Life Rambles: Friday Favourites #71

Greetings friends! And how are you all? I’ve only had a four-day work week but man has it felt like forty. It’s like the week that wouldn’t end! But thankfully it has and the weekend is here and I am super happy! But, as per usual, before the weekend can properly commence it’s time for a little favourites post. So what’s first on the Friday favourites list I hear you ask?

There’s only one thing that could be top of the Friday favourites list this and that’s our recent trip to Salzburg. We had the best trip. Salzburg is such a beautiful city, steeped in history and with so much to explore. And talk about stunning. From the beautiful pastel buildings to the stunning mountain tops it’s a sight to behold. I adored every corner of it. Oh and of course there’s the delicious food – I can’t tell you how much schnitzel I ate. It was frankly obscene!

The other awesome thing about my amazing Salzburg trip? Getting the chance to spend time proper, quality time, with my family. It was just so lovely to have no other distractions and just spend time together. I lost count of how many times we belly laughed or cried tears of laughter over the four-day weekend. It was simply joyful

As for Friday favourites that don’t relate to Salzburg, first up is a little theater trip. On Wednesday we went to the National to watch Ugly Lies the Bone a 90 minute piece of amazing theater. It’s about a women who returns from her third tour of duty with horrific injuries and looks at how she copes. It’s one of the most intense plays I’ve ever watched and it’s so brilliant. Every element of it was pitch perfect and I implore you to watch it if you can. It’s phenomenal.

This week I finally got round to reading I am Pilgrim and I adored it. Despite it’s 700 pages I’d read it again in a heartbeat. It was a brilliantly crafted spy thriller that slowly unraveled across continents and decades. I was hooked from page one and raced through it. It definitely lives up to the hype around it and I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

So there we go, four lovely things that made my Friday favourites list this week. What would make your list?

-Fi x

Out and About: Places to Eat in Oxford

A blog post all about food? Isn’t this the best thing ever? Today I’m sharing a few of the food places Fi and I sampled during our birthday trip to Oxford. When we were planning our trip I looked online for some blog posts detailing places to eat in Oxford, but I came up empty-handed. They just didn’t exist. So here is one for anyone else looking for something similar.

Luckily as part of my planning I sent out SOS emails to friends for a list of things to do and places to eat. And they did not disappoint at all. There’s something about friend recommendations that really help me discover a city. It means that while you can explore and discover, you will always have a back up, just in case.

George & Davis

This place serves the most incredible bagels. I’m talking about bagels that are just as good as the ones you can get in New York. There are a multitude of different fillings to be found, so making a choice was hard. I went with a toasted brie, bacon and cranberry bagel and I am still having dreams about it. G&D also sells homemade ice cream and I highly recommend you get one to enjoy while you wander around the city. I went with a scoop each of vanilla and after eight and I was not disappointed. Both the bagels and the ice cream are a must if you are looking for places to eat in the city that are cheap, quick and tasty.

Thaikun

This is a thai street food restaurant on George Street which has a quirky restaurant and so truly flavoursome food. It’s one of a chain of restaurants, but don’t let this put you off, as the food is really tasty and the cocktails plentiful. I highly recommend getting a starter platter so that you can try a few different things, like the chicken satay and pork dumplings. Oh and get a basket of thai prawn crackers, which come with a huge bowl of chilli dipping sauce.

Paul

Another chain, but this Paul patisserie on the high street is a great place to eat breakfast. The pastries are so good, and the coffee is strong – just how I like it! There’s an upstairs room that gives you a great view of the city, and it’s quiet enough so that you can make plans for the day ahead while you wait for the coffee to kick in and wake you up.

The Grand Cafe

The Grand Cafe sits on the site of the first coffee-house in England, which was way back in 1650. So it’s like a piece of history, right there in Oxford, surrounded by all the other history obviously! It’s a small little shop on the High Street with a crowd of tables. So you’ll need to squeeze yourself into your table space. But it’s got a certain charm to it, with lots of dark wood and a wall covered in mirrors.

We stopped in here mid-afternoon and it was very busy, so we waited 5/10 minutes for a table. We then both opted for the cream tea which gets you two scones with jam and clotted cream plus a tea or coffee. The scones were so good, all light and fluffy and delicious. The sandwiches and the other cake options all looked tasty too and I think if we were there longer we’d probably have nipped back to try them out.

