What did I buy in June?

So June has been the first month that I’ve tried to stick to a budget (like the budgeting bloggers) and I have to be honest I’ve quite enjoyed it! It’s been good to properly consider what I am buying and if I actually need each item that goes in my basket. So just a reminder that I’ve tasked myself with spending just £130 a month on clothes. So what did I get and did I stick to my budget during my first month?

Paradise print dress, Oliver Bonas – £65.00. A new dress was an essential this month as in July I’m headed to a family friends’ wedding and I currently have nothing to wear, even after my attempts mentioned here. Okay that’s a lie I have a dress but it’s the same dress that I have worn to a wedding and a conference in the last eight months. So not really an option. I had no idea what I fancied for the wedding, I just knew it would be colourful – as after all it’s (supposed to be) a Summer wedding! When I saw this dress in Oliver Bonas it was love at first sight and I knew there was no way that I would not be buying it. It’ll be absolutely perfect for the wedding, not only is it super comfy, it’s also incredibly flattering plus it’s unlikely anyone else will have it. After all Oliver Bonas isn’t the most prevalent shop in the UK. What’s more I have shoes and a belt to wear it with already, so no need to spend more money this month – result!

Black and white stripy top, H & M – £9.99. This top has already become a wardrobe staple as I’ve worn it ALL the time. It goes with pretty much every item I own, is super comfy and really easy to wear. I also love the pocket detailing and the fact that the sleeves are three quarter-length and plain black rather than stripy. I think it makes the top a bit more interesting.

Purple vest top, H&M – £12.99. I really love this top as whilst it is simple it has some interesting detailing that seems like a necklace. It’s another easy to wear item too and perfect once the Summer arrives, which had better be soon!

Dotty Keds, Asos – £37.50. I’ve been searching for some trainers for a while now as I want a pair of shoes that I can wear whatever the weather and with tights, skirts, dresses, jeans or shorts. No mean feat I know! When I saw these on Asos I was really happy as not only are they super cute, they aren’t that expensive and they are turning out to be quite comfy. The real proof will be my upcoming sightseeing trip to Dublin, but so far they are working well!

Basic items that don’t need explaining, you know those items that you NEED in your life to complete most outfits but aren’t that fun or interesting.

  • White vest top, H&M – £3.99
  • White and aubergine lace strap vests, H&M – £3.99 each
  • Calf-length and long black leggings, Topshop – £12 each

So what’s the damage I hear you ask? As to be fair this is quite a lot of stuff. Well in total I spent £161.45. Oops, that’s over £30 more than I was meant to spend. In my defence (*clutches at straws*) if I hadn’t included my basic essentials on the list I wouldn’t have been over and it’s just annoying that all of them were needed this month. I did consider leaving them off as they really are all essentials BUT I figured the whole point of this budgeting malarkey is to be transparent and to make myself aware of what I spend. So it would be wrong to leave off things that are essential to my wardrobe, especially as I know I’ll wear all of these items so much. So yes, I might not have been completely on budget on my first month of trying, not really ideal but I’ve decided I’m not going to beat myself up about it as it’s only month one and I didn’t go completely crazy on loads of stuff – just some Summer essentials. It’s at least a start on the road to proper budgeting!


Six Month Booky Update

So yes my book updating posts haven’t been that frequent have they – in fact I haven’t discussed what I’ve read since March, where just one book was mentioned. Oops, sorry about that. What can I say I’ve certainly struggled a lot with getting in to books over the past few months/ Thankfully though this issue has been rectified and I’m now back on a book reading train, although I’m still three books behind where I should be if I want to meet my 52 books in a year goal. But I’ve not given up hope. After all I’ve got two one week holidays to come in the second half of the year, so I should be fine. *crosses fingers hopefully* So back to what I’ve been reading over the last three months, this glorious array of brilliant books. For thoughts on each book, check out the mini book reviews below. But if you really don’t care what I think about just have a gander at the pretty pictures below – let’s be honest I can get a smidge carried away with the waffle in reviews!

Safe House, Chris Ewan – This book took me a while to get into if I’m honest and I’m not really sure why. It was a good story, I liked the characters and it was great that it wasn’t immediately obvious where the story was going, yet something stopped me from giving it 3/5 stars on the Good Reads site. I’m damned if I know what that is but I’ll just have to deal with that – although I do hate when I can’t put my finger on something!

