Sunday, 30 April 2017

East London Life...

Last Sunday was spent exploring the markets and lanes of East London - Columbia and Brick Lane are a favourite of mine, especially on a Sunday and having worked around that area 12 years ago I always like to go back occasionally and see what has changed. Having been in Notting Hill the previous week we loved comparing the contrasts between the markets and avenues of West London to the lanes and streets of East.
The side street to Spitalfields and Brick Lane transport you back to an era and age of bygone years and I love the houses with shutters, feels like you are stepping back into an old Victorian jack the ripper novel. Its no surprise that this area is constantly being used for film sets and model shoots.
Columbia Road can be a bit of a squeeze and it always amazes me the number of people that bring buggies and pushchairs into the environment, fortunately even thou it was busy it wasn't horrendous.
There was so many of my favourite flowers there it was hard to choose what to come home with: tulips, peonies, hyacinths, sweet williams or ranunculus. It was a glorious treat of colours and smells and I loved ambling along the market.
A trip to the market and Brick lane is not complete without a stop for cake and a bagel - the legendary Brick lane bagel shop is my favourite; selling hot salt beef bagel's 24hrs a day.
We also sopped at Cake-hole which is a cute cafe selling cake and Monmouth coffee in the back of a vintage china shop which is heaven for me. Blueberry and Apple was my choice and Coffee & Walnut was M's.
We had a fabulous morning walking around Bethnal Green before walking down to Tower Hill and St Katherines dock to cheer on the marathon runners and enjoy a beer in the sunshine.
As you can see I came home with two of my favourite flowers Sweet Peas and Roses, both evoking so many wonderful memories of my Gramps's garden 💜

Saturday, 29 April 2017

From Notting Hill with love....

Notting Hill is one of my favourite places, whether is the eccentricity of the Portebello Road and all its characters to the side streets and squares festooned with pretty colourful houses. The fact that it has featured in some of my favourite books and movies also makes it a huge draw for me and I try to visit every season to explore the side streets and market.
With a day off for both of us last week M and I made an impromptu decision to go to Portebello Road, where I showed him some of my movie favourites.

We spent a couple of hours shopping, drinking coffee and loving the colourful houses.
Instagram is awash with wisteria at the moment and we stumbled on some absolute beauties whilst we were out and about and ended up on a very impromptu wisteria walk between Notting Hill and Holland Park which was an unexpected treat.
By the end of the morning M was beginning to 'get' my obsession and was even pointing out doorways that I might like to photograph.😂
How glorious is all this wisteria?......The pink door & house was my favourite.
After a couple of hours walking and a very patient M I decided to take him to my favourite pub in Kensington road - The Churchill Arms, which is a real old British pub,famed for its love of war memorabilia which festoons the ceiling, rugby and housing one of the best Thai restaurants in London.
We had a mixture of Pad Thai and curry which was delicious and finished off a pretty good day in Notting Hill.




Friday, 28 April 2017

Easter...

As we head into another bank holiday weekend, I thought I would share a few eats, and treats from my Easter. As most of you know I have been following Slimming World for the last 18 months and having achieved my 5 and half stone award the week before Easter, I decided to relax a little over the Easter weekend and enjoy the time with family and friends.

I was lucky enough to have Good Friday off which as I was house sitting for a friend gave me time to catch up on some crafting , series link on TV and baking. I worked the Easter Saturday which allowed me to grab an early coffee in Claridges enjoying the Easter blooms. This is without a doubt my favourite hotel in London and I pop in the Lobby every week to look at the flowers, they are just beautiful.
I then spent Easter Sunday with friends and family, the Easter Bunny did a short hop to my brothers, where chocolate & cupcakes were distributed to my niece and nephew.
I love Easter, its my next favourite to Christmas and usually spend it a friends cooking a huge roast lamb dinner with full on decorations and a big egg hunt.
This year however my friend was away so I volunteered to cook for M and his family. I think he was a little surprised on how big I go with Easter. The boys (21 & 25) seemed to enjoy it and are already talking about what we are doing next year! 😲
I hope that everyone enjoyed their Easter and that you got time to relax with family & loved ones.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Date Night at the Opera

Catching up on blog posts from Easter and April before May arrives and I disappear for 16 days on an epic adventure (more to follow on that!) - I have over the last few months alluded to being back out on the 'dating' scene and although not quite ready to tempt fate and completely spill the beans, I am happy to report that I have met someone and it looks promising!
One such date night on Maundy Thursday involved a lovely pre-theatre dinner at Balthazar in Covent Garden followed by an evening at The Royal Opera House watching Madame Butterfly.
M & I have known each other a little while now and have shared Bucket Lists's of things we would like to do, see and travel. We started working through the lists as friends and things have kind of evolved - the opera was on M's list and I was thrilled that I managed to book tickets for Madame Butterfly at its sell out performance at the ROH - we were in the nose bleed seats but still able to see and hear everything which was lovely. 
I wanted to go somewhere nice for dinner, we had already been to The Ivy Grill at Christmas when we went to the Ballet and as much as we loved it, I wanted to take him somewhere else, with Balthazar in close proximity this was perfect for a dinner. We both opted for the Pea and mint Risotto, followed by the Pork which was delicious. The pork was served with new potatoes, spinach and a medley of mushrooms.With the restaurant offering a pre-theatre 2/3 course menu this is a great way to eat in a nice restaurant without paying huge prices. The service, food and ambience was fantastic with no pressure to hurry you up.
Going straight out after work is always a balance and I am lucky to work somewhere that I can get my hair blow-dried, my nails paited and my make-up done. As you can imagine I took full advantage of this and felt fabulous i my gorgeous winter white DKNY trousers and black top. 
Not a huge Selfie fan but it was a must in the fabulous New York feel bathroom in Balthazar.💖
Date night continued at The Opera which was delightful. I loved that the 'words' were highlighted overhead to your seating areas so it was like watching a real live film with subtitles. On previous opera visits I haven't had this and have had to struggle along a little.
The performances were heartrendingly beautiful by the lead Butterfly and the Captain was a complete Cad. We loved it and started our Easter off perfectly.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

April plans ...

April is upon us and I have a few things planned during the month that I am really looking forward to along with spending some time with family and friends over the Easter period.With the lighter nights and hopefully warmers days I am slowly coming out of hibernation and getting out and about.
I really enjoy Easter and always see it as a kick start to spring and 'newness' so much more than New Year and star writing lists and planning things for the rest of the year.
I am house-sitting for a friend over the Easter period and hope to catch up on some crafting, blogging and a little 'me' time as well as cooking and baking for Easter.
April dates include a local derby day with Saracens at Wembley for the rugby, and an evening in Covent Garden which includes dinner at Balthazar and then Madama Butterfly at the Royal Opera House.
Covent Garden is already beautifully festooned with flowers and colourful eggs along with a giant bunny.
My local surroundings to work have taken on a colourful spring bloom with the tulips in Hanover square looking particularly pretty amongst the building works of Crossrail and Claridges lobby looking delightful with yellow daffodils and forsythia.
I still have my makelight walk to catch-up on the blogging posts along with some TV treats and a huge adventure that is planned in May.
Hope everyone has a delightful Easter and I look forward to reading and viewing all on blogs & instagram.


Friday, 31 March 2017

Goodbye March ..... Hello April


Well a quarter of the way through 2017 and my blogging resolutions are diminishing with each month. March was a busy month, but still no excuse for not blogging.
March was a mixed month for me filled with trips to Newcastle for work, lots of time watching the Rugby 6 nations and spending lots of time outside walking and spending some time with M.
March saw me take on the challenge of 10,000 steps a day for Cancer Research, I did this previously in September and look forward to updating you with how I did later in the week.
My steps took me out and about and over the month I have explored nature parks near to where I live that I haven't visited before. I also explored parks and places in London that I love. Some of the lovely places that I've walked this month include Leigh on Sea, Thorndon Park, Primrose Hill, St James Park and Rafaels Park in Romford. With the clocks going for
ward in my final week made the evenings much more pleasant to walk in.
Work was busy in March and the corner shop was filled with flowers, cake and lots of loveliness for Mothers Day. I particularly loved how my new hair matched the new Charlotte Tilbury beauty space. March saw more planning and juggling life, slimming world and work as well as several date days / evenings.
Slimming World successes continued with me being named Greatest Loser within my group which is the first time I have enjoyed being called a loser!!
The final week of March saw celebrations for Mothers Day and the anniversary of the loss of Gramps - falling in the same week I found this a little hard, but I know they would be immensely proud of my life and what I have done since they passed.
During March I also spent a day with Emily and the Makelight ladies on another photographic walk, something that I will blog later this week as I have so many beautiful images to share.
During the month I also got to spend it with both my oldest and my bestest friend - 2 different occasions but both lots of fun and a reminder why after 30+ years we are still as close as ever.
So I bid farewell to a mixed month of March and hello to an April that I hope will be filled with blossom, sunshine, chocolate & hot cross buns.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Goodbye February.... Hello March >>>

