Thursday 25 June 2015

The Force is Strong

This year has seen a number of close friends celebrate one of those milestone birthdays that we like to mark with grand celebrations. While sat at one of these celebrations I asked Simon what he would like to do for his 'milestone' birthday next year...perhaps a weekend away he suggested...

Now one thing that we would both love to do would be to visit Walt Disney World during Star Wars Weekends but as these fall during school term time it really isn't an option for either me (as I work in education) or the kids! And there is no way they'd let us visit WDW without them!!

Then I had a bit of a brainwave. I thought I remembered hearing during reports from this years Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim that next year the celebration would be happening in London. So a quick Google search soon revealed that I was right...July 2016 Star Wars Celebration comes to London for 3 days - woo hoo!

I tentatively looked up the ticket prices expecting something extortionate but was very pleasantly surprised. A few minutes later and 2 sets of 3 day tickets were booked...eek we're going to Star Wars Celebration.

Little did I know what I'd started...

...we could go in costume...he said..

...wouldn't it be cool to cosplay while we're there...he said...

...I'm not wearing a metal bikini...I said...

Suffice to say costumes have been decided and the lengthy process of making them ourselves has begun. Please note that when I refer to 'us' making them I do of course mean that Simon will be making them whilst I offer lots of support, the ability to hold something still whilst it is cut and of course provide cups of tea and/or coffee as and when needed.

For those Star Wars fans out there we will be going as Mandalorians...think Boba and Jango Fett and you'll get the idea. So we are still in the early stages of creating our costumes but we have a template for the helmet and work has begun on our guns, I think I even know what colour scheme to go for! Suffice to say we have a corner of the house that is starting to resemble a work shop and plans are afoot to make a work space in the garage so that the task ahead can be tackled effectively.

The fun begins...
I shall endeavour to keep you updated with the progress over the coming weeks and I would imagine months!! I wonder what the theme for this year's Halloween party will be? Mmmm....I wonder.....

Sunday 21 June 2015

Disneyland Paris - February 2015 - Day 4

So here we are on our penultimate day of our little trip - day 4.

Despite being up nice and early for breakfast in the hotel we decided to take the morning at a leisurely pace and rather than heading for the parks we had a wander around the Disney Village and took the opportunity to get some shopping done!

But boy was it cold this morning, here's a few photos that hopefully capture what a beautiful, but extremely cold day it was!

Frozen river

Stranded duck in the ice!

Warning sign!!!

Ever so slightly frosty!!

Heading to Disney Village on a crisp, beautiful morning.

We decided to head for the large World of Disney store where I was able to buy some earrings, tea towels and a pin for my fellow 'Disney Dream Girl' Michelle.  Molly also bought herself a pin and was desperate to buy a Sulley pillow but alas there was not one in the store.  So we thought we would try the Disney Store only to find that it hadn't yet opened for the day!

Our next stop was Disney Fashion, probably my favourite of all the shops as this stocked my style of merchandise.

I love all the Disney Couture range, and anything that is a little bit different from the norm; whether it's the fabric, the pattern or the cut of a garment I always make a beeline for items that are just that bit unusual. Hence why I left with a tinkerbell long sleeve top, a grey Mickey bling t-shirt, a long sleeve Mickey t-shirt and a pair of Mickey ears!
Some of our shopping haul from the trip
Well all this wandering about and shopping had made us hungry and there was only really one place for us to go...Earl of Sandwich...our 'go to' restaurant of choice for this trip. Beautiful food and great prices in a nice warm building with free wifi!! After lunch we headed back to the hotel to drop off our shopping bags before heading over to Disneyland Park.

After taking a stroll down Main Street USA we headed over into Frontierland and straight to Phantom Manor.
View from the front door of Phantom Manor looking towards Big Thunder Mountain
View from the front door of Phantom Manor, the 'Molly Brown' was in dock having some maintenance work completed
When we exited the ride we went left and took in the sights of Boot Hill; this is a small area themed as a cemetery and is well worth taking a look as it is beautifully done. It is all too easy to turn right when leaving Phantom Manor to get back to the hustle of the park but then you miss out on what is a little gem of an area.

Photos of just some of the gravestones scattered around Boot Hill...

After Phantom Manor we braved the 40 minute wait time to ride Big Thunder Mountain, probably our favourite ride. We then went back over to Main Street USA and decided it was treat time; so despite the cold we headed over to The Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlour. The ice-cream choices here are all standard Ben & Jerry's flavours although they do serve crepes...I opted for a crepe filled with Nutella and a dollop of vanilla ice-cream.
About to order
 As we were on Main Street we decided to have a wander of the shops in search of the Sulley pillow that Molly was after, and sure enough she found one!
Yay we've found one!!
Now shopping can build up an appetite and stomachs were beginning to rumble so we wandered over into Fantasyland looking for food. We had a look at Toad Hall Restaurant but none of us were particularly taken with the choice of offerings; fish & chips, chicken nuggets and the same salads that could be found in every Disney restaurant. I do like the theming though of this restaurant so here's just a couple of photos.

