Tuesday, June 30, 2015

It's a sign

As I am now a fully signed up FitBit fiend, one of the funnest things about walking more is how much of the city I get to see!  And while I'm wandering the city I get to see so many cool sights - the majesty of St Paul's; the quiet calm of Hampstead Heath; the pretty backstreets of Marylebone; and the many, many silly signs which advertise pubs, cafes, and businesses throughout the city.  Here are a few of my recent spots!

It's always coffee time :)  Spotted in Hackney.

A talkative bin near Tate Modern.

So they say!

Loved this sign near Holborn!

In Stratford they tell it like it is.

A little south of Kings Cross, the love for Rick Astley is going strong.

I love me a quote and a sign, so this Chalk Farm pub is fine by me!

One-and-a-bit out of five - luckily number 3 is the one I'm rocking.  I like smiling.  It's my favourite.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Summer in the city....

Makes me think of this song.  And this one.  And this one.

Once I've finished that musical journey, however, I turn to the weather forecast, and when I see a predicted 32 degrees on Wednesday (90 degrees fahrenheit) my very Scottish soul starts to weep.*  

When I'm on holiday, lounging by a pool, embracing a siesta, wearing a sundress, those sort of temperatures sound inviting.

When I'm in London, wearing work appropriate clothes and shoes, travelling on the tube (because descending to the bowels of the earth itself is a great idea when the thermometer soars!)....it's a trial.  Some cities, some cultures, do warm very well.  Brits, in the heat island that is our capital city?  It's more a survival mode!  As someone who is happier in the cold, the struggle is all too real when it comes to not melting in the heat, and not becoming a sleep-deprived cross-patch in the process.  With each summer in the city I've got better and better at it, however, and hopefully some of these wee pearls of wisdom might help you to navigate the sticky season here in town or elsewhere.   

Timing is everything.

London is at its most fiercely warm from lunchtime till late afternoon.  Obviously there are times when I have to be teaching then, but any other jobs, housework or tasks I try to move to early morning (I rise earlier in the summer) or the evening.  In the morning the temperature starts in the low teens and soars gently, and in the evenings it drops to the twenties.  If I can avoid doing ironing, cooking, filing etc in the warmest parts of the day I will.  I find myself very jealous of some of our Mediterranean cousins, who write off the hottest points of the day and take a seista.  I'm always pro more naps! 

Eat wisely...

Hit the veggies and the fruits.  Now is the time for salads, crudités, smoothies....the less fatty, calorific stuff you consume, the more pleasant you are going to feel.  Do allow a little ice cream though, because a. cold; b. delicious.  I love making us homemade smoothie-pops.

...drink wisely too.

Get your hydration on.  I drink buckets of water as is, but when it's warm I double down.  It's worthwhile noting that alcohol is far more potent when you're groggy from heat (it certainly is in my case!).  Alternating alcoholic drinks and soft drinks should help you to feel good.

Head for water, woods and hills.

The 'heat island' feels worst in the built up areas.  Head to a park, a hill, a lake or the river for a fresher air and (if you're lucky!) a refreshing, cool breeze.

Man, I love me a breeze.

Avoid the tube if you can.

As the day progresses the tube gets more and more overheated, with some lines (take a bow, Central and Northern!) tipping the thermostat at 30 degrees or more.  If you can walk for part or all of your route, consider it.  It seems counter-intuitive, but I know I get far less overheated walking, listening to some 90s pop, than I do crammed into someones armpit in a metal tube.  Some lines are better - the Jubilee, Circle and Victoria lines are less warm, and the Overground can be almost pleasant.  Try out a few routes to see what works for you.  I often take the Jubilee Line to Stratford then walk the half-hour home from there in the summer evenings - anything to avoid five minutes in the oven that is the Central line!

Embrace the air-con.

If you find it, enjoy it.  Hotel bars, restaurants, the chilled aisle in the supermarket.  There's no judgement in hot weather times.

Revise your makeup and work that wardrobe.

If you wear a tonne of makeup, it will slide off.  Go for light, dewy BB creams and foundations.  Waterproof mascara.  For wardrobe, think floaty, think comfortable, think natural fibres, think maxidresses, floaty tunics. wearing whatever feels comfiest for you.  I repeat, there's no judgement in hot weather times.

Learn a few cooling tricks.

Need a refresher?  Run the inner part of your wrist below a cold tap for thirty seconds.

Always carry a scarf or some hair grips so you can get your hair off your neck if required.  Does wonders!

Consider a handheld fan, an old-school folding fan (I carry one with pride) or a misting spray (I love the Avene one) for a pick me up.

Craving icy-cold water for your commute and morning?  Before bed take a slug out of a plastic bottle (or two) of water, then put it in the freezer.  In the morning take it out, and it will slowly defrost, giving you chilled water for a fair few hours.  Bonus - in a lunchbox this will also help to keep sandwiches and salads cool.

Be kind to one another, and have a sense of humour.  

