Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!

Just a quick message from me, now you're off enjoying your breakfasts and presents and festivities, hopefully with all your loved ones.

Merry Christmas and have a fabulous New Year.


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Off my needles: felted slippers

I never really understood slippers. I mean obviously the concept of them was not ungraspable, however they were just never really something I got on with until the last few years. 

felted slippers

I had previously made these from a kit I picked up at the Knit and Stitch Ally Pally a few years back; they were a beautiful forest green and I wore them until they were full of holes and fairly filthy, slobbing out to the car in them, spilling porridge and coffee on them whilst clumsily making my breakfast in the dark in them...

When I got a hole so badly that my big toe was poking out, I realised I needed to knit myself up a new pair, however wanted to try and find the cheapest feltable (is that a word?) wool that I could, as I knew they would last about as long as my other ones, and I wear them to death. A quick google search and Ravelry hunt told me that the Cascade 220 was 100% wool and good for felting, so I picked a couple of this colour, I think it was midnight blue or something, from their Heathers collection. It's so good that brands like Cascade and the Drops Alpaca ranges are getting more readily available over here, sometimes you want relatively priced yarn that isn't acrylic, which is pretty hard to find in the UK, I feel like.

Anyway, the pattern you can buy online, or there are similar ones all over Ravelry, but you basically knit giant floppy shapes with the yarn held double, and then you stick them in the washing machine until they felt up. They're super cosy, and great for shuffling about the house in.

I've knit them for a friend, too, who seemed to enjoy them, and they knit amazingly fast - so I would say they make good gifts. They loosen up over time, but that can easily be resolved by a quick wash, and they quickly shrink back up again. Obsessed doesn't even cut it - I'm rarely without these, these days.

    Monday, December 21, 2015

    The importance of giving back

    I know this probably seems like a superbly stupid post, particularly at this time of year - you probably all do small charitable things, but I think it's so easy at Christmas to get caught up in the me, me, me-ness of it all, to pour over gift-guides and get swept up in the twinkle of fairylights. This has most definitely been me, in years gone by, and I think you by no means should shun all things joyful at this time of year, but I do think everyone, myself included!, needs a gentle reminder to give something back.

    charity at christmas

    I recently started working for a company that actively encourages us to do 2 days of charitable work a year, and I love that we're able to do this - I know that for some people, it's not always an option. I don't want to go into too much detail, for fear of it sounding like bragging or something similarly stupid, but through work, my team raised an amazing amount of money which was donated to a good local cause - decorating a local hospital ward for Christmas. 
    I famously have a cold heart, nothing really upsets me or penetrates my emotional barriers, haha, but even I sat in the car afterwards with tears in my eyes after managing to speak to a few of the patients there. Because lets face it, no-one enjoys being hospital, really, and I'm sure even less so at Christmas - so its nice to be able to bring a bit of cheer to somewhere not very cheerful. 

    When I was little, my mum often made my brothers and I help put together shoeboxes for a the Christmas Child appeal - which I used to enjoy for the rather superficial reasons of packing everything neatly into a box… And whilst religious things aren't everyone's cup of tea, there are small things you can do. Dump a bunch of change in a charity box, don't cross the street to avoid the collectors, buy some tinned soup and donate it to a local foodbank, pick up a pack of charity Christmas cards... I know not everyone is able to take a day off work to go and go all out, but there are small things you can do that can help a bit towards making a difference, and I think we all could all do with a reminder to try and help others.  

    Wednesday, December 16, 2015

    Christmas (2016) Preparation...

    I've been a bit out of the loops with blogging, recently. I'm not sure what happened, but one minute it was Halloween and I was all excited for Autumn - then I blinked and it was December 
    Somewhere in between a lot happened, apparently. I escaped to the Derbyshire countryside, and even flew across to America, leaving me with seriously depleted funds (new handbag, anyone? And Sephora is a dangerous place...).
    I decided, a little bit too late, that I wasn't to make gifts for people - however it is definitely my plan for next year. Hopefully by this time next year, I can be like Mina Philipp and have churned out about 40 pairs of socks in a year!

    handmade christmas

    Since I got back from America, I've stormed through two pairs of socks for people for Christmas, made a huge batch of honeycomb, made two slabs of fudge for my closest friends, as always finding the time to knock out some Orange and Cardamom biscuits for the family.

