Finding a New Normal

Needless to say, the past few months have been extremely peculiar not just here in England, but for the entire world. Having just posted the adventures of my holiday to Aus and Bali back in January, I must count my lucky stars that I was able to complete my trip with no disruption as I flew back to the UK as planned at the beginning of February. Soon enough the effects of this pandemic hit home shores, so by mid March I was put on ‘Furlough’ from work and we watched on as the country went into almost full lockdown.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis will certainly be one of the most unique periods of life for our generation, as we learn to accept social distancing measures for an extended period of time. In the UK the lockdown has allowed us to get outside once a day for exercise and as we welcome in a particularly sunny springtime, it’s a blessing that we can still enjoy the gorgeous weather and boost our mood with some vitamin D.

Edit 3Being on ‘Furlough’ from my job has given me the gift of time, so it’s been a great opportunity to get on with my ‘To Do’ list and finally see to those longer term projects which I’ve always wanted to do (more on this in a later post!). I’ve also been able to spend more time looking after my wellbeing as I get rested and can priorities those things which matter most to me; staying fit with home workouts, brushing up on my dance skills in the garden, cooking yummy creations in the kitchen, reading books, taking photos and of course, writing my own blog 🙂

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACooking has always been one of my favourite hobbies too, so I’ve been experimenting with a few new recipes and even tried some baking. The popular quarantine sweet treat which everyone has been making is banana bread and being my first time, I was impressed with my creation pictured above. With the sun shining over the past few weeks, I’ve also been making a lot of delicious fresh summer dishes, including this easy Greek salad.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMaintaining sanity during this time has pulled family, friends and community together as we all find ourselves in the same position. Our extended family now have a weekly ‘Zoom’ quiz every Sunday evening and my work colleagues organise regular drinks via video conference too. Creativity is key also as my Dad decided to host a neighbourhood quarantine disco from our back garden last weekend! Having posted fliers around our surrounding neighbourhood to notify them of the party and to text in with song requests, my Dad setup his sound system in the garden ready for two hours of music from 7-9pm on Saturday.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWith the BBQ lit and the bubbles flowing, before we knew it requests for songs were flooding in! At 7pm on the dot we heard cheers from the neighbours in their gardens as we got the music pumping. By the end of the set, we counted over 70 messages from neighbours sending their song choices and thanking us for the disco. Being such a success, our plan is to do the next one to raise money for the NHS which I’m sure our neighbours will appreciate.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo as we continue forward in this period of uncertainty and apprehension, I remember how incredibly fortunate I am to be in my position during this pandemic. With my job secured, a comfortable home to reside in a lovely village and most of all a healthy family, I’m optimistic that my life will go back to normal once this all blows over. In the meantime, I hope this pause on our busy lifestyles will help us all slow down, appreciate the simple things and build a stronger relationship with loved ones as well as ourselves.

Edit 10

Take more chances; Dance more dances

Having danced since I could walk and spending my teenage years in the dance studio for hours every evening after school, naturally the urge to dance runs in my blood. Although I steered away from a further professional career in the industry, my passion for my art still remains strong and I just love getting back in the studio again.

Edit 1I’ll admit it has been some time and I am very much out of practice now, but that doesn’t stop me from having a prance around once in a while to experience that exhilaration of expressing myself to music again. Even just putting on those old pointe shoes and trying out some of my favourite routines from the past gives me such joy.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhilst I’m still able to do a lot and my flexibility remains good, I was surprised at how much more difficult it is just to get through an entire routine after so many years. It really makes me appreciate how fit and skilled I was back in the prime of my professional performing dance days.

Edit 0Following such an enjoyable session in the studio again this weekend, I’m going to make the time to do this on a weekly basis if possible. Even if I can just get an hour a week in to re-master a few routines and let off some steam I’ll be happy. Sometimes it’s not about being the best at something, but living for the moment and taking more chances to reignite the soul ❤

Edit 2

Post Wedding Pizza Pool Party

Onto the third and final day of wedding celebrations and everyone was back at Terre Di Nano for a pool party. Following all the emotions and excitement of the wedding day, everyone was still on such a high and by the afternoon we were sipping beers and bubbles yet again.

Edit 1With the sun shining and speakers pumping tunes, it was another afternoon of fun and laughter as we all reminisced on the fairytale weekend we’d spent together.

Edit 2It was the perfect opportunity to wear my Lack Of Colours rancher hat and tye-dye maxi beach dress with Birkenstocks and Ray Ban sunnies.

