Molly&Mavis – Losing the Inspiration

When I first started this particular blog, I wrote a post about my creative inspiration and where the name came from.  Molly was my gorgeous Cocker Spaniel between 18 months and 12 years old.  She was our first real family pet that I remember.  She was beautiful and loving but was more for my mum and dad than for me.  Mavis were partners in crime.  Maisy, our little yappy Yorkie and Javis, the class clown of Cocker Spaniels.  He was my little brother, and my boy.  Molly passed away when I was 12, Maisy in November 2016 and 8 months later, we’ve lost Jarvis too.  He died last week of Canine Lymphoma, which we had no idea he was suffering with until the week prior.

As sombre as is the start of this blog post, the rest of it is filled with memories and love and pictures of Molly&Mavis, some of the best inspiration I could have been given.  Losing a pet can be as hard as losing a relative.  They become your life and you become theirs.  We spend so much of our time with them, devote so much of our lives to them and love you receieve in return is something kind of wonderful.

I’ve been lucky to grow up with animals from being a baby and it’s been one of the best things my parents could have given me.  My pets have taught me to have patience (you need it at those testing puppy stages!), to look after something (living!), to love (there really was nothing like Jarvis’) to have commitment to something (from being a tot) and discipline (both for me and the dogs!).  They’ve made me howl with laughter through the years, Jarvis in particular, and cry in pain (Molly once got in the way of hot coffe, my dad and my back!) and sadness (in losing them).  Having a pet is time consuming, it’s expensive and it’s hard work, but man it’s worth it.  If you have the time, and make sure you do, to commit to something as special as an animal, do it.  Give them all the love you have because in return man really does get a best friend.

Molly&Mavis might have chased a ball off in to the doggy afterlife, but we will continue to make them proud in writing, creating and making.  I might even have to start a sideline project after our rescue cats Lancelot&Walter…Watch this space.

x

p.s. Please, please, please get pets responsibly.  They deserve love and attention, don’t take something on without reading up about it first.  Too many pets end up in rescue centres because people don’t have the time.  Think long and hard about this commitment first.

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Wedding Do’s and Don’ts Part 3: The Minimoon

Becoming the new Mrs Walker.jpg

We didn’t have time to ‘come down’ from our wedding cloud for some time, as two days after the wedding, we flew to Naples to stay in Sorrento on the gorgeous Amalfi Coast.  This is a special place, folks.  Worth all of the hype and praise it’s been given over the years.  It wasn’t our first time in Italy, visiting Milan in June 2016, and it certainly won’t be our last.

Steeped in ancient history and home to Pompeii and Herculaneum, the Amalfi Coast is packed with colour, vibrancy and style.  Each town has it’s own charm, views and coastline.  The food is fresh, traditional and lovingly made.  The people are friendly, warm and caring.  Follow my ‘Top 5 things to do on the Amalfi Coast’ below and you won’t be disappointed.

5 – Partake in a glass of Limoncello

A must if you’re staying along the Amalfi Coast.  Famed for it’s fruit trees, the coast, Gulf of Naples and Sorrento Penisula boasts some of the best fruit, especially lemons, in Italy.  This Italian liqueur is an aquired taste, but can be used to accompany desserts (try pouring it over some traditional gelato), enjoyed after a meal, or simply enjoyed as an evening tipple.  It’s everywhere along the coast and can be picked up at reasonable priced in each town.  Well worth trying if you’ve never tasted it before and makes a lovely present for loved ones on your return.

4 – Take a boat trip along the coast

During our time in Sorrento, we organised a day long drive down the coast, visiting Positano, Amalfi and Ravello.  The tour itself was lovely and the views were stunning, but it wasn’t until out at sea that we saw it from another angle.  Bobbing along on a boat ride, for a very reasonable 12 euro, you see the jagged cliff faces, the choppy seas and the incredible wealth of Sophia Loren’s old villa.  Seeing the coast from different angles, shows many different perspectives and is well worth the money, time and effort.  It was absolutely breathtaking and joyful to be out on the waves.