Ben’s Cookies

This is the original location of the cookie shop. We wandered past this place within the covered market, but didn’t stop as we had ice cream plans for later in the day. Plus I work right next to a Ben’s Cookies in London, so I can feast on these all the time. However, if you’re in Oxford and need a sweet treat, then look no further than Ben’s. The cookies are big and soft and chewy and literally melt in your mouth. My favourite flavour is the white chocolate. So good.

Have you ever been to this historic city? What are your suggestions for places to eat and drink in Oxford? You can also read more about our trip to Oxford on last week’s 24 hours in Oxford post.

Laura xx

Out and About: My Favourite Places to Travel

Today’s Friday Favourites post is a little bit different as I wanted to take the opportunity to share my favourite places to travel with you all. I know the normal Friday favourites way is to share parts of my week, but that’s just not going to happen this week. You see I’m typing this on Bank Holiday Monday as I know I’ve got a busy week coming up, but I still want to get a post written for Friday. So a My Favourite Places to Travel post seemed like the next best thing.

Number 1, The Algarve, Portugal

Going to Portugal is a little like going home. It’s a place I go to so often that I feel utterly relaxed as soon as I land. Sometimes the familiarity of a well known, and well loved, place is exactly what’s needed. It means that I know the good lunch spots, I already have a running route and there are pastel de nata all over the place! The other great thing about Portugal is the opportunity for adventures. There are so many corners to explore nearby; from small coastal villages to market towns and trips across the border into Spain. For more details check out this ode to Portugal.

Number 2, New York City, USA

Number two on my favourite places to travel to is New York. I’ve been lucky enough to visit New York City four times and from these trips it has become a firm favourite. I love the hustle and bustle of it, the towering buildings, the wonders of Central Park, the delights of Broadway and the delicious food available on every corner. Check out my Top 5 things to do in New York here and this post on visiting at Christmas time.

Number 3, Wales

A cottage in Wales is the ultimate escape. We had a whole Evans family trip there a few years ago and it was glorious. We had a lovely apartment overlooking the beach and when we weren’t playing board games and reading all the books, we were exploring the Welsh countryside. There were trips on the local steam train, visits to the nearby villages and a magnificent drive through Snowdonia National Park. Definitely one of my favourite trips and something I want to do again in the not too distant future. Wales is so entwined with my childhood and yet I don’t get back to visit nearly enough. I did get to spend a day in Wales last year, which was glorious, I’m hoping to catch up with this lot later on this year.

Number 4, Paris, France

Next on my list of favourite places to travel is Paris. I think jumping on the Eurostar and ending up in Paris two hours later is one of my favourite things. I love the ease and simplicity of it and the fact that you can be strolling along the River Seine in no time at all. Then there’s the croissants, and the macaroons, the gardens at the Musee de Rodin, the views from the Arc de Triomphe and the many splendours of the Musee D’Orsay to explore. You might also like this post with Five Tips to Paris on a Budget from my visit two years ago.

Number 5, Melbourne, Australia

I have family in Australia so it’s another country that I have visited a few times. It’s hard to pick my favourite place, Sydney will always be a favourite because it feels like I know it so well and it’s the same for the towns that my family live in. But if I really had to pick I think my favourite city in Australia is Melbourne. There’s a chilled out, cool vibe to it, that just pulls you into the city and makes you fall in love with it. The streets are lined with amazing art and there are so many wonderful food spots to explore. From Melbourne you can also take a trip to Philip Island to see the penguins, which is truly magical.

So there we have it, a list of my favourite places to travel. What are your favourite places? Do you have trips that you take more often than others, or a favourite retreat that keeps you sane?

Laura xx

Out and About: 24 Hours in Oxford

This year for our birthday we decided to get away from work and London and explore Oxford. Having only been there for brunch once years ago it was high-time we explored the city. And it was a genius idea, because spoiler it’s a gorgeous city and there is loads to see! We were only there for 24 hours but we did so much. For those of you who haven’t been I thought I’d pull together my suggestion of what you should do if you have 24 hours in Oxford.

