Life Rambles: Friday Favourites #84

Welcome to another edition of friday favourites. Although, let’s be honest, this week has been a weird one. While it’s been full of lovely, amazing, brilliant things it has also been tinged with utter horror as I’ve watched how things have been unfolding in Charlottesville and Barcelona. Sometimes I really worry about this world and what we, as humans, are capable of. It’s really been quite horrific. Although reassuringly no one in my circle has anything other than condemnation about the idiots spouting such hateful, racist things across the world. If anything my feed has been one of support and asking how can we do more to help. Which has certainly been good to see.

But anyway, on to my friday favourites, the list of things that have made me cheerful this week. The little things that have brightened my day or had me smiling in the otherwise painful moments. One smallish thing that has made a big difference in my life is simply cooking more from scratch. It’s been part of my strive to be healthier and I’ve found I really enjoy cooking more if it’s not just bunging pre made things together. The ritual of chopping and mixing, stirring and seasoning is really quite nice and I’ve found it very therapeutic over the last few weeks. The meal I’m most proud of in the last week is the homemade baked beans and the simpleness of homemade enchiladas. Is there anything more necessary and warming on a rainy weeknight? I don’t think there is.

 Friday Favourites - Life Rambles - This and That Blog

In other good news this week I had the best summer barbecue with family at the weekend. It was exactly what you want in a summer barbecue. Copious amounts of food, good people, Pimms, a beautiful garden, lots of chatter and the puppy playing around you. Sunday afternoon’s spent like that are the absolute best.

One thing that has made me really happy this week is that I seem to be getting stronger from all the half marathon training. My legs no longer ache so much post run and it’s easier to get up and going each run. There’s no longer pain for the first mile either. So yeah for that. Every time I restart running I’m surprised about this, hopefully this time around I’ll remember it’s easier if I keep on top of it all.

Friday Favourites - Life Rambles - This and That Blog

Last night I ticked another brilliantly British summer activity of this year’s to do list – watching cricket as the sun went down. We headed on over to the Oval to watch a Twenty20 match between Surrey and Gloucester. It was a really close game, with Surrey triumphing in the last over and we had such fun eating our fish and chips and nattering away as we watched them play. I highly recommend a trip to a Twenty20 match if you can get tickets. Even if you’re not the biggest cricket fan it’s such fun!

The final thing making today’s friday favourites is the fact that I’ve surpassed my sponsorship target for October’s half marathon. So that’s over £350 going to Great Ormond Street Hospital (if I complete the run). How awesome is that? It is definitely good motivation to get me out of bed and training each morning!

So there we go, my friday favourites list for this week. How was your week and what made your list?

-Fi x

All Things Fitness: Fitness Update Week Four

Fitness Update Week Four - All Things Fitness - This and That Blog

Fitness Update Week Four: Exercise

  • *Let’s start with an oops shall we? In week four I failed to do all my half marathon training plan exercise days. Simply put I just couldn’t get up on Thursday to do my 40 minutes of interval training. Oops.
  • *But I did do two days of swimming – which is the most I’ve done since the training started, and one of those is an additional day of exercise to the plan.
  • *In other not so good news I found the long run this week really really hard. It was 15 min walk, 30 min run, 5 min walk, 30 min run and 15 min walk. By the time the second lot of running came around I was feeling so sick. I think it’s because I hadn’t eaten, but man did I feel ill. So I walked for about ten minutes of that second running section.
  • *But considering how ill I felt I’m extra proud that I kept going and completed the full-time of that run. I could have given up and stopped as soon as I felt ill. So that’s definitely something to be proud of. Also it turns out that run was my longest since May 2016. Crazy right? So well done me!
  • *So my exercise week looks a bit like this:
    • *Monday: 32 min swim (40 lengths)
    • *Tuesday: 32 minute/2.5 mile run
    • *Friday: 32 minute swim (40 lengths)
    • *Saturday: 95 minute/5.5 mile run
  • *Step wise I still didn’t manage to do 10,000 steps on my non-training days. But I did do well over 10,000 steps on two of the days so on balance it’s not all bad.
  • *Total steps – 61,000

Fitness Update Week Four: Food

  • *The overnight oats obsession is still going strong, particularly our peanut butter recipe. And I’ve been adding ALL the fruit – the best combo so far is sultanas, raspberries and banana. Yummy!
  • *I did eat out or have food made for me quite a lot last week, which meant it wasn’t all as packed with veggies as I’d have liked. But I’m never going to begrudge myself a night out with friends or a takeaway with family
  • *We also had a big family BBQ this week with lots of yummy things, including chocolate cake and Pimms and all the bread. But my plate of BBQ food was actually 75% salads (leaf, pasta, potato and cous cous) and only 25% meats. So I think that deserves a gold star right there!

