30 August 2012

Crazy work people

Most of the time Work sucks. But sometimes in the lottery of the workplace you end up spending 90% of your waking hours with some really lovely, and crazy people.

Exhibit A:


I swear to you one moment he was in a suit then 30 seconds later I saw a flash of neon pink. My stomach hurt we were laughing so much...

 

29 August 2012

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies - Reading Recommendation

There was such hype about this book, and I kept saying to myself "Shall I get it? Is it all just hype? Should I get a samurai sword?" And the answers are Yes, Somewhat but it is still awesome - mostly as it has ninjas and butt-kicking in it and probably No. It wasn't until I was walking to work one day, and an American guy said to his mate "Pride and Prejudice with Zombies man, dude it was cool" I knew it was a sign and had to get it.


The Zombies, the Ninjas, the crinolines, the riduculous faux modesty, the sword wielding - need I go on? It made me laugh from the moment I opened it's pages, and that's all I wanted from it. I didn't really expect Seth Grahame-Smith to blow me away with his erudite prose, but I did love the way that he weaves in the premise that the world is suffering from a Zombie plague.

It's a bit patchy, and I agree with a few other reviews I read - there definately could have been more beheading of the more annoying characters. One aspect I enjoyed, to my surprise, is that you can put this down after a few chapters, and pick it up again later and it will be there waiting. Normally I inhale books, but this I liked as I could have on Stand-By and meander through it at will.

I liked Pride and Prejudice, I loved Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

 
Whilst I think this satiated my bloodthirsty/YA side, I'm not sure I'll be picking up the rest of the series of Austen books re-written, but it was certainly a good chuckle, and like most of the Austen books, I will no doubt pick it up again later on.

(Disclaimer: the above links to an Amazon Associates UK account, which means I make a little money (less than 5%) from any purchases made after clicking through these links, but at no extra charge to you. So if you are interested in buying the book, please click through the link under the image. Help support a book addiction...)

28 August 2012

Foodie-in-training: Macarons

In the last while, we've enjoyed some really interesting foods and tastes;
But these babies are my favourite so far:



I wish I could claim that I have painstakingly creamed, baked, piped and assembled them, but I would be lying (though I do make a mean Melting Moment biscuit - I used to make them for my Dad, and people would steal them out of his lunchbox). Today we 'happened' to pass by a lovely shop selling them in central London, and my cousin has just returned from a European trip, and tried these in the Parisian flagship store.

From a dizzying array of Macarons including Lime, Lemon, Violet, Raspberry, Caramel, Peruvian Chocolate, Coffee, Mocha, we chose Caramel with Sea Salt, Chocolate, Mint & Vanilla.

The Chocolate (hubby's favourite) would be a perfect afternoon tea with a strong coffee or cup of tea. The biscuit texture is solidly smooth, then you hit the smooth lush ganache filling.

The Caramel was lucious and unctious, but they are small enough to feel like a lovely treat and not overwelm you. The salt was a subtle hint to accompany the divine caramel biscuit, with a creamy centre and caramel surprise.

The Mint surprised us. It's 'Garden' Mint flavoured as opposed to peppermint which we were expecting, and after our initial surprise, an earthy palate cleanser.

The Vanilla was my tied favourite (with the Caramel, can you tell?) With specks of vanilla scattered throughout, it was soft creamy and sweet.

 


Overall rating: Inhaled



A potted history;
The story of the Ladurée macaron starts with Pierre Desfontaines, second cousin of Louis Ernest Ladurée, who at the beginning of the 20th century first thought of taking two macaron shells and joining them with a delicious ganache filling.

These small, round cakes, crisp on the outside, smooth and soft in the middle, are made every morning in Ladurée’s “laboratory”. The pastry chefs measure out very precisely the required amounts of almonds, eggs and sugar, before adding one final ingredient, a pinch of unique “know-how”, essential to the making of such a delicacy. Once cooked and filled, the macarons are put to one side for 2 days before going on sale, the time it takes to achieve a perfect balance between texture and flavour.

The only moan I have is the shop is teeny and cramped, and only fits two people in it's width. I wasn't comped by Laduree to write this, I just wanted an excuse to try them to share these with you, the general public, but Laduree if you would like to send us a few more to sample & review, I think I could bring myself to assist!

Todays Workout (Burning off 4 half Macaron's): 10 minutes running, 45 minutes solid walking, 10 minutes on the stair machine.

What are your favourite biscuits?

