Sunday, 11 September 2016

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Health and Fitness Goals for September 2016

As I am due to return home today it's time to start thinking about actually getting back to reality. Holidays are always a time for me when I relax and let go of what I am usually so focused on. September is a time when everyone is getting back to their school and work routines and I’m going to be a sheep and do the same.  

 Five weeks away meant that my diet has gone absolutely shocking - I've been eating chocolate like everyday and definitely not enough fruit and veg. Although I don't really restrict my diet too much even when I'm home I know I've gone too far with eating whatever I want when 1) all my trousers are suddenly very tight, 2) I constantly feel sleepy and too full. Next week I am therefore making drastic changes and cutting out all sweets from my diet. Of course this isn't going to be a permanent change as I believe it's all about balancing the healthy and the unhealthy however I am going to try my best to stick with it until I feel like I am back to normal. I feel like I've entered the same vicious bad diet-lack of exercise circle as a couple of months ago. It will take some serious determination to break these habits again.   

 This brings me onto my second point – exercise. Although the first couple of weeks of my holiday have been quite active, the last three weeks haven't. I'm not even sure why as I've brought everything I need to go running or to the gym with me. This month I am going to start thinking about longer term goals. I am quite keen to try and run a half marathon next April. I know, it seems like ages away but I think after these few weeks of laziness I would struggle to run 5k never mind 21. So I have come up with a plan to suit my own level of fitness and one I can evaluate and change when needed.    I think I should be able to run 4k without any major difficulty right now. So this is going to be my starting point. I will try to go running 3-4 times a week and increase the distance gradually to run 7k by the end of September. This leaves me with 7 months and 14k to add to the distance – nice, easy maths. So next months goals would be: October: 9k November: 11k December: 13k January: 15k February: 17k March: 19k April: 21k.    

 I haven't run more than 10k before but I know that I won't be able to run e.g. 15k 4 times a week in January. I will therefore plan for 1-2 longer runs a week and then shorter ones in between. This is however only a plan and it can change. I might find that I can increase the distance more quickly or I may reach a point where I really struggle. That's why this plan isn't going to be rigid but adaptable to my own fitness levels and goals. I'm lucky to have some friends who are really into running so I'm sure I'll be asking them for lots of advice. 


Thursday, 1 September 2016

Bike the Baltic

My summer holidays are soon coming to an end – just like most people’s. With that in mind I wanted to share a little bit about what I've been up to since camping in Cornwall. 

I'm currently in Warsaw, the capital of Poland but today’s post is dedicated to my trip to the coast of the Baltic Sea (to Sarbinowo)  but specifically about the cycling route I came across whilst there. 

We did no prior research at all, just hired some bikes and headed in the rough direction of the next village where we knew we’ll find a lighthouse. The village is called Gąski and it’s tiny! We also found a poster outside of the lighthouse showing all fifteen lighthouses along the coast. This is when I had the idea of cycling to the next one down which was about 27km from where we were staying. We didn't manage the challenge that day, we got to Ustronie Morskie (about 10km from Gąski) before we decided we've had enough. The cycling track from Sarbinowo to Ustronie Morskie was mostly a dirt road going through the forest. The best thing about it though was the fact that we were right next to the beach throughout the whole trip which pretty much allows you to explore the whole coast along the cycling track. 

Whilst cycling through the forest I noticed „Bike the Baltic” signs which together with small groups of people who were very obviously on a cycling/camping holiday gave me the clue that this cycling track must be a long one. I was right. The route is a not-yet-realised part of the EuroVelo 10 route which goes around the whole of the Baltic Sea through Denmark, Germany, Poland, Russia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland and Sweden. When I say not-yet-realised I mean that the route is pretty much there but is not yet up to the EuroVelo standards but it's due to be completed in 2017/2018

Two days later we set ourselves the challenge of cycling to Kołobrzeg to see the next lighthouse. The track from Ustronie Morskie to Kołobrzeg is completely different to the first part that we cycled - it's fully paved with clear signposting, which following my research about Route 10 shows that this part is possibly ready to be interconnected with other completed parts. The whole route is over 8500km long so even our longest total of 27km to Kolobrzeg is just a tiny part of it but was enough to impress me. When the route is complete with all of its facilities (like bike and bed hotels) I would seriously be tempted to go for a cycling holiday there. I just love the fact that you are right next to the beach all the time (okay, maybe no more than a few hundred yards in the towns but that's still really close)! 

