Rants and Raves #5

And we’re mid-week! Hurrah! Can you believe it’s Christmas next week – as in next week? I’m pretty much in the “I love Christmas, it’s my favourite time ever” camp so I’m fairly excited right now. I know some people aren’t as keen on Christmas and it can be quite stressful, but I just really enjoy it – the atmosphere, family time, food (ALL THE FOODS), friends, music, films…I love it. Anyway, on to my rants and raves!

Rave: And on the theme of Christmas… Christmas jumpers! I’m a jumper lover and it really appeals to me on two levels: it’s Christmassy and it’s warm.

IMG_8781 From Matalan

Rant: Ben pretends he doesn’t like Christmas jumpers but I’m convinced there’s an excited little boy in there somewhere…

IMG_8789 From Tesco

I’m sure he loves wearing it really. But anyway, Christmas jumpers are amazing. It’s sad they’re only really socially acceptable around Christmas. And I lost my last jumper as I thoughtfully put it away last year…to an unknown location.

Rave: The gym! OK it is early days but I’m really enjoying the variety. I did (my gym’s version) of body pump, which isn’t the Les Mills one but is a very similar concept, at the weekend. The class worked on muscles that I had long been neglecting: shoulders, back, triceps, biceps, chest…it’s been a while. And my body made me full aware of that the next day as I was hobbling around like a 90 year old woman struggling with simple activities.

I also did a class called Pure Blast. It was 30 minutes of high intensity exercise. Basically you either sprinted on the treadmill or cycled madly on the bike for a set amount of time, then did a series of exercises like squats, burpees, sit ups, lunges, etc. before getting back on the bike. Non-stop for 25 minutes (5 minute cool down – or in my case, collapse on floor). This was followed by a core class which was run by the same monster guy. He did a very similar concept whereby you did a certain core move a set time and then moved quickly on to the next move. After peeling myself off the floor I realised I quite enjoyed it. My body didn’t know what had hit it – there was just so much variety!

Rant: My gym, I won’t lie, is one of the cheaper gyms (PureGym) but works brilliantly for me. It’s open 24 hours a day and has loads of different classes which are perfect for my schedule. It’s also massive so there’s never a chance of not getting a machine or set of weights. However it isn’t glamorous by anyone’s imagination and some people who go there (I am heavily generalising here as I know a lot of nice people who also go there) can be a bit intimidating and, for want of a better word, are a bit “rough” (I fully admit to to being a snob). This was proved as I came out of the gym and was cat-called by a bunch of guys also exiting. Me quickening up to get to my car just heightened their calling. Lovely.

Rave: Alfie. Need I say more?

IMG_8522 Alfie gives me hope that one day when I become a mother (*heart palpitations begin*) I will sink into the role easier than I think. I just love this fur ball more than words – even if he does decide to poo when his walk is 99% over and we’re well and truly past the poo bin.

Rant: OK this is something I’ve been meaning to post about. When Ben went to China (and Hong Kong) he asked me if there was anything I’d like him to bring back. I said some Chinese sweets as I was intrigued what they’d be like. Verdict?

IMG_8546 Not sweet at all. In fact, there were these so-called ginger sweets (actually I have no idea what they were called at all as the description is in another language) which blew my head off! The after burn was ridiculous. I was bitterly disappointed. You live and learn.

Rave: Hey check me out posting not one but two ‘outfit of the day’ photos in one post! I used to do this a while ago but then stopped because…well, I’m actually devoid of any style and my clothes are quite boring. But I was quite proud of this outfit. If you think it looks stupid/ugly, please don’t tell me as I want to continue to live in my fantasy world… 😉


Jumper from Matalan, skirt very old stolen from sister years ago, socks from River Island, necklace and boots I can’t remember (this is possibly another reason why I don’t post my outfit that often)

I much prefer summer to winter but winter does have the benefit of long boots and layering. And long socks! They were so toasty. Almost typed “tasty” (food is never far from my mind clearly).

Rant: Working from home is amazing. However deciding to “chance” doing an update on my computer in the morning before I started work was not wise.

