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(Lemon, Honey and Ginger Chicken) Roasts and Rituals

So if I google image rituals, I get pictures like this 

and this

and this

Fyi in this post I am not talking about a witchy-style ritual, this post is not about how I sacrificed a chicken, a lemon and some honey. That is the next "things to do with your lover" post. Rituals, as the Oxford English dictionary describes it are "a series of actions or type of behaviour regularly and invariably followed by someone", so encompasses everything from worship rites, and rites of passage to shaking hands at the beginning of a meeting.

Rituals is also sort of a blog thing - all over blogosphere there is information on other people's rituals, routines repeated every day, posts about skincare rituals, bedtime rituals, coffee rituals, blog-writing rituals.

For me, when I think of rituals, I think of those little good things that we repeat often and through that become big good things.

Often a lot of something however good can be bad, it makes us bored of it, ungrateful, or we go into autopilot and barely realise we're doing something. As the Spice Girls said, "too much of something is bad enough".

But rituals are the anomaly to that rule, something we do repeatedly, but with each repeat the experience somehow becomes nicer, almost as if that niceness compounds with each act. As you carry out a ritualised act, you're not just enjoying the good stuff in that moment, but you also feel all the sweet nostalgia for when you've carried out those acts before and also a touch of excitement for the next time.

Here are some rituals - past and present - I have had (still have) and liked (like):

  • A Cadbury's curly wurly after swimming lessons (a ritual ages 4-9, before they became as expensive as a normal chocolate bar!)
  • Fresh pyjamas on a Sunday
  • Monday house night, where someone cooks a meal, and the others buy 2 for £5 bottles of red wine (a ritual ages 22-24)
  • Watching "It's a Wonderful Life" on Christmas Eve with my family
  • Advent Calendars
  • Actually most things I do in December
  • Taking my make up off with a hot flannel before bed every night
  • Playing cannister and getting to drink a coca cola on Saturday nights (a ritual from 11-15)
  • Hot water with lemon first thing in the morning
  • Using my pink highlighter on Mondays
  • Getting in to BBC Strictly Come Dancing every year
I recently read an article found through Cup of Jo (one of my faves) about a ritual a lady had started, which was far more life changing for her than any of these have been for me (though they have been lovely). She began - or more her husband did - to cook meatballs every Friday, and anyone was welcome to come round for them (as long they let her know by Thursday evening). 

Her Friday meatball cooking and hosting ritual she says has "transformed [her] family's life". It got her out (well in but) socialising after kids, it stopped her (as a stay at home freelance writer) feeling isolated and helped her interact with her community, it allowed her to spend quality time with her daughter, and it gave her something nice to look forward to and help her relax each week.

So here is my new Sunday ritual - a roast chicken and a great film.

oh hey there crumby belly 

Now, I would love to eventually have the confidence (in both myself and my cooking) to extend my roast and movie invitation to neighbours, friends and family though I am not sure I am there quite yet. But I do want something to look forward to each week, and make sure I spend my Sundays in a way that sets me up for the week: A Sunday well spent equals a week of content - as little heart shaped wooden placques you hang in your home say.

I also thought it would be a nice thing for Will and I to do, our own little ritual to have centred around our new home. Sunday roasts are the ritual of many a family up and down the country, and we've also been muttering for a while about watching all of AFI's top 100 films from 100 to 1, in part in an attempt to end our ususal movie night stand off of romcoms vs dark, sci fi films. 

So my new Sunday ritual is to cook a roast and watch a movie (at least for the next 2 years whilst I have AFIs films left to watch). I would love it to grow to a thing where friends and family know it is happening, and drop by, or even I'd love to be doing it in 10 years time with my own kids (would obviously have to choose something more age appropriate than Blade Runner) don't.freak.out.Will! 

For now though, it is just nice to set the table, open a bottle of wine on a Sunday and enjoy my home and my boyfriend, before I leave it for a week at work.

My favourite roast - a recipe: 

Once I read an interview with Holly Willoughby where she said her favourite roast is always chicken because if she is going to eat a nice piece of beef she'd prefer it in steak form. I don't know why but that really stuck with me, I too love steak, and therefore I always opt for a roast chicken.

The recipe below is for a roast I like that gives a lovely comforting lemony chicken, and the honey sort of makes all the veg around it taste like honey roasted veg too. Also apparently the combo of lemon and honey is a real flu fighting one, so I figure it is good for my health to eat lots of this roast chicken this time of year.


1 heaped tablespoon of coconut oil (any butter or oil really, I just like coconut because of the consistency you can spread it on the chicken and it is not as bad for you as goose fat)
1 lemon
2 cloves of garlic
A good grinding or 3 of pepper
A good grinding of salt. Gosh a grinding of something sounds dirty, sorry.
A thumb of ginger
A little squidge or spoon of honey.
A small chicken (just up this ingredients if you have a bigger one)

I am not even going to write a step by step recipe for this, as that would be ridiculous as it is so easy, I can do it. 

Start by using Jamie Oliver's clever method of rolling the lemon until it slips slightly (a sign you're starting to release the natural oils) and at this point grate the lemon zest into a little bowl. Then grate your ginger, and smush one of your garlic cloves into this bowl too. 

Add the coconut oil to this and mix together, seasoning it with your salt and pepper too.

Spread this gingery lemony mix all over the skin of your chicken, massaging it in a little. 

Take your left over lemon, cut it in half and squidge a little bit of honey onto each half. Stuff these and your 2 left over garlic cloves (also each cut in half) up the chicken, going garlic, lemon, garlic, lemon.

Put in the oven and roast for as long as the instructions on the packet (normally about 1 hour 15 for a little one), maybe taking it out part way through to baste and add your veg you want to roast, these will too get all lemony and honey-y.

Serve to happy people who are impressed you cooked a roast.
Fyi. It is very difficult to take a picture of a raw chicken which looks very appetising. It is also harder than you think to take a picture of a cooked chicken, next to a bottle of wine, bathed in candlelight that looks as good in a photo as it does in real life. I hope you'll use your imagination on both counts!

Copyrights for pictures of rituals - top io9.com, second fiveforhowling.com, paulnolandsound.com

Nine nice things - September

So it is that time of the month again, or more accurately, it was over 2 weeks ago, when September actually ended, to do my monthly 9 nice things post. Also not sure I can refer to this as "the time of the month for my monthly post" when it has happened only once before, but it will become an established monthly series goshdammit.

I hope everyone has had lovely Septembers, and indeed lovely weekends. As I sit down writing this it is Sunday morning, and I am hangover - albeit not cold- free, on my second hot chocolate ready for a day of pottering before heading out to Sticks n' Sushi in Wimbledon tonight. I've had such a lovely weekend full of brunching, and vinyl shopping, and failed cinnamon roll making, with a little dancing and prosecco thrown in for good measure. Plus yesterday evening, I had double pie for dinner (steak for main with mash, apple with custard for dessert) so that was just the cherry on top of the cake (/pie). Feeling in such a tiptop mood makes this happy list even easier to write, but whatever mood you find it in, I hope it has something in it to perk you up!

3 Lovely things you can buy for under £20

1. A purse (/pencil case) with a little Je Ne Sais Quoi -£20 Anthropologie

See what I did there - the purse has both a "little je ne sais quoi" in the colloquial sense, and also in the literal sense. I spotted this baby at Anthropologie a while ago, but was like hmm can I spend £20 on what seems to be a pencil case? And then in a wave of wrecklesness I bloomin did. And I love it, I use it in my handbag to ensure I can easily get to all the little important things (like eyeliner, pens, keys) rather than having them get lost in the sea of receipts and scraps of paper. And everytime I do, it makes me feel like a sophisticated, cool and yet humourous young woman. Excellent.

