Tub on the Run


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A lot of love for the bank holiday

Despite the onset of some grumpiness, courtesy of my Whole 100, I’ve had a lovely weekend. It’s been a good mix of relaxed and active!

Saturday

I needed to get some bits and bobs from Exeter, which turned into a hunt for new jeans, handbag and some stationery. I’d hoped that Exeter was going to be really quiet with the Radio 1 Big Weekend being held at Powderham nearby, but it was heaving! We have a new person joining our team this week, so I needed to pop into WH Smith’s and Paperchase to get a couple of things. I also returned the work trousers that I didn’t like, and Matt and I stopped off at Byron Burger for some lunch.

Byron Burger Cheeseburger

I had a bit of food envy while we were here. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed my chicken, but it wasn’t the same. Matt had a burger of some sort with an Oreo milkshake, which just brought back memories of the amazing Reese’s peanut butter milkshake I’d had there last time we visited. So good! Apple juice just isn’t the same!

Byron Burger Reeses Peanut Butter Milkshake

In the afternoon, we put the rugby on for the Exeter Chiefs v Saracens final. We would love to have gone, but to be honest, that amount of travelling this weekend didn’t float my boat! The rest of the day was spent chilling out.

Sunday

I had my full attack of the grumps today, for literally no reason. After getting my grumpy bum in the car, we actually had a very pleasant day wandering around the track and enjoying the sunshine. Matt got to play with his camera, though mine had to stay in the car as I’d forgot to charge the battery (so annoying!).

Castle Combe Winners

It was a great day of racing, and it was nice to get out and about. We stopped at Matt’s nan’s on the way home as she has very kindly given us some of her old gardening things that she no longer needs. We’re pretty well kitted out for the garden now in terms of equipment. After arriving home, we collapsed onto the sofas. Who knew so much sunshine could wear you out!

Castle Combe - Quarry

Monday

I’d hoped to get up early today. I felt like I had 101 things to do and needed to get done. I ended up dragging my weary carcass out of bed at 9:30am, which was about two hours later than I had wanted to get up. Oh well! After making some breakfast, I headed down to Home Bargains (love that place! So much stuff you never knew you might need!) for some extra tupperware tub things and clothes pegs. Mission accomplished, I came home to find Matt had made a start on the garden and was cutting down the grass that was coming over from our neighbours’ garden. I strimmed the worst of the height of the grass, and then mowed it. I am not sure how many poor snails were lost in my efforts (the little buggers always seemed to be where I wanted to stand), though once the grass was cut back, I definitely saved a fair few.

Several loads of washing and hanging out on the line later, it was time to start batch cooking. I cannot tell you how little I was looking forward to doing this. It worked out okay though, as three of the meals I want to make need to be marinated for a day, and the others I don’t have all the ingredients for. Matt was happy, as I’d made him a lasagne (the old Slimming World one we used to do).

Did you have a nice weekend? What were your highlights?


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Easter weekend

Hurrah for long bank holiday weekends (and the two four day weeks!). Despite having a week off earlier in March, this long weekend has landed at the right time.

We didn’t have much in the way of plans for this weekend, though I had a list that I wanted to work through (half completed, so that’s something!). It has just been nice to have a little bit of downtime, though unfortunately work impeded on it a little bit – never mind!

Friday

Matt and I needed to head in to Exeter do run some errands and pick up a couple of things. It was an absolutely gorgeous day – the first real spring-like weather that I think we’ve had this year. Normally, when the weather is nice, rather than eat in a restaurant, we like to get something to eat outside and sit on Cathedral’s green. Lots of people had the same idea, and it was tough to find somewhere to park for a bit!

Exeter Cathedral

After we’d finished, it seemed a shame to head straight home and retreat indoors. Instead, we headed to Killerton for a wander around. We’ve been meaning to stop by and have a wander around since we renewed our National Trust membership in February, but hadn’t quite got to it.

