Things that made me smile this week

30 October 2015

Friday is here and another working week is nearly over. Wonderful! I'm finding that the days are flying by at the moment, and I just don't seem to have enough time to do all the things that I want to do. I know that I'm guilty of trying to pack in too much into my life, but I guess it's just the way I am. I have things to do, people I want to see, activities to try and places to visit. Not to mention throwing in the daily workout too.

Halloween is nearly here and I'm looking forward to a night out with some of my favourite girls tomorrow. The plan is that there's no real plan. All we've decided is that people are coming to mine to get ready and don some fake blood and costumes, drink some Haribo vodka (which I've brewed myself because I'm that organised), play some games, head into town, see where the night takes us and probably laugh and dance ourselves silly. Those are the best sort of nights I think.

It's been a busy week and it's good to reflect on the things that make us smile so that we can feel grateful and appreciate what we have. Even though it's raining, I'm feeling good. I donned the hood this morning and got on my way to work with a spring in my step. So as the rain hammers down outside, here's a list of the things that have made me smile.

1. I came home from work on Wednesday and my housemates had bought me a present - a balloon version of Max. There had been someone selling them in town, and this balloon honestly was identical to my boy. They bought it just because they knew I'd love it. Max obviously hated it (of course). You may have even spotted the balloon on the episode of The Apprentice that was on the same night!

2. One of my colleagues works in France and we Skype for most of the day when we're working. She's got the same sense of humour as I do and we just laugh and laugh and laugh. My latest thing to do is to recite the rudest rap songs to her in a dramatic effect. It's ridiculous but makes the day that little bit sweeter.

3. On Monday, I went to see the new Bond film, Spectre with my housemate. Anyone who knows me will know that I love James Bond, and I particularly love Daniel Craig. I'd booked us into the first showing that you could get to in Bournemouth or Poole, grabbed the biggest load of popcorn I could find and settled down to watch the show. I don't think you can compare Spectre with the success of Skyfall as they're two different films, but I absolutely loved it. And seeing Daniel Craig is always going to make me smile.

4. I put up a new cover (finally!). I've been singing a lot of jazz recently in preparation for a concert I'm singing in in December, so decided to sing a bit of Fever by Peggy Lee. It's always lovely to hear people's lovely feedback on my singing so thank you. You can listen to it below:

Have a fabulous Friday!

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Training Log

26 October 2015

It feels like a while since I've put up a training log, but having a broken wrist for a month eliminated the majority of my training, apart from running and training for the marathon. 'A broken wrist doesn't stop you running' so my Dad says. But the cast is off and I'm back training now, and wow did I miss it! I've been monitoring how my wrist feels because naturally, it's going to be a little weaker. But so far, so good. Something that I really enjoyed was the visit back to my local Crossfit by my parents, Crossfit 13. I'm not often back at my parents for long enough to get to a session, but I made sure I was free and was there bright and early, ready to beast it. It felt nice to have my name back up on the board.

Monday 19th October
Off training

Tuesday 20th October
3 mile run

Wednesday 21st October
6 x 12 lat pulls @ 40kg
6 x 12 leg curl @ 65kg
6 x 12 leg press @ 110kg
6 x 10 deadlift @ 70kg
6 x 10 push press @ 40kg
6 x 10 front squats @ 50kg

Thursday 22nd October
Off training

Friday 23rd October
Off training

Saturday 24th October
3 mile run

Sunday 25th October
As many reps as possible in 2 mins:
burpee broad jumps
double unders
WOD x 4
15 x deadlifts @ 70kg
25 x pushups
120 double unders

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The Autumn Tag

24 October 2015

Autumn is well and truly here. It's dark when I wake up for work in the morning now, I've started donning the thicker jumpers and tights, and the number of hot drinks I'm consuming throughout the day is rising to a ridiculous amount. I'm at my parents at the moment and I've already got the fire burning away, and all of the animals are lying in front of it warming their paws. Yes, Autumn is definitely here. 

I really enjoy Autumn, purely because it's the run up to Christmas and generally, I love the cosy months of keeping warm and snuggling on the sofa under a blanket. I've lots to look forward to over the next few weeks too, so I'm hoping Autumn continues to be good to me.

1. Ok - coffee's - what's your favourite seasonal drink from Starbucks/Costa/Cafe Nero etc?  
I must be the only blogger in the world who doesn't choose a Pumpkin Spiced Latte. Not for me thank you. I'd rather go for a Chai Latte or when November arrives, you'll catch me with an Egg Nog Latte in my hands.

