NORWAY • DAY ONE|PLANES, LAMA’S & PAVLOVA

Friday 29th July 2016 – Day One

Having been approached by a homeless drunk  asking for money (who turned out to be very pleasant), and being glared at by the girlfriend of a man I’d previously asked for help, I boarded the National Express from Bath 20 minutes late and began the 4 hour journey to London Gatwick.

The journey was fine, I slept on the coach and quietly ate my breakfast. It was still sinking in that I was on my way to an airport and I wasn’t coming home later that day. Twelve years on since my last trip abroad, I was not used to getting into the mindset of leaving England and my family, for such a long time. And to be honest, the whole feeling was rather exciting.

Arriving at Gatwick Terminal South, I slung my over-filled rucksack over my shoulder and clutched the handle on my suitcase and set off in the direction of check-in.

Going through security and check-in at Gatwick was single-handedly one of the most stressful experiences of my life. And I’ve been through a lot. Walking up the stairs to security, having ditched my water bottle and leaking banana, things felt reasonably calm. A feeling I would soon realise to be a false sense of security.

With the scene in front of me resembling what I imagine to be something quite similar to a Syrian border office, I was met with a wall of people queuing, bags and suitcases in hand, pushing and shoving each other. Each face had its own concerned and troubled expression, with eyes like a rabbit in headlights. I fear it wasn’t long before I looked pretty similar.

I spotted a free inch or three on a table where people were shoving liquids into a clear plastic bag provided by the airport, and becoming unusually territorial, I trotted like a kicked-up-the-arse-cow over and nabbed those precious free couple of inches. I had been organised enough before I left home to separate the liquids I was taking into a clear bag, but I noted here was a size limit on the bag’s provided by the airport. So conscious of not making my first criminal offence, I adhered to procedure’s and transferred it all into their own bag.

It was at this point the zip on my new (new) rucksack decided to break. The panic and fury that started to build inside me put me rapidly at risk of looking even more like a nervous wreck, so I did a pretty thuggish kick of my rucksack along the floor in order to keep my place at in the packed queue. There I was, juggling a passport, boarding pass, plastic bag of liquids, a broken rucksack and trying to fish out my ipad so I didn’t hold said queue up, I already looked dodgy as hell.

After about 5 minutes of being bumped into, shoved and stared intensely at by a 7-year-old boy holding a teddy, clearly trying to work out in his head how airlines allow twitchy human beings such as me to get on the same plane as potentially him, it was suddenly my turn to go through the beep machine.

Putting on my “I genuinely have nothing to hide and I was once a member of GirlGuiding” face and placing my belongings neatly in the trays, I proceeded to nonchalantly wander through the beep machine.

BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP!!!!! 

“Oh Holy Jesus” I screeched as what seemed like every alarm in the building went off following my emergence from the beep machine. Before I knew what I’d done, I was immediately told to stand to one side and take off my shoes. I did a little prayer that my feet hadn’t acquired any fluff since 6 hours ago.

What occurred next can only be described as a necessary evil. Not only was I now bearing skin (feet and ankle) in public, I was then frisked (by actual hand) by a woman officer. Legs, waist, arms. And then I was shouted at for having something in my pocket. Upon being told to remove it, and noting that the officer had stepped back for the removal, I did a mini prayer that the passport I’d previously shoved in my left pocket had not suddenly turned into a pound of class A drugs. Fortunately and unsurprisingly, it was still my passport, and after more frisking, I was waved on. Shaking and with the driest mouth since chewing on a plain Rivita, I hurriedly collected my things and walked through duty-free in a frenzied daze. Completely bypassing anything ‘discounted’.

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The rest of the morning went fairly smoothly and without drama. After trailing around the airport looking at the shops with hiked up prices, I acknowledged my rumbling tummy and went to a place called Wondertree for brunch.

It was good, but what really made everything great; I could see the planes landing and taking off. There were a couple of incidences where a man thought I was taking a deep interest in his face but I didn’t have the heart to tell him that a very fast KLM had just taken off out of his left ear. Essentially. He was sat by the window…

When asked what I would like to order, I indulged in being quintessentially British for one last time, and felt compelled to order avocado on toast with tea. It was yummy.

Ok, a million hours later and 11.20am finally comes around. Boarding time!

