Sunday, 31 March 2013

Just what I needed

Trying not to do some sort of countdown, but I've realised that we're now on day three of the four day bank holiday weekend.

So far so good. This break has been just what I needed I think.

Good Friday was indeed very good (particularly since I didn't seem hungover from the night before's work drinks). A lazy start to the day filled with hot cross buns and chocolate treats. Then a family day at my parents with a big roast dinner and catching up until the early hours.

Saturday I woke up feeling stuffed to the brim, so decided a healthy day and spinning was in order. Then a relaxing evening in with my man.

Today, Easter Sunday, again I've been 'good' with healthy eating and spinning this morning at the gym. I've had a lovely relaxing day a lovely hot bubble bath, reading a good book, lying on the sofa watching some TV. And now I'm waiting for my man to get home so we can enjoy a nice evening together, probably going to see something at the cinema.

It's hard as although I don't want to reach Monday since it marks the final day of the bank holiday, I'm excited to see it.

Easter Monday means another family day. I'm going to have a nice lie in, then head to the gym for spinning. After a few hours at home to myself (likely featuring some chocolate treats!) I'm meeting my parents and Auntie for an early dinner out. Once we've eaten we're off to the local theatre where my boyfriend will meet us to watch the Moscow Ballet perform Coppelia. What a great way to end the break.

So for now I'll carry on chilling on the sofa waiting for my man to get here.

And rest assured there'll be a blog on the way after tomorrow's latest theatre visit!

Saturday, 30 March 2013

This temple needs a break

We're here in the Easter bank holiday weekend, four days off from work and an excuse to chill out and stuff our faces!

As per my last post I was super keen and excited to get to Good Friday so I could indulge in my Mum's yummy roast lamb dinner.

Originally I'd planned to unwind on Thursday night and go to spinning to get my metabolism working before the onslaught of fattening food up ahead. However, I'd ended up leaving work late and missed my spin class so I was soon easily swayed to instead join my work lot in some pre-bank holiday drinks.

The end result? No surprise here, what it always is... I drank lots of wine, Prosecco and of course jägerbombs were involved and then when my boyfriend came to get me I needed some junk food - cut to McDonalds and chocolate! Not the original healthy evening planned, but I realised I needed it and I was glad I went.

So the Thursday night spinning got dropped. Fair enough. Oh well on Good Friday we had until 2pm until we needed to be at my parents so plenty of time for some exercise beforehand. What really happened? We got lazy and instead got up late, had hot cross buns for breakfast and also had some chocolate Easter treats before leaving the flat!

Oh well yet again I have to say it's Easter. I'm entitled to have a break and not stick to eating healthily and exercising all the time.

I wasn't let down by the meal at my Mum's. I didn't think I would be. Oh boy did I make the most of a day off from eating healthily though! We had a huge roast dinner, alcohol, homemade baklava for afters. Then later in the evening we had some nibbles (spring rolls, tempura prawns etc).

By the time we made our way home in the early hours I was so full up!

There was no way I was missing my spin class this morning after all that food, so off I went.

And that is when I started to suffer. They say the body is a temple. Well this one well and truly needs a rest.

From just two days off from exercise and eating lots of fattening food, I found spinning was a real struggle. I was really sleepy and felt so lethargic. Don't get me started on how dehydrated I was either!

So right now my pile of Easter chocolate goods is staying on the side in the kitchen Already it's been added to with two small Easter eggs each from my parents.

However I think for now today and tomorrow is going to be booze free and full of healthy food. I've already consumed lots of water today and its starting to make me feel better.

Then bring on Easter Monday, at that point I'll allow myself again to indulge in some chocolate (and I feel with the amount we've got I'll be planning in chocolate treat days for the next few weeks!)

Obviously the fact that Monday is weigh in day has nothing whatsoever to do with this planning...

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Easter eats

I'm sitting here watching MasterChef on TV and yet again I'm thinking about this weekend.

After making it through one more day of work most of us can look forward to a long weekend ahead, a whole four days to rest up.

I for one can't wait. I feel so rundown right now I feel fit to drop!

Plus, I won't lie, I'm not religious. So this weekend is Easter and it should mean thinking of stories from the Bible and what this time of year is really about. However like many people nowadays, I'll admit I'm focused more on seeing family and Easter eggs.

In fact at work today after our team meeting I gave my team a selection of Easter gifts, well treats. What were they? Various animal shaped chocolates - various bunnies, chicks, carrots (well carrot shaped) and eggs. Everyone in our team has a pretty sweet tooth it has to be said so they were all pretty pleased.

As I've been counting down the days until this break a key item in my mind is food.

