Category Archives: It’s a good life

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It’s a good life!: Gratitude Diary # 3

So this week I found someone else through twitter that keeps lists too.  Not only does she also have a list of places that she would like to travel to that she is ticking off but she keeps gratitude lists too.  Check out Brooke’s cute purple blog from down under, it warms my cockles as I lived in St Kilda, Melbourne for a while back in 2005.  

It is so good to take the time to look back at a week as you realise how much you pack in. My staycation feels like such a long time ago. So without further ado here are the things I am most grateful for this week: 

1) Have a go heroes

I have lived in the wonderful Peckham for 7 years.  It truly is wonderful and I will contest all those naysayers out there.  I used to live on the Goldsmith’s Estate near the library which is often seen as the wrong side of the tracks.  Chris and I moved into the more Bellenden Village area recently and have been really enjoying it.  

Images from the Peckham messages board following the London riots in 2011  courtesy of Pie and Biscuits blog

Images from the Peckham messages board following the London riots in 2011 courtesy of Pie and Biscuits blog

In the last 7 years, I have had my car broken into on 4 separate occasions but not once have I ever felt unsafe.  Until, Monday evening when someone snatched my phone out of my hand at the end of my road.  I can’t say much as the police are still investigating but I did get my phone back.  All thanks to some have-a-go heroes and the Southwark Police. Two complete strangers pursued the individual for 3 blocks with me desperately following while still in complete shock (at least a block behind).  It’s not every day in London that you speak to a complete stranger let alone help one out in their time of need but I am very grateful to those wonderful people for doing so and the police who were fantastic.  It’s inspired me to try to do more good deeds too.  

2) “Oh, go on then” moments

After my very wet photography course on Saturday, I was due to meet the wonderful Emily for a catch up in town somewhere.  We hadn’t made any firm plans and when Emily put the idea out there that we should treat ourselves to afternoon tea.. at The Wolseley.. I simply replied “Oh, go on then” and I am so pleased that I did.  Its beautifully grand marble interior makes you feel special the minute you walk through the door and that was before we treated ourselves to a glass of champagne at the bar.  

Emily and I are in a group of friends that are notoriously picky with our food but the staff were great on the day and we were able to “customise” our afternoon tea so that it was just perfect for us both.  Poor Emily waited patiently to eat while I snapped away and then I embarked on what was now expert scone eating following my practice in Norfolk.  If you are having a “go on then” moment you would do worse than piling cream on to warm scones at The Wolseley: 

SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC

I wish I could tell you that the moment stopped there as I was full to the brim even before I tackled the lemon meringue pie, but… I went on to meet Chris for the Lord Mayor’s Fireworks.  

We missed them.  Disappointed we decided to stay out for a few drinks but not dinner as I was so full and that would just be plain greedy.  After a bottle of Malbec at Gordon’s Wine Bar, Chris told me that he was really hungry and he suggested that we head to Joe Allen for a cocktail and some chips.  ”Oh, go on then!”

Champagne cocktails and chips... I really can't resist

Champagne cocktails and chips… I really can’t resist

Another cocktail and another “oh, go on then” and we were sat at the table ordering dinner. Chris grinning away like the Cheshire cat… until I got my camera out to snap everything before he could eat.  We love Joe Allen it’s a little hidden grotto in Soho.. a little piece of America in Central London and the service is brilliant.  If you get a chance pop in and say hello to Norbert!

The lovely Norbert at Joe Allen bar

The lovely Norbert at Joe Allen bar

Ready to pounce on the garlic bread

Ready to pounce on the garlic bread

Poached eggs my favourite at any time of day

Poached eggs my favourite at any time of day

3) Christmas is coming

Suddenly there is a really festive feeling in London this week.  I love the build up to Christmas.  On our walk home from Joe Allen I crept into Somerset House where you could be forgiven for thinking that it was the middle of December rather than the middle of November.  

