SURFER GIRLS

Sunday, 31 March 2013

I am not naturally sporty. School hockey led to two black eyes, broken braces and a rather horrible facial surgery. My netball teachers gently suggested that I "went for runs" instead of joining the lessons,  so distracting to the other girls was my lack of coordination. 

However, I'm a bit of a waterbaby. Put me in the sea, and I suddenly discover hidden core strength, balancing skills and spacial awareness. This, combined with my adoration of surfer boys, meant that surfing was always going to be the sport for me. 

I surfed for the first time when I was 13, and really caught the bug. I got my first job to pay for my first board, and used to escape from boarding school for weekends to surf in Newquay.

As we've been in Sydney, my Ma and I stole away down to Manly to catch some waves. 


After a few hours refresher lessons at Manly Surf School, we were feeling brave enough to head out on our own, so we popped in to Dripping Wet Surf Co. to rent some boards and suits. The guys there are really friendly and helpful, and kitted us out with perfect soft boards - these are perfect if you're a newbie, a bit out of practice, or fancy a less strenuous session where you're guaranteed to catch lots of waves. 


In no time we were both up on our feet!


We ended up spending a good few hours in the water, periodically crawling back onto the beach to collapse in the sun for breathers.


I'm always so happy and relaxed (if a little bruised and achey) after surfing. However, I'm also always starving.


This is something my Ma and I have in common, so after a few hours, we took back our boards and wetsuits, and headed off in search of food...


Happily, we ended up at Manly Ocean Foods, which serves up award winning fish and chips. Definitely worth a visit if you're in the area!


We settled down in the sun for an utterly delicious and thoroughly deserved supper before heading back on the ferry to central Sydney.


A totally perfect day! If you're ever knocking around Sydney, Manly Beach is a really fun, beautiful and friendly area... Definitely worth a visit!

Mona.

HOLIDAY

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Hi Kids!

I've run away on a little adventure for a couple of weeks... We've been in Singapore and are now in Australia... The beginning of the holiday has been pretty low-key.

Naturally, it started with a very public display of Kigu at Heathrow Airport (originally just for a lark, but as it turns out they are the best for long-haul flights - I never plan to set foot in a plane without one again).


And has since then consisted of high teas...


Water parks...


Family reunions...


Overdosing on tropical fruits and Vitamin D...


And playing silly beggars with our new waterproof camera.


I think my youngest brother should apply for Britain's Next Top Model, what say you?


It's been total bliss. Just what the doctor ordered.

However, we've decided that it's time to up the ante, and so tomorrow, we're going to start really exploring and going on proper adventures...

Anything I need to see/do/eat in Sydney?

Mona.

MUSICAL BINGO

Monday, 18 March 2013

Hello Creatures,

I must confess, I've always been fascinated by the idea of Bingo. I grew up in one of those teeny tiny seaside towns full of retired folks, many of whom seemed to be able to while away hours days at a time in our local Bingo Hall. My friends and I frequently questioned whether or not we were missing out on the most fun our town had ever seen... Also, as I watched a lot of Matilda in my formative years, I've been convinced for a long time that I could win a fortune like  Mrs. Wormwood, and take my family for tea at The Ritz, if only I was to partake in this noblest of games.

*image source*
After much deliberation, however, it was unanimously decided that we should wait until retirement, for fear of out-bingoing ourselves before our twilight years, and having to learn to play Bridge instead (it sounds really hard). 

So you can only imagine my delight to be invited, along with some other London bloggers, to Musical Bingo!

The game works like normal bingo. You are given cards, and have to fill in lines to win prizes. However, instead of someone calling out numbers, the cards show songs, which you have to cross off when you hear the DJ play them.

The event took place at  Concrete, underneath Pizza East in Shoreditch. Giant silver helium balloons, cafeteria-type benches and tables, and organisers in bow-ties lent the evening a bit of an eclectic feeling. A huge wheel of fortune was on the stage, along with some prizes (including, but not limited to; Wham Bars, stick-on moustaches, a £30 bar tab, an inflatable dolphin, a Crock Pot, and a bottle of Champagne).


Now, hearing the words 'music' and 'Shoreditch' in the same sentence automatically left me suspicious that I would be found flailing with an empty bingo card, not knowing any of the songs. I therefore decided to bring along my partner in crime and secret weapon for music knowledge, Deci.


Having been fed some delicious pizza from the Pizza East kitchen upstairs, it was heads down to study our bingo cards for the first round... Hang on! Derek and the Dominos? Simon and Garfunkel? I KNEW THESE SONGS! 


Before knuckling down for some serious bingo, I had the chance to chat with the other girls in our party, who included Rebecca from Runaway Kiwi, and Laura from This City Life London


As always, it was so fun to meet other bloggers! Being able to nerd out about Blogger vs. Wordpress, SEO and whether or not Google are getting rid of GFC is a luxury I'm rarely afforded with my "normal"* friends...


