Showing posts from January, 2016

#xaxphotoaday Days 16-31

January felt like a seriously long month, and I've got to admit to feeling a bit down in the dumps on more than one occasion.

I think the Photo a Day challenge saved my Instagram from being bare and bleak this month, and enjoyed having to think about the prompts every day.

My round-up of the first half of the month is HERE, and here are days 16 to 31:

Day 16: New love

Day 17: Comfort food

Day 18: My mood

Day 19: Cosy clothes

Day 20: On my table

Day 21: New me

Day 22: Winter wonderland

Day 23: Where I slept

Day 24: Together

Day 25: A resolution

Day 26: To do

Day 27: Guilty pleasure

Day 28: Me today

Lessons on commuting to Oxford Street

When I moved to London in August, it was for a new job.
My office is just off Oxford Street.
I like to think that was me throwing myself in at the deep end, ‘doing London properly’. To be right in the centre of the city, on one of the busiest shopping streets around, was me entering into the heart of this exciting, busy city.
Commuting to and from Oxford Street has taught me a few lessons over the last few months.
Here are my top five: People can be really rude. And apparently have zero awareness that there are any other people anywhere near them. Either that or they just don’t care about anyone else, and believe themselves to be the most important people in the universe.Oxford Street at around 7am can be pretty great. Especially if there’s a nice sunrise that day. It’s quiet, it’s open and the world is waking up.Oxford Street at around 5pm is horrible. My walk from the office to the tube is downright unbearable, which is not what you want after a day in the office. Let me get home!Lo…

No spoilers, please

Today on Twitter I saw a major spoiler for the new episode of Pretty Little Liars.
My first reaction was extreme annoyance – it was released on UK Netflix today so those of us that work during the day can’t watch it until at least this evening.
And it was a big plot spoiler, too, complete with screenshots.
Ironically, it was from someone who always complains about other people tweeting spoilers but that’s another discussion…
And then what did I do?
I got over it.

Just because I haven’t had a chance to watch something yet doesn’t mean I can stop the rest of the world from talking about it.
Yes, people who go out of their way to spoil tv shows and films are NOT NICE PEOPLE, but if someone is tweeting an opinion on something they’ve seen, they have every right to do that.
When I see people ranting and raving on twitter about people ‘giving away’ results on things like X Factor or the Bake Off, it just makes me laugh.
You can’t expect the world to go silent and wait until you personally …

Doubletree by Hilton, Docklands Riverside

January is a long month.
It can also be a pretty miserable one – payday was ages ago, the weather isn’t summery, and people are struggling to stick to their resolutions.
So when offered up an amazing January sale, it seemed rude to ignore the opportunity for a bit of luxury to help the journey to the end of the month.
Doubletree by Hilton, Docklands Riverside is a beautiful hotel. I’ve stayed at the London Ealing Doubletree before, and have to say my second visit to the hotel group was no disappointment.
The hotel comprises of two of three separate buildings, right by the river, joined by tunnels that feel like you’re on a luxury cruise ship. The communal areas are huge, with enormous windows letting in natural light, complete with exposed brick walls and wooden details.
My reservation was for a Queen room, and I have to admit I was unimpressed to find a bed you’d barely call a double in the room. On returning to the check-in desk, it was confirmed the booking had been dow…

The Woman in Black

Let me start by saying that yesterday’s trip to see The Woman in Black wasn’t my first. Or my second. Or my third.
According to my last count I think it was viewing number six.
But I've never seen it in its West End home, never before sat three rows back from the stage, and not been for the last three years, so managed to justify another trip.
The Woman in Black is one of those shows many people have seen; it’s got a (well-deserved) fantastic reputation, and is celebrating 25 years in the West End.

