Tuesday, 31 December 2013

New Year New Outlook

Yet again I've neglected this blog and have not written anything or posted for far too long. The reason being this time around is somewhat more cheerful than previous occurrences this year.

This year. 2013. Well, it's New Years Eve so I had better do the mandatory reflection hadn't I?

What has this year meant for me? To be honest I've not really liked this year. There have been a number of events that have taken place and most of them have left me feeling negative emotions rather than turning me into a happy bunny.

However, thanks to a certain someone, I am leaving 2013 feeling on top of the world.

It's funny how your life can seem to be on a set path and then have a few bumps and look like it's taking another. Before you know it you've then gone on a completely different journey and ended up back where you wanted to be. I'm getting a bit cryptic here, but this year has really shown me that everything does happen for a reason as I've often touched on before when things weren't so great. If things are meant to be I really think they will happen.

I did a lot of thinking with my head this year and rather than going with my heart and gut instincts I instead only seemed to use my emotions to cause me trouble.

It's pretty standard to make resolutions as you move into a new year, but as I've got older I've taken the view they are a bit pointless and nobody sticks to them. Is that because we put ourselves under pressure to come up with things, but they are not actually what is truly important to us and what we want to do?

And why is it we have to wait until a year ends to make them? Why do we find it so hard not to set goals and start new ones throughout the year?

I for one really felt I let 2013 pass me by. There were things going on personally relationship-wise, I changed roles which turned out to be a bit of a struggle, I let things overwhelm me a bit in general and as a result I ended up spending more time stressing out than actually doing anything. Yes me and my boyfriend did some fun things, but overall I feel I did a lot less seeing friends and moving my life forward.

Funnily enough I ended last year wanting to change and discover new things and I had an action packed start to the year as I did 'Dry January' and took part in a host of new cultural experiences - exhibitions, ballet, opera, serious theatre plays not musicals and many more things. However, I'm not sure if I 'peaked too soon' as it were as then the year gradually dwindled out.

I did go on some lovely breaks though - Spain, Mauritius and Dorset - all three were great in their own way. I think I've probably got closer to my family too.

This next year though is all about making things happen. Things that I find harder I am going to work on and instead of making lots of resolutions like losing weight (which coincidentally yet again I do need to do!) I am instead going to just have a new outlook. To see and approach things differently and use my emotions to drive me on instead of hold me back.

So let's see how long this approach lasts. If I truly do change it could be a pretty special year.

Happy New Year to all of you and if you also found 2013 wasn't so great I wish you a happier 2014 too!!

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Grass is always greener?

Live with someone cruel you wish they were kind
Have someone caring you miss the spark

Being with a worrier, if only they were laid back
Have someone relaxed, why don't they have more drive? 

You have a family, you miss a career
Progressing well at work, you long for a baby

Live in the city, you want the peace of the  country
Dwelling in a remote location you miss the convenience of somewhere built up 

Your friend wants your job
You want her engagement 

Carrying weight you want to be slim
A thinner build you envy other's curves 

Living in a flat you want to own a house
Running household chores you'd rather somewhere small

Winter time you long for the sun
In summer you want some more breeze

Cut your hair short, you miss your locks
Having a long style, it takes too long to dry 

Having a shower you miss the long luxurious lounge in a bath
Soaking under bubbles, you get restless and wish you'd had a quick shower

You go blonde, brunette seems to go with more
Dark hair you wish you had a bit more colour 

A career girl you yearn to be a Mum
Housewife you feel a prisoner at home 

Not wanting a child too young 
When older you envy those already with babies 

Wanting to think more in your job
With lots of responsibility you long for easier days 

Wishing for more money
Having more cash it's never enough 

Look forward to Christmas
Festive time comes you're saddened how fast the year has flown 

Feeling bored you haven't got many plans
A hectic schedule you wish for a break 

Why is it us humans always want what someone else has got? 

Why do we always need to be reminded that we always think the grass is greener on the other side? 

Friday, 22 November 2013

I'm an insecure girl too: help me out of here!

Sitting here on a Friday night on my own, without any foodie treats, vino or company and wearing my onesie, I'm clearly not worried how sad I sound.

Therefore I'll crank it up a notch and admit I'm watching I'm A Celebrity! Oh and I am ill and on antibiotics, hence the naff social life of late and depressed mood!

Anyways, I'm watching said reality show on ITV and am pleased to say it's made me smile tonight.

Yesterday however was another story. 

Don't get me wrong I'm pleased body image and what women face regarding their feelings and appearance was highlighted. I felt so saddened though that a top athlete could be made so low and has had such a bad time of it all down to her appearance.

No matter how time progresses nothing changes for us girls and our bodies does it?

It saddens me and makes me so angry that a woman who has an OBE and has a bloody Olympic medal for goodness sake can feel so low and worthless over ignorant peoples' comments on social media and being around a beauty pageant stunner. 

I'm not anti Amy Willerton at all, she seems a nice enough person and her challenge today showed her to be brave and with a sense of humour - she did very well and was very calm throughout. 

Admittedly this did anger me, just through pure jealousy - she is so pretty and a nice person and is good with heights, bugs and adventurous challenges. Damn her!

Although I have to say her fawning over Joey Essex has done my head in! 

It's just unbelievable that we are in 2013 and every woman in that jungle is being judged by their appearance or has issues. The fact Laila (Mo from Eastenders) seems the most confident says a lot - body confidence seems to come with age and experience. Perhaps it's because she comes from an era that celebrated curves? 

Rebecca has clear issues with appearance and Lucy from Emmerdale was very forthcoming in revealing her insecurities. 

For such a trashy TV easy-watching show like this it's been pretty hard going to watch. 

As a female who is constantly worrying about my size and judging myself against others it also hit a nerve. I think a lot of us girls are the same sadly. 

My boyfriend even laughs whenever I'm off to the gym or eating healthily saying I'd never be happy whatever size I may be and whatever compliments people give me I don't accept.

For tonight though I've been cheered somewhat. Yes I was annoyed at after showing Amy doing so well in a physical challenge, the program then resorted to the clich├ęd shower scene so well known now on I'm A Celeb after the famous Mylene scenes! 

But then Matthew Wright saved the day. Yes sobbing scared candidate Mr Wright, the smarmy faced channel 5 presenter you typically want to slap. He saved the day?

Why? Because he decided to do his own white bikini shot in the waterfall shower. Classic! 

Just the sort of thing we need to see, mocking of these long awaited 'sexy' scenes that all the tabloids wait for. About bloody time! 

So men take note, us girlies enjoy a bit of humour, regardless of how you look. So perhaps once in a while judge a lady by her combined assets and not just those that belong in a bikini or in your childish lad mag fantasies!

And girls? You're not getting off lightly either. Stop bitching about one another - we all do it - maybe next time you start think of how you feel next to that beauty in the bar with you or having to step out in that teeny weeny swimwear in the Summer.

Will I be applying this attitude myself? Of course! 

Now what was it they were saying in the Dingo Dollar about how many lies men tell, never mind women... 

Monday, 28 October 2013

No More Trouble Zones?

It's been a long time. 

I've been conscious that I've not posted on here for some time and over the last few days a number of people have mentioned to me TheMelican has gone very quiet.