Fitness Update Week Four: Results

  • *I’m two pounds lighter this week but I think the real result is that I’ve been (mostly) enjoying running again. Plus my muscles aren’t as achy as they were the last week. That’s got to be a good thing right?
  • *So let’s look at last week’s goals. Firstly eating more fruit and veg. Well I definitely did this last week and managed to hit five fruit and veg most days. So hooray! The 10,000 steps or 30 minutes exercise goal is still, most definitely, a work in progress though. I’m determined to get there soon though

Fitness Update Week Four: Goals for next week

  • *Number one on the fitness goals for this week is to keep adding in the veggies. I’m good at the fruit side of it, but there’s definitely more I could be doing to get veg into my diet. I must try harder!
  • *My fitness goal for the next week is to get above 70,000 steps. I don’t seem to be able to do that at the moment, so I really want to try this week. Fingers crossed I can up the steps enough…

So there we go, the next fitness check in is a go. Have you got any top tips to help me get more veg into my diet – send me some tips and recipes pretty please!

-Fi x

Out & About: What I Learned From Travelling

Today’s post is all about what I learned from travelling. Why I hear you ask? Well ten years ago I was just returning from a five month trip travelling the globe. Which seems crazy, where did all the time go? Anyway, back then Fi and I had always discussed going travelling after university, so after graduation we spent six months working to save enough money, before jumping on a plane at Heathrow on a cold day in February with our travelling companion and fellow globe trotter, Sam. What followed was five months of exploring.

We took a total of 13 flights, countless buses and eight boats during that time. There was horse riding through a Lord of the Rings river, swimming with fish in Fiji and surviving a taxi driver in Singapore who fell asleep at the wheel. We saw the sunrise on the beaches of New Zealand, celebrated Fourth of July in Chicago and found fireflies in underground caves. It really was the trip of a lifetime.

I look back now and realise just how lucky I was to have these experiences. And while I wouldn’t change that trip for anything, there are things I wish I’d have known. So that’s what I’m sharing today. The things I wish I’d known before I hopped on that first flight, or as I like to call it….

What I Learned From Travelling

1/ Go Off The Beaten Track

As much as I love a good guide book, it’s also good to find your own way sometimes. Yes, it’s nice to know the ‘must sees’ of places, but it’s equally good to find your own version of these. So make the time to go and explore the unknown. Or walking in a city, rather than taking public transport. We found the best restaurant in New York when we did this. Likewise with some of the beaches we found in New Zealand.

2/ Air Travel Is Safe

Before going travelling I wasn’t a fan of travelling by plane. I hated take-off and each bump of turbulence felt, to me, like we were about to crash. The only part of flying I could handle was the landing, and that was only because it meant I’d be getting off the plane. Fast forward through 13 flights during those five months of travelling and these flying issues were cured. I found that the more I travelled by plane, the more used to it I became, until suddenly getting on a plane was no big deal. In fact I embraced it, because it meant that I would soon have somewhere new to explore. And then each new take off or bump of turbulence wasn’t a problem, it felt like a speed bump or something totally unimportant.


3/ Global Brands Are Not The Same Everywhere

This may seems like an odd thing to add to this list, but I definitely wish I’d have known this before travelling. Basically recognisable brands are not the same in every country so when you want some home comforts don’t expect those familiar brands to help you out. There was one day in New Zealand when we were all feeling particularly in need of home comforts. Our hostel was awful, we were exhausted, and didn’t fancy pasta for dinner (again), so we decided to treat ourselves with a trip to Nandos. Big mistake! We didn’t get the meal we were expecting and actually it made us feel even worse, we’d have been better of treating ourselves to coffee and cake instead! Likewise when we bought Cadbury’s chocolate in New Zealand. There must be something in it to stop it melting, plus the milk used is different, so of course the taste is different too. Sad times!

