summer holidays

Summer Goals – Be More, Do More.

So this year, I didn’t set myself any new year’s resolutions. I decided that I didn’t want to make myself a list of things to achieve, a list of things that needed to be ticked off or I’d have failed. Who wants that kind of pressure? Instead, I resolved to throw myself into new opportunities and to maybe push myself a little more out of my comfort zone.  Now, almost halfway through 2013, I feel like I’m doing well. I have definitely welcomed new challenges and made the most of any opportunity given to me: I’m moving out to live with friends next year despite that not having originally been on the cards, I’ve made scary decisions about forging ahead with my plans for the future (more on that later!), and I’ve challenged myself to live more for the moment and more like a 20-year old and not an 80-year old!

Despite this talk of no lists, I now feel as though it is time to write myself some new goals. I have four months of time off university ahead of me and I have so much to do that I can’t let the time just disappear. So these are my aims for the months ahead, they are not concrete or particularly quantifiable but they will give me some focus and make everyday more motivational.

Read everyday!  The thing I miss most during term time is being able to read whatever I fancy. My weeks are consumed by the texts on my reading list, and not all of them are very enjoyable, I’m left with almost no time to read purely for pleasure. So this summer I have a huge reading list all of my own and I will be writing lots of blog posts reviewing those that I enjoy the most.

Make the most of the sunshine. Recently we have been enjoying lots of lovely sun and it’s marvellous. I’m already a little browner because I’m spending every minute that I can outside to make the absolute most of it. What this goal is really about is spending more time outside. I love being outdoors, especially when it’s a little warmer, and I really want to get all of the fresh air and sunshine that I can.

Get set for the future. I won’t go into this one too much as I’m going to write a post about it but I’m aiming to make some more finite plans for my future after graduating, I’ve never really known what I wanted to do but I’m starting to find my feet in the world and figure out what I want in life!

Research. As I am about to embark into my third, and final, year of my degree I now have my dissertation on the horizon. I want to combine two of my interests and explore the ideas about food and self-starvation in literature and this summer is the time for research, research and more research.

Look healthy, feel good, act confident. During exams I tend to eat more and gravitate towards more unhealthy food, I don’t really mind or feel guilty because I have more important things to focus on then, but now that I am finished for the year I’m back to my healthy choices and I’ve started lifting weights again. I have the most gorgeous red bikini and I want to be able to lounge by the pool run around on the beach and feel confident with my body and my own image!

Have fun. One of my closest uni friends, Sophie, is staying here to work during the summer, all of my friends from home are back, Tom is here (or I’m in London) on the weekend, and my sister and best friend, Alice, is here too. Friendships are so important and I cherish every single one of them, this summer I want to make the most of what is possibly our last shared summer holiday and do lots of fun things. Day trips, coffee dates, picnics, nights out, I want to see everyone and just enjoy the time off 🙂

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So here you have my goals or resolutions for the summer months ahead. I have a feeling it’s going to be a wonderful time, I’m so blessed to have so much. I hope you are all having a really lovely week! I’d love to hear your summer plans! Are you going on holiday? Or doing anything exciting in the next few months?

Sophie x

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My Little Spot by the Window.

After a full week of work, it’s fair to say that I feel absolutely shattered. I love my job, I adore working with children, but they really do demand so much energy and when there are 30+ of them running around, all needing help? They are just exhausting!

Today has got to be the hottest day in the UK this year, it’s about 30°C outside and the sun has been shining all day. I figured I deserved a nice relaxing morning. This evening my sister is having a bunch of her friends over for a barbecue and it should be lots of fun, they’re a great group and Alice knows how to party. So what to do this morning? The answer’s fairly obvious.

Jumped on the bike and rode into town to visit my favourite spot, the prettiest little cafe called Sticky Beaks.

It’s set aside from the centre of town which is usually too crowded to move about on Saturdays and it is a lovely place to spend a couple of hours.

And the food, my goodness the food!

When my sister started working there as a waitress I remember her telling me that it was essentially me in cafe form. It really is my ideal place, the decor is exactly my kind of thing for starters and their ethic really appeals to me too. All of their food is cooked and prepared freshly that day, and they source most of their ingredients really locally. The dishes are fresh, healthy, full of veg and just so delicious.

 

It just shows how much more independent going to uni has made me, I would not have wanted to go to a cafe on my own back a couple of years ago, now I actually really enjoy it. It’s lovely to sit and read whilst enjoying delicious food for a little peace and quiet.

