Friday, April 29, 2011

Rolling Back The Years

Feeling a bit 70's today, which puts me (according to the fashion press, anyway) on trend. I'm not usually big on following every trend as it comes out, and this was purely accidental- the jeans I always leave at home, a shirt I'm not planning to take back to uni with me and just needing my hair out of my face. But I like it.

Shirt, Tesco
Jeans, American Eagle
Vest (under shirt), H&M
Belt, Primark
This shirt remains a firm favourite, and what you can't see is that the jeans are almost (but not quite) flares. I thought I'd better get some shots of this, because I'm actually planning on leaving the house again today and have put make-up on (and everything!!).

I did end up watching bits of the Royal Wedding this morning. As Amy from Wolfwhistle said- I'm not really into it, but a bit like the world cup, I'm happy to go along with it. The dress was beautiful, the atmosphere in London seems to be lovely and it's nice to see something good happening.

Like my 70's look? Watch the Wedding? Think it was one big celebration or just another day?

P.S. Like the new name and design? Would love to know what you think of it.
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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Patience Is A Virtue

I once again made it further out of the house than just the back garden today. Just to an appointment, but a whole 10 minutes worth or walking through town and 10 minutes back again. For this momentous occasion, I thought it might be best to put some make-up on and cover a bit more of my flesh so as not to scare too many of the Easter tourists.

I'll Sleep When I'm Dead vest, Topshop
Purple Vest, Stradivarius
Martha Jeans, Topshop
Exciting? No. Comfy? Yes. I think I probably need to take in the Nightshirt/Vest as I currently can't really wear it any other way than tucked in to something. I think a slimmer line on it will look better untucked.

I'm also liking my hair like this, with the front parts pinned back and out of the way I'm not fighting the constant battle of having to tuck it behind me ear or it being pulled back too harshly. It's been years since I've worn it this way, but being as I have some cute little pins from Primark (see below) I thought I'd put them to some use.



Pearl/Diamonte, Primark (several years ago)
Flower, Primark (part of a set of 3 inc a heart and a bow, last year)
And I couldn't resist showing you these earings up close. I've had them a couple of years (I think) and they were a gift from my grandparents, who have excellent taste. They're a little on the heavy side, so if I wear them in the day, I tend not to wear them for evening and visa versa, but I love them as I think they're beautiful and can be worn with just about anything.

Gift from Grandparents


And I couldn't not show you my lunch from yesterday, mainly because I enjoyed it so much. It's just left over salad from the night before, with some cold meat (Duck and Ham) left over from another meal, some home-made (by my grandmother) Peach and Chilli Chutney, beetroot and lots of black pepper, but YUM!

SALAD FREAK!
Lastly, thanks all of you who've commented to say you like the new name here at Chloe Likes To Talk. I'm definitely feeling a bit more me, blogging under this title and a bit of a re-design is to follow, but for now, I'm just using a good ol' Blogger template until I can get it how I want it. All tips on creating a unique header would be warmly welcome (I have virtually no idea how to use html, the "Add CSS" bit of the Blogger design tab or anything technical really).

Cx
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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Introducing

I've been thinking about a bit of a change of name for the blog for quite a while. Originally I started of mostly blogging about fashion in an observational way, but as I've continued, Fashion Junkie became a mix of What I Wore, Food, Adventures and all sorts of other things. And so after writing earlier this week, I finally found a name that I think suits me and my blog. Welcome to Chloe Likes To Talk.

And I do, by the way!

Let me know what you think, and what else you'd like to see here. I'd also like to have a bit of a revamp of the design, but one thing at a time.

Cx
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Monday, April 25, 2011

Sweet Easter

Happy Easter to you all, one set of Bank Holidays down, one more to go and just THIRTY EIGHT days until I finish uni. There is the small matter of finals first, but I'm choosing to bury the thought of those in the mountain of revision I've been doing this break.

I've been a little absent and I wish I could tell you I've been doing exciting things, but mainly, it's just been revision.

At least it's been warm enough to revise on the patio. Hello start of a suntan....
Wednesday I took the day off, because The Guy had his day off too. We did quite a lot, considering we had planned to do exactly nothing- we barbecued, ate more red meat than is good for anyone, but we also had a go at making some Alcoholic Ginger Beer. We got the idea having seen it on River Cottage when channel hopping, and found the details on here on the Channel 4 website. We made ours in 1.5 litre bottles as opposed to 2 litre bottles, but we forgot to scale down the sugar so it turned out a bit sweet. We also put in way more ginger and lemon (probably double the recommended) and found it was only just enough to give a good flavour. But we're definitely going to have another go, bearing these tweaks in mind. The beauty of this recipe is the simplicity and ease and that you only need to leave it for 48-72 hours.


