I am a little late to the party but I have only just finished this book sometime last month.

@freestocks

{photo by: @freestocks}

 

The Versions Of Us by Laura Barnett

“What if you had said yes …? Eva and Jim are nineteen, and students at Cambridge, when their paths first cross in 1958. Jim is walking along a lane when a woman approaching him on a bicycle swerves to avoid a dog. What happens next will determine the rest of their lives. We follow three different versions of their future – together, and apart – as their love story takes on different incarnations and twists and turns to the conclusion in the present day. The Versions of Us is an outstanding debut novel about the choices we make and the different paths that our lives might follow. What if one small decision could change the rest of your life?”

I was intrigued with the beginning, but very soon I got caught in the web of confusion as the story broke out in three different versions. As I progressed into the book, it got harder and harder to keep track of which version I was in, or even how the versions started out. A number of times I got the versions mixed up in my head. I must admit I was frustrated at some points of the book. Only because I couldn’t remember correctly what happened in the last chapter(s).

I didn’t think I’d like this book much because of how difficult it was to read & relate. What I wasn’t aware of was how deep I got sucked in, attaching my soul to the characters in every version of the story. My soul was split into Horcruxes, I’m sure of it.

This book is an emotional rollercoaster ride for me – it made me smiled, it made me angry, it made me throw my hands up out of sheer disgust with the ways of the universe. And these things in the book, they happen in real life. With joy comes sorrow. Happiness that doesn’t last, contentment mistaken for happiness. The amount of betrayal and lies laced in the everybody’s lives hurt me more than I expect. At certain points it became too painful to read. But what surprised me most is how much I actually sobbed (so loud as well) as I completed the book. It surprised me because like I mentioned, these are things that happen, things that you expect. Or maybe I’m this big cry baby so everything makes me cry anyway. And what I think Laura Barnett so wonderfully reminds us at the end is that love will always find you. And once found, love will always stay. Love doesn’t always conquer everything, but love will always stay, until the end of time.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Allow me to share with you a couple of my favourite quotes from the book:

“…he is old enough now to know happiness for what it is: brief and fleeting, not a state to strive for, to seek to live in, but to catch when it comes, and to hold on to for as long as you can.”

“What would my life have been without you?”

And to the last quote, my friends, I will say:

Everything & nothing.

 

 

Disclaimer: The book link above is a Book Depository affiliate link. If you buy books using any of the links I have provided, I will receive a 5% commission. That said, any profits made from this blog/post will be reinvested into the future of this blog, of course. Thank you!

 

 

Toodles. ♥

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In between long periods of anxious, impatient waits and sometimes unbearable ennui, I have mastered ways to calm my listless mind.

It’s really simple, really…Brew a cuppa tea, stare out the window & have your notebook ready!

I do this a lot, but I feel Sundays are always the best time. Some people give thanks on Sunday – although we really should be giving thanks every day, if we’re giving any at all. But I like to call this my musings. Just a little corner for my mind to run free with gratitude for the week that just passed and gearing up for the week ahead.

I hope you will enjoy this little snippets of my week that I am grateful for.


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double rainbow

I’m sure a number of you caught this on Monday, but how lucky was I? I was just minding my own tired business when I suddenly looked out the windows and gave the loudest gasp anyone can give in this quiet, peaceful flat, flung the French doors open to the balcony and ran out there admiring the beauty (and my luck). I also forgot that it was cold, good thing I had my cardigan on. I probably took in the best view until I realised I didn’t want to miss a shot and my phone wasn’t with me. I managed this shot, just right before the fog breezed in and went right folks, nothing to see here, back to your homes everyone”. I must’ve stood there for a while, just feeling ever so lucky to have caught sight of my second double rainbow. Also, it was the BIGGEST rainbow I have ever seen in my life. It was magical. And then I caught another double rainbow just yesterday! How amazing!

 

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celebrating C.’s birthday…in person!