After the Fall, Charity Norman – I LOVED this book! I was given it for my birthday as it was mentioned over on this post, but it’s taken me a while to get round to it. It was really enjoyable. It follows the story of a family who move out to New Zealand for new opportunities and a (supposedly) better life. They get a lot more than they expect and we follow their story from a series of flashbacks after a terrible accident. What makes it really interesting is that you don’t know if certain characters are good or bad, if there was an accident or if it was on purpose and there are some brilliant twists. The story is really well written and the characters are not altogether that likeable which sometimes books stay too focused on. I’d definitely recommend this book to everyone I know.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl – I had a bit of a Dahl moment over the last few months, as you’ll spot two of his tales on this list. To be honest sometimes you need to read something that reminds you of your childhood and that’s comforting. that’s what this book is all about – I absolutely love it and think it’s a deserved classic.

Don’t Want to Miss a Thing, Jill Mansell – I mentioned in a past post that I love Jill Mansell’s books and even mentioned I wanted to get my hands on this book. Thankfully I did and I’ve read it and I (as per usual) loved it. I love a good story, with a happy ending, nice characters and also a book that does what it should – thoroughly entertains you. This is the book that got me back on my reading pathway. It’s brilliant.

The Lost Symbol, Dan Brown – Around all the hype of Dan Brown’s newest book, Inferno, I realised that I still hadn’t read his last one. Considering the books are all part of the Robert Langdon story I knew that needed to be rectified immediately. 600+ pages later and I’d read it. tO say I was disappointed wouldn’t be right but it definitely didn’t consume me as his other books have in the past. I’m not sure why I’d not noticed it before, but Dan Brown does like to waffle on a lot doesn’t he? And it’s not often entirely necessary – I have to admit I did skip a fair few paragraphs where he was droning on and on, but I still understood everything that was happening. Maybe next time he could do with being edited a smidge more!

Esio Trot, Roald Dahl- I can’t believe I’ve never read this book before – I loved it. It was an absolute joy, not that I’m  surprised. Dahl is a storytelling genius after all.

Picture Me Gone, Meg Rosoff- This is the first Meg Rosoff book I’ve ever read, much to the outrage of many of my work colleagues. But having read this book I can now see why they are so annoyed. Meg Rosoff is a brilliant writer – the voice she writes is beautiful. The characters are interesting, the story lovely and just generally brilliant. Definitely a must read when it’s available later in the year.

Vampire Academy and Vampire Academy: Frostbite, Richelle Mead – I’m a big Richelle Mead having fallen madly in love with her Bloodlines books a couple of years back, but I’ve never really tried her first series, Vampire Academy. With the film adaptation of book one coming out soon I thought I should give it a whirl and I’m so pleased I did as it’s such a good read. I love the world she’s created and the characters are brilliant. She’s got such a great range of characters in her book and I am enjoying finding out more about the characters I know so well from Bloodlines and how they ended up where they are at the start of Bloodlines. So just another few books to get through in the series (not that I’m complaining)!

NYPD Red, James Patterson – I haven’t read a JP book for an age, and I’m definitely glad to be back on this particular train. I love the page turning ability that JP has and I like that has introduced us to a new set of characters, even if some of the situations aren’t all together believable! We’ll let him off though!

How I Live Now, Meg Rosoff – I loved Picture Me Gone so much that I had to give another Meg Rosoff a try. I chose this one as the film’s out soon and I’m a firm believer of reading the book before watching the film. Also my friend at work is such a fan of this book that she rereads it each year and is flabbergasted I’ve never read it. She loves it so much that she doesn’t want to know if I don’t like it as she won’t be able to bear it. Uh oh the pressure! So far I’m really enjoying it. Again Meg Rosoff has written a brilliant character in daisy and is exploring some truly massive subjects. It’s really good and not what I was expecting plot wise. I can’t wait to find out what happens to Piper, Daisy, et al!

Touristy tales. Take two.