Brewing nicely...
 Having sampled it yesterday, we found the best way to avoid the sugar overload was to put a decent slug of vodka into it. Tasty, HELL YES.

I worked through the rest of the week including Good Friday and Saturday, and The Guy came to join me on Saturday evening ready for a us to do our best impressions of sloths on Sunday.

 Despite not planning anything for Easter he came through the door with this...


For those of you who haven't seen it, this is Simon's Cat. My Simon's Cat. You can see Simon's Cat antics (including the latest film "Hop It") on YouTube and on his very own website. Admittedly, there were 3 bunnies, but I took this after having eaten one (I did share!) on Easter Sunday. The Guy is adamant that he's not sweet. I disagree. It's one thing to buy someone an unexpected parcel of Lindt Bunnies, it's quite another to spend time making something like this "just because I wanted to see you smile..."

I can't really keep the whole platform, but Simon's Cat is now watching over my desk, making sure I get plenty of work done....


We ended up spending our Easter Sunday in the Garden, enjoying the sun. I read a book of my choosing in the language of my choosing, The Guy drooled over property sections of The Times. My dad makes pizzas on Sundays (a household tradition). They are beyond amazing- he makes the bases thin so they crisp around the edges, homemade tomato sauce with enough garlic to stop an elephant and then assorted veg, sometimes a bit of seafood or sometimes chorizo, chunks of buffalo mozarella and sometimes a bit of feta or goats cheese. Plenty of oregano and black pepper over the top. DROOL. And so we ended our day with a wine and Pizza. Perfection. I hope you've all had a great weekend and enjoyed extra time off if it's something you've had.

Also, a quick heads up for you. Nica Handbags currently have a voucher on Groupon- £30 to spend on their website for just £10. What are you waiting for....?

Finally, thank you to everybody who has read and/or commented on I'm Not Afraid. To Take A Stand. It's something that means a lot to me, and a topic I feel is important.
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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I'm Not Afraid, To Take A Stand.

Recently, I decided to get brave. I decided that it wasn't ok to keep quiet about bullying. And following the response to I'll Tell On You, I was really quite overwhelmed. Overwhelmed not just by the words of kindness from people I've never met but by the number of you who have experienced bullying. Not just at school but as adults in work, at university and at the hands of those that we are conditioned to believe won't hurt us.

Of those people, 3 stood out as having stories that I wanted to share. They stood out because despite their setbacks and their experiences, they are talented and interesting people who understand the value of human kindness and are not afraid to share it. So with massive thanks to Bee and to Ayden and to Michelle for not being afraid, for taking a stand against the people in this world who think it's acceptable to be mean, cruel or unkind. Because these are the people who remind us that the there's more to life and more to people.

Bee

Here it goes:
1.What are your experiences of bullying- what age were you, what form did it take, where did you experience it? I experienced bullying in the workplace at the age of 18 whilst taking a 'gap year' due to health reasons. It was a new environment for me, a new start and a new lease of life. Or so I thought. I won't go into my exact position or location, as I feel that's unnecessary, but I will say that it was at a holiday camp. A holiday camp that, ironically, has been voted as one of the best places to work by its employees. Many people forget that bullying can take many forms focusing on the impact of physical bullying before even contemplating other ways. For me, I experienced verbal and, in some cases, mental bullying.

2. Did you find a resolution to the problem, if so how? If it's ongoing do you have a coping strategy? Perhaps stupidly, my resolution to the problem was to run away...to be done with the situation as soon as possible. Obviously, I'm not saying I should've dealt with it but I think I should've perhaps tackled the situation first before leaving. At first, my coping strategy was to just stay away from the person involved. I kept quiet and kept low. However, this didn't really work in the long run. No matter what I did, the situation didn't seem to resolve itself.

3. What would be your best advice to anyone in a similar situation?  My advice to anyone coping with bullying in the workplace is to speak to the HR department. They might be able to deal with the situation, talk to the person in question or move you to a different department. Secondly, speak to your loved ones about it and get their opinions. There's no need to suffer in silence. If you are feeling threatened by anybody don't think you should keep it to yourself. My overall advice is the following: remember that no amount of money is worth feeling less of a person than you know you are.

4. How would you handle a situation that had the potential to escalate to bullying now? I think I handled it in the best way for me. I 'suffer' from something called Crohns Disease which is worsened my stress. Therefore, I had to just get out of the situation in the quickest way possible in order to keep my health on track. I'd probably say that if I were to experience a similar situation now, I would make sure that, upon leaving, the person knew exactly why I was leaving and why they can't behave the way they did.