Rather than head into the house, we walked around the gardens with our cameras. The flowers in the walled garden aren’t quite out yet, but there are a lot of other pretty things to look at. I was trying to get a picture of some pretty blue flowers (I’m not at all green fingered, and literally know about 5 different types of plants – the rest are referred to by colour), and then fell into a mole hole and rolled my ankle. Well done me. Not to be deterred, we took it a little slower but kept going and eventually came across the chapel, which isn’t too far from the parkrun start line.

Killerton Gardens

We used to visit Killerton a lot as a family when my sister and I were little, but I don’t remember ever going in to the chapel. It was wonderfully quiet (outside was reasonably noisy, owing to the egg hunt), and the sunlight shone through the stained glass window, making a beautiful pattern on the wall near the altar. It really was stunning.

Killerton Chapel

After admiring the light show for a bit, we wandered back to the car and headed home. I don’t know what it is about the fresh air, but when we got home, we crashed on the sofa. We’ve resolved to go back soon to go for a proper walk in one of the forests, around the old parkrun route, or one of the many other walks (and probably should do the house too!).

Saturday

True to the forecast, the weather turned really grim and grey (and wet!), so we’d tried to make sure that Saturday was a more of an indoor day. It started with a trip to our local butchers and greengrocers. The butcher very kindly de-boned and skinned the chicken thighs for me (I am complete pants at doing this myself) while Matt got the veggies sorted. This is probably a silly thing to say, but I am constantly surprised by how nice people are where we live now. We returned home and I set to work in the kitchen.

Easter batch cook

Many hours later, we have 14 dinners of:

I’ve not tried the pork meatloaf (looks strange, but smells amazing), Spanish chicken or the mustard lamb before (and obviously a Jamie Oliver “15 minutes” is a normal human’s “30 minutes”). I am pleased though – it was a long time on my feet, but totally worth it. Plus, we were treated to a pretty gorgeous sunset as I came to the end of my cooking.

Sunset

Sunday

My sister has come home for the Easter break, so I headed down to Mum and Dad’s for the day. My sister cooked an amazing curry (a Slimming World one I think), and we had a really relaxed afternoon, just catching up and putting the world to rights and making a fuss to this little loon.

Little Loon

Dad went out as he plays in a band and they were playing down a pub, and Matt stayed home to do some tidying up.

It was definitely a case of donning the flippers to get home. The amount of standing water on the roads was absolutely crazy, but I made it home safe and sound.

Monday

I headed back to my parents’ house today, while Matt sat in the queue on the M5, attempting to get to his parents’ house (the traffic was pretty awful from what I gather). Mum, Dad, my sister, gran and I had lunch at the local garden centre, before Mum and I toddled off so I could try and show her the type of flower that I would like in our garden (it’s a small, blue flower, and lives in a rockery type environment). We couldn’t find it. Pudding was courtesy of Orange Elephant. I am sure I said this on my old blog, but if you are ever in the area, head over to Orange Elephant at Lower Brenton near Kenn for the best ice cream you will ever have. The lambs have not long arrived too – what’s not to love – lambs and good ice cream!

Lambs

Anyway, the delayed Sunday blues have kicked in quite hard, and I’m aiming for an early(ish) night as I have a very long day ahead of me tomorrow.

What did you get up to this weekend?


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Whole 30 Days 19 to 21: on the up!

After a pretty miserable few days, I feel like I am on the up again! And about time too! It isn’t (cringe) the “tiger blood“/superhero feeling, but I am feeling more together.

Day 19

Breakfast: Diced bacon, hard boiled egg and sweet potato

Lunch: Chicken in Matt’s amazing tomato sauce and veggie couscous

Tea: Steak with onions and sweet potato

How I’m feeling: I am glad it’s Friday, that’s for sure! It was one of the busier days in the office again today, and I didn’t end up eating my lunch until nearly 4pm. I had planned to have it earlier, but a meeting overran and then I had a couple of others to go to. One thing that I was pretty glad of was I didn’t get ravenously hungry (or grumpy). Yes, I was hungry, but I wasn’t chew-on-your-arm kind of hungry. I also noticed I seemed to keep a better concentration level going. All in all, it’s been a pretty good day.

