Sunday, 14 September 2014

end of summer in brighton

I'm beginning to feel distinctly autumnal!  That might be the sniffles under which I am labouring stoically without the merest hint of a complaint, it might be the grey, overcast sky, but I suspect it has a lot to do with lots of cups of tea and hiding under blankets.  So without further ado, this is the final installment of Brighton photos from last weekend.

Kisses xxx

P.S. And the last 11 photos from Brighton take #500snapsofsummer up to a grand total of 390, leaving 110 to go.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

my dream team

Last weekend, I had the great pleasure of meeting up with these ladies.  We travelled to Cambodia together in the summer of 2013 to work with the Girlguiding movement, teaching English to young girls and doing leadership training sessions to empower the young women who volunteer to lead Guide units in Cambodia.  We had an incredible time, and I think a bit part of the reason I loved that experience was this team. 

I was asked if I'd be interested in leading a team to Cambodia about two years ago, after I'd taken part as a team member of a similar project working with Guiding in Armenia.  I JUMPED at the chance and was over the moon.  The rest of the team were then selected at a weekend training, I was given a set of mug shots and email addresses and then about 18 months ago, we met for the first time.

Those who selected this team did a nigh-on perfect job.  We just clicked, and we haven't stopped laughing together since.  It was great for me to be involved in a group of women who share my love of Guiding, my desire to travel and a great sense of fun and adventure.  They also had a willingness to accept that things wouldn't always go to plan and made the best of some...interesting?...situations.

We spent three weekends together planning the project, along with other teams who were heading to other locations across the globe.  We had phone conferences, emails and an impressive paper trail of documents containing everything from health forms and risk assessments to boarding passes and lists of activities that the insurance company say we absolutely cannot do.

And then we were off, and spent three weeks living in the same room.  The room changed, but our ability to get on and laugh together still hasn't.  We can't meet up very often as we all tend towards full schedules and are based all across the UK.  But when we do get together, it's just fantastic.  Our weekend was wonderful, a day in Brighton proved a hit and now I look forward to our next get-together.  It might be a while away, but I know it will be brilliant. 

Kisses xxx

P.S. This weekend however, I have got the inevitable back-to-school sniffles and so I'm going to spend the weekend reacquainting myself with my duvet and enjoying some soup, knitting and chain tea drinking.

P.P.S. Nine more pictures for #500snapsofsummer bringing it up to 379 and leaving 121 still to take.

P.P.P.S. Exercise24 is not happening this weekend, but currently stands at 5 hours and 20 minutes.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

flash gordon at the british museum

The last weekend of the summer holiday (seems a long time ago now!) found a friend and I finishing off dinner and a cocktail before heading to British Museum for the evening.  But this time, it wasn't for the exhibits; the museum galleries were closed.  No, we were heading to these grand surrounds for an outdoor screening of Flash Gordon. This was a film that the man had introduced to me a few months ago, and having watched it, I couldn't believe that I'd never seen it before.  It's truly something to behold. And as the man was away from London with work, I got the chance to introduce this epic film to someone new.

The event was to launch the BFI's Sci-Fi season, and they held a number of outdoor screenings of cult classics.  We were treated to an interview with the director, Mike Hodges, who claimed the film is as bonkers as it is because the crew all spoke different languages and didn't understand each other, and he never believed it would see the light of day, never mind become a cult classic. Then Brian Blessed himself took over the microphone, got carried away and re-enacted some of his scenes complete with sound effects.  I think it's safe to say that the mic was unnecessary... But he voiced his oh-so-famous line 'Gordon's Alive?' to rapturous applause!

We were right at the front of the grass by the screen; an area lots of early arrivals seemed to have avoided due to possible cricked necks.  But their loss was our gain as we not only had a bit more space than those who were tightly packed in the middle of the lawn, but we were also able to lie flat on the grass and have a perfect, uninterrupted view of the screen. I know this last picture isn't the greatest photo ever taken, it does highlight the importance of sweeties when you go and see a film. Oh, and if you are one of the poor unfortunates who has yet to experience Flash Gordon, watch it IMMEDIATELY.  You will be very happy indeed.

Kisses xxx

P.S. That's another 5 pictures for #500snapsofsummer which brings the total to 370 and leaves a mere 130 to follow.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

one photo and twenty words

Truly amazing friends with a shared love of Guiding, travel and dreaming big.  I can't wait for our next adventure.


One Photo and Twenty Words is a lovely monthly post hosted by Abi over at Creating Paper Dreams.  Head over there to check out some more pictures.