So, here I am.

I've been up to a fair bit over the past month plus, but I thought today was a good point to come back to the blog.

No, not because of the great storm in the UK and travel chaos today. Not because the clocks have changed and we're going to and coming back from work in the dark.

Nope, today I decided to finally try out my new batch of Jillian Michaels DVDs. We all know I had pretty good results from the 30 Day Shred and it's become a bit of a go-to for me when I need to give my body a shock. 

I became a bit obsessed with it - I would Tweet each day I exercised and looked at other fellow shredders and their views. This is how I came to know of the many other workout offerings Ms Michaels has made. 

The ones that caught my eye were Six Week Six Pack, Banish Fat Boost Metabolism and No More Trouble Zones. 

Tonight I decided to try No More Trouble Zones (NMTZ). If I'm honest this appealed as the cover explained there were '6 minute fixes' so I thought I could maybe just try out a few.

Once I started though I had my usual fitness fanatic head on and selected the full 40 minute workout.

Now I do 1hour/90 minute workouts in the gym and 45 minute/1 hour spinning classes. When it comes to Jillian Michaels though my only experience has been the 20/25 minute 30 Day Shred workout. 

Forty minutes seemed a long time.

So what did I think of this one? 

Split into different circuits this is hardcore.  When you're feeling tired in the warm up you know you're out of shape so I was feeling pretty nervous.

Each circuit is split in five moves split into two sets. A majority of the exercises consist of mat work, as Jillian herself says some of them are old moves but they are classics.

What I love about NMTZ is that throughout it all you can feel it all working. I dread to think how I am going to ache tomorrow...and the plan is to do it all five days of this week. 

I was absolutely dripping with sweat and at the end I felt quite nauseous and had wobbly legs!

What results I see will remain to be seen, but I'll be sure to share any progress/updates on here as I did with 30 Day Shred. 

You need your trusty weights and a mat and be prepared to burn. As usual Jillian combines moves so you're not just working on one area. So you'll work biceps and quads, triceps and butt, abs and shoulders for instance. 

Expect planks, double crunches, donkey kicks, chair squats, sumo squats and lot more and all of course with a twist.

Be warned. It burns. However, sitting in now post workout and following a dinner and shower I do overall feel better for it. Even if I do also want to go straight to bed and sleep! 

Let's see if I do manage to reach a point where I have no more trouble zones.  Well, at least slightly less troublesome anyway...

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Bookworm: The Sleeper by Emily Barr

I picked this book after reading some people suggesting you'd like it if you enjoyed Gone Girl - a book I loved.

Now on my way home on the train I've just finished it and I'm a bit undecided what I think.

Did I enjoy the book? I guess so.

Is it what I expected? Not really.

At first it was slow and then I started to like the character of Lara and could see where the story was going. However this story changes a lot.

Now this chopping and changing is a good thing in terms of twists and turns, but I even felt the style and approach was changing too. References to Laurie for instance (I'm not going into detail to avoid a spoiler here) seemed a bit weird and not in keeping with the book. 

I like the fact that things are not what they seem and do surprise you. Yet at the very end I felt it was all a bit weak and  nice. 

Don't get me wrong you do want to keep reading this book to find out what happens next, but certain characters like Iris have a rather rushed and limited build up and so I found I could not connect as much with her.

I also found that I kept going from liking to hating Lara and some of the male characters like Sam just come across as utter saps. 

Good points
Keeps you surprised 
Not predictable
Page turner

Not so great
Some of the character description not great
Goes off on tangents and seems to change mind what sort of book it wants to be

If you fancy an easy read with a touch of Gone Girl about it, give this a go but don't expect too much from it or such an impact of an ending. 

Saturday, 7 September 2013

All you need is love

I'm not in the best of moods today. I'm hungover, I'm tired and I'm 'in the bad books' with the boyfriend.

Realising I couldn't hole up in my little flat today and feel sorry for myself because I needed to go shopping did not help.

People getting in my way, a rude, ungrateful old woman on the bus and overheated shops weren't doing my mood any favours either.

You can hazard a guess at my feelings when one shop worker kept referring to me as 'dear' too. I should add he was young and saying it to me the way you might say 'you alright dear?' to an old lady in the street if they were struggling!

However, something happened today which brought tears to my eyes, put a huge smile on my face and reminded me of how lovely life and people can be.

I was queuing up and to be honest getting a bit impatient having to wait (I warned you I was in a bad mood today!) 

"Can you just ice it with three three o please?...Bit random I know."

Being nosey I started listening in when the guy in front of me made his request to the shop assistant. 

And of course I started thinking how odd it was to get a small chocolate tablet iced with some numbers. What could it be? Some code with a loved one? Or a football or sporting reference with his mates? 

The young female shop assistant quipped "What's that your house number or something?" 

Looking sheepish the guy laughed "That obvious is it?" 

Both shop girl and I looked confused. 

At this the guy started to elaborate and my heart and ice maiden mood started to melt. 

"Yeah it is our house number, our new house actually. I've just been and completed on it today."

Aw what a nice little gift for your girlfriend/boyfriend. 

"My girlfriend doesn't know we've got it"

What? How? Surely he means she didn't know it was going to complete today or something.

"Yeah when we saw it she was just like 'I want this one' and I've managed to keep it all a surprise from her."

Aw... Shopgirl and I oohed and aahed how sweet this was. What a surprise!! Nice guy.

"Actually we're going out tonight for dinner where I'm going to tell her."


"And I'm actually going to propose to her tonight."

Oh. My. God. What a man. What a lucky girl. 

"Yeah the place we're going to eat is somewhere I used to work actually and where we first met, she came in and I served her." 

Eyes now welled up, my face was beaming with the biggest smile and both me and the shop assistant cooed over him, saying what a romantic guy, what an amazing boyfriend.

At that he took his small chocolate gift and the shopgirl said she hoped his girlfriend said yes. How couldn't she?

"Good luck!" we shouted after him as he left. 

Wow. What an incredible evening for this couple, an out of this world surprise for this girl and a lovely lovely new life ahead for them both. 

I had to stop myself Facebooking and Tweeting this experience immediately. I walked out smiling and with a bit of a bounce in my step. Nothing like some human kindness and a bit of romance to brighten your day. 

So as I sit on my sofa still feeling the effects of last night's boozing I hope said couple have a wonderful night and thank them for cheering up this moaning moody madam! 

Friday, 6 September 2013

Bookworm: Big Brother by Lionel Shriver

As you may have picked up from my tweets and blog posts I'm kind of into the whole weight/diet/exercise topic. Something very close to my heart and an area I've been more interested in for the last few years or so as I've looked into my own weight and fitness. 

So when searching the Kindle store for ideas for my latest read and coming across Shriver's latest offering I thought what a perfect combination - fiction by a strong writer and the topic of weight/diet. 

Big Brother gives an insight into what it's like to find a member of your family morph from a successful, popular, confident and healthy individual into an unhappy, disappointed, obese human being.

From a family with links to the entertainment industry now instead in a newly formed setup surrounded by health and strict regime, Pandora is faced with a dilemma when her brother comes to stay and arrives as a completely different person to who she once knew.  