Days three and four of our touristy trip were based around the wonderful sites in Wiltshire. I have to admit that I’ve not been down that way and done the touristy thing for years – I think the last time was about 15 years ago. So needless to say I was very, very excited about our impending trip. So here’s what we got up to on our trip to Wiltshire:

  • The Royal Baths – These are absolutely fascinating. The stonework is so intricate and beautiful and I find it amazing that the baths have survived, intact for such a long time. Even if they were hidden for quite a while. The colour of the water and stone carvings was so unusual and beautiful too. Once again we had brilliant audio guides, so that was once again fascinating. 
  • The Abbey – Isn’t it a lovely looking building? We didn’t go into it but we ate our picnic in its shadow and it really was beautiful to see it from the Royal Baths.
  • The Royal Crescent – this street is absolutely gorgeous and I’m always amazed when I see pictures of it. I can’t believe it’s so absolutely perfect.
  • We stayed at a beautiful hotel in Limpley Stoke – check out the stunning views from our bedroom window. Also there was a gorgeous little pub just a stones throw away from it, which was perfect for dinner. Sometimes you just can’t beat a quaint English country pub.
  • Stonehenge – Whilst I can appreciate how impressive these stones are, as to move anything of that size in the time that they did is quite a feat, I just don’t understand what it’s all about. Was it a form of calendar, totally fluke or something else entirely. I can’t stand the ambiguity, I need to know. Anyway it was good to see Stonehenge and I’m glad it wasn’t too expensive, but I really wish it hadn’t been raining the entire time. I’m not sure my Aztec pumps will ever be the same again! 
  • Marlborough – We stopped off at Marlborough on our way home and it’s such a beautiful little market town. Plus there was a gorgeous food market on at the time, so we of course treated ourselves to cake and cheese. The smoked mozzarella is insanely good and I’ve been enjoying it ever since!

Pinterest Corner #26 – Friends Forever Awesome

Last night I was stumbling around my Pinterest boards looking for inspiration to strike for this week’s Pinterest Corner when I happened upon the below image from Friends and preceded to laugh for the next five minutes. No exaggeration. It just cracks me up every time.



Once I’d stopped laughing and wiped the tears from my eyes I knew I’d hit upon my post for today. The wonders of Friends. I was a bit of a latecomer to this show and only become addicted to it when they were on the series where a few episodes are London-based. I’m not sure how it passed me by for quite so long but as soon as I discovered it I was all over it. I must have watched every episode about twenty times as sometimes most of the time there’s nothing better – it really is just the perfect remedy. I love all the characters and could never be forced to choose a favourite – they each have their own brilliant quirks and often suit the mood that I’m in. The other day I was watching the episode where Rachel has an eye infection and I wouldn’t let anyone change the channel until the very end as I knew the best bit (where they attack Rachel with the eye drops) was right at the end of the show – absolutely genius!! I love it!

So anyway I’m glad I came across this image as it reminded me about my absolute love for this show. And below are a few other classic moments from genius that was Friends. Number five is possibly one of my all time favourite moments – Ross is hilarious! As for image three this episode is one of my all-time favourites. I just love the fact that Phoebe ends up with a massive Christmas ornament as a brooch, the bit when Joey is doing lunges without underwear on whilst wearing ALL of Chandler’s clothes and Monica with the answer phone message is just epic!  I had to choose two Chandler images as the kissing scene is amazing and I just love his amazing sarcastic moments. In fact I just love him! The only image I couldn’t find that I love was an image of Ross as the Holiday Armadillo – it makes me smile every time!

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The London Bucket List

I’ve owned my lovely little flat in London for over three years now – which totally blows my mind – and I now consider myself a proper Londoner. Proof that I am one is I think in the following facts: I hate people that amble down the street, who don’t know which tube line they want, who think it’s fine to walk five abreast along the pavement and I seem to think it’s acceptable to find a Pret or Starbucks every 100 yards. So yes I’m a definitely a Londoner but I still don’t know parts of London that well, in fact there’s a hell of a lot of London that I’ve yet to see and experience and I’ve decided that this needs to change. After two fun days of playing tour guide last week (which I promise I’ll write that post very soon!) I’ve decided I need to create a proper list of London sites that I need to visit and see and areas that I want to get to know. So here it is, here’s my London bucket list. What do you think, is it comprehensive or am I missing something super important. what would you suggest?

