Getting back on the treadmill

Actually this title is inaccurate – I’m not getting back on the treadmill again… I don’t like the gym and don’t have any intention of going there. To use the machines, anyway. But I am looking to get back into doing exercise.

Lego treadmill
Image courtesy of Shannon Young via flickr

I really enjoy Zumba classes so I’ve been trialling a few in the local area recently. I’ve found it quite difficult to find classes nearby at a decent time – my working day starts early so finishes quite early too. I’m back home by 5pm and prefer to go to a class as soon as possible. If the class is too late, I’m likely to get in and want to stay put (especially in winter) so the earlier the better. Most classes I’ve found that I’m interested in are at about 7 or 8pm which is way too late!

I recently went to a Zumba class on a Saturday morning at a leisure centre on the edge of Brighton. It started at about 9am so still allowed for a decent enough lie in (I’m up anytime between 5am and 6am on a weekday so on a Saturday I’m lucky if I’m still asleep at 8.30am!). It was quite a small class though so I felt a bit self-conscious about myself, but it was fun. The only thing about it being a Saturday is that I won’t always be around as I sometimes go away at the weekends. And now my little niece has been born I’m going to make more effort to go up to visit her more often,

So that’s on the occasional/maybe pile.

Last week I found another class – not strictly a Zumba one though. It’s called FitMix and is a blend of Zumba, aerobics and step aerobics, all three classes I love! The location and timing is perfect too, it’s at 5.45 at a primary school only a three minute walk away! It’s a bit of a slower pace than I’m used to but it did also include a load of exercises on mats at the end – push ups, sit ups etc and I could definitely feel it in my legs the next day.

This class reminded me how much I used to enjoy step aerobics classes. I think the reason I like group classes so much, and especially Zumba and step aerobics, is because I really love dancing and it’s a way of making exercise fun without feeling like you’re doing it for the sake of exercise. It’s especially funny when you, or someone else, gets the routines wrong.

I’ve been thinking about starting to run round my local park again but I lack the motivation when it’s cold and dark in the mornings (I feel like this every winter)  – so maybe in the spring!

I’ve also enquired about joining the Brighton roller derby team… I’ll probably live to regret it when I break my legs but it seems so exciting! I should maybe check out refresher roller-skating classes first as I suspect my skills from when I was 10 years old may have diminished a little.

Is anyone else trying any new exercise classes or sports?

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Review: Jamie’s Italian, Brighton

Last night Rob and I went for a delicious meal at Jamie’s Italian in Brighton.

Although I’ve visited the restaurant a couple of times with friends and family, Rob and I had never been together because he’s not the biggest fan of Italian food. He’s quite happy with a takeaway pizza every now and then but will rarely choose a pasta dish and so has never been too keen on a menu full of only Italian dishes.

He was very pleasantly surprised to see that the menu extended far beyond simply pasta and pizza. And even better, for me anyway, there were plenty of gluten free dishes to choose from.

Jamie's Italian menu

When we arrived we were directed to a comfortable booth table next to the indoor deli. Watching chefs put together big platters of cold meats and cheese was the perfect way to work up an appetite!

Jamie's Italian deli

We decided to skip starters and go straight to the mains. Although there was not a separate gluten free menu, the waitress reeled off all the dishes which could be adapted. I could have any of the pasta dishes (apart from one ravioli dish) as they had dried gluten free pasta which could be substituted; as well as a number of the ‘main’ dishes which were mostly red meats – steaks, chops and a burger without the bun.

I chose the fresh crab spaghettini (I substituted the spaghetti for gluten free pasta – which reassuringly was confirmed by the waitress as she served it) which came with capers, anchovies, chilli and fennel. I thought that perhaps the pasta may not be great as it was dried but actually it was lovely, much nicer than the dried packet stuff I’ve had from the supermarkets! It was like very chunky fusilli; very tasty and I gobbled it down quickly.

Fresh crab gluten free pasta

Rob opted for one of the specials – grilled pork chop with celeriac mash and fennel with gravy. He’s not keen on fennel so the waitress suggested it was substituted with vegetables. When it arrived he had a mixture of kale, courgette and cabbage to accompany the pork and mash – which he says was buttery and delicious. The pork was perfectly cooked – very succulent and tender. He says it’s the nicest meal he’s had in a long time.

Grilled pork and celeriac mash

For dessert Rob had another special, a bread and butter pudding with vanilla custard which was made with something a bit like brioche so it was very soft.

bread and butter pudding

I had chunks of pineapple and pomegranate seeds with frozen natural yoghurt which was zingy and very refreshing – the perfect palate cleanser.

pineapple and pomegranate with frozen yoghurt

It was a gorgeous meal and a really lovely night out, even Rob said he’d love to go back! He’s an Italian food convert!

Jamie’s Italian invited me to their Brighton restaurant to review my meal.

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A round up of 2014

2014 is nearly over and what a great year it’s been!

