Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Summing Up 2014 - part 1

This time last year, I wrote a blog post summing up the best bits of 2013. I had to split the post into two parts as there were too many "best bits". I wasn't sure I would ever be able to top it.

I was anxious at the end of the year about the mountain I had to climb in 2014 - things on my "to do" list included: write dissertation, pass exams, graduate, find a job... which I knew were all achievable but I couldn't visualise myself actually clearing each hurdle without a hitch. But I did...! And I now sit at the end of 2014 hardly believing that I managed it all.  Here are some of the highlights of 2014:

January: I've mentioned my love of theatre before and I got the year off to a theatrical start with a trip to the play Jeeves and Worcester. I went to meet Joanna Lumley when she gave a talk about her Garden Bridge Project. January was overshadowed by the tragic loss of Charlotte Bevan. I wrote about her here - not a day goes by when I don't think of her. The month ended on a higher note with a trip to the West End to see Once the Musical.

February: I went to see my friend Rhiannon sing live at the Hammersmith Apollo at the Britain's Got Talent Auditions. Simon Cowell wasn't there as his girlfriend was having a baby but David Walliams was hilarious! My cousin was in a brilliant play at the Vault festival in a disused tube station at Waterloo. I don't remember much else about February - having never really grieved before, my family and I were faced with not one but two funerals for close relatives. It was at this point, having lost Charlotte as well, that I thought there was no way 2014 was going to be as good as the previous year. The end of the month ended on a much needed high with a trip to King's Cross to meet Kathy Lette (finally!) who was in conversation with Ruby Wax for the publication of Sane New World in paperback. 

March: The first two months of the year had been very wobbly. I hoped that March would bring not just the season of Spring but one in my step too. The Spring in my step came on a chilly Sunday afternoon in Notting Hill / Holland Park when I walked straight passed David Beckham standing outside his new house. OH YES I DID. On Pancake Day I went to see my first Opera at the Royal Albert Hall. March also saw the start of the Sane New World tour get underway. There were about 50 - 60 dates and I saw it in Bishops Stortford and Bury St Edmunds and many others later on - I loved watching it evolve and develop having seen the bare bones of it in 2013. I went to see Miranda Hart perform her first stand up tour at the O2 and on the same day I also met Laura Collins for the first time. That was a very good day. I also went to Richard Curtis and Emma Freud's house to support their son Spike who bravely was stuck to their front door for an hour in the freezing cold in aid of Sport Relief. A real privilege to meet them all especially Scarlett who writes an incredible blog...

April: I discovered Bleecker Street Burgers thanks to Rosie The Londoner and devoured one on the Southbank. No burger has ever tasted so good. Nothing beats an email on a dull Monday "I've got to finish my dissertation but would rather be elsewhere" morning inviting me to Kensington Palace. And that's just what happened. And then I actually did hand in my dissertation. So April was a damn good month. The last day in April was the actual trip to Kensington Palace. I was invited with Ruby W because I nominated her for an award. We went, She WON... Here's what happened

May: I went to see the play Relative Values at the start of this month starring Patricia Hodge. Totally brilliant. My inspiring Aunt wrote a book called Teenagers Translated - a top read. I highly recommend. I also was lucky enough to meet Rachel Kelly, who happens to be my neighbour and has published an amazing book called Black Rainbow. I finally met the OTHER Miranda this month. And gave my first ever public speech with her on Mental health / stigma. The most important thing that happened in May is that I finished my degree... forever!! The final day in May saw me meeting Romy Wood for the first time and we went to see Kathy Lette giving a talk on Autism. 

June: Perhaps the biggest and best news from June was that I found out that I passed my degree and got a 2:1....!!! I got my very own personalised graduation card from Betsy Benn. I paid a sneaky visit to Colleen and Clare in Southwold and bought myself a new leather jacket. I had a terrifying job interview in June, which didn't turn out the way I was hoping it would BUT actually led to something even bigger and better. 

