Lifestyle: A Mini Flat Tour

Only three months too late!

 photo Flat Tour 7_zpsdymmpebu.jpg photo Flat Tour 3_zps29ohq4xi.jpgI can’t quite believe we’ve held the keys to our little flat for three months now; it’s gone so quickly, but equally it feels like it’s been our home forever.

We’re only renting so are a little restricted with what we can and can’t do – no painting or banging things into the wall. Luckily everything was already in a very ‘us’ colour scheme – netural but with splashes of colour (red in the kitchen and living area, purple in the bedroom). We’ve played on this and added in bits and bobs in those colours and now you’d never tell this wasn’t “our” place.

 photo Flat Tour 12_zps007eg36o.jpg photo Flat Tour 14_zpsmeggostm.jpgOf course, I had to add touches of grey and copper everywhere too. So blogger-esque. We picked up some lovely desk lamps in IKEA that work really well at the side of the bed – and I spent hours hunting down the perfect floor lamp for the lounge area. I found it: one with an exposed bulb, wire cage, copper AND marble. For under £40 this was a bit of a steal. I’m forever hunting down cushions that would work and our bedding took a lot of research. I find my skin is super sensitive to bedding material (I still have the scars from a reaction to Primark sheets three years ago), so if anyone finds a super-soft and cosy white set I’d love to know about it!

 photo Flat Tour 18_zpsprjvzjuu.jpg photo Flat Tour 16_zpsdiv4s29w.jpg photo Hygge 2_zpsnj1shpic.jpgOne of my favourite areas in the flat is, I say rather lazily, my bed. I’ve created a really cosy little corner and there’s nothing I love more than snugging up with a warm drink and a good book. W built me some ever-so-on-trend ladder shelves to fit in my tiny gap between bed and wall. Dressed with fairy lights, I think they look pretty damn good! They’re perfect for storing all my bits and bobs: bridal magazines; books;lip balms and probably a few too many used mugs!

 photo Flat Tour 21_zpsluqhklfx.jpg photo Flat Tour 22_zpserliupxb.jpg photo Flat Tour 13_zpsvxxkmxux.jpgAnd the best thing about living with W? I get part-ownership of his Kitchen Aid – when he’s out of the flat at least! (Or, as he says, I get to use his Kitchen Aid). It makes whipping up a batch of his famous cookies far too easy, plus we have an ice-cream attachment. He made a Chocolate & Whisky ice-cream a few weeks back and it was divine. I definitely need to keep up my exercise regime now baking is such a huge part of our lives.

 photo Flat Tour 4_zpsls0m3lsb.jpg photo 2016-10-23 16.21.25_zpsfj2tkf9o.jpg photo 2016-10-23 16.19.58_zpssxpptb8y.jpg photo 2016-10-23 16.17.43_zpsojjjtnj8.jpgFor what is essentially a studio flat, we have far too many things, far too much stuff. We have a lot of much-loved nick-nacks (we’ll be looking for a bigger place if we I bring home any more). You’d never know from our bookshelves that half of our cookbook collection is actually still in Northampton. The majority of my clothes are stored in boxes under the bed (though shush, I’m not sure W is aware of how many clothes I actually have!). Yet we have a gorgeous flat, with equally gorgeous views – and of course our “pets!”

Where do you get your homeware bits from? Any recommendations for copper pieces?

Lifestyle: Happy Fortnightly Things #9

Woo, less than a month til Christmas! And even more importantly, my birthday is this week. I am the kind of person who inwardly gets so excited about their birthday, and this year is no exception. I have the day off work (and the day before off for study – yay for double lie-ins!). I plan to spend the weekend seeing some of my favourite people and eating more food than appropriate. Oh, and brunch which I’m hoping will involve a reinvented Eggs Benedict which incorporates black pudding. Yum!

