Hello and Goodbye

Hello & Goodbye

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Today I leave Penguin Towers after five and a half years working here doing my dream job. As you can imagine I’ve got a million different thoughts around this, not least excitement and trepidation. I don’t really know how to sum up all these thoughts and I’m honestly not sure that today is the day for working that all out in my head. As I want to enjoy my last day here and say goodbye to all the wonderful friends I’ve made, before heading off on a new adventure at my new job next week. So I think this picture and quote says it all, after all it’s right and these two words will be used by me a lot over the next week or so. Wish me luck!

Afternoon tea in London town

Last week I spent a lot of time seeing the sights of London and I made me so grateful that I get to call this city my home. It’s full of amazing sights and beautiful buildings, and as I found out this week, is home to gorgeous afternoon teas. I obviously did the usual weekly activities of work, seeing friends, drinking coffees and not much in the way of exercise but instead of sharing that dull stuff I thought I’d discuss the best afternoon tea ever. That’s more exciting right. When cake is involved I think anything’s exciting! So anyway a really good friend of mine is currently over from Australia so it was the perfect excuse for a day in London town. We started with a wander around Trafalgar Square, to Regent Street and then up to the Langham Hotel for afternoon tea. After an amazing afternoon tea we had a little peruse around Regents Street (I may have bought a few things, oopsy!) before drinks in Covent Garden. Just a lovely day all round. But back to that delicious afternoon tea…

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Big Ben in the early morning light

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Nelson’s Column and the Trafalgar lions

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The Stunning National Portrait Gallery

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Nelson’s Column in the glorious sunshine

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The Palm Court at The Langham Hotel

Amazingly enough I’ve never done a proper afternoon tea in London before, so I was super excited about this one. The Palm Court at the Langham is known for its afternoon tea and all the wonderful things I’d heard were not exaggerated even a little bit. We started with champagne – you sort of have to don’t you? – then had tea (not a fan) and some form of berry jelly which was scrumptious. We then tucked into a small mountain of sandwiches. There were five different options and I must have had about eight in total (mainly egg which were scrumptious). I mean yes I probably should have stopped after one of each, but when someone comes round with a silver platter of sandwiches multiple times it’d be wrong to say no, right?!

After the sandwiches came the lightest scones I’ve ever had and then the wonderful array of cakes you see below. There were strawberry meringue lollipops, mini victoria sponge cakes, dark chocolate mousse/shortbread concoctions and my favourite miniature banana cakes.  I just loved it all and especially loved how wonderfully everything was presented. It really was a very special treat and I highly recommend it when you have a special occasion to celebrate. I for one am trying to work out what occasion I can celebrate next, maybe the fact that it’s almost Christmas, does that justify another afternoon tea?

What about you, what’s the best thing about the city you life in and how do you treat yourself on special occasions?

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Getting the balance right, sort of!

Last week seemed to be all about the eating and exercising, which is qwuite good I think as it means I at least got a good balance of things, yes. It’s far better to exercise a lot after eating a lot, rather than collapsing on the sofa, right? So what was all this exercise? Well over the last week I walked to work three times, did two long runs, went spinning and then enjoyed a two hour walk round London city as part of one of the London Walks.  What about the other side of the balancing scale I hear you say? Well I baked focaccia (quite a long process, but totally worth it!), went to Strada for lunch, experienced fried jam sandwich canapés (yummy!), had dinner cooked for me by Lau as part of out Ready, Steady Cook challenge and ended up at The Diner (again). Not a bad week really!
The London Walk we went on was so brilliant, and I highly recommend it. It costs just £9 for a two hour guided walking tour. Which to be honest would not normally be my thing as I normally like to find my own way, but I’m so glad I was given this as my present. It was absolutely brilliant ans so wonderuflly fascinating! We started off at Monument and ended up at the Guildhall and in between we saw lots of Christopher Wren architecture, Tower Bridge, Leadenhall Market, Pudding Lane and so so much more. There were glorious buildings, stunning churches and fascinating stories about the last thousand years. Just my cup of tea and the perfect thing to do on a Sunday morning!