I loved how this book tackled opinions and thoughts people go through when faced with the issue of weight and diet. All the complexities involved with eating, our own personal journeys and our prejudged views on those we come across who are different weight wise - whether that be severely obese or extremely emaciated.

In addition Shriver explores relationships in families and how much should you be expected to do for your fellow siblings and family members - who should take priority? 

Admittedly I found the book a tad slow to staff with and was wary I'd made a bad judgment in my selection. 

However once I got into it I didn't want to put the book down and found it impacting on my own health journey and dietary decisions. It has definitely made me over think my current exercise and eating routine over the last week (if that's possible as we all know how I like to over analyse as it is! 

Good points
Tackles current issues
Gripping story
Not what you think (not saying anymore as I don't want to spoil it)
Great descriptions 

Not so great
Slow starter
Sometimes I found the style a bit hard to keep track of but this typical of the author's approach 
Might not leave you feeling super positive
At time it made me feel hungry (not good when you're trying to cut calories and be healthier!) 

All in all definitely a recommended read. 

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Bookworm: The Sea Sisters by Lucy Clarke

I really enjoyed this book.

Clarke's writing keeps you gripped and not wanting to stop reading. I found myself constantly wanting to read this tale full of twists and turns.

Following the death of her sister Mia, whose body is found whilst she's away travelling, this tale looks at Katie's quest for the truth and delves into the complicated relationships of sisters and more.

Strong characters such as Katie, Finn, Mia and Noah are well described and clearly defined. 

I loved the use of Mia's journal, the 'current day' storytelling and Katie's thoughts to provide an intertwined account of what happened and what is going on now.

Various locations and situations are mentioned in this book and I really felt I lost myself in all of them. 

Strong topics are covered and covered well. Just when you think you've got it all worked out Clarke smacks in with another addition to the story.

As Katie experiences her journey of discovery you too as the reader join her and learn more - and are hungry to know more too.

The only reason I didn't read this book quicker is because I went away and didn't have any time to read. However last night on getting reacquainted with the ebook I found I couldn't put it down and had to read on until the very end.

Good points
Real page turner
Tackles darker topics
Lots of twists and turns 
Strong description and serial 
Interesting characters 
Dark but not totally depressing! 

Not so great
Some parts were a little gushy/soppy at times regarding the romantic side, but this is really me trying to look for faults listing this

Overall I'd really recommend this book as   one to keep you gripped and provide some escapism.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Bookworm: The Diaries of a Fleet Street Fox

I was introduced to the delights of the Fleet Street Fox by a friend who told me about her blog and Tweets and then kindly leant me the book.

Admittedly I'd not heard of this journalist, who became popular following her anonymous blog letting people in on the secrets of life on a tabloid newspaper. 

However from what my friend told me I was pretty sure I'd enjoy this book.

The reader gets treated to a double dose of an insight into Foxy's divorce and her life working on a tabloid. 

It was nice to read a book that was non fiction for once, albeit many parts are exaggerated for entertainment value. 

Having always wanted to be a journalist and having completed various work experience placements on local papers and bigger names such as News International and The Independent I've seen how life runs for a journalist to an extent. 

Being a nosey female I also enjoy getting the inside on somebody's relationship. This book seemed an ideal combination.

I really enjoyed the Fleet Street Fox's style of writing, she keeps you gripped with a fast pace and plenty of humour. Many a time I laughed out loud at her witty remarks and anecdotes. Then the parts where she focuses on her relationship and her true feelings are very heartfelt and you feel for her.

It was great to read about a strong woman in real life, but also see how she copes when things do go wrong. 

I loved the stories of life in the newsroom and it made me think back to memories of former work experience placements and the characters I came into contact with. 

Good points
Fast, gripping and addictive read
Mix of emotions 

Not so great
At times I did wish the main focus wasn't just the divorce Foxy goes through and wished I was hearing about other aspects of her life. For that perhaps I should check out her Twitter or blog though 
Some points were a bit repetitive 

All in all I enjoyed this read and am grateful to my friend for introducing me to it. I would definitely recommend and am keen to check out other offerings from the Fleet Street Fox. Opinions, gossip, scandal and emotion - a great mix.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

30 Day Shred: the results

I've become a tad obsessive of late with the 30 Day Shred, I constantly visit its hashtag on Twitter and I keep looking for signs it's worked/working. I've even had strangers sharing tips, work colleagues starting the plan too and people asking my advice on Facebook.

30 Day Shred has pretty much been my personal life.

So now thirty days down what do I think?

First off I'm having a 'fat day' today so it's probably not the best day for me to judge this plan as I'm feeling a bit of a whale! 

However, the facts and figures can't be denied I admit, regardless of how I personally think I look.

As you'll see from the image below I have seen results from this workout.

The plan goes for thirty days and I decided this time to follow it solidly everyday consistently and work up through the levels. 10 days on level 1, level 2 for ten days and a further 10 days for level three. 

There are resources online to follow a set diet Michaels prescribes, however I wanted to just eat a healthy balanced diet, I'm not a fan of fad diets. 

I've stuck mainly to my diet, although there have been a few odd days on some weekends when I've had to eat out or drink some alcohol. 

A key improvement I've seen is my core, definitely improved and I've worked my way up through the levels. I definitely have more defined back, shoulders and arms. I'm disappointed I didn't see more of a 'shred' on my thighs and tummy, but I'm pleased my bum has a bit of shape now from all the squat-like moves (it kinda disappeared through spinning!)  

So what have I achieved? In total nine pounds lost in weight. No not 20lbs suggested by the DVD, but I'm not too disheartened as I've seen most people report similar. The best results can be seen in my measurements, three inches off my waist is pretty impressive even I admit.

I think the problem I had was that I'd seen such good results by day 20, I was really thinking I'd get amazing results by day 30. There wasn't that big leap I had set my heart on.

However, I can't deny I've done well overall and I would certainly use this plan again.

For now, I want to exercise/eat healthily up until my birthday week off I've got planned so I'm doing the shred until Friday for another three days. 

I decided I'll mix it up and so am doing level one for day 31, level two for day 32 and level three for day 33. I just hope it gives me another kick and gives me a few final results! 

I've then got a busy and calorie laden rest of the month ahead so who knows what's next. Now I've got to decide what else I can do to try keep shrinking my body, I've got a long way to go yet!

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

Another one off the list of Richard & Judy Summer Reads, The Age of Miracles tells the tale of a world hit by a natural disaster. The world slows down.

If days were suddenly to start lasting longer what sort of impact could that have on animals, plants, weather and even humans? Thompson Walker tries to give us an idea.

I'm not really a Sci Fi fan, not that much in films and certainly not in books. Yet something appealed to me it seemed to make a change.

A key to this novel's appeal is the fact it also ties in with growing up and teenage angst - school troubles and young romance, dealing with your parents and realising what life is really like.

Yes the world may be going through a crisis, but Julia is still a young girl feeling unpopular, unsure whether she still has a best friend and getting wrapped up in crushes. 

I enjoyed the fact the book was different and tackled a very different topic. At times I thought early on that the combination of high school heartache and an 'end of the world' type scenario was not well matched and far fetched. The author's style is clever and develops well though to make it feel more natural and this fictional piece has more to it than you'd think.