Yes, eating healthily and exercising regularly clearly food or rather 'naughty' food is going to be top of my mind.

This week has been ridiculous, I have constantly found myself daydreaming and fantasising of all sorts of culinary delights.

The other night when my boyfriend got home from work, we found ourselves giggling away at how food-obsessed I've become this week. I just kept reeling off item after item of food I could eat.

And what's started this all off?

My Mum. Well, my Mum's roast dinner.

Recently I blogged about childhood memories and I have to say Mum's roast dinners would certainly be a key one. They always say you always love your Mum's roasts the best and for me that is so true. Nothing can beat it.

In particular roast lamb. So when my parents invited me and my boyfriend over for a meal on Good Friday and then told me it was going to be roast lamb I became a woman obsessed.

I am actually counting down to when I can eat that mouthwatering meal.

We are spending time with my family on Friday and on Easter Monday I've talked everyone in to going to our local theatre to try out some ballet. Otherwise we don't have much planned since as per usual my boyfriend unfortunately has to work most of it.

Both of us are watching our weight and trying to keep on track so I didn't want to go overboard, but it wouldn't be Easter without some basics. So of course I've got some hot cross buns, Cadbury Creme eggs (my fave), Cadbury mini eggs (my man's faves) and some Malteaser mini bunnies (which we can share).

Aside from desperately trying to get hold of some Cadbury Egg n Spoon (if you haven't tried them do it, they are gorgeous!) these are the only treats I plan to have in my flat. Of course if my Mum wants to stuff us silly on Friday I'm certainly not going to argue!

So whilst I sit here admiring the talent in front of me on MasterChef and look forward to getting tomorrow's working day out the way, the main thing in my mind right now is without a doubt that roast dinner meal.

Mum, don't let me down!

Monday, 25 March 2013

A weekend of childhood memories

As Monday appears we all seem to do the same thing – catch up on what everybody did on their two days off and then start the countdown to the next weekend! This week even moreso as we’ve got a bank holiday weekend coming up, meaning only four days of working this week and then the same next week. I for one will be extremely thankful of the break – although not the rushed days before and after it to make up for the lost days of work!

So in true British fashion let me tell you all about my weekend. I’m particularly keen to share this one as it was so nice.

Work is still pretty hectic (seems to have been the case since 2013 began!) so on Friday I was keen to just head home and chill out, which is exactly what I did. Then this weekend my boyfriend wasn’t working due to his rota so we had two days together planned.

Saturday of course had to start with spinning! Even though it was freezing and snowing out off we went and my boyfriend joined me this time – typically he likes to avoid the bikes and hit the gym instead. As always I really enjoyed spinning and afterwards we just enjoyed a relaxed afternoon indoors sorting bits and pieces out. We had an early dinner, and then headed off into London as we’d got tickets to a show.

I’ve probably mentioned them before but I purchased the tickets last year – they are all part of the Michael Grandage season at the Noel Coward Theatre and I got a great deal. If you bought tickets to all 5 plays you paid no booking fee and there were tickets (albeit high up) for just £10 each. A bargain and a fantastic way to try new theatrical experiences (I’ve typically been a musical kind of girl).

We’d already heard the play lasted just 90 minutes and there was no interval and as we braved the cold and sleet outside I must admit a part of me did start to wonder was it worth it traipsing up to London for an hour and a half just to come back again? However, the play does star Judi Dench who I was very excited about seeing and also Ben Whishaw - who my boyfriend was quick to tell me both appeared in the latest James Bond movie.

When we got to the theatre and I saw we were right at the top and right at the back, again I was a little dubious, but I needn’t have worried. I’d realty recommend Peter & Alice not just for the famous cast, but for the story itself. A powerful mix of sad, comical and fantasy storybook scenes. Most people I imagine will have read Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan at some point in their lives and so the tale is easy to relate to for the audience. Dench plays Alice Hargreaves who the fictional character was based on and Wishaw is Peter Llewelyn Davies, again used as the basis for the fictional boy who never grows old.

I won’t go into too much detail in case people want to go experience it for themselves, but the set was cleverly used and the journey the audience are transported on from a meeting at a Lewis Carroll exhibition to the characters’ pasts with references to both childhood tales thrown in is very successful and really hooks you in. The end of the play itself will leave you surprised I suspect too.

Another reason I felt I enjoyed the play so much is that it kept referring back to your childhood and storybook tales and growing up, so it really encouraged you to think back to your childhood, fairytales and events in your own life. I felt like I was being transported back to being a young girl again when watching Alice and Peter on stage and particularly in their storybook sets.