Day 20

Breakfast: French omelette

Lunch: Ham and a juice

Tea: Chicken stir fry with sweet potatoes

How I’m feeling: Refreshed! Finally! I woke up, having had nearly 9 hours of sleep and felt good. Over breakfast, Matt and I were talking about what we wanted to do in the day. His nearly-Whole-30 is going really well, and he decided his treat would be a new Xbox 1 controller (how it’s different from the other one, I’m not entirely sure, but I’ve been told it is MUCH better than the other). Unfortunately the only place that had it was an Argos in Plymouth (which is about an hour away). We’d also been talking about rejoining the National Trust, so decided to do it today and stop by Saltram House on the outskirts of Plymouth on the way back from Argos.

Saltram House

It was a really murky day, but the weather is clearly confusing the plant life – the daffodils, snowdrops and crocuses were all out in force. We didn’t get to go around the whole house, as only the east wing is open at the moment, but it was a nice way to spend a couple of hours. We’re going to go back in the spring (when hopefully the sun is shining!) so we can go around all of the house and gardens.

Gardens at Saltram

Around 3:45pm, we headed home, stopping at Tesco to see if they had a magazine that Matt was looking for. Because we hadn’t had lunch either, we picked up a couple of things to munch. I picked up ham and a juice. It wasn’t the best thought out meal, but it filled a hole until tea time. This evening, I’ve put in a big Muscle Food order, which will hopefully be here on Wednesday. I’ve included a couple of their paleo snacks to see what they’re like. If one thing that this Whole 30 has told me is that I can’t be prepared all the time, so having a back up plan is a good idea.

Anyway, it’s been another pretty good day today – the Whole 30 goodness is beginning to come through!

Day 21

Breakfast: Banana, melon, apple and orange juice

Lunch: French omelette with ham, followed by dried apricots and pistachio nuts

Tea: Prawn stir fry with carrot noodles

How I’m feeling: Another good long sleep, and I’m feeling good! We decided to get a juice for breakfast in the Guildhall in Exeter rather than eat at home. I realised that the smoothie I usually like (Banana Boat) has yoghurt in, so I asked for one without the yoghurt. It wasn’t quite the same, but it was a nice change. It wasn’t an exciting shopping trip (conditioner, deodorant, lip balm), but it was nice to get out the house for a bit. I definitely think I am procrastinating a bit less than I have done in the recent past.

Fancy catching up on my January Whole 30 so far? Here you go:

 


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How to survive Christmas shopping

Surviving Christmas Shopping

Ah, the Hollywood dream – cold weather, worthy of a lovely snuggly coat, scarf, cute hat and gloves. Maybe accompanied by your equally as well dressed partner, smiling as you walk down the busy, but not too crowded high street, carrying bags (the nice kind – you know, the ones that you end up keeping for “best”), smiling all the while.

The reality? Queuing to get anywhere near the city, then queuing some more as the local NCP operates a one-in-one-out policy. Once you’ve found the Holy Grail parking space, you join the multi-generational roving mosh pit rocking out to Mariah Carey. It could almost be considered a contact sport. The weather just about warrants a coat, but the second that you step into a shop you’re sweltering and sweating like you’ve just sprint 5k in a bid to beat Yusain Bolt (Marks and Spencers, I’m looking at YOU!). The bags, which you had to pay for because you keep forgetting that plastic bag charges aren’t just something that your local supermarket has had to implement, aren’t the nice ones. They’re the ones that slice your fingers and make you wish you had worn gloves (though it is too hot to actually wear gloves). Your partner is miserable as sin, and the mood is showing no signs of improving. Battle weary, you return home with most of the stuff you had intended to buy, some things you hadn’t planned on, and forgot some things in the muddle of bags.

