Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Let me talk about exercise (and how I actually quite enjoy it these days)

I hated PE at school. I think the reason for that was the lack of interesting sport - I am way too tall to play hockey, was never given a chance in netball due to the assumption that my height made me an awesome goal keep (it didn't) and I don't have the greatest depth/speed perception due to an astigmatism in one eye which made playing rounders somewhat challenging. The one time we actually played football in PE (in our last ever PE lesson), I wasn't that bad. The only sport I've ever really enjoyed is swimming, I'm somewhat of a natural in the water, or so I'm told. And we despite my school having a pool (outdoor, built because the site is so far from the fire station that the school was required to have a body of water on site in case of fire), by the time I had been at the school a couple of years the pool became home to a badling of ducks.

So when I left school I very much stopped doing any form of organised exercise. I was lucky that my metabolism was speedy and I remained svelte. The most energetic I got whilst at college was... well apart from that... walking to the pub on a Friday lunchtime.

Obviously the good fortuned metabolism didn't really last once I'd left university and become basically sedentary in my office job. Particularly as for the first year we still had a tea trolley with lovely hot, tempting cheese quiche. Which Sue, our tea lady, would always make sure she had for me.... 

Just after I met The Beard and had lost a load of weight through the break up diet, my best friend and I decided to join the local gym. In some ways you could say it was how we bonded - we met through The Beard and became friends very quickly. We were very good, taking up Les Mills Body Balance and Body Combat, plus a further 2 training sessions a week. It was really easy if we could bully one another into going! My main goal was to keep off the weight I lost (or as much of it as practical). And I did. When she moved away, I continued with Body Balance on its own (I had to give up Combat because my ankles can't cope), but the rest of it fell by the wayside. The weight started creeping on....

Then, last year, inspired by my other best friend, and an internet buddy of mine, The Fit Writer and her journey into the world of body building, I decided I would have a stab at lifting weights in a bid to lose some weight. I'd always been a bit nervous of weights because of being hypermobile and having double jointed shoulders. A fair bit few Youtube videos later and a routine was built. And guess what? I actually really enjoy it! I couldn't lose the weigh through exercise alone. I'm not dedicated enough to do that, so I joined Slimming World to deal with that.

Once I hit my Slimming World target before Christmas, I decided that in 2012 I'd try something else new. My biggest problem with the gym is that I get really bored. I like the way that lifting weights makes me feel and look, but I get bored of being on my own. I love classes though. So at the beginning of January I tried out my first Body Pump class, and I have to say I'm hooked. I've just come back from the class and whilst I'm quite tired and a little wobbly, I can feel my strength increasing every time I go.

My first class was really nerve wracking. I'm not sure why - when I go to the gym I typically lift 4-5kg dumb bells. But I don't use weights to work my legs, which was my primary motivation for joining the class. My arms are ok, but my legs need some serious work and just using the cross trainer was not cutting it anymore! The great thing about the class is that for every track there is an end, and if you've got a good instructor, they will push you to work to your limits to get results. Classes are more sociable I think - you at least know that everyone else in the room is going through the same pain as you!!

So my current weekly exercise regime consists of Body Balance, Body Pump, possibly another Body Balance and I intend to either swim or use the gym at least once a week. My biggest goal is to feel that my thighs are toned - they're never going to be small, I have massive, strong thighs, but I'd like to be toned. Body Balance has really helped with my hypermobility - I'm properly flexible now, without hurting myself and I can realign my bones quite easily when I need to!

Hopefully I'll be able to continue in the same way when we move - the classes are taught all over the world and you don't really need to be able to understand the instructor to do them, as long as you can follow what is going on! For the short term, the goal is to keep my weight steady and maintain my fitness whilst toning and strengthening even further.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Letting go of my car

I've been driving for 11 years now. I passed my test in December 2000, after 4 tests. I've driven ever since, with only a minor break when I lived in London and didn't have a car.

Now I'm moving to Vienna, I've decided to become car less. It is a decision I've made with mixed emotions. I currently drive a Honda Civic, which is practical, not too expensive to run and reliable. It is however nearly as old as my driving license and as I do a LOT of miles, it is starting to get to the point where it could potentially become a lot more expensive, especially as Japanese car parts are not cheap, even the non branded ones. So, faced with an aging car, the prospect of higher motoring costs and the fact that I'll be driving on the other side of the road, the car has to go.

Thankfully the public transport system in Vienna is pretty ace, and I doubt I'll need a car much, or be able to find parking for it, not to mention the fact that I absolutely hate driving in cities (I'm such a country girl!). And I figure that if I need to go somewhere further afield, I can hire a car. I am actually really looking forward to not having a car. I love travelling on public transport, the people watching possibilities are endless!! I'm also considering getting a bike, and cycling around Vienna when the weather allows, it'll be cheaper than a gym membership!