I am very, very happy that I finally have the chance to shower C. with lots of birthday love in person! Technically, this is my first time celebrating his birthday lol. We had a nice home-cooked meal (he was kindly subjected to my cooking & new recipes attempts) & an array of unique cakes for him to pick from – but of course he went for his classic carrot cake. It was also nice that he got home from work early, he actually surprised me by coming home earlier than I thought (I wasn’t ready!!!). But I supposed the best bits was almost successfully throwing him a small surprise birthday dinner with a handful of his closest friends over the weekend. I say almost because he said he had some sort of suspicion but then brushed it off, until we got to his favourite restaurant (Honest Burgers) and the lady who welcomed us in betrayed me. She cheerily announced that everyone was here and waiting. The dramatic face-palming happened in my head as C. chuckled and went “Hah, your cover got blown.” Massive eye-rolling right there. He still somewhat got pleasantly surprised at the company, so I guess that’s a success still, right?!

 

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curling up in bed with a book & a cuppa

That sigh of contentment as you sink into bed, wrap yourself up in the duvet, and sip some hot tea. And then proceed to escape in your book of choice. Heaven.

I was going to wrap it up, but I had a thought…and this might be a little bit odd but can we please take a minute to be thankful for:

the dishwasher

I know, I know. Y’all probably think I’m strange, but honestly! Back home in Kuala Lumpur (and Singapore), no one I know has a dishwasher. It was always hard work of washing the dishes by hand. You may think it’s menial but imagine the skills you require to get rid of burnt crusts at the bottom of pans etc. When C. found out I’ve been living with a dishwasher (when I was studying here) & used it as a drying rack for my pots and pans, he might have bowled over in laughter or in pain, or both. Then he started introducing the wonders of a dishwasher and ever since then, I’ve never been able to imagine how I can ever live my life now without a dishwasher.

I had a rather grey week this last week and I am just glad there were things that made me happy.

I hope everyone had a fabulous Sunday and is well-rested for the week ahead!

Toodles. ♥

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“Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens,
Bright copper kettles and warm woollen mittens,
Brown paper packages tied up with strings;
These are a few of my favourite things.”

I can have so much love for so many things. Too many things, sometimes.

I thought it would be a good idea to curate a list of things that brings joy to my life and share with y’all every month. I would do it every week but there is already a new weekly feature coming up on Sundays (so be sure to check that out too!). In a way, I wouldn’t feel all too bad if I were to miss out blogging at times. It’s like sharing mini snippets of my life!

So here you go, my February FavesUnfortunately, no pancakes were involved in this post. 

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the new flat

May I just say it is really nice to have the space and the freedom to walk around in my jammies at 12 noon and not be judged by anyone else but my teddy bears. And it is really nice not to be living out of my suitcases anymore. Also, because this flat is new very new, that’s sort of a plus point because we almost went crazy shopping for new flat things and that was very exciting. But what is more exciting is now that we are a lot more settled, I AM QUEEN OF THE KITCHEN AND I CAN UNLEASH MY CLEAN FREAK AND NO ONE CAN JUDGE. And I make good food. At least that’s what C. tells me. 

Pssst. – Totally loving the Verveine fragrance from The White Company, plus it was a gift! It took every ounce in C. to hold me back from buying everything else in the store after that.

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my new KeepCup

So I have raved about getting a KeepCup since forever but never actually gotten it. It was one of those things you know you want, but never got around to getting it, collecting cobwebs in the back of your mind. A couple of Saturdays ago, C. took me out on a surprise shopping spree and he simply refused to tell me what he was going to get me. Until we finally entered Selfridges and I was making silly wild guesses like Oooohhh you’re getting me perfume//No, you must be getting me a bag!//Or , *gasp!* you’re getting me a lipstick! etc. He found it highly amusing that I was coming up with such expensive wants and getting myself all excited just trying to guess. But really, who knew he can be such a sweetheart, he remembers exactly what KeepCup I have always wanted – even the colour (The KeepCup Brew Limited Edition cork; black lid and plug)! If you know of KeepCup, you will know that they have so many options on material, colours, sizes, it’s almost understandable why I never really made up my mind even though I already knew what I want lol. I am really pleased with this little gift, it has now taken over all my favourite mugs and has served me my mornings, afternoons, evenings, even those in-between period cups of tea!

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My Family & Other Animals

As I have mentioned in my post yesterday, C. is apparently intending to surprise me with a book a month – books he thinks I would enjoy reading. This is his first pick of the year and I was already cackling with glee in the first few pages. I might do a review when I’m done but it has already hit the spot on my February Faves!

