This time next year – May 2018

Well thanks for this Louise Bodle, I’m so useless at setting to goals, I normally blame it on not knowing where I want to be, but really it’s fear for the increased risk of failure.

This is the second time this subject has come up this week, so here goes:

THE RULES
-Thank the person who tagged you – check out Louise’s goals here
-Set yourself some goals for the next year
-Explain how you’re going to achieve these goals
-Tag at least five of your blogger friends
-And finally in a years time, 365 days write a post reflecting on your goals and what you managed to achieve. 

1. I start back at the gym tomorrow after a long period off following an injury. My first goal is to keep it up. My size fluctuates greatly and for once I’d like to look back over the year and see progress, not failure in maintaining.

2. Start saving for travelling. I previously wrote about how I would start to save here, I have managed to book a few holidays, but I really want to think about the long term and taking a year out to see more of the world.

3. Increase my social media following, this is probably the hardest, as I can’t control what other people like to read, but if I can be more social physically, I hope it will increase naturally.

4. Improve my self-esteem and trust issues. This is the most important to me, as it has impacted on my life negatively for so long. I can only improve this by letting people in, so say “hi”, let’s meet for dinner and enjoy being friends.

Well they’re some pretty tough goals for me, let’s see how I go next year (setting myself a reminder in case I forget). I will tag some people on twitter, can’t wait to read your goals.

Yo! Eat Me

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know I love my food, if you don’t, WHY NOT?! I was invited* to Yo! (Formally known as Yo! Sushi ) to try the new Japanese street style menu. People immediately declined the invite because they “don’t do sushi” which is frustrating as sushi is just the style of rice and not just raw fish. They missed out as there were loads of tasty dishes to try.

I stupidly gave up meat for lent and decided not to eat it afterwards (except once by choice, and possibly another time when drunk and unable to work out if it had meat in or not). I’ve continued to eat seafood, it’s just too nice!

Going to Yo! I thought I would be fed plenty of fish and veggie dishes, but there were lots of meaty dishes too. I nearly caved at the Chicken Bullet Train Katsu Sando (chicken sandwich), which was the first dish to come out. It smelt so good! The head chef gave me some of the sauce to try, which was good, but pretty sure not as amazing as it would have been smothered on the chicken.

Bullet Train Katsu Sando


The night got more difficult for me as the the Fruity Beef Katsu came out, basically a Japanese beef burger patty, but I powered through and drank green cocktails instead!

Fruity Beef Katsu


One of the waiting staff, Dee, saw I was struggling with not eating (my hangry face was coming out), so got me some Harusame Aubergine, I didn’t expect to like it as aubergine can be quite dull, but I was pleasantly surprised.

Harusame Aubergine


As the night went on, I tried lots of new dishes, the Sweet & Sour Cod Nanbanzuke was my favourite and from around the benches seemed to be most people’s favourite. I was most disappointed by the Osaka-Style Squid, I love squid, but this was just too salty for me.

Sweet & Sour Cod Nanbanzuke

I was full after 3 dishes (I was concerned I wouldn’t get full from the small tapas style dishes), which would have cost me around £15.00, which I think is reasonable for a meal out. The dishes are colour coded by price ranging from £2.20 to £6.00 per dish (or £9.00 if you want to “Sumo” size it). See the full menu here

Will I go back?! YES! I love sushi anyway, so I want to try more, but I also want to try more of the hot street-style food.

Blossom – prawn with avocado and tuna sushi


Seared Beef & Pickle Roll


Natalie from Yo! – matching outfit to menu, good work

*I didn’t pay, nor did I get paid, nobody asked me to write this post, it’s my own opinion blah blah blah.

Malta Travel Tips

I can’t believe having visited my family in Malta so many times over the years, I have never written a blog post with tips. Following a twitter HolidayChat with Ice Lolly Holiday I was asked for suggestions, so here goes:

1. Avoid driving! Whilst the Maltese drive on the same side of the road as the UK, the drivers haven’t got the same attitude to the Highway Code. The public transport isn’t great, but you can pretty much get a bus over the island if you’re prepared to wait. I previously wrote about the best way to travel, this still stands.

