A new job, more brownies and another 10k done!

Hello friends, how are you this fine Monday? I had such a brilliant weekend – I spent time with lovely friends and family, ran a 10k (whoop!) and then had some festive fun. So brilliant all round! How was yours? And how’s your week been? I’ve had lots of fun stuff going on in the last few days, so let’s get down to the smiley happy things from the last week. Don’t forget to share yours if you fancy, I’d love to have a read!

So last Wednesday I started my new job, hooray to me! It’s so exciting to start a new job isn’t it – well if you ignore all the butterflies!? I’d forgotten that because it’s been over five years since I started a job, but I have to say I kinda enjoyed it! Thankfully everyone’s been so lovely to me in the three days I’ve been there – there’s lots of nattering and coffee breaks and no one’s had a go at me for asking too many questions, phew! Plus my lovely new colleagues took me out for lunch on my first day – so very kind of them! I’m also really enjoying finding out about what I’ll be working on and starting to develop some ideas for these lovely new books. I’ve also had loads of new books to read, which is one of my favourite things! The other thing about my new job? A new desk that needs personalising with lots of lovely new stationery, my Disney Pixar desk calendar and a new mug – hooray to that! So far I’ve added: colourful pens, an owl mug for said pens, pink post it notes, my new badger mug, photos and of course a new notebook and weekly planner . So far I’m loving my new desk, especially as there’s a window and everything!

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Another things that’s made my week is that I did another 10k! Whilst I didn’t beat my PB I did at least complete the distance, which is most definitely a positive as it was freezing on Saturday. I’ve also done for so few runs recently that I wouldn’t have been surprised if I hadn’t managed it. Another good thing about the 10k was that it was through the Nottingham Forest, which was absolutely stunningly beautiful. I really wish I lived closer to it so I could go for walks there every week, it’s just amazing.

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To balance out the exercise from the weekend I made sure to treat myself this week too! First up with multiple coffees in my new Starbucks mug – yes I know it’s Christmass-y but I couldn’t say no to something featuring ice skates or that was free, come on now! The second big treat of the week? Homemade chocolate, raspberry and biscuit brownies, which were absolutely diving. I can’t believe I’ve not mixed those three things before. I will most definitely be mixing them in the future, that’s for sure!

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My final smiley happy thing from the past seven days was having a couple of days off of work with nothing planned. Why was this good? Well it meant that I got to spend two days doing nothing other than drink coffee and read new books, talk about bliss. Plus the weather seemed to be on my side as I was able to sit outside in the sunshine for three hours on Monday and read my book and watch the world go by. Another reason why I wish I could win the lottery, I would thoroughly enjoy spending my life doing that let me tell you!

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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?

42 down and 10 to go!

Greetings you lovely lot, how are things? As the month of October is almost over (how in the hell did that happen by the way?!?!) it’s time for a bit of a reading recap and I’m delighted to say that I’ve now read 42 books towards my reading challenge for 2013, so that means just another ten to go – whoopee to me. I’m actually ridiculously impressed with myself, especially after a few months of rubbish reading habits, so just ten more to read in the 10 weeks before the end of the year – not much pressure then! This month I managed to read four brilliant books and I refound my reading rhythm, hooray to that. About bloody time I say! My reads this month have been a mix of ones I’ve been meaning to read for ages and ages, old favourite and an impulse buy. I think this variety, and the variety of different genres that the books fall into, really helped me find my reading rhythm and meant that I enjoyed each and every book as often when things get a bit samey it can seem a bit stale and not work. At least for me anyway!
October reads
The Little Coffee Shop in Kabul – this was an impulse buy and I really enjoyed it. It was great to visit a country and to read about a situation I’d never pondered: How do the people living in these war-torn places survive and go about everyday life? It was interesting learning a lot about the customs and traditions of Afghanistan too. It really was fascinating, although the book could have done with not ending so perfectly and all perfectly tied up as it seemed a bit too forced.

