The Weekend #4

Friday night I hopped on a train at Waterloo to go stay with my friends in Staines. It had been forever since I’d seen them and it’s always nice to hang out. Steve was out for the evening at Oktoberfest so Susie and I had a girlie night in with some movies. We watched The Lost Boys which I had never seen before and really enjoyed! I can totally see why it’s a classic.

Lost_boys

Afterwards Susie treated me to a manicure using her latest purchase from Camden Market, a MoYou nails image plate which creates amazing patterns on your nails when you use two different shades. The entire process is fascinating! We went for flowers and butterflies, I love them!

Saturday morning we were up early(ish) to go to Thorpe Park and it was such a fun day. We headed home just before the park was due to close with aching backs and knees to have some dinner and get ready for a night of karaoke at their local. Now, I can not sing. I am an awful singer but I bloody well enjoy it and get enough alcohol in me and I will sign for hours to my heart’s content. The never ending bottle of prosecco seemed to help with that.

Sadly the karaoke ended a bit too early for our liking (although not before Steve got through to the karaoke final in December!) so we popped back to the house where Susie & Steve have their own karaoke machine with a lot better choice in songs. So much so that it was almost 4am by the time we put down the mics! Safe to say the next day was pretty much a write off! After a desperately needed lie in we all went to lunch back at the local.

IMG_6499

Afterwards I had planned to visit the Hobbycraft out there (do you have any idea how hard it is to find a good craft store in central London? Next to impossible.) and set off walking towards town down the river. Incidentally I passed the 48KM marker from last weekends Thames Path Challenge which made me smile. Unfortunately I wasn’t even half way there when my Crohns started acting up and I made the decision to head to the railway station (where I knew there would be a loo) rather than go shopping. I got home about 5pm and then just crashed out for the entire night waking up at about 1am – joy! Not.

I also had my first ever experience with sleep paralysis which is some weird shit. I work up in the early hours of the morning with the feeling that someone was wrapping their arms around me and pinning me to the bed so I couldn’t move. I knew this wasn’t the case and my brain thought that perhaps the cat had got into my room and was on my bed but I still couldn’t move. Eventually I was able to roll over onto my back, awake but still not able to move my arms. There was a shimmering in the air above me that I decided was a ghost, a friendly ghost but a ghost all the same. (I don’t even believe in ghosts!) I knew if I turned on the light it would go away but I couldn’t even raise my arms up to turn on the bedside light until about the sixth attempt. You’d think after that I’d be fully awake and scared to go back to sleep but I wasn’t, instead I fell straight back asleep and slept soundly for a few more hours. Weird huh?

How was your weekend? Any exciting plans for this one?

Thorpe Park, Chertsey

IMG_6510

Thorpe Park is just 20 miles from Central London and easy enough to get to if you fancy a day trip to a theme park while in the city. I’m lucky in that my friends Susie & Steve stay in Staines which is just a few miles away so I spent the night before (and after!) with them and we drove to the park on the Saturday morning. As it was the weekend it was quite busy from the get go but not overly so. The weather was also perfect, it was supposed to rain in the afternoon but it didn’t and instead remained overcast but warm throughout the day.

Thorpe Park is quite a small theme park (I’m comparing with LegoLand here) but man does it pack a punch with 5 major rollercoasters amongst its ranks as well as a multitude of other rides that are sure to thrill the whole family. The distance between rides isn’t far which is great for those who find the walking part tiring but be warned queues are inevitable!

I was really lucky to be there with my friends as they had been to the park before (although not for a while) and had a rough idea to the layout of the park so we were able to make our way around quite easily and hit up a good number of rides in the time that we had. If I had been there on my own I would still have been trying to figure out how to get out again!

http___makeagif.com__media_9-26-2014_8CTdq6

We managed to go on four of the big five as well as a couple of water rides and a few of the smaller ones too. My favourites were the crazy fast Stealth, the amazing Nemesis inferno and the terrifying Saw the ride. The latter of which we waited in line for over an hour for (the longest we had to wait all day which I was pretty impressed with). It was so much fun and I felt like a child again.