2. Accessories - what do you opt for? Scarf, boots, gloves etc.
I've always got some form of tartan scarf on me, usually my family's tartan as we're a Scottish clan. I always invest in new boots from Russell and Bromley too as they are worth every penny.

3. Music - what's your favourite music to listen to during Autumn?
This doesn't really change from any other month, although I can feel the excitement for Christmas music brewing up inside me come November. At the moment, I'm loving Zara Larsson.

4. Perfume - what's your favourite scent for this time of year?
I usually wear Chanel all year round, but I have been switching between Jo Malone and La Perla at the moment. 

5. Candles - what scents will you be burning this season?
I went a bit mad with candles recently and bought absolutely loads - a bit of a candle binge shall we say. I've been burning a variety of Parks London candles, along with my favourite Spiced Apple & Mulled Wine scents. I'm also not ashamed to say that I've been burning a Christmas Tree candle too. It's just the freshest yet cosiest fragrance for any room of the house!

6. What do you love most about Autumn?
I'm probably in the minority here but I love the nights getting darker and wrapping up warm, walking Max along the beach and then getting home, running a bath, cooking a nice warming dinner and finishing up the evening with a hot chocolate. I also find that I train at the gym extra hard in the darker months because I'm not as distracted with hot weather in the Summer. Another thing that I love about Autumn is the changing colours. It still amazes me how trees can go from bright green, to red, pink, orange and yellow all at one time.

7. Favourite makeup look?
I'm all about the dark lips. I look forward to Autumn purely for the change in lipstick colours! As soon as the first leaf had dropped on the floor, I had MAC Rebel out again and was painting it firmly on my lips. I also go for more of a smoky eye rather than my usual rose gold that I wear in the Summer.
8. What are you looking forward to most in Autumn?
I guess just the transition of the weather and getting ready for Christmas. I'm heading to Dubai in a few weeks too so it will be nice to leave the chill of the bitter wind behind for a couple of days and soak up some much needed sun. 

Let me know if you do this tag! Have a wonderful Saturday.

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Barkbeats Dog Box

18 October 2015

It's been a while since I've done a subscription box. 2011, they were all the rage but in my opinion, the popularity has dwindled a bit. Is it down to value for money? Are you getting to try things of actual interest? I think it's a mixture of both. 

However, when Barkbeats asked if Max was interested in trying out their pet subscription box, I was suddenly all ears. A subscription box for dogs? What a fantastic idea! 

When the box arrived in the post, Max and his housemate Cooper were very aware that there was something potentially for them in it. I spent the whole evening keeping them in suspense whilst cooking and eating dinner, and then the moment came. The unboxing. Max being a Jack Russell is incredibly alert. He responds to every word I say and I like to think that he understands every word too (we know this isn't true, but I like to believe it.) He was spinning around in excitement and jumping up and down, so he definitely knew this box was for him. It would have been unfair to leave Cooper out in this special treat, so I invited him to be involved too. Cooper is a French Bulldog, and they're notoriously stubborn and a tad lazy, yet this box had him more excited than I'd seen him in weeks. I hadn't even opened the box and they were full of beans, so the contents had to be good.
On first glance, the sturdy cardboard box and logo look great and once you open the box, BB themed tissue greets you. The dogs were getting even more excited at this point. 

So what was inside?

Humungastache - A durable chew toy in the shape of a moustache, so that when the dog chews the toy, it looks like they have a moustache - genius!

Kong Air Dog Ball - Not your average tennis ball, Kong toys are durable and do not damage your dogs teeth, whilst lasting a lot longer. Max went mad for this! I've bought him many Kong toys over the years and he just loves them.

Soopa Sweet Potato Treats - I try to give Max only natural treats, and at first he was a bit unsure of these treats, but Cooper happily gnawed into them. Unsurprisingly, not wanting to be left out, Max swiftly joined in with the eating. Definitely a great healthy option!

Barks and Sparks Croissants - Pastries for dogs..who knew! I saved these for Max and Coopers breakfasts and believe me, they didn't last long. What a treat.

Feelwells Training Treats - I was glad to see something like this in the box. I take training treats everywhere I go as they're great on dog walks and are usually low in calories. 

To sum up, I had two very happy and rather impressed pooches. My housemate was also impressed and has made the decision to purchase one as a Christmas present for her parents dog, and I think I will do the same for mine also. All Barkbeats boxes are sent m
onthly, and retail at £19.99. When you consider that some toys in Pets at Home are around £10, not to mention novelty treats like croissants, it's not bad value for money and is definitely a perfect way to spoil your dog.