5. How do you define bullying?
 I think bullying is a difficult word to define simply because everyone seems to have different opinions/experiences. Personally, I believe that bullying is a series of acts/behaviours that makes one feel threatened/upset in any way.


Ayden

1. What are your experiences of bullying- what age were you, what form did it take, where did you experience it?
I have experienced bullying at 4 times in my life, I'd say. The first time was with a 'best friend' in primary school (which led into high school) the second time was with my boyfriend when I was in my teens, the third time was with a 'friend' at university, and the fourth time was in the last year or so in the workplace. The saddest thing of all is that in 3 out of the 4 situations, which were all at different stepping stones in my life - the bullying was being done by people close to me. People who I thought cared about me. So I could justify it as them being over protective, and their harsh opinions meant they only wanted the best for me. I also blamed it on my character, was it something that I was doing that ended up turning the person close to me against me like this. It was only years later, that I took a step back and realised that the situation with my best friend, and then my boyfriend, was definitely a form of bullying. So when I hit a similar situation at university and then in the workplace once I graduated, I was a bit thicker skinned and was able to deal with differently (or actually just deal with it in general)

2. Did you find a resolution to the problem, if so how? If it's ongoing do you have a coping strategy? 
I never found a resolution to the bullying with the best friend in my younger years, and then with my boyfriend in high school. Both situations, when thinking of them now, make me want to slap myself for being so stupid. I was always a worrier as a little girl, a complete walkover, and a people pleaser. I cared far too much about what other people thought of me, and was never hesitant in putting someone else's happiness before my own. I just wanted to make people happy. These two people knew how to wrap me around their little fingers. It is pretty upsetting/humiliating to think back on, and when I've told newer friends and my current boyfriend of what I went through, they were shocked, they didn't get it. Well, neither do I to be honest. The only reason I am the 'get up and go' kind of person that I am today, is because I felt the biggest release and bout of freedom when I didn't have these two people in my life anymore. They were both like anchors, weighing me down. I have never experienced bullying from a stranger, it's always been from someone reasonably close to me. It was so intense, and when both of these people had finally drifted out of my life, I felt like I could take on the world.
But then, I faced a similar situation at university. One person who I worked closely with but totally knew how to get under my skin. So frustrated with myself, I knew exactly what was happening. Yet I still let them play their games (and also play me like putty in their hands) Again, always questioning myself. Its funny how when it comes to bullying we always question ourselves. No matter how 'textbook' or not the bullying situation may be - its always a case of 'why don't they like/accept me, what have I done to deserve this, why don't they just treat me like the next person cause I'm not so different from them' I cried a lot, I'll admit that. But then one day I realised that maybe its not about US. Maybe its about them. In fact, it definitely is about them! They are the one with the problem! This person had no reason to be jealous of me, and to take their shit out on me. But our uni bred a very competitive environment (one which I tried to steer clear of) So they still took their insecurities out on someone they knew they could. That person was me, and no one else in my year. They knew no one else would take their shit.

3. What would be your best advice to anyone in a similar situation?
I guess in time I got a bit better at standing up for myself, and letting someone know when they've said something out of line. I hate telling someone I'm annoyed at them, and really hate any sort of confrontation in general. Obviously the bully knows they are getting to us, but its not very often we let them know they are. As if showing it would be a sign of weakness - but I'm starting to think it can work as quite the opposite. Instead of never reacting, and having a cry to myself at night, I started snapping back (completely out of character for me) Walking away during one of their rants, leaving the room when they entered etc. Real playground stuff I know. I played them at their own game but I wouldn't say this advice is for everyone (and to be honest I was crapping myself because I had never fought fire with fire before) But in this case it worked. We graduated, hugging and drinking champagne together. I don't hold grudges, and although I'll never forget how horrible they were to me, I'll move on with my head held high and know that I will NEVER let anyone get under my skin like that again.