IMG_6537

Tickets aren’t cheap but if you book online you get a good discount and there are always 241 vouchers floating around the internet if you have someone to go with. Also if you enjoy yourself you can upgrade to a season pass for just a few pounds more and visit as often as you like over the year. Oh and this year they’ve opened up an onsite Shark Hotel so if you’re coming from further away you should definitely check it out!

BitBS Rating – £££

Heavenly Hotels: The Chelsea Harbour Hotel

The Hillarys blogger event that I went to last week was hosted at The Chelsea Harbour Hotel in the exclusive area of Chelsea Harbour which is part of the Millennium Hotels chain. Unfortunately there wasn’t time for a snoop around any of the rooms but when I got back I did have a browse on their website and holy moly are these rooms gorgeous or what! And the ones that overlook the lovely harbour I showed you on that other post are doubly awesome for the view alone.

chelsea chelsea2I try to steer clear of chain hotels on my Heavenly Hotels feature as I always assume that they’ll be rather generic and boring but The Chelsea Harbour proved me wrong and has opened up a whole new world of hotels to discover and lust over! The bar on the top floor which is where our event was held is a real gem with stunning views and a cosy atmosphere (although I’m not certain if this is open at all times) and the pool area in the basement which I got a quick peek at through the windows looks lovely and relaxing.

Hillarys at the Harbour with Hillarys Blinds and House Beautiful

As of last Monday my flat in Aberdeen has new tenants which is wonderful from a financial perspective but also made me a little nostalgic for having my own place. Before moving to London I had never lived in shared accommodation before. I stayed at home throughout university (staying at my then boyfriends place more nights than not) saved up for a place of my own and moved right in after I found the one that I wanted so I’ve always had control over what my home environment was like.

Living in rented accommodation means I don’t have that luxury anymore and have to make do with the bland neutral colour scheme of my flatshare. That doesn’t mean I don’t like to imagine what I would do with my own place in London should I ever have one so when I was invited along to a launch event for Hillarys Blinds newest collection of fabrics, for which they’ve collaborated with House Beautiful for the very first time, it was a good chance to see what the trends are going to be over the next few years.

IMG_6454

The event was held at the beautiful Chelsea Harbour Hotel which I’ll be showcasing in this weeks Heavenly Hotels post and we were treated to drinks and some of the cutest little canapes before getting a sneak peek at the new collection.

Hillarys for those of you who don’t know are a made to measure blinds and curtain company who will come to your home to ensure a perfect fit and match of your desired look. Hillarys know that you won’t be changing the furnishings of your house as often as you do your wardrobe and that a good style is one that is made to last.

IMG_6472

Which is why they spend 18 months painstakingly taking each of their collections from conception to design, through testing, production and finally launch. Each of their fabrics is tested for colourfastness, shrinkage and a whole array of others to ensure that it stays as bright and beautiful as the day that you have it fitted.

IMG_6460

The latest collection has a total of 21 fabrics following three colourways; amethyst, natural and teal and features plain fabrics as well as patterned that compliment each other. It was really interesting to see the mood boards that were created during the creative process and just goes to show that the collages we used to make as kids (or more likely these days our Pinterest boards) are a totally valid design process!

Hillarys like to use real people’s home as the location for their photo shoots and they are more than welcome to use my flat as a test subject as I genuinely love their fabrics. This was my favourite, I just loved the way that the colours fade in and out of each other.

IMG_6479

The very clever PR people at Hillarys had special tote bags made up of the collections fabrics and I was lucky enough to snag one with the same pattern but in the lovely amethyst colour. It was really great to meet and chat with some other fabulous bloggers including Hollie from Pretty Big Butterflies, Alina from FairyTale Pretty Picture, Milly from Mini Adventures and Erin from Island Bell. The more of these events I attend the more I come out of my shell (although I’m sure the prosecco helped on this occasion!) and this time I even handed out a few of my new business cards! Thanks so much to Hillarys Blinds, House Beautiful and the marvellous Joes Bloggers for hosting such a wonderful event in a fantastic location!

*Disclaimer: I attended this event for free in exchange for blogging about the event.
The above opinions are still my own and not influenced by this in any way.

Plenty of Fish in the Sea

So if you’ve read all about my latest visit to The Globe to see The Comedy of Errors you’ll know that I was there on a date with someone who I will refer to only as T. It was our third date which may well indicate to you that it was going quite well but the reality was a little different.