Kisses xxx

P.S. The #500snapsofsummer total is not forgotten, but learning the ins and outs of a new job has really eaten up my time!  However, this picture brings the total up to 365, with 135 pictures left to take, and I have plenty more waiting in the sidelines...

P.P.S. Exercise24 is also back on track this week and stands at 4 hours and 14 minutes.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

getting crafty

It's been one of those weeks where plans haven't quite worked out.  Three days out that were planned have fallen through, sometimes at the last minute, and there's no one to blame because sometimes that's how life works out.  So I've done some pouting, but that got dull quite quickly.  And so I've tried to turn frustratingly cancelled days out into productive, crafty days in and I've really enjoyed relaxing with a project or two.  And by planning in a few exciting things for the evenings and weekends to come, there is still plenty on the cards to look forward to.  

Progress is still continuing on my giant map project.  I think when it's done, I'll put together a full series of photos showing it come together. I've been working on it since January and it feels good to see how far it's come even though there have been some frustrating moments with it.

I've also been doing a bit of knitting this summer, because the best time to get back into knitting is when it's very warm, obviously.  I've learned to knit lacy patterns and add beads to my work, and I'm hoping to have a new shawl or two to keep my neck cosy in autumn.

That's all for now.  I still have some photos from the summer that I haven't shared yet, but it's safe to acknowledge that I am quite far short of the goal.  So instead of using my camera just for July and August, I'm going to allow myself to continue to take my photos for #500snapsofsummer right up until 21st September, which will technically be the end of summer according to the calendar. I'll do a bit of a progress report next week.

Kisses xxx

P.S. That's another 13 photos for #500snapsofsummer, which means that so far I've taken 364 and have 136 left to take.

P.P.S. Exercise24: 3 hours and 37 minutes.  Thank you so much to all the people who left their tips for motivation.  I will definitely try them out!

Saturday, 30 August 2014

travel dreams

There's a travel shop in London that I really love, nestled in Covent Garden and full of delightful things.  Stanford's is a great place to go to research trips, be enticed by travel-themed stationary, dream of exotic places and pretend that you can jump into the maps that cover the floors.

The new academic year is upon us, and while there are lots of things to plan and prepare, anticipate and look forward to about going back to school, it's also a good time to make a few travel plans.  And given that I have ideas for three big, long-haul adventures in the coming year, it's also a good time to think about saving up the pennies too.

If all goes to plan, places as far flung as Singapore, the Caribbean and maybe even South America will feature in my travels.  I hope so as I get incredibly excited about the possibility of travel!  Have you got any plans for the upcoming year?

They also have travel-themed gifts.  My shower curtain came from Stanfords, and while it wasn't the most economical purchase I've ever made, it's definitely a talking point.  Without wishing to seem indelicate, barely anyone seems to visit the loo without coming to back to comment on the map, and the conversation will turn to topics such as "Is that really where Hawii is?".  Endlessly entertaining!

Kisses xxx

P.S. That's 9 more photos for #500snapsofsummer which brings the total to 351 and leaves 149 still to take.

P.P.S. Exercise24: 3 hours

Friday, 29 August 2014

training for the beach: motivation needed

Summer 2012 and Summer 2014
One of the goals on my list of things to do before I'm 30 is to get a bikini.  And then, y'know, wear it. This might seem like a simple goal to accomplish and at a basic level, all that's needed to complete it is to simply go out an purchase the item in question.  But actually when I set myself this goal, I envisaged more to it.  I want to slim down and be healthier.

Since setting myself this goal, I have lost three stone, and that's taken me well over a year.  I didn't subscribe to a diet or do anything crazy, but I did reduce my portion sizes, cut out some of the junk food that I'm so fond of and generally try to clean up my diet a little bit.  I still ate out, and if I'm paying for a meal out, I refuse to go and order a salad, so on those occasions, I would eat what I liked, refuse to feel guilty, and accept that I may not lose any weight that week, and may even gain some.  I suppose without occasions like that, it may have been quicker to shed the pounds, but I LOVE to eat, and by having treats sometimes, it made it easier to say no to cake at other times.  

While the summer has been in full swing, I have given myself a break, and I decided that as long as my weight didn't go up over the summer, I wouldn't concern myself about trying to get it to go down.  Well, the holiday has now ended, and my weight hasn't gone up (or down, which probably has a lot to do with deep-fried macaroni cheese) and I am back to thinking about that bikini goal.  

It's worth pointing out that I am never going to be willowy or slender.  That's not my build and I'm completely fine with that, but I did decide that I wanted to be healthy, and I want to get the best I possibly can out of my figure. And I look forward to shopping for a bikini that will flatter my figure, especially as I've never owned or worn one before.

