Tag Archives: Friends

Wandering all over the place

I planned this post to be about my weekend away, but I ended up travelling quite a bit for work either side of the weekend and it’s felt like I’ve been all over the place both physically and mentally.

I started off my travels by heading to London for a last minute trip with work. I needed to catch up with a few people and all of them were at the London office so it made sense to head there for the whole day. I quite like going to London with work, but I do like it when I have a bit more time so I can add on an adventure like going to a museum exhibition or head to the Japan Centre for supplies. This was a rush job as I needed to be back in time to pack for the next location.


My next stop was Brighton! A trip with the girls for the marathon weekend. I’ve been going a few years now and it is always a great weekend. Two girls were doing the marathon, another two did the 10k and a few others did the local park run. I walked everywhere as my foot is still playing up with plantar fasciitis. It was super hot and I caught the sun while we were shopping and relaxing on the beach. We even bagged free t-shirts for taking part in a game that involved being broadcast on the big screen on the beach! 


Sunday involved coming back from Brighton with a quick stop at home and then driving up to the Lake District for another work trip. It wasn’t too bad as a friend drove back from Brighton so I only had the trip north to do. I hoped by going later in the afternoon I would miss the holiday traffic and I was right! I got up to Kendal at 8:30pm and crashed out. It worked out really well as I was refreshed for my 9am meeting in Grasmere.


The weather continued to be wonderful and spending the afternoon out around Grasmere was great. I love my job! After a day in the Lakres I then headed over to the Yorkshire Dales for another work trip. I met a work colleague for dinner in Settle and enjoyed a lovely evening and meal before more work in the Dales the following day.


The next was spent working from a local office with the local team. A piece of work I am doing is being tested up in the Dales and I don’t get to go up very often to work with the team and it’s always a good day. Fingers crossed I can work it out to go on a more regular basis.

After a day in the Dales it was time to head home. Unfortunately the traffic was not so kind on the way home and I got stuck and didn’t arrive home until 9:30pm. This is where my brain stopped working for 24 hours! I was so on form throughout all the travelling, but once back to normal I lose momentum and felt awful. I underestimated the impact of the travelling and paid for it by trying to push through it. Next time I need to plan in time to rest and rebalance. 

I love exploring but I also need the energy to do it and enjoy it. Just being able to pause in between is useful and I’m learning all the time what I need to do physically and mentally to be my best with everything I want to do.

Bridesmaid Body Positivity

I’ve been thinking a lot about body positivity lately and have Ben enjoying following amazing women on various social media platforms. But I still get really self conscious about my own body and appearance. I’ve also been putting my own mind to test recently as I was a bridesmaid at my best friends wedding. I always really wanted to do it for her and had fun arranging the hen do, but the bit that always. Oncerned me was finding the dress and then being comfortable in it all day.

I’m not one for wearing dresses at all. I just never feel comfortable in them. I tried on quite a few dresses when searching for my bridesmaid dress. I chose the one below as I liked the shape I saw reflected back in the mirror. I was also comfortable as it did not restrict my movement at all and I could easily sit down.  However I still felt very self conscious the whole time I was in it. It took a few drinks for me to enjoy dancing with my friends.

It wasn’t until after that I realised I didn’t get many photos of myself during the day. The one above and the one below were just as we finished getting ready. I prefer the photo above as I feel very forced posing in the one below. I would like to work on being able to look at photos of myself and not automatically look for the flaws I see. I want to look at them and see the happiness and other emotions and remember the moment. A work in progress for sure.

I did buy myself some shapewear to wear under the dress and actually I found it really good. I didn’t go for a tight, suck it all in thing, but rather something that slight smoothed the lines and had shorts as I hate tights! I didn’t buy the shapewear for anyone but myself. I wanted it to let me forget my flaws for the day and feel better about being in photos. I definitely noticed a difference as I didn’t feel I was holding everything in all day. I found I relaxed more than I would normally in a dress. It allowed me to enjoy myself freely.


I loved being my friends bridesmaid. It was an honour and I am so happy for her and her husband.


But I am the last single girl in the group. Another friend from school just got engaged and it’s stirred up feelings. This has made me feel a bit odd recently and I’ve been talking about it to my therapist. It’s not that I’m lonely or looking for a relationship. At some times I really think I don’t want one. I love being independent and selfish and wonder how I would fit in being in a relationship. I’m not sure how I’m feeling at the moment and just know it’s something I need to explore. I truly believe you don’t need to be in a relationship to be whole…

Wandering around Iceland

It’s been three weeks since I went to Iceland and for some reason I have struggled to sit down and write a blog post since – it’s very weird as I absolutely loved the trip and want to recommend it to everyone I know!

