Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Life Lately

Time is slipping away from me at the moment as 'Life Lately' has been busy. (Isn't it always)?! But I thought it was about time for a little update as March is creeping up on us really rather quickly and then I just know that I may not be able to blog quite so much. 

So here's what I've been doing.. in Life Lately.

Planning and Organising..
It's now less than 5 weeks until our wedding - the countdown really is on. We've been busy with wedding prep and wedmin as I've heard it referred to. Menu tastings, shopping for confetti etc. By the way if you are searching for beautiful natural confetti for your wedding look no further than Shropshire Petals

I've also been dress shopping with a very special little girl. Had my hair and makeup trials and we've met with our photographer - believe me it's all been going on. It's taken some careful planning to fit everything into our busy schedules. But we've done it and I can feel the hard work paying off already.

Drinking... Gin
Now as a general rule of thumb I would say I'm not a huge fan of gin. But after a wonderful evening sipping hot gin cocktails on the roof terrace of the Ham Yard Hotel I have most certainly changed my mind. I've decided it's the tonic I don't like, as I'll happily drink a cocktail containing gin. Anyway I just wanted to draw your attention to the Ham Yard Hotel, and how it's a great place to meet friends for drinks. They also have a bowling room, and I can really recommend their Afternoon Tea. Having said that just yesterday in fact I went to the Soho Hotel (also the Firmdale chain) for Afternoon Tea and I can really recommend that too. At £24 for Standard Afternoon Tea I think it's a great price for a central London Hotel to charge and the food is great.

As my wedding dress fittings are looming I'm definitely making a (huge) conscious effort to be good and keep training. In fact i did it I signed up to my first ever 10K which will take place at the beginning of March. The weeks were slipping away from me and although I'd booked the 10K at the start of the year I was yet to start my training. It's now less than 2 weeks away and I'm so glad I kick started that training programme. The trouble is with committing to 2 if not 3 bootcamp sessions a week - there's not enough days in the week for rest days and run days as well. How do you manage it? (I really don't want to over do it and injure myself). Also.. life.

Life just gets in the way of strict schedules, doesn't it? Or am I not disciplined enough? My hen do a prime example of life jumping in on my training schedule, but I'm a firm believer of what will be will be. I can't put life on hold to run 10K. So I will run when I can. 

Hen do-ing..
After much anticipation, only because it was ALL a complete surprise I had a lovely weekend away with my nearest and dearest. I can't believe how quickly the time went - I really am learning to treasure these moments as they won't last forever. But the lovely memories will. I felt truly spoilt - I've never quite had a weekend that's all about me and although it felt strange it was so nice. We went for a pottery class.. ate ginormous scones and had cocktails, and a lovely dinner. I really couldn't have asked for a lovelier time.

In January I read Mara Wilson's Where am I now ? It's written by the lovely girl who played Matilda. I saw the lovely Jenny (from Notes to the Moon) had read it and chatted about it on her youtube channel and I was very intrigued. For those of you who don't know Mara Wilson played Matilda. As in THE Matilda in the film! I found it a very interesting read. I enjoyed the fact it's an autobiography - it's very personal and talks about her struggles with anxiety and life as a famous actress. To be honest I whizzed through it (by my reading standards anyway). I would definitely recommend it. I've now moved on to The Elephant Complex, Travels in Sri Lanka by John Gimlette which is in preparation for our honeymoon.

Eating.. Granola 
I made this wonderful Ella's Kitchen Granola and I have to say having tasted homemade Granola and knowing the ingredients in it, I'm not sure I'll ever enough standard supermarket granola again. 

Having.. a bit of a detox
Whilst I'm being fairly good health wise (eating and training). I'm also trying to do a mental detox for want of a better phrase: I've been trying to read more, so things for myself and generally be organised with blog posts etc. I've also deleted the Facebook app from my phone. Which is saving my sanity immensely, I found myself getting cross at people's constant bragging or complaining. Or scrolling through annoying videos and memes. It's refreshing not to waste my time pointlessly scrolling through it. Although I'm still pretty good at getting distracted by Instagram and /or Twitter. 

Dreaming of travel.. 
The time of our honeymoon is drawing near and nearer. And I really can't wait. The feeling of the Sun on by shoulders and some more freckles appearing on my nose. I can't wait to be spending quality time with The Boy - relaxing and soaking up the culture that Sri Lanka has to offer us.

