Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Race for Life!

Well hello there!

Over the weekend, I ran my very first charity race - the 10K Race for Life in aid of Cancer Research UK. The funds raised by people participating in this event go towards vital and groundbreaking research to treat and find a cure Cancer.

After weeks of training, I laced up my trainers and donned my pink t-shirt to run for this great cause. It is a cause which is very close to my heart, as I have lost three members of my family to Cancer, and have an uncle who survived Cancer.

This event took place in Heaton Park in Manchester, on a beautiful warm Sunday - thankfully not too hot! The atmosphere in the park as we all gathered was one of excitement and positivity - this day wasn't about death, but life-affirming and upbeat. I was inspired by the strength and determination of so many of the women as they took up the challenge to run in memory of the ones they'd loved and, in many cases, lost.

I'd opted to run the 10K, and after weeks of preparation, I finally faced the challenge. While I'd trained a lot, I don't think anything could have prepared me for the experience of running such a long distance (for me) alongside hundreds of other pink-clad women in one of the hilliest parks in England! I managed to survive blistered toes, heavy legs halfway through and a horrendous stitch in the last 500 metres. What kept me going was the knowledge that I was running this not only in memory of the people I'd loved and lost, but also that this charity was helping to save lives. The amazing work of Cancer Research could even potentially help save the lives of future loved ones - perhaps even my own life.

With that firmly at the forefront of my mind, I was thrilled to be able to hand over the funds I'd raised, as well as a bag full of old clothes, DVDs, CDs and books.

It really was a very moving and powerful day. It felt great to be part of a movement larger than myself, and reminded me to be grateful for the people in my life. So much so that I'm determined to do it all over again next year!

Read more about Cancer Research UK and Race for Life

Bye for now!

Monday, 27 April 2015

Little Robin Read: To-Read Book Pile

Well hello there!

I've been having a little break from blogging lately. It seems I lost my blogging mojo over the Easter break, and since then a few things have distracted me. Hopefully I'm back for good now!

This morning the first thing I saw was the stack of books I've got waiting for me once I've finished Bring Up the Bodies (it's amazing, as expected).

Book selection
Spoilt for choice!

As I'd like to review all of these books, I wanted to give you a little sneak preview of what the books are so you can follow me on my Journey of Geekdom.

I'll probably add more books to this list as we go along, but hey ho. Here's the pile as it stands:

 1) Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky
I want to see the film version of this as well...not sure how I'll feel about it but I'm keeping an open mind

Suite Francaise front cover

2) The Search for Richard III by Philippa Langley and Michael Jones
If you read this blog at all, you'll know I'm a massive History geek. I loved watching the drama unfold around the discovered remains of Richard III and his reburial. I bought this book while watching the reintermnet...yes, I'm a total nerd. Embrace it.

The Search for Richard III front cover

3) To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
I have always meant to get round to reading this. With all the hype around Harper Lee's new novel, this gave me the kick up the bum to actually get myself a copy. Hope it's not been too built up for me!

To Kill a Mockingbird front cover

4) Amy Snow by Tracy Rees
This was an impulse buy. I just liked the look of it, and after reading the blurb, I was intrigued. If you want to know more, you'll have to read my review ;)

Amy Snow front cover

5) The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
Another impulse buy, I was lured in by the cover (yes, shallow - don't judge me). This sounds really intriguing...again, you'll have to read my review. Keep your eyes peeled!

The Miniaturist front cover

I'm really excited to read these books. I usually read books recommended to me by others which can lead to a fairly limited selection, but I'm trying to branch out and try new things. I'll let you know how I get on!

If you've got any recommendations comment below and let me know...

Bye for now :)

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Race for Life Training Week 3

Well hello there :) Happy Easter to one and all!

Race for Life Banner

Okay, so last week was a bit of a write-off when it came to race training...it was Easter so OBVIOUSLY I was going to slack off and attempt Death by Chocolate....don't pretend you didn't do the same!

Matilda Chocolate Cake Eating Gif

Back on the wagon this week.

I'll be honest, after 4 blissful days off work catching up with people I've not seen for a while, I'm struggling to find motivation for anything that doesn't involve chocolate and lounging in the sunshine. (Down with work booo!) I've even gotten lazy with blogging but what else are holidays for?

One Does Not Simply Eat One Easter Egg meme

I went for my first post-Easter run yesterday and noticed how stiff my thighs had become in the space of four short days, even though I've still been walking a little. This just goes to show how important it is to keep exercising and stretching in order to keep the fitness up. The run itself was fine, and I'm really pleased with how quickly my body is becoming accustomed to running longer distances.