Iceland has been on my list of places to visit for ages, but the reputation of being quite expensive has always put me off while I wait ‘until I can afford it’. I have since changed my mind and believe you can travel anywhere you want on whatever budget you have and still have an amazing time! So, anyway back in early December a few friends got on to chatting about places we wanted to go and Iceland came up. Two of my friends have been before, but not seen the northern lights and myself and another friend hadn’t visited. So we were all up for heading out for a few days in January.

We got a really good deal on flight and accommodation (under £400 for return flights and 3 nights B&B hotel). We went with EasyJet and stayed at Storm Hotel, just off the main shopping street and close to the water front.

It was cold, but not as cold as the same time back in the UK. It also rained a lot! We made the most of it though and had a fantastic time exploring Reykjavik and further afield. The trips we went on probably doubled the price we paid for the flights and hotel, plus food and drink means be prepared to pay more once you’re out there.

The food was amazing! It was pricey for sure, but you can find places that are better value than others. The drinks are what astounded us as in many places they cost at least the same, if not more than the food. There are lots of happy hours at the bars and hotels, but if you’re doing trips you can’t always be back in time for 4-7pm slot. So we ended up not drinking at all – totally weird for a holiday, but totally worth it!

We took two main trips and had a third one cancelled because of the weather, all with Greyline. We went out to the Blue Lagoon. It was so weird as we got there at 8am and stayed until 12pm. It was pitch black, middle of the night dark! My brain was playing tricks on me as I kept thinking it was 8 or 9pm, not am. It was so quiet when we arrived and we got to explore while it was empty and dark. It had expanded since my friends went before so it was funny to find new places. It was also horizontal rain and so windy the lagoon was choppy with waves. It was so hilarious! You could not call it relaxing in the slightest, but it was fun and the water made my skin feel amazing!

The second trip we did was out to the Golden Circle. We went to see the UNESCO world heritage site called Þingvellir National Park which is home to Iceland‘s largest natural lake and the place where the tectonic plates of North America and Eurasia split and drift apart.  It was raining so much I didn’t take my camera out at all.

We then went to Gullfoss waterfall, which was amazing. It was colder here and there was still some snow on the ground and parts of the waterfall was frozen over. It was loud and tranquil all at the same time. If you ignore the amount of people stood around you, you can see nothing for miles.

We then went to see the Geysir hot spring area. It was amazing to see the geysers bubble and explode at times. There was so much colour on the ground that I would love to go back as it was getting dark when we were there.

On last full day we further explored Reykjavik by taking the hop on hop off bus. You can easily walk around the city, but as it was raining so much we didn’t want to get cold and miserable walking around. It was good as we got see everything we wanted and also took a trip to the local public swimming pool which is geothermally heated.  I loved the wall art dotted all around the city and there is really good coffee!

We tried every night to go out and see the northern lights, but due to the weather we did not have the right conditions for them to appear. On the plus side we didn’t have to go out and try as they cancelled the trips during the day, which meant we could get a full refund.

It was great fun to go away with my friends and we are already planning a trip to Norway for next year to see if we can track down those pesky northern lights.

Henley Bridge to Bridge Marathon Swim

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It’s been a couple of weeks since I undertook my swimming challenge for this year and I still can’t quite believe I did it!

Last November I signed up for the Henley Bridge to Bridge Marathon swim. This a 14km swim from Henley to Marlow. My swim coach took part in 2015 and decided to get a team together and make it a social event for 2016. This meant we could train together and set up days when we would all do long distance swims so we wouldn’t be alone.

It was a long journey of training, but it actually kept me going through a time where I really could have given up swimming. I gave up pool swimming and solely focused on the open water swimming. It made huge difference to my mental strength to just focus on the one thing. Taking the pressure off made it much easier to enjoy the journey. I also changed waves so I could swim in the middle one, rather than the faster one – best decision ever!

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It was a very early start on Sunday 8th August – 4am to be exact! I drove to a friends house so we could then car share to Henley. We arrived at Henley at 6am and registered, waited for the group to arrive and got ready. This is where my nerves started to kick in and I focused on thinking about swimming at my own pace and making it to the end.

The sign in the photo below was from the very start and it was a great reminder of what the event was really about. We didn’t need to worry about time as it wasn’t a race. it was run as a sportive and all focused on getting everyone to the finish.

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The swim we split into 4 stages with 3 feed stops at the locks. The first stage was 4km, then 6km, then 1.5km, then 2.5km. Each feed stop had drinks and a variety of food. Hand sanitiser and extra vaseline was provided and you had a to walk at least 100m from the exit to the entry points.

