Archive for August, 2012

I’ve just been back “home” for the weekend, to visit my mum and brother (and dog) and the family home where I grew up. It was a lovely weekend of touring round some of my favourite parts of Suffolk, almost like seeing the place for the first time, this time with tourist eyes. I realised just how beautiful the county is. And with my trusty camera in my pocket to capture some of the lovely moments, I can always revist my photos to remind me of the things I love about heading back East…

  • Stomping across the wild beaches of Dovercourt and Frinton…

  • Having an early morning meander along the footpaths of Mistley, the quay and the walls, catching glimpses of the River Stour…

  • Exploring the undergrowth of my mum’s garden, headless dove statues and passionfruit flowers…

  • Up close and personal with Pip and the apple bin…

  • Catching the sunrise, sky turning pale over manningtree and the single bright star…

  • Flatford Mill at dusk and the swan bobbing for river sludge…

  • Fishing nets and cheese scones on Harwich pier…

  • Down on the farm, with Jimmy’s rare breeds…

For a closer look and to see the complete set of my pictures from my weekend in Suffolk, go here.


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This week I’ve been interupting my daily grind with the wonderful excuse of the August Break. I’ve been stopping and looking at the food I’m about to eat, walking home on the other side of the road, looking down my straw at my coffee, peering into shop windows… It’s a fun experiment, and I pity the fool who is walking close behind me on the street when I suddenly stop dead and hold my phone aloft, zip it over to instagram and pap a random picture. But it’s a lot of fun. It makes the walk home from work longer, but infinately more interesting. It feels like I’m being a little more mindful as well.

Here is a selection from my week of random snapping. Well, not random, when the spirit took me…


Gatekeeper of the Park

Iced coffee down a straw


Leaves in the drain

Is it wrong that I’m looking forward to autumn?


Walking on the other side of the street

Orchids and laptop

Breathing life into the office

Oxford Bridge of Sighs

Our bridge of Sighs

Dog walking sign

One day I’ll own many dogs

Sniffing out the action

Sniffing out the action

A tree to hug

A tree to hug

Squirrel Knocker

Squirrel knocker

Shop window

My favourite shop window

Weird world

Weird world

You can see the complete photostream of my August Break by hopping over to my Flickr stream, and a fabulous feast of all the other lovely photos from the whole group, here.

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The August BreakBeing a big fan of “papping”, when I’m out and about, I’m excited to stumble across this project – The August Break – on Susannah Conway’s blog. Yep, I know I’m more than half way through August, but there are no rules and I want an excuse to get my phone (Samsung Galaxy 2 with Instagram) out and zap a few things that tickle my fancy on a daily basis. Let’s distract ourselves from the routine for a few seconds each day.

So, here is a smattering of photos from my weekend adventure “Up North” – highlights included hanging with the swans at Rother Valley Country Park, indulging in 16 flavours of french macaroons from Chateau Gateaux, hitting the beach in Sheffield city centre and discovering it was twinned with Mars (!?!). Ace.

SwanBeach in the CityMarsMacaroons

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I’ve had one of those crazy weeks at work where I’ve used up every last drop of energy. In fact I’ve been running on empty for a few days now. Meetings, interviews, presentations, brainstorms, report writing, catchups, transatlantic phone calls, webinars… all sorts. It’s been a good week, productive, but still stacked with plenty of stress and it’s pretty much been a week all about the 9 to 5, or in this case 9 to 7, with my energies and focus centred on the work, rather than life, part of the balance.

And so, as I come to the end of my work-week and start to get excited about the refreshment of my weekend ahead, it’s time for a fabulous dose of inspiration. I just stumbled across this most amazing, inspiring and enlightening video on TED, and I have to share it. EVERYONE needs to watch this video – ESPECIALLY anyone who works, manages, teaches, or has an influence over people and approaches at work. I like to think something like this (and someone like Shawn Achor) could change the world, and what a place it would be! So watch it. Take just 12 minutes of your life, and feel how uplifted and inspired you are at the end.

I’m a big believer in the power of 21 days – it’s supposed to be the amount of time it takes a person to form a habit (good or bad) and seems more manageable than sticking to something for a month. I’ve been taking part in a 21 Day Journaling Challenge over the last two weeks and am currently on Day 15, and I’m finding it really interesting and cathartic to journal first thing in the morning, especially with a focal question to explore. In Shawn’s talk above he also talks about the power of 21 days – apparently that’s how long you can take to completely reprogramme your brain to be positive. He suggests that you can train your brain to become more positive, all you need to do is the following every day for 21 days:

  • Note down 3 “gratitudes” – new things that you’re grateful for each day

  • Journal about 1 positive experience you’ve had over the last 24 hours

  • Exercise – this teaches your brain that your behaviour matters

  • Meditation allows your brain to get over the ADHD that culture brings to us (curse of multi-tasking)

  • Carry out one random or conscious act of kindness – praising or thanking someone – every day

Positive smiley faceThis is pretty powerful and exciting stuff, and I’m excited to start to drip feed these ideas into my overstuffed life, easing back that work and getting some life back into the mix. So let’s help the revolution of positivity along and get started this weekend!!

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A couple of weeks ago I spent a fabulous weekend in London with lovely Lara. We went dancing, drinking and dreaming. The main reason we got together was to attend a weekend seminar on coaching, but half way through we decided to do a runner and spend time in the sunshine planning and goal setting all by ourselves (we’re well practised at this). Anyway, after some introspection over Lara’s kitchen table, we identified our metaphorical “elephants”. Lara needs to buy a house and I need to plan a wedding.

It’s been over a month since I agreed to become a wife, and people keep asking me if I’ve set a date. Nope. I’ve tried to think about the wedding but it’s such a huge thing, I don’t know where to start! It’s an elephant, and I know the only way I can eat that elephant (so to speak) is one bite at a time.

