This Week I Have Been Mostly….

this week i have been mostly

Hello from a glorious and sunshiny Buckinghamshire. I hope you’ve all been loving the weather we’ve recently been having?

I’m aware that by the time this post publishes, we could be sitting in jumpers and staring into the grey abyss, but as I write this I’m soaking in the sunshine, enjoying the cool breeze and sipping on an iced coffee.

I didn’t realise how much the weather affected me until a few years ago. Up until about 3 years ago my favourite season was always Autumn – not too cold but nice and crisp and you could wear cute jumpers and feel all cosy wrapped up and snuggly. And then I went to Florida and it broke me – in the best possible way. The sunshine, the humidity, the heat. Being able to whack on a summer dress and sandals and fly out the door. The wide open skies with only fluffy white clouds.

IMG_4704

Everyone is happy, everyone looks healthy. My skin was smooth and tanned, my mind was calm and I was getting so many important vitamins into my system. From that point I was a summer person. This year’s winter felt colder than ever. My joints hurt, everything felt dark and dull. Even this heat wave hasn’t been hot enough. I need at least 30c and humid…. I’m ruined!!

So needless to say I’ve been enjoying this taste of summer, and I can’t wait for it to return soon.

Other than soaking in the weather, I’ve been busy doing other things. At my job we celebrated 10 years of the business and all headed to Alton Towers.

It was my first time there, and since it was a chilly grey day we were able to ride every ride with no wait times on the majority. It was an epic day. My favourite rides were Oblivion, Thirteen and the new coaster The Wicker Man (UK’s first wooden rollercoaster in 20 years). Alton Towers is on a massive site. I was very impressed!

IMG_4678

I’ve also been cracking on with my calligraphy course. I’m nearing the end of the second module, learning minuscule (lower case) letters. I’m actually really impressed with how much I’m improving. This course really suits my learning style and I’m brimming with inspiration of how I can put it to use as I continue to learn. I’m waiting until I’ve learned both minuscule and majuscule letters (and possibly how to connect them!) before I start being too creative, though!

IMG_4661

We recently went off to London and to a restaurant we’d seen on Masterchef called Eneko, and had an amazing dinner there. I’m posting a separate review all about it, so keep an eye out for that.

IMG_4746

As you’ve no doubt seen, I’m still completing my 52 new recipes challenge and I’m really enjoying putting the effort in to discover and then make the recipes. If you want to see what I’ve made so far, you can do so by clicking this link. I’ve got a few ideas of recipes I want to try in the future but I’m actually enjoying looking up what I fancy on a weekly basis.

So, without a crystal ball I can’t predict what the weather will be like as you’re reading this post. I hope with all my heart it’s sunny. Even if it’s not in the mid to high 20’s like it has been, I hope it’s still sunshine!

Until next time…

Playing Tourist with London Duck Tours

If you’re a regular reader of mine you’ll know I’m a big fan of London, and visit whenever I can – especially in Summer. So when I was asked whether I wanted to play tourist and go on a London Duck Tour, the answer was a resounding YES!

IMG_1683

I’d heard of Duck Tours before but wasn’t really sure what they were, having just seen the big yellow boat-like vehicles cruising through the streets of London. I was definitely intrigued. Me and hubby arrived at the Southbank on the day of our tour, and basked in the gorgeous sunshine until our transport arrived.

IMG_1675

The DUKW vehicles (affectionately referred to as Ducks and painted an appropriate yellow) are so-called thus: D = First year of production code “D” is for 1942, U = Body style “U” utility truck (amphibious), K = Front wheel drive, W = Two rear driving wheels (tandem axle). These vehicles were used to carry supplies and were most suited for this due to being able to go on both land and water. Fitted with a lovely roof, they are very accommodating on both grey and gloriously sunny days.

We hopped onto our Duck, Titania (all the Ducks are names after female characters from Shakespeare plays) and got comfy in our seats. Our tour guide Mark quickly gave us a brief of the journey ahead and then we were off!

IMG_1676

The tour started in Waterloo, then Westminster;

IMG_1677

IMG_1678

Parliament Street, Whitehall, Downing Street, Trafalgar Square, Pall Mall, Piccadilly;

IMG_1685

Grosvenor Place and Buckingham Palace, MI5 and Lambeth Bridge before splashing down into the Thames next to MI6.

IMG_1681

We then travelled by water past the Tate Gallery, underneath Lambert Bridge and then turned around beside the Houses Of Parliament before heading back to dry land. Back on solid ground, we passed through the Vauxhall area and then back towards Waterloo.

