Notes to Strangers – A Walking Tour

So you may have seen them for yourself, pasted up in and around London, brightly coloured pieces of paper with a thoughtful message, or random sentence – that stops you in your tracks and makes you think or just laugh. You may even follow Notes to Strangers (NTS) on Instagram. Well, I do – and because of this, I came across that the creator behind Notes to Strangers Andy Leek runs NTS Walking Tours – and wanting to try different things and be more spontaneous in life I bought two tickets to go on a tour with the Hubby. I just thought it was an event I couldn’t miss and what a memorable experience it might be and I was not disappointed…

So on a rather damp and extremely windy Sunday afternoon, a group of strangers met across the road from the Tate Britain, a spot specifically chosen to start the walking tour as it’s here Andy started posting the Notes to Strangers – so a poignant place to start our journey, discovering new Notes to Strangers along the way that Andy had specifically written for the tour and see what discussions/conversations they triggered within our group.

Note One

I personally think that it’s quite true. We’re not talking about breaking laws, obviously, but bending the rules or pushing against societal norms might give you a bit of trouble, but it could also give you a memorable life and might actually be some of your best memories. There’s something to be said of those who don’t follow the crowd. Just because everyone else does something or because society says you must conform, doesn’t necessarily make it the right thing!

Do you agree?

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Janathon 2017 – Week 1 Round Up

So it’s that time again – Janathon time! This year I am giving it my all! Working out every day (some days more gently as it’s important to let the body recover too!) – and I am also aiming to get in 10,000 steps every day as well (though will be satisfied if I manage 5 out of 7 days for this!)

So what have I been up to for the first seven days, well if you follow me on Instagram you probably already have an idea, but here are a few more details!

Day 1 – New Years Day
Double parkrun (Greenwich – Avery Hill Park and Bexley – Danson Park) with my lovely friend Helen of helsbels.org – we started 2016 off in the same way, and I think it’s a great way to start the year!
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Janathon Day 22 – Friday, I’ve been weighting!

IMG_8493
Todays Totals

Had an appointment in London this morning, so by 12noon I’d already walk 7.24km which I think is pretty good going. I also got to use my new umbrella that I got for Christmas.

Arty shot of my new umbrella
Arty shot of my new umbrella

I’m off to watch my sister and niece in pantomime this evening so just a quick synopsis of my Janathon Day 22 contributions! I used my new weights for the second time.
FullSizeRenderUsing the 1kg weights – I did Bicep Curl, Tricep Lift, Front Elevation and Side Elevation. I did 20 reps of each and repeated the whole routine 3 times – by the third time round I could really feel it, especially with the side elevations.

What weight combinations do you like to do? I’m still very new to using weights so any recommendations gratefully received! 🙂 xxx

Janathon Day 2 – Loving London!

So today was mainly about the walking for exercise! My hubby and I were lucky enough to have a childfree day (courtesy of the kids having a sleep over at Nanny & Grandad’s) so we had a day roaming around London – even though it drizzled with rain all day it was just lovely to be out together!

UsTwo
Yay – Childfree – can you tell he isn’t allowed out much!?!

 

We covered about 11km – walking from Blackfriars to the Strand, to Covent Garden (perused the market),called into Forbidden Planet (I really want to start collecting Pop Heads) and then on to Tottenham Court Road and Oxford Street – a visit to Primark (this included walking down four flights of stairs) – amazing how we came out with more bits for the kids then ourselves… Though I did see these fab t-shirts – I want the Little Miss Social Media one but they didn’t have my size! 😔

T-shirts
I want these t-shirts… please!!!

 

Then a stop in a Starbucks for a drink and then started wending our way back to Blackfriars – with a quick pit stop as I could see from my phone that my sister and one of my brothers were near by!

ShopsDrink
Shopping and a Drink!

 

Then walked back to the station – saw our train was departing in 3 minutes – so a quick run up the stairs!!! I think a pretty successful Janathon day 2!

London
Lovely London at night!

