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Showing posts from 2017

Dewa Roman Experience, Chester

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Since moving to Chester two months ago, wevre been making an effort to explore both the 'things the locals do' and the more touristy side of the city.

A couple of weeks ago, we spent the morning at a museum I remember fondly from being a child. I remembered the Dewa Roman Experience Museum was good, I remembered I had been to it, but that was about it.



The museum promises to help you 'experience the sights, sounds and smells of Roman Chester', and it certainly delivers. For a fairly small museum, they certainly pack in a lot of information and a lot of interactivity.

The experience starts in a darkened ship, with a voiceover telling the stories of Roman Chester, with signs on the wall beginning to set the scene and give you context. There's plenty to look at as you walk through this first section, which brings you to a room with a video screen. Here, a short film sweeps you back through time to the days the Romans walked through Chester, and really captures your im…

Why I deleted My Fitness Pal

Until early this year, I had never been a traditional 'dieter' or tracked my calories and macros in any way. In fact, I'd count myself as slightly clueless when it comes to the calorie composition of many foods, or how many grams of protein could be found in a meal.

I then began a series of sessions with a personal trainer, as I realised it was time to start looking after my body as I was looking after my mind. I'd been told time and again how much of an impact nutrition and exercise could have on anxiety and depression, so it was time to stop making excuses.


One of the tools suggested to me by my personal trainer was the popular app My Fitness Pal. It allows you to track your food and water intake and your exercise, and also offers articles on fitness and food on the homepage feed. She emphasised that we were not going to get hung up on calories or numbers, but that because my eating had been affected so badly over a sustained period that it would be a useful way of g…

International Slavery Museum, Liverpool

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Now celebrating its 10th anniversary, the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool has long been one of my favourite museums. Liverpool as a city is the place to be for incredible museums, but this one in particular I return to over and over again.

Situated on the top floor of the Maritime Museum, right by the water, it strikes that perfect balance of delivering lots of information in an incredibly accessible and concise way, with a focus on presenting these things in innovative and interactive ways.

My latest trip was just over a week ago, and I honestly think it gets better every time. The museum follows the journey of slavery from its earliest origins and leads right up to ancestors of those slaves living in England - specifically the Liverpool area - today.




That's another thing I love about this museum: the balance of the big picture alongside the local stories. There's a huge timeline charting the American Civil Rights Movement, there are stories of experiences on the sh…

The Reading List #45

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I cannot stop reading at the moment. I've truly and utterly fallen back in love with reading and tend to have a few on the go at once.

It's reading list time again, so here are my thoughts on four more of the latest books I've read...


Radical Self-Love, Gala Darling



The subtitle for this book is 'a guide to loving yourself and living your dreams', and the content could not be summed up more clearly than that. It's brimming with positivity and inspiration, but everything feels so accessible. I think sometimes when you're being told about self-love by people who have already reached that point of contentment within themselves, it can feel preachy or patronising, or like you'll never reach that place they're at. This book offers the tools you actually need to get there, with a healthy dose of love and support.

It honestly made me feel so uplifted and empowered, and I've already passed it on to one of my friends.


No Way Back, Kelly Florentia
Published:…

Urbano 32, Chester

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I've found a new favourite lunch spot!

Each time we've wandered into town since moving to Chester, Urbano 32 has caught my eye. Yesterday, we finally tested it out.

Specialising in amazing sourdough pizzas, and also offering a great range of drinks and antipasti dishes, it was easy to see why it always seems to be busy when we walk past.

The menu hits that perfect balance of offering plenty of options without being overwhelming, and the menu is written in a friendly style on plain brown paper.

The interior of the restaurant has a bit of a warehouse feel, with metal piping holding the lightbulbs and lots of wood and brickwork on display. The outdoor seating proves very popular on sunny days like yesterday.



We ordered two pretty different meals to sample a wider portion of the menu, and both meals were a hit.

To drink: 1 x apple juice, 1 x apple and mango juice

To eat:
1 x tomato, mozzarella and basil sourdough pizza (mine, of course!)
1 x king prawn skewers with a side of roast…

The Recipe Post #16: Naan pizzas

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You know when people make a homemade version of a takeaway or unhealthy favourite and claim it tastes better or as good as the original?

I usually roll my eyes at those claims, but I've found something which, while it tastes different to the traditional recipe, is still so satisfying and definitely fits the craving.

Naan bread pizzas are now one of my go-to meals if I need something quick and simple, and I wish I could just eat a pizza.

