The Pros of Long Distance Relationships

Ben malaysia meal

Ben’s pot noodles and wine in Malaysia

Yup, you read rightly. Lets talk about the pros of being in a long distance relationship. My boyfriend is currently in Malaysia on a three month work posting, you can read our story here. Sure, it is not the ideal situation, it’s hard work that requires a whole other level of commitment and understanding. But as we have another month or so until we’re together again, I’m focusing on the positives and enjoying my time to myself.

So here they are, the pros of a long distance relationship:

  1. You get the whole bed to yourself. This would be best in summer when it’s warmer, but I haven’t been that cold this winter, so I’ll take it. I sleep in the middle of the bed with all the blankets curled around me like my own cocoon. Bliss.
  2. You can dictate your own bed time. I definitely need more sleep than Ben and try to be in bed by 10pm on school nights. But it always gets pushed back when a movie is started late or we try to cook an ambitious dinner. Also, no-ones sleep is disturbed when you stumble in drunk and clumsy after a night out. That’s two on sleep, so obviously all around good in terms of calling the shots on your sleep.
  3. You can eat cereal for dinner, or a jacket potato, or microwave curry meals. Basically I put as little effort as humanly possible into my meals. Ben and I generally took turns to cook during the week, and usually created something good with minimal fuss Without someone else to cook for and share the work load, I have found myself very lazy about making proper meals. I love the extra time it frees up in my night though, and I’m not alone in this, Ben makes pot noodles in Malaysia.
  4. You have more time to spend on personal development……… or 50 hours of TV. It is surprising how many hours you seem to have when your significant other is not around, I wish I had been more productive than I was. But I have had a lot of time to think about my blog, goals, plans for the future. Which brings me to my next point,
  5. You are forced to think about the big picture. When you are taken out of the everyday routines of taking out the rubbish and drying the dishes, it comes down to just you and your significant other and a whole lot of talk about the future. The future when you will be together, obvs.
  6. Personal grooming doesn’t have to be a thing. Just kidding….. (Sorry, not kidding). Again, it’s like eating cereal for dinner, with no one around to notice, you can relax a little.
  7. You become more self-reliant. It’s not that I’m not a strong and independent women, 100% of the time. But I think you naturally come to rely on the strengths of your significant other, rather than learning for yourself. Ben is very good with computers and is just generally very good at fixing things, so when he is around I leave those things to him. When he hasn’t been here though, I have resurrected my laptop (after knocking it off my desk (!!)), and fixed a few cupboard door latches. Not huge things, but I’m glad I just got on with it and fixed them. I could easily have waited until Ben was back home.
  8. Your relationship gets stronger. A long distance relationship takes a whole lot of commitment from both parties. It is a lot of effort to maintain a relationship over oceans and time zones and it is putting in the time and effort to communicate and be really thoughtful that is a pretty good indicator of the strength of your relationship. If you can make it through the challenges of long distance, you can make it through anything.
andie london meal

My corn flakes and Sex and the City

Any I have missed? And let me know what you get up to when your other half is not around, I know I’m not the only one who eats cereal and watches too much TV.


2. Watch the entire series of Sex and the City

_MG_0028I went one better, not only have I watched the entire series these past two months, I have also watched both movies and read all the behind the scenes trivia on IMDB. Apparently Sarah Jessica Parker, who plays Carrie, and Kim Cattrall, who plays Samantha, despised each other right from the first series. Who would have known?? I thought Carrie and Samantha were besties! Mind = blown.

I got quite attached to the ladies over the 94 episodes. Over 50 hours of TV, that I watched pretty much every evening I was home and some mornings, and well, well into the wee hours of the night often. I binge watched hard, and I loved every moment.

Sex and the City originally aired from 1998 – 2004, so I could have watched this as I grew up like most of me peers did. I would have been 17 when it finished and 21 when the first movie come out. I wonder what I would have made of it as my younger self, I’m sure I would have been so taken in by the glamorous lifestyles of the characters. But for what ever reason, most likely there was something Dad wanted to watch on another channel, I never saw it.

_MG_0034Yes, its super cheesy and so far removed from real life. It’s painfully 90’s in the beginning, too. There is an early episode where the girls all having lunch, as they often do, when Samantha brings up dildos. The other three are intrigued about this, which was endearingly quaint for me watching this nearly 20 years after it first aired. Brazilians, Botox and boob jobs are also covered off by Samantha as the series progresses, met with varying degrees of surprise by the other three, but would not raise an eyebrow with the viewers of today.

I found it sweet (Charlotte’s earnest hunt for The One), annoying (How many times will Carrie let Big hurt her?), unexpectedly topical (Miranda trying to prove herself in the ‘boys club’ law firm – she would totally be a feminist if written today), and hilarious (Samantha, always Samantha, the sushi dinner, the humpy dog, the condom incident in Abu Dhabi). I was chatting with a friend about Sex and the City the other day and she asked, ” So, which character are you most like?” and I came to the conclusion, as cliché as it sounds, that we’re all a little bit like all of them. Which is probably why I found the show unexpectedly relateable, considering my life comes no where near the glamour and drama that they experience evereyday.