Leading me on to Spring. 
I really am dreaming of warmer times. 
I can't wait for spring. I've bought 2 bunches of daffodils already this year, and it's only January. I also spotted this lovely blossom. The fact it's light when I leave the house in the morning and it's still light at 5.00 now. I really can't wait for spring. Packing my winter boots and coat away will be a lovely feeling. 

In fact today I saw these lovely Snowdrops. I can just feel Spring is in the air!

How has life been for you lately ? 

Sarah x

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Afternoon Tea | A little January Detox with Newby Tea

When I was contacted about the possibility of sharing Newby Tea - I was very keen to do so. Mainly because I love tea and I thought it was interesting to find out more about the certain qualities.
I'm currently doing my own sort of detox (Run by my bootcamp - it kick started today and is a 12 day programme of healthy eating and increased exercise).  I'm not usually the diet sort of person, but with a wedding dress fitting in just a few weeks I'm doing my very best to tone and trim over the next few weeks. 
You'll probably remember I'm also a huge fan of Afternoon Tea, which is also featured. I'm very fond of treating myself for my hard work - I do work hard fitness wise and I'm not about to stop enjoying food - the experience of indulging in Afternoon Tea or dining with friends.
I also feel that after the busy festive season, January is the perfect time to book a weekend away and just relax. Sopwell House could just be the perfect option. Let's find out more...
Detox January: Health Benefits of Newby Tea
Everyone is guilty of overindulging during the festive period so it is no wonder that many feel the need to detox.
Sopwell House is on hand to help with this as they have recently launched their large selection of Newby loose leaf teas. Newby’s garden to cup philosophy ensures that their tea is renowned for having a number of health benefits. What better way to start 2017 than with a cup of tea?

Below, the team at Sopwell House outline the different advantages of drinking each of the five tea types – white, green, oolong, black and puerh.
White Tea
Of all the tea types, white tea is the least processed as it is allowed to wither in natural sunlight. The tea possesses a number of antioxidants and anti-aging properties, which give protection against harmful UV light to help maintain healthy skin.
Green Tea
Green tea is said to hugely improve brain function and help concentration, which means it can be the perfect remedy to get back into the swing of school or work after the Christmas break. Varieties include Hunan Green and Jasmine Pearls, both of which are available at Sopwell House.
Oolong Tea
This tea is a fusion of the fruity flavour of green tea and the rich taste of black tea. It is believed to remove harmful free radicals from the body, which can contribute to cancer, arthritis, and diabetes. Sopwell House offers Fujian Oolong.
Black Tea
Black tea, one of the most popular tea types, is completely oxidised. It includes English Breakfast, Darjeeling and Earl Grey, which guests can sample at Sopwell House. It is low in caffeine meaning it is good for circulation. It also balances hormone levels, reducing stress in the process.
Puerh Tea
Puerh tea has been used for centuries by alternative medicine practitioners due to its health benefits. It is especially renowned for its digestive and cleansing properties.
So where can you drink Newby Tea?

Sopwell House is a stunning Georgian manor house located in the city of St. Albans deep within the Hertfordshire countryside. Located only 20 minutes from London St. Pancras, the hotel is the idyllic getaway just outside of the hustle and bustle of the capital. The hotel is the perfect place to dine boasting two restaurants, elegant cocktail lounge, and conservatory bar, all of which look out on 12-acres of beautiful gardens. 
It looks like the perfect weekend retreat to me, what do you think?

Can you imagine cosying up by the open fire? I may just have to book us a weekend away before the Wedding!
Sopwell House, Cottonmill Lane, St Albans, AL1 2HQFor reservations, please call: 01727 864477www.sopwellhouse.co.uk  


Thursday, 5 January 2017

Travel Link Up | Travel Wishlist & Plans for the Year Ahead.

It's time for the monthly Travel Link Up with the lovely hosts Angie, Emma and co-host Polly's. I've participated in the #TravelLinkUp quite a few times now and I find it's the perfect excuse to get me writing! Quite often my evenings blur into one and my poor blog gets forgotten about, so with a little deadline, but no pressure, it's great. The link up also offers the chance to read other people's posts on the same topic which is a brilliant chance for some Wanderlusting. Especially this month as we read about peoples travel wishes for the year ahead.

