Keeping In Step

I'm such an exercise avoider. In fact, I can think of a million and one things I would rather do that exercise, including eating burgers and washing them down with milk shakes, and laying flat and watching TV. None of these habits will get me a svelte figure like Mila Kunis though, will it?

In all actuality I don't actually really want a slim figure. I have boobs and hips, and if I lost too much weight I would look like I needed a sandwich, not like I should be hired for runway modelling, but the fact is that I want to feel healthy and strong rather than thin, and muscles are not made eating nachos all day.

Although I eat fairly healthily, the missing parts are a) consistency and b) the working out to go with it, so I decided to put my money where my mouth is and reinvest in a Fitbit. For most of 2013 and part of 2014 I lived live in easy co-existence with my FitbitOne, and then just before the wedding it dropped off my waistband somewhere between London and Guildford, never to be seen again. It really helped with the consistency portion, as it gives you a track record of where you are hitting your goals and where you aren't.

I tried the Flex for a while, but it lacks a lot of the functionality that the One had, so I decided to trade it in and try the Charge.

fitbit screengrab

I love it. I love it because it tells me how little I have done in the day, and motivates me to get up and get moving seeing as it has a friends feature, and everyone you are connected with can see how lazy you are being. Its a bit better when I'm here in California as the house is bigger, but in my one bedroom flat in London you don't have much walking to do unless you get out of the house and do it.

I have challenged myself to 10,000 steps a day, and twenty flights of stairs. I feel like if I hit the targets on this then I am doing consistent exercise, and I should start to feel the difference. Teamed with some time swimming and on the cross trainer, I am hoping that the flab around my middle might start to tone up a little, and the "are you flexing those?" arms might become a little more defined! Small steps for mankind, but huge steps for this (wo)man. 10,000 in fact!

What do you do to stay motivated when exercising? Any tips are helpful!

Posted on May 12, 2015 and filed under Fitness.

Five Happy Things

My week has been spent soaking up the sun, interviewing and working out, and its been great, so here are my five happy things!

One // I couldn't think of anywhere better to spend my last week of being twenty eight (it's my birthday on Saturday). Despite the odd lobster leg situation due to a slight sun allergy, I've been working really hard this week, in a sense.... on getting fit getting a tan and reading a long list of books!

Two// On Friday I flew to Seattle for the day. I can't talk too much about why for a while, but it was super fun, really warm (after a 6am start in an unusually wet and windy San Diego) and very pretty. I had a window seat flying home and as we took to the sky we had a jaw dropping view of Mount Ranier. I couldn't believe how beautiful it looked.

Three // Walking Torrey Pines state reserve. One of my favourite things to do in Southern California is walk Torrey Pines, a state reserve near our house. There are a number of pretty walks, but my favourite takes you up a pretty steep hill which is hell in the heat, but then plateaus and gives you the most beautiful views along the coast line before leading you down to the beach where you can walk the remaining part if the tide is low. Perfect!

Four // Dogs. I wish I could have a dog in London, but we simply don't have enough space. Here we have three full time plus a rambunctious puppy when Ben comes home. Yesterday (for Mother's Day) we walked them on the beach in the sun, with half the world seeming to be out doing the same.

Five // Excitement at heading to the tulip festival in Carlsbad today. I've heard its really pretty so I'm looking forward to seeing all the colours!

Five blogs I have loved this week:

I'm feeling my tummy rumble at the pizzas on Sweet Electric this week, especially the sweet potato crust pizza.

On the same vein, this homemade sausage cheese stromboli recipe from Call Me PMC - I have to try this!

I have really itchy feet to go back to San Franscisco after reading this post from Fly the Nest. I loved that city.

The LDN Diaries post on Refinery at Regents Place. I've tried out a few of the Drake and Morgan chain and this is right by my old work so I want to check it out.

Another Julia Styles post from Camp Patton. I love the Julia Styles and Bash Says posts, they are so funny. Grab a cup of tea and read them!

