My Weight Loss Journey - An Update

Leave a Comment

If you cast your mind back to the gloomy January of this year, you might have spotted my post about what to expect from your first Slimming World meeting. Recently, I realised that I haven't actually shared many further thoughts or experiences with my weight loss journey, other than some recipes, and thought it might be interesting to do a little catch up post. As I say whenever I've spoken about weight loss - it's a personal choice and yours alone to make, and this is by no means me preaching about losing weight - just wanting to share my experience for those who might be on a similar journey (or are just weirdly interested in my life...)

Having been around my starting weight for years, I wasn't expecting much - losing weight just seemed like a REALLY HARD thing to do, and before the revelations of my first week, I was expcting to feel deprived and fall off the wagon pretty quickly. Instead, I found a way to eat loads of tasty food, while still losing weight and having the odd treat still. I actually didn't have too much to lose in the grand scheme of things, and despite some ups and downs during the Spring (hi Barcelona), by mid-June I'd managed to reach a weight loss of just over two stone. Something I never thought I'd achieve at the beginning of the year.

I haven't actually been to any Slimming World group meetings for a couple of months now, but I've managed to keep my weight pretty much the same - something I'm pretty happy I've been able to do. Although I haven't hit my target yet, I'm actually really happy to have 'stayed the same', as I feel like I've definitely indulged myself in summertime fun - from festival drinking to street food in the sun. It's a fantastic plan, for sure - but with my lifestyle and growing obsession with trying ALL THE FOOD, I've definitely not stuck to it 100% in recent months. One of the biggest changes I've made is pretty much completely cutting out full sugar fizzy drinks - instead opting for no added sugar squash (cause water on its own is dull) or my beloved Cherry Pepsi Max - I actually prefer the taste of it now to 'normal' coke! I also still cook a lot and have perfected some of my favourite homemade meals - I still love how well I'm able to eat when I just cook it myself - even curry is on the menu!

Although actually following the Slimming World plan (mostly) was the way I got to my original two stone weight loss, I feel the most important thing about it now is how it's affected my relationship with food. I'm now at the stage where I can go out for dinner and not worry about Syns and small gains, as I know my overall diet is good for me and I'm filling my body with the right things, most of the time. Eating out at restaurants is something I love to do on a weekly basis, and being able to fit those nights into my lifestyle without worrying about putting on too much weight is just brilliant. And when I do eat out, I often tend to find myself leaning towards the healthier options on the menu as almost a natural instinct.

I plan to keep an eye on my weight over the coming months, and if I do start to gain I'll rejoin a Slimming World group. I'd also like to lose a bit more, but hopefully if I keep to SW methods as much as I can, that'll come naturally. At the beginning of this year, I was pretty skeptical of the fact I'd actually be able to follow a plan and really lose the weight - but Slimming World has completely changed my attitude towards what I eat - something no amount of fad diets could manage. And besides feeling more self-confident with my body and being in better health, the fact that I've actually had the willpower to really stick to something has worked wonders for my self belief. It's made me feel like I CAN do something if I really want it - and that's a feeling that's completely worth the sacrificed Dominoes orders.
View Post

Weekend Fun on the South Bank - A Birthday, A Burrito & The Love Bar

Leave a Comment
South Bank Love Bar Youth Club Archive Photobooth
South Bank Love Bar
South Bank The Understudy Bar Birthday

This weekend I embraced sunny London as we celebrated my housemate Rob’s birthday, with an afternoon and evening at perhaps one of the busiest areas in town – London’s Southbank.

I managed to have a bit of a pants start to the day, as a gust of wind whilst answering the door resulted in me being locked out of the flat…for three hours. Yup. That happened. Thankfully, our upstairs neighbours took me in and once I’d actually got ready later, we headed to The Understudy bar at the National Theatre. The whole outdoor area was rammed with people on deckchairs taking in the entertainment, but we got comfortable on the sofas inside and quickly got down to the important business of CAKE. My other housemate, Sheena, is an INCREDIBLE baker and makes the best ever birthday cakes – this one was white chocolate and raspberry with the best buttercream!