Considering I’m a regular visitor to London, it was great learning so much about places I’ve seen many times, as well as noticing things I’ve never seen before and travelling through parts of the city I’ve never seen. I even learned that the Thames isn’t as dirty as I’d once thought, and its only the colour it is due to the constant churning of clay and soil on its bed. Who knew?! (Well, obviously Mark, our guide knew….)

IMG_1682

I loved the tour. Our guide was informative, funny and really knew his stuff. I honestly felt like I was on holiday, and the time we spent on the water was so relaxing!

I’m so pleased I got the opportunity to take this tour. I’ve seen that London Duck Tours also do themed tours including James Bond and D-Day. I might have to look those up! I visit London so frequently it’s so easy to forget about the landscape and history surrounding you in such a fast-paced environment. I LOVED playing tourist!

I was given the opportunity to take this tour for free by London Duck Tours, but at under £30 per adult ticket I’d say it’s worth every penny, for such a unique way to see and learn about London. You can find out more about their tours, and buy tickets and vouchers here, at their website London Duck Tours

Have you ever been on one of these tours, or even one of their themed tours? I’d love to know what you thought. Leave me a comment below, and tell me about it!

IMG_1684

I was given two tickets to the London Duck Tours for free, in return for my honest review of the experience. All views are my own and totally unbiased. If you like the look of the tours, go try one and see for yourself!

This Week I Have Been Mostly….

this week i have been mostly

This is more of a life update post than a weekly update, but I’m sure you’ll allow me some creative licence!

The past few months have been pretty heavy going, with life changes and busy things happening. The attacks on the UK have been very triggering for me, so I was pleased I had a few scheduled posts ready to go, so I didn’t have to think too much about blog content when, being truthful, I just didn’t feel like blogging.

Twitter has become a hostile place to hang out, at times, with a lot of unnecessary bitching and drama for drama’s sake. I’ve taken a bit of a step back on there too. Instead I’ve been enjoying taking photos, and looking up from screens a bit more. Seeing what’s around me, and then sharing it with my followers on instagram.

As well as bits and bobs happening in my life, that I won’t go into right now for fear of jinxing, we did get offered the opportunity to take an amazing trip, which we decided to go ahead with and will be venturing out on in October.

Friends of ours are going to be in Orlando for a couple of months at the end of the year and offered us use of one of their spare rooms whilst they’re there. If you’re a new reader you may not know, but I am a huge fan of Florida (and Disney!) and fell in love with the place when we visited last year for our 10th wedding anniversary. This was an opportunity too wonderful to pass up, so we booked out tickets and are starting to form plans for our week there. Neither of us can wait, and we’re so grateful to our friends. I don’t want to wish the year away, but I really can’t wait for October now! It’s given us an amazingly exciting thing to look forward to, after what could potentially be a very stressful few months.

So other than that, there’s not been a huge amount going on. We’ve cancelled a few plans, a few events have been cancelled out of our control, and the country seems to be in a bit of disarray at the moment. I’m taking each day at a time, and I’m not going to lie and say I’m doing fine, because I’m not. My mental health is taking a battering, but I’m putting a smile on my face and getting on with my life, because what’s the alternative? I don’t have a bad life, people have things much worse than me, and I know I’ll keep on going. One great thing I will add is that the warmth and sunshine we’ve been having has done wonders to lift my mood, as have my friends and family. Never underestimate the power of laughter and turning your face to the sun when you’re feeling down.

So that’s my little update; a bit of a brain fart I know, but hey, this is what my brain is like right now!

Summer in the City

Last weekend the UK appeared to skip straight from Winter, right into Summer. The weather was so glorious that we couldn’t believe just a week before we’d been wrapped up tight and watching snow flurries through the window.

So what better way to enjoy the glorious sunshine, than to head to London for a mooch and some food. I love London in the Summer. Everything’s so pretty and shiny.

image

We headed straight to lunch when we arrived and to Shoreditch, where I wanted to visit a place called Pump. Built on an old petrol station forecourt, Pump is a little al fresco world food court. We’d arrived at about half 12 and most of the places hadn’t started serving food yet, which was a little surprising. We’d seen some photos of what the place had to offer on instagram so we both headed to Nosteagia.

image

I grabbed some teriyaki chicken with rice and a strawberry green bubble tea. The tea was so refreshing and the food was yummy! Gary wasn’t in the mood for a big meal at the time, so just went for desert!

image

This bubble waffle was filled with strawberries and chocolate sauce. The waffle was so light and crisp and the filling was fresh and sweet.