Below are some images of Ms Loren’s extravagent villa, where she built a helipad, tennis courts and a cable car to help her get around.  The old watch tower on the edge of the coast was once lived in by blue eyes himself, Paul Newman.

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3 – Take in the postcard picture of Positano

Positano

Positano was our shortest stop of the town and coast trip.  It’s the postcard shot of the Amalfi Coast, with it’s colourful buildings and houses built in to the steep cliff face.  Whilst it can take some time to get from the car parks down to the sea front, it’s well worth taking a stroll down through the winding streets, popping in to the fancy shops and getting that photo finish from the bridge by the boats.  We had just enough time to grab a coffee, before climbing back up through the heat, past the lemon sorbet sellers, to get back to our transport….but wasn’t it worth it?…

2 – Visit Ravello 

Hidden away in the greenery of the coast is the hill town of Ravello.  A peaceful town, home to gardens, Ravello outdoor festival and some of the most incredible views, Ravello is not to be missed.  It was a gorgeous place to visit, steep though some parts are, it’s well worth putting some comfy soles on and having a good ol’ wander around the village.  Home to gorgeous villas, cafes, umbrella trees and a gorgeous square, spend an hour or two taking in the hillside breeze and shade under the trees with a coffee – or cold beer depending on the heat.  Quite a distance, though it is from Sorrento, you won’t be sorry making a stop here.

1 – Visit Pompeii AND Herculaneum

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Panoramic of Pompeii Town Square

For those of you who may not know the story of Mount Vesuvius, here is a very quick synopsis…

In AD 79 a young Roman boy told his eyewitness account of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, the now famous volcano dictating the Amalfi skyline.  He told of the sky going dark and a cloud of volcanic ash and pyroclastic materials rising from the volcano, which we now know settled on the towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum, devasting the lives of many – the total number is still unknown.  Pompeii is the most famous of the two towns, as Herculaneum was discovered later.  Townsfolk died from the heat of the materials by thermic shock and inhilation of the particles.  Though many people will tell you to visit Pompeii, Herculaneum is also incredibly impressive and you’ll see why below.

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Herculaneum overlooked by Mount Vesuvius

Herculaneum

Only one third of this incredible city has been excavated as it was discovered too late and had already been built on top of.  Walking around you can see the degree of devastation to the city and it’s inhabitants as the buildings are still caked in the pyroclastic materials, making it too difficult to keep on digging.  What’s left of the city is easy enough to get around and I would recommend doing both with a guide, as they are able to give you tonnes of incredible information and answer any questions.  Here we walked through homes, shops and public toilets – even swimming baths.  Due to the extent of pyroclastic dust that fell on the city, it’s been preserved much more successfully than pompeii.  Wall muriels can still be seen, paintings, shop advertisements, see below, it’s actually unbelievable.  The ruins which were once a coastal settlement, now sit 5km away from the coast, due to all that fell from Vesuvius.

Pompeii

There are vast and very impressive ruins in Pompeii.  You can walk through the streets, meet at the different fountains and see just how advanced the Romans were.  Find out about how to differentiate between a shop and a home dwelling, how carts knew to stop for pedestrian walkways and how African slaves and foreign visitors picked from menus on the walls in brothels.  The infamous plaster of paris moulds from adults, children and dogs can been seen, along with hundreds of pristine pots and vases.

If you’re visiting the Amalfi Coast, Gulf of Naples or anywhere in trip distance / public transport to these spots, you would be daft to miss this opportunity.  Even if history isn’t your thing, these sites are two of the most incredibly preserved pieces of history that I have ever seen.  Learning purely about the people and what the Romans thought of is impressive enough, let alone the paintings, buildings and ruins themselves.

