5 Dos and Don'ts when having Afternoon Tea...

Tuesday, April 30

Last Tuesday, I was invited along with some other bloggers, to an event at the Millennium Hotel, in Knightsbridge.

They treated us to a delicious afternoon tea, and Christine from Minding Manners etiquette consultancy gave us a wonderful talk on the correct ways in which one should take afternoon tea.

It was lovely to see some of my favourite blogging friends, and to pick up some tips on tea party etiquette over tea, sandwiches, scones and cake.  

And a little champagne too.


Tania and Sophie to my right, and Amy and Helen to my left.

5 Dos and Don'ts when having Afternoon Tea:

Do pick up your cup and saucer off of the table and hold the saucer at the height of your breast bone whist you drink from the cup.

Do serve it between 3 and 5 pm.

Do pour in the tea before milk, this was initially done years ago to show off what good quality the hostess' china was, as cheaper tea cups couldn't handle the heat from the water without the cooler milk to temper it.

Don't use a knife to cut your scone, break it open.

Don't move onto the scones or sweeter cakes until everyone has finished their sandwiches, and the hostess has  indicated that you continue...

And then I would recommend that you do visit the Millennium Hotel for afternoon tea.

And they have some great offers for any readers of the bloggers that went to the event.


Promotion 1
Tangerine Brasserie
   Two for One Prosecco Afternoon Tea in Tangerine
  £20.00 only for 2 people (including VAT)
No bookings to be taken during Chelsea Flower Show dates 21-25 May 2013 

Promotion 2
Le Chinois Restaurant and Bar
50% off a la carte menu
  Food and lunch items only, excluding luxury items from the menu
 Offer only valid Monday- Sunday from 12pm to 6pm
Minimum 2 people per offer. One blogger and one guest


Promotion 3
Le Chinois Restaurant and Bar
      Dim Sums & Cocktail
  £10.00 per person (including VAT)
   Offer only valid Monday-Sunday from 12pm to 5pm

Offers expire 31st May 2013.

All bookings are to be made via - Shriya.Amin@millenniumhotels.co.uk  quoting reference ‘Afternoon Tea Blogger’. For more information please call the Millennium Hotel London Knightsbridge on +44 (0) 207 2354 377.

Terms and Conditions apply for both promotions: .


Enjoy!

Are you postponing your happiness?

Thursday, April 25

I've been thinking about this a lot this week.


I think that so many of us envisage a time in a 'few years time', when we will be truly happy.

And I think that is a trap that loads of South Africans living in London especially, fall into. 

Many of us living here, and I am certainly one of them, dream and plan for the day when we are going to move back to the sunnier land. Now as an aside, I do believe that many of us have forgotten just how cold South Africa can get.   We all tend to go 'home' in December or April for holidays and as this falls in Winter in the UK and Summer in SA, I for one, imagine it being permanently warm there.  The last full winter I did in SA was in 2006...and I have long forgotten the freezing cold nights with no central heating.  Seriously, it snows every winter on my Parents farm, it gets proper cold there.  

But lets be honest, I would take light cold weather over dark cold weather any day.

Back to the real topic now.

I think that so many of us, have these dreams and plans for when we get back to South Africa, about how we will be guaranteed to be happy.  Because, well it will be warm, obviously.
And we will have that dream job that has seemed to allude us in the UK.  Or even better, our own business.
We will also have massive house, swimming pool, and a Family of course.

But unrealistic dreams is not what I want to highlight here either.

It's the postponement of happiness that I think we are costing ourselves on.  We tend to live in a bit of limbo here after a while.  After we have got over the initial excitement of staying in a crummy hostel in a major city in Europe every other weekend, we then settle in a life of domesticity in London, whilst we pass away the time before we move back to SA, after hopefully gaining the coveted red passport.

I think that we all regularly need to look at our lives and where we are in terms of:

Working in a job that we love.

Being in a healthy happy relationship.

Having good friends who add positively to our well being and don't pull us down with their negativity.

Living in a house/flat with people that we genuinely feel comfortable with and a space that we feel truly at home in.

Eating well and exercising as much as we would like to.

Stop and think where you are with each of the above and where you would like to be in the future when you 'are happy'.

No matter where you live, or where you are from.

See where you now, and where you would ideally like to be in a year from now.

And then start working at making it happen.