Clutching my passport and boarding pass, standing in line grinning to myself like Mr Bean on his first holiday, I catch a glimpse of the massive creature that’s about to fly me 37,000 feet in the sky. I’m talking about the plane, not the pilot. I didn’t see him but I’m sure he’s very slim. He had a nice over-the-tannoy-voice too.

Settling myself into my seat (17c for those closet plane enthusiasts), I spot the man I’m sitting next to and launch in with introducing myself. “Hello, I’m Amy. This is my first plane ride by myself so if I start getting freaked out, don’t panic!” I say with far too much enthusiasm in my voice.

“I’m sure you’ll be fine.” He says with a slightly nervous smile on his face, and without even looking at me, plugs his earphones in to his ear and ‘reads’ something on his phone. We didn’t exchange a single glance or word the entire flight. Take off was bloody scary and how I didn’t inadvertently clutch the man’s leg or scream, I don’t know.

For the majority of the flight I kept dozing. Or at least I think that’s what it was, and not passing out. I’d taken travel sickness pills which cause drowsiness, so I was thankful I had a solid reason for occasionally missing chunks of the flight. I hope to god I didn’t dribble.

The fun came when we started our decent into Norway. I decided then would be a fabulous time to put some make up on so I didn’t resemble an extra from The Walking Dead when I greeted my friend at arrivals. Maneuvering the small space, ear pressure and a heavy rucksack, I retrieved my make up bag and started to line things up on my fold down tray. Well, anyone would have thought I’d started to unload little toy bombs and missiles given the amount of tut’s and sighs I was getting.

Apparently ladies, making yourself look pretty for arriving in a new country is off-limits. Who knew?

Landing was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life. After bumping the back wheels like a kid on a new bicycle, the pilot then whacked the brakes on, what I considered to be far too early, and there was a sort of metallic grinding sound as we continued to bump along the tarmac.

Disembarking from the plane was relatively easy, as was customs and baggage reclaim. Very speedy and with such a small airport, there was no option for getting lost.

Before I knew it, I was walking through the doors of arrivals and when I saw my friend standing there, I don’t think I can explain how happy I suddenly felt.

The adrenaline was soaring through me and we chatted and chatted in the car, on the way to where she lives with her husband. I could barely stop smiling. We stopped briefly at a place called Aksla, in Alesund, where the following pictures were taken.

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And after chatting quite a lot more about the last 3 years of our lives, we arrived in the town of Tresfjord, where they live. And where I would be staying for the next week.

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As you may be able to tell from the above picture, I was introduced to some lama’s. This was my first encounter with a lama outside of a zoo and without a mesh fence as a barrier. It went well, but given the look on my face, a Vallium would have gone down well before the meeting.

Only a month previous to this, my friend posted a picture of one of these Lama’s on her front doorstep.

There was so much to look forward to already…

Their house is beautiful. Set basically in a forest, every window I looked out of were either trees or mountains. The view from their living room was fresh out of a fairytale.

And just when I thought things couldn’t get any better, Ewelina presented the most delicious looking Pavlova she’d made for my arrival. It was spectacular and very yummy indeed!

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My first evening in Norway was spent eating delicious food, in the company of great friends, having a good old catch up.

Being able to visit friends after three years apart and just pick up where you left off, as though time never really moved, is a very special thing.

I went to bed with a huge feeling of happiness and excitement for the week to come.

 

 

10 HAND LUGGAGE ESSENTIALS|NORWAY

Oh hai friends,

On Friday I leave for a week in Norway and I thought I’d start my travel blogging off with a lil’ post on the things I’m taking in my hand luggage on the plane.

Despite having a carry-on sized suitcase, I knew I wouldn’t be able to fit clothes, toiletries, shoes and hand luggage stuff in there – like iPad, snacks, books and notepad – so I decided to check my suitcase (something I’ll no doubt end up regretting), and taking a rucksack on the plane with me.

Deciding what was going in my rucksack seemed quite the challenge about a month ago, but since getting my quite big rucksack, filling it  has been all too easy!