2. Eat Maltese food, but if you want the tastiest choices, go before 12pm.
These are my favourites:

Imqaret – best ones from the gates of Valetta – date filled sweet pastry

Pastizzi – best ones from outside Mosta Rotunda – ricotta or pea stuffed flaky pastry

Tuna Ftira – I’ve never had a bad one, although they are slightly different in Gozo – a massive tuna sandwich, but that does not do it justice

3. Visit during a feast. Ok well Malta has festas pretty much all year round, but it is worth checking to see what’s on when you go, Festas often have lots of fireworks that would make you think they’ll never end! Malta is a catholic country and still pride themselves on celebrating traditions.

4. The Maltese learn English from an early age, and whilst I would always suggest learning basic words when travelling abroad, the Maltese will not hold it against you for not trying. That being said, my grandparents would be disappointed if I didn’t offer help (as with my Faro tips, complete with dodgy pronunciation):

Please – jekk jogħġbok (yeck yorsh bock)
Thank you – grazzi (grat see)
I don’t understand – jien ma nifhimx (yen mah nif him sshh)

5. There are plenty of places to visit and this post would go on forever if I listed all the places I love, but here are a few must see places

Valetta (get a 5 minute ferry from St Julian’s) – be sure to visit Upper Barrakka Gardens at 12pm or 4pm to see The Saluting Battery (cannon goes kaboom).

From Valetta you can get a bus to most places on the island.

Marsaxlokk is a fishing village at the south of the island, filled with colourful boats, fresh fish and on a Sunday morning markets full of things to see and buy.

Mosta Rotunda, famous for its unexploded WWII bomb, which came through the roof and miraculously killed no one. The bomb is still there today.

Gozo is an island which is north of Malta, and whilst it is Maltese, it has its differences. Gozo used to be famous for the Azure Window rock formation, which sadly fell into the sea earlier this year, but there are still plenty of places to wander around.

Mdina is actually my favourite place in Malta. The walled city, often called silent city, as not many cars can drive inside it, has small walkways and shops as well as museums squeezed into its protective shell. I can’t explain the feeling I get when I drive past on the way to my parents, but I suppose the best description would be beautifully safe.

Part of me wanted to send this off to my family to cross check, but I have visited so much, I’m starting to consider it a second home…much to my Dad’s despair! Have you been? Where was your favourite place?

10 Tips to Faro

I am writing this after a rude awakening this morning, from my stomach (I’ll leave it there, but you can probably guess what I mean).

I am lying awake in a hotel bed on the Portuguese coast of Praia de Faro. When I first arrived in the hotel Aeromar, I laughed at how dated it was, with its woollen blankets, dark wood furniture and the bathroom with its 50’s style hairdryer and dodgy shower. I broke the shower head as it fell from the wall within seconds and didn’t really hold out much hope for the rest of the stay. In my best Portuguese (thanks Google translate), I went down to reception to explain what had happened, half expecting a “meh” response, the guy didn’t bat an eyelid though, said he couldn’t promise it would be fixed straight away, but would be done that day. When I got back to the room a few hours later, it was all sorted, I then started to feel the charm about this small hotel by the beach.

The location is perfect, only a few minutes by bus from the airport, beach on one side, nature reserve (great for spotting long beaked birds (I know nothing about birds!)) on the other side, 20 minutes by bus to Faro city, where you can catch a train or boat to various locations and sunrises/sets to boast about. The loud Portuguese music that plays on a Tuesday night till midnight adds to the charm. Being so close to the airport I considered the noise, but in fact the planes are more of a rumble, in Faro city however, they can be quite loud as they fly overhead.

Here are some of my tips if you visit:

1. Learn some basic phrases, a little bit of effort to speak the language goes a long way. The Portuguese are very friendly and seem proud of their language, so will happily help you pick up more. Here is some key ones to help along with my weird pronunciation guide:

Thank you – Obrigado (male), Obrigada (female) – Ob-ree-guard-oh

Please – Por favor – Pour-fah-vore

I don’t understand – Eu nao intentendo – Ooh-no-intend-oh

Do you speak English? – Voce fala Ingles? – Voss-fal-ah-ing-lays

2. Visit the cathedral in Faro city and climb the bell tower and take in the views. Be sure to take some binoculars (I admit I’m a geek).

