The Smile Tag

Alright I’ll admit it. No one tagged me in The Smile Tag. I just really wanted to do it.

It’s pretty simple. Creator Ciarralorren wants to spread a bit of happiness around the internet. That’s a noble thing to want if you ask me.

All you have to do is share pictures of yourself smiling. I’m going incognito on this blog and won’t be sharing pictures of myself. What I will do is share pictures that make me smile. Burghblogger – always circumventing the rules.

I’ve scrolled down through my Face Book pictures and pulled out these happy memories.

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This is a picture of the Colosseum in Rome. I took it during a holiday I went on with my aunt. The reason I took this picture is that it shows the difference in the stone work between the original stone (left) and the restored stone(right). As much as I love lounging by the beach I also love to learn and Rome was perfect for this. So much history to soak in.

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This is a picture of Nemo. Nemo is the camper van my friend and I stayed in whilst we traveled around Australia. I was a poor student at the time and the possibility of spending a month road tripping around Australia was just a dream until I ended up winning two return flight tickets in a raffle. This obnoxious green van was our home for that month. We named him Nemo because one of the wing mirrors was broken and it reminded us of the Pixar character and his dodgy fin.

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This is another travel photo. This time it’s from my time in Bath at the Jane Austen Centre. My boyfriend and I went for afternoon tea and this picture of Colin Firth as Mr Darcy stared down at us. Bath was probably one of the best places I’ve visited. Steeped in history and culture with lots of things to do and see. I definitely want to go back again.

These two pictures make me smile because they just sum up my wee dog perfectly. He is a little scruffy bundle of adorableness who makes an excellent companion on country walks whilst at the same time he is a menace intent on ruining my house. The picture of the strange white substance is from when he took a bag of flour out of the cupboard and dragged it around my whole flat whilst I was at work. Thanks so much buddy.

Whilst the last two pictures summed up my dog these two pictures sum up me. On the left we have the passion fruit creme brulee I made for New Years dinner. Really sophisticated and well presented. On the right we have a batch of spaghetti I accidentally dropped into the sink when trying to drain it. So what do they say about me? I guess I can be professional and put together but I can also be a total disaster. Can’t we all?

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This is a picture from the time I visited Machu Picchu. At Machu Picchu they have lamas just wandering around for photo opportunities with tourists. As well as getting to see one of the seven wonders of the world I also got to see this lama hump another lama. It was worth the long haul flight. Peru itself was amazing. I flew there to volunteer at a few orphanages for a couple of weeks. A truly humbling experience!

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My final picture is a piece of work from one of my students. When tasked with story boarding the tale of Adam and Eve he asked if he could draw their “bits”. I’m not one to instill shame in the human body so I said “go for it!”. Who knew Eve was so stacked?

I hope you enjoyed this little look into my life and what makes me smile. I always try to remind myself of how lucky I am and how blessed my life is. I’ve had some pretty awesome experiences wether that be through travelling, my hard but very rewarding job or just getting to live my peaceful life in Edinburgh.

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Please leave a comment if you enjoyed this post. I’d love to hear about what makes you smile!

Alton Towers Photo Diary

One of the perks of being a teacher is the school trips. It can be an afternoon off to a farm or even two weeks on another continent. Usually for free or heavily discounted but that’s not important. It’s for the good of the kids.

Recently I attended a school trip to Alton Towers Theme Park in Stoke-on-Trent. The bus journey from Scotland took us around 8 hours including our stops at service stations.

The trip was a great success with lots of fun rides, gorgeous weather and well behaved kids. Here are some of the things I got up to.

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I’m a teacher so of course I got in for free. It seems fair considering I have to spend 8 hours on a bus with over 50 teenagers.

Some rides don’t open until 10 or 10:30 but Oblivion was open when we arrived at 9:30. Most roller coasters don’t give you much of a chance to be scared. It’s all over and done with in seconds. Oblivion whilst being a short ride really amps up the fear factor by dangling you over the edge of it’s massive vertical drop for a few seconds before letting you fall. I can’t tell you what the view is like up there because I have my eyes shut every single time.

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Our next ride was The Smiler. It’s the most popular ride and is right at the beginning of the park so the sooner you can get queued up for this the better. We attended on a quiet Thursday before the school holidays so we didn’t have to queue much at all. Unfortunately the first time we queued up they sent us all away and said they weren’t opening the coaster yet. It doesn’t fill you with much confidence considering the accident a few years ago but at least they gave us some priority passes to use later.