4/ Don’t Feel Guilty For Rest Days

This is an important one, and something that took me awhile to figure out. But rest days are important when you’re travelling. Yes, you’re trying to see so many things in such a short time, but you mustn’t forget to look after yourself, and that’s where rest days come in. We did not allow ourselves enough of these during our trip. Which is why we ended up spending three of our five Miami days doing nothing but watching TV and sleeping. Luckily it was raining through all of these days, so we didn’t feel guilty about it. We were all exhausted and needed to recharge our batteries, because we’d not let ourselves do it earlier on in the trip. So that’s a lesson learned from travelling, have a break!


5/ Don’t Overplan

This is probably the key thing I learned from travelling. I’m a planner, and so are the people that I travelled with, so we were always going to have a well planned adventure. With our round the world ticket we had to book all our flights in one go, which was perfect. It meant we knew our plan of countries, and time spent in each, early on in the planning stages. So we planned some bits before we left, hostels for our first few nights in each new country, the Vegas hotel and car hire in NZ. Then each time we arrived in a new country we sat down and figured out a plan for what we wanted to do and how we were going to do it.

It meant that we could work things out, and then book our accommodation and any transport requirements. But what it also meant was that we couldn’t change our plan easily. For example we all loved New Zealand and we knew we had five weeks in the country, so decided to split our time equally between the islands. However when we arrived in the South Island we suddenly realised how much we wanted to do there. Ideally we would have stayed longer, but we had plans in Australia, so that was a no go. Just like when we booked five days in Miami and then realised that we didn’t actually need to stay there that long. But changing our plans would have had an effect on our other plans.

See, too much planning, means it can be too rigid sometimes. I wouldn’t change the trip for anything, but it is good to remember that overplanning can have its drawbacks!

6/ You Can’t Do Everything

As much as I wanted to fit in all of the things, it’s just not possible. With only five months to travel, and a set amount of money, we couldn’t do everything. We had to miss some countries and cities and places.

Yes, we went to Las Vegas. But I didn’t make it to the Grand Canyon from there, which is one of my biggest regrets. In Australia we didn’t manage to visit the Great Barrier Reef, but we did go to Fraser Island. Likewise with how we split our time between New Zealand’s two islands. So that’s one of the biggest things I learned from travelling; you cannot do everything. But that’s okay because there will always be another opportunity.

So there you have it, what I learned from travelling for five months, 10 years ago! I’ve loved putting this post together and reminiscing. Have you travelled for an extended amount of time. What did you learn? What would be your top tips for anyone about to embark on a similar trip?

Laura xx


Life Rambles: Friday Favourites #83

First up on my favourites list this week is a work project. Yeah, sorry I’m going to talk about my day job. But this week has been the launch week of a big project, one that I’ve been working on for the best part of a year, so the fact that it’s finally reached this week is a bit of a miracle. Honestly I didn’t think it would ever happened. Anyway it’s been super crazy this week because of it, but hooray that it’s here finally.

Number two on the favourites list is baking. I spent Wednesday night whipping up some fairy cakes for a birthday. I went with my favourite chocolate cake recipe and topped them with vanilla frosting and maltesers. Simple and delicious. I may have scoffed two of these on Wednesday night, just for taste testing purposes of course!

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Next up I wanted to mention Baby Driver, a film I watched on Sunday. If I’m honest I really didn’t want to watch this film. But my sisters and I wanted to have a cake and cinema catch up and this was the only film that worked. Fi and Becca were both up for it, so I figured I’d just go along and see what it was all about. Anyway I was very pleased I did, as the film was excellent. Very stylised, with an epic soundtrack and it just gripped me in a totally unexpected way. Which is why it’s on the favourites list this week. I’d say if you’re in any doubt about watching it, then definitely go for it.