2. This little cactus - £4 B&Q

I feel like I am betraying a lover here, as I am on the internet advising people to buy cactai from other places than my homeware kindred spirit, Ikea.

Ikea has always been my cactai shop of choice, my boyfriend and I have had many an argument at the plants system where he has insisted I don't look after my existing house plants enough and they are attracting flies, and I have insisted I can never have too many cactai.

But this time, sauntering through B&Q this little chap caught my eye, and I cheated. I bought a cactus from B&Q and I am not even sorry. Not that I am a cactai conneseur, hell, I can barely keep them alive, but this one seems like a pretty good one. And it comes in quite a good quality and boho chic terracotta pot, which I think looks pretty nice on my table. Hell, I am now thinking of buying one of their massive £20 0nes, just yet to win that argument with Will.

3. This dining room light - £18.99 Ebay

Since Will and I moved into our little South London flat, we've been awkwardly eating dinner, and entertaining people in our dining room under a lampshade made of the previous owners wedding photos. Bit awkward. Our dining room ceilings are over 3m high, and the lampshade wasn't just a lampshade but fully attached to the wire and the ceiling so everything would have to come down at once. So, because of this debaucle they didn't take it down for when they left, and we didn't take it down for over. four. months.

I kept looking for the perfect light, and then I broke and just didn't want to be under other people's wedding photos anymore and ordered this one from ebay on a whim. And dya know what I am pleased as punch with it. You can pick one up here.

3 Lovely blog posts I loved

1. Lean Living Girl's Fig and Honey cake

One of my favourite things about Autumn (in a humongous list of favourite Autumn things because I love it so much) is Tesco's seasonal fruit pot. Figs, plums, blackberries, yum. Figs figs figs. Cannot get enough of them. So any suggestions of how to get more of them, by eating them in meals and puddings and not just as a snack are welcomely received.

If there is another thing I love perhaps more than the Tesco's seasonal Autumn fruit pot, it is the "healthy cake". Inspired by all those hip health food bloggers, I have started making all my favourite cakes and replacing sugar with maple and date syrup and honey, and all the flour with buckwheat (with varying degrees of success). This cake on Lean Living Girl sounds like a dream - cheese, figs, cake and apparently healthy. Come to mumma.

2. Take Courage - Our Bedroom

Cat has long been one of my biggest blog crushes, and I love her home interiors. Her new home in Rochester seems absolutely beautiful. I love her bedroom, shared here, which made me immediately regret all the interior decisions I made on my own. The unfortunate thing about Kat's blog is that she bought a place a couple of months after me, which means I can't quite copy her in time, but hey inspiration for my next place!

3. Jenny Purr - What would you do with an extra hour in your day?

A inspiring post about cutting the crap and having more quality time in your day. For me personally, although I do like sleeping, I reckon I am more of a lark than an owl - if I stay up an hour later than intended I spend the time (at best) clicking through facebook and buzzfeed lists and (at worst) feeling worried and anxious. If I get up an hour earlier, it puts me in a great mood for the day, I do something productive and good for me. Which brings me on to the next thing on my list...

3 things money can't buy that I loved this month

1. Blogging breakfasts

Partly inspired by Jenny Purr's article, I've started getting up and going to bed a good 45 minutes to an hour earlier, and it is so nice!

Gone are my days of running down the road eating nutella on a piece of toast! Nowadays, I get up, do a little bit of yoga, have a shower and get dressed, and then make myself a yummy breakfast and sit down and write Loner. Lover. Friend.

It has helped me carve out the time in my day to write this blog that I've been struggling to find for the last few months, and it puts me in such a better mood on the way to work.

Breakfast is also the meal of the day when I am most inclined to be healthy, so I figure I should take advantage of it! My favourite breakfasts on rotation at the moment: overnight bircher (oats with apple juice and coconut milk popped in the fridge overnight, and then I stir yoghurt and fruit in in the morning); porridge with my Dad's homemade blackberry jam and cinnamon stirred in, smushed avocado on bagels with chilli and chia seeds and good old peanut butter on toast (sometimes with some pomegranates sprinkled across too for good measure). All washed down with a hot water and lemon. Laaarvely. Also, cheaper than Pret!

2. Cooking dinner

To go down the theme of meals, September really was the month I started cooking dinner more - nothing fancy, but more effort than a vegetable stir fry with a salmon fillet in the oven, or pesto and pasta which were my previous go-tos. Having a bigger kitchen (and indeed a dishwasher) in my new flat has made putting a little more effort into teatime so much easier. I sort of love that it gives me a little routine as well, a plan for the week. I leave one day out of the planning so I can spontaneously take up a drinks offer, but if I have to come home one day as I have pulled pork cooking deliciously away in the slow cooker, well it just isn't that bad.

Even nicer is that our proper dining table arrived in September and sitting in our now (I think) lovely dining room, chatting away with Will every night is such a great way to forget all the work stress. It is so strange, it has sort of made me realise we didn't have as good quality chats before as we do now, with a bottle of red wine and a plate of homemade dinner, chatting about everything from childhood tales of breaking out of primary school to buy sweets (Will not me, I was too good) to who will win Strictly...

3. Autumn

How could I do a favourite things in September post without mentioning the season which is my favourite : Autumn. I say this, as the season changes from Summer to Autumn, I am getting properly excited with the first morning chill in the air, the turning of the leaves into such glorious colours, the fires and the candles and the fabulous outerwear and cinnamon in everything... however, I am not sure whether I don't just get excited with every change of season. In my head right now, I feel like I never anticipate a change of season like I do Autumn, but I can vaguely recollect that feeling when things get a bit summery, the evenings draw longer and you start having enough time to come home and eat dinner outside before it gets dark, do I feel just as excited then? Or with that first wash of blossoms and daffodils? I can't remember, all I know is I feel so tremendously ready for Autumn now. Bring on the hot chocolate, bring on the velvet everything, bring on the snuggly nights watching all the good lead-up-to-Christmas TV, bring on the wooly jumpers. Oh Autumn, it is good to see you.

PS. Why 9.

Copyrights (middle row only, the rest are mine) - from left - Lean Living Girl, Take Courage, Jenny Purr

What I am getting excited about (and booking now): October

I know not everyone gets it (though, if you are reading this I will probably be preaching to the choir) but I very much like blogosphere. I love reading blogs and getting little snippets of other people's lives, especially those who live in my home city (Laaaandaaan!) and who give me great ideas of how to use it.

If I was to have one tiny squirm - and it is not really a proper squirm as I still happily devour those blogs too, as it plays to my nosey side - it would be blogs that regularly write reviews of things I can't go to. Because I am not famous or because it was a one time event, that will never occur again or not for like a whole more year.

Now, as I said, not a proper squirm, and I know I too have a penchant for writing about something that is an annual thing and I've just been to, hell that was the basis of my first blog post, but at the same time I do want my blog to have at least a few elements that are vaguely useful for other people than me.

In many ways, though I am not against getting a bit cleverer and trying to grow the number of you guys reading this, a lot of this is for me. I really enjoy the attempt at being creative, but mainly just the period of reflection on my life that keeping this little corner of the internet encourages, but I don't want it to become a wholly narcissistic venture.