4. How would you handle a situation that had the potential to escalate to bullying now? 
I started to feel this horrible way again in a certain workplace a while after I had graduated. Because I am self employed, and working in the film and TV industry - it's a very bitchy and competitive environment. I always made sure I was a great worker, and a very friendly person to get along with. In this industry, you're only as good as your last job and your reputation is pretty much the only legs you have to stand on. Because I am young, I also wanted people to take me seriously. So I always tried really hard to be a nice, genuine person, to get on with folks and to work as best as I could. I encountered one person who I just couldn't win with. No matter how efficient, diligent, or likeable I tried to be - it wasn't enough. My confidence (which I didn't have much to begin with haha) started to get knocked. I just wanted to feel accepted, a part of the team (maybe clique is a better word!) and get a little bit of feedback that wasn't a grunt, a bitch or a very rude/patronising/obvious dig. I seriously began to doubt my career path - this person made me feel like I wasn't cut out for it at all. Which was insane, because I love what I do and even though I'm not the most talented person you'll ever meet, I'm a grafter and I get the job done to a brilliant standard! :( So I was mega upset and frustrated. But as soon as I saw the situation escalating, I lifted my head up and started to see that this bully was horrible to people twice their age - who had been doing the job a lot longer than this person had. They started to ruffle a lot of feathers, and knowing that this was just the persons (albeit horrible) personality trait, I was able to emotionally detach myself from the situation. It was still hard to not take things personally, but looking at the bigger picture helped me handle things better, and almost put an invisible barrier up between me and the bully.

5. How do you define bullying?
Bullying takes on so many shapes and forms, and for various reasons including race, to culture, to disability, to beliefs, to gender, to sexuality... and other kinds of discrimination. But I guess it's just any situation in which someone has been made to suffer for being themselves :( Thank you for reading my story, everyone's is different - just please don't let it happen to you.

Michelle

1. What are you experiences of bullying: what age were you, what form did it take, where did you experience it?
Awful as it sounds, I can recount being bullied as far back as my early days at primary school. I spoke very poor English when I started at primary school, at 5 years old and only remember constantly being pushed over by a group of girls in the year above me. I didn't recognise it as bullying until one of the teaching assistants noticed, and asked a group of girls (some of whom I am still good friends with now) to look after me and play with me.

I was also bullied consistently throughout secondary school. I was the only one in Year 7 who didn't know anyone else, the others all had friends from their primary schools. This time it was much more verbal, and more group-involved, in that the girls would enlist 'help' from their friends in the year above to belittle me. One time they threw snowballs with stones in the middle at me, smashing my glasses and which ended with me in the Medical Room. The teachers didn't help me at all, despite me confiding in my form tutor, and it never stopped, even in my final year, although by that time, I had a close knit group of friends who stopped me from caring too much.

The bullying stopped, thankfully, while I was in college, only to start up again while at University. It was quite subtle, but living with the bullies (they were my flatmates) meant I knew it was happening again. They would bitch about me and my friend - also a flatmate - with the doors open, so that I'd overhear, and all exit the kitchen whenever we went in there. They also often asked me questions to make me feel awkward and inadequate as well. I feel as if this was because I study Writing Fashion and Culture - they often made snide remarks about the fashion aspect of it all, assuming I was a 'bimbo' and never bothered to get to know me at all.

2. Did you find a resolution to the problem? If so, how? If it's ongoing, do you have a coping strategy?
I never found a way to stop the bullying. I think the difference came when I just stopped letting it get to me. I'm lucky to have found a close knit of friends at each school who helped me to grow in confidence and it slowly meant that the bullies just didn't bother, because they didn't get a reaction from anymore.

3. What would be your best advice to anyone in a similar situation?
Last year, I coped by realising I was the bigger person. To anyone in a similar situation, being patronised or bullied in an adult capacity, I would definitely advise you to tell someone, whether it be a friend, a parent or even a colleague. Sharing your worries and problem is another step to stopping them completely, and they are quite likely to have the confidence, if you don't, to take the steps on your behalf to having something done about it.

4. How would you handle a situation that had the potential to escalate to bullying now?
I think I would just bite the bullet and sit down and speak to them about it. I'm guessing you mean 'the potential' in that the bully has already started making comments or the like, but if you spoke to them and asked why they were acting like that, the problem can be stopped. I've always been told that bullies are insecure, and bullying gives them confidence, so find a way around that :) The worst that can happen is that they laugh in your face (hello, immaturity!) or they feel stupid about the situation.

5. How do you define bullying?
I define bullying as being made to feel inequal to a peer. Being threatened, patronised, pressured or made to feel inadequate is all classed as bullying from a personal view.

A little bit from me

I've given a lot of thought to how I define bullying over the last few weeks. I came to the conclusion that bullying is the act of deliberately making some unhappy or hurting them for your own pleasure or agenda.

Being bullied left me doubting my abilities, my character and it left me feeling like a weak person with nothing to contribute. Until I realised that it is wrong. It is just so wrong that those who think it's ok to make others unhappy should get what they want. And after that I realised that there are so many other people out there who've been through something similar. And if we can all be brave enough to share that, and to remind the world that it is not acceptable, maybe there will be those who think twice before they open their mouths or slam a door in future.

This is me saying that I am not afraid. That I will take a stand. This is also me saying thank you for all the kindness, support and loveliness that I have encountered.