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  1. Ok, so top left is my blush pink rucksack made of what looks and feels like faux leather. I bought it from Amazon for about £15. It has two side pockets, a front zip pocket and a large space inside. I’ve never owned anything with leopard print, but that’s definitely what’s occurring inside. It’s bearable, but not me at all.
  2. Bottom left, fluffy sock! There will hopefully be another in there by Friday, if not, at least one foot will be warm. I hear from every YouTube video on flying there is in the world, that in-flight socks are more vital than pilots.
  3. Top right, BOOKS! So they weigh a ton and are very bulky, but there was absolutely no way I was going away without books. I’ll not only have a lot of time travelling but while I’m there I’ll have time to myself during the day. So what better way to keep me company than Michael Palin in the Himalaya and studying Journalism?
  4. Bottom right, waterproof (because there’s every chance of rain when I land), a spare top and spare underwear. Incase the hideous happenstance occurs of my luggage rocking up late to the party, I am taking two essential changes of clothes with me. Top and knickers!

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5. iPad Mini + keyboard. This needs zero explanation.

6. Power Bank – Anker. So this also cost £15 from Amazon but it’s a great investment. I take my plug charger everywhere I go and it’s a bulky thing to carry in small bags. Cue Anker power bank. For an iPhone 6s it can fully recharge up to two times (yet to test but that’s what it claims) and it pretty compact. Great for re-charging on the go and on the plane. I’m probably late to the game with having one of these, but I’m glad I got one in time for Norway.

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7. Document holder. But not just any old document holder. The cutest document holder! My friend from Devon sent this to me in the post last week and it’s the perfect addition to my travels. I can store my passport, currency, travel papers and card in here, and there’s pockets for other papers too. Oh, and it has a tiny coin section for loose change. I even slotted my iPad mini in one of the pockets, just as an experiment. It will now be flying with me forever in my future travels.

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9. Keeping clean. Now, I’ll be travelling for about 14 hours and during that time I will most definitely want to freshen up. So, I’m taking some deep cleanse wipes, some Baylis & Harding hand sanitizer, some hand cream and lip balm for keeping my lips as moisturised as possible. I’ll also stay smelling fresh with my roll on perfume by L’Occitane – Pivoine Flora Eau De Toilette. I’ll be taking a roll-on deodorant too.

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10. Medicine. Ok, working in a pharmacy can have it’s perks when it comes to travelling, as I can buy my in-flight medicinal essentials last minute. Given my nervous disposition, I’m definitely taking Bach’s Rescue Remedy gum with me for pre-flight anxieties, and Olbas nasal inhaler for any sniffles or congestion on the plane – also a good way to block out any unpleasant smells that may be wafting around – a pack of Nurofen, some Paracetamol, Dextro energy tablets for moment’s when I’m feeling less than enthusiastic and finally, the best invention since the iPhone. Listerine cool mint breath strips (other brands are available.) In case I end up sat next to a complete and utter hunk on the plane, I won’t be huhhing food breath all over him as we converse about the beautiful view. In a more likely scenario, I’ll be able to just keep my mouth fresh feeling. No hunky men, I’m sure…

Other things I’m taking but not shown are toothpaste, snacks (plenty of the snacks), phone, sunglasses, notebooks, pens, tissues, glasses and my purse. Oh and earphones.

I think that’s everything. I’ll be live blogging (providing there’s signal) the whole trip so keep up to date with my travels here.

Amy x

EIGHT DAYS

Eight days to go…

With my trip to Norway only just over a week away, the excitement is building and my thoughts are beginning to turn to making the most of my time over there.

This will not only be my first trip ever to Norway but is also my first time out of the country for 12 years and the first time I’ve traveled by myself.

Only ever having traveled as a child with my parents to places like Greece and Spain for beach holidays, at 25 I feel quite behind in the world of travel, and I honestly cannot wait to experience every single part of being in a different country as an adult.

I am staying with friends I haven’t seen for three years. They are two of my favourite people and having gone on adventures with them before, staying with them in Norway will be a wonderful way to catch up and see the life they have built together since moving there.

While I’m there, I plan to study a bit and write. I really want to get into to travel writing so I will be live blogging for the week I’m there. I’m reading Michael Palin’s Himalaya book currently and am feeling so inspired to document my travel’s, and know I am going to want to go on so many more of them once I’m back from Norway.

I know deep down both traveling and writing are in my heart, each as strong as the other, and so the obvious way forward is travel writing. Whether that will be in the form of travel blogging or travel journalism, I don’t know. But I am so certain that’s where my heart and my future lies.

I see this trip away as a massive opportunity for me. A break yes, from everything that’s bringing me down and emotionally stopping me from getting on with life and making important headway. But I’m basically escaping to the mountains with amazing, cultural people, eating good food and hopefully, giving myself the chance to find the answers to some of the questions whirring round my mind.