Max and Cooper give it a massive paws up!

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Family Weekend

14 October 2015

I hadn't been back to my family home since May, which is probably my longest stint ever of not being able to visit where I grew up. Seeing as the trip was so overdue, I hopped in the car with little Max next to me and made the journey home.

One of my reasons for heading back to my parents was to meet our new family puppy, Carlos. In July, our darling Buzz had to be put to sleep after a year of suffering with heart failure, and after a few months of grieving, we were all ready to bring home a new Jack Russell to become a member of our family. Last Thursday, my parents drove up to Derby to pick up little pickle, and he was thus named Carlos. Already he's been terrorising the cat and Max certainly had his work cut out - I'm not sure he expected to have a puppy hanging off his ear all weekend!

On the Saturday morning, I went with my mum to help feed our chickens and ducks, and collect the eggs. My parents love keeping chickens and ducks, and they primarily re-home chickens that have lived their lives as battery hens, stood in a coop with no room to move and made to produce eggs at a ridiculous rate. When the chickens arrive, they have no feathers due to the way that they were previously treated, but these grow back with a lot of love and a good diet. It's nice to think that the family hens or 'the girls' as they're known have been given a second chance and are now happy and clucking hens.

Max is more than happy to come into the area where we keep the chickens. He's not bothered by them at all, and he just sniffs around whilst we feed them and checks that all is ok, much like a little Jack Russell security guard. I'm sure that if he realised that chickens are actually one of his favourite things to eat, he would be chasing after them rather quickly, but fortunately that isn't the case.

After sorting the chickens and ducks, my mum and I had a wonderful shopping trip and enjoyed an evening at the pub with old friends, which finished with us going to bed at around 2am after a few too many glasses of wine.

It was a gorgeous weekend and I was so happy to see my parents, brother and the multitude of animals in our family. I mean, who can say no to this little one?

Welcome to the family Carlos!

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2 medals in 2 weeks

9 October 2015

Some weekends are quiet. Some are busy. My last two weekends have been something else.

It's fair to say that my body has taken quite a battering in these two weeks. A fractured wrist, cracked ribs, two mega infections, damaged tissue in my foot and cuts and bruises the size of my head all over my body.

I'm still finding the words when it comes to my recent achievements. This year, I have been focusing on state of mind. It's about telling yourself you can do something, even when you think you can't. It's about believing in yourself when others don't. It's about trusting your instincts, even if it's scary. And more than anything, it's about getting your head in the game. Clearing your mind of everything and focusing on the task ahead, whatever it may be.

Having a bit of fear is good. It's healthy I think. Having that something giving us an adrenaline rush and tests us is only going to make us stronger. I live for that feeling. Hell, I get a wave of fear every time I add a tiny bit more weight onto the barbell when trying to PB my snatch, or when I push myself to run that extra half a mile, even though my body feels like it's going to keel over. These are good feelings, and knowing you've smashed through the fear is a feeling I will always enjoy.

Climbing over the last 10ft wall before jumping the fire at the end of Spartan was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. Spartan had always been something I wanted to do, and being a member of the crew made me want it even more. You have to be physically fit to do Spartan. It promotes fitness and strength, and without those, you won't succeed. Fortunately, being the gym bunny I am, I was in good stead. It was hard. Very hard. I was soaked through from swimming through multiple freezing cold lakes and rivers, had more mud on and in my body than you would believe is possible and a completely battered torso. As soon as I had landed on the floor and saw the finish line, I felt the tears bubble up. 'You've achieved what you set out to do, and you smashed it Tamsin.' I had run the race on my own, not knowing anyone, and finished with people I'd met along the way who had started calling me 'the little 5ft feisty one who won't stop laughing and singing'. That was my tactic. Laugh, sing, spur people on and focus. And that's what I did.

A grown man slipped at one point, fell and landed on me, and even though I didn't realise at the time, actually fractured my left wrist and cracked a rib. At the time, I just said 'you ok mate? I got you!' and started helping him back up. Because that's what this race is about. Togetherness. It didn't stop me finishing.

