Category Archives: Bucket List

Tea at The Ritz

ritz“Things to do in my 40s” Bucket List number 4 – BIG FAT DONE!!!

I thought it was high time I started ticking off some more on my bucket list, so I decided I would treat myself for afternoon tea at The Ritz.  And what better day to go than my birthday 😉

I was very purple. I decided on a lovely frock – blue grey with big purple flowers topped off with a purple shrug (which I had worn for SC’s christening), my purple handbag and a pair of flat ballerina pumps (I did take my heels, but in the end felt more comfortable in flats)

I dropped SC off at school and then hot-footed it up into the big smoke – I’d booked afternoon tea for 11.30, which I suppose technically makes it morning tea 😉 so I had plenty of time to get back for school pick-up.

I was there super early, but got to sit in the foyer soaking up the ambience. It was truly lovely.

Eventually 11:30 arrived and I was shown to my table (for 1) – handily wedged in a corner, so I could sit and watch the world go by whilst I supped tea and read my book (which you could say was my date).ritz1

Oh my gosh! The choice of tea is vast, at least 20 varieties. I was tempted by the Orange Pekoe, but seeing as I haven’t partaken in caffeinated tea for a while I didn’t want to run the risk of getting the caffeine shakes in the middle of one of the poshest hotels in London, so I stuck to my herbal and veered away from Chamomile to Lemon Verbena. It was refreshing on the old palate and made a lovely change.

And don’t you just love it when you get a proper china cup and saucer? Makes the tea taste better I find!

The tea turned up in a silver teapot, with an extra silver jug filled with hot water and a tea strainer – although with the Lemon Verbena there were not many tea leaves, so I couldn’t read my leaves at the end!!!

ritz2Then they brought a cake stand with a plate of sandwiches – the daintiest things. I would love to know how they do them. How come their bread doesn’t squish down when they cut it like mine does when I make SC his packed lunch in the mornings?? There was smoked salmon (scrummy), cucumber (of course), hummus (I got the veggie option), tomato and cheese. And the top of the stand had 5 lovely looking cakes.

So armed with tea, sandwiches, cake and a good book I settled down to enjoy the atmosphere. Then the man started playing the grand piano – a medley of old musical tunes – truly lovely, brought a tear to my eye.

I was so engrossed with my book and enjoying my tea that I scarcely noticed that an hour had gone by and the waiter came to replenish my teapot and offer scones.

To be honest, I didn’t eat everything. There was a lot. I was a very good girl and didn’t eat the cakes, but I couldn’t resist the teeny tiny scones – especially as they came hot from the oven with clotted cream and jam.

And I made sure I eked out every single second. As it’s so popular you get an hour and three-quarters and I was not going to leave until 1:15!!! So I made darn sure I made that last cup of tea last 😉

I had a lovely time, I’m glad I can tick it off my list and I would definitely go again. Maybe next time I’ll get to go with a real-live human being instead of a book – but heck, if not I’ll take another book 😉

 

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Things I want to do in 2014 – Half Year Update

Way back in January (doesn’t seem that long ago, this year is whipping by) I set out a list of “Things I want to do in 2014

Progress is, well, slow, to say that very least:

1.  I gave up reading Tolstoy’s “War and Peace”. I got through 21% of it, but to be brutally honest, I didn’t care about any of the characters, and when I read a book I want to care about, or be able to relate to at least one of them, and I got completely and utterly bored. Now that may make me ignorant of great literature or stupid for not finding it inspiring, and if that is so, well, so be it. But I would rather not waste any of my 86,400 seconds that I have in a day reading something I find dull, just because it’s something ‘you should read’ – that to me is a waste of life.

2.  Learning to speak Spanish – this is one of the things I am doing, slowly but surely. I have the CD, but I also bought a box set, very reasonably for a bargain £5, which contains CD, phrase books, and a weekly step-by-step guide. I whizzed through week 1, and am now ploughing my way through week 2, food and drink. I am fairly confident now, I can book a table and maybe even order a cup of tea and churros 😉

3.  Learn to play the piano – have started pretending to practise, badly, in an attempt to get SC to do a bit more practise.  It seems to be working. I’m finding his book very good to work through and he’s just learning to put two hands together. This one I fear will be a long drawn out process. I certainly have no grand dreams that I will be a concert pianist, however, I would just like to be able to read the bass line of the music and be able to bash out a tune or two.

4.  Take a singing exam, just for fun – no progress on this, although I have got a singing teacher, just need the funds 😉

5.  Learn to knit and actually knit something – no progress, as yet, still autumn is fast approaching, so there’s time 😉

6.  Go and see Mamma Mia – tried so very hard to get Kids Week tickets for SC and I for this, but I had no luck. Again plenty of time, maybe I’ll treat us later on in the year.