 

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tulips

Tulips are always going to be my favourite, regardless of what month it is. It is my February Faves because I decided to go out on Valentine’s day and buy myself some blooms. These bright tulips were only £2.35 or something, and they brightened up my entire week. Sadly, they’re gone now and just writing about this makes me want to go out and buy more blooms.

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starflowers

At least this is what I think they’re called. C. managed a surprise Valentine’s bouquet with the aid of Bloom & Wild and I have watched them bloom all of the last 2 weeks. The bouquet is beautiful, the roses and spray roses sweet as ever. But what caught my eye are these starflowers. When they first arrived, they were not flowering yet so I didn’t think much of them. A few days later, I was wow-ed by the blooming starflowers! Look at them! They also seem to last well and long; they’re doing much better than the roses right now. I will definitely be looking out for them when I pop to the florist next! Most certainly making it into my favourite flowers list!

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Sundate & Sunday roast

Finally. I believe the last time I had a Sunday roast was 2 months ago. I’m a big fan of Sunday roast these days, and C. & I are finally free this last Sunday of the month to go for a Sundate lunch. It has been almost a year since we first walked into The Princess of Shoreditch and we loved it there. We had lamb the last time and this time as well, but we definitely remembered it differently. It was still very good, I loved every bit of it (and the date) but we are looking forward to check out other places for Sunday lunch. If you do have any recommendations/suggestions, do let me know, I would be only too pleased to rush over for my next Sunday roast!

I hope your February was just as colourful as mine!

What are your favourite things this month?

Toodles. ♥

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If you have been following my journey in the last few months, you would realise that it has been 5 months since I dropped everything and left sunny Singapore for cold, grey London skies.

I won’t lie; I have naively thought that the transition would be a little more smooth sailing. Oh, life’s transition is perfectly fine – I feel very much at home here, all thanks to close friends, boyfriend, & his wonderful family. But the progress and process to attain a right to live and work in the UK is far more complicated and cumbersome. The never-ending requirements and hidden fine prints are enough to send me up the walls.

The whole of last week I had to digest the new information, the new…demands of bureaucracy (I swear, bureaucracy is my new constant word these days) and quite frankly, that has gotten me down in the dumps. Half the time I found myself in denial, the other half of the time I spent hating on how difficult things are turning out right now. And at all times, C. has been nothing but so very kind and helpful, always optimistic and trying to make me see the issues in a different light. It wasn’t helping me at first, but he is constantly giving me hope until I am slowly starting to believe again, that everything will be alright soon.

And in those moments of hopeful thoughts, I channelled my energy to happier things. All my worries about how this new development is going to affect me – financially, mentally, physically – I repackaged them and sold it to myself in the form of a sabbatical. I have never really thought about it this way because I have always imagined that I would be able to jump right back to work once I settled my visa etc. Now that it isn’t all that simple, I have to buy the idea of a sabbatical. It’s not a terrible idea anyway. I can guess many might only be too happy to trade their places for mine. Not that I would let you, really, I’m quite happy here. But hey, it is making me feel a lot better. To acknowledge that I *am* on a sabbatical right now. I have all the time in the world now to do whatever I want, and I feel this is the best time for me to focus on ME.

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♦ To start with, I had a brainwave to revamp this blog. For reals. I acknowledge that in the past I haven’t been the most consistent blogger and this year I intend to change that. I want to be able to properly share my thoughts and improve my writings. And to do this, I will be starting off with a few new features that hopefully will stay regular. By making it regular, I hope it will keep me in check and disciplined enough to put more of me into this space that I call my own. I am looking forward to prettify this little corner on the internet (this is work in progress, some time in the week there should be some sort of visual changes), and tomorrow the first of my new feature will go live! So please hang around and check it out!

♦ Secondly, I am picking up French again! C. introduced Duolingo to me some weeks back and I must say, it is such a fun way to learn a new language! It is also free which is the best aha. However, procrastination is in my blood, I am not on top of it yet but apparently I am now at Level 6 and am 13% fluent in French! Merveilleux!