IMG_8788 I started it at 8.30am and it didn’t finish until 1pm. I kid you not. I felt terrible because obviously I couldn’t do any work. My manager was aware and it had happened to someone else in the office the other day so it wasn’t really an issue. I pottered about doing chores and bits and bobs. I suppose you could say that’s a good thing – but I’m the type of person who when genuinely sick and can’t go to work is convinced they’ll think I’m lying or taking liberties. I hate people thinking I’m dossing about or not doing my job. I got what I needed to do done for the day though so it wasn’t too bad in the end.

Rave: I’ve done my one month free of Kindle Unlimited. I downloaded (for free) and read Thorn Birds (wowza is that an epic love saga or what! Slightly creepy as well) and the The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window (absolutely fantastic – very dry and sarcastic humour but this really appealed to me).

I also downloaded Life of Pi and Great Expectations as audio books and listened to these in the car on the way to and from work. I loved Life of Pi and really recommend it. I chose Great Expectations as I don’t think I’ve read a Charles Dickens before and thought I really probably should. It was over 11 hours long though!

I decided I was going to cancel my Kindle Unlimited account though as I didn’t think £7.99/month was worth it. I do read a lot of books but I usually aim for the cheaper ones and there wasn’t enough audio book selection to keep me interested there. This meant that I had to listen to Great Expectations quite often towards the end of the free month as when you cancel Kindle Unlimited they remove the Unlimited content from your devices. Though I’ve managed to duck this so far by not connecting my Kindle to WiFi (sneaky, sneaky), but for my phone (where I listen to the audio books) this was impossible.

Anyway long story short: I enjoyed Kindle Unlimited but I’d prefer to spend £7.99 a month at Audible where you get a free audio book from a huge selection every month. I did enjoy Great Expectations though – even if Dickens often decided to use 12 words when one would have sufficed.

Do you enjoy reading/listening to audio books? I love getting through twice as many books by using my ‘dead time’ when I’m commuting to listen to something.

Have you ever tried “foreign” sweets before? Generally I’ve had good experiences but I think this is because I’ve always had more “Westernised” sweets.

Are you a Christmas jumper lover or hater?

Rants and Raves #4

Do you know, I think I have a lot more raves than rants today. Surely this can’t be right, I’m British after all 😉 We do love a good moan! But what can be done, eh.

Rave: I’m working from home today which is always nice. Easy access to a fridge full of lovely food, warm house, comfy clothes (dare I say PJs? There’s something so wonderful about showering and then getting into clean, fresh PJs), Alfie and my very own makeshift standing desk.Standing desk

As I type this I’m standing, not slouching over my computer. I wish I had the nerve to create my own standing desk in the office but it really would look odd with no one else doing it. Ho hum!

Rave: And as you can see above, Ben bought a very jazzy looking Kenwood KMix. This is a very good sign for the possible baking ahead…I am EVER HOPEFUL!

And helps with my standing desk as well obviously 😉

Rave: Coming in to work on Monday to find an advent calendar from my boss! You just can’t beat a chocolate advent calendar. And my lovely mum bought me a new mug as well. But after the drama with my last mug, this one will be safely stowed at home in case it gets snagged.

Advent Calendar 2014

Rant: Do you know what beats chocolate advent calendars? Better quality ones! Clearly the Hello Kitty was not breaking the bank and consequentially the chocolate is indicative of this.

image Rave: Christmas! And Christmas parties and gatherings.

IMG_8578I have quite a few exciting events coming up which I’m looking forward to. Sadly not going to my work’s Christmas do as it’s midweek in London (actually it’s tonight) and it just seemed a bit of a faff. It’s sad because a lot of people have thought the same so not many are going. It’s so different from the other year’s AMAZING trip to Bruges. Well anyway I’m going to Berlin (again) this weekend to meet up with friends and visit the Christmas markets, Ben and me have a few different meals and evenings to go to and well it’s Christmas! Christmas music, food, cheer and festivities! I love it all 🙂

Rave: coconut oil! Having this big tub of it makes me a very happy Anna. This, along with a few other products, were sent to me to review from MyProtein (which will be in a future post).