7.  Try to do my exercise DVDs each day – this actually went well during January. However, medical problems and operation forced a cessation of activity.  However, post-operative progress seems to be sufficient for me to be able to resume exercising.  I’m also thinking of starting a ballet class, it’s been too long I fear my muscles will scream in agony!

8.  Train my chimp – have been training my chimp and channelling my good psychopath qualities.  I’ve been working and developing my new business and am ready to launch 😉  Looking forward to new adventures 😉

9.  Try a different soup each week – total failure to date ;-(  maybe I should just try one and tell SC I used a different coloured mud?

10.  Start writing my book – planning in progress.   I have a vague(ish) outline, working on character development and plots.

So there you have it!

Not too horrendous really, considering I still have 6 months of the year to go.  Admittedly, I’m no where near setting the world on fire, but these are things I wanted to do for me. For no one else, just for my own sense of learning something new, finishing something I started and just sometimes for the sheer fun and hell of it 😉

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Mid-January Update…

Well, it’s the middle of the first month of the new year – how’s it going so far?

Of my “10 things to do in 2014” list, I am going great guns with exercising every day.

I am doing the 10 minute exercise DVD – one for my abs and one for my legs and bum – I have done them religiously every day. I’m also doing a 30-day arm challenge designed to tone up my arms (no bingo wings or muffin tops here!)

And yes, sometimes it is hard to motivate myself to do them. Any form of regular exercise, be it going to the gym or doing stuff at home, does require motivation and an inner discipline to get on and do it even though your chimp part of your brain wants to take the easy option and slouch on the couch in your pyjamas.

But, my discipline is, if I can take a 20 minute coffee break during the day, I’ve got time to do 20 minutes of exercising.

So, for the past 17 days I have exercised – abs, legs and bum, and arms.

And guess what?

I’m beginning to notice a difference.

Any form of exercise is going to take a while to see any change – and I think that’s where some people can get disheartened as they may expect to see instantaneous results after 100 crunches – I believe that it takes 2 weeks for you to begin to see a difference and 4 weeks for other people to start noticing.

So you have to keep going if you want to see results.

And aside from the obvious toning up aspect, the other advantage to exercising is the release of happy hormones 😉

I’ve also started reading Tolstoy’s “War & Peace”.

I downloaded it onto the kindle as it’s the kind of thing I can pick up and read a little bit of whilst waiting for SC at any one of his various after-school things.

I’m 8% in, so far.

To be honest, I have had to force myself to read it.

Up until 6% I was thinking it was possible the dullest book in the history of books, but the action seems to have picked up a bit now.

Drunken debauchery resulting in a bear being tied to a policeman and both being thrown in a river – the offenders being sent home in disgrace, some Count has died whilst people were squabbling over his will, literally over his death-bed, and there are letters which give the merest hint of forbidden love between women in 19th century Russia…who knew it was a forerunner of 50 Shades of rubbish!

Maybe when I’ve finished this, I’ll settle down with “Gone with the Wind” – just as long a book and film!

 

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10 Things I Want to do in 2014

Now, let me state from the outset this is not a list of New Year Resolutions.

It is just a list of things I would like to do during the coming year – some off the bucket list, some not.

So , here goes, in no particular order:

  1. Read Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” – I’m up to Chapter 5, still another 98% to go according to the Kindle.
  2. Learn to speak Spanish – so I can understand and answer back. I’ve already bought a ‘speak-a-long’ CD which is pretty good, so I’m hoping to finish that and practice with some of the mums at school – who, thankfully just happen to speak Spanish 😉
  3. Learn to play the piano – at least learn how to read to the left hand line of music and know where the notes go and bash out a simple tune.
  4. Take a singing exam – just for fun.
  5. Learn to knit and actually knit something!
  6. Go and see Mamma Mia – dressing up optional 😉
  7. Try and do one of my exercise DVDs every day – yes, this might actually be straying into resolution territory, but I have some 10 minute workout DVD’s which are great and I am sure I can squeeze 10 minutes in a day … somewhere 😉 Need to work on my core strength – at the moment it sucks and a better core will help my posture in ballroom – apparently 😉 It might also tilt my pelvis back into its proper alignment – miracles do happen!
  8. Train my chimp so I can actually get things done as opposed to constantly doubting myself and my ability and end up doing nothing.
  9. Make and try a different soup each week. It is one of the few ways I can get SC to eat vegetables, and I’m a little tired of mud soup. I have just bought myself the Covent Garden Soup Company “365 Soups” book, so there should be some I can try 😉 Looking at maple roasted parsnip soup for next week, or I might try brussel sprout soup 😉
  10. Start writing my book – long shot one. I have a couple of good ideas, I just need to put them into some sort of coherent structure and plan it.

