Tips for walking to work

Hola! So, as I wrote last time, I’m now in a new job! Most days, I walk to work and very often walk back too (childcare pick up allowing…) This is fine, except it’s just short of 3 miles each way. I like to walk- I like to see the seasons changing and stomp out any tension. Plus, I had to decide whether I was willing to pay gym fees or after school club fees and, as it’s generally frowned upon to to send your kid to the pub for a few hours after school, my money goes on having him looked after.

Screenshot-2018-1-23 Instagram post by Steph • Dec 12, 2017 at 8 14am UTC(5)

I am very much dressed for the weather here, although I look miserable.

I’ve been walking to work since I was temping in September and I do really love it- but there are a few things that have made my life easier and more comfortable, which is super important when you’re walking so much everyday.

Screenshot-2018-1-23 Instagram post by Steph • Dec 12, 2017 at 8 14am UTC(2)

  • Breakfast- I will usually have a cup of tea and a smoothie made of Adagio’s Chocolate Matcha, banana and oat milk. This is good, because a) it means I have a banana before I’ve even woken up properly and b) I like to think that the matcha does me *some* good. It doesn’t have an overly chocolatey taste, but gives it a nice sweetness- just enough for the morning. I might also try and have something like toast or I’ll take something like oatcakes to eat at work, especially as the walk can make me really hungry. I also like using oat milk because it gives the smoothie a bit of a porridgey flavour and a bit of a fibre hit, which is obviously good (I think.)

Screenshot-2018-1-23 Instagram post by Steph • Dec 12, 2017 at 8 14am UTC(1)

  • What I wear on my feet is very important, especially on a long walk. I will wear Doc Martens if the weather is bad, but they’re heavy. My go-to boots and shoes are Sketchers- they have memory foam and are lightweight, meaning I feel lighter on my feet and my legs don’t ache at the end of the day. (Benn bought me some Sketchers slippers for Christmas too. My feet feel permanently heavenly- and my posture is good as a result, too.)
  • I’d also recommend a good backpack- I hate my arms being restricted! I currently use one I picked up ages ago from the Ollie and Nic sale, but I’m on the hunt for something bigger- along the the lines of the Jansport bag I coveted at school but never got.

Screenshot-2018-1-23 Instagram post by Steph • Dec 12, 2017 at 8 14am UTC(3) The biggest things that have made the most difference to my walking commute though, are the following:

  • A good antiperspirant- no-one wants to be stinky! I experimented with different brands and found that this one is the best. Also, there’s no point wearing fancy perfume when you’re walking. I’ve resorted to bodysprays and lament the fact that Impuse no longer make Zen and/or O2 scents. Considering a Twitter campaign.
  • Keep Cup– I bought mine in November and I use it mostly on cold days, when I need warming up. With Pret and Costa offering money off hot drinks, and concern about the environment, this is just a bit of a no-brainer for me. Fun fact: as a result of taking this into work, I have caused six other people to buy one. Am awaiting my commission.
  • Bluetooth headphones and Spotify- I used to have rubbish headphones and a rubbish phone. It took ages to listen to anything and I spent a long time trying to get anything to work. My in-laws bought me a great pair of headphones and I treated myself to Spotify Premium and it has honestly improved my commute no end. I have podcasts and playlists and I can honestly say that I look forward to my walk to work every day. I don’t think I’ve ever said that before.

Screenshot-2018-1-23 Instagram post by Steph • Dec 12, 2017 at 8 14am UTC(4)

*All of these products are here because I love them- there are no affiliate links on this post. I was sent the matcha to review, but will be purchasing this once my sample runs out!




This Girl Can- and so can you.

I am rubbish at sport. I hated it in school, but now I’m older I try, I’m keen- at the moment I manage to get out for a run once a week and I do yoga 3-4 times a week (still plodding with that), but I’m not ‘sporty’. I’ve been told before that I’m ‘not built for running’. I’ve had catcalls and insults thrown at me while I run. In short, it’s easy to lose hope and confidence in my ability to exercise.

That’s where This Girl Can comes in.

The campaign came about after a study by Sport England found that women were more likely to be inactive than men, but that most would like be more active. One of the main things holding them back was self-consciousness about being judged.