Often, after my November pay, I brave the high street for a couple of items. The majority of my Christmas shopping is done online to save the stress. When we lived in the flat, as we lived above a business, the delivery men used to be able to leave stuff with the business who would very kindly leave it on our landing. In the event that it wasn’t delivered during office hours, we lived around the corner from the sorting office which opened at 7am so we could nip in before work. All that said, I don’t actually like online shopping all that much.

Exeter Christmas Tree

This year, we have our own front door, and no one to take in any packages for us. Work are pretty good if we order stuff to be delivered there, but I wouldn’t want to take the mickey. I also wanted to enjoy some of the Christmas atmosphere in Exeter. Here are my top tips:

  • Make a plan of what to buy

We all know this makes financial sense, let alone anything else! Despite my misgivings above, I do actually like Christmas shopping. I like it too much actually. I get massively carried away usually, blow the budget and pay for it (literally) until Easter. This year, I’ve reeled in the spending, but hopefully not to the detriment of getting things that people want.

  • Make a plan of where to go

This helped us massively. We literally planned to go down one side of the high street and back up the other. It was executed in a way that I think the military would have been proud of. There was no faffing, no browsing, just targeted shopping. I think this definitely helped me stay on budget too.

  • Get in there early

Exeter is hardly London or any other major city, but the shopping area is really quite concentrated. I am not a fan of crowds, and find shopping with large quantities of people around stressful. I’m sure as a teenager, I used to enjoy this, but as I get older, I find myself less tolerant. Matt and I got in to the city centre for about 8:30am. We drove straight in to the car park we wanted to park in – no hassle. There was no battling through crowds to get to destinations or in the shops. As we left, it was just beginning to get busy and I was glad we were done. If you can’t do early, try getting there late. When I lived in Sheffield, an evening trip to Meadowhall was infinitely less stressful than a day time jaunt.

  • Treat yourself

I was quite clear when Matt and I were formulating our battle plan that breakfast featured. Our original plan was to go to Brody’s (I fancied pancakes), but in the end, we opted for a breakfast Subway on the way in. It was nice, it definitely stopped me feeling grumpy, and felt like more of a treat than lunch.

  • Don’t stress it

It just isn’t worth getting all stressed over. There are some things that I missed off the list (and therefore forgot to buy). Worst case? I’ll either pop in early again, or buy them online. This year I’ve had such a good experience, that I’ve realised it isn’t worth stressing about, or getting annoyed at the child that screams just below the pitch that only dogs can hear, or about the person who just randomly stops and you end up bumping in to them.

Needless to say that I am now sat here, smug in the comfort that I am pretty much done. I’ve got the wrapping to do, for what Miracle on 34th will be cracked out (my favourite Christmas film).

How is your Christmas shopping going? What’s your favourite Christmas film?


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Yoga isn’t relaxing – Part 2

If you missed Part 1, it’s probably worth a quick catch up here.

When the alarm went off on Sunday, I opened my eyes and felt rested. Actual, proper rest. This literally never happens. I had the best night’s sleep I’d probably had in months. The fact that I could barely move my legs was neither here nor there! My muscles ached. Maybe more than ached. While I’d had a good sleep, the fact I was barely mobile made me wonder whether I would be able to do Day 2. Mentally, I’d considered phoning in sick.

Wait. What the?!

As I woke up properly, I realised that I was being completely stupid. No one would have noticed my uncanny resemblance to a piece of wood – they were probably all feeling reasonably similar (which was later confirmed when I got to the studio).

Driving through the fog, working out the best route and considering where to park, I felt I’d made the right decision. This was only further confirmed by the easy welcome when I stepped through the door. It felt good.

Yoga isn't relaxing - Part 2

I set out my mat in the same place (total creature of habit) and we practised what we’d learnt the previous day. Despite thinking that my legs (which is where I had most of the soreness) were going to snap if I tried to bend them, the flow was much easier than I was expecting it to be.

After the sun salutations, Chris talked us through bandhas. During this part, I learnt I actually have lower stomach muscles.  I cannot think of a time when I have ever felt them before. Not even after an abs class at the gym. Turns out that I probably very rarely used these muscles, as after a while of using them, I found they ached, and later in the day, I found sneezing quite painful.

