Tag: wine

5 things that make me feel like a grown up

Feeling like a grown up - small girl with hands up in the air

Being a grown up is a funny thing. Most people of a certain age, at least in my social circle, say they don’t feel like a grown up, and can’t believe where the years have gone. To me, being a grown up is being a responsible adult, which I don’t always class myself as! That said, there are occasions when it hits me that “woah, I am!”

Most recently was last weekend, when I spent £48 of my hard earned cash on a green recycling bin. Aside from the fact I have to pay when there are other local borough councils who issue them for free, I got really excited about it being delivered! Then got really excited about filling it! The ivy in our back garden has taken a bit of a battering as a result, but at least I feel like I’m properly getting my monies worth.

Here are 5 more things that make me feel like a grown up

Buying myself fresh flowers for the house

Younger me would NEVER have spent money on something so frivolous, but older me feels really together and mature at buying blooms for my dining table

Life admin

Self explanatory really; pensions and life insurance and really complicated but VERY IMPORTANT stuff. I’m currently trying to change our life insurance policy and it gives me a headache.

Cooking a roast dinner

A roast dinner is a grown up meal cooked by a grown up, no? There are so many different elements, and timings. It feels like a grown up way to feed people. I love cooking a roast dinner, especially with a couple of cheeky vinos!

Ordering a bottle of wine in a restaurant

There’s something so grown up about going out for dinner and ordering a bottle of wine to share with the husband. Perusing a wine menu seems very mature to someone who orders wine by the glass based on price and percentage! As does paying over the odds for something you could probably get at half the price in the supermarket.

Using a trolley at the supermarket

I use a trolley once a year – at Christmas when I’m buying ALL the food and drink. Most of the time I just get a basket and buy a few bits at a time. Trolleys are for parents with children or people with freezers who buy in bulk or batch cook. Not for people like me!

Are there things that sometimes remind you that you’re an actual real life grown up? Let me know!

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

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When did drinking become so normal?

As Lent came to an end over the weekend, and all the brave people who committed to giving things up for 40 days returned to their usual indulgences (including Ellen – read her Lent diaries here!), I got to thinking about boozing, and how it’s just so so normal.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not criticising it in anyway. I drink a lot. Too much! I lie to my dentist and doctor when they ask me how many units a week I drink (I know, I know, but it’s just so much easier than sitting through the inevitable lecture!) In our house we treat everything with alcohol. Something to celebrate? Let’s have a drink! Bad day at the office? Let’s have a drink! Indifferent to everything? A glass of wine will help!

(pics taken from my instagram over the past week)

(This makes me sound like an alcoholic, which I’m not, but I do really enjoy the warm fuzzy feeling of booze and I’m not going to apologise for it)

I know I’m not the only one who drinks more than they should, whether that’s through the course of the week or in a binge at weekends. I just wonder when it became so socially acceptable?

When I was a kid my Mom and Dad might share a bottle of wine on a Friday night, or buy a bottle if we had people over for Sunday lunch. I wouldn’t even contemplate sharing just one bottle of wine these days! A bottle of wine is only 3 large glasses (although it sounds better to say you’ve “only” had 3 glasses than drunk a bottle, admittedly!) and 1.5 glasses each if you’re sharing with another person isn’t going to last you more than an hour, at best.

Where pubs used to be the domain of men having a couple of pints after work, or on a Sunday lunchtime, now women are stepping out of the kitchen and into the boozer, and rightly so! No element of a modern society should be skewed to any gender, and equality includes the right to drink where and when we choose.