However, the play was not the only time I was to think back on my childhood this weekend.

I’m always trying to vary my exercise routine since I’m still trying to keep my weight down and I don’t want to tire of doing the same things. Realising we hadn’t been swimming for some time now, I’d suggested to my boyfriend should we look at going swimming at our local pool on Sunday morning for a change? Again as we got up on Sunday morning (the ‘swim for all’ session started at 11am – well at the least the first one I’d consider for a Sunday morning did!) the car was covered in a dusting of snow and the wind was fierce out, but I was determined we’d still go swimming.

Whenever I go to the swimming pool both myself and my boyfriend end up feeling nostalgic. I used to go the pool as a schoolchild and it was here I learnt to swim and earnt my ‘stripes’ for achieving different distance swims and the dreaded diving tasks. As soon as I step foot in the building I am transported back every time to my childhood days and of going swimming and then afterwards getting a bag of crisps from the vending machine after as a treat. Every time my boyfriend and I leave feeling peckish and wanting some old childhood meal, so strange after all this time.

I also have memories when we get in the ‘big pool’ of swimming classes gone by and Summer ‘Funsplash’ sessions I’d attend in the school holidays with my friend - jumping off and climbing over the huge inflatable dragon (or maybe it was a dinosaur) in the pool and having lots of fun. When I look up at the seating area I am taken back to my grandparents coming to watch me swim and my Granddad eagerly snapping away and taking pictures of my progress.

This visit I was particularly pleased, it was our first swim this year and I kept pushing and pushing myself until eventually we’d done 90 minutes worth of swimming and I’d swam 54 lengths. I was exhausted after, but felt so good for it and proud I will admit.

After a couple of hours of resting up back at home, we ventured out again to our local cinema to see Oz the great and powerful in 3D. I am not the world’s biggest fan of 3D films I have to admit, but I do love our local cinema. I’ve probably spoken about it before, but it is such good value – on the site of a former Odeon cinema (again where I went as a child so again nostalgia always kicks in when we visit), all tickets are £4 each. If you go to see a 3D film you pay an extra £1 for your 3D glasses, but unlike other chains where you pay each time Premiere say keep your glasses and bring them next time you watch a 3D film and you don’t have to pay the extra £1. They are even offering Orange Wednesday 2-for-1 now and popcorn and sweets are around £2. Much better than the nearby rip off that is Vue.

Anyway again I’ll let you go see Oz for yourselves, but I thought it was great film. I loved the special effects, actually enjoyed the 3D elements for once and found the story magical (and some of the characters - such as Finley the monkey and the river fairies super cute!) As the yellow brick road appeared on screen again I was taken back to my childhood and my old Wizard of Oz video my grandparents bought me.

Flicking through the cinema booklet filled with local ads and offers, my boyfriend also commented how the cinema again was like being back in the childhood – how things used to be and what cinemas used to do and provide for their visitors.

All in all I guess you could say this weekend was a success, it was enjoyable, took my mind off things and brought back lovely memories of being young. What with those memories and the thought of a long weekend (full of chocolate treats and my Mum’s yummy roast dinner) ahead of me, I think I can cope with the fact it’s Monday already don’t you?

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Bookworm: Click Click by Joyce, June and Paula Kavanagh

After the success of reading Losing You by Susan Lewis, I decided to give another book lent from my Mum a go. Yet again, nothing too cheerful, in fact this time the subject matter was even more disturbing - child abuse.

As odd as it may seem over the years I've read a lot of books about neglected children, people with poor or awful upbringings and boys or girls who grew up with learning or mental health difficulties. I used to read so many of these books my boyfriend used to tease me for being a bit 'sick in the head'. However, although these books cover hard-to-read situations, they are interesting and inspiring when you hear how the person has survived and has made the most of their lives and helping others as a result.

Typically such stories are told in the past, you join the main character on their journey through life, their character gradually develops and your understanding of exactly what they went through increases. This book takes a slightly different approach.

Click Click is based on a large Irish family, in which many years ago a number of the female members fell victim to sexual abuse from their father. Disturbingly 'Click Click' comes about from the finger clicking that their Dad Kevin Kavanagh used to do signalling he wanted one of them to leave the room and come join him in secret for the latest episode of abuse.

The girls suffered in silence for many years at the hands of this obsessed paedophile who would take advantage of any situation it seems to abuse his young daughters (from a very young age).

As I mentioned I have read stories slightly similar in nature before, but never before have I read about these events and felt so sick. At times I actually felt ill and nauseous trying to digest the words in front of me. Horrendous does not even come close to what these women went through.