And spoiler alert: I love it! But then you can’t go much wrong with coconut oil, can you?

Rave: Freebies from friends at work. A guy at work does a lot of cycling and his wife is starting to get into it too. They got some cycling shoes (the special clip-on ones) and they haven’t been working out for her so he gave them to me for free! I have no idea if they’re any good or not but at least they were free.

Cycling clip-on shoesJust need to get the special pedals (can you tell how much of a cycling dunce/newbie I am? All the gear and no idea…).

And that’s my lot. Obviously I could rant until the cows come home about still not running but I’m in an OK place. I have strength training to be getting on with and with going to Berlin this weekend it’s sort of good timing anyway (can anyone say that an injury is good timing???).

What are your rants and raves this week?

Rants and Raves #3

I’m feeling grumpy. It can’t be helped really. It’s Thursday, when really it should be Friday.

I don’t want to moan…but I will. Sorry. I’ll try not to just rant the entire post.

Rant: With Ben being away it is quite lonely at the moment at home. I get very set in routines when I’m on my own as well. Walk Alfie, cook dinner, watch TV, go to bed. Nothing exciting really happens. I’m used to having him there to joke and laugh with, or moan and groan at…depends on the day and mood really 😉

And with the 8 hour time difference it’s a struggle to keep in contact with him. Especially as with him being in China they don’t allow Facebook or Twitter, and I need to wait for him to get access to the limited Wifi in order to either WhatsApp or Skype. Humph.

Rave: Although saying that, with Ben not being here, this means dinner can be whatever I want it to be without having to worry if Ben will a) like it b) eat it.

Chickpea meal

Looks rather grim doesn’t it? But actually it was really tasty. I literally threw chickpeas, Brussels sprouts, courgette, onions, mushrooms and kale together with cream cheese and BBQ sauce. It’s just what I fancied. For me BBQ sauce and cream cheese are big winners.

Rant: perhaps ‘rant’ is too strong a word here…but Ben does make me laugh. He goes to Hong Kong and China and he eats… Italian. To be fair, he can’t go wherever he pleases as he’s with work colleagues but still. He ate Japanese one night which I suppose is at least that vague area of the world to some extent. Though he did tell me he had the strangest Hawaiian pizza which had a sweet dough with tomato sauce, tinned fruit salad, olives and cheese on it. I did say to him he’s probably better off actually eating the local food! *sighs*

Rave: Alfie is very loving at the moment as I’m the only one there. Despite Ben’s side of the bed being free, he still cuddles into me at night. My furry hot water bottle.

IMG_8446 But it also means I’m the one who has to clean up his sick when he wasn’t well the other day. This is usually very firmly a blue job…but currently no blue is here to help.

Rave: getting cool things in the post. I received a Fuelify goodie box which contained a lot of exciting products.

IMG_8459 A full review will be coming soon!

Rant/Rave: a mix of the two if you like. It’s no secret that I hate my commute. It’s a fair way from Southampton to Basingstoke and can take on average an hour (sometimes more) to work and then from work every single day. It grinds on me. Even when it’s plain sailing it still takes 40 minutes. To me this is absolute dead time. The radio is OK but I despair of BBC Radio 1’s Nick Grimshaw in a morning (I was a huge Chris Moyles fan – sorry non-Brits, basically Radio 1 sucks as the best DJ left a few years ago and now it’s run by a moron) and I’m not quite ready to switch to BBC Radio 2 (which is aimed at a slightly older audience).

Aaaaanyway, long story short, I’ve signed up to Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited (30 free days) as I saw they had audio books available too. I do read a lot as well on my Kindle, but thought while I drive I could listen to another book. Normally audio books are fairly hefty in price so I was pleased this was part of the deal. I decided to go for Life of Pi.

I’ve got the book on my Kindle but when I tried to read it I just couldn’t get into it. But listening to it is fantastic! In just over two days I’m 40% into it and it’s so good. I need to see the film as well now. Listening to it in the car just makes the journey zoom by as I get sucked into the narrative.