Lighthouse in Gąski

View from Gąski Lighthouse

Czerwona River

Czerwona River

One of the beaches along the cycling track.

Lighthouse in Kołobrzeg.

Monday, 1 August 2016

My thoughts on camping in Cornwall

This year (and the next year actually) my summer holidays are planned almost down to the minute. With my breaks being shorter than other students’ I do my best to make the most of the time I have off. I have spent last weekend in Cornwall with my friends and boyfriend and I wanted to share my thoughts on the trip. A couple of months ago we booked a campsite in Penhallow, not that much thought went into the process of choosing it, we just found one on tripadvisor with decent reviews and thought why not. By that point we were a little sick of looking for one as we have booked a space in a holiday park before that but apparently 2 couples camping together are a “group” and groups aren't allowed (that was Newquay View Resort by the way). In my opinion that's just them trying to get more money out of you because if two couples book two separate pitches then that's absolutely fine, but anyway I'm digressing. The campsite we ended up going to was called Higher Golla Touring Park and is situated about 2 miles inland from Perranporth. When we arrived the man in reception/shop was clearly organised and expecting our arrival even if there was a slight mix up with pitch numbers. Pitching up our four man tent was definitely a good teamwork exercise and I definitely felt like we've accomplished something when our temporary home was all set up. Our pitch was about a 2 minute walk from the shower block where the facilities were better than I was expecting for the price that we've paid. The facilities were kept very clean throughout our stay and the only two issues we thought might be worth mentioning is that there are only 4 showers for what I thought was a decent size campsite (we were pitch number 33 and that was only about half way up the campsite) and when all showers were in use there were definitely issues with the water pressure. But hey, that's part of the experience right? And it definitely didn't have an impact on our trip. Outside the bathrooms, on kind of a porch, were three sinks which were very useful for washing up the dishes. It's such a simple thing but I was pleasantly surprised by it as I was expecting to have to wash up in a bowl outside the tent. Although we did not use the shop, there was one on site and it looked like it had all the necessities excited campers may have forgotten to pack.
On the day we arrived we went to explore the nearby beach in Perranporth. Although the town was mildly touristy it had a quiet and calm feel to it. On the “high street” we found a couple of pubs, a pasty shop (a must in Cornwall right?), a chippy, surf shops and a variety of “tourist junk” shops. We only found one supermarket, a Co-Op which was obviously everyone’s evening stop before heading back to their hotels or campsites as the queues were ridiculous. The beach itself is great too – the main area close to the shops and toilets got quite crowded but if you're willing to walk a little further on there was a bit more space. The toilets and showers by the beach are clean and clearly newly refurbished. There is even a doggy shower and drier outside as the beach welcomes man’s best friends all year round. As I am very much a dog person this was a big plus for me as I may decide to take my dog with me when I go back there in the future. There is also a great-looking bar right on the beach called The Watering Hole. On a sunny day it made you feel like you were on a cool surfing beach abroad rather than in the UK with lots of tables and benches on the decking outside. 
On our second day we headed for Newquay which is about 9 miles from the campsite. To make the trip more fun we decided to ditch the boring sat nav and found our way the old-school way by just using road signs. Newquay definitely had a more commercial feel to it with lots of your usual high street shops however we did find what I thought was a hidden gem – Martha’s Tea Room. The café had a homely and traditional feel to it and served some of the British classics including cream teas. This is what I opted for and was surprised that for the price of £4.50 I had a pot of tea and 2 scones! This may be too much for some people but I didn't really struggle to finish it haha! After walking along the beach and visiting some of the shops we decided to head back to Perranporth.
Day three was all about the beach. After spotting a good deal in one of the surfing shops in Perranporth we treated ourselves to surfing lessons. Not one of us have surfed before but we were all excited to try it. The shop is called Piran Surf and is situated directly opposite the main entrance to the beach. On arrival we were all weighed and fitted with wetsuits and boots. After changing we sat together with the rest of the group (8 of us in total) in the shop’s outdoor area for a safety briefing with the instructor who appeared to be experienced and really knew what he was talking about. After that we picked up our soft boards and headed for the beach. The instructor talked us through the basics and encouraged us to just have a go which I thought was great. Once in the water the instructor went around the group and helped us to catch a good wave and gave us a little push to make sure we caught it. Two hours with the instructor was enough for us to feel comfortable enough to head back into the sea after lunch and carry on practicing. The currents were really strong and made it quite difficult to stay within the surfing zone so we were all knackered from having to keep moving back across however we had the equipment hired until 6pm so had plenty of time to rest in between surfing. Personally I had enough by 3pm and sunbathed on the beach for the rest of the afternoon. The lesson and the equipment hire for the day cost £25 which I thought was a bargain compared to what other shops in Perranporth offered. 
We spent our evenings barbecuing by our tent and playing cards. Having to be really organised with the cooking meant we were all involved. The being organised part didn't work 100% of the time and occasionally the odd fork had to be shared between two people but that just added to the experience. Apart from the odd Facebook scroll when I managed to catch a bit of 3G we all kept phone use to a minimum and it felt bliss to be away from it all. I felt like we were all present in the moment and enjoying spending time together which is what I loved most about this trip.   
That's enough of being soppy for today. Now time to start packing for the next trip this Friday.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Holiday Check List