Pic00002.jpgAfter a couple of hours down by the pool messing around on pizza floaties, we made our way back to the terrace where they served up real pizzas. Made in the authentic wood-fire pizza oven, these were without a doubt the best pizza slices I’d ever had. A light thin base with emphasis on the toppings was what made these so moorish and the perfect cure for those hangovers 😉

Edit 4Meanwhile a storm was brewing in the distance making for a very moody sky across the valley, yet the rain never came; a terrific Tuscan stormy sunset.

Edit 7Later that evening the guitar came out and we broke into a singalong. We were even treated to a live version of the song written for the newlyweds which had us all in tears yet again!

Edit 8Being a very musical family, that night we were in our element singing our hearts out to each other. I sang ‘Dreams’ by Fleetwood Mac, although I was a fair few beers down at that point, so I’m not so sure this was my most tuneful rendition. Singing ‘Let it be’ by Lennon with my brother and dad was particularly special, before we had to bid farewell to the guests and close the book on a wedding weekend we will cherish forever.

Edit00105.jpgI took a step back that night and breathed in the magic of that moment. We truly had shared the most joyful time together and the happiness of everyone present spoke for itself.  The memories will always make me smile; ‘That’s Amore’.

Victorious Festival Southsea

With temperatures soaring in the UK this weekend, it was the perfect weather for a festival. I joined my sister at Victorious in Southsea to assist with her radio show broadcasting live from the site on Saturday evening.Edit 1We spent the afternoon grabbing interviews with the artists lined up for the show. Working for BBC Introducing Solent, all of the artists were local, up and coming acts which the show gives platform to. Edit 3Using the portable mic and headphones, I was on hand to assist my sister with logistics and capture some photos too.

Edit 5I kept my outfit simple with an all black everything ensemble and black fedora hat to match. On reflection I should’ve worn something a little lighter given the scorching heat!

Edit 7The show was going live at 8pm, so we got ourselves back to the press tent and setup ready to go on air just as James Bay was beginning his set on the main stage.

Edit 8Steph pulled off a fantastic show with the energy of the festival buzzing in the background. I was glad to be on hand for the day and act as PA to my radio star sis!

Palace Cinema Broadway: Rocket Man Viewing

Another month and another team social with work last week. With our own private theatre viewing of the highly anticipated Rocket Man, we had a blast watching the inspiring, glitzy film whilst enjoying our drinks to celebrate another hard working month in the office.

Pic03920.jpgOn a rainy Tuesday evening in Sydney, we made our way over to Palace Cinemas in Broadway to share some pre-show drinks and nibbles. We were treated to mezze platters of cheese to accompany a comforting glass of red wine. Following a good catchup and chitchat with colleagues, we made our way into the theatre to take our seats for the film. Of course we went via the bar to line up drinks and order in snacks for the movie and there I was double parked on a Tuesday!

Pic03918.jpgDespite the cheesy outbursts of song, I thought the movie was fabulous with a raw edge which made for a more real portrayal of Elton John’s life. Having our own private theatre prompted us to act like children as we had a laugh throwing popcorn at each other, not so accepted when in a public cinema. The evening continued on at another bar in Broadway and I found myself one too many red wines down for a Tuesday night – thankfully there were others on my page and up for a few drinks too!

Current Playlist: All Night

When it seems the world is on your shoulders and life is getting on top of you, there’s no better way to kick those lows than with a refreshed and motivating music playlist. As I walk over the Sydney Harbour Bridge on my daily commute to work, I plug into my tunes to feel inspired and pumped for the day ahead. Work is high-paced and very stressful, so this time to myself in the mornings is an opportunity to clear my head and arrive to the office energised and invigorated. Most recently I have been adding to a new Spotify playlist ‘All Night’ which gets me focused on smashing tasks at work and sets me in a positive and happy state of mind. For that half an hour walk, I can escape the worries of everyday life and soak up the simple pleasure of living here in the heart of stunning Sydney Australia. Here are some of my top played tracks at the moment…

Pic00002Pic00003Pic00004Pic00005Pic00001

Mardis Gras 19: Grecian Glitter Girls

As one of Sydney’s biggest celebrations of the year otherwise known as ‘Gay Christmas’, Mardis Gras is always a highly anticipated event across the city. Following last year’s unforgettable introduction to the famous day with it being the year of legalised gay marriage, I couldn’t wait for another round of glitter and giggles at the girls only party.