But firstly let's take a little look back at last year. 
2016 was quite a year of travel for me - the year of the mini break I'd like to say, with trips to Stockholm, Copenhagen and Iceland and here. I've popped in the links so you can have a little read. I've been very lucky. Sampling the Scandinavian/Nordic culture was a lot of fun.. With a little bit of sunshine in Abu Dhabi (I can't believe I only blogged about running there) & Greece, (I will get round to finishing my Greece post -blogger problems and all that)!

Over the past year I've found it's my travel photos (and more importantly the right hashtags)! that have given me my popular Instagram photos. So maybe I am becoming something of a Travel blogger! 

So what will 2017 have in store for me in terms of travel? 

2017 is the year we get married so we have one very special trip planned - Our honeymoon - we are are going to Sri Lanka, which we are both very excited about. I've read rather a lot of blog posts and researched the best places to visit. Although this will be an on going research project right up until the day we fly - because I simply love reading about places we are going to visit. We have a pretty decent collection of travel books these days. This is the only trip we have booked and are concentrating on at the moment!

I really am dreaming here.. because there's no way we will be able to do all of this travelling in 2017. But this post is for wishes isn't it? My recent additions to my travel wish list include: 

  • France - I've only ever been to Paris - once. There's so much more to see. 
  • A staycation or two - I'd like to visit some more English cities such as Manchester and York, plus maybe another Canopy & Stars /Glamping trip like this one.
  • Portugal
  • Norway - to see the fjords and search for the northern lights. 
  • Some interesting places like Slovakia or Austria. 
  • Croatia
  • I'd really like to pull off a surprise trip for The Boy's 30th too. (Uh oh, Iain, are you reading this)?

Here I am back in 2009 - a little Throwback. I just rediscovered this photo and really rather like it.

What are your travel wishes for 2017? 

How to link up your post

Just pop your post up over the first week of the month (the 1st - 7th January), add it to the link up widget - found on either Angie'sEmma's or on our lovely co-host Polly's blog - from the 1st of the month.

There are no rules – basically all we ask is that you check out some of the other cool bloggers that are involved in that months travel link up; make a few comments here and there and tweet a few of the posts out to your followers that you think they will love.

Monday, 2 January 2017

Round Up | 2016 in numbers

2016 has been a good year. I spotted a little round up in numbers from Polly at Follow my Sunshine and thought it was a lovely way to look back at the last year. Polly is a new host of the #TravelLinkUp which I love taking part in.. more on that later..!

I'm slightly late in posting this I have to say. I meant to do more blogging of the festive season, but instead I relaxed, spent time with family and read. 

So without further a do - here's a little round up of 2016 for me. I have to say this post is rather travel heavy.

1 - number of wedding dresses ordered. 
2017 is the year I get to wear said dress!

1 - number of new piercings. 
Helix - that's the top of the ear. Something I didn't think I was brave enough to do.

1 - One new love of sparkly things. 
Some lovely pretty presents.

2 - number of blogs.
This one and pocketnannies.

3 - number of Afternoon Tea's.
Sketch & Ting at the Shard, oh and the Ham Yard Hotel, which I forgot to blog about but really really recommend. I feel like it used to all be about Afternoon Tea - and now it's more about brunching in London. I do however sincerely hope this hasn't affected the Afternoon Tea industry. I'll be back for more in 2017!

4 - number of Travel Link ups I've participated in. 
I have to say these are often my favourite type of posts. See March'sAugust's, November's,and December's. Thanks for having me guys. :)

4 - number of new countries visited. 
Abu Dhabi (UAE), Iceland, Greece & Stockholm. I do have this habit of returning to places more than once! Copenhagen is just one example.

6 - number of months I've been going to Bootcamp.
Surely this must mean I am at my fittest.

7.25 - largest amount of kms ran in one go. 
It usually sits at 5k. Something I'm looking to get up to 10 in 2017. 

9 - number of books I read. 

Pretty good for me, although my goal was 10.

11 - number of draft posts waiting to be worked on!

14 - number of planes boarded. 
We don't mind not flying direct to places although that did resort in 2 pieces of missing luggage! Pretty good going after all those flights we've taken over the years.

