That’s it I’m 25. It’s mad to think how much my life has changed in the last year alone, never mind the last 5! This post however, isn’t about what’s going on with me over the next few months, that will come later. Rather about some of the cute birthday gifts I got and my favourite bits and pieces.
First up, my new Thomas Sabo charm club bracelets. I love jewellery to be meaningful because I like it to express my personality, like my Posh Totty pieces I got at Christmas do. When there's a reason behind a piece of jewellery it's made meaningful, and a charm bracelet can be a great way to express that. I've wanted one for a while, having had a Truth charm bracelet in college, but I didn't want to fall into the Pandora box. Instead I'm now a member of the TS charm club, the first was a quirky beaded bracelet with a hiking boot charm attached (for obvious reasons this is the perfect charm for me). Absolutely love how different this piece is and I'm obsessed with the charm. Second I have a more classic silver link charm bracelet, this one has three charms on it. The first an aeroplane (because I love to travel), next a mix tape (this reminds me of Guardians of the Galaxy) that captures my love of all things 80s and last (but not least) a lobster claw holding a pearl which reminds me of Danny (he has a pet lobster in case I haven't already mentioned that). I know what I'll be asking for this Christmas now...
I also got a Kate Spade bracelet, I already have two bangles but this understated silver piece is a completely different style. It has four gems in the band and a slider, embossed with the spade symbol. With Kate's recent passing this makes it even more special to me. I’ve forever loved her quirky fashion sense and she was the queen of statement pieces, I'm sure her brand will continue to thrive.
Now let's get to the sweet stuff, my Candy Kittens and Hotel Chocolat. These are a few of my favourite things! I love vegan sweets and a mixture of watermelon, blueberry and peach (my absolute favourite), were delicious. I got a few selectors from Hotel Chocolat mostly dark chocolate (with rum centres) and some strawberry puddle buttons. Safe to say I’ve done nothing but eat the last few weeks. Holiday and birthday calories don’t count right?
I also got a pair of gorgeous baby pink Nike suede trainers. I love my footwear and these are a perfect spring/ summer shoe. I’m running out of space in my bedroom but I’m sure I’ll find a place for them. My other trainers are more gym or outdoorsy in style, so these will be great for more formal summer days out and will look cute with a dress or denim skirt.
My vinyl collection continues to grow, with the latest addition of the Baby Driver Soundtrack. I absolutely adore this film and the music even more. I plan to have this on repeat throughout the rest of summer. Bellbottoms! If you haven’t seen it I would definitely suggest you do (I’ve been on a bit of a film binge lately both on Netflix and at the cinema), even if it’s just for the awesome music! I’ve been tempted by a lot of soundtracks lately so I’m sure soon I'll be needing a bigger bookcase for these.
Then we have the pick and mix stuff (not sweets sadly), these include a lot of little goodies I got on my birthday. We have some more Instax Mini Polaroid film (as I’ll have run out again before long), some new Topshop underwear (there was a SALE on so I got lots of pieces from there) and my first ever Tsum Tsums, a Marvel selection including Thanos, Rocket and Drax. Finally I recently sold my old Olivia Burton rose gold watch because I wanted to try a new style, I'm so glad I did because I got a silver mesh Olivia Burton with a much smaller face. It works perfectly with my new jewelry collection, so I'm sure it'll be a new permanent fixture on my wrist.
I do love birthdays because they give you an excuse to eat cake for breakfast, and drinking cocktails is a must. They also give me a time to indulge in something I love to do! Last year I was climbing Snowdon, this year I spent the night in a swanky Manchester hotel with Danny.
I love to celebrate because we’re never guaranteed the next one (as depressing as that sounds) and it’s important to enjoy these moments. Make the most of the time with people and appreciate the little things. Whether you're throwing a huge party for all your friends or just chilling with a film and your fella. I’m excited to see where my 25th year will take me, hopefully Italy, Australia and Canada (to name a few). I also would like to be halfway to buying my own house this time next year but that's for another blog post. I'm sure I'll still be writing here in my little corner of the internet, whatever happens.
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It’s been a mad couple of weeks and I’m heading into Manchester this weekend (for lots of 25th birthday celebrations), but I wanted to get this on my blog (I've got alot of Barcelona content to get sorted next week). I had mentioned previously that I’d been busy planning some exciting summer months, and here's my latest event – Rough Runner!
Last weekend Danny and I took part in a 15K obstacle race located at Arley Hall (or as I know it, Tommy Shelby’s house), in Northwich. Rough Runner is an obstacle race that takes its inspiration from Ninja Warrior and Total Wipeout (among other game shows). I signed us up a few months back and was pretty excited when it finally came around. A huge positive is that it is much more friendly to those of different fitness levels, as you can choose to do a 5, 10 or 15K route on the course. We went for the 15K because I'm used to running for long periods of time, plus this meant we could tackle all the obstacles!