ASAP

Clearly I have been my reading my Yoga homework about The Search for Happiness and other such things. But also I have been thinking a lot about what my friend Sim said when I saw her last weekend and commented on how fantastic she looked, she said that she feels happier, since she decided to live as happily as she could here, now.

Happiness is...

Tuesday, April 23





Receiving these gorgeous cushions that my Mum sewed and sent me from South Africa.


Reading two fabulous books in the past week.


Going to a lovely Wedding over the Weekend.


And having a beautiful vase of Lillies opening in my lounge...

What is making you happy at the moment?

Happy Earth Day

Monday, April 22

Pic from 


Happy Earth Day.

A day celebrated all around the world in the hopes that we all take a moment to look a little closer at some of the topics above.

 I watched this documentary a few weeks ago, titled No Impact Man, and although I found it a little drawn out, it really has made me think about how much rubbish we throw away every week.

The documentary follows Colin Beavan on a quest to make as little impact on the environment as possible for a year.  His wife is reluctantly drawn into his venture which includes, turning off their electricity in their Manhattan apartment, and so losing their fridge and appliances too.  And not using any form of fuel driven vehicles or public transport.  Not the easiest when you have a two year old daughter too...

For his wife Michelle though, it was the cessation of her daily Starbucks coffee's that was the most difficult.

And as they only bought locally grown produce, and coffee beans aren't grown near by, she couldn't even make any at home.

Some of the changes that the family made inspired me, especially in creating no garbage, shopping almost entirely at farmers markets, and living only off produce that didn't need it's natural shelf life to be extended in a chilled fridge.

The no toilet paper for a year, I thought was perhaps a step too far though...

On another green note, I hope that some of you started the Green Smoothie Challenge this morning?

If you forgot, you could always start tomorrow and continue for a day longer:)
I added half a cucumber to our smoothies this morning!

My healing session with Janet

Thursday, April 18


I mentioned in this post here how I wanted to go for a treatment with a healer.  A few years ago I would have had a good chuckle at the thought of someone gently holding their hands to me and 'healing' me the whilst I lay on my back cocooned in a cosy blanket, with soft music playing in the background. 

But as I have broadened my mind, or like to think I have anyway, in the past year, I have been very surprised at the number of natural healing methods out there.

I met Janet, a healer, a few weeks ago and was immediately drawn to her. Janet gives out such great energy, listen to me embracing all this energy talk:), and I instantly felt cared for in her presence.  She is the kind of person that you feel like you have known forever, like an aunt who you maybe don't get to see that often, but makes you feel better about yourself after you have done.

 The first time that I met her she asked if she could hug me goodbye.  And because I felt like I had known her for ages already by that point, I said of course.

And then last week I met her for the second time, we talked about healing and she placed her hands on my shoulders, and I felt heat coming from her hands.

I got home that afternoon, and sat down to do my daily meditation, which is a requisite for my yoga course and which as I've mentioned before here is not the easiest.

For the first time ever, I think I nearly 'got into the vortex'.  Now it could have been a coincidence, or it could have been Janet's hands being laid on my shoulders...

So when she offered me an appointment for yesterday, I jumped at the opportunity to experience a proper healing session.

I mentioned in this post, how it was noted that there was no energy flowing from my right shoulder where I had my melanoma cancer surgery last year, and as I know that my mind actively likes to neglect where my surgery was, I asked her to heal that area.

Janet explained that her healing method encompasses and heals the entire body, and that the healing energy would move where ever it was required. 

She also said, that as it was my first proper session, I may not feel anything.

Once I was cosy on the plinth, with my eyes closed and blanket over me, she talked me through a guided meditation where I imagined myself on a beautiful beach.

And then she touched my shoulders so that I knew that the session had begun.

I could sense her moving around me, and at times she placed her hands on my arm or leg. But I could also feel warmth and a kind of light vibrational energy when she simply had her hands held above me.

I lay in a conscious sleep like state for what could have been hours, but was probably 40 minutes, before she touched my shoulders again to signal the end of the session.

I felt peaceful, rested and invigorated as I reluctantly got up from the plinth.

She says that my body will feel the effects of her having transferred healing energy to me for days to come.  And that initially my shoulder and arm may become more painful, but so far they haven't.

Janet's healing can help to heal the body, mind and soul.

If you would like to enquire about a session with Janet, contact:
mail at skinpluscare dot co.uk

5 Reasons why Crawling is SO important for your Child's Development

Tuesday, April 16

pic from source

I've been asked this question a few times this week in my Physio Clinic and wanted to highlight a few points here about the importance of crawling for anyone who has a baby, plans to have a baby, or has grandchildren or nieces or nephews or friends with babies.  

