[2015: 45] The Week With The... #BEDN

Liz, why haven't you been Blogging Every Day in November? What the hell have you been doing?

Loads of stuff, actually. It was the week with the...

New job! Definitely the biggest new of last week was that I started a new job! Exciting! So many exclamation marks! I'm now working for a mental health charity, so it's incredibly different to my old job (being a Teaching Assistant in a special school). It's very weird being back in a position where I don't really know what I'm doing, but it seems to be going well so far. I'm enjoying it anyway, and I haven't made any terrible mistakes (as far as I'm aware...). More on all that another day.

Lush bath. Having lived in our flat for a year, on Sunday I finally got around to having a bath. That sounds terrible. I have had showers, honestly. Inspired by my friend Kirsty I hit up Lush (via Wilko for a new plug) and then got my relax on.

 Chocolate. ALL the chocolate, in fact. I made brownies in a shameless attempt to ingratiate myself with my new colleagues, and I tucked into the incredible box of Hotel Chocolat goodies I got as part of my leaving present from school. Changing jobs leads to a massive increase in chocolate consumption, apparently.

Pete's 10k (mis)adventure. Yes, it was a 10k. No, it wasn't an obstacle course. But he finished and won the dubious honour of being the muddiest runner! I laughed smugly from the sidelines, but I might have done something idiotic... Last week was also the week with the 10k sign up. In February I'm running my first 10k. SEND HELP. 

What have you been up to? Have you been a better BEDN-er than I have?!

Why I'm Having a Meat-Free Month (and How It's Going) #BEDN

Back in the midst of time, when I wrote my 30 Before 30 goals, I included 'seriously consider vegetarianism'. At the time I had only a vague reasoning behind this, simply that I'd always wondered if it was something I should do. With less than six months to go before the Big Day, the time has come to actually do it.

I'm having a meat-free month.

I'm not an animal person. Although I think I'd struggle to butcher a cow myself (they're MASSIVE) this isn't really about ethics or animal rights. For me this is more about the environmental impact of meat production. I'm really no expert (although I'm going to try and find out more) but my research thus far seems to suggest that raising animals for food leaves a massive carbon footprint, and just doesn't seem like a sustainable way for humans to feed themselves. Cutting down on the amount of meat I eat seems like the logical thing to do.

So why am I giving up meat altogether for a month? I feel like the only way I'm going to know which meat I really want in my diet is to go without all of it and then see what I really miss. Who knows, I might not miss it at all.

Three weeks in to the experiment and it's mostly going well, despite a few mishaps. Twice I managed to forget that I was being a vegetarian because I am clearly an idiot. There were another two occasions where I ate meat out of politeness (basically, we were visiting my fiance's family and I hadn't pre-warned them). I also ended up playing Vol-au-Vent Russian Rputlette (70s-themed party, dark room) but luckily got with the mushroom ones. Phew.

What do I think the outcome will be? I think it'll end up being a 'cut down' rather than 'become a fully-fledged vegetarian' situation. However, I haven't (so far) missed meat as much as I was anticipating, so we'll see...

Right, I'm off to finish watching Cowspiracy and eat an apple.*

If anyone has any suggestions for things I could read/watch about the environmental impact of eating meat/dairy then I'd be very grateful!

*By 'apple', I mean 'a tub of Ben and Jerry's'. You won't make a vegan of me (yet).

Three Positive Things, and the Power of Gratitude #BEDN

Years ago (well, maybe four years ago) I tried to start my own #3PositiveThings Twitter hashtag. As the name suggests, I tweeted three positive things that had happened that day (I was a mess four years ago, so it was a bit of a challenge!). The hashtag didn't catch on, but the concept stayed with me. Taking time to appreciate what you have can really make a difference to your outlook. Even on a Monday. Well, maybe on a Monday; Mondays are still tough no matter how darn grateful you are.

[I was going to include a cheesy Pinterest gratitude quote here but I decided not to. You can thank me later.]

In that spirit, I'm going to try and kick start my Monday by thinking of a few tiny things I've been grateful for over the last couple of days...

Autumn leaves and crisp, cool days (that allow me to wear my favourite new parka).

FOOD! All the food, all the time.
Specifically, Wagamana's chilli squid and what was probably my best lasagne to date.

Living close enough to London to be able to get the train in at the weekends and explore.

Making The Most Wonderful List of the Year (that's what I call my Christmas shopping list- because I'm cool).

I might even start the hastag again. WHO'S WITH ME? 

p.s. If you've only just found my blog via BEDN, I'd like to reassure you that I'm not usually this sickeningly positive. Also, hello!

Something New Every Week [2015: 19-44] #BEDN

First things first, hello fellow-BEDNers! *awkward wave*

Attempting Blog Every Day in May got me out of a blogging rut, so I'm trying again this month. We'll see how it goes! I'm hoping to use to discover some new blogs, even if I don't manage daily posting myself.

Onto the new things... One of my 30 Before 30 goals is to 'do something new every week'. I think I've pretty much managed that, but I've been terrible at posting about it (the last one was in May!). Here's my best attempt at catching up:

19: Cried about the results of a general election. They were not happy tears.

20: Worked in an office (as a volunteer for a mental health charity). Yes, I made it to 29 without ever working a day in an office!