One of my talents and shortcomings is I really like to plan, spontaneity can make me a little angsty. So I say, if you are reading this, take advantage of that, cos here I will show you what I am planning and what I am getting excited about- the sort of thing you really have to book now to enjoy later. That way, I won't just enjoy it and write a review, we can all enjoy it too!

My planning side does not enjoy that this does not easily sit in my blog plan to be filed under "loner" "lover" or "friend" but hey, maybe I am just feeling cray this Friday morning. Wreckless. Later I may dye my hair pink (I really might, I have been planning it for months, just I am not sure it will clash with my Autumnal wardrobe colour palette...)

I'll try and post something like this every 6 weeks or so (with less waffling about pink hairy dye), so it will turn into a little series and even better, encourage more planning!! Woooo. So with no further adieu: what I am getting excited about:

1. Chills in the Chapel - Escape from New York

As I have grown older I have really grown into Halloween. Very tempted to enter Lauren Conrad's Halloween costume competition even though I have very limited craft and costume making skills just to capitalise on all of that Californian Halloween-lovingness.

Probs won't do that. What I will do however is go to see Escape from New York with a live orchestra at Union Chapel in Islington. I went there a couple of years ago to see the Thing when I lived in Angel and it was a fabulous Halloween treat. Watching a scary film is something I do annually for Halloween only (the rest of the year I'm a romcom and musicals kind of girl, my boyfriend loves it). I like to watch said film it in a wonderful spooky location like in a church, or in the wigwam on the top of the Queen of Hoxton.

Union chapel has been one of my faves, but last year bloomin Time Out went and ruined it for me by announcing it the best thing to do in London for Halloween which meant suddenly all the tickets were bought. You are not getting me this year Time Out, I already have my tickets! You can book via Union Chapel's website here.

(My favourite ever Halloween outfit below. October 2011. I was meant to be evolution - fish at the top, woman by my feet, but it was too tricky so fish it was. As you can see, I felt very confident in it.)

Maybe I should enter this one into Lauren Conrad's competition? If I can find the hat.

2. Rules Restaurant at Christmas

For more about how wonderful Rules is and how it is the MOST CHRISTMASSY PLACE IN THE WORLD you can read my blog post from last year here. You can always try your luck with a drink in their fir trimmed fire roaring bar if you don't want to go the whole shebang and dine their, but if you do want to, and at Christmas you need to book by earlyish October for those days leading up to the big 25.

Book via Rules' website here.

3. Christmas Afternoon Tea at the Landmark

I booked to take my mum here yesterday, and they had already run out of all the earlier day time settings on the 6th December. If you want to enjoy Landmark's award winning afternoon tea, Christmasified, with you sitting next to a 100 foot (estimation and exaggeration but it is humongous) Christmas tree then book ahead!

You can book on the Landmark Hotel's website here.

4. Ice Skating at Somerset House

Sorry this is a very Christmassy post! I really do start getting excited for Christmas by early October, when you leave the house in the morning and there is that first chill in the air!
inally Ice Skating at Somerset House! With some of the other London rinks (Canary Wharf, Tower of London, Natural History Museum) you can leave it a little longer but if you want to skate round that big rink just off the strand, it is better to book sooner than later. It is one of my school friends and mine Christmas tradition that we've carried on well after we've left school, and I really love it!

You can book ice skating all over London via ticketmaster here.

Oh my giddy ants this post has made me feel very Christmas Christmas Christmas. So. flippin. excited. Have lovely weekends!

PS. If you are really into planning you might want to read my list of things to do alone to make yourself feel Christmassy and get your late November and December all booked up now!

Copyrights - top left - randomaniac.us
bottom left - landmarkhotelpress

I went to see Benedict Cumberbatch in Hamlet and he wasn't that good (Kidding! Made you look!)

Kidding!! Made you look!

As predicted he was excellent.

My amazing friend Lucy got Barbican membership and kept refreshing her screen for 7 hours over a year ago to get tickets to the crazily sell out production of Hamlet, starring oscar award nominee, and Laurence Olivier award winner (twice!!) Benedict Cumberbatch this year. I went with my 3 friends (btw by coincidence, all married and man that is a weird moment when you realise everyone else is going home to their huuusbaands - said in my head in a Beyonce accent - and you are suddenly like shit, I really am a grown up. The income tax and that mortgage isn't lying.) Anyhoo my point is, Hamlet in general and Benedict in particular were marvellous.

Be aware if you don't know Hamlet this post does have some spoilers!

I know a few Shakespeare plays quite well having studied him all the way through school and then my degree, and I probably know Hamlet the best as that was my A2 Shakespeare. I have always been a bit of a Shakespeare fan, at one point as a teenager I went through a weird obsession phase where I had a "Shakespeare notebook" with a picture of Shakespeare on the front (it came like that) and loads of my favourite sonnets and lines from plays inside, sometimes with clippings of Leonardo Di Caprio playing Romeo, or Joseph Fiennes playing Will himself (it did not come like that).

I have grown out of Shakespeare scrapbooking but in all serious, I do agree with Ben Jonson (who wrote a foreward to Shakespeare's collected works back when they were released in 1623) that Shakespeare really was "not for an age, but for all time" - for me, he really taps into what it like to be human, he has good stories, and his poetry is shit hot.

Back to Shakespeare today, (or last week for me) at the Barbican: the set was incredible, goodness knows how it was so big and I do not envy whoever cleared it up at the end of the night as there is so much going on on it. (And not because they have to clean up knickers that have been thrown by Cumberbitches, though apparently that does happen).

All the performances, not just Benedict's were spot on, and made me see the play in a different way. Polonius, who I have not really cared for before I found a really funny character, and I slightly warmed to his nosey busybody personality, and was dreading him getting stabbed. Ophelia, who - this sounds horrible but - I often see as a pretty weak and pathetic character, had so much dimension and I liked her too (in part because of her fabulous wardrobe of mustard yellow jumpers and cool lacey monochrome dresses which is sort of the look I am going for this Autumn too). When she commits suicide, it felt so poignant and so tragic. Even Claudius himself seemed both scarier than usual, but also still had that fear of being found out that makes a baddy believable. (Played by the King-beyond- the-wall Ciaran Hinds).

Having studied Hamlet all the way through my final year at school, and barely glanced at it since, it was interesting to revisit the play 10 years later (oh good grief it is 10 years ago that I was in year 13). It occurred to me a little bit of what Hamlet seemed to be having - aside from the death of his father, the ghost of his father, the marriage of his mum to his uncle, and the fact he is a prince - a bit of a quarter life crisis. The standard realisation that you are a grown up, your parents are just people, the relationship you are currently in may be the one you stay in forever, and you've inadvertently made a decision about what job you'll be doing the rest of your life. Ok, so there is a much more suicidal depression running along for Hamlet, but never the less it was interesting to visit it as someone a little bit older. The question of whether Hamlet is mad (did he really see the ghost of his father) is one of the key themes in Hamlet, but mad or not, looking at Hamlet now, I recognise he definitely had some serious mental health issues, very bad depression, and as a grown up I empathise with that far more than I did in school, and Hamlet (play not the man) gets a little more interesting because of it.

Yet despite all of this, the wonder of Shakespeare (and some great comic timing by Benedict Cumberbatch and the cast) is that there are still some bits that you laugh at, and you don't walk away feeling like utter crap and a bit sad face, but more pleased as punch you did something so damn cultural on a Tuesday night.