Friday, 27 January 2012

Finding a new home

 So I spent a couple of hours last night looking through real estate in Vienna. We've narrowed down our search to a smaller number of districts, but there is still loads of choice within our budget. We may not get all the things we'd ideally like but as the only thing that we will not compromise on is the kitchen we shouldn't struggle. I have a nice list of flats saved on the Austrian equivalent of Rightmove, which I'll add to and check as the weeks go on. We're heading out in a few weeks to find somewhere and I like to be prepared! There are at least 3 on the list that I really really hope are still available when we go out there, one in particular that is near our favourite bar!

It's quite frustrating at this point because we still have a few weeks to go before we go to Vienna to actually look at flats and try to find somewhere to live, and there isn't an awful lot we can do about moving at this point in time, apart from starting to work out how everything we wish to take with us will get from here in Devon, to Austria. That is my task for the weekend - making a list of all the things so I can call some removal companies to come and give us some quotes.

I've also pretty much decided to sell my car before we go, so I have to work out how we're going to get ourselves and our stuff over to Vienna. Including a cat!

In the meantime, I sit and look at flats and try to imagine what my new living room will look like; what colour cushions I want, what quilts I want for our new bed, and how I will feel waking up in the morning and sipping my tea in a beautiful, spacious flat.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Fabulous new reading for you!

via SteffMetal

Girls Don't Like Metal is a new column by Natalie Zed in Canada Arts Connect Magazine. It was born out of a particular piece of 'satire' on MetalSucks that made Natalie (and me, and I'm sure a load of other women) a bit stabbity.

I want to come back and write something intelligent about all this, but as I'm totally knackered having been to a weight lifting class this evening I urge you simply to go and read Natalie's first column.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Viennese Coffee Houses

One of the things I'm really looking forward to when we move is taking a little time off work to enjoy the culture of Vienna.

Coffee Houses are a massive part of this culture, so much so that Unesco has included them on a list of 'intangible cultural heritage'.

Check out this video from the BBC on coffee houses and their importance in Viennese life.


Friday, 6 January 2012

New Year, New Wishlist

I shouldn't be spending, because we are saving for our move, but if I do find myself with any money (or if the birthday fairy is reading this!), then this is what I would love to splash out on:

Illamasqua Midnight Decadence Lash Duo

Illamasqua Midnight Decadence Lash Duo
I have rarely ever worn false lashes, but having successfully worn some at Halloween I am quite keen to give them another go. These are absolutely divine - dripping with tiny crystals, and accompanied with nude opalescent eyeliner (which I'm very intrigued by), these are an absolute must have, and quite a steal at £25 for the set!

Illamasqua Precision Ink in Abyss

Normally I'm a MAC Fluidline girl through and through. But a woman can never have too many eyeliners right? I used to use eyeliner like this when I was younger, so I know I love these types of applicators. I'm hoping it'll make for more speedy application!

Oasis Swan Ballet Skirt

 This is so pretty! I am sort of cursing my pre Slimming World clothing purge, as there were 2 chiffon tutu type skirts in the bag that went to the charity shop which would definitely fit me now. I absolutley love pairing skirts like this with my leather jacket (especially now I have my new one) and a simple top and cardigan.

A is for Arsenic Fly Necklace

 How gorgeous is this? I've seen A for Arsenic on Haute Macabre but hadn't really looked until I saw that they had collaborated with Illamasqua on a pair of false lashes. I instantly fell in love with this piece, and the coordinating earrings.

Lacuna Coil's new album, "Dark Adrenaline"

I am so looking forward to this coming out in a couple of weeks!!

Tickets for Nova Rock

 This rock/metal festival takes place in June in Nickelsdorf, Austria, which is approximately an hour from Vienna. This year's line up includes Metallica, Slayer, Machine Head, Within Temptation (!) and Opeth, with others already announced and plenty more to come!

Ikea Edland Dressing Table

Ok, slightly cliche, but you know what? I don't care! I have a gorgeous array of mirrors that would look fab on this table, and if I can find some beautiful storage for my make up then I am sure this will look perfect in my new home. Something like this might work!

What is on your wishlist?

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Beastly: A film review

A while ago I wrote a post about the trailer to the film Beastly, because Haute Macabre had done the same and I, like them, was a bit aghast at the portrayal of tattoos etc in the film.

So, this week, I finally got round to watching the whole film.


It really wasn't that bad. I would maybe even go so far to say that I actually enjoyed it. In the same way I enjoy films like Mean Girls and She's All That.