 21: Had dinner at The Tudor Barn in Eltham.

22: Visited the super-Instagrammable flower 'shop' at Doniford Farm Park.

23: Introduced Pete to my lovely Norwegian friend Marta (and met her new man).

24: Saw Blur and Fleetwood Mac (at the Isle of Wight Festival). Also the first time I've been sick in a bush but that wasn't a highlight.

25: Had a journey home from a festival that included sunbathing on the beach!

 26: Said goodbye my Grandma.

27: Visited a project run by the charity I volunteer for.

28: Saw The Mentalists at the theatre.

29: Met our friends' new baby, Benjamin.

30: Went to Kos!

32: Went on a long-haul flight.... TO TOKYO!

33: Visited Nikko in Japan.

34: Made peanut butter brownies (and ate them on Pete's birthday).

35: Went to Dreamland in Margate.

36: Ate at Hood in  Streatham. This was essentially a posh Egg McMuffin (that's a good thing).
37: Went to On Blackheath (the most middle class festival EVER). Elbow and The Manics were ace.

38: Not sure if I did anything new! I suck!

39: Had takeaway from The Spice Merchant in Watchet (and viewed lots of wedding venues in Taunton!).

40: Stayed at Jenna's new house in Bristol.

41: Saw the new Macbeth film.

42: Went to a 70s-themed house warming (in appropriate attire).

43: Performed the shark song in front of EVERYONE (but more on that another time...).

44: Went to the Natural History Museum.

What's new with you?*


Weekend Wanderlust: Nikko, Japan

As soon as I'd booked my trip to Tokyo I knew that I wanted to take a day trip outside of the city. After all, it's pretty unlikely that I'll be back in Japan any time soon. I looked at going to Kyoto (Memoirs of a Geisha! Bullet train!) but it turns out that there's a reason Japanese trains are so amazing: they're expensive. Kyoto was out.

Onto Plan B: Nikko. Guidebook/internet recommended, (more) affordable, two hours from Tokyo, natural beauty, more historical shizzle than you can shake a stick at. Sorted.

I really enjoyed the train journey (on the way I upgraded to a faster/slightly fancier train because I'm fancy). It was brilliant to look out of the window and see suburban/rural Japan whizz past me. It was weird to see a couple enjoying a nice cold beer with their bento boxes at 7.30am.

First I jumped on a bus (well, after queueing for a long time) up the mountain and came to Kegon Falls. 

I'm pretty sure it's the first time I've seen a massive (and it was massive) waterfall IRL, and it awed me. It was literally awesome.

I then walked down the road to Lake Chuzenji. There was something so brilliantly surreal about seeing hilariously kitsch swan boats being pedalled across such a naturally beautiful lake. Yet another moment where I thought, 'I bloody love Japan!'

After getting my fill of natural beauty, I got the coach back down the (scarily twisty) mountain and went to check out the human-made stuff. There are loads of shrines and temples in Nikko, but these photos are from the Tosho-gu shrine. It's super-significant historically, but I'm not going to lie to you- my knowledge of said history is pretty non-existent. That's one of the disadvantages of travelling in a relatively non-Westernised country... Not much detailed information in English (that's my excise anyway!). Have some pictures instead...

The Shinkyo Bridge. The internet tells me that it's 'one of Japan's three finest bridges'.

I know I've been a bit blase about the history and stuff, but it really was an amazing day. I feel so privelidged to have been able to spend a day outside of Tokyo and experience another side (or sides) of Japan.

The boring bits:
I bought the Tobu Railways All Nikko Pass which covered my train and bus travel all day. The internet told me I had to order this four days in advance, although they sold me one in person two days before. So even if you're forgetful like me it might still be worth a try. 
Getting around by bus was fairly easy, although the I had to wait a while for my bus from the station when I arrived, because they filled up quickly. I think they stopped at the JR station first, so it would probably be worth walking down there to guarantee getting a seat.
You could easily fill two days with everything that the area has to offer! One was fine but I was pretty tired the next day!

It's so weird looking back at these photos, it already feels like an age ago... Take me back. Please.

PS This is the first Weekend Wanderlust post I've written for aaaaages, but you can find the others here if you fancy taking a look!

Photo An Hour [26th September 2015]

Huzzah! A photo an hour day where I was actually doing something vaguely interesting! Woo!

9am: Tea in Taunton Travelodge. Alliterative!

10am: Bring it. Unlimited food = challenge.

11am: The wedding venue hunt begins! This one was a lot better than we were expecting.

12pm: Um, seems like I missed this one out. I'm stoopid.

1pm: Taunton looking sexy in the sun (and another venue to tick off the list).

2pm: Pros and cons.

3pm: I managed to drive us safely to the mothership (no mean feat!). Terrible photo, but there's no way she'd have let me take a proper one. She's going to see this and kill me, btw.
4pm: LOLing at the fact that my parents paid for these!!! No, she's not partially-sighted.

5pm: Nothing to see here (except my weird feet).

6pm: Celebratory bubbles with the 'rents.

7pm: Important decisions.

8pm: Aftermath.

9pm: My mum had grown tired of my incessant Instagramming. I decided that I should probably stop here (also I was too full to reach for my phone).

Thanks Louisa and Jane for organising us all!