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

Life Rambles: Friday Favourites #68

Hello everyone and happy Easter weekend! This is one of my all-time favourite weekends, why wouldn’t it be when you’re looking at four days off, spring sunshine, all the chocolate you can eat and lovely long light weekends? So you may have noticed this post is going live on Saturday rather than the usual Friday of Friday favourites. Please forgive me for being so rubbish, but it’s been a busy old week and time just ran away from me! So right then, on to this week’s edition of my favourite things…

First up, Happy Birthday to me! So Wednesday was our birthday and I love a birthday. It’s the best excuse for taking a day off and doing something fun. Plus PRESENTS! I’m lucky that I get to share my birthday with someone (Hi Laura) so I always have someone ready to come on a birthday adventure with me. We started with the usual opening of cards and presents before heading off for a birthday breakfast – Dishoom naturally, because it’s the best – before hopping on a train for our birthday adventure, which was in…

Oxford! Our Oxford trip is a separate favourite things point to the birthday one because it was just so much fun! We had about 30 hours in Oxford and we did so much fun stuff! We’d only briefly visited Oxford in the past and literally for brunch, so we’d not explored it at all. Thankfully after a bit of googling, not to mention interrogating others, we had a full list of places to visit, restaurants to stop at and sites to see. Hence we had the most marvelous trip – helped by the super sunny weather on day one of our trip.

In other less exciting, but no less lovely news we spent a lot of yesterday sorting out and organising things in the house and garden. We did everything from clearing out the garage and multiple tip runs to mowing the lawn (well, Dad did that bit) and planting our newly dug flower beds. Not to mention a fair bit of spring cleaning and throwing away of junk. Go us! It really is brilliantly how much you can get done in a few hours of concentrated sorting. I really must remember that!

Next on today’s favourite things list is the joy of baking. So far today I’ve made homemade baked beans and Easter nests and yesterday was all about the homemade buttermilk chicken and sweet potato fries. Talk about yummy! Now that the weather’s nicer it’s lovely to be making some new and different recipes from the last six months. Okay granted the Easter nests aren’t new, but when that much melted chocolate is involved it’s pretty epic!

Last, but by no means least, on the favourites list is our Easter plans. Tomorrow we’re back home to the Parentals for a lovely Easter with family. I can’t wait for board games and drinks in the garden and puppy cuddles and time with the sisterlings. It’s going to be awesome! What about you, what are you up to this Easter?

-Fi x

The Home Front: The Bathroom Reveal

So 21 months after we moved in and we’re finally ready to share our bathroom reveal with you. As is the usual with us we did all the hard work a lifetime ago and it’s just been a case of doing the finishing touches before we could reveal all. Honestly sometimes I think we’re the laziest people known to man. I mean for eight months we’ve only had to hang some stuff on the wall to be able to declare it finished. How ridiculous is that!

Anyway, let’s dive into the big bathroom reveal. Firstly I should say that there wasn’t anything fundamentally wrong with the room. In fact it had been redecorated just before we bought the house. Everything was new and inoffensive. There was nothing wrong with it. It’s just that the cream and white wasn’t our style. It was all just a little too boring!

Strangely enough, for us anyway, we chose the new colour scheme for this room pretty quickly. In fact before we even moved in! During a shopping trip with friends we were browsing one of my favourite places – the M&S Home Department when I came across stacks of fluffy towels. The coral towels were sat next to the navy ones and something just clicked. What a perfect colour combination. And thankfully Lau was in complete agreement. It was exactly what we wanted.

Neither of us are afraid of using colour on walls, hence our rhubarb and custard kitchen in the old flat. And with the amount of light in the bathroom and its large size we knew it would work. Especially considering that the floor and the bathroom suite were all neutrals. We ended up painting opposing walls in navy and coral, with the remaining wall a bright white (our fourth bathroom wall is fully tiled) therefore ensuring that the colour wasn’t too much.

So once the painting was done we just had a few bits and pieces to add to make it perfect. First up was a giant mirror on the navy wall above the sink, which was a great way of breaking up the dark colour, but also worked to ensure the coral and navy were on the same wall with the reflection. Below the mirror we added a glass shelf for face stuff, candles and mini cacti plants.

Next came a wooden storage unit thing that holds our bath rack, a basket of all sorts of toiletries hidden from plain sight, cotton wool in a glass bowl and our lush products. So essential storage but without being too obtrusive. The only other bathroom storage is a wicker basket with a lid that holds toilet rolls next to the sink. It’s so lovely with its shot of pink running around the outside of it.