The fist 4km was easy and the stop came up to surprise me. It was a very busy section as everyone in the one wave started together. It meant getting clear water was hard and I lost the two friends I was swimming with (we caught each other at the stop) so I just focused on swimming steady and trying to notice where we were on the river. I felt good for this section.

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The second section was the big one – 6km non-stop. it’s the furthest I’ve swam non-stop and I was surprised at how good I felt. The river changed as we swam along. We passed green fields and very big houses and felt like there was no one else around. When we got in at this section we were asked to keep to groups with a kayak, but there was a steady stream of people that they didn’t make anyone wait to start (they did in the slower wave I was told). There were a couple of points along this route where you could have taken the wrong split, but the kayakers with us were great and kept us on course the whole way. My friend got cramp around 4km in and we pauseda minute, but got going again and this is where my arms started to feel it. My friend picked up speed and I started to slow, but we worked well together and kept going.

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We stopped for a little longer at the next stop to make sure we had the energy and were hydrated. I topped up the vaseline around my neck and then was ready to go. We had to cross the river and walk across an island before getting back in at quite rocky point, but the flow of the weir was a nice push off to start the last 4 km. I found this stage the hardest as my arms ached and it was not quite long enough to find my rhythm after the 6km stretch. Mentally I had to work hard here and kept focused on even arm strokes and moving forward. My friend was able to lose me here, but we caught each other at the last stop.

The last stage was started by a jump into the river after a lock and staying out the way of the boats. It was around 11ish at the time and there were many more boats on the river than the rest of the time. Also we were heading into Marlow so the it was generally much busier on the towpath and the river itself. This stage was easier in a way because I knew it was the last, but it was also hard, because it was the last 2km of a 14km swim! I focused again on keeping steady and getting to the end. Energy wise I was, just tired, but my arms were struggling a lot by this point. I definitely could have done some extra conditioning training in the run up!

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I was so happy at the end. One because it was over and also because I had done it! I had swam the farthest I’ve ever swum (and probably ever will). It was also much sunnier than when we started and I knew I would be able to relax for a couple of hours waiting for the others to all finish before heading home.

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While we were waiting in the glorious sunshine we talked about what other swims we would like to do. Our coach will probably put another team to together for this event next year, but I don’t think I want to do it two years running. I would come and support though as I think it would be a lovely walk along the river to follow the swimmers. Instead we were thinking about Coniston in the Lake District. That could be a fun trip!

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I would recommend this swim to anyone doing long distance swimming. It was fun and really well organised. The feed stops were well stocked and the volunteers at each one were super helpful. The kayakers and start/finish crews were also amazing!

As long as you put in the training and do not underestimate the distance or the mental requirements of this type of swimming then you will absolutely fine. I stuck to feeding as I did in my training, which mainly involved gels and chocolate to take away the taste of the gels. That works for me, and take time to figure our what works for you. Some people didn’t feed, others used what was at the stops, and others used fruit and nut bars only. As everyone has a wear a tow float I found it easy to carry what I needed and it got lighter as you swam further.

Training wise I progressed from swimming around 3km a time to regularly swimming 5km, with longer swims of 7km to 11km every couple of weeks. I didn’t have a set plan in the end, but rather worked out what I needed to get to and fitted into my schedule as well as making sure I took part in the group long swims.

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Overall this was a fantastic day and a great achievement for me. If you fancy doing it go to the Henley Swim website and sign up for 2017! They also do shorter swims, including one that end at a pub with the medal being a bottle opener – open water swimming is for everyone!

#KeepTheSecrets

I’ve just had the most magical weekend and I can’t let it go, which is why I think it’s taken a few days back at home and work for me to sit down and want to write this post as it feels like it’s done then. I know it’s not really, I’m being over-dramatic, but that’s how it feels.

An upfront note – there will be no spoilers in this post. I will talk about how I felt, but no plot or character details will be shared #KeepTheSecrets

In reality this all started in October last year when the tickets went on sale for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and I managed to get in the queue with only around 1000 people in front of my. Compared to friends who got in the queue not long after and it was up in the 6000 range and even more I did really well. It only took about 25 minutes of waiting in the end and I got tickets for myself and my friend Ingrid to see one of the first Saturday double bill previews. I was so happy and so excited to have something new added to the stories I’ve been reading since I was 16! I’m not 31 so it’s been pretty much half my life! It felt exactly the same as a new book coming out – the unknown and the excitement and the trepidation around what could happen. It’s Harry Potter, anyone could die!