Things to do if you only have 24 hours in Oxford:

Visit the Ashmolean Museum

This Museum is packed full of really interesting things, from art exhibitions to Egyptian mummies, tiles from Syria and coins from centuries ago. Simply perfect for whiling a way a few hours exploring it all. Plus it’s free and there’s the most stunning roof terrace restaurant with great views of the city. Definitely top of our list!

Wander aimlessly around the University campus

I was amazed at how much of the city you can see for free by just wandering. I know that sounds stupid, and in hindsight it should have been obvious that this was possible. But I hadn’t really thought about it! Anyway you can spot the Bridge of Sighs, the Radcliffe Camera, Magdalen College and so much more just by ambling around, heading down the little alleyways and around the next corner. It’s quite fun to see what you’ll end up next.. Spoiler: everything’s beautiful.

Explore The Pitt Rivers Museum and the Oxford University Museum of Natural History

These two museums are connected so even though they’re very different they need mentioning as one. First up the Museum of Natural History is the most stunning building displaying dinosaur bones, insects, beehives, stuffed dodos and all sorts of other things. It’s amazing.

At the back you’ll find the Pitt Rivers Museum with its displays of boats and weapons, jewelry and wooden carvings. It’s the most amazing treasure trove of random collections of stuff. It was created when one man gave his collections to the university, with just one caveat – items that were similar had to be housed together rather than classifying the collection by era. It’s a pretty cool idea and amazing to see all the different items used for the same purpose in one place, despite when and where they were used.

Browse the bookshelves in Blackwells

No trip to Oxford is complete without an hour spent in the best bookshop around. It’s almost blasphemy not to head in to Blackwells for a browse. Fact.

Climb the Carfax Tower

For just £3 you can climb this tower in the middle of the city and get an amazing view. With the college spires and city’s rooftops all laid out in front of you it’s really quite beautiful. Or at least in most directions – one view is over the shopping centre. That’s not so fancy!

So there we go, those are my top touristy suggestions if you’ve got 24 hours in Oxford. Now of course this doesn’t mention the food, it goes without saying that food needs to be included! But don’t worry that post will be live shortly – and you’re in for a treat!

Have you ever been, what was your favourite thing about Oxford?

-Fi x

The Book Corner: Fi’s April Reading Recap

Happy 1st May! And hooray for a day off – I do love all of these bank holidays we’ve had recently. They’re the best! I hope you’ve had a fun extra day off? Mine’s been spent brunching – yeah for avocados, packing for this weekend’s Salzburg trip and doing all the jobs. So chilled but fun! Anyway, as it’s May we’re due another reading update, so let’s dive on in to my April reading recap.

April reading recap #1 – If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

So book one in the reading recap is this brilliant YA novel about a girl who starts at a new school and has to deal with new friends, a cute boy and family issues. Oh and the fact that she was born a boy and the worry that her secret will come out. This is a great book, which explores an important subject in a really honest and brave way. You can’t help but root for Amanda and hope that everyone accepts who she really is. Definitely a must-read for everyone.

April reading recap #2 – Lie with Me by Sabine Durrant

Honestly, I didn’t love this book, which really surprised me as I’ve heard a lot of buzz about it over the last year. I can’t quite pinpoint why as there was nothing wrong with it – it was well written, pacey and full of intrigue. I just found I didn’t really care about the characters. Basically I expected too much of this book and it just didn’t live up to them.

April reading recap #3 – Natural Causes by James Oswald

This book was so good and I can’t wait to read the rest of the series. I thought the main character, Inspector Mclean, was well written and yet there is still to be uncovered about him in future books. As for the cases he was investigating, there was just enough information for you to be pulled in and intrigued but not enough that solving the case was simple. Definitely the start of a brilliant new detective series.

April reading recap #4 – Wing Jones by Katherine Webber

Wing Jones has been on my to-read pile for ages, since last July and the cover unveiling at YALC to be exact. It just sounded like my ideal book – a girl goes through a family crises and deals with it by learning to run and falling in love. I’ve been holding off reading it until I could savour it and I was not disappointed. It was beautifully written and full of characters that I grew to adore. It’s really wonderful and uplifting even though it deals with stressful situations.

