Little Book Review: One Moment, One Morning

I must have been given this book at Christmas at least two years ago, and it has been sitting on my bookshelf waiting for it’s moment. And a last week that moment finally arrived.

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One Moment, One Morning by Sarah Rayner is a sad and moving story which follows three women over the course of a week. I really don’t want to spoil it for you, but thoroughly recommend it is added to your reading list. It’s a wonderful reflection of life and the struggles people face.

Now what to read next? I’m always looking for new recommendations, so if you have any please pop them in a comment for me!

Copenhagen

So if you know me personally or follow me on Instagram you will have seen that Jack and I recently visited Copenhagen for a couple of days. It’s a city that has been on my visit list for a couple of years and in the summer we both decide 2016 was the year for it, so we booked a stay for Autumn half-term.

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Where we stayed

When we were looking for places to stay, as usual we took a look at TripAdvisor, because all the blog posts in the world aren’t going to help me see reviews, ranking and a price comparison between over 100 hotels.

We settled on Hotel Alexandra, and stayed in their standard double room which was around £90 per night. We booked through booking.com via the Avios website, because we are busy collecting points these days in the hope to aid our future travels.

The room was a great base, not massive but comfy and a good nights sleep. The hotel hallways and lounge were beautifully put together and if you like mid century design, you’d enjoy a stay here.

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The hotel has a environmental policy, and to encourage  guests to participate they reward you with a DKK100 voucher towards the honest bar or restaurant, instead of having you room totally cleaned each day of your stay. We took advantage of that, see wine above.

Where did we eat

Day 1

We arrived around lunch so headed into the city centre to hunt some food. We did have a snoop again on Trip Advisor, as we’ve been known to eat in some dud restaurants on our travels, and we found ourselves outside Café Norden.

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O my goodness! This place was so lovely, the food was delicious. It wasn’t super obvious if you could just grab a table, so initally we hovered downstairs, so if you go, head upstairs – it’s massive – and grab a table and then order at the bar. They have english menus behind the bar so ask if you want one, it made ordering much much easier!

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The vegetarian triple burger and the Smørrebrød

People did warn us: Copehagen is expensive to eat out. To give you an idea, my triple veggie burger and Jack’s open sandwich platter (Smørrebrød) were just over £20 each. So be prepared before you go!

For dinner I had booked an early table (6:30pm) at Almanak, as I had read some good reviews before we’d set off on our trip. It is a beautiful setting and just around the corner from the gorgeous Nyhavn canel, so I would recommend a lunchtime visit so you can visit both.

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Day 2

We didn’t choose to have breakfast included at the hotel, so that we would be forced to get out and explore. Thankfully there a lot of bakeries in Copehagen and a short walk from our hotel we found Lagkagehuset, which is a prolific chain which you can find throughout the city.

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Mid morning we had been walking for two hours or so and got pretty peckish so snuck into the Lounge area of Hotel Guldsmeden Babette, for a cup of tea and half a panini each. It was a really lovely space, sofa, rugs, books, candles.

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Hotel Guldsmeden Babette

Lunch was our most low key of the trip, at Friends & Brgrs, which was actually way better than I thought it would be from street level. I have no idea when or how the deal works but when we were there on the Thursday it was 2 for 1, so best value meal of the three days. Also Chipotle Mayo…

Dinner that evening was pizza at a restaurant recommended by our hotel, which was just a street away: The Italian. It was a good pizza for each of us, if you are after an easy meal this was it. Walking distance back to our hotel won, after a day of lots and lots of walking.

Day 3

O my goodness the rain on our third day in Copenhagen was epic. We scurried to the 2nd best bakery in the city: Andersen Bakery. No, I’ve no idea what the pastries I had were, but they were delicious.

Something to note is that you need to get a table before you can order in. So if you want to sit in, go grab a seat and then go up to order.

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Lunch was in a museum, yes you read that right. As I said, it was raining a lot on the Friday so we hid in the National Gallery of Denmark for most of our final afternoon. The café there is at the back in a massive modern extension, which had a gorgeous view out over the surroundings.

National Gallery of Denmark
Snap taken the day before, in the winter sunshine.

We had left our bags at the hotel, as checkout was at 11am, so on our wander back, once the rain had slowed we walked the long way back a snuck in one last pastry. One of my recommendations for anyone visiting the city would be to visit Torvehallerne, which is an awesome indoor market. One half is more of a food shopping market with delicatessens and butchers etc. and the other is brimming with lovely cafe’s a tiny eateries.

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Torvehallerne

Inside we stopped at Laura’s Bakery. 1. because my name’s Laura so… and 2. see the photo below.screen-shot-2016-11-21-at-20-30-58

Seriously good pastries!