The Smiler, which has the word record for the most amount of loops, is really great because it last for almost 3 minutes. In roller coaster time that’s decades.

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The Enterprise is right next to The Smiler and is good for younger children or smaller people who can’t ride the bigger coasters. You sit in your little shuttle and are spun round and up and down and up and round and down and on and on.  This one can make you feel a little dizzy afterwards.

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Thirteen is by far my favourite ride of all in Alton Towers. It’s spooky themed and set in a haunted forest. The best part about the ride is that it has a little surprise. I’m not going to spoil it for but just make sure if you go to Alton Towers you take a ride on Thirteen.

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Galactica is one of the Big Six – the six biggest attractions at Alton Towers. What makes Galactica special is that you wear virtual reality head sets as you ride. The idea is that you’ll really feel like you are travelling through space. Unfortunately when I attended the headsets were not in use and I had to ride it like a normal coaster. Even without the headsets it’s pretty cool as the seat tilts upwards and you face the ground. It can be really scary feeling all of your body weight pushing against the seat restraints though. I’m always convinced it’s going to pop open and I’ll plummet to the ground!

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There are lots of different options for food and drink in Alton Towers. They even have a restaurant the delivers your food on a mini roller coaster. When I visited we opted to sit out in the sun and have burgers. By the time I’d finished eating I was bright red from sunburn. Whoops! I had the bacon double cheese burger with fries and a diet cola. It’s McDonald’s quality which is fine but is a little bit more expensive at £7.45. If you are visiting the park with your family then it could get super expensive very quickly. It might be worth bringing a packed lunch.

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One of the best things about Alton Towers is how beautiful the grounds are. Walking from one area of the park to the other is just as enjoyable as the rides themselves. There is lots of greenery to see and a lake to lounge by too. If your group includes someone who doesn’t actually like roller coasters and has been given the job of bag holder then they can take time out to wander the park and it’s gardens. It was a gorgeous sunny day when we visited which just made it even better.

This will have been the fifth time I’ve visited Alton Towers and it will be the fifth time that I’ve had an absolutely blast. If you are near by or don’t mind a long drive then it is definitely worth spending a day here.

 

***Alton Towers did not ask me to write about my visit. I just really enjoyed it and wanted to share my day.***

 

Diet Cajun Chicken Pasta

***This post first appeared on my old blog which I have since had to delete.***

I was once a member of Slimming World and tried out a bunch of different recipes that adhere to the diets guidelines. The Cajun Chicken Pasta dish I made was divine so I thought I’d write up how I did it.

The dish is Syn Free on the extra easy Slimming Word plan and it makes six portions.

Disclaimer! I am not a chef or any kind of health expert. I just like to cook and thought I’d share!

Ingredients:

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  • 2 Skinless chicken breasts – Chopped into bite size pieces.
  • Low calorie cooking spray
  • 2 Bell peppers (I used red and yellow) – Sliced thinly.
  • 1 Brown onion – Sliced thinly.
  • 1 Egg
  • 4 Table spoons of Quark
  • 3 Chicken stock cubes
  • 3-4 Tablespoons of cajun seasoning (depends on your tastes)
  • 40 Grams of reduced fat cheddar cheese
  • 500 grams of wholewheat pasta. (I used penne)
  • A speedy (low calorie) vegetable of your choice – I choose asparagus

Method:

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1 – Spray a pot with the low calorie cooking spray and brown the chicken with half of the seasoning. When it’s cooked set it aside for later.

2 – Cook the onion and peppers with the rest of the Cajun seasoning until they are soft.  You might need some more of the low calorie cooking spray for this.

3 – Add in 1 liter of chicken stock and the pasta. Let this reduce down until the sauce is a little thicker and glossy.

4 – Re-add the chicken and remove it from the hob.

5 – Add the egg, cheese and quark to the pot and mix until the sauce thickens.

6 – Serve with your speedy vegetable (according to Slimming World rules one third of your plate must be speed foods).

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Left overs. I’ll be eating this for a while! 

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I hope this helps someone. If you have any diet recipe recommendations I’d love to see them. Comment and let me know what you think.

Personality Factors

Recently I saw a personality test floating around my Face Book feed that I thought I’d try out. Maybe I’d get some insight into the depths of my mind or maybe I’ll find out that my mind isn’t that deep after all. Either way it would be enlightening.

