Tuesday, 27 March 2012

The City

Sirens wailing, car horns beeping, everybody rushing rushing
Shoulders barging, bags banging, everybody shoving pushing

Train announcements – more delays, everybody complaining moaning
Non commuters walking slowly, buggies, cases in the way, everybody sighing groaning

Free papers thrust in your face, freebies being given away, everybody grabbing trying
Traffic rushing past, people running and taking their chance, lights so slow to change, everybody feet tapping stamping

Chain bought coffee cups held out in front, people distracted by their phones, everybody texting talking
Crumbs dropping as hurried breakfasts eaten on the way to work, everybody munching chewing

Charity workers on the approach, Big Issue sellers saying ‘hello’, everybody ignoring hurrying
Someone trips and drops their bag, nobody has time to stop, everybody staring nosing

Tall office blocks towering above, shiny windows glinting in the sunlight, everybody at doors opening revolving
Unique boutiques opening up shop, staff starting their day, everybody chatting smoking

A dip in the noise, only latecomers rushing in to the office, everybody laughing relaxing
Workers on their way to meetings, clutching their tablets or laptops, everybody prepping briefing

Lunchtime comes, hustle and bustle and long queues, everybody eating drinking
Outdoor areas taken over by those on their breaks, everybody talking relaxing

Suited and booted, slick haired ‘cityboys’ and smartly dressed office girls pound the pavements, everybody’s shoes clicking clacking
Laid back Shoreditch types saunter along, dressed in the latest trends, everybody strolling wandering

Red faced execs strolling out of bars and restaurants after entertaining clients, everybody yawning smiling
Those who have no time for breaks, rushing to grab a quick bite before heading back, everybody stressing running

Local people walking round, going about their day, everybody buying viewing
Streetworkers clearing the paths and roads, everybody cleaning sweeping

Then time to go home, crowds swarming, everybody walking leaving
Trying to make that fast train back, getting through the crowds, everybody diving weaving

Bags knocking knees, elbows knocking backs, train engines starting, everybody sitting unwinding
People outside hailing cabs, meeting friends, everybody shouting greeting

And then darkness comes, after work drinks ending, everybody swaying giggling
Late night munchies, fast food places open, everybody queuing munching

Streets covered in litter, unwanted papers and flyers, everybody travelling sleeping
The odd car along the road, shops closed, odd office lights on, night staff, everybody cleaning tidying

That’s it for another day, silence apart from taxis and emergency vehicles, drivers, everybody concentrating tiring
Until the morning when it all begins again, everybody rushing rushing

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Marathon Man

Over the last six months Trev, my boyfriend, has had one of the worst times in his life – losing the job he adored with London Ambulance Service as a trainee paramedic and then trying to find work and being messed around left, right and centre by companies and recruitment agencies.

Rather than moping and feeling sorry for himself he decided to have a mass overhaul in his life and has instead stayed very strong and become more proactive and ambitious. As well as trying everything possible to get a new job, he’s also been on a healthy eating and exercise plan and lost over 2 stone (and is still going strong) and he’s also now working to raise money for TWO marathons (a week apart). The Brighton Marathon on Sunday 15th April and the London Marathon on Sunday 22nd April.

Not only this, he has FINALLY after six very tough months secured a new job.

One thing that has become clear after a number of job applications, interviews and research, is that my man wants to help people and do a role that matters. Don't get me wrong he was in desperate times and was applying for anything and everything, but thankfully he's worked hard to get a role where he can do what he does best - help others.

Driving an ambulance again and going back to shift work is something we've carefully discussed. Thankfully he won't be working all through the night and the shifts are more manageable (or seem to be I'll keep you posted!)

He will be transporting patients to and from hospital and obviously dealing with sick and injured patients. I know he'll be great!

When running these two marathons (a week apart, he must be mad!) Trev is raising cash for a very worthy charity for disabled children – Whizz Kids.

I should also add when he first signed up for the marathons back when he was in work, the Brighton Marathon he had a standard place on, BUT the London Marathon is a charity place (meaning you have to raise a set amount for said charity). Unfortunately Trev did not know he was going to lose his job and had a host of fundraising plans lined up which he’s not been able to follow through on and now needs to raise a whopping £1600 after being out of work and having no cash for 6 months!! He doesn't like to make things easy for himself!

Anyway if you wanted to find out more or if you'd be willing to give some cash - no matter how big or small - we would both really really appreciate it from the bottom of our hearts.