South Bank The Understudy Bar Apricot Beer
South Bank The Understudy Bar Beavertown Holy Cowbell India Stout
South Bank Wahaca Street Food Burrito

As I had a bit of cash left two days before payday (GO ME), I opted for trying out some more unusual drink choices. I got super excited to see the Apricot beer that they had, I’d tried it before and I’m a big fan. I do wince at being charged £5.20 for a bottle (!) but seriously, it’s so lush. As well as the Apricot beer, I also gave Beavertown Holy Cowbell India Stout a go. I’m not really a stout drinker at all, but I love to try new things and the fabulous can design managed to reel me in. It’s definitely not the normal kind of taste I’d pick, but it was still pretty enjoyable! Afterwards, Conor and I nipped under the bridge to grab some burritos from Wahaca’s street food truck, and they were amazing. Despite the fact I couldn’t quite manage all of mine – but it’s just too hard not to fill up on cake!

South Bank Love Bar
South Bank Love Bar Badge Making Workshop
South Bank Love Bar Gin Vodka Slush Puppy

After adequately lining our stomachs and picking up the amazing term 'pissfairies' to describe our most booze-ridden group members, we headed round the corner to the surprisingly uncrowded pop-up Love Bar. We actually went to the same place bar last year when it had a different theme, but I felt like this year was even better and it resulted in a ridiculously fun evening. The concept for this year’s Love Bar is nostalgia for youth and the whole bar reflected this attitude. The drinks menu includes booze served up with cans of pop, and you can pick up crisps and sweets too, giving it a ‘tuck shop’ feel. I went for the special cocktail – a boozy gin and vodka slushie, which was absolutely AMAZING – seriously, I could drink them all summer they’re so zingy and refreshing.

As well as nostalgic drinks and snacks, Love Bar also features an exhibition area, with memories of childhoods past adorning the walls. There’s also a fun, interactive feel - one of the highlights was the free badge-making table, we all went back to our youth making snazzy little pin badges. We may have made multiple ones each... As well as the badgemaking, there was an awesome ‘photobooth’ where you could take a snap and send it straight to Twitter or even buy a print. Obviously, we took full advantage of it…

I had ridiculous amounts of fun at Love Bar – the vibe is so chilled, and I can’t believe you can find a bar that actually has seats on a Saturday night! £6 for a cocktail isn’t bad at all, and with loads of fun stuff to do it’s definitely a quirky alternative to the usual central London bars and clubs. I’d definitely TOTALLY recommend going – it’s around until the 6th September, so you still have some time. And take me back with you, please.

What did you get up to at the weekend? What do you think to Love Bar?
View Post

A Picnic At The Tower With Guoman Hotels

Leave a Comment
Guoman The Tower Hotel The Lawn Afternoon Tea Cakes Sandwiches
Guoman The Tower Hotel The Lawn view of Tower Bridge
Guoman The Tower Hotel The Lawn bar

Last week I was invited along by the very nice people at Joe Blogs and Guoman Hotels to have a picnic at The Tower Hotel, taking place on The Lawn, their gorgeous little outside area with an incredible view of Tower Bridge. Despite having rained just a few hours previously (leading me to look out of my office window apprehensively every five minutes), the weather managed to hold up. And even though the great British summertime wasn’t exactly being kind to us, there was certainly no shortage of demand for the Pimms that greeted the group of thirsty bloggers.

Although I knew the hotel was close to Tower Bridge, I didn’t realise how amazing our view of the bridge would be – seriously, that thing is HUGE! As well as the bridge itself, we had stunning views along the Thames, and I loved gazing out at passing boats while having a drink and catch up with some of my favourite blogging chums!

Guoman The Tower Hotel The Lawn Pimms
Guoman The Tower Hotel The Lawn Afternoon Tea Cakes

For the actual picnic, we were served up a fab selection of sandwiches and cakes. Salmon and cream cheese sandwiches and chocolate eclairs are basically my ultimate afternoon tea weaknesses, so I was very happy to find both in my pack – and tastewise, they definitely didn’t disappoint. And of course, there was the obligatory scone, filled with rich cream (although slightly messy to eat – I definitely needed a tissue on hand afterwards!). Five sandwiches and five cakes was definitely the perfect size for me too. We were also given an Innocent smoothie and bottle of water – perfect for stowing away in my bag for the train journey home!

