What would you do if you didn’t have to earn money?

I was chatting to someone yesterday about work, and they asked me an interesting question.

“What would you do,” they said, “if you didn’t need to earn money?”

I thought about it for a few seconds, and started to answer.

“Oh, I don’t know,” I began, and then I corrected myself, because I totally do know. A few months ago I did an exercise where you write to a friend. It’s five years in the future, and you write as though you haven’t seen the friend in all that time. You write with no boundaries at all, describing your life, filling them in on everything that has happened since you last saw them. The key is that nothing is impossible. If you want to tell them you’ve been to the moon, then you can, there are no limits, it’s your dream life. Money is no object.

“I would spend quite a lot of time on a squishy sun lounger,” I told them, “or possibly a hammock, sipping cocktails and reading books. I would travel more, but in luxury.”

hammock on the beach

“Oooh yes,” they agreed, “that would be nice. I could handle that. No tent nonsense right?”

“I definitely would NOT have a back pack,” I confirmed. View Full Post

Competition – Win jelly beans from the Jelly Bean Factory

Hello! It’s Bee again. I know what you’re thinking, thank God, a break from all the wedding talk, time to talk about something real, something relevant.

You may remember my last post about pizza and you may remember ordering a Domino’s right after reading it. Anyway, continuing along the theme of delicious but probably not that healthy foods, I’m going to be talking to you about Jelly Beans!

So if any of you read my actual food blog, you will probably know that I have taken a little break recently due to starting a new job and moving house and all that, basically becoming a fully grown adult over night (terrifying). Well on the last day of living in halls at uni I checked my postbox just in case someone had sent me something, although I wasn’t expecting anything.

The reception desk lady proceeded to bring out the most humongous parcel. I was excited but also slightly annoyed that that was one more box I had to pack into my friend’s mum’s car and then carry up two flights of stairs to the new flat. I got it up to my almost empty room and when I opened it I felt about five years old. It was mounds and mounds of jelly beans from The Jelly Bean Factory, in boxes, tubs, packets, tubes and glass jars. I worked out that there must have been about 4kg of jelly beans in that box. It was glorious. View Full Post

REVIEW: Warner Bros Harry Potter Studio Tour – Sweets and Treats

I sent my roving report, Bee, off to the Harry Potter Studio Tour. Here’s how she got on.

Harry Potter Studio Tour

The other day I went on my third visit to Warner Bros Studio Tour. You would have thought that the excitement would have died down a bit seeing as I had already been round the thing twice. But no. I was ecstatic. The whole way round.

After a rocky start to the afternoon, where I lost my bank card on the London Midlands train, we arrived only half an hour late, but nothing had really started yet. We got given a lanyard, which put us at VIP status, and a token for butterbeer, which I was super excited about because it’s actually delicious.

Then the tour started. We entered the great hall and it was as magical as it always is. It’s really surreal actually being somewhere that you’ve seen on movies time and time again. But we weren’t just there for the lols! Oh no! We were there to celebrate the new Sweets and Treats campaign, featuring an inside look into how they created all those amazing food based props for the Harry Potter series. View Full Post

The importance of living in the moment

I had a bit of a moment of realisation this morning.

I’ve been getting slightly obsessed, and very boring, over the last week or so about a blogging related competition. I never normally do any sort of awards or competitions that involve getting people to vote for me, and this experience has been a reminder of why not – very quickly it became less about actually wanting the prize and more about just winning. I AM Monica.

It has brought out all of my worst qualities, and, more importantly, taken my mind away from the here and now. My thoughts were focussed in the future, I was distracted, and as a result, failed to appreciate actual life, as it was happening, in quite the same way.

The competition hasn’t finished, but when I woke up this morning and my first thought was not of the sun streaming through the curtains but of wondering how voting had gone overnight, it was a sure sign that it was time to stop. I had gone into second place overnight, and couldn’t face a whole new wave of begging. I don’t want to be that person thank you very much. 

So i have come out into the garden instead.

I nearly sat on a bee, but avoided it at the last moment, which is yet another thing to be grateful for. I have a cup of tea, the garden we share with the other flats in our block is empty, and the sun is already hot on my face, even though it’s not yet 10am. There are several bushes in the garden that are full of pale pink roses, and when you get close up and stick your nose right in they smell beautiful.

seize the day

When I’ve finished writing this I’m going to lie down for five minutes and feel the sun heat up my skin and listen to the sounds of the birds. Who needs to win a holiday when we have all of this around us all the time?

I just need to remember to look for it.

5 ways to make ‘back to school’ easier for everyone

My summer holiday planning tends to go something like this in my head:

“Tra la la la la! Plenty of time to think about the summer holidays yet, it’s only the beginning of July… GAH…. HANG ON!!!”