So what I find hard about this book is these women who went through the ordeal have been so so brave and have come through this horrific childhood to try and help others and over time develop into stronger women and closer sisters. In addition, they pressed charges against this man and also appeared in a TV documentary profiling the experience.

The book is written in a mixture of ways, some parts told through Marian Quinn sitting in on sessions with the sisters, other parts told in present day, some told in the past, the narrator is sometimes June, it could be Joyce or it may be Paula. Don't get me wrong the chapter/section title does signify who wrote that particular part. However, I found this does not ease the confusion.

As much as I think these women are wonderful and it breaks your heart to read of their lives, in terms of the actual book? I am not a fan. The writing approach was so confusing and I found I was getting lost who was speaking, the constant jumping about meant I couldn't really get into the time/story being told before someone else and their experience was slotted in.

I know that parts of the book are told through Marian to highlight the progress the sisters have made and the impact that certain events have had on their lives, not just the book. However, the italicised sections where Marian 'observes'made me feel detached from the experience and almost acting like a psychologist taking notes on their behaviour and attitude. I found these constant snippets away from what actually happened cut me off from the storytelling aspect and made the book more a selection of observations.

It may sound silly but I do find it hard to admit I didn't enjoy this book, I felt I wanted to and should feel the book was a massive success for the sake of the authors involved. I agree they all went through hell and have done well to come out the other side, but the book itself is definitely not for me.

Good points
Takes a different approach to other books to try to offer something new
Good intent and purpose behind the book

Not so great
Confusing writing style
More observational than storytelling

Overall as you have probably gathered I wasn't the world's number one fan of this non-fiction offering. The subject matter was disturbing yes, but the thing that made it more hard to read was the style in which it was written.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Bookworm: Losing You by Susan Lewis

Although this book was a rather chunky 600+ pages I finished it in a relatively short amount of time. A sign I often feel of a good book.

Lewis' fictional tale tells the story of two families. The wealthy Lomaxes, with arguing husband and wife Russ and Sylvie (mostly caused by her alcoholism) and their sons Charlie and Oliver. Then the Scott family single Mum Emma, ex husband Will and bright, intelligent Lauren their daughter.

One night changes everything and brings the two families together unexpectedly and not in the best of circumstances, but things don't end as you'd expect.

As I first started reading the book I found the style a tad typical of the genre and was concerned I'd be learning my lesson again - not to read books my Mum lends me!

However, I soon warmed to the easy to read style of writing and soon found myself pretty hooked on the story and what was to happen next.

Each of the characters in the book is well developed and have a strong definition to them. Some are likeable and others not so much, but they all have their own little story to tell.

The book did keep you guessing in certain situations, since some of the outcomes are shall we say a lot more unexpected than you'd think and dare I say if I'm honest unrealistic.

Good bits
Strong characters
Addictive reading
Easy to read
True escapism

Not so great
Unrealistic and far fetched at times
Very cheesy outcomes
Quite basic writing style

In summary, I would recommend this book if you want something easy to read and like a bit of a tear jerker. There's nothing here that's going to stretch your mind or pass on a valuable message (other than the importance of family/support/belief). However, sometimes on the commute or whilst relaxing all you want is to switch off and to escape into somebody's else life. And for that? It's ideal.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Sizing up my progress

Why is there a picture of a random pug cushion on my blog you may be wondering.

Well for those of you that don't know I have a slight obsession with pug dogs right now and I really really want a real pet pug of my own. Living in a flat that's not really an option right now, but imagine how excited I was to discover this super cute cushion. For now this adorable little feature in my flat is going to be my way of having a gorgeous pug to look at every day until I live in a house and can have a little real life doggie of my own!

This - sad as it may seem - has brought a massive smile to my face today. But no of course I am not writing a blog just to tell you how excited I am to own this cushion. No there is another reason today to have a smile on my face.

Today something amazing happened. I needed some new jeans since the ones I've been wearing since losing weight have got a little too big now, the top gapes out and the bum area just sags - not very attractive and not the best way to highlight my new figure.

So today I decided to eventually see if I could get some new jeans that fit a little better. I used to always have light denim jeans, dark denim jeans and black jeans. I was hoping to do that today, but wasn't holding my breath.

What happened? Well, my boyfriend reminded me last week I had achieved a longstanding weightloss goal I had been aiming for since I first started trying to do something about my weight back in 2008. Then my boyfriend bought me a Wii and some time after I bought the Wii Fit game and realised how big I'd actually become! On and off since 2008 I have been trying to sort my weight out and eat healthily and exercise more. I wanted to try and lose three stone.