If The Tower Hotel’s Afternoon Tea is anything like my picnic, it’s definitely worth treating yourself to on a sunny afternoon in the city – and priced at just £19.95 (or £24.95 with UNLIMITED PROSECCO!), it’s one of the cheaper afternoon tea deals I’ve spotted around. Combine that with the stunning views and summery atmosphere of The Lawn and I think I’ve found my perfect place in London for a weekend afternoon out!

Where are your favourite spots to take in the view of your city/town/area?
View Post

Hidden in Plain Sight: Street Art in Shoreditch

Leave a Comment
Shoreditch street art
Shoreditch street art
Shoreditch street art Gary Strange Lily Lou No Good Reason
Shoreditch street art
Shoreditch street art ROA Heron Brick Lane
Shoreditch street art
Shoreditch street art

City life is pretty busy. In fact, scratch that, LIFE in general is pretty busy. I know I'm certainly guilty of rushing around so much that I don't always stop and appreciate my surroundings. Usually because I'm on my way to get a burger or something. As I mentioned in my post about Barcelona's Gothic Quarter, I find street art and graffiti really exciting - particularly the juxtaposition of old buildings and modern-looking artwork. But I think when you get used to an environment, or you're just heading somewhere with a purpose, it's easy to not take it all in - always looking ahead, never to the side, above or below. So spending an evening exploring the street art of Shoreditch with Microsoft last week was something I definitely didn't want to miss out on!

We met at Shoreditch High Street station, where we were presented with our swish Microsoft Lumia phones to try out. The bright (really bright) orange backs of them is definitely a bold statement, but they actually look rather cool - plus it makes it super easy to find your phone in your bag (aka the bane of my life). The weather wasn't exactly fantastic - but we lifestyle blogger types are definitely troopers, and had an awesome time regardless of a bit of 'sky water'. As well as learning lots about the street art itself, I also got to catch up with and meet loads of lovely bloggers - and we even had a stop off to refuel at Pizza East!

Leading us around the streets of Shoreditch was our tour guide for the evening Karim, who has a HUGE knowledge about the city's street art. Some of the main artworks we picked up on included Gary Strange and Lily Lou's 'No Good Reason', which spanned the massive length of a wall with vibrant and bold colour; ROA's Heron which was absolutely massive, amazingly detailed and plastered on the side of a building wall; and next to that, Martin Ron's Queen's Guard doing a handstand. The scale of the pieces, particularly the latter, are absolutely magnificent and I found myself gaping up at them in awe. But some of my favourite pieces were actually ones that weren't part of the tour and I really enjoyed having a proper look at everything - from the massive standout artworks to the little tiny details plastered around the walls (also bridges, ceilings and doorways).

The Lumia camera was fantastic for capturing the colours of the artwork - I struggled a bit when it got dark, but photographer Phil Hebberd was on hand to teach us how to get the best out of the phone camera. All the images above were taken with the Microsoft Lumia, and as far as phone cameras go, its definitely one of the best I've experienced. One of the best tips I picked up from Phil was about adjusting white balance - it makes a huge difference to the brightness of colours in the photos, and is really easy to do with the Lumia's presets too.

Are you a fan of street art? What do you think to the Lumia camera shots?
View Post

Hevy Festival 2015

Leave a Comment
Hevy Festival 2015
Hevy Festival Port Lympne Elephant Lodge Safari Tents

Going to festivals and going to the zoo are pretty much two of my favourite things to do. As are hanging out with awesome people and having super amounts of fun - and thanks to Hevy Festival, over the past weekend I did all of the above.

As a group of 23, we'd booked out three of the Safari Tents up in the Elephant Lodge - canvas tents with proper beds, clean toilets, plug sockets, fridges and...ACTUAL SHOWERS. It was such a nice experience - when it comes to festivals, although I love the campsite atmosphere I'm really not a huge fan of the actual camping. Having a real bed and being able to get clean every day just made the whole experience feel much more chilled out and comfortable, and we were also able to cook our own food and drink our own alcohol on a daily basis, which saved quite a lot of money. The tents were really homely, and you can stay in them all year round - I'd definitely go back, festival or not!

