Monday, 30 April 2012

Monday Mumbles No.2

The lurgy struck again and I spent most of last week feeling pretty sorry for myself L. I made it to the gym once (poor effort) and did absolutely nothing this weekend. But I’m feeling much better today and have my gym bag packed in the car ready to go straight after work tonight.

It rained pretty much constantly last week, which certainly didn’t help my mood but this morning the sun is shining and I am hoping for a better week ahead. I have my first appointment with my wedding dress people (Fur Coat No Knickers) on Saturday so I am going to be at the gym and eating healthily for the next 5 days! This appointment is where I will be deciding what alterations I want made to the dress and maybe looking at accessories. I’m quite excited to see my dress again, it’s been almost 5 months since I last got to play dress up with the brilliant girls at FCNK and I’ve almost forgotten how lovely the dress is. 2 of my bridesmaids will also be joining me for the appointment and we will be heading to Vivien of Holloway to purchase their bridesmaids dresses after my appointment. I can’t wait to see how they look in the dresses I’ve chosen - the dresses are so lovely I might have to get one for myself too!!

Have a good week everyone! xx

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Thursday Thanks No.4

It’s Thursday again and I have a lot of people to thank this week, so let the gratitude begin.

First up is Wayne Levings (my company CEO) who donated a very generous sum, next are some other colleagues (it was payday yesterday so I grabbed the chance to ask people when I knew they’d have a spare few pounds!), Laura Cummings, Lorna Kirk, Sarah Cole, Dee Hull, Jan Brixey, Andrew Wright and Sam Prior, who between them have added another £160 to my target!

I am now at 37% of my total, which is absolutely phenomenal and I am extremely grateful for all of the support so far. With your help we will be able to change the lives of hundreds of children around the world.

I have also had a few ideas of ways to raise a bit more money, which I will tell you about next time, but needless to say it will involve baking and clothes (though not necessarily together!).

Monday, 23 April 2012

Monday Mumbles No.1

Welcome to the first Monday Mumbles, I’ll be using this space to share some of my thoughts, recipes, recommendations, ideas, best buys, favourite things and anything else that pops into my head. For my first post I am going to tell you about my weekend and a fabulous cake I baked!

April is a birthday-heavy month for my family with 6 birthdays in 8 days, 3 of which are mine and both of my parents, so it tends to be an expensive month of present buying and celebrating. It also tends to be a month where we all put on a few extra pounds from all the eating! And this year has been no exception – my birthday was celebrated in style with all of my friends joining me for a BBQ at my house where we ate and drank to excess, with a sufficient hangover the next day to remind me that I am now less than a year away from my 30th (Oh GOD!).
Me and the girls - looking good after 8 hours of drinking!
This weekend was both my parent’s birthdays, with my mum’s being her 60th – so big celebrations were in order. Andy and I and my brother and his girlfriend spent the weekend at my parents’ house down in Worthing; we had a light lunch in preparation for the gigantic dinner that was to come later, and went out for a little walk along the seafront which was unfortunately cut short by the rain.
Ready for dinner!
Dinner was at a little Turkish place on the seafront at Worthing called The Istanbul, we’ve been there before and the food is always amazing and the service is great. We went the whole hog with a full 3-course meal, everybody leaving feeling suitable stuffed! I had Calamari to start, Chicken Guvec for main and Baklava for dessert…. YUMMY! We decided to go home for coffees so that we could veg on the sofa to allow us to digest.

I’d also baked a birthday cake for my mum from a new book I was given for my birthday (Red Velvet & Chocolate Heartache by Harry Eastwood). It’s an amazing baking book with all the recipes using vegetables in the cakes instead of butter and other fats, and the cake tasted AMAZING – unbelievably moist and light. I chose a chocolate cake which contained butternut squash, it was decorated with a sumptuous icing (the icings do contain butter and other fats) and decorated with spray roses. I hope you’ll agree that it looked scrumptious because it certainly tasted it!

The cake!