How do I do this? I’ve never been one of those girls who has dreamed of their wedding since age 5. I’ve never really pictured it at all. I just thought for a long time that if I got married I’d want to go to Vegas. And I tried that suggestion, but perhaps it’s tacky and extravagant and will only do if we fly everyone out… erm… we’re not millionaires…

I figure we can go there to renew our vows in 20 years time…

So now I have to plan this HUGE event, which could cost a lot of money, and it needs to be the best day of my life and the biggest and most important party I’ll ever throw ARGH this is STRESSFUL.

I need to start eating my wedding elephant…

So, one bite at a time.

First bite – breathe. This should be a fun experience and not a stressful one. I need to keep reminding myself of this so I don’t feel overwhelmed.

Second bite – inspiration. I’ve decided to give myself a couple of months to be inspired and not worry too much about committing to plans. Here’s how I’ve started on my road to inspiration:

  1. I’ve read a couple of cool blogs, for inspiration; Offbeat Bride and Rock My Wedding. Already this has given me some cool ideas about making decorations and some pretty funky venues –I’d love to get married at The Tunnels (beach in Devon), or have an Underwater Wedding at the London Aquarium, or get some beautiful tents in some gorgeous outdoor venue.

  2. Dress. Initially the idea of a white dress made me wince. I’m not really a white dress person. But then someone told me about dresses with a colourful lining, and you can even get electric blue wedding dresses! My ears pricked up! Well, whatever the colour, I need to bite the bullet and start trying some of these bad boys on, so my mum has booked an appointment at a shop for us to spend some time trying to work out which styles I like. Yikes! It’s just an appointment and I can pretend I’m playing dress up. A friend of mine said that she tried on loads of styles in a shop to find out what suited her (I didn’t even think about this) and then went and looked on Preloved to get the dress for half the price (I like this!)

  3. I’ve set up a pin board on my Pinterest in case I spot ideas when I’m randomly browsing the internet, such as the amazing tent I want and the mushroom stools.

  4. I’m going to completely submit to bridezilladom and buy two tickets to go to The National Wedding Show in September. I have a feeling this place could fill me with horror, BUT it could also be a lot of fun. I’m going to take my mum, my sense of humour and a notebook and get inspired (whilst pretending I have a winning Euro Millions ticket in my back pocket – why limit yourself when blue sky thinking!?)

  5. I’ve been thinking about the hen do and honeymoon – now THIS is the easy part – well, to come up with ideas, choosing will be tricky. I think the trick here is to allow myself to think big, work out what it is about the ultimate fantasy that I like and ensure that those boxes are ticket when I down-size back to reality. So far I have:

    • Hen-do – Villa in Ibiza, Week in the Maldives, Week in Goa

      What do I want from my hen-do? Spending some quality time in the sunshine with my best girlfriends – with cocktails, fancy dress in our bikinis, lying around all day, cartwheeling on the beach, transitioning to night, beach bars, dancing in the sand.

    • Honeymoon – Camper van round Australia and New Zealand, Swimming with Whale Sharks in the Maldives, Thailand with stopover in Dubai, Brazil.

      What I want from my honeymoon? – to relax in paradise with my man but have a dash of adventure and a couple nights of pure indulgence somewhere we’ll never be able to go again.

  6. Finally, I’ve written a list. All the other things I need to do once I’ve been suitably inspired. They go as follows (definitely not in the right order):
    • Find venue
    • Find dress
    • Build guest list
    • Set date
    • Set budget

So, I feel like I’ve made a start. I’m on the second bite, still a long way to go, but I feel I’ve moving in the right direction. I’m determined that this WILL be a fun experience (said through gritted teeth), I am excited to plan this, I’ve just got to be able to focus and make decisions once these couple months of inspiration have passed.

Now, is it too late to sign up to the next series of Don’t Tell the Bride..?

P.s. No elephants were harmed as part of this blog post – it’s just a metaphor (I LOVE elephants – not to eat, and actually would love to get married on one…)

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entering the Olympic Park

Trying to contain my excitement on entering the Park

I am fully embracing the Gold Rush, shivering with Olympic Fever, LOVING being British in Britain right now as the Olympics are in full swing! What a great time to be on this small island and drapsed in red, white and blue!

Ready for the Water Polo

Ready to rumble

I was lucky enough to have a ticket to see the Men’s Water Polo on Tuesday night and my trip to the Olympic Park was perhaps one of the most exciting experiences of my life. The atmosphere is electric – everyone is so happy and nationalities from all around the world are mingling and celebrating and partying. It’s awesome.
And of course, we’re all so terribly proud of Team GB and we’re all being told by the BBC that if we pick up a bike tomorrow, who knows, in four years’ time we could be competing at Rio…
Erm, maybe not.

Anyway, whilst I was wandering around the Olympic Park on Tuesday with a big ol’ grin on my face, generally loving and lapping up the atmosphere, I did start to wonder, where are the athletes living? We were scanning the horizon, past all the amazing structures on the park thinking… where ARE they? Are they having as much of a blast as we are? I hope so, they’re all amazing, and they’ve made me cry many times this week.

So proud.

Anyway, I FOUND THEM! Well, I just stumbled across an article, which peeks inside the Olympic village HURRAH it looks nice, very clean, a bit like a student halls of residence.

USA Water Polo team

Someone tell me where these guys are staying…

Now I feel better. Knowing they’re all together like some crazy super-talented athlete community. Sleeping under strange small duvets and sitting on those crazy outdoor sofas. I wonder if they accidentally set the fire alarm off with burnt toast smoke at 3 in the morning… I like to think so.

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