Check out the link below


I am so so proud of Trev and he deserves every success in raising money for this charity. Let's help him succeed in another goal of his for 2012!

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Smokers butt out!

First off I have to firstly apologise in advance to the number of friends I have who smoke, I'm sure you'll disagree with everything I have to say here...

Right now that's done with. Smoking. I bloody hate it.

I am currently sat on my lunchbreak, sat outside on a lovely sunny day trying to relax and get some 'fresh' air away from the office. After a few minutes of enjoying the outside, some idiot smoker comes and plonks themselves down next to me and lights up.

Now don't get me wrong everyone has equal rights and if someone is on their break and smoke they will likely want a cigarette on their lunchbreak. Fine, but then smoke it. Don't sit with it hanging off your hand, fumes blowing towards me, making my clothes and hair stink and causing me to cough.

It's funny since the ban on smoking indoors I will admit it has made non smokers like me worse. Going for a night out, the next day smoke smell was as much a part of the morning after as the hangover. I seemed oblivious to the smell and fumes around me when dancing and drinking the night away. Now though I walk out a venue and the stench hits me.

I come out the station and people are standing right outside smoking, at the bus stop, outside restaurants, hospitals, you name it a pack of smokers are there. Now you have no chance to adjust to the smell the moment you face any smoke it hits you ten fold and for some reason it annoys me more than it ever used to.

I've never smoked - apart from the odd one or two occasions when drunk in my college years, insisting I wanted to smoke and then coughing and spluttering all over the place! I guess I've just never been 'cool enough' to pull off this behaviour. Granted, being asthmatic probably doesn't help either!

Live update for you - guy next to me after lighting up his second cigarette, has taken what must be 3 at most puffs, in between letting it burn away and has now stubbed it out. Waste. Of. Time (and caused my stuff to stink for no reason).

It's also starting to annoy me at home. My block includes just six flats and I'm on the top floor. I have the most annoying 'chav' neighbours opposite who smoke like chimneys and so the communal hallway regularly stinks and if I'm lucky my hallway by my front door smells of cigarettes too. Downstairs we have another chain smoker, now she likes to smoke outside. Outside our communal front door downstairs that is and leaves all her butts on the grass and path as evidence. Nice.

At work people often remark how smokers get more 'breaks' as they regularly pop outside to light up. You don't smoke you just have to stay put. Or go join them and come back smelly.

I always remember when a young girl my Auntie and Uncle smoked. Lots. So much so my Mum had to wash everything after I visited there to remove the stench. They would smoke at dinner tables too as soon as the meal was eaten, desperate to get that nicotine fix. Eventually they gave up (after a negotiation involving me stopping sucking my thumb!)

Obviously at the moment Stacey Solomon has been attacked over her smoking during pregnancy. Why would you put an unborn child at such risk? I love a good drink on a night out, but I would without doubt give it up without fail on learning of any pregnancy. My Mum herself smoked when young, but again gave up when she found out she was having me. Granted, I guess it depends on your addiction.

I guess it's also the fact it is encroaching on your rights too really to protect your health. You make a conscious decision not to smoke - either because you want to keep your lungs healthy or you just don't enjoy it. My reasons incorporate both I admit. However if you're outside and someone wants to use their right to have freedom to smoke your health rights go right out the window. Lung damage and cancer risks just come on over.

I'm going to stop there - whilst I still hopefully still have all my smoking friends and colleagues.

Smokers though please just take note. I know you have every right to smoke when and how often you want. But please spare a thought for us weak-chested, uncool non-smokers out there and if you want a fag hold it in the other direction to us, don't blow the smoke in our face, actually smoke it and if you live with others open the window! Thanks.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Light(er) at the end of the tunnel

Well we're now on week 12 of our healthy eating and exercise plan and I have to say things have progressed very nicely. I am 1 stone and 2lbs down weight wise and my man is a whopping 1 stone and 13lbs lighter!

So far so good.

Those of you who've followed the blog for a while will also know at the same time as trying to get in shape my partner has been trying to get back into work after losing his job 6 months ago.

Well finally there is some light at the end of the tunnel! He is currently weighing up all the options on not one, but TWO job offers and both are doing what he loves - helping people with their health. I couldn't be happier for him or prouder.

As if keeping fit and looking for work wasn't enough he's also in training for TWO marathons this year and being the person he is they are just a week apart! The Brighton Marathon on Sunday 15th April and the London Marathon on Sunday 22nd April. Amazing (or mad, you pick!)

