London to Paris Cycle Ride with Independent Age and VoucherCodes.co.uk

As I hinted in my post yesterday, cycling has become a recent hobby of mine. This is only because in three days I am going to be cycling from London to Paris. One month ago, I did not even own a bike. I’m not very sporty, I go to jungle dance a few times a month, and sometimes head to LA Fitness when I remember that I am a member.

I am doing this ride with 27 of my workmates from VoucherCodes.co.uk. I organised it but I really didn’t think I’d have to actually take part. I thought it would be one for the mega fit cycle-mad crew, but then these things never work out how you thought they would, and it’s for a great charity.

We’re raising money for the charity Independent Age, who do tremendous work ensuring that elderly people aren’t socially isolated. After we do this ride, 30 of my fellow employees and I will be taking part in a year-long volunteering scheme where we will each visit one of Independent Age’s members. We’ll keep them company twice a month, and help out with their household tasks wherever we can.

It all came about after having a ‘Dragon’s Den’ competition at my company’s Texas HQ in April. I teamed up with a lovely colleague and we pitched this CSR idea to our CEO in the hope of winning some air miles. YAY! We won the air miles (we came 3rd), but then realised that we’d actually have to make this thing happen and I would probably also have to take part and learn how to cycle again sharpish.

I presented it to the whole company and 50 people signed up to take part in the ride to Paris. But then I sent out the training plan, and this halved. They were the sensible half. I am terrified, but once it’s done, it could be one of the best things I’ve ever done.

I’ve got all the gear but no idea. Here’s my lovely bike – the Specialized Dolce. What a beauty.Specialized Dolce 2014 Bike

Cycling has been all I’ve talked about for the last two months, and have actually really enjoyed becoming part of a whole new community. I’ve downloaded Strava to help track my rides and find out my pace. Turns out, it’s not that fast. So far, the furthest I’ve cycled is about 48km, so there’s a little way to go to the 200 MILES, I will be cycling in just a few days.

If you’d like to sponsor me, you can do so on Just Giving here. I’ve raised £449 so far – it’s a very good cause and something I’m very proud to be a part of.

As long as no-one gets hurt, it will be a great success. In one week I will be back and I can update with pictures of the ride. Wish us luck. We need it.

That Was A Good Summer

It’s been rather quiet on the blogging front for the last 6 months. I’ve been saving it all up for a great big picture-filled blog. I’ve had a glorious summer this year, going to Stockholm, Arholma (one of the Archipelago islands off the Swedish coast), Field Day, Secret Garden Party and Barcelona.

Sweden is incredible, they seem to have a really good standard of living. And everyone seems to take the whole summer off. That is the way it should be. The Swedes love their sports, even nightclubs have tiny basketball courts and table tennis competitions. You’ll find this in Trädgården club in Södermalm. It’s mega pricey to drink in Stockholm so the Swedes recommend that you pre-drink if you’re going out on the razz.

After conquering Stockholm, we sailed through the Archipelago Islands to stay in the middle of nowhere on a tiny island called Arholma. It is so joyously refreshing to not have WiFi for days and days. Rather than sitting around Instagramming on our phones, we talked to each other, played games, kayaked and cycled – it was glorious.

I think Wes Anderson must have visited Sweden on his holidays. I felt like I’d just stepped out of Moonrise Kingdom.

Arholma

Stockholm landmarks Stockholm people image Arholma Cycling Playing games by the sea 10599422_10202304989218945_3216441123638759965_n 10532941_10202304990138968_2694131749852102535_n

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Skansen Stockholm

 

Secret Garden Party was easily the best festival I’ve ever been to. It was sunny all weekend and full of great people. Definitely better than muddy smug Glastonbury.  Secret Garden PartySecret Garden PartySecret Garden Party 2014Secret Garden Party CampingSecret Garden Party 2014 Secret Garden Party 2014 Secret Garden Party 2014 David Rodigan Festival

BST Hyde Park was also a real highlight of the summer. Thanks to 10 Ways, I managed to find a glitch which meant we got tickets for only £2.50 to see the Backstreet Boys. Don’t judge – they’ve still got it. We hung out by the dancehall stage after getting bored of McBusted. Look at this utter joy.

BST Festival

 

My boyfriend is a gay icon. So it was lucky that we went to Barcelona the same weekend as Circuit Festival, the international gay festival held in the city. His penchant for vests meant he drew a rather dazzling similarity to the man promoting the festival in posters across Barcelona.

 

Barcelona Circuit Festival

 

I know this doesn’t capture the awe-inspiring beauty of the Sagrada Familia, but this sort of photo has my favourite composition out of all the hundreds I took. People looking jealous of ice-creams really can make the background of photos.

Sagrada Familia

The food in Barcelona is incredible, we didn’t have one bad meal.

Cera 23 is a great steak restaurant in El Raval with the best blackberry mojitos.

La Paradeta is a sensational seafood restaurant, set out like a fish counter where you make your choice and they cook it for you. We had lobster, crab, huge prawns, squid and a bottle of good wine for 65 Euros. If you could open up somewhere like this in London, I would be very grateful.

Can Paixano is the place to get lunch in Barcelona. Just by Barceloneta beach, you are rammed in and will inevitably spill most of your drink on the floor as you get bustled around. This is a great excuse to get a whole bottle of cava instead of just a glass. Using our most basic GCSE Spanish we somehow managed to get the most delicious meat bocadillos and glasses of truly good Cava. The prices are crazy here – glasses of cava for €1 and €2.50ish for a sandwich.

I have spent the rest of my summer cycling, but that is a story for another day.

 

London Fashion Weekend

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A few weeks ago I went to London Fashion Weekend at Somerset House for the first time. For Christmas I was given three gold ‘VIP’ tickets so I brought along my wonderful friends Harriet and Jen. Our tickets gave us access to two fashion shows and a little goody bag. This bag was filled with mini make up treats, including a lip balm called ‘Baby Lips’ from Maybelline – perhaps the most ill-advised name for a beauty product in recent history. Continue reading