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Eating, shopping and friendly shenanigans

This week has been a brilliant one. I’ve loved every minute of it, which has been topped off nicely by a three-day weekend – bliss! So what have I been up to? Well I…

  • tried to wean myself off of store-bought coffees. that didn’t really work, I gave in after just one Nescafe sachet on Monday morning. I just couldn’t do it, the sachet just had me craving other coffee beverages by 11am. What a fail I am.
  • started two new books and I’ve already discarded both as I couldn’t get in to them, argh my reading challenge isn’t going to well at the moment. How annoying, Hopefully the book I start next will have me excited about reading again.
  • had a Newsroom extravaganza which is almost as fab as The West Wing. It was accompanied by scrumptious food, good company and mochas, so it was a good night. I had forgotten how brilliant the entire cast of the show are though. I can’t wait for the next installment of our Newsroom extravaganza and for the brand new series to start in just over a week.
  • had a great time sending off a colleague to her new exciting job. It involved a mammoth shopping trip for a brill present – check out that watch! – lovely cakes and finally a gossipy (and enlightening) night of strawberries and drinks in Covent Garden. A brilliant way to celebrate a sad occasion 😦
  • tried one of Pret’s new hazelnut lattes. I can confirm they are delicious and really wake you up on after a night of gossipy fun with friends!
  • discovered (and baked) some scrumptious Oreo brownies. I can’t believe I’ve never noticed that the recipe for these was sat in one of my cookbooks, what a travesty that is! They were so delicious that I’ll most definitely be making them on a regular basis!
  • had a low point during a late night at my desk which saw me tucking into a pack of dry cereal as I was so hungry! Wow London life is sometimes all about the thrills.
  • Moved desks at work. I know it’s only a small thing but I’m not sure I’m convinced on this new spot yet…
  • visited the gym for the first time in a long time and enjoyed a brilliant spin class and a less brilliant run. The spin class involved doing routes through Utah, the rockies and the Grand Canyon. It was quite cool to look at that beautiful scenery when sat in a dark room on a static bike!
  • Lunch at Wagamama’s and brunch at Del Aziz. Both were scrumptious and both need to be revisited.
  • Shopping, where I wasn’t the most restrained! I got lots of lovely clothes, which I’ll share with you very soon in my next budget bloggers post and the sign shown below. Isn’t it cute? It fits perfectly with my seaside themed room and it was only £6.60 in the Debenhams sales. WIN!
  • did some DIY (correction got Dad up with his tools) and put up a new bathroom shelf and my cute jewellery holder. Totally in love with how organised my jewellery now looks!
  • discovered the new orange chocolate eclairs from Cadbury’s – absolutely delicious I tell you. Everyone should get on those asap!

A tale of DIY, Wembley and food!!

This week has been all about the food! It started off with me being very conscientious and taking in a fleet of snacks to last me all day. As Monday is always a very heavy snack day for me as after the weekend I find it hard to get back into my normal food routine, plus when I get bored I tend to reach for the sugar based snacks – is that the case for anyone else? Then on Monday night I went out to dinner with work peeps to The Yard in Shoreditch, which is an old converted fire station. Man is that place amazing or what!? We ended up sharing a yard of pizza with four different toppings, each topping seemed to be better than the first. I honestly can’t recommend this place enough for food goodness! Wednesday was another night of good food as I was at Wembley for the England match and we had burgers beforehand in the stadium. I opted for the halloumi and mushroom one which was delicious – the addition of a smidge of pesto to the burger made such a difference and was a lovely change to sweet chilli.

Saturday saw me back at the parentals so of course we had to go out for dinner, duh! We went to The Seahorse, which I’ve mentioned before, see here. The food is lovely and the atmosphere is always so relaxed too. Plus I love the decor – please can I have the table below next time? I’d love to eat in my own little wooden area whilst sat on a sofa – so cute!  As for the food it was scrumptious, of course! Lau and I shared camembert and focaccia to start with, then I had the cheese burger and mushroom with brilliantly skinny chips followed by the sticky toffee pudding with vanilla ice cream – ah-maze-ing. I honestly can’t recommend that place enough. I love it and I think it might become our go=to restaurant when we’re back at home.