The Amalfi Coast is talked about for good reason.  It’s not cheap, but it’s certainly not to be missed.  It’s a beautiful place, with gorgeous views and bucket loads of history!

What are you waiting for – get on that jet!

x

Wedding Do’s and Don’ts Part 2: The Big Day

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Five weeks have passed since I became a ‘Mrs’.  Life has gone back to normal, though I’m still being asked, ‘How’s married life?’…Truth be told, it’s exactly the same as non-married life, which, as my fellow recently married friend pointed out at the weekend, can only be a good thing.  We’ve been together for seven years and lived together for four years, so we’re quite used to habits, lifestyles and irritations.  I make it sound dull and boring, but after the past few months, this is exactly what I needed, but that’s not to say that the big day wasn’t truly the best day of our lives so far.

The day started with a downpour, which is apparently lucky, and being woken up by my parent’s one year old cat, Lancelot.  I was surprisingly calm the whole day, that’s not to say that I didn’t get irritable and stressed the night before, but I surprised myself, never mind everyone else.  I learned a lot about myself during this process and if I could roll it all up in to my ‘Top Ten – Do’s and Don’ts’ this is what I would tell you…

10 – Be Prepared

My husband (naww!) proposed to me 18 months before the big day arrived and boy was I happy to wait.  The longer we waited to get hitched, the longer I had to plan.  I knew I was going to be hard work at some stages, largely down to my anxiety, but also down to the simple fact that I’m a complete control freak (see The Planning Stages).  However, when it came down to the day, the service and the reception, it absolutely played in our favour.  All we could do was relax.  Everyone knew where to be, where to go, what to do and what we wanted.  By the morning of, it was completely out of my hands and, having planned everything so far ahead, I knew I’d thought of everything.  It gave me a chance to take it all in and be prepared for anything out of the ordinary.

9 – If you like Pina Coladas and getting caught in the rain…

If it rains, who cares.  I thought it would be the be all and end all of my day, but it really wasn’t.  At times it was heavy and at others we could sit in the sunshine.  Get your photographer (whether professional or not – like ours!) to turn your pictures in to black and white pieces that Ansel Adams would be proud of.  It doesn’t dampen anyone’s mood, spirit or enjoyment of the day.  I didn’t see any one of our guests without a smile throughout the whole day, rain or shine.  Your day will be perfect whatever the weather and is what you make it!

Do a B*Witched and blame it on the weather man 😉

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One of many black and white shots, courtesy of my big brother

8 – Don’t get caught up trying to keep your dress sparkling ivory!

If I could do any part of the day again it would be to get ready, with my hair all done up and put that dress on again.  It was just perfect.  It made me feel like a queen for a day.  It wasn’t over the top, in fact quite the opposite, but it was the most magical thing I’ve ever put on.  I was so scared of the rain ruining it, mud getting on the bottom and getting something spilled on it.  When I spotted that our environmentally friendly confetti was marking it blue, pink and purple, I nearly died.  Then I thought of looking at it afterwards and remembering everyone throwing the confetti, the rain, the brollies and laughing.  I had many a bride at the wedding and they told me to relax, get it dry-cleaned if I needed to and to just enjoy the day without worrying about the dress.  I did and I’m glad I did.

I can’t wait to have it tailored in to something else so that I can wear it again.

7 – Do try and thank as many people as you can…

Sounds obvious and boring for the bride and groom but it means so much to everyone.  Make time for your guests, don’t stress about not getting through everyone, but make an effort to speak to as many people as you can.  I did this whilst they changed the room from day to disco, get a drink, sit down and have a natter.  Don’t like a song that’s on?  Grab someone and say thank you.  For us, it was more about the distance people had traveled to be with us and them having spent money to be there.  They deserved to be acknowledged and after all, the people there really make your day special, so take some time and pull up a chair.

6 – Get some comfy night-time sneaks!