I went for a fantastic salad of orzo with broad beans and peppers, it was perfect for a hot summer’s day. I’ve never tried orzo before (although I knew I’d like it, you know me and pasta!) and it was really nice, the salad had a subtle dressing and felt so summery. They come up with so many beautiful options, sometimes it can be difficult to choose.

Although I was there on my own for most of the time, Alice did join me for a some lunch which was really nice. I love that we are such good friends as well as sisters, I can see us meeting up for coffee regularly once I’m at uni and she’s started Sixth Form 🙂

Before I left, I had to sample one of my favourite things on offer…

Cake. A slice of Apple Herman Cake to be precise. It was so so good, I love apple in baked goods and it was such a wonderful treat to share with Alice.

Despite the extremely hot weather (far to hot be cycling – I was practically melting!) I had an extremely pleasurable morning sat in my favourite little spot by the window.

I will be back tomorrow, hopefully with a bunch of photos of the barbecue this evening. I hope you are all having a brilliant weekend and have lots of sunshine where you are 🙂

What do you like to do to escape by yourself for a couple of hours?
Do you have a favourite cafe?
What is your ideal slice of cake?

 

We’re All Going on a Summer Holiday.

Hey lovely readers!

I am back from my holiday in France and am really looking forward to catching up with you all 🙂

Before I start this I just want to say an enormous thank you to all of you who commented on my Practice Makes Perfect post, I was so touched to read everything you wrote and I really really appreciate your kind words of support and encouragement! I will be replying to all of your lovely comments and I have to say that I feel really grateful to be part of such a supportive community.

Now, onto the holiday. We spent a week in the south-west of France, staying in a house right by a river. It was an absolutely beautiful setting and it was such a relaxing holiday. I was there with my parents, my sister and Tom and I really enjoyed the week.

We ate some absolutely delicious food – sunset drinks and nibbles, barbecues in our courtyard garden, delicious pastries…

We visited some fantastic places and saw some beautiful scenery.

We spent time having fun on the river! I was so so proud of myself for pushing myself and deciding to go canoeing, yes it hurt but it was just so much fun 🙂

We visited a lovely food market.

And we went out for some absolutely amazing meals. The three course meal of tomato tarte tatin, cod in butter sauce with little vegetables, and a concoction of meringue, ice cream, cream and strawberries was just out of this world!

All in all it was a wonderful holiday and I have come back feeling really rested and content.

I hope you all had a brilliant week and enjoyed your weekend! I’m sure lots of you are watching 2012’s fantastic Olympics unfold, I definitely enjoyed the past two days. I have a week off work now before I start again for three weeks so I have lots of lovely plans 🙂

Have you been away this summer?
What is the best thing you’ve eaten at a restaurant recently?

What do you love doing on holiday?

Off Again!

Hey hey everyone 🙂

So tomorrow at around 3am (urgh!) I will be getting up to leave for our family holiday. We’re off to a beautiful region of France for a week and I’m really looking forward to having a relaxing week off. Work has left me feeling pretty tired and I need the time off to rest and look after my energy levels.

Today I had a great day at work, the children were all pretty well behaved. We had a little mini talent show (non competitive) and it was pretty hilarious, some of the children just get up and more or less perform some sort of imaginary game/improv… They’re so sweet 🙂

 

What do you think of my name badge? I always have fun trying to come up with new designs, this is about as creative as I get at the start of the day 😉

I’ve spent the evening picking up Tom who is coming with us, as well as doing all of my packing. I’m feeling quite excited about going, although less excited about the early start!

Dinner was a delicious plate of leftovers:

Courgette on baguette and mango, cucumber and mint couscous salad.

Anyway, I know this is brief but I just wanted to say goodbye to you all! I’ll be back next Saturday and then in the meantime I have a few posts scheduled for you, including guest authors 🙂

Have a great week and weekend everyone!

 

What I Ate Wednesday No.39

I can’t believe I’m already halfway through the week, working really does make the time pass so quickly. I love my job but it is so exhausting! Having said that working with children really is fascinating, we can learn so much from the way children interact with the world.

As you may have realised, today is Wednesday which in my book means WIAW! I know some people are a little bored of this pattern each week but I still really enjoy joining in with the other WIAW participants each week. As I’m slightly moving away from merely blogging my food, Wednesday gives me the opportunity to blog  all of my food and have a nose around other people’s eats for the day. I have to admit, I do enjoy taking photos of what I eat…

As always, thank you so much to Jenn over at Peas and Crayons for hosting WIAW, you must check out her blog if you’re a fan of photos of tasty looking food!

