Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Paris Part Une! Review of Megabus Journey, London to Paris.

I had such an amazing time in Paris! I can't wait to post some of my photo and things. I decided to review each section of the trip, in the hope that my experiences may help (or possibly hinder!) someone else's trip to the city of love :)

I would strongly recommend arriving into Victoria Coach Station much earlier than I did, which at 4 minutes before my departure time did not give me enough time to buy a bottle of water let alone check in properly at the Megabus/Eurolines desk which is right round the back of the coach station at Gate 19.

The other bonus to arriving early is you will be at the front of the queue. You know it's a cheaper option so they really ram people onto those coaches, and only have two departures per day. They use the large, newer coaches for these longer European routes and getting there early enough to chose your seat could mean you might hit the coach-journey jackpot and get to sit at the front of the top deck, panoramic windows and enough leg room can't be sniffed at.

Sorry about the terrible quality of photo, I only had my camera phone with me!

The plug sockets didn't work, apparently when someone plugs in a too-high voltage item it blows all of the fuses, so my phone died the second I stepped onto the bus and I was stuck with no contact for hours. Pain in the butt.

The coach takes 3 hours to get to Calais, boards the Eurotunnel with a very small layover where they is access to a vending machine but no running water, no change machine and some rather depressingly grim toilets. Once on board the Eurotunnel there are toilets but nowhere to browse or even relax, although you can get off the bus and sit wedged between the wall of the train and the coach. I would sincerely recommend this as it gets excruciatingly hot on the coach during the crossing. Once on the other side you will find the coach sets right of again, they don't mess about! It's off to Boulongue to change drivers. There is a short layover, it's around half an hour from the Eurotunnel exit, so the smokers jump off the bus. Again, there is literally nowhere to purchase a drink and no toilets anywhere at this stop. It's literally a carpark in a deserted part of the marina.

The rest of the journey to Paris can vary depending on the time of year. It took us 4 hours to get to Porte Malliot, the coach part in the centre of Paris. The Center For Commerce blocks your initial view, but the Eiffel Tower is directly behind it around a 15 minute walk.

I would say, although it's evident at every stage that this is a budget option, I will definitely be taking the coach again. Such a long journey increases camaraderie in an enclosed space and I met some really fun fellow travellers. I would definitely recommend going round Europe in this way, I've already decided I'm going to take a trip to Barcelona at the end of the Summer, it's 24 hour journey though.

Top Five Megabus-To-Europe Tips

Arrive Early - Get the best seats!
Bring water & snacks - There are very few places to buy them!
Wear layers - It's freezing most of the time and then boiling hot in the tunnel.
Keep your passport in your carry-on, you will need it at Customs
Make sure your phone is fully charged and bring a spare battery if possible.

I would love to hear your experiences on this journey, pop a comment below.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

36 Hours In Paris

I'm off to Paris in two sleeps! Friday morning I'll be donning something comfy and embarking on a road trip all the way to Paris for a lovely friends hen weekend.

I can't wait. It's been quite a while since I left the country...In honour of the occasion I dug out these stunning pictures of the construction of the Eiffel Tower...

(all via pinterest, original sources all link back to here)

I'm not sure of the itinerary yet, but I really, really hope it includes a trip up one of my favourite towers in the world. Is it weird to have a favourite tower? I'm a big fan of Parisian architecture, I love how you can be walking along and the all of a sudden you round a corner and the most beautiful old building is just sitting there waiting for you. I've been once before (during which time I managed to get incredibly drunk and spend most of my time drinking beer with boiled eggs floating in...don't ask) and it wasn't long enough.

Follow me on instagram as I plan to take so, so, so many photos, I have NONE of my last trip, not one. It was slightly before the digital camera thing happened. Now I am going to be selfie-ing my way through my 36-hour adventure :)

Monday, 7 July 2014

Super Healthy Summer Eating Challenge Of Fun

Once, I was quite a bit larger than I am now. I lost about 3 stone in total. I don't like to think back to much to that time in my life but I have to constantly remind myself not to reach for that second slice of cake, not to always order the thing on the menu with the most cheese.  This summer I want to get my body in better shape. I'm currently about the right weight for my height but I would feel so much better three or four pounds lighter and I know I can do it.