On of the best decisions I made was to buy some converse to go underneath my dress.  Whether I was to have a long or short dress, I decided I was going to do this from the proposal.  I had the most gorgeous Dorothy-esque, blue Irregular Choice heels for the daytime, but I wanted to enjoy the evening blister, pain and height free.  I searched high and low for the perfect pale blue to match my colour scheme and there they were – on sale at Schuh!  I changed just after the meal and I saw dancing right through to midnight. An irregular choice, but a perfect schuh!

5 – Stop worrying about everyone else – they’re having a great time

I worried whether people liked the food, if my vegetarian and pescetarian could eat what I’d picked, I worried that the kids didn’t have enough, that people thought my desert of wedding cupcakes and ice cream were cheap…stop it!  Worry not.  If you enjoy your food, your desert and everyone looks like they’re eating, they’re probably happy and that’s all that matters.  Our food was unbelievable, I’d never tasted tomato soup like it and everyone told me to stop worrying and bothering them – I became more of an annoyance than I did a caring host.  Sit down, shut up and enjoy the grub!

 

4 – Whilst we’re talking about food…remember to eat!

Even if you’re not hungry, sit down and eat something.  I had gin coming to me in bucket loads and a new husband who didn’t want to have to carry his wife up two flights of very steep stairs.  He reminded me to get something off the buffet later in the evening and made sure I ate my dinner earlier in the day.  The best advice regarding alcohol that I can give is to take it in moderation, don’t mix too much and make sure something is there to soak it up.  You want to remember this day for the rest of your life – you’ve spent a small fortune after all.

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As a side note, the first dance is both terrible but lovely, choose a song you love – even if you don’t want to dance you can sing your way through it

 

3 – Remember to thank your parents and in-laws

I could not have done this without my parents and in-laws.  My mum and dad truly are the most caring, loving and thoughtful pair I could ever have wished for and I really do know how lucky I am.  They did so much for us in the run up and on the day of the wedding.  They had the time of their lives and if I could do it all again it would simply be to see how happy they were throughout the whole day.  The didn’t stop smiling.  Equally, my mother and father-in law are very special people.  They accepted me for all my quirks from day one and helped us so much with keeping me calm, family matters and the day itself.  They are wonderful people.  Make sure you say thank you.  I still don’t feel like I said it enough to people, but I know they know how much they mean to me.  Tell them you love them, you can’t do that enough.

2 – Talk to your other half at dinner because that’s the only time you’ll see them

Mildly joking, but in all seriousness you really don’t see eachother all that much.  People kept telling us to take five minutes for eachother but, with everything going on, it’s nigh on impossible.  We spent as much time as we could together, but it still wasn’t enough.  That doesn’t mean to say I regret not spending every waking minute with him, we were having a ball and it made the following day more special as we had so much to talk, think and reminisce about!  You’ve got the rest of your lives to talk, tell them that you love them and go and dance with your friends – he/she will join you when they’re ready to.

1 – Don’t be sad when it’s over

You have nothing to be sad about.  The day is essentially a big party, but the real deal is spending the rest of your lives together.  I had a moment or two when I felt a bit empty, when I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with my time, but then I thought of all the exciting things coming our way.  We went on a mini-moon which eased us in to married life, we have a trip to Vietnam coming up in August and we’re talking about buying our very own house, doggy and thinking about a family in future.  We’re 26 years old with a whole life ahead of us and that’s really very exciting!

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Mid photo shoot 😉

 

Take a step back, take it in and have the most amazing day.

 Mrs Walker x

Wedding Do’s and Don’ts Part 1: The Planning Stages…

Becoming the new Mrs Walker

It’s been five whole months since I last posted, which is largely down the fact that I’ve had my head and hands in all things weddings.  It’s been a tough few months, although we’ve been engaged for 18, it seems like these last five or six have been the hardest.

This blog post is a helpful ‘do’s and don’t’ from the planning stages from a self confessed control freak!