2 weeks later, and I'm at the start line of the Bournemouth Half Marathon, with that fearful feeling and wanting to get the job done. Running, as you know, is an ongoing challenge for me with the London Marathon being the goal in April. I don't remember much of this race if I'm honest. It's all blurred in my memory. I won't lie - if I hadn't had a fractured wrist and a battered body, I probably would have been more hyped about the race, although a friend of mine saw me at the start line and said I was jumping up and down excitedly so maybe I was subconsciously looking forward to it.

4.5 miles into the half marathon, I lost all feeling in my right foot. I burst into tears, as I'm not one to be defeated, but at the time, I thought maybe I wouldn't be able to do it. I had my phone on me so rang my parents who were obviously quite surprised that I had called them. My dad quickly told me that I can do anything I want to do and they were waiting for me along the course. I couldn't get the feeling in my right foot back whatever I did, so in a last effort, I took off my compression socks and ran with them in my hands wondering if that would help. It didn't. Knowing full well I would gain some blisters, I tried to take it a mile at a time with a completely numb right foot. At mile 8, the Red Cross pulled me into first aid to check my foot out because they could see I was crying. They asked if I wanted to pull out.

'What? Are you having a laugh?' 

I put my socks back on and tried to make up some major lost time from being stopped by first aid. At mile 9, I saw my parents waiting for me. I burst into tears and explained I still couldn't feel my right foot but I needed to finish. My dad then said 'Well I will run the last few miles with you. It's a free country and they can't stop me.' Before I knew it, my dad was running along Bournemouth Beach with me, acting as a coach. 'Run 4 more lamp posts. And now another 4. And another 4.' I still couldn't feel my foot but I was carrying on with my dad next to me.

When I got to Bournemouth Pier, they wouldn't let my dad run any further. I just remember him shouting 'you've got this Tamsin. You've never let anything or anyone stop you. OFF YOU GO.' Running around Bournemouth Pier, I was mainly just glad that it would be over shortly. I passed people cheering and suddenly I saw the finish. I spotted my mum in the crowd but didn't make eye contact with her. I only wanted eye contact with the finish line.

Without me even realising, I managed to make my body sprint the last 200 metres. It felt like the fastest I've ever run and I just wanted to get over the finish line. I remember people cheering and I heard the commentator shout my name. I then saw my housemate and friends at the finish jumping up and down in support. And then I saw my dad waiting for me.

I crossed the finish line and burst into hysterical tears. What the hell had just happened? Had I really just run 9 miles with a completely numb foot? I took off my trainers and walked round with my dad to get my medal, sobbing and sobbing. I couldn't help but feel disappointed. When you train for something and it doesn't go to plan, it is massively gutting. But as soon as they put the medal round my neck, I realised that I'd still completed a half marathon. There will be many more half marathons before the London Marathon, and every half marathon from now will be quicker, so I shouldn't be disappointed at all. I swiftly drank a bottle of champagne with my family as we waited for my numb foot to return to normality.

Apparently, tissue damage was the culprit to my numb foot. This will get better, as will my fractured wrist, ribs, infection and the cuts and bruises. They're just temporary details. Having had time to think about what I achieved in two weeks, I'm quite overwhelmed. I knew I was a strong person, physically and mentally, but I managed to get through challenges that are meant to test us in every way.

My mum said to me after I finished the half marathon, 'All you wanted to be when you were growing up was a fighter. You wanted to be a Gladiator. You never wanted to be beaten. And look at you now. You were not beaten. You are a Gladiator.'

I'm already getting ready for my next OCR challenges and half marathons. This is just the beginning.

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Beverly Hills Formula Perfect White Gold

7 October 2015

Lets face it. Toothpaste isn't massively exciting.

It's an essential and one of those things that you usually pick up cheap when it's on offer for the majority of people. However, I've been trying to find different ways to keep my smile fresh and white without having to fork out the expense for teeth whitening. I first came across Beverly Hills Formula about five years ago. It was actually the brand name that pulled me in - there was something exciting about it being linked to the land of glamour. I tried out their original whitening toothpaste and loved it, but found it very difficult to find in the shops. However, I'm glad to see that you can now seem to find Beverly Hills Formula in most good drugstores.

I've recently been putting to the test their new White Gold toothpaste. A gold toothpaste - what could be more Beverly Hills? Gold apparently has elements that helps to bring down inflammatory problems around the gums, whilst helping to remove stains, improving blood flow and brighten your pearly whites. The toothpaste itself has gold glittered specks in it, which suits this glitter loving missus! Taste wise, mint is mint isn't it? As long as I leave the house in the morning feeling fresh then my toothpaste is doing its job.