As for other things I’ve been up to, well I decided to start the week with a two-mile run at 6am on Monday morning, the logic being I wouldn’t feel guilty about the pizza – it totally worked! Although I’m not sure I’ll be doing the same every week (this week definitely not). I then was rubbish with exercise until Sunday when I went for a 4.3 mile run in the countryside. Painful and hard but rewarding! There was also a trip to Primark, where I was meant to return stuff and actually ended up buying more…oops! Then there was the trip to Wembley where thankfully England beat Scotland, let’s be honest it was seeming like we wouldn’t for a while there. Whilst the England team weren’t the most convincing it was an amazing atmosphere, possibly the best atmosphere I’ve ever experienced at Wembley.

Friday was a bit of a write off as I felt really ill – I had the headache of all headaches from about 5pm on Thursday until mid Friday – painful and knackering. I hate how rubbish I am when I get no sleep or have a headache – I just can’t handle anything. As for the weekend Lau and I had such a productive time, we did lots of crafty stuff (frosting jars and vases as well as something involving glitter and glue) – I’ll share that with you for Pinterest Corner on Wednesday and finally decided on a colour scheme and some DIY projects for our new look living room. I’m so excited about it I can barely wait to get started! I also managed to find lots of bits and bobs to pop in my Christmas gift  box (there’s nothing wrong with being prepared) AND super excitingly I managed to find my new blog planner which I’ve been needing/wanting/searching for for ages – hooray to me. This blog planner has already worked wonders, not only am I super organised I’ve also been having loads of ideas, hooray!

Shenanigans in Leeds and being back at work!

This week I’ve…

  • Somehow managed to survive five days of work and man was it HARD. Eurgh there’s a reason people bring sweets back from holidays, you need something to keep you going when you’re stuck in the office for hours and not sat on a beach! Thankfully I made it through the work week, due to lovely people and lovely coffee.
  • Not run at all, oops. I kept finding excuses to go for a long walk instead of a decent run. Oops, but the thought was there – hopefully that means next week I’ll be better…
  • Finally finished watching The West Wing with my friends. It’s taken us eighteen months but we’ve finally done it, we’ve got through seven series’ of epic episodes. Thankfully I still love it as much as I ever did and I can’t wait to start watching it again.
  • Had some really productive and useful work meetings – I’m rather excited about the next few months if the things we’re planning come to fruition!
  • Eaten lots of Pringles and had a lot of biscuits – sometimes you have to embrace it, or at least that’s been my plan this week!
  • wished so many times that I was still on a beach or in the middle of nowhere, seriously Wales seems so long ago.
  • Finished the first book in Charlie Higson’s The Enemy series, and it was brilliant. I’ll write a review of it soon – promise.
  • Enjoyed a lovely weekend in Leeds with awesome friends
  • Had two train journeys: one was ridiculously unpleasant (overcrowded, smelly and loud) and the second was nice (first class, good food, lots of space and quiet time)
  • Bought the most amazing new pj bottoms (circus patterned) new bag and new shoes!
  • spend a bit too much on baby clothes in Gap, it’s good preparation for Christmas and all the new babies that seem to be appearing in my friends’ and families lives
  • Had a lovely walk around Roundhay Lake in Leeds before a scrumptious lunch in the park. It was only slightly chilly.
  • Ate scrumptious Thai food in Chapel Allerton – such a cute village and such delicious food
  • Made turkey burgers for the first time ever and they were actually super-easy and delicious. I will definitely be making them again, although next time I think I’ll try this recipe to make them a little more interesting, as let’s be honest BBQ is a welcome addition to any form of meat!
  • Watched some epic cheesy films – Music and Lyrics and The Prince and Me. Is there anything better than watching some of your favourite films with good friends and chocolate?!
  • Discovered a new magazine (Mollie Makes) it’s really interesting and has some really great crafty tutorials and ideas. I could feel my creative juices flowing as I read it on the train
  • Made myself happy by trying a new belt tying thing – it’s something simple but it’s really cheered me up! Small things.

Ten days of merriment

So this is an extended edition of my usual lately posts as I’m recapping on 10 days of awesome holiday fun. I fear it’ll be a struggle for me to make this post short, so apologies in advance if you have to take a break half way through but you know what coffee will help you through it! To sum up I had an amazing week away with my lovely family. It was wonderful to just chill out, eat and read. Pure bliss.