 

My hubby and I are going to relish a couple more hours of peace and quiet – we may head up to bed early and…sleep!!!! We’re off to an early showing of Star Wars: The Force Awakens tomorrow before getting the kids back!


Now to think what to do for Janathon day 3!?! 😊xxx

To be or not to be?

So on Friday 28th August I had tickets for me and my sister to see Hamlet.  I bought these tickets over a year ago on 11th August 2014 – so as you can imagine this was a highly anticipated day out!

The show wasn’t until 7.15pm but my sister and I were determined to make a day of it. It’s not very often that my sister and I get together without our children, husbands or working on getting something done.  So we met around noon at London Charing Cross and our lovely childfree day began (well actually mine started on the train where I thoroughly enjoyed reading my Book – Karen Rose’s Watch Your Back, if you’re interested!)

We then took a gentle mooch round London – with a visit to Tiger and the huge Paperchase, where we stopped and had a beverage, charged our phones and generally nattered without interruptions of “Muuuummmm!” every five seconds, it was heavenly.

I used the facilities in there and it was like stepping into a nightclub – the décor was black and the lighting was Blue or UV all it was missing was the boom boom of the music!!! Slightly bizarre!

I took my Digital SLR with me and manage to take a few photos around town too, which was great.

Sample of my photos
Sample of my photos
and some more because I couldn't choose!
and some more because I couldn’t choose!

Then we made our way over to the Barbican – we went by bus. Once there we purchased some nibbles in Waitrose, with my weird and wonderful eating restrictions I went for Tyrell’s vegetable crisps and some gluten, lactose and gelatine free cola bottles (they are quite yummy!). Then it was off to the Barbican Centre.

Now what this post is really about – and that is Hamlet starring the rather lovely Benedict Cumberbatch.  I joked to everyone that my sister and I were going as we were being educational and cultural and nothing to do with Benedict Cumberbatch which was obviously a big fat lie and I bought these tickets because it was starring him, but having now watched the play – it is so much more than Benedict Cumberbatch, I actually was educated, Hamlet wasn’t one of the Shakespeare plays I studied at school, and now thanks to last night I know the story of Hamlet.  The entire cast were amazing, the stage was awe inspiring and the whole production was phenomenal! (Not to mention I spotted Stephen Fry in the audience!!!)

A synopsis of Hamlet as I understand it, this is the first time I have seen it! (I suppose a Spoiler – so don’t read if you don’t want to know!)
It starts two months after the death of Hamlet’s father, King of Denmark, and Hamlet is to attend the wedding of his mother (Gertrude) and his uncle (Claudius), the brother of his father. His uncle is now the new King. The Queen and King request (order) that Hamlet not return to university. He is none too pleased but does as he is asked!

Two of the palace guards come to Hamlet and Horatio (Hamlet’s friend) to report that they’ve seen a spectre that appears to be the ghost of the dead king. So that night Hamlet joins them and sees that it is his father. He follows the ghost, who eventually speaks to tell Hamlet that he was murdered by none other than his brother Claudius – Hamlet’s uncle the new King! He wants Hamlet to avenge his death and kill Claudius, and not to forget him.

In the meantime, Ophelia, the object of Hamlet’s affections, has been told by her brother Laertes to not believe Hamlet’s professions of love.  She also has a scene with her father, Polonius, who also tells her to make herself less available to Hamlet.

Hamlet, after the revelation of murder by his ghost father which he obviously keeps quiet, seems to his family to have lost his mind/be in a deep depression, which they put down to the death of his father.
Ophelia goes to her father, Polonius, saying Hamlet has come to her in a state, giving her a letter proclaiming his love. Which Polonius takes to Claudius and Gertrude, to basically say that Hamlet has gone mad because of his unreturned love for Ophelia.

Claudius and Polonius plan to have Ophelia talk with Hamlet, whilst they hide but listen in. Which Hamlet figures out and goes off angrily.

Gertrude and Claudius arrange for Hamlet’s friends, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, to try and lift his spirits.