Side note – it’s also now totally okay to have a crush on the actors playing Harry, Ron and Draco and a girl crush on Hermione! Amazing actors all round.

I then booked a hotel in Covent Garden, just up the road from The Palace Theatre in Soho. It was a perfect location as it only meant getting the tube to the hotel and then we could wander everywhere. The first thing we did of course was go to the theatre to see it all set up. I took lots of photos of the posters as it was all helping build up the excitement even more than I thought I could contain. Make sure you go and see it during the day before a performance as once we were there for the show it was so busy it was impossible to get the photos I took.

Everything about the set up felt right. It was very much linked to the books, rather the films and I liked that a lot. It was continuing the story for those characters and for the fans who have been there from the beginning, or almost the beginning in my case.

Setting it nineteen years later felt exactly right too. I think this is because I am now an adult and so it would make it easier to relate to them now as adults as well. We grew up together and now we were getting the chance to see who they had become.

I also love that this is in a different format. As a play there is something completely different about it, but at the same time there is something completely familiar. It made it even more excitng for me. It was like the film experience when you are in the cinema with everyone, but with the theatre atmosphere where it’s totally okay to react out loud.

The Palace Theatre is also an amazing building. I recommend walking the whole way round and see the brick structure and take in the architecture that you can then compare to what you see on the inside. It’s like a Tardis!

As we arrived on the Friday we had a day to kill and made the most of it by totally immersing ourselves in our Harry Potter geekness. We went to the House of Minalima, who did all the graphic design work for the films. It is amazing! It’s a combined gallery and shop over multiple floors.

It is a beautiful space, full of colour and fun. It’s mainly Harry Potter, but it also contains other work by the designers, which is just as amazing.

There are some of the original props used in the films as well. The amount of detail and care that went into all this and continues to go into for the new movie is staggering. The love and commitment to the work and the world took my breath away and I could have stayed in there all day.

I want them to come and decorate my house. The floors and stairs especially!

We then went to Cheeky Nails to get our nails turned into Hogwarts House colours ! I never get my nails done so this was exciting. It is attached to a bar as well so is perfect for a Friday night. They ladies there were so fantastic to us and fitted us in and did the details we wanted. I think we entertained them for the night too!

Of course then we had to make sure we got the most value from them by getting them in pretty much every single photo for the rest of the weekend.

We woke up Saturday and could not wait for 2pm. We went for a relaxing breakfast and then we wandered through some bookstores to keep ourselves calm, but get ready for what was coming. We got into the queue just before 1pm to give ourselves plenty of time to get merchandise, drinks and to find our seats. They check your bags on entry and even if the queue is long you’ll be fine as they are quick.

Then we were ready to see Part 1! I took some photos inside before and after the play, but that would give things away so they are just for me as memories. I can’t really say any more as I do not want to make JK Rowling angry by hinting at anything that happens.

All I will say is that I loved it!

We then went to a local sushi restuarant in between the parts. I woudl recommend booking to make sure you get somewhere close as it was super busy being a Saturday and also Pride. To save stress book someone and enjoy discussing (carefully) what happened in Part 1!

Then it was time to join the queue at 6:30pm for Part 2! Everyone was even more excited than before. We were also talking about our theories for what would happen and it was so much fun! Everyone was there as a fan and there was so much love and loyalty in the audience it was amazing. There was also some great discussions, not debates, but people being open for things to go where ever they might go.

Then is was over! It was exactly like finishing one of the books for the first time. Happiness that you now knew what happens and how the story and characters develop. At the same time sadness that it was over and you won’t get to experience it in the same way again. To sum up my reaction without any spoilers is basically me in this photo, taken in the ice cream place opposite right after the we came out of the theatre. It was magic in reality for me!

I am in awe of JK Rowling for creating this world and sharing in so many ways. I totally respect her call for everyone who has seen the play to #KeepTheSecrets to let others see as we had just done. I cannot wait for the script to come out as I will be able to read that while replaying the play in my head. I would say to anyone who has tickets to wait to watch the play first before reading the script as I can tell you it will not be the same and your patience will be worth it.

I treated myself to quite a bit of merchandise and love it all! I’m keeping hold of my tickets as memories too. It was an experience I will never forget and feel lucky to be one of the first people to have seen the play in full in one day. I don’t think I could have waited 24 hours for the second part to be absolutely honest!

I would also say to anyone who is a fan to keep trying to get tickets from the official website. I hope one day they will tour it or do a live showing broadcast to cinemas, but I also hope that will be a few years away to give as many people as possible the chance to see it as it is meant to be seen!

#KeepTheSecrets

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