3. Wear comfortable shoes. A lot of places along the Algarve have slippery cobbled stones, flip flops and heels won’t cut it.

4. Walk down the side streets. Some of the tiled walls and architecture of the buildings are fantastic to look at, I wish the UK had more colourful houses.

5. Take a boat trip. I was told by a local to take the train to Lagos, as the best caves are over there. Sadly, it is just under 2 hours by train and we didn’t get up early enough, so instead we got the hotel to book a trip from Vilamoura marina which included the taxi there and back. It was convenient, but I felt I cheated a bit. I was still able to swim in the freezing sea and go into the caves.

6. April is not normally as warm as it has been for us, so take a long sleeved top. The coast is renowned for being windy and in the evenings it can get quite cold, especially if you’re eating outside.

7. Take a train along the coast. We visited Tavira, it was very pretty along the river and the views from the castle are fantastic. There is a walled garden which smelt so sweet, and sounded like a film as a busker played softly in the background.

8. Try some local fish. Even if you aren’t keen on seafood, ask for a taster. Some of the restaurants will do a tapas style dish you can have alongside your main if you are unsure about your choice, just ask.

9. Wear sunscreen! This should be a given, but my friend didn’t listen to my warnings, assuring me she doesn’t burn *cue eye roll*, yes she burnt on day one, when it didn’t even feel that warm, but the breeze here can definitely make it feel cooler. She learnt her lesson and used my P20, which is ideal for me as I only need to apply it once a day (you may need it more depending on your skin type).

10. Have fun! This may seem obvious, but the amount of people I hear moaning when on holiday, makes you wonder if they are encouraging sadness. So your hotel may not be perfect, laugh about it, you aren’t really going to spend that much time in it. The plane might be delayed, play a game, talk to strangers (don’t go off alone with them though). Your friend is snoring, put a pillow over her head and hold it there until she shuts up, she won’t snore again! (I’m joking, I promise she’s still alive…for now!).

 

For more photos go to my Facebook page here

 

March Update

I’ve been a bit quiet on here recently, partly because I haven’t had the motivation to write, partly because I finally had my knee surgery, so fun hasn’t been my top priority. Here’s a quick summary of what’s happened:

* ACL and meniscus reconstruction – surgery went well, nobody told me I would need to inject myself with blood thinners for a week afterwards!

* Holiday booked – I’m off to Faro with a friend, it was kind of a last minute decision, as my daughter is off on a ski trip and I felt it was unfair, as it will be over my birthday week.

* I’ve travelled to all corners of the UK and not seen more than motorways and Premier Inns. Work travel can be dull, so I am making it my mission to see more of the places I visit. Glasgow on Monday, so feel free to give me ideas.

* I got back on the dating scene (well sort of) – I met a guy online (I know eye roll, but where else am I going to meet someone?). We had such a fun date, it was actually like being on First Dates, the staff were hilarious and we kept looking out for cameras, all of a sudden the shots started appearing…I knew I was drunk after pronouncing “that was really nice” to a shot of gin…I hate gin! It ended very messily with me falling through the door and hitting my head (I now have a scar), followed by quite a bit of reverse shots. Whilst I thought we had a great first and second date (yes he did return after that), I felt it starting to fizzle by the third and there was no more. I did get a lovely message saying how fun I was and that he would love to spend more time with me, even if it’s just as FRIENDS! I have not heard from him again, but it has made me open up to the possibility of getting back out there.

* I’ve successfully given up meat for lent and am happy to continue for now. There is so much choice available now, which I was worried about, but even my favourite burger joint has vegetarian options.

I’m looking forward to discovering new places this spring, follow me on Instagram to keep an eye on where I end up.

No Money, More Food

Well who wants to throw January in the “What’s the point of this” bin?! I definitely do!

January has been the hardest month for me in a long time and for possibly the most pathetic reason, no money! Me and everyone else I speak to seems to have this issue, so I shouldn’t moan too much.

