2013

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After my discovery that Chelsea isn’t in fact just for people named Binky or owners of miniature dogs, I’ve been branching out and exploring more of this London gem. A few weeks ago my friend Phil aka Chime Hours told me about Big Easy and more importantly, it’s all-you-can-eat FAJITA WEDNESDAY! Big Easy is a short stroll from Sloane Square station and describes itself as deluxe crabshack dining which already had me sold. The decor & atmosphere is worth a visit in itself, let alone the fact the food is sensational. Feeling as if you’ve just left Chelsea stiffness and entered the deep south, Big Easy is adorned with crabs, fishing nets, amazing artwork and kitsch quotes.

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I usually have Spanish evening class on a Wednesday so this was an extra special treat because I skived my lesson (then had to make up for it with the Que Horror! of double spanish the next week) as the lure of all you can eat sizzling meat was too high. You pay a really reasonable £14.95 and this includes as many fajitas as you can scoff PLUS an icy beer or a frozen margarita. Guess what I opted for…

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I just want to take a moment to pay tribute to my beautiful Sugarhill Boutique Love Birds blouse. I was in the market for a birthday-present to myself when I saw lovely Rosie’s post with her wearing it and I was a style thief and instantly ordered myself one! Luckily we live hundreds of miles apart so I felt safe in the knowledge that she wouldn’t trot in at any moment wearing it too, phew. Since buying this blouse I’ve been obsessed with Sugarhill Boutique. I’m a sucker for prints and they have such a beautiful selection, I’ll be writing more about them next week as I am wearing this little number to the York Races tomorrow so I’ll be reporting back on the day and the dress! SO, back to the fajitas…

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The fajita goodness comes out on a huge sizzling platter. You can choose chicken, steak, shrimp or vegetable. Or you can be a greedy guts and choose all four, which is what we did. It sizzles away on a hot plate, whilst you are also bought baskets of hot fajita wraps and plates of salsa/lime/cheese/guac/sour cream. After feasting your way through the lot, you can ask for as MANY refills of everything as you can possibly muster. All of the food is delicious but as a surf & turf freak I stuck mostly to shrimpy steak combos. I intentionally arrived with a huge appetite but as usual was quite lame once under the pressure of you can eat as MUCH as you like! I managed 4 fajitas, but my three dates for the night fared better. Phil & Craig both managed 5 fajitas but Nick was crowned fajita champion by chomping 6 (and his were all stuffed so full they basically exploded). I don’t think Nick felt like the winner as he groaned his way up the Northern line home and had to be rolled into bed though.

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A nice added bonus was that Big Easy also have nightly music. We were sat next to the stage and a group of guys & guitars serenaded us with sweet covers and tropical tunes as we ate. It did mean conversation was a little SHOUTY and getting waiter/waitresses attention for refills and new drinks could be a challenge, but the pros outweigh the cons and I really enjoyed the buzzy, hectic, friendly feasting atmosphere. The Big Easy has a huge standard menu of BBQ, shrimp, steaks and seafood. They also do various other offers similar to this during the week including all-you-can-eat Shrimp on Tuesdays and an annual rib-eating contest on 4th July. I basically am already dreaming of when I can next go back there and want to take all my friends there to experience the fiesta vibe. Who’s in?

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Our smug not-as-full-as-Nick faces! I realised that when you live in London you NEVER take photographs on the tube, so thought I’d go rogue and actually the lighting and colours are quite fetching. In-real-life friends will recognise this shearling collar, as I am wearing it every day at the moment. This nightmare May weather means I want to wear my leather jacket or parka but never know when I’ll get an attack of the chills and need something toasty. I down-right refuse to wear a scarf in Spring so this is the next best thing, it also adds a nice furry lapel to any jacket you are getting a bit bored with. In fact I love it so much, I just ordered myself another one from ASOS in cream. I guess it’s just my big collar addiction hitting a new level of over-size!

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Back in January I blogged about my resolutions for 2013. Since we are now hurtling into March I thought I’d revist them and reveal how much I’m winning (um, or failing) at them.

