The Pub Lunch Disaster and a Cake Detox

It has been an interesting few days. Friday was a busy one, and I forgot to do my reading again, but busy days still feel better! I had my audition for Symphony Orchestra first thing, which was okay but my cello decided to have some serious tuning issues between the practice room and the concert hall. It’s like he was trying to embarrass me. I got it sorted out anyway and the audition was fine, although I did majorly hash up most of the sight reading. I love Benjamin Britten but he really does give conductors some possibility for beastly sight reading! I also sort of shot myself in the foot when asked to play a whole passage of octaves double stopped. Apparently everyone else had played both the notes, but the long-and-short of this is that my hands are not big enough to play the notes I was given. My left thumb is also double jointed so it causes a lot of trouble if I do try the sort of thing I was being asked to attempt. With my small hands in mind, I asked which note I was required to play and was told ‘both’. At this point I protested – the part has ‘divisi’ written in it, which means I should only have to play one note, whilst my imaginary desk partner plays the other. Essentially, I gain plus points for my score reading (no one else had noticed the div marking), but points probably get knocked off for my refusal to do what everyone else had done anyway. We’ll all find out how that went down tomorrow I suppose.

It smells like Turkish Delight!!!

It smells like Turkish Delight!!!

After that I went into town and applied for some Christmas temp jobs, and also treated myself to some new shower gel. Seriously treated, I bought a big bottle of Rose Jam from Lush. It’s been available online but you can’t smell it like that, and rose can be a funny one. As I am almost out of shower gel I had bought some Porridge soap on Thursday, and decided on Friday morning that I can’t buff my skin quite that much everyday, so I chose to pick up some of the very lovely smelling shower gel when I went in to do my applications. One of the lovely ladies working there also took me upstairs and tried out some of the blueberry face mask on my arm, which felt gloriously soft and smelled like you could eat it for the rest of the day! I then took my purchase to the Freshers’ Fayre in order to wave it at my friends working on stalls, including one of my housemates who is now threatening to steal it.

This also smells AMAZING!

This also smells AMAZING!

Before my String Orchestra audition (an odd occurrence because it essentially involved me playing the cello for two friends who know exactly what I sound like) I ended up going for lunch in the pub with one of said friends. A couple of others ended up tagging along, which was lovely and turned out to be a very lucky coincidence. After 40 minutes and well after everyone else had started on their food (Carol, who I originally went with, had even left by this point), my food finally turned up. I had ordered a jacket potato with three bean chilli, after contemplating a veggie burger for ages and deciding that I really did want something a bit healthier, and the dish turned up with a slightly green tinged potato and some chilli with only one type of bean visible in it. Liking to believe the best, and knowing that the menu was going through a change, I sort of poked it a bit, sniffed it, then nibbled on a tiny bit of the chilli. It didn’t taste like Quorn, and after a few seconds the reminiscent taste of school-dinner beef bolognese hit me. So I asked one of my companions to try it. She said it tasted just like normal chilli. Up I go to the bar, feeling very self conscious as I will look like a moron if I am wrong, asking if the potato that just got brought out had been served with the veggie chilli or meat chilli. I have it pointed out that meat chilli isn’t in that section of the menu (I am well aware), before the admittedly very friendly bar-man phones the kitchen. He looks worried, then comes back and tells me I am being cooked another dinner!

I had been served meat chilli…

Ironically, the new dinner took less than half the time to cook than my original meal! I also had a man come out to apologise, telling me that he too is vegetarian and knows how frustrating it can be, before giving me a couple of free drink vouchers that actually add up to more than my food cost. They couldn’t give me a beer and a burger voucher because it doesn’t cover a veggie burger, which I think is sort of wrong really, as I am definitely more likely to use that than to go mad and drink both a pint and a double vodka red bull… But yeah. When my food came it was actually really good, and I am not naming names because I do like it in this specific pub and they were very good about it, checking on me about three times whilst I was eating to make sure it was okay! I was happy – the second potato wasn’t green! It just shows how strong the veggie-senses get in only a year though!

This is the sort of madness that ensues when I stay up too late baking. It happens a lot.