So far, I have no nerves or serious anxieties about the trip. I have been known to get very uptight and stressed just going to London for the weekend, but the prospect of boarding a plane by myself and leaving the country for a week seems to have chilled me right out. That or I’m in complete denial.

I’ll be leaving the house to catch the coach to London at three in the morning, arriving at Gatwick half seven am and flying at lunchtime. Meeting my friends at Alesund airport, we’ll then make the one and a half hour journey to their home arriving about half five pm. I’ll be traveling for about 14 hours, which I have to say does excite me, but I’m sure the novelty will be absent on the return journey.

Oh, and the other little nugget of new experience; I’ll be helping to look after an Alaskan Malamute while I’m there. He’s not my friend’s dog, it’s their friend’s and he looks beautiful. Massive and 52kg’s. But beautiful.

So, hopefully I’ll come back in one piece.

All that remains is to pack, do a last minute trip to Primark next Wednesday and then I’ll be good to go.

In truth, I can’t help that but feel like I’ve forgotten something really important, but we’ll roll with it and see what happens…

Takk and ha det

Amy x

Easy Mackerel & Avocado Rice Salad

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Delicious, ain’t she?

The inspiration for this lunch time dish came to me while I was rooting around the cupboards, looking to use up the odd little ingredients I couldn’t make a whole meal with.

I watch Nigel Slater do this (in a much more stylish and professional way) as though my life depends on it. When we’re starving hungry, we go in to the kitchen with our rumbling stomach’s in the vein hope that an imaginary chef has rustled up a culinary wonder when we weren’t looking and has left it for us in the fridge. Yet, as we stare in heart-breaking trance at the seemingly empty fridge and baked bean-filled cupboards, we dramatically declare there is NOTHING left to eat.

Now, I’m not saying you have to be particularly creative and artistic in order to put stray ingredients together, but perhaps a little imagination can help. This very thing happened to me a few weeks back, on a day I was feeling not only ravenous, but mildy creative. And the result was simply delicious.

She goes a little something like this…

  • Tin of Mackerel in Sunflower Oil
  • Long Grain Rice
  • Avocado
  • Beetroot
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Vinegar

The steps for making this dish are incredibly simple. However, as my mother always taught me, some of the simplest ingredients can create the loveliest of dishes.

  1. Boil 3 oz of long grain rice for 10 – 15 minutes
  2. Open tin of mackerel and lightly drain the oil from it, keeping some in the tin.
  3. Chop avocado, beetroot and tomatoes
  4. Once tender, drain rice fully and fluff grains
  5. Tear apart the mackerel with a fork from the tin into the rice and lightly toss, ensuring remaining oil is evenly distributed
  6. Mix in the avocado, beetroot and tomatoes, letting the oil cover everything.
  7. Season to taste with sea salt and black pepper

If you have a little gem lettuce or Romanian heart in your fridge too, this would be a complimentary side.

Once you have these ingredients sitting dormant (but fresh) somewhere in your pantry, a whole world of taste bud heaven comes alive in your kitchen.

It’s quick, uncomplicated and uses ingredients which are fresh, healthy and easy to pick up in a local shop.

A scrumptious and colourful way to brighten up your lunchtime, and your body.

Amy x

 

The Secret Life Of A Morbidly Obese Lunatic

This is my 5th attempt at typing this post. (Insert facepalm emoji here)

It was meant to happen Wednesday evening after the day from hell, then at numerous times throughout the week, but many things have stopped me from finishing the whole thing; from re reading it thinking it sounds to wingey, to feeling too tired to complete it to feeling way too ill. So, now I have about 4 drafts of this waiting for me to get my act together. My first draft (on Wednesday), contained far too many swear words for my liking and I wasn’t sure how that would go down with any readers I had, so hopefully, now I’m in a calmer state, I’ll only drop a couple of naughty words here and there:)

The week that has just gone by has been so incredibly stressful with illness (mine and my parents), having to literally take charge of everything while my dad couldn’t leave the house, get through a week at work and my trip to Devon last weekend. It’s been a crazy week and now I’m suffering with the ME. I really resent that after a week of basically doing my duties as a daughter and looking after my parents and running errands and doing chores, that I fall ill myself and am confined to bed with sickness and dizziness and extreme tiredness. Pathetic. I hope it doesn’t make people think I can’t handle things, because I can, deep down, it’s jut my stupid ME that overrides all of that.