I’m doing Tough Mudder again in September, but wanted to mix things up and thought this would be something a little different (plus it meant I could drag Danny along). I am already looking at events like X Runner and Wolf Run for next year, because there are so many different courses to get involved in. I honestly love getting down and dirty with my fellow mudders and even going it alone doesn’t phase me, because you don’t have to look far for a helping hand.
By 9am we were parked up and headed to the bag drop zone (which was free and manned so I felt safe leaving my stuff), before checking out the rest of the place. There was coffee, food, merch and all the typical stalls you'd expect. They were even handing out pre-race protein boost sweets that were quite delicious, almost as good as the protein peanut bars we had after the race (I took a couple of extra freebies home). We headed over for a safety video, far more entertaining than expected, then after a warm up and the Rough Runner pledge... we were off!
Although on a smaller scale than Tough Mudder, I was impressed with the set up. People were friendly and everything was clearer signposted, plus they even had music going on arrival and a photographer to capture all the action. The overall course was less hard going overall than I expected, although some of the farm ground was a little harsh to run on. It was about 9 miles with approximately 15 obstacles total, this meant you weren’t running for long before you had a challenge to tackle.
Your given a coloured wristband at check in, that corresponds with the route you do (5K was white, 10K was blue and 15K was yellow). This is so if you get lost along the way their volunteers can guide you back to the correct route, they do have coloured flag markers, but it's easy to miss them if there's lots of people.
The obstacles ranged from 'Nelsons Column', where you have to avoid volunteers dressed up as pigeons, trying there hardest to take you down (I know it was bizarre but hilarious, definitely reminded me of Takeshi's Castle). 'Ramp It Up', is a half pipe that you take a run at to climb up and over, with a few ropes incase you need a helping hand. 'Beam Me Up', this was a thin ladder like piece of scaffolding that you had to climb down, I ended up with my legs wrapped around it hanging upside down (definitely felt like Spiderman). 'Fearless Fall', essentially a long slip and slide so this was just a good laugh as we raced to the bottom. Then the moving obstacles like 'Swept Of Your Feet' and 'The Revolution' (think Total Wipeout), it’s simple avoid the moving arms or you’ll end up in the water (Danny learnt this the hard way). Finally the best part is at the finish line, ‘The Travelator’. You are presented with four lanes, they are all on an incline, the first three go down in speed but the fourth is known as 'The Lane of Shame'. This is because it actual takes you up instead of going against you, so if you're knackered by the end you can still make it to the top.
After running for 15KM, being submerged underwater, getting muddy and climbing over varying obstacles... we were obviously not as confident as we had been in the morning, when we first saw 'The Travelator'. However, that wouldn't stop me giving it a good go. We both fell flat on our faces on the first lane, it was already slippy and that meant I just lost my footing. I wasn't quite sure what to expect because I don’t usually jump on the treadmills in the gym, so falling at the first made me better prepared for the second. We managed to redeem some dignity on this lane, which we both made it up (as you can see in the above picture, Danny was determined).
I’d recommend everyone to sign up, even if it’s just the 5K. You could do it with work or friends and family! It’s only as hard as you make it, as there’s no obligation to do any obstacles you aren’t comfortable with. This was the first time Danny had done anything like this and I think for the most part he enjoyed it (apart from the getting soaked), it’s a good laugh and we definitely earned the takeout we had afterwards.
I’m getting back in the gym now to continue training for Tough Mudder, still mastering my pull up technique (as I don't currently have one). Plus I'm hoping to do some big trekking next year so it's important to keep my fitness levels up!
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Hey, so it's been a while... This last month I've been busy at work and hitting the gym pretty hard, plus planning some exciting things for June. Instead of trying to push myself to write content, I took a break, I've been exhausted for a few weeks and just wanted to focus on myself. However, I've got lots to share! I've been busy planning an action packed birthday month, starting with Birmingham Coffee Festival, I'm doing Rough Runner 15K next weekend, followed by a week in Barcelona (lots of content from that trip I promise, including some video stuff because I've been practicing my editing) and finally a weekend in Manchester with Danny (on my actual birthday). We'll be staying at the Cow Hollow Hotel, I've been so excited for this month to start and it's finally here!
BACK TO BIRMINGHAM
It's been 18 months since my last visit to Birmingham, I had a friend that used to live here so I visited fairly regularly. It had definitely been too long and what better excuse for my return than a Coffee Festival at the Custard Factory. After possibly too many cups of coffee (is there such a thing?) and a couple of vegan cakes, I hit some of my favourite spaces, camera in hand. (Read about my previous Birmingham trips here).