 So February’s flown and we are a week into March and I’m still working my way through my February blog post list … ooops!  Not sure where the time is going but I am thankful that the days are getting a little lighter and it feels in between the rain showers that Spring is trying to blossom.
February was buy workwise and quite chilled at home, which helped with the stress levels and just learning to adapt to a new role and lots of life changes. It was a month of catching up with friends and family for birthday celebrations, lunches and coffee as well as a few date night!
Date nights included
·         Theatre Night - a trip to the theatre to see Dream Girls which is just fabulous and involved a visit into the Savoy (alas not to stay) but still savoured the ambience pre-theatre.
·         Movie Night – Movie moment from February was the Oscar winning Manchester by the Sea – loving my movie moments and hope to share more this month
·         Curry Night – kept it casual for Valentines Night with a trip to the local curry house, no pressure on either of us other than to catch-up over a glass of prosecco and a curry and enjoy a night off plan with SW! It still called for a new dress and a little pampering which was nice.
Valentines also lent itself to going full on pink & red at the corner shop with the façade being decorated in balloons which made for some great Instagram moments along with a lovely pop-up Valentines market inside featuring the most decadent glorious flowers, more balloons, cards and candy. It also allowed me to get the red lipstick out and little red dress.
February also allowed me to make some sale purchases, most thrilled with my size 12 skinny JBrand jeans and Bella Freud Jumper which I picked up at significantly reduced prices and finally seeing the benefits of my Slimming World journey over the last 18 months. The loss is slowing and I am aiming for Target before Easter, so that I can go on holiday in May and enjoy.
Birthdays in February included my oldest friend, my Niece and another friend. Friends birthdays were celebrated with suppers and drinks and my lovely Libs was the family tradition of cupcakes and presents for breakfast. Her birthday usually falls in half term so it allows for us all to get together early which was lovely and this year included to friends from her sleep-over and my nephew who came home from Uni.
That pretty much sums up my month, I hope that February was kind to you all and I really hope that sometime soon I get upto date with my blogging and share a little more.


Thursday, 2 March 2017

Movie Moments - 2017

This week saw Hollywood host the 89th Academy Awards – where the coveted Oscar is awarded to what the members believe to be the best within their field for the year.  Usually the only thing that makes the headlines are the frocks and fashion from the evening, this of course this year was over shadowed by the horror of the wrong Film being called out at the Winner of the Best movie 2016.  The winners list always kick starts my Movie list for the year, as it gives me ideas of what I would like to see.
My movie moment in February was the movie that bagged the Best Actor award for Casey Affleck in Manchester by the Sea. Produced by Matt Damon this movie deals with some hard hitting subjects with some fabulous acting – stand out performances from both Affleck and Lucas Hedges. Launched at the 2016 Sundance Film festival, this movie has picked up a host of nominations and gongs during the award season.
The movie centres around a small town in New England, where everyone knows everyone and their business, winters are long and bleak and summers short. Affleck’s character is a brooding loner holding a janitorial handyman role in a suburb of Boston when he receives a call  summoning him back to his home town of Manchester by the Sea and deal with the aftermath of the call and the responsibilities that it brings. It is apparent from early on that Affleck has his own demons and issues with returning to the town which slowly unravel as the movie develops.
I enjoyed this movie, it’s not something that I would usually pick out to see, but glad that I did as the acting is impressive and is very thought provoking.
A couple of other Oscar nominated movies have made by Movie Moment shortlist for 2017, however most of them are ‘bums on seats’ movies as opposed to Oscar winners, something I find every increasing in the movie world. There are definitely 2 types of films made these days, those that are pure escapism and sheer enjoyment and those that tick boxes as Artistic, Political, Historical, Minorities etc and are made purely to win awards and not necessarily take money at the box office.
I am definitely in the escapism camp and just want to be entertained; some of my movies I will wait for the DVD/online release but a few I will go to the cinema to see, here’s a few that should take me through to the summer:
Patriots Day – Mark Wahlberg plays a cop involved in the investigation and aftermath of the bombing of the Boston Marathon – based on the tragic events that took place 4 years ago, this movie shows how the city went into lockdown and a race against the clock to bring the bombers to justice.
Beauty and the Beast – definitely one for the big screen, where Emma Watson takes on the role of Belle and Emma Thompson steps into the very big shoes of Angela Lansbury’s Mrs Potts for this live action of Disney’s award winning animation. One of my Disney favourites, I can’t wait to see how this has been bought to life.
King Arthur  - looking forward to seeing is Guy Ritchie’s interpretation of King Arthur – with a huge cast of stars including Charlie Hunnam as Arthur and a cameo from David Beckham, this movie could be one of the big hits of the summer and I hope will look epic on a big screen.
My Cousin Rachel – adapted from Daphne Du Mauriers classic, this stars Sam Claflin and Rachel Weisz, - a young Englishman plots revenge against his mysterious beautiful cousin believing that she murdered his guardian, however she soon beguiles him and conflicts are torn. Definitely one for the ladies.
Well that's a  few from list - what are you looking forward to seeing this year?

Saturday, 18 February 2017

a little planning ......

February has certainly felt a little like a hibernation month for me. With a cold blast freezing most of the country for the first 10 days it only now 3 weeks in does it feel like there are signs of spring and that winter is very slowly falling back to sleep. This has given me lots of time in between working and walking to think about what I would like from 2017 and also some small things that I can give back.
I have definitely found that I do like to have one lovely thing to look forward to each month and that kind of makes up for the weekend working and juggling of calendars with friends and loved ones to see everyone and fit things in. I now have planners for planners and also a lovely countdown app which helps me countdown that days to the lovely things booked, which currently include trips to the rugby, opera, holiday and concerts.
2016 was a huge year of change for me with a new job, weight loss and lifestyle and  I hope to continue with those during 2017, although not planning any big changes, I'm still on a path of discovering and lots of new things in my life.  One of the things that I am continuing is my fitness, it has been an instrumental part of the weight loss (especially the last 3 stone) and I know that to maintain the loss that I need to keep active. I have finally invested in a Fit Bit and have spent an hour last night setting it up and I am already having little competions with myself J

I am hoping that it will also aid my last stone of weight loss that I have set myself along with track my training and activity for some challenges that I have set myself for this year.
As some of you know actively took part on the 10,000 steps a day challenge in September for Cancer Research and will be taking up the challenge again for March. Here are some of my memories from last year. I am looking forward to this again and I hope that I have as much fun with it as last time.
I have also signed up to a 10k walk and a 10k run (although I am having serious doubts about my capability to run 10k – still struggling to run 10 minutes) and then later in the year I’m  planning a big walk with a friend of mine. Here's to a fitter February and 2017. I will keep you updated on my progress.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Good Bye January..... Hello February!


So January passed in a whirl of winter weather, tube strikes and little downtime, but what I did manage to grab I spent catching up with friends and loved ones. January also gave me a little time to update the blog with festive activities and also my Slimming world journey in 2016. I have received some lovely comments and messages from blogging and social media friends – thank you for all you encouraging words. I am now on my final stone, which will probably be my hardest to loose and have spent time with my new food planner and slimming world magazine looking for inspiration and motivation.
It was definitely a month of catching up with friends that I haven’t seen for a while, my lovely friend Penny popped up from Cornwall to spend some time with family and we caught up for a long chat over lunch and then coffee with our friend Chris, we had lots to talk about and I hope that one day she will move back nearer. Another friend that came up to London was my lovely friend Caroline, we caught up for drinks when she made her annual post-Christmas trip to the city with her Mum from Devon for a few days. As always it felt like yesterday since I had seen her and it was great catching up over a glass or two, for a friendship that was born out of blog-land I have definitely made a friend for life.
January also saw me say goodbye to a very special friend who passed away quite suddenly. I met her on my first day at work at the tender age of 16 and she took me into her heart and her home and made me feel like one of her own, I have grown up with her boys and although we didn’t see each other lots, I knew that she would be always be by my side if I needed her. I will miss her dreadfully and cherish the time that we shared.
With changing weather conditions (-4’ some mornings) to mornings with beautiful sunrises, January also saw me dust off my trainers and get back to a little running in the park, I was surprised how well I did and will actively step-up the couch to 5k in February. The Zumba classes are definitely paying off with fitness. J
January was definitely a bit of a hibernation month, but I did venture out for an evening at the Theatre to see the fantastic Beverley Knight in The Bodyguard and look forward to seeing her in concert later this year.
So with January over, what does February have instore…….As with every month it’s time for a little blog make-over and also time for some goals and plans for the month:
 With friends celebrating birthdays, it will give me a great opportunity to catch-up post-christmas and just generally have some time chatting and chilling. Also have a special little ladies 14th birthday in the diary which I am sure will involve cake!
The lighter mornings hopefully will kick start my butt into a little more running and walking, this hopefully will help me to hit my 5 ½ stone target award.
I have a date night with M planned to the theatre to see Dreamgirls which I hope he will enjoy, along with some movie nights and lazy Sundays and rugby fuelled Saturdays (love the 6 nations tournament)
Curry night with the Curry club ladies and a Dinner Date for Valentine’s day are on the agenda along with friends for Sunday Lunch. It’s definitely shaping up to be a friends filled February.