Here’s what’s been making me happy recently…

  1. Brunch with some blogging gals to celebrate Jasmin’s birthday. It was so nice to see some new faces, and catch up with everyone else. It had been far too long!
  2. Pretty flowers. I came home one Friday to a bunch of flowers on the table. I’d had a grumpy week so this really made me smile.
  3. Making a potato-dauphinoise-cross-cauliflower-cheese-bake-thing to go alongside roast pork. It was super yum and I now have a mandolin to damage myself with!
  4. Booking our wedding photographer. It’s one of the most important parts to me and it’s resulted in a LOT of Instagram stalking over the last few months.
  5. Scallops. I love them, but rarely get to eat them as I’m never hugely tempted by the sound of the entire dish on the menu. These, however, were served with black pudding and a smoked aubergine puree. Cooked perfectly, they were delicious.
  6. Stir-up “Sunday”. Despite seeing Christmas Cake and Pudding as Devil’s Food (dried fruit = ick!), it was great to spend a Saturday evening baking, making a mess of the kitchen and breathing in festive smells.
  7. Sticking to the Christmas theme, we headed out for lunch at Costa to try out their festive specials. I love the Christmas Dinner Toastie I chose, though we were both a little disappointed at the Pigs in Blankets pannini – bacon and sausage together doesn’t equal PIBs, right?!
  8. A wander around Spitalfields and Brick Lane. Definitely a place I want to revisit.
  9. Watching The Missing. The series has been so, so tense. If you haven’t seen it, get in iPlayer now! The ending of last week’s episode was so frustrating I screamed.
  10. Meeting old friends and *finally* visiting Honest Burgers. Was so nice not to have to remove relish (#allergyissues), the burgers were yum, chips amazing, and the company awesome. A good night!
  11. An extra little one this fortnight. Katy put out a shout for Happy Things a while back and her post was so, so uplifting. She got over 150 replies and reading through it put a massive smile on my face.

What has been the highlight of the last few weeks for you?

Lifestyle: Notes to my Fellow Commuters

I’ve been doing my daily commute for just under three months now. It’s not a part of the day I particularly enjoy; I pretty much despise the tube, despite having a relatively ‘easy’ journey. But one thing that has made it bearable is the opportunity to people-watch – I’m such a nosy lady! Over the last month or so I’ve been jotting down humorous notes from my commute, purely because I couldn’t bear not to share them on here!

So, ladies and gents, mind the closing doors and welcome to the life of my commute…
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To the Lady with the Earphones

Please be so kind as to NOT run for the train again. For one, you clearly weren’t going to make that train. And two, if your earphone hadn’t gotten caught inside the train, with you on the platform, you wouldn’t have to continue running along the platform attached to the train. If that does happen, please be so kind as to detach your earphones from your phone. You know, the easier option. Rather than wait for someone to hit the emergency stop buttom.

You found your misfortune hilarious that morning. What you don’t seem to understand is that for all those people on that packed train, and the people waiting for the City-bound train behind it, you delayed us all for half an hour. So please, don’t run for the train again.

To the Man Reading an Erotic Novel

Just no. And if it makes 50 Shades look like a fairytale, no, no, no, no, no!

I admit I should probably stop glancing over people’s shoulder to see what they are doing (discreetly, I must add, and only on this particular occasion because I’d left my Kindle on the sofa at home). But what I don’t need to see are a few, ahem, naughty words. What I really don’t need hear after seeing this is your heavy breathing. Please leave it until you’re home.

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To The Tube Network (TFL I guess!)

I honestly don’t mind if there are severe delays, as long as I know about them. Being on the platform for 30 minutes with no tube and no explanation isn’t fun. Being stuck halfway to work, unable to go towards work, unable to go backwards to an alternative route, is even worse. If I know that the District Line isn’t going to get me to work on time, I have plenty of options – including one that gives me this view. Far nicer than a sweat armpit (joys of being short!), I’m sure you’d agree…

To The Tourists at The Barriers/Escalators/Doors

Please refrain from getting your map out and checking it whilst blocking the way for people who do know where they are going. Please don’t stand and have a conversation just outside the ticket barrier. I apologise if I bump into you, but if you stand directly in the way there often isn’t enough room to get around you at rush hour.

To The Teenagers on Halloween Weekend

It was 11.30am. It was cold. You were already drunk, very scantily clad (what’s wrong with a ghost costume?!). I appreciate I sound like a moaning minnie here, and actually I don’t mean to be. I’m just very impressed at their dedication to Halloween.

