Category: Life

Brighton

My May Highlights

Wow, how is it June already? Where did May go? I mean seriously?! Did someone knock me out for half of the year? I feel like it’s been a grotty winter and then BOOM over the past few weeks the sunshine has been making an (unfashionable late) appearance.

As I did in April I thought I’d share my May highlights with you. Because it makes me feel damn proud and happy to look back at the fun things I've done.

Gin Garden

Charlie and I headed down to The Gun in Canary Wharf one evening to check out the opening of their gin garden. As promised there was a lot of gin and other drinks. The garden looked like good fun with grass floor and lawn games. It would have been perfect to sit and have an evening tipple or two (or three) in the sunshine. Except it wasn’t sunny. It was actually bitterly cold. Damn British weather! I’m hoping head back when it’s a little warmer so I can chill out watching the view.

Gin garden

Brighton weekend

I had a bit of a spontaneous night out in Brighton with my cousin Sarah (if you haven’t checked out her Instagram DO IT, the food she posts will make you start eating all sorts of healthy things). The night was anything but healthy with a whole lot of gin and sweet potato crisps and falafel. Although the morning was my favourite part. After catching only a few hours sleep we both headed down to the beach to sit and watch the waves. After, we walked around the lanes and grabbed a smoothie from Guaranaco. It was pretty early so the rest of Brighton hadn’t woken up, it felt like we had the town to ourselves, free to explore.

Harry Potter at the Royal Albert Hall

I have to admit something. Now this may come as a shock but I’m not the biggest Harry Potter fan. And by that I mean I don’t know what house I’m in, I get 0 in any quiz you ask me and haven’t read all of the books. When I was younger I loved the books but I lost interest as I got older and never really made the effort to stay into it. Okay, big reveal over. I headed to the Royal Albert Hall to watch Harry Potter but what I got was a lot more. I knew about the orchestra playing the music live but it was such a cool experience. I was genuinely amazed at how good they were. Even the choir who were oooohing and ahhhhhing at the right sections - it didn’t even sound like humans making those noises! It sounded exactly like the film.

Harry Potter

Eat off the menu

I was invited for dinner with Charley and a bunch of bloggers the other week. We all met at Zayane which is a Moroccan restaurant in Notting Hill. The reason we were there was to try out the food but also to learn more about Eat of the Menu. This was started by Alex and aims to scour the city to find the secret dishes served by top restaurants which aren’t on the menu. Each dish has a story behind it and we tried the Zayane’s British twist on a Moroccan classic which was a Bakoula salad with red olives, tomatoes and cod.

Sushi making

More food! Last week Charlie and I headed off to Murakumi in Covent Garden for a sushi making lesson. The head chef, Rey Sabinos, taught us how to roll California rolls and make Nigiri. I love making sushi but this was my first proper lesson so I picked up a few tips - mainly how to make the rolls square (like this lil cutie). I’ve been meaning to share a post around sushi making so watch this space!

Sushi

Brighton (again) and Southend

Alongside all of that we’ve finally managed to finish decorating our bedroom (post to come!). We spend most weeknights last week putting our bed back together and putting up wardrobes. We decided to celebrate by getting out of the house and going for a day trip to sunny Brighton. Except it wasn’t sunny at all. In fact it was bloody freezing!

Our luck didn’t change much the next day when we went to Southend to see Charlie’s grandpa for dinner. As soon as we stepped off the train the sky turned into what I can only presume was an attempt at an apocalypse! Still, it was nice to escape London and get out in the fresh air.

Meditation

Meditation isn’t all zen-like hippy shit

Meditation isn’t all zen-like hippy shit. It’s actually very useful for your mind, mental health and focus. It’s something everyone should have a go at once or twice. I started looking into meditation for probably the same reason you did, it became fashionable and I thought ‘what the hell is this? Do I have to sit crossed legged up a mountain or something?!’. After a friend recommended me to the Headspace app, I used it a few times, felt good and then got bored. I think I worked through all ten recommended sessions but I didn't do them back to back like you're supposed to. Taking ten minutes out of my day was just too much - yes, I know how ridiculous that sounds but that was my thinking. And this is precisely the reason why you should meditate. This year I’ve been using the Calm app to give me guided meditation sessions and it’s made a big difference to my mind.

Relaxing sea

But firstly, what is meditation?

Wikipedia states that meditation is a practice where an individual trains the mind or induces a mode of consciousness, either to realise some benefit or for the mind to simply acknowledge its content without becoming identified with that content, or as an end in itself.

