My Favourite Things #38

Happy Thursday you lovely lot. So I cheated and really wrote and scheduled this post the other day because right now I’m sitting in a car somewhere on the motorway heading North. You see I’ve taken a few days off work for an extended weekend and I’m off to celebrate my little sister’s birthday in The Peak District. I say little sister – she’s turning 20! But she’s still younger than me and I can still remember life before her existence; hence she will always be called my little sister.So this trip is clearly the highlight of my week – family fun in the middle of a National Park. What’s not to love. Just so you know what you are missing out on here are a couple of snaps of Ladybower Dam from last year’s visit.

The Peak District

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Completely stunning right?

So aside from this long weekend what else do I want to share with you this week.

Well let’s look at internet links and blog posts first.

1. I absolutely loved Fi’s post on Perception and here’s why. Obviously she makes a couple of good points, but the one that caught my eye was the second one, because this question is along the same vein as my final dissertation project for my Psychology degree. Yep things might get a bit geeky here, but I studied whether our confidence in what people said was related to how we perceived them. i.e. would you be more confident in a professor or a train driver. It was a fascinating topic and honestly I really enjoyed working on my dissertation  Yes even scoring the 100 questionnaires that were filled out. Gosh just talking about this is making me realise how much I miss Uni days.

2. I also enjoyed Betsy’s post Never Have I Ever…Been a Movie Person. I consider myself a movie person but looking at that list of 50 Greatest Movies of all time I discovered I had only watched 12 of them. This made me think that maybe I’m not really a movie fan. But then I realised that those thoughts were just silly. I mean I love films, trips to the cinema and movie trivia. A good film cheers me up, calms me down and evokes long ago memories. And that’s what makes me a film person. Honestly a greatest movies list is so subjective and just because I’ve not watched many of these doesn’t mean i’m not a film person. So yes there me go, that’s my thoughts on that – bit of a ramble – sorry!

3. I also loved Jennie’s post about the Books Are My Bag Campaign because obviously it’s an awesome cause, but also because I have become quite excited about the first book she bought – Susan Hill’s A Question of Identity, I’ve never seen anything by this author before but I love the sound of this one – crime, intrigue and mystery – just my cup of tea.

Finally today let’s talk music. I have been listening to a lot of old favourites on Spotify over the last few days. Mostly it’s all been about Halo – Bethany Joy Lenz, Drops of Jupiter – Train, I Don’t Want to Be – Gavin DeGraw and All or Nothing – O-Town.

Also I have discovered a cover of Walking on Sunshine by Wakey Wakey over here on soundcloud. Not only is this one of my favourite songs, but also one of my favourite bands too. They have managed to make the song sound so different than the original. Totally amazed.

Lau xxx

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My week in pictures #10

Whoopee! we are over half way through the miserable month that is January, anyone else as happy as I am? Although this week was made better by the arrival of snow, yes I love the snow. Okay so I may have complained a teeny tiny bit about the bitter winds when I was in Sheffield this week, but really I love when it snows. So apart from enjoying the snow what else have I been up to?

Well this week has been an action packed one. Firstly I only had a three day working week which meant I was busier than usual at work. Then I had plans almost every day. How does that happen? One week you have no plans and then the next you have something every day?? Anyway on Monday I picked up a few new books from work (one of the perks of working for a publishing company). In the evening I headed out to meet friends for dinner and cocktails at Bodeans in Clapham. It was a great evening, with great company and great food. I had ribs and sweet potato fries, yes I treated myself and it was totally worth it. I would totally recommend visiting if you have the chance.

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On Tuesday it was off to Wandsworth after work, and after a quick stop in Nando’s – I love that place – I headed into Cineworld to watch the fabulous film that is Les Miserables. And man was it amazing, the acting, the singing, the music, all of it was incredible. I was lucky enough to watch the stage version before Christmas, and since then I have been waiting avidly for the release of this film. And let’s just say it totally lived up to all expectations.

Wednesday I stopped in Starbucks for a warming cup of coffee before heading to the supermarket for baking supplies. Yes baking yet again. You see when you’re youngest sister sends you a recipe telling you how delicious some biscuits are the week before you are set to visit her I doesn’t take a genius to understand that she wants you to make the before the visit! So being the dutiful sister that I am, that’s exactly what I did.