What has been making you happy this week?

Posted on May 11, 2015 and filed under Happy Things.

Spa Day in Rancho Valencia

After being packed like a sardine on an overly busy-for-a-Monday, eleven hour, long haul flight, my shoulders felt like I had been curled up for hours. And not in a good, fetal sleeping position way, but more resembling a dead spider. I oddly didn't manage to sleep at all, but watched The Hobbit, Horrible Bosses 2 (terrible), Gone Girl (also pretty dull) and Unbroken, which although not as good as the book was a pretty good adaptation.

rancho valencia spa

So it was a more than welcome surprise to be told that my aunts were treating me to a spa day at the beautiful Rancho Valencia, just over twenty four hours after I landed. I hate spa days! Said nobody, ever.

As soon as we were robed up we were ushered into a relaxation room, given green juice and fruit to nibble on, before being met by our masseuses and taken through to individual rooms with private patios. The beds were heated (take heed, England) and for the duration of the personalised massage the doors were left open so you could feel the warm breeze on your skin. Teemed with a combination of verbena and lavender oils to calm the senses and a warm wheat bag which doubled up as a pillow, I was in heaven. The hour treatment worked on the knots that I am prone to in my shoulders, and I practically floated into the changing room to bikini up.

After the treatments we took some time to sit in the outdoor jacuzzi and soak up the sun (or in my case, dash between the jacuzzi and the icy plunge pool as I can't make up my mind!) before dressing and heading to the restaurant for lunch.

You guys, the food was delicious. I opted for the lobster roll and a glass of Sauvingnon Blanc, and we ate our lunch at a slow pace, soaking up the scenery and enjoying this little enclave of paradise before heading out into normal life again.


It was one of the best massages I have ever had, and the little individual gardens really made it. Some had baths, some outdoor showers or jacuzzis and some fish ponds, but all fantastic extras to a normal treatment and the Mexican paradise style surroundings just made it. Incredible.

Posted on May 8, 2015 and filed under Beauty.

From the Bedside Table

For the next few months, I have the luxury of time. Time without a nine to five, time in Southern California and time on the Algarve. So I'm taking this newfound luxury as a sign from the universe that I need to pick up my books and start reading more. There is something so indulgent about reading; I love that its something you can do anywhere, and its so enjoyable to transport yourself to a world that you don't belong in, as if you are peering through the window on someone else's life. 

April is done, and these are back in the library:

The Miniaturist - Jessie Burton

3/5 - This one was a slow burner for me; a tale where a girl marries into a family that aren't quite what they seem, and the series of events that play out are predicted by a miniaturist who sends her little dolls. Well worth a read, but don't expect it to have you captivated from the start.

Dark Matter: A Ghost Story - Michelle Paver

4/5 - I loved this. It's very different from my comfortable reading genre, but enthralling all the same. It documents an exhibition to the Arctic and what the crew find there; the build up is incredible an the result is very atmospheric and chilling.

The Wrong Knickers, A Decade of Choas - Bryony Gordon

2/5 - After all  the hype of this, I wasn't a fan. It read to me like a sad story of a teenager gone off the rails, although towards the end I did start to enjoy it. I feel like the next part of her story might be more apt for me, but there is only so much not-really-funny stories you can read about someones drunk and drug addles antics.

The Book Thief - Marcus Zuzak

5/5 - I read this on the recommendation of Katy, and loved it. Its the best book I have read so far this year; the perspective is really unusual and I read it in forty eight hours. It tells the story from the point of view of the Grim Reaper and tells the story of a little girl as she lives through Nazi Germany.

The Boys in the Boat - Daniel James Brown

5/5 - A true story of the boys who won Gold for rowing at the Berlin Olympics in 1936, this book is a true tale of an underdog. Again, I wasn't totally hooked at first, but as the stories develop and weave amongst the others, it became a book I couldn't put down, reading late into the night. It reminded me of Unbroken, and was a brilliant read.

