Tuesday, 7 January 2014

2014, Year On a (Running) Shoestring

It's been a whole month since I've blogged anything at all, which is very naughty indeed. December was busy as ever with Christmas parties, meals and get-togethers.  And cake. Lots of cake.
Lots
My Beloved came back from Sheffield to join me for the Christmas break, and it was so amazing to be with him for a prolonged period. Since he's been studying back in the North, we've only had 3 nights together at a time for the whole semester, which puts a lot of pressure on you to have fun all the time, and makes those deep and meaningful conversations all the more urgent, but having him here with me in London for 2 1/2 weeks meant we could relax a bit and enjoy each other's company without always having one eye on the clock. I know lots of people are in long-distance relationships and I am not the only one going through this, but after 6 years of living together it can be incredibly difficult to adjust to a different life.
Me and Him.
Anyway, happy new year! This year, big things are happening.In June, he graduates, we get married, we go on honeymoon (to the US we hope), he starts his dream job and we set up home together once more! All this means that money needs to be saved, and after Christmas I am finding myself hyperventilating over the paltry sums in my current and savings accounts. Things are supertight in Funfashionable Towers, which means achieving my resolution to make the most of every day is going to be trickier, without masses of cash to throw at the situation.

Whilst everyone is frantically joining gyms and detoxing away, I made the decision today to cancel my gym membership. Like everyone else, I've gained a couple too many pounds after a month of over-indulgence, but if I want to get myself back on track financially, I need to cut back wherever I can and as my membership is £47.50 a month I'm finding it very hard to justify.

I visited earlier with every intention of cancelling but was told about the additional option to freeze my membership, for £10 a month for up to 3 months. This will save me £112.50 over 3 months, and means that if I manage to get myself into a good routine of exercising outside, I can go ahead and cancel anyway, but if I decide I miss my yoga and pilates classes too much and am in a better financial position, I can resume my membership without having to pay a joining fee again.

So here's the plan, fitness wise:

  • I freeze my membership for the three months - I probably get to keep using it until a certain point in the month
  • I start walking from Waterloo rather than Charing Cross to get to work, and Forest Hill rather than Sydenham to get home. That's an extra 1.1 mile a day.
  • I pick up Run, Fat Bitch Run again, and actually read it (I received it last Christmas but never finished it, probably in fear that if I carried on reading, I'd have to actually start running). 
  • I actually run.
  • I find some decent yoga videos online and crack out the 30 Day Shred DVD once more.
  • I drink far more water than I do now.
If you know of any great online workouts I'd love to hear about them, I'm looking to keep things interesting!

I mentioned making the most of every day. What I mean it, I don't want to feel like I spent this whole academic year away from the Boy yearning for him and sitting around waiting to see him, these are my last few months as an unmarried woman! I want to enjoy myself, I want to get out there, see my friends, meet new people, enjoy all London has to offer, and generally feel like I'm getting the most out of every opportunity that comes my way. This can be tricky on a shoe string, but there are plenty of free events and interesting things to do that don't cost the earth, so I am on the look out for every chance to spend a little, but live a lot!

My resolutions:
1. Have fun. All the time.
2. Stay off the cigs (I've had a very on off, on off year in my ongoing battle against nicotine, but I'm 2 1/2 weeks into my latest, and what I hope will be my final quit attempt)
3. Get fit. Get to the goal weight I just touched on before Christmas festivities took over, and stay there.
4. Make the most of my new camera. Get better at using it, be creative and confident with it, this is something we are hoping to do together once he's finished uni and is back for good, but it can't hurt to get a good start.
5. Be better at staying in touch with friends.
6. Be creative, sew more, procrastinate less. 
7. Read a book a week, and try and get some classics in there too.

Happy 2014!

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Cosy Kettle at Somers Town Coffee House

I've just found the yummiest, scrummiest bar in town. Cosy Kettle is the new cocktail bar downstairs at the Somers Town Coffee House at Euston/King's Cross. Cosy by name, cosy by nature, this underground cellar with its comfy sofas and higgeldy piggeldy bookshelves serves a wonderful array of classic cocktails as well as some modern specials.

