Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Spring Outfit for Under £40

Spring is here! Even if the weather can’t decide whether it wants to shine, snow or storm. So even though the boyfriend keeps telling me there’s no such thing as a spring wardrobe (silly boyfriend) I am persevering and attempting to build one up. But obviously this costs money so it helps to be a bit thrifty and shop around to get good bargains. I love a good bargain, the less I spend on something the more things I can buy!

 Recently I keep seeing people wearing things that I really love and when I ask them where they got it from they smirk and say ‘Primark/George/Sainsbury’s/Tesco’s, etc.’ and I am always shocked because I always think they’re going to say something like Top Shop. So here is a post on an entire outfit I got from George at Asda all for under £40.

Firstly the grey top at £10. I am loving all things grey at the moment, it’s becoming a little obsession. I want grey clothes, grey bedding and grey furniture. This top is so cute, I love the white lace flower details along the sleeves and bottom and it’s quite a loose fit making it quite comfy. Next up are the ripped jeans at £20. I’ve been loving black ripped jeans all through Autumn/Winter but now the suns out I felt like it was time to get a pair of light blue ones. Finally the shoes at £6. These are just your basic black plimsolls that will go with many outfit.

So there you have it, a spring outfit all for under £40…£36 to be exact. What a bargain! What’s a must have in your spring wardrobe? Have you picked up any good bargains lately? Please let me know what you think in the comment section below.


Thursday, 21 April 2016

Dreaming of Electric Sheep?

This is a bit of a different type of post than I’ve wrote before, but I’ve been meaning to start for a while. I am a big book worm, bookaholic, booklover, call it what you want, I love to read. So I want to write more book review style posts and feature books more on my social media as it is something that has always been a big part of my life. Since I was a little girl I always had my nose stuck in a book, one of my most favourite Disney princesses is Belle from Beauty and the Beast. That library though! She was a lucky girl.

I’ve decided to do my first book post not on an individual book, but on an author. Philip K Dick (1928 – 1982) is an American writer who mainly wrote in the science fiction genre. I’ve not read any sci fi books until recently, I think the most I have ever delved into the genre is through movies. It’s always been a something I’ve enjoyed watching though but just not one I’ve ever read. Last year I decided to begin my journey into the realms of speculative fiction with the hugely talented Philip K Dick.

If you have not heard of Philip K Dick before (like me until last year), you most likely will have heard of some of the films that have been based on his books, such as Blade Runner, Total Recall, Minority Report and The Adjustment Bureau. Amazon have made a series on ‘The Man in The High Castle’ not too long ago. I’ve yet to watch this but I can’t wait to see how they adapted it onto screen.

The Man in The High Castle is the most recent Philip K Dick novel I have read. It is set in San Francisco and is based in an alternative world set 15 years after the end of World War Two. In this world Germany and Japan won the war so the two main ruling powers of the world are Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany. The story follows Bob Childan (an American antiques shop owner), Frank Frink (a secret Jewish-American jewellery crafter who has just been fired), Mr Tagomi (a high ranking Japanese official), Mr Baynes (a Swedish industrialist) and Julian (Franks ex-wife). Many of the characters in the book read another book called ‘The Grasshopper Lies Heavy’, which Germany have banned reading in the US - it is based on an alternative reality from theirs where the allies won World War Two.

Another book by Philip K Dick that I really enjoyed was ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep’. This novel was the basis for the film Blade Runner. It is set in San Francisco, in a post-apocalyptic world where the earth has been damaged by a nuclear war and from that most animal species are either endangered or extinct - so if you own a real animal, not an electric robotic one, it is seen as a sign of high status and wealth. The story follows Rick Deckard, who is a bounty hunter that is given the assignment of killing six escaped Nexus-6 model androids, and Jon Isidore, a man of low IQ who lives among ‘kibble’ and houses the escaped androids. The novel centres on empathy and what it is to be human. To test whether someone is a human or an android they are given an empathy test as androids lack empathy.