This lead on to some balances. I think it is fair to say that my balance isn’t amazing. I’m not sure why, other than I can only imagine it is because I a) don’t concentrate enough, and b) don’t engage the muscles needed for balance all that often. It seemed that I wasn’t the only one having problems in this area. What probably made it worse for me was as soon as I saw the guy to my left start to wobble or move, I followed suit. If I couldn’t see him though, it was much better.

After lunch, Chris talked about establishing a home practice, and carving out a space, both physically to roll your mat out, but also in terms of your diary. Yoga is best done in the morning apparently, and some practice is better than none. With this in mind, I’m trying to suss out how to incorporate this into my life in a more suitable way.

Towards the end, the more adventurous amongst us got to play a bit with back bends and inversions. I was able to take part in the back bends, but the inversion (shoulder stand) was a bit beyond me. I think I may have smothered myself with my own chest if I had attempted the shoulder stand!

Day 2 was less physically intensive than Day 1, but it was more subtle. There was lots of good information throughout and I actually feel that I understand now that yoga isn’t just a relaxing activity to while away the time and get a good stretch. Don’t get me wrong, there is stretching, but it is also uplifting and stress busting, and inspiring and grounding, and there is so much more beyond just moving.

I absolutely would recommend the Ashtanga Yoga Workshop if anyone was in the market for an introduction to Ashtanga yoga. The studio is really lovely – clean, warm and with plenty of equipment, and the people are very friendly and welcoming. I plan to go back to the Mysore classes once I have established a home practice. I feel like I have learnt a lot, and I’m desperate not to lose my focus on it.

Lastly, I have a couple of tips if you do find yourself signed up to a yoga workshop:

  • Get on the front row. I’m usually a back row kinda person, but I scooted forward to the front when I realised the second row had become the front row.
  • Don’t think people are watching you. Firstly, they won’t be. They’ll be too busy trying to make sure that their arm/hand/foot/leg/gaze is in the right place to notice what you’re doing. Secondly, you’ll be so busy trying to make sure that your arm/hand/foot/leg/gaze is in the right place that you won’t notice if they’re watching. The only person that matters when it comes to watching you is the teacher, who might adjust you.
  • Don’t think that all the participants are all going to be super-flexible, lithe athletes clad in Lululemon. I am living proof that this isn’t the case. We had a really good mix – from people like me, to an ironman athlete, to a yogi who had been practising for a year or so, to the stay-at-home mums who just seemed to want a bit of sanity back in their lives.
  • It isn’t serious. Well, at least this workshop wasn’t. It was good fun, if not hard work sometimes. Bodily functions will happen. People will snore during savasana. Your top will probably ride up. You’ll probably get a giggling fit and collapse, and if you don’t, someone else will. It doesn’t have to be serious.

So, as I said, this wasn’t exactly a bucket list item for me, but it was something that I wanted to do, and I’m really glad I did it.

Do you have anything similar you’d like to have a go at?


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Yoga isn’t relaxing

The Snickers advert with Joan Collins in always makes me laugh.

Sadly, the reality is that it seems I turn into a diva (though not anywhere approaching glamourous) if I find myself in the situation where I struggle to cope. Matt tells me that one of the things that really makes a difference to how I am and how well I cope with stuff is when I practice yoga. Or, rather, as I learnt this weekend, practice the poses.

I’ve been meaning to go on a yoga workshop for some time. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it was on my bucket list, but it is something I have wanted to do just for me. I was googling yoga studios locally, and came across the Ashtanga Yoga Workshop in Exeter. I read the reviews, browsed their website and put my name down for the Beginners 2-Day Intensive workshop. This would probably have been around May. I knew the house move was going to take precedence for a while, but that we would definitely have moved house by 3rd October when the workshop started.

In the run up to the workshop, I’d had all these great ideas about how the unpacking would be finished in the first week, and I’d be able to roll my mat out in the spare bedroom and get back into it before the workshop. Yeah. That didn’t happen. In a way, I’m kind of glad, as I went to the workshop with no bad habits formed.