To anyone thinking about starting running or another form of exercise, let me encourage you. I’m a size 16, I’m a slow runner and a hopeless yogi, but I like how I feel once I’ve done something. Once the weather gets better, I’ll do more, even if it does mean I’ll get sweaty and go the colour of a strawberry/tomato hybrid.


It’s better that I do something- I feel better mentally as well as physically after a run, even if I spend a lot of the run feeling like I’d quite like to die (this happens quite a lot. I’m not Paula Radcliffe.) There’s a sense of achievement. I’ll keep going. I’m even looking into getting new trainers.

Also, I’d like to highlight a list on BuzzFeed- proof that yogis come in all shapes and sizes. I found it really inspiring.

What I want to say is- if I can do it, anyone can.

Life Update

Tomorrow it’s back to work- boo! Saying that, the last two weeks have been massively busy- and skint. So at least work will be a distraction from looking at craft blogs and wanting to buy ALL THE THINGS.

I have managed to make a couple of things on the sewing machine, although they’ve not been perfect by any stretch of the imagination. First off, this cute pair of shorts in gingham (which ended up being too small- I think my seam allowances are off):



I did the 18 months size pattern, but they came out very small. I’ve donated this pair to a friend with a small baby- my enthusiastic sewing hasn’t stopped someone else’s child looking cool. I’m actually really proud of these, because they look good and I worked hard on them. I’ve decided to take all mistakes with a pinch of ‘well, it’s a learning curve.’ The next pair I made (to a 2 year old fitting pattern) DO fit, but are a bit snug for D around the waist. My learning curve? I bloody hate working with elastic. It’s drawstrings all the way from now on!

Speaking of D, WE HAVE A WALKER! Just shy of 18 months old and D decided it was time to walk. This means he’s beaten both of his parents’ records: Benn was 18 months old and I was 19 months old when we started to walk. He’s covered in bruises and has the balance of a Weeble, but he’s definitely enjoying hurtling around and giving his extended family a heart attack. My parents were down for a few days and bought him a pair of snazzy shoes- there’s just no stopping him now…



I’ve started week 2 of Couch to 5K and haven’t yet succumbed to exercise-related death, which is a good thing. I’m yet to feel all the positive stuff that running’s supposed to bring though. At the moment, it’s kind of a mix of boredom with ‘how many times can I pass this person running in the opposite direction to me without having to give a very sheepish, very British grin?’ I definitely need to get some new running gear when I get paid though- my old Adidas hoodie gives me the type of sleeve that was fashionable with poor women in 1820.

But really, will I ever be as stylish as my ultimate idol?

Image: Pinterest

Image: Pinterest

New Year’s Resolutions

I know, I know, TOTAL cliché  but 2012 has been an interesting year and I think that some resolutions will stand me in good stead. However, I’m not a complete fool; I’m only going to set resolutions that I can actually keep… so, y’know, giving up chocolate is a bit of a stupid one to set myself.

I hate New Year’s Eve, so I’m hoping that we have a fairly quiet one, baby permitting! I do like looking forward a little bit though and wondering what next year might bring. Who would’ve thought last year that I would have a baby a year later? It still seems a bit surreal, really, especially when I consider that I’M SOMEONE’S MUM. Last New Year’s, all I was bothered about was the fact that I wasn’t as fit as I was normally and dreading going back to work. Now, I’m all like “Oh, I hope that this colic goes/I’d really like some sleep.” I’ve changed, maaaaaaaaaaan.

Funny New Year's Ecard: This year I resolve to be less sarcastic. Yeah right.

Learn to bake– Brilliantly, you can join me on this epic journey, which I’ve written about here.

Use stuff up- I am a hoarder, although I will never admit it when Benn says it. My worst area seems to be toiletries and skincare- lip balms, body lotion and facial moisturisers. Maybe 2013 will see the start of me doing ’empties’ posts. I’m not allowed to buy any more products in these categories until I have used some of them up! I’ve been giving stuff away that I don’t think I’ll use and I feel lighter already. I just have to walk on by exciting offers in Boots. IcandoitIcandoit.