What I really enjoy about Philip K Dicks novels is how he deconstructs reality. The characters you follow in his books slowly seem to lose some form of their perceived reality and you begin to see that their world is almost an illusion of their own. Philip K Dick was known to have mental health issues himself and this is reflected in many of the characters from his books. He has written so many novels (44 published) that I have only touched the tip of the iceberg with his work. If you are someone who enjoys or is looking to take that first step into science fiction then I thoroughly recommend reading some of his work. I cannot wait to read more, the next one on my list is ‘Our Friends from Frolix 8’ which follows Nick Appleton, an ‘anxiety-ridden, pill-popping menial labourer’ and Council Chairman Willis Gram, a ‘psionically gifted, despotic oligarch of a planet ruled by the super-intelligent New Men.’

What have you been reading lately? Have you read any of Philip K Dicks work? 

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

My First Marathon Is Over

I have FINALLY finished my first marathon. Months and months of training, blisters, late night runs, long Sunday runs, rainy runs, chafing, bruised toes, black toe nails, bad knees, aching muscles and sore, sore feet are over. It has been long, hard and painful but I am so glad I have done it. Doing a marathon has always been on my bucket list but it seemed like something I would do in the far and distant future. This time last year I never would have imagined I would be running a marathon, I hadn’t even started running at that point. I am writing this post the day after the race; my thighs are on fire, I am walking like I have had a little accident and I have chaffed in random places including the inside of my arms. But I will pull through to write a post on the 26(.2) things I have learnt, noticed, felt or thought during this whole experience.

1.       It takes up so much time.
Like so much time. Fitting in training around a full time job, seeing family and friends and binging on your favourite Netflix show can become one big balancing act. During the week I’d rush home from work, get ready, get out there, come back, shower and it’d be 9pm and I’d not even started eating dinner! Expect your weeks to go much faster.

2.       You’ll cut down on your drinking.
Running can be difficult on the best of days so when you’re doing a long run on a Sunday the last thing you want is a hangover! Ergo you need to cut down on the drinking. A good benefit of this was that I had a little extra money each month and got to treat myself.

3.       And on socialising in general.
Again, as it takes up so much time to train you may have to turn down a few invitations. So you may spend a few mornings jealously listening to everybody’s drunken tales but you’ll also be happy you didn’t go out when they complain about how much money they spent.

4.       You’ll track your macronutrients.
Tracking what you eat is important, you need to make sure you’re having enough protein and carbohydrates. A great app for this is My Fitness Pal, it’s so easy to use and it’s free!

5.       You get chaffing in all sorts of places.
Chaffing, that wonderful irritation of skin caused by repetitive action. I was expecting to chaff on the inner thighs but I did not expect to chaffer on the inner glutes. Yes, that’s a common thing. I don’t want to talk about it.

6.       Running in the rain will become the standard.
If you’re training for a spring marathon expect to run in the rain, snow and wind. Ah, there’s no better feeling than running 15 miles and turning into a prune. 

7.       Planning out a route can be harder than the actual runs sometimes.
Okay, maybe not harder but it can be a pain in glutes! Trying to add in a few more miles here and there, trying to avoid the dodgy areas and hoping to god you won’t get lost on a new route.

8.       Black toenails are a thing.
I can barely remember when my left big toe wasn’t black now, I thought it was going to fall off when I first saw it. Thankfully the blackness seems to be subsiding now but damn it still hurts.

9.       So are bad knees
So I started getting knee pain just before officially starting my marathon training, resulting in me starting the training plan 4 weeks late. I have been getting physiotherapy throughout training but it’s still not better and has been a big drawback.

10.       You get to know your city really well.
You think you know where you live until you go on a million runs down streets you never would have gone down before.

11.       You realise how small said city is when planning out long runs.
Planning out long runs is so hard! I don’t like have to double up on my runs but sometimes you have to. The worst is when you plan out a long run, not having done the route before and then you realise the last two miles are full of hills.

12.       You go places you never would usually and see some beautiful views.
Running in the snow is not ideal, but seeing a lake in the snow was. And on my trip to New York I got to see a lot of Central Park while on a run and those views were pretty beautiful. 

13.       Short runs can feel harder than long runs.
Seriously, I have struggled more on a 3 mile run than I have on a 10 mile run.

14.       You learn all the running lingo like tempo run, fartlek and VO2 max.
Then someone ask what your run is tonight and you go drop one of these bad boys and people look at you like you’re speaking a foreign language, then you try to explain the run and it’s benefits and realise you’re boring them and they ain’t listening.