I hope everyone’s February plans are equally as lovely and look forward to reading all about them …….💖

Monday, 30 January 2017

A treat of an evening.....

Wow January has passed in a flash, but before we fall into February I am sharing one more post from my activities over the festive season. An annual tradition for me for many years is to see The Nutcracker Ballet, whether in New York of London, I always try to get to see a performance. This year I managed to get tickets for the English National Ballets performance at the London Coliseum, where I booked to take a friend for their 50th birthday. (they had never been to the ballet and I was able to put a big tick against a wish on their bucket list)
To make the evening even more special I surprised them with starting the evening in The Savoy for drinks before moving onto The Ivy Grill Marketplace in Covent Garden for dinner. This was my first time at this restaurant and I loved it, ambience is gorgeous and the food was delicious. It was the perfect prequel to a delightful evening at the ballet.
The Savoy this year was a decorated opulently in pinks and silver and was just beautiful. The tree in the foyer was sponsored by the jewellers Boodles and was very pink but oh so pretty.💗

The interior of The Savoy was as equally as beautiful in greens and silver with a real art deco style and just quite magical.






The Ivy Marketplace was equally as gorgeous in a colourful cacophony of baubles, wreaths and a stunning tree outside in the courtyard which complemented the large baubles and mistletoe decor of Covent Garden.
This did nothing to distract how delicious the food was, a perfect venue for pre-theatre or a special dinner.
After a very lovely supper it was a short stroll to The Coliseum, where we were swept up in the magic and sparkle of a Christmas Ballet.
No matter how many times I have seen The Nutcracker I never grow old of it and it is a delightful treat to watch and see the delight on my friends face. 
The Nutcracker featured lots in my Christmas 2016 - from the fabulous Nutcracker Soldiers outside Liberty's that I walked past most days, to Candles burning on the fireside and tags on the tree I have lots of lovely memories to add to 2016's Christmas album and look back on in future years.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Movie Moments ....

Movie moments were few and far between for me in 2016, for someone who usually has a list of movie musts at the beginning of each year to see, 2016 was definitely a little lack lustre in the cinema world. Two favourites for the year were Bridget Jones Baby which I saw a couple of times at the cinema with the girls and again snuggled on the sofa on New Year’s Day and MeBefore You which I just loved. Two other movies that I saw over the festive season also joined the favourite list was the much anticipated JK Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and where to find them and Sully. 
I saw Fantastic Beasts in 3D at the Imax in London and loved the whole experience. It was my first trip to the Imax and I was super impressed with the service, ambience and space of the cinema. The movie was also in 3D, something I’ve not done in a long time, probably since those early years of 3D when it was all a little bit hit and miss with the visuals, however how much has time changed.
For those not familiar with the synopsis the movie is set in New York in 1926 and in the Harry Potter universe Gellert Grindelward is terrorising the magical community. Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) travels from London to New York with a briefcase full of magical creatures. Unfortunately not all the fantastic beasts want to stay hidden in Newt’s case and escape into the streets of New York. JK’s imagination astounds me and her creation of these magical creatures from her head to paper is just amazing. Set in the early 20’s transports this film back into an era where people lived in fear of satanic influences (references to Salem and its witchcraft’s) creating an underworld within the subways and back streets of New York. Newt meets some loveable witches along with a muggle that joins his adventures. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and it may not have captured my heart as much as Harry but one  little creature sure did!.... the loveable thief of shiny belongings, a Niffler – so cute and very naughty he made me laugh throughout the movie. JK’s genius has done it again and look forward to the next adventure along with seeing her private investigator Comoron Strike come to life on the TV later this year.

My second movie of choice is Sully – Tom Hanks taking the lead and telling the story of the pilot that landed an aeroplane on the Hudson River on the 15th January 2009, saving 155 lives and avoiding an aviation disaster. Most of us can remember the Miracle on the Hudson story and probably think that with 24 hour news coverage and social media that there isn’t much of a story to tell, what Sully does is show the impact that this has on his life and the investigation behind the scenes. It’s a fascinating and thrilling film, where you see a national hero come under immense scrutiny from the aviation companies and insurance corporations for saving 155 lives. Set in New York, this film has definitely ignited the flame to return to this fabulous city later this year.
A great film that will keep you entertained throughout, Tom Hanks is effortless throughout showcasing everything he does well being fantastically directed by Clint Eastwood.

Two great family entertaining films to finish the year off both set in New York but couldn't be any more different in genre and style ….. now off to compile my list for 2017!

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Theatre Nights ......

So I was lucky enough to get to the theatre 3 times over the festive season – twice in the West End and then again at my local theatre and loved every minute.
My first theatre night was early December where I was fortunate enough to have bagged a preview ticket for the much anticipated Dreamgirls staging. Those familiar with the movie (Beyoncé , Jennifer Hudson & Jamie Foxx ) will know that it follows a trio of girls who in the early 60’s embark on a journey which sees them taken from backing vocals to being the star act across the globe, based loosely on the story of Diana Ross and The Supremes, it is not without its back stabbing and jealousy’s and a fantastic soundtrack.
 Taking the lead role of Effie is the extremely talented Amber Riley (formerly Mercedes from Glee and currently part of the judging panel on Let it Shine) who was made for this part. With a ‘Full House’ board displayed outside The Savoy theatre there was much anticipation and excitement in the air before a note was sung on stage.  Staged a little different to the film it is the role of Effie that takes the lead and Amber Riley is just fabulous, having loved her voice in Glee I was interested to see how much of that was ‘real’ or just edited for TV. I can honestly say that this girl has the most amazing voice and belts out the soundtrack – it is the first time that I have been to the theatre and an actress has received a standing ovation as the curtain closed at half time.
With a great supporting cast, this is a fantastic feel good trip to the theatre and as good as the movie. Highly recommend seeing this before the cast move on to other things, I enjoyed it so much I came home and booked tickets for February to take a friend.
My second trip to the bright lights of the West End was to take a friend (M) to see The Bodyguard, and I bagged tickets for it penultimate night before it heads to Toronto. This also happened to fall on 12th night after Christmas and felt like the final festive treat before saying goodbye to Christmas 2016.
 I saw The Bodyguard a couple of years ago when Beverley Knight was playing the lead and was thrilled that she had returned for its final run. Those familiar with the movie will know that the two lead characters played by Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner take on the role of famous singer / movie star and a bodyguard. Ben Lister (Casualty, The Bill / Footballers wives fame) takes up the role as The Bodyguard and plays it brilliantly. Again with a full house, this was a fun packed evening filled with lots of trips down memory lane and a soundtrack that you could sing and dance along to until the final curtain. Beverley Knight is fabulous and really doesn’t get the accolades that she deserves as a female British singer. Sadly The Bodyguard has now finished its run in The West End and I am glad that we caught it before it closed.
My final trip to the theatre was a little closer to home where New Year’s eve eve saw us take in the local pantomime of Cinderella. I haven’t been to the pantomime since I was a little girl, when my nan and gramps used to take all the grandchildren and I had forgotten how much cheesy fun it could be. Annual trip to the pantomime is a tradition of M’s and I am sure that it will become mine now as we laughed lots and got involved in all the banter of “booing” and  “he’s behind you”, I must hasten to say I was a little more reluctant than M! Obviously the Ugly Sisters stole the show with their double entendres which were wasted on the kids but loved by the adults.
For a local show the cast was great and super talented as they all at some point during the show played musical instruments on stage – it’s the first time I’ve ever seen Cinderella playing a trombone! I had a fun filled evening and now look forward to this Christmas delights.