A BULL IN A COFFEE SHOP
I caught the train down from Crewe a little after 7AM (booking this earlier in the month meant it cost me just £14 return), the Coffee Festival didn't open until 10am, but this meant I could wander around an empty Birmingham city centre. I've never seen the place quiet before, when I've been around on the weekends it's usually buzzing with people. It was beautiful to wander around without the stress of bumping into anyone. Once I had finished awkwardly trying to film my very first ever vlog intro, something to look forward to seeing, I headed straight for the Custard Factory. Getting there early gave me time to photograph the Custard Factory and its amazingly quirky creative vibe. It's a collaboration of street art, graffiti, sculptures... seriously though, if you are into that sort of thing you need to check this place out! Not to mention the independent retailers and the people who run them, it was great to talk to individuals who make up this creative hub, whether they're making coffee, cakes or craft beer.
When the doors opened at 10am I quickly joined the queue, this was made up of more casual coffee fanatics (like myself), professional bloggers and writers, and people who ran other independent coffee shops. I love taking trips like this on my own because it allows me to people watch (unapologetically), and slip in and out of other peoples conversations unnoticed (Danny was working so he couldn't come with anyway). It also helped me to get some of the best photos I have in a long time. When I'm on my own I constantly have my camera on, because I don't have to be conscious of neglecting whoever I'm with. I've found recently I'm much happier behind the camera, as my confidence has grown I've learnt to embrace other peoples gazes. It usually leads to people asking me what I'm doing and that's a great way to meet new people and network.
Having worked as a barista over almost 5 years for 3 different coffee shops, I can certainly say I felt right at home. The smell of coffee brewing just takes me to my happy place. It's funny how a shared love for something makes connecting with people so much easier. I chatted to a few people, both those attending and those who were showcasing their products. One woman compared it to Amsterdam Coffee Festival, a few artsy looking types also had their faces hidden behind different sized camera lenses, another guy was doing some market research and I overheard a group of guys discussing the latest Doctor Who whilst casually sipping there cold brew. It was clear their was an exciting mix of people that you wouldn't normally all see together.
Over the last few years my taste has dramatically changed. I've gone from drinking black coffee (especially when dieting), to lattes. From semi-skimmed milk to coconut or soy, I've also quit adding any sugars (apart from the occasional shot of vanilla). The event catered to all tastes, but I found myself at the Alpro stand first. Sampling a golden soy latte (turmeric in case you were wondering) and a coconut cinnamon chocolate, both undeniably delicious. I followed those up with a stop at 200 Degrees, for a flat white with their blend described by the barista as 'strawberry shortcake'. It was strong, dark and definitely fruity. Next, living up to my expectations was the oat-some latte, oat milk is such a great alternative that works for me because I find dairy a little too sickly.
After an hour, I was practically buzzing so I switched it up with some cold brew coffee, and began collecting business cards and printouts for my desk at work. Living the life of a designer does mean I'm particularly sensitive to printouts, but thankfully there wasn't a poorly kerned logo in sight. In fact I was pretty impressed with the packaging for a lot of the products. I was starting to get hungry so I decided to look for a sweet fix, Big Fat Slab was the stall I ended up choosing. They had doorstop sized cakes that were all vegan! I treated myself to a dark chocolate flapjack, a dark brownie and the most delicious carrot cake I've ever eaten. It's safe to say there are none left now as I am writing this. OMBAR also caught my eye, with their offering of chocolate. The organic dark chocolate bars were beautifully packaged, with flavours ranging from lemon & green tea to 90% cocoa. I even got a handy tote bag which came in handy the rest of the day.
My last few stops included a latte art stand, where a very skilled barista was creating colourful patterns (clearly too pretty to drink). I observed the mini masterclass, it's something that I never quite perfected as a barista myself. The more I walked around the venue, I found coffee infused cocktails, offerings of homemade flavoured fudge and even reusable cups. From Cakesmiths to Hundred House Coffee, it's a good job the samples were small. After exceeding my usual daily dosage by about quadruple, I ventured back into the city centre.
24 CUPS OF COFFEE LATER
The IKON gallery is a must see for me (it's free), I'm always interested in seeing what is considered modern art at their latest exhibits. It's a fair walk from The Custard Factory (I covered 9 miles in total over the day), but you do walk through the city centre, so there's plenty of stops you can make along the way. I passed street performers, bikers, dinosaur hedge sculptures and oddly enough a bunch of people kayaking (or canoeing, I'm not sure of the difference), in the river along side the longboats. The IKON had a digital themed exhibition on which was right up my street, it's always hard to describe things like this as every one will have a different opinion, but there are usually a couple of different exhibits on, so maybe one will take your fancy. I liked it, especially the first floor artwork by Langlands & Bell, titled Internet Giants: Masters of the Universe, which included pixelated typography and photography. It was a little abstract but I liked that it challenged your mind to make sense of what appeared illegible at first, my favourite piece read 'Your thoughts construct patterns like scaffolding in your mind'.