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To All Those Who Saw Me Struggle & Looked Away

One thing that has really surprised me has been the amount of guys, usually in their twenties/thirties, who will offer a seat to any females before sitting down themselves. Yes, feminists may be outraged, but I kind of like this old-fashioned chivalry.

Now, let me get one thing clear before I start this rant; I don’t expect to be given a seat. I don’t have a disability, I’m certainly not pregnant, there are many people who normally need a seat before I do. I will always offer my seat up if I feel someone needs it more.

But the other day I clearly could have done with a seat, or a hand, or just some extra space. My study materials had been delivered and I was carrying a very heavy (with weight printed on the side of the box), very awkwardly sized box. It was very difficult to hold, being bigger in circumference than my arms could reach. I managed to get a seat straight off and was unbelievably grateful. Then a heavily pregnant women got on. No-one offered her their seat, so I did. She saw the box on my lap and tried to say no. Still no-one offered her a seat. In the end, she took my seat. I have no problem about that, I don’t really have a problem that the other passengers saw me struggle to stand with said box and continued to ignore it. What I took objected to was the man, who saw me give up that seat, dart in and claim it when the pregnant lady left. Thanks mate.

To Cross-Word Man

There’s a guy I see almost every morning who sits and does the crossword in whatever newspaper he picks up each day. By the time he gets off the tube he invariably has finished it – utmost respect to this man from someone who has never finished a crossword yet.

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To The Bum-Squeezers

I’d read a couple of Rachel’s posts about sexual assault on the Tube before, but still had quite a naive attitude towards it. Since September, I’ve had my bum squeezed on no-less than three occasions. I’ve not managed to catch anyone at it yet (they’ll get an earful), but apparently this is acceptable behaviour.

This is one of the reasons why I prefer to get a seat. At least then no-one can grab my ass.

 photo Daily Commute 5_zpsfl9hmy4h.jpgAnd that is just the result of a few short months commuting from Putney to City. I’m sure they will be a lot more over the coming years, as a shorter commute is unlikely to ever be viable (because I like living on the outskirts – I get a seat!). I have to admit it’s nicer that my previous commute from last summer. And hey, at least these amusing moments lighten up the identical journey, day after day…

PS – all of the pictures within this post were shot on my weekday commute – with the exception of the Putney Bridge one. Because trust me, the platform is NEVER that empty on a weekday! And in the week between scheduling this and getting it live – there’s been a guy with a portable DVD player (I’d forgotten they existed!) alongside a stack of 10 DVDs, and the hilarious platform guy usually found in Victoria was working at Monument. He definitely brightened up my journey home!

Do you have a long commute? Any funny stories to tell?

Lifestyle: Playing Tourist in London

Playing tourist in what is now our home town felt a little strange at first; dashing around London sight-seeing. The day was born out of us not having a clue what to do – one of the weirdest things about finishing our LDR and moving in together is not making weekend plans in advance.

 photo Playing Tourist in London 11_zpsjpyqk6dw.jpg photo Playing Tourist in London 2_zpsqbehmdkg.jpgI decided that I’ve never seen Big Ben close-up (and also thought I’d get a good Instagram shot, #lifeofablogger). Will wanted to go further down the Thames to take some snaps of the architecture for uni. Taking a riverboat tour was the perfect answer – and despite it being the first chilly day of Autumn, it was a good shout. I’m not going to lie, I couldn’t feel my hands by the time we got off the boat, and a steaming cup of tea was pretty much all I could think about. Moaning aside, I loved the tour we went on. It was the cheapest option we found from Westminster Pier (I’m still a student at heart!) and didn’t include a specific tour guide. What it did include, however, was boat staff who knew the interesting little titbits such as where scenes in Oliver Twist were filmed, and that the Spinx around Cleopatra’s Needle are actually the wrong way round from what was intended.