Stephen Mallatratt’s adaptation of Susan Hill’s wonderful novel manages to maintain the tension and atmosphere of the original tale and delight and terrify audience after audience.
I feel like it’s one of those shows you have to see to understand its impact. When I tell people it’s effectively two men and a wicker basket, and really scary, I can see why some just look a little confused.
But the way this script is put together, and the way that combines with slick lighting, clever sound…

A Quick Post-Work Dinner Trip: Zizzi, O2 branch

Italian food is always a good idea.

Anyone who knows me knows to suggest an Italian if we're going out for dinner, and there are so many chain restaurants that do it pretty well.

Zizzi is a personal favourite, and after a long work day last week, we headed there for some much-needed comfort food.
It was my first trip to the O2 branch, and I was impressed. Zizzi restaurants have a really distinctive decorative style, and this one is no exception. They always fill the space really well without it feeling crowded.
The open kitchens are always a feature, and I always enjoy being able to see the chefs doing their work.

We started with the garlic and rosemary bread, which I've got to say was much more crunchy than I would have liked, but the flavour was delicious.
The mains we ordered were a classic Margherita pizza (I'm always the simple, predictable one), and a calzone with chicken and spinach.

The food was delicious, and the service efficient and friendly.

When you're hea…

When your Baby Sister turns 20

Today, my baby sister turns 20.


Not a baby any more, is she?

That sounds like a 'proper' adult, not a teenager any more.

So, because 20 is a nice, round number and a list is always a good thing, here are 20 things that make her great:

She's strong-minded. She's a hard worker.She 's the best dancer I know (by miles).She wanted to become better at Spanish, so she moved there for a year.She throws herself into everything.She arranged a huge show for Childline yearly from the ages of 11-16.She's loyal to her friends (even when they're not being the best friends).She worked hard all summer, sometimes 7 days a week, to save up for a month-long trip to Peru.She's a great cook.She's one of the funniest people I know.She's got her head screwed on and knows how the world works.She doesn't give up.She adapts: her situation in Madrid at first wasn't deal, so she changed it.She goes into schools, running assemblies and workshops for Childline.…

The Reading List #34

How do you choose which book to read next?
I read such a wide range of ‘types’ of books, both novels and non-fiction, that it can sometimes seem pretty overwhelming settling on the one book you’re going to read next.

Below are my latest mini-reviews.

What’s Stopping You? Robert Kelsey

A book about understanding your fears, accepting who you are and negotiating obstacles, this reads like a white paper. It pulls together years of research and theories, with Kelsey providing his own highlights and tips. The main focus is on overcoming fear of failure, and the book outlines seven key steps to attempting this. This was an interesting read, and pulled together a whole collection of books of this nature, so provides a nice little overview of ideas in the field.

How to Build a Girl, Caitlin Moran

Although this is a work of fiction, it has the same distinctive tone as Moran’s other books. It’s a story of growing up and of self-discovery. Though claiming to be the story of many teenage girls of a par…

One Year Ago: A Daunting Trip

Storytime today! Because one year ago today was potentially one of the most nerve-wracking days of my life.
At the beginning of January, I had started a new job based just south of Manchester. I knew I would be working with both my office and colleagues in the London office, but I don’t think it had quite registered that that would involve trips to London.
You see, at that point, the only trains I had managed post-anxiety were 5 minute local-stopping trains. I had never travelled to London alone. I’d only been there a handful of times in my life. I’d never stayed alone in a hotel, apart from trips with family where I was maybe in a room next door to my parents.
I was doing pretty well in terms of my anxiety, but those were still big hurdles.
Anyway, when it was dropped into conversation that I’d be making my first trip to the London office in a couple of weeks, I replied just as casually that yes, of course that was fine.
It would have to be! I knew I would find a way to make it ok, becaus…

Something has clicked

Just a quick post today, but one to say: I think I've cracked it.

The whole 'being healthy' thing.

As in, I've not changed my life, but the willpower and motivation I've been lacking have made an appearance.

For a while now, the last 6 to 12 months in particular, I've not been feeling great.