Rather than seeing the person I love shrivel up and mope this year due to the situation he's in, I've instead witnessed him become more determined, focussed, ambitious, get healthier and fitter and generally become more positive and proactive in life.

A key factor in this does seem to be the healthy eating and exercise, it seems mad to me that changing your diet and getting up and doing something more often can have such a big impact but it really truly does. Obviously there has been lots of support along the way but I honestly feel the exercise and diet change has been the biggest factor in keeping him on track.

We've also got a little competitive between the two of us and are currently on a bet - if I lose two stone by the middle of May I have to buy him a PS3 game (men! Do they ever grow up?!) If I don't manage to make that weightloss then he has to sponsor a monkey for me (random I know but I love chimpanzees and it'd be so cool to have one you could - sort of - call your own!)

We both seem to have now found a way to incorporate exercise easily into our weekly routines too, today he's off to the gym and then watching football at his brother's after a healthy dinner at mine. I on the other hand will be doing my workout DVD after work and tucking into a healthy dinner whilst watching trashy TV - perfect!

So as the sun shines brightly in the sky today things are finally brightening up for me and my man it seems - healthier, slimmer, happier and slowly getting back on track!

Sunday, 18 March 2012

My Marvellous Mum

Marvellous Mum

You helped create my life and brought me into the world
To you I know I will always be your little girl

Brushing, plaiting and now dying my hair
No matter what happens I know you'll be there

As a teen we argued day after day
I would disagree at whatever you tried to say

I've inherited your organisation skills, caring nature and tidy ways
But also your worrying, love of food and obsession with sunbathing and holidays!

We've shared many moments of laughter and a number of tears
I always know when I need you without doubt you'll be there

We keep healthy together working out in the gym
Enjoy a nice glass of wine, share our books and cook for each other, both always trying to get thin

You wipe my tears, mend my clothes and buy my favourite things
You advise me on life, love, health, the home and pretty much everything!

How would I live without my true best friend
No matter what issue I'm having, I know you'll be there to the end

Where you are quiet, I'm quite a bit louder
I'm outgoing, you're shy, keeping things private where I'll talk for hour after hour

So happy Mothers Day to my truly marvellous Mum
There's no doubt as a Mum, to me, you really are number one!

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Your Mum

Tomorrow is Mother's Day, are you ready? Talking to a lot of people yesterday - mostly male I may add - probably not. Judging by the swarms of people (and their young children) in my local Tesco last night probably not.

Now in my family I know we do things a little differently - being so small in numbers and me being an only child - but we do like to make a bit of a fuss on birthdays, Mothers Day, Fathers Day and so on.

My parents are off on (yet another) fancy holiday next week and in fact booked to depart just after Sunday in order to make sure they'd be in the country for said occasion.

So whilst a lot of children will be posting Mum a card or dropping her a quick phonecall I will always find myself either cooking a three course meal for Mum and Dad or taking them out, buying a host of gifts and a card and spending most - if not all - the day and evening together.

I should just add I don't mind doing this at all and enjoy it, particularly now I'm older and have a better relationship with my parents.

It's funny isn't it people often say Mum knows best. Now when you're young it irritates the hell out of you and you strongly disagree, but as you get older you soon come to realise actually she probably really does.

My relationship with my Mum has gone all over the place and it's been a real rollercoaster ride, I imagine like a lot of females.

When little I was a very girly girl and loved a good cuddle with my Mummy. I enjoyed being dressed up in cute clothes and was very shy and timid.

We remained very close for a long time, until that is I started secondary school and turned 11. I can distinctly remember my Mum complaining how I'd changed and I was like a completely different person.

As I entered my teenage years I got worse, I wouldn't have been seen dead with my Mum and spent all my time at weekends going shopping or to the cinema with friends. I wouldn't let her in the changing rooms with me on the odd occasion we went shopping and if we did we had HUGE rows!

It only got worse, the older I got the more I wanted to be away from my parents and 'grow up', advice Mum gave me I would argue against. In turn I got very close to my Auntie - although a family member she wasn't my Mum so it was allowed in my teenage mind.

As for college, oh dear, rows row rows, Mum read my diary, we argued about boyfriends and all sorts. I was no longer the shy quiet girl I was a talk-non-stop confident young girl.

It wasn't until I went away to Uni I realised how much I missed my Mum, her super roast dinners that nobody will ever beat, her cuddles when I'm down, the way she looks after you when ill and her advice which actually it turned out did make a lot of sense after all.