  • Westminster Abbey
  • Visit Regents Park and go to London Zoo
  • Visit the London Dungeons
  • Go to the Science Museum
  • Visit Kew Gardens
  • Go to the top of Tower Bridge
  • Visit the Chelsea Physic Garden
  • Eat at Cafe in the Crypt underneath St Martins-in-the-Fields Church
  • Go to the Tate Britain
  • Take a tour of Buckingham Palace
  • Visit the Royal Observatory at Greenwich
  • Take a walk on Hampstead Heath
  • Eat at The Hummingbird BAkery
  • The Houses of Parliament
  • The Barbican
  • Visit the Museum of London
  • Explore the Cutty Sark
  • Go up to the top of The Shard
  • Eat at The Bluebird Cafe
  • Visit Kensington Palace
  • Do Hyde Park properly. A walk along the entirety of the Serpentine, listen at Speakers Corner, see the fountains, go on a pedalo and visit all the memorials
  • Visit the Saatchi Gallery
  • Tour Sherlock Holmes’ London
  • Have brunch at The Breakfast Club
  • Visit the Horniman Museum and Gardens
  • Eat at The Oxo Tower restaurant

This week I’ve….

  • Enjoyed a lovely family dinner at Carluccio’s. Not only did I eat a ridiculous amount of food – chicken liver pate, gnocchi and lemon and almond loaf cake – but I also drank the most amazingly chocolatey mocha. It was such a thick drink that I almost felt like I was drinking melted chocolate. It was incredibly naughty yet totally blissful too!
  • Been treated to some delicious TimTam’s – thanks lovely cousins. Who knew there were vanilla cream ones now – they are amazing!
  • Enjoyed spending a small fortune on books from eBay.
  • Rediscovered The Big Bang Theory and as a result I’ve been laughing all weekend!
  • Enjoyed some marvelous books – Vampire Academy and some brilliant James Patterson books – sometimes you just need to treat yourself to some guilty pleasures and easy reads.
  • Stressing about the amount I have on my credit card and yet buying things left, right and centre too. Like these shoes – perfect for my Dublin trip in a couple of weeks – and this DVD.
  • Munching on Milka, bought back by the parentals from Portugal – thanks very much!
  • Baking Lorraine Pascal’s Lemon, Lime and Poppy-seed cake – totally delicious FYI.
  • Been at the gym at 7am – yes I am a freak. But it was actually a really good way to start the day and I managed to complete another couple of miles running and even some weights – although my arms have been suffering ever since!
  • Having a brilliant time with friends at our ‘Guilty Pleasures’ night. This involved classic films like Jerry Maguire and Step Up, delicious food – Eton Mess, Pesto Pinwheels, the aforementioned cake, Dutch Apple Cake, a Charcuterie board, party rings, Scotch Eggs, Sausage Rolls and a quiz. Fun times indeed!
  • Run along the river for four miles – whoop to me!
  • Watched Man of Steel. As for my thoughts on this, well I did enjoy it and it wasn’t as bad as everyone said BUT it did seem to be missing an emotional heart and good characterisation. I mean it was so focused on the fights and the CGI and it really would have benefited from more time spent developing the characters a little bit. Plus with all the toing and froing to his childhood it got a little bit annoying. But it did entertain me and it was enjoyable. Just not to my super-high expectations.I really shouldn’t have expected another Batman Begins should I.
  • Fallen in love with a star t-shirt from Gap, if I don’t wear it with my star jeans it’s okay to buy it right? Also have you seen these gorgeous Gap shoes – I need them in my life!
  • Finally visited Del’ Aziz in Clapham Old Town. It totally lived up to my expectations and the food was scrumptious. I must go back again soon to try all the other items on the menu, as if they taste even half as good as my portobello scrambled eggs did I will be very happy!
  • Treated myself to multiple Starbucks mochas. Although I failed to do so on Friday and the day was dreadful – what was I thinking, have I not learned anything in my life!
  • Celebrated friends birthdays with Ben’s Cookies, lovely pressies and M&S treats – did you know they now do Lemon Meringue cookies. Um wow, they are delicious!
  • Been traumatised by the most recent episode of Nashville and the trailer for next week’s – OMG. I don’t know how I’ll be able to handle it. Somebody help me!

