Last days of summer - Brunching and Lunching in London

A few weeks ago now we visited a couple of friends in London, making the most of some of the last days of summer by spending a weekend with people we don't see often enough.

We wanted to stay away from the busy shopping streets, take in a bit of culture and (most importantly) catch up over brunch!

About the Young Idea - Music, food and culture

You may or may not have heard of The Jam - a late 70's/early 80's mod/punk/rock band who's songs include "Going Underground" and "Town Called Malice"? No?

Well, if you haven't they were pretty huge in the UK, and their songs continue to be played in indie bars and clubs today. Their mod style was fiercely popular and their fans are pretty die hard.

Healthy snacking ideas: How to ward off hunger at home or at work

Snacking is one of my favourite things to do - I'm not even kidding. But snacking in the wrong way can set any of your health and fitness goals back by miles. I'm not saying don't have a treat every now and again, but if you're trying to cut back there is still a way to snack while sticking to your goals!

Friday nights are one of my most difficult times because after a full week in work, and the gym, my healthy stir fry for dinner just doesn't cut it. And while everyone else is posting pictures of their post-work wine and cocktails, I'm sitting at home watching Netflix and dying to reach for crisps or popcorn and a glass of red wine.

Every now and again this is fine, but not all the time, so I've devised a trick, which is not a trick at all, but makes me feel like I'm indulging without actually doing so.

Trail mix and mocktails! Ok, OK hear me out. This is slightly souped up trail mix and is super easy to do yourself - take a good handful each of unsalted almonds, and unsalted cashews - this should make up the main part. Then mix with a small handful of chocolate or yoghurt raisins or a mixture of both (this is the treat bit), and a small handful of dried cranberries. Mix it all together and serve in a fancy bowl to nibble on while watching non-stop re-runs of The Office or Friends. You can even add all sorts of extras such as plain raisins, a small amount of popcorn, fresh blueberries, or coconut chips. You could even replace the chocolate raisins with some chopped up dark chocolate or dark chocolate chips - yum!

Now to wash it all down, mix the juice of a quarter to a half of a pink grapefruit - depending on the size and how much you want it to taste of grapefruit really, with the juice of half a lime and a tiny squeeze of lemon, add as much ice as you'd like and top with cold sparkling water. These Perrier cans are so handy but I like San Pellegrino as well - and yes different sparkling waters do taste different, to me any way. It's sweet, slightly sour and fizzy which makes it feel more indulgent than it is!

Some other excellent options, which are also work friendly and will usually be found in my lunch bag for when the mood strikes are:
  •  homemade bliss balls, try this recipe for a simple version
  • vegetable crisps (just make sure you limit the amount as they still tend to be quite salty)
  • a couple of squares of dark chocolate (if you're on the go Pret do an amazing salted one, just enough for one person)
  • a couple of tablespoons of natural yoghurt mixed with blueberries and a sprinkle of granola for crunch
  • an apple dipped in a tablespoon (or two) of almond butter
  • a selection of celery sticks, cherry tomatoes, carrot sticks and a couple of small cubes of cheese, with a good tablespoon of hummus - preferably homemade, but if you're buying it don't buy low fat, get the full fat version as you're only having a small amount and it will have less (not, none, but less) additives in it.
Always open to more ideas if anyone has any...

Yoga to de-stress, unwind and workout

I've recently been feeling the need to make some changes, and with autumn and winter fast approaching I wanted to do something for me that would make me feel positive give me a renewed sense of purpose and some added motivation.

Beach bars and beers - eating and drinking in Spain


We spent pretty much every other day in Spain doing the same thing - in the best possible way.

After waking up at around 8:30 (which is a sleep in for us), we would get ready, walk down the huge hill towards the beach and along the front to a café where we could get granola and Greek yoghurt, freshly squeezed orange juice - and, most importantly, a decent coffee.

Celebrating birthdays

Apologies for the break, I still have a couple of posts from Spain to put up, but remember this is all about balance, and I spent last weekend celebrating a big birthday (30! eek!). It doesn't stop there either as we are celebrating the husband's 30th with a joint party this weekend. We've been super busy organising but there are new posts in the works, I promise.

Spanish Summer Holidays : Beach breaks and bar hopping

Its been a couple of weeks now since we came back from Spain, but time seems to have flown by. I'd been so looking forward to a holiday full of doing nothing, recharging our batteries and enjoying week long sunshine. Although I definitely ate and drank to excess and by the time we got home I could have done with an extra day to just sleep!