Personality Test Results

The most noticeable result for me was that I scored very low on gregariousness. After I googled what gregariousness meant I found it to be very accurate. I don’t seek the company of others often and I very much enjoy being on my own. Give me a good book or a video game and I’ll see you in a few hours. I’ll be quite content.

I do have friends and I attend parties but I’m definitely an introvert. Some times socialising does get too much for me and I’ve been known to disappear for a nap during gatherings just to get away. Does anyone else do this? Am I weird?

The low score for gregariousness probably goes hand in hand with the low score for friendliness. I’m an awkward person in general and I worry that I come across aloof or cold. My resting bitch face probably doesn’t help.  I’m a sweet heart really I swear!

I loved that my emotional stability scored high. I’ve always prided myself on being level headed and calm. I’m also happy that my self-reliance was pretty high too. This test is proving me to be quite the strong independent woman.

My anxiety level seems pretty average. I have been blessed with good mental health and have rarely found myself in a bad place mentally. It’s important for me, some one so privileged in the mental health department, to make an effort to understanding and empathise with those who aren’t so blessed. Mental health issues are something I have trouble understanding simply because I haven’t experienced it. That’s no excuse to dismiss them entirely though like idiot journalists have been known to do. I’m looking at you Piers Morgan.

So who am I according to this personality test? I choose to interpret it positively. I’m a reserved and introverted individual who’s also stable and independent.

I’m a bad-ass mother who don’t take no crap off of nobody! 

I took the test at this website here – https://personalityfactors.com/en. Let me know what your results were in the comments.

If I Was Rich Wish List

***This post first appeared on my old blog which I’ve since had to delete.***

I’m poor. Well. I have a house and a car. I go on holiday every year. I have a 52″ TV. Apart from those thing I am poor!

Maybe what I should say instead of “I’m poor” is “I’m not as rich as I want to be.” If I was rich I’d take a trip to London and go mental in Harrods. I went once and bought an eyeliner just so I could say I’d shopped there. Today I thought I’d peruse the Harrods website and make a wish list of all the things I’d want if I was rich.

Ralph & Russo Eden Heel Pumps

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£1300. Just under two months rent for a pair of shoes.

MCM Small Stark Backpack

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£1,995. Yes I am 25 years old and still wear backpacks. They are convenient. Ok?

Carine Gilson Long Silk Kimono Robe

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Currently I wear my boyfriends Bat Man dressing gown so really I need this £1,450 robe.

Kitchen Aid Artisan™ 175 Stand Mixer 4.8L

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I am a terrible baker but  I think if your mixer costs £549 then you can’t go wrong.

Harrods The Decadence Hamper

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Full of wines, Champagne and spirits, cured meats, exotic teas and coffees and more. The website says it arrives in a “fleet of trunks.” £20,000 for the best dinner party ever.

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I think this goes without saying but I haven’t been sponsored by Harrods to write this. I bloody wish they would!

Worst Movies of 2016

***This post first appeared on my old blog which I have since had to delete.***

2016 was a stinker of a year guys. There were some films I liked but mostly I found myself looking back longingly at 2015 when greats like The Martian and Mad Max: Fury Road came out and were put firmly onto my favorite movies of all time list. 2015 was so good for movies in fact that we were due for a fall. Here are, in my opinion, the five worst movies of the year 2016.

Suicide Squad

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How I imagine they made this film – A group of people put a pile of catchy one liners into a pile, stapled it together and called it a script. Even Will Smith couldn’t save this movie.

Independence Day: Resurgence  

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All I wanted was a silly pop corn flick with aliens and Jeff Goldbloom. How could they mess that up? They put too many new young cast members in the film in the hopes of making it into a series. It had none of the charm or fun of the first one. I actually paid to see this in IMAX and it’s probably the worst thing I did in 2016.

Joy

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It’s almost inconceivable that a film with a cast this good could suck so bad. I though we were going to get an inspiring tale of an female underdog sticking it to the man and coming out on top. What we got was a film about mops. I didn’t walk out of a film in 2016 but I came damn close!

The Revenant

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The reason Leo got the oscar for this movie is because the academy realised they should have given him it for Wolf of Wall Street but missed their chance. I was so BORED watching this. I love Leonardo DiCaprio but Tom Hardy was more compelling in The Revenant the Leo was.