I’ve also downloaded Great Expectations to listen to next as I’ve never read it. I’m aiming for the more ‘dense’ books as I’ve found I can get into it easier than if I tried to read it. I’m still reading another book at the same time as well. Will see if I’m swayed by this Kindle Unlimited business by the end of the 30 days I think!

And that’s all I have in my current lonely, empty existence…well it’s not all bad. The house is extremely tidy and I’m only using one loo in the house (we have three) so that means only one bathroom needs cleaning this weekend! Wahay it’s the small things, right? 😉 I’m going to my parent’s house on Friday night for an Indian and staying over with Alfie so that should be good. Then really it’s just one week till Ben’s back! Hurrah!

What have been your rants and raves this week?

How do you cope when you’re alone in the house?

Do you listen to audio books?

Rant and Raves #2

There’s something rather cathartic about having a bit of moan at times, and also professing my love for stuff, which invariably includes some form of food 😉 I try not to be predictable…but why deny my nature, eh?

Rant: I love my husband (obviously) and I love that he’s really gotten into the whole baking lark. We bought loads of new cake tins and gadgets and we’re about to purchase the rather expensive (though heavily discounted because of Ben being an employee) Kenwood K-Mix. However I was led to believe that him baking would be a regular thing. He threw around the sentence “every other week” quite happily. Has this happened? No. And he’s off to China with work for a while so no homemade cake in the foreseeable future either. Good job I know a lot of afternoon tea joints near me otherwise times would be looking grim.

Rave: I love all these owl-themed things that are going on at the moment.Owls The top right is a necklace I got from Mango at the airport just before we went on our honeymoon, so it holds a special place in my heart (corny, yes I know). It’s a lovely long necklace which just goes with so many things. The necklace below is more delicate and sparkly and is from Accessorize. The top left is a cushion I found in a lovely trinket shop near to where I live. The bottom left is a hand-made Christmas tree decoration my parents bought for us as they know we are weird like owls. The bottom right is cake. I want that cake.

Rant: Garmin watches. Yes I expressed my love for all things “pace” a week or so ago but nothing irks me more than a Garmin that doesn’t find satellites. And standing in the cold at 5.50am waiting to find satellites is not what I call fun. I call that verging on hypothermia and looking like a creepy person loitering on a street corner. However, I have since found a way to combat this…

IMG_8394 This was Sunday morning – when the sun had actually risen at this point

By balancing my watch on our front door handle before a run means I can do some dynamic warm-up moves in the comfort and privacy of my own home while my watch takes its sweet time to get itself together.

Rant: The iPhone keyboard for typing texts. Maybe I just have fat fingers because honestly I never seem to be able to get a coherent sentence out via text.

IMG_8365 Me asking Ben if he was coming to parkrun on Saturday

I know I’m not the only person who struggles. I know we’re a lot better off than previously when we had to press each button like five times before getting the letter we wanted, but COME ON. Other phones do it better I’m sure.

Rave: Sweet popcorn hot chocolate.Popcorn hot chocolateLet’s ignore the number of chemicals undoubtedly present within this one mug and focus on the deliciousness that is this hot chocolate. It rocked my world. Normally I’m a mint hot chocolate kinda girl but I went crazy and tried a new flavour. It definitely paid off. Options hot chocolate, thank you. (FYI the salted caramel flavour is also pretty good).

Rave: I’m going with a double rave here rather than another rant as I’m all out of ranting. As I run stupid o’clock in the morning it is obviously very dark. I’ve been sent some truly fantastic running products made by Nathan Sports which make being seen a piece of cake. I’ll do a proper review another date, but so far I’m impressed!

IMG_8418 No excuses: don’t run like a Ninja – male yourself visible!

This is a handy little gadget (called the Light Spur) that you attach to your trainer and it lights up. It’s very bright and very easy to wear. I love running, but I do not love risking my life by not being seen when I run. Sometimes you can’t just rely on a high vis top.

[Disclosure: I was sent the Nathan Sports products for free to review, all opinions are my own though]

What are your rants and raves this week?