Friday, 27 January 2017

A slice of New York in London

Continuing with catching up on some of my activities during the festive season before we are in February. Lots of you commented on my obvious lack of New York adventure this year, and yes for the first time in a few years the annual trip to the Big Apple didn’t happen.  Rest assured I am already planning a return trip for 2017 along with a huge adventure on a boat!
To compensate for not going, I planned a New York inspired day in London with a friend on a day off in early December. My friend hasn’t been to New York and will be coming with me this year so this gave them a feel of what it would be like.
A perfect relaxed day in New York for me looks like the following:
Pancakes for Breakfast, a little Shopping and taking in the Christmas sights, a Walk through Central Park, Ice Skating, Cupcakes and Coffee and then a great Burger for eats.
So with a bit of a NY bucket list planned we started the day in Jackson & Rye – a cool eatery in Soho offering home cooked American style food, with pancakes on the menu for breakfast this was the perfect place to start. With an indulgent breakfast to walk off we headed along Piccadilly with a stop off at Fortnum’s to admire the Christmas décor and then a foray along Bond Street and a trip to Tiffany’s. Everywhere was beautifully decorated for Christmas – both Fortnum & Mason & Tiffany’s looked stunningly elegant.
Blessed with a beautiful crisp winter day we headed past The Ritz into Green Park and headed down to St James Park. This is my favourite park in the city and I was delighted to see so many of the parks legendary pelicans had left their island in the middle of the lake and were happily waddling around the grounds. We spent some time in park just enjoying the views and wildlife before we headed out past Buckingham Palace and into the side streets of Belgravia. Elegant wreaths festooned the doors of some of the townhouses along with a beautiful display at The Goring hotel. (added to 2017 bucket list for birthday afternoon tea)
When in Belgravia the only place to stop for coffee and cake is the gorgeous Peggy Porschen Parlour – beautifully decorated in her signature pastels, complete with Gingerbread castles, Cookie’s and Meringue kisses drip cakes – an instagrammers dream.
I can’t recommend this little slice of cupcake heaven enough – always a favourite treat.
Rested and fed we continued our travels through Belgravia towards the Kings Road where we walked and talked and took in the sights. What I loved about this area was the number of Christmas tree vendors that had taken up residency on street corners – not in the abundance of New York but certainly creating that feel and sight that you see everywhere there. After a peruse in Anthropologie and a quick stop by The Ivy Chelsea Garden to admire the stunning decorations ( again a Instagram favourite) we then headed to our final destination of the day – The Natural History Museum for a spot of ice-skating, followed by a great Burger at @Honest burgers.(worth the queue). Loved the rink at The Natural History museum – this was my first time to this rink and it had the feel similar to that of the one in Bryant Park.
Having clocked up 11k walk on the Fitbit and feeling a little weary it was time to head home and a relax on the sofa with a christmas movie.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

My SW journey in 2016....

As previously shared with you my Slimming World journey has been a significant part of my lifestyle changes within 2016, and what a journey it has been. I started the year having lost 2 stone on the plan and finished the year with a further 3 stone loss. This brings my total with Slimming world to 5 stone in 16 months and 6 stone since I made the decision to become a better me.  I am now working towards my Target loss with SW of 6 stone and hope to achieve this before I go on holiday in May.
Lots of people ask me how I’ve done it and is it easy; the honest answer is no ‘diet’ is easy, it’s about willpower, planning, motivation and support. I couldn’t have done this without those, but the biggest thing is that you have to do this for yourself and no-one else, otherwise the will is not there.  What I did set out to achieve when I started was that this became part of my life and not consumed it – it wasn’t a race and I am happy that I have taken the loss slow and steady.

This lifestyle change has overhauled me completely and allowed me to take on new challenges in work and life that I never expected to do 18 months ago. I’ve found a whole new network of friends through social media and group that are also on this journey, some of whom have been invaluable in my achievements. I am now probably the fittest that I have been since leaving school and actively exercise at least 2 or 3 times a week and have fallen in love with walking. ( The running is still up there for me in line with Chinese water torture!) and Zumba is my chosen high impact activity weekly.
I am now 4 / 5 sizes smaller than when I started (dependant on brand) and have completely overhauled my wardrobe, it has given me the confidence to change jobs, socialise and date! (hence the slowdown & lack of blogging!)
Along the way I have started to ‘inspire’ others which I’m struggling to get my head round but hope that I can help in any small way once someone makes the decision to change their lifestyle and lose weight. One of my closest friends wrote this on her instagram feed this week. 😊
❤ Things that have helped for me:
  Plan your weeks meals before food shopping.
    Set yourself monthly / 3 monthly goals – this makes the weight loss more manageable
 REWARD your goals & weekly losses. (something I never did to begin but was taught this my someone who lost 7.5stone)
 1lb may not seem much but over a year this = 3.5 stone
  Do something lovely for every 1/2stone loss.
    ❤   Find an exercise that is right for you.
    Walking – I use audible books and would find myself going around the block one more time to finish a chapter.
    Commuting – get off one stop early and walk (tube / bus)
     Escalators – Walk never stand – this is a really easy way to see how far you have come – you will soon be able to climb without stopping / out of breath.
    Take Photographs –
    For Yourself:  however much
    you hate the way you look
     they are a good tool to remind you how far you have come and help you see the loss
    (something that I still struggle with)


     Food: - photograph what you eat – if you have a good week look back on what you ate / not good then look at what you didn’t photograph and why!
    Dont beat yourself up if you have an off day.

        


    So here we are in 2017 and I am a stone away from Target , its time for me to set some new goals as all those that I set in 2016 I’ve achieved …… so here they are:
    Target – get to Target by May and then find a weight that I am happy with.
    • Wear a  pair of size 10 jeans
    •   Complete a 10k race
    • Continue to challenge myself with walking 10,000 steps
    • Buy a Bikini – I have never worn / bought a Bikini and would like to wear one at least once before I am 50!


     Thank-you to everyone who has commented and ❤ on my Sw posts and Instagram feed it really has helped my journey along the way. Here's to the final last push of which I will be updating you along the way.

    Tuesday, 17 January 2017

    London Lights in December ....

    Mid way through January and I'm only just beginning to get organised enough to start blogging about December. Life has been busy, some of which I aim to share with you over the coming weeks, however today I'm going to give you a glimpse of what December was like for me.
    It was my first Fenwick Christmas which really kicked off with Black Friday weekend and then just got busier as the big day approached, late nights and the hustle and bustle of London commute made for some long days. There was still time for some fun, with Christmas lunches, Secret Santa, singing with the Salvation Army and lots of laughter in the corner shop on Bond Street.

    Aside from work I did get out and about and enjoyed lots of the sights and lights that London has to offer during the festive season. When the weather was good I managed to walk from Liverpool Street to Bond Street and loved the trees that sprung up throughout the city.

    One of my favourites this year was definitely the huge tree inside the courtyard at The Rosewood London which was stunningly elegant in gold and green.
    On the day I passed by the car-park was full of Aston Martins 💛which were gorgeous.... this hotel is definitely on my bucket-list.
    Another hotel which is renowned for its Christmas Tree is Claridges, and as its a stones throw from the corner shop, I frequented it often during the festive season. This years tree was designed by the team from Apple and although not the prettiest of trees it was without a doubt the most atmospheric, making you feel like you were entering a magical winter forest. Not the easiest to photograph but stunningly beautiful in its own way.
    This year it felt that everyone embraced Christmas and everywhere that I walked you were met with stunning window displays, beautiful lights and huge trees. A few of my favourites included the feathers and chandeliers of Bond Street. The ribbon wrapped facade of Cartier and the blue boxed trees at Tiffany. Regent street had flying angels which swept through the street. Covent Garden;s huge tree and mistletoe disco ball's dazzled the apple market. Even Charing cross glowed with blue baubles and stars which led to the stunning square and ice rink of Somerset House which again sponsored by Fortnums was a feast for all the senses.This was one of my favourite walks this Christmas, and even in the drizzle some days it was still delightful.
    I loved exploring the lights and sights of London during the festive season, and will share more of my sights and treats later in the week.


    Sunday, 30 April 2017

    East London Life...