15 - number of tea or coffee photos on Instagram.

26 - Blogposts published. 
Damn - I would have liked that to be a lot more. Take a look back at 11 - that doesn't help does it. Oh and 2! I'm a busy girl..

28 - the age I turned in December.
I'm now busy writing my 30 before 30 list.

57 - number of selfies taken.
I'm just not that kind of girl. However I do love these. And do feel I've become more confident in my own skin over the past year. But please don't expect 2017 to be the year of the selfie for me! I didn't used to really post photos of me on the blog.. but why the hell not. 

72 - photos posted on Instagram. 
You can follow me here. Some of my favourites were captured in my 'best 9 of 2016'.

I've lost count of - the amount of times we've visited our favourite little coffee shop.
More here.

365+ countless cups of tea /coffee drank this year.

2,737 likes on Instagram 

Happy New Year!
Coming soon - My wishes for 2017.

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Travel Link Up | The Festive Season

Christmas is a funny old time isn't it, really? The reason I come to write this is because of the travel link up. A monthly occurrence - where bloggers write about the same topic. This time it's the festive season.. Do you love it, hate it, put up with it, find yourself doing something unusual, adhere to traditions so strictly that no-one dares suggest something new?... anything goes.

How to link up your post: Just pop your post up over the 1st - 7th December & add it to the link up widget found on Angie's, Emma's or Honey's blog from the 1st.

Here is my rambling about Christmas. My honest thoughts about Christmas. Let start at the beginning. I can't quite cope with Christmas starting in Mid November - call me a Scrooge if you will. But I will explain- my birthday is on the 12th of December - I want to have a chance to celebrate my birthday and leave the cards up for a little while without them being drowned out by Christmas. I need a little time. A December birthday isn't always ideal (it's an expensive month anyway, people are often ill and you quite often have to put down a deposit to do anything in December. But this year I'm going to do things differently. I've booked an afternoon tea to celebrate with close friends. I'm not going to let it pass me by without celebrating. I'm going to be positive about becoming another year older. And thankful that I arrived 2 weeks early and not on Boxing Day. 

Christmas is all about family I feel - traditions that were created for you as a child. I come from a very small family, so perhaps that's why Christmas has always been low key for me. Let me tell you about our little traditions. I had an advent calendar, but not a chocolate one until I was a little bit older. Definitely not one of these Playmobil ones that costs an arm and a leg! We put the Christmas tree up a week or so before Christmas (definitely not earlier - it goes back to that birthday thing)! As a child I had a small stocking which I was allowed to open in the morning and then we opened our presents in the afternoon after our Christmas lunch. I like it that way; it's not all over quite so quickly, and we learn the true meaning of Christmas. Let's face it whether you're religious or not it's not all about the presents.

Christmas is about giving - I love giving. I enjoy choosing presents (in particular for the children) I enjoy wrapping presents and making them look pretty. And I enjoy the physical giving of them. The joy that hopefully spreads across the recipients face. 

What I'm not so good at is knowing what I want.. when people ask- I find it hard. I don't really want or need anything. Yes a new hairdryer would be nice - better for my hair and quicker to use. But do I need it? NoIt got me thinking - I spotted a bag of advent calendars in the local food bank. And I decided I would give in that way as well this Christmas - the next time I go to do a grocery shop I will give items to the food bank so that a local family can enjoy the festive time just that little bit more.

Christmas becomes almost like a competition who has got the most presents, who spent the most etc. etc. And I hate it. So this year I will give a little more - to those in need. The Boy has been buying a hot drink each monring for someone on the streets over the past week, that's what this time of year is about I think: giving to those less fortunate than ourselves. So whilst I've bought presents for family and friends I'm going steady this year - I'm not going overboard. Not being ridiculous and I'm thinking of others.

I promise I'm not a Scrooge. I have had mince pies on the two previous Sundays to this post - Yes that's right - in November! But now it's actually December I can begin to think about the festive season properly. Update, yesterday, Saturday 3th December - I bought our first Christmas Decoration of 2016. I'm allowed to now, right? It's December!

Although I've been working away for the past two christmases I really want to make this one rather special and Christmasy. But we'll see as somebody isn't very Christmasy and can't stand the clutter, so we'll have to do it nicely. 