Lined up and ready to go:

Letters to my Husband - Stephanie Butland.

The Girl With the Fragile Mind - Claire Seeber

What are you reading? And what would you recommend?

Posted on May 6, 2015 and filed under Books, Lifestyle.

Five Happy Things

Although the temperature has dropped in San Diego this weekend, its super sunny and still way warmer than the UK, which is making me happy. Despite a little sun allergy and a burn on the back of my neck (I'm so good at remembering sunscreen, but I forgot my neck) my skin loves the sun, and its good for the soul too.

One // Family. I've got to hang out with my cousin Emily a lot this week, and both boys came home from University this weekend. Was lovely to catch up.

Two // Spa days! I was treated to an amazing spa trip on Wednesday at Rancho Valencia, an amazing Spanish style hotel and spa in San Diego. It was incredible. The room has its own little garden so you could feel the breeze on you during the treatment, and after we lounged in the pool and then had a leisurely lunch (plus wine) in the restaurant. It was lovely, and such a wonderful treat.

Three // Sephora, Trader Joes, Bath and Body Works, Marshalls.... I love American stores. I can get lost in Sephora for hours and I love the shops that we don't get in the UK. I've spent hours this week wandering around my favourites and stocking up!

Four // The beach. There is something so calming about the beach for me, and I have been trying to get out and walk a stretch of it every day, whether it be taking the dogs to run or speed walking to get the steps in on my new Fitbit. I love exercising by the ocean and so i'm back in my happy place.

Five // Chilling with Bronson. My cousin turned twenty one at start of the year and bought himself a puppy. Saturday night was spent with said puppy passed out on me, snoring like an old man. Its love.

Five blogs I have loved this week:

The Runaway Kiwi's post on the best brunch spots in London. I LOVE brunch, and have ben to hardly any of these places! Warning, not for the peckish!

I loved reading The New Wifestyle's post on 8 Unwavering Things About her Husband. So cute!

Summer is coming, and I'm always inspired by things to do in London. Girl vs Globe has a good round up here.

I'm currently reading a fantastic book, The Boys on the Boat, but I need a new one for once I have finished so Amanda's recommendations are fab!

The general election is in a few days, and Becky's post on who people are voting is really interesting. If you are struggling for a decision, you should read it.

Posted on May 5, 2015 and filed under Happy Things.

The Dread of a Job Interview

Job interviews. One of the most stressful situations we find ourselves in as adults, but one of the best ways of driving your career forward and bettering yourself for the future. But in all honesty, there is nothing worse, is there?

I have been employed by the same company for five years, so the thought of job interviews gives me sweaty palms and anxious dreams. I'm good at pitching new business ideas to new people and I don't by any stretch of the imagination have a fear of speaking in front of crowds, but only when I'm confident of the subject matter. In a job interview you can't always predict the questions, and thats what keeps me awake at night.

What to wear is also a total conundrum. I hate to feel overdressed (its so embarrassing when you walk into an office in a suit to find a guy in jeans and a tshirt) but at the same time there is no bigger faux pas for a job interview than being underdressed. If your Mum would give you a look then don't even go there, and don't forget that it might be summer, but you need to dress appropriately, but in such a way that you don't look like a massive sweat ball by the time you have negotiated public transport and the short walk either side.

I chose simply. A light dress that looks smart enough for an interview but that I feel comfortable in, paired with flat black ballet pumps. A job interview is not the time to be trying to wear in new shoes or trying my hand at heels after the incident where I got my heel caught in a drain, fell flat and had a huge gash in my knee by the time I arrived at reception, so I stick to something that is tried and tested and that I can rely on. I always choose a bag large enough to put a notebook and pen in because I'm terrible remembering names. I find it confusing if there is more than one person in the interview so a book to surreptitiously jot down names is essential to me, and a handy pocket to put my phone (turned to silent) into.

Dress: Urban Outfitters, old season | Shoes: George at ASDA | Handbag: Pied a Terre for House of Fraser*.