I've defaulted to foods I know aren't good for me, my only exercise has been walking to and from the tube, and I wasn't really doing anything about it.

But I was sad about it.

I was complaining about it. Maybe internally, but I knew I wasn't happy.

I felt lethargic, heavy, unfit. My clothes all felt just a tiny bit too tight.

But in the last couple of weeks, something has clicked,

Rather than moaning and making half-hearted attempts to change, I've committed.

I know changing my bad habits will take time, but the willpower is there.

Something inside me has said 'enough is enough'.

Last week, I was turning down cake, biscuits and cookies. And I did…

The Finishing Touches

Before moving to London I had my own flat. A whole flat of my own things, and a space that was fully my own. Now I’m in London, rent costs mean I’m in a shared house, and there’s a lot of adjusting that’s had to be done!
The main differences / difficulties I’ve found are in another post, but I wanted to show some of the ways I’ve tried to make my new space homely, and personal to me.
When you’ve got limited space, it can be difficult to avoid feeling crowded and cluttered. I’m lucky in that my room is spacious, but it’s still only one room.
I tried to make sure I brought enough things with me to give my room those personal touches, without displaying everything I’d had in my flat and ending up drowning in ‘stuff’ there was no room for.
I had a pretty ruthless clearout before moving, so was quite restrained with the amount of decorative ‘bits and bobs’ I brought with me. One reason was car and room space, and the other was that I didn’t know how much storage space I would have in my n…

The Homecoming

Today’s theatre review moves away from the world of musicals and into some classic Harold Pinter. I bought tickets for the 50th anniversary production of The Homecoming for my dad for his birthday, and yesterday was the day we took our seats at Trafalgar Studio One.
Produced by the Jamie Lloyd Theatre Company, directed by Lloyd himself, this production is a masterpiece. Pinter’s style is so distinctive, and his characters so precise, that it’s easy to do wrong, but phenomenal when ‘done right’.

This production has a cast of the highest calibre, and I believe we saw them doing some of their very best work. Ron Cook’s Max was just perfect, bristling with tension and complaining like a man who has lived his life hard-done-to. His monologues in particular were superb, and his heavy breathing after a particularly violent moment was eerie. Sam, played by Keith Allen, juxtaposed his brother excellently, providing light relief and a depth of character hinting at years of moments like the one…

My Favourite Musicals

I’m a theatre-lover, especially when it comes to musicals. One outcome of that is that I regularly get asked by friends and family for recommendations, and what my favourites are.
I think I’ve now done it. I’ve come up with my top five. Well, I was aiming for five and ended up with five plus two 'special mentions', but that’s close enough. Three are, in fact, shows which I only saw for the first time within the past six months, which quickly cemented their place in my favourites.
These aren’t in any particular order as ranking them is too hard, but here is my list:
Of course. I love, love, love this show. This potentially wins out in my favourite soundtrack award, and I just love the story. It’s an intricate storyline and so cleverly tells the prequel of The Wizard of Oz. I went with my mum when it first came to London. I went with my friend Rosie and her housemate back in April, and I went in Manchester when it was on tour with my dad only a month or so later. I wouldn’t b…

#xaxphotoaday Days 1-15

I was fairly late to the Instagram game and am still getting in the swing of things, so Amelia's (x Amelia x) Photo a Day January Challenge seemed a great idea.
There's a daily prompt, and so far I've only been late on one day, which I don't think is too bad...
If you're taking part, leave me your Instagram name so I can have a nosy!
Here's my photo round-up of days 1 to 15:-
Day One: New Year's Morning
Day Two: Mirror Image
Day Three: My Inspiration
Day Four: White
Day Five: Outside
Day Six: A Winter Favourite
Day Seven: Smile
Day Eight: New Year's Focus
Day Nine: Important People
Day Ten: In My Bag
Day Eleven: Blue
Day Twelve: My World Today Day Thirteen: A New Year Treat
Day Fourteen: 3.35PM
Day Fifteen: Warmth