    I think throughout next year, I really want to put the emphasis on making more things for people. I've been discussing it over the last few weeks with people, to test the waters, because theres always that worry (of mine) that people will think I'm being cheap or something. Turns out no, the general consensus is that my friends think hand-made gifts are sweet and thoughtful (which is what I was aiming for...) and also, it makes me think hard about who the people are I'm making things for, because I always go a bit mad and overboard at this time of year.
    So, if you're my friend, you're probably getting handknit socks sometime between now and Christmas 2016... Please subtly drop into conversation your foot size.

    Also, please excuse the extreme close-up (don't judge my knitting too closely!) - as these are a gift for someone for Christmas, who may or may not read my blog, I'm not sure! I'm obsessed with the 'eye of the partridge' heel that I picked up in the Hermione's Every Day Sock pattern - and have knit it on every pair of socks recently. I think it's 100% more beautiful than the slip stitch heel I usually favour! 

      Monday, December 14, 2015

      A walk well spent brings a week of content...

      My dad is a walker. Not a fair-weather stroller, a rambler nor a hiker - a walker. Most weekends, he puts on his walking shoes and disappears for a few hours - generally spending his time traversing the South Downs. Luckily, we live just over an hours drive away from some of the most gorgeous, dare I say it, quintessentially English, countryside. Think rolling green hills leading down to the glittering English Channel. On an early Autumn day, theres few places better to be than being swept backwards with the wind, cheeks rosy and an amazing view to reward you for a steep walk. 

      walks near alfriston

      The last time we did this - a walk through Savernake forest or a drizzly September day - seemed far too long ago, so on one of the last days of the summer, my father and I set off to Alfriston for a walk. My dad does this most weekends between May and September, when the whether is fair and bright, not too hot and not too chilly; often being joined by my brothers. And until recently, I genuinely was not fit enough. In the past few years, I've lost a huge amount of weight, and grown immensely fitter in the process - however the kind of fitness you need to be able to walk up a 16% (in places!) incline is a very different one to the one that I've become in the gym.

      walks near alfriston

      As I said, my dad doesn't really consider it a 'walk' if its below 5 miles, and there isn't at least one hill to climb. So you have to come prepared, basically. It's really nice to have this time together - this walk was only a few weekends after my Grandmother passed away - and it was quite nice to just spend a few hours doing something that he enjoys. I'm going to make a definite point to do more of it when the weather picks up again, next year.

      walks near alfriston

      I also think that Alfriston is the most beautiful little village - the house pictured here is so beautiful - it reminds me of the little villages around Farnham, where I went to Uni that are really sweet, and probably cost two of my house put together. A girl can dream.. It also had the most gorgeous village green where we sat and munched sandwiches and drank cans of Fanta, watching whilst a family ate cream tea and scones with Champagne on deckchairs. How very British... 

      walks near alfriston

      Tuesday, November 03, 2015

      New Yarn Joy

      rainbow yarn
      rainbow yarn

      I don't really have much to offer in terms of stunning insights (not that you're really reading my blog for those) or knitting tips, or tricks or anything of the sort - I just thought I would share you with some pretty pictures of some new yarn: Rico Design Superba Poems in Tropical. I picked this up in Wool in Bath when I was there - it's now a lovely pair of long and cosy socks, but I really loved these pictures I took when it was all wound up.

      The weird thing is, I'm really a truth goth at heart, never growing out of my pre-teen emo days, the majority of my clothes are monochrome, with odd splashes of navy, brown or oxblood creeping in - however when it comes to socks, I go mad, and just want anything fluorescent, multicoloured, pastel and bright.

      Anyway, I'll show you the socks I made soon enough, but I've really been lusting after all kinds of new yarns since I put myself on a self imposed yarn ban, which I might save a discussion around for another post, however it just means I've been pinning all kinds of lovely yarn... Look at that beautiful brown and blue-grey one below: be still my heart.

      Saturday, October 31, 2015

      It's almost Halloween....

      Part of me really loves Halloween, I think because as a kid my mum always used to make all kinds of treats and decorations for us, as trick or treating was never really a thing where we grew up. I do quite enjoy it still, even if I don't really dress up or 
      I did, however, win a half-day at work today by winning at a Halloween themed quiz - I think it's mainly to do with my love of Witches...


      A few years ago, I shared a trilogy of posts regarding my favourite Halloween posts, and thought I'd re-link these here incase any is looking for some festive film inspiration last minute..