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Wedding Wednesday No.2

So the dress?! Well I suppose I should actually really start with the shoes as these most definitely were my first priority!
I've always had a thing for shoes (and bags too!) and have accumulated quite a collection over the years, mostly from the high street but a few nicer pairs too, so I wanted to take this opportunity to really splash out on an amazing pair of shoes and was more than willing to spend more money on them than the dress. After all, shoes I can wear again, a wedding dress? Probably not!
Christian Louboutin was the label of choice and the first time I set foot in their lavish area in Selfridges I knew these were the shoes for me. So many beautiful shoes with that seductive red sole I really didn't know where to start - classic black or something more outrageous for what may well be my only ever pair of real designer shoes?
And then there they were, peeking out at me from one of the many cubbyholes, a pair of deep magenta suede high heels with black detailing at the toe. These were the ones for me so I tried on a pair in my usual size 6 but they were far too big and they didn't have a 5.5 so I left empty-handed and disappointed. The girl in Selfridges was really helpful and suggested I try the CL shop in Mount Street, Mayfair. Unfortunately the shop had closed by this time so I'd have to wait until my next trip to London to see if I could find them again.
Luckily I din't have to wait for too long and was back in London a few weeks later for work. I raced to the Mount Street boutique but they didn't have the shoes I was looking for in any size and told me that there were in fact no 5.5s left in the whole of the UK... Noooooooo!! Again though, the girl in the shop was really helpful and told me that I should go back to Selfridges and try the size 5 because as they are suede they will stretch quite a lot. So off I went, back to Selfridges.
Back at Selfridges I tried the shoes in the size 5 and though they were snug the sales girl assured me that they would quickly stretch if I wore them in a bit before the big day. She also said that these were the last size 5s in the country and if I wanted the 5.5s I'd have to order them from the US, so that was it, I was clearly meant to have these shoes. I was sold! Credit card handed over, shoes boxed up and away I went with a smile on my face and a spring in my step, clutching my shoes protectively as I strolled back along Oxford Street.
I've had them a fair few months now and continue to get them out of the box from time to time to just stair lovingly at their beauty! I cannot wait to wear them over and over again after the wedding.
So next time I really will tell you about the dress!

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Weekend Walks No.3 - Leith Hill

So today we met up with our friends Izzy and Matt along with their dog Buzz for a walk around the Leith Hill area near Dorking. We found the walk in a book called 50 Walks in Surrey which is produced by the AA. Unfortunately I had a bit of a technology fail so don't have the usual statistics to share with you today, however I can tell you that we started at 11am and the book claims the walk was 5.25miles or 8.45km with one steep climb up to the tower at the top of Leith Hill at the very end.
The day had started off warm and sunny so I was just wearing a t-shirt and body-warmer which proved to be another fail - the weather quickly turned chilly and the wind was biting, leaving me with numb hands and a lot of goosebumps! The route was all well-worn paths and there were a lot of other walkers and mountain bikers out at the same time.
The bridge over nothing that leads to nowehere

The waterfall
We took the opportunity to stop at the Wotton Hatch pub for a bit of lunch - this happened to be almost exactly half way and as they serve lovely food it would have been rude not to. After our pit-stop we continued on our journey and made our way back along the Greensands Way which took us past a beautiful waterfall and then through the woods towards the tower.
The tower
The climb up to the tower is fairly steep but thankfully fairly short. Once at the tower we stopped for a quick drink and to take in the views which stretch all the way to the coast (on a clear day anyway!). 
360 degree view
The view south from Leith Hill
All that was left was to make our way back down the other side of the hill and back to the carpark.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Thursday Thanks No. 3

I'm a bit late in getting this out as I've been baking cakes to take into work tomorrow (it's my birthday), but now they're done and I owe some thanks to a few generous people who have donated over the last week or two.
Vanilla Sponge with Chocolate Buttercream

Firstly, a big thanks to Dr Andrew Knox, who just happens to be my oldest friend and possibly the most intelligent person I know. Love you!
Secondly I must thank Sonjeeta Mahapatra, thanks for you support. I look forward to the fundraising quiz in June.
And lastly Mrs Jane Noyce, my soon-to-be mother-in-law. I'm looking forward to some more training walks with you over the next few months.

