Monday, 2 April 2012

Cycling in the sun!

I have discovered a new love - it's cycling!!

Now that's not as cringe-worthy as it sounds.... While I do enjoy the normal things about it - getting out in the spring sunshine, fresh air etc, they're not the only (or in fact main) reasons. What I love about it is that I can do what I would normally do in a day, i.e. yesterday:- I worked all day in Cardiff and then went straight to the pub to work the evening shift. Normally, no time to go to the gym, so no exercise. But with the bicycle.....I cycled 7 miles! So I burnt nearly 500 calories AND got some fresh air.

Today I met my friend Helen for brunch at Tinto Lounge on Gloucester road, it was gorgeous; the staff couldn't be friendlier and the coffee and food was divine. What was better was that I cycled there and burnt off the calories of my bacon sandwich! I've been pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to cycle between places in Bristol, and also how the hills don't seem quite so bad in practice as they do when you imagine them!

I also met Ellie at the King's Arms on Whiteladies road later in the day (more cycling and calorie earning thank you) and had two delicious Kir Royales for a very bargain-ous price of £3.00 each. I always love the decor here:

After a skype chat with my sister, what more could a girl wish for on a Sunday?

Oh, the house is still a mess. Oops.

Mothers' Day and Sunshine

For mothers' day this year I wanted to treat my mummy, but as she was dieting making a cake/chocolates/dinner wasn't going to cut it. I saw this recipe for a Lemon Body Scrub on the Beauty Department after a link from one of my faithfully-read beauty blogs - unfortunately I can't remember which one! It's so easy I urge anyone to give it a try! The oil stops the sugar from dissolving when you add the lemon, so be sure to do it in that order!

I have the sweet lemon body scrub from the Body Shop which I really love, but this is much cheaper, and another benefit is (when made with sugar) that you can eat it! It's actually delicious but probably very calorific....!  It had separated a bit by the time I left on Mothers' day so maybe a little less lemon next time, but I'm sure with a quick shake it will be fine. I obviously haven't tried this one but I'll be getting a maternal report soon! In theory the sugar dissolves in the water as you massage it into the skin so there are no bits to clog up the drain, and the oil is left behind to provide huge post-shower moisture! There are many variations of this out on the internet and I will definitely be trying it again before I repurchase the Body Shop one!

A few other bits and bobs from the sunshine:

The gorgeous tulips that are growing in my garden
Sunshine on the downs

My current craving - Fish Finger sandwiches!! A-ma-zing.

London Baby!

Last week I went up to London for some training - for both my jobs and I managed to book them on consecutive days. Michael was also speaking at a conference the day before so we managed to book three consecutive nights in a hotel together :) It was lovely to spend some time together. After the conference on Tuesday we went for a walk down by London Bridge and then for a drink in the pub.

After that we then traipsed all the way to the strand looking for a chinese restaurant for dinner, and ended up in Wetherspoons!! Not our finest moment, although it was a tres bargain. We vowed to book the Frontline Club for the following day as Michael loves it there but I've never been. We snuggled up back at the hotel room with an episode of MasterChef on's the little things we miss!

On the Wednesday I had some training in Islington and finished at 4, so I popped over to Oxford street! I bought two little dresses for £13 each, as the weather was gorgeous and I wasn't at all prepared! I was a rather sweaty mess to be honest and was due to meet Michael for a nice dinner so picked up another outfit. One is a white with narrow blue stripes in a stretch jersey, it's tight-waisted with a flared skirt so nice and flattering! The skirt is striped diagonally so good for slimming. The other is a loose cotton floaty number, with spaghetti straps and a drawstring waist. It has a peplum style frill along the bust line and is super comfy. Unfortunately there are no photos on the website for me to link to and my versions are in the wash... so no pictures!

The next tricky part turned out to be dinner - Michael had attempted to book online but it turned out that it hadn't gone through. So no Frontline Club for us! We did some googling at a nearby pub and settled on a City-Eating deal at Boulevard brasserie in Covent Garden. It was absolutely lovely - starters of calamari and foie gras, followed by Boeuf Bourguignon and then shared a creme brulee for pudding. All topped off with an enormous Kir Royale and coffee for less than £25 each! Lovely.