As you can perhaps tell from the title of this post I “met” T on the free dating site Plenty of Fish. When I came up with my 30 by 30 list I added

27. Try dating

as one of them as it’s something I’ve just never done before and it’s clear now that there is a reason for this, I’m just too damn picky! Online dating is very, very superficial and I am not an exception to the rule. I’ll only check out your profile if I think you are hot and a lot of the time I’ll dismiss you if you’re too hot. I really don’t want to be made to feel guilty for chain watching Netflix shows on the sofa while you’re off playing football or at the gym again!

I get quite a few messages on PoF, I’m sure most women do, and I check out the profile of those who take the time to message me. If they meet my criteria and they’ve sent me a slightly more creative message other than “Hi” – I mean honestly why do so many people just send a message that says “Hi” are you just blanket sending the same message to hundreds of people in the hopes that one of them replies? At least show a slight bit of interest by asking a question! Anyway, I digress – then I’ll reply. I think I’ve replied to about a half-dozen people, sent one first message of my own and had a conversation with just three of these people; one which tapered off pretty quickly, one where the guy headed off to sunnier climes to work for the summer and T, who I messaged back and forth with for about a month before we could find a night where we were both free to meet up for drinks.

Our first date was at the Prince of Wales in Brixton a nice enough pub just around the corner from Brixton tube station although a bit out of my way. We seemed to get along well chatting away without really any awkward pauses and so before the first date had finished I suggested a second to the aforementioned Globe theatre. Having never been on a date before this may not have been the correct protocol but I had enjoyed his company and wanted to see how we got on in an active setting doing something other than just sitting around drinking. After two and a half hours I figured it was time to call it a night – it was a weekday night, I’d gone straight to the pub after work, had been drinking on an empty stomach and it would take me 45 minutes to get home.

Before I’d even made it home I had a text from him trying to arrange a day/time for our visit to The Globe and I took this as a good sign. I took it as an even better sign when he asked if we could meet up again prior to the theatre for more drinks and despite my busy scheduled I obliged. This time we met in central and went to one of my new favourite Soho haunts Jackson & Rye before heading to the Yates’ in Leicester Square. Again I hadn’t eaten and due to T’s gluten intolerance which he’s told me about on our first date I didn’t want to suggest going somewhere for food. Again we chatted away quite happily, me talking faster and louder the more I drank, T taking the piss out of me which I quite like – I really don’t like being taken too seriously, life’s too short for that. I left around 10pm this time (apparently this is still too early for a weeknight date to end according to T’s flatmate) and was quite looking forward to our third date and the opportunity for a first kiss.

The third date took place the day after I completed the Thames Path Challenge so my legs were a bit stiff and sore but I made it to the Pizza Express on Bankside just at the time we were supposed to meet, he was a little late but that didn’t bother me but from the moment we sat down things were a bit odd. Having made a big fuss about being gluten intolerant you would assume that T would have ordered a gluten-free pizza base but he didn’t instead opting for a regular base, the conversation didn’t seem to flow quite as well as it had previously and he didn’t seem all that fussed about actually going to the theatre instead more interested in going for another drink beforehand. He didn’t offer to pay for my meal (not that I would have let him but I understand that the offer is at least good dating etiquette?) and I had to go get cash from the bank machine to ensure I had given him enough when the waiter failed to split our bill and put the full cost on T’s card.

Things got weirder still when we were inside The Globe, being short I wanted to get quite a good spot in order to be able to see – at a foot taller than me T didn’t have this problem and instead was more concerned with getting a drink. This is itself didn’t bother me but when I declined a drink of my own T wouldn’t let it go and couldn’t understand why I didn’t want a drink. I’m not a huge drinker and I don’t need alcohol to be fun but I was treated as though this was a cardinal sin! The main thing was I didn’t want to have to miss any of the show by having to nip to the loo which is exactly what T had to do 10 minutes before the end of the first half and missing it!