July: Whilst temping in June and July, I found an opening in my diary to go and see Marina Abramovic who was performing at the Serpentine Gallery. I also snuck off to Wales for the weekend to climb a mountain with two great friends. And when I came back I went to the Quentin Blake exhibition. Very nostalgic. Another theatre trip - this time to the Importance of Being Earnest. I've seen that play many times and I enjoyed this performance / version the most. I also actually properly graduated without tripping over this month too. Miracles do happen. 

Phew. I need a breather. And I need to top up my tea before I resume for the rest of the year... it gets busier! 

Stay tuned for Part 2....

I should follow this advice - 

This time last year....

I have just re-read the blog post I wrote this time last year. I wasn't feeling particularly festive or full of joy for New Year's Eve. I'm actually really enjoying this time in-between Christmas and New Year as I have time off work and I am properly relaxing. 

I woke up to this beautiful frost today so went for a long walk with the puppy - 

Tonight, my jaw is aching with happiness as my beloved football team, Ipswich Town, won again - this time 3-0. Having witnessed some painful lows in the footballing world for ITFC, nothing feels quite so wonderful than consistently winning. And being amongst a crowd of 26,000 others who are equally as joyful as me makes it all the more brilliant. 

And unlike last year, I actually have a plan for New Year's Eve... I am going to support Ocean Reunion in a Charity fundraiser with some other Suffolk friends. 

I don't usually make new year's resolutions but this year I am going to try and blog more. Let's see if I can stick to it !

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Neuroplasticity and Depression

Neuroplasticity is one of the greatest words I learnt in 2014. You will laugh and learn when you watch this video - 

Wishing you all a SANE and Healthy New Year....

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

The best ever commute

I am beginning to reflect on the past 12 months and what a year it has been. Most of this reflection time is between the hours of 9 am and 10 am each morning as I walk to work. 

Last week I stopped in my tracks to take these pictures with my iPhone and I am almost sure I have the best commute in the world. There is no better place than this to be mindful and think about the day ahead. 

Absolutely no filter....

Thats Hyde Park, if you were wondering. 

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

All I Want For Christmas - Out of the Blue

This time four years ago, I was very fortunate to be living in the dreamy city of Oxford. Sometimes, if we were lucky on a lunch break, you could stand and watch Out of the Blue do spontaneous busking sessions - they were so talented and very entertaining. 

It is exactly four years since One Direction became huge on the X Factor. A giggling group of us went to see One Direction sing in concert in Oxford - it wasn't long before they were selling out arenas but I was one of a few hundred that night who had more of an "intimate" chance to hear them.... and Out of the Blue were the "back up" band...

Here is the brilliant Out of the Blue version of All I Want for Christmas - 

Friday, 21 November 2014

Nutella for Nigella !

The 20th November will henceforth be known as "Nigella Day" or "Nutella for Nigella day"... here is why!

I was very excited to receive an email from The School of Life about an event where Alain de Botton would be in conversation with Nigella Lawson on The Meaning of Food.. as a Nutrition graduate, food fanatic and all round worshipper of both Alain de Botton AND Nigella Lawson - I went swooping for my purse to book a ticket faster than ever....

In preparation for this special evening - I happen to know that Selfridges currently have a special Nutella stand in their food hall where you can get any name printed onto a jar of Nutella. So of course - I ask them to print one for Nigella (see below) - a huge success!

On the morning of the talk, I went to CocoMaya - my favourite bakery on Connaught Street to buy fresh Cronuts / Cocodoughs as I happen to know that she loves them too. Salted Caramel for @FevRave, chocolate for me.. pistachio for her!

The talk itself was, of course, a sell out. Hundreds of people filed into the Emmanuel Centre on Marsham Street. I was not too near the front, which was a clever and strategic move as I had a perfect view but was able to make a quick exit to meet her afterwards and avoid the queue. 

I find it very hard to sit still and tune into things (my mind wonders, as all minds do). But the moment Alain de B started to talk and ask questions... and Nigella gave us her pearls of wisdom - I was captivated. 

Here are some quotes from the evening - 

"There's nothing better than a soft boiled egg on toast"

"I don't like boorishness or bad manners around the dinner table but I like discussion."