But does it whiten my teeth? I honestly believe that Beverly Hills toothpastes whiten better than any other toothpastes there are on the market. The price is a little bit more than your average toothpaste at £5.49, but you get what you pay for and if my teeth are looking more sparkly and white than normal, then all credit goes to this toothpaste.

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*PR Sample

An Afternoon in Winchester

4 October 2015

Winchester is only 40 minutes away from me, and I'm truly grateful for that. It's one of my favourite cities, and I am always sucked in by the history, architecture and atmosphere. Really, I should make an effort to go more often as I just love it. When deciding where to catch up with a dear friend of mine from university, we decided Winchester would be the perfect place with it being half way for both of us.

I met Maddie in the centre of the city and we headed straight for yummy pizza joint, The Stable. The mixture of stone-baked pizza and ciders are the perfect mixture for any catchup with friends. We both went for a goats cheese and vegetable soiree, and chatted for ages about our lives, work and relationships. It was just wonderful.

Maddie was my singing partner in crime at university. She studied Music with me, and in my ensemble module, she sung with me as my partner - something which I loved very much. She was also in my choir and shares my love for all things choral music. As soon as we'd finished eating, we hopped across the road to Winchester Cathedral to continue being the music geeks that we are and do the tower tour of the cathedral. Winchester Cathedral is one of the most beautiful and important cathedrals in the country. Once upon a time, Winchester was the capital of the UK, and so the cathedral played a massive part to peoples lives. I've sung here many times, but never had the opportunity to explore the tower, so I was really excited.

We trekked up the 200+ steps to the bell tower, and were lucky enough to hear the clock striking whilst we were up there. The cathedral roof is the old wood design from hundreds of years ago and you truly felt like you were standing on piles of dusts from decades previous. It's quite an extraordinary feeling. We then climbed even more stairs (which got smaller and smaller as we went) and finally got to the roof of the tower. The views were incredible and you could see for miles in every direction.

After me falling down a hole that we had been told to watch out for (cue Maddie laughing in hysterics), we made our way back down all of the stairs to the nave of the cathedral. A quick drink and cake stop was in order before settling down for Evensong. We happened to be there on quite an important day, so the music being sung by the choir was absolutely amazing. I feel very grateful to be a chorister and appreciate such wonderful church music.

The service finished, and Maddie and I had huge hugs and went our separate ways. A mixture of food, drink, history and music - it was truly the perfect catchup.

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P1 Superstock Bournemouth

3 October 2015

One of the things that I love about blogging, is that I have had the opportunity to try a number of products and experiences that I may not have even thought about before.

This post is one of those opportunities.

I knew about P1 Superstock, but had never really followed it. Mega streamlined boats going super, super fast? It's right up my street. Like F1 on water. Hell yes! The P1 Superstock championships move around the country to different waters, and it arrived in Bournemouth for the season finale. Donned with a variety of different sponsors and logos, the boats are sleek, brightly coloured and incredibly impressive. Lycamobile invited me down to Poole Harbour to check out the boats before the races over the weekend, and try out one of the boats for myself.

Typically, on the day that I was there, the weather was particularly windy, resulting in the sea being rather choppy. One thing to note about these boats is that they are built for speed. They are designed to travel fast..I mean really fast, and the better the weather means the better the ride. However, the team were positive that I'd be able to get out on one of the boats.

We watched one of the boats be launched into the water from one of the biggest cranes I've ever seen, and checked out all the different boats that would be racing. I did my part for the Welsh tourist board of course!

Finally, our time to try out the boat was here. I was actually quite nervous as I know how fast 70mph is in a car, let alone on water. Helmets and buoyancy aid on, we got into a very wet boat. Signs of what was to come? I think so. The drivers were amazing and warned us that they weren't sure how fast we could go because the weather was getting progressively worse, but I didn't mind. It was just great to get an idea of the boats and how they are when you're in them.

We steered out of the harbour and starting picking up speed past Brownsea Island and Swanage Ferry. To say that it was choppy is an understatement. I was flying all over the place, laughing as I went, and the drivers were saying that visibility was insanely bad. We weren't out for long, and soon turned around as they said it was just too dangerous to continue. I didn't mind. I was already soaked and had spent a lot of time flying around in the air.

Fortunately, the weekend weather turned out to be a lot better and the races were a success. If you like fast speed events, then definitely check out P1 Superstock when it returns in 2016. It definitely fulfils my James Bond style needs!

See below for a vlog of the afternoon!

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