    Last Sunday was spent exploring the markets and lanes of East London - Columbia and Brick Lane are a favourite of mine, especially on a Sunday and having worked around that area 12 years ago I always like to go back occasionally and see what has changed. Having been in Notting Hill the previous week we loved comparing the contrasts between the markets and avenues of West London to the lanes and streets of East.
    The side street to Spitalfields and Brick Lane transport you back to an era and age of bygone years and I love the houses with shutters, feels like you are stepping back into an old Victorian jack the ripper novel. Its no surprise that this area is constantly being used for film sets and model shoots.
    Columbia Road can be a bit of a squeeze and it always amazes me the number of people that bring buggies and pushchairs into the environment, fortunately even thou it was busy it wasn't horrendous.
    There was so many of my favourite flowers there it was hard to choose what to come home with: tulips, peonies, hyacinths, sweet williams or ranunculus. It was a glorious treat of colours and smells and I loved ambling along the market.
    A trip to the market and Brick lane is not complete without a stop for cake and a bagel - the legendary Brick lane bagel shop is my favourite; selling hot salt beef bagel's 24hrs a day.
    We also sopped at Cake-hole which is a cute cafe selling cake and Monmouth coffee in the back of a vintage china shop which is heaven for me. Blueberry and Apple was my choice and Coffee & Walnut was M's.
    We had a fabulous morning walking around Bethnal Green before walking down to Tower Hill and St Katherines dock to cheer on the marathon runners and enjoy a beer in the sunshine.
    As you can see I came home with two of my favourite flowers Sweet Peas and Roses, both evoking so many wonderful memories of my Gramps's garden 💜

    Saturday, 29 April 2017

    From Notting Hill with love....

    Notting Hill is one of my favourite places, whether is the eccentricity of the Portebello Road and all its characters to the side streets and squares festooned with pretty colourful houses. The fact that it has featured in some of my favourite books and movies also makes it a huge draw for me and I try to visit every season to explore the side streets and market.
    With a day off for both of us last week M and I made an impromptu decision to go to Portebello Road, where I showed him some of my movie favourites.

    We spent a couple of hours shopping, drinking coffee and loving the colourful houses.
    Instagram is awash with wisteria at the moment and we stumbled on some absolute beauties whilst we were out and about and ended up on a very impromptu wisteria walk between Notting Hill and Holland Park which was an unexpected treat.
    By the end of the morning M was beginning to 'get' my obsession and was even pointing out doorways that I might like to photograph.😂
    How glorious is all this wisteria?......The pink door & house was my favourite.
    After a couple of hours walking and a very patient M I decided to take him to my favourite pub in Kensington road - The Churchill Arms, which is a real old British pub,famed for its love of war memorabilia which festoons the ceiling, rugby and housing one of the best Thai restaurants in London.
    We had a mixture of Pad Thai and curry which was delicious and finished off a pretty good day in Notting Hill.




    Friday, 28 April 2017

    Easter...

    As we head into another bank holiday weekend, I thought I would share a few eats, and treats from my Easter. As most of you know I have been following Slimming World for the last 18 months and having achieved my 5 and half stone award the week before Easter, I decided to relax a little over the Easter weekend and enjoy the time with family and friends.

    I was lucky enough to have Good Friday off which as I was house sitting for a friend gave me time to catch up on some crafting , series link on TV and baking. I worked the Easter Saturday which allowed me to grab an early coffee in Claridges enjoying the Easter blooms. This is without a doubt my favourite hotel in London and I pop in the Lobby every week to look at the flowers, they are just beautiful.
    I then spent Easter Sunday with friends and family, the Easter Bunny did a short hop to my brothers, where chocolate & cupcakes were distributed to my niece and nephew.
    I love Easter, its my next favourite to Christmas and usually spend it a friends cooking a huge roast lamb dinner with full on decorations and a big egg hunt.
    This year however my friend was away so I volunteered to cook for M and his family. I think he was a little surprised on how big I go with Easter. The boys (21 & 25) seemed to enjoy it and are already talking about what we are doing next year! 😲
    I hope that everyone enjoyed their Easter and that you got time to relax with family & loved ones.

    Thursday, 27 April 2017

    Date Night at the Opera

    Catching up on blog posts from Easter and April before May arrives and I disappear for 16 days on an epic adventure (more to follow on that!) - I have over the last few months alluded to being back out on the 'dating' scene and although not quite ready to tempt fate and completely spill the beans, I am happy to report that I have met someone and it looks promising!
    One such date night on Maundy Thursday involved a lovely pre-theatre dinner at Balthazar in Covent Garden followed by an evening at The Royal Opera House watching Madame Butterfly.
    M & I have known each other a little while now and have shared Bucket Lists's of things we would like to do, see and travel. We started working through the lists as friends and things have kind of evolved - the opera was on M's list and I was thrilled that I managed to book tickets for Madame Butterfly at its sell out performance at the ROH - we were in the nose bleed seats but still able to see and hear everything which was lovely. 
    I wanted to go somewhere nice for dinner, we had already been to The Ivy Grill at Christmas when we went to the Ballet and as much as we loved it, I wanted to take him somewhere else, with Balthazar in close proximity this was perfect for a dinner. We both opted for the Pea and mint Risotto, followed by the Pork which was delicious. The pork was served with new potatoes, spinach and a medley of mushrooms.With the restaurant offering a pre-theatre 2/3 course menu this is a great way to eat in a nice restaurant without paying huge prices. The service, food and ambience was fantastic with no pressure to hurry you up.
    Going straight out after work is always a balance and I am lucky to work somewhere that I can get my hair blow-dried, my nails paited and my make-up done. As you can imagine I took full advantage of this and felt fabulous i my gorgeous winter white DKNY trousers and black top. 
    Not a huge Selfie fan but it was a must in the fabulous New York feel bathroom in Balthazar.💖
    Date night continued at The Opera which was delightful. I loved that the 'words' were highlighted overhead to your seating areas so it was like watching a real live film with subtitles. On previous opera visits I haven't had this and have had to struggle along a little.
    The performances were heartrendingly beautiful by the lead Butterfly and the Captain was a complete Cad. We loved it and started our Easter off perfectly.

    Wednesday, 12 April 2017

    April plans ...

    April is upon us and I have a few things planned during the month that I am really looking forward to along with spending some time with family and friends over the Easter period.With the lighter nights and hopefully warmers days I am slowly coming out of hibernation and getting out and about.
    I really enjoy Easter and always see it as a kick start to spring and 'newness' so much more than New Year and star writing lists and planning things for the rest of the year.
    I am house-sitting for a friend over the Easter period and hope to catch up on some crafting, blogging and a little 'me' time as well as cooking and baking for Easter.
    April dates include a local derby day with Saracens at Wembley for the rugby, and an evening in Covent Garden which includes dinner at Balthazar and then Madama Butterfly at the Royal Opera House.
    Covent Garden is already beautifully festooned with flowers and colourful eggs along with a giant bunny.
    My local surroundings to work have taken on a colourful spring bloom with the tulips in Hanover square looking particularly pretty amongst the building works of Crossrail and Claridges lobby looking delightful with yellow daffodils and forsythia.
    I still have my makelight walk to catch-up on the blogging posts along with some TV treats and a huge adventure that is planned in May.
    Hope everyone has a delightful Easter and I look forward to reading and viewing all on blogs & instagram.


    Friday, 31 March 2017

    Goodbye March ..... Hello April


    Well a quarter of the way through 2017 and my blogging resolutions are diminishing with each month. March was a busy month, but still no excuse for not blogging.
    March was a mixed month for me filled with trips to Newcastle for work, lots of time watching the Rugby 6 nations and spending lots of time outside walking and spending some time with M.
    March saw me take on the challenge of 10,000 steps a day for Cancer Research, I did this previously in September and look forward to updating you with how I did later in the week.
    My steps took me out and about and over the month I have explored nature parks near to where I live that I haven't visited before. I also explored parks and places in London that I love. Some of the lovely places that I've walked this month include Leigh on Sea, Thorndon Park, Primrose Hill, St James Park and Rafaels Park in Romford. With the clocks going for
    ward in my final week made the evenings much more pleasant to walk in.
    Work was busy in March and the corner shop was filled with flowers, cake and lots of loveliness for Mothers Day. I particularly loved how my new hair matched the new Charlotte Tilbury beauty space. March saw more planning and juggling life, slimming world and work as well as several date days / evenings.
    Slimming World successes continued with me being named Greatest Loser within my group which is the first time I have enjoyed being called a loser!!
    The final week of March saw celebrations for Mothers Day and the anniversary of the loss of Gramps - falling in the same week I found this a little hard, but I know they would be immensely proud of my life and what I have done since they passed.
    During March I also spent a day with Emily and the Makelight ladies on another photographic walk, something that I will blog later this week as I have so many beautiful images to share.
    During the month I also got to spend it with both my oldest and my bestest friend - 2 different occasions but both lots of fun and a reminder why after 30+ years we are still as close as ever.
    So I bid farewell to a mixed month of March and hello to an April that I hope will be filled with blossom, sunshine, chocolate & hot cross buns.