In other joyful news, I am officially awful at blogging. It’s ages since I last posted anything and I’ve half considered packing the whole thing in, but then I remember how much I’ve spent on getting it right and suddenly the want to continue returns. Plus I have realized in the past few weeks just what I could do with my blog if I really make an effort to focus on it. But to be perfectly honest, by the time I get to sit down in front of my laptop in peace and quiet, I’m so exhausted I can’t bring myself to type or think! I’m unsure how I’m going to get round this but I am determined as there is much more to come in the story of What Amy Did Next and I really want to share that with readers.

A lot has been happening in the world of Amy lately, and there’s one massive piece of news I have which I’ll be sharing in a blog post very soon! My diary is and has been pretty full I’m pleased to say, but there’s always that part of me which feels guilty for leaving my family to go off and do things. They don’t mind at all, but they do rely on me somewhat so it’s always a bit daunting telling them I’m not going to be there for a weekend. I spent last weekend in Devon to see my friends and celebrate a late birthday with one of them. It was a fun weekend and I managed to do new things which had previously been way out of my comfort zone. But I survived and have come out the other side having learnt things so I see this as a positive.

I have a work meeting coming up next week in a place I’ve never been before and I have to get up at stupid o’clock to leave the house by 6 am to get a train by 7 am. It’s also on the day my mum goes for a dental operation so I’m now feeling guilty about that and will be having numerous amounts of kittens while I’m so far away. The operation was originally booked for the day after the meeting but they’ve changed it last-minute. Poo bags to that!

At the end of the month I have a spa weekend with my best friend from Devon, which is a seriously new experience for me and one I am slightly dreading. Not only does it mean exposing an awful lot of my body I’m really unhappy with at the moment, it also means letting strangers give me a massage and a facial (?) while my friend holds me down and ensures I don’t kick and scream my way through it. I’m hoping I’ll enjoy it and not be all self-conscious and prudish, but there is that streak in me. I’ll probably appear on the 6 o’clock news with the headline: “Hysterical Lunatic Sectioned After Kicking Masseuse In Shins In What Staff Are Calling Their Worst Client To Date”.

I’m also on a diet. God help my poor starving, confused, depressed soul. Enough is quite enough now and having reached the ghastly point last week when upon showing my mother the swimming costume I’ve bought for the spa things, she goes “My god Amy, that could fit the bloody gas works”, I have decided that I am sufficiently over the bastard break up to finally stop stuffing my face with anything edible with the excuse of, I sodding well deserve it OK?

Now I’m a very good two stone heavier than I was after said break up and about two dress sizes up, I figure now’s the time I stop with the comfort eating and get my arse in shape before I end up on one of those ridiculous reality tv shows for the obese and useless. God, I’ll probs feature on the next tear jerking series of “Too Fat To Leave The House” where steaming hot firefighters are craning me out of my room through the roof while I’m there, donut in one hand, takeaway menu in the other… Plus, I need to get immensely fit for this big thing that’s happening in July which I’ll tell you about in a post coming very soon! So, not only does this whole healthy diet thing benefit my health, but it means my roof won’t need to be ripped off a few years down the line.

Yay me!

 

Pretty Natural

 

I don’t know if it’s my old age kicking in about 30 years too early, but I’m starting to prefer wearing less make up.

I used to go to town on blusher and would always be the teenager who kohl pencil lined her eyes something chronic, but as time goes on, I am beginning to appreciate the ‘less is more’ look.

I no longer use a kohl pencil, barely use mascara and have no clue how to contour. I think, if my spots are covered, my skin looks reasonably even and there’s a hint of color in my cheeks, then I’ll do just fine. On my beauty wish list is a tinted moisturizer, as I’d love to use that instead of foundation on days when I don’t have much on.

We are in an era when women encourage each other to embrace their natural looks and their bodies, while at the same time we cake ourselves in about eight or ten different products just to leave the house. We’re not monsters ladies, we are beautiful women with features to be proud of.

After you read this, I want you to try something. Go and take a look in the mirror and eye yourself up. Take your make up off if you can and have a good ol’ look at your face. Isn’t she a beauty? And smile. Smiling automatically enhances a woman’s beauty and it’s good for the soul. Stop looking for all the imperfections and start noticing the clear perfections you have without the need to concealer you skin into porcelain hell. Trust what you’ve been given and rock it. Rock it like the Queen of natural.