"If food is the most important thing at a dinner party, there's something wrong"

"Those of us that like to cook are normally quite controlling"

"All things in moderation, including moderation"

"I don't believe in the 22 minute lunch break but I eat very fast." - ME TOO

"The older I get I feel that memories are so much more important than things"

"Lemons: people forget the absolutely exquisite pleasure of the sour"

"I don't like food snobbery. The upper middle classes are trying to feel superior 
by only eating seasonally"

"One shouldn't worry about being judged"

"When I read, I get a profound sense of whether I like the taste of a sentence"

'Writing and cooking are like reading and eating'

"I don't believe in comfort food...I believe in comfort cooking"

"Cooking isn't cooking if you are just following the recipe"

'If you're someone who has to get to a station hours early for a train, you should cook your chicken slowly"

Nigella liked food but not meal times as a child. She got interested in food through language and also cooking. 

Having had a rocky relationship with food, I came away feeling uplifted and inspired and in awe of her approach to food and eating. 

The questions from the audience were great too - someone asked what she thought about the "22 minute lunch hour" and the rise of Pret. I loved how she said that although her office is at home, everyone sits down for lunch away from phones and screens even though the topic of conversation over lunch might be work related..

I admire Nigella in so many ways. She is an Oxford University graduate and was once the Deputy Literary Editor of the Sunday Times before turning to food writing and publishing several extremely successful cookery books amongst many other things.

I felt I learnt more that evening than I did throughout my entire university degree. Much food for thought... haha. To be in the presence of food royalty, someone so highly intelligent, staggeringly beautiful and wise was a real privilege.

It was an added bonus to receive this tweet this morning - 

I say "Hurrah for Nutella. Hurrah for Nigella".

All in all, the whole evening was a total triumph and undoubtedly one of the biggest highlights of my year so far. 

Thursday, 6 November 2014

News from Miranda HQ

There has been no time to feel down about Benedict being unavailable.... I think I can link the number of blog posts I write with how busy I am. I haven't had a moment to write for ages and I miss not being able to bore you all with my news.

Autumn has well and truly arrived in London. I walk the three miles to work everyday whatever the weather and its my absolute favourite time of day. I plug in my iPod and off I go. Current music of choice is either Ella Henderson's new album or anything by Natalia Kills. There are crunchy leaves all over the park, the air is so crisp and chilly - a huge drop in degrees C since the unusually hot halloween we had last week. 

walk straight through Hyde Park... this was the blue sky that greeted me this morning. I love my commute. I walk past the same joggers, dog walkers, army officers, personal trainers, policeman guarding Kensington palace...

October was fun and busy. I met Alan Yentob, the Creative Director of the BBC. We both went to watch Ruby perform her show in Colchester and then got the train and taxi back to Notting Hill with her afterwards. Can't believe its over... But I am well informed that there are more dates in London next year. 

I also met Stephen Fry - he was as sensational as I always imagined he would be. Can't wait to get stuck into his new book. I am currently reading Rahla Xenopolous's memoir, A Memoir of Love and Madness, which is incredible.

November is set to be even more fun - for starters, I am going to meet Nigella Lawson..! More on that another time. I have to work for most of this weekend but will certainly try and get to some fireworks - perhaps Battersea Park ? Its so frustrating still sitting at work at 7 pm and being able to hear them outside but not see them.

In other news, we have a new puppy at home: meet Lara...

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Benedict Cumberbatch is off the market!

Every girl's dream was shattered this week when it was discovered that Benedict Cumberbatch was engaged to his heart throb Sophie Hunter....

Honestly - first it was George and now Benedict....!

Most celebrities would take to Twitter or some form of technology to tell the world of this news... Benedict C has very little official internet presence and certainly no Twitter page.  

So he opted for an announcement in the Times newspaper instead...!

More (more interesting!) news to follow in the world of Miranda....stay tuned!

Burberry: From London with Love

On Monday evening, as I was rushing to Covent Garden on foot from work to meet friends, there were a large gaggle of paparazzi standing outside Burberry on Bond Street, London. I often see Paparazzi lurking and out of curiosity always ask who they are waiting for (Rita Ora was staying in a house on my road recently - the photographers were there for about 10 days). 