The start of term sneaks up on my in similar way. ‘Buy new school shoes’ is on my mental list for weeks, and then suddenly it’s the last weekend in August and I’m in a 27 strong queue of parents in my local shoe shop.

Getting back into the swing of things after a holiday, or even starting school for the first time, can be pretty stressful for everyone, so to make the process go as smoothly as possible, here are my top five tips: View Full Post

4 cool things to do in Edinburgh in July

I’ve only ever been to Edinburgh once, and I feel bad about it. I have some American friends, and when they are in the UK, a day trip for them is to Paris or Berlin – how can I have lived in the UK all this time and only ever made it as far as Scotland once?

It’s extra shameful as it’s so easy to get to – we’re less than an hour from Bristol airport and you can fly right into Edinburgh in only about 90 minutes. Accommodation doesn’t have to be pricey either; Edinburgh’s Holiday Inn for example offers great value, especially for families, and is handily placed between the airport and city centre – ideal for your Edinburgh mini-break.

I will have to go again at some point within the next few years, as ‘tell a joke at the Edinburgh festival’ is on my list of 40 things to do before I’m 40, but in the meantime, here’s a teaser of some of the fun things that are going down in Edinburgh this July: View Full Post

3 easy Boursin ideas – recipes for self-indulgence

It’s a bit of a standing joke in our family, at my mum’s expense, (sorry mum), that her favourite way to serve Boursin is ‘on a knife’. You’re thinking about it now and salivating aren’t you? There is something about Boursin that is just so wonderfully decadent. That advertising campaign they used to run, with the husky French voice – Du pain, du vin, du Boursin – will stay with me until I die, as a symbol of what I wanted my life to be like when I was a proper grown up lady.

I have a rather unhealthy habit come the evening of instinctively reaching for something to snack on while I watch TV, and that something is normally sweet. Lately though I’ve been doing my best to resist the sugar cravings and when I really do want to treat myself, I try to make it something savoury instead.

The last few months have been really busy for me work wise, which is great, but it does mean I’m working hard and am quite often travelling about, so when I get home and the phones, tablets and laptops have been put away, I want that time with my little family, or occasionally on my own, to be special, and all about us. I consider myself very lucky, as Belle still wants to spend time with us, and we love cuddling up on the sofa, watching the TV or a film, playing a game or just chatting about our day.

And for this sort of indulgent, quality time, you need snacks. View Full Post

11 cool cafes in London to work in – creative spaces for freelancers and for meetings

Looking for a cool cafe in London? Want a creative workspace in the city to hang out in for a couple of hours? Need somewhere funky for a London meeting that will make your prospective client think you’re super cool?

You’ve come to the right place. (I bet you guessed that from the post title didn’t you?)

After six years of freelancing I can safely say that nothing is guaranteed to sap your motivation and creativity more than five days in a row sat at home, staring at the same four walls as you work, with only the murmur of Escape to the Country in the background for company.

You need to get out there dude! Soak up and the sights and sounds of life! Honestly, the change of scene is just what you need to kick start that dusty old work ethic. I took a whole day recently, getting up extra early, to explore some of the best cafes for freelancers that London has to offer. All of these I have visited myself, (or a branch at least), and I paid for all my own food and drink, so you know I will be totally honest.

Of course one of the key factors in choosing a cafe to work from is the internet access. Experience tells me that wherever you are in London you’re never far from the Internet, but just in case, I went armed with an Osprey 2 from EE. This funky little device not only looks pretty cool, but it’s actually useful too. It acts as a mobile internet hotspot, so even when you don’t have access to WiFi you can still get online. In fact, you can connect up to ten devices at once! Not only that, but it doubles as a charger, so you can use it to top up your phone or tablet battery when you’re out and about. View Full Post

Pin your dream living room and win an item for it! Competition from Casa Bella

I had a little sad moment this week about my living room carpet. You know how you can get sometimes, where you focus on one random thing and let it really bug you?

“Waaah!” I wailed. (Not out loud, but in my head for sure.) “I hate this carpet! My living room is never going to look pretty with this carpet in in!”

I have to check myself, as I once went a little bit mad over a bad carpet, and had to move house. It’s good to keep perspective.

To cheer myself up, I made a Pinterest board full of lovely pictures of living rooms and velvet sofas and wooden tables. This is exactly how my own living room would look if it wasn’t for the carpet obviously.

Casa Bella Pinterest View Full Post

A video review post from Belle – Vertbaudet summer 2015 girls’ clothes

Do you remember a little while ago when Belle and her friends made the lovely little video slide show thing about her new clothes?

Cute wasn’t it?

So cute in fact, that I made her do another one.

I mean, I didn’t make her, there were no threats or head locks or anything, that would be cruel. I just asked nicely, about 47 times, over the period of about a month, until she finally relented.

And here it is:

View Full Post