So basically, everyone.  

We all need to know why ideally every child should crawl before they walk...

There are a number of reasons that children are less likely to crawl these days than 15 to 20 years ago, but that I will discuss another time. For now,

The importance of Crawling:

1.  The crawling movement strengthens the muscles and improves the muscle tone around the abdominal and gluteal (bottom) muscles, important for balance and stability and coordination as your child grows older.

2. Crawling strengthens the muscles around the shoulder girdle, which helps with the muscle control required for hand writing when your child goes to school.

3. Crawling helps to develop coordination, in the reciprocal movement required in moving the opposite arm and leg simultaneously to propel forwards.  Important for control and fluidity of movement. 

4. Crawling gives your child the independence and the ability to explore their environment, and to discover objects that exist further away.

5.  Crawling also gives babies the experience to work out how far away an object really is and helps develop their perceptive and visual skills, and a feeling of knowing where they are in the environment around them.  This helps with all aspects of physical strength and development and also with academic tasks at school.


Parents are often proud when they tell me that their children "skipped crawling, and went straight to walking..."

This inevitably results in me providing a treatment program with loads of exercises in the crawling position.

Of course, there will always be exceptions.  Some children who never crawl will have good balance, handwriting, coordination and core strength.

But I can tell you that I see a steady flow of children who never crawled, coming for Physio treatment when they start school because they are...

 "struggling with balance and are 'clumsy' " 

or

"cant even stand on one leg at a time" because they have poor balance

and 

"are struggling with handwriting" as a result of their weak core strength, not allowing them to effectively free up their upper limbs to write, and not having enough strength in their shoulder girdle muscles to effectively control their pen. 

 and some are

"struggling to even tolerate sitting at a desk in a chair at school."

Again, I am sure that there must also be children with a number of the problems mentioned above, who did crawl for a significant amount of time, as not crawling is not the only factor that can cause the above.

I just haven't seen many...

Please do "tummy time" with your babies everyday. A total of 30 minutes spread throughout the day.

And do everything in your power to get your baby to crawl before they walk.

Even if they don't crawl, the time spent on their stomachs will only benefit their normal development.

Please spread the word...

And do contact me if you would like any more advice regarding this.

Sunny Sunday River Walk

Monday, April 15






All of last week there was talk of how fantastic the weather was going to be on Sunday.

And for once, the UK weather forecast did not disappoint.  

It was warm and sunny.

And ridiculously windy, but whose complaining about gusts of wind, when it's the first time we have the left the house with sunglasses and without coats in months.

Amazing what some sunshine and a walk along the river can do for the soul.

This, and watching the Food Matters DVD last night has really
inspired me to try and be super healthy this week.

And so I have started my day with a Green Smoothie in preparation for the 7 Day Green Smoothie Challenge, which starts on the 22/04/2013.

What did you have for breakfast?

Hope that you had a lovely Weekend...

Dark Chocolate, Pumpkin Seed and Dried Fruit mix

Thursday, April 11

The problem with not going out to work somewhere else all day is that I am always looking for a little sh-nack in the afternoons at home.

And in the past week and a bit we have had a ridiculous amount of chocolate in the kitchen from Easter.

Today I decided enough was enough and made this healthier take on my usual chocolate snacking.

I mixed:
Tesco Whole Foods dry fruit mix (with raisins, cranberries, cherries and strawberries)
Pumpkin Seeds
Dark chocolate squares broken into smaller pieces.





And happily snacked away whilst I wrote a report to a Doctor about a child that I assessed this morning.

Way better option than the pure chocolate alternative.

I recommend that you give it a try...

Any other mixes like this that anyone recommends?

The Tractor barn transformation into our Gorgeous Wedding venue

Wednesday, April 10

Our Wedding albums and DVD are finally ready and I am SO excited for Kate to bring them back to London from South Africa for us this Weekend.

Which is probably why I've been going through some of our Wedding pictures today.  I wanted to share the amazing transformation of the tractor barn on our farm into our wedding venue...

In October when we went back to South Africa, my Dad and his workers were laying the new floor.




The Week before the Wedding, there was a floor, but still SO much to be done...

Fortunately we had loads of help on hand...