Do you have a go to outfit for interviews? What do you find the most daunting part and how do you get through it?


* Some items featured in this post were gifted but all thoughts are my own.

Posted on April 30, 2015 and filed under Fashion.

{recipe} Croissant and White Chocolate Bread and Butter Pudding

A few weeks ago, my Mum came up for dinner, and I decided that I would treat her and cook her a two course meal with plenty of wine. After all, she is incredible and sometimes she just deserves a treat.

I made these pies, but the dessert was a lot harder to choose. I can do sticky toffee pudding and lemon meringue, but I wanted to widen the net of my skills and make something new. I opted for white chocolate croissant bread and butter pudding.

Once it was all cooked, I remembered: my Mum hates bread and butter pudding. OOPS.

It turns out that this dessert tastes nothing like the pappy texture of when bread is soaked in milk; the croissants give it a completely different texture and the addition of white chocolate into the dessert takes away any slight eggy taste that is often synonymous with a traditional bread and butter pudding.

It was delicious!

If you are looking for a really luxurious pudding to complete a lazy Sunday dinner (and aren’t worried about calories!) then this is the one for you.

The full recipe can be found here.

Bread and butter pudding - love it or hate it?

Posted on April 30, 2015 and filed under Food / Recipes / Reviews.

Postcards from York

My Grandfather was born and raised in a small town in Yorkshire, called Settle. I love the fact that the whole area makes me feel close to him, and nicknamed God's country, when you look across the rolling hills in the glorious sunshine, you can see why.

So this weekend we decided to take a holiday in the UK and visit the town of York. I didn't know much about the city other than it has a Minster, and so we set off on Friday night for our trip, stopping at Phill's parents for Friday night, where I managed to briefly lose ownership of my phone. PANIC.

What to do:

The Minster and The Belfry: the Minster is one of the largest examples of Gothic architecture in Europe. Its imposing height and quanitiy of stained glass windows is absolutely incredible, and a must when visiting the city. We didn't go up into the tower as there was quite a wait, but we wandered round the inside of the church and marveled at the artwork and the beauty of the stained glass windows.

york minster

Clifford's Tower and the Castle Walls: If there are walls in a city, walk them. Its such a great way to see a city from a historic standpoint as the walls would have once surrounded the city, but also an awesome way to see it from a different vantage point. Clifford's Tower is the original castle, and the ancient stonework is incredible, although not so incredible if you are me and are petrified of old steps, especially spiral staircases. Cue husbandly embarrassment as I came down the stairs on my bum.

york from the walls

Further afield: Castle Howard and Yorkshire Lavender: Castle Howard isn't a castle but a stately home that has been in the ownership of a family for over three hundred years. The grounds are immaculately kept and beautiful, and the lavender fields are perfect or a leisurely stroll in the sun. We had a lavender cream tea and looked out over the scenery before basking in the sun in the herb garden. Perfect.

Views of Yorkshire

Where to eat:

I couldn't recommend the Star Inn the City enough; despite the driving rain the evening we were there, you can't help but smile as you go through a little arch in the walls and are met by a wood burner and a beautiful restaurant. I opted for duck and Phill red deer, but the dessert were what made it for me. I had rhubarb knickerbocker glory and he had the chocolate indulgence, which didn't disappoint.

Main course at Star Inn the City
knickerbocker glory

Where to stay:

There are plenty of options in the city, but we were kindly provided the room by the Travelodge. In the heart of the city its within walking distance to everywhere you need to see, and its comfortable and affordable, despite the terrorist goose that kept up awake with its vocal protesting of the rain, all night, from the river by our room. What can you do?

Have you been to York? Where in the UK should we explore next?

Our York stay was provided by Travelodge, but all views are my own.

Posted on April 29, 2015 and filed under Travel.

{London Eating} Dinner at Vapiano

I love eating out, and I find that in London it’s hard to find new places. When you have guests in town you take them to tried and tested places in case of disappointment, and you tend to stick to the ones you know and love.