We then headed over to Boxpark, and Gary came across Voodoo Rays, and amazing pizzeria selling pizza by the slice. He went for a slice of cheese and tomato. I wished I hadn’t already eaten because the bite of Gary’s pizza I tasted was amazing. He said it was the best pizza he’d eaten in this country! They even had a vegan pizza.

image

It was a really funky little place and we HAVE to go back so I can have some of my very own!

image

The rest of our day was wonderful, just wandering around London. I was just telling Gary about how I might wake up the following morning and go for a run, early, before I started my day. I am only just getting back into running since my injury last year and so it’s still a hard job to get me to actually go out. I was telling him how I actually probably wouldn’t go out, and that I was feeling too lazy…. and that second I spotted this graffiti on the wall…

image

It was, quite literally, a sign. Incidentally, we took this photo opposite a homeless man who was singing into a large traffic cone, the same mermaid-like phrase of song over and over again. And after about 10 minutes just got up and walked away, leaving the cone behind. I love London!

It was such a good day – it felt like we were on holiday! And guess what? The next morning:

image

At half 8 (and 18c already) I went for a run! It was tough, and it was hot, but I’m so glad I did it! Sometimes listening to graffiti pays off!

 

Music You Don’t Know, For the Warmer Months

As the weather picks up, my taste in music changes. I don’t know whether other people experience the same change. I have specific albums I can’t listen to unless it’s sunny… maybe that’s strange? (And apparently, today I’m writing in rhyme)

Strange or not, here are a few albums I have been or will be listening to more as the weather brightens and the temperature soars:

71oivi94cel-_sx355_

Static and Silence by The Sundays

This album screams of hot summer nights to me. Totally 90s, light and wonderful. I love this album so much I sometimes can’t bring myself to listen to it. Does that make any sense? It’s my favourite of all The Sundays’ albums and none of their others quite seemed to hit the same mark. It’s perfect from start to end.

tumblr_n30wp8026l1rwc6dfo1_1280

Pocketknife by Mr Little Jeans

I first listened to this album a couple of years ago, on the train from Bletchley to Euston on the way to cheer on at the London Marathon. Ever since it’s had that kind of bright motivation in my mind, and a few of the songs even featured in my running playlist when I was heavily training for my half marathon. The music is electronic pop with song-writer skill and enough twinkly notes to keep you interested. She never tours in the UK but I’m hoping she might one day… though I kind of like the feeling that, at least in this country, she’s my little secret.

mi0002804011

Eveningland by Hem

This New York based, folk-type band, dominated my summers for a few years around 12/13 years ago. Their music isn’t taxing, and could be described as perfect for the balmy/lazy summer’s day we all hope to experience. It evokes thoughts of dry dusty grass and hoping for cool breezes. That being said, this music is nowhere near thoughtless or empty. Full of deep and thought-provoking lyrics, you end this album with a calm, satisfied yet emotion-pregnant sigh.

Lastly, an album that you *will* know

61laubu49al

Days Are Gone by Haim

I don’t need to describe this album to you, because you know all about it, I’m sure. But I really love it – the whole thing. And it reminds me of when I accidentally saw them play at The Bowl in Milton Keynes when I accidentally went to see Kings of Leon there. And they were all kinds of awesome. They’re releasing a new album this summer apparently, and I can’t wait to hear it!

What do you like to fill your ears with as the weather gets warmer? Are you a fan of any of the above? I’d love to know!

 

This Week I Have Been Mostly…

mostly

  • Massively enjoying the sun. It’s wonderful that the warm weather and sunshine has stayed with us this long. I must say I’m hoping that it continues this way. I’m getting rather a nice tan too for the first time EVER!

10407295_10154440005825727_7446151891168730046_n

  • Missing my parents. They’re away in Canada and come back on Tuesday. It’s going to be good to have them back. It sounds like they’re having an amazing time!
  • Watching Veronica Mars. Having only ever watched 3 episodes, randomly and out of sync when they used to air it around 11am on E4 I knew it would be something I would enjoy. I’d never expected it to be so adult though. It’s wonderful, I love the characters, the story lines and the music. I’m now on season 3 (the last season) and I don’t know why they’ve changed the opening credits music, but I’m starting to feel a bit sad because I know it’s going to be over soon. I’ve been watching it on my laptop with headphones in while Gary has been watching the World Cup and apparently I’ve been gasping with surprise a lot. It’s that kinda show, folks. I can’t wait to see what happens – no spoilers now please!