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This was our last morsel before heading to the airport in plenty of time. Yes, we did have dinner at the airport and yes it was good, but I draw the line a meal photography, and that didn’t pass.

Now. You could mistakenly assume that we just sat around in various restaurants and cafés and saw very little of the city. But you would be wrong. We walked around the city a lot. On our sunny Thursday we clocked up 16miles of walking.

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Amalienborg

I recommend packing your comfiest sneakers and going for a walk. So many of the streets are cobbled, or paved that sensible shoes are a must.

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Storkespringvandet with Café Norden behind

 

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Inderhavnbroen with a view over to Almanak

We had an awesome couple of days, I do wish I has packed a bigger brolly (which I lost whilst there) and I am glad I took full winter garb, mitten and all. We didn’t hit up Tivoli Gardens whilst we were there, Jack doesn’t like theme parks and I don’t like going on rides alone, but it look amazing, so if you are keen definitely give it a go!

We’re off to Bruges in Belgium next, for a little Christmas market/8 year anniversary weekend before Christmas, so if you have any recommendations for us I am all ears!

Kew Gardens

Autumn. I bloomin’ love it. I know I’ve mentioned that before.

I love the changing leaves. Apparently I love travelling into central London to see some changing of the leaves. Because last Monday that’s what we did, and it was such a lovely afternoon, wandering around Kew gardens.

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Green house goals! The Palm House was amazing! You can climb up to a raised level to look over the palms. I married a scaredy-cat so we stayed on the ground.
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Obligatory selfie
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Geese
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Awesome autumn colours
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These giant lily pads were beautiful. Felt a bit sorry for some of them! People had been throwing coins in, and some of them had tears in them. People are weird.
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No but seriously look at those colours
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Persistent drake
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The Hive

The Hive was pretty cool. I imagine it is at it’s best when the meadow flowers are in bloom.

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Inside the Hive.

Some things to note:

Take the free map, you will need it, it’s a big old space, with lots of different areas to explore.

The amazing Evolution House is currently closed for a massive restoration project and will remain closed until 2018. It is the largest surviving victorian glasshouse and the restoration project (if completed on time) will take five years in total.  It was a shame not be able to look around this awesome building but I guess we will just have to go back.

You can picnic here. You do not need to buy lunch on site. We didn’t plan ahead and spent over £20 on some sandwich and drinks. Learn from my mistake folks.

I’d love to visit again in spring to see the blooms start. If you get the chance I’d totally recommend a wander around, there are loads of details about how, when, where and how much on the Kew website.

Do you have any recommendation for UK spots I should check out? Are you a garden wanderer or a national trust fan?

Jamie Lawson At the Dome

One of the two gig tickets I bought for us for my gift to Jack for year one of marriage (paper) was to see Jamie Lawson at Brighton Dome.

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I really enjoyed our evening. I don’t know that Jack would necessarily choose it as a gig of choice, as we described the audience as a mix of Radio 2 listeners, us included.

I’ll admit it, I’d really only heard his single ‘Wasn’t expecting that’ before I booked the tickets, but I really enjoyed his other material, especially some of the new songs that are potentially coming out on his next album.

Have you been to see anyone recently? Got any recommendations for my ‘to listen to’ list?

Blood Blood Glorious Blood

Tonight I am am donating my 18th pint of the red stuff and I will probably continue to be preachy about being a donor for many pints more.

If you’ve never thought about being a donor, then maybe now is the time. Heck make a note and sign up now ready for a new year’s resolution! (Sorry! I know it’s only October.)

So why give blood?

Loads of people already give blood, so why do new people need to sign up? Some donors can’t continue to give, if for example they had to have a blood transfusion themselves.

Also, you might have a rare blood type, and those are hard to come by! Not all blood can go to all people, variety is the spice of life, but also means a variety of donors are needed.

Have a read of more persuasive info here on the Blood.co.uk website.

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So who can give blood?

If you’ve not donated because you’re not sure if you can there is lots of information about who can here on the Blood.co.uk website. A quick overview:

Most people can give blood. You can give blood if you:

  • are fit and healthy
  • weigh over 7 stone 12 lbs or 50kg
  • are aged between 17 and 66 (or 70 if you have given blood before)
  • are over 70 and have given blood in the last two years

Men can give blood every 3 months and women can give blood every 4 months.

If you are wondering about the 3 vs 4 months, I think it’s related to the speed with which women regenerate blood, but don’t quote me on that. Google it.

What’s the donation process like?

Now, the actual donation, is a you might expect: a needle in your arm for a while, whilst you lie back and count ceiling tiles.

The overall process is a little longer, and it’s important to remember that the staff are doing their best and it’s a great thing to do. The sessions I have been to in the last near decade have always been fully booked and running around 20 minutes late.