I made him buy me ice-cream in the interval and asked his opinion on the show but he just didn’t seem all that interested to be honest. He’d barely laughed and I was fully expecting him to make a bolt for it as soon as it was over. Surprisingly he asked if I’d like to grab a quick drink though so we nipped round the corner and had a drink on the roof of The Anchor as it was such a nice night out. After a bit more ribbing on my earlier stance on having a drink T declared how odd it was to be drinking outside without smoking. Now his profile lists him as a non-smoker but he now advised me that he smokes three or four a day… that’s still a smoker and I’m sorry to say but smoking is a deal breaker for me these days! I was aching all over from the previous day, knew this wasn’t going to go anywhere and so decided to call it a night.

T kindly walked me to the tube station where we said goodbye, I wasn’t even going to bother with the whole kiss thing after how rubbish the rest of the date had been but gave him a hug and a quick peck on the lips. Then as I went to leave he asked if I wasn’t going to give him a proper kiss so I thought what the hell I’m never going to see this guy again and went for it. Even that was incredibly awkward with the height difference working against us to a massive degree and the fact that he sort of patted me on the shoulders and said “Good” when it was over. Less than 24 hours later I received the “You’re nice but…” text message which was a total relief as it meant I didn’t have to be the one to send it!

Not the best of experiences but certainly not the worst I’m sure and definitely for the best! It achieved what I set out to do for me and that was to experience what it was like to date someone and learn more about myself. It seems I have to be even MORE particular about the kind of person I go for with my new criteria including must be 6 foot or under, people who are interested in doing things other than just going out for a drink and someone who has at least heard of Marvel. Trying to suss out who the liars are is going to be a whole other ball game but it should be interesting… My next aim is to try to go on two dates with two different guys but that’s going to have to wait until November now as I have a super busy October coming up! I’ll be sure to keep you all up to date with more of my dating escapades as and when they happen.

The Weekend #3

I didn’t have any plans for Friday night as I was planning on resting up ahead of taking on the Thames Path Challenge on the Saturday but then my friend Howard was in the city so we met up for a drink and dinner. We went to Byron for a burger and milkshake, it was my first time at a Byron and you can read all about that visit here!

IMG_6354

Saturday morning I was up bright and early to make my way to Putney Bridge where I was meeting the rest of the team from work that were also doing the 25km section of Thames Path Challenge for our chosen charity Facing the World. I had somehow managed to come perfectly coordinated with the challenges color scheme.

IMG_6363

We managed to sneak into an earlier time slot and had a quick warm up before setting off at 10am full of beans. We stayed together as a team until about 5km but it soon became obvious that we had different paces and broke off so I spent a lot of the time walking alone. I took lots of pictures to keep me occupied, listened to some podcasts and posted on social media (thank god for my new portable Technet phone charger!)

IMG_6375 IMG_6378 IMG_6405

The first rest stop came at 14km and it was at this point we realised that out “25km” walk was actually a 26.5km walk as it was a slightly longer section then some of the others. All of the team were still feeling pretty good at this point but having got there first I was ready to get back on the trail after 30 minutes and so left the others behind to keep going.

I hit 20km and was still feeling pretty good but then I crossed the bridge to go back North of the river and to take on the final stretch and something felt different. The route broke away from the Thames Path and went along a main road instead which wasn’t the best environment to be walking in and after kilometer 22 I saw no marker so had no idea how much farther it was to go, the markers really did help keep me pushing through up until that point but I did it and was rewarded with the finish line, a medal and a glass of bubbly at the end!

It really is a beautiful walk (although some sections were incredibly muddy and slidey) but I’d only perhaps do 5 or 10km of it at anyone time rather than 25km (or indeed 100km!). I have only high praise for the Action Challenge team though the organisation was superb, the registration process simple and the facilities generally very good. I was a bit worried about taking on this challenge from a health point of view, I have Crohns and the thought that there would only be portaloos at the halfway point and then again at the end genuinely filled me with dread but I watched what I ate (my symptoms are worse after I eat a large meal) and was OK all the way through and the loos that I did use were about as clean as you could expect which was wonderful! The snack and food options we were provided with were also bloody amazing so thank you to everyone who took on the huge task of organising this event! I headed straight home and into the bath before collapsing in bed for the best nights sleep I have had in ages!

You can see more pictures from the day over on my Facebook page here and if you would like you can still donate through our JustGiving Page.