Maybe it’s because there’s more visibility now, through social media, that we realise how much and how often people are drinking. Thirsty Thursday is a recognised hashtag on Instagram and Twitter, and the majority of people seem to associate the weekend with drinking alcohol. Sitting at home with a glass of wine is the norm, as is women with screaming toddlers exalting bedtime so they can kick back and soothe away the day with a G&T. I can’t imagine that being the case when my Mom was my age (which isn’t that long ago). The statement of “I need a drink” is synonymous with people receiving bad or stressful news, and it’s completely ok to “drown our sorrows”. Ask someone “is it too early for a drink” and you’ll quite likely be given an encouraging “well the pubs are open”, or “it’s always 5 o’clock somewhere” in return. Go to any airport departure lounge at any time of day and the pubs will be heaving with people having the obligatory pre-holiday drink, whatever time of day! (I’m also guilty of this, I have many photos of me proudly holding a glass of pink wine at 5am!)

So why is it that a lot of people are drinking more frequently than in the past? Is it because, generally, we have more free time and spare cash than generations before us? That it’s more acceptable to be steaming drunk than it used to be? (this is more specific to women, I think, who still get judged more harshly than men). That our lifestyles are more stressful, with longer hours and more responsibility, and we feel that we need or deserve the escape?

The fact that, as a race, we’re more clued up on healthy living and the effects of our lifestyles than ever before, you’d think that we’d be more afraid of the well known effects of alcohol (weight gain, memory loss, liver damage, the list is long) but seemingly we turn a blind eye, instead only looking at the perceived benefits (we feel less stressed, more sociable, happier).

While drugs are illegal and smoking is becoming less and less socially acceptable, drinking is only ever frowned upon at the point at which someone has become addicted to the point of ruining their life or the lives of others. We live in a drinker’s society. You can buy booze so easily and cheaply; at all hours of the day. You can drink a beer at the cinema, or a glass of wine at the theatre. Pubs often do meal deals to include a free drink. A few years ago I took my Mom for some spa treatments for her birthday and we were given prosecco on arrival. Some hairdressers give their clients booze! Now replace any or all of those scenarios with a cigarette or a line of cocaine. It’s unthinkable.

Does any of this change my opinion of boozing? Look, in truth, I sometimes wish I didn’t want to have a drink on a night out. It would be great to save money and lose weight as a side benefit too. But, in truth, it ain’t going to happen! It’s too ingrained in society, and too ingrained in me.

What are your thoughts? Do you enjoy the odd tipple? Are you a celebratory drinker? Should alcohol be treated more like the drug it is? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

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5 things to consider if you fail at Dry January

For many people who committed to Dry January, tonight will be the first hurdle to overcome in their journey towards 31 days of sobriety. Last weekend you were probably full of good intentions and feeling smug for having a booze free weekend. Now reality has kicked in with a vengeance, it’s the first full week at work (unless, like me, you’ve been ill), you’ve missed your pyjamas/lie ins/eating chocolate for breakfast and, truth be told, you bloody well deserve a glass of wine for making it through the week.

dry-january

If you do give in to temptation and hit the bottle, don’t despair! Here are 5 things to make you feel better about not doing Dry January (for the record, if anyone’s interested, I made no such commitment and have been happily boozing since January 1st. Not everyday though, obvs).

In the interests of transparency, I have taken inspiration taken from an article in the Metro – where they come up with a whole 13 reasons! Read the full article here

1 – It’s January

Nuff said. Cold, dark nights, ages til Spring and currently with added snow. Alcohol is one of the few joys available at this time of year!

2 – It’s (probably) unsustainable and unnecessary 
Unless you’re planning on becoming tee total all year, Dry January just confuses your body and liver. I did it once and, at the end, I was drunk and asleep on two vodkas. Much better to not deprive yourself and therefore continue your body’s natural tolerance.

3 – You’ll end up wishing part of your year away

For most people it will be something to grit their teeth and endure, therefore wishing it was February already just to crack open a bottle.

4 – Drinking makes you happy

‘Tis true! Most of us can associate with the warm glow that comes with the Friday night glug of a wine bottle being shared (or not shared, in my case) and the softening of the edges of life as the alcohol makes everything that little bit nicer. Contrast with the steely glare of real life for a whole 31 days with nothing to take the sharpness off the corners. No brainer.