Somerset House

Somerset House

I also took these blurry snaps on the bus home which reflected both sides of the river.  I am not sure if I love them or hate them but just an experiment in manual mode: 

SONY DSC SONY DSC

4) Laughter

Ages ago I booked Fitzrovia Radio Hour at St James Theatre as a little treat for Chris and I. I am so pleased that I did.  It was a really brilliant comedy, lines of which are still popping into my head and the theatre was really intimate and relaxed.. more like a cabaret lounge bar. So if you get a chance to catch the gang on tour please do (usually comedy rules apply- don’t sit in the front row) and at the same time check out the theatre for what’s coming up as it really is a nice place for a relaxed evening.

FitzroviaRadioHour2012-478x359

Pic Courtesy of St James Theatre website

5) A new baby in the gang

A big shout out to Louis Albert who arrived safely this week and to Lizzie & Sam who will be wonderful parents.  All the luck, love and joy in the world to all 3 of them! 

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It’s a good life!: Gratitude Diary- Week 2

Week 2 of my gratitude diary was spent on holiday in beautiful Norfolk so there is a lot to be grateful for:

1) Time with the family

So we all set off, in convoy, for the Norfolk Coast.

Tractors

Haha, no, that is not us in the tractors!

A road much travelled- we have been going to Potters Leisure Resort with friends of the family for over twenty years- and we never fail to have a great time. This year there were 15 of us, including my friends Cherilee and Martin who 3 months ago added to their family with twin girls- Ava & Isla. Their daughter, Ellie, is just  over 2 years old- so life is pretty busy for them. It’s amazing to watch how organised they have to be but how easy and natural they make it look.  Still needless to say they deserved a holiday!

Giggles

Martin taking things in his stride

Not only was it the twins first time at Potters but also that of Chris, my brother’s other half Nicole (check out her fashion blog- link to follow) and my sister’s other half, Richard (talented family- check out his graphic designs here).

Family

Please no more food! Picture courtesy of the photography team at Potters

Potters describes itself as the UK’s only 5 star holiday village. This is not, however, the grand description I had offered the newbies before they arrived. The decor does not scream 5 star- it is a little on the chintzy side, but, true, this is not your average holiday camp.  In fact I completely agree with their use of the word village rather than camp- the facilities are 5 star.

Last week was the October Half Term Sports Coaching break. On arrival you are provided with a full list of free activities and you can pick and choose what you want to play, compete or be coached in. To give you an idea- Paul Reaney, ex- Leeds United and England player is the football coach. The best bit is they manage the classes to the right size, so the queues are never too long and for many of the activities you just turn up at the start time and away you go.  It’s so safe that kids, teenagers and adults can wander about unaccompanied throughout the day.  So between us within four days we:

  • Wiggled, shimmied & twerked our way through Zumba
  • Wriggled our way through aqua aerobics
  • Got very competitive on the badminton, tennis & squash courts
  • Were pampered in the beauty spa
  • Took the kids for a swim
  • Ate… a lot!
  • Raced through the inflatable assault course
  • Enjoyed the views out to sea on the way round the 9 hole golf course
  • Didn’t win at bingo… Not once!  (I know, I know we sound like party people don’t we- but when in Rome- and the prize was at least £600 a night)
  • Found each other again at the midnight curry
  • Got hurled from a giant swing
  • Played on the international arena of a sport- ok not quite Wembley- but everyone actually really enjoyed the indoor bowling
  • Danced…. a lot!
  • And the less said about my archery score the better:
Terrible Archery Score

Yes! That is an arrow hanging vertically from the backboard!!

The one thing that the more regular visitors in the group did mention is that it has felt a lot more like a community (or a “Village”) on previous visits, due to the entertainments team and particularly one entertainer, Mark Brewer.  Mark used to go round and get to know all the guests and get people more involved in all the shows and events.  This year we felt more entertained to rather than being part of the entertainment- hoping that Mr Potter is listening and Mark is more involved next year!

If you haven’t been yet, it is well worth a visit… oh did I mention all you food is included in the price- all you can eat 4 times a day (for those still up when the midnight buffet comes out).  No, I am not getting paid for this post.  Most of the group have already booked for next year.  I will have to wait a little longer to decide whether I will be going back, as I have some other trips coming up… watch this space.