The way my Mum missed me when I left for Uni and the way she was so upset each time she had to leave me after a visit broke my heart. Mum still has a text where I was first ill when living away from home, embarrassingly I sound just like a little girl again! I just wanted my Mum!

Although I had numerous rows with my parents when I moved home after Uni, it soon sorted out when I moved out and I'm pleased that I have a very close relationship with both of them.

I love spending time with my Mum doing girly things - shopping, going to the gym, spa days, gossiping over a cup of coffee, giggling over some wine or when she comes round to dye my hair. She truly is my best friend and I now finally realise (well most of the time) she does know best.

So this Mothers Day I will be spoiling my Mum as she more than deserves it. For those of you who haven't yet realised the wonder of your Mum, you will. I would be lost without my Mum and I can only hope when I one day have children I remember all the help and love she gave me and can do the same.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Bookworm: A Tiny Bit Marvellous by Dawn French

The latest in my list of reads is this offering from bubbly female comedian Dawn French.

I was bought the book as part of a Secret Santa present, a good pressie for someone who likes to read - this book is pretty chunky!

The book won Popular Fiction Book of the Year at the Galaxy National Book Awards. This offering, published by the Penguin Group is French's first novel and follows her memoirs 'Dear Fatty'.

Now, don't get me wrong, this book is not going to win any awards for intellectual read or most thought provoking text. However, it is such a refreshing read.

When I received this literary gift I didn't even know Dawn French had released a novel. Admittedly I had a look online at the likes of Amazon and to be honest there were A LOT of negative reviews.

In my opinion, the book comes across with the cheeky and heartfelt warmth I feel French gives out as a person.

If you're feeling a bit stressed out and want a nice, easy read, something not to take too seriously and to give you a few giggles and appeal to your silly side - then this is a good option.

The story revolves around the Battle family - Dora, Mo, 'Oscar' and Dad. Mo is a likeable character and I found myself laughing at the grumpy teenager that is Dora. At first I felt like I was reading a stereotypical description of the likes of the 'Little Britain' character Vicky Pollard and it did get a bit annoying at times.

In addition, 'Oscar' is a little far fetched at times. As I've said though, this book is meant to be silly and not taken too seriously as the characters and their lives evolve in front of you as part of their 'diary entries'.

Good bits
* This book, like its title is 'a tiny bit marvellous'

* Silly but likeable comedy

* Easy read to get lost in

* Good to relax you and forget about real life everyday stresses - so good to read before bed, on lunchbreaks and on the commute

Not so great
* Predictable

* Doesn't stretch your mind in the slightest

* A bit far fetched

So I guess overall I'm saying yes I would recommend it, but only if you want something to relax you with its silliness. Do not read this if you like something serious.

The Biggest Letdown?

Last night saw the final of The Biggest Loser and saw one contestant crowned Biggest Loser 2012.

I will embarrassingly admit I was looking forward to this TV show and ensured I was back home and sat on my sofa watching in plenty of time.

However, I found myself disappointed. Let me explain.

Weight was on my mind also as the day before - the start of week 11 of my healthy eating and exercise plan - I found I've now lost a total of 14 pounds/a whole stone! I was extremely happy with this.

Funnily enough the first episode of Biggest Loser was on my first week on my plan too and I liked tuning in each week as I found it helped encourage me on my own journey.

Sadly I started to lose a little interest when the game playing and 'pact' started on the show. This in turn saw me change my mind on a number of contestants - in particular Kevin and Jessie.

The show has always been about weight loss and improving your life and health and last year everybody supported one another. This year the sour turn to keeping your friends in and tactical voting was unwelcome and I feel tarnished the show somewhat.

On viewing the final nobody could argue the amazing results achieved though, weightloss percentages of 40 over 24 weeks are certainly nothing to be sniffed at and are a great achievement. All the contestants, trainers and dieticians involved should be commended on such amazing results.

The problem I had though was finding it hard to be happy for the winners.

You have Kevin who although worked amazingly well and achieved jaw dropping results let himself down when playing games and acting so childishly towards his niece Amy Mac on the show.

And as for Jessie, at first I didn't like her, then I started to be won round as she pushed and pushed herself and worked incredibly hard. Then she went back to her sour-faced negative ways and was constantly moaning and game-playing. The penultimate episode just showed it all when she sulked about the Brecon Beacons challenge, didn't try and then had a hissy fit about the potential runner up prize still on offer in the final.