Some actor’s come to the palace to put on a play – in which Hamlet requests they insert an additional scene, which he had written to try and trigger a reaction from his Uncle, showing his guilt for the crime – which is exactly what he does.

Gertrude was speaking with Polonius, who hides when Hamlet comes in where Gertrude confronts her son demanding to know what he was thinking. Where he starts to speak with her and hears a noise believing it to be Claudius he goes to Polonius’ hiding place and takes tragic action and stabs Polonius to death.

Aghast at his actions – he continues to describe the situation to his mother, to keep herself away from Claudius, she is very distressed.  Hamlet then removes Polonius’ body.

Claudius comes in to find Gertrude and asks her what has happened, and she says what Hamlet has done.
The palace then search for Hamlet and capture him and he is bought before his uncle. Who banishes him to England – rather than kill him, for the sake of his mother.

This was the end of the first part.

In the second part, Hamlet manages to escape the boat he is on to England, when they are set upon by ‘pirate like’ people, but who actually turn out to be good people and bring Hamlet back to Denmark, and he puts this all in a letter to Horatio, along with other letters that he wants sent onwards to the King (Claudius)

The King receives his letter where Hamlet has written that he is returning.

In the meantime we see Ophelia who has lost her mind with the grief at the death of her father, Laertes also returns initially blaming the King for his father’s death.

Claudius tells Laertes what actually happened to his father, that Hamlet killed him, and traumatised by the effect of the death on his sister he agrees to a plan to kill Hamlet with Claudius.

Ophelia, so overcome with grief takes her own life, by drowning herself in a lake.  Hamlet and Horatio come across the gravedigger, unaware the grave is for Ophelia, and this is where we have the ‘Alas, Yorick, I knew him well’ speech, and then hiding in the shadows they realise who is being buried and how sorrowful Laertes is.

Hamlet reveals himself, eventually it all results in a fencing match between him and Laertes. Three touches and you’re the winner. What Hamlet is unaware of is that the rapier Laertes is using is laced with poison as is the goblet of wine the King keeps offering him.  Laertes manages to stab Hamlet with the poison rapier but Laertes is then stabbed with the same rapier by Hamlet. Hamlet’s mother drinks some of the poison wine and collapses down dead. Laertes, knowing that he is dying, tells Hamlet of the plan with the King, so Hamlet manages to stab him and make him drink the wine before he succumbs to the poison. So Hamlet, Laertes, Claudius and Gertrude all die – leaving just Horatio to explain the story of what has happened to the royal family and Fortinbras returns to assume the throne.

Apologies if any of this is in the wrong order, or slightly incorrect, as I have only seen the show once, but quite nice to get it down as I understand it.

If you get the opportunity to see this production go for it, it’s absolutely amazing! I loved it.

Afterwards we did wait by the stage door to see if we could manage to get a glimpse of Benedict – I also got a high five from Matthew Steer who plays Rosencrantz. I did get an extremely blurry, distance photo of Mr Cumberbatch.

I promise the blurry man in the white shirt is Benedict Cumberbatch!!!
I promise the blurry man in the white shirt is Benedict Cumberbatch!!!

As we started our walk to make our way home my sister and I met the lovely Kobna Holdbrook-Smith (Laertes) and spoke and had our photo with him.  My sister likes listening to the audio stories, the Peter Grant series by Ben Aaronovitch, that Kobna narrates. He was very charming and made for pleasant end to our Barbican experience.

Kobna Holdbrook-Smith (Laertes)
Kobna Holdbrook-Smith (Laertes)

Fabulous day and evening!

🙂 xxx

John Lewis Photography Event – #FindYourSummer

So Wednesday evening I was lucky enough to find myself on the Roof Terrace of John Lewis on London’s Oxford Street – where it had fortunately stopped raining – taking part in their Photography Event – #FindYourSummer – where there were representatives from Canon, Sony, Olympus and Panasonic (I’m a Nikon girl myself, a little sad that they weren’t there!).  I was there along with Helen of Hels Bels, got to meet the delightful Emily Leary from A Mummy Too, and also the very sweet Hannah from Hannah in the House – amongst others!