On Thursday it was off to see the aformentioned sister to deliver the cookies and spend some quality time together after the end of her exams. I had first class tickets (hello east coast trains sale) so I was able to enjoy free wifi and comfy seats throughout my journey. Queue lots of blogging, reading and scouting of online shops.

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Breakfast and blog reading in first class

Now I only had about 36 hours in Sheffield (most of Thursday and Friday), but we made the most of it, even with the snow that accompanied my arrival. We wandered around the Wintergarden and perused the gallery shops before having dinner at Cafe Rouge with one of my uni friends who’d come across from Leeds for the evening. Then there was board games, playing in the snow, lunch in the University Arms when Fi arrived followed by shopping and Starbucks before I jumped on the train back to London. Amazingly the trains were all working okay, although my carriage on the way home had no electricity-not caused by the snow – but don’t worry there was still free wifi so I was completely fine and dandy.

Saturday went a little bit like this, I woke up, stayed in bed. Walked to the shop, ate lunch, watched films, ate dinner and then went back to bed. Talk about relaxing. With all the snow and ice around I wasn’t going to chance going for a run, knowing my luck, I’d fall over and break something. Especially considering only a couple of weeks ago I managed to fall over when the sun was shining and there was no ice or snow to be seen!

Hope everyone had a lovely week and got to enjoy the snow too.

Lau xx

A Year in Review…

I can’t believe 2012 is coming to an end. Wow what an amazing year it’s been. I feel like I need to talk about everything that’s happened to me this year, it’s been a year of wonderful friends, fabulous holidays, glorious weddings, many laughs and achievements, along with sad moments too.

Run Laura Run…

This year I properly started to run, no more occasional quick jogs that turn in to walks, this year I set myself the challenge of a 5k run and dedicated an hour each Saturday and Sunday to follow the Couch to 5k app. And it worked, surprisingly well and, dare I say it, I enjoyed it. I like getting out in the fresh air and clearing my head and forgetting everything else. For that small amount of time I feel truly calm and relaxed, odd I know as I’m usually boiling and my legs and lungs are burning, not to mention that my legs feel the pain for a least 48 hours after the actual event! Also through running I’ve been able to explore my city so much more. London is so diverse. Even in the small area around me I can run through the parks of Clapham, along the roads of Stockwell and Brixton or enjoy the views of both the Southbank and The Embankment alongside the River Thames, perfect. Another plus side is that it has helped me lose weight, but more about that later. I completed my planned 5k, a Race for Life on Clapham Common in July (the below pic, shows myself and my sister Fi pre-run), and since then I’ve been trying to increase to 10k. In all honesty I’ve got a bit stuck, so part of 2013’s plan is to get the 10k done asap and move on to further distances. I’ve even signed up for updates for the Royal Parks half marathon as I plan to run that, I’ve realised that I run better when I have something to work towards.

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Race for Life 2012

Birth(days), death and Australia
In April it was my birthday, and also the month of my three week trip to Australia. I have lots of family over there you see as my Mum’s brother, sister and parents emigrated there in the 70’s. So now there is a whole legion of relations along the east coast. My cousin was getting married so it was the perfect opportunity to hop on a plane and see everyone. Unfortunately I didn’t get there in time to see everyone. You see my beloved Grampy died one week before we arrived, in fact it was the day before my birthday – crappy birthday for me, you could say. He had been battling cancer for a few years, so it wasn’t a shock but there was something so cruel about being so close to seeing him, but not getting the chance. I also missed the funeral by three days, some stupid rule in Australian morgues apparently so part of him being gone still doesn’t seem real. Anyway it was a slightly more subdued arrival than I would have liked, but I still thoroughly enjoyed myself. I was lovely to spend time with my Nanna, Aunt’s, Uncles and cousins. I was able to meet cousin’s children for the first time and visit great places. My Mum, sister and I even spend a couple of days in the Hunter Valley which was so relaxing. I visited friends in Sydney and also headed up to Bundaberg to see all my northern cousins. They are so lovely and the wedding was a gorgeous day, so relaxed and family orientated and in a stunning garden setting.
Here’s me being eaten by a parrot…