5 – Socialising will become a chore

If you have any social occasions, celebrations or outings planned for January and you plan on remaining sober whilst your acquaintances aren’t you should probably start making your excuses now. Schedule for your dog to be ill or your hair to need washing, ‘cos there is nothing fun about being the sober one whilst your pals get merry. And they’ll probably expect a free lift home.

There, you’re reaching for the vino already, no? You’re welcome!

(on a serious note, if you are doing Dry January, then all power to you, and don’t let my inane waffle persuade you otherwise!)

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

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Hotel review – Conca Azzurra, Massa Lubrense

We don’t generally go on all inclusive holidays (or package holidays full stop), as we’re big fans of eating out at different restaurants and having no set times in our day, but when we spotted the Conca Azzurra hotel on the Thomas Cook website it seemed ideal for our needs for this year.

Conca Azzurra hotel

We were holidaying late, wanted a mix of city break and relaxing and the reviews were really good.

First impressions of the hotel were great; after a very long and rainy drive from the airport, we finally arrived gone 11pm to a lovely meal of cold meats, cheese, bread, rice and pasta, and the all important wine! We’d booked a junior suite with seaview (not because we’re that kind of people, just because it was the last room available!) and it really had the wow factor; huge in size, large bathroom with two sinks, jacuzzi bath and separate shower cubicle; huge comfy sofa, soft lighting and lots of storage space, with a large balcony and sliding patio doors.

Conca Azzurra junior suite

Conca Azzurra hotel room 2

Conca Azzurra junior suite 2

Conca Azzurra junior suite 3

Conca Azzurra junior suite 4

Thanks god for that suite. Because for the first two days we spent a lot of time in it. It rained from arrival and for the next 24 hours. Not “oh it’s only light rain, let’s chance it”. Thunder, lightening, wind, inches of rain. This isn’t as bad as it sounds; we pulled the big sofa in front of the balcony doors and looked out to sea.

Conca Azzurra junior suite 5

And we drank wine. Lots of wine. It was impossible to order a glass – they just gave you the bottle – so with nothing better to do we whiled away the day reading, relaxing, napping (a 2 hour booze snooze counts as a nap, right?) and having a little tipple.

It was actually pretty nice. We’ve had a hectic few weeks so being able to just chill out was lovely.

The following day started dry but very windy. The hotel is at the bottom of a cliff, it’s impossible to reach it without taking a minibus from the top to the bottom around hairpin bends and hair-raising slopes

Hotel and cliff face

Hotel minibus

But the isolation and views are fantastic when you’re at the bottom. The sea was bashing at the cliff face and it was far from warm. We had a wander round the grounds and down to the sea.

And then it started raining again. So we did more of the first day; relaxing, sleeping. And wine.

Post storm we saw this amazing sunset. The island you can see on the horizon is Ischia.

Storm sunset 2

Storm sunset

Sunset over Ischia

Sunset over Ischia 3

Sunset over Ischia 2

Storm sunset 3

On day three the sun came out. Hurrah! We finally got to take advantage of the fabulous sun terrace which had two hot tubs, sun loungers and comfortable outdoor sofas, all looking right out to sea.

Conca Azzurra terrace

Conca Azzura view from terrace 3

Naturally I had to indulge in some more wine (celebration!)

Conca Azzura hot tub

And a cocktail!

Conca Azzura hot tub and drink

Conca Azzura me in hot tub

Chilling on the terrace

Reading in the hot tub

The hotel itself is small, with only around 35 rooms. It had a nice outdoor terrace which we were able to make use of both daytime and evening for eating and drinking.