My history with yoga has been primarily gym class based, running through various poses, trying to breathe through them, and treating it as exercise, and a relaxing one that that. No fast paced stuff, and definitely there was never any real sweating, and I can’t remember a time when the instructor would correct my form in a pose. This kind of moved across into my own home practice with YouTube videos. I didn’t know if I was following a particular style of yoga, or anything behind it. Turns out, there is a lot more to yoga than just the poses!

On Day 1, I parked at the park and ride, and made my way to the studio for 10:45am. The studio is lovely. It’s a little cocoon away from the hustle and bustle, tucked down a little side street that you would miss if you weren’t looking for it. That said, it isn’t hard to find (the website directions are very good). Stepping in, the lighting is muted, it is warm, and smells cosy and welcoming. I didn’t know anyone else there, which was a little daunting, but quickly forgot all about it as I made friends with one of the ladies who I parked my mat next to.

Yoga isn't relaxing

Chris, our teacher, asked us to introduce ourselves before talking about the workshop. First order of the day was to get us to breathe properly. I thought “huh? I am breathing, so surely that is good?”.  Turns out I was wrong. Breathing fully, when you’re not used to doing it, is actually hard work, but also fascinating. Immediately this differed to what I had been shown previously – in through your nose, out through your mouth. Not in this workshop! No mouth breathing in any way. It wasn’t banned, but it felt much more effective to breathe through my nose.

After a break, it was on to sun salutations (A and B). The idea was to apply the breathing techniques that we had used in the morning in physical practice in the afternoon. These deep breaths drive movement, not the other way around, as I often thought. I recognised the sun salutations from my previous dabbling. A little bit of dread filled me at the thought of it. I cannot hold downward dog for longer than literally 1 pant, let alone five full breaths. Nope. My wrists, elbows and shoulders just don’t get it. Chris said “try puppy pose”. What?! Puppy pose?! What is this? Turns out that puppy pose is something that I can work with to working up to full downward dog – there is progression! I immediately felt the weight of dread lift.

Dread was swiftly replaced by sweat. Not quite dripping, but not far off! Thankfully I wasn’t the only one. After a couple of guided flows, and then a couple of solo flows, it was time for possibly one of the best bits of yoga… Savasana. Then lunch. Two great things!

After lunch, there was an introduction to the opening chant. I thought I’d find it really cringey, but actually it was really engaging. I won’t lie, it probably won’t be something I’ll be able to remember for home practice though. Standing poses followed the chants and information about the Ashtanga style. Chris had warned us earlier that we may feel some emotions during poses that we weren’t expecting to feel. When he’d said it, I remembered Kino MacGregor (who I follow on Instagram) saying that she would cry during a specific back bend. I smiled, thinking that this is something that happened to those who were really “good” at yoga. So to say that when I felt white hot anger in a forward bend was a shock, was a bit of an understatement. I don’t understand why, and I was really surprised it happened. I put it down to tiredness.

I came home feeling really grumpy. I was sore – my lower back felt like someone had sandpapered my muscles, my feet ached and my knees felt bruised. I wondered whether I could make it through to Day 2!

I think this post has gone on long enough, so I’ll post about Day 2, and my thoughts separately.

Have you been to a yoga workshop before?  What did you think?


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My day at #SWBlogSocial

On Saturday morning, I had planned to be up in plenty of time, out the door and in Exeter for breakfast, which would then be followed by a mooch around with Matt.  It didn’t happen quite like that.  I was up in time, but the getting dressed part was the hurdle that I fell at.  I am still blaming my long day hangover from Thursday for my lethargy.

Once I finally got myself properly up and dressed, I remembered that I needed to actually make an effort.  While I had been reassured that not all attendees of the South West Blog Social were beauty and fashion bloggers, I also didn’t want to face the immaculately dressed and beautiful without at least trying to look a bit better than normal.