This is the sort of madness that ensues when I stay up too late baking. It happens a lot.


Chocolate fudge cake

Friday evening was spent in a frenzy of baking activity. Officially, Macmillan coffee mornings ran on Friday morning, but due to the Freshers’ Fayre we moved ours to Saturday. Most people I asked said that they would come if it was Saturday instead of Friday. After a great deal of effort and excitement, six people came in total. Consequently me and my housemates spent a large portion of the day sitting in the living room and eating cake. We have now sworn that we will not touch cake again for at least a week, and genuinely cannot deal with the idea of eating anything sweet, spongey, or biscuity! We raised £15, so it wasn’t all sad, but it would have been nice if more people had turned up! And we wouldn’t have spent yesterday evening and all of today trying to fob off our leftover baking on anyone and everyone!WP_20130928_006

Spending the morning playing Classical Snap and Pairs is clearly tiring

Spending the morning playing Classical Snap and Pairs is clearly tiring

Naturally, I feel pretty gross today! It didn’t help that instead of eating healthily for the rest of yesterday to make up for the cake, we decided to counteract the sweetness with ridiculously cheesy toasties! I went for the classic cheese and marmite, which made me happy. It also ended up with me taking an hour long mid-afternoon nap! Today has definitely been better, although I didn’t wake up until almost midday!

Uni starts for real tomorrow!WP_20130927_020

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Hold your horses, it’s Freshers’ week.

No, really. Hold your horses. The freshers all walk so slowly that you’re not going anywhere fast! I got to the point of almost shouting at the group of slow walkers I was stuck behind the other day that if I put my cello down, it could walk faster than them on its own. I know it’s only a tiny thing, but it does send me up the wall. Although an even bigger bug bear is when sort of the opposite happens and a group of people walks towards you, taking up the whole path, and then gives you dirty looks because they have to allow a tiny bit of space for you to not fall off the path. The main offenders are normally girls, I am sad to say. They give you that look of ‘you are dirt under our feet, why do you want us to get out of your way?’ I just spend my time wanting to scream at people ‘THERE’S ONE OF ME AND THREE OF YOU, JUST BRAKE UP THE LINE FOR 3 SECONDS!’

Sorry, rant over!

It is official; I am enrolled, remembered to pay my course fees, and am now a real postgraduate! I then forgot to go to my library induction this morning, but that can be dealt with. This week has kind of been a full on start of a new course, start of a new life job. I attempted to go out on Monday night and didn’t have a very good time of it – the bit in Varsity where we were all drawing on each other (graffiti night) and dancing was brilliant, but then we went on to Glam (which I’ve always hated anyway). Something about the combination of excessive bass with a huge crowd of people set me off and I ended up having to leave because I could barely breathe. So I am now a pubs and bars girl only!

I am also glad to say that after a week and a half of eating a pretty normal diet with standard dairy milk, my body seems to be willing to cooperate with me again.

Sorry, I just got really distracted as the bar that recommends articles to link to suggested a handy list of do’s and don’ts for pulling in freshers’ week. I despair. I really do, I just read the article out of curiosity.

Anyway. Standard vegetarianism suits me as well as ever. I’ve gone in for a different approach to normal whereby instead of choosing a recipe and buying everything to make it, I just ad-lib something by trying to use up the food I have. It has had some interesting results. Tonight, for instance, I had courgette noodles (I have adopted the American ‘zoodles’ from zucchini because it is much easier to say!) with roasted butternut squash, mushrooms, pierogi ruskie, and crazy radish salsa.WP_20130926_012


Admittedly, creating this dish did involve a trip into town to locate a julienne peeler, but I needed to go to the bank and also to get some soap, so it wasn’t too much effort. I was such a super good person and only bought the things on my list as well!

The peeler involved going into Kitchens; the amazing kitchen shop on St Mary St. We won’t tell my Mum about this as she has expressly forbidden me from going in there, for my own good. And the good of my bank account. I didn’t buy anything other than what I needed, but window-shopping in Kitchens was definitely the best part of my trip to town. The area itself was less crowded than Queen St and the shop was beautifully quiet as its contents aren’t generally the sort of thing that freshers are looking for. For instance, see my attached picture of the GIANT COLANDER OF DOOM!