April reading recap #5 – The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett

I tried to read this book years ago and just couldn’t get into it. Thankfully I gave it another go and this time I loved it. It follows one couple through three different versions of their love story, looking at how things would have changed had they made different decisions when their paths first crossed. I was worried things would get confusing with three different narratives, but it didn’t. The story was really interesting, particularly seeing what happened in all three versions of their story. It’s been described as similar to One Day and while it’s not as good as that book, it’s still a brilliant novel and well worth a read.

April reading recap #6 – When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

Number six on my April reading recap list was my favourite read of the month. This book is by a neurosurgeon who discovered he had inoperable cancer just as he was about to finish his training. It looks at the switch from treating patients to becoming a patient himself. And how you deal with knowing that you’ve only got years or months to live and what you should do with that time. While it should be a super-depressing read, it’s actually incredibly life-affirming. It’s beautifully written and should be read by everyone. It’s simply excellent.

So there we go, that’s my April reading recap. Which of my six reads are you most intrigued by and have you read any of them yet?

-Fi x

Life Rambles: Friday Favourites #70

Happy Friday guys! I hope you’re all doing splendidly and have epic plans for the long weekend. There’s a particular joy that you get on that Friday before a bank holiday, isn’t there? Everything just feels lighter and brighter and just better. Oh if only that was the case every week! Today’s Friday favourites list features both big and small happy things as I really wanted to remind myself that it’s not always about the huge, life changing events!

So let’s dive into item number one on this week’s favourites list, this one’s a small one: Gilmore Girls. Lau and I have had a bit of a marathon of it this week and I’ve become slightly obsessed. It’s all I want to watch! We’re now on to the fifth series and it feels like the storylines are getting meatier but still with moment of quietness and the wonderful character relationships. I’m loving it.

When I’ve not been on the sofa watching Gilmore Girls I’ve been out and about with some of my favourite people, which has been wonderful. Last Saturday we had a proper sisters day and went on a birthday outing for Lau. As part of her present we treated her to brunch at Dishoom, her (and our) favourite, and then headed for a wander around Liberty.

Then we hopped on over to the Natural History Museum for the afternoon. As well as wandering round the museum and checking out all the skulls and the shop in great detail (naturally) we also headed to the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition. This exhibition is stunning and I can’t recommend it highly enough. The photos are simply beautiful and the photographers are so talented. You must visit it asap. We had a pretty awesome day, full of nattering and laughing and it was so good to hang out with these two crazies.

I went to a staged reading of All the President’s Men? on Monday, which is a joint play between the National Theatre and the New York Public Theatre and it was like nothing I’ve ever seen before. It was a series of scenes from the US Senate confirmation hearings for Trump’s cabinet. So it featured actors playing Senator Rubio, Senator Warren, Rex Tillerson, Jeff Sessions and the like reading from the transcripts of the hearings. It was so well done, so simple and fascinating and featured a fantastic cast. If you ever get the chance to watch it, you really, really must.

Also making my favourites list this Friday has to be a long overdue catch up with two of my uni friends. We’ve not all been together for a good six or so years , but on Tuesday night we were all in London and around for dinner. There was, of course, lots of natterings, lots of teasing and lots of delicious food. I love how there are some people who can only see once in a blue moon but because you’ve lived with them or known them for so long it’s not a big deal. That’s the best, isn’t it? Oh and when it’s at one of your favourite restaurants, The Riding House Cafe, that’s even better!

So finally, let’s round off this favourites list with a couple of smaller things. Like finally cracking open my Easter eggs. Is anyone else obsessed with eating Cadbury’s Easter eggs straight out of the fridge? And that glorious crack that they make when opened? I love that sound. Another awesome thing is my current read – When Breath Becomes Air. It’s certainly a hard read as it’s about a neurosurgeon who discovers he has inoperable lung cancer. But it’s also uplifting and life-affirming. Not to mention beautifully written.

So tell me, what’s made it on to your favourites list over the last seven days? I want to know the big and the small. Share them with me!