Views from the Terrace
Views from the Terrace

Being only my second proper blogger event, and being somewhat excited by photography (I love taking photos, I take a lot! As you’ll see from this previous post found Here) I was super stoked to be at this event.  There were some workshops to choose from and also lovely nibbles and food provided by Rossopomodoro.

Nibbles and Plan
Nibbles and Plan

Motion Picture
I went for the Motion Picture workshop and had a lot of fun hula hooping, jumping and generally being silly with Helen and Emily to show the capability of Panasonic’s 4K technology (taking 30 frames every second) – then being able to grab an 8MB JPEG still of any section of the video that you like! Christine was an fab representative from Panasonic – very open and easy to chat to.  Thoroughly enjoyed this workshop! Also got to go home with an 8GB memory card and holder! Result!

Still from the 4K video - Photographer - Emily Leary
Still from the 4K video – Photographer – Emily Leary

Gain Some Perspective
Workshop led by Barry from Canon – who gave a good talk about the Canon cameras – showing the touch screen feature, even being able to take the photo from touching the screen – and showing how you can get away from using the view finder enabling you to take photos from different angles and perspectives – especially on flat lays. Also discussed being able to link a Canon camera to your iPad or iPhone, which was rather cool.  Good fun and informative!

Taken with a Canon EOS 700D
Taken with a Canon EOS 700D
My Favourite images with the Canon EOS 700D
My Favourite images with the Canon EOS 700D

Olympus handed out a goody bag, the best bits were the re-useable bag itself, a mug and a 2GB USB key! Can never have enough storage!!!

Had so much fun – a very well organised event by John Lewis and would love to attend other events they put on!

Follow John Lewis on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter

Share your Summer images on Twitter and Instagram – don’t forget to tag them #FindYourSummer

Feel free to like, share and/or comment on this post!

🙂 xxx

Did they find Jo’s trousers?

So on Tuesday 19th May I got to attend a very exciting media launch in London’s beautiful Hyde Park, courtesy of Helen of HelBels who managed to get me invited along for which I cannot thank her enough!!! I also got to meet the lovely Adele – find a link to her blog here

Hyde Park, Helen and Adele
Hyde Park, Helen and Adele

The media launch was for the Run It campaign by Join In.  It was the first time I have ever attended an event of this kind and I was super excited, probably a bit over excited to be honest!

Courtesy of Join In. https://www.joininuk.org/run-it/
Courtesy of Join In. https://www.joininuk.org/run-it/

So what is Join In? I hear you cry, well I will tell you (even if you didn’t actually cry out or haven’t clicked on the very helpful hyperlinks above! ;-))  Join In are a charity whose mission is to encourage people to volunteer and help support their local sporting groups.  It is a London 2012 legacy charity (thank you very much the Olympic games :-)) which is funded by government grant and their official partners BT and Intersport.

The Run It campaign, to put it simply, is to get more people volunteering specifically in the area of running! Be it for informal running groups (e.g. Parkrun), athletics teams or marathons.  None of these events would be able to take place if it weren’t for people volunteering to help out – in whatever capacity that they are able to – marshalling, coaching, painting the club house, making sandwiches, taking subs… literally, the possibilities for volunteering are endless and make such a huge difference!!!

Who is this half person?
Who is this half person?

This was an amazing first event to attend, even though I personally have nothing to compare it to, I felt it was a very friendly, sociable and inclusive group.  It was fun and informative.  After initially arriving and milling around meeting people and saying “hello”, receiving our very lovely purple Join In t-shirts, there was an introductory few words from Join In’s Director of Sport and former 5km world record holder David Moorcroft.  He brought across just how important volunteering is and one sentence which really sticks in my head is “If you love running, help others run”

David Moorcroft - "If you love running, help others run"
David Moorcroft – “If you love running, help others run”

Supporters of the campaign, who were in attendance, were 10,000m 2014 European Championships Gold medal winner Jo Pavey (a massive inspiration to me!) and second fastest British female runner over a marathon Mara Yamauchi – both again highlighted just how important it is to have volunteers in the sport, without volunteers neither of the them would have had the amazing sporting careers and achievements that they do!