Just found this beauty of my first trip to Kitchens. It's only the BIGGEST COLANDER YOU'VE EVER SEEN!

Just found this beauty of my first trip to Kitchens. It’s only the BIGGEST COLANDER YOU’VE EVER SEEN!

My new julienne peeler definitely ticks all the boxes: it made my courgette into perfectly noodle-sized strips, is definitely sharp (as proven by my bleeding thumb), and also comes with a handy cover attached to stop future accidents once it has been lost into the world of the utensil drawer. I highly recommend zoodles as well. Literally attack a courgette with the peeler, place the strips in boiling water for 3-5 minutes and voila, almost instant pasta substitute. And it tastes of courgette, which is one of my favourite vegetables. Win.

WP_20130926_005Crazy radish salsa is another child of the use-up. I felt that dinner needed some kind of sauce, and decided that I needed to use up the cherry tomatoes that have been languishing in the fridge all week. In my hunt for a solution to squidgy tomatoes I came across a recipe for chunky salsa in my old Weight Watchers folder. I had to buy a couple of extra ingredients, but one was missing from Lidl: the red chilli. I didn’t really want full-on spicy salsa, but when I came across very cheap radishes I decided to sub them in for the peppery taste. The result is actually very tasty, and goes better with the zoodles than the rest of the things that I cooked!

One final thing, before I impart my first ever (underwhelming) recipe on you (I will write out my townies recipe at some point!): Whilst life is getting busier due to my course, I am planning on continuing to write. Ideally I want to be on here at least once a week, as I find it so very therapeutic! My main reason for not writing much in the last week or so has actually been computer trouble – my laptop died and I have been using a netbook so painfully slow that I threatened to throw it out the window once every half-hour or so. This has all changed now, as my new computer has arrived! It is beautiful and I am in love with it!

This is going to reveal such a nerdy side to me, but I feel I should share it with you: I name all of my technological devices after Star Wars characters. My iPod is called C3P0, as it is a very shiny gold coloured shuffle, and various other items have acquired names. My laptop was Luke, the netbook was Leia. My USB stick is called Han Solo because it spends a lot of time plugged into Leia. As I’ve literally gone to the dark side and moved onto a MacBook, I am actually tempted to call my new laptop Darth Vader. But it is so very beautiful that I am unsure. Consequently, I cannot name my new computer until the new Star Wars film comes out as I will then see if there is a suitable new character – I feel like my computer life is advancing along with the plotline, so maybe a new character would be better. We shall see. All I know is that, in spite of all the techie excitement that’s been going on, I had great fun with the materials they used to pack the laptop in!WP_20130924_007

Crazy Radish Salsa:

  • 6 large tomatoes + 8 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 red pepper, deseeded
  • 4 spring onions
  • 4-6 radishes, topped and tailed

Cut the tomatoes into chunks, and the cherry tomatoes into quarters or halves. Place into a bowl and crush lightly with the back of a spoon. Finely dice the pepper, spring onions, and radishes. Add to the tomatoes and mix in some lime juice, and salt and pepper to taste.


Ta-da. Simple, healthy, and very cheap if you shop at Lidl! Enjoy!

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It’s all about time

It must be said – I am a massive fan of all things wibbley-wobbley timey-wimey. My Doctor Who nerdism dates back to before it was cool; I watched old episodes when I was little before the new set of series began. When it was announced that they were going to start making it again, some people I know were all ‘What do you mean, Doctor Who is coming back?! It’s a new programme!’ Fools. One of my more distressing memories of being a teenager is when Dad’s copy of The Time Machine (the 2002 film version) stopped working just before the main point of the story was unveiled. As it is, maybe this is a good thing because I can now read the book (finally available as a free kindle download!) without being totally spoiled. And it was so long ago that I can’t really remember what was happening anyway…

So. When we went to see About Time in the cinema yesterday, it was with great glee that I realised that the last time I had to go right to the top floor of Cineworld was to see a film called In Time. It actually made my day. That was a really good film too, come to think of it. I went to see it on a whim after orchestra, and never expected to like a film with Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried in it. But then it was a dystopian future, very well executed, and Justin grows on you when your previous judgement of him is based on when you were 12 and he was the antithesis of what you wanted to hear in music. And that was after *NSYNC.