We stayed in Mojacar which is in southern Spain, about 45 minutes to an hour from Almeria airport, though you can also fly in to Murcia or Malaga which is a bit further out. The father in law lives out there so we were lucky enough to be able to stay in his apartment, and well, just look at the view from the balcony.

Although as lovely as this walk was going down the hill towards the beach and the bars and restaurants, walking back up in 37 degree heat was HARD!

On the first day we arrived around lunchtime after a 3 am wake up call so we headed straight out for tapas up in the hills at a lovely little traditional tapas restaurant, washed down with a couple of beers (well, we were on holiday).

And a view of the tiny chapel across the road. So small you would only be able to squeeze about 2 people in at a time.

After a dip in the pool and a nap we got ready to go out for the evening, slightly later than planned and ended up in a fairly average restaurant, but it did set us up for the evening which we spent watching a live band and drinking gin before wandering back along the beach and up that very steep hill to the apartment for an early(ish) night.

Even the night times are beautiful when you're near the ocean.

The Art of Packing Light : How to pack with just hand luggage

I don't know about you, but I LOVE holidays, and just to make it even better the run up to holidays usually involves 2 of my other favourite things - organising and shopping.

Just to satisfy my travel cravings I try to fit in  a couple of shorter haul breaks a year and as I'm not the greatest flyer - although a couple of bellinis in the airport helps - I like a short hop skip and a jump to another country without the 10+ hour travel time. This summer we've set our sights on a couple of sojourns - one beach holiday and one city break - but with the same question... how to pack for a holiday with only hand luggage?

3 favourite things

It's been a while since I've posted one of these but being in the middle of preparing to go on holiday this week, I can honestly say I have some firm favourites that just need to be mentioned!

 We travel (very early) on Sunday morning so I've been planning all week to get everything ready and having recently travelled to Berlin these are the things I found invaluable when travelling and when we were there.

Exploring our own city

We've had a busy old few weeks recently, and not much of an opportunity to just relax of a weekend, so last week we took some time to go in to the city and explore a bit.

My gym essentials

When going to the gym I like to keep things simple. What I like to be able to do is have a few staples in my gym bag and jut switch in my gym gear each day so I know I always have what I need.

Last minute exploring

Our last day in Berlin was a long day of walking before a late flight home at about 9pm. But before we could even contemplate pounding the pavements we had to start with a hearty breakfast, in by far my favourite breakfast spot!

I almost feel like I shouldn't share this place because I like it so much I want to make sure I'll be able to get a space next time, but Antipodes does by far the best coffee I've had in Berlin (possibly ever), some of the best service I've ever come across, and the cakes? I can't even describe how good. And so, for the third day in a row, we pulled up a seat at a brightly painted table with beautiful fresh flowers, ordered a flat white and my favourite breakfast on the menu.

The place is small, delightfully bright even on the dreariest days and always has an array of incredible home baked cakes on offer.

We'd finished our coffees before our breakfast even arrived, and so ordered a second, while the scent of bacon filled the air. And soon our plates of rather substantial breakfast arrived.


Don't be fooled by all that green. Underneath hides beautiful soft wholemeal muffins, with lashings of cream cheese, the crispiest of bacon, heaps of avocado and a pile of leaves all drizzled in olive oil. It's filling, tasty, and yet feels so deliciously healthy that you definitely should allow yourself some cake for what I like to call 'breakfast dessert'.

We tried a few - the banana and raspberry bread is so soft and fluffy (and tasty) it's almost too difficult to share, the carrot cake is some of the best I've ever had and served with yoghurt and fruit is the perfect example of cake for breakfast, and the chocolate and peanut cookies are as crumbly and devilish as they sound. But by far our favourite were the butterscotch blondies - just. too. good.

If you don't feel like cake at breakfast ask for them to take out and have them when you need some sustenance (you can thank me later). Everything is home baked so they will have different options at different times but I doubt there'd be anything that wouldn't be delicious.

Thoroughly fed and watered (and needing to walk off the cake) we headed out for more adventures. We walked a ridiculous distance, heading down towards Tempelhof, and stopping off at one of the weirdest sights of the trip. Known as Schwerbelastungskorper (or Heavy load bearing body to me and you), this was a leftover relic from the days of the Third Reich, and was a test site for what would have been one of the biggest structures in Berlin.

