The English Countryside – Travel Tuesday

Greeting chums, how are you all? I’ve suddenly realised that today is my last day off before my new job – eek how has that happened – so needless to say I’m slightly panicking! But anywho enough about me, what have you all been up to? Thanks for stopping by for another installment of Travel Tuesday, I can’t wait to see what travels everyone else has shared this week! In this weeks installment we’re off only a short distance, to the wonderful English countryside and bonus it fits into today’s theme of relationships!

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Over the weekend I went back to my parents house for 36 hours for a good old catch up, we’ve all been busy bees recently so it was lovely to chatter about everything. It’s always really lovely being back in Surrey as it’s 100% relaxed and you’re guaranteed gorgeous food, but this weekend I also wanted to make the most of being in the countryside. With the gorgeous autumnal weather we’ve been having recently it was the perfect excuse to get outside and see all the beautiful autumnal sights. Sights that you don’t often get to see in the heart of London town! So that’s what we did! We pulled on our wellies, our scarves and our coats and drove ten minutes to Ranmore Common and went for a tramp in the woods. We wandered around for about 45 minutes and it was so lovely to be out in the fresh air with four of my favourite people (tick on the theme)! We were all very excited when we came across a load of chestnuts and couldn’t resit picking up a fair amount of those for roasting later on (we did leave some for the squirrels – don’t worry!). There’s something amazing about the crisp autumn air that just makes me warm and snuggley inside and isn’t it wondrous when all you can hear is the rustling of the leaves or the snap of twigs as you go a little off piste. Oh it was such a lovely afternoon and I realised I really must pop back down to the countryside more often, even if just for a quick walk int he leaves. It really is so blissful.

I won’t bore you with more waffling, instead have a gander at the images below to see the glorious autumnal colours, what we got up to, how stunningly beautiful everything was and how much mud I found!

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A Trip To Meet The Otters – Travel Tuesday

Happy Tuesday lovely peeps and welcome to another edition of Travel Tuesday with Bonnie and Co. How have you all been since the last edition, anything exciting to share? Today is the second to last day at the job I’ve been at for five and a half years, so ti’s all very exciting in these parts. I can’t believe this day has actually arrived and whilst I’m sad I can’t wait for the super exciting new things to come! Anyway back to travelling, today I thought I’d share my recent trip to an otter sanctuary, which was ten days ago during my trip to The Peak District.IMG_0595

Whilst we were having a thoroughly relaxing weekend in the countryside we decided to venture half an hour from where we were staying and visit the Chestnut Centre Otter, Owl and Wildlife Park which is nestled on the side of a hill in Chapel-en-le-frith. If you’re ever up that way I most definitely recommend it as it’s such a great afternoon out! We were there for a good three hours and as well as having a lovely long walk around the hills we encountered some beautiful creatures.

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A particular favourite of mine was the deer that were grazing on the side of the hill not two metres from where we were wandering, they were absolutely beautiful and seemed so peaceful. They didn’t seem bothered at all that we were so close, they just seemed to enjoy roaming around the land. It was great to see thm in their natural habitat and to be so close.

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As well as the deers (with their baby foals) we also saw loads of silky otters splashing around in the water. There were giant ones as well as small ones in five or six areas across the park – three of these seemed to be doing an exercise routine where they swam and chased each other round their enclosure multiple times (so sweet). Plus we saw pole cats, which are very cute (if not a little shy) too.

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As well as the deer, otters and pole cats there were a lot of owls to stare at as well, everything from cute barn owls and snowy white ones to ones I’ve never seen before. I think these were my favourites as they were the most unexpected – with their puffy and fluffy feathers and big haunting eyes they really were gorgeous. Although I’m not sure I’d like to meet them in the woods on a dark night!