Day 1 – Road trip to Longleat Safari Park. The trip down to Longleat involved Starbucks, sweets and some serious singing action. Having never been to Longleat I didn’t know what to expect of this place, especially as it was a bit expensive to get into, but it was absolutely fantastic! We saw so many amazing animals and they all looked so happy just ambling around their large enclosures. Particular highlights included: giraffes with very bendy legs, monkeys that took great joy in sitting on our car roof, a regal elephant, cheeky lemurs, dozing lions and tigers, one of the world’s oldest gorillas and stunning deers that liked being fed. Much hilarity ensued with the deers: I wasn’t a fan of their dribbling whilst Mum only wanted to feed the cute ones, so ended up teasing the older ones and Lau and Becca found it hilarious when the bigger deer tried to headbutt them through the windows! It was really great to drive around the park at our own pace and hear all about the different animals on the free CD, I could have driven round and around multiple times! At the end of the tour of the park we stopped off at the cafe for scrumptious cake – what a great day! I can’t recommend this place highly enough – it’s such good fun! Day one of our holiday ended with dinner at a pub in Frome with some family friends before staying in a B&B that was all about the healthy, so no caffeine (!), normal tea or alcohol allowed on the premises…

Day 2 – The wedding! Our family friends’ daughter got married at the little church in Frome, before a wonderful reception at the stunning Orchardleigh House. The day was absolutely amazing. The bride and groom were so happy, the church was beautiful, it was lovely to catch up with old friends, the vicar made us all laugh by getting multiple names wrong during the service, the food was stunning, there was a free bar, the speeches were truly brilliant – all hilarious and touching – and the music was aces! Everyone at the wedding was staying on the estate and we had this gorgeous three-story clock tower building, so Bex and I were under the eaves – not bad really! We finally turned in after an epic game of spoof (with 20 players) at 1am.

Day 3 – Off to Wales we go. We stocked up on a buffet breakfast before heading to Bristol to pick up the sister’s boyfriend and heading into Wales! Despite a slight hiccup which saw us having an epic argument on the Welsh border and resulting in The Mothership sulking for two hours we finally got to our home for the week overlooking the stunning beach of Twywn and it was absolutely perfect! It was so peaceful and quite, with stunning views but there was so much to do nearby – Snowdon national park, steam trains, watersports, etc. After an evening run jog, we ate a roast dinner and got going on the board games – it’s an Evans family thing!

Day 4 – Barmouth. After a lazy start we headed to Barmouth via a bridge over the estuary. It’s a lovely drive to the car park for the bridge, and I couldn’t help but take some pics along the way. I particularly loved the blue church we came across, cute or what. The walk over to Barmouth itself was glorious – the sun was out and the scenery (both out to see and inland towards Snowdon) was spectacular. Barmouth itself is a cute town with lots of spots for crabbing and we settled at The Last Inn for lunch. The food was delicious and it was the perfect sustenance before our walk back across the bridge. The afternoon was spent fighting over the comfy swivel chair, reading and of course more board games!

Day 5 – A trip on the Tallylyn Railway. It might seem a strange thing to do but we decided to head up one of the mountains on the steam railway as it sounded like such fun – yes we’re clearly train geeks! Having packed our picnic we headed up to the Dolgoch Falls for a wander up and round the falls, which are beautiful. We then munched on our lunch up at Abergynolwyn, a couple of stations further up before heading back down the line to Tywyn. It was such a fun trip on the railway with so much to see from the cute sheep, to the stunning vistas. Plus it was a joy to see the pleasure that those working on the railway took in their work – it was clearly something they relished doing. That night saw us yet again playing games, but this time there was a gorgeous pink sunset to watch – absolutely stunning.

Day 6 – Road trip. We decided to go for a drive around on day six as the weather was atrocious. It seemed logical to see some of the stunning scenery that we were so close to, so we headed towards the Snowdon National Park and meandered through Machynlleth, Dolgellau, Trawsfynydd, Porthmadog, finally ending up in Criccieth. The small towns were all really picturesque and even though the weather was dreadful it was lovely to visit them all. That area of the country is truly stunning. If you do ever find yourself over that way make sure you pop in to Tiffin’s in Criccieth for lunch, as all their food was spectacularly delicious. You could just tell they love food. I had the mushroom and spinach lasagana which was truly delicious, although the butternut squash and goats cheese one tasted just as delicious. I’m definitely going to hunt out a recipe for both very soon!