I stopped by the Bullring shopping centre for lunch and a little retail therapy. I prefer shopping alone because I'm definitely a browser, I love to take my time and try things on, which can be a time consuming process. With just a couple of hours until the train back I grabbed a quick milkshake from Eds (seriously yum), then hit some shops. There's no end to the options, whether you're looking for clothing, tech, a good book or a sweet treat, they've got you covered. I couldn't resist a stop in Victoria Secret, especially as there was a SALE on. I also have a mix of vinyl at home that I've picked up from Camden market (Queen - Don't Stop Me Now), Manchester record stores (The Stranglers) and occasionally HMV, who I bought Chvrches new album from just last week. The HMV here had such a large stock, I'm surprised I managed to just leave with Lorde - Pure Heroine. The Game of Thrones and Baby Driver soundtracks were very tempting indeed.
Reluctantly, I headed back to New Street Station with less than an hour to kill until my train back up north departed. A hot chocolate in Pret tied me over, while I updated Instagram stories and looked through my camera roll. The footage I'm happy with but it isn't until I start editing, that I know what works and what doesn't. There's usually a few standout clips but that's why it's important to film as much as possible. That way you can cut out the bits that don't cut it. It definitely was worth the trip and knowing now that it's pretty much like getting on the train to Manchester (an hour is easy to do), I will be planning more day trips into Birmingham. Maybe a weekend to Leeds and Sheffield too, because I just haven't seen enough cities in the UK. It's such a creative hub, with some great food spots and bars that I'm sure Danny would be happy to come check out with me (as long as I supply him with regular coffee).
I'm going to keep an eye out for future events at the Custard Factory. They do film screenings and artsy events, or even the christmas markets would be a treat to experience. Plus I've been meaning to check out the record festivals at The Custard Factory for ages and now I think the next one I will definitely be popping down for, but until then Birmingham...
Video Update Coming Soon.
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Here's a little video I put together from my weekend trip to Blue Planet Aquarium, still getting to grips with the adventure camera and taking every opportunity to get it out. I didn't take any pictures on this one so it's video footage only. Diving in at the deep end, hope you enjoy it.
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Since moving to Northwich, I find theres some Artisan market on nearby almost every weekend! I went to the ‘Makers Market’ in Knutsford a few weeks ago. I’ve been a couple of times now and it’s a perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Running from around 11am to 4pm, the streets are full of wooden stalls selling local ales, crafts and baked goods. There’s so much food on offer it’s difficult deciding which treats to buy and I usually end up going a little overboard. With my trusty little Manchester bamboo travel coffee cup in hand to keep me in caffeine (I actually picked this up in the Northwich Artisan Markets), here's what I've gotten up to on my visits so far.
It’s a pretty small place and parking isn’t always ideal in my experience. If you do have to park then Booths is a good place as it’s free on a Sunday, for 2 hours, enough time to make the most of the markets. I apologise in advance if this post makes you hungry, about 75% of the stalls are some form of food whether that be relishes, pies, flapjacks, watermelons or brownies. It’s a good idea to make sure you have a healthy appetite when you go, Every time I go, I try something new. There's tons of tasters on offer when you walk around, helping you make decisions when deciding what to buy.
Whether or not the sun is shining it doesn't stop me from grabbing an ice cream (I absolutely love ice cream, in any weather), my favourite so far has been the vegan ice cream (made from crushed bananas) which was a lot more refreshing and guilt free, although the toppings weren't exactly healthy (pictured top of post). I snapped up one of these adorable ‘Beer Can Cacti’ last time and added it to my windowsill. I really love the window boxes though and am pretty tempted to pick one up when they next pop up. Plants are such a great home addition and being a graphic designer (as well as lover of craft beers), the cans really caught my eye. The most difficult decision was finding the perfect combination or beer can design and cute cactus.
The markets are great for picking up hand crafted homeware and decorative bits and bobs. I often see a lot of prints I’d like to hang on my wall, but I do tend to design this sort of stuff myself. If you know a crafty person then it is an ideal hotspot for birthday or christmas gifts. It is for a specific audience I feel, those who enjoy high end brand store shopping, probably won't find this all too appealing. The outdoorsy dog lovers however, will appreciate the atmosphere and I definitely fall a little more into this category (most of the time). As Danny would say I'm a bit of a hipster.
There’s this vintage crockery stall that sells mismatched teacups and saucers, that makes me fell a bit like Alice down the rabbit hole. If only I had a tea party planned they would be perfect. If you're into gardening then theres countless floral bouquets on offer to add to your home or garden. I stick with the cacti because they're a lot harder to kill, (more independent that most plants) but it's a very colourful affair with some blooming beautiful flowers.
Then when it's time to stop for a bite of lunch. If you’re not already stuffed from all the goodies on offer they do have a kind of food court set up. This ranges from stonebaked pizza made fresh in front of you (I always tend to be drawn to this, I really should do a pizza post), hotdogs, noodles, burgers and loads more. It’s hard to choose just one, I always say go with someone else (one or two friends preferably) and then split your options. That way you can try a little bit of everything you fancy! The watermelon bowls are another favourite of ours because they don't feel all that bad for you (unless you add the cream of course), I try my best to stick to the healthier options. However, I do usually take home a sweet treat box for with a cup of tea when I get home (a scone, brownie or cinnamon bun will do) because it would be rude not too. Support your local businesses!