On Thursday I travelled over to the Institute of Psychiatry in Denmark Hill for training number two, and then met with my stunning friend Jessica for lunch in marble arch. We went to Wasabi and picked up a really yummy bento box with chicken and edamame beans. It was delish and made me wish we had one in Bristol!

All in all, a lovely (although tiring!) three days :)

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Why hello there!

Oh dear, I've been a bit behind with blogging - life has just become rather hectic! So, a life catch up...
A couple of weeks ago my rather wonderful friend Ellie came round on a Friday night for, what I thought was, a couple of drinks down the pub. However she was clearly up for a 'proper' night out, so off we went! We started in the Oak in Clifton, then Amoeba, then Park bar on the triangle. Here are a few pics;

Laura and Ellie
Everybody say 'awww' -
Laura and boyfriend Andrew
The girls! Laura, Ellie and I
Amoeba - Me, Lee and Ellie
I like this one :)
The end of the night in my bed!
Ellie was asleep in 15 seconds flat.
At this point I was eating a yoyo burger...
with extra garlic mayo. Classy.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Out with Clinique, in with Boots No.7 'Beautiful Skin'

I have a smelly job application to do tonight, so I did a bit of self-bribery with some new purchases. Nic's post on double cleansing at Strawberry Blonde Beauty triggered some thoughts on my skincare routine - I really struggle with my skin. My face isn't too bad but I periodically struggle with REALLY bad acne on my back.

For a while now I've been using Clinque's anti-blemish three-step system, but my facial skin is dry with some breakouts, not oily and I find that the Clinique system is quite drying. You're supposed to use it twice a day, but even when my skin is at it's worst blemish-wise it feels like it would fall off if I did that! I do use the cleansing foam on my back and find that it does help if it's playing up. It is good for my face when I'm a spot-covered monster but I can't really use it in between.

I'm also lazy with make-up removal. I rely on face wipes and a bit of moisturiser before bed and then cleanse in the shower in the morning - but only if I'm washing my hair as I don't want to get my fringe wet....I know, it's naughty. I've been reading up on skincare and acne, thanks to this article from British Beauty Blogger and thinking that perhaps the issue is not controlling excess oil, but dry skin cells and slightly oversized pores. Clinique does not seem to offer an adequate solution to this. I've been using the 7 day scrub but again I only do this when I'm in the shower and washing my hair - it feels great for a short while afterwards, but it's not meant to be used every day and the effects don't seem to last - probably because I'm letting make up and grime build up. Nic (SBB) said that now she's started double cleansing, the little bumps under her skin have started to go, and mine have been annoying me, my skin doesn't feel soft and smooth - rather slightly scaly! I'm only 24!

So I had some time to kill today while waiting for a bus home and popped into Boots. There is a 3 for 2 on No.7 at the moment so it seemed like the perfect time to pick up a new skin care regime, although I am absolutely broke....! The nice lady behind the counter scanned a £5 voucher for me even though I didn't have one though, which was great, and I bought a month's worth of Berocca, also on 3 for 2, with my advantage points!

My purchases: Firstly I bought the Hot Cloth Cleanser. I've used Liz Earle in the past; I really liked the feel of it on my skin (and the smell!), and using the exfoliating cloth. I also loved that I could use it to take my eye make-up off without any sting. However it did make my blemishes worse at the time - I think this is because I scrubbed too hard, not really understanding that I was aggravating my already irritated skin. So I have resolved to try again with No.7 (not least because it's only £10, compared to £24 for the Liz Earle equivalent size). I will report back when I've used it!

Secondly I bought the beautiful skin hydration mask - Ellie brought this round on valentine's day and I really liked it. I'm excited to use it again :) Hopefully I'll finish my job application and then be able to use it tonight!

Last but not least I bought the Normal/Dry Skin day cream. I wanted the night cream but they'd run out, so I got the day version. This might have been a good idea anyway as all this extra moisture might be too much, with a rich night cream being the last straw! We'll have to see - check back for updates :)

I was also met by this fantastic view on my way home:- 

Not only are daffodils popping up inside our garden, but also outside the side of the house! 