Ok, so it would be silly for me to be like "yeah just go and get some tickets" as they are difficult as hell to come by (and fyi they check ID with the name of the person on the ticket on the door so there is no point buying a super expensive ticket off ebay) but my main take away from this is I would like to see Shakespeare more often please. How lucky I am to live in the country he was born, and in the city where his plays are constantly on. If you are desperadoes to get tickets to see Benedict because you are a massive Cumberbitch, then you can try and get one of the on the day tickets, by waiting outside the Barbican before they open at 9 (though I've heard those go like hot cakes).

I was a good girl, and like asked by Benedict, took no photos of the show so I can't share them, but what I will share is this short clip of Beyonce and her huuuussband singing Coldplay, just because:

PS. More things for cultural cumberbitches.

Copyright for top photo - Evening Standard

Being in my late twenties, and going to Lewisham's Model Market

My mother's old hairdresser's Iranian father used to say the most important thing in life is to enjoy being the age you are. Not to me obviously, he said it to his daughter, my mum's hairdresser, who said it to my mum, who said it to me.

Ie. when you're 10, don't take slutty selfies and wish away your childhood hoping you were older. When you first go off to uni don't sit inside wishing you were home, or wishing you were full on grown up with a proper income. Embrace the lack of routine, and all the new people and have a fabulous time. And I guess (though I haven't been through this yet obvs) but when you are older and maybe you've had kids but they've left home, don't pine after babies wishing you could just do it all over again and hating the home without them, maybe do something similar to what my parents seem to be doing and take advantage of no longer needing to be responsible for other people, and spend all your time on extravagant holidays. They seem pretty content. You get the gist - enjoy being your age, I could probably have done it without the waffle, soz.

Anyhoo, so now I am 27, undoubtably in my late twenties, what does my age mean to me? (I say to me, as I know 27 feels very different to a lot of people. Some people want to get married and have kids, some people are still enjoying post uni whatshallIdowithmylifeness).

For me, my energy levels are much lower than when I was 21. Boy oh boy, I don't know how I existed going to bed after midnight everyday and having no bedtime routine. Maybe it is working hard all week, maybe I just don't have the same ability to wait for a second wind anymore, but I really like sleeping now.

I also now have a bloomin mortgage, and a relatively swishy and stressful job, so I have to be kinda responsible. And I have a long term-ish boyfriend, so that changes things a bit.  At the same time, I don't have kids or a cat or a puppy, I have enough mula left for cocktails and dresses left after my mortgage has come and out and I live in one of the world's most exciting cities. (I think anyway, London).

So with all that in mind this to me is what 27 will look like, and how I will enjoy it: it'll be a bit more balanced. I have a nicer flat now, which is all the way out in zone 3 of the tube network, both reasons means it is fine if I want to come home to it rather than going out every day like I did when I was 22. 27 is hosting a fabulous dinner party or boozy brunch every month to really get my money's worth in the place that is sucking it all up. And also cos I have enough glassware for 8 people now. I know, such a grown up.

But I'm not dead yet. (Not that dead people host dinner parties and enjoy matching glassware) but you know what I mean, I am still in my twenties dammit. And I have actively chosen not to buy a puppy, so if I am not doing that I should at least go out a fair bit. So every month, I want to go to something that is sort of "only in London" with my friends and with my beau. (Or my bae as the kids are calling it. I am still in my twenties I am down with the lingo).

And that folks is how I've come at last to my review of Lewisham's Model Market, set up by the people who did Street Feast and then everything in the east, and have taken their project south of the Thames (and to my new home borough, woop) to take over an old market in Lewisham and turn it into a pop up food stall, bar and dancefloor emporium.

I was a little tired that day as like the 27 year old I am, I had got up early to run some errands first thing and then spent the day brunching, baking gluten and sugar free banana bread and upholstering a window seat - I only stayed til midnight and not the market's closing time at 1:30am. That is my life now. May I also note whilst I am being such a grown up, that one negative thing I could say about the model market was that I believe it to be a slight fire hazard. It has these very cool (but in my opinion slightly dangerous) massive fire pits, which instead of being near maybe seated areas or cordoned off somewhere are in the middle of the dance floor! Literally under the disco globe. Every time you had to squeeze through the floor to nip to the loo it did feel like you were taking your life in your hands a bit.

Back to being a fun person again: it was pretty amazing (though for me a tiny bit sad) how Street Feast had barely touched the market before moving in. Will and I munched on delicious greek chicken pita wraps in a bar seating area which was in an old hairdressers. Tiles and mirrors hung on the wall still, in almost perfect condition but with no barber chair in front. Brownies and tequila coconut cocktails were sold from cute little pop up bars and restaurants which still had signs advertising "Ghanaian .....". An old records shop was turned into a wine bar "winyl" (I enjoyed that).

They'd also made a little rooftop bar, and obvs that is everyone's favourite in the summer. Basically night markets have really come on a bit since I went to my first one in Chiang Mai in Thailand in 2010 and accidentally ate a whole tray of deep fried spiders legs with sweet chilli sauce. (True story, I really will eat anything deep fried).

On a Saturday night Model Market was pretty packed in a "woah where did all these people come from maybe Lewisham really is up and coming" sorta way. I went on a little boozy date night with Will, but I think it would be a great place to go with a big group of friends, I am slightly pondering it for my 28th birthday if it returns for a 3rd summer. Although, just to cross off the other subject of my blog - "loner" - this place is good for with lovers and friends but I would say not on your own, you would seem creepy.

Final tip - do not google map the place as otherwise you will be like Will and I, poor little outlaws looking through the railings at hundreds of people who have found the entrance and are having a marvellous time but having no idea how to get in. Instead look for the 3 little roads coming off Molesworth street, and get to that point and you will spot it. Ok I'll shut up now!

Lewisham Model Market is open til the end of this month. No need to book or anything, though you do need to pay £3 if you arrive after 7pm

Never too old for a tequila cocktail filled coconut

PS. More philosophising that eventually leads to a review.

Nine nice things: August

Long time, no blog. Again. Sorry, anyone who is still out there!

And this time I don't even have Pretty Little Liars as an excuse, because series 6 has finished and OMGweknowwhoAis.

Even though I have been tres absent from this blog, I have however been thinking about a new series of post I would like to do, which although doesn't easily fit under my "loner", "lover" and "friend" categories I am going to nonchalantly file under "loner".

We all know the benefits of being grateful, the internet is crammed with advice to keep gratitude diaries, to change your passwords to words or mnemoics which make you feel happy every time you logon your emails, to count to ten and think of 10 things you're grateful for next time you feel like you have to go cry in the work loos; basically we know it is a very powerful thing for our minds, practising gratitude...

So I want to start my own little gratitude list or grateful flow, each month, I call it "9 nice things", cos I really don't think there is anything else like this out there in blogosphere.

Ok, I am being a sarcastic. I know there are zillions of "Happy Mondays" and "Five things" and "Ten things" and "Friday Favourites", but those are some of my favourite posts. I love seeing those little snippets of other people's life, especially the good bits that make them cheery, and all the nice stationery and mugs on show.

So I am throwing my own monthly post in to the "favourite things" mix.

Why 9 you say? Well mainly because 9 pictures look best in a grid and I enjoy the alliteration, but also because "9 nice things" will be made up of 3 groups of 3, as follows:

My 3 favourite blog posts from other people's blogs from the month.

3 nice things under £20 that I've bought because I have a penchant for capitalist materialism.

