Lazy photo round up #3.

I know there's a lot of hate around for photo posts, but in my defence I'm a) lazy and b) Instagram-less. So there. Here's (the last few weeks of) my life in pictures:

I've been scouring charity shops on search of Babysitters' Club books. Because I'm cool like that. I also picked up 'Kristy and the Copycat' but I can't bring myself to read it, because Kristy and Karen annoy the hell out of me.

This is what happens when you buy a Claire's Accessories Surprise Bag and wear it all at the same time. Fit.

I won two games of Scrabble in a row, because I am awesome, obviously. It also almost turned into a game of Wiig.
I love the Severn Bridge, because it means that Cardiff is but half an hour away. I have a lot of love for Cardiff.
My Dad beasting a Harvester sundae.
I have mad Air Hockey skillz. I also nearly knocked a small child unconscious by sending the puck flying across the room. Oops.

In other news, the new Blogger interface is doing my head in. Help?

WAMK: Push it real good.

Last Tuesday went to see the Occupational Health doctor (I know I posted a few weeks ago that I didn't have to do that again, but blips will be blips). He was actually really helpful and gave me a much-needed fresh perspective on a few things. We had a chat about some medication I've just been taken off of, and he mentioned that exercise would probably help to replace the medicine's function.

Although I obviously knew anyway that exercise was good for my mental health, hearing this has really encouraged me to keep going with the gym, and to get back into it in a big way after my holiday. I know it sounds a bit silly, but I'm really trying to think of exercise as a kind of medication; that it, to think of it as something I have to do, and have to do regularly, to help myself.

I've managed six visits this week, which is obviously not going to be practical every week, but I think four should be doable, and I'm feeling pretty determined to stick with it.

Eat Me: Westward Ho! Edition

What's the best thing about going on holiday? Eating what you want, obviously. I went to Westward Ho! (yes, the exclamation mark is part of the name, it's awesome, I know) during the Easter holidays and I ate A LOT. Here's the best bits:

(How do you make a pasty even less healthy? Why, at it with chips, of course; half a portion of mussels because I was so eager to eat I forgot to take a photo; nachos; the most brownie-filled sundae ever; salmon; Easter cakes; my Mum's legendary sweetie-filled Easter egg.)
Sorry for all the scrolling involved in this post, one day I will learn how to do fancy things with photos!
What was the best thing you ate over Easter?

Photographic Evidence

I’m doing CBT (therapy, for the uninitiated) at the moment, so I’ve been thinking more than usual about how critical I am of myself. Nonetheless, it can be really difficult to understand the impact of your own ‘critical voice’, and to come around to the idea that maybe the negative beliefs you hold about yourself aren't true. Especially if, like me, the critical thoughts are so ingrained in your psyche that you have them all the time, without even realising.

That’s why it was interesting to find a photo of myself when I was about 16. At the time, I believed that I was the ugliest person I knew, and was disgustingly fat. Not in the sense that I complained to friends, ‘Oh, I’m so fat…’ but in the sense that I just knew it was true. I didn’t dare say it to anyone because obviously they would be forced to agree with me and I would end up feeling worse. I had very little confidence in myself and it definitely impacted on my life. This is what I looked like:

OK, so the fringe isn’t great, but I’m not horrifically ugly. And I’m definitely not fat. I allowed my critical thoughts to become beliefs, and to take over my life. And I’m still doing it.

This needs to stop.

The Hunger Games: Book V Film

(Spoiler-free, I promise!)

First things first, I hate seeing the film before I read the book. I’m not entirely sure why, but I think it’s because you invest more time in a book and therefore don’t want the plot twists ruined for you by a silly film. Or maybe I’m just a reading snob. Either way, I was extremely late to the party when it came to reading The Hunger Games, so by the time the film came out the book was still sitting, unread, on my shelf.

The film was OK. I enjoyed it, but I won’t be buying the DVD. For starters, it’s unnecessarily long. I really think a bit more pace would not only have made the film much more enjoyable, it was also have given me less time to guess at the plot twists. Despite the length of the film, there were several plot points that really weren't explained properly; for example, I didn’t fully understand why people from the Districts went along with the Hunger Games, and what purpose they served for the Capitol. There are other plot holes but I don’t want to include any spoilers so I’ll just have to rant about them to myself. Having said all that, though, the casting was good and I really did feel emotionally invested in the characters (especially Haymitch, I just love him). I also loved the concept, and left the cinema intrigued enough about it all to pick up the book as soon as I got home.

The book was much better (yeah, I’m a reading snob, get over it). For me, it had everything that was good about the film (brilliant concept, realistic, intriguing characters, powerful setting) and the positives that it had much more pace, the plot twists weren’t so obvious, and it cleared up all the frustrating plot holes that the film left gaping wide open. After reading the book I feel like I have a new understanding of the relationships between the characters, and between the districts and the Capitol. In some ways, I’m glad I saw the film first, because I think I would have been disappointed if I’d loved the books first and had been waiting to see the film.