2) Time for just the two of us

Lucy and Chris

When Chris and I had finally relaxed and had fully thrown ourselves into our holiday we realised that there was no reason for us to race back on the Friday.  So we decided to look for somewhere in Norfolk to extend our break.  A little time alone for a relaxing round off to a lovely but busy week.

Years ago on a break with my girlfriends in Thornham near Cromer I had popped into a lovely hotel in Burnham Market for a cream tea.  We sat in the garden and everything about it was just so beautiful; the village, the old pub, the garden. It clearly stuck with me, so I phoned to see whether they might be able to squeeze us in at late notice. Good news! They had a room. The price made me gulp… twice… but it was worth it just to relax. So we trundled off to The Hoste.

Burnham Market is so beautiful and we just relaxed by walking around and then sat in the bar playing Cluedo (Lucy 4- Chris 1- did I mention that I am competitive?), eating scones and drinking beautiful Malbec.. heaven!  The dinner was lovely- dressed Norfolk crab for Chris and my favourite pumpkin risotto.  I was so disappointed that I didn’t have room for dessert as I had eyed up at least 5 that I fancied and luckily they were all on the dessert sharer.  The truth is we had eaten so much at Potters across the week that we had to force dinner down, although we possibly could have spared the fudge from Mable’s delectable sweet shop- you have to go, it is so cute and she is so lovely!

Now for the moment that we had been waiting for an early night and a good night’s sleep.  Oh no! It just wasn’t meant to be.  Someone wonderful from the bar decided to empty the bottles into the bin outside our window at 1.30am.  You would have thought that we would have been fast asleep by then but the walls were so thin that we could hear every movement from our neighbours… some of which we just didn’t need to hear although it did make us giggle!  To top it all in the morning while my back was killing from the bed and my eyes were barely open from lack of sleep I managed to stub my toe on the step into the shower.  So when the manager at reception asked me whether I had enjoyed my stay I was ready to burst and couldn’t hold  it in.  I was very polite- I promise!

We have since been invited to stay again for free in the next year, which I fully intend to take up as the service was amazing, we love Burnham Market and perhaps we were just a little unlucky with the room.  Once again watch this space for the return visit.

3) Time alone

Time alone

Ok so this isn’t me but the sky just looked amazing when I snapped this

One of the things I loved about the break last week is that everyone could do as much or as little as they wanted.  It was so nice to slope off for a nap, go for a little walk or head to a class that only you fancied.  I had a great time at Beginner’s Squash without feeling conscious of anyone I know being there.  I learnt quite a bit without the distraction and met the most inspirational woman.  She was 74, recovering from breast cancer and determined to have a go at as many new sports as she could- just brilliant!

4) My friends & family being such good sports

Halloween crept up on us quite literally while we were away.  The Potters’ entertainments team put on a great night with a Monster’s Ball.  Not to be party poopers Nicole and I snuck off site to Tesco and bought the last dregs on the Halloween costume aisle.  There really wasn’t much left and we did the best we could.  I mean, we bought the boys (aged between 21-34) pumpkin baby bibs to wear.  We hadn’t told anyone!  Sneakily, we laid out costumes on each persons’ seat for dinner not sure how people would react.  I am so pleased that everyone just got involved- it set the tone for the evening we had so much fun, dancing and singing until the wee hours.  Take a look:

The Three Witches

The Three Witches

Spider Princess

Spider Princess

Pumpkin Bibs

I honestly don’t know what to say…

First Halloween

A bib on someone who should genuinely be wearing one!

Vampire and Devil

Aawwwh such a cute couple

Halloween fancy dress

Chris and I- ummm…scary?!

5) The weather

When we set off for Norfolk, we left our house with no power following the great storm last weekend and weren’t really sure what we were in for on arrival.  But thankfully we had great weather for October.  With blue skies Chris and I took the opportunity for a stroll out on the beach in Wells-next-the-SeaWherever I am I always bump into people I know.. and a small part of the Norfolk coast is no exception.  My friend Rachel was strolling towards us as we headed out- so funny.  Anyway, it was a great opportunity for me to get snapping:

Wells next to the sea Wells next to the sea beach Bird Baths Beach Huts

Who can’t be grateful while on a holiday like that!