My foot's been playing up something awful - yes, after six weeks of ditching the Primark Chelsea boots, I'm still having joint pain in my foot! Methinks a new pair of trainers will help with this.

Anyway, here's what this week's training schedule looks like:

Mon: Rest day, adventures with Mr Robin!

Tues: 5km run on hill setting on treadmill (29 mins), followed by 6km cross trainer in 25 mins

Weds: Rest day

Thurs: 1.6km jog, then fast run for 2 mins, recover with 2 minute jog = repeat 4 times then jog 1.6km to cool down; followed by strength training for 30 mins

Fri: Rest day

Sat: 7.25km run (3.29km easy pace, 4km race pace)

Sun: Rest day

Well and truly back on track this week - in more ways than one! Wish me luck! Or sponsor me if you like!

Bye for now :)

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Race for Life Training Week 2!

Well hello there :)

This week marks the second week of my training for the Race for Life in aid of Cancer Research UK.
I'll be running the 10K with my friend Rebecca, and as I've never run a proper race before I'm slightly pooping myself.

Race for Life Cancer Research UK banner

I've decided to alternate my training weeks from intense to milder training, as I'm not used to running and have been having some joint pains (old lady problems). I've also started taking Omega 3 fish oils as these are really good for protecting the joint cartilage when doing high impact exercise.

As it's the Easter weekend and I've had loads to prepare for, I've not had as much time as I would have like to train this week. Next week I'll be fully back on the wagon (and will probs need to be after all those Easter eggs! Mmmmm fattening....)

So here's what this week's admittedly meagre training looked like:

Monday: 11.6km cycle in 20 mins on Cardio settings, followed by an hour's Zumba class and 10 minutes on the Cross Trainer

Tuesday: 11.5km cycle in 20 mins on Fat Burn settings followed by one hour's Yoga session

Weds, Thurs, Fri, Sat and Sun: Rest Days/Easter/Gorging myself on as much chocolate as is possible for one human being to consume....naughty naughty!

Happy Easter everyone!

Bye for now :)

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Ten Books On My To-Read List

Well hello there!

As I'm fairly new to blogging and even newer to writing book reviews, I've only just discovered The Broke and the Bookish. I decided it would be really fun to take part in their weekly Top Ten Tuesday book blog challenge.

So, here goes!

This week's theme is to name 10 books currently on your 'to-read' list. Now, I always have about six books on the go at any given time, so it takes me several millennia to finish one book. (Moses was still around when I began Wolf Hall).

This doesn't stop me from collecting books that I really really want to read. They just pile up until my bedroom resembles a corner of Hogwarts library. (Not a bad look, if you ask me!)

Here are ten books gathering dust awaiting their turn to be in my five-a-day (the struggle is real.)

1) Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Wild book cover
LOVED the film...soul food

2) Charlotte Gray by Sebastian Faulks

Charlotte Gray book cover

3) Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel

Bring Up the Bodies book cover
Wolf Hall was amazing!

4) The King's Grave: The Search for Richard III by Philippa Langley

The Search for Richard III book cover
I'm a bit of a Ricardian...

5) Sex, Power and Consent by Anastasia Powell

Sex, Power and Consent book cover

6) A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

Game of Thrones book cover
Big fan of the TV series

7) Northern Lights: His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman

Northern Lights book cover

8) The Sound of Laughter Peter Kay

The Sound of Laughter book cover
I like comedians' autobiographies
9) Revelation by C.J. Sansom
Revelation Front Cover
Loved Dissolution by the same author
10) The Arrow of Sherwood by Lauren Johnson

Arrow of Sherwood front cover
Recommended to me!

So that's it! Hopefully I'll not have grown a beard by the time I get stuck into these!

Bye for now!

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Little Robin Read: Wolf Hall

Well hello there!

Today I'll be reviewing the hugely popular historical novel Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel.

Now, I'd already watched the BBC dramatisation of this and had massively enjoyed it so I expected a lot from the book. It didn't disappoint.

My colleague lent me her copy, as we're both ├╝ber-geeks when it comes to history. It's actually taken me ages to finish as:

a) I always have about 5 books on the go at any one time and...

b) this tome is very large and I often couldn't be bothered to lug it around on the bus! Thank goodness the paperback has been released!

The length of the novel isn't an issue when it's so well written. Dipping into this before bedtime felt like returning to an old friend.

The book follows the rise of the Tudor courtier Thomas Cromwell. Along with him we witness the downfall of Cardinal Wolsey, the Boleyn struggle for power, Henry VIII battling against the pope to claim supremacy over the Church in England,  and the resulting political and religious turbulence.