-Fi x

The Book Corner: Recent Reads 2017, Part 2

Look at that, it’s the end of April already?! How did that happen? We cannot be a third of the way through 2017 already, I will not allow it… Although at least there’s a bank holiday to enjoy – I’m going to take my treats where I can get them! Anyway, today marks part two of my recent reads in 2017 posts. As I’ve mentioned previously, I absolutely love writing these posts. I enjoy looking back at each book that I’ve read and putting down my thoughts about it here, for all to see. So without further ado let’s dive into this list of eight recent reads.

Arrowood by Mick Finley

I absolutely adored this book. Set in Victorian London this is the story of Arrowood, a private detective working in South London. Arrowood and his trusty sidekick solve crimes for those that can’t afford Sherlock Holmes. Instead of clues and deduction Arrowood uses psychology to solve the cases. For someone who studied psychology this is possibly my favourite type of crime novel so obviously I was hooked from the start. The story is full of intriguing characters, intricate plots and mad dashes to save the day. I also enjoyed the political and historical intrigue of the whole thing and it had me yearning to learn more about this time in history. This book leaves me with such hope for an exciting new crime series.

Heir of Fire by Sarah J Maas

Next up on the recent reads list is book three in the Throne of Glass series. This one picks up where Crown of Midnight left off, with our main character meeting a whole host of new characters. I don’t want to give anything away but it’s another epic tale from Maas, and I was hooked from the first page. The storytelling in these books is epic, there’s so many plot twists and turns, and Maas manages them in a remarkable way. I can’t wait for book four. Except I am waiting, as I don’t want this series to be over too soon.

The Painted Dragon by Katherine Woodfine

Book three in the Sinclair Mysteries series. This was another excellent mystery set in the world of Sinclair’s department store in Edwardian London. I always love reading about Sophie, Lil and their band of investigating friends, and the story in this one did not disappoint. In this book we are introduced to Lil’s brother and his art school friends when a painting goes missing from inside a locked room at the department store. Seriously, who doesn’t love a good locked room mystery? Also this one has two dogs in it too, which I loved. Once again the Baron is drawn into the story and I am so intrigued to find out who this man is and how he’s connected to Sophie. Bring on book four asap I say!

The Missing by C. L. Taylor

I had a bit of a Kindle splurge in March, and this was one of the books I ordered. In The Missing we meet Claire whose fifteen-year-old son Billy has been missing for six months. Claire is sure Billy is still alive and she’s trying to figure out where Billy is. We all know that I love a good psychological thriller, but I just wasn’t really feeling it with this one. The book has all the right ingredients; a crime to solve, missing memories and people with secrets and yet I found it hard to get into it. I’m not sure what else I wanted, so maybe I wasn’t in the right frame of mind at the time of reading this. I don’t know. Just one of those things I guess.

The Twenty-Three by Linwood Barclay

Next on my recent reads list is another Kindle purchase. Book three in Barclay’s Promise Falls series. I’d read the opening chapter of this one at the end of the previous book, so I knew it opened with a bang. The town is still reeling from a succession of horrific events; a suicide, murders and a bombing when one morning people across the whole town appear to have been poisoned. As the day, and then week, unfolds we watch the events play out across all of the stories. I am slightly confused as this is the series finale, and yet when the book ended I could easily see some open stories that could be used in a follow-up. Maybe that will happen, but for now, this was exactly what I wanted it to be, a good fast-paced thriller.

Nasty Women by 404 Ink

This book started of as a Kickstarter project for a collection of essays on what it’s like to be a woman in the 21st Century. Obviously I jumped right on board with this project and sent my funds straight away. And this book is the outcome. As you would expect there are essays on a variety of subjects, not all were relevant to me, but all were fascinating insights to living in this today’s world. I dipped in and out of these essays over a couple of weeks, reading the ones that took my fancy or seemed the most relevant for that particular day. 

The Island at the End of Everything by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

I absolutely loved The Girl of Ink & Stars so I was super excited to read the second book by this author, especially when I read the back page. The main character Ami lives with her mother on Culion, an island off the coast of The Philippines. One day, out of the blue a government official arrives to turn the island into a leper colony, sending Ami to live on a separate island. We then follow Ami on two journeys; the first when she heads to the new island, and the second as she travels back to her family.