While it's not necessarily 'healthy', it's a lot better for you than plenty of store-bought pizzas, and you know exactly what you're putting into your sauce.




I combined a naan pizza recipe from food.com with an easy pizza sauce recipe from allrecipes.co.uk, played around with the quantities, and here is the result:


For the sauce, you will need:
90g tomato puree
2.5 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper
1/4 tbsp each oregano and basil
1/4 tsp rosemary
up to 150ml water

Mix well the puree and oil, then add garlic, …

Hello, September 2017... and a Warrior Women challenge

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Well, here we are again. The first of another new month, and September will always feel like the start of a new year to me.

As each year passes and I move further from my school days, I can't shake that September feeling and the need to buy some new stationery.

I'm not really sure what happened to August.

Now well over a month since moving, we are settling into routines.

The weeks feel a bit more familiar and patterns are starting to emerge.

Now the work on meeting people and joining new things has begun and will continue to go on.

I'm going to treat this September a little like it IS a new school year.

I'm going to make friends.

I'm going to throw myself into some new clubs or hobbies.

And I'm going to push forwards, not look back.


For all these reasons, September seems the ideal time for a little challenge.

A short while ago, Warrior Women Worldwide was born, created by Ginny Coates and Zoe Hale, with the aim of 'empowering women to live authentically tow…

My journey to exercise

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It's no secret to anyone who knows me that there's been a pretty big new addition into my schedule over the last few months: exercise.

I've never been someone that 'worked out'. I didn't like P.E. and Games at school, I wasn't on sports teams (apart from the rounders team in Year 7) and I wouldn't choose to go out for a run or even a walk.

I've dabbled in certain things over the years - horse riding when I was about seven, a long-ish stint of swimming at primary school and short phases of becoming obsessed with a particular workout video, but nothing really stuck.

The one thread that ran throughout, certainly since the beginning of high school, was dancing. That kept me moving, and walking to and from school and university did the same, but it was one particular type of movement and exercise, and by the time I left university that had pretty much stopped, too.


I think my story is a fairly common one: I didn't enjoy the 'conventional' tea…

Got a goal? Just drink more water...

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Just a quick check-in today to update you on another change I've really been focusing on for the past few months as a part of the whole mental and physical overhaul 'journey' I've found myself on.

Today's topic? H2O.

Water.

Drinking more water is probably one of the most common pieces of advice you hear if you're trying to improve your health in any way.

Want clearer skin? Drink more water.

Want to sort your digestion? Drink more water.

Want to stop constant snack cravings? Drink more water.

Want to lose weight? Drink more water.

It's the tip we all roll our eyes at and then carry on with our day.


Water has never been something I've thought too much about, as I've actually always been fairly good at drinking it.

Granted, part of that may be because my drinking options are limited - I don't drink hot drinks, alcohol, fizzy drinks... you could count the drinks I'll go for on one hand.

I've never been one of those people who 'doesn'…

The Reading List #44

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It's that time again and I've been reading SO much recently I feel like these posts might be popping up more and more often.

The Reading List series is a collection of posts that collate mini reviews on the things I've been reading recently, which is usually a complete mixture of fiction and non-fiction and different styles and genres.

Here's the latest collection:


Awaken the Giant Within, Tony Robbins



Where do I begin? I've heard of Tony Robbins many times, but hadn't picked up any of his books until this particular one was recommended by my personal trainer a couple of months ago. Awaken the Giant Within is about recognising your potential and taking action. It's about the fact that you can make whatever you want to of your life, you just need to set goals and work towards achieving them.

This book is so practical, regularly making you stop to make lists and complete other tasks. These tasks range from examining your deepest desires to analysing your emoti…

Recognising gratitude and pride

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I wrote not long ago about the fact I've spent the last 6-12 months introducing new daily rituals into my life to help my mind and my body. That post was specifically about reading for 30 minutes a day.

Today's post is about possibly the most transformative step I've added into my daily routine: using my pride and gratitude journals.


The first addition to my days was my gratitude journal. Journals, plural, because I've filled a whole notebook and I'm onto book number two.

Widely known to be a beneficial daily practice, I'd heard the idea of gratitude journals and gratitude lists many times, but not actually done anything about it.

When I was really unwell last year, I kicked myself into gear and decided it was time to start working on changing my attitude away from negativity and towards gratitude.