Once we got down to the actual game, speech was replaced by wild gesticulating (it was quite loud), and we all screamed with laughter as the winners were taken on stage to complete challenges before claiming their prizes... The most entertaining was seeing a girl get her face vajazzled, watching two suited Fulham-types rapping about the new Pope, and (slightly disturbingly) seeing some people attempting to "make love" to a song (I'm not entirely sure how this one's done. Needless to say, neither were the participants).


As we went through the rounds, the music became more fun, the players all got a little more dishevelled, and we began collaborating more with each other's bingo cards (I certainly wouldn't call it cheating - it's all about the group effort, you know). 


Felt-tip pens became microphones...


And before too long, the urge to get up and dance overcame us all!


Unfortunately, it wasn't my winning night, but nonetheless it was some of the best fun I've had in quite a while. I would definitely recommend Musical Bingo to anyone as long as they're not afraid of getting up on stage and looking a little silly! It's perfect for big groups (the biggest there was 26 people!) and was a really unique and brilliant night out. You can see there future events here. The organisers run another, quiz-based, night called Last Man Standing. I'm going to have to check that out soon, so I'll give you my feedback!


Thank you to the team at Costa Bingo for your hospitality, and for giving us gals such a treat! The perfect remedy to my traditional bingo cravings, which I think have now been staved off for a while.

Mona.

*This is obviously hugely euphemistic as I don't think that I actually know any 'normal' people.

QUADRUPLE CHOCOLATE COOKIES

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Hey Cool Cats,

Hungry?

Here's a recipe for my new favourite cookies, quadruple chocolate. They're very naughty and totally divine. I adapted the recipe from one of The Londoner's.


INGREDIENTS:

150g plain flour
100g cocoa powder
125g caster sugar
175g soft light brown sugar
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
170g salted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg & 1 yolk
100g dark chocolate (chopped)
100g milk chocolate (chopped)
100g white chocolate (chopped)

METHOD:

Preheat your oven to 170. Melt your butter on the hob. In one bowl, mix together your flour, cocoa powder, and bicarbonate of soda. In a second bowl, mix together your sugars, eggs, butter, and vanilla extract.


Pour your wet mix into your dry mix, add your chocolate, and stir with a wooden spoon as much as you can.


Now it's time to get your hands messy. When you're meeting too much resistance from your spoon, knead the mixture with your hands until it achieves that perfect cookie dough texture (the kind I like to scoff raw while watching Dirty Dancing on a rainy evening).


Roll the dough into balls and place, well spaced, onto a pre-lined baking tray. Each ball of dough should be sized so that you can hide it in your two hands.


Pop them in the oven and leave them for 18 minutes.


Take them out of the oven. They won't feel ready let, so you have to let them cool for about half an hour (this is how you get them crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside). 


After patiently waiting, gently remove the cookies from a baking tray and pop them onto a cooling rack. 



This is the perfect time to start eating them, by the way. The chocolate will still be warm and melted through. Best served with a glass of milk, and hold the guilt. It's indulgence time, and you deserve a treat every now and then.


If you haven't finished your cookies, wait until they're completely cooled and you can pop them in a Tupperware, or better yet, neatly stack them in a cellophane bag and tie it with a ribbon, and you have a delicious, pretty, homemade gift. Perfect for Mother's Day. These are for my Grandmother...


This is a pretty infallible recipe (trust me, I've been making these A LOT recently). Hope that you enjoy these as much as I do!

Mona.

A WEIGHTY ISSUE

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

I've always considered myself to have pretty healthy body image. True, I'd like it if my thighs were a little less chunky, and I'm aware of the fact that my behind jiggles a smidgen. I haven't weighed myself for years, I'm all about using how my clothes feel as a yardstick of whether I need to cut back on the cupcakes. I know that I'm by no means perfect, but I'm happy. I'm of the mindset that many, many things taste better than skinny feels. I've been in a love affair with food since I was old enough to hold a spoon, and it's lasted a lifetime. See?

Happily, my love affair with over-plucking my eyebrows was significantly more short-lived.

Sometimes, however, I'm shaken out of my weight complacency. I'm going on holiday soon, and so last week I found myself digging through my summer clothes and trying things on (preparing my packing list, BOOM for organisation).  I found my favourite pair of shorts from last summer, shimmied into them, and - shock, horror - the zip wouldn't fasten. It wouldn't even come close. Instantly I was on the phone to one of my most long-suffering friends.

M: Oh my God I've gotten so fat, my favourite favourite favourite shorts don't fit!

LSF: For God's sake, not another stupid diet? Mo, shut up. Your body is fine.