Day 7 – Beach bound. We awoke to stunning blue skies and high temperatures on Thursday so we obviously had to spend the morning at the beach! We even ventured into a very boisterous sea, which whilst freezing at first it ended up being lovely and warm. It was fun to act like a five-year old and jump over the waves and get pushed around by them (and throw seaweed at my scared sisters of course)! I did also act my age on the beach I promise, there was some reading and music listening too. After the beach there was arcade fun to be had, it’s amazing how much fun you can have with just a handful of 2ps. Those machines never fail to amuse me!

Day 8 – Snowdon awaits. Early on in the week we decided we wanted to pop up Snowdon and see the stunning vistas (I love that I’ve used the term pop up, as if you can just go up for a quick visit as easy as pie!). It was an absolutely stunning drive to Llanberis; every corner you turned meant another stunning vision in front of you. In a way I’m glad I was driving as I would have taken absolutely millions of pictures!! After a wander along the river we got on the diesel train for our trip up the mountain. Sadly the weather was a bit too windy so we couldn’t go all the way to the top but we did make it about 5/8 of the way up, to Rocky Mountain where we stopped for a while before heading back down. It really was a stunning vista, and I can only imagine how much more you can see from the very top. Next time I will make it to the top, and maybe I’ll even walk it… Our last night in Wales saw more arcades, more food and of course more board games!

Day 9 – Home Time. We left our wonderful Wales home early in the morning as it was a five-hour trip home. It was so sad to leave as our little spot was just wonderful and absolutely perfect for what we wanted for the week. There was so much we could do if we wanted to, but equally our apartment was so lovely that we didn’t mind doing nothing but looking out the window or having our head in a book all day. Whilst it was sad to leave our holiday haven, it was lovely to get 3G, reception and Starbucks coffee on the way home – you forget how reliant you are on such things until you have a week without them. I am very relived that I’m now back in contact with the world’s happenings thanks to the wonders of Twitter! Saturday saw an epic amount of cleaning (knackering but so worth doing!), TV catch up and defrosting the freezer. What a life I lead hey!

Day 10 – The last day of holiday, sad face alert. I made the most of my last day of holiday, and it started with a lovely lie in and then a lazy morning on the sofa. Bliss. After lunch I headed for a walk around Clapham High Street to grab some food, an iced coffee and to spend a small fortune at Oliver Bonas – one of the joys of a £65 credit note. I got some lovely stuff to show for my money though: a flamingo lamp shade, flamingo phone case, a new Oyster holder (badly needed after the Color Run destroyed my mine) and a blue owl glass vase (because you know it’s an essential!). I also picked up some Christmas stocking fillers as it’s never too soon to start getting prepared in my opinion! The rest of the afternoon saw TV watching, long over due blogging, ticking off lots on my epic to-do list and a 4 mile run. My longest run for a hell of a long time and it was horribly hard but hey at least I did it! After the week I’ve had it’s certainly necessary – I’ve eaten so much!

Phew, what a busy little bee I’ve been! It was so lovely to have a week away with my family – they really are the best people! And Wales was absolutely lovely – I hadn’t expected to enjoy it as much as I did, but considering how beautiful it is how could I not fall in love with the country, it’s simply stunning. My only regret? Not booking off two weeks as getting up for work this morning was not fun, just one week was far too short a break!

How are you lovely people, how have your weeks been and what holiday plans do you have?

A four day week…

This ‘lately’ post is a little earlier than usual and that’s because I’m now on my hollibobs – hooray to me! – and I won’t be able to update as per usual on Monday morning. As I’ve actually got some interesting (in my humble opinion) things to share I thought I’d post this on day one of the holiday so you don’t miss out! I’m so kind like that aren’t I?!