Do some fun exercise- Last year, I started jive and yoga classes (before I found out I was pregnant!) and I would like to do something along these lines now that D is here. At the moment, I’m thinking lindyhop classes and yoga at home on DVD…

Not need any more dental work- My teeth are rubbish; they always have been.  I needed a tooth out just before Christmas. I am never, ever doing that again. I need another filling next week (joy- most of my mouth will be metal) and I’ve bought a whizzy toothbrush. Cutting down on fizzy drinks (I was terrible, especially in pregnancy when I used them as alcohol substitutes.) I’ll do everything I can on this one!

Take the baby to some mum and baby things- I’m not sure which ones though, but I do need to be brave with this sort of thing so that he socialises with other children. I can’t imagine having a shy child, really. Might as well start him young.

Drink more water– I just need to do this!

What are your new year’s resolutions?

How I’m staying sane while pregnant…

Ah, pregnancy. A time of blossoming, blooming-ness. Also a time when you think the following:


“Um, this baby has got to come out of me somehow.. I wish the stork would deliver it overnight, like the Tooth Fairy or something.”

It’s actually pretty hard sometimes to keep your sense of perspective, or to not get really bloody paranoid at the slightest thing. I’m over halfway through now (and in total denial that this baby has to arrive somehow in eighteen weeks) and I’ve found that there are ways I can make myself feel slightly saner than I would otherwise.

1) Hoarding books. I buy lots of books. Secondhand, mainly, as we have a great Oxfam bookshop nearby. I know I probably won’t have time for much reading once Fidget arrives, but having lots of books in the house makes me happy. It also drives Benn mad, but that’s an added bonus. Of course, if something super-new comes out, or I’m bored of my collection, I’m lucky in that Brighton has some excellent libraries. I borrow a lot of my crafty books from them.

2) Pampering. I’ve got very into nail polish recently. I’ve always been a make-up fan, but I’ve found that changing my nails on a regular basis has become a bit of a ritual. I also found, during the first trimester (when you feel most tired/rubbish and generally in a bad mood) that using henna on my hair really worked as a pick-me-up. I got lots of compliments and felt brighter. Baths, lie-ins and lovely slow days have all helped me feel better, especially during times of massive work-related stress recently.

3) Saving.  I am an oxymoron- I am a spendthrift who worries about money. I know that I spend a lot of money on little fripperies; a lipstick here, a takeaway sandwich there. I’ve put a little money aside each month for when we don’t have so much. I can use this to take Fidget swimming, or to have a haircut or just to meet friends for a cuppa and a bit of cake. By having this money, I don’t have to rely on Benn to give me money and I won’t have to feel guilty if I have a bit of a treat. It’s helping my sanity by thinking about the future.

4) Regular exercise. My friends and family will tell you that, when it comes to exercise, I walk everywhere but am essentially lazy. However, it’s getting to the point where I feel like my legs are walking at twice the pace to cover half the distance they usually would. However, I’m really enjoying aquanatal classes at the local swimming baths. They’re half the price of yoga classes, much more fun and I feel like I’m having a real workout. Bonus, the baby appears to love them! I’m also finding that they’re helping me sleep (which can be hard, when you have the next Michael Flatley practising ‘Riverdance’ in your abdomen.)

5) Don’t feed the trolls. Ignore the internet message boards, where people post stupid and grammatically incorrect queries. Try and avoid reading too many horror stories that make you panic (ask me how I know). Don’t search WebMD to find out whether trapped wind is actually a sign of impending death. Actually, this advice is quite good even if you’re not pregnant. What I would say though, is don’t get involved in the so-called ‘Mommy Wars’. Read about them, if you like, but then resolve to take an ‘each to their own’ view of parenting. So what if someone does/doesn’t breastfeed or is an ‘attachment parent’? As long as no one is hurt, it’s really no-one else’s business.

6) Read sensible parenting books. There are loads of mad ideas about impending parenthood- just google Gina Ford to see what I mean (my favourite bit of her Wikipedia page lists Drs Penelope Leach and Miriam Stoppard as critics of her methods and, er, Eamon Holmes and Michelle Gayle as supporters. Wow.) I can recommend this book and I bought this book because I read an interview with the author and he looked sensible.

7) Be prepared for ‘surprises’. There are LOADS of things that the pregnancy books don’t tell you about. You might need breast pads from four months. You might grow lots of extra hair- everywhere. You’ll probably get weird muscle spasms. Actual mums won’t tell you this until you ask about it and you will always be greeted by the phrase, “If we told people about this NO ONE WOULD EVER HAVE CHILDREN.” You may feel slightly miffed at first, but then you will realise that you too shall one day be a member of this hallowed club of women with wisdom.