The big idea is.... coupling cocktails with cake! I like cake. I like cocktails. This is surely a winning combination. We sampled the battenburg special, a mini battenburg served with a cocktail, containing apricot liquer, chambord and a host of other yummy ingedients which I can't quite remember (hic!) in a combination designed to complement the cake itself. LUSH.

The Batten, the Burg and the Battenburg
I also tried the Lynchburg Lemondade, a strong, long drink made with Jack Daniels and triple sec, while my buddy had the Apple a Day which was also lipsmackingly good.

Lynchburg Lemonade and An Apple a Day
Cosy Kettle is about enjoying a drink and relaxing, and ultimately telling the snobbery around cocktails to do one. And what better way to get rid of the snobs than to shake a cake at them?

Cocktails come at around £8-9 each and the bar is open Tuesday to Saturday, licensed to 3am.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

My Christmas Wishlist


Christmas is one month and one day away, better get my shopping started. But it's Sunday and that means it's a day of rest so instead I am going to bang on about the stuff I want for my greedy self! I keep my wishlist on amazon.co.uk, because you can add items from any site using the Universal Wish List button, and it's an easy way for my mum (who treats Christmas as a military operation) to make sure my relatives don't all buy me the same thing!

Nelly.com - Orublu Over Knee Socks

Overknee socks are so awesome, maybe I'll team them up with a tartan skirt suit. Then I'd be a total betty.
Benefit High Beam
Benefit's High Beam rocks my world. A bottle lasts for ages, but I am nearly out.

Asos.com
I heart this jumper. Way to wear your heart on your sleeve.

Soap and Glory's Wish Upon a Jar is also firmly on my list. Apparently it transforms your skin in 21 days. I'll have some of that. Thank you please. See this youtube review.

Etsy.com
This Dr Seuss print is the coolest.

Folio Society
I love Folio Society books, they are so elegant. I want this copy of Breakfast at Tiffany's.


The Muppet Show
I have an alarming number of Muppets DVDs on my wishlist. I love them! Have you seen the trailer for the new movie? I can't wait for it to come out.

Aside from this, I've got some fairly boring stuff on my wishlist, new knickers, shampoo, that kind of thing. I hate having to spend money on staple items, so if I can get those things for Christmas, it means more cash to save, spend on holidays and meals with friends!

Friday, 1 November 2013

South London Sightseeing

I've been adventuring again with the new camera...I do so love it. Last weekend the Boy came to visit, and we decided to save some cash and stay close to home.

On Saturday, our adventures took us first to Crystal Palace Park, where we marvelled at the dinosaurs, lamented the fact that the Palace itself burnt down at the Museum, and got excited about the proposed redevelopment (from 2015).
Towards the city

Juxtaposed with you

Crystal Palce Park

RAWRRRR!




After a great big naughty lunch at The Capitol, the Wetherspoons in Forest Hill (I said we were being cheap, didn't I, and who can turn down an enormous hot dog, with onion rings, chips and a pint for just £5.89?), we headed up to the Horniman Museum and Gardens, where we took a look around the free exhibitions and a quick stroll around the gardens, taking in the delights of the Horniman Farmer's Market, on every weekend.

Crystal Palace Station

Horniman Museum Gardens

Horniman Museum Gardens

Horniman Museum Gardens
We stopped off at The Dolphin in Sydenham for another relaxed pint and then headed home laden with shopping bags of food from Lidl, where we watched the finale of Breaking Bad at last, and devoured umpteen Favorina biscuits.

On Sunday we went for a local stroll, which took us first to Wells Park, which is right on my doorstep and utterly beautiful, then around the outskirts of Crystal Palace Park again to Penge where we ogled the Almshouses, ate in another Wetherspoons and trawled the charity shops.