If you're in Knutsford (the markets are the first weekend of every month) I would recommend heading over to Tatton Park if the weather is nice, it's full of wildlife and a perfect place to relax in a little afternoon sunshine. There is also a delicious local honey shop just a short drive from the town, (check it out) that sells every flavour infused honey you could imagine, candles, lip balms and jars big or small. I've already had 3 jars from them and each was sweeter than the last. Not going to lie I think for me this will be a monthly thing, it's a different pace from my usual working weekday or weekend of hiking. Plus, enjoying a coffee with a box of macaroons never gets old.
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This time next week I will be in a lot of pain, but filled with pride. Why? I hear you ask. Well because next Saturday I am taking part in my second Tough Mudder! (I have the orange headband to prove I've done it once already).
For those of you who don't know (check it out) it's not really a race but more an outdoor obstacle course, that's all about teamwork and challenging yourself. In their own words - Tough Mudder is no ordinary mud run - it’s an experience. An escape from the everyday. At Tough Mudder, you won’t just face your fears - you’ll knock them down. You’ll go over, around, and through them. You’ll test your strength, stamina, and grit, and you’ll help the Mudders around you to do the same. They run multiple courses up and down the country (even a half one if you're a bit intimidated by the thought of running a muddy half marathon), so wherever you are you can sign up and get involved.
This year we've opted for the Yorkshire one, near Skipton (brand new course). Now it's 13 miles in total, but along the way you encounter many obstacles, some fun, some painful, some cold and all of them difficult (you try climbing up a halfpipe after running 12 miles). Don't worry it's all part of the fun (apparently). I will be writing a whole post on my Tough Mudder experience for you guys next week, once I have recovered from the many injuries I am bound to sustain. This post however is more about training for events like this, and what I have been doing lately to prepare myself (nothing can really prepare you for this though).
KEEP ON MOVING
Now every month i get a delivery from TRIBE, I signed up to the first box for just £1! It's a subscription of 'Natural Sports Nutrition' tailored to your needs. The regular price is £8.95 per box, and in that you get 6 individual items. They provide a balance of carbs, protein and minerals, helping you to train stronger! I was so impressed after my first delivery I decided to keep them coming.
From a design point of view it's clever, eye catching and certainly makes a statement. That alone was enough to keep me wanting more (the designers curse). The box is bright orange so you can't miss when it arrives through the letterbox, with 'KEEP MOVING' proudly displayed on the top. Inside you'll find a mix of bars and shakes in an array of colours and flavours. When you sign up, TRIBE ask you a little about the fitness you do so they can work our the stuff they'll think you'll need. I have found they're spot on with this!
The box is illustrated inside with a picturesque mountain range and the words 'Eat Natural. Run free' they're all about motivation at TRIBE. The bars packaging is clear and concise, telling you exactly what is inside each bar (my favourite has to be the sour cherry & buckwheat one). Now I am particularly fond of the extra information I haven't found on a lot of healthy snack/ protein bars, which includes a little indication of when to eat them alongside your workout. Some say an hour or 45 mins before, others are to help refuel and so eat 15 mins after. As I am not an expert in protein it is really helpful to have this information clearly on each individual bar. They also include a little break down on the back of the carbohydrates, fats and proteins (which I understand a little bit more). I've definitely noticed the difference since starting to take in protein shakes and bars before or after my running workouts, I don't get cramps or feel as sickly as when I wasn't eating the right type of foods for my training.
Mentally (any type of fitness/ exercise) it is just as challenging as physically, but that's why especially in Tough Mudder you're encouraged to join in teams. I am doing it with my good friend Connor this year, we had a group of 5 last year but as I'm sure everyone knows, life gets in the way. I'm not going to lie it's brutal (but also a laugh) and I'm sure the pictures will tell a great story. I am both excited and nervous to get stuck in again. However, I am as prepared as I'll ever be and I found a quote over the weekend that summed it up for me perfectly, 'You don't train so it doesn't hurt. You train so you can tolerate it.'
Now fitness is part of my daily routine, I don't ever really stop training, at least not completely. Some weeks it's climbing mountains and others its taking part in fun runs. Mostly though I run between 12 and 18 miles a week, over three days. That's a run every Monday, Wednesday and Friday each is usually between 4 and 6 miles. It's usually after work or in an evening but on odd occasion I will run in the mornings if I feel particularly energetic. Spending this hour of the day outside training is a highlight, and over the past year it's not only changed my appearance but my outlook on a lot of things (as well as fuelling my passion for adventure).
As someone, who was on the verge of being a size 16 many moons ago, yes it's true I have the pictures to prove it, this is an achievement in itself. I adore running, it clears my head and helps me to feel comfortable in my own skin (which I am sure for many young women is a daily challenge). The run itself has changed dramatically! Last year I was training in my local gym on a treadmill (looking back felt very monotonous at the time) and now I run rain, wind or sun, mixing it up on multiple routes through local woodland and parks not far from my flat. Mapping out these whilst exploring was a lot of fun in itself.