It didn’t take me long to be utterly hooked and in awe of this book. It’s a beautiful story of friendship, family and overcoming bigotry. The last few pages were told from a different character perspective, and if there’s anything I would have like to be done differently, it’s that this section wasn’t explored further. I could have read another 100 pages from this character’s perspective, basically because I didn’t want the book to finish!

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

I finished Jodi Picoult’s latest book a couple of days ago and I keep finding myself thinking about it. My brain will inexplicably land on particular chapters or lines from it at the oddest of times.

The story follows Ruth, a nurse who is charged with killing a baby. The story weaves through prejudice, racism and the white supremacist movement in America, and it is a good story. There are a lot of twists and turns, which have you turning the pages faster and faster. And of course the ending is all neatly tied up in a bow, but, I think, maybe too much. There’s a twist at the end which I don’t think is relevant. It annoys me that we need this big moment for the characters to realise they are in the wrong and to change their ways. Maybe the big moment is the most believable way for people to change their minds that quickly, but it doesn’t sit well with me. I think I would have preferred the ending to be left open instead.

So there we have it, part two of my recent reads for 2017. You can find Part 1 of my 2017 recent reads over here, or head to GoodReads for more recent reads. And if you have any book recommendations please send them my way. I’m always keen for new books to add to my TBR pile.

Laura xx

Life Rambles: My Life Lately, April 2017

Look at this, I’ve only just done a Friday Favourites post and now you’re getting a Life Lately post too. I’ve been so busy lately, and MIA from the blog, so a good catch up post is certainly in order. And Sunday afternoon is the perfect time to do that! I’ve got a pretty great set up happening in my bedroom as I write this. There are fresh sheets on the bed and I’m wearing my new pajamas while I browse online and form my brain ramblings into the thoughts below. I’ve also got my favourite playlist blaring out of my radio, the sun is streaming through the window and there’s a pack of chocolate buttons close to hand. It’s a pretty perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon!

So without further ado, let’s dive straight into my life lately.

Reading: Small Great Things is my current read and it’s so good. It’s been a while since I read a Jodi Picoult book, but I was in a reading rut, so I picked this one up knowing that it would be just what I needed. It’s a tough read and this story has really made me think about the world that I live in and how I perceive things. I’m nearly finished and I think it’s going to be a bit of a stressful ending….eep!

Laughing: On Friday night I was crying with tears of laughter. Bex, Fi and I had a pizza night and of course we found ourselves heading down a YouTube rabbit hole of epic proportions. It was a set of videos on funniest moments from This Morning, the TV show. Now I’ve not watched This Morning for years but after watching these videos, I’m back to wishing I didn’t have to work during the week!

Eating: I went to Dishoom again at the weekend, so that was fun. A bacon and egg naan with a side of masala beans always and forever. Also Fi made homemade baked beans the other day and I can’t get enough of them. Plus my mum sent up a batch of homemade cheesy croquettes for the freezer so both childhood classics have been consumed at multiple meal times. Whilst still maintaining stocks for as long as possible of course! Oh and I had a last minute trip to The Diner on Friday lunchtime with work peeps, so my food life lately has been delicious!

Planning: My long weekend to Salzburg is so close now, so I’m continually looking into where to visit and where to eat. If you have any suggestions do send them my way!

Wandering: There was so much wandering around Oxford, that my feet hurt for the whole of the Easter weekend. However I’m not complaining as it’s definitely the best way to discover a new place. There was  also more wanderings around Carnaby Street, Liberty, South Kensington and the Natural History Museum with my two favourite sisterbeans yesterday. And on top of that I’m taking a slightly different route to work on swimming days, and the walk along the Embankment from Blackfriars is becoming a firm favourite.

Buying: Over the bank holiday we really spruced up the garden, so that was a good chunk of money spent at the garden centre. Other than that I had a bit of a clothing spree earlier in the month. I picked up a couple of new jackets and a dress for spring. I’m also contemplating a new coffee flask for weekdays. Both of my sisters have this one and swear by it. I do like the idea of not not having to buy coffee every morning, so maybe I’ll give in.

Photographing: I’ve got approximately 17,941 photos of the puppy from the bank holiday weekend. Those ears are my favourites.