My hope is that anybody reading this will think about how they are treated by others and how they treat them in return. I also want, as these wonderful ladies have shown, to prove that being bullied does not make you a lesser person. And even more than that, it's ok to talk about. Yes we're adults. No, it's not nice. But bullying happens to us too.

With HUGE thanks once again to Bee, Michelle and Ayden for joining me in taking a stand, and for their help. You are, all three of you, inspirations.
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Monday, April 18, 2011

In The Pink

A little outfit post. There aren't many of these to be had at the moment given that I'm mostly sat at my desk, revising during the day, and imitating a sloth on the sofa at night. The furthest I generally make it of a day is for a quick run. I did, however make it out on Saturday. With family visiting, we headed out for lunch, which you can see here, and this is what I wore.


Jacket, New Look
T-Shirt, ASOS
Jeans, H&M
Necklace, DKNY
 This combo actually looked a whole lot more flattering in "real life", the photos make me look a bit heavier and a bit more dumpy than I actually did. I'm still really enjoying being able to wear a lighter coloured jacket now the weather is starting to improve a little and the pale pink/navy combination is nice without being too obvious or too girly, helped by a blazer.

I've long been a fan of a simple blazer. They smarten up a jeans and t-shirt look so easily, and are so versatile for both work and play. This one I bought to wear for a wedding last year and it's proving to be a spring go-to this year.

Fan of the blazer or too much of a reminder of your school days?
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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Food Fanatics


Clockwise from Top Left

Slow roasted cherry tomatoes in garlic olive oil

Remnants of the shared starter platter

More Remnants, we made short work!

The plate that has been demolished by Dad

Clockwise from Top Left

Scampi and Squid, shared by my Dad and I

Ploughman's also shared by Dad and I

The Nibbles starter pre-devastation-including sausages, slow roasted cherry tomatoes, spiced horseradish, hummus, smoked mackerel dip, beetroot pickle, cauliflower fritters, curry mayo and crisp breads

Ploughman's close up- Molasses smoked ham, Quails scotch egg, pork pie, Sandham's Lancashire cheese, picallili, chutney, pickled white cabbage and fresh bread
A round up of the main courses, clockwise from Top Left

Baked Omlette

Lancashire Cheese on Toast served with crispy streaky bacon

Scampi and Squid

Ploughman's
My family are what you might call food fanatics. With 2 Master Chefs of Great Britain, former hotel owners, a hotel manager, and within that lot 2 sommeliers, a winner of 2 AA Rosettes, the man responsible for the winning of the Egon Ronay Cheese Board award and winners of the Sicilian services to food award. We don't map Europe (or the world for that matter) by country, language or culture but by food.

With visitors this weekend, thoughts turned to meals and lunch out was decided as the plan. We visited a local Gastro-pub type place, the owner of which is quite well known for his Michelin Starred restaurant in Lancashire. And the food was good. Although now, we're all in a food coma, wishing we'd eaten less, and wishing fervently that we weren't all quite so food obsessed that dinner for this evening is already semi-prepared and probably more food than any of us really need to be thinking about.

I wish I could say this was a one off, but only 2 short days ago, I had another foody day. Although this one had considerably less volume.

Prosciutto Salad with homemade garlic, mustard and lemon dressing

Mushrooms on toast with LOADS of black pepper
We had people in painting on Thursday, and because of this I was ousted from my usual work space at 8am sharp. My way of making up for this? Hauling my books downstairs and indulging in mushrooms on toast for breakfast, and getting at the prosciutto before my Dad did at lunchtime. Both meals almost made up for the early start and MOUNTAIN of revision I'm currently trying to get through.

Apologies for the food overload, and some of the pictures which were taken on my phone. Are you a foodie or would you rather be perusing the shops? Anyone else having major foods coma this week? Please say it's not just me...
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Friday, April 15, 2011

Junkie Lust #6

After a beautifully sunny summery weekend, the rain has returned here at home and I'm back to wearing a cardigan and scarf to maintain some kind of reasonable temperature. Cue much excitement chez Fashion Junkie upon the arrival of a summer supplement to the La Redoute Catalogue.

With my holiday now just 58 days away my thoughts are turning to summer clothing. I've been on a demi-clothing ban of late due to not really knowing what my situation or location is going to be in the coming 6 months so I'm quite looking forward to having a great excuse to shop.

I find that La Redoute can be a hit and miss. Some of their basics are a better quality than I manage to find on the rest of the highstreet and if you're looking for a piece that not everybody is going to be wearing, but I also find some of their pieces are a touch over priced for the quality of fabric.

All this said, the summery supplement got me quite excited. They have some great looking bits and pieces. Here are my favourites for one major Junkie Lust.