After seeing the advert for About Time I had it down as a cross between The Time Traveller’s Wife and One Day, so naturally I turned up ready for a good, hearty blub. I will not spoil anyone, but there was definitely blubbing! It wasn’t for the reasons I thought though. And I enjoyed that. For some reason I had really built up my expectations of what this film was going to be and how the story would go, but it knocked them all down and rebuilt them into something possibly even more touching than I had expected. Thankfully I have a cold, so I wasn’t wearing mascara anyway, as one of my eyes keeps getting inexplicably overexcited and leaking all over the place, then going pink. It’s a really good look. I think what I am trying to say is that I think people should see this film, it is really beautiful.

Also, Rachel McAdams is so frustratingly perfect. I have reserves about saying perfect, but gorgeous is too heavy a word. Perfect was my initial reaction after the film, so we’ll stick with that. Her face is just so very pretty.

That’s all I have to say about that really…

13795_10151390457431111_440406620_nOverslept this morning (it was going to happen one day), so had to save day 19 of Blogilates until after I got back from Lidl. I ran into a friend in the shop, and he was complaining about being smelly because he’d been to the gym, which made me feel so bad that I downed a pint of water and dashed upstairs to my yoga mat as soon as I got home! That then meant that I had to break out my incredibly sexy ducky shower cap in order to stop myself smelling after, and now I am all cosy and curled up in my dressing gown. But alas, I have to do some cello practice before my second housemate moves in, so I will need to put proper clothes back on!

Life is hard. Although it might be if my neighbours don’t like my playing. We’ve gotten on well so far, but I am a massive fan of using a metronome for practice. Nobody likes a metronome girl.

All I did was lift the lid to take a picture and I want to eat them all!!!

All I did was lift the lid to take a picture and I want to eat them all!!!

And off I go, although I’m not sure how much my body is going to appreciate playing the cello after exercise! I also have to try not to undo all my hard work by eating too many of the apple crumble muffins that I made in celebration of having a full house – especially as only a few days after ditching the excess soy we seem to be actually getting somewhere!

Posted in Beautiful things, Films, Fitness | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

When Passions Collide

Here I am, back in rainy old Cardiff. I wish I could say sunny, it would have made my trip to finally get my new student card a lot more pleasant. It is also possible that it could have been made more pleasant if drivers didn’t insist on driving at such rapid speeds that I didn’t stand a chance of staying dry, even by cowering as far away from the road as possible! And by my umbrella not breaking.

My stupid picture is only marginally better than the last one after all that effort! But such is life I suppose.

Life is normal, the book pile is growing...

Life is normal, the book pile is growing…

Life has returned to normal and I have finally started trying to eat really well again. This actually seems to be going okay, especially as I have developed a new found respect for the jacket potato and have been enjoying constructing cheap, simple and healthy meals around the classic spud. My latest oddity is a sort of mess of stir-fried vegetables with some cannelini beans and satay sauce. This goes surprisingly well with potato, but also with noodles, which cook in infinitely less time if you come back later than expected for dinner! The sauce isn’t so ‘healthy’ in terms of fat content etc., but I made it myself so I have tabs on what I’m eating.

The only real shake-up here is that I’ve stopped using soya milk and returned to ‘normal’ (cows’) milk. I’ve been using the soya milk all summer as it seemed like a good idea for various reasons, but recently I’ve been reading the articles about it and have come across one big concern very specific to myself. I will say now that I have not gotten on board with all the really major scaremongering about soy, as I have read as many and as balanced a variety of articles as I could come across. My problem is that I have an existing underactive thyroid, and even some of the soy-positive researchers admit that it is probably best for people using thyroxine not to eat soya products within 4 hours of taking their medication, as it can prevent it from working properly.