3 things which money can't buy to show there is more to me, and indeed more to life than capitalist materialism, however much fun it is to own a whole dresser top full of expensive scented candles.

So without much adieu I give you "9 nice things August". Wahoo.

Nb. normally these will be lovely short little bite sized posts, sorry for all the introductory waffling this time.

3 Lovely Things you can buy for £20 or under

So one of the things I was off doing when I was not blog writing, was galavanting around Edinburgh at the annual fringe festival. It was the nicest of nice times, and as a little souvenir for my flat, I picked up this little wonder from the Isle of Skye Candle Company Edinburgh store on Victoria Street (just off Grassmarket). It smells like a dream and my grown up homeowner side is satisfied I have another good quality scented candle in my life, whilst my immature side sort of loves that is has the word bog in it.

  • The New Bohemians: Cool and Collected Homes by Justina Blakeney - RRP £21.99 (but on sale in plenty of places like here and here)

LA interior designer Justina Blakeney has long time been a gal crash of mine, I bloomin love her instgram feeds: @thejungalow and @justinablakeney, and all her fabulous hashtags #plantsonpink, #facethefoiliage, #jungalowbytheriver. Her book does not disappoint, lots of big glossy pictures of fabulous homes filled with amazing plants and textiles, and clutter-less bohemian style. There also some pretty nifty how tos in there, all in all it has been plentiful inspiration for decorating my new flat this August.

So I came across this planner on Liverpudlian blogger Jemma's Dorkface blog back at the beginning of August and realised I needed it in my life. It is an organiser (and I have loved those ever since I was 8 and bought a purple filofax), it has little notes already written on telling you you are pretty and encouraging you in your daily pursuits, it has stickers which are cartoons of girls taking selfies in kitten ears, it is just an all around a dream planner.

Mine is the "Florabunda", which is now sold out in this size (though they do a bigger one too) but I enjoy the other two designs too, and they are still available (and the insides are the same, which is the best bit).

The less dreamy bit is that even though it basically only costs a tenner in pounds sterling, actually to ship it to the UK is $25 and the fun doesn't stop there as if you read the small print HM Revenue and Customs wack on a lovely customs charge (£17) which ban.do tell you they are not responsible for. So basically, it shouldn't really be in my under £20 list, as it cost me ridonculous amounts to actually get my hands on it. I justified it to myself by purchasing a couple more bits from ban.do at the same time, but to be honest (and even though anyone reading this, particularly my mother might point out that this contently paying more than something is worth just because I want one is the root of my money problems...) I don't regret it. It really does make me feel more organised, it is the perfect size to make lists and plan your days but still fit cosily in your handbag, it just makes me so happy and like a super organised yet cool chick every time I look at it. And if that lasts til December 16 then £10 + £12.50 postage + £17 customs charges isn't that much to pay for that much happiness- is it (mum)?

3 Lovely blog posts I've loved this August

August has really been a month that I have overwhelmed my instagram feed with health bloggers and nutrionists and I am really loving it. I think it is giving me a welcome brainwashing into wanting to eat just lots of fresh vegetables and healthy breakfasts and the occasional raw cacao chocolate brownie.

Although I love them all, quite a few of them are vegan, which is a problem for me because I love cheese and meat. Which is why Madeline Shaw is probably my favourite, as she eats both cheese and meat and is just so inspirational and lovely that when I am at work and it all is so stressful and overwhelming I've started taking 2 minutes to go to the disabled loos just to look at her instagram feed and I think it immediately calms me and makes me thing damn it I can be as together as her, I can. Please don't tell my manager.

This recipe, which is also in her book "Get the Glow" (which again, I love so much, because I really do love her to an extent it is bordering on creepy) is cheese and strawberries. Basically my two favourite things combined in one delicious dish. There are not enough fruit and cheese dishes out there I think, props to Madeline for I hope starting a wonderful fruit and cheese revolution.

So this is a little belated, as this post initially went up at the end of June but I have been taking an accidental blogcation haven't I. Plus, I actually did this DIY in August so it sorta counts. I am over the moon about it. I actually used some Maths and changed the dimensions so it was more of a console table and fit in this pesky alcove behind part of my sofa. I also used pine and stained it walnut to go with the rest of my furniture a bit more nicely, and I just love it. I cannot believe I made it with my own fair hands, nor can my guests who come round when I point it out to them (and I do point it out to all of them because I am so damn proud).

A little picture of mine, below!

Again, a slightly older post (sorry, I'll get better) but it was the main inspiration behind the next section of this little August gratitude list, and actually I just found it a generally quite inspirational and cheerying post. Go have a read and feel lovely.

3 Lovely Things money can't buy

  • Weddings (ok so in some ways you could argue this is something a lot of money can buy but just go with it please)

I went to my third and final wedding of the summer at the beginning of August, and I just love them. And not just because of all the pretty dresses and free booze and humongous cheese platters that seem to be all the rage at weddings at the moment and appear around 10pm when your dancing feet are getting tired and your cheese loving belly is getting hungry. Though I do love all those things. But more to the point they are just wonderful days filled with so much happiness, such a feeling that your part of something important - I love that wave of emotion when you turn round and see your friend in her wedding dress walking down the aisle to greet the man she wants to spend the rest of her life with, who looks as pleased as punch. I am so glad I am coming up to the "wedding age", and I am super grateful that friends want to include me in their special day.

  • Birthdays

It was my birthday in August and I loved it! Never regret turning a year older I say, it is better than the alternative. (And when I say "I say" I mean, I say that copying the clever person who said that in the first place, I obvs didn't coin that phrase.) I just love birthdays, and as I've got older (and the ratio of the value of my presents to the amount in my bank account is no longer as favourable as it was when I was 9 and got £2 pocket money per week) although I still love presents and being spoilt, I gotta say actually my favourite thing about birthdays is just getting to celebrate with my favourite people. And demand they watch musicals and romantic comedies with me, and they don't get to argue back. (Looking at you William).

  • Dr. Oliver Sacks

I feel like if I am starting a series of post about gratitude, then it is all too fitting to mention Dr. Oliver Sacks, the famous English neurologist who passed away aged 82 at the end of August. Revealing he had terminal cancer in the New York Times in February, he said something that has whirred around in my head ever since first reading it "I cannot pretend I am without fear" he said, "but my predominant feeling has been one of gratitude. Above all I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that is in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure." So there you go, a whole list of things money can't buy to remember to be grateful for today, articulated so beautifully by a man who left the world better for him being there.

Here is to a lovely rest of September!

PS. About me.

top row - me (though the top left is a picture of the new bohemians, I didn't take the original picture obvs)
middle row (left to right) - Carolyn Hope, abeautifulmess.commadeleineshaw.com
bottom row - geniusquotes.org, me, Jurgen Frank/Corbis via theguardian.com

Love is...cartoons

Do you remember these comic strips? The first one was published in 1970, the work of a New Zealand cartoonist, Kim Casali, but I remember them having a bit of a surge in popularity when I was just starting secondary school, definitely in my class anyway, lots of us would print them out and put them on our weekly planners!

I must have been young enough to look at them with a certain amount of childish innocence, I've never noticed they were naked before and actually some of them are quite riske!

A lot of the lover part of this blog is dedicated to exciting dates, interesting spots to visit with your other half, places to impress, but on Friday I had one of my most lovely date nights in ages, sitting in, eating chicken stir fry already in the fridge (not even ordering a Papa Johns as is my Friday night in standard...), drinking red wine, and attempting to watch 50 shades of Grey with Will, though he fell asleep about 4 minutes in. And that is counting the credits as 2 minutes of his watching time.