Happy-Girls-Audrey-Hepburn

Listed below is my little make up montage for when I feel like rocking a subtle look of glamour.

Maybelline Forever Strong Super Stay Gel Nail Color – Nude Rose 

Maybelline Dream Satin Liquid Foundation – Ivory

Maybelline Super Stay 24 Color – Rose Quartz

Bourjois Cendre De Rose Brune Blush – Ashes of Roses

Natural Collection Eyeshadow – Barley 

Gold Ring with Diamond (Fake AF but cute)

Bird Cage Silk Scarf

 

Stay Beautiful, naturally…

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My Coffee Shop Blues

 

Coffee shops eh? What makes them such a good a place to brood and be mysterious in and act like a Sin City down and out detective with the world on your shoulders, while a deep voiced man narrates your confused life?

Sitting there with your collar up, dark glasses on, hunched over the table with a stance that just screams “My life is a mess, I’m in real deep and I don’t know where I’m going”, in a Bronx accent and a cigarette balanced in your mouth.

Fortunately, my two recent trips to my local cafe haven’t seen me look that bleak, but I think deep down, what drove me there wasn’t too dissimilar from my alter Bronx detective ego.

I think this Bronx detective has life a bit easier though. At least you can hide in the city. In a village, you are known by everyone and those people see your every expression, hear your every thought and watch your every move. There is no hiding. There is no rocking up at a cafe in a long trench coat with dark glasses and a journal, ordering a black Americano “hold the milk”, without someone thinking “what an absolute prat”.

My life is the complete opposite of Sin City;  More Do-gooder Village where happy folk skip their way through a gleeful underworld in search of blossomed snow drops and fellow do-gooder approval. I’m not saying I want to live in a world full of violence and drugs and all that horrible stuff, not at all, I’m very grateful for where I live. But there is a part of me, the Bronx detective in me, which needs a slice of anonymity from time to time. Where I can order an Espresso and to not have “I’ll bring the Expresso over” smiled back at me; where they’ll know what one is. Where I can sit on a table for one in the corner, conveniently hidden from the rest of the cafe world by a strategically placed stone pillar, spot an equally mysterious Bruce Willis across from me who gives me a shady nod, and scroll through my phone without the disapproving look of an elderly country bumpkin and where I can write blog posts in my writing pad without someone thinking I’m studying or writing the next verse for the Parish magazine next week.

I want to be able to leave in silence, away into the hustle of a busy street where I immediately blend in with the existence of city life with nothing but the sound of “Taxi!” and a swirl of mist from the extractor fan in my wake. Instead I leave to the sound of synchronized “Bye”‘s from every soul in that cafe, all watching as I open the door, trip on the step and re-adjust my scarf as an overwhelming feeling of metaphorical suffocation encapsulates my being.

It can get too much.

You know?

I want to be a chic city girl exuding mystery and dark elegance.

Is that really too much to ask?

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My Healthy Eating Challenge

 

 

It’s safe to say, I’m a free eater. A liberated eater if you will.

I eat what I want, when I want. And I’m not bragging or making myself try and sound like the greediest human alive, I’m just saying that when this girl is peckish, delicious morsels are hunted down and consumed. Generally not in the form of a carrot stick being enthusiastically swiped through homemade hummus either.

I’m the girl who eats biscuits or oat cakes for breakfast, will snack on biscuits or chocolate in between meals with the odd bit of fruit thrown in for good measure, and when it comes to meals like lunch and dinner, my portion sizes are what Gillian McKeith might call “mammoth”. But what a normal person would call “a plate well loaded.”

So I have a good appetite. Yay for me. But after spending months giving myself pretty much a free reign over food as a mild, fairly immature two fingers up to being broken hearted, I have reached the moment in my aging life that this irresponsible and unhealthy attitude towards food has to stop. As much as a large part of me delights at the idea of spending life with a box of Kripsy Kreme in one hand and a huge bowl of mac and cheese in the other, a smaller, healthier part of me is having frequent panic attacks at the thought of how unfit I am and how I could make so much more of an effort to eat a lettuce leaf.