    Tuesday, 7 March 2017

    Goodbye February.... Hello March >>>

     So February’s flown and we are a week into March and I’m still working my way through my February blog post list … ooops!  Not sure where the time is going but I am thankful that the days are getting a little lighter and it feels in between the rain showers that Spring is trying to blossom.
    February was buy workwise and quite chilled at home, which helped with the stress levels and just learning to adapt to a new role and lots of life changes. It was a month of catching up with friends and family for birthday celebrations, lunches and coffee as well as a few date night!
    Date nights included
    ·         Theatre Night - a trip to the theatre to see Dream Girls which is just fabulous and involved a visit into the Savoy (alas not to stay) but still savoured the ambience pre-theatre.
    ·         Movie Night – Movie moment from February was the Oscar winning Manchester by the Sea – loving my movie moments and hope to share more this month
    ·         Curry Night – kept it casual for Valentines Night with a trip to the local curry house, no pressure on either of us other than to catch-up over a glass of prosecco and a curry and enjoy a night off plan with SW! It still called for a new dress and a little pampering which was nice.
    Valentines also lent itself to going full on pink & red at the corner shop with the façade being decorated in balloons which made for some great Instagram moments along with a lovely pop-up Valentines market inside featuring the most decadent glorious flowers, more balloons, cards and candy. It also allowed me to get the red lipstick out and little red dress.
    February also allowed me to make some sale purchases, most thrilled with my size 12 skinny JBrand jeans and Bella Freud Jumper which I picked up at significantly reduced prices and finally seeing the benefits of my Slimming World journey over the last 18 months. The loss is slowing and I am aiming for Target before Easter, so that I can go on holiday in May and enjoy.
    Birthdays in February included my oldest friend, my Niece and another friend. Friends birthdays were celebrated with suppers and drinks and my lovely Libs was the family tradition of cupcakes and presents for breakfast. Her birthday usually falls in half term so it allows for us all to get together early which was lovely and this year included to friends from her sleep-over and my nephew who came home from Uni.
    That pretty much sums up my month, I hope that February was kind to you all and I really hope that sometime soon I get upto date with my blogging and share a little more.


    Thursday, 2 March 2017

    Movie Moments - 2017

    This week saw Hollywood host the 89th Academy Awards – where the coveted Oscar is awarded to what the members believe to be the best within their field for the year.  Usually the only thing that makes the headlines are the frocks and fashion from the evening, this of course this year was over shadowed by the horror of the wrong Film being called out at the Winner of the Best movie 2016.  The winners list always kick starts my Movie list for the year, as it gives me ideas of what I would like to see.
    My movie moment in February was the movie that bagged the Best Actor award for Casey Affleck in Manchester by the Sea. Produced by Matt Damon this movie deals with some hard hitting subjects with some fabulous acting – stand out performances from both Affleck and Lucas Hedges. Launched at the 2016 Sundance Film festival, this movie has picked up a host of nominations and gongs during the award season.
    The movie centres around a small town in New England, where everyone knows everyone and their business, winters are long and bleak and summers short. Affleck’s character is a brooding loner holding a janitorial handyman role in a suburb of Boston when he receives a call  summoning him back to his home town of Manchester by the Sea and deal with the aftermath of the call and the responsibilities that it brings. It is apparent from early on that Affleck has his own demons and issues with returning to the town which slowly unravel as the movie develops.
    I enjoyed this movie, it’s not something that I would usually pick out to see, but glad that I did as the acting is impressive and is very thought provoking.
    A couple of other Oscar nominated movies have made by Movie Moment shortlist for 2017, however most of them are ‘bums on seats’ movies as opposed to Oscar winners, something I find every increasing in the movie world. There are definitely 2 types of films made these days, those that are pure escapism and sheer enjoyment and those that tick boxes as Artistic, Political, Historical, Minorities etc and are made purely to win awards and not necessarily take money at the box office.
    I am definitely in the escapism camp and just want to be entertained; some of my movies I will wait for the DVD/online release but a few I will go to the cinema to see, here’s a few that should take me through to the summer:
    Patriots Day – Mark Wahlberg plays a cop involved in the investigation and aftermath of the bombing of the Boston Marathon – based on the tragic events that took place 4 years ago, this movie shows how the city went into lockdown and a race against the clock to bring the bombers to justice.
    Beauty and the Beast – definitely one for the big screen, where Emma Watson takes on the role of Belle and Emma Thompson steps into the very big shoes of Angela Lansbury’s Mrs Potts for this live action of Disney’s award winning animation. One of my Disney favourites, I can’t wait to see how this has been bought to life.
    King Arthur  - looking forward to seeing is Guy Ritchie’s interpretation of King Arthur – with a huge cast of stars including Charlie Hunnam as Arthur and a cameo from David Beckham, this movie could be one of the big hits of the summer and I hope will look epic on a big screen.
    My Cousin Rachel – adapted from Daphne Du Mauriers classic, this stars Sam Claflin and Rachel Weisz, - a young Englishman plots revenge against his mysterious beautiful cousin believing that she murdered his guardian, however she soon beguiles him and conflicts are torn. Definitely one for the ladies.
    Well that's a  few from list - what are you looking forward to seeing this year?

    Saturday, 18 February 2017

    a little planning ......

    February has certainly felt a little like a hibernation month for me. With a cold blast freezing most of the country for the first 10 days it only now 3 weeks in does it feel like there are signs of spring and that winter is very slowly falling back to sleep. This has given me lots of time in between working and walking to think about what I would like from 2017 and also some small things that I can give back.
    I have definitely found that I do like to have one lovely thing to look forward to each month and that kind of makes up for the weekend working and juggling of calendars with friends and loved ones to see everyone and fit things in. I now have planners for planners and also a lovely countdown app which helps me countdown that days to the lovely things booked, which currently include trips to the rugby, opera, holiday and concerts.
    2016 was a huge year of change for me with a new job, weight loss and lifestyle and  I hope to continue with those during 2017, although not planning any big changes, I'm still on a path of discovering and lots of new things in my life.  One of the things that I am continuing is my fitness, it has been an instrumental part of the weight loss (especially the last 3 stone) and I know that to maintain the loss that I need to keep active. I have finally invested in a Fit Bit and have spent an hour last night setting it up and I am already having little competions with myself J

    I am hoping that it will also aid my last stone of weight loss that I have set myself along with track my training and activity for some challenges that I have set myself for this year.
    As some of you know actively took part on the 10,000 steps a day challenge in September for Cancer Research and will be taking up the challenge again for March. Here are some of my memories from last year. I am looking forward to this again and I hope that I have as much fun with it as last time.
    I have also signed up to a 10k walk and a 10k run (although I am having serious doubts about my capability to run 10k – still struggling to run 10 minutes) and then later in the year I’m  planning a big walk with a friend of mine. Here's to a fitter February and 2017. I will keep you updated on my progress.

    Sunday, 5 February 2017

    Good Bye January..... Hello February!


    So January passed in a whirl of winter weather, tube strikes and little downtime, but what I did manage to grab I spent catching up with friends and loved ones. January also gave me a little time to update the blog with festive activities and also my Slimming world journey in 2016. I have received some lovely comments and messages from blogging and social media friends – thank you for all you encouraging words. I am now on my final stone, which will probably be my hardest to loose and have spent time with my new food planner and slimming world magazine looking for inspiration and motivation.
    It was definitely a month of catching up with friends that I haven’t seen for a while, my lovely friend Penny popped up from Cornwall to spend some time with family and we caught up for a long chat over lunch and then coffee with our friend Chris, we had lots to talk about and I hope that one day she will move back nearer. Another friend that came up to London was my lovely friend Caroline, we caught up for drinks when she made her annual post-Christmas trip to the city with her Mum from Devon for a few days. As always it felt like yesterday since I had seen her and it was great catching up over a glass or two, for a friendship that was born out of blog-land I have definitely made a friend for life.
    January also saw me say goodbye to a very special friend who passed away quite suddenly. I met her on my first day at work at the tender age of 16 and she took me into her heart and her home and made me feel like one of her own, I have grown up with her boys and although we didn’t see each other lots, I knew that she would be always be by my side if I needed her. I will miss her dreadfully and cherish the time that we shared.
    With changing weather conditions (-4’ some mornings) to mornings with beautiful sunrises, January also saw me dust off my trainers and get back to a little running in the park, I was surprised how well I did and will actively step-up the couch to 5k in February. The Zumba classes are definitely paying off with fitness. J
    January was definitely a bit of a hibernation month, but I did venture out for an evening at the Theatre to see the fantastic Beverley Knight in The Bodyguard and look forward to seeing her in concert later this year.
    So with January over, what does February have instore…….As with every month it’s time for a little blog make-over and also time for some goals and plans for the month:
     With friends celebrating birthdays, it will give me a great opportunity to catch-up post-christmas and just generally have some time chatting and chilling. Also have a special little ladies 14th birthday in the diary which I am sure will involve cake!
    The lighter mornings hopefully will kick start my butt into a little more running and walking, this hopefully will help me to hit my 5 ½ stone target award.
    I have a date night with M planned to the theatre to see Dreamgirls which I hope he will enjoy, along with some movie nights and lazy Sundays and rugby fuelled Saturdays (love the 6 nations tournament)
    Curry night with the Curry club ladies and a Dinner Date for Valentine’s day are on the agenda along with friends for Sunday Lunch. It’s definitely shaping up to be a friends filled February.