 photo Playing Tourist in London 13_zpsqyucwb7k.jpg photo Playing Tourist in London 14_zpsnd8fesra.jpg photo Playing Tourist in London 12_zpsmwlpkbt6.jpg photo Playing Tourist in London 10_zpsuktddrbn.jpg photo Playing Tourist in London 8_zpszcqsyg6v.jpg photo Playing Tourist in London 7_zpsv9v0lrlz.jpg photo Playing Tourist in London 6_zpsbieszkcc.jpg photo Playing Tourist in London 5_zps2mqj8psk.jpg photo Playing Tourist in London 4_zpsggzeoffk.jpg photo Playing Tourist in London 9_zpspy3agve2.jpgOne thing I loved about taking a boat along the Thames was the different perspective I got of the city. It was so obvious how London is a mix of old and new, yet that’s something that’s totally overlooked when I’m wandering around on a daily basis. I couldn’t believe how traditional the buildings in the City were at the waterfront, compared to the modern Walkie Talkie and Cheesegrater. I could also see my own office – I wasn’t aware how tall the building was until I saw it from this perspective!

 photo Playing Tourist in London 18_zpsrxgsyu0k.jpg photo Playing Tourist in London 20_zpsda3es6pt.jpg photo Playing Tourist in London 19_zpsen3srmyc.jpg photo Playing Tourist in London 17_zpsmw1ijlhb.jpg photo Playing Tourist in London 16_zpshpr70r8w.jpg photo Playing Tourist in London 15_zpszukwryii.jpgWe got the boat all the way to Greenwich, where we stopped for a quick picnic underneath our umbrella. I feel in love with the bit of Greenwich I saw, and have popped it high on the list for returning to on my next spare weekend (the food market looked insane!). I can imagine it’s pretty magical in the run-up to Christmas too…

 photo Playing Tourist in London 23_zpsfw6g13ce.jpg photo Playing Tourist in London 28_zpskn4nzbd6.jpgOur tourist-ing continued the following weekend, with us heading to Camden for a spot of shopping and street-food eating. We decided to make the most of the unexpectedly warm and sunny day (seriously, it was NOT forecast, but greatly appreciated!) and walk along the canal from Kings Cross. This is undoubtedly one of my favourite walks in London, especially as it involves walking through the spot where W popped the question.

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Ice-cream Cookie Sandwich anyone…? Cheers @blutopicecream for my new addiction!

A photo posted by Chloe Ellen (@ninegrandstudent) on

 photo Playing Tourist in London 27_zpstyzazpj1.jpgWe lunched on Korean Burritos (him) and Fried Chicken & Chips (me) – a decision I did come to regret an hour of so later as my stomach apparently doesn’t love SFC as much as I do. I’m gutted as it meant I couldn’t quite appreciate my Ice-Cream Sandwich as much as I wanted. Guess there’s an excuse to head back…!

I’ve loved playing tourist in London, sure the hoards of actual tourists are annoying (I got jammed against a wall at one point whilst a group were trying to get by, not a highlight of the weekend!), sure there are other European cities that are far prettier. But if definitely made me a bit more appreciative of London, and I’ve now got plenty of other spots on my bucket list to tick off. Kew Gardens is next (thanks Katy for that bit of London based wander-lust!)…

What’s your favourite spot in London?

Lifestyle: London Bucket List

We’ve lived in London for nearly three months (I know, I couldn’t quite believe it either!), and my “to-do” list is getting longer and longer. Disappointingly we’ve hardly ticked off anything, yet it grows at a seemingly exponential rate. There’s no rush to complete it (I have no plans to move out of London anytime soon, if anything I’m here to stay!) but I do have some bits I really want to try and do over the next few months.

 photo London Bucket List_zps0yvwb18w.jpgSome are perhaps a bit weirder than others. Rather more than a couple involve food. Some are big and fancy, others are small. Some may take longer to tick off.