First things first…

DO:  Compromise…

We’ve had to do this quite a lot.  Although we’re very similar in terms of our futures and likes and dislikes, we’re very different in terms of where we wanted to get married and how.  My family now live in North Wales, which seemed an idyllic place to wed, but this also meant Simon’s family having to travel and pay to stay, so we compromised on the service and decided to marry in a Church.  My mum’s side of the family (though mostly now passed) were Catholic, as are Simon’s family, but we stopped going a long time ago.  I was quite happy to marry wherever we could, but we knew a Church would mean a lot to my in-laws and would be a beautiful setting, so we decided on a Catholic Church in a lovely Welsh village.  For the reception, I had only one place in mind…

Maenan Abbey - Country House Hotel and Restaurant

Picture can be found on www.maenanabbey.co.uk

DON’T: Underestimate how hard it is to get married…

There are tonnes of things to think about and people to appease.  Make a list of everything you need to do before rushing head first in to wedding mode.  Google, ask friends and family and the Church (if marrying here) what you need to do.  We had a nightmare because we were marrying out of our Parish, check this list out:

  1. Get permission from Parish Priest in Manchester to marry outside of the Parish
  2. Get permission from the Parish Priest in Llanrwst, Wales to say he was happy to marry us
  3. Book the registrar with Conwy Council
  4. Meet with each Priest as a couple
  5. Do a ‘Marriage Preparation’ course in February 2017 – this was every Thursday evening in a Church in Failsworth (not even our Parish!) for an hour – give or take!  Each week was themed by Mike and Shirley (a model couple – they were amazing) and the Priest at the Church.  Luckily, we weren’t alone and were with about 10 different couples
  6. Be interviewed by our Parish Priest – separately and together to show him that we were committed to eachother and not under pressure
  7. Fill in paperwork with the Priest
  8. Ask for letters of freedom from:
    • Our current Parish
    • The Parish that each of us were baptised in, as well as our Baptism certificates
    • Each Parish that we’d lived in from being 16 years old…
  9. The original Priest from Wales since retired, so we had to visit the new Priest
  10. After number 9, we had to arrange two, yes – I said two, wedding rehearsals!

And that was all in between, finding, booking and paying for the reception venue, which was slick, easy and a dream in comparison!

DO: Ask for help!

Being a control freak, this was really difficult.  I don’t like to ask for help, but my other half knows me so well that he can sense when I’m ‘in trouble’.  When I let him in to help, he came up with incredible ideas.  He organised a theme, thought about things we could do to emphasise the theme (which was literature) and helped me design favours and decorations – it was brilliant!

My mum and dad know me so well that they just didn’t ask and did.  My dad booked the cars for me and also organised a bus for extra guests – transport was organised.  My fiances parents were great in helping us speak to the Churches and organise permission etc.

Having help in those little areas meant a lot!  If you don’t want people to help with the specifics like design and making, just get them to help with admin and the more mundane tasks.  A problem shared is a problem halved and all that!

DON’T: Let someone else’s problem with YOUR day affect YOU…

Everyone told me – you can’t please everyone.

I was adamant that I would be pleasing everyone, but oh no, everyone has an idea of how YOU should do YOUR day.  Put it this way, if someone tries to make your wedding day or plan more difficult and more stressful, they aren’t worth the hassle.  We had family fall outs, strong words said and people crying over what now seems like a ridiculous matter in the grand scheme of things.  As much as I love everyone that is coming to the day, I would have been quite happy with us, our parents and our dogs…maybe even just us and the dogs – I mean just look at those little faces!!

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My little bro Jarvis the Cocker Spaniel

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Si’s little sis; Cara the Collie

At the end of the day, the day is yours and no one elses.  The day is for the two of you to marry – the party is a plus but people forget this – you and your partner are the most important people on that day and no one should make you feel any less.