Now, I know that I haven’t been eating that well, but I haven’t been horrific either, yet my weight continues to act out as a problem. When I lost weight before I was using skimmed milk the whole time without any problems. Now I’m beginning to think that, although it wouldn’t be the whole cause, 3 months of possibly preventing my thyroid medication from having its full effect could have caused a fair bit of trouble. So here I am, back on the skimmed milk! I’ve enjoyed my venture into the alternatives, but I can’t afford anything other than soya milk so dairy is all I can do at present. I would rather that than be risking my health without even realising!

17 days!!!

17 days!!!

My weight’s stubbornness is getting a bit frustrating as I have been completing my Blogilates calendar every day for 17 days now, and the effect of a body toning up whilst retaining fat in weird places does look a bit weird! There are definitely changes, but I’m having a moody/weepy day and am feeling fed up, although I was wonderfully cheery doing the exercise this morning. Putting on a skirt that is normally loose and it being uncomfortably tight does that to you I suppose.

The most motivational of mugs

The most motivational of mugs

The bonus of my return to plain old milk is that I can drink normal tea again whilst at uni – no matter what, tea is the one drink I cannot stand with soya milk. This probably explains why I drank Mum out of house and home!

Anyway. 17 Days of Blogilates and I am feeling good in myself no matter what nonsense my body is up to! I have had one complaint that I have never come across before though: I shall call it ‘Pilates Elbow’. Although this morning wasn’t so mat-focused, I have found that my elbows have come under a lot of pressure as they are used for quite a few moves, and have been coming away with sore, dry skin. It is quite irritating, but not bad enough to make me give up on the programme – having found something I really love I am going to damn well stick with it! However, I did need to find a solution for my itchy elbows!

Enter my addiction to Lush! I wanted to get some unsalted peanut butter for my satay sauce, and for other recipes that use that instead of the standard shop-bought stuff, so I was in town to go into Beanfreaks (infinitely better than Holland and Barrett!). On the way back to my bike (having also purchased coconut oil, another item on my wishlist) I decided to nip in Lush to have a poke around. I had a vague idea that there might be something I needed, and after getting lost and wandering round both floors twice I found what I was in search of: Ultrabalm. By this point a member of staff had noticed me looking lost and came to talk to me, just as I found what I was looking for! We had a chat about my shirt (Disney-styled Princess Leia), and how I’m changing a lot of my products over to use theirs’ for ethical value and general niceness (I still have spots, but my skin has cleared up a hell of a lot since I started using their moisturiser. Who knew moisturiser could do that?!!!). Once we’d established that I was pretty certain about what I was doing in there, I picked up my pot of Ultrabalm and headed down to pay, where the woman who served me waxed lyrical about the stuff as she has been using it on scars from an operation. I explained about my Pilates Elbow and she laughed.WP_20130914_002

In the shop I really wasn’t sure about this to start. It smells interesting, but not unpleasant. I put a bit on my hands as they are often dry, and it seemed to help improve them straight away. That was when I decided to give it a go. Whilst it seems very oily, this also helps to repel water, so being slightly OCD about my hands is okay – I don’t like to have products on the end of my fingers as it annoys me, but it is possible to wash Ultrabalm off of my fingers (more easily than normal hand cream which just seems to spread around and cause havoc!) without taking the layer protecting the back of my hands off. My elbows seem to have made a full recovery – I went to sleep with it on and they seem to have been so fortified by the experience that yesterday’s exploits haven’t caused them to dry out again yet! This brilliant stuff also went on the end of my nose last night as I arrived home and magically came down with a cold (I literally walked in the door and my nose flared up!), so the end of my snout got a bit red and raw. I woke up this morning and it was fine, without any nasty flaky bits or anything (sorry, TMI!), very unlike the state I normally find my nose in if I use the moisturiser that my Doctor prescribed.

It may smell funny, but this balm is genius! And although it is in a round tin, technically it’s about the same size or smaller as a pot of hand cream, so once I have made myself a little makeup bag it will fit in there nicely!

Now I can publish this and go put the oven on – I will remember to start cooking my potato at a reasonable time rather than waiting until I am hungry and realising that dinner will be at least another hour and a half! We live, we learn!

I have a housemate. Little Miss Sunshine soap-on-a-rope is the best reason to live with someone.