I love spring.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Week 2 of long distance 2012.

Michael was home for the weekend, and we spent a lovely day together yesterday - we ate too much and I began my quarter-life crisis - but we were together, and there was sunshine and cuddles. It was even warm enough to have our first meal in our garden!

However this morning I had to drop him at the station at 4.50am to get his train back to London for work (super-off-peak tickets expire at 5.00) - not fun, and resulted in me coming home to an empty bed and not being able to sleep until 20 minutes before my 7.45 alarm went off. I was on the bus at 8.24 though - that is pretty good going!

As I said in the blurb Michael and I met at school, but having been together for less than three months Michael went away to Reading for university. He's a year older than me so I stayed in Bristol to finish my A levels, and then went off to Sussex to do my degree. So the first four years of our relationship were conducted across many train lines and many weekends. We saw each other every two to three weeks, and the only time we went more than four was when I was in Ghana for five. Again, apart from a few days between calls in Ghana due to the expense, and maybe the really occasional day when one of us has been abroad elsewhere, if we've not been together we have spoken every day on the phone/skype/face-time for the last...*quick google - yes there's an app for this*... 2436 days, or 6 years, 8 months and 1 day (In fact it's even more than that because we were talking on the phone every day before we got together!).

Obviously this is not going to change because Michael is on a three-month secondment but I have really got used to actually seeing him practically every day for the last 555 days, or 1 year, 6 months and 8 days (This date calculation thing is a bit addictive...). I don't really know how to go to bed on my own anymore, I stay up until 2am when I got up at 4.30...what's that about?? My sister and her boyfriend are thousands of miles apart while she lives in the states, and I know that the time difference means they can't speak every day so I am really lucky. Not to mention those bereaved or in the forces and away for huge periods of time - I really do understand that I'm lucky. 

But I miss him.

And it SUCKS. 


Sunday, 11 March 2012

Busy Saturday!

Michael was home for the Bristol university Discover event, where he ran an exhibit teaching game theory to children - it went really well if this testimony is anything to go by!

As for me, well what a day!! I would have gone with Michael but I didn't know he was coming back for it until I'd already made plans. I managed to leave my phone at home, so only one photo :( but this was my gorgeous day:

12.00 Lunch with the gorgeous Hannah on her way back from Haverfordwest (at Boston Tea Party - obvs). We were able to sit outside in the sunshine which was HEAVENLY. 

14.00 View a cyclist go straight through the rear windscreen of a car at a zebra crossing, attempt to assist with first aid and give details to policemen.

15.00 Driving loop of Bristol to show Hannah - Clifton, Park Street, St Augustine's Parade, Gloucester Road, Henleaze, home.

16.00 Collect forgotten phone and get bus back into town.... (hmpf)

17.30 Meet Jules for coffee, seeing her for the first time in, I think, two years(?!), guessed it, Boston Tea Party - but this time in Clifton (variety is the spice of life). Lovely to catch up with her :) very exciting that she is FINALLY moving in with her boyfriend of more than 6 years! Then I hitched a lift around Bristol with Jules' family, directing them down to Temple Meads to collect her brother and then they dropped me off outside my next destination!

19.30 Dinner with Michael, Nick, Ramona, Matt and Robyn at Cafe Rouge. Food was ok, but not great. We had a bad experience there a few months ago with breakfast and I'm not sure this has persuaded me to go back more often!

21.30 Drinks with the delightful Emily for her pre-birthday at Illusions on the triangle. Michael by this point, was absolutely hanging from his first week of work in London followed by a 10 hour public engagement day so we only stayed for one, but it was great to see Emily and take this rather fetching photo!

It was so lovely to catch up with some old friends, including ones that I haven't seen for ages, and celebrate with some local ones :)

All in all, a truly fab weekend after a rather shitty week. Thanks world :)

Week 1 of long distance 2012

Firstly daffodils growing in our garden - a surprise as we obviously didn't plant them! There appear to be crocuses and tulips trying to pop up too! :)

They look a little droopy here, but we've had some rain and now they are perky and perdy :)

Saturday 3rd March
Sunny road trip to Amersham in our new car to drop Michael off, complete with a Boston Tea Party picnic - YUM. It's only fitting to send Michael off with a package from one of our favourite haunts.