One finally job before the bathroom reveal could happen? Hanging artwork of course. We discussed putting some Gemma Correll prints, seen here, up on the coral wall but instead opted to leave that wall empty. Instead we’ve put up my five ceramic fish along the top of the white wall. The fish have been collected over the years on trips to Portugal, I think I got the first one when I was ten! They’re all different colours and shapes but fit together so perfectly. They also go well with the four wooden fish I picked up in Florida, again when I was a kid, which sit on the windowsill.

We threw in a couple of towels in grey and coral and we’re done. Out gorgeous colourful bathroom is complete and we love it. And what’s more all those (namely the parents) who thought we were insane for this colour combo admit that it really works. So hooray for that!

-Fi x

Life Rambles: Friday Favourites 67

This week my brain has been tired. Does anyone else get that? When your brain is tired and so it makes you tired? Well that’s how I’ve felt this week. I think it’s because work has seemed extra busy. It’s the whole run up to birthday and Easter holidays time that always seems to fly by and yet there’s just so much to do. Cue me running around like a headless chicken. It’s during weeks like this that making a list of my favourite things is all the more worthwhile. It’s the opportunity to remind myself of the bright sparks in the craziness.

So first on this list of favourite things is the cooking that I’ve been doing this week. This week has been one of no after work plans which has allowed me to spend some time cooking dinner. It may seem small but I love opening the windows, blasting out some music and dancing around the kitchen while I whip up something delicious. We’ve had spaghetti carbonara, homemade pizza and fish curry. The fish curry was a brand new recipe and it was delicious. It was super-easy to make, only taking 30 minutes, and so perfect served with a pile of couscous.

Now on to number two on my favourite things list – the above picture. I snapped this on my walk to Victoria station on Monday night. As mentioned my brain has been tired this week so I’ve not been the best version of myself, with a definite negative vibe going on. But on Monday when I looked up and saw this view, that negativity was gone. Living and working in London means there are definitely moments that almost take my breath away and remind me of the history that surrounds me. Like this view, which put a giant smile on my face for the rest of the evening.

My current read is the beautiful The Island at the End of Everything by Kiran Millwood Hargrave. I absolutely loved her first book, The Girl of Ink and Stars so I was so pleased when Fi gave me a copy of this. I’m not far through it but I’m utterly engrossed and I can’t wait to devour the rest of it over the weekend.

And last but not least on my Friday favourite things list? The fact that the birthday celebrations have officially begun. Hooray for that! On Thursday I headed out with my work pals for lunch at The Big Easy in Covent Garden. It was my first visit, even though I work just around the corner, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to be a regular customer from now on. I’m still dreaming about their lobster roll. Plus the chips were delicious too. If you’re in the area you must pop in.

So there we have it, my brain may not be on top form, but I’ve been able to pull a few things out of it for this week’s Friday favourites. I hope you have all had a lovely week and have a fun weekend planned.

Laura xx

In the Kitchen: Turkey Mole

We’ve had a slow cooker for quite a while now, but we usually only use it for a chilli or a chicken pilaf. So with some quieter weekends recently it’s been ideal for trying some new recipes. And I can report that the first of those recipes, a turkey mole, was a huge success.

Having never had turkey mole before I didn’t know what to expect but I was intrigued enough by the ingredients – namely the mix of chocolate and the spices – to want to try it. And it’s my new favourite meal. So much so that I ate it for dinner once and lunch twice in the space of three days and I could have easily had it for a fourth meal – if we’d had any left!

As it’s one of my new favourites, you simply must give it a go too. The recipe we used was from the DK Try it! Slow Cooking book. Although we slightly amended the recipe – reducing the amount of chilli powder by two thirds (as I can’t handle that amount of spice) and leaving out the aniseed as we didn’t have any. Anyway, read on for our version…

Turkey Mole: The ingredients

900g boneless turkey thighs / salt and pepper / 3tbsps vegetable oil / 45g dark chocolate (70% cocoa) broken into pieces / 250ml hot water

Turkey Mole: The ingredients for the mole

400g chopped tomatoes / 1/2 onion quartered / 3 peeled garlic cloves / 1 slice of stale white bread / 1 stale tortilla / 175g blanched almonds / 75g raisins / 10g chilli powder / 1tsp each of: ground cloves, coriander and cumin / 1/4 ground aniseed / 2tsp ground cinnamon / 30g sesame seeds