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Do you agree that these films sucked? Let’s discuss in the comments!

My Pole Dancing Experience

***This is a post that first appeared on my old blog which I have since had to delete. I’ve changed a few pictures and words to keep my identity anonymous***

On the 15th of September 2016 I signed up for a six week beginners pole fitness class. This is what happened.

Why did I decide to sign up for a pole fitness class? 

I hate to exercise. According to my BMI I am obese. I have poor coordination. I have about as much grace as a potato. The last thing anyone would expect me to do is sign up for a pole fitness class.

I have a bunch of friends on Face Book who have been attending pole fitness classes for a while. They post pictures of themselves in tiny outfits and giants shoes and I thought they looked so cool. I considered myself too unfit to join them since I couldn’t run for more than 2 minutes without my heart feeling like it was about to burst out of my chest Alien style.

I visited my boyfriends sister one weekend and she has a pole in her spare bedroom (soon to become a nursery for her first child. That pole will have to go!) She instructed me on how to climb the pole and I got my first taste of how much metal against unconditioned skin feels. It burns.

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It hurts. You hold yourself on the pole by squeezing your thighs together. The metal burns your skin and I lasted only a few seconds before I had to jump off. It clearly didn’t hurt that much though because the next day I booked myself onto a 6 week beginners course with Madame Peaches in Edinburgh (highly recommended!).

What are the classes like?

Pole fitness is split into different levels. Each level has a different set of moves you must be able to perform before you are able to move up to the next level. I’d be starting at the very very beginning.

My class had level ones and level threes in the room together. The level ones had 5 poles on one side of the room (two people to a pole) and the level threes had some more poles at the other end of the room.

First we warm up. The warm up consisted of things such as star jumps, jogging on the spot and high knees. You’ll need a sports bra!

At each class we learned different moves and “floor work” which is like the transitional movements in between tricks. On the first day we learned a little routine that got us used to moving around the pole.

At the end of each class there is a cool down which normally involves some paired stretches. If you don’t like getting up close and personal with a sweaty stranger then this part might not be for you.

At each class we learned different moves and spins. The first moves I learned were crucifix and fireman. I don’t have any pictures from these first few classes that keep my identity a secret so here is Kermit The Frog instead.

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Standing Crucifix is like this but not upside down and also not a stuffed toy.

Is it hard?

I think the stronger and lighter you are the easier you’ll find pole. I have a lot of weight to throw around a pole so that will obviously make it harder for me. The difficulty has not put me off. I won’t be moving up to level 2 just yet but I have already booked another 6 week course for level 1 again.

Pole also hurts. Yo’re constantly hammering your body against the pole (at least I am) and you get covered in bruises. At pole these are called “pole kisses” and are a badge of honor.

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Some of my “pole kisses”

One week you can nail a move and then the next week you won’t be able to do it. It’s frustrating and I’ve heard stories of girls crying in pole classes although I’ve never witnessed it.

It all pays off though when you nail a move. I’ve never found anything that makes me feel so strong and bad-ass as pole does and I am an absolute beginner!

What do you need to know before you go? 

1 – The less clothes the better. It’s your skin that helps you stick to the pole so the more you have on show the better. I wore a vest top and small black shorts but the higher level girls would wear all sorts of amazing pole outfits.

2 – The poles are different sizes. I have tiny little hands and found it difficult on thicker poles. I’d always try to get a skinnier pole. If you are working on a thicker pole this will help you strengthen your grip though and that will probably pay off in the long run.

3 – You might suck. There were girls there for the first time that nailed every single move on the first go and could swing round the pole with a level of grace and elegance I’ll never be able to achieve. So what? The only person I needed to compare myself to was myself. Was I getting better? Yes. Was I getting stronger? Yes. Was I more confident? Yes.

4 – Bring a phone to take videos. Videos are a great way to record a routine so that you can practice it later. It’s also motivating to look back and see how far you’ve come.

5 – Own it. I’m really enjoying pole and so I had no problem telling all of my coworkers about it. After the first week I received this card in my tray:

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Despite the teasing (all in good humor!) I found everyone I told to be interested and supportive. You’ve got this cool new hobby and everyone should know about it!

Moral of the story?

Sign up for a pole class! After just six weeks and a total of 8 hours of training I feel stronger and more confident. I’ve tried something new and totally out of my comfort zone. I’d recommend it to anyone.