I turned it off, binge watched Nashville whilst Will slept on my lap, and cosily drank red wine whilst the lightening from the thunderstorm flashed across my living room. It was one of the first times I felt properly at home in my new flat, and it was a time when I was really aware of how content I felt, and how lovely a night I had had so far.

It made me think that for all the well thought out date nights, and all the money thrown at quality time, sometimes actually the moments we might look back at and remember in several years time, might be the ones which seemed everyday whilst they were happening. The nights when your boyfriend suggests to watch a film he knows is more up your street than his, when he does all the washing up and keeps your wine glass full to the brim, and tells you the "ready to cook" chicken you put in the oven with no effort is delicious and thanks you for it. The nights when your boyfriend snores lightly on your knee, and you can watch your new favourite TV programme without him complaining about all the country music, and err you can finish off his glass of wine, because he is literally snoozing and losing. Kidding! Sort of...but you get the gist, it reminded me not to forget to see the loveliness in the quieter, less exciting, less instagrammable times too!

 So maybe love can be just feeling as happy and content in your living room, as you would do at Beyonce's birthday party. Ok nearly as happy as content in your living room, as at Beyonce's birthday party, I mean I bet that girl can put on a good spread.

PS. An amazing date night up St. Pancras clocktower if you are in the mood to throw money at it...

Copyrights: Kim Casali, Tribune Media Services

12 rules to abide by in July for a happier and fitter August

So I was actually going to call this post "11 rules to abide by in July for a skinnier and fitter August" but in the aftermath of that "get your beach body" ad, and all the focus on "fit not thin", I re-thought it and skinny isn't the right word to use.

Because I don't want to be skinny in a "skinny is just an abbreviation of skin and bones" way. But, having said that, I wouldn't mind losing a few pounds in a few places... Obviously on the list of happy, fit, slim I would prioritise them in that order - I'd prefer to be happy or fit than slim - but if I could have all 3? Hmm.

I know slim isn't the most important thing, and despite that wave of dread when I go to try on embellished cigarette pants in my size and realise I can't get them past my upper thigh, I don't spend too much time worrying about my body, and I certainly don't hate it. It moves me from a to b without discomfort, fights off bugs, would let me dance all night in a hip hop club in Dalston if I wanted to (I rarely want to, I really like sleeping).

But the truth is, my BMI is a little bit over where it should be, and that can't be good can it? (nb I am not a bodybuilder with all the muscle and that is why I weigh too much, I just have a little too much wobble). And I do have a double chin if you catch me at the wrong angle in a photo - an unkind shot of me in a strapless dress and my upper arm smushed against my side looks like it may be big enough to feed a family of 6 for a week. I don't fit into all my summer clothes I bought last year, and I probably should start buying a dress size up, and I just don't want to do that, so although I know it isn't the be all and end all I sorta do want to be a bit skinnier.

So here is my little list - I am by no means a nutritionist or a personal trainer, or really have any idea about losing weight and getting fitter. If anything I am quite bad at these things, I mean I somehow managed to train for and eventually run a marathon without losing any weight, and I definitely exercise more regularly and eat more greens than many of my thinner friends, so I am definitely doing something wrong. (Probably binge eating baked goods and chocolate and going out for dinner too much). Really selling my plan here! But this is a mix of what has worked for me before, and what the internet says is good, and I figure by announcing to the world wide web I am going to do this, I am more likely to stick to it. So here it goes:

1. Weigh myself - oh my I am so bad at this. In my head, I think I'll just get myself to a body size I am completely comfortable with and feel is really healthy and then I'll weigh myself...a bit counter productive. Rule number 1 is to get on the scales every week of July starting with tomorrow morning (Obvs not going to start weighing myself in the evening, I am not completely cray).

2. Start using My Fitness Pal. Again - I lost 10 pounds last year in about 3 months without really trying but I guess just thinking more about what I ate. I sort of hoped I'd picked up the life calorie counting skills and that when I stopped using it, and therefore keep the weight off, but I am worried tomorrow morning's weigh in might tell me differently...

3. 4 minute fat burning HIIT 6 mornings out of 7. Sundays off, but only Sundays because if I start writing off the whole weekend and starting it on a Friday, well I am basically doing only half the week. I've heard good things about Lucy Wyndham-Read so I'll be doing this after a quick sun salute (for a little warm up) before work each day. The only days - apart from Sundays- I am allowed off, are days when I am doing a more hardcore work out as part of...

4. 3 times per week proper exercise - I got into a really good habit at the start of 2015 at making sure I exercised 3 times per week every week, and Will and I would mark it on a calendar. That is somewhere in my boxes left to be unpacked, and it seems without it I won't exercise! That is getting unpacked or replaced - either way - hung back up again.

5. 20 squats each morning whilst brushing my teeth - easy win!

6. Planning breakfasts - I definitely agree that having a good breakfast does seem to make me less likely to snack on sweet things throughout the day, but too often I skip it or just have a piece of fruit. No more! Gonna start that metabolism kicking first thing with hot water and lemon and a more thought out breakfast: soy milk and chia seed pudding, avocado on toast, peanut butter and banana bagels. Mmmm.

7. Take a green juice to work - I've got a £20 blender which does the trick and a green juice stops me snacking in the mornings (as I have that to slurp at my desk instead instead of needing biscuits to nibble on) and makes me choose better lunches (as I am not so hungry all I can think about is all the carbs and all the cheese). I juice my veg and eat my fruit as the man of the juice diet recommended, as juiced fruits can become a bit sugary and lose all their good fruity fibre, but it is amazing how much good for you spinach you can easily eat when you blend it and mix it with a glug of apple juice. My go to juice recipe is just a couple of handfuls of spinach and/or kale, a big chunk of cucumber, a few slices of root ginger and a small glass of apple juice.

8. No snacking! I gave up unhealthy snacking for lent -no visiting the table full of biscuits and cakes at work, no 3pm frappucinos on Saturdays or sweets on car journeys - and it was surprisingly easy. I definitely think snacking can be a place where I eat a lot of calories and find it easier to binge compared to having a small pudding after a balanced dinner. So I am not saying no chocolate, no sweets, no cakes for the whole time, just err only as pudding!

9. Dinner as soon as I get in - it is better for your metabolism if you eat at least 2-3 hours before bed, but also, lessens the chance of what happened yesterday repeating itself. I stuffed my face with the better half of a packet of Rolo cookies, because I got too hungry waiting for Will to finish work so we could drive to Sainsbos and get dinner. So that was my tea yesterday. Woops.

10. No carbs after 7 -for the point above, tough to metabolise so close to bed means carbs after 7 find their way as fat more easily. So if I am eating late it will be courgetti not spaghetti.

11. Packed lunch 2 days per week - ok so this is hardly a game changer, taking a packed lunch 2 out of 5 days but it is a lot better than I am at the moment. I tend to use my o2 priority moments to get a cheap deal for 2 of the week days, and I don't want to be the girl that says she can't come to your leaving lunch as you only brings packed lunches so I guess 2 out of 5 days is the best I can do realistically. But a little kinder on my purse strings and my waistline!