On this occasion, they just said "some VIPS". Later, I found out who they were really waiting for and if only I had known as would love to have been there when they emerged. It was the Beckhams at the launch of the Burberry Christmas campaign as their son Romeo was the main feature.... Very sweet video - 

Sunday, 12 October 2014

CLASP: Walk Out of Darkness

It is fair to say that yesterday was pretty incredible.

On Friday, it was World Mental Health day. So yesterday, a 10 mile walk was organised around London raising awareness of mental illness and suicide. Of course, I took part..!

Several hundred of us congregated at the Southbank near Waterloo. I knew a few people taking part and met many more along the way. Everyone was there for a special reason - because they may have lost or nearly lost someone to suicide or because of their own personal battle with mental illness.

I did it to raise awareness, help stamp stigma and to meet other like minded people - I think I achieved all my objectives. Norman Lamb MP was meant to be there and he was hugely supportive of the event but sadly he had to be else where.

The morning started with several emotional speeches - highlighting the importance of the event, people sharing their stories....

This was the route, roughly. Starting at O (Oxo Tower). Heading East / Anti Clockwise. Finishing where we started at N / O. It took about 3 hours and 15 minutes (including a brief pitt stop in Battersea Park), which felt like no time at all. 

The route took us past some of London's most iconic landmarks - starting at the OXO tower, going past the London Eye, Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, Lambeth Palace, MI5, MI6, Battersea Dogs Home, Battersea Power Station, the National Theatre...

The sun mostly shone, which helped a lot...!

Of course, I wore my Miranda T shirt and couldn't understand why everyone I walked passed was smiling at me - It says "I can't keep calm, I'm a Miranda".

This is me with Inesa, who is training to be a mental health nurse. If I had my time again, thats what I would do at university. I am in awe of people like her. 

At the end, we were rewarded with sandwiches and Krispy Kremes! I was allowed to take a box of twelve home... yum!

Kenny Johnston, the founder and CEO of the Charity CLASP, organised the entire event single handedly - and it was only when I spoke to him afterwards that I realised what a HUGE amount of planning and thought had gone into it.. It was a great shame to learn that other, larger UK mental health charities would not support the event because there was no money in it for them.

The walk will hopefully become an annual event - and perhaps other people will take the initiative and organise walks of their own around the UK. It was the kind of thing we've been saying needs to happen. Except - next time, I hope even more will come along. 

24 hours after the event, I am now sitting in Gails on Portobello Road.. feeling slightly stiff but so happy that it was so much fun and such a success. I'm already looking forward to the next one..hope you'll come with me!

I'm now off to see Matilda the Musical, which is the perfect way to end such a fun weekend.

Finally - as it was World Mental Health Day on Friday, please take a moment to watch the TED talk at the top of my blog...

Friday, 10 October 2014

Dear Tesco

Dear Tesco

I know you've been having some trouble recently. Actually, let me rephrase that - A LOT of trouble recently. It was so kind of you to send me a few vouchers BUT I want to point something out to you and my readers, which is quite puzzling and as a Nutrition graduate, I feel it needs addressing...

Do you think its really sensible to send a voucher for a FREE Diabetes Type 2 test along with another voucher that gives me SIX FREE packets of crisps ???? REALLY ???

Can you explain or see the logic ? I can't. The hilarious thing is that the free crisps weren't the most exasperating and ridiculous vouchers I received along with the FREE Diabetes check. Other vouchers included 

"70 p off Gu Puds" and 
"Save £1.50 when you spend £3.00 or more on any cheese". 

The world is massively (pun not intended) burdened with obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease - and its the supermarkets like yours offering stupid deals like these which are largely contributing to the problem. 

Why would I need a Free Diabetes Check, anyway ? If I was remotely concerned with my health and thought I might need to be tested for diabetes, I would visit my doctor. Thats why we have an NHS. I don't intend on ringing my local Tesco branch to see a GP. 