01. Read 51 books: Having a holiday always ramps up my reading and Morocco was no different. I devoured 6 books in one week and that included The Innocents by Francesca Segal  which will be very hard pushed to be defeated as my book of the year; a bold statement for February! I also rediscovered a favourite author; Erin Kelly. I read The Poison Tree  (recently made into an… okay… ITV drama) a few years ago now. It was my pre-kindle days and it was a beast of a book that I eventually had to ditch on a hotel bookcase in Massachusetts as I couldn’t fit it back into my suitcase, but I hope someone else went on to really enjoy it too. I didn’t realise Erin Kelly had released any other books so when I idly typed her name into Amazon, suddenly I had The Sick Rose & The Burning Air to read and I did; back to back. Her writing style is so poetic and she creates a real underlaying sense of foreboding, definitely an author if you like a prickle in the back of your neck and a page turner that keeps you awake into the night until you’ve finished. I’ve now hit a total brick wall though, I’ve been so busy since I returned that I haven’t read a single book. I have started The Blind Man’s Garden and whilst it’s receiving massive critical acclaim, I just cannot get into it. This is probably more to do with my work-drained state of brain, than the quality of the book. I also have a novel from one of my favourite authors Instructions for a Heatwave – Maggie O’Farrell awaiting me, so I might just stick Nadeem Aslam on the back burner until I finish that. I am about to embark on an 11 hour flight… so maybe I’ll have time for both?

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Talking of reading.. last week the devastating happened. My kindle died! It’s been heading that way for ages; constantly freezing and crashing and randomly deleting everything. It had lasted 3 years (ish) and been fixed once, so I thought that was fair enough given it’s something I use everyday and don’t exactly look after. SO I took the plunge and bought a replacement Amazon Paperwhite. I ummed and ahhed but when I worked it out at cost per use, I think I’ll soon be getting my moneys worth and I don’t think my creaky back could bear to go back to a life of carrying anything heavier. Transferring all my books was so easy, and I am already so impressed with all the new features compared to my prehistoric (!) keypad kindle.

02. Learn to surf: Done & done!

03. Visit 3 countries (not including Europe) and 10 new cities: I can now tick off Africa & Agadir, so I’m down to 2 countries and 9 new cities. Tomorrow I wake up bright and sprightly and spend just over a fortnight working in America; one week in LA and one week in NY. I know, I am a very VERY lucky girl. I’m super excited about the travel (I get to go in the posh bit of the plane!) and the lush hotels, that I would never be able to afford on a holiday budget. However, I am less excited about the 30+ presentations and 15 important meetings that I need to battle with jetlag and an undecipherable accent. It’s the biggest thing I’ve ever done in my career and I have a lot to prove, so right now I am a nervous butterfly-y bundle of jitters. I’m still planning plenty of sight seeing in both places though and have the benefit of visiting both before, so I won’t be a total newbie. My cousin also lives in LA and he has promised to show me 4 things: a place where cocktails are served in tankards, a place that sells burritos as big as a cat, the creepy house from Mulholland Drive and the Museum of Jurassic Technology. I think this epic list really does prove how well he knows me.

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04. Climb Snowdon: I already know this is not going to happen as my climbing buddy had a change of heart about his mountain mission. I need a new number 4. Maybe it can just be to go climbing indoors, as last year I tried climbing outdoors and would like to compare.

05. QUIT caffeine: Totally DONE and I will never go back! I can’t believe the headaches, nausea, tiredness I had trying to quit the evil substance that I didn’t realise I was heavily addicted to. Now my life is just packed with roobois, decaf Yorkshire Tea and herbal tea. I do miss everything about coffee; making a plunger on the weekend, trying out the best coffee shops in London and using it to get through that crummy 4-6pm work day slump… but I couldn’t put myself through quitting again and I know that to avoid future surgery and make my treatment work the best possible, I have to remain squeaky clean & caffeine free.

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06. Finish knitting my scarf: I haven’t even looked at my knitting all year. To be honest I did so much of it when I was sick, that I think I associate it with a bit of a rubbish bedroom prison period and am now enjoying being out & about and not sitting still. However, I’m going to visit my 93 year old gran over Easter so will definitely be packing it in my bags and getting back into it, as she is the ultimate knitting guru.