In August I will be going away for five weeks which means I am already stressing about packing as I don't want to take too much or too little. The answer to my problem is universal to all organisation problems - a check list! And since I was making one I decided I might as well make it pretty and share it on my blog.

I have included four sections - essentials, clothes, toiletries and gadgets. What you need will of course depend on where you're going and for how long but this list should be useful for your typical getaway to somewhere hotter than the UK. I have also left some space in each table so things can be added to it.

The Essentials don't really need explaining - you're not going to get very far if you've forgotten your passport. 

Clothes very much depend on where you're going so I only included the essential bits that I think will be needed wherever you go. I will probably end up creating another list for the clothes that aren't on this list ;)

Toiletries are a very individual matter so again I included items that will be needed wherever you go. Moisturiser and sun cream are a good idea whether you're off to Barbados or skiing in Switzerland - sun protection will be needed everywhere (there's a whole post on this here) and if the sun doesn't dry your skin out, the wind definitely will. Hair bobbles and clips are on my list because they are the things I always forget whenever I go away. 

I'm not a fan of too many gadgets on holidays however a phone and a camera are essential to me. I love taking pictures when I go to explore new places and a phone is a matter of personal safety (as my mum has drummed into my head ;))

Here is the link to the check list if you think it might come in handy:

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

International Yoga Day and the beginning of a new challenge

The 21st of June was first declared as the International Yoga Day in December 2014 at the United Nations General Assembly, following the Indian Prime Minister's call for an annual celebration of yoga. He said "It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and the nature". I definitely found this statement thought-provoking. 

Yoga is a form of exercise to me, despite what some people believe it can be a good work out. It does however help with a lot more than just keeping your body toned. Yoga classes taught me how to use my breath to focus the mind and enjoy the practise. Being present in the moment is definitely a struggle of mine, it's so easy to get caught up in our to do lists and forget that actually it's okay to stop for an hour and relax. The world is not going to end if you leave some things to do later. I guess this is what the second part of the above statement is about: taking the time to focus on yourself, check in with your body and your mind without feeling guilty or selfish. 