Edit 2.jpgDecorated with all the sparkle and colour you could imagine, our lovely friend hosted the most fabulous party as her Birthday also falls on this day. I was very excited to be back in my favourite hanging cosy seat complete with sequins and a disco mirror ball – my very own throne!

Edit 6.jpgEdit 7.jpgThis time last year (as a newbie to Australia) I was also introduced to the Ozzy Birthday party staple Fairybread. I was addicted to this simple combo of white bread, butter and sprinkles, so I knew exactly where I was going to get my sugar hit ready to dance the night away again.

Edit 9.jpgAnother Mardis Gras down and I feel truly thankful for the beautiful friends that have made me so welcome and embraced my presence on such a special day for the gay community. Happy Mardis Gras ❤

Edit 4.jpg

Secret Garden ‘Eleven and Out’

Dreamed up on the principle of presenting an eclectic, unpretentious line-up curated for people who love discovering new things, Secret Garden Party has been a highly anticipated festival each year it has come around. Hosted at the Downes family farm in Camden, each nook of the forest is transformed into a fantasy of fun and outrageous themes to showcase music, arts and entertainment.Edit 1.jpgBeing their eleventh and final year we couldn’t miss out! Arriving on the Friday evening having jumped on the train out of Sydney straight after work, I was more than ready for a weekend to let my hair down and soak up the free spirit party atmosphere.

Edit 2.jpgWe were lucky to get VIP tickets given that my boyfriend knows the owners, so we had easy access in and out of the festival. Our camping setup was ideal too with a trailer we had borrowed from a friend featuring a proper double bed and indoor standing area for changing – my kinda camping!Edit 11.jpgI couldn’t wait to get out the sparkle, some whacky jewellery and my outrageous headdress for the occasion. We even made friends with a lovely couple camping next door to us, so us girls got excited with our glitter and fake tattoos as we pre-drank back at camp!

Edit 9.jpgSaturday the sun came out but it wasn’t unbearably hot with some cloud cover, perfect festi weather. Some highlights included the Daft Punk tribute act, all the hidden forest dance stages and the yummy food stalls offering that naughty but necessary food you always crave at festivals. My boyfriend even designed the funky 70s inspired theme stage and bar named ‘S.G Airlines’.

Edit 7.jpgIt truly was a weekend of letting loose, embracing the crazy wonderland built by the team of volunteers and joining in the Secret Garden Party community to celebrate together one last time…S.G ’11 and Out!’

Edit 3

Majestic Mood

Music is most definitely a huge part of my everyday routine and always sets me in the right mood for the day. Whether it’s powering my walk as I brave the morning commute in Sydney, or setting a chilled atmosphere whilst kicking back for a few drinks with friends, I always like to have the tunes going. I’m currently creating my own Majestic playlist inspired by Majestic Casual Radio on Spotify. My vibe is definitely deep Indie with a mix of chilled dance music, so here’s some of my current favourites as we dive into Sydney summer and get those tunes pumping down the beach!

pic00001pic00004pic00005pic00002pic00006pic00008pic00007pic00003Follow my Spotify @danianeka

Mollymook Magic

With a couple days spare before our New Years road trip up the coast, we found ourselves back in Mollymook to catch up with more friends. Having had a spontaneous Boxing Day evening out fuelled with one crate too many of VBs, we nursed our hangovers with brekky at Tallwood cafe. We both had the fruit bowl with a superfood nut seed mix and coffee to get us going for the day.

Edit 3.jpgAfter a quick dip in the ocean to reset our bodies, we visited my boyfriend’s auntie and uncle’s place where we could chill for a few hours in the cool air-conditioning. I also got to catch up on some journal writing which I hadn’t had time for over the Christmas period. It was the most idyllic setup as I sat overlooking the golf course and Mollymook beach.

edit 4edit 6That evening we were welcomed to stay the night and kindly invited to join a BBQ with yet more yummy offerings of seafood, steak and salads. I was in charge of serving the G&Ts which gave me a good head-start for our night out in the local town of Ulladulla.

edit 1edit 5 Joining our mate who is founder and producer of Mammals, we were off to see a Babe Rainbow gig at The Marlin. Another night on the VBs and some good tunes was a recipe for a fun filled evening of dancing around and having a good laugh. I thought Molly was just a quiet family seaside town, little did I know there is a buzzing young community scene in and around quaint Magical Mollymook!

pic00154