I’m acutely aware that I’m starting to sound like a complainer, but July was a tough month. With things at work still at fever pitch and the pressure piling on, B being away with work and the realisation that perhaps I haven’t made quite as many friends in Amsterdam as I would’ve liked, my anxiety has been worse than it has been in a good while. I was meant to go to Vienna to see one of my close friends who’s living over there, but I just couldn’t do it, and I’ve spent the rest of the month not-so-quietly beating myself up about it.
So when I came to writing this post I was a little doubtful about just what I’d find to talk about that wasn’t wah my life is rubbish I don’t go anywhere wah. But I was actually pretty surprised to see just how many lovely photos and memories I have from this month alone. In fact, I have more photos from July than I had for June and May. This is pretty much the reason I started this blog – my anxiety and depressive tendencies can mean that I sometimes don’t see the wood for the trees, so to speak. This means that I often get in destructive cycles of thinking where I think that I have no friends, I never do anything interesting and that I’m just generally a failure. Once you’ve become convinced of all this things, it’s pretty tough to get the energy to go outside and face your fears. But looking back on photos and writing this blog forces me to see that that’s not actually the case. The act of writing has always been pretty cathartic for me, but writing this blog is a whole other level; after furiously typing out a few paragraphs I can already feel myself feeling more appreciative and positive about myself and my experiences here in Amsterdam. It’s a wonderful feeling; I just need to remember to keep it up!
- Amsterdam in the sunshine. Back in the dreary depths of winter everyone told me to just hold on till summer, that Amsterdam is a completely different city in the sunshine… And they were right. Sun-drenched canals, lazy picnics and long walks at the weekend – Amsterdam is pretty hard to beat at this time of year.
- Catching up. I wrote in my post here about how I survived a week in Amsterdam on my own, and one of the highlights of that week was catching up with this lovely person. The office just hasn’t been the same since she left, and I’d forgotten how good it feels when you ‘click’ with somebody.
- Praise for my colleagues. Actual work aside, the one thing that makes my 9-5 (or 9-7) worthwhile is the people I get to work with. No matter how stressful things get, there isn’t a day that goes by when these people don’t make me laugh. And that’s pretty special.
- Catching pokemon. You may have noticed, but Pokemon Go was released this month. B was on it like a car bonnet and I’m not complaining; it means we get to go for long walks without complaint, working our way through the canals of Amsterdam with only the occasional Squirtle stop. And I even get to name them – the Poliwag in this photo has now been named Frank. I know I know, I have a gift.
- Strawberries and cream for Wimbledon. The day that B came home from his adventures, we ventured out to the Westermarkt, my favourite market in Amsterdam (first Sunday of the month, so mark your calendars) that just so happens to be right near our house. There, we took a break from browsing the wares to get an ice cream. Being the day of the Wimbledon Men’s Singles final (whoo Murray!), I went for a strawberry and vanilla combo. Yum.
- Food art. We attended a one year old’s birthday party this month in Amsterdam Noord and it was an absolutely lovely affair. Of course the company was great, the food wonderful (I had a Russian soup made by the grandma and it really hit the spot), but the highlight has to be this turtle made of a watermelon, carved by the niece of the baby’s niece. I may have spent longer than acceptable admiring this piece of melon art.
- Happy birthday! As I said we were proud attendees of the first birthday party for this little guy, and it felt pretty special to be part of it. With home videos, party hats and conversation with new and interesting people, it was an occasion worth leaving work early for.
- A taste of home. My friend from university visited us last weekend, and it was just the visit I needed. As I mentioned earlier this month it’s been pretty hard for me to get out and about, so to have a close friend come over here was nothing short of wonderful. We visited museums, ate delicious food and most importantly chatted about anything and everything as if no time had passed since we last saw each other. It’s reassuring to know that no matter how much time passes, friendships are here to stay.
- Tapas in the sunshine. When my friend was over we seized the opportunity to try somewhere new for dinner. After much deliberation, we settled on Barça, a tapas bar in Marie Heinekenplein that has been recommended to me in the past. It was absolutely delicious and really good value, sitting in a square of sunshine lazily drinking wine – I particularly enjoyed the gambas and roasted vegetables.
- Pazzi for Pazzi. Pazzi is probably my favourite pizza place in Amsterdam (La Perla may just edge in terms of yum, but Pazzi wins out in the fact that you can actually get a table without booking a week in advance). We went for dinner there this month after not going for a while, and I fell in love all over again.
- FriYAY. The bar at the Stedelijk museum may not be the hippest or most off-the-beaten-tracks of places, but somewhere we end there most weekends. It’s right by my work you see, and it does Gin & Tonics for 5 EUR. Yes, 5 EUR. Cheapest I’ve found in Amsterdam, and they come with free bitterballen to boot. I’m in.
- Fish & Chips. When The Chippy opened on the Kinkerstraat nobody was more excited than me. We popped along to see what was what and although the jury is still out on this one – good value for money, massive portions, a little heavy – the cocktails were amazing. I had A Peachy Blinder and B went for a rather masculine rose-themed drink in a martini glass. Good fun all around.