Better late than never, here is July 2014...
1. July was the month in which I settled into being out of work. I left the company for which I'd worked for six and a half years at the end of June, so the beginning of July saw me making some serious mental adjustments. But by the end of the month, I was happier, more focussed on what I want from my professional life, and I'd even had a pretty hopeful interview. The very best thing that happened this month was that I got to spend a lot of time working on my blog...and drinking a lot (A LOT!) of coffee. (This first photo was of a blogpost planning session at the excellent Store Street Espresso. These people know their cold brew.)
2. The National Literacy Trust launched London's latest public art series in July - Books About Town. One hot afternoon I took a wander around their trail in Bloomsbury, one of the city's most literary areas. This is the 'Mrs Dalloway' book-bench in Gordon Square, where Virginia Woolf used to live. I wrote more about the trail and the campaign itself here.
3. Free time and the arrival (at last!) of summer meant more time for me to indulge my love of wandering the streets and exploring this city. It's been a joy not to have to rush everywhere, so I've been eschewing the Tube (which I hate at the best of times) and even my ever-faithful buses in order to just walk to meetings and coffee shops and workspaces. On foot, one sees the detail in a city like London: ghost signs on the side of old buildings, pretty cornices and decorations up above modern shop-fronts, and the odd cat snoozing in a window. This photo was taken in Barnsbury, one of my favourite corners of Islington. They have the prettiest doors around this area.
4. One of the other things I've been able to do since quitting my job is step up my volunteering. I've volunteered as a fosterer for Cats Protection for several years, but now I have more time to contribute I've also become a social media volunteer for my local adoption centre. Earlier this month I did a collateral audit of the centre's existing channels, made some recommendations for how they could increase their following and outreach, wrote a feature or two for their website, and also created and started to manage a new Instagram feed. That may sound like some serious work in theory, but in practice it means I get to spend an afternoon or two a week working with some of the most dedicated people I've ever met, and taking endless photos of cute cats, whilst fending off their furry advances. And I'm loving it. If you're interested in learning a bit more about this hard-working organisation or you just want to look at cute cat pictures, you can follow Cats Protection North London Adoption Centre on Facebook, Twitter, and the new Instagram feed. (In which I make the odd appearance...usually in the background, acting as a climbing frame for kitties.)
5. I had an interesting coffee date in Borough, chatting all things blogging, self-publishing and doing what you really love. I headed down to the area before my meeting to have a poke around south of the river. Famous Borough Market was all shut-up and empty, which gave me plenty of space to explore it, and to notice its glorious green roof for the first time. And of course no trip in or out of Borough station is complete without a quick peek up at The Shard. You can't exactly miss it!
6. I've been trying hard to rein in my book-buying habits recently, but I couldn't resist checking out the shiny new Foyles flagship store on Charing Cross Road. The new store is bright and open, and literary kryptonite to my resolve not to buy any more books. The old store (which was only a couple of doors down from the new location) had a wonderful cafe that was always open in the evenings for a post-dinner coffee, and fortunately the new store has an equally inviting cafe with an accompanying exhibition space, up above its central staircase. I allowed myself in for a coffee and some writing last month, on the condition I didn't leave with a bulging bag full of books.
7. The Accidental Mother came to town towards the end of July, and we spent a fun day eating cake at the British Library (which was basically what got me through my miserable Masters a couple of years ago), and then visiting the Chelsea Physic Garden. This wonderful place is hidden behind high brick walls that cut out the noise and rush of Chelsea Embankment just outside. Inside is a phenomenal collection of flowers and plants - from the edible and the curative, to the completely peculiar. Despite the heat we wandered inside some of the garden's hothouses, stuffed with exotic plants; a few of which bore some alarming signs about their poisonous nature. The garden's cafe was an unexpectedly marvellous discovery too, serving up fantastic food surrounded by mulberry trees and manicured lawns.
8. Then, just before the end of the month, one of my friends from university got married, at a fine winery in Provence. I flew over to join lots of old friends for what was a truly glorious event, despite a freak hailstorm that threatened to derail proceedings. But, just in time, the sun eventually reappeared, soggy seats were towelled off, and our wonderful friends were finally married. Many congratulations, lovelies!
9. After the wedding, the Accidental Boyfriend and I set off on a roadtrip to explore a bit more of France. We headed first to the Cevennes to stay in a lovely Airbnb flat in a little mediaeval town, full of old windows and trailing greenery. We found glorious places to eat, including this little gem in Anduze, and even a photography exhibition inside the bowels of a castle.