What I'd like to achieve now is to slim down and tone up a little. Which means that sadly, the time has come to exercise.  I have joined a gym, and I have two overriding thoughts about that: 
a) I hate exercise when it's not fun
 b) The gym is not fun.

I appreciate that not everyone will share these opinions, and I don't hate being active at all.  I like to run around and shriek and play games... but this isn't particularly regular, sustained or targeted exercise.  I have huge respect for those that run or train regularly but I simply don't enjoy it.  Exercising would be simpler if I did. I am however determined and I have joined a gym with the express intention of being a member for two months and working hard at it, even if I continue to hate every wretched minute.  The most important thing is to keep my eye on my motivation, and I draw this from a number of places:

1) A holiday in October which will hopefully involve a beach and a bikini and the fulfillment of a goal
2) I will be fitter and healthier
3) The fact that I have decided to post about it here will help keep me accountable.
4) The end is definitely in sight.

To keep track of my progress, I'm going to keep a running total of exercise hours here. My goal is to reach a solid 24 hours of exercise. (That seemed nicer than tracking volume of sweat produced!) I'm only going to count specific exercise-for-the-sake-of-exercise hours, rather than the walk to the station in the morning and that sort of thing.  That's all good stuff, but I'm going to track the exercise that is hard work, and then anything else is a bonus! I started a week ago, as I thought it would be good to establish an exercise routine before I go back to work.  At the moment my arms and legs ache, but at the end of the first week of gym membership, I still hate it but I can run for 30 minutes without stopping on the treadmill (albeit slowly), I am determined to make use of the pool and some of the exercise classes and I am contemplating having a personal training session.  

Finally, I have a bit of request for feedback: is anyone out there an exercise enthusiast who can share any tips? Or does anyone have any good ways of motivating themselves to exercise?  Any tips for effective methods of exercise?  Has anyone ever had a personal trainer session - was it effective? Wish me luck!

Kisses xxx

P.S. Exercise24: 2 hours, 25 minutes

P.P.S. If you're in the habit of seeing me regularly or even occasionally, please bully me into going to the gym.  My reply might well be: "No thanks, I like cake, not running" but don't accept that as a valid response.

he ain't heavy, he's my brother

I've had some good times hanging with my brother this summer and so I've got a quick post sharing a couple of photos.  He just about tolerates the photo taking, and these are really the only ones I took.  We've been to the cinema (twice in one day, in fact), got in a comedy show, ordered take-out pizza, seen in the new Doctor, watched all the Batman films back to back as I'd never seen them, and eaten piles of junk food.  In the junk food stakes, we are both highly accomplished.  We had brunch one day at the most amazing greasy spoon.  I ate possibly the biggest plate of food I've ever had in my life, much to the astonishment of the waitress who clearly didn't think I was up to it.  My brother was also impressed, and that's quite a challenge.  We also couldn't resist purchasing a bag of mashed potato shaped into hashtags and other computer symbols, with a crispy coating.  So yummy and the best pun of the summer: Mashtags. Absolutely no nutritional value.  Anyway, it's been fun!

Kisses xxx

P.S. Only 4 pictures here, but it still brings the #500snapsofsummer total up to 342, leaving 158 to go.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

bar on the jetty

Tuesday evening saw me heading along the Greenwich Peninsula (I made an unfortunate typo there first time round.) I headed at a reasonable pace along the Thames towards an old industrial jetty which used to take coal deliveries from the ships that came up the Thames.  I was hurrying because I was late to meet a friend, not because I was expecting a coal delivery.  And one of the things I absolutely cannot stand is lateness, especially in myself.  

Greenwich Jetty is currently home to an immersive theatre production (which I have yet to sample, but aim to in the next month) and a pop-up bar to provide libations for all the theatre goers.  In our case, it was just a cool bar made from shipping containers with a mysterious-looking, light up sign.  It meant we could sit on crates and palettes jutting out over the river and have a good catch up while the cable cars drifted overhead and the tide went out.  It meant we could wrap up in free blankets as it got darker, and sip our drinks, and that we could have an entertaining sojourn on a hammock.  I love a good hammock.  It was an unusual location for an evening drink, but a fun one!

On a health-and-safety note, do remember to only go out at sensible times.  Not when the Bake Off is on for instance, as you will miss ALL THE DRAMA.  Today I've had communications from friends in Singapore and Alaska, and whether east or west, both parties had heard of the drama.  No one can get wound up about cake like the British.

Kisses xxx

P.S. These 8 photos take the #500snapsofsummer collection up to 338.  That leaves 162 left ...