The characters may be relatable, but their world is certainly not. Along the same lines as Desperate Housewives and Gossip Girl, Sex and the City portrays a life that could only exist on TV. Endless lunches and bar openings, ball gowns and pick up lines. It makes New York seem like an adult equivalent of Disney World, Big even takes Carrie through Central Park on a horse and carriage at one point. It’s an escape into a fantast world, and a fantasy wardrobe. Watching this series has sparked so many great conversations with friends and workmates. Whenever I am asked “What have you been up to lately?” I respond with something like “Watching Sex and the City! I’m addicted! I’m up to the part when……..” and we go from there. Usually ending up with ” OMG! I want all Carrie’s clothes… sigh… If only….”.

Finally though, and I am surprised to say, I’m going to get deep here. The part that really resonated with me was their friendships and in the end, ability to stay true to themselves. After the final credits rolled I was so moved I messaged my two best friends in New Zealand and set up a Skype date – thanks for being there ladies, miss you always.

The series ends, as it always does, with Carrie saying something ‘profound’. I say profound very loosely here as Carrie’s profound is usually something very flip like “Are we all just playing games?” or “Denial: Friend or Foe?” or my personal favourite “Are men just women with balls?” But with this statement she’s on to something.

“The most exciting challenging and significant relationship of all, is the one you have with yourself” – Carrie’s parting words in the final episode.

So, that was my surprisingly long review. I hope it inspires you to watch again, or like me, give it a go for the first time. Putting this on the list was an easy win for me, I knew I wanted to watch it, I knew it would be easy viewing and I knew I had a lot of free nights ahead of me to binge watch. I did not realise though how much I would gain through watching this show. What did you think of Carrie? Are you a fan of Sex and the City? Team Big or Team Aiden?


I’m Team Aiden….

17. Read: The Robber Bride

_MG_0116In high school our class read The Handmaid’s Tale by Atwood.  A dystopian novel set in a totalitarian imagined future America where, apart from the ‘Handmaids’  the population is infertile. It was the first dystopian novel I had read and it opened me up to a whole new genre; 1984; The Children of Men, The Hunger Games (seriously, I loved it). It’s a genre I really enjoy and The Handmaid’s Tale was the start of that. So I always knew I wanted to read more by Margaret Atwood and The Robber Bride confirmed I was right to.

The Robber Bride follows the stories of three women in their fifties, brought together by a mutual acquaintance, Zenia. Zenia works her way back in to each of their lives, by preying on their vulnerabilities and then moving in on their men, leaving varying levels of destruction in her wake.

Before even opening this book, you’re introduced to Zenia. The cover shows a well dressed, beautiful woman with flaming red hair and deep red lips, she’s looking away from the viewer and her eyes are not in frame alluding to the mysterious and dissociated character she is going to become. The reader and the other characters never get a true picture of Zenia.

_MG_0106Zenia is someone who taps into your dark side, those secret thoughts and underlying desires and she exploits them. She is beautiful and daring and when her light is reflected on you, she is someone who you want to be, or who you want to be with. This point is summed up for me by Roz. Roz is a middle aged CEO and mother of three.

“Then she [Zenia] turned to go down the steps, lifting her hand in a gesture oddly reminiscent of a newsreel general saluting the troops, and what was it she’d said? Fuck the third world! I’m tired of it!

So much for proprieties, so much for earnest old Roz and her poky, boring charities, her handouts to the Raped Moms and Battered Grannies, and, at the time, the whales and the famine victims and the village self-helpers, dowdy plump mommy Roz, shackled to her boring old consciousness. It was a selfish, careless remark, a daring remark, a liberated remark–to hell with guilt!”

It’s this sort of devil may care attitude that Zenia exhibits that wreaks havoc on the lives of our three main characters. Zenia unashamedly takes advantage of their hospitality and runs off with their men.

_MG_0130She is evil, no doubt, but has she also caused change for the better?

“Extreme good, extreme evil: the abilities required are similar.”

All three characters are with weak and pathetic men. Roz’s husband sleeps around and then comes crawling back, over and over again. Charis’ boyfriend freeloads off her and Tony’s husband doesn’t really see her, his greatest love is Zenia. I think the sisterhood created by their shared trauma at the hand of Zenia is one of the most positive aspects of the story.

I liked seeing these women grow and change and come together. They are all very different personalities, Charis, a spiritual hippy type, Tony, a tomboy and historian and Roz, a socialite and business woman. Their worlds are so different they may never have crossed paths if it wasn’t for Zenia, through their shared history they become a mini support group for each other.

Another aspect of these characters is that they are all very normal, they have pretty standard jobs and run of the mill relationship and family problems and Atwood’s writing really takes you into their heads. It means that even the reader, who already knows that Zenia is spinning a web of lies, get’s seduced by her.

Margaret Atwood is a fantastic writer and I plan on reading more of her work in future.