Clockwise from Top Left

Trousers £31.50 (down from £45)

Leather Flipflops 17.50

Linen Dress £39

Sequin Vest £21


Like my picks? Getting excited about summer clothes or still struggling against the rain and the wind?
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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Inspirational Strawberries

When I said "inspirational strawberries" I'm sure many people thought I really had completely lost the plot (truth be told I probably have...) but get a load of these


Aren't they fabulous? These beauties belong to a fellow student in our department. It would appear that not only is Miriam a talented linguist who speaks French, German and Spanish, but she also has a steadier hand than I could ever hope for.

Having been inspired by Nail Art on various blogs, and realising how much information, how many tips and how many tutorials there are out there, I've been feeling rather inspired to have a go at something with my own nails for a while. But when I saw Miriam and her Strawberries last week, I knew these needed to posted.

I hope you love them as much as I do, and Thank You Miriam, for agreeing to let me post them.
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Monday, April 11, 2011

A Place In The Sun, A House In The Country

It's been back to reality with a splash today as we woke to rain, wind and grey skies. I hope you've had at least some of the beautiful weather I've been enjoying this weekend.

I finished university for a 3 week Easter break on Friday, something I was pretty happy about and because I had the afternoon free before catching my train, I hit the beach with a friend and one of her housemates. To say it was pleasant to be able to walk along the beach, barefoot, without a cardigan or jumper would be an understatement.


Clockwise from top left:

View from university window as I was walking out at lunchtime on Friday

Meet Nia. Nia has a thing for tennis balls and lives with my friend Mel.

Nia was quite excited by the beach.

Flowers on my wander. I couldn't resist the colour.
It was a pretty perfect way to spend the afternoon before spending 2 hours on a rammed train heading to meet The Guy for our weekend and a fab way to relax after what had been a pretty heavy going couple of weeks. And the weekend just got better from there. I could not have asked for a more perfect way to start my break.

As you might know from my post Be Right Back, I headed down to Herefordshire and Hay-on-Wye to stay with my grandparents for a couple of days before heading home. The Guy and I were both looking forward to a couple of days off before a more normal routine of work and revision kicked in at home, and we were granted just that.

My Grandparents live in a house which stands on the grounds of a larger property with some of the most beautiful gardens I've seen. Although the gardens of the property are open to the public, they are rarely disturbed and my grandparents house is set a little away from the main parts of the property. To say the location is stunning, doesn't even begin to cover it and the glorious sun with all its warmth only made it better.


Clockwise from top left:

A memorial to the son of the owners of the property who died in an accident. A peaceful and beautiful part of the grounds.

The main house, really beautiful and the owners are incredibly friendly.

A stream runs right through and around the part of the gardens. Pathways, stepping stones and benches all make the most of it.

The main house

Just a few of the beautiful flowers in the garden.
Aside the gorgeous location, we were well and truly spoilt by my grandparents. We were cooked for on Saturday evening, the Dinner Menu:

Parma Ham with salad and home made dressing

Butterflied Chicken breasts, lightly fried in breadcrumbs with herbs and garlic, home made chickpea and vegetable fritters, grilled aubergine slices, char grilled peppers, sauteed potatoes and salad

Home made baked chocolate cheesecake with strawberries and home made vanilla ice cream.

And not only did we get to eat all of this yummy food, we were not allowed to lift a finger in preparing or serving it, despite our best attempts to pitch in and help. Talking about anything and everything and catching up is one of my favourite ways to spend an evening, over a few glasses of wine and good food. It wasn't complicated, it wasn't hard work, it was relaxing, pleasant and all the things I love.

The Guy and I also spent a few hours in the nearby village of Hay-on-Wye on Saturday. Hay is famous for the literary festival that takes place there each year in early June. The festival is a brilliant day out with events that you can buy tickets for such as readings by authors, book signings, lectures and debates, as well as stalls selling books, crafts, fruit, food and music events too. During the rest of the year, visitors come to Hay-on-Wye for the selection of bookshops. There are specialist antiquarian bookshops, some of the best second-hand bookshops I've ever come across, and one of the largest bookshops in Europe too. For The Guy and I, this is pure heaven. I didn't buy any books, given I had to bring home so many for revision purposes, I thought it better not to, but The Guy managed to find 6 and paid less than a quarter of their RRP. Having had lunch outside at a small cafe in the village we headed back, and spent the whole afternoon sitting in the sun- The Guy with one of his new books, me with the fashion supplements from several newspapers, which Jill (I call these grandparents by their first names) had saved for me. As close to a perfect day as I could imagine.