The reason I’m annoyed about it, is because it’s purely been my own fault. I fluttered money away on this and that and living in the moment, that I am now in a position where it’s all I seem to think about. On the plus side, it has taught me how little I can actually live off. I spent £90 on food instead of my usual £300+, I’ve had to prepare my own lunches and think about what I’m going to eat during the week, which in turn has me eating healthier food.

As I sit in Coffee#1 I am feeling like I have an impulsive streak, and just like to waste money. The reality of it is that I’m using the leftover money from my food shop. I was shocked at the savings in Lidl. I had to buy the usual expensive items, dishwasher products, Persil, toothpaste, so when I started scanning it, I was dreading the cost. It actually all came to just £35.04.

I will make a veggie cottage pie, meat-free chicken fajitas (loving Quorn right now), veggie spaghetti bolognaise and a number of other delicious dishes. I was hoping to go vegan for February, but as I am due to have my knee operation on the 9 February, I figured I’m going to need to make it as easy as possible. I am aiming to stick to the pescatarian/vegetarian diet though, with a few days of vegan mixed in.

A positive to the knee op, is that I can’t go out and spend money aimlessly, but I will have to block my internet if I can’t stay away from the online shops.

As hard as it is now, if I stick to my strict budget, by next month I will have enough money to book a holiday…and that’s all I ever want to “waste” my money on in future.

Saving to Travel More

I always have plans to go on holiday, but a few things get in the way; money, work, and being a responsible parent!

As my daughter is getting older, this is becoming less of a struggle, she has a great group of friends with amazing parents, who happily (at least that’s what they tell me!) look after her.

Work is a necessary evil, but it does support the money side!

Money, this is the main reason I don’t travel as much as I would like to. This year, I really want to focus on saving to holiday more, to do this I need an action plan.

1. Limit takeaways to one a month.
Approx. saving £70 per month.

2. Do a weekly shop. I’m a nightmare for shopping on my way back from work, when I’m tired and hungry, often meaning I shop in the more expensive convenience stores. I tried this for the first time this week, I spent just under £30, instead of my usual £15 per day (including lunch). Approx. saving £330 per month. WOW!!!!

3. Make my own lunches, not only is it healthier, but the saving on canteen food is so much better. Approx. saving £included above.

4. Unsubscribe from emails. This isn’t an obvious one, but I am a marketeers’ dream! I see something online and without having time to think, I’ve added it to my basket…I don’t even have any space in my wardrobe for anymore clothes/shoes. Approx. saving £20 per month (I’m not always bad, so have averaged this over a year).

All in all, this will save approximately £420 per month, around £5k in one year!!!!

This is an incredible amount of money, but at the end of the year, I don’t expect to see any of it, as I really want to work to live, living for me is seeing the world.

Have you got any tips on saving? What are you saving for?

2016 wasn’t that bad

Everyone seems to be super excited that 2016 is over, like it was cursed. Yes, there were some political factors that are potentially worrying, but as a lot of people voted for these changes, there’s not much point in moaning about it now.

I also lost a couple of family members, which was sad, but they were both suffering and I can only hope that they are in a better place now.

So enough of the negatives and congratulations to those that got married this year, and to the 4 I was invited to, thank you for letting me a part of it.

In addition there were some special birthdays; my daughter turned 13, my grandmother turned 80 and a friend had her 40th.

Robot Wars for 13th B’day

At the backend of 2015, I wrote about where I was hoping to go on holiday this year (European Holiday Planning). Whilst I didn’t make it to most of them, I did make it to Budapest and a few others including Berlin. I even managed to squeeze in a quick festival and a break to Manchester and Leeds.

The most valuable advice I received for these trips was to download the Triposo app. I was so pleased that I could download the app and use offline to see the sites and even view my location on the interactive map. I will definitely be using it in future for city breaks in and out of the UK.

Trips for 2017 haven’t been confirmed yet, other than a short trip to Italy for my friend’s wedding. I am hoping to see more European cities this year as well as some places I didn’t tick off last year’s list.

Who knows what 2017 will hold, but if it’s half as fun as 2016, I will be happy.