It is a modern retelling of Beauty and the Beast, a classic story of love conquering all. In Beastly, the 'Beast' is a stereotypical well off New York teenager who has it all - the popularity to win the class election, the girl, the looks. And the nasty mean streak. 'Beauty' is the studious, hard working good girl who cares about the environment and other people. The witch is exactly that. No hiding, no pretending. A good old fashioned punky goth witch. With kick ass clothes and make up!

Kyle (Alex Pettyfer)
Lindy (Vanessa Hudgens)
Kendra (Mary-Kate Olsen)

Kyle as Hunter (Alex Pettyfer)
 The good bits
  •  I really liked the cinematography on this film. In a world where every man and his dog have a Canon 7D and can therefore make a film, there are far too many films made with dodgy, moving point of view shots. One thing that struck about Beastly was it's rather more classical cinematography, with many shots framed as talking heads and good use of the rule of thirds. The lighting and use of depth of field as a framing device really worked as well.
  • I also really liked the costume design, particularly the costumes for Kendra. I think that might be a fairly obvious observation by me, but whilst Kendra was obviously styled in a modern goth way, it wasn't a caricature, or over the top. The attention to detail and the sense of style woven into the characters outfits, hair and make up really stood out as well crafted and thought out. Top marks to Suttirat Larlarb (costume designer) and Annick Chartier (make up)! 

  •  It wasn't as disparaging about tattoos and piercings as I feared it would be. I was still left with a slight impression that tattoos and facial piercings are somewhat undesirable, but it wasn't as strong as the trailer possibly suggested. In fact, the tattoos that were part of the spell cast on Kyle were well done, in particular the magical tree that serves as his timeline. The changes that happened to that tattoo were a nice touch:


The not so good bits
  •  The premise of how the 'Beast' gets 'Beauty' into his 'castle' was a bit thin. It didn't really work that well I felt, and left a few questions unanswered.
  • It felt a little bit like the screenwriter had watched the video for Meatloaf's "I'd Do Anything For Love", decided to remake the film using Alex Flinn's book, but then sought further inspiration from Disney's "Beauty and the Beast". No really. The film even has the amusing sidekicks of Lumiere and Mrs Potts.
Yes, that is NPH playing a blind guy.
  • I didn't completely feel that Kyle had learnt his lesson. Maybe he did - maybe he learned the value of the human spirit, but I wasn't convinced. 
 All three of the lead actors were pretty good, and I had completely forgotten how good an actress Mary-Kate Olsen is. Out of the three main characters, hers was the one that I felt was the most convincing.

My verdict

Definitely worth a watch, especially with a glass of wine! 

P.S. For the purposes of this review I decided to have a look at the book that this film is based on, by Alex Flinn. I read a sample that I downloaded onto my Kindle. From the first 4 chapters I read, I can safely say that the film was much better than the book seems (and I rarely say that), but that is probably because the book is set in the 9th grade, whereas the film's characters have been made older (around 18).

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Project 365 Day Four: The beginning of the end

In that envelope is my letter of resignation. Which I gave to my [substantive] boss today. He's going to process the forms and it is all official. My last day at work in England will be March 31st. Eeeek!

Project 365 Day Three: Fingers Crossed

So I'm a day late with this, but there is sort of a reason for that. Which will all become clear in my Day Four post!

Anyway. This rather uninteresting photo is of the submission page of one of the agencies I hope to work for. That's right, I applied for some jobs. In Vienna.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Project 365 Day Two: Rockin' Red

A new year and a step into new make up territory. I don't really do resolutions anymore, so I try to set myself challenges. This year one of my challenges is to wear lipstick more often. Starting with bold red. Because I had pink hair for quite a long time, I was always wary of red pigmented make up due to the clashing factor, but now I have black hair again I feel able to pull it off.

Lipstick: MAC Lip Liner in Cherry with MAC Lipglass in Clear.

Project 365: A fresh attempt & Day One

Over the last few years Project 365 has gained in popularity. It was originally started by a guy who decided to document through photographs every day of his life for a year. He encouraged others to get involved and it has now grown into a massive community art project.

I tried to do it a couple of years ago, but quickly lost enthusiasm when I realised that my life wasn't actually that exciting!! However, with everything going on this year, I decided I'd really like to document something from each day.

So here is Day One.

New Year, tidy start

I felt like I wanted to spend today doing some tidying and cleaning that has been sadly neglected over the last few months with all the busy weekends we've had. By far the biggest task was the annual deep clean of our bedroom. But it was totally worth it :) I've still got more tidying to finish tomorrow but for now I am satisfied that the bedroom is a lovely peaceful space.


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