Source: reddit
International yoga day also seemed like a good day to start working on something I would like to improve within my practise. I think that tight hamstrings are something that limits me still and something I would like to improve. I have therefore started a 30 day hamstring challenge and am hoping to make progress with daily practise.

Hamstrings are the muscles responsible for bending your knee as well as limiting how far forward you can bend. They also play a role in our posture as they play a part in straightening the curvature of the lower spine when sitting. These muscles are a crucial part of walking, running, jumping etc. so working on them would probably benefit the majority of people. Although it takes a long time, apparently stretching the hamstrings is relatively easy (we'll see about that), one study showed that a straight leg raise angle can be increased by 25% in 4 weeks with easy daily exercises. It may also be a good idea to work on your hamstrings if you do a lot of sport, e.g. running, as tight hamstrings can lead to muscle injury as inflexible muscles might not be able to bear the full force of the action.

So how am I going to do this? My challenge only has one rule - to practise a minimum of 30 minutes every day. I will be applying what I have learnt in yoga classes as well as using YouTube videos from my favourite YouTube yogis - Yoga with Adriene ( and SarahBethYoga ( I have a busy schedule ahead (as per usual) so I'm sure it will be challenging at times but I will do my best and let you know how I get on next month.

Saturday, 11 June 2016

DIY Notebook/Planner

Last week I went into town for a wonder around the shops and obviously ended up in Paperchase. I love that shop so much, if someone gave me £1000 to spend in there I don't think I would struggle. One of the things I found was a gorgeous Blogger's Journal - a fancy notebook organised into a calendar and pages for blog post ideas. The temptation to buy it was unreal but the hefty price tag knocked some sense into me, I mean as much as I love Paperchase I refuse to spend £15 on what is essentially a notebook. Yes it was hardback and had a fabric cover but other than that it was just paper. This journal then gave me the idea of creating a similar thing out of what most of us already have at home. 

First thing's first - gather everything you will need before you start. For this project you'll need a cardboard box (I found that a cereal bar box worked perfectly), coloured card, wrapping paper, paper for the inside of the notebook (I used lined paper), a ribbon (approximately 30-40 cm), scissors, ruler, pencil, glue and a stapler.

Cut the box so that you only have the front, back and one side left. Then use the box as a template to draw around on the back of the wrapping paper (which will become your cover). Leave around an inch of wrapping paper around the edges to fold over later.

Glue the wrapping paper and the cardboard box together. This is the tricky part as you don't want to end up with wrinkly paper in your cover. Don;t rush this step and avoid using too much glue.

Now fold over the sides and stick them down to the cardboard using glue. 

You will need three pieces of coloured card for the inside - two of the same size for the front and the back and one that's more narrow for the middle. You want them to overlap but to be exactly the same length. 

Stick the middle piece of card down first, you want it to be a couple of centimetres over to the front and the back covers. Then stick down the front making sure that doesn't go past the fold.

Now staple the ribbon on the left side of the piece of card which will be glued to the back cover. Once you've done that glue the card the same way as you glued the second piece.

Next you will need to cut the paper down to the right size. The best way to avoid mistakes is to thread one sheet of paper through the ribbon and use a pencil to mark how much you need to cut off. Once you've cut that, use it as a template to cut out however many sheets of paper you think you will need in your notebook. Don't put in more than the thickness of the spine of your notebook - it won't close! To avoid the ribbon splitting I used a lighter to melt the edges slightly, but be careful not to burn your house down!

Tie the ribbon in a bow and voila! DIY personalised notebook that costs a fraction of a shop-bought one! You can use this idea for all sorts of different things - just a plain notebook, a planner for an occasion, a diary, journal, organiser... You could even make a cover for the Filofax fillers you can buy in shops.

This is how I organised my blog planner - a monthly diary in the front and pages for blog post ideas in the back along with photo ideas and to do lists.