      Part one: Witch edition
      Part two: the cheesy feel-good Halloween films edition 
      Part three: the actual Scary movies, may or may not come with a warning!

      What are you up to this Halloween? 
      I hope you have a fun and safe one whatever the case!
      I'm on a definite mission to carve a pumpkin later today...

      (Images taken from Pinterest, photo credits where possible are provided on Pinterest.)

      Thursday, October 29, 2015

      Off my needles: the super late Lopi sweater

      I want to talk more about my knitting projects that I've completed, as I love to talk about my knitting, and thought it might be a good idea to show you a recent project I finished...

      the lopi sweater
      the lopi sweater

      This was a Christmas gift for my brother. I've realised I don't really like knitting big things for other people, as I'm pretty much selfish in my knitting desires.. I just like to knit things that I can wear! And even though I'm modelling this in the picture, this was actually for my brother, although I have sneaking suspicions that his partner will end up wearing it more than him!

      The yarn was Drops Andes, a really lovely, soft and chunky yarn with some alapca in (35%, the rest is wool) which comes in 100g balls which I think are about £3 each? It makes a very affordable sweater, as that is generally the problem I find when making sweaters - a nice yarn is too expensive to knit a whole sweater in...

      The pattern is one that I've made previously for myself, from Ístex Álafoss Lopi No. 12 (patterns 19/20). I have all the details over on my Ravelry of exact colours and what have you, even a picture of my brother modelling this, but I didn't think he'd want that on my blog... It's a really nice sweater, proper winter weather sweater, I kind of wish I didn't have to give away in the end!

      And whilst my dad was taking these photos for me, he managed to get one mid-wind, with me squinting at him, and he thought I looked like something from a Scandinavian crime drama... So here you go, haha.

      the lopi sweater

      Tuesday, October 27, 2015

      Getting organised: a Diary

      If 2014 was the year I organised my health, 2015 was the year I organised my life. Well, that was the plan, anyway. I feel like a lot has happened this year, and nothing at the same time, and it's all gone so quickly (I can't believe we're at the end of October already?!).

      getting organised
      getting organised
      getting organised

      My good friend Gemma will tell you just how horribly organised I am. Well, most of my friends probably will - but I think Gemma gets the brunt of it most of the time! haha. I've just got a memory like a sieve, an aversion to writing things down, and my head in the clouds most of the time. I can be reminded 10 times and still forget things.
      So it's a bit of a surprise that I've actually managed to keep this thing updated most weeks? It's also a nice record of just how much I've done this year - which I guess is why people like those Erin Condren planners, etc. I got this diary just in the new year from a website similar to Sticker Stack

      Anyway, I really have no tips, but I think these new kids of diaries or planners, have done a trick on me - you fill in the dates and months yourself, so if you miss a week, it doesn't really matter in a way? I don't fill in the weeks too far ahead, as I can't really think more than a week in advance. The other thing I've found really useful, is to jazz it up a bit. The pages have fluorescent orange highlights, which I think are great paired with coloured pens and black text. I've also taken to adding the odd bit of washi tape that I had lying around, to block out weekends or highlight evenings. 

      I've also tried to make it more than just an event tracker, of work shifts and days out - and use it to track some goals. I've kept a few lists at the back with my 2015 goals for the year, and the books that I've read in the months (as I'm trying to read more this year) - it's also useful for tracking what gym classes I go to and how often I manage to get down to the gym when I'm trying to get back into my fitness. 

      Maybe these tips aren't useful to anyone, and maybe I'm just growing up, but I thought I would share them just incase.. :) 

      Are you any good at keeping a diary or are you just as hopeless at me?

      Sunday, October 25, 2015

      weekend wanderings #75

      weekend wanderings
      (images from Uncia and Tigris, and

      Wednesday, October 21, 2015

      What's on my needles...

      I love these kind of posts - probably because I'm thoroughly nosey, and I love to find new patterns, new yarns, and see how quickly people can put something together....

      on my needles

      I took these photos mid-august, so a little while ago now, and I've progressed pretty well since then - you can see the pattern a bit better over on the project page, but I just really liked these pictures so thought I would show you them anyway.

      I bought this big pack of linen yarn to make a sweater - but it really wasn't happening. I tried several patterns several times and it really just didn't turn out. So I threw in the towel, and came up with a new plan: a blanket. I've wanted to knit one for some time; however the idea of making one from a lightweight yarn filled me with dread, and the thought of buying a lot of bulky yarn made my wallet shiver in fear. 

