I am that friend. The one who, when you’re mid-way telling a story you’re feeling paticularly passionate and fired up about, will pick up her phone whilst telling you she’s ‘still listening’ and give her emails, her Instagram and her Twitter a quick refresh. Then, she’ll look you in the eye, give you a reassuring nod that says ‘I’m so deeply engrossed in everything you’re saying’ and go ‘oooh, wait, one second, can you just go back a bit, I missed that last bit’.
My phone distracts me from everything. It’s the reason it took me double the reason to write that bloody book proposal (OK, that was more social media than my phone, but you get my point), it’s the reason I’m forever having to rewind Pretty Little Liars, and it’s the thing I automatically go to whenever there’s a silence or break in conversation, even with my own boyfriend, rather than y’know, actually continuing to learn more about each other.
It’s also pretty tickling considering I refresh each app about once every 7 minutes and can tell you entire backdated life stories for people I haven’t seen in a decade and yet am unable to reply to texts. They come through whilst I’m re-reading the same tweets I’ve already read three times and then I think ‘yeah, I’ll reply to that in a minute, don’t want to look too eager’. That minute never comes and I’m THAT friend too – the one who’s so irritatingly obviously on her phone and yet totally unresponsive. I hate that friend. She’s well annoying.
So with all of the above in mind, I decided to do something mental. Something I haven’t done since I was 16 and out of phone credit (because my Dad refused to buy me anymore because APPARENTLY using up £10 Virgin phone top-up in a day texting boys isn’t acceptable – who knew).
I had a date night without checking my phone, and Chris agreed to do the same.
Admittedly my phone addiction is getting more and more out of hand as the weeks and months fly by – whereas a couple of years ago I’d maybe be checking up on Facebook and Twitter (as well as BBM Messenger because obvs) now I’m all about emails, blog stats, blog comments, Bloglovin, Instagram, Facebook Pages. It’s a constant circle going between them all – and I’m also getting more and more interaction between them all as my blogger status grows and there’s an increasing likelihood that someone will retweet me or comment on an Insta upload and OH MY GOD YES ALL THE POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT.
So anyway, go back two Fridays and you’ll have found me dressed up in a cat print apron preparing a surprise three course meal in the kitchen, because I’m that sort of girlfriend. Chris got home about 5.30pm, we both had a last sad look at our phones and then I put them away in a drawer upstairs. And then we were just left with each other, Rudey and my camera for company. I was going to put that away too – because y’know, it’s still a technological distraction, but Chris was getting really, really into photographing Rudey and I couldn’t bring myself to tear him away from it. Plus, I sorta hoped that he’d be like HANNAH I LOVE TAKING PHOTOGRAPHS SO MUCH, PLEASE LET ME SHOOT MORE OF YOUR OUTFIT POSTS. This has not happened, sad face.
Anyway, I whipped up some like pizza bread thing to start, using that dreamy dough technique I learnt in Tuscany. It did NOT go well. I mean it was OK. The bit that was swimming in melted Cheddar and scraps of chorizo tasted like a little mouth orgasm of happiness, but yeah, it wasn’t my most FUCK LET’S ALWAYS EAT THIS dish I’ve ever cooked.
For main I came over all ambitious and tried to replicate Heron Tower’s infamous Duck And Waffle. Chris was a bit like WHAT THE FLIP IS THIS WEIRD COMBO, but I thought it tasted pretty close to the real thing.
Duck leg (bought from Tesco for £3.49 for two) – pricked with a fork, covered in salt and pepper and stuck in a medium heat oven for 90 minutes (I know, seriously WHY SO LONG?), whacked up on a high heat for the last 10 mins of cooking for a crispy skin.
Waffles – best made in a waffle maker. I don’t have one so opted for a couple of Taste The Difference ones cooked in the toaster.
Eggs – Traditionally use duck eggs for this recipe, but I just had normal ones so fried up one of these for each of us.
Maple syrup – I bought the proper expensive stuff (like £5 a bottle) and added a little bit of wholegrain mustard as the restaurant does and served in a jug.
We ate dessert whilst watching a film or TV or something. I can’t even actually remember, and you know the weirdest part? I can’t even check back on social media to confirm what we did. But pudding was basically a cheat version of a trifle recipe from Jamie Oliver’s 30 Minute Meals. It basically involves squeezing a couple of oranges into a dish, layering sponge fingers and then topping with a combo of mascarpone, lemon and icing sugar and then finishing it off with a scatter of raspberries – much punchier and refreshing and yum than it sounds.
And we had a bit of cider because it was just too damn sunny and spring-like for our beloved Malbec.
It was all so nice. And OK, we didn’t put the world to right or discuss politics or our greatest fears or all our ginormous life plans for the future, but we talked. We talked more and connected (ewww vom, I sound so cringey) than we had in a while.
And, it’ll come to no shock to any of you that my head felt clearer. I felt clearer, happier, more myself, without the constant nag of work and the social media world. I was the good, brilliant version of Hannah Gale, the one I like to be, the one I want to be all the time. The one who is unfaulted by negative comments or tweets or scrutiny, the one who is untouched by social media envy, because that’s the real me, the one I want Chris to know and love, not the insecure, sometimes-teary, sometimes self-obsessed girl I become when I’m latched onto my phone like a baby to a nipple.
I like that girl and I wish she’d come out to play more, she’s fun and happy and bright and the sort of person I’ve always wanted to be. So right now it’s about finding that balance – the balance of being that girl and of being the full-time blogger.
So yeah, phone-free date night is going to stay. Once a week if we can make it happen, once a fortnight if not. It sounds silly and forced to have ‘rules’ like this, but physically removing ourselves from our phones and hiding them away IS really the only way to ensure they don’t get involved in our quality time and we get to enjoy each other as we were made to, the way our parents did, the way the 758346587564357 generations before us did.
Next on the agenda? Having some serious girl time with phones removed. JUST IMAGINE THE SERIOUSLY INCREDIBLE CHATS YOU COULD HAVE WITH WINE AND CRISPS AND DIPS WITHOUT PHONES. Let’s start a revolution.
Oh, and here’s Rudey.