    1. Go up the Shard. Even if just for cocktails.
    2. Visit a flower market. Think of the Instagram shots!
    3. Visit all the tube stations. This was inspired by my first trip to Mornington Crescent a few weeks back – it’s quite honestly is the strangest tube station I’ve visited! In an ideal geek world I’d take a selfie at each and put a film together with Jay Foreman backing it….
    4. Explore Greenwich. Looks like a lovely place – and the observatory is somewhere I’ve always wanted to go.
    5. Wander around Portobello Market. Because who wouldn’t want to?!
    6. Eat brunch at Duck & Waffle. I’ve been dying to go for ageeesssssss.
    7. Buy and devour a Cronut. Though I’m waiting until the hype (and queues) die down a little.

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  • Go to Richmond Park in the frost and/or snow. Just imagine how pretty it would be!
  • Go on a stay-cation.
  • Eat a LOT of street food. I’ve finally visited KERB but there’s so many more vendors I want to try…

 

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  • Find my “London’s Best Burger.” I ate the 2015 winner at the beginning of October and now feel I need to do more research. Send over recommendations!
  • Visit Kew Gardens. I also really want to experience their Bee Hive!
  • Watch The Lion King. I’m so excited to finally tick this one off in December with my besties!
  • Fly over the city in a helicopter. A girl can dream!
  • Make use of the gorgeous streets for outfit photos.

 

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  • Eat at The Grain Store. We got engaged in Granary Square so it’s natural to try the nearest restaurant, right…?!
  • Explore more hidden areas. I love the canal walk between Kings Cross and Camden.
  • Have Afternoon Tea in a posh hotel. Because British.

 

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  • Go “metal-detecting” on the Thames Shoreline. We can see the river from the flat (it’s just 50 yards away!) and I’d love to give this a go!
  • Row along the Thames. I’ve always wanted to give rowing a go, and there’s so many rowing clubs nearby in Putney…this is my goal for summer 2017!

What’s on your bucket list? What would you love to do in London?

 

Lifestyle: Happy Fortnightly Things #8

These last few weeks have been super busy – during the first week of November I had one evening where I wasn’t socialising after work. Coupled with the fact I ended up having to book onto tutorials for my professional exams TWO MONTHS earlier than anticipated, craming reading in alongside everything else has left me shattered. That said it has been super fun – I just know I need to tone it down a little.

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Here’s what’s been making me happy recently…

  1. Tacos and tequila. Me and W headed down to Wahaca to celebrate Day of the Dead. We stuffed ourselves with Pork Pilbil, Chicken Tacquitos and, of course, Churros. The perfect mid-week treat.
  2. Talking of mid-week treats, meeting up with some of my closest friends for burgers and catch-ups after work features rather highly. However thought of putting Camembert AND truffle mayo into a burger deserves a medal.
  3. Studying again. Sure, I moan about it, but at the same time I’m loving having something to work towards. The small amount of time pressure is actually making me get on with it, there’s been no procrastination here. Yet!
  4. S’mores brownies. Buttery biscuit base, gooey rich brownie, melted and slightly charred marshmallows. N’uff said.
  5. Autumn clothes. I’ve been loving mixing up skirts with jumpers and ankle boots. So comfy, so cosy.
  6. Writing my birthday/Christmas wishlist.
  7. Enjoying an Indian for the first time since leaving Redhill and my placement. Still not quite as good as Bombay Mela, but I’ve discovered Spiced Fried Okra is yum!
  8. W’s parents visiting. So nice to catch up properly!
  9. Our new little nephew being born. This actually happened in the previous fortnight but clearly I had Aunty-baby-brain. Looking forward to having cuddles in hopefully not too long.
  10. Getting a seat from the start of my morning commute two days in a row. I hate the tube in the morning, it makes me feel so sick, so this made my day! It also means I got 30 minutes of course-note reading done, which means more time in the day for fun things…

What little things have you been loving recently?