27 August 2012

London Living: Carnival

One thing uniquely London, is the Notting Hill Carnival. A melting pot of food, music & dancing, but not for the faint hearted. With Jerk chicken that could burn through steel, cool crisp beer, and eye-watering crowds, we haven't as yet braved the carnival. We were definately considering it this year, until we met the melee of the excited travellers on Central Line. Wow.
 
We definately piked this year (didn't end up going), but next year, Notting Hill Carnival won't know what hit it!
 
M&C Saatchi
Best Poster. Ever.
 
Todays workout: An hour's walk around Central London.
 
Have you braved the carnival?

August Bank Holiday Family time

I had planned great things for my blog posts today: a recipe and discourse to rival war and peace.
 
However, as things do, life kind of got in the way. We got some pretty boring chores completed, groceries done, gym out the way, and then a last minute decision to catch up with hubby's family, taking my cuz with us. Such a lovely unplanned evening of laughter. We are lucky - it has been a hard few months, but we have come out of it stronger at the end. Happy, healthy and hearty. That's all we ask for.
 
Todays workout: 10 minutes running, 45 minutes solid walking, 10 minutes on the stair machine.
 
What are your favourite/cherished family activities?

25 August 2012

Living London: Rainy Bank Holidays

Now, I love London with all my heart (except the part that will always be reserved for Aoteoroa) but the one downside to London - the weather (Oh, and commuting, but we'll leave that for another day!)

The quintessential image of London is rainswept, and it well deserves it. It's not normally a torrential awful rain, but just an annoying drizzle that springs on you when you've nipped out without your umbrella. Before I came over I thought it would more like a monsoon to be honest - continuously driving rain - but to be honest as long as you have a wee mini-brolly in your bag, you're normally ok.

Except this 'summer'. I don't expect much from UK summers (I think the reason they built soo many pubs is to get out of the rain!) but bar the last few tropical weeks it's been bad. The last couple of weeks the Gulf stream apparently shifted, and we have had mediterranean weather - woohoo!

... Until the curse of the bank holiday. 3 days off = rain. And Thunder and Lightening.







And what's the very best thing to do on a rainy bank holiday weekend?


Todays Workout: 45 minutes splashing through London streets

What have you done on your Bank Holiday Weekend?

23 August 2012

Best of British Foodie Penpals

I've been participating in Foodie Penpals for awhile, and one month I hooked up with a lovely American lass, and we swapped directly.

It was surprising hard to narrow down all the scrummy Best of British stuff (the sweet variety), into a box small enough not to cost the earth, as it was travelling a third of the way around it. What I came up with;


  • Frank Coopers Marmadale - because my Penpal is a Marmalade nut, and I'm told that Frank Coopers is (to borrow an American phrase) "the Jam".
  • Earl Grey Tea bags - the epitomy of Englishness is drinking Tea so I couldn't resist - and she loved them, saying that they had a 'brightness' of flavour that she hadn't had from American tea. They also had a kitsch Union Jack packaging I couldn't help loving
  • Boiled sweets - before I came to England and discovered Sherbet Lemons & Chocolate Limes I wasn't all that bothered about sweets (aka. Lollies for my Kiwi readers) but these are amazing - we even had Chocolate Limes in our Wedding Favours, paired with Minties! I sent a real variety; Pear Drops, Rhubarb & Custars, Cola Cubes (so addictive), Chocolate Limes, Sherbert Lemons and a couple of others
  • M&S Milk Chocolate Rounds - have you tried these? Resist them, I dare you!
  • Lindt - ok, not English but divine nonetheless. I was only disappointed that I couldn't find their Creme Brulee Chocolate.
  • Butter Shortbread draped in Olympic Finery
  • Homemade Double Chocolate Chip Biscuits (not pictured)
She loved it which was really sweet!!

Todays workout: 30minutes powerwalking, 15 minutes running, 10 minutes Stairmachine. It felt so gooooooood

What are your favourites that you would have added?

22 August 2012

Gym guilt

I've not been to the Gym for nearly two weeks. There, I said it, I've come clean to the world. Instead we have been out and about, or simply doing nothing (though I think we clocked up a few points on our wander up Big Ben & around Buckingham Palace!)

I have been trying to get more mini-excercise in my day though; running other peoples errands (genuinely - my boss loves me right now), walking across the room to speak to someone instead of yelling, getting off two bus stops early and stairs. Oh the stairs I have been running - one day I counted 12 flights of stairs not including running up and down the office ones. My subconcious decided I needed to get on the Northbound Tube line instead of the Southbound, and because of it I ended up in a station that seemed to solely consist of stairs.