Thompson Walker writes strong descriptions and you can picture the people and scenes she describes. I often thought how the book could easily be made into a film.

I'm still undecided how I feel about the book as a whole and the story. The Age of Miracles left me feeling pretty depressed to be honest, it's certainly not a feel-good piece. Saying that, I did enjoy it in the main and was glad I gave it a go. 

Good points
Something new
Strong descriptions 
Very unique approach, such as the tense used, ending, general storyline 

Not so great
How much actually happens
Was there a conclusion really?
Very negative/depressing 

Like the book I've not really come to a conclusion here I know, all I can say is give it a go yourself and let me know what you think. I'm still a bit muddled! 

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Thrill of the scare

I love scary films. Even the most cheese-ridden offerings tend to appeal to my horror-loving nature. 

However, there's one issue. I jump at everything.

Yes, I am the person who leaps out the seat, spills their popcorn/drink and elbows the person next to me (typically my man not a random stranger!) 

I jump watching scary films, if someone suddenly sneezes loudly or if my boyfriend suddenly pokes his head round the doorframe when I think he's in the other room. 

Key embarrassments are jumping when young as Willy the whale leaps out the water at one point in Free Willy, getting bad cramp in my leg as I jumped at a small girl abruptly appearing in a shop in 30 Days of night and coming out pale and with a slightly trembly hand after Paranormal Activity! 

The film can be gory, jumpy, spooky, based on real events or completely far fetched. I will jump at them all.

Recently I was sat on the sofa catching up on spooky French drama The Returned and something as per usual made me jump and I chucked a load of water over myself (I was stupidly holding a glass at the time). 

When I was young I can remember not being allowed to watch certain types of films until I got a bit older. Funnily enough the older I've got the more scared I seem to get.

Last night we were talking to friends after dinner and the topic of scary films came up. My boyfriend explained how he laughs at gory films (this is why he's suited to working in the health sector/ambulance driving) and my friend said how she doesn't get scary films unless they are related to real life/possible (I strongly insisted she avoid The Strangers as a result). 

I know other people in the past who laughed at films such as The Blair Witch Project (scared me because of my overactive imagination of thinking about what could be there, not anything I actually saw). Others I know think Paranormal Activity is boring and always fail to get spooked at similar cinema offerings.

Last night just talking about some of the films we've seen and discussing certain scenes I had to stop as I was 'freaking myself out'. I just about managed to go to the bathroom on my own before we left and then was wary as we walked home. Well, we did have a 20 minute walk back about 2 in the morning and were around Romford to be fair! 

I've always loved to see scary films - nowadays my issue is embarrassment and I often spend a lot of my time peering between my fingers as I'm so conscious of jumping or screaming really obviously and having other cinema-goers  laugh at me. At home I'm not too concerned about this, but I could never watch a frightening film on my own. 

I can't explain it but I just love to be scared. I get petrified and think things through in my mind for days after seeing the film. Yet it's like an addiction, as soon as I see the trailer (most of which I normally can't even last through) I just have to go see the film.

My issue is jumping, even films I've seen before and I know what's about to happen, they still never fail to cause me to leap up.

My poor boyfriend has many the time been victim to being elbowed in the side or having his fingers crushed if I've been holding hands with him as the scene suddenly gets filled with something loud, spooky or unexpected. 

The build up and anticipation is just as bad, the soundtrack goes quiet or builds up to a tense, creepy tone, you know something is about to happen. Then I start to get a coat/cardigan ready or raise my hand to potentially cover my eyes. When the first Paranormal Activity came out I was getting myself all worked up before we even booked our tickets to go!

I just can't explain it. I don't get it, why do I love to be frightened so much by films, yet at the time of watching them I'm wishing I'm not there or experiencing it.

A week or two ago I saw a trailer for The Conjuring and it spooked me out. Tonight we are probably going to see it. 

One thing I can guarantee is no matter how frightening it is or far fetched and unbelievable it may be, I will get scared and jump! My mind just doesn't accept that it's clearly not real and often not possible, I have a total disregard for the facts when I see this genre of film. Common sense and any reasonable thinking goes straight out the window.

For now I better go before my brain starts going into overdrive remembering all those scenes I've been blogging about. Will I survive The Conjuring? I'll let you know (once I've stopped tremblling of course!) 

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Bookworm: Close My Eyes by Sophie McKenzie

I picked this latest read from the Richard & Judy Summer Reads list, they normally pick some good options. 

Reviews I had seen suggested this story was full of twists and turns and so I decided to give it a go.

The main storyline focuses around Geniver whose is trying to move on and try again after her baby is stillborn. She suddenly gets a visitor who suggests all is not as it seems and there could have been more to the ordeal than the grieving mother thought.

Close my Eyes then tells the tale as Geniver discovers and uncovers more details about her life and those in it.

I was looking forward to the twists in the story, but as usual I started to guess at things and pretty early on was convinced that I knew what was going to happen. I hoped it wasn't that obvious.

Thankfully there are lots of twists and turns so you can't guess them all. Even at the end when you think you know what's happening another surprise comes in.

However, that said certain parts I felt were far fetched and getting a little ridiculous. 

I liked the book and felt gripped by it, but I do think some of it could have been written and handled better.

Good points
Addictive read
Twists and turns
Something a bit different

Not so great
Some bits obvious/predictable 
At times unrealistic 

Whether you should read this book is ultimately up to you, but for the faults listed overall I did enjoy reading this book. At the end some points left me a bit disappointed, but then a final punch at the very end delivered and I was left impressed again.

Level three of the 30 day shred

So today I tried level three. I vaguely remember looking at it and attempting parts of it once back when I first bought the DVD over a year ago.

Today I had to do it properly and get used to the fact I'll be doing it every day now for the next ten days.

When you move from level one to level two it feels a huge leap. Moving to level 3? Totally different again.

It's good in that you can see why you've done certain moves in the other two levels, to get you ready for this last level.

However some moves I just couldn't do. Even the warm up is tougher doing previous cardio moves just as a warm up! I was scared what was coming next.

How about walking planks? Yep get in plank position and then one side at a time come up from your forearm onto your hands, come down then the other side. Ouch! I found this very hard. Clearly my core needs a lot more work.

When Jillian said by now you should be starting to see a six pack I was not impressed. I've seen good results so far on paper but I'm a long way from a six pack! Granted I'm not following HER diet to be fair.

Brushing that comment aside I was met with a whole host of fun moves...

Travelling push ups
Arm row and leg raise whilst in plank
Side plank
Jumping squats
Rock star jumps
Cardio whilst holding weights (such as boxing and star jumps!)

Overall the workout itself seemed to go very quickly time wise, but the moves you had to do at the time were tough and I feel I probably missed all the full number of repetitions as I couldn't keep up. 

Hopefully as with the other levels I'll just grow stronger and get used to it. Lets hope so! 

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Day 20: ten days to go!

Twenty days down, ten to go.

So how am I finding this workout plan this far down the line?

At times this week I've wanted to kill Jillian Michaels I am so tired and achey and feel I can't give anymore.  Then I complete a workout and feel great and can feel areas toning up and I worship her!