What’s your favourite hot drink? I love tea and coffee but I adore a hot chocolate in the evening.

Do you run in the dark? How do you stay safe?

Rants and Raves

I thought I’d do a little ranting and raving in this post of some of the thing going on around here lately.

Rant: walking Alfie at 5.30am when the weather is freezing. The weather has definitely realised it’s November now and it is COLD. I walk Alfie before I go running and whereas I have no issues with running in the cold (because really it’s only cold for 5 minutes) the pre-walk is horrendous. I’m half asleep, freezing cold and feeling really grumpy. During that 10 minutes of walking all those annoying voices in my head are having a field day persuading me to just go back to bed. So far I’ve been able to ignore them…

Rave: having friends who bring back treats from India!

IMG_8349 I’d love to pretend I know what each of these delights are but needless to say they taste amazing. They’re all sweet treats – some a bit like fudge, others just condensed sugary cakey things. The smell of them is incredible and I’m pretty sure each sniff is about 500 calories each 😉 Those bad boys won’t last long at all.

Rant: As I’ve been running on consecutive days in the morning things have become quite stressful to ensure I’m not late for work. This means getting up at stupid o’clock (aka 5.10am). I get dressed and ready, take Alfie for a walk and then run at about 5.50am. But do you know what’s most exhausting? Washing my hair after every run. So that’s shampooing, rinsing, conditioning, rinsing, towel drying, combing, blow-drying, combing and finally a quick straighten to tidy things up. Effectively my life is wasting before me because of my hair. In desperation I have sought another option.

Dry ShampooDry shampoo! Obviously I still shower, but not washing my hair after every single run means I actually gain back about 15-20 minutes of my morning (all important porridge eating time).

I’ve only used dry shampoo once before and it was ages ago when they were pretty much just white powder. Perfect for blondes but a disaster for any dark haired people like myself. If you don’t manage to comb it all out it can look suspiciously like dandruff. So I was chuffed to find a brunette-specific one.

After finishing a fairly easy run I forwent the hair wash and decided optimistically to just spray this stuff all over my hair. Big mistake. I probably should have been a bit more careful and less liberal because it took quite a long time to not look like my forehead and neck had been beaten up. And it sprinkled lovely dark dust all over our white sink. ARGH. So the time I saved from not washing my hair was spent washing my face and neck again and then cleaning the bathroom sink. I’m sensing I need more practice at this…

Rave: coconut water. Yes I know I’m so far behind the times and trends of the healthy living world but I am fully on board after winning a whole set of Naked coconut waters from Maria’s giveaway.

IMG_8336I pretty much keep one in the fridge at all times so when I get back from my run I have an ice cold coconut water to guzzle.

Rant: I subscribe to RunnersWorld magazine and really enjoy reading it. I often go on the website as well. Sadly the UK version of the site is far less comprehensive than the US version, hey ho, but that’s a rant for another day I think. No my rant for this is when I’m clicking on different articles suddenly a huge subscription advert will occasionally pop up.

RunnersWorld Subscription AdvertAnd to escape from it you have to click “No thanks, Marathons are easy”. This annoys me. It’s similar to that subscription advert for one of the women’s fitness websites too but that was about getting the a “bikini body diet plan” or something similarly pathetic and you had to click “no thanks, I already have a perfect body”. Awful.

I’m already hacked off that you interrupted my reading pleasure, RunnersWorld, but don’t get all cocky with me with you cheap digs. And speaking of annoying, RunnersWorld is also notorious for having adverts at the top of the page so if you ACCIDENTALLY scroll briefly over it your screen becomes submerged once again with guff you didn’t choose to see. Way to go at annoying your readers!

Whew always feel a bit better after a good rant 😀

What are you rants and raves lately? I might do these posts more as they’re quite fun. There’s always something to moan about 😉

Do you spend a lot of time on getting ready in a morning? I don’t wear make-up but my hair takes ages mainly because it’s so damn long.

What’s your favourite coconut-based product? Coconut oil is still high on my list for frying vegetables in.