Turkey Mole: The Recipe

  • Preheat the slow cooker as required (auto/low for 6-8 hours, high for 3-4 hours)
  • Heat half the oil in a saucepan on a medium heat
  • Add the turkey pieces and cook for 10-15 minutes until browned all over. Set aside
  • Place all the ingredients for the mole (apart from half the sesame seeds) into a food processor and blend into a smooth paste
  • Heat the remaining oil in the saucepan and add the mole mixture and cook on a medium heat until thick. Which is about five minutes
  • Add the chocolate and stir in until melted
  • Slowly add the hot water and some more salt and pepper before bringing to the boil
  • Put everything in to the slow cooker, including the turkey, with the lid on for the desired time (as outlined above)
  • After the time outlined remove the turkey from the slow cooker and use two forks to shred it
  • Return the meat to the sauce and mix up
  • Toast the remaining sesame seeds for 2-3 minutes in a dry frying pan until golden
  • Serve with couscous or rice and sprinkle over the sesame seeds

Have you ever had turkey mole? I can’t believe I hadn’t until these last few weeks. I’ve seriously been missing out!

-Fi x

The Home Front: The March House Update

Good Morning! How is everyone today. It’s Laura here, just dropping in to share a little house update with you all. Now I know that Fi normally does these, but I’ve decided that the March house update is coming from me. I think that Fi sometimes freaks out if we don’t do enough each month – which is crazy – so I’m popping in to give her a little reality check!

March House Update: What’s been ticked off the list?

So first up on this March house update I have to tell you that we have finally, finally boarded our loft. Hallelujah! It’s been a long time coming as we had originally decided that we were going to do this ourselves. But this never actually happened and we realised that in reality we were never going to get around to it. So early on in March, I took a day off work to let in the loft men and a couple of hours later our loft was boarded.

We’ve now got a lovely big space to put all of the things. So far we’ve only moved the five boxes of Christmas paraphernalia upstairs. We do need to move the suitcases of seasonal clothes upstairs too, but I want to first switch out the summer stuff and replace it with the winter coats and jumpers. As soon as that’s done then up they’ll go too.

Also in March Fi ordered herself a new bed. She’s been debating which bed since Christmas, but she finally made a decision and got ordering. So we spent a Saturday morning putting up her new bed and moving all her bedroom furniture around. It’s was basically a room spring clean, which is always fun to do. I think she’s planning a bedroom update on her soon, so she’ll share all the details then.

In last month’s post Fi mentioned that my bookshelves were now up and painted but that shelf faffing was still required. We’ll I’m sure you’ll be pleased to know that I have now finished organising all my books and photos to create the most perfect looking shelves you could imagine. I’ve finally had the chance to use my bookends and put my books and photo albums on display. I still need to get some storage baskets for the shelves at the bottom, but it’s so almost there that I am declaring it finished.

We also spent a few hours last week putting up pictures. So I’ve finally put up three frames in my room. Two of these were Christmas presents from two years ago, so it’s high time that I’ve put these up. The other frame has a Beauty & the Beast print which was a thirtieth birthday present, so again, it was long over due. In my defence I wanted to get my shelves up before I decided where to put all the pictures. We have also added Fi’s collection of brightly painted ceramic fish to the bathroom. They’ve gone on the white wall along the very top and they bring in some more colour without clashing with the coral and navy.

March House Update: What jobs have we progressed with?

In terms of progression, we’re getting there with the garden. Last weekend we weeded the front and back garden flowerbeds. We’ve also sorted out our hose. I know how ridiculous this sounds, but last summer we bought a new hose pipe and just didn’t get around to installing it. So that’s now done.

March House Update: What’s the plan for April?

In April I’d love it if we could make some decision about the fireplace and actually get that completed. If we could do that, then we’d be able to paint the last wall in the living room and then that room would be done. The problem is that Fi and are can’t find anyone to do what we need. So if you know any plasters or handymen in South London send them my way.

So we’ve already mentioned the garden, we’ll as spring has arrived, we’ll be cracking on with these even further. We’re waiting for the council to pick up our green waste bin and then we’ll be removing the final weeds before looking at getting some plants in to brighten up the place.

Also in April I’m keen to head to Ikea for another kitchen conversation. We’ve been to Homebase and the prices there seemed extortionate so we’re going to look at Ikea now. And I know that kitchens are expensive, but there’s still a limit! We actually had an Ikea kitchen in our old flat and loved it, we called it our rhubarb and custard kitchen as that was the colour palette and it really was lovely. Anyway I’m intrigued to see how a design from there could work in our current kitchen. Watch this space.