Organising: As well as the sorting out the garden, the bank holiday weekend also saw me nip to Ikea and pick up four simple grey cloth storage boxes. These are now holding all of the things in my bedroom. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever been so organised!

Debating: The snap general election that was called last week in the U.K. What does it mean? Why has it been called so suddenly? What will happen?

Running: This is happening most weekends in my life lately. I had a lovely run back in Horsley on Easter Monday and then I managed 4 miles this morning around Tooting Common.

Working: Work is a tad busy at the moment, especially with my Salzburg trip coming up soon. I’m running some training sessions so there are a few extra hours taken out of my week. Plus I’ve got a two day conference on the same week that I head to Salzburg – Clearly I’m all about the good planning!

Swimming: I have been swimming twice a week for most of April. I’m loving how an early morning swim makes me feel. And I’ve got the bag packing and outfit planning down to a fine art now. My aim is to do 1km on each visit, which is 40 lengths and I can already see that I’m getting faster. The Thameslink journey to work afterwards is less fun/relaxing.

Watching: Broadchurch, Gilmore Girls and Big Little Lies. I’m also loving documentaries at the moment too. I think I might share my favourites in a blog post soon.

Listening: To S-Town. I’m still formulating my thoughts on this podcast. I’ve been hooked on it. But I’m not too sure I like the premise of it. I don’t want to say too much and ruin it for anyone but for me the jury is still out. Also this morning I tried out Sky News – All Out Politics podcast, which I quite enjoyed.

Cooking: I whizzed up a batch of homemade pizza dough last week so there are now pizza bases in the freezer. I also made my Chicken Pilaf in the slow cooker for tonight’s dinner. So good!

Baking: I completely failed at making a Swiss roll the other week! I’ve now worked out where I went wrong so I’m hoping to give that another try soon. Plus I baked a batch of creme egg brownies for the aforementioned Friday sister night, so all in all there’s been some epic food in my life lately.

So there we have it. That’s been my life lately. All the fun stuff anyway. What have you all been up to? Any upcoming adventures or delicious recipes that you need to share?

Laura xx

Life Rambles: Friday Favourites #69

First up on today’s list of favourites is the bank holiday weekend. So. Much. Good. Stuff. Fi mentioned the gardening and all the baking in last week’s round up – cheater! But she didn’t mention the Sunday funday that was Easter Sunday at the parents’ house. Fi and I drove down to Surrey first thing Sunday morning in just 30 minutes. Hooray that we left early and that everyone else was either snoozing the morning away or in a Chocolate coma. Anyway once at the parental units we managed to pack in all the things. From dog walks in the bluebell woods, to homemade birthday cake, birthday presents and board games. It was a pretty wonderful 36 hours. Fun fact, Mum and I completely lost our game of Trivial Pursuit, even though we had 6 pieces of pie when Dad, Fi & Becca only had two. I don’t know how we do it!

Number two on my list is going back to work – yes, I actually said it. Honestly though I’ve enjoyed going back to work this week. I had six days off and by the end of it I was ready to get back to doing things. Who the hell am I? To be honest the sunny morning have helped the situation. Although where that sunshine has gone today I don’t know!

Also this week I’ve been really productive on the food preparation front. I know it sounds crazy but I’ve enjoyed taking my lunch and breakfast with me to work each day. I’ve found that when I don’t do this I end up in a spiral of spending a fortune each day on food. This week I’ve picked up the occasional carton of orange juice but otherwise I’ve been all about alternating between breakfast biscuits or yogurt and granola for breakfast. Plus I batched up boxes of couscous and roasted vegetables at the start of the week, so all I’ve had to do each night is shove some chicken or a piece of quiche on top of the couscous and yummy lunch is a go! I’m going to aim to keep this up next week too as I definitely want it to become a habit. Perhaps it’s time to bake my breakfast muffins again, it’s been a while and they’d be the perfect post swim breakfast.

The fourth spot on this list of favourites goes to Tim Tams. The parental units gave me (okay, and Fi too) a couple of packets of Tim Tams on their return from Australia. I’m not going to lie, these were one of my favourite birthday presents. The caramel flavour is dreamy, especially once it’s been chilled off in the fridge for a couple of hours. Honestly, one of these after dinner is becoming my favourite past time. Yes, that’s totally a thing that people should own up to.