Next let’s talk about my Tuesday night, it was a pretty excellent one all round. First up I met some of my favourite people for dinner. Which consisted of a trip to Bill’s for gin and food. I went for the open club sandwich off their pre-theatre menu and it was so good. The perfect early supper treat. We then preceded to do ALL the talking before heading home as train buddies. We were definitely those annoying people in the 4 people seats, laughing loudly and talking super fast! Now this would clearly make the favourites list for this week all by itself, and it does. 

But I also want to share one more thing from that night. You see I was super early to our catch up so busied myself by pursuing the nearby shops. Well I only went and found a pair of shoes that I have been lusting after for ages. These are them. Anyway I pondered over buying them for a while and then decided that I should just bite the bullet and go for it. Because if you find the perfect shoes, they must be purchased ASAP. That’s totally the rule, right? Plus I had a voucher, so I would not be paying full price. Well do you know what, I don’t know why I worried so much, because I got to the till and it turns out my voucher covered almost all of the cost. I had to pay 55p; 50p for the shoes and 5p for a carrier bag. I don’t know why I even thought about it!


The final thing on this week’s favourites list is ice cream. Who’s making the most of working in central London, surrounded by all of the eateries? Me, that’s who! This week I popped out at lunch for a sneaky ice cream treat and it was one of my best ideas ever. I wandered into Bloomsbury for a cone with two scoops; chocolate peanut butter and stracciatella and I am seriously happy with my life choices right now. 

How has your week been? Have you had lots of adventures, or foodie treats too?

Thought of the Day #107: Curious About Ideas

be curious

Be less curious about people and more curious about ideas.

Marie Curie

This quote was on my desk calendar for the month of August and as soon as I read it, I loved it. Now I don’t know what Marie Curie was trying to say, but I’m taking this to be about focusing on ideas, rather than what people are doing. Thanks to gossip magazines and social media we are constantly surrounded by news about people. We have a celebrity culture to deal with. Let’s try and ignore this and focus on thoughts, and ideas, and learning about things.

Lately I’ve taken to ignoring twitter and the free papers on my commute and instead I’m reading. I’m trying to understand other points of view and all of the ideas and theories that are out there. Just because I’m not at school or university anymore doesn’t mean I can’t learn something new now.

All Things Fitness: Fitness Update Week Three

Fitness Update Week Three - All Things Fitness - This and That Blog

Hello team, how are we all today? I’m utterly exhausted, that’ll teach me to have such a fun weekend! Seriously though there’s something about a monday that leaves me exhausted. Probably something to do with no longer being able to snack when I want or laze around in my pjs I suppose… Anyway let’s get down to why we’re here – it’s time for fitness update week three! Let’s go!

Fitness Update Week Three: Exercise

  • *So this week I managed to do every day of my training plan, plus an extra day of swimming – go me!
  • *And what’s better I’m really enjoying it, well apart from the second run of the week that is. I hated every moment of it. Some things never change I suppose!
  • *So my exercise week looks a bit like this:
    • *Monday: 40 minute/3.7 mile run
    • *Tuesday: 30 minute stationery cycle
    • *Thursday: 30 minute/2.4 mile run
    • *Friday: 30 minute swim (40 lengths)
    • *Sunday: 45 minute/4 mile run
  • *Step wise I still didn’t manage to do 10,000 steps on my non-training days. But I will get there soon, maybe during week four…?
  • *Total steps – 67,000

Fitness Update Week Three: Food

  • *This week I didn’t buy any breakfast or lunch items until Friday – which never happens. So thats’s a mini success, right there.
  • *And at least on my buying breakfast day I opted for porridge and not a croissant, so that’s another gold star for me.
  • *In other news, snacking news to be precise, I have only snacked on bad things a couple of days this week. Otherwise it’s been sultanas and fruit or pitta chips.

Fitness Update Week Three: Results

  • *So in big news, I’ve lost a pound, whoop! Who doesn’t love a bit of positive reinforcement?
  • *In regards to last week’s goals…I definitely did better on the snacking. Now to sustain it!
  • *In the fitness goal, that seems to be working so far. I still haven’t completed a full week of exercise or 10,000 steps every day, but it’s getting closer each week. And that’s what counts I suppose

Fitness Update Week Three: Goals for next week

  • *This week’s food goal is to up my fruit and veg intake, to a minimum of five a day. I know it’s good for me, I know it makes me feel fuller for longer and yet i still don’t do it. So that needs to change!
  • *Fitness wise I’m determined to hit seven days of at least 30 minutes exercise of 10,000 steps this week. I can do this!