On the Friday, some of us went for a visit to the animal park part of Port Lympne - I wasn't actually expecting there to be as many animals as there were. We saw monkeys doing silly things, I got a selfie with a rhino was a bushdog that was sick. Lovely. Although quite a few exhibits made it quite hard to actually see the animals and a lot of uphill walking was involved, there was loads to see and it was a really fun break from the usual straight-up music of a festival!

After exploring the animal park, it was time for checking out some bands. My absolute highlight of the weekend music-wise was definitely Fightstar, where I was actually watching from on the barrier (the teenage girl in me still gets excited about being on the barrier). Despite a few technical issues, they put on an awesome show including the live debut of new track Animal - featured over on my August playlist. It's really very good. I'm not the hugest of Coheed and Cambria fans but I do enjoy quite a bit of their stuff, so having a dance around to A Favor House Atlantic was pretty cool. Earlier in the day, I also checked out (and enjoyed) Teenage Bottlerocket for the first time, and ticked A Wilhelm Scream (amazingly energetic) off the list of bands I wanted to see.

On the Saturday, I didn't actually see THAT many bands as I decided to chill back up at the safari tents for a while - but The Get Up Kids were great, and Thrice absolutely blew me away. They're one of the few bands I've really liked since my teenage years but never actually got around to seeing - memories of listening to The Artist In The Ambulance and Stare At The Sun on repeat came to life in a live setting - and definitely lived up to my teenage hopes.

I had such an awesome weekend and it definitely caused major post-festival blues - a special shout out to all the friends I hung out with over the three days. The bands were great, the zoo was fun and the tents were lovely, but the real thing that absolutely made my weekend was the fantastic company. It's such a huge part of my festival experience, and being able to hang out in relative luxury was so, so awesome!

Did you go to Hevy this year? Like the look of the safari tents?

View Post

Scrapbooking: Pages #1

Leave a Comment
Scrapbooking Pages
Scrapbooking Pages
Scrapbooking Pages
Scrapbooking Pages
Scrapbooking Pages - Barcelona
Scrapbooking Pages

When I was younger, I used to regularly print out photos that I'd pop on a pinboard in my room, but it's become a rare thing since I've had a blog and become a heavy social media user. In a digital age, it seems that more and more of our memories live online - albums of Facebook pictures, Instagram shots and blog posts that slowly get hidden further and further in history. Which is fine - I love being in a digital age and sharing with others. But sometimes, it's lovely to have something tangible to relive those memories with - something just for you, a place to showcase your favourite images and souvenirs from trips, adventures or just day to day life.

I'd actually been thinking about putting my best memories into a more tangible and visual, creative place, which is why I decided that scrapbooking would be a fun hobby to get involved in. I've been super inspired by Rachael's amazing scrapbooking posts, so on her advice I picked up a super-cheap plain scrapbook from Hobbycraft. I also grabbed some sticky lettering, Project Life cards and a few sheets of Paperchase wrapping paper, and printed out some photos on Snapfish. My scrapbook starts from May this year, as around that time I started picking up bits and pieces with the intention of starting one - but it's only now I've got around to actually putting it together! The first page features a wedding I went to earlier this year, and the bulk of the following pages will be dedicated to my holiday. I've done a couple from that already, but I have so many more photo and bits and pieces, there'll probably end up being about 10-12 pages in the end!

I'm really happy with how my first pages have turned out and really loving scrapbooking - I find it to be a great way of chilling out as well as a fun hobby that doesn't cost the earth. Having something I can flick through and look back on at great times, and even show to my far in the future children and grandchildren is also a really wonderful thing. Being able to share happy times and experiences with others online is a wonderful thing and something I'm not planning on stopping any time soon, but putting together my scrapbook has been a wonderful way of reconnecting with my creative side in a different way.

How do you store your favourite photos and mementos?
View Post

Life After University

Leave a Comment

A strange post to write, considering many will be opening A Level results in just a few days and heading off for 3+ years of work, play and burning toast at 3am, going for a fire drill in the pouring rain and getting the cold shoulder from everyone in your halls for a week (Trust me. Step away from the toaster.) But all the enthusiasm for Uni – the nerves AND the excitement - has actually made me think back to how I felt when that safety net of being a student was taken away from me.