Spring Goals

I figured, as it’s nearly the end of February and we’re predicted a really warm end of the week, I thought I would look ahead and set myself some goals for the next few months; the period between now and June is busy at work and I need to make sure that I’m not just doing work stuff. So, with that in mind, I’m going to set some goals for the time period until June 1st.

1) Read more fiction- and enjoy it! I’ve written about this and I’m determined to continue with it. I’m slowly getting to grips with the problems I’ve had. Maybe I read a few rum books, but it’s getting better. I am currently loving Evelyn Waugh’s ‘Vile Bodies’, so I will read more of his books in the coming weeks.

2) Be positive- it’s really easy for me to get bogged down in my job, so I’m going to try and take everything as it comes. This target also means I need to not allow stress to envelope me. Which leads me to…

3) Get into exercising- I started both jive and yoga this weekend and I really want them to become things I really, really enjoy, even when the novelty has worn off. I’ve started to read up on the history of both and this is really helping me get my head around what I’m doing.

4) Do more writing- and be brave about it! I need to make sure that I start work on the ‘novel’ and maybe put myself forward for writing competitions, solicit some work (perhaps) and really get going with the work. Writing is the thing I love doing more than anything. I should do more of what I enjoy.

5) Knit some yoga socks!

6) Make something with my sewing machine.

7) Buy some utterly brilliant shoes that I will actually wear.

I think that’s a pretty comprehensive and achievable list… Do you have any goals for spring?

Jiving with a bit of yoga thrown in for good measure

So, I’ve done two new fitness related ‘things’ this weekend. This is remarkable for two reasons:

1) When it comes to any exercise other than walking anywhere, I am essentially lazy.

2) Despite outward appearances, I am generally quite shy and lacking in enough confidence to try new things, especially if they involve sweating in a room full of strangers.

Last night, I had my first jive lesson…

Fortunately, I wasn’t thrown into the air! But I did have a cracking time- so much so that when I woke up this morning, it became apparent that I had strained my vocal chords a bit through laughing so much. This was down to the fact that my friend, Suzi, had also signed up independently of me and needed a partner for the evening. Cue lots of very graceless twirls and me poking my tongue out as I tried to master the (fairly simple) footwork. As Suzi was the lead, she may have been referred to as ‘Dear Leader’ and ‘Kim’ ocassionally…

The weird part was when we had to swap partners and I had to get used to the movements of two strangers- I never realised how different we each are physically when dancing, even when dancing essentially the same moves. Anyway, so next week we’ll be learning a bit of an extra twirl and making the leads do a bit more work for a change! What’s really great is that we’re learning to dance with the ‘proper’ music, which made me just want to don a circle skirt, some cat-eye glasses and some seriously red lippy!

The age range was really quite varied, although there was a major shortage of males in the group, so who knows who my partner will be next week. Hopefully I won’t stick my tongue out so much/trip over my feet. At all. And maybe if I get really good, I could buy some of these beauties:

I’ve been keeping up with my yoga this week, when my cold hasn’t made me feel like doing nothing except eating soup, but I decided that I needed an actual teacher to teach me, instead of a DVD. With this in mind, I took myself off to a beginner’s yoga class, which turned out to be a marvellous idea.

I found the lesson calming and really easy to follow, despite being right at the back of the room. The class numbers were also pretty small, meaning that the teacher could help and advise. I’ve been at yoga classes before where the teacher has basically ignored students or been quite brusque, but this was lovely. The routine was more a series of poses being held, with focus on the breath, rather than trying to do a bunch of moving poses, which was great- and I managed to keep my downward dog in position without mentally effing and blinding, so there are improvements ahoy! (The one weird part was when, during the relaxation down time at the end, we could hear the Hare Krishnas in the street, which was lovely and odd all rolled into one…) I did feel totally chilled out at the end of the lesson, to the point where I got the bus home instead of walking; I didn’t trust myself not to get run over!

All in all, not a bad couple of classes for an exercisephobe. I’m already looking forward to next week.