I'm also doing a sweepstakes at work on the Grand National which runs this weekend, everyone has paid £2 per horse of which I am donating half to my fundraising and the other half will be split between the horses that come in 1st, 2nd and 3rd. So that's another £40 to add to the pot and I am now up to 25% of my target.
Thanks again to everyone that has contributed so far.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Tuesday Training No. 2 - Couch To 5k

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post I have started the Couch to 5k training program – now I am not a runner, I’m not built to run, nor do I particularly enjoy it, but I’ve always wanted to be able to. I’ve attempted running several times by entering a few 5k runs (Race for Life) and a 10k run (Help A London Child), and each time I have started training with good intentions but no real plan and each time I have given up about a week in and so ended up walking most of the routes on all occasions – poor effort! So after a friend told me that she wanted to run a half marathon this year I thought the least I could do was try and get myself up to being able to run 5k, and hopefully it will help with my Sahara training too.

If you’ve never heard of it the Couch to 5k program is designed to build beginners up to running 5k within about 8 weeks, it starts you off with short bursts of running (60secs) mixed with walking (90secs) in 30min batches and slowly builds you up to more running and less walking. I downloaded an app onto my iPod so that I could listen to my music at the same time – all the while being interrupted by the voice telling me when to run or walk. I started yesterday, (in the rain no less!) and actually didn’t feel too bad afterwards, so I think maybe my other training has been paying off. My thighs are pretty achy today and walking down stairs is proving tricky but as I didn’t fall over or pass out I’m feeling quite pleased with myself. Though I may never run a marathon I am determined to manage a full 5k in the not too distant future, and hopefully in 8 weeks time I will be able to tell you that I have done just that.

For all you runners out there, any hints and tips would be greatly appreciated!

Run no.2 is scheduled for tomorrow evening and tonight I’m booked in for a spin class – wish me luck!

Monday, 9 April 2012

A Week Off

I know, I know, I'm only 2 weeks in and already I'm taking a week off from training. Not good, right? However, I have my reasons, firstly I've been suffering from tendonitis of the Flexor Hallucis Longus which runs from the inside of the ankle, under the arch of the foot towards the big toe. I first experienced this after a serious ankle sprain back in Dec 2010 which took 6 months of physio and acupuncture to get back to normal. The tendonitis was an unfortunate side effect of the sprain and after a fairly minor ankle twist a few weeks ago it looks like I've triggered the tendon again. So I've been trying to rest it, which means no gym, no cycling and no walking :-( 
Also, it's Easter and my birthday next week, so I try and take the opportunity to get all of my friends together for a bit of a gathering at my house over the bank holiday weekend. Friends traveled from all over to join us and we had a full house for most of the weekend. We had a big BBQ on Saturday (even with the chilly weather!) that went on into the early hours of Sunday morning - sorry neighbours. There was much eating, drinking, laughing and catching up and I was sad to see everyone slowly disappear but it was definitely worth the hangover.
So those are my reasons (excuses) for not training this week, however I have just got back from a short run! I've decided to try the Couch to 5k program - more on that next time.
I'll be spending the rest of the day on the sofa recovering from the run and the weekend that came before it, so I hope you've enjoyed your Easter weekend as much as I have. x

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Weekend Walks No.2 - The Devil's Punchbowl, Hindhead

I've lived in Surrey for most of my life and somehow never been to The Devil's Punchbowl at Hindhead, driven past it many times but never actually stopped so we decided to give it a go. The day was cloudy and cool and we arrived at the National Trust carpark on the edge of the bowl just before 11am. We'd arranged to meet Andy's parents to join us for the walk and they arrived shortly after so off we went.

Stats as follows:
Date: 31/03/12
Start Time: 11:15am
Length: 5.8miles or 9.31km
Time: 1hrs 33mins
Average Speed: 5.97km/h
Temperature: 10C

The intention was to walk around 2 thirds of the top edge of the bowl and then descend into the centre and back up the other side, however we never found the point where we were supposed to come off the main path so just ended up doing the full round trip. Our route can be found here:
180 degree view from the view point
 The route took us along a variety of terrains ranging from tarmac to uneven loose rocks heading up and down a few small hills. It was fairly easy going and we made good time, there were nice views across the bowl from all sides which would have been even nicer if it hadn't been so overcast.

If you fancy doing the walk there are plenty of signposts and noticeboards along the way to keep you on track and give you some information about the surrounding area. The National Trust cafe serves a variety of food and drinks, or if you fancy something a little more substantial after your walk (as we did!) there is the Devil's Punchbowl pub on the other side of the road where you can fill up on some great pub grub.