 Jo Pavey is supporting 'Run It' a campaign from charity Join In to put more volunteers into grassroots running. For more information visit joininuk.org/run-it

Jo Pavey is supporting ‘Run It’ a campaign from charity Join In to put more volunteers into grassroots running. For more information visit joininuk.org/run-it

After the initial chat, we couldn’t go to a running based media launch without actually doing any running could we?  So we ventured outside, where fortunately for us the weather held out! Here I got to do the most exciting thing which was take a photo of Mara Yamauchi and Jo Pavey together, for Mara on her camera!!! I hope it was in focus!!! Slightly overawed!

So our warm up was led by Carlos from Intersport – this *ahem* gentle warm up  was quite intense for the likes of me your amateur jogger, but was good fun! Then we headed off on a 5km run around Hyde Park – I kept at the back with Helen and a few others and the ’35 minute pace setter’.  There was a couple of people marshalling (see – good examples of volunteering!) but somehow Helen and I managed to get a bit lost and we’re positive we did about 5.5km – but hey ho whatever I WON!!! No – not like that, I was never gong to beat the likes of Jo Pavey was I? – What I did win was a fun little competition. We had to guess how long it would take us to run the 5km, I said 00:34:30 and it took me 00:33:57 – so only 33 seconds out and the closest guess! Go me!!! So I won the bragging rights there – I know how slow… I mean how fast I am!!! 😛

Helen and I after our 5.5km... :-P
Helen and I after our 5.5km… 😛

Afterwards I got to chat with David Moorcroft, who is lovely and friendly, and I mentioned my interest in running – and volunteering – and it’s ability to help those of us with mental health issues.  He introduced me to Will – who discussed with me Hidden Diamonds – Uncovering the True Value of Sport Volunteers.  It is quite overwhelming the difference that volunteering can make – not only to a community but to individual people. In some cases it can be literally life changing!

Volunteering Boosts Happiness and Wellbeing
Volunteering Boosts Happiness and Wellbeing

Right at the end we did get a few minutes to say “Hi” to Jo and we quickly discussed kids and running, but her taxi had arrived and she needed to go, but she was kind enough to have a photo taken with me.

Jo Pavey and me (looking slightly overexcited)
Jo Pavey and me (looking slightly overexcited)

All in all – it was a brilliant event and I am so pleased that Helen was able to take me along.  It’s definitely made me consider volunteering again soon – at the moment my aim is to volunteer at Parkrun each time I complete 10 runs – I’ve currently run 16 so only 4 more and time to volunteer again.  The whole thing is brilliant, as volunteering inspires people to run and vice versa, this leads on to making friends and becoming part of a network of people and the running community.

Now before I sign off, you may be wondering about the posts title, well as we were getting ready to leave Jo was asking the event organisers if they’d seen her black trousers – as like most of us she’d layered up and worn other trousers over her running ones as it was quite chilly, so one of the last things I heard before I left was “has anyone found Jo’s trousers?” and indeed I still don’t know… 😛

There are currently 4,000 opportunities to volunteer on the Join In website – go look now – watch the video – be inspired!!!

Summary of contact details for Join In and their Run it campaign

Website Join In – https://www.joininuk.org/
Website Run It – https://www.joininuk.org/run-it/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/joininuk
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/joininuk
YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/user/JoinInUK
Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/joininuk/

Also, if you’re looking to setup a club Join In can help with that too! Check out Club Hub!

Thank you for reading – please like, comment and share this post – it’s so important to keep getting the message out there! Let’s get more people volunteering! 🙂 xxx

Some images courtesy of https://www.joininuk.org and the rest are my own

Polar Bear Hugs and Snow!