10339716_10154340460135727_5732356046203051163_n

  • Prepping my hair for some changes. I bought a highlighting kit recently and it’s going to hopefully bring back my old gingery slices, so I’ve died my hair in preparation for testing it and working out how long I want to leave the goo on it for the right shade. Exciting! It should hopefully end up much like it is in this photo:

3246_191355185726_4553794_n

 

  • Planning the week ahead since I’m now on holiday until the 2nd of July. I have some really fun things planned and I can’t wait to get on it!

Follow on Bloglovin

Here Comes The Sun

This week has been glorious! The sun has come out, the wind has died down and it puts everyone in a good mood. What’s also put me in a good mood has been spending time with friends this week.

On Thursday I had a visit from a friend that I worked with for a short period of time before moving on to my current job. We really bonded on a spiritual level and this week I invited her over to see my new house and have a cuppa. She brought some amazing Gu pudding which might be my new favourite indulgence. We had a few hours of wonderful conversation and I know I want to make it a regular thing. So nice to have found another kindred spirit.

037

On Friday after work I headed to Willen Lake to meet a friend for a run. Sarah is training for the Race For Life and we’ll be running together with a bunch of other friend. She hasn’t been running for long but we did a gentle jog around the smaller of the two lakes and after a little rest did another loop, with one small jog back on ourselves to complete a 5k run. The weather was amazing and it was great to get out and stretch the legs again, since I haven’t been running as often since completing the half marathon.

Yesterday my Mum and Dad came over, all kitted up, to help Gary and I tackle our overgrown garden. They’d been over not too long before but what with the humid wet weather we’ve had it was hugely overgrown again. Gary mowed the lawn and I hid from the grass pollen in the conservatory, de-moulding the inside – it’s a hack job of a conservatory and needs a lot of work doing on it! We also think we saw (and killed) a mock widow spider in there! Scary!

039

Mum and Dad did a great job! I also recently got a load of my photos printed and put into frames and Mum brought some picture wire over so I was able to hang them at last. The living room looks much more welcoming and homely now with things on the walls and I’m really pleased with how good my prints look in the frames. It’s inspiring me to take more photos too, which I need!

Today, after a little lie-in watching The Great Manchester Run on tv, we headed over to the MK Dons Stadium for a quick look around Collectormania. We saw a couple of the Dr Who Doctors which was cool. After lunch I put a new crock-pot recipe into action and the smells coming from the kitchen as I type are amazing, It’s sticky honey soy chicken which I’ll serve with rice and green beans. I love how easy slow cookers are and how they don’t heat up the kitchen at all, which is perfect for today. Some light house work completed I was really to welcome another friend to my new home for the first time.

I met Helen via a Buffy The Vampire Slayer message board. A group of us would meet regularly but Helen’s the only one who I’ve kept in good contact with. Since the garden was all pretty I put up the camping chairs (we haven’t bought garden furniture yet!) and we sat and chatted in the garden for a few hours. It was beautiful and relaxing out there and the company was wonderful!

040

So for the rest of my weekend I have a few more chores to do and then I can’t wait to get stuck into dinner which is making us both rather hungry since it’s smelling so good. It’s been a great week of friends and family and the weather helped things along! Let’s hope this is a sign of a good summer – fingers crossed!

Follow on Bloglovin

The Big Chill Out

Saturday at 6.30pm began the Big Chill Out. Yes it included a 5k race on Sunday BUT that was my choice 🙂

After work on Saturday, which was my last shift at my current job, we went with some of my work colleagues to the pub over the road and got some food and drinks and had a good natter. It was really chilled and informal and relaxed. Exactly my style. Earlier in the day I’d been given and lovely card, some cookie cutters and a year’s subscription to Runner’s World magazine! They know me well 🙂

On my way home from the meal we stopped into my Mum and Dad’s house. My Dad had just come back home after his spell in hospital and it was so good to see him comfortable and relaxed in his own chair at home.

On Sunday, after our race (which you can read about in my previous blog post) we had to get home a for a bath and then we headed straight out to get some lunch. By this time it was almost 2pm and we were starving, both craving greasy food – bad news! We headed to Buddies Diner and I had sausage and mash with gravy. Perfect post run food – a massive plate of mashed potato was very welcomed! Then we had to do our week’s food shopping and we only had an hour by this time to do it before they shut! But we made it and we headed home and collapsed, both exhausted!