So there we go, week three’s fitness update is a go. Wish me luck for the next seven days!

-Fi x

The Book Corner: Fi’s July Reads

Fi's July Reads - The Book Corner - This and That Blog

It’s that time again, my montly book update is here! I had a much slower reading month in July and read just five books. But I did manage to tick off a few books that I’ve been meaning to read for ages, like Sarah J Maas’ latest series and The Underground Railroad, so that’s pretty good. Read on to see what I read and what I thought of those five July reads…

July Reads: Book One – A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas

Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while will know that I’m a huge fan of Sarah J Maas. So it’ll come as no surprise for you to discover that I adored the first book in her new series. A Court of Thorns and Roses has everything that her Throne of Glass series has – feisty heroines, intriguing love interests, dark secrets and creepy monsters all wrapped up in a fairytale retelling of Beauty and the Beast. This is a must-read. You will devour it in one sitting. I guarantee it.

 July Reads: Book TwoThe Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon

There’s been an awful lot of buzz about this book over the last year, in fact it was one of the biggest fiction releases of last year. Which I found surprising as I didn’t really enjoy it. It felt overly long and like you didn’t quite get to know enough about all the characters. It’s the tale of one cul-de-sac in a small town in England back in the 70s and how everyone reacts when a woman goes missing one day. We discover the secrets and lies cloaking the road and follow two young girls as they try and solve the mysterious disappearance. It’s interesting but I’m not sure the hype is warranted.

July Reads: Book ThreeOne of us is Lying by Karen McManus

One of Us is Lying is a really pacy read following five kids – the jock, the geek, the misfit, the bad boy and the queen bee – who all go into detention one afternoon and one of them dies. The rest of the kids are suspected in the mysterious death as they were int he room when it happens. The story is told from the perspective of all the kids, each one taking a chapter each, and as the story unfolds secrets are revealed, alliances changed and reality questioned. The twist is perhaps a little obvious but that doesn’t stop this book being a good read.

Fi's July Reads - The Book Corner - This and That Blog

July Reads: Book FourThe Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

This book is incredible and 100% deserves all the praise that’s being sent its way. It tells the story of one girl’s experience as a slave in the southern states of America in 19th century and what happens when she decides to flee. So far it’s won or been nominated in every major book award. So it’s fair to say I expected a lot. Thankfully I wasn’t disappointed. This book is sensitively told, utterly fascinating and completely enthralling. From page one I was rooting for Cora and invested in her story. It’s storytelling at its best.

July Reads: Book FiveThe Fandom by Anna Day

Imagine you were suddenly transported into your favourite book or film and became the heroine. Would you do what needed to be done to ensure the story ended how it needed. To ensure good trumps over evil? No matter what the cost? That’s the question Violet must ask herself as she’s transported into an alternate universe, that of her favourite book and film The Gallows Dance  thanks to a freak accident while at ComicCon. Can she hold it together long enough to ensure the survival of herself and her friends? And what happens when she falls for the other guy and not the main hero?
The Fandom has such an interesting premise, and understandably one that’s gone down well with me and every other bookish person I know who’s read it. As for the storytelling, it’s brilliant. The world Day has created is immersive, the characters realistic and flawed and the storytelling it page-turning. I defy you not to be hooked on chapter one!
So there we go, my five July reads. Now, tell me, how was your reading month? What books did you love, which did you hate and have you read any of the books I read this month?
-Fi x

Life Rambles: Friday Favourites #82

Happy Friday team, how is everyone today? I’m sat on the sofa watching all the Netflix as I eat a delicious brownie. So life is pretty good right now. And that’s item one on my Friday favourites list for today. Having the afternoon off and completely relaxing. What a joy!

Next on the favourites list is lovely bookish events. This week included a day at YALC surrounded by fellow teen book fans and it was a delight. Yeah it was full on, working 9 – 6 at a convention will do that to you. But it was joyful to be talking all things brilliant books all day. ALso exciting this week was bookish event two, the lovely launch for The Guggenheim Mystery by Robin Stevens. For this launch, in my favourites London bookshop, there was an art gallery, pop tarts and multi coloured cupcakes. Basically the best book event ever!

