that you can either do at home, at work, while commuting or walking. Both also have some short meditations and stories for children.
Calm has a special series focused on improving your sleep – there’s a one-week program and one off sleep meditations, as well as an ever-growing collection of stories and music to soothe you to sleep. With Calm you also get ‘daily calm’ – a 10minute guided meditation and reflection session with a different topic each day. Headspace has some longer programs targeted to your health – pregnancy, cancer, pain management and depression. It also has a sports series and some single sessions for when you’re eating, cooking, flying, cycling and running etc.
Or, if you’d like to learn more about mindfulness and how to make it part of your life, there is a great 8 week Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) course run by Mindful Pathway. Using an evidence-based approach, the course will equip you with techniques and the tools for living more mindfully. There will be group meditation, group discussion and teaching, as well as home meditations and activities to do in between sessions. The next course begins in central St Albans on Monday 2nd October, with a choice of either daytime or evening sessions. These courses book up quickly so get in now if you want to reserve your place. And if you’re looking for a course in London, The Mindful Project run regular courses and workshops at their Fitzroy Square venue.
- Invisibilia is a podcast series about the invisible forces that control human behaviour – ideas, beliefs, assumptions and emotions. Invisibilia combines storytelling with scientific research that may make you see life differently.
- My Dad Wrote a Porno: Imagine if your Dad wrote a dirty book. Most people would try to ignore it – but not Jamie Morton. Instead, he decided to read it to the world in this comedy podcast. With the help of his mates, James Cooper and Radio 1 DJ Alice Levine, Jamie reads a chapter a week and discovers more about his father than he ever bargained for.
- If you have children then check out Tots to Travel, a website and travel booking service which aims to give parents (with young children and babies) peace of mind and a stress-free family holiday experience. They handpick the very best family friendly villas and cottages around Europe (Canary Islands, France, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Cyprus, Crete, Greece, Balearic Islands and the UK). All their accommodation options are visited by one of the team to check they exist, that they’re clean, that they’re as good as they look in the photos and that there is nothing nearby that would ruin your holiday. They carry out checks to ensure your child’s safety (pools, low windows, gaps in balcony, railings etc.) and guarantee you will arrive to a comprehensive Child & Baby Kit meaning you can travel light. They offer booking advice and a 24-hour, English speaking helpline.
Thanks for reading ladies. If you’ve got any recommendations, please share them with me [email@example.com]. And for those of you curious about our book club discussion, I’ll do a different post to let you know our thoughts on this month’s book – Mad Girl by Bryony Gordon. x