      I've decided that I'll put together 3 panels of this Sunshine Chevron Blanket, with garter stitch edging, as I've got enough of the yarn to do this. The more I knit with it, the softer the yarn gets, and it's such an easy thing to whip up. I'm about 2/3 of the way through my first panel, and it's pretty enjoyable to knit (at the moment... I'm keeping other project around too, to keep me motivated!). I love the natural colour of this yarn, so I'm hoping that it'll be a great throw for a sofa or a bed when it's all finished...

      Are you making anything at the moment?

      Monday, October 19, 2015

      jo malone earl grey and cucumber review

      This Jo Malone fragrance was a little birthday gift to myself. Whenever I pass by a store or a concession, I'm drawn in by all identical bottles with their unassuming labels hiding a multitude of scents...

      jo malone earl grey and cucumber

      After spending some time perusing the scents in the Selfridges beauty hall (which is like a black hole of money as it is) - I eventually settled on this little one: Earl Grey and Cucumber Cologne. Normally I would go for something more spicy, less fresh, and those are the scents that I go for these days, however at the time, it was a warm summer day in London, a bottle of my ultimate favourite fragrance, Blenheim Bouquet was on it's way out...

      And so I was taken in by this crisp, fresh scent. Supposedly it's akin to Earl Grey tea, with notes of cucumber and bergamot, with a base of beeswax and musk; but it's generally just a delightful fragrance, perfect in the spring and the summer, but lasting just as well into the autumn, splashed liberally over the neck and wrists on the way out of the door; it's one of those scents that I can't get enough of, and you could never wear too much.

      Do you have any Jo Malone fragrances - what would you recommend? 

      Sunday, October 18, 2015

      weekend wanderings #74

      weekend wanderings
      (images from Uncia and Tigris and

      Thursday, October 15, 2015

      new in: black and gold bees

      It's definitely a re-occuring theme of mine, rediscovering gold-hues. For years I opted for silver above all else - before I realised it was just shiny things that I enjoyed, and the colour was really irrelevant (although, I'm not fully convinced by rose gold, if I'm honest).

      new in black and gold
      new in black and gold

      I saw this beautiful little note-pad in Marks in Spencers recently as I'm weirdly obsessed with anything bee-related (my mother and I are currently designed a bee-themed quilt), and into the trolley it went. Whilst we're on the subject, I really love Marks and Spencers. No, this isn't sponsored, but I know they're trying desperately hard to shake off the mumsy vibe, and I think they're succeeding. They do amazing coats, their beauty selection is pretty great too, and they're probably the only place that I can get jeans or trousers to fit my five-foot-ten legs and not leave me with a foot of ankle hanging out, or my bum crack on show to the world.

      Anyway, I'd say I'm digressing but I don't really have much else to say, except I found this notepad absolutely adorable. I particularly like the little gold foil hexagons adorning the pages, and it's gold clip. I guess technically it's a shopping list type deal, but I'm using it for to-do lists and reminders at the moment, and it's the perfect matching hue as my watch and ring. When I searched for this to show you guys, I also found this lovely little 2016 diary...


      new in black and gold

      Tuesday, October 13, 2015

      the royal landscape: the saville garden

      These photos seem a world away now after the few weeks of bad weather we've had here - it fully feels like autumn here... I took these photos on one of my first outings a few weeks after healing up from my operation, my mum and I took a short walk around the lovely flowered gardens and a leisurely pace, and taking lunch in the cafe afterwards. Of course, I took a few snaps...

      the royal landscape saville garden
      the royal landscape saville garden
      the royal landscape saville garden

      Since I last visited, they planted up a beautiful selection of wild-flowers, which had the most stunning cornflowers (which I've decided are one of my absolute favourite flowers, they grew like a weed all over the allotment and I used to pick them in copious amounts and bring them home to sit on the windowsill in little jam jars)... I've decided that if I ever were to have a garden of my own, I would plant only wildflowers as they attract a swarm of bees and their colour makes me so happy. 

      the royal landscape saville garden
      the royal landscape saville garden
      the royal landscape saville garden

      They had quite a few of the late summer flowers in bloom when we went along - with a lot of hydrangea's (which could be a close contender for my favourite flower - particularly in this beautiful blue hue). The Saville Garden is part of the The Royal Landscape (which I've posted about many times) as it's a place filled with so many memories for me and  love spending time there - particularly of wandering around collecting fallen hydrangeas and rhododendrons as a child and bringing them home to press between books... 