I arrived on time at Oddfellows and was given a white wristband.  I think the white wristbands were for those who didn’t really fit into any of the other niches.  It was lovely to meet some new people, and I was genuinely surprised how many Devon based bloggers there are.  Everyone was really friendly and it wasn’t hard to strike up conversation.  I am hoping that there will be coffee meet ups with some of the people I met.

There were some set events in the afternoon – getting articles/a book printed, working with brands, blogger community and finding your voice.  I didn’t have much interest in getting printed (I’m still amazed that I have readers in the virtual world to be honest!), but I thought the other sessions might be more relevant and/or of interest to me.

I think I may have misunderstood the aim of the working with brands session though, as it seemed wholly geared to advertising on your blog, which isn’t something I am able to do even if I wanted to, which I don’t.  I’m sure that people who are able to and are interested in this found it useful, but I was expecting something different.

The next session was held by Jessica Debrah who started @FashBeautyLife and the #FBLchat on Twitter.  She was interesting to listen to and I think she had some great points to make, and it certainly opened my eyes to what is possible in terms of building and participating in a community.  It was certainly interesting listening to how she juggles her own blog and FBL in addition to her full time job.

I really wish that the last session of the day had been one of the first, as this was the session that I enjoyed the most.  Ruth Douglas spoke about creating your brand and finding your “you-ness”.  There were some brilliant ideas for getting over writer’s block and finding your blogging voice.  There were some tips that I hadn’t thought of or come across, such as themed months and annual planners, and practicing writing every day even if you don’t actually press “publish”.  Later on, over cocktails, Ruth also got me thinking when she said that words should be good enough, and that a photo isn’t absolutely essential, especially if it doesn’t add anything (the big caveat being pictureless posts are more difficult to pin on Pinterest).  This session, by far, was the most interesting, well delivered and relevant to me.

There was plenty to get involved with throughout the day and I enjoyed meeting new people, chatting about blogging, laughing about other things, having some bits added on to my manicure, nipping for a quick wander around John Lewis’s stationery section and then heading on for a few cocktails at Las Iguanas.  I think that Jodie and Albertine did a splendid job of getting the event organised and certainly put a lot of work into the sponsors, goodie bags and things to do.  I hope that there is a future event, as it seemed well received, but I hope that if there is a next time, there will be a bit more space (physically and in the timetable) for the talks – it was a bit squishy in the room where the talks were held.

Would I go again?  Yes, I would.  I learnt a couple of new things, met some wonderful and inspiring people, and I am quite looking forward to doing one or two of the Exeter Trails which were given out at the event.


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I am off to the #SWBlogSocial in June

One of the things that I wanted to do this year was to attend a blogging conference. I had originally put down for the Cybher conference which was due to take place at the end of May. I had spent a long time reading posts on last year’s conference, and I was really looking forward to learning all sorts of stuff. Sadly, Cybher was cancelled this year. There have been a couple of other blog conferences in London that I could have gone to, but I didn’t book in for any.

Then, I started looking for conference type things a bit closer to home, and came across #SWBlogSocial, which is being held in Exeter on Saturday 7th June.

I am really enjoying blogging, and I like learning new things and meeting new people (once I get over my initial nerves!).  This is somewhat out of my comfort zone. From the tweets I have seen so far, most, if not all of the attendees are fashion and beauty bloggers, all of whom have more style in their little finger than I have in my entire body :-). However, I am really looking forward to going and learning whatever I can. Like Matt has said to me, even if it is fashion or beauty oriented, there will be things I can learn and take away from it.  And who knows, maybe some style sense might rub off on me and I will be forced to give up my uniform of plain tops and black jeans! 🙂

It will be a fun day out, it will be great to meet more bloggers and there will be cocktails which automatically make the world right!  Now I just have to work out my Juneathon plan, factoring that in to account (and the cocktails.  Must not forget cocktails).  Anyway, this is me…

A cultural Tub

A cultural Tub

Have you ever been to a blogging conference/meet up?  Any tips for me?