I am currently suffering a bout of insomnia. It is not fun. I have had a lot of broken sleep since Christmas, but this week it’s been completely off the scale. Unfortunately, it’s not fun.

It is completely inhibiting my ability to do much at the moment. I am not one of those people who work brilliantly when they don’t sleep. I’m not going to write a novel in a week, through lack of sleep. I can’t even focus on a book for very long when it’s bad. It also doesn’t help that I’ve been struggling with a rubbish immune system this week too. I make a bloodhound look perky and awake; the bags under my eyes are a wonder to behold (you know the heaviest shopping bag you’ve ever carried? I look like I have that under my eyes- eighteen cans of catfood and a four pinter of milk all stored in my tear ducts. Nice.)

I’ve tried most things for the sleeplessness. Having a routine (or not) does not seem to help much, although I suppose that affects whether I get up in the night or not. A 6am start does tend to discourage me from getting up for a couple of hours at 1am. Baths, lavender oil, hot milk (with added whiskey!), staying away from the TV/internet before bed- all of them have a negligible affect. Maybe I shouldn’t be on Twitter for hours, but I’m not sure it plays a massive part in my lack of sleep. I need about seven hours to be firing on most cylinders. At the moment, it’s working out about three and half to four hours of broken sleep. If I’m lucky.

About six years ago, a doctor gave me sleeping tablets (the pharmacist told me she’d written double the dose I needed on the prescription, which could have ended really well.) I took one once. I felt a weird sensation- the pill worked really quickly, scarily so. I rang my now-husband and slurred over the phone to him. I needed someone to talk to me while I fell asleep, I was so freaked out. I slept a dead, foggy sleep and woke up the next morning groggy and sort of hungover. The next day I took the rest of the packet to the chemists’ to be destroyed. I vowed never to take sleeping tablets that were that strong ever again. My husband jokingly asked whether I’d called in case I didn’t wake up and, rather drama queenily, I think I did. I was young and stupid, but I was also genuinely scared.

So what am I doing to help myself now? Well, tonight is my first jive class, which hopefully will utterly tire me out. I’m also planning to take a beginner’s yoga class tomorrow if my cold doesn’t explode overnight- it’s kind of one of those annoying colds that sort of drags on with no major symptoms. It’s not annoying enough to take medicine but not benign enough to not be irritating. I’ve been trying to do a bit of yoga every day, in a bid to chill out enough to finally get some sleep.

I wonder if insomnia is genetic. My mother has suffered with it for years. I just need to try and find a solution and any suggestions would be gratefully received!


Hmm, yoga.

Today, I did some yoga. It’s not the first time I’ve done yoga; when I first moved to Brighton I did a bit of yoga at the Buddhist Centre, but I was a bit intimidated by some of the women there who seemed to see it as a competition. I was stiff and very unfit, the last thing I needed was some woman throwing me filthy looks when I was struggling. There was also the time I tried very hard not to giggle after said woman accidentally ‘let herself go’. It’s not good for karma or meditation.  I’m just not very good at exercising in classes- I prefer to work at home, with a DVD in front of me. That way, if I mess up, I’m the only person who’s seen me fall over.

I am struggling hard at the moment with winter blues (as much as I love winter, I find it often leads to me becoming depressed, something which needs to be dealt with, if I’m able to) and I am trying hard to look after myself through physical and mental means. I’m often less successful than I would like to be, but I’m doing my best to counteract this. One way is through the jive lessons I mentioned a few weeks ago, which start next week- hooray! The other is that I’m having a go at the aforementioned yoga.

I’m literally starting from the beginning with ‘Basic Yoga For Dummies’, which is a bit annoying as a DVD, but shows the basic positions so that even someone like me can get them quite easily. I’ve already set myself a goal of improving my Downward Dog. I did, however, find it was pretty difficult to be centred on my Tree position when a small black and white cat is demanding food and nudging me…

The after effects, if achy, are actually quite remarkable. I feel relaxed and chilled out. I have no doubt that I will actually sleep well tonight for the first time in ages. I’m hoping that I can keep up with this, but I have no idea whether I will ever bolster the courage to go to a class! I’m now probably going to obsessively search the internet for reviews of other yoga dvds to add to the one I have.

Unless I get bored pretty quickly. Which could happen.