  • Register online and book an appointment. Don’t just show up. They want you, but they won’t have space on the night.
  • You’ll get a form sent to you in the post about your current health, and recent travel. Try to fill this in before you get these and have it ready to hand in. Makes things much quicker.
  • Drink lots of water and do not skip meals on the day of your donation.
  • Take a book or a mag. There might be some there, but there are no guarantees you’ll find one you want to read.
  • Have a biscuit and a drink after. They are free, and will help you on your way home. No one wants you feeling faint!
  • Book another appointment before you leave!

There is way way more information about what happens, the health screening, after your donation and what lovely donor card you’ll receive on the website here.

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If you needed any more convincing, your blood could be like mine, which is given to premature babies.

 

If you have any questions at all about donating, I’m not a nurse and my own experience is only as a donor but I’d be happy to answer.

A little review: The Girl on the Train

So on Sunday we took our very first trip to the Duke of York picturehouse, which in case you are interested currently (according to wikipedia) “lays claim to being the oldest cinema in continuous use in Britain.”

I’ll just skip quickly past the awkward moments when several different people thought I worked there and asked me to check the tickets as I waited for Jack to buy a coffee, and get right to the film.

Yes, I did read the book. Devoured it. I was totally gripped!

Spoiler: I also enjoyed the film.

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You can watch the trailer here.

I don’t want to ruin the plot, because I do think you should go and watch it for yourself. I’ve heard others say they didn’t like the flow, or that it was set in the USA and on the USA point I still agree, I think I would’ve enjoyed it more if it was in the same setting as it was in my mind, i.e. the UK.

There were bits when the entire sold-out audience were noticeably on edge. There were collective gasps and shudders, which I think is testament to it being a good watch.

Shortest least informative review over. Go and watch it. If you want.

Have you seen it? If so, what did you think?

29

Last week I turned 29! It’s an odd mix of being aware I’m still super early on in life and also a growing sense of ‘don’t leave things late’.

This year my birthday fell on a Tuesday, so I had day at work with my new team and they were lovely. They club in and gave me an awesome Vitamin E set from The Body Shop, which I have been using daily since. We also went for a team lunch at The Prince George, which was YUM as always!

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Jack’s birthday is the same week, so on Friday night we took ourselves to 64 Degrees for a birthday dinner. It didn’t quite meet my expectations of a restaurant ranked #10 of 815 restaurants in Brighton. I was pretty disappointed not to be sat at the bar, where you watch the chefs work, but was told they set people there who request it on their booking! Had I known that I probably would’ve mentioned it when I booked back in July… Tip for you all there. I also suffered from assuming I would be next to a kitchen and was in fact next to an open door, on one of the first chilly evenings of September.

Food wise, I would go again, but I would probably go on a week night, to avoid birthday parties and hen dos.

On Saturday, we had some drinks with our friends at the Northern lights and then went dancing at Casablanca, where the band was awesome (Black Velvet) and we danced til 2:30am, I think… I wouldn’t have described myself as coherent at that stage.

I’ll probably avoid drinking that much for a little while. 6am on Sunday I thought I was dying.

Autumn is approaching

I can’t wait.

Please, I know, you hate me a bit for wishing away summer. But try to understand.

September means

  • My birthday and frankly that’s something you should all be looking forward to!
  • Jack’s Birthday. I’m biased, but he’s awesome.
  • And this year we are going to BBC Radio 2 live in Hyde Park. I’m pretty darn excited about seeing Elton John, Madness, Gregory Porter and Travis and more.
Madness! Cannot wait, after seeing their set at Glastonbury on the box!
Madness! Cannot wait, after seeing their set at Glastonbury on the box!

October means

  • Boots, jumpers and scarves! Bring on the knitwear and the layers.
  • Sunday Roasts. I like salads, but really not as much as a veggie roast on a chilly day!
  • Seeing Jamie Lawson (again, he’ll be at BBC Radio 2 Live)
  • Halloween. What’s not to love? (unless you believe it’s related to worshipping satan, which I don’t)
Last year's carving effort
Last year’s carving effort

November means

  • Seeing Bears Den
  • A trip to Denmark; we’ve booked such a gorgeous hotel!
This is the lobby - I might never want to leave...
This is the lobby – I might never want to leave…
  • Bonfire night. I love fireworks. More than I probably should, the environmentalist part of me screams “This is wasteful!”, but a stronger part stares in complete awe.
This year we're hoping to go to the Sussex Cricket Firework's evening
This year we’re hoping to go to the Sussex Cricket Firework’s evening

 

Don’t get me wrong, summer is great, but once my holiday is out of the way, and I am watching other people enjoy it whilst I work, I could happily skip to layers and falling leaves.