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I have the best sister

A long time ago, when my sister and I were first talking about hen parties, I specifically said that I didn’t want “just a night out on the town” (I can do that whenever, and honestly, clubbing in my home town is rubbish – I miss my uni town for that), and that there were to be no giant inflatable penises, or penis straws, or L plates, or general hen party tat (no offence to those who have thoroughly enjoyed hen parties like that, but it’s just not for me).

Yesterday marked three weeks to my wedding, and therefore, my hen party (or my bachelorette party to any Americans out there).  I knew a couple of very small details in the run up – that it was going to take place on or past Haldon Hill, and that there were cocktails at some point.  I had been told to bring gloves, wear boots with an ankle support, and dress as if we were going to Dartmoor.

At 9:30am, my sister appeared with her two best friends, picking up me and N.  When we were in the car and belted up, I was provided with a clue.  I’m not very good at clues – I’m a better logic thinker than an abstract thinker.

My clues!

My clues!

We turned off up Haldon Hill, and my immediate thought was that we were going to Go Ape!, which is effectively an aerial assault course.  I’ve done it before and loved it, but thought it was probably a bit chilly at this time of year.  Well, it turns out it wasn’t that anyway.  As we waited for the rest of the party to arrive, we all togged up and then when everyone else came, we headed over to Segway!!  It was AMAZING!!  Segways move depending on your weight distribution – lean forward to go forward, lean back to stop and/or move backwards, and stand still to stand still.  Do you know how hard it is to actually stand perfectly straight AND still?  It’s quite hard to start off with.  I found the initial training quite hard, and definitely settled more into it when we went around the forest.

I don't think I was being told off, but it looks like it!

I don’t think I was being told off, but it looks like it!

Time flew by when we were on these and before I knew it, we were heading back to base to grab some lunch.  Lunch was a picnic on the murky peak of Haldon Hill, but the weather did nothing to dampen our spirits.

From there, it was off on a treasure hunt around Exeter.  In teams of three we set off, each starting at different points around the course.  N, H, and I are all surprisingly competitive, so took it very seriously and started powering our way around the city looking for the clues, determined to get the answers right and be the first back to base.

With a handful of questions to go, we spotted my sister and her two friends in the distance.  We made some fairly shoddy attempts at hiding from them, but they eventually spotted us and it turned into a race of two teams.

My sister in the pink in the middle ground

My sister in the pink in the middle ground

Sadly, we weren’t the first team back – my sister’s team did actually beat us home.  However, once the team of my friends appeared and the marking of the answer booklets was done, it turned out that we had won!  Our prize?  Truffles.  They were gorgeous!

From Exeter, it was a mad dash home to get ready for the next part.  At this point, I still didn’t know what we were doing, but I was told we needed to wear nice clothes, so I changed into my jeans, a blue top and my wedding shoes (they need breaking in!).  It was quite a rush getting ready, but we managed it.  H knew where to take me, so off we toddled.  We met the majority of the party outside Spoken, a cafe bar.  It was time to make cocktails!  We had a long table, lined up with Collins and Martini glasses, with spirits, mixers and other ingredients at one end.

DSCI0059

George, the manager at Spoken, went on to show us how to make a Cosmopolitan, a Tom Collins and a Vanilla Alexander.  We made one, drank it, and then got shown the next.  I will admit that the cocktails were strong with a capital S, and it became a challenge to remember what went into the cocktails, especially the last one – the Vanilla Alexander.

Hen night cocktails

At this point, it was getting increasingly important to get some food to soak up some of the cocktails.  We were a little late appearing at the Mexican, but they were very good with us despite our lateness.  The food was plentiful and delicious (even through my drunken fug). and I left feeling a bit more sober than when I arrived, despite my friend topping up my Malibu and lemonade with white wine…

My sister organised the whole thing, and I am so grateful to her.  She did such a good job – there was something for everyone, but everything for me and it was the best day I have had in such a long time.  I feel very touch to have such good friends and family, and I feel honoured to have a sister like P.  She rocks.  Thank you P 🙂