Finally last week I had knocked off that 3 stone from my heaviest weight! Something randomly my boyfriend had to remind me of - I've been setting myself lots of mini goals since last year again and am at my lowest weight that I think I must be since before my 20s!

Anyway I've gone off on a tangent as usual, back to today. I went shopping and decided to try and get some jeans.

People have been saying to me I should wear tighter, more fitted clothes to show where I've lost weight and if I'm honest I'm still a bit stuck in how I was before, so I find it hard to wear tight clothes, thinking I am too big to wear clothes fitted like that. Today I decided enough was enough jeans should be fitted and snug to you, not baggy and saggy.

I went off into the changing rooms and to my shock I've ended up coming home not just with my super cute pug cushion, but also with three pairs of jeans, two skinny style jeans and one slim leg style. That in itself I'm happy about, but why I'm even happier? They are a size 12! I can't remember the last time I've had size 12 bottoms - whether it be a skirt, shorts or trousers and particularly in a fitted/skinny style.

Finally I have something concrete (as well as what I weigh) to show I definitely have lost weight and my body is changing shape.

So yes, this week I don't feel I've done enough exercise and I've had a few 'cheat' days where I've eaten lots of fattening food and drunk lots of alcohol. The result probably being that tomorrow morning when I do my usual weekly weigh in I'm expecting to put on weight - something which really does impact my mood.

However, after my purchases today, something tells me I'm going to find it a little easier to cope with a weight gain if it happens this time round and I definitely won't let it knock me back that's for sure...

Saturday, 16 March 2013

The Queen of my night

It's been quite some time since I've been into London's West End to see a musical - of late I've been more focused on ballet and my local theatre.

I've lost count of the number of times people have told me of the latest production to hit the stage and how great it is.

So as part of my Mother's Day gifts to my Mum this year I purchased tickets.

After starting my weekend early with a half day me and my Mum headed to Covent Garden and decided to go to somewhere a bit different for dinner first.

I first tried Mexican chain Wahaca a few years back when I was working in Canary Wharf. I immediately loved the laid back atmosphere provided at this eaterie which offers authentic Mexican street food rather than the standard fajitas we're all used to.

Mum had never been so off we went and stuffed ourselves silly with a feast of tortilla chips and frijoles, pork pibil tacos, chicken toastadas, sweet potato and feta taquitos, green rice and more. Washed down with red wine and finished with some very rich and yummy puddings we headed to London's Adelphi Theatre feeling happy but very full!

I'd decided to just buy the best seats available when I booked this gift in January so we were in the stalls, just four rows from the front.

I was excited to see what this show had to offer, were all these people right? Is it that good?

I'd not seen the film for years and my Mum couldn't remember it, but I knew I loved the story and she would too.

So as the lights dropped and we jumped out our skin at the sound of gunshots we settled down to experience The Bodyguard Musical!

I don't want to give too much away as I'm sure people will be wanting to experience it for themselves, but I just felt I had to blog about it.

Wow. Amazing. Outstanding. I walked out the theatre stating that this has to be one of, if not the, best musicals I've seen!

This show truly has it all - it makes you laugh, makes you cry, at times you jump and at others you can't stop bopping along in your seat to the music (and if you're really sad like me singing along!)

I'd heard the lead lady Heather Headley was good, but I can safely say I have never seen a theatre star so talented. Her voice is breathtaking, her mannerisms spot on, she has you captivated throughout.

Throughout this musical I constantly kept getting goosebumps and I'm not a weeper but I could not stop crying! The voices are so so beautiful.

As for the lady who plays Rachel's sister she should not be overlooked either. The performance Run To You where both 'sisters' sing is so powerful. Amazing, superb voices.

Of course Rachel Marron (played by Whitney Houston in the 1992 film) has a son too - the young boy playing 'Fletcher' is a great actor, dancer and singer and so cute, he melts your heart!

Mr Bodyguard himself 'Frank' (played by Kevin Costner in the movie) plays the role well - and is quite a nice character to look at too! Ladies I'm sure you'll be a fan of the guy who plays the psycho/obsessed fan too!!

One thing my boyfriend had said was the TV ads constantly playing right now show the musical to be pretty cheesy. The ads do not do this justice at all.

The set is well used and really adds to the performance, at times I almost felt like I was watching a film and the way the audience is used is very clever too.

Of course at the end the cast were met with a standing ovation and the dancing/singing after the show is a great touch. All sorts of people were up and singing along!

I found I went through a whole host of emotions at this theatre visit.

You also end up leaving feeling sad and reminded of the loss of the talented Whitney Houston, plus you kind of want to head home and put on some Whitney classics and belt your heart out to them!