07. Brush up my Spanish: I have now completed 8 weeks of Spanish classes and am really enjoying hablar Español. I didn’t realise that committing to an extra 2 hours working once a week and 2 hours homework would take it’s toll, but it’s worth it. After a long day I’d expect it to be more of a struggle but I’ve really bonded with my teacher and class, and as it’s something totally different to my job; it’s amazing the second wind I get. I can really notice my improvement, and so just signed up for another 10 weeks. My class puts me to shame; I am one of two British people, the rest are from all around the world – China, Russia, Cyprus, France and Italy, so they are all learning their THIRD language in their second language! Bizarrely; I started watching the incredible Community at the same time as enrolling and I can relate to it even more; as it tracks a random group of people joining a Spanish class at community college. Luckily my teacher is way more sane than Señor Chang, but it’s always interesting to get a random group of people forced to spend time together regularly and watch the dynamics! Last week I actually got asked to el cine (in Spanish!) by one of the guys in my class despite the fact I incessantly talk about my pareja estable guapo. I think I should have guessed he was heading that way, when in an exercise where he was meant to be describing me as his favourite sister, he said I was hot. It was really awkward but luckily he is leaving the country so hopefully he’ll soon move onto asking other (actually single) chicas out and I can go back to successfully evading male attention other than that of my one true nuevo.

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In the first class we had to do an exercise where we thought of a famous person at random, and both Ming-Ling (Chinese student) and I picked Sofia Coppola… which was very weird of all the people in the world to choose from? The class advertised that they use the most modern technology, but that turns out to be an audio CD which doesn’t work on my laptop! So I had to buy a £9.99 CD Walkman especially for Spanish time, which brings back a lot of nostalgic 90s memories to when this was the ultimate in cutting edge music gear. Despite the fact I am paying for the course and doing it for myself, it’s ridiculous the lengths I go to in avoiding homework! Procrastination still definitely applies, and suddenly that pile of ironing that’s sat unloved/unworn for months or hoovering around the edge of my bedroom becomes really appealing. On the whole though, Spanish is a wonderful language to learn.To try and improve my skills I’m going to start watching films in Spanish. I also have become really creepy; in London there are so many Spanish speaking tourists so I’ve taken to lurking near anyone I hear speaking Spanish and trying to pick up parts of their conversations.

 08. Write half of the secret-project: Still can’t talk about this. Shh.

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09. Blog more than 2013: I am enjoying blogging so much this year. I feel like I’m doing it for myself again and I think part of this is that I don’t collaborate with brands or have anyone else deciding on content except, well, me and what I fancy chatting about. The ravishing Rosie from A Rosie Outlook wrote a really interesting and refreshingly honest post on blogging being a hobby or a life sucker recently and ways to combat it, which really resonated with how I felt when I took a years break from blogging. Now I really look forward to settling down and tapping away but don’t care if 20 or 200 people read it really! One real confidence boost was that I got shortlisted for the Lomography Love Bloggers Awards, I didn’t make the winners list but it was exciting to be involved in the process and acknowledged. The winners list are all very much deserving too, well worth adding to your reader!

09. Alter my work/life balance: Hmm, this still definitely needs work! The incredible travel opportunity makes the long hours more worthwhile though and I am doing so much more in my spare time; football matches, gigs, parties, meals out, seeing friends, its both-end candle burning season.

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10. Be brave: I’ve had to do a few tough things this year, including some difficult medical conversations with my surgeon and some pretty grim tests and check-ups. So this is definitely a tick!

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11. Get back in music: Oh yes, after being sick to the back teeth of my itunes, I bought Spotify premium and instantly discovered some incredible gems like the Bon Iver Stems Project, new Tegan & Sara as well as a few trips down music memory lane. So far it definitely feels worth the monthly investment; but it seems easy enough to quit if for some reason I stop being so enamoured.

12. STOP saying “Oh my God”: I am worse than EVER. I sometimes have an Oh My Gosh variation but all in all it’s still bad vocabulary times.

13. Daily Records: I’ve filled out my Q&A book every day this year, even when I really don’t feel like it, it’s so short that it is manageable. I also have carried on taking a photograph every day, of which there are a few pepppered about in this post.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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