I have a housemate. Little Miss Sunshine soap-on-a-rope is the best reason to live with someone.

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So it turns out that the greengrocer had abbreviated the apple name ‘Discovery’ to ‘Disco’. As my Mum is the sort of woman who can look at an apple and identify its variety, whereas I am more limited to red, green, or ‘in the middle’, it is no wonder that she got so confused when I started dancing round and singing ‘D.I.S.C.O’ outside the shop!

They are super tasty either way!

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‘She must be better, she’s baking lots!’: Making Changes – Volume 1

What with all the things that be a-changing (becoming a Postgrad… Becoming a Postgrad… Becoming… Okay. One really BIG change, but it is BIG!) and the way that I am trying to make my life more positive for the change, I thought that I would turn any such change related posts into a sort of mini-series. Just for my own amusement really. You know you have some sort of problem when you get excited by the idea of organising posts into their own special category!

We have now reached a point where I am not at home so much for myself as to look after Mum once she’s been to hospital tomorrow – with my sister’s timetable she suddenly realised that there wouldn’t be someone at home for her after having a general anaesthetic, so I agreed to prolong my stay until the end of this week. This fact was neatly highlighted when she felt comfortable enough sitting across the room from me and loudly discussing over the phone how ‘She’s come home for a bit. Yeah, her boyfriend dumped her… Of course there’s someone better out there for her!’ At this point my sister sort of raised her eyebrows at me and we shared the sisterly smile of ‘Wow, Mum’. It wasn’t that bad actually, it’s the going back I’m more worried about. But it will be fine! I had a bit of a low day yesterday, but I think that’s more related to the fact that I am clearly going crazy: I was feeling a bit down in M&S and then almost burst into tears because I thought a necklace was really pretty!

10 days! 10!!!

10 days! 10!!!

The big change that has happened since I’ve been here is the steady exercise regime. 10 days into Blogilates and still going strong! In fact, going stronger! Nope, I can’t do a roll up properly yet, but I no longer have to literally lever myself off of the floor using my arms – I can just sort of pull on my leggings and it gives me that little bit of extra balance. Sit-ups are still impossible, but we’re going to get there. Over the course of the beginner’s calendar some of the workouts repeat, and on my second attempt it was noticeable that I could actually do more of the moves without having to stop to lay on the floor and cry a bit. Progress!

There is no chance of you seeing my ‘Before’ photo because I don’t really feel like subjecting anyone to my underwear right now, but I swear I can see a difference! Mum told me the other day that she could see it as well. This morning in the mirror I swear I could begin to see a bit of shape round the edge of my stomach, where ‘abs’ would be if I didn’t make so much cake. My wobbly bits are less wobbly, and the lumpy bits on the wobbly bits are less lumpy! Those were my issue, so result! I also feel more alive, a bit more bendy, and I keep randomly dancing round the house. This morning it was freezing, and I was like ‘Do I have to get up, I don’t want to get out of the toasty bed!’ And then I suddenly went ‘Yeah! Do the exercise! The exercise will warm me up!’ Crazy. If it’s waking me up in the morning, I’m definitely going to need to keep this up during term-time!

WP_20130909_001Alongside this I’m meant to be treating my body well in terms of what I put into it. I find this difficult at home, but it will definitely become easier at uni. I have planned out today nicely to try and make up for my transgression yesterday: me and Mum ended up having lunch in M&S and she bought me a cheese scone to go with the soup, along with letting the lady put cream on top of my mocha. I have never had this before, and when I said that I wasn’t expecting it Mum looked sad. But I really didn’t mind having cream on my mocha – it is my comfort drink as it is and the beast that I had yesterday was super comforting!

I may be failing at what I put in my face, but I’m having great fun with what I put on it! This is actually something that I have been working on changing for a while, but I am trying to be kinder to my skin. Over the last couple of years I have developed a bad habit of removing my makeup at night with a face-wipe and leaving it at that. Cleaning done. This came about because I lived in a skanky house and didn’t want to use the sink too much, and because most of my experiences with cleansers, toners, moisturisers etc. weren’t doing much other than making my skin alternately dry, greasy, and more spotty. So I gave up.