IMG_5805

You’d think after all that walking all that way I’d be having a quiet day on the Sunday but no I had my third date with T to go on (more details on my dating escapades soon I promise). We met up for pizza at the Pizza Express on Bankside which is definitely my favourite location as it has amazing views of St Paul’s before heading to The Globe to see The Comedy of Errors there. It was really something special to see a Shakespeare play in its proper home and you can read more about my visit in yesterday’s post.

How was your weekend? Any exciting plans for this one?

The Comedy of Errors, The Globe

IMG_6443

Take one pair of estranged twin brothers (both called Antipholus), and one pair of estranged twin servants (both called Dromio), keep them in ignorance of each other and throw them into a city with a reputation for sorcery, and you have all the ingredients for theatrical chaos. One Antipholus is astonished by his foreign hospitality; the other enraged by the hostility of his home town. The Dromios, caught between the two, are soundly beaten for obeying all the wrong orders. Basing his plot on a farce by Plautus, Shakespeare caps the mayhem of his Roman original to build up a hectic tale of violent cross-purposes, furious slapstick and social nightmare.

When T told me that he had never been to The Globe theatre despite living in London for over 5 years I decided that our second date should definitely be there. The Comedy of Errors is currently showing which I think is a fab introduction to Shakespeare as it’s funny, lighthearted and fairly easy to follow. I was also keen to see a show from the yard rather than a seat to see if it added anything to the performance.

We got to the theatre about ten past six which is a bit later than I would have had I been going on my own and did mean that the crowd in the yard was a couple of rows deep. If you want to be at the front you really need to get there early! We managed to get a pretty good spot though although at 6’4″ it wasn’t such an issued for T!

It opened with a hilarious scene starring Jamie Wilkes as one of the Dromio’s which really set the tone for the rest of the show in my opinion. It was laugh out loud funny from the beginning with a lot of slapstick humour that just got more and more ridiculous as the play went on which is exactly what you would expect from Shakespeare’s shortest play. Although he said he enjoyed it I don’t think it was really T’s scene which is a shame but I think if you have theatre in common a trip to The Globe is a perfect date idea!

BitBS Rating – £ for yard tickets, ££ for seating

Byron Burger, Leicester Square

Byron Burgers is something of a London institution now so it’s quite shocking that I’ve been living in the city over a year and hadn’t yet tried one. I think because they are always around it’s easy to say well I can try it another time but when I met up with my friend Howard last Friday after work for a quick catchup this is where we ended up. And boy was it worth the wait!

We ended up in the Charing Cross Road branch in Leicester Square which is pretty much directly across the road from my old office building so I have no idea how I’d neve rbeen in. It’s quite compact in size but has lovely views of the lane that was used as Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter movies. (I’m so sad I moved to London after filming for all of the movies was already completed :( ) We were given a little table in the corner which was nice as it was a bit quieter for chatting and there was less hustle and bustle.

IMG_6352

A quick glance at the drinks choice and the Oreo cookie milkshake leapt out the page at me asking to be ordered and was even able to tempt Howard to try its offerings as well but the burger choice was a bit more difficult. In fact our milkshakes had already been made up and delivered by the time our waitress came back to take our order and she was treated to the face that I make when I taste something bloody amazing as I took my first sip just when she came over. It must have been quite a sight as she couldn’t stop giggling bless her but if you’ve ever tried one of these shakes you’ll know exactly what I mean! I think it’s the best shake I’ve EVER had.

Byron offer monthly specials on top of their regular menu and this month it’s the Shady burger (crispy cheese, pickle relish, American cheese, onion & ketchup) which sounded amazing (minus the ketchup – blech!) but it was the smoky (smoked cheddar, streaky bacon, crispy fried onions, shredded iceberg, pickles and smoked chilli BBQ sauce) that tempted me in the end along with a side of onion rings. I did have to ask for no pickles because honestly who thinks those things are a good idea?!  Look at this yummer!

IMG_6354

The bacon was super crispy the way I like it, the burger cooked perfectly (medium well for me) and the bun was great and didn’t fall apart as you were trying to eat either. I couldn’t finish it off but Howard was more than happy to give me a helping hand – well it would have been rude to let it go to waste!

The best bit about the burgers is that even the special comes in at under a tenner. The onion rings on the other hand were very disappointing, overly greasy and not very crispy so I think Howard chose the better side option with the fries but this is definitely some place I would be willing to come back to in future!

BitBS Rating – ££