Are you an Autumn lover, or are you clinging on to the last few weeks of Summer?

A little review: The Set

We just celebrated our first wedding anniversary and booked a table at The Set, which is based within The Artist Residence. It fell on a Monday night, so I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of busy-ness, and I have to say it had great atmosphere.

We were seated away from the kitchen, though some other couples were at the bar-like tables overlooking the chefs at work. Usually I’d be interested in that too, but it was pretty darn hot on Monday evening!

The way the menus work at The Set is, as you might have guessed, a selection of set menus detailing four courses in each. Being veggie I didn’t read my option in detail but simply went with the veg option of Menu 2. You can, I believe switch out the odd course if you are a fish eater.

The eating kicked off with an amuse-bouche, meat option: chicken nugget with homemade ketchup and a deconstructed caesar salad; veggie option was (if I recall) a sweetcorn croquet with homemade ketchup and a green tomato and sweetcorn salad. They gave us a hint of what was to come, and there is no photo because they disappeared almost immediately.

Next was a starter of peas, radishes and some sort of delicious garlic sauce, which we both agreed was an amazing dish and happily demolished.

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Starter: Pea, radish, hummus, apricot

 

Then we were brought what I am going to refer to as our first main courses. Jack had…

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Mackerel, summer squash, pig cheek

For my main I had…

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Carrot, egg yolk, cornichon, mustard

Now, I did enjoy my first main,  but the yolk part I didn’t love. I am solidly a cooked yolk person.

Then for our second mains Jack had…

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Lamb, BBQ, sweetcorn, green tomato

And I had…

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Courgette, Caesar, preserved lemon, parmesan

Now I am not even that much of a courgette fan, but I loved this dish, it tasted amazing and the balance of flavours really worked! Good work guys!

Puddings for our chosen set menus were not my normal chocolate fest and certainly looked unusual, with mine featuring cucumber. But they too were delicious.

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Peach, elderflower, honey, whey

 

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Cereal milk, spelt granola, milk ice cream

And then, as it was our anniversary the kitchen sent out a third dessert for us to try. Wow. I am so glad we got to taste this. It’s my idea of food heaven!

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Raspberry, milk chocolate, sorrel, cocoa nib

 

All in all it was an amazing meal and The Set had a wonderfully relaxed feel about it for a place serving up such scrumptious dishes. I’m sad that we haven’t visited sooner, as it’s only about a 5 minute walk from us and has been open for over a year now. “When can we go again?” is my next question!

Have you been to The Set, or have any recommendations for me?

Redundancy

It really is about as much fun as it sounds. Once I was around my third week of job hunting and spending the majority of my days motivating myself I had gained a little more understanding of how hard it can be.

It’s a big change to go from seeing your little team of colleagues everyday, and having a set routine, to having the freedom and challenge to plan it all.

I was very fortunate so as my family and in-laws were super lovely in keeping me busy with weekly invitations to do things, such as visiting the South of England Show.

I knew I would find it harder to find work than my developer colleagues. Their skills are in demand in Brighton and all three found new jobs in the first few weeks. The Admin side of things is much more competitive, as there are lots of talented people with transferable admin skills. I was sensible and spent each day checking jobs boards for roles that interest me, I also accepted all advice and suggestions made to me. I wanted to be in work. I wanted to be useful.

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Upside of being frugal and having free time: enjoying more of Brighton’s parks.

One of the the things that I had found frustrating was the suggestion to ‘sign on’. I didn’t want to claim Job Seekers Allowance if I could possibly help it, I had some savings – yes they were for a trip we are planning for next spring to the USA but that could wait. I feel that benefits should go to those who need them, not people like me, who should have been able to manage. But my savings were small, and new, and not the recommended three months worth of bills and mortgage payments I’ve now read as the right amount to always have set aside.

Past Laura was frivolous with money and I am quite frustrated with her.

Future financial plans include learning from my past mistake and setting aside a emergency fund, to help if I or Jack is ever in a similar position again, though I really hope not!

The good news is: I have just started a new job at Liquid Light, so wish me luck!

What advice would I give to you, myself or anyone who wants some:

  • Have some savings for emergencies
  • Try to set yourself a routine – you will get back to work and you don’t want it to be a shock.
  • Set yourself goals for applications, even if it’s just one or two per day.
  • Vary your search terms and read the job details thoroughly, there might be exactly what you are looking for, just under a slightly different job title.
  • Accept help: if someone wants to recommend you, say yes. If someone wants to pass on your details, say yes.
  • Know your rights and apply for what you are owed as soon as possible.

The process of getting redundancy compensation via National Insurance in hindsight was quite quick, but waiting for the initial payment was painful and I am glad I had my savings to fall back on.

Have you been unemployed before? How did you find it? What advice would you give someone?