So, there you have it. 10 things I would like to get around to doing in 2014. Hopefully 75% of them are achievable and I will keep you updated of progress made.

What would you like to do next year?

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Knit 1, Purl 1

Knitting!knitting

It’s on ‘the list’ as something I would like to learn to do. So far in my life I have not really given it a proper go.

My mum taught me the basic knit stitch when I was younger, but forget casting on and casting off. Even the basic stitch I was no good at, far to kack-handed.

Still, I put it on ‘the list’ as something to work towards learning.

I know I’m never to going to a super-knitter, but even if I can just make one project, I would consider it a success.

Anyway, before Christmas I bought a “Knitting Bible” book. It literally has everything you need to know about knitting. Stiches, projects, the works.

Who knew there were actually so many ways to cast on and off?

Yesterday SC decided he wanted to knit!

It happened that my mum had her knitting ladies over, so where better to pick up a few tips than with the experts from the WI?

We borrowed a set of needles and some wool and took ourselves off into another room to give it a go.

Open book and read instructions.

I must confess it took me at least 3 goes to actually get the first stitch on to the needle!

Then I looked at casting on, and thought it best to stick with what the book called the easiest casting on technique – using ones thumb! To be honest, I found it a doddle.

So I successfully managed to cast on 10 stitches. Thought I’d start off small. Besides with 10 stitches I could at least attempt a scarf for SC’s teddy!

Then we started knitting.

The basic stitch I had remembered and within a while I seemed to fly!

And I still had 10 stitches – hoorah!

I then thought I’d be clever and try a row of purl stitch.

I tried 1 stitch – lots of blue smoke and decided just to stick with the tried and tested for this particular venture. I can always attempt purl next time.

After a couple of hours I had made a scarf long enough for teddy.

So here was the next challenge, casting off!

I still say you need several hands – I found it rather awkward, but I am extremely clumsy, so it was probably me.

Still I managed it – and I even managed to knot the scarf so it wouldn’t unravel.

It’s basic, not amazing, but I’ve done it, without dropping any stitches or adding any more.

Broken the duck, so to speak, and started.

It’s definitely not a completed, cross off the list challenge and definitely needs more work and perseverance, but it certainly wasn’t as daunting as I thought.

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Bucket List #25 – Eyebrow Threading

Big fat – DONE IT!Eyebrow Threading

I had my eyebrows threaded yesterday.

I was a bit wary after having heard reports from it hurting only slightly less than childbirth to feeling like your eyes were being cut with glass!

I used to have my eyebrows waxed in the very dim and distant past, and I always used to find it disconcerting. It is the only part of you, where you cannot see what is going on with the waxing and you feel like the beautician is going to scalp the eyebrow when it feels like she is tweezing everything to Kingdom Come!

So, I lay down on the couch, breathed deeply and waited…

Whoever said it hurt – LIED!

It was no more painful than waxing, and was over within 5 minutes.

Seriously what is all the fuss about?

I’ll probably go back to waxing, it really did not make much difference – considering the girl who did it still used tweezers to get the stubborn bits out!

Still, at least I can now say I’ve had it done.

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Bucket List – #2 & #24

Very exciting week on the bucket list front.

Have managed to get the lead in the next am-dram musical – yay me! So, that’s another notch on number 2 😉

Obviously I have to duck all the compulsory dagger throwing from people who didn’t get the part for the next few months, but it’s going to be so much fun  and I’m very excited 😉

I worked really hard (probably the hardest I’ve ever done in my life) for this audition. I knew I would be fine with the acting and dancing, but the singing part has always been my weakest area, and one of the songs I needed to hit squarely and start in my belt voice otherwise it would all have gone horribly wrong. I spent the weeks leading up to audition have seven shades of panic about this song and then I had a Eureka! moment, or rather found the most wonderful advice and it worked.

When it came for me to stand up and audition I was confident and for once sang the best I ever have in an audition situation. Literally I could not have sung any better had I tried. I walked away feeling fantastic – and knowing that I couldn’t control the outcome knew I had done my best.

When I found out I had got the part I was over the moon – and SC was made up for me too 😉

And the next bucket list task in progress is learning to swing on a trapeze. I have found a static trapeze class and am going to go in the next fortnight with a couple of mums from school. I shall let you know what it is like. We’re all very excited about it 😉

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