Lifestyle: A Few Days in the Lake District

A photo-heavy post, this! I originally wasn’t going to blog about my team-building trip to the Lake District. I didn’t take my camera, I was covered in mud the vast majority of the time, hell I didn’t even take any makeup other than mascara! I took a few snaps on my phone, did the obligatory Instagram shots – and then couldn’t not share. Turns out my phone camera can take some pretty good photos when it feels like it!

 photo Lake Windermere 11_zpsmo8exmkq.jpg photo Lake Windermere 8_zpsn8huxbhd.jpg photo Lake Windermere 12_zpsazsowzfg.jpg photo Lake Windermere 7_zpsumylgcoi.jpgWith no information bar “take clothes you don’t mind getting wet and muddy” I did spend a good chunk of summer stressing about it, and the best part of £50 stocking up on Primark jogging bottoms and t-shirts. In the end it wasn’t *too* terrifying. Sure, I freaked out whilst climbing a bloody tall tree, y arms ached from canoeing (across Lake Windermere, no less) for days after. I was sleep-deprived, full of cold, and stuffed far-too-full of delicious food (full fry-ups, hot lunches and three course dinners, plus cheese and biscuits – I’m glad I wasn’t trying to squeeze my ass into a skinny jeans!). But it was a damn good break.

Of course, it helped we were in beautiful, stunning surroundings. We were around 100 yards from the shoreline of the Lake, which was serenly misty in the early mornings. I developed the habit of taking my first cup of tea on a short wander, pre-breakfast, which was when most of the photos were taken. If I’m honest, I’m gutted I didn’t take my phone canoeing (because clumsy). The weather we had that afternoon was perfect, hot, sunny, blue skies. The other side of the Lake was just as picturesque. It’s only a shame my phone didn’t manage so well in low no light situations – we went on a 10pm hike up a ‘mountain’ one evening. The stars were breathtaking – you just don’t get a sight like that in London!

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 photo Lake Windermere 15_zps69fhwrlp.jpg photo Lake Windermere 13_zpsfnwylbgj.jpg photo Lake Windermere 2_zpshl2hky9s.jpgFYI, based on previous attempts, I knew I couldn’t rock climb. I’ve never managed to get much further than a couple of moves up a wall, my upper body strength was nil. So when I saw the very tall tree, complete with rock-climbing bits hammered in, and the bell at the top we had to ring, I said “no way.” For me, knowing I would fail, knowing that a whole group of people would see me fail, I couldn’t do it. A lot of encouragement later, I gave it a go. To my surprise, after a bit of coaching from the instructor, I shot up the first half. I began to realise I COULD rock climb. So I looked down. And realised I had a fear of heights. But I managed to pull myself together, I managed to carry on, I managed to ring that bell – and let me tell you, it was the sweetest sound I’d heard in a while.

 photo Lake Windermere 9_zpsbi0hrsyz.jpgI’ve never quite made up my mind about whether I’m a city girl or a country-bumpkin, and this trip definitely didn’t help to make that decision. I love London, love the hustle and bustle, I’m ‘dazzled by the bright lights of the city.’ But I love the fresh air, the scenery, the quietness of the countryside.

Are you a country-lover or city-person? Have you ever been to the Lake District?

 

Lifestyle: October Favourites

Woah, this month has been weird. In the blink of an eye we’ve gone from a glorious Indian summer to grey skies, short days and cosy evenings. I’m getting home in the dark (which I find deeply depressing) although the upside is the stunning sunrises I see most mornings.
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Celebrating 6 Years Gone & 2 To Go

I still can’t believe myself and W have been together for six years – it’s gone so quickly, but equally it feels like a lifetime. I definitely can’t imagine a time without him now! We celebrated on our anniversary with a gorgeous meal at Mac & Wild (review to come, it was insanely, struggled-to-walk-cos-so-full delicious). We also toasted that it’s now officially less than two years to go until the wedding. It almost feels as though we can begin to plan a bit more now, though I do wish it would hurry up!

A Good Haircut

I got pretty disillusioned with my hair over the summer. I’d grown it quite long during my final year of university (vainly wanting it to sit well under my graduation hat!) and once I’d had it chopped back into shape I decided I was bored. Typical, right?! Well I’ve gone for an itsy-bit of a change now, ditching the choppy-ness and going for longer layers. It’s a work in progress but I’m reassured that it will only get better. And at least longer layers means more choice for bridal styles…
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New Shelves

Since moving in I’ve been a little bit frustrated with our bedroom. It’s not small, but with a king-size bed there’s not a huge amount of spare space. And with only 25cm between the bed and the wall on ‘my’ side I was unable to have a bedside table. Which during spider season was not ideal. Fortunately, W came to the rescue and BUILT these gorgeous ladder-shelves. Sure, he made a bit of mess in the process and I’m not convinced the neighbours would have appreciated the noise, but I love them. I’ve added Primark fairy lights, pretty books and candles and now the whole room feels a lot cosier.