I will stop gushing about this musical now, but please if you like Whitney Houston tracks, you enjoyed The Bodyguard film or you just enjoy musicals you've got to go check this show out!

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Melican at the theatre: They're Playing Our Song

Another week, another theatre visit.

After my last visit to the Queen’s Theatre in Hornchurch for a rather more risqué type of viewing this time I was going for something a little calmer.

My second show as part of the Jump the Q offer I’d taken advantage of, I visited the local theatre with my Mum and Auntie for another evening of family female fun. We had a nice meal in a local restaurant and then headed off to take our seats to see the latest theatrical offering.

Again it was a ‘preview’ night, so we were told to be patient and there may be a few hiccups – as per our visit to see A Passionate Woman in a similar situation the show only had but the most minor of ‘mistakes’ which were barely noticeable.

I admit I wasn’t quite sure what They’re Playing Our Song was going to be about or what type of performance it would be and since my visit I’ve realised the show is an old musical with a book and is based on a real life relationship. Not only that, it first premiered in 1978 in LA so it’s not a brand new show as I thought.

The Queen’s Theatre show in 2013 is directed by Matt Devitt and is brought to the audience again by the fabulous ‘cut to the chase’.

On finding the show was a musical I was pleasantly surprised and found I really enjoyed the performance, focussing on two main characters Vernon and Sonia. There was lots of music, catchy tunes (I still keep humming the main theme) and also lots of laughs. A great show all round.

The storyline kept you interested and the actual talent of the performers – in both their instrument playing and singing was very impressive.

I was also a fan of the simple, but fun and clever set. Our theatre never fails to surprise me at how well they do with such a small space.

Yet again I found myself impressed with my the Queen's and its performers and I now look forward to my next visits there – the Coppélia ballet at Easter and then in May the last in the Jump the Q series – Run For Your Wife!

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Bookworm: Malgudi Days by R K Narayan

Today is World Book Day apparently, so how apt I've just finished reading a book about India, written by an Indian author and given to me as a gift by a colleague in India.

I've been reading Malgudi Days now for just over a week, a book which was first published in India in 1943 and outside of India in 1982.

The book contains a collection of short stories all based in India in the fictional area of Malgudi. Narayan himself argued that the area was fictional and the characters he details can be found anywhere around the world.

Again, as I've mentioned before, I'm not a huge fan of short stories as I find just as you get into them you reach the end. However, I had really enjoyed Wise and Otherwise which offered short stories so I tried to keep an open mind.

This time round the India I was reading about was fictional, although clearly based on things Narayan has seen in life and settings/lifestyles witnessed in India itself.

I found it interesting to find out a bit more about Indian life and liked the handy guide at the back of the book referencing some of the Indian terms included.

In terms of the actual stories though I admit I didn't enjoy this anywhere near as much as Wise & Otherwise. I think because the short stories are fictional.

One thing I did like about the stories was how strong the characters were, now a lot of the characters to be honest I didn't really like and felt I couldn't associate with at all. However, they are well described and very powerful, perhaps even extreme - this I liked.

Many of the stories I got to the end of I found myself disliking the character and not really feeling like I'd learnt or enjoyed the tales. However, others I did enjoy - in particular The Missing Mail and The Doctor's Word.

I think what I found disappointing is that I thought most of the stories would be about nice people and likeable characters and that there'd be a strong message behind them. I didn't really feel this was the case in a lot of the short stories.

Good points
Strong characters
Very good descriptive style so you can really picture every story you're reading about
Offered further insight into Indian life/terms
Back of the book guide to terms is handy

Not so great
I didn't like many of the characters
Found some of the stories a little odd/not really enjoyable

In summary, I would say I much prefer short stories when they are real life situations. I am glad I read the book and experienced it, but I think overall short stories aren't really for me.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

A little bit of London

This weekend was my boyfriend's weekend off (he does shift work and only gets one weekend in every five off). So of course, this meant two things:

1 - I'd be dragging him to do some form of exercise/fitness
2 - We'd be going to experience some form of 'culture'

Friday evening he was at work until 11pm and after a very long and super busy week at work (again!) and a 5am wake up I was fast asleep by the time he got home. My Friday evening on my own consisted of doing my workout DVD, watching some TV and blogging a bit.

So I was looking forward to the next day.

Saturday morning I of course rushed off to my usual spinning class and my man hit the gym floor whilst I was pedalling and sweating away upstairs. We didn't have very long between leaving the gym and having to get on a train into London so it was a bit of a manic rush on finishing my class (as if I wasn't exhausted enough!)

Where we were going this time?

The Museum of London.