Conca Azzurra hotel terrace

Conca Azzurra outside

Conca Azzurra by night

We booked the hotel knowing that it was fairly isolated, and that it wasn’t possible to just pop out for a walk or into Sorrento. You had to get the minibus to the top of the cliff before you could get anywhere, and it’s not an area for walking. To get to Sorrento you needed to book the free shuttle bus there and back (or book an expensive taxi), so obviously there were timetables to be mindful of. But if you’ve done your research before you book then you know this. It really annoys me when people complain about something that’s made clear in advance.

The food was slightly underwhelming at first – from the reviews we’d expected gourmet meals but the reality was more rustic Italian food. Don’t get me wrong, it was tasty and well cooked and plentiful, with loads of choice at each meal. But this wasn’t the foodie holiday I had hoped feared expected. I didn’t go mental and stuff my face til I felt sick, and I didn’t break the scales when I got home! (this is both good and bad in my book).

But check out these views!

Conca Azzura view 1

Conca Azzurra view 6

Conca Azzurra view 5

Conca Azzura view from terrace 2

Conca Azzura view 2

Conca Azzurra view 4

Conca view 2

Conca view 4

Conca view

Conca view 3

Would I stay there again? No, because there’s loads more of the world to see and I’ve done that part of Italy now. That’s no reflection on the hotel. I just don’t understand people who go back to the same place year in year out. It smacks of lack of imagination.

Have you seen my previous posts about our visits to Herculaneum and Amalfi & Positano?

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Living in the moment and fear of missing out – the Italian edition

I’m back from Italy – boo!

But I had a great time – woo!

Want to hear something stupid though?

I spent a good chunk of the time wondering if I was enjoying it as much as I should.

Crazy, right?

Seriously. It was a stressful time for some of the time. Because I seem incapable of just loving what I’m doing instead of thinking about what I could/should be doing.

Like, on the third day, when the weather finally improved after two days of being stuck indoors, and the husband suggested it would be nice to chill out and soak up some sun. “What about Sorrento?” I wanted to scream! Instead I grimaced and threatened to stomp off to the room in a huff. Then I grudgingly agreed suggested a compromise of sunbathing in the morning and Sorrento after lunch. It worked out perfectly.

Like, when we were planning our Amalfi coast trip and the weather looked favourable on the Thursday instead of the Wednesday, but turned out crap and I wanted to eat my own head for not going the day before.

Like, when we got to Amalfi and, in spite of the fact we only intended a brief visit – instead arranging to head back to Positano – I sulked when we left because Amalfi looked prettier than I expected (even though it was raining torrentially). It turned out to be a very good decision as Positano was much prettier and more enjoyable, so the husband was right to stick to our guns (mutter, grumble, grudgingly agree to him being right).

Like, when we were in Sorrento, and I said it wasn’t as nice as Nice. Why do I even have to compare it? Why does it have to be better or worse? Why can’t it just be Sorrento?

Like when I was internally freaking out for not seeing every single inch and church and backstreet and statue and drop of sea at Sorrento, but it’s actually all ok because we enjoyed what we did.

Seriously!

It’s bloody exhausting.

On the way back from Amalfi (last but one day), after my unadmitted but totally busted by the husband strop, I had an epiphany. Well, perhaps not that dramatic. But I realised a few things. In no particular order.

a) I’m a knob

b) I expect too much

c) I’m hard work

Even husband said that I put unrealistic expectations on myself.

I don’t know if it’s because it was a mix of chilling and sightseeing, and I was worried we wouldn’t get the balance right. Generally, on short stay city breaks, I don’t have this problem.

Or maybe it was the fact that we took so long and deliberated so much before booking this break that I wanted it to be perfect, and it could never live up to my impossibly high standards.

Or maybe I just need a lobotomy, and to be god damn grateful that I’m lucky enough to travel.

You’d think, from all that, it wasn’t a great trip.

It was. It’s just a shame I didn’t truly appreciate it until towards the end.

I really need to chill the fuck out.

Or start holidaying on my own!

On the plus side, I’m only admitting this terrible terrible flaw about myself to a handful of people. It’s not like it’s out in public, right?