After the typical initial overwhelming first weeks, I got pretty settled into University life very quickly – and ended up running in student elections and winning my first post-Uni job. But even though I was actually IN FULL TIME EMPLOYMENT with the Students Union, I didn’t really feel the realisation that I was A GRADUATE hit me until I finished my year working there. After four years of feeling at home in my Uni life, it felt like my world had sort of been flipped over and I’d been thrust out onto the big wide world. No more ‘free money’ (note: student loan isn’t actually free money) once a term, an overwhelming amount of jobs to apply and probably be rejected for. My first post-Uni job interview was actually on the day I came back from Download. Unsurprisingly, I didn’t get it…

Thankfully, I got lucky – I managed to find myself a job doing comms in a theatre (see, drama degrees DO get you somewhere!) in London. And then I was faced with another dilemma – moving to a new city, one of the biggest in the world at that, completely on my own. That’s a story for completely another day though. Currently, I’m seeing more and more of my friends push on with their career paths, some doing jobs related to their course and others who went where the wind took them. And for some, it doesn’t always happen as quickly as it did for me – but don’t lose hope. It took my younger brother about a year from graduating to get into the career he wants, but recently found himself a great job in the city he went to Uni in and wanted to return to.

Finding someone in your chosen industry to mentor you, or just give some ad hoc advice, is a great way to open yourself up to career prospects. Schemes like the one at the University of Greenwich (below) are a great way to get a foot in the door – or alternatively, use LinkedIn to find someone who’s shoes you’d dream of being in one day. Keeping in touch with your University community through alumni groups can be really helpful too. A lot of grads have to take on a job outside of their desired field in order to pay those bills (and buy THOSE shoes), which can feel ridiculously soul destroying – but keeping an eye on your industry, building contacts and using your spare time to learn extra skills will all put you ahead of the pack with fellow Uni-leavers.

To be honest, leaving University is probably an even scarier thing than starting it. If you’re a graduate this year and feel lost – the most important thing to remember is that you’re not alone, and there IS a career path out there for you. It might take a while to find it, but when you get there, you’ll feel immensely proud of your post-Uni self.

(Even if you do still pick out the cheapest bottle of wine on your shopping trip…)

*collaborative post
View Post

Playlist: August 2015

Leave a Comment

IT'S A PLAYLIST! I haven't really shared what I've been listening to in ages, and since I got myself a new phone sorted out I've been trawling Spotify for lots of  new (or new-to-me...) stuff, as well as listening to some old favourites. This is what I'll be treating my ears to during the month of August...

I'm off to Hevy festival next weekend, so there's a few Hevy acts on there, including Jamie Lenman, who's playing the acoustic stage on Thursday night. If you don't know who Jamie Lenman is (you definitely should), he used to be in the utterly amazing band Reuben, who have long since split up - but Jamie's done some great solo work. I've also put a Thrice track on there - a band I've liked a hell of a lot since my teenage years but have actually never got around to seeing - until next weekend, anyway! And once it's up on Spotify, the new Fightstar track, Animal, is going STRAIGHT onto this, as it's a blinder. Seriously, excellent form from them with their comeback single.

Summertime is always about pop punk (okay, every one of my seasons is always about pop punk), and recently I've been enjoying Knuckle Puck and Boston Manor - I caught the latter when I went to 2000 Trees festival and their energy is incredible! I've also added in two of the big summer releases in the world of British rock - first up, Don Broco's Automatic. To tell the truth, I wasn't a huge fan of this on first listen, but it's grown on me as a catchy summer track to bop along to. And, to add to their stratospheric climb to the big game, Bring Me The Horizon's new tracks are causing quite the stir - unfortunately, I really can't get along with Happy Song but Thrones is awesome. Feeling those Linkin Park vibes, for sure.

And finally, just go and listen to Sorority Noise - their latest record is definitely a frontrunner for my album of the year at the moment. So so good.

I'll be adding to the playlist throughout the month with new discoveries and releases, so do feel free to follow if you like what you're hearing!

What are you listening to this month?

View Post
Previous PostOlder Posts Home