Remember June? Glorious, chaotic, technicolor June? These summer days are whizzing by with an absolute heady fury, and my routine has been somewhat out of joint for a while. You may (although more likely not) have noticed a bit of a reduction in online noise from moi for the past few weeks – no doubt to your absolute relief if you have clocked it. To be all delusions of grandeur about it, I’ve been de-digitising a bit in order to make sure I’m actually present in the real world. That sounds entirely ridiculous and unnecessary when I write it like that, but sometimes all the amazing connectivity we now have can steadily become constant and incessant background noise that takes away from what we’re actually doing. Trying to keep up with the Internet, as wonderful as it is, sometimes leaves me feeling like I’m drowning in its enormity.
So sleep patterns, gym patterns, lunch-making (instead of buying on the hoof because I woke up 15 minutes before I needed to walk out the door), and being fully in the room at work are what’s taken up my energy, along with doing a glorious amount of doing glorious things with a glorious amount of people. Here are a few of them.
1. Bloggers in Berlin
An entirely strong start to the month thanks to the nice people at Abbott, who invited me to spend a weekend in Berlin with type 1 royalty from many corners of Europe. What amazes me about this condition is how much I’m constantly still learning, two decades into my type 1 life. And there’s absolutely no better way to have your mind opened than to talk to other people going through a similar thing. It wasn’t all deep and ‘woe is me’; we were just a bunch of people, living and writing about our lives, making mistakes and carving our little way while tackling the small matter of a life-long chronic illness. This weekend was an eye-opener as a diabetic, blogger and as a human being. I relished every single second. The full story (in pictures) lives here.
2. The Velodrome
I went cycling around the Olympic velodrome!
My dear friend bought me this as a gift for my birthday, and I was so delighted by such a thoughtful present. Days of excitement and anticipation quickly became absolute balls-to-the-wall fear the SECOND we stepped out of the changing rooms and onto the track. Those sides, my friends, are freaking steep. Undeterred (sort of), we were then presented with a bike with no gears, no brakes and also the knowledge that these machines do not let you stop pedalling. At all. We were also told we wouldn’t put our feet on the ground for an hour. Gulp.
60 minutes later I was a sweaty mess, but one that had slowly but surely (read: furiously and stubbornly) pushed herself to the very top of that damned drome whether it killed me goddammit. Needless to say I had a very exhilarating hour of my life and its one that I would thoroughly recommend. Find out more here.
3. A Powerful Diabetes Week
I’m gonna get right in there: how GOOD were we at Diabetes Week?! We nailed it, guys. We really did. To me it just showed (for the 485960532th time) the importance of the Diabetes Online Community, the importance of people speaking out about their struggles, their experiences, and their achievements in the face of this thing – or any thing, for that matter. I think the extraordinary can often lie in the ordinary, and this was never more pertinent than when I clocked this post, my favourite of the week by a country mile.
Hazel Hughes is a photographer who also happens to be type 1. She was tasked with capturing the (literal) highs and lows of two young sisters also living with type 1. The results are candid, emotive and raw, but you also get the sense that these are two entirely happy girls who are simply getting on with life, blood glucose meter in tow. There is nothing sugar-coated (oh, the pun!) about what life with this thing as a very little’un is like, much less for the quite frankly heroic parents going through each and every heart-wrenching moment with them. These photos absolutely stopped me in my tracks: they grabbed my heart, put a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye – they’re more powerful than 1000 words on the subject could ever be. Swallow them whole, right now. I urge you.
4. Buying Blooms
This means absolutely nothing really, but I just want to put it out there FLOWERS ARE BLOODY AMAZING. Not the big, cellophane-wrapped grand gesture kind of bunch, but the wild, untamed, slightly mysterious kind of bunch. The ones that reek of ethereal freedom and midsummer night’s dream-esque allure. To me, capturing them (aka paying for them) and letting their photosynthesising ways reek through my flat provokes so much joy at the sheer wonder of nature and life, which in turn speaks to my inner hippy in a way that I’m sure I should be apologetic for. Buying flowers on the regular to stand proud on our dining table has become something of a necessity. I love ‘em. I really love ‘em.
5. THE UNICORN EMOJI IS HERE
No big deal guys, but our 21st century digital prayers have been answered. There have been so many occasions in which that little unicorn emoji would so accurately finesse the garbled point I’m trying to make on any given occasion: in a text, in a tweet, in life. And it’s coming. Between that and the arrival of the cheese emoji, there’s probably no need for text at all.
I jest. But y’know, the unicorn cometh.
**GLASTO SPECIAL KLAXON**
So, I went to Glastonbury. I laughed, I saw, I sang, I boozed, I danced, I showered (gasp!), and I obviously covered myself in glitter. I spent the following week longing for my wellies, wondering why I wasn’t surrounded by 5403 other people at any given moment. It wasn’t quite to the point that I missed the long-drop, mind. Such a huge, gorgeous, life-affirming fun-filled affair requires a few of this month’s Happiness Ten slots, on account of how entirely happy it made me.
6. Years & Years’ Performance
Everyone at Radio 1 LOVES Years & Years. We really, really rate them. Hotly tipped at the start of the year thanks to a BBC Sound Of 2015 win, I was eager to watch them in a crowd situation. The John Peel tent was in theory a perfect stage for them, as there was still an intimacy to their performance (well, as intimate as one can get at Glastonbury). What was not so perfect for our fellow music-lovers was that the tent was entirely packed out. People were backed up, spilling out in order to get Olly’s melodic and dreamy voice in their ears for reals. We got there early enough to nab a spot in the tent, and it was just a wonderful dream of a set. Their album (finally) came out this week, and it somehow exceeded my entirely high expectation. Go get it.
7. The Team
My hometown lot are exceptionally skilled at partying. They have been responsible for a fair few of the most chaotic, blurry, hazy and entirely ridiculous nights of my life since I was 18, and we’re still going strong a decade later. It somehow worked out that a strong 20 of us were descending on Glastonbury together. It was every bit as hectic and hilarious as you’d imagine a hyped up 20 strong throng would be. I mean, these are friends that build and bring a beer pong table to Glastonbury. Serious business.
Ohhhhh, Lionel. This was the performance of the weekend I was most looking forward to (obviously). Dolly Parton had blown me away with the pure fun of the Legends slot last year – as anyone dressed head to toe in sequins playing the Benny Hill theme on a saxophone should – so I expected big things from Lionel. He did not disappoint. It felt like every one of the 150,000 or so attendees had descended in front of that Pyramid Stage for his set. Life high-five.
9. Worthy View
For the second year running, we nabbed pre-erected camping in Worthy View. There are many who will justifiably scoff in outrage at this kinda choice (‘that’s not REAL camping!’) but it’s a DREAM, relatively speaking. Camping at festivals is great, great fun, but it’s also a slog. So when you’re talking about four days rather than two, and hundreds of thousands of people rather than tens, and a site the size of a city, having a decent, spaced out, slightly calmer area to sleep in and reside in, with working showers and flushing toilets really does make a difference. As does not having to hoof your entire weekend’s worth of booze across the site to your pitch for over an hour, in one go. As does not having to fight for a tiny patch of earth after queuing at the gates overnight. That all may be part of a festival experience, but this just makes everything a breeeeeeeze. Park up, sit down, open cider, GO.
You also have to walk a little, down a fairly steep track, to get to the throng of the festival. The anticipation of the unknown as you descend into the vivid chaos each day, bass getting louder, unsure of what the next 12 hours (and more) will bring, is a palpable and intoxicating feeling. As is the view…