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It was such a lovely day out and perfect for getting a long walk in without even realising it! I really did fall in love with The Peak District and I can’t believe that I’ve barely even visited such a stunningly beautiful part of the world – I really have been missing out. Have a great rest of the week everyone. xx

My most recent Smiley Happy Things

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Hello lovely people and how are you this monday morning, did you have a pleasant weekend and are you ready and raring to go with this week? I’ve only got three days of work this week as I leave my current job (after five and a half years!) on Wednesday – eek! I’m equal parts exccited and nervous! Anyway back to today, the ten things making me smile this week, here we go…

1) Lovely long natterings with friends
2) Brilliant books – In the last week I’ve read Catching Fire and I’ve started Mockingjay and I’m really enjoying rereading these YA gems. I’d forgotten so much of what happens and they are really brilliant reads

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3) Lazy mornings doing nothing but reading and coffee drinking, oh if only that was my life
4) Exploring new areas whilst we search for a potential new home – exciting times indeed!
5) Excellent Twitter responses, I’m looking at you @jamesblunt. What a great response to negative comments: showing you have a sense of humour and not taking yourself too seriously

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6) Watching live music – Tyler Hilton was superb live on Wednesday night and I’ve been listening to his music ever since. I love Loaded Gun the most I think (at least right at this minute)

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7) Five Guys –  I finally made it there this week and it was even better than I expected. There’s something in those fries that make them moreish, I’m telling you I could have eaten five or six helpings. As for the free monkey nuts, scrumptious

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8) Pretending I am able to buy whatever clothes I want with no budget constraints as part of the M&S Style Board competition for bonfire night. My entry is here, why not check it out?

9) Quality times with my sisterlings – whether it’s eating, chatting or just sitting doing nothing together I love them so much
10) Watching American Football at Wembley – wow!

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11) Treating myself to this simply gorgeous jumper. I’m sorry but I can’t say no to a snuggly jumper with star elbow pads. I mean wow love it!

What about you? What were your favourite things this week? Have you been loving all the autumnal weather and have you been making the most of snuggling up inside with hot chocolate and a good book. Surely that can’t just be me?

Paris Ponderings – Travel Tuesday

Happy Tuesday one and all and how are you this lovely autumn day? I’m on countdown to Thursday right now as that’s when I’ll be off for a fun long weekend in the Peak District, hooray for travels in the UK and only two days left of work this week – whoopee!! What about you lovely peeps, what are you up to this week, anything exciting to report or anything that can better my upcoming plans?

So for today’s Travel Tuesday installments I’m heading across the English Channel to the wonders of Paris. I’ve been to Paris twice, once on a school trip (which is all quite a blur if I’m honest, I can’t remember much about it) and once about six years ago on a long weekend with family. To be honest my memories of the trip aren’t that great as I’ve come to realise I have a brain like a sieve, but when I stumbled across the following photos I decided I wanted to share the little bits I do remember with you today – so snuggle up on the sofa with a hot chocolate and let’s dive in! First up the pictures!  Below we have The Louvre, Notre Dame, Family Evans and the Eiffel Tower.

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Like I said I can’t remember much about our trip, but here’s the bits that I do remember:

  • It rained almost constantly
  • We went around Easter so there were loads and loads of yummy chocolate eggs and rabbits everywhere. Bliss.
  • I was disappointed with the Mona Lisa – who knew it was so tiny, I have to say I don’t quite understand the fuss. Hopefully that doesn’t make me an uncultured cretin…
  • We ate at a delicious restaurant at the famous Chartier Restaurant a favourite with tourists and Parisians alike. I have no idea what we ate, but I remember it was delicious, there was a fantastic amount of bustle, the restaurant has wonderful decor (check that out on the site here) and finally the waiters added up the bill on the tablecloth – love it!
  • We drove through the streets of Paris and it was fascinating to be under a graffiti covered bridge one moment and then going round the beautiful Arc de Triomphe the next. Wonderful.
  • The Louvre building is beautiful
  • I discovered what Steak Tartare is, thanks to our neighbours in a cute french cafe. I can’t even…why would you think that’s appetising?
  • Due to the storm we couldn’t go up the Eiffel Tower, although I’m not sure I’m brave enough to have gone anyway. But it was still beautiful all light up
  • I think Notre Dame is possibly my favourite Parisian building
  • I did not spend enough time sat in a coffee shop with bowls of coffee/hot chocolate and fresh from the oven pastries

What about you, have you ever been to Paris? What were your favourite parts of the city to explore? This post has definitely made me want to return so that I can properly experience all it has to offer, hopefully minus the rain and the sieve like memory!