Breakfast today was pretty typical. I bet you are all incredibly bored of seeing my breakfast in its many, ever-so-slightly different incarnations, but here you go anyway.

Weetabix with fresh blueberries and raspberries – so delicious. It is definitely the perfect way to perk myself up in the morning, especially as sleeping in the heat we have at the moment is somewhat difficult so I’m a little more tired than usual.

I have to pack my lunch to eat whilst supervising the children outside so I like to take myself meals that are easy to eat, stuffed pitas, salads, etc.

I had what was left of the picnic’s pasta salad and added in more rocket, some tomato and cucumber which made the perfect light lunch to eat whilst working.

As I said, working with children is both a fun and a learning experience. Each child is so unique and has their own way of interpreting things, something that is especially clear when doing art work. Sometimes they misunderstand the instruction or else they decide they fancy doing something entirely different, either way there are always pieces which make us giggle as we round up their art at the end of the day.

Today we spent the day designing sombreros, creating them out of cardboard and paper mache, and then painting them in bright colours. It’s fair to say that only about half of the hats actually resemble sombreros. We like the children to do as much of their work without any assistance so there are many brims which are less than circular and there are a fair few incredibly lopsided hats. It’s all part of the fun though and that way they can say that they made them all by themselves. Another interesting thing is watching them choose the colours for their hats, I wonder what gives some of them a good understanding of which colours go together aged 6, whilst some of the older 9 and 10 year-olds pick the most random (and clashing) colour combinations!

I finished work at 4.30pm today and was pretty tired so dropped onto the sofa to watch TV for the first time in a while and to have a nap. Sleep feels so wonderful at the moment but I do really miss reading, I’m quite behind my target of books to read so I need to find the time. Luckily I always seem to inhale books when abroad so I’ll be taking a fully stocked Kindle to France next week.

Dinner was again eaten outside in the garden. I am in love with this weather, seriously.

Chicken Caesar salad. So so good. I’m really quite into my salads at the moment, hot weather always makes me just crave smoothies, salads and ice cream.

For dessert I didn’t have any of the latter so I went for the next best thing…

 

A strawberry cupcake. I’ve made these before and I am pretty sure they are the best cupcakes I’ve ever eaten. There is fresh strawberry in the actual batter, a little well of strawberry jam in the centre and the icing (or frosting to those from the US) is amazing. I may have had two. Maybe.

A rather excellent day of food in my opinion.

What’s the best thing you’ve eaten recently?
What kind of food do you like to eat when the weather is hot?
Have you ever worked with children?

London Town.

Hey hey lovelies!

For those of you in the UK isn’t it nice to finally have some sunshine?

The last couple of days have been just lovely, I’ve spent the entire time with Tom and I couldn’t be happier 🙂 Who knew I could love spending so much time with just one person!

On Friday I was up bright and early to get ready for a day trip to London. It was absolutely pouring with rain so by the time I’d cycled to the train station I no longer looked fresh and well groomed, I resembled a drowned rat puppy. It hardly mattered though, clothes dry, as does hair!

I love train journeys when I’m headed to something I’m looking forward to. Watching the countryside zip past is always fun and it’s the perfect time to read my current book (Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea).

Arriving at Kings Cross it wasn’t actually raining (hooray) so I snapped a quick picture of a building that has always intrigued me, does anyone know why it is decorated like that?

The main plan for the day was to visit the Science Museum in South Kensington. I’ve never been before so it was a new experience for me. It’s a great museum, there is heaps to see and to do with lots of interactive displays to discover. I particularly enjoyed the exhibition on space discoveries and travel, it was really well set up and I actually learnt a fair bit. The room titled ‘Who Am I?’ is fantastic too, it is full of various machines on which you can do quizzes and play games such as taking a test to see whether you have a male or female brain (mine leans ever so slightly female, no surprises there!).

One of the (non-scientific) highlights of the visit was a trip to the Shake bar…

I went for a scoop of blueberry ice cream and it was just divine. It tasted so creamy and decadent, I’ve never had an ice cream like it, so delicious!

Definitely go check it out if you’re ever in London and you enjoy that sort of thing, I think it’s a brilliant place to take children too as there is a lot to keep them entertained and it’s very educational.

After spending a couple of hours wandering around the museum we hopped on the tube to Leicester Square for lunch at Leon’s.

My lunch consisted of their chilli chicken salad and it was fantastic. I love Leon as it serves purely fresh, healthy food made that day in the restaurant. It’s definitely my kind of fast food!