I use a plain notebook (because I'm not a fan of being told how to structure my thoughts!), and simply write the date with five bullet points beneath it.

It take…

What yoga has taught me... so far

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On hearing I was moving home for a period after a particularly tough struggle with my mental health, a friend of my dad's offered a gift I had no idea would have as much impact as it did.

She's training to be a yoga instructor, and suggested to my dad that she spend a little time with me, if I wanted to, to start learning a bit about yoga.

I jumped at the offer, having been told so many times it would be 'good for me', but was unsure what to expect having dabbled in it before and not been hit by the love for it others claim to have.

Like any practice though, it takes time, effort and learning to reach that place where yoga begins to truly impact your life.


The biggest thing I learned is that it's so much more than nice poses... in fact, mastering the positions was one of the least important parts of the lessons I learned.

Week after week, she gave up her time to visit me at home and spend about an hour to an hour and a half doing one-on-one yoga sessions with me. E…

Hello, August 2017

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I love looking back at these posts to reflect on where my head was at at the beginning of previous months and years, so I need to keep on top of them!

Hello, August.

Already.

Time flies etc etc etc...

It really does, though, doesn't it?


Only a short post today as there's one, big thing that has changed since 1st July... the house move!

New home, new city, new chapter.


I've fallen in love with the new flat and am just feeling incredibly grateful for the people I'm surrounded by and proud of the progress I've made so far this year.

All the essentials are now sorted for the flat, and I'm getting into a routine, continuing all the practices that have been helping me so much, such as yoga, exercise and running.

The next step is to start to get involved in things outside of the home. The first plans are to hunt down a boxing class, a yoga class and a church... and maybe another running group to add to weekly parkruns.


I can't wait to start to meet more like-minded…

Counselling via the NHS Part 3: Afterthoughts

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My last two posts have been about my experience being referred for and waiting for NHS counselling, and about my experiences at the sessions themselves. The third and final post in this mini series will be my afterthoughts.

I've rounded up ten thoughts that go some way to summing up my experience of receiving counselling through the NHS, and here they are:


It's no lie that mental health services in this country are massively under-resourced. Waiting times are far longer than any of the practitioners would like them to be, and longer than is ideal for anybody struggling with their mental health. However, when you do get the help, the support on offer can be incredible. I have all sorts of thoughts on things that could surely be done to hep improve the current way of doing things, but I'll save you from seeing them all here.You've got to be persistent. Unfortunately, not all GPs are as clued up as one another when it comes to mental health, and even those that are are so …

Counselling via the NHS Part 2: The sessions

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Having shared about the process of being referred for and waiting for NHS counselling, today I'm going to share some of my experiences of the sessions themselves. My final post in this three-part series will be my overall thoughts on the whole process.


Before my first appointment, I was scared.

Simple as that.

It's bad enough knowing you have to open up about your deepest thoughts with someone you've never met, but on top of that I get incredibly anxious about appointments in general, about going to a place I've never been before, and about the whole 'getting in an Uber to get there' thing.


My appointments were in the psychological services building of a local hospital a seven-minute car journey away from where I lived, and it was a hospital set in an old building in very open grounds. It didn't feel at all like a hospital, which made me feel more calm.

I signed in at reception and was directed to a waiting area, where there was a pile of questionnaires. Th…

Counselling via the NHS Part 1: The doctor, the referral and the wait

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One of the questions I've been asked the most by those close to me or by other people struggling with their mental health is what my experience of counselling has been.

I've been down both the private and NHS route, and by far the counsellor who transformed my thinking the most was the NHS worker I had 12 sessions with while living in Ilford, during the second half of last year.

I thought I'd share a bit about the experience in a three-part series, over the next three days:
Day 1: The doctor, the referral and the wait
Day 2: The sessions
Day 3: Afterthoughts

I hope this is helpful to anyone nervous about asking about help themselves, or those wondering whether this would be the right route for them.



My anxiety and depression journey has spanned about four years, and halfway through 2016 I hit one of my very lowest points, and really needed proper help. I was actually sent home from work one day as they were so concerned about me, and told not to return until I had got prop…

Book Challenge 2017: Months 4-6

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Every three months, I'm sharing my progress with the Book Challenge, aiming to read a book a month, one from each of the given categories. I already read a lot, but I thought it would get me to widen my net a little. You can read my selected list from way back in January here, and the round-up of months 1-3 here.
Here are my reads from April, May and June.