Mantel's narrator takes on an omniscient role, which means that we are treated to flashbacks from Cromwell's traumatic childhood as well as tantalising snippets from his years spent abroad.

We also see a very human and personal side to Cromwell which hasn't really been seen before. We see some of his losses,  his motives and his strategies for building his own power base. This gives us an intimacy with Cromwell.

Wolf Hall front cover

We are allowed into his inner thoughts and so can see the human being behind the tough political facade.

The most powerful instance of this is Cromwell's struggle with Thomas More. On the surface we see Cromwell pushing More to admit the supremacy of Henry VIII. Below this we see Cromwell buying time for More to give him every opportunity to save his own life.

Mantel obviously knows her stuff as a historical novelist. I was impressed with how subtly interwoven her historical,  socio-political and religious references were. If you didn't get the references it didn't matter too much, but if you did you could see how clever she'd been. I think this gave a real touch of authenticity as life in the tudor period was indeed a tight weave of politics, history and religion.

I found this also changed some of my viewpoints or at least gave me food for thought. I was a great admirer of More, but found Mantel's depiction quite unsympathetic. I never liked Cromwell,  I now feel more of an affiliation with him.

So Mantel has an ability to change minds. That's the mark of a powerful and gifted writer.

The novel takes us up to the point of Henry being about to notice Jane Seymour. The sequel 'Bring Up the Bodies' follows what happens next. Can't  wait to read that!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel,  Fourth Estate:London, 2009

Friday, 27 March 2015

Race for Life Training! Week One

Well hello there!

This summer, I'm going to be running the 10K Race for Life in aid of Cancer Research.
This is a cause very close to my heart, as I have already lost 3 family members to Cancer (one of them recently), and Cancer very nearly took another one.

Race for Life ribbon logo

My friend Rebecca is going to be running the race with me, and so I now have just over 3 months to get in marathon shape!

I go to the gym regularly, but I must admit my standards have been slipping recently. I used to mix up my exercise routine so I would do some cardio and strength training in the gym and then go to fitness classes including my beloved Zumba and Insanity. Insanity is amazing...just saying.

Since working full time, however, I've been a bit complacent with the gym and mainly going to the fitness classes. Classes are great and much more sociable and motivational (an instructor shouting "YOU'RE NOT DONE YET!!" whenever I stop certainly motivates me haha!). However I find that I've reached a fitness plateau (major First World Problem right there), as I've been doing the same routines with little variation. I'm also finding that I'm now much stronger but my cardio fitness isn't going anywhere.

So, what better excuse to mix things up and get back on a treadmill than a 10K Race?!

well...almost, right?

I've just coming to the end of week one of my race training. Here's what it consists of:

Monday: 5K Hill Run on treadmill followed by 30 minute Cardio setting on bike
Tuesday: Rest Day (Very important for muscle recovery. Also had a cheeky Chiquitos when the boyf came to visit. Don't tell anyone shhhh)
Wednesday: Rest Day
Thursday: 10K treadmill run, alternating between jogging and short bursts of sprinting, followed by 20 mins of strength training
Friday: Rest Day
Saturday: 6.5km run on real terrain - first 3km jog, second 3km run (Running on real terrain is much harder, as the treadmill carries you along whereas on real terrain it's all on you battling the elements and uneven surfaces)

So that's it - wish me luck in week 2!

Have you ever run a charity race? Do you have any preparation tips? I'd love to hear them (I need all the help I can get!) Comment below and help a girl out! :)

P.S. If you're a generous soul and you'd like to sponsor me, check out my new JustGiving page. It would mean so much to me so thank you if you do!

Bye for now!

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Day Out in the Park!

Well hello there!

Last weekend I went for a wander. As you may know, I recently moved house, so I'm still getting to know the surrounding areas. I'm always saying how I love walking, so what better way to discover local areas than to go exploring?!

I stumbled upon a lovely little park which was just 5 minutes walk away from my house. I'll definitely be coming back here as it's a great place to relax, see a bit of nature and think about things. 

I thought I'd share some pics with you:

Hope you enjoyed these pics!
I'm sure it's only a matter of time til I go on my next walk and have more pics to share with you!

Bye for now :)

Monday, 23 March 2015

Little Robin Read: The King's Curse

Well hello there,

Welcome to my very first blog book review!

In this series I'll be sharing some of the books I've finished reading recently. I'll also provide a short review of each book, and I'd love to hear what you thought of them and any book recommendations you have. ..comment below!

Today I'm looking at The King's Curse by Philippa Gregory.

I am a big fan of historical novels (being the MAHOOSIVE History geek that I am), and Philippa Gregory's are always top notch. If you haven't read The Other Boleyn Girl yet, stop reading this and go get a copy right now. Go on, I'll wait for you. Off you go....