A Compass Rose

Smiley Happy Things

Smiley_Happy_ThingsThis last week has mostly been awesome, apart from a day of illness which I could have done without, but hey what are you going to do when that happens? There’s no point fighting it, you just have to fold yourself into bed, sleep and recover and then treat yourself to cake and hot chocolate accompanied by a good book or episodes of Glee – or is that last bit just me? Anyway despite my depleted health I have had a great week with lots of lovely things to natter about and be thankful for this week. I’m so glad to have such brilliant things in my life, especially when I’ve had a rubbish day or feel ill, so I’m glad I have these posts to remind myself of the good stuff.

Catching up with friends – I caught up with two old friends this week, separately – the first was for a Tuesday evening natter and the other involved a lovely day out in Rochester on Saturday. It was so lovely to catch up, get all the gossip and reminisce about all sorts. There was a lot of reminiscing on both occasions, particularly on Saturday as we discussed the fact we’ve known each other for ten years and we laughed over some of the best times we’ve shared, including our fabulous travelling trip in 2007. I love that I have friends like this. Where all you need is a coffee, cake and to be together for a lovely day. I need more of these days booked in I think.

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Crafting – I’ve seeing my little sis later this week for her birthday celebrations up in the Peak District, which meant I needed to finish start and finish the item I’ve been planning for ages. It really is ridiculous that I’ve only just got round to it as I’ve had all the materials I’ve needed for ages (three weeks minimum) so hooray that I’ve finally done it. Despite a few stressful moments with the sewing machine (I must have threaded that needle twenty times in the space of an hour) it’s now almost done – hooray and fingers crossed she like is!

Starbucks’ new Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate – To be honest I was a little skeptical when I saw this drink as I wondered if it was possibly going to be one ingredient too many or that maybe I’d given it very high expectations. But on Tuesday during the aforementioned nattering session the chance of a shared lemon cake and a salted caramel hot chocolate was too good an opportunity to miss and it surpassed all my expectations. It really was absolutely delicious with the perfect combination of all ingredients. The only problem? I’m going to struggle not to want one every single day and I don’t believe that would be a wise thing – hello four more dress sizes!

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Getting my bake on – Marshmallow Brownies and a Chocolate Loaf Cake have both been made this week and they are both delicious, you need to give them a try asap. The recipe for the brownies may well make an appearance on this here bloglet soon, but the chocolate loaf cake, can be found here, should you want to give it a whirl! I love that I can be calmed or made to feel happy again purely through the combination of ingredients and that smell.

Football Fun – The last week saw another trip to Wembley to watch England and I loved every second of it – the game was brilliant, it was tense, stressful and exciting. The best England game I’ve watched in ages and thankfully the result was the right one (for me anyway)!

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Running in the leaves – I seem to love running in the leaves, I think it’s the crunching sound, so I’m very pleased that I was able to do that a couple of times this week – hooray!

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What about you, what stuff has made you smile this week or what are you particularly grateful to have in your life right now? I’d love to know so share below. And here’s to another fabulous wek of lots of happiness and fun times. xx

Pacific Island of dreams – Travel Tuesday

Greetings my fellow travel loving chums and how are you this lovely Tuesday? My fingers are crossed that you’re in fine form. As for me? I’m not too bad, thanks for asking! I’m catching up with a uni friend this evening so I’m really hopeful that it’ll be a lovely day full of yummy food and A LOT of nattering! As it’s Tuesday it’s time for a look back at my travel journals (yes I do own a couple) to have a reminisce over one of my past travelling adventures as part of the Travel Tuesday link up with Bonnie over at A Compass Rose. So after you read this here blog post make sure you pop on over to Bonnie’s blog to see all the other lovely posts.

So where are we headed to today I hear you ask? Well this morning we’re off over to the wonderful Pacific Ocean and the beautiful country of Fiji, which I was lucky enough to visit back in 2007 as part of my post University travels. I’m so pleased that half way through our five month trip we managed to squeeze in this week of calm in a small corner of paradise. Not only was it absolutely stunning it was also just what we needed – a week of rest and relaxation before we hit the madness of the U S of A.

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The beautiful blue sky and glossy green vegetation of Fiji

Whilst in Fiji we split our time equally between Nadi – one of the main towns – and the beautiful Coral Coast, which is on the south of the island. This was just perfect for us as it meant we got to see two sides of this lovely country. With Nadi we got to experience a Fijian ‘city’ and  we made the most of being in the town with walks to the markets and to buy the locally made knick knacks as well as being able to watch traditional Fijian dances and spending the day on the beautiful South Sea Island for snorkeling, massages and relaxation. The island  of South Sea was no more than 50m in diameter and it was one of the most relaxing places I’ve ever been lucky enough to experience. Everywhere you looked there was just water and more water, with one or two small land masses in the far distance.