The other absolute joy of this location is the lack of phone signal. Both The Guy and I have BlackBerrys and much as I love it for the ease of communication, forgetting it (and much of the outside world) existed for 2 days was amazing.

Have you all been enjoying the good weather? If you're not a fan of the warmer weather, what do you do to get away from it? And does anybody else love the feeling of being out of touch with the world for a few days?

I'm now off to catch up on all your blogs from the weekend, in between dealing with the washing an ironing, but keep an eye out for some inspirational strawberries later in the week....                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    
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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Be Right Back

I shall be a little absent this weekend. Several exciting things are happening.

First up, this time tomorrow, I'll be finished for Easter. This means I get to go home for 3 weeks, and I'm rather excited about that. I'm looking forward to a room that isn't white, sofas, being fed, and being withing 100 miles of The Guy. I'm not looking forward to my full time revision schedule, as finals start the week after I get back from Easter.

This weekend as I finish, I'm also paying a visit to my Grandparents, the ones you might have seen in a post from March. They live in house in the grounds of a really beautiful Mansion/Manor type house, and it's beautiful. They're also really close to Hay-on-Wye, famous for the literary festival held their each year and the sheer volume of bookshops- in other words, heaven!

So the next time you hear from me, I'll be at home and until then, have a great weekend and I look forward to showing you pictures from my weekend then.
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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Que Examenes? Was für Prüfung? Quel Examen?

T-Shirt, ASOS
Shorts, Primark
Tights, Charnos via Fashion Bandit
And it's back. The rain, the wind, the dark ominous clouds and therefore I feel justified in wearing tights again. Unfortunately I am now morning the loss of these tights, as some idiot caught the back of them with their shoes in the corridor and put a ladder in them. I will be looking for some replacements though, as although I might have been a bit late to the sheer party, but they've been brilliant for the colder, wetter spring days.

Now my last exam before finals has finished, it feels like a huge weight has been lifted and I'm almost (but just about resisting) counting the hours until leaving on Friday evening. I know lots of you will be finishing for Easter, anybody have wildly exciting plans? Anybody have any trips plannned? If you want a sneaky little preview of my Easter plans, come have a quick look tomorrow.
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Monday, April 4, 2011

Kickstart

Monday morning. 0845. This is the time I usually leave for my translation class, my first lecture of the week. This morning, it is the time I woke up, and only because I have my timetable programmed into my BlackBerry calendar, and the class reminder popped up. Fortunately for me, most of us discount the 10 past the hour start time for our classes and just show up on the hour- affording me the 10 minutes grace needed to pull on whichever clothes were closest and smear on something make-up like in attempt to appear semi human.

Martha Jeans, Topshop
T-shirt, ASOS
Cardigan, Primark
Bleary eyes, disturbed sleep.


It was certainly a kickstart to the morning, and although not my preferred way to start the day or the week, I was pleasantly surprised to be complemented by a couple of people when I arrived (5 minutes before my lecturer in the end) at my class this morning, proving that sometimes our first instincts are the best and reminding me how much I love simplicity.


Ok, so now I have to admit to coming home between lectures (the joys of German critical thinking await me this afternoon) and making a bit more effort with my make-up. I was intending to maybe change so I felt a bit more put together, but on reflection, decided to leave simplicity to speak for itself, given the complements of the morning.


Jeans, T-shirt and Cardigan as before
All Cosmetics, Bare Minerals

After posting yesterday (you can see the post here) about my experiences with bullying and asking what you think constitutes bullying as an adult, I've been more than a little overwhelmed at the kind words from you and the shared experiences. Thank you so much for the supportive words that reminded me that the world is not completely filled with selfish and unkind people, and thank you for being brave enough to share your own experiences. I will be following up on this particular issue, but I'd still like to hear you're opinions, I want to know how you define bullying as an adult, what can be done about it, and whether you think more could be done to speak out against those who think it's right, fair or just to enjoy making others miserable.

In the mean time, I owe big thanks to Mel- possibly my only female friend, for her words of kindness and for her diplomacy when stuck in the middle. To The Guy, who remains nameless here for our own reasons, but whose phone calls, BBM's, packages and support I'm not sure I could have gotten through the semester without. To my parents who always make time in their ridiculously busy schedules to check that I'm ok, and to remind me the end is in sight, . And to Michelle, Ayden, Bee, Caramella and The Fashion Bandit for their lovely words.
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Sunday, April 3, 2011

I'll Tell On You


Jumper, H&M
Leggings, Primark

First up, a weekend outfit. A weekend spent working towards the last exam of the semester before finals, and the last exam before Easter break. I could not be happier to be heading home for 3 weeks.

