Keep on Swimming

I think I’m finding my love of swimming again after a bit of a turbulent year of not really feeling it. It’s funny how something that you love can become a chore so easily and then the love disappears and you wonder why you ever liked it at all. It was a horrible time as I do love swimming and being in the water is one of my major childhood memories. What I realised is that it was no longer fun. I was no longer the kid just jumping in to swim around and enjoy the feel of the water. I had a time to swim or a distance to get to. It was all about the goals and not about the enjoyment. So no wonder I didn’t want to go every single time!

I took the pressure off myself and stopped swimming in the pool with my swimming club and began to focus on only lake swimming and that has made such a difference. I reconnected with lake friends from last year and have been having fun building up to longer swims, while having a good time doing it. I still have a goal, but it is one goal, rather than 10!

I like to have something to train for as it gives me focus, but I don’t like events really. So this year I am not using other events as training sessions. I’m still planning on swimming the Bridge to Bridge Thames Marathon in August, but have changed my wave to the middle one, rather than the faster one so I can swim with my friends and take the speed pressure off.

I’m making the most of my membership to one of my local lakes and going as often as I like. There are also three other local lakes that I can use if there is an event on at my lake on the day I want to go. I usually go twice a week with one session being a long swim building up to 10km and one being a coached session working on skills. I would like to get in another session to have some fun and swim too, but timing is harder with that one. I’ve also started back at the gym and doing a couple of classes with my friend Helly and we are having great fun and it doesn’t feel like working out at all. We have a gossip and catch up while moving around and laughing. This means I am working out 4/5 times a week without trying too hard, which is nice and it feels good mentally and physically.

Come rain or sunshine I’ll be at the lake this summer!

Weekend Fun in London

I seem to be going quite a lot lately and I am quite enjoying it. I’ve been able to explore new parts I haven’t been to before. This last weekend I was there for a friend’s hen do and we had great fun. The weekend started with a treasure hunt that had us walking around London for a a few hours. I got to see Kensington Palace, which I don’t think I’ve been to before.

We then headed to have afternoon tea at a beautiful hotel new St James Park. The scones and cakes were absolutely amazing!

We then headed to the River Thames for a night cruise. This was amazing as I got to see the city late at night all lit up and it was beautiful.

Tower Bridge

The Greenwich Meridian laser

The Shard, Tower Bridge, and the walky talky

Closer up


The Tower of London

The London Eye

It was a lovely nice that stayed warm into the early morning. The light reflecting on the river were  gave the water a glow that is does not have during the day.

The next day we headed towards Portobello Road and I found this tree that was growing and taking the wall with it. It made me smile and appreciate that nature in the city still thrives.

We went to an amazing place – The Electric Diner – for breakfast and I enjoyed a fantastic flat white and a Full English tat hit the spot nicely. I intend to go back here when I can.

When we had finished it was still waking up and the vintage market was set up as we wandered back up the road. I would very much like to come back for the food market during the week. It was beautiful and sunny and it would have been nice to stay a while longer, but I will plan that in for next time.

Overall a lovely day exploring and visiting some new places that I will be making the effort to go back to. The sun made it an extra special weekend.

Photo Opportunity!

One of the main things I’ve been wanting to do to improve my blog is to take better photos. So for the last 6 months or so I have been swapping swimming lessons for photography lessons. My friend Edith is an amazing photographer, I think she is professional, but not sure if she would describe herself as one as she does not do it full time, and is taking me through the essentials of photography. In exchange I have been teaching her to swim and she just completed her first triathlon and she is looking for another one to do later in the year. It’s been great as although it requires commitment we are able to be flexible between ourselves.

I have first learnt that it doesn’t matter what camera you have, as it the camera you have on you when you want to take a photo that matters. I switch between three cameras – my trusty iPhone camera, an Olympus DSLR, and a Cannon point and shoot – and which one I use depends on what bag I am taking out to be absolutely honest. A shift I would like to make is to not only go out specifically to take photos, but always be carrying a camera, not just my phone.

SO far I’ve been learning to edit my photos on a basic level, such as looking at the colours and adjusting the image crop and straightening. Each time I learn to spot new things and make smaller adjustments as I set up my photos better when I take them. Developing the eye for spotting interesting opportunities is hard to learn, but I keep on trying.

I’ve also bee learning about using aperture for depth of field and f numbers. This has been a struggle for me and I keep having to talk myself through what I am after when I try to use it, but it makes me think and try things out. It also gets me out of the auto setting.

I’ve taken photos at night using slow shutter speeds. I’ve taken photos in the snow using shadows and features. I’ve taken photos from interesting aspects that I wouldn’t have considered before. I’ve been experimenting and really enjoying it.

I’ve still got a lot to learn, but all I am after is to be able to take great holiday photos I want to print off and hang up. I can’t remember the last time I printed a photo as wither everything being digital I just never do anymore. I want to change that and cover my home in photos I’ve actually taken.

Here are some of my favourite photographs of the last 6 months:


Greens in St James Park
Golden gates of Buckingham Palace
Lion and Man outside Buckingham Palace
Spotlight on the bluebell
Bluebell in the late evening sun
Rays on the bluebells
Surrounded by bluebells
Reflections on the river in Bath
Turning right in the night
Ghost bus
Busy in the dark
Lonely red lights
On the catwalk
Chocolate fountain
Interesting shapes
Snow angel
Mountain resting place
Drive by
Moody woods
Routes through the snow

Having a Makeup Lesson

This year I’ve been getting to know myself a bit better through clothes and makeup. This last weekend I went with my friend to Bath for makeup lesson she found on a popular voucher website.