On one of our other visits out and about we'd noticed a poster for a rather gory exhibition - Doctors, Dissections & Resurrection Men. My boyfriend - working in the healthy industry and naturally into blood and guts in general - was sure to be a fan I suspected and so I said maybe at one point we could give it a go?

This weekend was that time, I'd already been impressed when the Museum emailed me to let me know that although we'd paid £9 each for our tickets the date we'd picked was now going to be a 'pay what you can' date and we could pay less if we so wished. Simply notifying us and offering that I felt meant they more than deserved the actual asking price - how often are places that honest with consumers?

Again, I feel ashamed saying this, I wasn't even aware the Museum of London was there, nor what it offered. Furthermore, the fact it sits so close to where I work!

I have GOT to get more familiar with our capital, something I'm slowly but surely starting to do.

What we imagined was going to be a 1-2 hour visit in actual fact turned out to be a 4 and a half hours fascinating walk round a great artistic venue. I loved it!

I was nervous about viewing the exhibition we'd planned to see as I am known to get queasy quite easily. However, I actually found the display - containing a mix of video content, artwork, literature, health specimens, medical models, human remains, animal skeletons and historical artefacts - really interesting and insightful. I won't go into too much detail in case anyone reading this wants to go see for themselves (the exhibition is open until April), but it gave a real mix and kept you entertained and interested throughout. The display wasn't as gruesome as I'd originally expected, but had a few things to keep the bloodthirsty amongst you happy.

Again (as with my recent theatre trip) I was met with a pleasant surprise. The Museum had a host of galleries displaying a history of London - all for free. Wow. This again really was so interesting. Split through the different ages - whether it be Roman times, during the Great Fire Of London, during Victorian times, swinging 60s and all the way through to present day the museum had it all.

I was very impressed with the various modes used to showcase the people, events and lifestyles in each era covered - for once QR codes used cleverly! There were things to feel, areas to walk through or sit in, things to listen to, reading material, actual items used during the time in history on show and lots more. I had so many 'favourite' bits, but have to say two things that really stood out were the Victorian experience, the Pleasure Garden and the elevator from Selfridges (we all know how much I love the Mr Selfridge drama on ITV right now).

My boyfriend will vouch for how annoying I was, constant cries of 'Wow' and 'Amazing' from me throughout.

We walked round for over four hours and by the end of it both of us were exhuasted, but really happy after such a fun and informative afternoon. I would definitely recommend the Museum and will be sure to head there again (the Michael Caine exhibition being put together whilst we were there looked really good too!) Even the photos displayed outside were enjoyable to check out on our way out and don't get me started on how emotional the memorial book for July 7th is.

I'd noticed we weren't far from the Barbican Centre and that a free installation the Rain Room was still showing until Monday, so we walked across to go check it out since it was open until 8pm. Unfortunately when we got there the queue was ridiculously long and they'd closed it off so we had to miss out this time. Our Museum of London was definitely more than enough for our Saturday anyway.

Who knows what's going on with me? Trying to do all these new things - and finding new things I love is great fun, but even I was surprised Saturday evening when I agreed to watch one of the many DVDs that my boyfriend got as presents at Christmas. We watched the film Warrior - about a family and ultimate fighting. I agreed to try something different and am surprised to admit I really enjoyed it!

For now I've done my workout DVD today, done a few boring domesticated bits - food shop, tidying up, washing etc and we've been to the cinema to see a scary film (more my taste). Now it's time to relax after a healthy dinner and get ready to tune in to Mr Selfridge and hope that I've done enough this week to lose weight in tomorrow morning's weigh in. Fingers crossed...

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Ladies night with a difference

Recently I paid a visit to my local theatre, this year I've been trying to experience new things and attempt to enjoy a bit more culture.

Last month I saw a play - A Passionate Woman - with my Mum and Auntie. I was back in the same venue the Queen's Theatre in Hornchurch, near where I live, and this time it was just me and my Auntie and an absolutely packed audience filling the seats.

So what did I go to view this time? An opera? A ballet? A heartwrenching dramatic play?

Erm....not quite. No I went to see something a little different, a bit inventive and rather revealing... Puppetry of the Penis.

Yes you read it right I went to see a show (with my Auntie!) involving men, their bits and some 'puppetry'.

As you might expect we ended up having more than just one or two glasses of wine before hitting the theatre, and we were safely placed in row K, a whole eleven rows from the antics on stage. Well, I didn't want us getting pulled up on stage as volunteers did I? Although I admit I also started to have concerns if we would be too far back (no, I am not explaining that in more detail!)

My Auntie had wondered how long the show was going to take and what exactly it'd involve, I had a fair idea, but assumed the show would be relatively short.

