Monday, 29 April 2013

Sunbed saving syndrome

Wow. Nearly two weeks since I last blogged. Even then it was a book review.

I've been pretty busy of late. What with work, social life and diet/fitness!

To be honest the blog has gone at the bottom of the pile (well it's not even made the pile if I'm honest!) That is until the last day or so when various people - whether friends, family or work colleagues/friends - have all commented on the fact the blog has gone so quiet.

Nothing like a reminder people actually do like what you do (well at least read it) to give you a much needed kick up the backside!

So here I am. I'm hurriedly typing away on my iPhone on the train home after rushing out the office to make sure I left on time and attempted to get an earlier train back. The reason being? Spinning.

My diet/exercise/weight journey has been somewhat mixed of late, due mostly to my stress levels being increased and my personal time being decreased. End result? Default reaction of being lazy and stuffing my face with food and booze of course.

I've had the usual confusion, doing less exercise one week and not being as strict with healthy eating then seeing a big weight loss. Or this week's fascinating result after two days of exercise only and five days of bad food and booze, resulting in no weight gained at all! How does that work??

Today I have been walking a tad duck-like and wincing as I walk, all thanks to one reason. Yesterday I went for a 5k run outside. I've not done this for over a month and don't get me wrong it was nice to do for a change and to be in the fresh air.

However the reason I went for a run, well HAD to go for a run does not amuse me.

Readers, followers, friends, let me introduce you to Sunbed Saving Syndrome.

You know those annoying people when you're on a typical package holiday who get up at the crack of dawn, chuck their garish towel over a sunlounger round the pool and then sod off for half the morning elsewhere?

Irritated already at the thought? Me too.

Well, how great to find the same thing is now happening at spinning, with the bikes.

Granted, people used to put a towel or bottle on a bike to save it just before a class, or the odd annoying person would leave something of theirs over a bike and come back in the studio mere minutes before spinning began, but it was a minority.

Now it seems every bloody muppet is doing it! Meaning you have to get to a class earlier and earlier and if like me you dare to have a job and can't get there early you are left with one of the (ever increasing) bikes that wobbles, squeaks, has a resistance dial that doesn't work etc.

This was already causing me to rant. We all know I love a good moan.

Yesterday however was the final straw for me. I got up early on a Sunday morning, I got to the class about 20 minutes early and there were NO BIKES.

Every single bike was covered in a towel, water bottle or blue roll. And there was not one single person to be seen.

All the bikes had been 'saved' like aforementioned sunloungers by people that weren't even there.

So we had to leave the studio without spinning.

The gym has the option to have a sign up system but currently only does this on one of the six classes on offer.

I'm now off to attempt tonight's class and the gym staff be warned if I don't get in tonight I will not be simply leaving the gym and taking this lying down. Oh no, true British tourist loudmouth behaviour will be well in force!

Be warned!

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Bookworm: The Colour of Milk, by Nell Leyshon

What a sad sad book.

I first saw this book recommended in Stylist magazine.

The style reminded me of Room (if you've not read it check it out).

The Colour of Milk tells the tale of Mary, one of four daughters in a family in the 1800s living and working - very hard - on a farm.

She's always been different with her crippled leg and her hair (the colour of milk) and also because how strong a character she is, she more than speaks her mind.

This book is written by Mary and tells in a short story her life and how she moves from one hard lifestyle to another.

The style makes this book extremely easy and quick to read and Leyshon keeps you hooked, wanting to know what's going to happen next.

At first I found Mary an odd and rude character, but it didn't take long for me to warm to her and soon pity her.

Although Mary can't read or write (I'm not saying much more for fear of spoiling the story) you can vividly picture characters and scenery.

I finished the story and overall felt so sad, but still that I was a fan of the book for the emotions it provokes.

Good points
Very different, offers something new
Strong characters
Easy read
Keeps you hooked

Not so great
Would have liked a longer book, I hadn't realised it was a short story when downloading it to Kindle
Sometimes unpleasant subject matter to read

I'd recommend this read to people, simply for the fact it is just so different. Granted it won't be for all, but you can't help but feel gripped by the story regardless of why whether overall you like it or not.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Bookworm: No Child of Mine by Susan Lewis

This is my second book now by Susan Lewis.

Touching on a disturbing and hard-to-read subject, the story features the life of social worker Alex Lake, who has her own tough background haunting her.

As I found with this author's writing style previously, I couldn't put the book down once I'd started and was well and truly hooked.

You relate to the characters and can picture the people, scenes and personalities. I went through a host of emotions, mostly sadness due to the subject matter.