Touristy times. Take one.

After very little deliberation I have come to the conclusion that I would be quite happy to spend my entire life being a tourist. There really is something wonderfully enjoyable about wandering around and ticking sights off of a list, and I don’t even need to go far away to enjoy it, being a tourist in my own city is good enough for me. I reached this conclusion after last weeks four days of touristy shenanigans with the Aussie cousins. Having them over for the first time in forever was the perfect excuse for some time off and a lovely four-day weekend. So what did we get up to, I hear you ask?

Well, Thursday started with a riverside walk from London Bridge to The Tower of London and then a rest stop at Zizzi’s – it’s a well-known fact that you can’t get fully into touristy fun without a full stomach!!! The next stop on the tour was the wonderful Tower of London, that place really is amazing. It’s been years since I’ve been there and I’d forgotten how fantastic it is. I could have spent hours there looking at the impressive buildings, gorgeous crown jewels, brilliantly shiny armour, searching for the animal sculptures and learning all about the history of the Tower and the original mint. It really was fascinating. The jewels are absolutely stunning, imagine wearing them! The other artifacts were impressive too, I particularly loved the massive punch bowl, which can hold something ridiculous like 50 bottles of wine – wow! Although it was sad that the King who commissioned it was unlikely to have ever used it as he died before it was completed.

After the Tower (and the obligatory photo of Tower Bridge) we headed on the river boat – my favourite form of transport – across to the Globe. I always love seeing that building, as it’s such a contrast to the surrounding buildings – it’s like being transported back in time. Sadly we didn’t have time to pop in and do the tour or museum, but one day I definitely will do it! From the Globe we went along to the Tate Modern and ambled around the different exhibitions. Whilst there were some interesting displays and paintings, a lot of it I just didn’t get – I’m sorry I just don’t see how it’s art. The view from the cafe at the top on the other hand, that is definitely art. It’s just amazing – you’ve got half of London laid out in front of you, beautiful! After the Tate we hopped across London to Harrods and explored the shop, saying hello to the giant bears and Playmobil people along the way – how cute.

Day two on the London sightseeing tour started at St. Paul’s Cathedral where we spent three hours exploring and learnign about this fascinating building. I honestly could visit that place every day and still find it interestingk. Now I’m not the best with heights, but I managed to make it up to the Whispering Gallery, but I couldn’t make it any further up as I started to feel a bit wobbly – apparently the views from the top are stunning. One of the great things about the Cathedral is that you get a free audio guide as part of your ticket, so needless to say I listened to every single bit of information on offer. I did a history degree – would you expect anything else? It really is amazing to see what was achieved with the building of the cathedral, especially considering the time – it’s amazing. Also, interesting fact alert, did you know that Wren’s design was built so fast that he was alive to see it finished, the first architect of such a cathedral. What a feat. From St Paul’s Cathedral we headed to Hyde Park, another must see site, where we ate lunch at the Serpentine Bar and Kitchen, one of my favourite eateries. Read more about my love for that eating place here. As the weather was so lovely – I know unbelievable right! – we walked through Hyde Park and Green Park to Buckingham Palace, before heading along the Mall, to Horse Guards Parade where we were in time for the changing of the guards. Then we wandered down Whitehall to the Palace of Westminster, always a bit of a pinch yourself moment I find. In the evening we went to watch Charlie and the Chocolate Factory which was amazing, you HAVE to see it as soon as possible. My favourite bit? The Squirrels!!

So there we have it, that’s what we got up to on the first two days of our touristy fun. Check back soon for days three and four, where we ventured west to a very rainy Wiltshire!

A Mundane Wednesday

So I’ve been enjoying the Mundane Midweek link up that Charlotte started recently so I thought I’d give it a whirl this week. So here goes.

Wednesday really was the most mundane of days. (As well as stressful, knackering, etc – but then all work days seem to be that at the moment, so no change there!). It started off okay as I actually slept until my alarm went off at seven, miracle of freaking miracles!!! After rifling through my wardrobe I settled on the fourth outfit option – long navy skirt and stripy top – nothing fancy (actually potentially massively mundane as well) and decided against walking to work. I blame the non-existent rain for this.