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To finish of my list of favourites for the week is my current book. I started reading Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult over the long weekend and I am utterly engrossed. Like every other Picoult book I’ve read this one had me hooked from the start with well written characters and a thoroughly engaging story. I’m so intrigued to know how this one is going to end and I’m sure it will have plenty of twists and turns before it concludes. I can’t wait!

So there we have it, my list of favourites for this week. What has helped you through this post Easter week? Are you still eating the Easter chocolate? I’ll be honest, it only took me two days to eat my Lindt bunny, but I have still got my Mini Egg egg waiting to be devoured. That’s my weekend plans all sorted 😉

Laura xx

Life Rambles: Top Five Podcasts

A while back Lau shared her favourite podcasts with you all and I discovered some new podcasts to listen too – thanks Lau. As I found Lau’s podcast post so useful I thought I should share my favourites too. After all, there’s no such thing as too many brilliant podcasts to listen too, is there? I for one need more to get me through my runs, my commute or to have on in the background as I attempt to tidy my room. So read on for some podcast suggestions as I discuss my top five podcasts to listen to right now.

The West Wing Weekly

First up we have my absolute favourite – the series that I’m racing through. The West Wing Weekly. I know Lau mentioned it in her round-up but it’s genuinely amazing so it had to appear in my top five podcasts list too. If you’re a fan of The West Wing you will love it. It has interviews with cast and crew, really interesting guests who discuss policy related to the episodes and loads of secrets from being on set. Like did you know that Dule, who plays Charlie, always managed to fix it so he would finish filming first, simply by ensuring he was only seen at certain camera angels and away from all the talking. Therefore meaning he could head home hours earlier than those in the middle of everything, even if they only had one line. Genius!

Ctrl Alt Delete

Next on my top five podcasts list is Emma Gannon’s Ctrl Alt Delete podcast. Each episode is Emma talking to a brilliant guest about their experience of the online world. And topics range from building confidence online, to finding your voice and even using Twitter to find a literary agent. Every episode is super interesting. And with over 70 episodes so far there’s bound to be someone or a theme that you will identify with. My recent favourite episodes have been Grace Victory’s, Sophie Kinsella, Lucy Lendrem and Louise O’Neill. And I can’t wait to listen to Scarlett Curtis’ episode or Mara Wilson’s.

Stuff You Missed in History Class

My inner history geek is a big fan of the third podcast on my list, and that’s Stuff You Missed in History Class. I’m very late to the game on this one so I’ve downloaded episodes dating back to 2015! But the great thing about this is that there are loads of interesting topics being discussed and they cover a huge array of topics and periods in history. Next on my to be played list are: Foreign Food in the US, Lady Jane Grey, the nine-day queen and knitting’s early history – talk about an eclectic mix! The two people discussing the topics are clearly really interested in the topics, which draws you in. Plus they don’t patronise or assume any knowledge. Bonus!

More or Less: Behind the Stats

This podcast is for those that can’t handle longer podcasts. I’m with you – sometimes 40 minutes is to long! The episodes of More or Less: Behind the Stats vary in length but most are 9 minutes long. Each episode strives to make sense of the statistics that surround us, so they choose a saying or statistic each episode and pick it to pieces. A LOT of information is sent your way about the topic as it gets discussed. Yet another reason why the short length is good!  Some of my recent episodes delve into such pertinent issues as: Trump’s inauguration crowd – was it bigger than the women’s protest one the next day? Do we really need to drink eight glasses of water a day? What is the real attention span of a goldfish? Definitely download the podcast asap to find out – it’s all so fascinating!

Desert Island Discs

And rounding off my top five podcasts list we have Desert Island Discs, that absolute classic. And yes another one that appeared on Laura’s list. Sorry, but it’s just so good! I finally listened to the David Beckham one recently and that one is so fascinating. One that wasn’t, the Emma Bridgewater one. So yes this is definitely one that involves a bit of picking and choosing!

So there we have it my top five podcasts. What would be on your list? I’m always on the lookout for new podcasts, so share away!

-Fi x