Here are some of my very favourite links and things from the web helping me with this mission.

If you are trying to track what you are eating for either weight gain or loss, you really can't go wrong with My Fitness Pal. The database of foods is extensive, I've yet to have to add anything from full meals in popular restaurant chains to individual items that I have bought at all three supermarkets I regularly visit. It's pretty impressive. It will also add recipes to the database simply by copying and pasting the webpage into their application.  Sign up for My Fitness Pal on your or the web, and add me as a friend on there if you like :)

One thing I fail at hugely is eating a varied diet when I'm trying to lose weight. So, yesterday for dinner I made a salad with grated carrot, cucumber, ham, pumpkin seeds, shredded beetroot and a mango and chilli dressing. I ate it in a wrap for my dinner, and then another wrap of it for my lunch today, and guess what I have this evening? Yup, another wrap of ham and pumpkin seed salad. So I love this page for it's array of meals between 200 & 400 calories. The Moroccan Chicken with Sweet Potato Mash is a real favourite, there is always plenty for a sandwich or pitta the next day. This week I'm going to be trying the Root Curry

Superfood Salad with Sirloin Steak - a lunch last week from a local gastropub. Yum! I chose to have the dressing on the side so I would know exactly how much I've had - a good tip as many pubs tend to add much more dressing than you would at home. 

One of my favourite healthy eating blogs is Eat Yourself Skinny. I can't wait to try some of her puddings. I just saw today a really delicious looking salad with quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) which I'm anxious to have a bash at.

I'll also be trying the 30 Day Ab and Squat Challenge. I'm terrified of exercising at the moment as I have a slipped disc that is severely affecting both the movement and the feeling in my right arm I'll be going for an MRI scan in a few weeks, so I can't wait for that. The challenge is one of the only 30-day challenges I could find that had the right exercises, i.e ones that didn't involve putting a large amount of weight on my quite frankly useless arm.

This is taken from here, where there is loads more information about this challenge.

I'm a huge salty snack fan. I can literally devour a bag of crisps, a bowl of olives (sometimes both together) in about 5 seconds flat. Quite embarrassing if you are meant to be sharing with someone else. So I'll be whipping up a whole bowl of these Edamame treats created by Rosie of The Londoner this week too, they sound too good to be true.

I'm also having Epsom salt baths on a weekly basis, they are meant to draw the toxins right out of your skin, super cheap aswell, I bought a huge bag of Epsom salt for about 2 pounds, enough for several very salty baths. I'm then dousing my whole entire body in Garnier Anti-Cellulite Oil. Read some reviews of this product here on Bean's Beauty Blog and then come back to me in a few weeks when I'll be showing before and after pictures of my treacherous thighs...

So, I hope you will join me on my journey here on my blog. I do promise only one healthy eating post and recipe share per week. You can follow more of my progress on Instagram and twitter

Hope you are having a beautiful Monday x

Monday, 29 July 2013

Calling Graphic Designers & Photographers

I know it's been a few weeks since I updated. But things have been so exciting in life these last few weeks that I have barely had space to breathe :)

I've been allocated a grant to start a small business by my local authority. The scheme aims to help local people at the very start of their business dreams. I'll be sharing a lot more of the process as I follow along the journey, but I'd like to share my idea with you first.

I'll be purchasing screen printing equipment, fabric and t shirts. I'll be selling unique screen printed designs to the public at our local market and also online. I'd like to run this venture as a design collaborative. My initial plan is to bring on board three other designers or photographers whose work would be suitable and would look fantastic printed onto clothes, fabric and smaller gift items like notebooks and jewellery.

I'm looking for either photography or graphic art. Ideally, your designs will be bold and will work in two or three colours.