Right, somebody get me part two. NOW.

Follow Fursday: Treats from my much-neglected Google reader...

Last Friday, I caught up with the contents of my Google Reader. Well, not all of it (I've really been neglecting Blogger recently so it would have taken me hours to read everything) but I did catch up with a lot. So, instead of my usual Follow Fursday, I thought I'd link to a few of my favourite posts:

Jordan's beautiful photos of her holiday to Spain, Portugal and Morocco. Wanderlust time.

Lyzi's Easter nests. Absolute classic; we made these at work and they were gooooood.

Just Little Things. Just the whole blog, because it always makes me smile.


I am super jealous of Sarah's dress collection.

Happy Thursday!

The Gathering by Anne Enright

I've been doing pretty well at ticking off the 30 Before 30's (should that have an apostrophe?) last week. The first to get ticked off was joining a book group. I know this isn't the coolest thing, but I am a little on the geeky side. Actually, who am I kidding, I'm a LOT on the geeky side. And, as the proud owner of an (almost completely useless) English Lit degree, I really miss talking about books.

Last month's book was 'The Gathering' by Anne Enright. It's a Booker winner, so I had high expectations, and it didn't disappoint. The book is narrated from the perspective of Veronica Hegarty, a woman who is coming to terms with the recent death of her brother Liam, and in the process is trying to piece together their family history.

Enright vividly describes the relationship between Veronica's grandparents, and their personal histories. It's all told from Veronica's perspective, so you're never quite sure what's real and what's been fabricated by Veronica's mind during her childhood. I loved the way that this was done, and it made me reflect on how little we really know about our own family histories.

Relationships in 'The Gathering' are extremely physical; you get the impression that the characters are connected by a physical bond, even when they don't want that to be the case. The parent-child relationships are especially poignant; Veronica's mother seems to be 'watered down'
by her 12 children, as though she has lost a sense of her own existence. Veronica's connection with her own children is incredibly powerful and remains in tact even as she becomes steadily disconnected from the rest of her life.

Having said all of that, I think it's a bit of a 'Marmite' book, because apart from one other person who loved it, everyone else in the book group hated it. If you're reading the book waiting for something big to happen, then you might be disappointed. 'The Gathering' is all about creating and exploring a mood, and charting Veronica's deeply personal emotional journey, as she tries to piece together exactly what has happened to her brother, and finds that the answer goes back generations.

Eatin' round the world.

One of my 30 Before 30 challenges was to sample every cuisine in Red Hot World Buffet. I did it. It was simultaneously a little bit gross and a lot incredible. Terrible sentence, but you know what I mean. Just to prove that it happened, here's some (relatively poor quality) photos. And, yes, I am aware of the irony of posting this on what is usually my Where Are My Knees pledge update day!

Mexican (4/10, nachos a bit broken up and salsa too watery).

Pancake round (7/10, not quite as good as usual because they had crispy chicken instead of duck), English (2/10, cottage pie was overly herby) and Japanese (8/10, nice and fresh, would have scored even higher if I wasn't comparing it to Tenkaichi the night before).

Indian (9/10, amazing coconut chutney and the best all-you-can-eat naan breads ever), Thai (7/10, hard to judge because I only had the stir-fried vegetables, but they were good), Chinese honey chicken wings (9/10).

Italian/Mediterranean (8/10, pizza was very average but the salads and olives were really good).

Pudding mixture (8/10, much better than any other all-you-can-eat desert offering, the gulab jamun was especially good).

Tropical sorbet (9/10, because there's always room for sorbet, and another brownie).

Mission accomplished! So proud of myself. Hope the rest of the 30 Before 30 challenges are as fun...

Eat me! #2

The best stuff that has recently passed my lips:

I cheated on Costa. Sorry, Costa. It wasn't better, it was just, you know, different.

My bento box at Tenkaichi in Cardiff. Pork in a teriyaki sauce, sushi rolls, rice, vegetable dumplings and salad. It was so, so good. We also had battered prawns, tuna sashumi and eel.

Harvester sundae. I was far to full to eat it all, so I missed out the ice cream and just had the cream and the cake. Should have just ordered a piece of cake.

Easter egg in the cinema? Don't mind if I do. Felt somewhat nauseous afterwards.

My Dad's apple pie and my chocolate fudge cake in Mystic Brew in Orpington. They do THE BEST tea and cakes. anywhere that has a whole tea menu gets a thumbs up from me.

Malteaser bunny. Obviously.

Krispy Kreme goodness. The remarkable/gross thing about this doughnut is that I ate it a few short hours after chowing down at Red Hot World Buffet. Sometimes I horrify/amaze myself.

The next few posts are going to be pretty food-heavy. I make no apologies for this. I love food.