I hate the fact that supermarkets are now not just the place you go to for food. You can buy home appliances, insurance, bank your money, book your holidays..... Just monopolising the high street and taking away the independent retailers. 

Tesco: Every Little Helps. 

Well, no actually Tesco: you are not helping. You're just contributing to the problem. 

There is so much more to say about this but thought I would just bring it briefly to your attention. I hope you think more logically next time you are kind enough to send me vouchers. 

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Catching Up

I'm very conscious of when I don't blog for a while. I hate not having the time to do it. 

Actually, this week has been the quietest I've had in ages and I have enjoyed nothing more than coming home at about 8 pm and just collapsing in front of the television with my favourite supper. Its very unlike me to sit still and concentrate on something on TV so its been good practice. I've decided Wednesdays have been the best - Great British Bake Off and Scott and Bailey... #gripped

How do you think I celebrated watching the GBBO Final ? With a Cronut of course, from CocoMaya...! It was exactly a year since I had my first one so it was Happy 1st Cronut Anniversary to me. 

In previous weeks, I have been doing something almost every night of the week, which was fun but also totally unrealistic and was making me exhausted. Although - they were ALL really amazing things - like meeting Stephen Fry and going to see Dawn French live on her tour. I KNOW.

The concert in Covent Garden in aid of Charlotte's Helix was incredible. 

This weekend I am doing a TEN MILE walk for Mental Health Awareness. Please pray for sunny weather. Will blog about it properly next week. Its been organised by CLASP. Hopefully, it will help stamp stigma. I'm also going to see Matilda the Musical, which apparently is out of this world and has been top of my bucket list for ages. So excited. 

Ruby Wax is at TED talks in Rio, Brazil. I AM SO JEALOUS. Emma Freud popped there too as Richard Curtis has a film premiere out there - she tweeted "TED talks are as brilliant as I always imagined. Like Disneyland for the brain." Very good summary. 

I'm still enjoying my peanut butter / banana on toasted bagel breakfast. Heaven. 

Speaking of breakfasts, this morning I finally got to meet the extraordinary Rahla Xenopoulos for a cup of tea on Portobello Road. She lives in Cape Town and is the most an extraordinary writer. It was a real privilege for me to sit opposite her for an hour. 

Finally - I just LOVE this video by the BBC - see how many famous faces you can spot - 

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Yummiest of Breakfasts

Remember last week I told you how much I was looking forward to the Breakfast I had planned for the following few days ? And I promised you a pic ?

Well here you are - it was to die for...

Toasted bagel, peanut butter and banana... 

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

The Instagram Generation

The wonderful Rahla Xenopoulos sent me this video and I just had to share it with you -

Emma Watson: HeforShe - Gender Equality

This week, Emma Watson gave the speech of her LIFE at the United Nations - calling for men as advocates for gender equality:

What she has to say is incredible. And although she was clutching notes, she learnt it word for word.

"If not me, who? If not now, when?"

Sunday, 21 September 2014

A fun trip to Basingstoke and other travels for the Mumbles...

Its been a busy few days. I'm trying not to over do it. My new rule is to always try and be in bed my 11 pm during the working week. So far I have failed miserably. It's currently 11:07 pm.

My friend Rosie Norman has written some good tips on how to improve your health this autumn. Do take note. And Rachel Kelly has written a great Stress Busting piece in today's You magazine

Last weekend was so much fun. I was invited to join Ruby for the opening night of her second Sane New World tour in Basingstoke. We sat in First Class, drank Starbucks, ate cake and didn't stop chatting the whole way there and back. We even managed a mini dress rehearsal on the train much to the amusement and confusion of other passengers. 

The train conductor was so excited when she saw us standing on the platform - she knew exactly who my companion was. When we asked the taxi driver, however, to take us to the theatre, she said "So are you going to see anything good tonight...?" Oh how I snorted with laughter. Of course, its fine when someone who is frequently in the media / been on television isn't recognised. But she started to dig a hole by saying something along the lines of "you look / sound familiar..." and we were glad to arrive at the theatre and leave her to ponder on who she had just driven. 