I’ll be posting more about the trip in the following week; if you can manage to stick around now I’ve revealed myself to be a temperamental headcase!

In the meantime, have some pics so you can see what a twonk I am!

Sorrento clock tower

St Francis of Assissi   Sorrento 6

Sorrento 5

Sorrento 2

Gelato and wine

Sorrento 3

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Fight the flab – time to get moving

I’m very much a nothing or almost nothing kind of exerciser – I HATE exercise with a passion. It just feels so forced.

Exercise

I’ve tried on about 3 different occasions this year to do the C25k running plan – I even went out and bought running trainers – but something better always gets in the way! (any excuse – the weather’s bad, the weather’s good, I’m tired, I need to tidy up at home, let’s go to the pub – ANYTHING!)

However I have been gaining a bit of weight and feeling flabby so I know I need to do something (I also need to lose some weight so I can gorge myself on Italian food when we go away in October – lose it to gain it!). I don’t want to give in to weight gain. I know the more I leave it the more I will have to lose, which will be harder work. Plus I refuse to replace my clothes with bigger clothes. I really like my clothes!

I know that my main problem areas with weight are wine, and lack of restraint at weekends. Neither of which I’m really keen to stop, so getting physical needs to become part of the equation.

After a couple of weeks of deliberating, I finally got myself in the right mindset last week, plus it makes sense to actually use the trainers I spent so long deliberating over earlier this year. I was very girly when it came to buying them. Firstly I really didn’t want to spend any money on sports gear precisely because I’m so fickle and would rather buy nice things like lipsticks and heels. When I gave in to the idea that I would have to invest some cash, it was of utmost importance that I liked the trainers. Not enough that they’re comfortable, feel good, support me (whatevs); they have to be nice to look at. I know I’m not alone in this! Which is why it took me 3 visits to different sports shops in 2 different towns before I found some I liked.

Adidas running shoes

(they are actually very comfortable too, and were a relative bargain at £36, from Sports Direct)

So I’ve been out a handful of times for a hybrid walk/jog type thing and I’ve actually enjoyed it – the sun was shining and I took a picturesque route which made a difference. Also, going at my own pace with no time goal meant I didn’t feel rubbish if I had to stop (something I did find with the C25k podcast – it’s too regimented for my needs, even though it is actually pretty laid back, that’s how unfit I am!).

I’ve also decided I’m going to rejoin the gym (urgh). I want to try and get to grips with Bodypump. This is how I feel about that prospect:

Kill me

I’ve done it once before, many moons ago, but I didn’t know what any of the equipment was and I was with a friend so we spent most of the class giggling at each other. This time I’m going to ask about the kit and the routine and everything first, so at least I’m not floundering wildly. Although I have such pathetic upper body strength that I’d probably struggle lifting Hula Hoops (mmmm…crisps…)

My gym also does 30 minute pack workouts with a personal trainer, and I think even I can manage 30 minutes if I’m being pushed by someone! (or, failing that, cry badly enough that they’ll take pity and let me leave).

Of course the key will be going straight from work. I’m even going to change at work so I’m in the mindset, because if I leave it ’til I get to the gym changing room I’m likely to drive straight past and go home…

I even said no to a Chinese takeaway last night!

Operation Italy starts here!

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My weekend in pictures

I’ve had a stunning weekend of doing very little. Weekends like that are few and far between – we seem to have so much on this year. We were supposed to be out for a birthday on Saturday night but we were both feeling pretty burnt out from work and family stuff and just life so we made the decision to stay home for some much needed R&R. It was a good decision.

Here’s a pictorial round up!

Baked lamb with potatoes and stilton – I’ll post up a recipe for this, it’s so so good.

Baked lamb with stilton and potatoes

Breakfast on the balcony

Breakfast on the balcony

Enjoying the view

Balcony view

Reading chick lit in the sunshine

Reading on the balcony

Still on the balcony, even in the dark, just add hoodie and burner!

