Happy Birthday Pete!

Friday, August 30

Happy Birthday to my favouritest person!

Thank you for being the most wonderful husband that I could wish for.

For always believing in whatever plan I have just thought up, and believing that it will be a 100% success, no matter how far fetched it may seem.

For enabling me to follow my dreams of starting my own business and for delighting with me in what goes right and consoling me when things don't go quite to plan.

For listening to all my detailed stories about people you have never met and also getting excited when one of my patients makes progress.

For enduring the increase in the amount of vegetarian meals that we now eat, and hearing SO much about my yoga teacher training- that you could be a Yogi yourself :)

But mostly thanks for always being so consistent and kind and caring and just generally fabulous.

You are the BEST!

Love You and Wishing you a fantastic year ahead,

When Pete and I almost got a Cronut in NYC

Wednesday, August 28

My 'to do' list in New York was inspired by:

Things that I've wanted to see since I was a child.

Places that I have seen in movies or read about in books.

Activities that have been recommended by friends.

And a mixture of the above that I have read about on other peoples blogs.

And I read a LOT of blogs.

I managed to do a fair few of the thing sin my list whilst we were there...

After my epic surprise. We headed off, with Rich and Katie's suitcases still in hand, towards the Frying Pan, a bar on a boat on the Hudson river, that Chez had recommended.

It was great! 

Probably more of a novelty for Pete and I, than for Rich and Katie who already live and work on a yacht...

My 'to do' list was frequently reassessed and mulled over, over the weekend, ensuring that each outing encompassed as many of these often banal tasks as possible!

I loved seeing and catching the Yellow Cabs.

And wondering about in Times Square.

We stayed at a hotel on Times Square and so got to experience the (mainly touristy) buzz of excitement there each time we came and left the hotel. 

I also went to a great Yoga Class at the Integral Yoga Institute. Which is the branch of Yoga that I'm training to be a Yoga teacher in.

And I got to try a cup of Dunkin Donuts coffee that I'd heard great things about!

And then we also almost got to try a Cronut.  The croissant cross donut that has taken pastry lovers in New York by storm.  People have been queuing daily from 5am since they were launched in March this year, in the hopes of getting one of the coveted 200 cronuts that are made daily at Dominique Ansel's bakery in Soho.

We got there at 8;40am, not expecting to have a chance of getting one, and planning on just buying something else from the bakery.  When we arrived the cronut queue was still growing and so we though we may as well join it.  45 minutes later, we got the very sad news that the 200th cronut had been bought by the lady 2 people ahead of us...

Pretty devastating.

Instead we bought croissants. which would probably have been so much more delicious had we not just missed out on a cronut that we we had initially though we had no hope of attaining, as we had chosen a lie in over joining the queue at 5am...

Another reason that we need to return to New York soon:)

My Big Surprise in New York City!

Tuesday, August 27

On Friday morning, Pete and I woke up early and full of excitement to explore New York City after what was not a very glamorous arrival.

Our flight was delayed by 20 minutes when we were leaving from London as they had forgotten to leave the air con on in the plane whilst it waited for us, and apparently the temperature inside was 37' celsius.  When we were finally all on and ready to go, it was still pretty warm.

Now a 20 minute delay is not really something to cause much of a fuss about, but it did cost us in the arrivals hall on the other side.  Two other planes managed to disembark just ahead of us at JFK, and we queued for TWO HOURS just to get through immigration!  The queue was soo long and soo slow that we would sit down for a few minutes then have to stand up and move again.

This also interfered with the taxi that Pete had arranged to collect us....as we were due to land at 10:30pm, and eventually wondered out bleary eyed at closer to 2 am.  The taxi ride was an adventure in itself, and I can say that I wholeheartedly agree with the UK and SA in their laws regarding no talking on mobile phones whilst driving... 

We were proper tourists on day one, and bought tickets for the hop on/off bus.  Our only set plan for the day was lunch at a restaurant that Pete had said very nonchalantly earlier in the week that he had booked.

The weather was great the whole weekend and apparently uncharacteristically warm for late August.

We got off to visit the 9/11 Memorial which is still under construction.

And then went to the High Line, which is a Park that has been created on the old railway track.

I loved the High Line and really couldn't understand why Pete had felt that he needed to book us a restaurant when we knew that there were going to be so many cute little cafe's and bar's up there.

I really didn't feel like going to look for a restaurant on the street level, and asked Pete if we could just skip the booking and eat up there.  He was very relaxed about it all and said that he thought I would really like where he had booked.

We found the restaurant, The Park, and I had to admit that it looked great.

We walked in, and the hostess asked if we had a booking. Pete said yes and gave his name and then the hostess said, "Table for 4."

I then corrected her and said no it was just the two of us.

Pete looked around and said "two, maybe four, are the others here yet?"

"No," she answered, "they aren't."

I was 100% confused and surprised at who could be joining us! 

I had had absolutely no idea up to that point that anyone else was meeting us in NYC!