Sunday 4th March
Horrid drive home in the SNOW! Yes snow, and hail, I was inappropriately dressed and everything. I sought refuge with lunch in Camilla's beautiful new home with her boyfriend Adam - it is absolutely gorgeous :)

Monday 5th March
Ellie came over for dinner (roast chicken and sweet potatoes) and I made iced buns for the work charity cake sale.

In the oven
Cooked buns

They turned out really well, the recipe is easy but it takes a while because they have to prove TWICE. Starting them at 10.30 was an error - I finished icing them at 2am.

Finished and decorated with lemon icing!

Boxed for transportation
The cake sale made over £100 for the charity though, so that was great - and all of my buns sold! 

Tuesday 6th March
I found out that it's very unlikely that I got my PhD funding. Pretty rubbish day. I went for drinks and dinner with my lovely friend Bekki though - I forgot to take any photos (typical) but I blame that on my rather low mood.

We went to Goldbrick House on Park Street as Bekki had a voucher - it's pretty pricey but with 25% off the total bill we did really well! I had lamb wellington, which was delicious, and Bekki had mussels - also good, and we split a bottle of wine. We also had a bottle of wine in the pub beforehand to commiserate a) my failure, and b) commemorate Bekki getting through a particularly crappy week at work, and the whole lot (in both establishments) cost less than £30 each :)

The journey home was a complete nightmare - I missed multiple buses due to mis-signing and it was cold and late. I was also rather upset due to my rubbish day so spent quite a while in tears on the phone to Michael. It was destined to be this week, the first week he's not here, when I find out bad news.

Wednesday 7th March
Confirmation of no PhD funding.

I went to the cinema with Mummy and saw 'The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel', great cast, beautiful scenery and a sweet story. Very enjoyable.

Thursday 8th March and Friday 9th March
Just ordinary days followed by work at the pub - I feel like I haven't seen the girls for a while so that was nice. I weighed in on Friday morning and managed to only gain .4lb, which I'm pretty happy with given my recent wine/restaurant consumption! No wonder my bank balance is looking a bit sickly.....

Michael came home on Friday too and came to meet me at the pub :)

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Sunday night dinner and a birthday with the girls :)

Last Sunday after the weekend of work (25th) Michael and I had two friends over for dinner, which was lovely. They brought champagne and Michael made a delicious dinner of roast chicken followed by coffee and black cherry cake, which was particularly amazing!

Michael is a good baker and has been perfecting his skills over the last year or so...I have to say I think this might have been his best yet! It certainly helped that we had it with lashings of single cream :)

He made a second one to take into the office and that one also got rave reviews!

As one of the guests was an economist (Michael's former teacher nonetheless!) it was inevitable that the white board came out for an explanation... This one was of Nash equilibrium - non stop fun at our dinner parties!!

On Wednesday evening I went out with some girlfriends for a 24th birthday! We had dinner at zero degrees in Bristol; the food was good - Alex and I shared a caramelised pear and goats cheese pizza, and a parma ham and parmesan one. Easily could have shared one between us as they were huge! As an indication of the feeling of the evening here is our bill;

Mostly wine...oops!

Catherine/Birthday girl!


I had a lovely time - Catherine lives away so we don't see her very much, it was great to have a proper catch up :)

Monday, 5 March 2012


So the reason that I have had to work so much the last couple of weeks is because we had weekend training for potential foster carers. On the Saturday I got to take the birth children to Slimbridge Wildlife and Wetlands Trust. The weather was absolutely beautiful and the kids were all well behaved so I had a lovely day! Here are a few pics...

The centre

The predator of the 'duckoy'  - it turns out
that ducks follow a threat, so this young'un leads
them into the net so they can be caught

A small part of the net tube
The duck hut...

The duck caught in the 'duckoy' being ringed

Ringing in progress

The map of where birds ringed at Slimbridge end up in the world

They were gorgeous, particularly in the sun