So there we have it, that’s what we’ve been up to on the house front in March. Check out previous updates at the following links; January and February.

Laura x

The Book Corner: Fi’s March Reads

So that’s it March is over already. Lord knows how we’re a quarter of the way through 2017 already, its completely insane. But hey ho, that must be a sign of getting older – the year whizzing by at the speed of light. But one good thing about March ending? It’s time for the next of my reading updates, you lucky, lucky things! I’ve read some brilliant books this month and can’t wait to get sharing them with you. So without further ado, let’s dive right into my March reads list…
March reads #1Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
First up is the first book in Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy. I’ve been meaning to read this book for ages as I love Bardugo’s other Grisha books. And this one doesn’t disappoint AT ALL. I positively raced through it and have requested the other two books for my birthday. I need to know what happens next. If you’re a fan of fantasy you need to read these as the Grisha world is fascinating and Bardugo really makes you care for her characters – even if you don’t know whether they can be trusted or not…
March reads #2 – Nasty Women by various

This collection book is a must read. For everyone. It’s a collection of essays, interviews and accounts on what it is to be a woman in the 21st century. Spanning a host of topics including pregnancy, Brexit, finding an online voice, punk, politics, being a child of immigrants, race and contraception. It’s truly fascinating. The writers all have such different voices.

March reads #3 – A Murder is Announced (Miss Marple #5) by Agatha Christie

It’s a travesty that I have read so little of Agatha Christie’s books. Especially considering how much I love any Agatha Christie TV adaptation. I’m sure I’ve watched every adaptation that’s aired since 1995. But alas I have yet to properly read Agatha Christie’s novels. But I’m hoping to change that over the next few months starting with her fifth Miss Marple book. Unsurprisingly I loved it – all the different characters, little clues and red herrings, plus the big reveal at the end. I love that she had a little old lady show up the police force, and that she didn’t shy away from the more gruesome side of the case. And clearly I didn’t work this ending out. But I’m determined to solve one of her cases at some point!

March reads #4 – The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

Book four on my March reads list is one I’ve been meaning to read for an age. I’ve heard such good things about this YA novel, it really got a lot of buzz when it was released. And I can definitely see why. It’s such an interesting story and Flora, the main character, is very well written. Despite the premise of her story – she has no short-term memory, so forgets things that happened an hour earlier and overnight her brain resets to her as a seven-year old, before her accident – she’s a very believable character. You are automatically on her side and want to find out what’s going on. However there were a couple of fundamental issues I had with this book, things that went just a step too far. And a step beyond, in my opinion anyway, reality. So that’s a bit of a shame.

March reads #5 – Arrowood by Mick Finlay

A detective novel set in 19th Century London. Of course I was going to love this book. The plot was fast paced and gave you just enough information to keep you guessing what might happen next. And of course there were lots of little red herrings along the way. As for the characters, I think we’ll be seeing a lot more books featuring them in the future – it definitely felt like the scene was being set in this book. Plus there were lots of little things dropped in there about them that we’re never followed up on our resolved. I can’t wait.

March reads #6The Twelve Days of Dash and Lily by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

So it turns out this is actually book two in Dash and Lily’s story and I had no idea until I finished the book. But you can totally read this book separately, which is surely a sign of a good book! Another thing I hadn’t realised about this book? That it was set at Christmas. Which obviously I loved. Basically I knew nothing about what I was about to read. Anyway, this book is great and I loved it. It follows Dash and Lily for the month of December as they work through some issues they’re having on the lead up to Christmas – not realising how strongly the other feels, parents moving away, an ill grandfather and angry divorced parents. I loved the story and the characters so much and now need to go back and read book one to see how they met in the first place.

March reads #7 – The Bookshop Girl by Sylvia Bishop and Ashley King

This is a book that we’re releasing at work this week and it’s so lovely. It’s the sweetest story for younger readers (kids 7 – 10) about Property Jones who lives and helps run a glorious bookshop even though she can’t actually read (not that her family knows this). The characters are so wonderful and the tale full of charm, which means even if you’re not a fan of kids books (you heathens) or bookshops, you can’t fail to love this book. Oh and the illustrations – they’re gorgeous. So quirky and so perfectly capturing the characters and situations. It’s lovely.