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The gorgeous beach at South Sea Island

My favourite part about our week-long Fijian trip was the Coral Coast and the beautiful Mango Bay Resort, it really was paradise. Our ‘room’ was a three person safari ‘tent’ that was 20 meters from the beautiful beach with a stunning view towards the never-ending ocean. Whilst at the resort we learnt about the culture by making baskets, coconut sweets, jewelry and experiencing the wonders of Kava, went snorkeling, kayaking, watched traditional Fijian ceremonies, sun bathed, sun bathed and sun bathed some more and even got to experience an outdoor film night with cocktails galore. It really was absolutely wondrous and I can’t remember ever being so relaxed. It was simply amazing and one day I will go back to do it all again. Fiji is simply just stunning and absolutely out-of-this-world in it’s mind boggling beauty. Do you think I’m exaggerating with all the superlatives I’m using in this post? Then just check out some of my favourite photos from that week.

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Shadows and a calm pacific ocean

 

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The restaurant and pool at Mango Bay Resort

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One of my all-time favourite pictures. Beautiful.

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One boat in a vast sea

What about you, what country have you been the most relaxed in, and what are your most stunningly beautiful pictures of? I’d love for you to leave links for me to have a gander – I love travelling from my desk at work or whilst sat on the bus! Have a lovely Tuesday each and everyone of you. xx

A Compass Rose

Let’s fly, let’s fly away.

Now that I’m back from Portugal I don’t have any trips abroad planned (thanks to a depleted bank balance), so I thought I’d take the chance in today’s link up to Travel Tuesday to share the five places I most want to visit. This list is forever changing as let’s be honest there are loads of fabulous places out there. So I don’t expect this will stay the same for long, but for now I’m dreaming of packing a suitcase and visiting these lovely looking places.

The Great Ocean Road – I’m lucky enough to have been to Australia a number of times and I’ve had a ball each and every time. But I’ve never made it to The Great Ocean Road. I long to just hire a car with no thought as to where we’ll stop and just get going on this 151 mile stretch of Australia. I want to see the charming seaside villages along the coast, explore the small towns and cities like Geelong, admire the stunning vistas and see the famed apostles and everything else that this amazing area has to offer. One day.

The Twelve Apostles, Great Ocean Road, Australia -- Find great travel deals & discounts on http://www.studentrate.com/studentrate/School/Deals/Travel.aspx #travel #world #trips #vacation

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Canada – I know this is quite a sweeping place to mention, I mean it’s a massive country, but I can’t choose just one area I’m afraid! I want to visit the amazing capilano suspension bridge to view the rainforest from up high, I want to kayak around the untouched wilderness on Vancouver Island, ski in Whistler, spot polar bears and whales in Hudson Bay, visit the beautiful and exciting city of Vancouver, view the staggeringly impressive Niagara Falls in Ontario, see stunning vistas in the Rockies, visit Montreal the world’s second largest french speaking city and so so much more. It sounds like a stunningly beautiful and interesting country.

We would love this view out of our windows! Sunset over the winter scenery along the coast of Hudson Bay in Manitoba, Canada.

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Seattle – Ever since I first watched Grey’s Anatomy I’ve been determined to get to Seattle. Not because I assume I’ll get to meet Jackson and the rest of the Grey’s Anatomy cast but because it looks like such an awesome city!  It’s got the ferry boats, impressive buildings and is close to amazing forests, what’s not to love?

Seattle skyline from a different perspective.

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Zanzibar – I don’t know what there is to see in Zanzibar apart from lounge on the beaches and take in the history of the island, but for me that’s plenty. It sounds like such an exotic place so I really do want to see it for myself.

Zanzibar, Tanzania:

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New York – I’ve been to New York a few times but what I really would love is to visit it at Christmas. I can’t even imagine how wonderfully magical the city would be with all the decorations and fairy lights, I think I would be in heaven. I would love to see the shops all filled with Christmas stuff, to ice skate in central park with Christmas songs playing and to sip hot chocolates underneath the shadow of the beautiful Rockefeller tree. Blissful.

Christmas in New York City (Rockefeller center), I really hope we can make it to New York city this Christmas!