I'm also trying to make a consistent effort to not just wander, but to put a little Ooomph into my step, trying to beat my personal best times for walking and from work. I've also found myself 'racing' other commuters. It sounds mad, but it's quite fun, and I'm sure they are totally oblivious to it... at least I hope they are!

On your marks commuters...
Tomorrow we are going to the Gym. I am giving in to some concentrated sweating and huffing, and that's just the walk to the gym. Kidding. I've missed my running music though... is that a good enough reason to go? Tonight on the other hand, I'm washing my hair.

Todays Workout: Nil. Apart from Racing to & from Work. PB on the way home people.

What do you do to add bits of excercise to your day?

21 August 2012

Emirates Cable Car, North Greenwich

The last leg of our tourist day, was catching the cable car linking the southern bank of the Thames near the o2 Arena, with the Northbank to the Excel Centre - both Olympic Venues.

I have to admit I'm not great with heights, so I was a bit wary of this one, but knew that if I didn't gird my loins and get on it, I would miss some spectacular views. Once I opened my eyes, and de-clenched my hands, it didn't disappoint.

 

We stopped off during the trip for a brief beverage stop. We were so lucky to have such a gorgeous day! My friend remarked that she felt like she was on proper holiday, you know the first day of a week long break. Alas, not true in our case, but an incredible day nonetheless. Between the sunshine, the company & the caribbean bar we wandered into, I think it was a fabulous end, really concreting our day.


We made our return journey, and decided to have a bite to eat while watching the sun go down as people completed the Walk over the o2 Dome. I think that's one of our next adventures...


The Cable Car details can be found of the Transport For London website. It's very cheap (you can also pay a reduced amount using your Oyster card) and is being touted as a new method of transport for commuters (part of the London Olympics Games Legacy). To be honest, while I'm sure it can be really handy, I'm not sure if I could handle it being broken down, hanging 300feet over the Thames, in the nature of the fairly unreliable Underground.

20 August 2012

... Sunshine on my window, makes me happy

A weekend round up in pictures. We had such a lovely lazy hazy weekend in the sunshine. 31-31 degrees celcius. Yum.

I don't care that the lawns have gone a wee bit brown, I don't care that it's so hot that we haven't seen the cat as she's found a shady spot. I love it - I'm not a sun worshipper by any means, but this summer has been terrible... and I don't expect much from English summers. I think in the last few days I've actually managed to get a tan - changing my skin shade from blue to pale. Shocking right?

All kidding aside we have had the most lovely weekend. From the Foodie Festival on Friday afternoon, to Sunday's family BBQ it was awesome.


 


This weekends workout: Er, does walking to the shop at the end of the road count? 


What did you get up to this weekend?

19 August 2012

Rivers of London - Reading Recommendation

Peter Grant is your average Central London PC; street-wise, loves his curries, beer and football but not so great at concentrating on the finer detail. It just so happens that one day he takes a statement "from a man who was already dead but still disturbingly voluble."

 

I really enjoyed the clever mix of life in London with a supernatural twist. The characters are flawed and funny - narrated by Peter Grant, it feels that as a character he begins to find himself, instead of being banished the drudgery of the paperwork based 'Case Progression Unit' and finds a niche in which to use his unique perspective on the world. As a result of this 'awareness' he is approached by a fairly secretive branch of the Met Police, and he begins to train as a magician because as the character says "I want in Sir, I've got to know." I think I would do the same.

The secondary characters of Lesley and Nightingale are good foils for Peter Grant, as he begins the process and discovers there is much more to London than thought. London itself is almost a character in the novel, and as a card-carrying antipodean, this was one of my favourite aspects of the book - not to mention the personifications of the London Rivers.

It took me a couple of chapters to get into it, much like Terry Pratchet when I was younger, but once I was hooked, that was it. It may be that as it's narrated by a man which is fairly unusual for a Fantasy/Fiction book.

 

Definately a great commuting and travel read, and nice for something out of the ordinary (even compared to usual Fantasy books). The researching seems to be spot on, but doesn't overwelm and dry out the book; and insights to the London Bobbies are very quick witted. This was so enjoyable, I'm already reading the second book in the series.

(Please note any links to Amazon are through my Amazon Associates account, which means I make a little money (less than 5%) from any purchases made after clicking through these links with no added cost to your purchase. This helps support my book addiction, so if you are interested in buying the book, please click through the top link)

London Living: Battersea Foodies Festival