Monday was mostly taken up with the news that it was to be the hottest day of the year and that Kate Middleton was in hospital about to have her baby. The morning had actually been quite chilly but by 11am it was hot. Mum and I decided to have a wander around Woburn town and see what the little shops had to offer, but most of them had either shut down or were closed on Mondays. So after a little mooch we headed into Woburn Abbey. Here we had a scone and a drink and then wondered about the gardens.

photo(1)

It was so pretty and really really hot.

photo

By the time we left it was about 31 degrees. On our way out we followed some amazing deer.

deer

Later in the day they announced that Kate had had a little boy – I was sure it would be a girl! We’re waiting to see them today and hear what the baby is called, but I have my money on Alexander (Alex).  We had some amazing rain for all of 2 minutes last night and so far we’ve had a little thunder and lightning and rain. It’s still humid so I’m hoping for more!

Just before I sign off I want to mention some cakes I made last week, Cinnamon Rolls, using a recipe from Pinterest.

cinnamon rolls

This was the first time I’ve made them and they were totes amazeballs. You must try them!

Follow on Bloglovin

Hotter than Hell

Bravo England, you successfully had the coldest spring in history and now it’s Summer and hotter than hell! I’m really enjoying it so far – but saying that I’ve been at work for the last 2 weeks (including weekends) so haven’t really had much to do with it.

I have been thankful that my shop is air-conditioned! Today I’m having a much deserved day off and have already cleaned the house, mown the lawn and then been out for breakfast. Good day so far!

I’m in my last week at my current job and so begins a week of ‘lasts’. I have two shifts left after today and then I have a week off to enjoy the weather and relax before I start my new one – and I have a fully booked week! Ironically it was 3 years ago this Friday that I left this company the first time around!

It’s been a stressful two weeks at work but, on her return from her honeymoon, my manager seems to think I did a good job. It certainly kept my mind off things. My Dad went into hospital at the end of last week and it appears his Chemo has been attacking his body and he has liver failure. As of yesterday he is improving. We’re taking each day as it comes, but the heat wave isn’t making his hospital stay any better. We’re hoping he’ll be allowed out soon.

Sunday is my second 5k race. The weather for the last two weekends has been nearing 30c, but this Sunday they’re forecasting 24c. Let’s hope it doesn’t creep up! I haven’t been able to train for about a week since the weather has been too hot, and before that I crippled my toe. My toe is very much better (just a little bruised) and I’m forcing myself out for a run this evening. I will be a big sweaty mess by the end but if I can train in this heat it’ll make racing in it easier.

So that’s it for now. I’m going to go back to being lazy now 🙂

Follow on Bloglovin

What’s been going on….

Well most of this past 4 weeks have been taken up with Olympic fever. And it seems like it’s not just me and G Man who were absorbed by the events and are now in some kind of post Olympic slump. But the Paralympics start soon so that should hopefully cater to our sporting needs!

In other news I got a new job. I’ve been working through the various stages for this since the second week of my holiday just gone – so around a month. I found out I had the position while I was at the Olympic Park. What a day! I don’t start until October but I’m so excited. I’m actually returning to the company I used to work for before my current job but in a higher position than I previously held. I am so excited and can’t wait to spend my Christmas run up working there! Today I signed my new contract and now it feels so much more real.
This past week was a big week for my family, celebration wise. Wednesday was my birthday (29 years young!) and Thursday was my Grandma’s. Saturday was my Grandma and Grandad’s wedding anniversary and also would have been my Great Grandad’s birthday had he still been with us. Then Sunday was my Nephew’s birthday.

On Saturday we drove up to Norfolk to my Aunt’s house for a party to celebrate. The weather was nearing 30C. Thankfully we have AC in our car because otherwise it would have been an unbearable drive. The night before I prepared a playlist cd of songs to listen to, and if I do say so myself it was an immense selection of music. I’m pleased with it to the point of wanting to burn a load of discs and just hand them out to people. Anyone want one?!  Ha! Anyway the music helped to set the tone and we arrived cool and happy. We did however turn up in our 70’s themed clothing (the theme of the party) and as a result our flared denim didn’t help us to stay cool! We were sweaty messes by the end of the day.

Grandma was greeted by a selection of family and friends from different walks of her life. My Grandad, who recently moved into a care hospice due to his health, was also able to make it and you could tell he thoroughly enjoyed being reunited with friends.

Despite the heat it was a lovely day and a great way to spend a day off! Due to work commitments we don’t always get to be there for all the family gatherings, but this was sooo good. I don’t want the summer to end 🙂