Here are 10 reasons to eat a healthy balanced diet:

  1. Cholesterol – My family on both sides suffer from high cholesterol and untreated, can lead to a number of serious health conditions like strokes and heart disease.
  2. Your immune system will function better and be stronger to fight off bugs and colds and all the nasties.
  3. Your risk of heart attacks and heart disease will be less and your arteries will be clearer with less fat consumed.
  4. Cancer prevention.
  5. Weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight.
  6. Digestive health.
  7. Fertility.
  8. Healthier skin.
  9. Increased brain function.

I am fortunate to an extent that I grew up on a pretty balanced diet and was never given sugary fizzy drinks, so have no desire to drink them in my adult life. I never have a MacDonalds or Burger King etc, but I know full well what I do eat, could be a lot healthier. So, my mission from here on in, is to stop snacking on the rubbish and replace rubbish with healthier alternatives. Despite the serious cravings, cut down on my chocolate intake. To eat a healthy breakfast before work and make time in the morning to sit down and eat, to reduce my portion sizes on my plate and not have eyes bigger than my stomach, and to make sure that I have a good amount of vegetables or salad with my main evening meal. OH!! And I almost forgot, I want to start drinking less caffeine. Coffee mostly, I like my Twinings English Breakfast too much to abandon ship with that, but less coffee is a must.

Or at least, that is the plan.

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BREAKFAST

I love lemon green tea. Green tea is great by itself, but with that hint of lemon, makes it crisper and fresher and I think I would prefer to wake up to a cup o’ this instead of the thick, foul after-tasting sugar filled coffee, which never even wakes me up. Read this snippet of glory from the box of Clipper Tea Bags…

A light, crisp and highly refreshing green tea with a delicious lemony citrus zing.

Doesn’t that sound lovely to wake up to? Yes indeedy and I have considered getting a kettle for my bedroom…

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BREAKFAST

Keeping with the “most important meal of the day”, I am replacing my very unhealthy breakfast of biscuits or oatcakes, with fruit mix on top of whipped Greek yogurt with honey clusters sprinkled over. Trust me, this looks and tastes so much more refreshing and satisfying than stodgy oats and the bonus of it all, is that it’s healthy. If you’re on a proper serious health kick, you could opt for the low fat yogurt and no honey clusters, but a little sprinkle of those never hurt nobody, OK?

I love the variation possibilities with breakfast’s like this. Mix match of fruits to choose from like banana and kiwi and mango and orange segments… An endless fruity opportunity to start your day.

I would say stop me if I’m starting to sound like one of those annoying health freaks who thinks a fun Friday night is watching You Are What You Eat whilst using a home enema kit and munching on a grape, but I fear I’ve already hit that level and you can’t exactly stop me so, soz not soz.

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SNACKING

Oh me oh my.

Yushoi Snapea Rice Sticks are the finest little snack since the roasted soy bean. They are 95 calories per serving of 21g. They are baked so already healthier than a Roast Chicken Walkers crisp, and they come in a variety of glorious flavours. These are Soy & Balsamic Vinegar which are the nicest I’ve tried so far. These little beauties are made from green peas and rice (what more could you want, apart from a Bounty?) and are Japanese inspired.

Delicious!

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MAIN MEALS 

On to the biggest meal of the day and the largest opportunity for all your hard work to go down the pan whilst you glug a 175ml of red wine and chew your way manically through a Chinese take away.

I am absolutely loving and craving salads at the moment and I’m trying to incorporate them into the majority of the main meals I have. Salads and vegetables should be the most of something you have on your plate, with potatoes or pasta coming second and meat being third. I am in total agreement with this and always hate it if there is too much meat on my plate. On the subject of meat, I also want to reduce my intake of red meat like beef and bacon as I really don’t enjoy it all too much and it’s not the healthiest meat option out there. I would like to focus on chicken and fish mostly, with a healthy portion of crunchy salad on the side.

And you can add so many tasty things to salads like, avocado’s, beetroot, radish, red onions, peppers, chickpeas, raw chopped vegetables, the list, again, is endless.

Just because it’s healthy, doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. Mix and match things, try new and exotic foods and make it look nice on the plate. We are a nation guilty of judging things by the way they look, so if you take the time to present what you’re about to put in your body nicely, then you’re definitely going to enjoy it a hella lot more.

To take away: I would advise the app + website Yummly. It’s great for recipe ideas and making lists of ingredients and meal type categories.

I am going to be posting pictures of my culinary adventures on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #whatamyeatsnext so keep a look out for my posts. You too could try this with the hashtag #myhealthyeatingchallenge and we can create a community of healthy eaters.