I thought throughout Sarah was amazing, she worked so hard no matter what and was a fair team player. On watching last night's show though I was surprised to see her father hadn't appeared to make an effort to lose weight after the health warnings he'd had.

Therefore you can imagine my disappointment when the two who had played games were the ultimate winners. The program ended and I felt deflated and let down to be honest.

Now this has ended for another year I'll just need to focus on my own weightloss journey and goals and let's hope I'm not left disappointed there...

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Bookworm: Love Falls by Esther Freud

What a mix.

I started this book and was a little surprised, mainly because of the person who lent it to me. This piece of fiction at first seemed a very easygoing read and almost like it was going to be a piece of chick lit. I was wrong.

I'm finding it hard to write too long a review here as I don't want to spoil the reading experience for anyone else. Let's just say this book is not what it first seems.

Love Falls is one of those books that you can't stop reading. It's very addictive. The characters are intriguing and although there are quite a few they are manageable to learn more about and see how they grow.

On reading the title and some of the blurb, again you could be tricked into thinking this book was going to be a predictable and sickly romance. Not at all.

I loved the descriptions of the surrounding Tuscany and the delicious culinary delights being enjoyed. It made me hungry and wanting to go on holiday. Freud's descriptions are very powerful and I often found I was losing myself in Lara's world and the Italian environment she found herself in.

There are lots of times in the book I found myself uncomfortable and felt the key people mentioned were very odd. In fact with Kip I found I didn't really like him a lot of the time, which I don't imagine is necessarily what Freud intended.

Good bits
Strong descriptions
Intriguing characters
Not what it seems
Easy to read

Not so great
Felt the ending was disappointing, I was expecting something more to happen
At times I felt a little confused as to who was linked to who and what was real and what was simply being hinted at
Felt one of the events that happens in the book was brushed over

Overall I'd definitely recommend the story to others. As others have said Freud's style does 'whisk you away' and the book does have an 'unsettling' feel to it. I've just noticed another book Peerless Flats by Esther Freud which I may try too.

I've still got four books in my reading pile to get through first though. Oh and my Dummies Guide to Blogging! Hm...maybe it'd be wise to consult that one first?...

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Let the sun shine

I love the sun. There is something about it that just makes everything seem right in the world. A bit of sunshine and it brightens everyone's mood.

Last week we had a couple of sunny days, being during the week I was at work. I was so disappointed when on both days I was too busy to take a break and missed out. So when I woke this morning - with a slightly sore head from too much wine last night - I was so pleased to see how bright and shiny it was!

Hence this is also why I am now on my lunchbreak sitting in the sun and writing this blog. Lovely.

I've always loved the sun since a young age, being lucky enough to go on holiday to a warm climate every year from the age of around 2 through to 24, I am definitely a sun worshipper! In turn my skin tends to agree with the sun and I tan well.

I must admit although I've never used fake tan/sunbeds I do loathe the winter months when I feel pale and think my skin makes me look ill. As soon as any sign of Summer begins I am out there topping up my tan.

As for holidays there are only a few years I haven't had one and they were hard, just the thought of heading somewhere hot in the near future makes everything seem alright. And as for people who don't like the sun, I just don't get it. Or those people who go on holiday to a hot location and hide indoors or under an umbrella the whole time, what's the point?

Sun to me equals happiness, health and fun. It brightens your mood waking up to a bright sunny day and leaves you feeling fresh and more awake.

Take today, I woke up hungover but still had a beaming smile. I've walked round the city and people all seem that little less miserable and rude. And clients so far - touch wood - all seem pleasant and polite.

I really do hope this is the start now of lots more happy sunny days. Then I can look forward to changing my exercise routine to include swimming and runs or walks outdoors, BBQs with friends and family, trips to the seaside and of course wearing a new wardrobe.

I guess the only daunting part is getting in shape for this warmer weather and less covered up clobber. As I'm still on my healthy eating and exercise plan though that doesn't worry me quite as much as usual.

I'm also reading a book at the moment set in a hot summer in Italy which is brightening my mood, but also teasing me with its tales of sweltering heat, cool drinks, outdoor eating, clear blue skies and crystal blue swimming pools.

Fresh salads and cold juices are so much more enjoyable than stodgy foods and hot drinks when it's sunny too. Although in the sun I will start to crave ice cream, chilled wine and lager, so I will definitely need to find a balance.

So not long left and I have to head back indoors. I'll make do with the sunlight coming through the window for the rest of today...and keep everything crossed for a weekend of warmth from tomorrow!