I don’t know about you, but some of the blog posts I love the most are the ones in which the writer simply types away: a laid-back look at their life of late, as you’d do with friends over a frothy cup of warm goodness. And so, this blog series was born. Coffee and a catch up: a bid to not only give my blog posting schedule a little more structure, but also to show myself to you all a bit more, share the little magical and mundane moments that make life life. Not only this, but I’ll be writing these from different coffee shops, from those in my close neighbourhood to those in various corners of Hanoi. So, grab a cup of your favourite drink and cosy up. Here we are: my first coffee and a catch up with you all.
This Coffee & A Catch Up comes from Labonte (17 ngo 35 Dang Thai Mai, Tay Ho). Labonte has been a firm favourite brunch spot of mine since it first opened in late 2019. All the food is vegan or veggie and the salted caramel latte is as delicious as it sounds. Two of the walls upstairs have large windows, so on days like today, the light pours in and the breeze blows through.
Return to Work
Like many of you, I returned to work this week. Temperatures have dropped quite drastically these last few days, and so the cold, early mornings have been a shock to the system. That being said, it’s been good to head in, catch up with colleagues and work closely with the students I teach – something I know many other teachers worldwide are lacking the ability to do. Returning to work after the holidays is always bittersweet thanks to my love-hate relationship with enforced structure & routine, but my job is something I’m grateful for in this time of uncertainty.
Gosh this week has been a lot, hasn’t it?! I’m lucky to be witnessing things from a distance, but with coronavirus rates rising in the UK and the events in Washington this week, there’s a lot to take in. My grandparents have fortunately both been vaccinated these last few days, which is a relief, but my heart goes out to anyone affected by lockdowns, the virus, the chaos at the Capitol and the sheer magnitude of it all at the moment.
Tet Shoebox Project
I’ve been volunteering with the Tet Shoebox Project, which is a great initiative in which people can fill a drawstring bag with toys and gifts for a child who mightn’t get anything else to receive at Tet (Lunar New Year). I’m helping out this year by organising and assisting donors, but we’ve also filled a couple of bags ourselves and I loved shopping for the gifts. It took me back to my own childhood when my school would collect actual shoeboxes we filled with pressies to be sent off to a child in need. It’s something small, but I hope these gifts will put a really big smile on some children’s faces this Tet.
As mentioned, I’m looking to gear up this year. I’m in the process of planning out a more regular schedule – one that’s sustainable but meaningful too. Bare with me with this. I’m realising what I enjoy posting about, what I want from this blog and am slowly figuring out how to get there. I won’t promise anything specific right now, but expect more frequent posts with a mix of content on special places in my city, efforts to live more sustainably and mindfully, foodie bits and a celebration of life’s little moments.
Life Lately, in isolation:
5 Things I’m Grateful For
- Ol for being my boyfriend, friend, card game opponent, jigsaw buddy, TV watcher, sofa snuggler, washer-upper, cook, cleaner and an all round good egg. Thanks for helping me keep sane
- Long chats with people back home, filling my evenings with chatter and laughter
- Time to focus on those bits of life admin that get forgotten about
- The Hanoi friends who have checked in and asked whether we need anything
- Sunny days – the few we’ve had – spent with the balcony doors wide open, sunlight pouring in, providing that all important dose of vitamin D
- The pink blossom on the tree on the balcony which brightens up the view when it’s grey outside
- The opportunity to be flexible with my time – have lie ins, cook when I fancy, read, write, watch, listen to things whenever I like
- The fact I can see these few days of isolation as a positive, given it’s short term and the end is in sight
I’ve been reading
- Elizabeth is Missing by Emma http://niobeetc.com/living-lately-in-lockdown-april-2020/Healey
This has been on my bookcase for months but I was putting off reading it. Actually, this provided the perfect ‘light read’ I needed, but it’s not without its depth. It’s a psychological mystery story which also look at the effects of aging and memory loss through it’s narrator – Maud – an elderly lady battling dementia with one or two mysteries to solve. I loved this story and have just spotted that it was turned into a film, so I’ll add that to my TBW list.
- The Incendiaries by R. O. Kwon
I’m currently reading this book and really enjoying it so far. More details once I’ve finished!
I’ve been listening to
- Past episodes of The Kitchen Club podcast by Sarah Malcolm & Serena Louth. Interviews with people in the food & wellbeing space. Easy listening.
- I also downloaded Blinkist and have enjoyed listening to some summaries and key takeaways from influential books
I’ve been watching
I never usually have much for this section given I don’t watch much TV, but half term & isolation has meant plenty of time for watching things…
- It’s A Sin – A raw and moving look at the lives of a group of friends during the 80s and 90s in the UK, focusing around AIDS.
- Chernobyl – As the title suggests, this drama focuses on the 1986 explosion at the Chernobyl power plant, and the lives of those who tried to limit its consequences.
- I May Destroy You – We finally caught up with Michaela Coel’s latest creation, which is an exploration of sexual consent and its blurred lines in dating and relationships
I don’t think I’ve watched 3 consecutive programmes I’ve loved this much – ever. All three taught me a lot about their respective themes and they raised questions about humanity and our reactions to tragedy and loss. I would highly recommend all three shows.
Posts this fortnight
Stay safe & warm everyone!
– Niobe xx