March reads #8 – The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo

So this book is described as One Day meets Me Before You and that seems quite apt. It’s about Gabe and Lucy who fall in love during a horrific and live-changing event and how their lives unfold over the next 13 years. Throughout the novel, which is told from Lucy’s point of view, a tragedy is hinted at but you don’t find out the whole story until the end. But you badly want to know and the writing so beautifully pulls you in to this story so you have to keep reading. If you’re going to read this book, which you must, make sure you’re prepared for the emotions. Because you will be assaulted from all sides. But it’s totally worth it. After all I’m still thinking about it two days later…

So there we go, that’s what I read in March. Eight brilliant books, all very different, but all sooooo good. What bout you, what did you read last month? Anything you can recommend to me?

Life Rambles: Friday Favourites #66

Greetings friends and happy Friday! I hope you’ve had a lovely week full of your favourite people and things. Mine’s passed by in the blink of an eye thanks to work craziness and lovely evenings. So a right old mix of stressful stuff and lovely stuff. I’m rather glad that it’s the weekend now though. It wouldn’t be Friday without a favourites post so let’s dive straight in to some of my favourite things of the last week.

First on the list of favourite things? The Spring sunshine of course. It’s been an absolute delight to shrug off the massive coats and thick black tights in favour of spring jackets and ankle skimming jeans. Talk about the dream. I’m now on countdown until I can get out my trusty purple Saltwaters. And even, dare I say it? Go bare legged. Yippee!

Number two on my list is walking around London town. I’ve taken to walking the longer route home or into work so that I can take in the London sites. Oh and also to appreciate the nicer weather, plus smelling all the lovely blossom. I forget how much I love the city in the spring. It’s lovely.

Another favourite thing was a mid-week catch up with friends on the Southbank. We hadn’t caught up for an age and finally our diaries worked together so we could have a lovely evening all together. What was even better was our impromptu venue decision. Due to our indecision and getting distracted by nattering we wandered aimlessly for a while turning our back on a lot of the named places for a random turkish place hidden away from everything else. And what a place! It felt like we’d been transported to another country thanks to the restaurants charm. There was live sitar playing, quirky decor and delicious food. The pides (a sort of pizza flatbread thing) were delicious and I’m already thinking about our next trip there. So good and the perfect spot for a long catch up with friends.

On Wednesday evening I was lucky enough to head to the Art of the Brick:DC Superheroes exhibition that’s currently on the Southbank. It was for work and it was brilliant. The LEGO installations had all been created by one of LEGO’s Master Brickbuilders and were incredible. The exhibit is organised over a series of different rooms. Working your way from smaller simpler models of Wonder Woman and Batman to more complicated and impressive ones. One of the final ones is an amazing replica of the Batmobile. So, so cool! If you’re a LEGO or DC Superhero fan you really must go visit. I think it’s £13 for an adult and £10 for a child.

One other lovely thing that’s happened this week – I’ve been getting into a bit of an exercise routine and it’s feeling great. Not only have I been swimming once a week first thing in the morning, which is a lovely way to start the day. But I’ve also been going for a 4 mile run on the weekend. This upcoming weekend will be run number three, and while that’s not the longest running habit ever it’s feeling pretty good. So I definitely need to applaud myself. Not least so I make myself go out this coming weekend and don’t lounge in bed all morning. There’s something so good about getting up, going for a run and then getting home by 11.30 to cook a yummy brunch. Some weekends I can waste the entire morning either in bed or on the sofa. So long many this new habit continue…

So there we have it a Friday Favourites list of some of my current favourite things. Yippee for celebrating the little things! What would be on your favourite things list this week?

-Fi x

Wishlists: Fi’s Birthday Ideas

Despite being the grand old age of *cough* thirty one *cough* I still adore celebrating my birthday. I’m lucky to have never really experienced the sheer panic of feeling like I’m getting old and my life is racing away from me. I don’t know why, it’s just never been a thing. Which is perfect if you ask me as it means that birthdays are still a joyful experience. I really hope that never changes! This year we’re planning a couple of days away in Oxford to celebrate being another year older and I’m sure they’ll be a plethora of cake and family fun too. Yeah for birthdays. One important thing on your birthday? Presents! Who doesn’t love presents? So if anyone wants to treat me – not that you need to of course – here’s some birthday ideas for you all. YIPPEE!

V&A Membership / Gym Bag / The Hate You Give / StereoWalt Disney’s Biography

Gold splat cushion / Ombre CushionLobster PJ Bottoms/ Bright Blue Bag

Last year I got the brilliant gift of membership to the V&A and I’ve loved it. I’ve used it throughout the year to see so many brilliant exhibitions without having to worry about booking. It’s been lovely to be able to be spontaneous and head to an interesting exhibit on the day – I’m not a big planner so that’s perfect!