It may just look like a giant concrete cylinder and well, that's exactly what it is, but the history that goes with it is both fascinating and frightening all at once. This was a test for just one of four feet of a gigantic arch that would stand at one end of a huge road which would have ran through the centre of Berlin and framing an even bigger domed hall at the other end - had the Third Reich been successful. I know, crazy. And seeing it in person, it just seems even more crazy.

Berlin is full of strange relics from this time, and so we headed off from here to find another one - the old airport at Tempelhof.

We found the front and were enthusing about how much bigger it was than we thought, but the more we explored, the bigger it was!

Now, the grounds are used as a park and recreational space. It was warm on the day we were there but overcast, and there were still tons of people riding bikes and playing games. On sunny days it gets really busy, and there is even space for BBQ's. If you take my advice hire a bike and explore, reading the information points as you go, it's really interesting to read about the history and demise of the airport (if that's your sort of thing). Otherwise it's just a massive park to use on nice days.

As I've said before, the whole city is so full of history, and every corner seems to have a relic of a moment in time.

There is so much to explore that it is well worth taking time to plan out, and although we walked everywhere the metro is so easy to use (just make sure you validate your tickets in the little machines before use) that you could easily see so much of the city even over the course of a weekend.

We rounded off our trip with some shopping - Mitte has a range of high street brands and independent shops.

Even when shopping it's easy to wander in to odd little courtyards and interesting spaces.

And with that, we made our way to the airport to enjoy a last beer before our flight home.

We flew with Easyjet (the flights are ridiculously reasonable), and stayed at the Park Inn by Radisson right on Alexanderplatz (the location is as good as you can get, and the hotel is fine, with a fairly good gym, but we literally only used it for sleeping and showering so I couldn't tell you about anything else, and I'm sure there are loads of great places to stay).  All in all, Berlin is well worth a visit, whether you're intent on a history buff's tour of the city or a shopping and eating type of break.

Alternative things to do in Berlin

There's so much to see and do in Berlin, and it's easy to get caught in the tourist traps. As we'd managed to fit in most of the obvious sights on our visit last year, this time we wanted to visit some more alternative places.

This included a trip to two pretty different types of museum.

Summer in the city

Finding something to wear for work can be hard enough - grabbing something random at 6am in the morning isn't always the best idea - but finding something to wear for work when the weather is in the high 20's can be even more difficult.

Street Food Thursdays

One of my favourite things to do in Berlin is visit the street food market. I mean, food is probably my favourite thing in any city but this is extra good.

Berlin wanderings

One of my favourite things to do in Berlin is find quirky little coffee spots and find a perch outside to drink (generally) excellent coffee and watch the world go by. On our first morning we visited one of our favourite haunts, Impala, on a corner in Prenzlaur Berg, pulled up a mismatched seat and ordered bagels and coffees to enjoy while we indulged in some people watching.

Happy Healthy Holidays

 You may have read my post just after Christmas about us going on holiday and how excited I was about going, and then never mentioned it again? This was for a number of reasons (some more personal than others) but we did have a lovely holiday. One of the reasons I hadn't mentioned it though was because not long after getting back I was taken ill, and had to have an emergency operation which completely wiped me out for 2 weeks and took at least another 4 weeks before I was able to get back in the gym and back to normal, which sucked, but I spent the majority of time thinking how lucky I was not to be more ill!

How to cope when you’re faced with redundancy

So here’s a subject that has affected me and sadly something that will affect a ton of us at some point – redundancy! (Urgh). These days it’s almost impossible to find a ‘job for life’, which means more and more of us will be faced with the dreaded ‘R’ word.
It can be an incredibly unpleasant and stressful thing to go through and everyone will handle it differently, but there are a few things you can do to help you to cope.

Beating the 'New Year New Me' Brigade

First of all, welcome to 2016! How is it already almost half way through January though?!

We spent New Year at a lovely little cottage with friends near Sherwood Forest, drinking Champers, making gingerbread houses, playing board games - you know, the usual. One of our friends is half Spanish, so we made sure to honour Spanish and English traditions, and I can honestly say it was the most fun 4 days we could have wanted. Here's a couple of piccies to whet your appetite.