DO: Have fun whilst you’re still engaged and planning…

I’m tired and I’ve been up to my eyeballs in stress at times, but I’ll really miss all of the build up.  I don’t know what I’m going to do with myself to be honest!  It’s taken up so much of my mental space for 18 months, it’s strange to think what I’ll fill my time with, but it has been so enjoyable and that’s because we’ve made an effort to make it so.

A lot of our day is ‘hand/home made’.  We don’t have a photographer or a DJ, so we’ve had to think about playlists and pictures.  We’ve made our save the dates, invitations, table plans, table decorations, favours, button holes, boquets, baskets and head dresses.  I really have saved a fortune, and knowing that we’ve put all of this effort in to our special day, makes it all the more special.  I’m a creative soul at the best of times, so I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a glue gun and fake flowers, but I really threw myself in to it and we’ve saved at least £10,000 in the process, if not more.

Things might not have cost the earth, but they look perfect and we’ve had fun – I couldn’t ask for more.

DON’T: Lose yourself in stress…

I’m four days away from the big day and I feel more calm that I ever have.  I made a million lists and a million more, but now I just can’t do any more.  I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I can’t do anything else, we’re too late now and I know it’ll be perfect.  A work colleague gave me some fab advice – if something goes wrong on the day, or you realise you didn’t bring something or make something you wanted to – who cares, no one will know!

A couple of years ago I was diagnosed with severe anxiety and depression, so I’ve had to be really aware of that and of how I’ve felt and make myself ask for help when I need it.  My other half can tell from one look or word when I’m at my worst, so I’m very lucky to have the support from him that I do, but I don’t like to open up or tell people off my own back.  I get compared to the furry monster book from Harry Potter….

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Image belongs to Warner Bros. found via http://www.thesnitch.co.uk

But I’ve learnt that you have to ask for help and share the load and if you can’t ask your future husband or wife – who can you ask?

So Saturday is the BIG day.  I can’t wait and I’m really excited, so this is Part 1: Planning in the bag.

Next time – Part 2: The Big Day and the final part of the trilogy – Part 3: The Minimoon…

Wish me luck….

xox

Dream Honeymoon: Booked

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I had to share my excitement with someone.  It’s a big commitment – not the marriage part, I already know what I’m getting in to there – but what we’ve gone and spent some money on!

It’s fair to say, it’s a dream location.  We really are lucky to be in a position to do such a thing, but we’ve saved a little, and asked for a lot, but we’ve finally put a deposit down on a two week trip to Vietnam.

If it’s not already become obvious, I’m getting married in May.  I’ve been preparing the final details and booking the last bits (I even booked our lovely cake this week, see my post here to view Dotty’s Cakes!).  We’ve left this as one of the last little bits to make sure we can afford to go, as I said, it’s a lot of money, but we’re only getting married once – I hope – and if we don’t go now, when will we?

I’m so excited, but there are quite a few flights in between…and I’m not a good flyer.  I’m hoping that hopping around a little on a trip like this will really help me to finally get over my fears.

Want to know where we’re going?…I’m going to tell you anyway…

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We’re going to fly from Manchester to Singapore, swap flights and head on to Ho Chi Minh City…

Here we’re going to see our friend Sam, who is currently teaching in Vietnam, and go on a full day trip to the Mekong Delta, riding bikes (Eeek!  I only learnt last year) and meeting lots of local people.

Once we’ve had a couple of days here, we head on to Hoi An, which is where I’m most excited to go!  Everyone has told me how great this place is, with tailors who will make your favourite garments for you and great food.

We’re lucky enough to land there on the day of the Hoi An Lantern Festival, which will be a real spectacle and something free but wonderful to watch!  We’re also planning to have a few days at our leisure, visit the hotel spa (free treatment EVERY DAY!) and take part in some yoga, before heading on a highlands jeep tour – AMAZING!