15.       Getting out of the door can be the first big challenge.
You sit down for too long and you start reasoning: “I mean missing one run isn’t a big deal…I don’t want to run too late cos that’s dangerous…I guess I can do my run tomorrow instead…”

16.       Shin splints hurt.
Ow. Just…ow! This was something that affected me more at the beginning of training, thankfully I’ve not had them in a while.

17.       Buying sportswear becomes a new obsession.
I mean, you can never have too many running tops right?

18.       It’s running etiquette to give a smile and/or nod at fellow runners.
I’m not sure if it’s actual etiquette but you clock each other coming down the street then give each other an awkward smile/nod as you pass.

19.       Training with someone else is a great motivator.
I would not have gotten out of that door some nights without the boyfriend practically dragging me out, and vice versa.

20.       Stretching is important.
And it feels so good!

21.       Running will be on your mind a lot so you’ll probably go on about it.
 I openly apologise to all of the people I may have bored whilst talking about running. It takes up so much time that it’s almost constantly on your mind and it can feel like it’s all you ever do.

22.   Runners high is pretty great.
It can be hard to get out there and you may hate running at the start of a run but every time I’ve finished I have been happy.

23.   Missing a run can send you into a paranoid frenzy.
Whilst you may make up excuses sometimes to get out of a run or you genuinely just don’t have the time, you start to panic that it will throw off your entire training plan. It won’t! I mean, obviously don’t miss too many runs but missing some is natural, life gets in the way: sometimes you have to stay late at work, you have an event you can’t miss or you feel ill.

24.   Seeing someone on a run when you can’t can make you jealous.
And then you’re driving to said event and see someone running and you throw them some serious shade cos it should be you out there.

25.   Tapering is an emotional rollercoaster.
Ah tapering, on the one hand it’s great to not have to do those long runs but then the anxiety about race day kicks in. What helped me was planning something else to do after the marathon so the day didn’t seem like the be-all and end-all.

26.   Seeing all the spectators on the day is a big motivational boost.
Just want to say a big thank you to all the thousands of people who lined the streets to cheer us runners on. I appreciated all the funny signs, the bands playing, the little kids holding out plates of jelly babies and those who encouraged us on during the hard parts. It really did help.

26.2.      You may get the marathon bug.
I trained to just finish the marathon. I was a little disappointed with my time, I was 20 minutes over what I wanted. I am already thinking of competing in next year’s marathon but possibly training to get a sub 3.30 time. I think this will be the first of many.

So that just about concludes my marathon post on my first marathon. I can’t believe that it’s finally over, it feels like I’ve been training forever and it’s become such a big part of my life it will be weird to not do it anymore. Until next year! Are you taking part in any races this year? Or started a new exercise regime?


Saturday, 9 April 2016

New York Skyline

Everybody knows New York has one of the most beautiful skylines in the world. Walking around the bustling streets of New York you might get a crick in your neck as you constantly look up at all of the skyscrapers. And while it is a lovely view from the ground, the best way to see New York is from the sky. Two of the most famous place to see the skyline of New York is from the Empire State Building and the Top of the Rock, which is the top of the Rockefeller Centre (not a giant rock in Central Park as I thought before I went – yes, I really did think that!). I have heard mixed reviews about which offers the best view so naturally I had to try both to form my own opinion. Well, when in Rome (or New York in this case).

Empire State Building
I went at one of the busiest times, Saturday evening on Easter weekend, so the queue was two hours long! I swore I would never go again, until I got to the top and saw the view that is. I wanted to see the sunset but as I underestimated that queue length I only managed to see the views in the dark. But that didn’t make the view any less beautiful! All of those lights sparkling way down below, with Times Square lit up like a beacon, it was a breath-taking view – and not just because the air was so chilly. You really begin to appreciate how tall the Empire State Building is when you look all the way down. We paid to go all the way to the top which was around $20 extra, however I don’t think you need to, you get just as good views from the 86th floor. You can instead use that money to buy yourself the VIP to the main deck, that way you can skip all of the main queues. 

Top of the Rock
I arrived at the Rockefeller about 10am, purchased my ticket there and was up at the top by about 11am. A lot quicker than the ESB. When I got to the Top of the Rock the sun was beating down and as we went early in the morning but the place was quite empty. It was honestly the most relaxing time I had while in New York, and the views were spectacular. Obviously a good advantage of going here is that you can see the Empire State Building in the skyline, and it’s beautiful to see. As it was so empty we got to capture many scenic pictures, goofy clich√© touristy pictures and just sit back on the bench, catching the rays and soaking in the view. One really cool thing that I did not expect up there was the interactive light room. This had panels that lit up with movement which meant that I danced like a crazy person to activate it.