15. Go to see an inspirational speaker

_MG_0001I spent last Sunday at the Women of the World festival in the Southbank Centre. It was the final day of the festival and there were a whole host of events to choose from. I wish I had done a bit more planning before turning up to find out exactly who was speaking and what was available.

The festival founded by Jude Kelly, the artistic director of the Southbank Centre, is in its 5th year. It comprises talks, performances, networking, mentoring and market place stalls in the many venues of the Southbank Centre over a week, usually around International Women’s Day, which this year was on March 8th.

I was joined by two lovely friends who had agreed to explore with me for the day, thank you ladies. As we ummed and ahhed about which event to attend first we stumbled upon this Lips, an all women pop choir. Their enthusiasm was infectious and soon I was grooving along to Destiny’s Child’s Bill, Bills, Bills. Loved them!

Lips choir WOW

Lips Choir – Photo from WOW at Southbank Centre Facebook Page, credit Belinda Lawley

We then headed upstairs to a talk titled I.T. Girls which turned out to be the highlight of the day. I.T Girls we are not, but this talk definitely inspired the three of us to sit up and take more notice of what’s going on in this huge and important industry that lacks female voices and ideas and therefore content. You can watch the full session on YouTube and see the highlights on the WOW Facebook page.

The panel was chaired by Jude Kelly and included Nicola Mendelsohn, vice president of Europe Middle East and Africa Facebook, Clare Sutcliffe, founder of Code Club, Mariéme Jamme, founder of Africa Gathering and Sarah Brown, president of Theirworld, who I thought was an amazing and inspiring woman. Only now doing more research on her I realise she is the UK’s former prime minister’s wife. Whaaat? Everyone else in the room probably knew her and her work already, but not me.

These impressive panelists talked about the challenges in enticing women into working, studying and participating in technology at all levels and age groups and the huge importance of overcoming these challenges so that women don’t miss out on shaping a big part of the future. It was a message that resonated with me completely. I am a girl that doesn’t really understand or make full use of her phone, that doesn’t engage with games or apps, and generally doesn’t take advantage of technology readily available too her as it looks like hard work. I leave a lot of the I.T. in my world up to my boyfriend, a lazy habit that will not do me any favours in the long run. It was a definite eye-opener and showed me that I need to be more mindful of my attitude in future.

WOW sign

Photo from WOW at Southbank Centre Facebook page, credit Victor Frankowsk

After lunch we attended a workshop run by Funny Women founder Lynne Parker aimed at using humour to improve confidence and story telling. Some amazing volunteers put their hands up to participate and told stories of their lives. It really does show you that a story about your own everyday life, something you might dismiss in your head as boring, never comes across that way to an audience trying to get to know you.

We then moved on to the ubiquitous event of women’s festivals, the sex talk, titled Let’s talk about sex, baby. There was a panel of four authors, filmmakers and founder of a sex toy shop, chaired by Rachel Morris, sex  columnist at Cosmopolitan magazine. We had expected a lively and risqué debate about sex, women and all things that go along with it, and in some ways it was, but it was also a lot of intellectualising which, for us, wasn’t very accessible.

_MG_0004 I didn’t just see an inspirational speaker, I saw many. Attending this day opened me up to different and interesting views and ideas I may never have come across otherwise and all from women. Women of all ages, ethnicity, sexualities, religions and abilities, with so many different life experiences and talents. It was an impressive mix and made for an interesting day.

27 List: February Update from Paris

I didn’t manage to tick much off the 27 List in February, other than making this colourful lolly vodka, but I did fit in some travel, and some research. Macaron tasting research.

One of my tasks is to make French macarons, I have thought about attempting these for a while, but as they are notoriously difficult to get right; take quite a lot of time and have a somewhat pricey ingredient list; I have been a little intimidated.

So, on a recent trip to Paris with my sister, I knew I would have to fit in some “blog research”. Baking research is probably the best kind of research. Anyone out there want to be a chocolate taster? Food critic? Nutella recipe developer? Hello…. Dream job!

If I am going to put a lot of time and money into getting these right, I need to know what perfection tastes like.

_MG_0385We started off with some giant macarons from Paul’s bakery. We have this chain in London too, but I’m not sure I have ever been. Anyway we were hungry so opted for super size. _MG_0374You have to close your eyes when eating a giant luxurious biscuit.

We had chocolate and pistachio flavours, both were nice but they lost the delicacy that makes a macaroon so indulgent and felt a bit heavy. We snacked on these after a wander around the lovely Picasso Museum.

Next stop; the Pompidou Centre where we ordered macaroos and juice at the gallery cafe. They were standard quality and over priced, but they were still demolished before I remembered to snap a pic.

Oh, and then we had some crepes by Notre Dame.

_MG_0650_MG_0658Mine is Nutella and banana……. heaven.

_MG_0559And then I found the ultimate macaron. Rose flavour, it was delicate, sweet, creamy and tasted like the best kind of turkish delight I have ever had. Oh, and would you look at the colour, beautiful. I found the perfect macaron.

But that didn’t stop me buying a box to take back on the Eurostar…. Just in case.