I think there are 2 distinct camps when it comes to leggings, the "Leggings are NOT trousers" camp and the "Leggings, great spring alternatives" camp. I've always fallen into the former, I feel overexposed, almost naked without something over the top of my leggings and because I often buy cheaper Primark leggings, they frequently wear through or bobble quickly. However, pulling on this jumper this morning, I didn't really feel like pulling jeans on, nor did I feel a desperate urge to wear a skirt with tights.

Now, the lighthearted things done, a question for you. What constitutes bullying?

As a child, I moved from the South East of England to the North West of England. I went from a mid-sized community primary school, a place I had friends and was getting on well despite having had academic setbacks due to eyesight problems, to a tiny rural primary school, where I stood out a mile as someone who had a different accent, didn't know anybody and didn't fit in. The next 4 years of bullying ranged from persistent name calling, and nasty mind games to pinching, kicking and being purposefully tripped or pushed over. School was miserable, I often felt lonely, and I didn't really know what to do about it.

My primary school experiences left me with difficulties making friends through secondary school, and changed the way I viewed people as a whole, but moving on to university, I felt sure that I had left behind the nasty name calling, horrid little mind games and those who take pleasure and amusement in others' misery. Bullying was something I thought of as belonging in school playgrounds or amongst teenage girls who know no better. Because after all, as a 21 year old woman, living with partial independence and preparing to make my way in the world of work, you can't really tell the teacher.

So here I am, 21 years of age, living with 8 others in halls of residence. on a daily basis my neighbours either side of me- people I once upon a time I called friends, purposefully slam doors because they know I can feel it through the walls and the floor, and find it disruptive when trying to sleep. They have loud conversations outside my door in the corridors in the early hours of the morning, turn the television to a volume at which I can tell which film they're watching or tv program they're following. On a regular basis, furniture is moved around in the early hours of the morning and when friends of theirs are here, I am able to hear them bitching about me, about friends of mine and a good number of other things. And all of this is interspersed with laughter should anyone mention that it might disturb people or be unfair to anybody living in the vicinity.

Where does one go, as an adult to put a stop to this? Slamming doors or turning up the television is not something that can be reported to campus security and it's not a crime to talk about others or move furniture around. But it was recently raised, after a particularly difficult day and night, that the nature of these actions, is in fact bullying. Nasty, unfair and childish mind games designed purely to make a person unhappy and give amusement to those who obviously have no sense of humanity or decency. But my question to you, is what do you think constitutes bullying? Do you agree that my situation could be considered bullying? Have you been in a similar situation yourself?

Now, lastly I have to say a Happy Mothers Day to my fabulous mum. I love her more than anything I can say or show here and I can't wait to see her next week. My dad also celebrates his birthday today, so Happy Birthday dad. My dad is a very special man and as one of my friends recently said "he's pretty awesome really, isn't he". Yes, yes he is.


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Friday, April 1, 2011

Cookie Monster

You might have seen the cookies I made last weekend, mainly because I was in need of something sweet and desperate to escape my desk for a while. I found the peanut butter cookie recipe on the BBC website via Google.

8 tbsp plain flour
2 tbsp caster sugar
2 tbsp crunchy peanut butter
1 free-range egg yolk
50g/1¾oz butter, softened

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
Place the flour, sugar, peanut butter, egg yolk and butter into a large bowl and mix together until combined to a smooth dough.
With lightly floured hands, break off evenly sized pieces of the dough and roll into walnut sized balls.
Place the dough balls onto a baking sheet lined with silicon paper or baking parchment and gently press each ball with the back of a fork to flatten slightly.
Place in the oven and bake for ten minutes, or until just turning golden-brown.
Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and allow to cool for ten minutes.
To serve, place on a serving plate and dust with icing sugar.

HOWEVER- I used more like 4 tablespoons of Peanut Butter and it was definitely needed as the dough was quite dry and crumbly. But these babies are another story....

Chocolate Chip Cookies
These I made for my lovely friend Mel, for her birthday, Happy Birthday querida, you're amazing and I couldn't ask for someone better to make cookies for.

Mel

Recipe:

250g butter , softened
140g caster sugar
1 egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla extract
300g plain flour

Mix the butter and sugar in a large bowl with a wooden spoon, then add the egg yolk and vanilla and briefly beat to combine. Sift over the flour and stir until the mixture is well combined - you might need to get your hands in at the end to give everything a really good mix and press the dough together.

This one came from the BBC Good Food Website and it's just a basic biscuit recipe, which you can have a play with and add to as you see fit. These ones have been brilliant, I LOVE them, and would definitely recommend as well as use again.

Happy Baking
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