It will be lovely to be with family this Christmas to spend it with loved ones, however I will miss the sun a little bit, as it's getting really rather cold out there. I'm sure I could ramble on about the topic of Christmas for rather a while longer. But I won't .. I'll leave it at that. 

Wishing you a very happy festive season. What are your family Christmas traditions? 


Friday, 2 December 2016

Life | Life Lately

All of a sudden it turned into November and now it's December. I know I say it every time, but how did that happen? When I was younger people would say life flies by, and now I'm a little bit older it really does. The week disappears in a blink sometimes. I guess it's because I'm busy.. but maybe not. So what have I been doing lately: here's my life lately. 

The Missing. Honestly this is why we pay the Tv License fee, right? For the BBC to make amazing shows like The Missing and Planet Earth II. We can't wait to watch the final episode of the Missing on Wednesday. But equally we'll be really sad when the series is over. As the dark evenings appeared we signed up for Netflix again and we've been watching The Crown - also equally brilliant. I do love the Royal Family and find their history very interesting - I have to say I'm learning a lot about British history. 

Going to the theatre.. 
On Thursday of last week I went to St James' Theatre to watch the Last 5 years which I can wholeheartedly recommend. It's a musical with only two actors in the cast, accompanied by a small orchestra of course. The show was amazing - it was an intense performance with no interval. It's only showing until December 3rd unfortunately. But I'd like to be able to predict it would come to another London theatre next year.. but who knows. You can find out more here. Well worth the ticket price! 

Counting down the months.. 
Until our wedding. It's now less than 4 months until our wedding. (Only just, but still)! I feel like once Christmas is over it will be pretty much with us. 

Which leads me onto.. bootcamp! 
I'm still doing bootcamp 2-3 times a week and I absolutely love it. Even on the cold dark evenings. I'm beginning to really learn the meaning of things being in your head - as in if you can tell yourself you can do it - you definitely can. This winter I've learnt to dress appropriately:
thermal tops  ✅ a long winter coat ✅ and a new set of warm sports gear ✅. 
In fact I can't seem to stop buying sportswear. At least it will keep me doing my fitness stuff. 

Becoming less precious.. (but in a good way)
About 3 or 4 years I was given some Jo Malone gifts for my birthday. I'm rather precious about nice things, and after all those months I decided it was time to light the candle and stop being silly about it. I'm always saving things 'for best' - which is all very well but then I rarely use or wear things if they are for best. So I'm trying to be less precious about things. 

I've been really rather lucky over the past month or so. With two little trips - firstly to Stockholm and then Copenhagen which we actually booked back in Early September. I endeavour to write a few more blog posts about those little adventures but for now you can catch up with them here and here

A few goodies and treats along the way of course.. especially in those wonderful Nordic countries the only place I can find a decent Cinnamon Bun is Blåbär.

Relating back to the candle thing and the Denmark trip. The art of Hygge is something I've been trying to channel at home. That warm cosy feeling, we've been snuggling up on the sofa with candles and our favourite to programmes in the evening. 

Warm drinks.. without sounding like a right alcoholic I've been enjoying some warm alcoholic drinks. I had a real yearning for Baileys hot chocolate a few weekends ago whilst visiting a friend (who luckily had baileys in the cupboard) but I went out and bought flakes, marshmallows, whipped cream and hot chocolate! I was very happy to find lots of places in Copenhagen serving Baileys hot chocolate or Glogg, and our local pub is now serving Mulled Wine, which makes me very happy. (One of the better photos of drinking hot, perhaps alcoholic beverages. The others were just hideous).

Writing my 30 before 30.. 
I'm turning 28 in just over a week. So I'm working on a 30 before I'm 30 post, which may seem like a little bit of a cliche but actually I think it's the perfect time to set myself some little goals to achieve. Stand by for that one I'll be posting that soonish.

Until next time. Sarah x

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Travel | Day One in Copenhagen

Last year after my trip to Copenhagen I read an article in the Evening Standard magazine, called Crushing on Copenhagen. You can read it here. I was very much in agreement with the article and it featured some of the best bits. However jumping in an uber..? We felt no need to do this during our whole stay.. we cycled everywhere.