Treasure Island – I’m ashamed I’ve not read this book before, I mean it’s a classic after all. Whilst I did enjoy it I don’t think it’s a recommended read or a repeat book for me. It’s just not my sort of thing! But at least I’ve now read it and don’t feel like I’m as badly read anymore!

When God Was a Rabbit – My friend lent me this book ages ago and somehow I’ve never gotten round to reading it. I had such high expectations after all I’ve heard about it and I’m so pleased that it definitely lived up to these expectations, it really was absolutely brilliant and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The fact I finished in in two days is proof enough of that! It was absolutely beautifully written and such a wonderful insight into one persons life. I loved the way it showed one woman’s important relationships and it felt so realistic and not forced or too fictional. Simply wonderful

Catching Fire – I haven’t read this book for a couple of years so with the film out soon I needed to reread it and I’m so glad I did as I’d forgotten pretty much the entire plot! I remembered the key points: the old victors have to head back into the Hunger Games, but basically everything else had spilled out of my head. What a total numpty I am. Now that I’ve remembered what happened I’m flabbergasted I didn’t remember sooner as it’s such so brilliant isn’t it!? I’m now super excited for the film to arrive,. why is it not out this weekend?

What about you, what lovely books have you been reading recently and recommendations for me to add to the ever-growing pile?

The little things cheering me up this week

Morning lovely people, how is Monday treating you so far? Hopefully it’s been incredibly kind to you and maybe even treated you to something lovely, like new shoes or a scrumptious warm coffee. Here’s hoping. I’m very excited this morning as it’s my little sis’ birthday – hooray to her! I’m sad not to be celebrating with her (that’ll happen in a few weeks) but I can’t help but feel excited for her as we all know how wonderful a birthday can be. Here’s hoping she eats cake, cake and more cake and enjoys celebrating with all her lovely friends! As it’s Monday it’s customary for me to share some of the things that are really making my life wonderful at the moment. So here goes!

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First up we have something really simple but it’s really cheered me up and that’s sorting out my bookshelves. I know that sounds crazy cats but they were such a mess, there was no logic to them, I couldn’t see what was on them and there were three bags of books on the floor waiting to be added to the mess. So anyway on Sunday morning when I wanted to do anything but go for a run I sorted them out and now they are so lovely and ordered and I heart them. I’m still prone to smiling when I walk into the room and see them, which definitely means it was worth the faffing and also I’ve realised I cannot buy another book for at least six months as I have an entire shelf of unread books. Oops, a sure sign I’m a bit of a bookworm I think!

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My brilliantly organised bookshelves – so pretty!

Aside from books and organising things I’ve become a bit obsessed with Friday Night Lights recently, over the last week we’ve watched about 15 episodes and I’m now seriously hooked. I can barely wait to tuck into the next series and find out what happens to Riggins, Street, Landrey, Julie, Coach, Smash et al. It really is a great piece of TV and I can see what the fuss is all about. Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose!

I spent a night in Bath last week for work and I had such a brilliant time, it was lovely to spend a few hours away from London and enjoy the beautiful countryside surrounding Bath. We drove through some really picturesque villages and stayed in a beautiful hoteloverlooking a gorgeous valley. It really was spectacular on a foggy morning. I really must go back soon and see more of the town than I did last time I was there. Talking of going away I’m in the process of planning a last-minute trip to the coast for the end of this month. It’s all come about very randomly but now I need to get organised. I can’t decide where I want to go other than somewhere near the beach, that’s only a couple of hours from London, which won’t be full of kids (it’ll be half term after all). Any suggestions? I love planning trips like this when it’s entirely up to you and you don’t have to pacify/compromise with anyone else. Hooray!

The final thing that’s got me all excited this week is that it’s official Christmas is on its way  and I’m going to be talking about it a lot over the next few months. The way I know it’s on its way? The fact that John Lewis have their Christmas department ready as well as their Christmas decorations hanging in the store but also there are tonnes of Christmas chocolates around the supermarkets. Whoopee! The best time of year is making an entrance, now we really must get decking the halls and buying the mistletoe as Christmas is coming!