I nervously perused the menu whilst constantly asking Pete who was coming, and he continuously refused to tell me, as he casually ordered a beer.

I was an anxious excited mess.

When I found out that Pete was taking me to New York for my 30th Birthday, I really hoped I would be able to meet up with my brother Rich and his girlfriend Katie, whom I've never met.  The Yacht that they work on, had been docked in NYC for weeks and left only days before we arrived, and even more annoyingly was due back again 3 days after we were leaving.

I was really disappointed with the way that it all had worked out, but Rich and Katie had said that they had tried everything and were unable to get off of the boat to come and meet up with us.

 And so you can imagine my tearful delight when a few minutes later they walked in!

They had managed to arrange time off by chance, and had organised with Pete that they would be waiting for us at the restaurant! Unfortunately though, their flight was delayed and so we got there first.

I last saw Rich for a few days over our Wedding last year, and before that I had last seen for 3 days in Paris in April 2011.

It was SO wonderful to see him and to meet Katie who also writes a blog! Read here on her blog Eye Heart Travel, in which she documents her travels and adventures as a stewardess on a super yacht,  where she describes their mission to surprise me!

After a delicious lunch, we walked back up to the High Line to walk towards the Hudson river for drinks.

Thank you Pete, Rich and Katie for the best surprise ever! Honestly until the hostess announced that the table was booked for four people, I had ABSOLUTELY no idea!

It was so incredibly special having you guys there for the weekend too.

More NYC to adventures to come, obviously.

Hope that you all had a lovely weekend too:)

What did you get up to?

Tortworth Court

Thursday, August 22

Last week, Judy Jess and I went on a little road trip out to the countryside.

We spent the afternoon in Bath and then spent the night at Tortworth Court Hotel and Spa.

The building is beautiful and the surrounding gardens are stunning to walk around.

I booked us a great deal through Spabreaks.com, and we got an amazing 3 course dinner, bed, breakfast and a half  hour spa treatment for £99 each. 

We really enjoyed it, and this is the second spa breaks deal I've been on this year, they really are such good value for money!

So good to get away and relax.

And now I'm off to the airport :)

My fabulous husband is taking me to New York for the weekend for my Birthday!

I've never been to the US  before, and

I don't think I've EVER been so excited to visit a city!

Have a lovely weekend friends and a lovely long weekend everyone in the UK...

"Meditation" for Beginners

Wednesday, August 21

As promised after yesterday's post.

Meditation for beginners.

Which is actually just concentration.

Get yourself a candle, you can use a stone or a flower or something pretty from nature or an object precious to you, but I think a candle is the best place to start.

Find a quiet place to sit down on your own. 
(The sitting is important, it reduces the risk of falling asleep.)

Light the candle and place it in front of you, I like to put it on a surface so that it's at about my chest height. This means that I'm just opening and closing my eyes and not moving my head and up and down to focus on it.

Close your eyes and take three deep gentle breaths.

Now open your eyes and allow your gaze to rest softly on the candle flame.

Focus on the candle flame, concentrate everything that you can on gently looking at this flame. 

Stare for a few breaths.

Now half close your eyes, so that all you are seeing is the flickering light of the candle. You may see lines of light coming out from the central flame.

Then close your eyes gently, and you will still be able to see the light flickering gently with your eyes closed. Focus completely on conjuring this image with your eyes closed.

When you can no longer see the light with your eyes closed, gently open your eyes, focus again on the flame, breathe slowly and gently, now half close your eyes, so all you can see is the flickering light, then close your eyes again and continue to try to see the image with your eyes closed.

Repeat this for five to ten minutes.

You may find that when you close your eyes, you are able to imagine that this light is constantly flowing to you, and you can sit peacefully for a while.

Or you may find that your brain is constantly accosting you, and although you are staring at that candle and trying to focus only on doing that, your mind is still thinking of three other things at once.

That is ok too. Be gentle with yourself and your mind.

Even if you struggle to completely focus on only the candle on the candle, this session will help you with the rest of your day.

I promise.

I would love to know how you get on:)

Why I'm becoming totally sold on "Meditation"

Tuesday, August 20

 The thought of being required to meditate daily this year as a part of my Yoga teacher training, initially both terrified and fascinated me.  Meditation is not something that I ever encountered whilst growing up, and until I read the book Eat Pray Love, it wasn't something I'd ever given much thought to.

I went to a mediation class earlier this year, which I've discussed on here before, and was fascinated by the teachers explanation of why meditation is so beneficial to us.

He discussed how there is a universal energy that we can all tap into, and how when there is so much that can be gained by being still and and looking inwards, we instead chase external sources of knowledge.

He says that there is energy emitted by all of us, and this originates at a cellular scientific level. We all know the feeling of entering a room and feeling that someone doesn't like us, or of being drawn towards another person.  Meditation, he says, helps everyone to access more of the good energy that the world has to offer.