As a design collaborative, your designs will still belong to you, they will be reproduced with your input and approval at every stage. You'll receive a share of the profits from sales of your designs, terms to be discussed and documented.

If you think you would like to get involved, please email a sample of your work to katyclouds@outlook.com. I will aim to get back to you as soon as possible and start the process off. I really can't wait to see your designs!

I'm on a SUPER-TIGHT schedule. The business needs to launch on September 1st. So I'm going to be a crazy whirlwind of activity over the next few weeks, printing designs and creating stock. I'm so unbelievable lucky to have this opportunity that I don't even want to complain a little bit about how much time I've spent staring at spreadsheets and tracking down wholesalers. What an amazing season in my life  ♥♥

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Be Happy - 5 Ways To Focus On The Positives

It's important to focus on the positive aspects of you life, especially when you are going through a hard time, or struggling with a life situation that has come out of the blue. My focus for 2013 has been to lead a more positive life. Through setting empowering goals and forcing myself to get out of my comfort zone, I've been trying to make improvements in the way things are for myself and my son.

Here are 5 ways that you can focus more on the positive aspects of your life.

1. Get Something Awesome Out Of Each Day

At the end of every day, I sit on the edge of my sons bed and ask him what the best thing that happened to him that day was. Sometimes he can't think of anything and I have to help him out by reminding him about aspects of the day that he has smiled at. I hope this routine will stick in his heart for his life, and as he gets older and doesn't want me sitting on the edge of his bed anymore, he will still thinking about something nice that has happened to him as he falls asleep each night.

2. Go Back To Your Goals

One of the real benefits of setting yourself goals and aims for the year in January is you can look back at it and see that you have made progress. It's June, and I've completed quite a few of my 50 goals for the year, as well as being well on my way to completing more! It's never too late to set yourself some goals to reach by the end of the year. If I feel that I'm not getting anywhere, I look at my goals, pick one, and do something towards completing it. Being productive is a sure-fire way to boost your happiness levels :) 

3. Adopt A Mantra.

A long time ago, when I was feeling under the weather for longer than I should have, I read a book about positive living. The book suggested that adopting a mantra would remind your brain that things are not so bad. I've since tried to find the book again but I haven't been able to. The mantra the book suggested was "it's all going wonderfully". It's a kind of divine suggestion that everything is happening exactly as it should, even if it seems bad at the time - try it yourself. 

4. Get Away From Technology

You spend too much time in front of a screen. This is a fact, for every single person that I know in real life and in the blogging/social media world. The problem is that it's almost impossible to walk away once you sit down in front of a computer, There is too much to consume, and some of it is dark and even macabre. I've been looking for tattoos of flowers and ended up on a forum for people who want to become eunuchs. There is so much to consume on the internet that you can't ever be 'finished'. Take a break. Get up and go away, spend the day doing something else. My son and I went on a long walk to a nearby village and splashed in a stream for a few hours...it felt good.

5. Remember It's Temporary.

One of my favourite ways to stop myself getting down, is to remember that sadness and worry comes in waves. It's kind of the same coping mechanism as you are taught for child birth. The pain comes in waves, and all you need to think of the peaks is that you'll soon be in a trough. When I feel sad or worried about something, I try to focus on the last time that I felt okay, but still knew about the worry. I was okay at that point, and I will be okay again (It's all going wonderfully)

Now for my positive thing of the day...

I am featured on the Picmonkey Blog today - I got an email about it a few days ago and the post is due to go up today - how exciting for my little blog. I've just checked and it's not up yet, but you will be able to see it here hopefully :) 

Don't forget you can follow me on twitter if you so wish. My radio show is carrying on until July and you can listen here, weekdays 10 - 12 x

Monday, 3 June 2013

Snapshots From Half Term Week

We've been having half term round these parts and I just wanted to share a few snaps that I have taken of my boy having fun with me throughout the week :)

I just love him.