Sweeping


And Painting


And Jubes and Bean are honestly my ladder climbing bunting hanging heroes...


I was more of a ladder holder:)


Serious planning moment...


Getting there...


On the day it looked perfect...








Thanks so much again Mum and Dad for all your hard work!

See more Pictures from the day by our Wedding photographer Stew Nolan here.

Such happy memories.

The 7 Day Green Smoothie Challenge...

Tuesday, April 9

Everything that I read or watch about healthy living these days raves about the benefits of juicing in the mornings.  Especially juicing green vegetables.

Now as I have mentioned on here loads of times before, I make us fruit smoothies every morning.

I have been dying to buy a juicer for the past few months, but as Pete says, and I do reluctantly agree, we don't actually have any space to put it in our kitchen.  And anyone who I do know who has one, remarks on what  mission it is to clean.

Smoothies, I love, and I don't even notice cleaning the blender anymore.  But I have had this nagging voice in my head telling me for a while now, that I should SO be juicing.  And that too much a fruit in a smoothie in the morning is giving me too much of a sugar hit too early.  The healthiest kind of sugar rush naturally, but a sugar rush all the same.

And so I was fascinated at the Vitality Show last month, to taste a smoothie made from banana, apples, water and SPINACH.  Yes Spinach.  My friend Cath took one look at the green blend I was about to sample and shook her head.  But I convinced her to try and she was also amazed by how freaking delicious the smoothie was.

I added spinach to our smoothies the next day and since then I have been experimenting with adding cucumber and spinach most days.  Next I'm going to slip a little celery in, I'm sure Pete won't even notice:)

Since then in the weird way that life often works out, I seem to be seeing Spinach in Smothies, EVERYWHERE.

Like on Peanut Buttered's Blog Post yesterday.

Look how good that looks?


pic from peanut buttered blog


And then the Real Food Runner, Katherine, shared how she and some healthy bloggers are launching 
The 2013 Green Smoothie Challenge.

Watch below...


The Green Smoothie challenge is to:

Add one green smoothie to your daily eats for 7 days straight. 

It begins on the 22/04/2013.

So plenty of time to brush the dust off of your blenders, and buy some fruit to blend, as well as some spinach, celery, cucumber or kale to add to add some green to your smoothies.

Any other green vegetable options that I have left out?

Anyone else keen to give it a try?

Share this post or Video on Facebook or Twitter or Email with anyone who you think would like to try the challenge too...

Libby's Incredible 2 week stay at a Yoga Retreat in India

Monday, April 8


I caught up with my friend Libby a few weeks ago, just after she returned from this Yoga Retreat in India, and I could not believe how incredible she looked...

I asked her to write about where she went and the experience she had there and she has shared it below...

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My last year has not been a barrel of laughs.  It has been a steep learning curve and life changing events had left me feeling withdrawn, disconnected from myself and full of negative self talk.  A series of events, starting with a friend suggesting to go to India for some sunshine and relaxation and which ended with me stumbling across the Ayruvedic Yoga Villa website. 



I took the plunge, despite what friends believe, I am a very cautious traveller and hearing about the Indian chaos did intimidate me – so two weeks at a retreat IN India seemed a nice compromise!



And it was: set in the mountains of northern Kerala, right next to a large river, in a very traditional area.  My daily schedule kept me surprisingly busy and my goal was to reconnect mind, body and spirit.


Each day I woke up at 5am (easy to do when your asleep by 9pm!) to attend morning Pooja (a variant of Indian prayers as it had a meditation aspect as well).  I then wandered across the compound to attend Yoga class.  It was a Hatha style of yoga, which admittedly took a while for me to get used to as I am accustomed to the Western approach of using Yoga as a cardiovascular and strengthening workout.  All exercises here were completed as a meditation, with your eyes shut (my balance is MUCH better now!) and incorporating the use of breathing.  I did like having a rest in corpse pose between the 10 rounds of each exercise!


My Ayurvedic treatment was straight after Yoga, I had 3 types of treatment throughout my stay.  First off, for 3 days, I had an Indian Head massage, oil massage and then relaxed in a steam room.  For a further 5 days I had an Indian Head massage, oil massage, then herb filled bags used to pummel my muscles into relaxation.  The treatment then ended with me having nasal drips with medicines to relax and clear the mind.  The third treatment was Sirodhara, a flow of medicinal waters on my forehead to assist with relaxation – I floated out of the room for the remaining 5 treatments.