On the weekends, I've been walking in Delamere a lot and will squeeze and extra run in, if it's a particularly quiet Sunday. I get outside as much as I can and even more so the closer TM gets! I will happily go walking for hours and even though it's not as vigorous as my run, the TRIBE bars are perfect to pack into a backpack for the journey. In my opinion, walking the dog, taking the kids to the park instead of the cinema or even taking a romantic stroll with a couple of coffees (rather than going out for a fancy dinner, or sitting in with a takeaway) are all simple steps to improving your own wellbeing.
It's all about mentality, you have to make it part of your routine and not a chore. However you can, make it fun! Signing up for events like Tough Mudder certainly motivates me to keep myself in good shape and even on the days when I've been working for 10 hours I find the time to fit in a short sprint. The TRIBE box has a lovely little quote etched onto the bottom, once you've consumed all your delicious snacks it reads "If you are losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon." That's what it's all about, supporting each other not who can run faster, who is skinnier or stronger but working together to achieve and accomplish our goals. It may take me longer than some of my fellow mudders, I may feel the burn and want to stop but we cheer each other on and help each other out. What better thing is there to be a part of, in a time when it's hard to trust other people and we don't often speak to strangers. These types of events bring you together with people of the same mindset and motivation, those are the people I want to get to know!
IT'S THE FINAL COUNTDOWN
I'm not going to lie, there will be a great deal of junk food consumed after this Saturday. It's rare I treat myself but I think I will definitely have earned it, it's important to remember that sometimes it's more good for you than you realise. I am very guilty of punishing myself more than rewarding. I am getting better though! If this post motivates even one person to sign up, or go for a run this afternoon it was worth it! I'm already convinced I will be signing up again next year and dragging along some first timer friends next summer (training starts again on Sunday).
I can't wait to fill you all in on the experience and claim my second headband (I think this one's green, not too sure, but I really want the pink one so that's only 8 Tough Mudders away...), having taken part before I also get to take on some of the extra hard obstacles (lucky me!). I plan on giving a run down of my top 5 obstacles and posting the 'sexy' before and after photos, so keep a look out.
I've got to survive the course first though, bring on the arctic enema!
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I AM HAPPY.
Last Saturday I woke up at 7am, arrived at my local coffee shop a little after 8 to grab myself some early morning fuel (caffeine fixes everything) and meet up with two friends. Where were we going? To take part in 'The Happiest 5K On The Planet'. The day was all about having fun and exercise.
The Color Run is a fun run raising money for the NSPCC. What makes it unique is as you make your way around the course, you run through color zones. These sections are filled with volunteers who proceed to throw powdered paint all over you! If that wasn't enough they've also included a foam party section. You arrive in a crisp white tee, this comes in the running pack you receive a couple of weeks before the race along with your runner number & pins to attach it to your shirt. There was also a headband, little typography tattoo transfer reading 'HAPPY' in gold and few other bits and pieces.
But as you can see from the photos the tee doesn't stay white for long...
It all started with a warm up session, that alternated between having tons of 'swag' thrown into the crowd including sunglasses, socks and wristbands. Who doesn't love a bit of free merchandise? To the Townsend twins taking the stage, getting us all moving to the music, all whilst being cheered on by a guy in a unconventional unicorn costume. After an hour and a half of dancing about, it was time to get to the starting line. The waves were about to begin.
I AM HEALTHY.
There are a lot of people, and I mean a lot. They let you go in waves and we were in the third lot of people to set off round the course which was located around the Etihad Stadium in Manchester. Passing people of all ages and sizes, we started with Green, then Pink, Orange, Yellow, Red and a massive mountain of foam!
If you watch the video (I've linked below, shot by Yasmin & Amy, also known as A2Y Travellers), you will witness the fun in it's all it's chaotic, colourful glory. Including the soaking I got from the foam cannons. It's a pretty easy race, I personally run quite a few times a week usually around 6.5k so it wasn't very challenging but more just about having fun.
Approaching the finish line we were welcomed with bottles of water and a whole selection of food stalls from Coffee & Candyfloss to New York Bagels. We headed over to the stage where everyone was partying, dancing and celebrating after completing 'My Happiest 5K!' I don't think I have ever seen so much colour in one crowd. They handed out packets of the powdered paint & every so often started a colour countdown. This would lead to a massive rainbow being released, as people threw the powders into the air. As you can see underneath this turned the perfect blue sky into a canvas.
I AM ME.
The Color Run was without a doubt one of the most fun events, I have ever been involved in. The atmosphere was electric & more importantly it is an event that families, friends and even kids can do! You can walk, skip, dance or run your way to the finish line but one thing is for sure you wont leave without a massive smile on your face.