The last couple of days I will admit I've found tough. My muscles are just so tight, doing exercise continuously for this long really does push you and I am feeling very stiff and tired as a result. Some days I go to the DVD and my achilles, shoulders and abs are so tight I think I'm never going to do it.

However the American trainer is right once you train your body and push it to adapt you feel better and you feel stronger about lots of things you can achieve.

It goes to show you can do workouts when you're still feeling the pain from the day before. And being 20-25 minutes in duration you finish just when you do feel like you're about to pass out! 

So this morning I had a major lie in.I have been feeling very tired this week. I did my workout DVD and boy was it tough. You know you're feeling it when the warm up is killing you!

However before doing it I needed a push and realising it was day 20 and I could measure some results I jumped on the scales and took out my tape measure.

You can see the results for yourself in the picture below. What better motivation than that?! 

Now though I'm at the next stage, well the final stage. The last 10 days. Tomorrow I need to move on to level three. I'm scared.

Scared how tough this is going to be and can I do it. Also scared how jumpy it is as my neighbours (who we know like to moan about my jumping about!) are going to react... 

It's just ten days though and if I can get even more results by final day it'll all be worth it.

Yes I ache it but I'm healthier and fitter for it overall. I've been better this week on my diet, I've had no alcohol and eaten healthy every day.

I wasn't too bad last week but did have some alcohol on both Saturday and Sunday and ate out Saturday night (I did try to pick healthier options though) and had a picnic on Sunday (although that was pretty healthy).

Let's hope this hard work and commitment continues to pay off. I need all the strength and motivation I can get to make it through level three! 

Monday, 22 July 2013

15 days in: half way there!

Today marks my fifteenth day on my workout/healthy eating plan.

I'm half way through! Only another fifteen days to go now. I'm half way through the overall workout and after doing five days of level two I'm also half way through this next level.

Which means next up is level three... Level three which I vaguely remember trying once before a long time ago. I'm kind of nervous I have to admit.

Yes it's a workout DVD, yes I could not do it, yes I can turn it off if it gets too much. Right?

Wrong. Jillian Michaels is amazing and this is why I love her workout DVD. I don't stop, I don't give up. I really listen to her when she says speed up, keep on going, squat deeper, do those jumping jacks wider, do those 'high knees' higher. 

I only allow myself a five second break as she allows and only then if I feel like I'm on the verge of an asthma attack/passing out! 

So how has it been? As you know this is the first time I've attempted to follow the plan all the way through. 

I've followed a strict healthy diet for 13 of the 15 day so far. This is because this weekend I indulged in some alcohol and ate out. Although even then I've tried to be sensible with the food.  

So far I've lost six pounds in weight and my body shape does seem to be changing.

I have good and bad days, some days I'm tired from work, some days my muscles are still aching from the day before. However, so far I have managed to stick at it every day and no matter how I've felt before or during the DVD I've felt so good on completion...if a little sweaty in this current weather! 

Now I've made it half way and I'm determined to make it through the other half. When I've been fed up from work or had plans I need to stick to this workout has helped boost my mood and fits in easily with my time.

I am just really scared now what level three has in store, particularly since the leap from level one to level two is so huge! 

So 15 days down, 15 to go! 

Friday, 19 July 2013

Bookworm: Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick

Granted this book is pretty short, but I've  finished it in just a few days this week.

I saw the film when it came out and was a bit worried it was going to be like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. A film I am torn between liking and just not really getting it.

Of course seeing Mr Cooper features was a big swaying point for me! 

I liked the film but did find it a bit odd at times and when it first started I didn't quite get it. The book is much clearer.

Recently I bought the film on DVD so will definitely re-watch it now I've read the book.

In this fictional piece, we're taken into the world of Pat Peoples as he comes out of a mental health facility, desperate to prove he's well and a better man. Mostly to make sure he can get back with his adored wife Nikki. Nikki who can do no wrong.

The book was good as it's written in a style which cleverly conveys Pat's mind and life approach - something which I found I read very quickly. However it also puts hints in so you know what's actually going on. 

I liked the twists and turns in the book and the introduction of Tiffany. 

I did feel at times having seen the film spoilt points for me as I was picturing Bradley Cooper and Jeniffer Lawrence as the lead characters, when in books I like to make my own picture in my mind. In turn I kind of feel was Bradley Cooper a bit mis-cast for the role as he's not who I'd imagine when picturing Pat in this book.

One thing I loved was the emotions in this story - parts that make you sad, make you laugh, confuse you, make you think.

I think it's a good way to look at mental health too.

Good points
Likeable characters
Strong theme
Brings a mix of emotions

Not so great
Feels a bit crammed into too short a book perhaps?
Sometimes confusing 

On comparing the book and film I have to say if anything the book has made me like the overall story more. Pat would be pleased he got a happy ending! 

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Bookworm: One Hundred Names by Cecilia Ahern

If my last read made the reader feel a bit down, this book is definitely the tonic.

The perfect follow up to an emotionally draining read, One Hundred Names is a real feel-good tale.

Focussing on journalist Kitty Logan, the fictional story follows her journey as she tries to piece together the ultimate story her recently deceased best friend and colleague wanted to write. 

All she has are a list of 100 names and she needs to find out what connects them and what is the story. 

As is typical with Ahern, there are tough times and emotional tales to tell, but of course all must come good and have a happy ending. 

Yes some points may be cheesy and far fetched, but overall this is a lovely book to pick up your spirits and get you thinking of what's really important in life.

Good points
Feel good read
Easy read
Interesting characters
Leaves you guessing (what the link is)

Not so great
Often unrealistic/cheesy
Clever link but not as dramatic as people might have been expecting 

I have often liked books by this writer before for their feel good factor and heart warming approach and yet again Ahern hasn't failed to deliver!

Monday, 15 July 2013

Shock to the system

Today is going to be day eight of thirty.

Today is Monday which means time to weigh myself.

I've had two shocks as a result of the Thirty Day Shred and my diet. I got a shock this morning when I got on the scales (and weighed myself again). 

My body has also clearly had a shock from this workout routine and eating well. 

I've seen results!

After looking at last week's figures/my starting weight, body fat and BMI so far I've managed to achieve:

Body fat down 1.1%
BMI down 0.8%
Weight down 5.2lbs

Now you can see why I stepped back on the scales!

I'm doubtful this will occur every week, but for now this is great, just the boost I need to push on and know this is doing me good and will get results. Never mind the fact I feel a lot better for it health wise (well, apart from my sore left knee this morning!) 

My next challenge will be on Thursday, when I'll need to make the move to level two...

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Seven days in - the thirty day shred

It's Sunday morning and I'm set for another day of relaxing in the sunshine and working on my tan. 

However before I got to have a refreshing shower and get into my bikini I had something I had to do first. My workout DVD.

As I mentioned in my last post, I'm trying to complete my Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred workout DVD. In this, the American personal trainer claims you can lose up to 20lbs in weight (if you follow the workout DVD and her recommended food plan).

I'm not following Michaels' diet as it seems to pretty much reflect a healthy diet, something which I'm trying to follow myself so don't want to go down any fad shortcut diet routes. 

The idea of this plan is to get me back on track and not get a quick fox solution which sees me then putting everything back on within weeks!