Making friends with a parrot

Rule Britannia
How brilliant was the Queen’s Jubilee? Living in London meant that I was surrounded by all thing British from May onwards and I wasn’t really expecting to enjoy it as much as I did. There was such a feeling of Britishness around, there was tons of bunting everywhere and it was okay to make cakes and drink tea. I loved all the paraphernalia that the shops had in and I especially loved the extra bank holiday. I enjoyed the celebrations at my parents house with a barbecue and I even watched some of the river pageant. My family and I of course got our bake on and made some jubilee biscuits…

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Jubilee biscuits

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Jubilee Bunting biscuits

Olympic and Paralympic London
Most of my summer was taken up by the Olympics and Paralympics. I certainly understand how lucky I am to have these two great sporting events in my home city and therefore I made sure to make the most of these. I watched countless hours of sport on the TV – I love sport so it was hardly a hardship! But I loved how having the Games in London got literally everyone talking about and watching them. From young and old, it seemed that everyone in London knew exactly what was going on in each event and we would all join in the excitement of any medals that Team GB would win. I love that as Britons we have such a funny way of dealing with competitive sport. We don’t expect people to win so when they do we get so excited, and for most of us any type of medal is enough! I love it. I was lucky enough to get to a few events, some won through the ballot and others booked only weeks before the event. I watched the men’s road cycling event for free as it went (almost) past my parents house. I was fantastic to see everyone lining the roads with flags and the cyclists were so fast, they whizzed past super fast.

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The Men’s Cycle road race in Ripley

My sisters and I went to see a morning’s field hockey on the first day, the arena in the park was amazing and the view was fantastic, we could see the rest of the Olympic park and the Canary Wharf behind it.

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Early morning hockey at the Riverside Arena

Then there was a night of Olympic volleyball at the superb venue at Horse Guard’s Parade. Followed by the first night of athletics with the whole family at the Olympic Stadium.

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Sunset over The London Eye from the Volleyball stadium at Horse Guard’s Parade

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An empty Olympic Stadium

I also managed to get tickets to the Wheelchair basketball, which was absolutely brutal and a fantastic way to round off the weeks of sport. Once everything was over life was suddenly quite boring!

Weddings

Unusually for me I’ve been to three weddings this year. First a garden wedding in Australia. Then a friend of mine got married in Kent, queue an action packed hen weekend, followed by a lovely church ceremony and a gorgeous house & garden reception venue. Think fairy lights, vintage teacups and sculptured gardens. And of course the photo booth – fabulous! The final wedding of the year was a Christmas wedding, taking place on the Saturday before Christmas. The church was decorated with Christmas trees and the reception, in a gorgeous old school featured mulled wine, roaring fires and a hog roast leading to a very relaxed affair, which is just what you need so close to the mania of Christmas. I can’t help but finding it surprising that all three weddings were so different from each other but then I suppose that’s the point of weddings, each couple put their own stamp on their day.

Things to be proud of – 
My brilliantly brainy younger sister got into Sheffield University and I could not have been more pleased. She’s work so hard that to see her getting there is brilliant. Plus it means I have an excuse to head up to visit her all the time. I’ve only been to Sheffield once so far, but it was brilliant. Plus you’ve got the gorgeous Peak District nearby, perfect for long lazy walks.

The Peak District

The Peak District

Holidays
As well as my trip to Australia I’ve managed to get out to Portugal twice this year. The perks of having parents with an apartment share means I can enjoy a relatively cheap jaunt to sunnier climates. UTTER BLISS!

Becoming a better me

Through a combination of running, walking, less snacking and smaller portions I have managed to lose just under 3 stone (or at least I had until Christmas happened, I don’t dare go near a scales at the moment!). And honestly, it hasn’t been as hard as I expected. In February I had this idea that I wanted to try and eat more sensibly and maybe drop a bit of weight. Or at least not put any more on, but I don’t think I ever believed that I would make such a huge change in less than a year. Saying I feel like a differnet person is a cliche, but I kind of do. But now that I’ve done what I have, I’m determined to finish the job. In fact for 2013 I have three fitness goals (not resolutions, I hate that word); I want to lose a bit more weight, I want to tone up a bit and I want to run a half-marathon. Easy right?!

And in between all of that there’s been Karaoke sessions, baking, trips around the country with friends, lovely food and wine, country walks, fun at work, trips to the theatre, broken toes, hen weekends and hen nights, countless barbecues, numerous Starbucks cups and lazy evenings in front of the fire. I seriously hope that 2013 is just as good.

Lau xx

p.s. Have a Happy New Year everyone