I already intend to sign up again next year & I'm considering the September one located in Bristol. I love anything fitness related but the messages being spread really resonated with me at this event. After the recent terror attacks, particularly in Manchester, it is heartwarming to see people all joining together & still getting involved in events just like this. Not being put off by the crowds of people but instead rallying together in the face of terror. Refusing to not go out & just enjoy being who we are, being happy!
Just like the posers we are, here is our action shot at the finish. If anyone is wondering whether to sign up or thinks they cant do it I promise you, you won't regret it this race is for EVERYONE. Not only that but rain or shine you can't help but enjoy yourself. It's important to enjoy the little moments.
🍑 A B Y
Chick Chicka Chicka...
Ferris Buellers Day Off is one of my favourite films of all time! So you can imagine how excited I was when I got the chance to go to Chicago with work for a few days. Unfortunately, I didn't get to show my stuff on top of a parade float, but I did get to lean out over the Chicago skyline. I'd only been to America once before, to New York with my friend around 4 years ago now. This was such an exciting prospect, I love the states! The sheer scale of the cities really takes my breath away, plus you can't complain about the food!
On day one, we arrived late afternoon but that didn't stop me from throwing my stuff into the hotel room & heading out to explore. They don't call it the windy city for nothing, it was absolutely freezing, despite the glorious sunshine. We were lucky that the hotel we were staying in was right around the corner from Cloud Gate, a very unique reflective sculpture in Millennium Park. Naturally, I headed straight over for a look! After a half an hour stroll I went back to meet up with the guys from work.
As it was our first night, Chicago town deep dish pizza was a no brainer! May I just say whilst in Chicago I ate a lot and I mean a lot. American portions are so much bigger that I often struggled to finish a whole meal and the pizza was insane. We found this adorable little diner round the corner as we didn't want to travel too far. We asked the waiter if he thought two large pizzas would be enough for the four of us, his advice was to get one. We decided to take his advice opting for one large and one small in the end, it's a good job we did because we were still shamelessly defeated.
The pizza itself was sensational! It was bizarre as it came in more of a pie tin, the crust is topped with quite a generous layer of cheese and then the sauce is spread on top. If you are ever in Chicago, don't leave without trying the deep dish it was definitely the best meal we had on the whole trip. Totally exhausted from the travel and food we headed straight to bed.
The Sausage King of Chicago
The second day we were meeting in the lobby at around 10am. Thanks to the jet lag, I woke around 6 so decided to put my trainers on and head out. The city was quiet, beautiful and crisp, so I walked down to the harbour in time to catch the sun coming up, it did not disappoint. The breeze was certainly a wake up call. As everywhere was pretty much closed I strolled around the city for 3 hours, taking in the sights, it was peaceful and a definite contrast from the bustle of the night before. A quick stop off at Starbucks for my morning coffee fix then it was time for breakfast. After soaking in as much of the cities streets, sounds and smells, I figured the miles had earned me the staple of American breakfasts, pancakes and bacon!
The day was filled with work stuff for a conference, but an early finish meant I got to go live out a bit of a Ferris Bueller moment up at the top of Willis Tower, also referred to as Sears Tower. Similar to the Empire State Building, the tourist attraction gives you a perfect view across the skyline with large glass windows. You can really see for miles and in true spirit of the film, I climbed up on the barrier, leant onto the glass and peered down to the city below. A cool feature is the opportunity to stand on a glass floor, now I am not afraid of heights at all but the first step did make me feel a little on edge. It was an odd sensation being 1,353 feet suspended in the air. I imagine going up on an evening would be indescribable, I did that in New York & couldn't quite put into words the view. A quick trip down to the gift shop and one 'Sausage King of Chicago' fridge magnet later, we were back out on the street.
A Person Should Not Believe in an ism
The next few days mostly consisted of work and spending the evenings socialising or at events. In the mornings I continued my habit of getting up extra early, so I could grab a coffee and stretch my legs. I never know if I will get to go back to a place once I have seen it so I try my best to just breathe it in for however long I am there.
With so many nights out, I tried my first ever sidecar. Anyone who knows me will know I love a good cocktail, this was no exception and the sugar dusted rim added an extra level of sweetness. Another night involved a Hard Rock Cafe visit, where plenty of mojitos were consumed. We began the night by ordering the largest plate of nachos I have ever seen in my life, and that was just the starter. That was followed by classic burger & fries for me with a mexican twist, it certainly went down a treat! I find no matter which Hard Rock you go to the food is really good and the interior of each inspires me. They have this vintage diner from Grease kind of appeal, with music memorabilia consuming the interior walls, throw in an added modern twist & that sums up the Hard Rock Cafe. It has to be said this was the fourth one I have visited (London, New York, Dublin) and the staff are an absolute delight, never failing to have a laugh with you.