Amazingly the bus arrived quickly and was fairly empty, so you could imagine that Wednesday was turning out to be a good day. Alas you’d be wrong it was hellish. The work gremlins were out in full force. The highlight of the day: a big tidy up in the department. Yes really! We did have cake for a friend’s birthday mid-afternoon which was a nice change. But that did mean that I spent my lunch hour rushing around Covent Garden in a panic on the warmest day of the year so far. Typical.

My evening saw me collapsed on the sofa finishing a book, eating toast and watching Long Lost Family. Totally too emotional for me, tissues and tears were involved for me. Oh yes and there was Milka – LIFE SAVING!


Pinterest Corner #25 – A new go-to outfit and a new way of thinking

It’s taken me a while but I’ve finally come to the conclusion that when it comes to outfits, things should be kept simple, clean and as uncomplicated as possible. Think Gap’s simplicity and not New Look’s fussiness. This is quite a departure for me, as in the past I’ve been a mess of colour, styles, eras, all in one outfit. But recently things have changed and I’ve become a lot more logical in my shopping choices, previously mentioned here and here, and my style has consequently changed. Now I’m far more likely to settle on jeans, a coloured t shirt, a striking necklace and a cardi than anything else. I like this new look me and it’s meant that packing for a weekend has become far easier plus I’m not so inclined to spend a small fortune on mismatched clothes at a weekend, well at least so far…

Part of the inspiration for this change has been perusing the wonderful world of Pinterest where I have pinned loads of brilliantly inspiring outfits. One of the outfits I’ve been wearing a lot recently is inspired my the below image, which I actually pinned from m&s months ago and even blogged about here. I wore a very similar outfit to this last week (twice) and it’s definitely one of my new go-to outfits. It consists of a bright turquoise blazer, a black and white stripy 3/4 length sleeve top, skinny jeans and a bright gold and turquoise necklace and it’s just lovely. Not only was it perfect for a day at work, it also worked absolutely perfectly for a day of full on sightseeing. I will definitely be wearing this a lot in the future, plus I also have my eye on a brand new blazer – this one – which I think will work perfectly!

New books, playing at tourist and fun with friends

I’ve had the best few days, thanks to some wicked touristy fun, which I’ll share another day, and lots of fun with friends. I think I could definitely get used to just working a three day week you know. It would be lovely to then go off gallivanting around the UK having fun and seeing the sights – what fun!! So anyway what have I been up to?

  • Well first off I’m very excited that I’ve finally rediscovered my reading gene and as such I’ve had to choose some new books this week. After much deliberation I went with the very first Vampire Academy. My reasoning: it’s lighter for my commute. Yes really.
  • My brand new Clothbound Penguin Classics arrived this week. The new books in my collection are: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Gulliver’s Travels, Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Sense and Sensibility and Treasure Island. Don’t they look beautiful on my newly arranged shelves?
  • I had another fish finger sandwich and West Wing night with friends last week and it was aces. Although it saddens me that the series is so very close to ending again. The only positive: I can’t remember what’s still to happen!!
  • I realised this week that sometimes it’s worth leaving the office for a full hour, even if it might seem like you’re too busy it’s definitely good to have a proper catch up with a friends. Let’s be honest however long you spend at your desk, there’s still loads to do. so you might as well make the most of your lunch when you can.
  • Two fun-filled days of being a tour guide around London, including stops at The Tower of London, St. Paul’s (don’t judge me for not going all the way to the top, I’m a scaredy cat), The Tate Modern and Harrods. It was seriously fun to be a tourist in my own city as there’s so much stuff I always mean to see and never quite get round too.
  • A trip to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Musical in the West End. I won’t spoil it for anyone who is going, I’ll just say this: it’s epic, everything you imagine and so so much more. The children and the scenes where they get chased by squirrels, shrunk, sucked up, etc are absolutely wonderful.
  • I spent a lovely weekend playing tourist in Bath. Again I had an absolute ball. The city is wonderful, the Baths are so interesting and beautiful and our hotel was a haven in the middle of the Wiltshire countryside.
  • I learnt that my Aussie cousins think it’s normal to have cold ice cream and hot custard together as a pudding. I was actually appalled, it looked so wrong.
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