What about you lovely lot, what’s got you smiling away over the last few days?

Hooray for Friday!

It’s Friday and I’m very glad this week of crazy is over, what about you how have you fared this week? To top of my not so wonderful week I got given the wrong drink at Starbucks today – total disaster as I didn’t realise until it was too late. Nightmare scenario I think we can all agree?! Today’s post is going to be a collection of rambles and links, just to warn you if you’re expecting something sophisticated or in-depth – that’s just not happening today. My brain just can’t handle it!

First up there’s this trailer for Glee’s Finn memorial episode, which I made the mistake of watching on the bus this morning. Talk about rookie mistake as I got very teary and over emotional. It looks like they’ve made a lovely episode and I can’t wait to see it (with tissues in hand obvs). Although I do wonder how they were able to make the episode, it must have been incredibly difficult and hard for all of them to get through.

On a different note, I saw the below quote from Harold Pinter this week which I really liked. I definitely agree with this and often wonder how I would cope without so much wonderful writing out there, be it blogs, newspaper articles or books.

“Good writing excites me, and makes life worth living.”

Other things I’ve loved this week are Jennifer Lawrence and this jumper and bag from Joy. My love for Jennifer Lawrence is well documented on this blog but I just had to share this article about her response to being told to lose weight – how amazingly brilliant is she. I really do think we could be very good friends, in a non stalker way obviously! As for the jumper, it’s snuggly and has a deer on, how could I not love it?! And isn’t the colour, shape and clasp of that bag simply divine. The only question is cam I justify £45 for a bag – I’m not really sure I can to be honest.

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Is anyone else a massive fan of Veronica Roth’s Divergent series, or is that just me? I can’t wait for the final book in the trilogy to be out later this month and I was fascinated by this interview with the writer. How did I not know she was so young when she wrote it – what exactly have I done with my life, apparently I’ve achieved nothing in my 28 years compared to her!

On that high note I best get down to some of this Friday madness – hope you all have fantabulous days of wonderment and enjoy the weekend. xxx

Peace, culture and good reads

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Hello my little blog readers, how are you this Monday afternoon? I hope your week has started how you would like and long may it continue. Over the last week I had the below things in my world and they really made my week! Somehow they were the beacons of joy interspersed with the bad stuff. What about you, what are the things that really made your last week?

  1. New books – no matter what’s going on in my life new books cheer me up. So having a bit of a spree in Waterstones on Saturday was wonderful, these four books all sounds wonderful so I can’t wait to get stuck in to them all. Hooray.
  2. Half an hour to just do nothing – I was at a conference on Thursday which was fascinating (and apologies if you saw all my tweets about there’s the possibility I got a smidge carried away!). It was also good because it meant I could have a calmer start to my day than usual. Before the conference I managed to slot in forty minutes prior to the conference for a quiet breakfast, pick me up coffee and a read of the latest Simple Things magazine. It really was wonderful.
  3. Shakespeare how it ought to be viewed – I was lucky enough to watch Macbeth being performed at The Globe on Tuesday last week and it was phenomenally good. I really cannot explain how brilliantly good it was. The actors were all amazing and the director and staging team had done a phenomenally good job at making it even more brilliant – I highly recommend it.
  4. Baking – I’ve baked quite a lot of stuff this week (pinwheels, oat and banana bites and triple chocolate cookies) and it’s often the best medicine for a bad day or a moment of crazy. Plus all the things I made were scrumptious, which always helps!
  5. Supportive people – Last on the list but most definitely not last in my eyes as they have been so wonderfully great this week. Everyone in my life has been amazing this week, both friends and family. Many of them have gone above and beyond on the support and kind words and really have made me so much more confident, happy and able to make a big decision which now it’s made I fell 100% better than I did before. I promise that as soon as I can explain more I will, but its super top-secret at the moment – annoying blogger moment I know.

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!
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