    I hope everyone’s February plans are equally as lovely and look forward to reading all about them …….💖

    Monday, 30 January 2017

    A treat of an evening.....

    Wow January has passed in a flash, but before we fall into February I am sharing one more post from my activities over the festive season. An annual tradition for me for many years is to see The Nutcracker Ballet, whether in New York of London, I always try to get to see a performance. This year I managed to get tickets for the English National Ballets performance at the London Coliseum, where I booked to take a friend for their 50th birthday. (they had never been to the ballet and I was able to put a big tick against a wish on their bucket list)
    To make the evening even more special I surprised them with starting the evening in The Savoy for drinks before moving onto The Ivy Grill Marketplace in Covent Garden for dinner. This was my first time at this restaurant and I loved it, ambience is gorgeous and the food was delicious. It was the perfect prequel to a delightful evening at the ballet.
    The Savoy this year was a decorated opulently in pinks and silver and was just beautiful. The tree in the foyer was sponsored by the jewellers Boodles and was very pink but oh so pretty.💗

    The interior of The Savoy was as equally as beautiful in greens and silver with a real art deco style and just quite magical.






    The Ivy Marketplace was equally as gorgeous in a colourful cacophony of baubles, wreaths and a stunning tree outside in the courtyard which complemented the large baubles and mistletoe decor of Covent Garden.
    This did nothing to distract how delicious the food was, a perfect venue for pre-theatre or a special dinner.
    After a very lovely supper it was a short stroll to The Coliseum, where we were swept up in the magic and sparkle of a Christmas Ballet.
    No matter how many times I have seen The Nutcracker I never grow old of it and it is a delightful treat to watch and see the delight on my friends face. 
    The Nutcracker featured lots in my Christmas 2016 - from the fabulous Nutcracker Soldiers outside Liberty's that I walked past most days, to Candles burning on the fireside and tags on the tree I have lots of lovely memories to add to 2016's Christmas album and look back on in future years.

    Sunday, 29 January 2017

    Movie Moments ....

    Movie moments were few and far between for me in 2016, for someone who usually has a list of movie musts at the beginning of each year to see, 2016 was definitely a little lack lustre in the cinema world. Two favourites for the year were Bridget Jones Baby which I saw a couple of times at the cinema with the girls and again snuggled on the sofa on New Year’s Day and MeBefore You which I just loved. Two other movies that I saw over the festive season also joined the favourite list was the much anticipated JK Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and where to find them and Sully. 
    I saw Fantastic Beasts in 3D at the Imax in London and loved the whole experience. It was my first trip to the Imax and I was super impressed with the service, ambience and space of the cinema. The movie was also in 3D, something I’ve not done in a long time, probably since those early years of 3D when it was all a little bit hit and miss with the visuals, however how much has time changed.
    For those not familiar with the synopsis the movie is set in New York in 1926 and in the Harry Potter universe Gellert Grindelward is terrorising the magical community. Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) travels from London to New York with a briefcase full of magical creatures. Unfortunately not all the fantastic beasts want to stay hidden in Newt’s case and escape into the streets of New York. JK’s imagination astounds me and her creation of these magical creatures from her head to paper is just amazing. Set in the early 20’s transports this film back into an era where people lived in fear of satanic influences (references to Salem and its witchcraft’s) creating an underworld within the subways and back streets of New York. Newt meets some loveable witches along with a muggle that joins his adventures. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and it may not have captured my heart as much as Harry but one  little creature sure did!.... the loveable thief of shiny belongings, a Niffler – so cute and very naughty he made me laugh throughout the movie. JK’s genius has done it again and look forward to the next adventure along with seeing her private investigator Comoron Strike come to life on the TV later this year.

    My second movie of choice is Sully – Tom Hanks taking the lead and telling the story of the pilot that landed an aeroplane on the Hudson River on the 15th January 2009, saving 155 lives and avoiding an aviation disaster. Most of us can remember the Miracle on the Hudson story and probably think that with 24 hour news coverage and social media that there isn’t much of a story to tell, what Sully does is show the impact that this has on his life and the investigation behind the scenes. It’s a fascinating and thrilling film, where you see a national hero come under immense scrutiny from the aviation companies and insurance corporations for saving 155 lives. Set in New York, this film has definitely ignited the flame to return to this fabulous city later this year.
    A great film that will keep you entertained throughout, Tom Hanks is effortless throughout showcasing everything he does well being fantastically directed by Clint Eastwood.

    Two great family entertaining films to finish the year off both set in New York but couldn't be any more different in genre and style ….. now off to compile my list for 2017!

    Saturday, 28 January 2017

    Theatre Nights ......

    So I was lucky enough to get to the theatre 3 times over the festive season – twice in the West End and then again at my local theatre and loved every minute.
    My first theatre night was early December where I was fortunate enough to have bagged a preview ticket for the much anticipated Dreamgirls staging. Those familiar with the movie (Beyoncé , Jennifer Hudson & Jamie Foxx ) will know that it follows a trio of girls who in the early 60’s embark on a journey which sees them taken from backing vocals to being the star act across the globe, based loosely on the story of Diana Ross and The Supremes, it is not without its back stabbing and jealousy’s and a fantastic soundtrack.
     Taking the lead role of Effie is the extremely talented Amber Riley (formerly Mercedes from Glee and currently part of the judging panel on Let it Shine) who was made for this part. With a ‘Full House’ board displayed outside The Savoy theatre there was much anticipation and excitement in the air before a note was sung on stage.  Staged a little different to the film it is the role of Effie that takes the lead and Amber Riley is just fabulous, having loved her voice in Glee I was interested to see how much of that was ‘real’ or just edited for TV. I can honestly say that this girl has the most amazing voice and belts out the soundtrack – it is the first time that I have been to the theatre and an actress has received a standing ovation as the curtain closed at half time.
    With a great supporting cast, this is a fantastic feel good trip to the theatre and as good as the movie. Highly recommend seeing this before the cast move on to other things, I enjoyed it so much I came home and booked tickets for February to take a friend.
    My second trip to the bright lights of the West End was to take a friend (M) to see The Bodyguard, and I bagged tickets for it penultimate night before it heads to Toronto. This also happened to fall on 12th night after Christmas and felt like the final festive treat before saying goodbye to Christmas 2016.
     I saw The Bodyguard a couple of years ago when Beverley Knight was playing the lead and was thrilled that she had returned for its final run. Those familiar with the movie will know that the two lead characters played by Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner take on the role of famous singer / movie star and a bodyguard. Ben Lister (Casualty, The Bill / Footballers wives fame) takes up the role as The Bodyguard and plays it brilliantly. Again with a full house, this was a fun packed evening filled with lots of trips down memory lane and a soundtrack that you could sing and dance along to until the final curtain. Beverley Knight is fabulous and really doesn’t get the accolades that she deserves as a female British singer. Sadly The Bodyguard has now finished its run in The West End and I am glad that we caught it before it closed.
    My final trip to the theatre was a little closer to home where New Year’s eve eve saw us take in the local pantomime of Cinderella. I haven’t been to the pantomime since I was a little girl, when my nan and gramps used to take all the grandchildren and I had forgotten how much cheesy fun it could be. Annual trip to the pantomime is a tradition of M’s and I am sure that it will become mine now as we laughed lots and got involved in all the banter of “booing” and  “he’s behind you”, I must hasten to say I was a little more reluctant than M! Obviously the Ugly Sisters stole the show with their double entendres which were wasted on the kids but loved by the adults.
    For a local show the cast was great and super talented as they all at some point during the show played musical instruments on stage – it’s the first time I’ve ever seen Cinderella playing a trombone! I had a fun filled evening and now look forward to this Christmas delights.