WP_20130910_004Quite recently I read about all the bad stuff that face-wipes leave on the skin, and started rinsing my face at the sink after using them. When I ran out of wipes I switched to a foaming face-wash and started using it in the morning and the evening. Becoming aware that this wasn’t necessarily removing all my makeup, when Jenny came to stay with me I invested in the Bodyshop’s Aloe Calming Toner for sensitive skin. Overall this has been doing me really well, but my face is getting a little bit dry, although it is nothing compared to previous experience! My previous moisturiser problems have most likely been down to the quality of what I was using – I would buy the cheapest thing possible and hope it worked! This time my current love of Lush won out when I was looking through their magazine, and having chatted to the girl in the shop yesterday I decided that Vanishing Cream was indeed probably my best option. £17.75? Most expensive thing I have ever bought to put on my face!WP_20130910_003

Now, I’ve only used it twice, but as long as it continues the way it has gone so far, I am most definitely going to fall in love with it! My skin is all soft and lovely and it just feels nice. You don’t have to use a lot at a time either, so it should last a good while. Most reviews say that this is pretty good for spots, so all-in-all it’s looking positive!

There are more things going on, but to continue would be to border on the tedious! And that is the glory of having a blogging sub-plot!

Posted in Life, Making changes | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Today, it is gloriously sunny.

Yesterday, I decided to walk into town, and then it rained on me.

My new shirt, before I got soaked!

My new shirt, before I got soaked!

I was literally at the furthest point in my journey away from home, I had wandered into Harbour Books for a little browsing, and when I came out again the heavens had opened! What can you do but laugh really? I got some pretty funny looks off some of the stuffy folks of Whitstable (yes, I said it, there are stuffy people in this place!), but this just caused me to laugh a bit more as they carried on their ways in their sensible macs or under umbrellas. I didn’t have anywhere important to go, so it didn’t matter that I was going to get soaking wet!

The bookshops of Whitstable have always had a funny place in my mind. It was only relatively recently that I started shopping in either of them – definitely 2010 at the earliest as this is when I really began gathering classics and all sorts!

The first time I went in Harbour Books was in my first year of uni. I’d come back for Easter and had met up with two of my best friends, when one of them insisted that we go in as it was apparently a really good bookshop. I feel like I have been brought up into a weirdly snobbish sort of anti-snobbery – I was convinced that because this shop was on Harbour Street it was going to be ludicrously expensive and posh.

Oh how wrong I was!

I had to look through pictures of when I was about a stone lighter to find this. Frustrating!

I had to look through pictures of when I was about a stone lighter to find this. Frustrating!

This is definitely one of my favourite bookshops of all time! Not only did I find an absolute gem of a book for 50p when I was first in there, entitled ‘Giraffes? Giraffes!’, I have since then found one of my all-time favourite books (I’ve read it once but I know for a fact that it is a favourite), also for 50p. This book is The Raw Shark Texts and it is insanely odd and brilliant. I’ll tell you more about it when I’m back in Cardiff – I think I’m going to re-read it and then lend it to my ex/force him to read it (we have become some sort of odd book club. I currently have his copy of Steve Jobs’ biography). Anyway. The bookshop often has reductions on really good books, and is fitted like a glove to its building – you have to go up a narrow flight of stares to get to the top of the shop – I feel like if it were laid out in any other place it just wouldn’t be the same! It’s just a lovely local bookshop!

The one thing I have found with this shop, as with all bookshops, is that Classics are Classic priced. You know what I mean – they’re always really expensive. One of the books I never bought and instead struggled to find in Cardiff’s library system was A Clockwork Orange because for the size of the book you just don’t want to pay £8! Yesterday was a special day for me – there were actual reductions in the Classics section! Sadly, I couldn’t find Huxley’s A Brave New World, which I’m really excited to read, so I instead chose Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway. For some reason I was absolutely convinced that this was on my list. It isn’t. It must have come up somewhere else recently and confused me! Obviously I’m going to read it (I actually started at about 5 this morning when I couldn’t sleep any more), but it’s a shame because I thought it was the only book I bought yesterday that was on my list; it turns out I bought none!