And then breakfast!  The food was AMAZING!  Each meal was set out according to Ayurvedic principles of six tastes per meal – sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, astringent.  This resulted in two types of coconut based curry, vegetables, lots of fruit, and carbs such as rice (with pomegranates), dosas and chapattis.  The Sunday lunch was a much talked about highlight of the week with  multiple types of different curries, side dishes, fruit and vegetables! Mmmmm.



To finish off a typical day there, as the above all happened before 10am, I relaxed after treatment, saw a spiritual healer, had lunch, went for a walk along the river, or ventured into town, attended afternoon yoga and pooja/meditation, dinner, chatting and bed by 9pm!  The people I met at the Villa were diverse in background, age and approaches to life – I learnt a lot from this group and have taken away with me, many friendships which are positive, full of compassion and important to me.

A special experience was that we had the opportunity to visit Amma; a well-known spiritual guru in India.  She is renowned for her compassionate hugs; often hugging over 700 people after one of her talks.  She stays until every person who wants a hug receives one.

An important aspect that I learnt from the Yoga Master was how spiritual fulfilment can be incorporated into a western lifestyle.  I have watched with envy while friends have moved away from working fulltime, embracing yoga teaching and becoming compassionate and kind.  I wanted the same, but have never felt the drive to teach yoga or more importantly (to me!) to leave my job.  He showed me that by being compassionate at work, working hard and remaining open, I could use work as a source of spirituality.



I have left the Villa being reconnected to my body, mind, spirit.  I have new tools to use to assist me; yoga practices, knowledge of philosophy, meditation, a healthy approach to food, new friends and precious for me; guides to assist.  A place well worth visiting!

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I honestly can't believe the positive impact that this stay has had on Libby's life and well being.

Lib, thanks for sharing and I am so happy for you.

I've heard of a number of Yoga retreats and Ashrams in India, but this sounds by far the best.  And tripadvisor seems to agree too.

I am SO keen to visit here! 

More pictures on their website here. 

Rooms from €510 per person for a week for a single room all inclusive.

Nik, I really think we should we go as a reward for competing our Yoga teacher training...

Anyone keen to join us?

Thought for Thursday

Thursday, April 4




original pic from source

I am so sick of this weather.
It feels like it will never ever be warm in London again.
The snow in Germany last weekend was pretty.
The snow in London today is cold and pathetic.

I read the above today whilst looking for some inspiration to brighten my day.

Usually much easier said than done.
But thought provoking none the less.

Have a lovely Weekend.
I'm just hoping to survive the cold...

A German Easter

Wednesday, April 3

Easter is always so much more exciting when there are children present. I think that witnessing the joy that the children experience on their sugar hunt, helps to dampen the adults feelings of glutinous milk chocolate consumption guilt.

In Germany, the children hunt for coloured boiled eggs, which are then eaten by everyone for breakfast, and the chocolate eggs are dealt out later. Or in as in our case, placed on a beautifully laid breakfast table by our hostess Annette.






It also traditional there to have an Easter Fire, and in the evening friends and family and local residents gathered at a large bonfire. It required some coaxing to get going after the months of snow that have lain on the ground there recently, but finally was ablaze.




Chilly, but lovely.

Hope that you all had a great Easter too, wherever you may have celebrated it..

A Wonderful Snowy Weekend in Germany

Tuesday, April 2

A few years ago my Mum got an email from her friend Ute who lived in Germany.  They knew each other as their Fathers had been friends and to talk over the now ancient Ham radio system.

Ute said that her cousins son, who was off to study agriculture at University wanted to come and spend time on our farm with my Dad.  He came to stay and work with my Dad on our farm in South Africa, and since then our Families have become very good friends.

They were at our Wedding in SA in December, and currently our Dad's are on holiday on a yacht in the Carribean together.  

This weekend, while poor Pete stayed at home to study, Jen, her boyfriend Adrian and I went to visit my favourite German Family on their farm in the North East of Germany.

They have had uncharacteristically snowy weather there recently, and it snowed for the majority of the time that we were there.





We went for long walks.















Played with Jacob and Theda's gorgeous little girls.

create animated gif




Had dinner by Candle Light in their "Hunting Hut"






Laughed loads, and ate and drank a ridiculous amount of amazing food.



Thank you for such a lovely weekend!

I am so blessed to have such fantastic friends, and I look forward to you guys hopefully coming to visit me in London soon....
 
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