Escape Rooms

For my teams away day right at the end of the month we spent the afternoon in an Escape Room right in the heart of the city – next door to our office in fact! I’d never done one before, now I’m trying to round up a gang to do another. Logic puzzles, physical challenges and a whole load of laughs, it was such a good way to spend the afternoon. It was great to meet more of my wider department in a social setting too – I’d been pretty much thrown into work and some of them, I’m ashamed to say, I hadn’t spoken to before.
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All The Burgers

You know me, I love a burger! Over the past few weeks I tried London’s Best Burger of 2015 (post coming soon, I promise) and sampled some of GBK’s newest additions to their menu. Next on my list is Honest – they are right next to my office!

Baking with Co-Op

The Co-Operative Food sent me a hamper filled with all kinds of exciting goodies last week, designed to get me in the spirit of Halloween, to get me into the kitchen. I have to admit I haven’t quite followed the spooky theme, but W did make some amazing S’mores Brownies with the ingredients. They also have some super-yummy recipes on their site, which I’d never actually visited before. These Chorizo Bean Burgers are going on our menu plan very soon!
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New ‘Pets’!

So, we live right next to a park, taking the entire top floor of our (admittedly small) block. We’re pretty much right in the trees, and our super-wide window ledges have turned into a bit of a squirrel run. We’ve had Stuart (as we’ve christened him) nibble on his breakfast, have a scratch and even a nap right outside our window, just next to our sofa. And then there was the Sunday he, erm, brought a friend to visit. Which was interesting. And slightly embarrassing as they were ‘getting to know each other’ as two AO delivery men dropped my freezer off. Ahem…

Dark mornings mean pretty sunrises.

A photo posted by Chloe Ellen (@ninegrandstudent) on

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Oh you Mother Clucker 😍

A photo posted by Chloe Ellen (@ninegrandstudent) on

And then there’s all the little things that I’ve loved this month. Finding a new favourite fruit tea (Blackcurrant & Blueberry, SO good). Sunday morning snuggles with Saturday’s papers. Yummy dinners. Discovering a new favourite cocktail, with a name so filthy I can’t bear to repeat it here (mine and W’s parents probably will read it!). Kicking through Autumn leaves. Kerb at Camden (though not the upset stomach that followed for us both!). Playing tourist and going on a riverboat – and learning an embarrassing amount of fact about London. I have to say I’m loving living in the capital, and I’m so excited to spend my first winter here.

What was your favourite thing about October? Are you loving the Autumnal weather or hating the colder days?

Lifestyle: Results with Lucy Review

I’ve come to the conclusion I needed a regime to get me to start to exercise. Or rather, to force me to slot exercise into my daily routine. The gym just doesn’t work for me, neither does exercise classes; I’m too self-conscious of my bodyshape, of my fitness level, of how red I get to fully take part. Plus London gym prices?!Just think of how much Dairy Milk I could buy for that money…

 photo Results with Lucy_zpsgau33pxj.jpgBut quite often I found myself saying “I’ll do it tomorrow”, or “too tired.” And yes, I am tired. Getting through the door late after an intense day of work and spending too long on the tube is not particularly conductive to a good workout session. So having something a bit more structured, telling me what workouts to do that day or (on the best days!) telling me I can have a rest day, is working wonders. I’m keeping up with the schedule, I’m finding myself actually looking forward to exercise. And now my ‘plan’ is coming to an end, I’ve found myself drafting out my own version, figuring out how I can keep it up.