After 4 lovely nights in Hoi An, it’s further North to Hanoi and Halong Bay.  We start off with a street food tour through Hanoi, an afternoon to explore, before a 4 hour trip to Halong Bay the following day.  Here we board a boat with our own cabin and balcony, and sail down the bay, overnight, accompanied by seafood, early morning Tai Chi and brunch – does life get any better?

This does bring us crashing back to earth, however, with another 4 hour drive and several hours flying back between Singapore and Manchester.  Let’s hope they upgrade our seats and provide some sleeping masks on the way back eh!?  I think I’ll be fed up of sitting down by then!

I can’t wait, I really can’t – I have Si to thank for pushing me to go somewhere new.  If it had been up to me we’d be flying back to New York – the best place I’ve ever been – but something tells me, like Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes, I’m going to have the time of my life…

2017

My Week with Joe Wicks…

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Don’t be getting jealous girls, this blog post isn’t quite what it says on the tin!

Nope, I haven’t physically spent a week and a half with Joe Wicks (a.k.a. The Body Coach), but mentally I have!  You’ll recall that last week I wrote a blog post all about starting my new year with his January Bootcamp and food plans to see if this could help me on my way to loving my bod, gaining some muscles and inspiring me to try exercising at home.  So far?  SO GREAT!

I feel fresher, I felt less bloated, I feel inspired to get up in the morning.  I like food, I look forward to eating and I feel like I might actually see some improvement come January 31st! A few girls at work are also doing the plan and exercise, which is really helping to keep me motivated – support really is key.

So this blog post is an update on my week, I’ll show you what I’ve eaten and I’ll be honest! And I’ll tell you when I’ve exercised!  I might even post my before pics (if I’m feeling brave by the end of the post – but I’ll warn you first don’t worry!)

So here goes – please don’t judge…eek:

This is week one, you can see that I started off a little rocky and I still haven’t been perfect.  I went to  a friend’s house for tea on Friday with Simon and I was a little bit naughty, eating a few more carbs than planned, and some cheesecake – woops.  However, I avoided wine and drank diet bitter lemon (mmm!) and made sure I did some HIIT that morning and the Saturday morning too.

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So far, I feel like I’ve been better in week 2:

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I’ve tried to keep carbs to a minimum, but sometimes I need something a little extra in the mornings to keep me going.  To counteract this, I make sure I limit them during the day and make sure I do some HIIT in the evenings, if I haven’t already done it in the morning.  I’ve turned down wine AND whisky this week whilst watching The Godfather and I intend to lay off the alcohol.

My drinking water has really improved too – I try to drink as much as I can at work.  It gets me up from my desk and keeps me going during the day!

All of the HIIT sessions I have done have been Joe’s.  If it says I’ve done HIIT in the mornings, I’ve done his live 6:30am sessions.  In the evenings, I’ve found his live sessions on Facebook and streamed them and in between, I’ve repeated some too.  I must say, I love working out at home.  The thought that I could potentially save an extra £30 a month instead of spending it on the gym is exciting – but I’m going to see how this month goes first before getting ahead of myself.

I feel stronger in my arms – even my press ups are getting better – and I’ve never ached so much in my life – ouch!

I don’t think I’m quite brave enough to post my pics just yet – but I promise to do a before and after at the end of  January to see if there has been any change!

I will fit in to my wedding dress and feel like a toned and fabulous bride…bring it on.

128 days and counting.

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Why I waited 26 years to watch The Godfather…

wait-what-youve-never-seen-the-godfather

Yes, you read that correctly.  If you, like everyone else (apparently), can’t believe I waited so long to watch Francis Ford Coppola’s masterpiece(s), well I did.  Twenty – six whole years, well let’s call it 8 years from a legal point of view as it’s an 18.  For quite some time now, whenever I’ve said, “I’ve not see The Godfather,” people either exclaim, “What?  But it’s my favourite film!” or give me a look of disgust.