Wells Park


Wells Park

Wells Park

Tree Bark


Wetherspoons chilli con carne....mmmmm

Penge Almshouses

St Bartholomews

Jews Walk
I love living in South East London, there's so much to see, plenty of leafy places to walk, and so many beautiful and incredibly old buildings. A satisfyingly cheap and chilled weekend, made even better by a lie-in on Monday morning due to train delays from the storm, and the fact that as Boy's trains were cancelled altogether, I got to keep him for an extra night.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

TK Maxxing it for xxMas




The new TK Maxx store opened on Long Acre last week, and I was very excited about this - I love a good tkrummage. Here's the great unveil (excuse the dreadful pictures, I didn't have my fancy new camera with me).


I had a chance to have a good peek around the shop before it opened at the launch party, and was pleased with what I found -  boo to no homeware section - but thankfully there's the Charing Cross Road branch only 5 minutes walk away.

I took a few snaps of things that caught my eye, so here's a very quick gift guide for you all.

Scarves for mum

PJs for the baby sis, perhaps? I love those blue ones!
Gorgeous Patagonia exercise top for the yogini
Pepsi Tshirt for yourself - and why not? Christmas shopping is hard work
Christmas jumper for the day itself
Prada shoes from the Gold Label section for the fashionista
Gooey frosting for the foodie.
I popped back and got a couple of bits for the Boy yesterday, but those are a secret. The new store overall is impressive, spread over 3 floors, the Gold Label section is pretty big, and despite no proper homeware section there are still candles, books, stationery and food items and a great selection of toiletries and bags.

The website itself has some great gifts available to order online, something I didn't realise before that TK Maxx did....voila.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Dickins and Jones at House of Fraser

On a recent trip to Croydon, I happened upon the gorgeous collection by Dickins and Jones at House of Fraser, a stunning collection of grown-up ladieswear. Despite not knowing about the range at HoF, I thought the name sounded familiar. When I got home, I realised of course that D&J used to be an upmarket department store on Regent Street, right up until 2006 (where H&M now is).

Their range of clothing, which is exclusive to House of Fraser is "a wonderfully quintessential British fashion brand for women" with "a distinct heritage feel that has a timeless yet fashionable appeal." - this is from the blurb from the blurb on the website but it's certainly accurate.

I got this adorable top for just £18 (£20 on sale, with Boy's student discount).

Dickins and Jones Jersey Top

A cute weekend top, wearable with jeans or a skirt. It's available in a range of colours with different patterns on that sweet little pocket, I just love this bird print!

Looking at the website has got me lusting after these gorgeous pyjama bottoms, perfect for cosying up as the winter nights draw in!
Peacock pyjamas
Teacup pyjamas


Sunday, 20 October 2013

Highgate Cemetery (playing with my new camera)

The time finally came that I was able to buy my new camera. I LOVE it. It's the Panasonic Lumix GF5 which I bought for the princely sum of £200 inc P&P from this Amazon seller. Miraculously, I only ordered it on Thursday and it arrived on Friday, just in time for the weekend. The low price was due to the box being unsealed and a bit tatty but everything was in there and brand new, so I can live with a tatty box (in all honesty the tattiness is barely perceptible).

This weekend I headed up to my bestie's pad, back in my old North London stomping ground, which was a complete mission as the Northern Line and the Overground were borked. We popped to Muswell Hill for a charity shop raid, collecting some fatty bum-bum snacks and nestled in for the night with When Harry Met Sally, Little Mermaid and Enchanted. Just what the doctor ordered.

This morning, after a bracing brunch at Le Pain Quotidien in Highgate, we headed to Waterlow Park and Highgate Cemetery armed with our cameras for some experimentation.

Converse








I'm a beginner to any kind of real photography, but now I have the tools, I am looking forward to taking much better pictures. I'm now trawling the internet for the nicest case and the best memory card for my shiny new toy. I'm loving this cutie from Etsy.
Etsy
Before heading North yesterday I popped in to look at couple of shops local to me in Sydenham, I came across Doorz, where I reserved an old table for £15, and so when I returned today, I popped around to pick it up. I've been desperate for a desk as I didn't want to use my sewing machine upstairs in the dining room and have to put it away each time I used it, or irritate my flatmate. The new addition is a bit scruffy and is basically a family dining table rather than a desk, but I think it's going to work for me.