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A Compass Rose

Why was last week so brilliantly good?

Over the weekend I came across The Musing Blonde’s ‘High Five Fridays’ post and I really loved the sentiment behind it, it’s such a good point that we tend to focus on the bad things rather than the good. No matter what our day/week/month has been like there’s always something to be grateful for, happy about or thankful for. That was the original concept behind my ‘Smiley Happy Things’ posts, but I’ve been a bit lax at posting them recently so I had a rethink and I’ve come up with a solution. From now on I’m going to post about my recent ‘Smiley Happy Things’ every Monday as a way of reflecting on the good things that have happened over the past week – so a replacement to my ‘Lately’ posts. I like the idea of doing this on a Monday to remind me on the worst morning of the week that things aren’t always bad and that they will most definitely get better as the week goes on!

So here’s the first of the new look Smiley Happy Things posts. What about you, what are your favourite things about the last seven days?

Sitting on the beach enjoying this view

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The first coffee after a week of no caffeine

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Pulling on a snuggly jumper and winter boots to combat the rain outside

Curling up on the sofa with coffee and my patchwork quilt

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A Law and Order marathon

Bright summer flowers

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Reliving wonderful Rome through my little sis’ Instagram pics

Treating myself to new magazines for the flight

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Reminding myself how delicious a simple snack of yogurt and banana can be

New nail varnish

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Arriving back from holiday to a delivery of essential items for my upcoming Christmas card project

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The joy of your own bed after a week away

Pretty flowers to brighten up the flat

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Visiting favourite holiday spots

Travel Tuesday: A family trip to Portugal

I’m lucky enough to have visited lots of lovely places in my 28 years on this planet – I’ve enjoyed everything from city breaks and beach resorts to road trips and glorious scenery. Weirdly I haven’t reminisced about one of those trips for a while as I tend to go on them, enjoy a wonderful time, snap lots of pictures and then jump straight back into everyday life. I think this needs to change, so I thought I’d take part in the Travel Tuesday link up that Bonnie and Belinda organise. I love reading their weekly posts, so why not share my own? I’m off to Portugal soon, so I thought whaat better place to start? Read on for some Portugal love about the last time I was out there back in September 2012.

I went out for a week to Vale do Lobo in the Algarve to spend some lovely family time with my parents, sisters and Greg, the littlest sister’s boyfriend. It was so chilled out and relaxed, it was one of the best weeks I’ve had in Portugal, and considering I’ve been about twenty times that’s saying a lot. The great thing about Portugal is that as I go fairly regularly and have done since I was about five, it means that I know the area like the back of my hand.  I always feel settled and in holiday mode as soon as I arrive, which I think we can all agree makes a big difference when the point of your trip is to relax thoroughly. In terms of what we got up to on or holiday; it was all about the eating, the exploring, the card games, the running, the go karting, visiting a nature reserve and the sunbathing. The perfect sunny holiday really! I won’t go in to masses of detail on the whole week, as I will find it hard to keep this post short(!), instead I’ll let the pictures do the talking!

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Setting the world to rights over the BBQ

The Mothership and me with drinks and cards

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Go karting fun

This was the first time we’d been go karting in Portugal and it was so much fun! I was perhaps a little more restrained than others, but I still enjoyed it. Lets be fair I can’t help it if I’m a little bit of a scaredy cat when it comes to things like speed.

Late night cocktails

Late night cocktails

A glorious view

A glorious view

Gorgeous weather

Gorgeous weather

I love the colours in this picture – the bright blues, deep greens and creamy buildings. So beautiful.

More Uno!

More Uno!

All dressed up for dinner

All dressed up for dinner

Me and Lau

Me and Lau

and relax...

and relax…

Chilling by the pool

Chilling by the pool

Sun shade

Sun shade

Hello!

Hello!

It's all about the sunglasses

It’s all about the sunglasses!

An amble through the nature reserve

An amble through the nature reserve

Smiley sisters

Smiley sisters

The local nature reserve

The local nature reserve

Beautiful scenery

Beautiful scenery

More cocktails

More cocktails

Lots of cocktails

Lots of cocktails

I can’t wait to go back to Portugal soon, it’s going to be brilliant to have a chilled out few days in the sun (hopefully) and not have to do anything but relax. Let the countdown begin, only thirteen more sleeps to go…

A Compass Rose

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!
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