So we headed to Bath early on Sunday and it was a beautiful warm sunny day. I wish I’d taken my big camera, but I didn’t want to be carrying around. I found an open coffee shop and enjoyed a smooth flat white while I waited for Holly to arrive. We then wandered up to the place where the lesson was being held and chatted about what we were expecting.

As it was being held in a function room of a bar I had mixed expectations. I was hoping to get some insight into what would work for my skin, but not expecting to much one on one interaction. Holly was hoping it wasn’t going to be a sales pitch. All are expectations were slightly off. There were 12 of us and one make up artist who talked us through what to. Although she set it up by saying we would have lots of time to practice, it ended up being mainly her talking through what she was doing on a volunteer. We did get to have a go at three looks – a 5 minute quick look, a daytime look, and an evening look – all of which built upon the last, rather than taking off and re-starting. I definitely learnt how to do the less is more and that was great, but it felt like there was not much access to individuality as the make up artist only had her supplies. I think we were expecting it to be held by a make up brand as it was marketed that way, rather than a freelance. It was great it wasn’t  sales pitch and she was able to recommend specific products from many brands rather than just one.

Overall I’m glad we only spent £29, rather than the £90 it was advertised as normally being. I was pleased with what I learnt and some of the products we used. I felt I learnt how to use some of the products in much more efficient ways. It was definitely a beginners course, which again didn’t really come across in the marketing and two people did leave half way through as I don’t think it was what they wanted. Holly and I had a couple few hours and a lovely day in Bath we wouldn’t have had otherwise. It’s also given us the bug and we are looking at other things we could do to learn more about our skin, colourings, and make up techniques.

As I said it was a beautiful sunny day and the colourful umbrellas in the main shopping street were amazing in the bright sunlight.

After the lesson we decided to go shopping and I did treat myself so a few new things. Kiko is my new go-to place for reasonable priced items that are in lots of shades and I got myself a new foundation and a green concealer. I splurged on the Naked 3 palette from Urban Decay. It’s somethings I’ve looked at several times, but never thought to buy, but I was impressed with the colours I used in the lesson and seeing how I would use all the colours was a big selling point. I also went for the MAC casual cheek and lip stain in Hi Jinks. Its supper bright, but being a cream it blends so well and gave me a glow I have never had form powder blushers. This was something I didn’t believe would work in the lesson, but I was proven wrong and sold on this!

We also bought some clothes and had a lovely lunch in the sunshine. Bath is one of my favourite shopping places. It’s so full of history that I find it beautiful and fascinating, and as close as I can get to Rome within a 45 minute drive. I would love to live there again. I spent six months living there back in 2008 and loved it, but it super expensive so now it’s just day trips. The only downside is the sheer amount of people that flock there on weekends. At 8am it was so quiet and peaceful, but by 2pm its crowded and difficult to move around. I still love it though and just pick my time to visit carefully.

Adventures in Books… Illumicrate Subscription Box

I’m a big book lover and have been watching online all the different subscription boxes available in the US with envy. The only this that has stopped me from ordering from overseas is the outragores shipping costs and custom charges. It’s taken me a few months to sign up, but I finally did to Illumicrate, which is currently a quarterly subscription box!

The box arrived almost two weeks ago and I was so busy I only unpacked it this last Friday in time for the Bank Holiday. My aim with these boxes is to read the book that is included as my next book so that I stay on top of them and they do not get added to the TBR pile and disappear. I want to broaden my bookshelf and enjoy treating myself to something like this (instead of food) and the extra goodies you get are lovely to spread over more time that just reading the book.

The box comes all packaged nicely with everything protected. It was lovely to open it and receive the this positive thank you straight away.

Pippin wanted to help me open the box – the only issue when trying to take unpacking photos!

I loved opening right to a list of what is inside so that as I pulled things out I could refer to the specifics of each item and where they come from.

My unpacking was hinder a bit my Pippin wanting to smell everything so I ended up taking one big photo of everything to save time!

The box this time contains some exciting and fun things:

  1. When We Collided by Emery Lord – I’m intrigued by this book as I have seen it on a couple of YA mental health book lists and it’s perfect timing for where I am right now. Also a signed bookplate I have already stuck in the book as I felt that is where it needs to be.
  2. What happens in bookclub, stays in book club mug – this is going to be perfect for picnics and travelling as it’s lightweight and fits my personality.
  3. To Be Read List – a little notepad I will probably use for all kinds of shopping lists or little review notes for books I’ve read.
  4. Bookworm clip – a very cute extra large paper clip. I’m not sure where I am going to use this, but its so cute I might just pop it in one my books to display on my bookshelf.
  5. Readers Gonna Read pin – I love this and was only thinking the other day I wanted to start finding some fun pins to put on a bag or on my work lanyard maybe.
  6. A stamp – this is also very cute, but again I have no idea how I’m going to use it. It’s on a lovely label so I could put it on display by keeping it on the label.
  7. Extras – fun badges, postcards, and a preview of Strange the Dreamer!

It was lovely to receive a box of non-food goodies through the post. I’m going to continue with this for a while, but I think these boxes are things I will sign up to for a bit then stop, but then sign up to again in the future!

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