This is quite interesting as I’ve never actually looked up the definition before. For me I’d say meditation is a state of calm and relaxing which trains your mind to focus on the present moment. It can help your mind become more positive and focussed as you train to recognise when stress and negativity are trying to take over. It makes you turn off from the past and not worry about the future, it encourages you to be in the present moment and live in it, enjoy it.

How does it help?

Taking five or ten minutes of meditation each morning before going to work helps focus my mind on the tasks I have to do that day. Before I started meditating I’d have a million and one things running through my head and would very easily get distracted. Now, I can zone out from all of those thoughts and focus on one thing at a time. If a thought crops up about something I should do, I simply write it on a post-it to think about later. 

It’s also really enjoyable to do. A few times I’ve lit some incense, turned my lights onto blue and sat there silently for a while concentrating on my breathing. I’ve made my own little zen world (okay, maybe this is turning it more into the hippy-shit I mentioned it not being earlier). Thoughts come and go but my focus is on sitting still and enjoying the moment. When my life is pretty much rushing around from one thing to another, this chills me out and gives me time and space to zone out. 

Whatever big or small reason you have for trying out meditation for the first time is, just give it a go. if you’re eating healthily and going to the gym then you’re training your body. Why not take some time and train your mind too? One thing to remember whenever you meditate is that some days will be better than others. There’s some mornings when I sit there thinking about how I can’t concentrate and how I’m not turning off all the thoughts buzzing around my brain. This is fine too. Accept that this isn’t the best meditation session you’ve ever had and be okay with that. After all, at least you took the time out and that’s still better for you than nothing. 

Calm photo

fish cage

My April highlights

I’ve packed in a lot of mini fun things last month so I’ve decided to start sharing end of month roundups as a bit of a way of tracking things I do. Here’s a few fun moments from April.

Improv

At the beginning of the month I had my first ever improv show! I’ve been doing improv for a while now but this was the first time I’d actually been on stage, in front of an audience, under real stage lights. EEK! The good news is that it went well! I was literally buzzing with excitement beforehand and had a load of people come out to watch and support me. The atmosphere was electric and everyone was so so so happy to be there. One of my favourite scenes was when I owned a llama farm and our neighbour was trying to steal them, oh, or maybe it was the one where I was flirting with a guy in a comic book store…. I guess if you take that out of context it sounds a bit strange but anyway, it was fun and we got a lot of laughs which was good!

improv

Easter

Easter weekend was a jam packed four days of fun. We did everything - which you could probably tell from my Instagram story if you follow me (plug!). One Friday we went to the wood and learnt some circus skills before playing tennis and going to the pub. On Saturday we took the boat to the pub, had lunch and a few beers, went rowing on the boating lake and then to the pub. On Sunday we had a dip in the sea, and Easter egg hunt, a game of tennis and then (you guessed it), went to the pub. On Monday we ate fish and chips on the beach before the drive back to London.

Swimming in Suffolk

Painting

The other weekend I kept free so I could paint our bedroom. Indecisiveness won and we took the whole weekend to select our paint colour so the actual painting got pushed back but I still felt like painting something. Long story short I pulled out my easel, primed some canvas’ and painted a fun picture for my best buddies new baby’s room. I’d put a picture but it’s still a surprise for her for now so you’ll have to wait.

I really missed painting though, it’s one of my hobbies that always falls off the radar. It was actually so nice to stay in on a Saturday night, have a few beers, sing along to Disney songs and paint. It took me back to my uni days.

Viki painting

Wine tasting

Last Monday I went along to wine tasting with some of my blogger buddies. I’d been a few years ago and learnt all about swirling the glass and things but was keen to try it out again. We were hosted by Siliva who runs Divino in Vino. She’d picked out six indigenous wines for us to try including a prosecco, two whites and three reds. She explained a little bit of the history of each one as she poured them. Two of the wines we tried were originally created from grapes which were almost extinct, making them into wine made them more popular!

I enjoyed each one we tried (mainly because they were wine!) but got quite critical with my scoring. I tried to remain… professional but ended up writing things like ‘smells like mushrooms’ and ‘tastes better after the first glass’ on my scoring sheet. Opps. It was a super fun evening though and a good mix of learning more about wine and having a giggle with the girls.

wine tasting

Dinner at Hixter

On Tuesday evening I was double booked. I popped along to the London Bloggers meet up organised by Abbi at the Escapologist bar in Covent Garden. I met a whole bunch of bloggers and has a few glasses of fizz before having to scoot off pretty sharpish to get to dinner at Hixter in London Bridge.