      the royal landscape saville garden

      Saturday, October 10, 2015

      taking stock #11

      taking stock whats on my needles

      Heads up: this isn't a "oh, I'm sorry I've not blogged in a while" preface. I'll be honest, I love you guys, but I love not blogging, as well. Maybe as a blogger, I shouldn't say this, but I think you're all grown up enough to hear this.
      So - I know that I've been a bit absent on my blog recently, a bit heads in the clouds, feet on the ground - but mostly just away from the internet. I have a deep affection for the internet, when I was younger and not very well, I loved coming online and reading blogs and all sorts of things as a form of escapism. Now, I don't feel the need to run away from my own life, and it's more like I just want to dip in and out, share with you some fun adventures rather than my whole life...
      Making: A linen blanket for my bed.
      Cooking: The last thing I made were some portuguese egg tarts.
      Drinking: Morning coffee.
      Reading: Just put down Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman.
      Wanting: To not go to the gym?
      Watching: Yarngasm Podcast.
      Eating: A bowl of maple-syrup porridge.
      Deciding: On how I'm going to get my hair cut later today...
      Wishing: for crisp autumn days, not this overcast day that we have today.
      Enjoying: Having a lazy morning.
      Waiting: for the gym motivation to kick in!
      Loving: my pictures from my alpaca adventure earlier this week (see my Instagram for cuteness!).
      Needing: a holiday! A mid-week day off makes me crave a full holiday.
      Smelling: A cinnamon candle - it's winter, guys.
      Wearing: Bunny PJ's and fluffy grey slipper socks.
      Thinking: about my next knitting project. (I've got second sock syndrome, and I'm not even knitting socks..!)
      Hearing: Podcasts and not much else.
      Feeling: a little bit sleepy.
      Buying: into autumn and winter hype - I blame Pinterest.

      Sunday, October 04, 2015

      Goodbyes, again...


      dad, grandma & norah

      It feels like only a few months ago when I was writing a goodbye to another grandparent. The sorrow there seems to have only just settled, and this seems to have brought it all back again. I have so many sweet memories of you and the time spent at 56 Kingsfield Road, of winter trips up there and watching snow fall, of long summers spent playing in the garden with the cousins - reminders of cosy nights playing card games, eating cake and playing games with you in the lounge. And more recently, stopping in for scrabble games and trips to the farm, time spent with you at ours on Christmas mornings. The week you passed away, I was supposed to stop in and see you and you would've really loved to hear about all the places me and my friend went and our jaunts, but it clearly was not meant to be. It seems like such an adequate phrase to say that you will be truly missed by everyone, but it's never been truer.

      Friday, September 11, 2015

      How to get a better night's sleep...

      I am a reformed insomniac - when I was younger I struggled a lot with sleeping. I mean full on, several days where I didn't sleep, and you turn into someone from the walking dead. In more recent years I have got better, and as such I am intensely precious about sleeping, and getting the best nights sleep that I can.

      how to get a better nights sleep
      how to get a better nights sleep

      There are certain things I've learned over the years to get the best nights sleep possible, and I thought I'd share them with you..

      • GET COMFY: Get your bed to be in the comfiest state possible, get your nicest sheets on, put your comfiest PJ's on (mine are currently this adorable rabbit t-shirt and shorts set from Next) with my lovely Christy bedding
      • PAMPER TIME: I find that it's really nice to spend some time by yourself. I know that's sometimes difficult in an time of constant contact, of smartphones & social media. I find it amazing to turn your phone off, paint your nails, have a bath, put a face mask on or slather yourself in moisturiser. This will help adjust your internal clock too, as there is a wavelength in the blue light that comes from a laptop or smartphone that can affect your circadian rhythms. 
      • AROMATHERAPY HOUR: There is something weirdly calming about smells, isn't there? I find the the best thing is this beautiful tobbacco & patchouli candle, which smells wonderful, and the Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Concentrate facial oil does the trick also (it must be all those lovely smelling essential oils, as it sends me off to sleep every time.
      • RELAXING READING: Similarly to pampering yourself, I highly recommend just reading something before bed (not your Twitter timeline, either) - it relaxes the brain and mentally quietens your brain for sleep by making you concentrate. I particularly like these little black classics from Penguin, as they're interesting enough, but short enough to not feel guilty for falling asleep on.
      • KEEP IT DARK: I've recently discovered the use of a sleep mask, and I'm hooked. I never really understand these, particularly as I used to not be able to sleep without background noise or something to listen to, and always thought they were kind of stupid. However my mum knocked me this one up to see if I could get some use out of it and amazingly, I love it. I think it's also a mental thing, like telling my body, it's time to sleep now, but it works... 