He went on to describe how the roots of many religions lay in that of meditation and prayer, and that this has been lost over the years, and gave the example of how most of the monasteries in Tibet were ruined during China's cultural revolution.  Monasteries that were cultivating the art of meditating and being still.  Children apparently grasp the concept very easily, until the age of 8 years, where our ego's become to big and then our ability to meditate diminishes.

Armed with this knowledge and the fact that everyone who I meet that meditates swears by it, I have been determined to tray and do at least 10 minutes of meditation a day for the past few months.

It has not been easy, my mind throws all sorts of random items on a to do list at me, chastises me for not being more efficient and before I know it I'm reaching for my phone to send a text or email that I've just remembered and needs to be done NOW.

I will the thoughts to disappear and I've tried the gentle acknowledgements of the musings of my mind...

Unfortunately, my thoughts are not that easily quietened.

But despite all of this,

I've started to notice a pattern.

On the days that I do the 10 minutes of "meditation", I feel calmer more organised and generally more comfortable in my own skin.

When faced with a long to do list, sitting quietly for 10 minutes before wildly trying to get things done, makes me so much more efficient. It seems to help me prioritise things in my head, and then get what I need to get done, more quickly and more confidently.  The nagging voice in my head that judges for me for not being as organised or productive as I would like to be, also seems to mute for a while too.

I read something the other day that said 

"You should meditate for five minutes every day, but when you're really busy, you should meditate for an hour."

And I am more and more inclined to agree.

I write the word 'meditation' in inverted comma's above though, as I'm not convinced that I'm actually properly meditating. 

I've certainly had none of the outer body experiences that I've read about, nor has an hour disappeared in what felt like a few minutes.

I think what I'm doing is "concentrating".  

According to the Yoga Sutra's though, Concentration needs to be achieved before Meditation can be conquered.

My brain has far too much, although usually inconsequential, information swirling about in it to allow me to just completely zone out for those 10 minutes.

And so that's why I need to try and trick it a little. By giving it something to focus on, that is enough to keep it occupied, but not enough to send it hurtling down thirty different thought paths at once.

Soo many people have asked me recently how they can try to start meditating.

I think that more and more we are realising the importance of stilling our own minds.

Gurudev, who started the Integral branch of Yoga that I'm training in, 

"Aim for a clean body and a quiet mind."

And really, what could be more important than this?

This post is getting very long as I ramble on, so tomorrow I will share a technique on how to learn to Meditate, Concentrate for beginners.

You should really try it.

I'm totally convinced:)

On a side note, the picture above that I took last week in the Cotswolds makes me feel peaceful.

What makes you feel peaceful?

My 30th Birthday

Friday, August 16

Today is my 30th Birthday and it has been wonderful! Jess, Judy and I went to Bath on Wednesday, and then spent last night this gorgeous little B and B in Stow in the Wold in the Cotswolds.

This morning we went to Daylesford Organic Farm, which is one of my favouritest places in England.

This afternoon we drone back, and I got home to the loveliest tea party set up by Pete.  And the MOST delicious Chocolate Cake.

I have had soooo many calls, messages, emails and tweets today!

I feel so super loved!

Thank You!

And now we are off to meet Pete for dinner in the city!

Have a lovely weekend

The Ampersand Hotel for Afternoon Tea

Tuesday, August 13

I love a good afternoon tea.  And I have been for a fair few of them in the past five years in London.

A few weeks ago, we celebrated Robs birthday with a delicious afternoon tea at The Ampersand hotel, in Chelsea. It was by far the best tea that I have had.

With Judy and Jess visiting here from South Africa, and Judy's birthday today, I couldn't think of a better way for us to celebrate than with a traditional English afternoon tea.

And it was as good as I remembered!

 The sandwiches were amazing, the coronation chicken my favourite.

Followed by melt in your mouth scones, and then sweet treats.  The portions are so generous that we took our left overs home to in a pretty box. 

Our tea pots were refilled by our lovely waiter who also very patiently took pictures for us.

I love the decor!

And if you aren't feeling hungry enough for the full spread.

Then have something from the displayed treats.

You won't be disappointed!

Do you have a favourite afternoon tea spot?

Holi Festival of Colour London 2013

Monday, August 12

This was our Saturday!

And this is my first ever You Tube video.

Four hours of editing for a 2 minute video. 

I know.

What a novice!

How was your Weekend?

Petersham Nursery

Wednesday, August 7

My aunt Judy arrived from South Africa early this morning and my cousin Jess arrives tomorrow.

Today I had a patient in Richmond, and so took the opportunity to take Judy to one of my favouritest places in London, the Petersham Plant Nursery and Cafe.

There are a series of greenhouses with plants and all sorts of gorgeous antique bit and bobs.

I adore this place.

Earthen floors are littered with a mish mash of vintage furniture and pottery and gorgeous plants.

I think I could live here.

There is a Michelin starred restaurant there, that has all of the same charm, but I've not yet tried it.

I usually just go into the next door greenhouse, to the tea house.

Where they serve possible the best salads and quiche in London?

And as for the cakes...Amazing.

My battery died so unfortunately no pictures of the food.

So you will just have to go and try it for yourself!

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