Friday Favourites - Life Rambles - This and That Blog

In other exciting news, this week the Lunabean turned two! She of course could not have cared less about it but it was nice to take a moment and celebrate this gorgeous little pup. It’s hard to believe she’s so young, considering how important she is to all of us.

Monday was all about treating myself, which clearly has to be on this week’s favourite list. Sometimes a haircut, pedicure and time to yourself to read is just what you need.

Finally, rounding up the favourites list we have catching up with family. My aunt and uncle are over from Australia at the moment and on Saturday we caught up with them for lunch, nattering and cake. It was so nice to natter about all the things. Family really is the best.

So tell me, how was your week? What would make your own favourites list?

-Fi x

All Things Fitness: Fitness Update Week Two

Fitness Update Week Two - All Things Fitness - This and That Blog

So it’s time to chat all things fitness, as we dive into fitness update week two. That last week has gone by far too quickly! So did I find week two easier or harder than week one…?

Fitness Update week two: Exercise

So yet again I only managed four days of exercising this week, oops. I thought I’d done better than that. This is week one of my half marathon training plan so it was always going to be a bit of a test – plus it does tend to take me time to get into the swing of things. I’m still not sure that’s a good enough excuse for not doing the big run on Sunday or for not meeting one of my goals (getting 10,000 steps in on non-training days) though. But oh well. At least I upped my total steps this week though, and by 10,000 that’s something, right? In conclusion: I must try harder.
* Monday – Swim. 40 lengths in 32 minutes
* Tuesday – Run. 2.5 miles in 31 minutes
* Thursday – Run. 2.6 miles in 33 minutes
* Sunday – 12,000 steps
* Total Steps – 69,000

Fitness Update week two: Food

* I’ve been quite good at planning and prepping food for the working week over the last week. Every evening I’ve created an epic salad and breakfast at home. Ready to take to work in one of the many Tupperware pots cluttering up the house. Four of my days were catered for in this way.
* Breakfasts consisted of this delicious peanut butter overnight oats recipe or porridge with banana. While my epic salads have included hog roast sausage rolls, houmous, roasted veg, cooked chicken and artichoke hearts. Such a delicious combination of things to chuck into one big bowl!
* As for dinners, again, they’ve mainly been homemade – chicken tarragon sweet potatoes, meatballs and a homemade tomato sauce and prawns and noodles to name a few dishes.
* Of course there have been some not so good days, like Domino’s on Monday night and thai on Friday. And over the weekend a lot of snacking as I was working at a convention. But all the fruit and the meal prep that I did manage has certainly helped balance out the bad stuff.

Fitness Update Week Two - All Things Fitness - This and That Blog

Fitness Update week two: Results

* I’ve stayed the same weight wise this week, which I’m pleased with considering the snacking and two takeaways!
* I’m also still enjoying the running and it was good to get back to swimming last week two.
* As for my goals from last week, well I failed at number one. I definitely did not exercise everyday. Oops. I was clearly too ambitious on that one.
* Snacking wise I was really good mostly. During the week at work I kept to good things like sultanas and malt loaf or a filter coffee and not a milky coffee. There were a couple of Percy Pigs in there, but only one or two, now and again, not twenty every day of the week. So a definite improvement.

Fitness Update week two: Goals for the next week

* The big thing this week is to make sure I stick to my half marathon training plan. After missing the big run last week on the Sunday due to work, I have to keep up the training. This is a must. I do also want to do 10,000 steps on all the days I’m not exercising too. That should be a minimum for me.
* Food wise I’m not really setting any goals other than to continue to eat good snacks and not bad ones. Fingers crossed!

Fi xxx

Thought of the Day #106: Truths

With today’s thought of the day I’m sharing a little bit of Star Wars wisdom.


Here’s what I think this quote means; your truth, what you believe, isn’t going to be the same as everyone else’s truths. We are all different people, with different experiences of life, and therefore we are never going to agree with, or believe in, the same things. And these differences are what make us great, because imagine if we were all the same, there’d be cookie cutter robots wandering around doing everything in exactly the same way. What a boring life that would be.