      How do you get the best nights sleep?

      how to get a better nights sleep
      how to get a better nights sleep

      Thursday, September 10, 2015

      Are you okay? and #WorldSuicidePreventionDay

      You may or may not be aware that today is #WorldSuicidePreventionDay. I know the day is almost over, and I wasn't aware that today had this title or of the RUOK? movement.

      I get that people don't talk about these things, that sometimes it's easier just to not say anything, and pretend that it will end. Sometimes it feels like days can last for years and winters can last for centuries when things are very dark, it's hard to understand why the world is trying to do this to you. I can offer you a thousand beautiful quotes about sticking around, but this won't shift a crippling mental illness, and I know this, and you know this. What helps are support networks and healthy coping mechanisms, and all those things you know you should be doing, like talking to people, but you keep it quiet, instead.

      So please stay, please talk to someone, things can improve if you give it time and if you give it a chance, but more importantly, if you talk to someone.

      Are you okay?


      And maybe if romantic quotes do work for you, here is a personal favourite, from someone that has come out the other side, and can vouch for things getting better, even when things seem so hopeless...

      Maybe even if we're not always so glad to be here, it's our task to immerse ourselves anyway: wade straight through it, right through the cesspool, while keeping eyes and hearts open.


      Monday, August 31, 2015

      weekend wanderings #73

      weekend wanderings
      I just wanted to give you a heads up that I might be a bit busy for the coming weeks - I have some time off booked with my friend for a little adventure, which means a couple of mad (but sneakily short weeks!) at work; I might be a bit up in the air, but you can always catch me over on Pinterest (please link yours up below!), Instagram and Twitter, as always, spouting nonsense and giving a tipsy commentary on Star Wars. 

      (Yeah, I know this usually goes up on a Sunday, but Bank Holiday Monday's are basically Sunday's, aren't they?)


      Wednesday, August 26, 2015

      On Losing Weight: What to do when you hit a plateau

      I think there comes a point in every weight-loss journey, when you stop losing weight. For whatever reason, things just slow down and eventually stop losing weight. At the beginning of this year, I lost the little bit of weight I put on over Christmas, and then... nothing. I was doing the same things, eating the same stuff, and nothing was happening. I know it is the most frustrating thing, I'm with you, kids. I got really disheartened, because I knew I still had a bunch of weight to lose, and it was just very frustrating for me. I felt like I was doing all the right things, making good choices, and nothing was happening.

      what to do when you hit a weight loss plateau

      In March this year, I started in a new job, but it became harder to lose the weight. I'd gone from being up and about and on my feet all day, working shifts and being able to fit it in the gym around my hours - to working in an office, sat down from nine to five, and being so sleepy in the evenings. I kept trying to go to the gym, but something just wasn't working anymore.

      June rolls around, I realise I've gained about six or seven pounds. Not a lot, in the grand scheme of how much I've lost, but enough to make me feel a bit gross, a bit sluggish. In July I get the call saying my appointment has finally come up on the NHS waiting list, I'm off to get my gallbladder taken out, I can't exercise for about a month and spend two weeks lying around feeling sorry for myself. Now I'm starting to get back into a routine, and I feel horrible in myself, I wake up most mornings and I'm still tired and sleepy and lethargic. I'm getting back on track with my eating, but I want to kick start things. I'm going to New York later in the year and I want to be a bit lighter, a bit more free to do things.

      So what now? I know that the gym I was previously going too, wasn't working for me anymore. It was a lovely place, but it's not motivating me enough, the hours don't suit me anymore, and I know that doing what I've always done, is not going to work anymore. When I was was (almost) 100lbs heavier, doing a bit more of any exercise or eating less than I had been doing would've made me lose weight, but now I am a lot lighter, I'm realising that this won't cut it anymore.

      And so I found the most crucial thing to my weight loss journey, which is basically to...