Today I was lucky enough to run the Cancer Research UK London Winter 10km run! What an amazing experience it was too. Especially as the night before I wasn’t sure I felt well enough to even walk the course let alone run it and getting there looked like it was going to be a mission as the trains were going to Cannon Street and none to Charing Cross. On top of that the Blue One woke up in a right tizzy, waking his sister in the process, and it took some time to calm him down which did not bode well!

The morning of the run I was waiting for the 07:34 train to London Bridge when I got a message that the friend I was going to meet couldn’t make it anymore as she had a bad ankle and she was completely right that it would be silly to run and do any further damage.  So I was having a think as I really don’t like going to these sorts of events on my own when I remembered one of my other friends (My Godparents son) had said he was doing this particular run. I sent him a text, to which I got no reply – so did one better and text his wife! Got a reply that yes he was running and she and their kids were coming too and we could meet at the Warm Up Zone which was near Downing Street. Huge plus point to this meant I didn’t have to try and navigate the Bag Drop or go back after the run to pick my bag up my friends family kindly looked after the bags!!! Yay!!!

London Scenery
London Scenery

Feeling more confident now that I knew I was meeting up with people I enjoyed the rest of my journey to the venue, getting off at London Bridge and then getting the RV1 (which is a Hydrogen Bus) to just by the London Eye and then a pleasant if rather chilly walk across Westminster Bridge. Beautiful blue skies and nice views.  I then waited for my friends – during this time I used the portaloos which weren’t too bad at all and the queues moved quickly. I had my first Polar Bear hug! Then I was getting rather cold standing around so went for a walk to see if there was a shop I could stand in and defrost – my toes and fingers were numb – instead I went down into the tube station – which was exceptionally well timed because within 5 minutes my friend and his family came through the barrier!

Check out that Bin Liner
Check out that Bin Liner

After stripping off my superfluous layers (my goodness it was cold without them) and donning my very fashionable bin liner my friend I made our way to the start.  There we waited for about 10 minutes, doing warm ups, as they needed to space out the waves of runners.  Then with a bleep of a Garmin we were off! I waved to my friend as he was going to be considerably quicker than me.  I settled into a pleasant jog listening to my playlist and enjoying the beautiful London scenery. Slight panic when I looked at my Garmin about five minutes in to see I’d only run 0.5km and I usually do 1km in about seven minutes – then went passed a sign which said 1km and with great relief realised my Garmin was in miles! Phew! Slowed my pace back down!

I plodded along quite happily, being overtaken and personally overtaking the occasional walker. I told myself once I’d run 5km I could have a walk, but I reached 5km and felt good to keep running, then I made it to 7km and felt I would be cheating myself if I walked but my pace was slowing. Though running through the zones of fake snow was quite fun! What didn’t help was that my music stopped with 3km to do. I was concerned the battery had died on my phone, but when I crossed the finish line it still had 50% left – so who knows!?!

I did chat to a nice lady for the last kilometre as were both jokily complaining that there’d been a sign to say ‘chill you’re near the finish’ to then pass the sign that said 9km!

Rounding that final corner and seeing the finish line was overwhelming – I was muttering to myself – “Come on legs you can do it” – unlike my first 10km there was no massive sprint finish, though I did go a bit fast for the last few metres and then finally it was over! I felt rather emotional – I’d done what I set out to do and run the whole 10km and according my Garmin (which I initially forgot to stop) said I’d run 10.10km in 01:09:20 – which was faster than my first 10km, just the icing on the cake! I got some cartons of coconut water, a polar bear hug and much wanted finisher’s medal!

I made it!!!
I made it!!!

A fabulous day with a great atmosphere and really great meeting up with my friend and his family. Met up with them after – felt great getting my layers back on – and he kindly treated me to hot cuppa and chocolate chip cookie, which was very kind of him and much needed! We then went our separate ways and I travelled back to London Bridge and there I got myself a very healthy meal, to replace my lost calories of McChicken Sandwich Meal Deal, – Yum! Yum! Only a ten minute wait for the train and my lovely hubby collected me from the station! Just the perfect end to a lovely day!

Medal & Results
Medal & Results