This year I want to widen my circle and try some new things, so when Vapiano invited me to try one of their restaurants, I was interested.

The theme of the restaurant is a canteen style, order your own and wait for it at the counters, and the menu is traditional Italian; pizza, pasta and antipasti. The concept is a little odd; you collect a card from the front, pay with the card for your items and then pay off the card at the end of your visit, moving to each counter for the different items from the menu.

Vapiano antipasti

They make all their pasta fresh on site, and the food we ordered was really tasty. We opted for the antipasti platter and a steak and prawn salad (which sadly was pretty lacking in steak) for our starters. The antipasti was generously stocked with salami, chorizo, mozzarella and bruschetta and topped with basil, and was delicious. For our main courses we queued for fig and prosciutto pizza and  a delicious prawn papardelle pasta – the pizza was pretty average but the pasta was really lovely; well cooked (and the addition of fresh pasta makes all the difference) and well flavoured.

We topped the meal off with panacotta which is my absolute favourite, and washed down with a bottle of Prosecco; because nothing says Tuesday like Prosecco, right?

basil garden

All in all, I wouldn’t go back to the restaurant for dinner. I found it really hard to keep a conversation with my date due to the loudness, and the fact that it because stilted when we had to take ten or so minutes to go and queue at the relevant stations for our meal choices. I like a restaurant where you place your order and don’t need to worry about it, so it’s not the right sort of setting for me.

That being said, I think it’s a great place for decent food if you are out for the day and need a quick lunch in London. Nestled just off Oxford Street, the food is considerably better than the other chains that live round there, and it’s a great set up for a quick lunch and battery recharge.

I was a guest at Vapiano, but all thoughts are my own.

Posted on April 28, 2015 and filed under London.

Five Happy Things

On Thursday, a chapter of my life closed, and on Friday the next one began. After three years I am no longer a Talented Talker, and right now I don’t have a job to go to. Today I am super excited to fly to San Diego and spend a few weeks soaking up the sun and doing some exploring, before coming back to London and enjoying the summer.


So other than the current frantic packing that I’m doing, what's making me happy this week?

One // Dinner with Erica. Your friends are the foundations that build you up, and I love taking the time and chilling out with them. On Tuesday Erica and I went sampling Italian food at Vapiano and drinking Prosecco. Lovely.

Two // Celebrating my sisters success. I am so proud of my little sister, who will graduate with a degree in speech therapy this summer. She is a perfect example of turning your life around, having dropped out of college years ago, being made redundant and then deciding to change her life. She’s also struggled with a lot of health issues, and she is my inspiration, so to learn she did really well in her exams this week was fantastic news.

Three // Our weekend in York. We had a fantastic weekend in York, wandering the walls, the minster, the Lavender Gardens and dining in the AMAZING The Star Inn The City (thanks for the recommendation. Bee!)

cliffords tower, york

Four // Getting to see my friend Jessica on the way home from York. We were thick as theives as teenagers but since she moved to Pontefract I don't see her enough. We had a fantastic catch up and I'm totally thankful to have had the time.

Five // Looking at honeymoons. We have a lot of life plans running at the same time, and a heap of options, so it depends which one works out. We have been looking a lot at where we should go on our honeymoon, and are currently torn between Vietnam, Japan and St Kitts and Nevis. Each has its own appeal and looks amazing.

Five blogs I love:

Amanda's review of The Rum Kitchen - we went a few weeks ago and loved it so glad to see the Notting Hill branch is as lovely!

The cherry blossom in Ally's post here makes me happy.

Becky's fantastic take on this hot pink skirt, doesn't she look fab?

Kiki's stroll through Keukenhof Gardens, in tulip heaven.

And finally, dreaming about eventually sorting out my terrible nails (it's long overdue!) with this inspiration from Emsy!

Which would you choose for honeymoon? Have you been? Or do you think we should go somewhere else?

Posted on April 27, 2015 and filed under Happy Things.