Long may Ruby's good work continue. The feedback has been incredible. We didn't leave the theatre until every person in the queue had had their book signed and photo taken. I fell into bed that night beaming with pride and my jaw hurt from smiling so much - and I was in awe of the fact that she would do that all over again for another 19 nights in the next few weeks.

After such an fun filled weekend, the week got off to an entertaining and busy start with the Beat ComEDy Gala at the Comedy Store organised by me and a few others. Several super comedians took to the stage and entertained us exquisitely. Dave Chawner was a brilliant host and compere - introducing Katherine Ryan, Patrick Monohan, Juliette Burton, Nat Luurtsema and Adam Kay. I laughed until it hurt... I think it did an enormous amount at stamping stigma and raising awareness. Everyone will have left feeling inspired and will have learnt something new. 

There is lots to look forward to in the coming few days. I am going to see Dawn French in her new show, which is on tour at the moment called "30 Million Minutes" - roughly the number of minutes she has been alive. Apparently its incredible so I can hardly wait. 

There is a very special concert taking place in Covent Garden this week for Charlotte's Helix - a charity / research project that is close to my heart. Come along ! There will be singing from the iconic Brindley Sherratt and ROH Jette Parker Young artists. And a reading by David Robb, who stars in Downton Abbey.

I am also going to see Stephen Fry at the start of October. Desperate to see Dirty Rotten Scoundrels starring Robert Lindsay - you can probably tell by now that I am obsessed with the theatre.

I'm looking forward to a new breakfast this coming week - toasted bagel, almond butter and chopped banana. Yum...! Stay tuned for a photo..

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Courting Trouble on my first DAY OFF

I finished my degree, left university in May and secured a permanent job before I had even graduated. Friday was my first proper day off on "annual leave" and I made sure it was fun from start to finish.

The day started with a lie in, which was such a luxury on what would normally be a working day. Then breakfast at my favourite local - Granger & Co in Notting Hill - and guess who was there? Actual Bill Granger himself...!

Continuing with the Aussie theme of the day (which was not intentional but a coincidence I have only just realised...), I jumped on a bus and headed to the Savoy to join Australian author Kathy Lette for her literary lunch... Even better that the wonderful Romy Wood was able to come too..!

Kathy has just written the most incredible book called Courting Trouble and I highly recommend you read it or "slip between her covers" as she says...  The book is set in the world’s first mother/daughter, barrister-solicitor, two person boutique feminist law firm and I was gripped from start to finish. The best thing about it is that its the first in a series AND will eventually be made for the television. Hurrah!

Kathy is a literary queen - I don't read as much as I feel I should but her books are the ones I actually make time for. She reminds me that there is no such thing as normal and abnormal - instead its 'ordinary' and 'extraordinary' - see her TED Talk. She is one of the most well connected people I have ever met. She once turned down a date from George Clooney and her husband was engaged to Nigella Lawson when they first met.... go figure that out!

We toasted Joan Rivers, the Queen of Comedy who sadly passed away this week, ate delicious food (see above) and drank litres of champagne. 

The end of my wonderful first day off was spent at the St James's Theatre watching Tamzin Outhwaite and Angela Griffin in a new play called Breeders. It was side splitting-ly hilarious and asked lots of big questions in a really funny way. I saw Tamzin Outhwaite last year in Raving and therefore was so excited to see her again. Its only on for a month - I can't recommend it more highly. 

Monday, 25 August 2014

Summer 2014

Not including the Ice Bucket Challenge, which is in full splash and clogging up every Facebook newsfeed round the country - there are two things, which I believe sum up the summer - 

Let It Go

Demi Lovato singing Let It Go from the film Frozen has been on repeat in our house for what feels like forever. My sister even wrote down the lyrics from YouTube and learnt it word for word - singing it at the top of her voice whilst dancing on her bed. 

Pass the ear plugs...

Loom Bands

If you have made it through the last few weeks and months and haven't seen someone wearing one of these then frankly WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ? I even had a lesson in how to "loom" and made one for myself - I got so into it that it became too long and we had to unpick it...