A couple of nights we went to Miller's Pub right down the road from our hotel, because the food was fantastic and they served this sweet sour cherry beer that I need to find now I'm back home. Meals there included a 'Blue Cheese Burger' and 'Pastrami on Rye', I am glad I did all the early morning walking because it helped me feel less guilty about the overload of carbs! This pub also served the best peanut butter cheesecake I will ever have in my life, we shared it between three of us but I think I could have easily eaten the whole thing! My best judgement told me that the calories probably wouldn't be appreciated the morning after though.
*I am starting this blog after my trip so in the future I am going to take a lot more photos and notes of place names, as well as tips for travelling.
Life Moves Pretty Fast
It feels strange to say but I think a part of me preferred Chicago to New York. For a big city it felt quite cosy, I loved the culture, music and atmosphere. There is a lot less of the touristy stuff so you can focus on actually living and breathing the city. With every street you turn being full of exciting restaurants and bars, I could only dream about living somewhere like this. I always make sure to fill my bag with american candy for the family before coming home, the best finds this time were Nutter Butters and Coffee M&Ms, they don't last very long.
Whenever I go on trips I always want a souvenir, ideally something that isn't tacky, is original and if possible free. One of the events we went to had artists dotted around the room doing caricatures in multiple styles, being a designer myself I couldn't quite contain my excitement. I sat for two one which was the more comical interpretation but the second was a fashion illustration, very vogue. (These are now proudly framed on my photo wall at home). My next trip to the states is for Trek America in October, I'm already planning my kit list and want to get a memento for every place I visit.
Next stop San Francisco...
🍑 A B Y
Hey, this is my very first blog post!!! (I want to build a sort of back catalogue over the next month, of what I've been up to the last 6 months). I have had such an insane start to this year and found myself really motivated to do more with my time, be adventurous, travel and step out of my comfort zone. What better way to document it all than on my very own blog.
This is a quick little intro with ten things to know about me. Not the boring profile stuff like age, hair colour... This hopefully just will give you an insight into my life, who I am as a person & what I like to get up to. I can't wait to share some photos from the past 18 months, but also start planning more for the future to keep you guys reading! (If anyone is even there).
So lets get to this list:
ONE. I suppose I can start with the fact I have 5 tattoos, I may do a post about them later. I got my first one on my 18th Birthday and the latest just last week. Each one is very personal and they tell a part of my story which I feel is important with tattoos for me personally.
TWO. There will be a lot of running posts here but what people don't generally know is that I used to be quite overweight. About 4 to 5 years ago I decided to make a change and began working out at the gym constantly. In total I lost around 4 stone which has had a massive impact on who I am today.
THREE. I moved into my first flat at the grand old age of 23, in April this year. To say the least it was an eventful experience! I love having my own space but it has been a lot to take in lately. With working, saving for holidays and being generally a very active person, I have found the home improvement stuff takes a back seat. I really need to get stuck into putting my mark on it!
FOUR. I work for a publishing company in Knutsford, anything I do online is just because I enjoy it. The blogging is more for me to look back on rather than me pursuing it as a career. I like the idea of having an outlet to go with my Instagram and Twitter, where I can really write about my experiences rather than just post a photo.
FIVE. I am a graphic designer and although I don't actively do much freelance I also this year put together my first official website. I will link it to this blog but it is abydesign.co.uk, you can buy prints and stuff on my Society6 page but it is just a bit of fun (at least for now).
SIX. I have two sisters, they're called Hannah and Lara and I am the oldest. I am 24, Hannah is 21 and Lara is almost 19. We are all completely different and its been strange all of us living separately now after growing up together. I am sure they will feature on here at some point.
SEVEN. I would probably say my favourite city is Manchester, at least at home here in the UK. I don't live too far away and spend time there whenever I can. It's just such an exciting place and there will be plenty of posts featured around it in the future I am sure, not to mention the Northern Quarter has amazing food and drink on offer.
EIGHT. I lived in London for a while, doing a placement working in digital publishing. It was my first experience being away from home and I absolutely loved every minute! Despite moving back up north and being in a much more rural area now, I thrive in the city atmosphere. It just has this buzz about it. There are lots of little hideaways I plan on writing about and sharing with you all.
NINE. In the last year I have become a budding mountaineer! In love with nature and camping I have been climbing mountains in the UK, most recently Snowdon. I did that for my birthday just last week with Danny, in less than ideal conditions! The Lake District, Yorkshire Dales, Wales and Scotland are such beautiful places that I can just never get sick of. Sometimes you forget what is right on your doorstep.
TEN. Finally, I studied Photography and English Literature whilst at college. I always wanted to get into photojournalism and documenting things, so I suppose in a way it has come full circle. I have been so busy working in the design industry. But now I am settled in my career and adulting successfully I feel it is the perfect time to create something like this.
I promise much more of a visual post next! As I mentioned I turned 24 last week and so a lot of celebrations included visiting a new restaurant/bar in Manchester, camping in Beddgelert, climbing Snowdon, getting tattoo number 5 and doing the Manchester Color Run...
... so I am going to get stuck into writing some more blog posts now.
🍑 A B Y
Aby, 24. Northerner.