Typically I was running late so told Charlie to order for me and boy did good! He ordered the half roast barn-reared chicken with stuffing, chips and gravy and the beef burger for us to both share. YUM! My favourite was the chicken as it was comfort food heaven but he preferred the beef burger which was exactly as rare as we wanted it (aka very rare).

Date night at Stef’s @ Oregano

With all the excitement that was April, Charlie and I realised that we hadn’t had a date for a while. I’d spent the weekend decorating whilst he was coding my website so we deserved a treat for all our hard work. I had a quick Google of islington restaurants (why can I never think of anywhere I want to go when I’m looking?!) and found a few options. We took a walk towards Angel and glanced at the menu of Stef's before heading inside. I’m so glad we chose it, the food and the service was exactly what we wanted.

Stef’s Oregano

We ordered a giant bottle of beer to share as we planned our meal. I wanted to try everything but we eventually decided on Crostini al Crudo and the seafood linguine for starters (which we both shared) and then the spinach, ham and ricotta calzone and the Paesana pizza (which we also both shared). The food was incredible. I think we’ve just found our new favourite local Italian!

Stef’s Oregano

Let's do this

Getting into fitness with spin, yoga and running

I've always wanted that I care more about my fitness and be motivated to go for a run or do a class or something (anything!). At school I tried things like hockey, netball and tennis but I just wasn't very good. I stuck to athletics and swimming but even then I used to just go along when I was free, or get told about a swimming gala the night before. It's pretty safe to say that fitness isn't a big thing for me.

That kind of sentence always gets followed up by a 'until now' type statement doesn't it? Well.... nah. Fitness has become a little bit more important to me this year but it's not something that drives me. Having a couple of months off work (I quit my job at the end of last year but that's totally another story) meant that I had a whole lot of time to try out new things. And, as it turns out, there's a whole bunch of things you can try out in London for FREE!

Psycle 

Spin class? I was dreading it. Everyone had told me that the classes were hard and sweaty - why do they go back?! Going along with my cousin Sarah who just so happens to be an amazing personal trainer, nutritionist and fitness junkie didn't help the matter either. But ... I had a free pass, had signed up and I was going to give it a go. I'd even told myself that if I couldn't do it I would just walk out the class. Simple.

Good news: I did it and I enjoyed it so much I did another class a few weeks later. Spin really isn't as hard as you think, the instructors are awesome and are insanely motivational. I pretty much felt like I could win Tour de France by the time I came out of there. And the good thing is that the bikes have their own level of difficulty (adjusting the resistance of the pedals) so if I found it too difficult, I just made it a little easier... and still felt like I was keeping up with Sarah!

Hot Pod Yoga 

Yoga is perhaps the best thing I discovered during my fitness flurry and it's the thing I've continued at home. I'd tried out hot yoga before at Fitness First but this was hot pod yoga - inside a big inflatable pod. Hot Pod yoga was a Saturday evening class I signed up for and I've since been four other times to their Brixton Pod.

My initial worry with hot yoga is that it would be too hot. I'm not very good in saunas or steam rooms so I had visions of me passing out on the mat or something. It wasn't like that at all. The pod was a comfortable 37 degrees, perfect for relaxing your muscles without being unbearable. The instructors make sure to come around and correct your positions too which I found super helpful - I just can't get my heels on the ground during downward dog!

Viki yoga

Running with Nike 

I'd previously been using this app to measure the miles on any long walks I did. Because, you know, walking is pretty much the same as running yeah? Well, anyway... Last year I went on the longest run of my life. Fuelled by shots of Patron from the previous nights I got up early and ran up to Alexandra Palace and then for brunch in Muswell Hill. This was the first time I used the app but it made me more excited for running.

It's ridiculously obvious but you can see so much more by running to places. I shocked myself by going for an early morning run in Tenerife and saw so many other runners. I've also started to try and incorporate it with tasks I need to do. The other day I needed to pick up my glasses from Angel so ended up running down all the pretty roads around there. Anytime I got to a road that looked sweet I detoured slightly and went down it. It was a lovely start to the day and I got to see more of the area.

I'd still like to try out aerial yoga, rave aerobics and trapeze so if anyone has any recommendations, shoot them my way!

Viki run