Anyway, I'll get back to the point. How is it going? 

I'm now seven days in. I have done the workout on level one for seven days straight and I've eaten healthily (including no booze) for seven days now.

Today I'm off to a BBQ at my parents but  I'm having salad with my meat anyway and not drinking alcohol so it's not really going to be that much off 'plan'. 

So far I've found I need to learn some patience and not expect results too quickly and I will try remember this at weigh in. Something else I'm debating whether to stick to my usual Monday morning weigh in or to for the sake of this plan weigh myself every ten days (as I complete each level).

I'm finding the DVD is becoming a habit now and not so much a chore to do and as I'm used to the level one workout I'm finding it feels like I'm completing it so much more quickly. 

I do ache though. Right now it's my achilles and my shoulders in the main. From prior experience I know it's going to be my abs that burn when I move onto level two.

I'm finding once I start doing the workout most of my aches I forget about and I can complete it. I'm interested to see if I'll feel the same come level two though.

Right now I guess you could say it's going well. I'm a tad achey, but that's good because to me it signifies hard work and I seem to be sticking to my healthy eating too and feeling so much better for it.

I feel so much more alert for the increased water intake, but the constant visits to the bathroom at night are pretty annoying (4 times the other night waking me up!) 

It is helping knowing my boyfriend is eating healthy and doing Insanity too I must admit. 

For now I'll keep at it and keep you posted! 

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Control freak

Those that know me well will not be surprised to hear me label myself as a bit of a control freak.

I love to be in control, whether in my personal life or at work.

This often causes me problems.

I get very frustrated and down when I don't have control and things are out of my control and can't be fixed quickly or within a reasonable time.

I am one of those To Do list people, but I want to tick off that list every day and not have long term items that I have to rely on others for. Not a fan. 

Therefore of late I have been a tad down, frustrated, angry etc because lots of things I want to control but can't. 

In turn I've been 'letting my hair down' a tad too much and have let my healthy eating and exercise slip.

Last week I had loads of junk food - burgers, a Chinese, chocolate, cakes etc and I had just one day where I exercised. Topped up with lots of booze. 

The result? Over the last few weeks I've put on weight and am now feeling flabby, tired and a failure. 

So on Sunday night I decided enough is enough and I have to start taking control.

And where is the true area I can do this?

With my diet and exercise of course.

Hence I am now being strict with my food and drink intake, now on Day 4 (Thursday) and I am ensuring I regularly exercise.

Knowing I was on the 'late shift' this week (7pm finish) I knew I needed to be realistic. I also knew that I needed to do something different with my exercise as my spinning routine was becoming exactly that - too routine and the same thing.

My body needed a shock.

So although I wanted to do Insanity, I knew my downstairs neighbours would not be so keen with all the jumping etc. And so I am where I am now.

Doing the 30 Day Shred Jillian Michaels DVD. I've blogged about this before and how good the workout is for such a short (20 minutes) DVD to do at home.

I've never done it for the whole 30 days though and have always used it as an exercise to do when I miss spin or can't be bothered with the gym or the weather outside is no good for a run.

I'm currently on day four (technically I did it on Sunday and it's day five, but I ate bad so am not counting it!) 

I am finding it hard to stick to the healthy eating as the sun is making me crave ice cream and barbecues! The exercise has been a pain once I get in from work past 830pm and am starving for my dinner.

However I find if I push myself I feel better for it after.

I've also decided to try blog about it on here to try and share my thoughts, progress and hopefully results. 

Here's to getting shredded! 

As Jillian says Don't Give Up Unless You're Puking Fainting or Dying.

Here's goes...

Bookworm: The Light Between Oceans by M L Stedman

What a sad tale.

I picked this book as it seemed to offer something different - set in the past and about a boat that turns up with a dead man in it and a crying baby.

Not your typical read.

What I didn't bargain on is the emotional rollercoaster it would take me on. 

All about right and wrong, love and decisions, this book is very powerful and stays with you.

I loved the fact how sad it was and also hated the fact at the same time, as it can be quite draining at times. 

You totally lose yourself in it though. Numerous times I've been reading it on the train or in bed and lost track of time, whizzing past stations or shocked by the time when checking the clock. A sign of a good book.

I left the book still unsure how I feel about the main characters - Isabel, Hannah and Tom - and in fact many others.

This is because the book really tugs the heart strings and makes you question what is really right or wrong.

Good points
Good escapism
Makes you think
Something different 

Not so good
Pretty depressing 
Leaves you unsure/unable to reach a conclusion as to who is right/what is right 

Overall I would recommend this book, granted I am a sucker for sad books and many would find this far too draining - even I did at times).

If you fancy something different and don't mind your heart strings pulled at and your morals questioned then this is a good pick! 

Friday, 28 June 2013

Bookworm: The Soldier's Wife by Joanna Trollope

The Soldier's Wife was leant to me from my Mum. I looked at the cover and wasn't too eager, but as always thought I'd give it a go!

In this fictional tale the reader gets taken into the world of being an army wife and the complications involved when soldiers return from service and are on breaks. 

I'm not married to a soldier and don't really have experience of those living with someone in the army or working in that field. 

However if the author's story is to be believed it makes for a sad tale - lots of lonely time on your own (expected and what is imagined), but moreso a very traditional and old fashioned life in favour of the soldier and traditions and non stop restrictions for the wife/girlfriend. A life of feeling trapped and taken for granted.

The key focus of the book are Alexa and Dan, their twin daughters and Alexa's daughter from a previous relationship. Add to that a male best friend and two sets of concerned parents/grandparents and things get a bit complicated. Not least when the soldiers try to get back into normal life and have just faced such awful sights and events.

I found I enjoyed the book in that it was an easy read, wasn't taxing on your journey to and from work when you want to unwind and I did want to read more and what happened next. 

However, in terms of a story and what happens, I can't help but feel not a lot if I'm honest. 

I felt like I kept on reading and kept on waiting for something to happen of importance and nothing that much did.

Characters were well described and you could imagine them and their situation and I felt the frustrations of the wives. The way the story dawdles on and the ending left me feeling a bit 'so what' in attitude.

There were parts with some drama and a guessing as to how things would turn out. Yet there was nothing major that made you gasp in shock or feel like the turn of events was unexpected. 

Yes I did want to keep reading on to find out what happened, but more because I was looking to see if something big would occur overall!

Good points
Easy read
Feel good read overall 
Good descriptions

Not so great
No real story or plot I felt, which is a pretty major part of a book! 

All in all not one of my favourites as I'm sure you can tell, but not offensive or particularly unpleasant just a bit 'non'. 

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Blogging birthday: two years old!

Wow TheMelican is now over two years old!

I've got mixed feelings about this - I'm feeling a bit disappointed right now since my two year blog 'anniversary' was actually on June 15th and I missed it!  

I'm also incredibly pleased that two years on my blog is still here, getting visits and I'm still writing for it.

Over this time I've written about fitness, music, social media, job hunting, spinning, horse riding, weight loss, love, friendship, family, relationships, books, the theatre, films, poetry, art, culture, beauty, short stories and lots more. 

If I leave it too long a gap to update the blog I soon hear about it, people notice and complain they've missed reading my posts.