April: A non-fiction book based on a popular or topical subject The Little Book of Hygge, Meik Wiking

'Hygge' was everywhere in the second half of 2016, and I was given a copy of this book for Christmas. Hygge is an atmosphere or experience, best described as feeling cosy, warm, comfortable, at home and in good company. A concept originally from Denmark, it's easy to see why the idea is such an appealing one. 
In this beautiful little book, Wiking explains what hygge means to him and to Danes in general, and provides tips to add a little more hygge into all aspects of life. I found it a really calming, comforting read,…

The Little Mermaid, NK Theatre Arts

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Last night, I headed back to The Forum Theatre, this time to see the latest offering from NK Theatre Arts' young performers: The Little Mermaid.
Having absolutely loved the adult group's recent production of Made in Dagenham, I was very excited to see the young people who are growing their skills within this tight-knit theatre family.
This show featured over 60 performers aged between 5 and 16, and yet again I was wowed. Having grown up doing musicals with similar groups, I know the time and dedication taken by the young people and also the whole team around them to pull off a show of this standard.
The Little Mermaid was a perfect choice of show, and one I've not seen on stage before. It's packed with great songs, has lots of group numbers, and there are many characters and roles, meaning lots of people get their 'starring moment'.
So much thought had gone into the staging, which immediately transported audiences to the watery depths of the sea, and the use of…

Turning 25

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A lot can change in a year.

Never has that applied more to my life than when comparing my 24th birthday to my 25th.


On 7th July 2016, I realised I really needed to change my life.

I had been temporarily signed off work due to my anxiety and depression, and I couldn't eat, sleep, speak, smile or function in a 'normal', day-to-day fashion.


On 7th July 2017, I realised how much my life has changed.

In fact, this week I'm making one of my biggest, most exciting moves to date, and BIG THINGS are happening that have put a massive smile on my face.

(Well, I've got an exam tomorrow but once that's out the way the smile will be glued back to my face!)


What's changed? You can read a bit of a summary I wrote back in February here, but it's been a year of counselling, meditation, yoga, learning to eat again, working out, learning about myself and learning who I need to be spending my time with.

It's been a challenging year in a lot of ways, as I've been lea…

Hello, July 2017

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So here we are at my favourite month of the year.

It's my birthday month, but that's not the only reason.

It's summer, people are excited about holidays, there's more going on, you can be outdoors more...

I think this year could be one of my very favourite Julys so far.

There's very exciting things to come, all of which will appear on here over time.

For now, let's just say big things are happening.

It's going to be a month of big change.

This time last year, I was trapped in my room, in my mind, in my unhealthy eating patterns...

This year, July brings change of the positive kind.

After a period of limbo and recovery, this month things begin to move forwards again, towards times that are putting a huge smile on my face.

Watch this space...


The Recipe Post #15: Chickpea and coriander curry

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This is one of my favourite go-to dinners.

It's quick to make and can easily be adjusted to use up any veggies that aren't going to be at their best for much longer.

I've made this for friends and family plenty of times, and it's also a great one for leftovers, when the spices have had even longer to combine and sit together.

I originally used a recipe from The Pool (one of my favourite websites ever, hands down), but as mentioned I now sort of throw together different variations based on the same core dish.


Ingredients:


1 chopped onion1tsp ground ginger (or small knob fresh, grated)1tsp ground coriander, plus some fresh1tsp ground cumin400g tin chopped tomatoes1 vegetable stock cube, dissolved in water2 garlic cloves, crushed1 red pepper, chopped1 courgette, chopped1 tin chickpeas, drained Fry the onion in some oil, then add in the garlic and spices for a few minutes.
Next, add in the vegetables (here I've used pepper and courgette, but plenty of other veggies woul…

Happiness Planner - My 100 Days

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I've been eyeing up people's Happiness Planners on Instagram for a while now, and my sister clearly read my mind, presenting me with my own on Christmas Day.
I waited to start until I had finished a couple of other journal-style projects I was working on, and dived into the first pages at the end of February.
I've now completed my '100 days to happy', so thought I'd share my experience with this beautiful little journal.


I haven't planned a structure to this, really, so I'll just put my thoughts under headings as they come to me...

Daily habit
One of the things I've been really working on is adding in little daily habits to my routine. I add one in, get used to it, then throw in an extra. That way, it's a little change at a time but they add up to have a big impact. I've written a post about my habit of reading for 30mins a day, and the rituals now also include meditation, foam rolling, and my pride and gratitude journals.
This was another of…