So apart from working like a crazy thing to get everything done on time before six whole days off I’ve also been:

  • To the premiere of Red 2 in Leicester Square, squeee! There was flashing lights, a red carpet, free pop chips, celeb spots (both good – Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren and Mary Louise Parker – and bad – John Fashanu and Vanessa Feltz!) and a freaking brilliant film. Definitely get watching it once it’s out across the UK – it’s hilarious!!
  • Treating myself to a haircut, and I’m totally in love with it. It looks and feels sooooo much better. Why don’t I get it cut more often?
  • Discovering Caffe Nero’s frappe lattes and boy are they good. I need them in my life big time.
  • Enjoying a mid-week BBQ at the parentals. Excellent plan – good food and great company.
  • Enjoying rush hour in a rural village – see picture below. Quiet or what?!
  • Getting a horrific lack of sleep thanks to the heat and our annoying loud neighbours.
  • Panic shopping for a wedding outfit after an outfit crisis. Thank goodness for Primark and hello to my brand new turquoise dress. Gorgeous.
  • Having lots of fun on eBay and managed to sell a Primark skirt on there for a small fortune.
  • Gaining a new gorgeous patchwork quilt – see below. Thanks Mum, isn’t she skilled? She makes them by HAND AND WITHOUT A SEWING MACHINE! Wowzers!
  • Packing – eurgh I’ve packed far too much for one week away. Oh well!

Theatre trips, the zoo and burgers

Over this last week I’ve barely been in my flat, it’s been absurd. I think I’ve forgotten what it even looks like and let’s not even think about the absolute mess it is in – it’s in desperate need of cleaning (and hoovering)! So as I’ve not been in my flat, what have I been up to I hear you ask? Well there was:

  • The Hot House play at Trafalgar Studios – AMAZING!
  • Drinks and dinner on The Southbank – Wonderland, The Prop Store and Pizza Express – with good friends. Only slightly stressful to organise and to find somewhere to eat…
  • Lunch at the Shake Shack – absolutely scrumptious burger, fries and peanut butter milkshake. The perfect way to spend lunchtime I think!
  • Dinner at Belgo’s before watching The Cripple of Inishmann starring Daniel Radcliffe – absolutely brilliant
  • Work, work and more work. In fact two days involved 10 solid hours of work. Not my favourite thing.
  • An evening run – just over two miles so not THAT bad considering the heat
  • Friday afternoon off – hooray for a bit of sofa time
  • The Ladykillers at the theatre – we were only five rows back. Excellent!
  • A saturday morning run before cake baking – could I be any more domesticated?
  • BBQ time at the parentals to meet the sister’s boyfriend’s parents – they were lovely FYI. BBQ food, sunshine, hammock time, giant garden games and cake: my favourites!
  • London Zoo with the cousins we saw penguins, giraffes, llamas, camels, turtles, fish, a hippo, tigers, gorillas and loads more! Such a lovely day in the sunshine, despite the resulting sunburn.
  • The Diner for good ol’ burgers and chips – yum!
  • Collapsing on the sofa for two hours of TV before sleep.
  • What an exhausting week!

Powder paint, a wedding and an epic BBQ

Amazing!

Amazing!

This week has been brilliant and full of lots of fun times, things like:

  • An evening stroll
  • 2.4 mile run in 30° heat (no idea how I survived that!)
  • Free tickets to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – thanks work! It was just as brilliant a second time and our seats were awesome too.
  • A picnic in the park with lovely friends and new acquaintances – I do love this sunshine that’s arrived.
  • Zero lie-ins (Okay so not such a brilliant thing!)
  • An epic BBQ back at the parentals, I provided one of five (!) puddings plus we had three chickens and all that meat for 15 of us. Like I said, epic!!
  • Sneaky snacks on the bus. Sometimes after a dreadful day at work you have to give in to the peanut m&m’s craving.
  • Saturday saw me heading to the back of beyond,okay North London, for a friend’s wedding. It was absolutely beautiful, they make such a cute couple and everything was so lovely. There was also penny sweets including Percy Pigs – genius!
  • Multiple iced mochas. Delicious.
  • The Color Run! This is a 5k that you run and at each kilometre you get pelted with powder paint. Such fun!! And great to run around Wembley Stadium too!Wwhat wasn’t so great was the heat, bleurgh!
  • TV time: Castle, How I met your Mother and m&m’s. Perfect.
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