M: This isn't about my body. This is about the shorts. They're my absolute favourites. Don't you understand?!?! That's it, I'm giving up food until I fit back into them.

LSF: Riiiiiiiiight.

Three days of just porridge, fruit, and low-fat soups later, and I was climbing the walls. LSF came round to visit, and after rejecting some extremely bland chicken soup (dieting makes me a horrible hostess), LSF dragged me up to my room and found another pair of shorts that I'd been wearing last summer. At his insistance, I tried them on.

M: They FIT!

LSF: Yes.

M: Look! They really, really fit!

LSF: Yes.

M: But my diet hasn't started working yet...

LSF: Have you considered the possibility that you shrunk your favourite-favourite-favourite shorts in the wash?

M: Oh...

LSF: So this whole exercise, was, in fact, entirely pointless?

M: Oh... Shall I make some quadruple chocolate cookies?

LSF: GOD YES.

*Image via We Heart It*

So sadly, I have had to say goodbye to my favourite favourite favourite shorts from last summer (but some extremely lucky skinny minnie will have an absolute treat waiting for them in an Oxfam). However, I have welcomed fun and delicious food back into my life. A worthy trade, I feel.

Plus, it's an excuse to buy some new shorts for my upcoming holiday. How do we feel about these?

Gratefully* yours,

Mona. 

*I am grateful that I can once again chow down on a good burger.

HOUSE OF DOVE

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Hey Cool Cats,

On Thursday, the lovely folks at from Dove invited me to a wonderful night of pampering in Fitzroy Square, where a gorgeous townhouse had been transformed for the evening into the House of Dove.

I've mentioned this before, but whenever I'm invited to events like this, I always worry that it's some kind of clerical error, and that when I turn up, very glamourous and frosty ladies will exclaim "YOU! Who are you? We did not intend to invite you, get out this second!" However, after a fortifying cup of tea, and a mildly histrionic phone call to a gal-pal, who assured me that my fears were quite unlikely, I pulled myself together, popped out the door, and took a shameless selfie for prosperity's sake*. 

Bloody poser.
Upon arrival at Fitzroy Square, my destination became apparent pretty immediately. A very welcoming looking door bearing the iconic Dove logo was prettily lit up. I love the architecture in Fitzroy Square, and Number Six is a Grade I listed building, so it was a wonderful opportunity to get to have a look around!


All of my "I'm not supposed to be in here" fears were immediately dispelled as soon as I walked into the house. The organisers were amazingly friendly and welcoming, and the event was very cool, with tiny doorways I struggled to totter through in my killer heels (note to self: learn to walk in heels), mini drinks and nibbles, and an enormous chair which made me feel like I was ruling over the evening. All in all, very fun and Alice in Wonderland-sy!

Drink me? Well, if you insist...
We were served bite-sized portions of fish and chips, canapes, soups, and amazing white chocolate cake-pops with popping  candy. There were bubbles aplenty, and adorable little bottles of smoothie,sand iced tea. I felt extremely spoiled.

Happily, I managed to snatch a couple of minutes to catch up with Elle from A Bird in the Hand, one of my favourite London bloggers and a really lovely girl. Pop over to her blog if you fancy a fresh dose of wanderlust and travel envy!

 My throne.
After being talked through the new Dove products for 2013 (reviews to follow!) I had my hair tested a Dove R & D guru, which meant that they could tailor me my own hair care regime. My barnet was feeling a little lacklustre - I suppose sometimes towel-drying and then throwing on a silk headscarf just doesn't cut the mustard - but luckily uber-stylist Christian Wood was there to give me a fancy new 'do in just 60 seconds (really, they timed him).


I've never had my hair 'done' before, but I was amazed by how transformed I felt with a messy bun... I'll definitely be trying this at home.

Christian was an absolute sweetheart, and we had a natter about haircare, and his upcoming trips to Paris and Marrakech (jealous? Moi?).

The results of my sixty second makeover.
As the organisers seemed determined to spoil us even more, we were also treated to back and hand massages. Needless to say, by the time I left, giggly from champagne, and loaded down with goodies, I felt amazingly spoiled, with my knot-free hair and my knot-free back.

Vintage headscarf, earrings and rings
Jacquard top and skirt from Zara
Handbag from Chanel
Watch from Michael Kors
Shoes from Aldo
The rest of the evening was spent with friends, wine, pizza, and karaoke at the Queen's Head. Even my male pals commented (all positive!) on my hair which must indicate that Christian Wood is a bit of a superstar. They were somewhat less complimentary about my karaoke, but I suppose you can't win 'em all. 

All in all, I had a wonderful night. Thank you very much to Dove for inviting me!

Mona.

*I.E. Because my Mum wanted to know what I was wearing
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