      C H A N G E   S O M E T H I N G

      I mean, you made a massive commitment to kicking this shit off in the first place, didn't you? So why are you so afraid of change?! I'm mostly talking to myself here, by the way - I don't know why I was so terrified to try something new, I guess cause this thing I had been doing worked for me - it worked really well!
      I had built up a security blanket around me, of how I got fit, how I lost weight. This was very much sticking to what was safe. Which is all good and fun, and I'm not knocking the method that I used - the way I lot weight really did work for me. But then I know I hit a point where I grew bored, grew complacent, and grew tired. Things slipped, I started reaching for more chocolate, dragged myself to the gym less...

      So I decided to change things up a bit. Looking back at the periods of my journey that I enjoyed most, it was things like the month I quit sugar, the two weeks I went veggie... For me trying out running was an amazing learning curve, which I began to document right here on my blog! It also meant, trying to quit sugar for lent, which was semi-successful.. but even if these things aren't the most successful processes, you grow and you learn from it, and you take away things that work for you, and the things that don't.

      For example, if you always use a meat-based protein in your meals, maybe try vegetarian proteins instead, and stick to that for a week - it makes you more creative in your cooking, makes you try food that you might not ordinarily go for.
      Similarly, if you always use white rice, flour and pasta, maybe try doing brown flour for a bit, in doing this I realised brown rice was really nice, and some brown pasta is disgusting! I also discovered I really love beluga lentils and pearl barley. I was talking about this with my friend at work: you really have just got to find the thing that works for you, that you can get on board with.

      This month, I joined a new gym. It's a big fancy gym, full of super-fit people, and proper gym equipment that scares me. But in a good way - I need this, the hours and equipment suit me better, but it does scare me. Even though I've done so much for my health, I will always feel like the fat girl, and I want to change this mindset. I feel like I've been wrapped in my blanket for too long, when it comes to losing weight - I want to get out there.

      I think I'm quite old-school, in that the end of the summer feels like the end of the year: Autumn is around the corner and it always makes me think of new school years, and fresh starts. It's all good fun, is what I'm saying, and I think it helps kick start you when you're in a bit of an eating, exercise, weight-loss rut, and it helped me shift a few pounds. Now I'm wondering what I should try next...

        Monday, August 24, 2015

        RHS Wisley in the Springtime - pt. 2

        Way back in April, I visited RHS Wisley with my mum for a little afternoon out - have a look at my previous post here - but we only live about 20 minutes up the M3 from it, so I was appalled that it took me so long to get around to visiting again! Especially since I found out they had a gorgeous glasshouse (you know I love a glasshouse), which is what this post will feature heavily...

        RHS Wisley
        RHS Wisley
        RHS Wisley
        RHS Wisley
        RHS Wisley
        RHS Wisley

        The glasshouse is a fairly recent addition and opened in 2012 (Wisley house and gardens were given to the RHS in 1903), with three sections; you can read about the glasshouse at Wisley here, but it really is fantastic. With it's tropical section, filled with giant palms, hanging orchids, and all the ferns a girl could wish for, I could happily spend hours in there. I loved the arid glasshouse too, filled with beautiful cacti and scented flowers, when I visited.

        Keep reading for the orchids...!

        Wednesday, August 19, 2015

        RHS Wisley in the Springtime - pt. 1

        Way back in April, I visited RHS Wisley with my mum for a little afternoon out. Having been several times when I was a little kid, I really couldn't remember it too well, so we decided to refresh my memory.  We only live about 20 minutes up the M3 from it, so I was appalled that it took me so long to get around to visiting, especially since I found out they had a gorgeous glasshouse (you know I love a glasshouse).  
        I know that I'm a bit out of season with these pictures - but I had so many to resize and edit, because everything there was so beautiful, that I just hadn't had the time to get around it, and it seemed like such a daunting task - so now I have finally got around to it, I think I'll have to split it into a couple of posts...! 

        RHS Wisley
        RHS Wisley
        RHS Wisley

        I particularly loved walking around the initial gardens when you come in, in the spring these are full of magnolia trees, cherry blossoms and acers, all sorts of brightly coloured spring flowers to admire as you walk through to the glass house, which really had my heart.
        This pink tree is my absolute favourite - I'm determined to get one for my dad for his garden: it's something like a chinese cedar/mahogany, but the name is 'Flamingo' - which is the most perfect pink with white trunks.

        RHS Wisley
        RHS Wisley

        Keep reading to see the bonsai trees...!