Yes the show involved naked men - two Australians to be exact - and the audience were as you'd expect mainly female. We spent most of the show giggling like schoolchildren and watching from behind our hand/between our fingers. It was very funny and we had a good laugh, yes it was childish fun, but it did us good.

However, before these two guys decided to strut their stuff on stage, waving their dangly bits about for all to see, we had a first half. And that first half didn't involve nakedness nor body parts contorted into odd shapes and styles. In fact it didn't involve men at all.

The first half was a stand up comedy set, something I didn't even know was going to be on offer. I'm so pleased it was, we were treated to a 45-50 minute set from Tiff Stevenson, a female comedian I remember seeing on TV a while back on Show Me The Funny (a program trying to find the next big stand up comedian).

Tiff treated us to a host of funny jokes, admittedly rather swayed towards the female audience - but she had us in stitches, really good comedy you could relate to. I was a big fan and what a great surprise for our night - two acts for the price of 1.

It's funny isn't it, you hear about females going to see a naughty show, getting the opportunity to 'act like men' and ogle bodies and sexual parts on the opposite sex. Okay it wasn't a sexual experience, it was meant to be comical too (and it was funny and squirm-worthy as well!) But do you know what I loved most about the night?

The female stand up at the start that I wasn't even going to see originally.

Don't get me wrong a like a bit of smut like the next Essex girl, but in terms of entertainment men may be pleased to hear making a girl laugh is a very key talent to hold!

Friday, 1 March 2013

Losing weight but gaining confidence

I know I've done it again, I've not posted a blog for a long time and certainly not one about my thoughts/feelings rather than a review of a book. Hey, what can I say? I read a lot!

In fact, on checking GoodReads - I have read eight books this year already. Yes eight books over nine weeks, not bad going really.

Anyway, for once I'm not meant to be typing about books and my love of reading. No, this time I'm back to another favourite topic of mine - weight loss, fitness and health.

I've known some people argue they only blogged when they were a bit fed up or bored and in fact they blogged less when they were happier with life. Well, I'm not too sure how much I agree with that logic. One thing I can say though is I am certainly pretty happy at the moment.

Finally - after a very long time, well okay most of my adult life so far - I am starting to feel a boost in confidence. Don't get me wrong I still have things I'd like to change, but this time around of losing weight/getting in shape/getting healthier, I actually am getting a bit more comfortable with my body.

I know, I'm sorry to any men reading this, I appreciate I'm being a stereotypical female here and getting obsessive about appearance. Apologies if this comes across a tad dull, but I have to be honest here, I have only just started to feel a bit happier about how I look.

Finally something has clicked and - I think - I may have managed to find a balance between being 'good' and having treats. The majority of the time I aim to stick to a healthy diet and try to exercise whenever I don't have plans. However, if I have plans which involve alcohol or a fattening meal I go out and enjoy myself and allow myself something different for a change.

So far this year it seems to be working and since the start of the year I've lost seven pounds/half a stone and am at my lowest weight I can ever remember achieving.

I'm enjoying life and socialising/eating out (granted not regularly), but also keeping on track on other days and the weight is steadily dropping off, and what I've noticed moreso this time is that I'm getting more toned too.

Also - as someone who dreaded P.E. at school and used to fake notes/forgetting my kit to get out of it - I am shocked how much I genuinely enjoy and feel better for exercising. As you'll all know from my cringey blog posts I really love spinning at the gym and I've also now found I enjoy running (well don't get me wrong I still probably go at tortoise-pace compared to most people and I can just about do a 5k!)

Moreover if I don't do any exercise for a few days I can feel the difference, I feel stiff and achey, lethargic and I genuinely miss it. Yes friends who've known me for years as someone seemingly allergic to exercise and a Uni student who didn't even properly know where the gym was on campus this may seem a little odd. But it's all true.

It's funny, a few people I know are turning 30 this year, all are female and all have raised how scared they are of hitting the big 3-0. I have told them all (and meant it) that if I'm honest if anything I've felt happier since being 30.

2013 has been a mixture of a year already for a variety of reasons, with ups and downs already. However, overall I can feel a positive change - feeling healthier, looking healthier, enjoying new things. I've discovered I like more types of music than expected, I can enjoy all things a bit more cultured like ballet and exhibitions, as well as plays at the theatre.

Who knows maybe this is just how us girls feel when we hit thirty, maybe it's just a new year and revived sensation I'm getting as we're still early in the year. It may not be the weight side of things, but right now I feel the longer I manage to keep losing the weight/keeping it off in general I'm likely to have a smile on my face!