I made my way back up the high street, stopping in a couple of charity shops, Boots (where I weighed myself: going in the right direction but not good), and Holland and Barrett, where I eventually decided I couldn’t be bothered with it and walked out.

Still raining.

It's all about Beethoven!

It’s all about Beethoven!

My final stop was my absolute favourite shop of all time: Oxford Street Books. This is a second hand bookshop and I love it – I have to visit every time I am in Whitstable! My story about this place is that when I first went in, I noticed that there was a big copy of a book by Barry Cooper, Beethoven, priced at £9.95. Having sworn during my gap year that I would never study Beethoven, I consequently noticed that this same book was there every single time I went in the shop. It made me sad, but I maintained that I wasn’t  going to be the one to buy it. Fast-forward to last summer and I had somehow found myself coerced not only into studying a module on Beethoven, but on writing my dissertation about him! I went into Oxford Street Books, knowing exactly where to look and, alas(!), the book was gone! But so were all the other music books! I had quite a massive panic at this, before I was directed to the newly opened downstairs of the shop. I rounded a corner, and there was the very same Beethoven book from all that time ago. It now sits proudly on my academic book shelf, and I have read the whole thing!

Yesterday felt quite special, as for the first time I was enquiring about selling books to them. I’ve been told to bring them in and they’ll look, but everyone is doubtful about whether my copy of the complete Twilight saga will be taken off my hands. Apparently quite a lot of people are trying to get rid of that for some reason… If they don’t take it I’ll just give it to a charity shop – it’s in good condition and I really can’t be bothered keeping it!

After I’d done this business I got down to having a good look round. This is of course dangerous in every way and I ended up with such an eclectic mixture of books that I felt the need to try and justify myself at the counter, but I was told not to worry as they don’t judge!

WP_20130906_014I started off by adding to my more classic collection a bit, soothing the blow of once again being unable to find Brave New World by picking up another recommended Huxley book – Crome Yellow. I also read the blurb on the back of Trollope’s Can You Forgive Her? and decided that I liked the sound of the story, so I added that to my pile.

My recent delving into the world of Britten saw me get far too excited when I came across copies of both Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw and Herman Melville’s Billy Budd, both of which I picked up. Ironically, I paid less for the James than Mum had to pay in library fines when she didn’t realise that the copy I’d borrowed on her account was still in my room… Oops! I’m actually really sad because I finished the Britten book today and I have enjoyed it so much! Also, I have never cried at the end of a biography before but when he died I got very teary! I’m now stuck in a book slump because I know that I have to read The Music Instinct next and, having started it before, I know that I just don’t want to! I’ve been trying this afternoon and I am not enjoying myself half as much!WP_20130906_010

WP_20130906_013My choice of opera-inspiring texts led me to the music section downstairs. It sounds a bit weird, but I love how the shelves sort of sandwich you in to this little alcove when you’re looking at the music books – it makes it really peaceful! I couldn’t find any more books on Britten (the last one they had is probably the book I bought last summer…), but I did come across a really interesting book about Shostakovich and Stalin. We played Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony in Symphony Orchestra at Christmas, and it is without a doubt one of my best experiences of playing in an orchestra. What a stunning piece! Having attempted to listen to all of his symphonies, and come across him in various unexpected places throughout the year, I thought that this would be a good book to read.

WP_20130906_011Finally – something completely different – I wandered into the crime/thrillers section and came across Steven King’s The Green Mile. My ex had me read Under the Dome and I really enjoyed it – something my English teacher said to me in sixth form gave me the distinct impression that I would never like him – so I decided to try and read some more. I know that it is grim, but there is something about his writing style that I really enjoy, and I’ve always enjoyed watching murderous programmes on telly, so trying to broaden out my reading into crime and such seems like a logical idea. I hope!

This post has taken on quite epic proportions! But it is about books, so I wouldn’t expect much less really. If you are a book lover and you are ever in Whitstable, I recommend that you have a nose in both of these shops; they are both brilliant and you will definitely find something that you want between the two of them – I am never disappointed!

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