Wishing you all the best for 2017.

I’m a teenager again!

I didn’t want to go to the gym this morning, I was tired and had major DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness – or something similar) from the painting this weekend.

I couldn’t justify having 2 mornings off in a row (doctor again tomorrow), so off I went. I was really glad I did, as I managed a personal best dead lift of 70kgs (2 sets of 6 after a few lighter weights beforehand).

I left feeling really proud of myself, and was actually looking forward to my weights and measurements being done this evening.

A few weeks ago I was struggling with a kettle bell

A few weeks ago I was struggling with a kettle bell

Everything just seemed to click today, 3 people commented on how much thinner I was looking and I didn’t feel like I needed to eat all the cake.

Total results so far

Total results so far

I couldn’t be happier, it just shows that weight alone is not important. If I was just looking at that, I would be seriously upset with myself. Sometimes it’s that buzz of being able to fit comfortably into a pair of denim shorts which have always been tight, other times it’s about being able to wake up at 6am every morning and workout other times it’s about getting your metabolic age down from 32 to 19, which is what I have done, I’m a teenager again!!!!!!

What have been your non-scale victories recently?

With a spring in my step I headed off to Boogie Bounce, and was able to push myself harder than I have for a few weeks. I did have to take it a bit easy still as my knee isn’t completely healed.

Tonight's effort

Tonight’s effort

I am suitably sweaty now and ready for a shower then bed!

Weekly Windup

I thought I’d give you all a quick update on my life, you might be interested!

Firstly, if you’ve read my previous posts, you’ll see that I was struggling with injuries and they were hampering my training at the gym. I am pretty much there with the recovery now, and am starting to load the weights again. My personal best on a back squat is 50kg and 65kg deadlift.

Front squat 35kg

Front squat 35kg


I’m determined to increase this though, especially after the newbies at the gym casually stated they were lifting 70kg and 60kg after starting 2 weeks ago *cue angry face*. I’m super competitive, but this is ridiculous, why am I so weak?! I am putting it down to being overly flexible, that must be it right!

In addition to going to the gym, I have been working on my garden. I have lived in my flat for 4 years and never had a garden. I had a huge, ugly, asbestos garage, which I rarely entered…mainly because I lost the key 2 years ago, but also because my driveway is too narrow to fit a car down. Even when I had the Smart car, I couldn’t get through the gap between the houses.

I decided to turn the garage into a garden, this was never going to be cheap, but I eventually got enough savings together to get the garage taken down and put up the fencing.

Post demolition

Post demolition

After shifting 2 tonnes of rubble and sand, the garden is ready for the artificial grass. I really want an easy to maintain garden that looks good all year round.

Enjoying the sandpit

Enjoying the sandpit


It turns out fake grass is super expensive! After going £1000 over budget, because I wanted the nicer wood and the bigger shed, I am pretty much skint now, so have decided to stick with the beach look for a few months, then look at getting the grass in the winter…it is nice to be by the seaside after all (honestly, I’m so sad that I can’t finish it yet!).

It’s not all bad though, last weekend I went to Brighton for Kemptown Carnival. Admittedly we missed the parade because my friends and I went for Bottomless Brunch at North Laines Brewhouse and turned into the Mimosa Monsters!

Mimosa Monsters

Mimosa Monsters


£20 for delicious food (I had eggs royale, a vegetarian option was also available) and unlimited Mimosas or Bloody Marys from 11am till 3pm.

I laughed loads and with the help of my selfieclip, managed to get some photos of us…most of which I can’t show you!

Jelly shots in the street

Jelly shots in the street


We ended up chilling in an antiques store, eating street food, seeing the Eastend Cabaret as part of the Brighton Fringe, dancing at a random street party with out of date Corona and watching a Burlesque show.

Needless to say, I was a bit tired on Sunday, so was looking forward to relaxing in my garden this weekend.

In typical British weather, however, the sun has decided to bog off this weekend, so I shall be spending it painting my downstairs hallway a few shades of grey and purple, who needs to relax anyway. I hope you’re all enjoying your weekend xoxo

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