Don’t I sound like the most fun blogger you could be following right now?!

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Book Wish List 2016

  
One of my many wishes for this year is to read more books and not just look at them on book shelves in shops and day-dream about how wonderful I’m sure they are.

I adore books; when I allow myself the time and space to read them. That’s the thing these days isn’t it? We’re always too busy with something else, or too near a deadline to be sitting around with a cup of tea, becoming absorbed in a story, another world. It’s sad and it’s going to stop. For no one should ever be too busy to sit down and read.

I’ll never forget that one summer when I read a whole book in one weekend. It was incredible and for the entire two days, I was transported into this wonderful and magical world. The book, you ask? A Weekend With Mr Darcy by Victoria Connelly, and it truly was…

The sky is looming over in all it’s grey and dramatic glory and there looks to be a shower of rain on the hills in the distance, no doubt heading this way. I’ll leave you all with the list of books I would really love to read this year. Let me know which books are on your wish list for 2016.

              2016 Book Wish List

  • The Jane Austen Collection
  • The Rose Girls – Victoria Connelly
  • The Secret Garden –  ‎Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • Alice In Wonderland – Lewis Carrol
  • The Cuckoo’s Calling – Robert Galbraith
  • Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
  • Garden Spells – Sarah Addison Allen
  • Agatha Raisin Collection – M.C. Beaton
  • The Little Paris Book Shop – Nina George & Simon Pare
  • The Angel Tree – Lucinda Riley
  • Te Little Coffee Shop of Kabul – Deborah Rodriguez
  • Bridget Jones: Mad About The Boy – Helen Fielding
  • Sex And The City – Candace Bushnell

For the month of February, I am setting myself the challenge of reading over my lunch breaks at work, and ignore the distractions of more important stuff.

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Midnight Blues|Two

Sitting up in bed surrounded by Hobnob flapjacks, tea and candles at half two in the morning was, lets face it, not what I was expecting.

I woke from yet another bad dream about an hour ago and have since given my two pennies worth on Twitter about the poor beached whales in Skegness, made a cup of tea, eaten my way through a pack of hobnob flap jacks and decided that sleep is no longer the way forward and I will not be doing any of that tonight.

I have the beginnings of a cold which I’m trying to sniff back into non existence, my mind is whirring over thoughts of yesterday’s stresses at work, my impending chat with one of my managers about a job prospect, my hideous and unwelcome dreams which are invading my mind, my nights and my sanity and the trillion other things I worry about on a daily basis. And it’s at this point I read that back and think, Amy, take some of your own advice and realise that worrying does not change the outcome of anything and will only serve to make thing you’re worrying over, more intimidating.

But that’s not so easy when it’s personal. We’re all crap at taking our own advice. For example, I am the Healthy Living Champion at work, yet the most unhealthy myself. I promote good health, healthy eating and happy living. I eat badly, don’t exercise and am in a perpetual state of worry and miserableness. I’m a walking contradiction. Fortunately, I’m on my feet all day at work and love salads and vegetables, it’s just the times between work and a lettuce leaf when it all goes a bit tits up.

Anyway, I can assure you it’s not my impending morbid obesity that’s keeping me awake. It’s quite simply these effing dreams I have night after night, taunting me until I wake up then staying with me throughout the day making me feel pretty damn awful.

These dreams all relate to one thing. The breakup. 8 months on & still feeling tormented by the whole thing. And the relentlessly annoying thing about it, is that when I’m not dreaming, I’m fine. Yeah I think about it, but I’m not tormented by it in my waking hours. I can think about it, then happily move on to something else. But in my head, at night, in my dreams, some irritating little shit of a mind cretin goes “I know, lets make her feel even worse about it all by getting her to see all the people who hurt her and get them to say nasty things about her and make her relive every bit of badness she’s spent 8 months overcoming all by herself”. Because even though he went to so much effort to make me feel completely guilty and responsible for it not working out, there is no escaping the fact that certain factors (and by that I mean certain people) made it not only a living hell, but an impossibility for it to work out. And so they’re in my dreams most nights, making me know just how unwanted I was. And despite going through all of that hurt and heartache 10 fold already, eight months on, it still finds a way to hurt, unfortunately.

And while everyone sleeps peacefully, here I am. Tormented at two in the morning.

It’s the darkest hour of the darkest night
It’s a million miles to the morning light
Can’t get no sleep, don’t know what to do

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