....oh good, you're back. How was it? Awesome? I know, right?!

Anyway, back to The King's Curse. This is a beast of a book- I had the hardback copy but the paperback which has recently been released is considerably smaller and lighter!

It's written from the point of view of Margaret Pole, who gives an eyewitness account of the rise of King Henry VIII and the decline of his marriage to Katherine of Aragon.
It's certainly a fresh perspective on historic events, and stays true to Gregory's mission to tell events from female angles.

As is inevitable in a book concerned with Henry VIII's striving to produce a male heir, there's lots of infant mortality here. This is true to life, but also quite wearying and grim to read about in detail. I found I needed to put the book down several times to shake off the sadness of the text.

I also think the book ended on quite a deflating note (no spoilers here). All I'll say is that I felt the book worked its way up to an anticlimax.

While this is a really good read, it's not quite as good as some of Gregory's earlier works.
Interesting enough, but not Gregory's best novel.

Rating : ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Bye for now!

Philippa Gregory, The King's Curse, (Simon and Schuster: London,  2014) Buy here

Sunday, 22 March 2015

World Poetry Day!

Well hello there!

Today it's World Poetry Day, and as I'm a big literature geek I thought I'd share a few of my favourite poems.

Philip Larkin: 'Ambulances' from 'The Whitsun Weddings'.
Another of my faves from this collection is 'An Arundel Tomb'.

Sylvia Plath: 'Daddy' from the 'Ariel' collection. The poem with the same title as the book is another favourite of mine. 

Here Plath reads the poem herself. ...

William Wordsworth: 'I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud' 

This poem just makes me happy.

So there you have it! 

There are so many poems I could list as faves, but I'd be here all day!

Which are your favourites?  Comment below and let me know :)

Bye for now! 

Monday, 2 March 2015

Childhood Faves

Well hello there!

Today, for some mysterious reason, I started having a bit of nostalgia for some of my childhood faves. I thought it might be nice to share some of them with you.

If you're a 90s kid like me, then you're sure to remember some of these. If you're not, you young whippersnappers don't know you're born! ;) (Unless you're older than me, in which case - feel free to share your childhood faves below!)

Pinocchio. When I was very little, this was my fave programme to watch. That, Rosie and Jim and Peppino (what the hell was that about?!) I loved this show, mainly for the theme tune....(P-I-N-O-double C-H -I-O! It'ssss Pinocchioooooo!)  I was tiny, don't judge me!

Sabrina the Teenage Witch. When I got a bit older, I was obsessed with Sabrina. As I approached my teen angst-y years, I increasingly wished that I could just point and get my way with a twinkly SWOOSH to go along with it. I also adored Salem (the cat). Also collected the books. Wasn't a fan of the film, though.

TBH, this is still life goals.

Harry Potter. Obvz. You don't need me to say anything else. If you do, I'm concerned.

Tamagotchis. Like, what the hell? Mine pooped and died almost instantly. It probably was a poop-related death to be honest. This is why I don't have kids yet.

The Spice Girls. Like most little girls my age, I was utterly obsessed with the Spice Girls. I went through phases of 'wanting to be' each one (except Posh Spice, weirdly enough). I'd copy their dress sense (*shudder*) and take life lessons from their 'Girl Power' attitudes. LOL.

Victoria Beckham: Style Icon. Who'd have thunk it?

The Lion King. Another of my childhood obsessions. So much so that I named my kitten Simba and had Lion King pencils, pencil case, backpack, cap, pyjamas, videos, cassettes (remember them?!) I could go on. I refuse to acknowledge the sequels: SACRILEGE.

Koosh balls. A bright colourful weird-looking ball. Who needs the internet? Ha!

Rugrats. Another one of my cats was named Angelica, after the bratty girl in this. She was my idol ha!

Screwballs. Every time the ice cream van came around, I'd get this. Ice cream with a bubble gum 'surprise' at the bottom. What's not to like?

Hanson. In an Mmmbop, they're gone. Yeah, I confess I still kind of like Mmmbop. Wonder where they are now?

Yo-yos. Classic. Hours of fun. We were way better at entertaining ourselves back then. (Yes, I'm an old lady. Shh.)

Kenan and Kel. These are still hilarious when I watch them back. I loved the film too. Goodburger, anyone?

Happy Meals. I had one too many of these and a toy-related injury as a child. I swear the toys were better back then!
Yep. I had these. Spoilt rotten.

What were your favorites as a child? Comment below and let me know...go on, a bit of nostalgia's good for you! (I'm all warm and glowing inside...)

Bye for now!