♦ I have been reading loads in the past few months – you can follow my reading challenge here on Goodreads. This year’s goal is to hit 25 books by the end of 2017. I seem to be doing pretty well, I have done 7 books out of 25! I have every intention to increase my goal but I am also setting myself monthly book goals on the side. I am supposed to finish 4 books in February but alas, only 1 book achieved this month. I will do my best to talk about the books I’ve read and yes, it will be one of those new features I was telling you about. C. is being an absolute delight, he wants to surprise me with a book each month and who am I to say no to that?

♦ It is a little disheartening that I haven’t ran / gone to the gym in ages. Every day I wake up telling myself today will be the day I start working out again. Never happened. I am still working up the motivation to make that first step – after months of slacking – so wish me luck!

So there you go, bits and pieces of my life thus far. Hopefully everything will fall into place soon and this whole new life I have been pursuing will then begin. There is always a time and place for everything. But until then, let me enjoy this freedom and time I have in abundance right now.

Toodles. ♥

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City of stars, are you shining just for me? 

 

I watched La La Land recently; the boyfriend was very keen since he heard raving reviews about it.

*May include spoilers, should you proceed to read.

A love story, of fragmented dreams. It’s about what it takes to make dreams come true. It’s about how much you want something, and how much you are willing to lose to gain that one thing that you have always wanted. It’s about how your dreams can change – or rather, how you alter your dreams to your situation thinking it is what you want, when in fact, you know it is probably not. Fragmented dreams.

It was a film like no other – it’s not quite Mamma Mia, but here we also established that Ryan Gosling’s singing voice is very strange. In most musical-like films, everything tends to be perfect: the singing, the plot, the choreography. Usually a lot of singing. But in La La Land, there is some singing, some random dancing, & a lot of instrumentals which I did enjoy. I’d recommend y’all to watch it.

A few surprises:

  1. We liked how there was a smooth plot/story line amidst the dancing & singing. That is saying a lot for the boyfriend because he admits the usual cotton candy dancing in the clouds does not appeal to him. He quite enjoyed the film, so that’s the first surprise for me lol. Throughout the movie, I kept looking at him to see if he had fallen asleep/bored enough to throw his popcorn at the screen, but his attention was rapt.
  2. We thought the ending was quite clever – here’s a spoiler!- the leads did not end up together, happily ever after; but apart, happy enough with their own accomplished lives. There were a succession of flashback scenes, alternate realities to show the audience what could’ve been. And sadly, I believe they would’ve lived much happier lives, however ways their individual dreams would have turned out. I must say the “what could have been” bits got to me. Because they happen in real lives, because once too many times I have walked into the woods of what could have been, because once too many times I have been trapped in those realities. That said, I did not cry like a baby, and both the boyfriend & myself are very proud. I would also have rolled my eyes so hard if they did end up together because Hollywood.
  3. Ryan Gosling’s singing voice is really strange, have I already mentioned that? Although I am starting to get hooked into “City of Stars”, sung by Ryan Gosling & Emma Stone. It’s definitely not his voice I am listening to, there is a hopeful but melancholic pull in the tunes. I blame the minor keys. “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” is actually another neat song.

Here’s to the ones who dream
Foolish as they may seem
Here’s to the hearts that ache
Here’s to the mess we make

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More often than not, I have thought of myself as the world’s biggest fool. Chasing dreams so sublime. Making such messes of myself at this age, it was almost embarrassing.

But here, here’s to us fools who dream; because no matter how crazy they seem, they are your dreams. You shouldn’t be embarrassed, you shouldn’t be discouraged. In fact, you should be afraid.

“The size of your dreams must always exceed your current capacity to achieve them. If your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough.” – Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

So they say.

Trust me, I was scared plenty. All day, everyday. Freaking out in my head all the time. Thinking, what on earth are you doing with yourself, Alex? Not once did this fear cease. It scared me enough to keep me going. I would rather be scared right now, than to look back at this moment 10 years later & ask myself: “What if?” What if I had been braver? What if I had fought for my dreams/my love/my life? 

And if any chance my answers begin with, “I wished I had…”, they would then be regrets too big for me to carry.

 

So what if I am the world’s biggest fool?

Dreams do come true. And I would do it all over again.

Have you watched the film yet? What do you think about it? Let me know x.

Toodles. ♥