My 2014 highlights

Here are some of my highlights:

  • I saw my best friend Emily get married
  • Her hen do was a brilliant mini holiday with friends which was lots of fun
  • My brother and sister-in-law announced that they’re expecting their first baby (hopefully on the way any day now!)
  • I started a new job
  • With help from my parents we sorted out our garden in time for summer
  • I went to some brilliant gigs including Jamie T, Gallows, Larry & His Flask and Crazy Arm
  • Had a couple of mini getaways in Arundel, Sandwich and Eastbourne
  • I began borrowing a doggy
  • I went Back to the Future with Secret Cinema
  • I got my sleeve tattoo finished

What were your highlights of the year? Tell me in the comments below!

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Brightonians don’t know how to kiss

kissing-teensImage courtesy of Courtney Carmody via flickr.com

Long gone are the days of learning how to kiss by practising on an orange, teens of today ask Google instead.

The search engine has released the most popular ‘how to’ terms searched for in 2014, broken down by city. It reveals that the official top searches performed in Brighton were:

1. How to kiss

2. How to draw

3. How to plank

To be fair, I don’t know how to plank either so I’d be interested in reading the results of that search.

I’m always interested in this data that Google releases at the end of each year (I used to work in SEO so it was important to have an understanding of the most searched-for topics) as it hints at some of the online trends to come.

Here’s the summary video of the year in search:

This also made me start thinking about what my own top ‘how to’ search terms as a teen might have been?

1. “How to tame frizzy hair”

These days my hair-related searches are more about finding a nice or interesting cut that I can have with curly hair, or how to sport a fringe when you’ve got curly hair (I’ll save you some time: it’s not possible) but as a teen I reckon anti-frizz tips would have been up there.

2. “How to get served in the pub”

Weirdly, despite the worry, I didn’t actually have much trouble with this – I remember going into a club with older kids from school when I was about 14 or 15. I was told to strut confidently past the bouncers and avoid eye contact. I think the fact that I got in shows more about how much of a shit they gave about underage drinkers than how old I thought I looked.

3. “How to meet Leonardo DiCaprio”

Along with every other teenage girl in the world, I loved Leo DiCap and my bedroom was COVERED in pictures of him circa the Titanic years.

4. “How to complete Mario Kart”

Funnily enough I looked this up the other day for the Wii so not much has changed.

5. “How to pass exams without revising”

I did actually revise for my mock GCSEs and did really well, but by the time it came to the real deal I was sick of revising.

6. “How to get bigger boobs”

Anyone else remember the “I must increase my bust exercises”? That was probably a top unfounded worry at the time…

7. “How to sleep”

I struggled with getting a good night’s kip then and I struggle now – I think some handy tips then may have saved me some dark circles around my eyes now!

8. “How to be a magazine writer”

I remember when considering which A Levels to take, reading an interview with a journalist where they explained the career path they took and the subjects they studied. As a result I remember thinking I should take English Language, Media Studies and Psychology but my school’s sixth form only offered the basics at the time rather than fancy subjects like media and psychology, so I ended up going to college and doing a Media Production course instead.

9. “How to time travel”

As a child I loved time travel films, notably the Back to the Future trilogy (still probably my favourite films) and Flight of the Navigator. But I just did not understand it. My mum tried to explain it in so many different ways but it was over my head. Particularly the ‘alternate’ years (ie alternate 1985 in Back to the Future 2). WHAT?!

10. “How to know if a boy fancies you”

After researching how to kiss I might have moved on to recognising the signs of attraction. Because, you know, I couldn’t just speak to a boy and find out myself, that would have been WAYTOOMUCHOHMYGODI’MSHY.

What would have been your top ‘how to’ searches when you were a teenager?

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My year in fiction

I’ve been invited by Currys to look back over 2014 and pick my highlights in terms of the best TV show I watched and book that I read this year.

The TV part of this is really difficult because of course my memory serves highlights from the last couple of months rather than earlier in the year! But some memorable shows I’ve watched in 2014 include The Walking Dead, American Horror Story, Remember Me, 24, Bates Motel and Gogglebox.

My favourite TV shows of 2014

Original images (L-R) courtesy of friskytuna via flickr.com; ercansebat via deviantart.com; and Wikipedia.org

I think if I had to pick one though, it’d be The Missing. Obviously the series hasn’t finished yet, so the way the rest of the story goes is anyone’s guess, but so far it’s been amazing. Starring James Nesbitt, the programme is about a man and his wife who lose their young son while on holiday in France in 2006. The story jumps from 2006, when the boy went missing, to the present day, as Nesbitt is still trying to find him and is starting to discover new clues. I was hooked from the first episode and the scene when he realised he’d lost his son had me in tears. It’s tense and the style is very Nordic noir, which I love. I can’t wait to see how it finishes!

The best book I’ve read this year is an easier decision. I’ve read a lot of cookbooks this year – mostly due to my change in diet for health reasons (see my posts on gluten-free living and the low FODMAP diet). So I haven’t read many fiction books through 2014.

But this one is one of my favourites, I’ve read it at least three times before. A piece of cake by Cupcake Brown is about a young girl who gets lost in the foster care system. She gets physically and sexually abused and turns to drugs, gang life and prostitution. She almost dies, several times, but turns her life around, goes to college and is now a lawyer.

I bought the book from a street vendor in Melbourne about seven years ago while I was traveling around Australia. It’s so shocking but inspirational; I love it.

What is the best book you’ve read this year? What was your favourite TV show?

This is a sponsored post with Currys.

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