Again I was pleased to find myself surprised with various twists and turns in the book and things weren't as obvious as I'd started to worry they might be.

However, without going into details and spoiling the story for anyone I had similar feelings about this book as with Lewis' last offering - the ending. I feel this writer has such powerful stories that keep you hooked and then she spoils it by pushing things too far and going a tad too far fetched.

Good points
Easy to read style and imagine the story in front of you
Well handled subject matter

Not so great
Gets too far fetched and makes you lose believability/faith in the writer

Judging by the above I guess it's clear overall I found this book a winner. I just felt a tad let down by the turn that changed my hooked interest into more a feeling of doubt and questioning how likely the situation would be in reality.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Bookworm: The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh

The Glass Palace is the third and final book given to me by an Indian colleague, a fellow book lover.

I've actually sent her some books now too and can't wait to hear what she thinks of them (Gone Girl, Life of Pi and Room).

Recently she told me this final book is actually one of her favourite books. This made me even more interested to read it and see if I felt the same.

Quite a chunky book, I did feel a little daunted when I saw this 547 page offering and its small writing (yes I do realise I sound like a child commenting on the text size!)

I was also hesitant when I saw the book covered history. I'm not the biggest fan of war or history books. That is unless they are written in a certain way - such as the series written by Victoria Hislop.

Although I had a slow start with the story, I soon found myself getting lost in the magical descriptions, characters and events.

Ghosh has a great way with words. Whether I was reading in my flat, in a bustling coffee shop on my break or on a busy train, I felt in another world when reading this story - true escapism.

The smells, sounds and scenes filled my head as I read my way through the different historical settings.

Yes there are numerous characters in this book and at times you have to remind yourself who is who. However, the way the story spans three generations and three locations you really feel like you've lived alongside the characters and experienced their journeys through life.

As a reader, although reading a fictional tale you feel you're getting an education into the history of these areas and the war and fighting involved.

Yes there are lots of details of war and historical information, but Ghosh covers it in a captivating way. It forms part of the main characters' stories and builds on their tale, rather than listing facts and times from history.

Good points
Learn about different locations, ways of life and times in history
Strong characters
Vivid descriptions
A rollercoaster of emotions

Not so great
Perhaps too many characters
Quite heavygoing at times, towards the end quite a depressing read

So yet again another enjoyable reading experience thanks to a heartfelt gift. No it's not my favourite ever book and there were times I got a bit fed up with the war talk and lost track of characters, but overall the book left me thinking about life's journey, the importance of family, ambition and love.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Easter entertainment - bank holiday ballet

Twirling skirts, fairy-light steps, soothing music and twinkly costumes all formed part of just some of the Easter Monday experience for me and my family.

No, we weren't in fancy dress for our celebrations, we were actually at the local Queen's Theatre in Hornchurch viewing the Moscow Ballet perform Coppelia.

This show tells the tale of a professor who creates a group of dolls, one of which - Coppelia - becomes the object of affection for a local boy.

However all is not as it seems and the professor wants to bring his favourite doll to life by sacrificing a human. Who better than the male who's fallen in love with her?

Unlike other ballets I'd been to this performance had an interval between each of its three acts. Whether this is because of how the Moscow Ballet like to work or due to the small size of our local theatre's stage I don't know.

As always when I watch ballet, I was captured by the movements of these talented men and women - spinning, bending, floating, jumping and leaping. Yet again I couldn't decide where to look next. This time a lot of the music I hadn't heard before, but I still found it relaxing and soothing.

The three sections in this display include celebratory dances, stiff doll-like moves, marriage ceremonies, romantic lifts and comical acts to name just a few.

Despite being in our small local theatrical setting the sets worked well and the dancers moved fluidly across the stage.

However I did find myself comparing the ballet to those I'd seen previously, performed by the English National Ballet and at the London Coliseum.

Obviously The Nutcracker and Sleeping Beauty are very different shows. One key thing I think made a difference was the two intervals, I felt these reduced the magical feel somewhat and stopped you getting into the story quite so much this time around.

In addition, I don't know if it's the style of this ballet company or the production itself, but the dancing at times didn't always seem so elegant or as synchronised and routines as tight.

That is not to say I didn't enjoy this show though, I thoroughly liked the performance and it was amazing to see such a genre in my little local theatre!

The other beauty of being in a small local theatre - despite the dancers' steps sounding louder - was the fact wherever you sat you'd get a great view.

Regardless of where I was and who was performing, my love for ballet is still going strong.

I love the calming influence of the music and the enchantment of the captivating dancing style. Not to mention the beautiful costumes and the way after each visit I long to be a little girl again playing dress up and being that little magic fairy, angel or princess.