Today I was nominated for the ice bucket challenge and I *might* share the video on here.... it was chilly..!

Thursday, 21 August 2014

The Mumbles, Murmurs and Mutterings goes EAST

Anyone who has read this blog for a long time or who knows me well will appreciate my fondness for the leafy West London district of Notting Hill. Not only do I LOVE it but I am also lucky enough to LIVE in W11.

There is NOTHING I don't adore about this pocket of London. I don't even mind the hoards of tourists who stand and pose outside the Travel Bookshop and stop and ask me to take their photo. 

One Million people will descend on W11 this weekend for the famous Notting Hill carnival and as long as I come back from my weekend away and the house is still standing, I don't mind... Last year Rachel Johnson's ceiling fell in so I am hoping that won't happen to mine either..

BUT - last weekend, I found myself heading to the edgy EAST. I headed to Shoreditch - Brick Lane to be precise. 

I took this photo because (a) I loved the title of the shop and (b) because Ruby bought a battle ship in Buxton (see below) whilst on tour earlier this year (and she wants to sell it - perhaps THIS SHOP ROCKS will take it...?)

Now THIS is my kind of shop and was the highlight of my afternoon - there was a brief rain storm (which didn't last long - see pic below) that caused me to seek cover in the most incredible shop called Dark Sugars - I was in my element... I challenge you not to dribble on the keyboard looking at all these truffles:

I bought some liquid sea salt caramel truffles and a few others, which were hard to resist: 

As the rest of my family lay huddled on the sofa at home in Suffolk where apparently there was rain, thunder, wind and talks of hurricanes round the rest of England, I looked up and saw hardly a cloud in the sky, which put an enormous spring in my step:

The only thing that ruined this delicious cup of tea and chocolate gooey tart was being harassed for money by a beggar who was looking for his next drink... I didn't even acknowledge him but the woman next to me offered to buy him something to eat - he DECLINED because he just wanted the $$$£££ to buy alcohol - the cakes and treats in the bakery were so sensational - I think he was mad to say no:

I also popped into the Whitechapel Gallery, which had some fun and bizarre things being exhibited. The perfect chance to practice being mindful and present..

All in all - a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon - although there are so many delights on Portobello Road and in the rest of Notting Hill that I think I will stay here for now... 

**resumes constructing defences in preparation for the Notting Hill carnival**

Ice Bucket Challenge: David Beckham

The Ice Bucket Challenge has been a viral "thing" this summer, helped by Social Media - raising money and awareness for the ALS Association. I love it when something silly like throwing a bucket of ice over one's head is all for a good cause.

Here is what happened when David Beckham took on the challenge - hopefully if you click on the link, the video of him doing it will come up - if not, try the YouTube video below:

Looking forward to seeing Leonardo DiCaprio (DB nominated him to do it) take on the challenge...

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Out of the Blue (Oxford): Hips Don't Lie

I am sure I saw Out of the Blue performing live whilst I spent a year in Oxford - they would do impromptu sets / busking style in the street. They were amazing - Shakira spotted their version of Waka Waka and Hips Don't Lie this week on YouTube and it went viral...

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Act for Change: Healing Minds

An Oxford University student has left me completely speechless. This is the most incredible project. Massive thanks to Scarlett Curtis for telling me about...

Visit the Act for Change website for more info and don't hesitate to support the Kickstarter.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Quentin Blake: House of Illustration

If you are in London and you happen to be near Kings Cross in the next few days of weeks, get yourself over to the House of Illustration

Quentin Blake is one of the most famous literary illustrators and I love his work in the Roald Dahl books the most. I hadn't appreciated how much else he had done. 

He has chosen seven books that he has illustrated and takes you on a whistle stop guided tour of how he goes about drawing the different characters. He obviously really has to get to know the plot / characters well before he can start to visualise how he thinks they might look. This is The Boy in the Dress by David Walliams:

I was particularly moved by Michael Rossen's "Sad Book"...

It was a relatively small exhibition but there was lots to look at and take in. I think I only paid £7 so it was worth it. 

A hidden gem that is, in fact, not too hard to find..!