When I first started writing this I was looking to get a new job and move on from my old company. Now I've nearly been at my current company for two years. 

Two years ago when I sat down and started to pour my feelings out I was feeling pretty fed up. Tonight sitting here blogging (on my phone) I'm feeling a bit sad and shameful.

Of late I've had a few 'issues' in my life - both work wise and in my personal life. I've not been feeling great if I'm honest. However tonight I decided to tune into a TV documentary on BBC called Lifesavers. 

You know when you lose a loved one or get some shocking news about someone close to you? 

This program has had the same impact. Put things into perspective. Life is too short.

There is a 17 year old girl on here with a completely smashed hip and pelvis. Now there is a young man who got smashed over the head with a hammer and is not responding after a long period of time and the prognosis 'isn't hopeful'.

It's so true you really don't appreciate what you've got until it's gone in life. 

I hate to be so sombre in mood and so serious. But I also feel this is a reality check opportunity too, something I think I've probably needed lately. 

So on that note I am going to go back to focussing on these inspiring people in the NHS and try to stop whinging quite so much!

Here's to another year of blogging and some more thoughtful and less whiney posts! 

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Bookworm: Lone Wolf by Jodi Picoult

Reading this book was like going back to Jodi Picoult's old style writing (not like the new The Storyteller). But going back to her good work.

Rather than finding the style repetitive, as I started to with other more recent pieces by this author, I found the familiarity comforting. 

Those of you who've read fiction by this American writer before will know how she often tells a story within a story and likes to feature hard decisions and moral dilemmas often centred around some form of court case.

Yes this book does that again, but I really enjoyed it.

In fact on finishing the book today I was left feeling rather emotional, it's a touching read and does offer twists and turns and is not as predictable as you'd expect. 

Centred on Luke Warren - a man who has spent his life living with and understanding wolves with a difference. The book tells of a family's struggle to come together and make some tough decisions . 

You will find it hard not to love and at other times hate brother and sister Edward and Cara. Or feel sympathy for Mum Georgie. 

Good points
Good twists
Moving storyline
The side story I found interesting 
You want to keep reading
Strong characters 

Not so great
Yes it is the same predictable style this author always uses
Some may find parts cheesy

Overall I'd recommend this read and have to say this was a positive book loan from my Mum this time round! 

Friday, 21 June 2013

Spinning: a year on

Sitting on my sofa on a Friday night in my PJs, hungover and having stuffed my face with enough junk food to feed a family for a week, I am about as far away as you can get from a spinning session. However, today marks the day of my 'spinning anniversary', yes it's been a whole year since I discovered spinning.

I remember going to my first class and now I've got familiar with the various instructors and classes at my gym I know I picked a good session to start with. The Thursday night class is a lot calmer and you have more opportunity to go at your own pace if needed. In some of them the instructors are personal trainers and they are like army sergeants!

As I am such a spinaholic now, I thought I'd share a bit about my favourite fitness hobby - why I like it and what it actually involves.

What happens in a spinning class?
Randomly a few people have actually thought spinning is as the name suggests and you spin round and round in a class. No you don't spin round in circles. Spinning is based on stationary bikes that are specially created to allow participants to do the various positions/moves on them - standing, squatting, hill climbs, sprints and so on. At my gym there is a separate room/studio in which around 25-30 bikes are set out in a semi circle featured around the instructor's bike so everyone can see them wherever they are placed in the studio. A spinning class varies from 45 minutes to 60 minutes and can only be called spinning if the instructor is qualified, else it gets referred to as 'RPM'. The class is based around loud, pumping music with a strong beat which you move along to and you can do the class in a dark room or with UV lights or even flashing lights - as if you are in a nightclub! You will find it hard to walk after your first few sessions, particularly the next day and your bum will ache I won't lie! My boyfriend reliably tells me it's quite uncomfortable for men and their bits and pieces too!

On the bike you need to adjust it to suit you, you adjust the height of the handlebars, the height of the saddle, how close the saddle is to the handlebars and of course the resistance once the class starts.

The instructor will shout out the position to get into and often count you down into them and will advise on resistance whether to do a turn up or down and whether it is a full, quarter or half a turn.

How the class runs depends on the instructor, so in classes I've been in there have been exercises/moves such as:

Squats - either actually doing a squat whilst standing, but stopped on the bike or holding in your abs and lowering your legs so the tension is on your quads and you continue to pedal
Spin/sprint - whether off the saddle or seated you have to pedal as fast as you can
Hover position (off the saddle, leaning forward with your bottom just over the seat)
'Position 4' standing upright with your abs in
Seating upright
Seated leaning forward
Seated arm push ups (with arms out for biceps and in for triceps)
Standing arm push ups (with arms out for biceps and in for triceps)
One armed cycling
One leg focused pedalling
Super slow pedalling
Hill climbs (very very high resistance)
Various circuits

Some classes include a variety of moves and constant changes stand up/sit down/stand up/sit down, whilst others focus on blocks of set moves. All these sessions will be hard, but some instructors take a bootcamp approach to running the class, some walk round and turn up your resistance and shout at you to go faster, some are more concerned about technique, some really get into their own spin experience and shout or scream.

A key part to the spinning session is the music - it's got to be fast and bassy enough. I for one am a fan of those classes that feature garage, house, old school clubbing tunes and R&B. When it's dark you can often catch me having a bit of a sing along to some of the songs and if I get songs I like I go so much faster, I get some sort of hidden super boost to my speed!

The last five minutes are used to do stretches - the instructor will take you through a set of appropriate ones and show you how to do them.

* You definitely need a towel - you sweat profusely
* You definitely need a bottle of water (a big one)
* Get a saddle cover or padded trousers or both (the saddles hurt!)
* Some people wear cycling gloves to allow grip on the handlebars (you slip a lot where so sweaty and some bike handlebars are
made from a rougher material so can hurt your hands)
* Try find out what the classes are like at the gym you go to so you can try out a 'calmer' version of the class. If you go to a
more extreme one the first time round it might put you off!
* Go at your own pace and build up (speed and resistance wise)
* Keep your focus on technique - shoulders relaxed and abs tight (you will feel the pain/after-burn more and see better results)
* Make sure you have short or tight fitted bottoms on so nothing can get caught up in the pedals or wheels
* Some people have special cycling footwear which can be 'clipped in' to the pedals to help them feel more secure and be able to
go even quicker
* Keep an eye on the instructors legs/speed to get an idea if your resistance is too high/low
* If you're a girl and have long hair, pull it back, it will get in your face and you will sweat and want to keep cool

What are the benefits?
1. It's great fun
2. I've really found since I've been going it's helped me in my weight loss (you can burn an average 400-700 calories per session)
3. Great for sculpting your body shape - biggest change I've seen in my body shape from doing spin overall (particular my bottom, legs and arms)
4. It takes your mind off things, good stress-buster
5. Great for strengthening your core
6. Great for developing your fitness
7. Focused session which really pushes you, achieve a lot in not a huge amount of time, I realised how I hadn't properly pushed
myself in gym sessions over the years once I started these classes
8. Even if you are tired or fed up it's great because the music and high energy of the class boosts your mood and pushes you on

I could go on about this class and how much I love it, but you'll be pleased to know I'm now going to come to a stop. A year on I still thoroughly enjoy this form of exercise and would recommend it to everyone - we get all shapes, sizes and ages in our class and if you have any injuries you can advise the teacher before and they'll advise what you can/can't do. At times of late just when I've started to feel I might be getting a tad bored with the class then suddenly they seem to get updated/amended! And to be fair I do go to up to 5 classes a week!