Balcony by night

Popping to the local shops, wearing straw and stripes

Me in straw hat and stripes

Owl spotting – check out the Big Hoot (most of the owls are in the city centre and I haven’t had chance to get there yet but there are the odd few dotted around on the outskirts, these are in Kings Heath).

The Big Hoot Owl and the Pussycat

The Big Hoot Owl of Athena

The Big Hoot owl selfie The Big Hoot Athena owl selfie

Sunday papers (yes I read the tabloids, no I’m not sorry – it’s all about trash and escapism at the weekend!)

Sunday papers

Pruning my bushes (fnar!) – a bit of a tidy up of my balcony pots which I’ve shamefully neglected somewhat this year

Watering can and gardening tools

Pink petunias

Purple balcony flowers

Sunday roast – one of my favourite meals to cook

Sunday roast

Strawberries and cream!

Strawberries and cream

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The summer tag

I saw this on haysparkle’s blog via Twitter. I’m a definite summer person and because no-one is likely to tag me (violins, please!!) I thought I’d nominate myself!

1. What’s your favourite thing about summer?
The weather. No doubt. Going bare legged, not needing a coat, sitting in the garden until late at night. Love it.

2. Do you have a favourite summer drink?
It has to be chilled white wine – sometimes as a spritzer with lemonade. Slurp.

White wine in summer

3. Is there a special place you like to visit each summer?
When the better weather comes we tend to do a pilgrimage to Weston Super Mare as it’s the closest beach resort to Birmingham. It’s become something of a habit. We were there in May this year, but it was so windy we couldn’t really spend any time outside!

4.What’s your favourite make up look for summer?
My absolute favourite is when I’m abroad and my freckles come out and I tend to just go for a pale eyeshadow, smudgy eyeliner and mascara, maybe with a touch of lipgloss or balm. It’s the epitome of laid back summer wear.

5. Dresses or skirts?
Dresses all the way – they’re easy to wear, don’t require any matching and keep you cool; no bunching up round the middle or sweaty waistbands! I’m currently waiting delivery on this pretty floral number.

Peacocks floral dress

6. Festivals or vacations?
Always vacations. I love love LOVE getting away from it all and seeing something new or experiencing different cultures. Plus if you go abroad you’re pretty much guaranteed good weather, whereas UK summer festivals are hit and miss (this year’s rainy Download Festival being a case in point).

7. What’s your signature summer hairstyle?
I don’t really have one, although I do go for a messy bun quite often, especially at home, when it’s very hot. I’m trying to experiment with plaits but my hair’s slightly too short since I cut it off last year.

8. What’s your signature summer scent?
I tend to wear the same fragrances year round; I’ve always got about 5 different ones on the go. My current favourite is D&G L’Imperatrice which has citrusy notes and is very summery.

D&G L'Imperatice

9. Favourite music for summer?
I have very eclectic music tastes whatever the time of year and can find enjoyment in many different things. But of course Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince is a summer favourite (because it’s the best summer song EVER – remind yourself by waitching the video, if you don’t believe me!); Don Henley Boys of Summer and happy bouncy music that makes you smile.

10. Pool or beach?
I love to be by the beach to see the sea, but for sunbathing I’m more of a pool girl. At the beach you just get sand EVERYWHERE, and it usually burns your feet as you run from your sunbed to the sea for a dip, and I hate the feeling of sand on wet feet. HATE it. Our pool in Greece last year was lovely, but then the beach – with it’s sparkling crystal sea and mountain backdrop – was amazing too. So I’ll take both please.

Stoupa beach Manis Rose pool Stoupa

11. BBQ or seafood?
Probably BBQ because of the whole atmosphere and experience; al fresco, the smell of the coals, avoiding the burnt sausage. There’s nothing that says summer dining more than a BBQ.

I tag anyone who would like to get involved…while summer is still here!

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