We are all in the same, slightly sweltering, sun-baked boat!  If you have any further tips, I'd love to hear them.  Enjoy the sunshine, all!

*I'm aware to my friends in Texas and Dubai and Georgia, these temps are nothing.  However, I am a wuss, and London is not built for heat.  Bear with me, please ;)

Sunday, June 28, 2015

My Summer Reading List....

...this could be part 1 of 2...depends how much I read in the next few weeks!  As I make so many changes, one of the many and myriad things I'm excited about is having more time to read.  Here are the fourteen books I'll be loading onto my trusty Kindle for the last week or so of commuting, then Marbs, honeymoon, and a chilled August.

Please note that where I have linked to books I've affiliate linked - I always like to say when I do so (disclosure, baby :)).  If you're happy for me to benefit from your clicking or buying, go ahead.  I know I'm happy to do so but always appreciate knowing when that's the case.

1. God Help The Child - Toni Morrison

I haven't read a Toni Morrison book in far too long, but I love the way she crafts words.  This book has been recommended to me by several friends, so I'm excited to read it and be swept up in a story.

2. China Rich Girlfriend - Kevin Kwan

I enjoyed Crazy Rich Asians as a frothy beach read and this sounds like much of the same.  I love a good, challenging read, but when the sun is in the sky and I'm sipping a cocktail there's something to be said for a nice, soapy, easy read.

3. The Paying Guests - Sarah Waters

This book seems to be everywhere at the moment - I'm looking forward to seeing if it lives up to the hype!

4. Funny Girl - Nick Hornby

I've long been a fan of Hornby's writing (High Fidelity is one of my top five books, for sure) so I'll be tucking into this gleefully.  I love his characters - whenever I read a Hornby book I feel like I'm amongst friends and kindred spirits.

5. How To Be Both - Ali Smith

This has been sweeping up prizes left, right and centre, and sounds like a read full of inventiveness and surprises.  Love picking up a book and diving into a different world.

6. Go Set A Watchman - Harper Lee

It's Harper Lee.

I'm so excited!

7. Techbitch - Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazzo

The friend who recommended this described it as a digital version of The Devil Wears Prada.  I adored TDWP as a beach read, so I am very much in for this book!

8. The Sunrise - Victoria Hislop

I love how Hislop evokes time and place so beautifully in her novels.  I adored both The Return and The Island, so I cannot wait to read this....perhaps on a beach somewhere.

9. Paper Towns - John Green

I read The Fault In Our Stars last year and enjoyed it, so I'm looking forward to another entertaining YA read.  I'm such a John Green fan - his videos are brilliant!

10. Finding Audrey - Sophie Kinsella

I really enjoy how Kinsella writes and find her books fun and easy to read.  Perfect for a holiday!

11. The Wolf Border - Sarah Hall

As well as ploughing through some froth, I always like to include a few heavier reads on the holiday docket.  This book which deals with conflict and change and obsession sounds like the perfect addition to the list, and had come highly recommended by three friends.  Looking forward to it.

12. The Versions of Us - Laura Barnett

From the reviews, this sounds like it's a little Sliding Doors in its premise, and I love books, films and poems which navigate the 'what ifs' of life.

13. H is for Hawk - Helen Macdonald

My friend J said this was her book of the year and the premise looks intriguing.  Love a book that makes me think (as well as those candy coloured chick lit ones!).

14. The Woman Who Stole My Life - Marian Keyes

I tend to love Marian Keyes's heroines, and I'm hoping the same happens here.

So much to read and enjoy in the coming weeks.  What's on your current reading list?

Friday, June 26, 2015

June Music Meme answers

On Monday I posted my latest Music Meme - here are the answers in full and a youtibe mix of the numbers for luck.  Love a good youtube playlist, me.

1. Chandelier - Sia

2. Doo Wop (That Thing) - Lauryn Hill

3.  Dilemma - Nelly ft. Kelly Rowland

4. Rather Be - Clean Bandit

5. Tik Tok - Kesha

6. Bye Bye Bye - N*Sync

7. Stay With Me - Sam Smith

8.  Thinking Out Loud - Ed Sheeran

9. American Boy - Estelle ft. Kanye West

10. Bittersweet Symphony - The Verve

11. Life Your Life - T.I. ft Rihanna

12. Get Lucky - Daft Punk

13. SexyBack - Justin Timberlake

14. Earth Song - Michael Jackson

15.  Welcome To The Black Parade - My Chemical Romance

16. We Are Never Getting Back Together - Taylor Swift (cannot WAIT to see her in Hyde Park tomorrow!)

17. Are You Gonna Go My Way - Lenny Kravitz

18.  Heart-Shaped Box - Nirvana

19. Beverly Hills - Weezer

20. Unpretty - TLC

21. Born This Way - Lady Gaga

22. In Da Club - 50 Cent

23. Walking On Broken Glass - Annie Lennox

24. Bring Me To Life - Evanescence

25. Millionaire - Kelis ft. Andre 3000

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