12. Reward myself - so many of the big slimming companies use naughty food as rewards, but I don't know if that will work for me. I mean if the question is you could stick to your diet, eat that plate of salad and then you will be allowed half a biscuit as a reward or throw your diet out the window (you can always go back on it tomorrow riiiiight?) and eat that whole packet of biscuits, well I am worried I would choose the latter all too often. So instead of rewarding myself with food, I am going to reward myself with clothes. Imaginative... I am going to pick out some bits, put the money for them in Will's bank account, then if he is happy I've done everything on this list, then hello new clothes! Or new shoes! I think starting with these turquoise snakeskin sandals as my first reward and ending with this bright yellow embroidered kaftan. 

I am going to use Sunday as a break day from a lot of the everyday rules, but still try to avoid carbs after 7 and use my fitness pal and all of it on Fridays and Saturdays too. Although this is a plan for one month, all the rules are quite moderate, and ones I hope will just become habit after a month and will pave the way for a happier, fitter and err thinner me long term!

PS. Exercise inspiration.

Photo credit: Hannah Gale

Carter's Steam Fair - When not to wear your favourite Hawaiian mini dress

The other weekend I headed to Carter's Steam Fair. Now I love even the roughest around the edges of fairs - when I was a teenager, the night the fair came to my local town was one of the best ones of the year: candy floss and rides that turned you upside down, followed by sleepovers and smirnoff ices and karaoke at my friend's nearby house. But Carter's Steam Fair is not like the typical fairgrounds that have toured England since the 1980s, it is like one out of Carousel or The Notebook, though with no Ryan Gosling to clamber up the Ferris Wheel and ask you out. *emoji of the man with the gritted teeth here*.

I first discovered it on one of my biggest blog crushes - Take Courage. To see Carter's Steam Fair in all it's glory, head here to read Cat's piece Strangers on a Train and look at her absolutely beautiful photograph's of Carter's Steam Fair.

My experience was not quite as instagram worthy as Cat's, it was more skirts flying up across my face on the banana boat, blinding me whilst revealing my knickers to everyone on the right half of the ride, whilst I was powerless to stop it as letting go meant falling off... so less of a kodak moment, but crying with fear on the Ghost Train and laughter at the Banana Boat pant incident- well Carter's certainly was fun.

Basically the lesson is, if you are going to take gorgeous atmospheric photographs of the fair, then dressing in a fabulous vintage mini dress which was originally purchased in a Hawaiian gift shop in the 50s makes sense. If however you are going to go on the Banana boat, wear trousers.

It's doing a little tour round London (next stop Stoke Newington) this summer, and then tours throughout the UK - you can have a look where they are next by visiting their website here.

Photo by Bessie Jewels

PS. Peckish for Korean food in Bethnal Green?

A Lovely Love Story

A couple of weekends ago I had one of my most lovely ever days, at my friends Lucy and James' gorgeous on gorgeous tablets wedding at Lulworth Castle (phwoar worth photos here...)

Lucy asked my friend Shiv and I to do a reading in the ceremony, and it was such an honour and so bloomin special to be a little part of their day. Lucy's not religious, so instead of something like Corinthian's 3 (though I do think that verse is beau-ti-ful) Lucy opted for Edward Monkton's dinosaur love story,which was quirky and funny and just so lovely. It suited their ceremony perfectly. It's title "A Lovely Love Story" is an apt one!

Lucy and James personalised it a bit, and it is great that the reading lends to that, here is an unaltered version:

A Lovely Love Story by Edward Monkton

The fierce Dinosaur was trapped inside his cage of ice.
Although it was cold he was happy in there. It was after all, his cage.

Then along came the Lovely Other Dinosaur.
The Lovely Other Dinosaur melted the Dinosaur's cage with kind words and loving thoughts.
I like this Dinosaur, thought the Lovely Other Dinosaur.
Although he is fierce, he is also tender and he is funny.
He is also quite clever though I will not tell him this for now.

I like this Lovely Other Dinosaur, thought the Dinosaur.
She is beautiful and she is different and she smells so nice.
She is also a free spirit, which is a quality I much admire in a dinosaur.

But he can be so distant and so peculiar at times, thought the Lovely Other Dinosaur.
He is also so overly fond of things. Are all Dinosaurs so overly fond of things?

But her mind skips from here to there so quickly thought the Dinosaur.
She is also uncommonly keen on shopping. Are all Lovely Other Dinosaurs so uncommonly keen on shopping?

I will forgive his peculiarity and his concern for things, thought the Lovely Other Dinosaur.
For they are part of what makes him a richly charactered individual.

I will forgive her skipping mind and her fondness for shopping, though the Dinosaur. For she fills our life with beautiful thoughts and wonderful surprises.
Besides, I am not unkeen on shopping either.

Now the Dinosaur and the Lovely Other Dinosaur are old.
Look at them. Together they stand on the hill telling each other stories and feeling the warmth of the sun on their backs.
And that, my friends, is how it is with love.

Let us all be Dinosaurs and Lovely Other Dinosaurs together.
For the sun is warm.
And the world is a beautiful place.

PS. More lovely cuteness in the graphic novel Soppy...

Is it just sitting around doing nothing? ...And 12 other questions I've answered following my first meditation class

Pre post disclaimer: I've taken a little break from blogging in the last couple of months as my life has gotten choc-a-block full of assembling flat packed furniture, commuting and err...watching Pretty Little Liars. Here's a post I wrote about 6 weeks ago, so some bits are a little out of date, I am now in my new flat (at last!) but meditation will still come in preeeeetttty handy, calm me down so I can get to sleep more easily on my blow up bed on the floor...

Last week, how to meditate or how to be mindful popped up on my Bloglovin feed about 6 times. And I don't even have a very big Bloglovin' feed. My favourite one was probably from the Man Repeller, "I've been meditating, can you tell?"

Well I too have been meditating.

 At the moment I am back at my parent's house, having been kicked out of Bethnal Green as my lease came to an end, and am yet to exchange on the flat I had an offer accepted on 3 MONTHS AGO. ie. I am homeless. ie. I have a need indeed to meditate and still my very frantic and stressed mind. Anyhoo, back home and even my mum and grandma are pondering dipping their toe in the old "mindfulness". I, always one ahead of the mental health trends, have been dilly dallying with mindful meditation since like 2012, however, recently I have upped my game.

I've signed up to Headspace, and recently, I even went to a meditation class at the London Buddhist Centre. I had hoped that a meditation class would be a whole class based on that last section of your yoga class where you are told to lie on the floor in "corpse pose" and relax. "Corpse" is definitely my favourite of all the yoga poses. The class said it was from 7:15pm til 9:45pm, so I sort of assumed I could drop in and drop out (because who can hold any yoga pose - even the corpse - for 2 and a half hours) but figured worst case scenario, I would burn 450 calories. (As according to my fitness pal, you burn 180 calories per hour of yoga, and as we've already clarified, "corpse" is a yoga pose).

Will wrinkled his nose (as he does with anything to do with meditation or mental health) and said if I really wanted to meditate I needn't walk 20 minutes down the road, I could do it here in my living room, and he could lead the meditation (or as he calls it, a load of hocus pocus - or a word stronger than hocus pocus). I suspected not, but to be honest, I had no flip the idea what to expect, so for all I knew, there may be no person leading the meditation class which meant I might as well be in my living room sitting alongside Will with my eyes shut whilst he played playstation with the headphones in.