Both really did offer great views, I’m not sure if I can decide which one was the best as I went up at different times of the day but if I had to make a decision on which I enjoyed the most overall I would have to say the Top of the Rock. If you go to New York I would recommend you visit both.

Please let me know what you think in the comment section below.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Spring Favourites

Spring is that wonderful time of year where it gets a little easier to wake up in the mornings, we can start to shake off a few of those layers and it’s finally warm enough to enjoy a gin in a beer garden…just! I love waking up to a bit of sunshine, well maybe not always sunshine as I live in the North West of England but there is definitely day light and I am grateful. I found it so hard to wake up during those cold dark winter months and I like getting up early to fit a workout in, that way I can run straight to the pub after work and feel slightly less guilty. So here is a list of some of my favourite purchases I have made so far in spring.

1.       Daisy Pyjama Set (Boux Avenue £22)
I overheat so much during the night I am like a human radiator, which is great during those chilly winter nights but now the weather is warming up, so am I! So I needed to buy some new pyjamas. I was in Boux Avenue trying to find underwear when this cute set caught my eye. I love the daisy pattern on the shorts and the little bow on the top.

2.       Ribbed Cream Sleeveless Top (New Look £8)
The ribbed top has been a firm favourite of mine during winter, but spring is here now and long sleeves are not good for someone who overheats easily. I only took this top into the changing rooms at to try on with some dungarees but I fell in love with it – it’ll be great for work, shopping and going drinking with the girls.

3.       Striped Dolly Shoes (New Look £9.99)
Do you ever need an excuse to buy a new striped item? Well, if you do - its spring so shop away! Stripes are always a good idea so when I saw this pair I couldn’t resist. I love the cloth material they are made of and being a tall girl you can never have too many pairs of flats!

4.       Blue Handbag (New Look £20)
With spring comes a tidal wave of pastel colours. I was in the market for a new handbag and this one caught my eye from across the shop. I went back into New Look the other day and they have it in yellow, can I justify having the same bag in two colours?

5.       Triangle Bra (Boux Avenue £20)
So in case you’ve been living under a rock, triangle bras are the new bras on the scene. They have been all over my Instagram news feed and I have been lusting after one for some time now. I love the lace detail and at £20 it was a bargain not to be missed, or so I keep telling my bank balance.

6.       White Striped Plimsolls (New Look £9.99)
I buy a pair of these every year, they’re so cheap and cheerful! But then I end up wearing them to a festival or drum and bass night and they get destroyed and so the cycle begins. They are great for everyday use and look good with many different outfits, a definite spring must have!


Sunday, 3 April 2016

My First Marathon III

One Week To Go

Months of training, hours of running and moments of utter agony are almost over. There is now only one week to go until I take part in my first marathon – one week! I cannot believe how quickly time has passed since I first signed up for the London marathon on that fateful Sunday morning, still drunk from the night before. I failed to get a place there but I am instead running the Manchester marathon – one of the flattest marathons there is, which I useful as I am not the best hill runner yet (I know, I know, hill runs are important).

Training for the marathon has been tough and there have been many challenges, from just getting out of the door in the first place to pushing myself to keep going when my legs feel like they are about to fall off. I have been training with the boyfriend and I think that has been such a big motivator. If you are going to sign up to a marathon ask someone you know to do it too. Not only will you both be there to give each other a kick up the butt when you can’t be bothered training, but you’ll also be able to push each other when you’re out there.

The first race I took part in was the Manchester 10km last year and my aim was mainly to just cross the finishing line, hopefully in under an hour (which I did woo). Now I’m about to take part in my first marathon and I have a similar aim –cross the finish line in one piece, hopefully in under four and a half hours. I am starting to get quite nervous as the race date looms ever so quickly closer. I am particularly nervous about doing it on my own. However, I am also excited to finally cross that finish line and get my medal! I may get all dramatic and fall to my knees when it’s over, clutching the medal to my lips, or I might break down into tears of relief! Most likely I will head to somewhere that sells gin and a decent burger. See you in 26 miles!

Are you taking part in a marathon or running event this year?
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