For the remainder of the day we just wandered around various parts of London before going for coffee and then getting on the train home.

The day didn’t finish there though, we were then off to watch The Dark Knight Rises. I know action films often get slated for poor plots and things like that, and I can imagine some critics probably had negative things to say about this but I had a brilliant time. The cinema was absolutely packed and they had two showings on at the same time, the crowds gave the place such a great atmosphere. It’s a fast paced film and I just love some of the characters (Michael Cain will always be a favourite with me, ditto Morgan Freeman) so it’s a fab bit of entertainment.

All in all a really lovely day 🙂

Yesterday after a lazy morning we decided that, as we were finally having some fairly nice weather, it was a good day to go for a walk. We drove to a National Trust estate called Wimple Hall which has a lovely park (as well as an adorable farm which we didn’t visit). It was sunny and it felt so so nice to be out in the warmth, actually being able to enjoy the summer for once.

It’s been such a relaxing and enjoyable weekend!

Tomorrow I start work, if you’ve been reading my little blog for a year now then you may remember that I worked a children’s holiday scheme which focuses on arts and crafts. I’m going back there for the week and then a further three weeks in August and I’m quite looking forward to it. I like to feel like I’m doing something productive and it will give me a schedule (you know how I like things to be scheduled and planned!) .

Anyway I’m off to enjoy an evening of relaxing and an early night 😉

Have you been on any day trips recently?
Do you enjoy visiting museums and galleries?
How have you been enjoying the summer weather?

Paris Recap Part 2 – Days 1 & 2.

So, now that you’ve seen the fantastic flat we stayed in, I want to show you some of the amazing things we did whilst in Paris. We only had five days to squeeze in as many brilliant visits and as much sightseeing as possible which made for a really busy schedule but it was definitely worth the resulting exhaustion!

Day 1.

We spent the first morning taking a lovely walk around Montmartre which is a really nice area (with some super posh houses!) full of little boutiques and cafes with lots to see. It’s a rather long way up to get to the top of the hill so as we had travel cards we thought it would be fun to take the funicular.

Whilst wandering around the streets of Montmartre we came across this sight:

Isn’t it impressive? I just wanted to go right up to it and take a bite but the signs clearly stated that this would be really frowned upon 😉

Situated a little walk away from the top of the hill is the famous Montmartre cemetery which contains the graves of many famous writers, artists, musicians, politicians… They can be a little difficult to locate among the hundreds of graves but we did manage to find a couple:

On the left is Alexandre Dumas – author of The Three Musketeers, and on the right is Émile Zola one of the first writers of the naturalism movement. It was really interesting to walk around peering at the names and dates on the graves, wondering what the people who lie there were like when they were alive. I’d definitely recommend it if you’re a touch morbid like me.

Day 2.

…The Louvre.

Such an experience! If you visit Paris you can’t really go without visiting the Louvre to be perfectly honest. It’s so iconic and getting to see dozens of the incredibly famous paintings you’ve seen on TV and online time and time again in the flesh is brilliant.

One warning: it is always absolutely PACKED.

Seriously, it is full of tourists. Although the sheer number of people is to be expected, something that did irritate me a little was that a large number of the visitors didn’t seem to actually be taking the time to appreciate the artwork – they were just snapping photos of everything at high-speed, never actually really looking. I don’t see the point of going if you don’t actually look properly, you can just look at photos online if you don’t!

Anyway it’s definitely worth it. One thing I did whip out my camera for was the ceilings.

I just think they were beautiful. (Those rushing around with cameras didn’t even notice these stunning ceilings!)

One part of the Louvre that I’d really recommend going to see is the sculpture gallery. For some reason it is no way near as popular as the art galleries like the Italian art (the room with the Mona Lisa is ridiculously packed, you cannot get within about three metres of the painting). Because it isn’t very popular it isn’t busy at all, there were only a few other people in there when we were and yet it is a gorgeous gallery.

I love the way it has been put together to feel like an Ancient Roman garden or something similar, the trees inside along with the beautiful glass ceiling just give it such a bright and airy feeling.

All in all it was a fantastic visit!

I just want to round off my recap with this photo:

As we were walking in the metro on the way home we came across this group of musicians playing really fantastic classical music to a little audience of metro users who all stopped to listen and to give a few coins. I thought it was just brilliant!

Have you been to any of these sites in Paris?
Do you have a favourite museum/art gallery?
Are you going away for a holiday this summer?