 

It’s a good life!: Gratitude Diary- Week 1

So.. here we go second blog post and the first that actually contains a single word from me. Welcome to my gratitude diary. Oh and welcome to my blog too!  chair and flower in a bare space

Following a little rant the other day about how bad my life was my friend turned to me and said “You really need to take a look at how lucky you are”.  Of course, she was completely right.  In fact, I can’t actually remember what it was that I was so upset about now.  I am sure that is not the last time I will overreact but what she said has inspired me to keep a gratitude diary.  This is not meant to be a deep road to enlightenment.  There are many blogs out there that do this but in so many different ways.  This is for me, I am hoping that this diary makes me take the time to appreciate the little things in life and help spur me to take more pictures to complement each thing I am grateful for.  So here goes,  this week I have been mostly grateful:

1) That I continue to learn

Pile of books

I made this blog… all by myself!  Granted I do work in the marketing world but I have never realised anything like this from beginning to end without help.  As I write this, there is still a long way to go, but that only means that there is more to learn!  I’ve watched YouTube videos and looked at best practice articles to get me this far and I am so pleased with the results and the sense of achievement it has brought.  I can’t wait for this blog to grow with me.

emily quinton workshop 002

A couple of weeks ago I attended Emily Quinton’s photography workshop, which was bought for me by Chris, my boyfriend, as a belated birthday present.  The photos Emily has taken for her blog are just beautiful and as you can see in my about page beautiful photos are one of the main reasons I am an avid follower of blogs.  I met some really inspirational people and was able to make compositions with some great props.  I look back now and am super critical about the shots I took through the day.  For example, the one above why did I not move myself (I had a whole table to work with) so that the papers in the background didn’t show.  It’s all part of the learning process, though, and has truly motivated me to practice!

emily quinton workshop 001

2) For new life

picture of cute lamb

Aaah… cheat alert. I found it difficult for new life inspiration in October so this image is supplied by www.pixabay.com

I cannot tell you how excited I am at the moment.  I have a fantastic friendship group and we have been blessed with some recent new arrivals and more due in the next few months. I have known a lot of these friends  since I was very little and it amazes me that we are now at this stage.  I really am very excited.  I love shopping for presents for the little ones and the growing bumps but I am also going to have a go at transferring images from the Graphics Fairy to some babygrows.  I found a great tutorial on Wolves in London- so watch this space!  Has anyone else tried to have a go? … Any tips most welcome. 

3) For autumnal comfort food

Butternut Squash Risotto

Perfection… I love butternut squash.  I love risotto.  I love time with Chris in the local pub. Oh, and red wine isn’t so bad either!

4) To a boyfriend who constantly surprises me with amazing little gifts

display of white roses

White roses (my favourite) from my super boyfriend

Ok ok so he’s a good guy- you get it! My favourite flowers are white roses.  These as you can see are a little old now but he bought them just when I needed a pick me up (yes, it may have had something to do with the aforementioned rant).  His favourite thing is sugar.. I have never seen anything like it.  He never seems to put any weight on but he is constantly filling our cupboards with sweet things.. biscuits… cakes… fudge.  I am grateful that he also thinks of me when he buys himself something that he loves… but my hips, however, are not so thankful!

peyton and byrne cake

One word- yum! 

5) For a present arriving in the post- to me from me with love!

The homemakery good bag arrived today!

Lovely packaging from www.thehomemakery.co.uk quickly snapped from my iPhone before I tore it open

I have wanted to get back into my creative side for a while.  Reinvigorated by the amazing props at Emily’s workshop and the wonderful things she makes with her children I have purchased some great things from The Homemakery.  I am so excited but hope that I haven’t bitten off more than I can chew.  I’d say watch this space but I don’t want to add any more pressure on to the huge tasks I have set myself.

Not a bad week, hey!