I was pretty chuffed to see we'd made it to quite a few of the places the article mentioned.. Hay, Illium, The Royal Smushi Cafe, Tivoli Gardens etc.

There's some amazing bits of the article. "We were also struck by the number of hot dads with babies. Paternity leave in Denmark is the most progressive in Europe and we imagined their Birgitte Nyborg-like partners kicking ass at work while the men cared for the children and probably carved a rocking horse out of locally sourced wood while they were at it". - Everywhere! <3

I'd actually half written a post called 'The Things I missed in Copenhagen'. Little did I know we'd choose to return to the Danish Caption less than 18 months later... It was early September - we'd just landed from our Summer holiday and an email popped into my inbox with the easyJet sale. I trawled through looking around for a good place to travel. And that was it - I decided I'd take The Boy to Copenhagen. We paid less than £100 for return flights for both of us.

My friend Sophie and I travelled to Copenhagen in June 2015, you can read more about that trip here.
There were bits of Copenhagen we of course didn't see, and that's what I'd intended on writing about in that blogpost I found still in my drafts! In brief, the bits we'd missed were - The Round Tower, The Coffee Collective, The Carlsberg Experience and Copenhagen Street Food on Paper Island. There are of course plenty of other parts to see.

So how do you go about a city break second time around, with a different person? The answer is get on a bike - cycle around and see it all again. And more. Our flight was early on the Saturday morning (7.30 departure from Luton), getting us into Copenhagen at 10.10. By the time we got to our hotel it was around 11.00. We left our bags at the reception and immediately got going - heading down to Nyhavn first of all - of course it's one of the most famous parts of the city. We wandered along and The Boy had a waffle at the famous Vaffelbageren.

We then headed to get some bikes - we rented them via Bycykel (very much like the Santander bikes here in London). We cycled along to see the Little Mermaid. She is a huge icon in Copenhagen but you may find she's rather underwhelming at only 1.25m tall. Lots of tourists flock to have their photo taken with 'Den lille Havfrue'.

Next we cycled back into the centre - through the grounds of Kastellet which is beautiful - we watched two swans attempting to swim across the frozen lake, by tapping away at the ice. We wandered around the Latin Quarter and found a great little coffee shop for lunch - Buzz Kaffebar, very close to the hotel I stayed in last year, SP34 - you can read more about it in my blogpost here. Buzz Kaffebar was very warm and cosy, we enjoyed our coffees and freshly made toasted sandwiches. We loved the feel of it - and of course the feature of Hygge on the menu!

It was then time to do something I didn't do before - climb the Rundetaarn or The Round Tower. I would definitely recommend climbing the Round Tower to get a perspective of the city, and at less than £3 per person it's a cheap activity in Copenhagen. I have to say I really enjoyed climbing the tower - inside it has a slope rather than steps which makes the climb a lot easier in my eyes both physically and mentally. Previously I climbed the Church of Our Saviour in Christianshavn area of Copenhagen. Part of the church tower has steps on the outside of the Spire. There are also 400 steps so it's not for the faint hearted. However I would recommend it  - the view from the the Round Tower and the Church of Our Saviour are great. We could even see The Bridge (have you watched the series? We're a little obsessed with it. More on that later)!

After our climb we went back to our hotel for a rest. Our hotel was the Admiral Hotel Copenhagen which I can recommend. It's a large hotel, which was once a granary. We upgraded to a water facing room which was totally worth it... just look at the view!

Before heading out to dinner. We went to Papirøen (Paper Island) for dinner where you will find lots of street food stalls, under cover. We wanted to go somewhere like the locals perhaps would, although there were also plenty of tourists too. We went rather early between 6 and 7pm and it was already heaving. It seems like the place to go eating and drinking in Copenhagen. Another place I can recommend is Kødbyens Fiskebar, if you're after a top meal out. ( It has a Bib Gourmand in Guide Michelin Nordic Cities 2015), or of course there's Noma if you're able to really push the boat out)!

After stuffing ourselves with yummy food and cocktails we headed back to Nyhavn where we found a traditional pub, and enjoyed Gløgg and Carlsberg, of course, for The Boy. We'd had a lovely first day in Copenhagen and soon it was time to rest our sleepy heads. We enjoyed a warm drink in the Hotel bar. A baileys hot chocolate for me! 

Stand by for Day 2..!
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