I always, always have many books to add to my list and this year’s no different. In fact it’s almost more important as I’ve been on a bit of a self-imposed book buying ban this year. I’m a big Disney fan so would love to find out more about the man himself. As for YA there’s a lot of buzz around The Hate You Give right now and I’m dying to read it. It sounds like a really important story. Also on the YA list – books two and three of the Grisha Trilogy as I’m a big fan of book one and need to know what happens next!

As mentioned over here I’m trying to get better at going to the gym and swimming and a new sports bag is integral to this. I’ve finally settled on this Adidas version as it’s not stupidly priced (a key factor if my gym visits dwindle) and it’s big enough for everything I need to pack in there. And because a girl can never have too many bags I’ve added this gorgeous blue Joules bag to the list. I do love a pop of colour in a bag, don’t you?

Oh and lobster patterned pjs have made the list, because quite simply. I need these in my life. Like NEED them.

Star Bedding / Blue Throw / Neon Pillar Candles

The other items on my list make clear my love for current obsession with my newly arranged room. These new items would make my room perfect and ensure I’m content and comfy when I snuggle up in there on a Sunday afternoon. All three of these things are from Hema – my current favourite shop – and aren’t they all lovely?

So there we go – lots of lovely birthday ideas for anyone wanting to buy me presents! Let’s hope the birthday fairies are kind to me this year!

-Fi x

Out and About: Windsor Castle Top Tips

Last weekend we visited Windsor Castle, for the very first time. Yep you read that right. After living just 45 minutes from Windsor Castle for thirty years I’ve only just visited it. I don’t know why, it’s just never happened. Or at least not that I can remember! Surely there really should have been a school trip in there at some point. That would have been much better than the walk to the local village to visit the post office. No I’m not kidding, that was an actual school trip in year one. Anyway, if you’re thinking of visiting here are my Windsor Castle top tips!

Fi’s Windsor Castle top tips

1-Definitely book your tickets online first. This is the MOST important tip as it meant you skipped a queue of roughly sixty people for one with just three (well we did anyway). It doesn’t cost anymore and you can book the day before. Well worth remembering.

2-When you get inside head to the shop near the exit – opposite George Chapel – and get your wristband. This means you can then exit the castle, say to get lunch, and re-enter without any issue. Definitely vital, thanks to Windsor Castle top tip number four.

3-We deliberated not getting the free audio tour as we assumed there’d be information at various parts of the castle. There wasn’t. The audio tour is vital. Unless all you want to do it look at everything and guess what it’s for or browse the three shops…

4-One of the surprising things about the castle is that there’s no cafe in there. I didn’t even think to check and simply assumed we’d be able to get an afternoon tea in their or at least a drink. But no there isn’t one. And to be honest? I kind of like that. The Castle just focuses on informing you about it’s amazing history and not about selling you overpriced sandwiches. It makes it feel like you’re stepping in to a home rather than visiting the latest tourist attraction.

5-Make sure you go when the State Rooms are open. That’s the most fascinating part of the trip and where you’ll spend most of the time. I’d have been very disappointed to go when that wasn’t open for visitors. The State Rooms are beautiful and full of so much history. What’s also fascinating are the facts related to the fire that tore through the castle in 1992. The story of restoring the castle after the fire was a highlight too.

6-Make sure you make time to wander round the town of Windsor while you’re there. We had a couple of wanders around the little cafes and down the steep hill and it was all so picturesque. See the picture above if you don’t believe me. And they do a mean cream tea too!

7-The final thing on my Windsor Castle top tips list? Make sure you have change for the car park. Or even better get the train there. We stupidly assumed there would be a car park for the castle and didn’t even think to check online beforehand. Maybe tip eight should be to research before you go? Anyway we had no change, so cue us arriving and having to drive round the town for forty minutes to find one that would allow card payments. Although spoiler: you can’t assume that’ll actually work. Our machine broke and we ended up having to find £20 in cash at the end of our visit anyway. So yes, trains are the way forward.

So there you go, my Windsor Castle top tips. You’re welcome! Now that I’ve been I am firmly of the opinion that everyone has to go. It’s just such an interesting day out.

Also it wasn’t that busy, considering we headed over on a Saturday. I’m sure that’s to do with the self-guided aspect of it so you can be as speedy or as dawdling as you want to be. Always my favourite thing! I’m sure you won’t be surprised to know that I’m the one that stops and listens to/reads every little thing so I know everything. Lau loves that part of my personality. Not!

Have you ever visited Windsor Castle? What did you think of it and what would be your top tips?

-Fi x