On that note I'm off to enjoy my lazy relaxing evening for a bit before tomorrow morning's next spinning session!

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Bookworm: Eloise by Judy Finnigan

Eloise was another classic lent to me by my Mum.

As Judy Finnigan works alongside her husband Richard Madeley to recommend books through their Book Club (often seen in WHSmith stores), I was interested to see what she could offer herself.

This story tells the tale of Eloise a cancer victim and mother who dies young. The book focuses primarily on best friend Cathy and her struggle to 'help' Eloise after her death after experiencing supernatural occurrences and 'messages'. 

Throughout the book Finnigan obsesses over locations and eateries in Cornwall. She's a big fan of the location and wanted to get that across. Well unfortunately she does that too well and at times I wondered if she was now doing PR for the area. I wouldn't mind if the places added to the story but they don't  and in fact they detract from you getting into the story at times.

Similarly the writing style is not direct enough and often feels like a person's account of a story and so often parts feel rushed or not well described.

There are some parts I was surprised by and found compelling, but unfortunately this was a small occurrence. 

The so-called ghost parts aren't particularly chilling and that comes from someone like me that jumps at everything!

At times I would feel sympathy for the main character and her mental health past, but then this would be short lived because the writing style would take me out of the story again. 

Just when you felt like you were getting into the story and using it as escapism this would keep happening. 

The book is easy to read however and isn't particularly taxing on the brain. So it's ideal for commuting and lunchbreaks when trying to unwind.

Judy says she was inspired to write the book based on the early death of her close friend Caron Keating, daughter of Gloria Hunniford. However none of the story is based on real life and the only other inspiration/reference is the writer's love of Cornwall and books of the thriller and ghost story genres.

Good points
Easy to read
Relatively novel idea for a storyline

Not so great
Too much description of Cornwall restaurants and sights, not enough description of characters and situations
Bit far fetched at times
Often scenes/events are rushed 
None of the characters are hugely likeable

It's not the most awful book I've ever read but I can't imagine I'll be rushing out to buy her next book (if she ever does another one).

Sunday, 9 June 2013

The power of compliments

I'm currently lying in bed feeling fed up, tired and hungover (yes alcohol probably is the reason for all three feelings listed!)

However one thing has just given me a bit of a boost - looking at my photos from last night and then looking back at some old photos. 

The reason being? Well happy memories from last night obviously. The main reason though is comparing my body from then to now. 

Quite a difference.

In fact lately I've been feeling a bit down for a few reasons, which we won't go into, but most days I've been given a similar boost. Compliments.

How nice is it when you work so hard to improve your weight and fitness and other people congratulate you on it?

I feel - as I've mentioned before - I've reached a stage where I'm on a wavelength and healthy eating and exercise are now a way of life for me. 

However we all have ups and downs and blocks and sometimes feel a bit disheartened. As soon as someone compliments me it just pushes me back on track. It's great.

Over the last week I've had compliments how I look from friends and work colleagues. The guy on my gym reception complimented me on my dress. Another guy on the same evening nearly walked into something looking at me (yes I know I'm as shocked as you are!) And I've also had various car beeps and wolf whistles. 

Now I'm not saying this being vain or showing off, I just wanted to share as it's really made me smile and really inspired me to keep at it.

I've never been overly confident about looks or shape and so I guess I'm also in a bit of shock to think I may actually be getting to a point where for once I am relatively okay with how I look.

I noticed for instance at two recent social events we've been to and I've taken photos I've actually thought I look okay. For years I would look at photos with me in and delete them or crop them to 'cut out my big arms' for example. Now I'm not feeling I need to do that.

And do you know what it feels bloody great!

Granted, how I feel when I step on the scales tomorrow after some of the food and booze I've indulged in this week, may be a whole different matter! 

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Bookworm: The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald

I started to read the first few pages of this book on my flight home from a recent short holiday. Then I got a bit busy and neglected it somewhat. 

As most people will be aware the Hollywood film version of this story has recently been released in the UK and I went to view it soon after its release. I'd never read the book.

Yes the film was a bit long and the costumes/scenes were rather OTT but overall I loved the film.

In fact after watching it I went onto my Kindle when home and downloaded the ebook to read.

After finally getting into the book properly I've read it very quickly and in fact found myself surprised how short this fictional piece was.

As per the film the story at the heart of this book is one I thoroughly enjoyed, although it did leave me feeling very sad.

I love the descriptions of the scenery, the characters and the looks of the time. 

Unfortunately my imaginings were heavily influenced by seeing the film and I found myself picturing Leonardo DiCaprio et al quite often and not forming my own ideas as I normally would when reading.

The style at times was a bit confusing and you felt a bit all over the place, but I feel this is intended - when the book's main narrator experiences his mad afternoon/evening with Tom Buchanan and his mistress the writing does reflect the chaos that ensued. 

Good points
Good escapism
Great descriptions
Strong characters
Compelling story

Not so great
Style sometimes not as expected
Order of events in the book sometimes I felt could have more impact if covered differently (however again this could be the influence of seeing how things were laid out on screen).

Overall a recommended read and a book I am glad I've now experienced, even if I have done things the wrong way round! 

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Bookworm: Tigers in Red Weather by Liza Klaussmann

I devoured this book in two days.

Granted, I'd probably been desperate for a bit of fiction in my life (see last book review) and I was on holiday so had plenty of time to read whilst lying back on a sunlounger. 

However, I liked this book for being different. Set across a number of years in America, Klaussmann's fictional tale is told through a number of key characters in the book. Each point in time retold in a new way through a new chapter through the eyes of the next character taking their turn to talk.

I could not put the book down, I constantly wanted to know what happened next.

The descriptions of the characters was extremely detailed and you really feel you can picture them all in your mind as you read on. In turn, the writer's style involves such vivid descriptions of places, clothing, smells, sounds, foods and drinks, that you actually place yourself in the story. I truly lost myself in the book.

Titles often give away an inkling of the nature of the book, but not in this case and I was constantly wondering  what brought about the choice. To me this book does not offer what you expected from it (but in a good way).

Let yourself take in the author's many strong characters and find yourself hating and loving a number of them, they all bring about powerful opinions and emotions. Cousins Nick and Helena, husbands Avery and Hughes. Relatives Daisy and Ed. 

The blurb might make you think you're reading a series of different summer holidays at one location set back in time. A pleasant tale of how different generations of a family utilise the family holiday home.

Klaussmann's debut novel is a lot more than that and offers something much darker and addictive than you'll be expecting. 

Good points
Strong characters
Great descriptions
Easy to read style
Something different 

Not so great
Not quite sure I totally got what was happening/had happened at times, often points are suggested rather than actually explicitly described

So my return to my fiction has been pretty positive on this occasion - a good book, offering something different, a bit dark and easy to read and relax to when you're trying to unwind.