When I was offered the chance to try out The Student Plan* through Results with Lucy I have to say I was skeptical. A lot of workouts I had previously tried needed a lot of equipment or far too much space. Plus I have always had my doubts about plans like this. I was dubious that it could actually work and was under the impression that it was just another celebrity endorsed gimmick. That said, there’s not a huge amount of emphasis on Lucy at all, it’s much more about the qualified personal trainers – they take you through your paces, show you the moves and shout at you to keep you going. It’s pretty much like being in a proper exercise class, just there’s no audience to watch me!

 photo Results with Lucy 5_zpsct1yefxg.jpg photo Results with Lucy 4_zpschg9cmvw.jpgThe Student Plan gives you 4 workout playlists a week, allowing 3 rest days, unlimited access to all workout videos, and a small recipe library for some inspiration – for £10.50 a month. Now to be honest, I’ve not really used many of the recipes yet as most of them aren’t to my taste (I prefer a high-fat low-carb diet as much as possible) but they would be great if you were stuck for ideas. Workouts range from arund 20 minutes to 1 hour including warm up/cool down, and you’re warned about any equipment needed before you start. I can confirm you only need a tiny space too!

The workouts? Well, they are hard. I hate, hate, hate leg day with a passion (jumping squats are my ultimate phobia). But having said that I do love the variety. There’s boxing workouts, dancing sessions. There’s videos targetting certain areas, even challenges. One of my favourites is the 100 Squat Challenge, but I’m also loving The Tummy Tuck.

Now, I do have ‘before’ photos and more up-to-date ones; they won’t be making an appearance on here. There is a noticeable difference in the two, but I don’t feel quite comfortable with putting it out there for the whole world to see. Instead I can reveal that I have lost two inches from my legs, and just under an inch from my jiggly tum – and I’m seeing definition which I’ve never seen before. For me, though, it’s not really been about the appearance/weight side of things. It’s been about improving my appalling fitness levels and actually feeling healthier – and for those reasons alone this plan has been a sucess. A few months ago there’s no way I could have done 20 sit-ups, let alone 50+. I can do 200 squats pretty much no problem. I feel so much better in myself!

 photo Results with Lucy 1_zps8xdutkwt.jpgWhilst I’m not 100% sure if I’ll continue with a subscription after my current one times out, the plan has done what it needed to do – made me enjoy exercise. I’m now cranky (sorry W!) if I miss a day, I look forward to coming home and working out, and I don’t think I’ll have a problem in putting together my own workouts. And if I need another kick in the right direction, I’ll be straight back on the plan!

*I received a three-month subscription in exchange for an honest review – and I genuinely loved the programme!

What exercise plan do you follow? Are you gym-phobic like me?!

Lifestyle: Happy Fortnightly Things #7

Wow, it’s the end of October already! This month has definitely gone from being summery (I was wandering around in t-shirts only a few weeks ago!) to being properly cold and Autumnal – I need scarves and gloves on pretty much a daily basis now. And, dare I say it, it’s not long until Christmas. I’m starting to feel a bit excited…

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Here’s what’s been making me smile lately…

  1. Meal-prepping. Things have definitely gotten hectic but I’ve loved getting organised and prepping things at the weekend. Plus my fridge looks super neat and tidy.
  2. M&S released my favourite work style dress in burgundy. I saw it and bought it within around 3 minutes one lunch-break!
  3. On a related note, I found my Christmas day dress!
  4. And on a Christmas theme, I’ve managed to convince W to let me buy a new Christmas tree for the pair of us. No more £10 trees from Tesco, I’ve got my eye on a ‘pencil’ one from John Lewis.
  5. Starting to study again. I was torn between dreading it and looking forward to it, but it turns out I’m hugely enjoying getting my teeth stuck into new material.
  6. Heading home to be spoilt for a couple of nights. My mummy cooked all my favourite treats!
  7. Having a good haircut and managing to get it dyed at the same time. It’s been a while since my haircare was so in sync!
  8. Mushroom risotto. W was working late on a project, I couldn’t resist…
  9. Narrowing down our wedding photographer search. Quite possibly the most important element for me and despite the time we’ve got I found it stressful. Some were booked on 2019 dates!?!
  10. Wandering around London. I can’t quite explain how much I love living here!

Hope your fortnight has been as lovely as mine! What’s been making you smile lately?