So before I went, I wrote down all the questions I had before my first meditation class and now, with all the wisdom gained from the 1 class I attended, I will aim to answer them:

1. Could Will take the class? 
Errm no offence Will, but no. Although meditation can be guided or unguided the guided meditation (when someone speaks to you at the beginning, and then keeps on giving you reminder to keep focussing on your breath, and times how long you are meditating) could not be taken by any Tom, Dick, Harry or William.

I don't know who I thought would take the classes, but I guess maybe it would be people similar to the yogi's who took the all the yoga, history of yoga and meditation classes when in 2010 I stayed at an Ashram in Rishikesh, a spiritual town in India set on the banks of the Ganges and in the foothills of the Himalayas. I never made the early morning meditation classes there because I kept on being held hostage in my  room by wild monkeys (not exactly the Eat, Pray, Love moment I was hoping for) but that is another blog post. The yogis who swanned around the ashram had long hair and beards and wore all white - kaftans and fishermans pants - and were very bendy. They tried (unsuccessfully) to push a rubber tube up my nose and pull it out my mouth and there were pictures of them in the lobby doing far worse things with their sinus system (like a picture of a man pulling a hankerchief between his two ears?) Would my London mediation class be like this? Would I be greeted once again by that dreaded rubber tube?

Actually the buddhists who led this meditation class reminded me far more of my Dad than any yogi I've ever met. Middle aged, educated, with sarcastic senses of humour and welcoming, friendly and non judgemental for people living such a spiritual life. They weren't intimidating at all, explaining as the class went on why we were doing what we were doing, what to do if you were struggling and just generally seeming very knowledgable but yet approachable.

2. Is it just sitting around doing nothing?
No, and sort of yes. It isn't an aerobics class but at the same time, you do have a focus.

 At the London Buddhist Centre there are two types of meditation classes you can drop into: one that focuses on mindfulness - being present - which was the one I went to, and the second focuses on positive thinking.

In the mindfulness beginners meditation class I went to the whole session was split into 2, and then each of these sections were split into 2 too.

Before each meditation we did body scans - noticing the physical points of contact our body made - a knee on the floor, a hand wresting on a thigh - and then went into breathing meditation. The breathing meditation differed - counting 10 breathes before they passed for one session, then after they passed, then concentrating on how the breathe came into your diaphragm and lungs and then concentrating on how this breathe felt coming out your nose and across your lips.

Sound easy enough, but actually it takes a lot of concentration to keep the focus on your breathing and not let your mind wander. It also goes a lot quicker than you think as well, but as beginners after each session the man leading the meditation had us take a break from meditation whilst we discussed how it felt, things we found difficult, parts we enjoyed.

3. Will it actually last 2 and a half hours?
Yes. Well this one at least, not all meditation lasts for 2 hours, you can easily meditate using an app on your phone for just 60 seconds. But this particular class was 2 and a half hours long, it wasn't the drop in, drop out session I'd envisaged. But it wasn't just sitting in a room breathing aimlessly, as I mentioned above, we had a leader guiding us through the meditation and we broke to chat it through. There was also a big 20 -30 minute break in the middle, where everyone came out of the different meditation rooms (there was a beginners group and intermediate group meditating in different parts of the centre) to drink peppermint tea and eat chocolate brownies.

4. What should I wear?
You can wear anything you want - I ended up wearing yoga pants, t-shirt and a comfy wooly jumper which worked pretty well. You take off your shoes before entering the mediation room, but be aware of wearing comfortable clothing. It is hard enough to focus on breathing without a scratchy top, a skirt riding up or too tight high waisted jeans distracting you!

5. What happens if I need the toilet?
Obviously if you need the toilet you need the toilet, the people guiding the meditation won't make you sit there and wet yourself, but once you leave to go you can't come back in the mediation room. However, you are only in there for an hour at a time, and the centre has loos, so just make sure you go at the beginning and after that peppermint tea. Again, hard to focus on breathing when you are focussing on not pissing your pants.

6. Can I possibly sit in a comfortable position for 2 and a half hours (unless it is a sofa and a romcom is on)? Please tell me we are all meditating on sofas...
Some people were meditating sitting on chairs around the room with their feet flat on the ground, but most people - including me - meditated on cushions on the floor. A large flat cushion is set on the floor (as padding for your knees) and then 2 round cushions are arranged so that you are both sort of sitting and kneeling - kneeling with your knees on the large flat cushion either side of the little round ones which are supporting your bum. This means you are comfy, but your back is straight ie. you are less likely to fall asleep, which you definitely would in corpse pose...

7. Will I be the only person there who doesn't own fisherman's pants/have dreadlocks/who is wearing liquid eyeliner? What sort of person goes there?
A whole range of people went there: city girls fresh from working, hitching up their pencil skirts to kneel on the floor, stereotypical hippies in slouchy trousers with piercings and as I mentioned the spectacle, jeans and jumper wearing men who led the sessions reminded me of my Dad. Every type of person you could think of seemed to be there, and there were plenty of other twenty something girls in yoga pants and jumpers there so I certainly didn't feel like the only one, but even if I was, it was such a mix of people you could never feel like the odd one out.

8. Will I have to chant?
Nope, I didn't chant at my meditation class.

9. Should I be wearing or carrying some sort of beads?
Nope, no one had beads that I noticed, and we didn't use them to help focus our meditation and counting.

10. Do I have to be a Buddhist to go?
You absolutely don't have to be a Buddhist who has taken vows, and knows everything to know about Buddhism and the Dalai Lama to go, indeed, the meditation classes act as a class about Buddhism almost as much as anything else. The London Buddhist Centre does other retreats too, and I guess the more involved you get the more you might want to take vows or learn more about Buddhism itself. But, the inclusiveness of Buddhism means that possibly you can be everything else you are - perhaps including a practicer of another religion - and maybe a Buddhist too. Even the Dalai Lama himself has suggested it might be possible to follow another religion, as well as Buddhism.

11. What happens if I'm late?
The session didn't start bang on 7:15, as we had an introduction to meditation first, so you might be ok wandering in 5 minutes late. I wasn't late, so I still don't know the answer to this question, but I can imagine that depending on the kindness of whoever is leading the session, it might be a bit like the toilet issue, and you have to wait for a good point to join the class.

12. How will I feel after?
Meditation, according one of the Buddhists guiding the sessions, is about putting more life in your life. Being more present in the present, and noticing what is going on around you, how your body feels, getting yourself out of autopilot. After a little while, the crowds and business of London mean you'll sink back into rushing, into routines into autopilot and you'll need to come back to meditation again to make you feel more present. I don't know whether after one meditation class I was able to shake off my autopilot, but I guess learning the ability to sit and breathe and be present - whether that is admist a panic attack, or just sitting on a park bench appreciating how lovely the sunshine and the world is, is a pretty good skill to have, and I felt like I was a bit closer to having it after going to a class.

13. Will I want to go again?
Yes. Fitting a two and a half hour class meditating class into my lifestyle isn't easy (which perhaps demonstrates my need for it) and since the class, I've been keeping myself topped up with 10 minute meditations from Headspace, but I definitely want to go again, because putting more life in your life? What other class can offer that.

The London Buddhist Centre just asks for a recommended donation of £5-£10 for their session (and they give you brownies and peppermint tea for free!). The London Buddhist Centre I went to was on Roman Road, just 5 mins from Bethnal Green station, but there may be one nearer you - try the World Buddhist Directory, I actually couldn't find London Buddhist Centre on there, but there were another 14 in London!

PS. A different type of meditation...go swimming in a pond.

Copyright for image: Eat Live Life