My fiance LOVES The Godfather 1 & 2, he likes to pretend that the third never existed, and he’s managing to marry me knowing what I’ve not (or had not) done.  Quite honestly, I have a problem with the whole expectation of ‘cult’ films.  It irritates me when people say to me, “But it’s my favourite film!” – like it should make me want to watch it right there and then!

I still get it now with Breaking Bad.  Brace yourselves guys…

I never finished it and…

(make sure you’re sitting down for this one)

I DIDN’T LIKE WHAT I SAW.  

The hype that everyone gave it, the pressure that everyone put on it, it just wasn’t for me.  Granted, some TV and film absolutely deserve the anticipation- but how do we expect these things to live up to the expectation before we’ve even set eyes on them?  It seems apt. to talk about this now, since La La Land is getting so much buzz and winning so many awards.  It’s the same with ‘classics’.  Don’t get me wrong, I love cinema.  I love escaping, I love the music, I love how directors use that music, I’m a huge fan of cinematography (Roger Deakins – yes please!) but what I don’t love, is being judged upon the films I’ve watched or books I’ve read.

Truth be told, I was scared of watching The Godfather films.  I didn’t want to watch them and be disappointed after all I’ve heard.  It’s almost like meeting your idols – they say you should never do it.  So should I really listen to others and watch their favourite films?!

Well…

I did watch.  I sat through all 6 and a half hours (approximately) within 48 hours of one another.  Did I like them? Nope.  I LOVED them.  I shut out all of the noise from everyone else and I just watched.  I was hiding in my dressing gown, too nervous to see what was going to happen next.  The development of Michael’s character is possibly one of the best I’ve ever seen, and the transformation of a 48 year old Marlon Brando was quite something.  The music used created tension and heightened suspense and the lighting complimented the characters’ light and shade.

Do I feel like I’ve been missing out?  Hell no.  I waited until I was of an age where, after studying film for a time at Uni,  I appreciate everything in the whole frame now.

Do I think you should go and watch it if you haven’t?  Sure.  Will I judge you for not wanting to?  Nah!  Watch it in your own time.  Set aside the time to really watch it.  Don’t watch it so you can say, “I’ve watched The Godfather, I’ve watched Pulp Fiction, I’ve watched Fight Club.”

Watch it because you want to.

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Homemade Tomato Soup Recipe

original-recipe-homemade-tomato-soup

Impromptu blog post, but I had to share something that I discovered today – I can make a bangin’ tom soup!  It’s super easy and I thought since many of us are on a bit of a health kick, it would be a great one to share.

I got up and did my Body Coach workout this morning and realised I hadn’t had time to prepare anything for my dinner last night.  I treated myself to a Nutribullet at the weekend (the BEST blender ever!) and tested a couple of smoothies, but thought I’d give some soup a whirl.

I had a packet of 6 tomatoes in the fridge from an online order that I knew wouldn’t get eaten and grabbed whatever else I thought might work…

Here’s the recipe:

  • 4 Plum Tomatoes (sliced)
  • 1 Red Pepper (diced)
  • Vegetable Stock Cube
  • Tsp Sugar
  • 2 Garlic Cloves
  • Tsp Tomato Puree
  • Tsp Oregano
  • A drop of single cream
  • Salt and pepper to season
  1. Slice the tomato and pepper and place in a pan
  2. Sprinkle the sugar over the toms and cover with boiling water
  3. Add the garlic, stock cube, puree and seasonings and give it a good stir
  4. At this point, bring it to the boil and as the water gets aggressive, bring the heat down to medium and cover with a lid
  5. Here’s where I went for a shower and brushed my teeth, so leave it for a good 10 minutes
  6. Give it another good stir and bring it off the heat and let it cool
  7. Drizzle in a little single cream (as much or as little as you like – I just used a little to thicken it)
  8. Pop it in the blender until it’s as smooth as you want it to be
  9. I took it to work in a smoothie flask and put it in the microwave for 2 and half minutes
  10. Sit and enjoy!

I hope you like it – let me know if you give it a try.

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