    Friday, 27 January 2017

    A slice of New York in London

    Continuing with catching up on some of my activities during the festive season before we are in February. Lots of you commented on my obvious lack of New York adventure this year, and yes for the first time in a few years the annual trip to the Big Apple didn’t happen.  Rest assured I am already planning a return trip for 2017 along with a huge adventure on a boat!
    To compensate for not going, I planned a New York inspired day in London with a friend on a day off in early December. My friend hasn’t been to New York and will be coming with me this year so this gave them a feel of what it would be like.
    A perfect relaxed day in New York for me looks like the following:
    Pancakes for Breakfast, a little Shopping and taking in the Christmas sights, a Walk through Central Park, Ice Skating, Cupcakes and Coffee and then a great Burger for eats.
    So with a bit of a NY bucket list planned we started the day in Jackson & Rye – a cool eatery in Soho offering home cooked American style food, with pancakes on the menu for breakfast this was the perfect place to start. With an indulgent breakfast to walk off we headed along Piccadilly with a stop off at Fortnum’s to admire the Christmas décor and then a foray along Bond Street and a trip to Tiffany’s. Everywhere was beautifully decorated for Christmas – both Fortnum & Mason & Tiffany’s looked stunningly elegant.
    Blessed with a beautiful crisp winter day we headed past The Ritz into Green Park and headed down to St James Park. This is my favourite park in the city and I was delighted to see so many of the parks legendary pelicans had left their island in the middle of the lake and were happily waddling around the grounds. We spent some time in park just enjoying the views and wildlife before we headed out past Buckingham Palace and into the side streets of Belgravia. Elegant wreaths festooned the doors of some of the townhouses along with a beautiful display at The Goring hotel. (added to 2017 bucket list for birthday afternoon tea)
    When in Belgravia the only place to stop for coffee and cake is the gorgeous Peggy Porschen Parlour – beautifully decorated in her signature pastels, complete with Gingerbread castles, Cookie’s and Meringue kisses drip cakes – an instagrammers dream.
    I can’t recommend this little slice of cupcake heaven enough – always a favourite treat.
    Rested and fed we continued our travels through Belgravia towards the Kings Road where we walked and talked and took in the sights. What I loved about this area was the number of Christmas tree vendors that had taken up residency on street corners – not in the abundance of New York but certainly creating that feel and sight that you see everywhere there. After a peruse in Anthropologie and a quick stop by The Ivy Chelsea Garden to admire the stunning decorations ( again a Instagram favourite) we then headed to our final destination of the day – The Natural History Museum for a spot of ice-skating, followed by a great Burger at @Honest burgers.(worth the queue). Loved the rink at The Natural History museum – this was my first time to this rink and it had the feel similar to that of the one in Bryant Park.
    Having clocked up 11k walk on the Fitbit and feeling a little weary it was time to head home and a relax on the sofa with a christmas movie.

    Sunday, 22 January 2017

    My SW journey in 2016....

    As previously shared with you my Slimming World journey has been a significant part of my lifestyle changes within 2016, and what a journey it has been. I started the year having lost 2 stone on the plan and finished the year with a further 3 stone loss. This brings my total with Slimming world to 5 stone in 16 months and 6 stone since I made the decision to become a better me.  I am now working towards my Target loss with SW of 6 stone and hope to achieve this before I go on holiday in May.
    Lots of people ask me how I’ve done it and is it easy; the honest answer is no ‘diet’ is easy, it’s about willpower, planning, motivation and support. I couldn’t have done this without those, but the biggest thing is that you have to do this for yourself and no-one else, otherwise the will is not there.  What I did set out to achieve when I started was that this became part of my life and not consumed it – it wasn’t a race and I am happy that I have taken the loss slow and steady.

    This lifestyle change has overhauled me completely and allowed me to take on new challenges in work and life that I never expected to do 18 months ago. I’ve found a whole new network of friends through social media and group that are also on this journey, some of whom have been invaluable in my achievements. I am now probably the fittest that I have been since leaving school and actively exercise at least 2 or 3 times a week and have fallen in love with walking. ( The running is still up there for me in line with Chinese water torture!) and Zumba is my chosen high impact activity weekly.
    I am now 4 / 5 sizes smaller than when I started (dependant on brand) and have completely overhauled my wardrobe, it has given me the confidence to change jobs, socialise and date! (hence the slowdown & lack of blogging!)
    Along the way I have started to ‘inspire’ others which I’m struggling to get my head round but hope that I can help in any small way once someone makes the decision to change their lifestyle and lose weight. One of my closest friends wrote this on her instagram feed this week. 😊
    ❤ Things that have helped for me:
      Plan your weeks meals before food shopping.
        Set yourself monthly / 3 monthly goals – this makes the weight loss more manageable
     REWARD your goals & weekly losses. (something I never did to begin but was taught this my someone who lost 7.5stone)
     1lb may not seem much but over a year this = 3.5 stone
      Do something lovely for every 1/2stone loss.
      ❤   Find an exercise that is right for you.
      Walking – I use audible books and would find myself going around the block one more time to finish a chapter.
      Commuting – get off one stop early and walk (tube / bus)
       Escalators – Walk never stand – this is a really easy way to see how far you have come – you will soon be able to climb without stopping / out of breath.
      Take Photographs –
      For Yourself:  however much
      you hate the way you look
       they are a good tool to remind you how far you have come and help you see the loss
      (something that I still struggle with)


       Food: - photograph what you eat – if you have a good week look back on what you ate / not good then look at what you didn’t photograph and why!
      Dont beat yourself up if you have an off day.

          


      So here we are in 2017 and I am a stone away from Target , its time for me to set some new goals as all those that I set in 2016 I’ve achieved …… so here they are:
      Target – get to Target by May and then find a weight that I am happy with.
      • Wear a  pair of size 10 jeans
      •   Complete a 10k race
      • Continue to challenge myself with walking 10,000 steps
      • Buy a Bikini – I have never worn / bought a Bikini and would like to wear one at least once before I am 50!


       Thank-you to everyone who has commented and ❤ on my Sw posts and Instagram feed it really has helped my journey along the way. Here's to the final last push of which I will be updating you along the way.

      Tuesday, 17 January 2017

      London Lights in December ....

      Mid way through January and I'm only just beginning to get organised enough to start blogging about December. Life has been busy, some of which I aim to share with you over the coming weeks, however today I'm going to give you a glimpse of what December was like for me.
      It was my first Fenwick Christmas which really kicked off with Black Friday weekend and then just got busier as the big day approached, late nights and the hustle and bustle of London commute made for some long days. There was still time for some fun, with Christmas lunches, Secret Santa, singing with the Salvation Army and lots of laughter in the corner shop on Bond Street.

      Aside from work I did get out and about and enjoyed lots of the sights and lights that London has to offer during the festive season. When the weather was good I managed to walk from Liverpool Street to Bond Street and loved the trees that sprung up throughout the city.

      One of my favourites this year was definitely the huge tree inside the courtyard at The Rosewood London which was stunningly elegant in gold and green.
      On the day I passed by the car-park was full of Aston Martins 💛which were gorgeous.... this hotel is definitely on my bucket-list.
      Another hotel which is renowned for its Christmas Tree is Claridges, and as its a stones throw from the corner shop, I frequented it often during the festive season. This years tree was designed by the team from Apple and although not the prettiest of trees it was without a doubt the most atmospheric, making you feel like you were entering a magical winter forest. Not the easiest to photograph but stunningly beautiful in its own way.
      This year it felt that everyone embraced Christmas and everywhere that I walked you were met with stunning window displays, beautiful lights and huge trees. A few of my favourites included the feathers and chandeliers of Bond Street. The ribbon wrapped facade of Cartier and the blue boxed trees at Tiffany. Regent street had flying angels which swept through the street. Covent Garden;s huge tree and mistletoe disco ball's dazzled the apple market. Even Charing cross glowed with blue baubles and stars which led to the stunning square and ice rink of Somerset House which again sponsored by Fortnums was a feast for all the senses.This was one of my favourite walks this Christmas, and even in the drizzle some days it was still delightful.
      I loved exploring the lights and sights of London during the festive season, and will share more of my sights and treats later in the week.