We decided to look elsewhere for food and ended up in Adventureland, but as we passed by Pirates of the Caribbean we just couldn't resist taking a ride...after all a 5 minute wait is not to be passed up!

The first restaurant we tried was Colonel Hathi's Pizza Outpost but despite it only being 5.00pm (or thereabouts) it was closed, the lights were on and the doors open but no-one was around and there was no sign of it being operational...strange! We knew that the other counter service restaurant in Adventureland, Restaurant Hakuna Matata, was also closed as today was it's scheduled day to be closed. This meant we had to try the next land which was Frontierland, which was fine because I quite fancied some Mexican food from Fuente del Oro Restaurante...but we were faced with the same situation again...doors open, lights on but very evidently no food was being served! So we back tracked on ourselves and thought we'd try Cowboy Cookout Barbecue but guess what? Yep, exactly the same scenario again!  To say we were all getting a little frustrated would be an understatement...never mind the hunger!

We now just wanted food quick, so decided that one place we could guarantee being open was Casey's Corner. As it turned out our timing here was pretty good as the parade was just about to go by, so by the time we got our food we sat outside (yes it still was very cold!!) munching on hot dogs, chicken nuggets and fries just as the parade passed by!

By now the night was beginning to draw in and we were drawn to the lovely neon lights of Discoveryland and the fun of Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast.
Entrance to Discoveryland
The kids then wanted to ride Big Thunder Mountain...again. But there was a 40 minute was also very dark but more importantly freezing cold and I really didn't fancy getting even colder whizzing through the night-time air! The warmth of shops beckoned and a few more treats were bought; some cookies, chocolates for my team at work, a Phantom Manor t-shirt and some Nightmare Before Christmas PJ's!!

It was now time to go get our spot staked out for Disney Dreams! We headed towards the centre of the Central Plaza area and found a spot with the castle almost dead centre in front of us but more importantly we stood at some railings so that no-one else could stand in front of us and spoil our view - crafty!!

We had just over an hour to wait so the kids took their cash and went off in search of sweets. Simon and I needed something to keep us warm and hot chocolate seemed the ideal option. Now just a few yards from us was a cart selling drinks and crepes, but as we stood there we could see guests going up to the open window and getting turned away. It looked like they had stopped serving, which I thought was a bit strange as they had a massive captive audience all waiting for Disney Dreams to start. But I headed over there anyway and luckily for me they were still serving drinks but they had run out of crepes!! Knowing how good the service can be in the US parks I thought that this was really not acceptable...if they were running low more stock should have been brought in rather than just running out and having to turn people away! But hey that's just my opinion!

The kids returned and we munched on a few sweets, drank our hot chocolate and stood chatting to another British family who had joined our little viewing spot.  As it got closer to Disney Dreams starting the area around us began to get busy, but luckily our view was unimpeded as the spot we had picked prevented anyone from pushing in or standing in front of us. This meant that both Simon and Molly were in brilliant positions to get their respective video camera's out to film the whole show.
Our view ready for Disney Dreams to start
Now unfortunately despite grabbing this spot with over an hour to go we still found ourselves being pushed and jostled about by other guests. I have to say this is not something we have really come across in the US parks but this wasn't the first time it had happened to us in Paris. As we stood there enjoying the show a family pushed their way through and stood their two children on the narrow railing right next to Simon...they then began to push into Simon (almost spilling a drink over him) trying to move us out of our position. But we stood our ground and despite all their effort we didn't budge and still managed to get some fantastic video of the whole show.

The show itself is amazing, there is so much going on that it is definitely worth seeing more than once if you can. There are fireworks, and lasers, and projections, and water fountains and all set to a fantastic score. As much as I loved this show and was in awe of everything that was going on, and how long it went on for I still prefer Wishes over at Walt Disney World. There is something about Wishes that gets me every time, it brings about an emotional reaction in me that always makes me shed a tear or two which Disney Dreams just didn't manage to do.

By the time the show was over we were all extremely cold from having stood still for so fact I have distinct memory of walking back to the hotel and not being able to feel my feet! Exiting the park took quite a while as Disney Dreams takes place at 'park closing' and so everyone is making for the exit at the same time. We thought we'd be crafty and walk down Discovery Arcade that runs parallel with Main Street which was easier to navigate but getting to an actual exit was hard work. The only turnstiles that were working as exits were to the far right, despite there being other turnstiles to the left and no-one was coming into the park wouldn't it have been sensible to use all the turnstiles as exits and so speed up the process for all concerned...but hey that's just my thoughts!!

Finally we made it back to the hotel and warmth and to aid our defrosting we hit the hotel shop for beer, crisps and chocolate!

Just one more day to go...

Monday 8 June 2015

One Year On...

Well this time a year ago I decided to take up a challenge for 90 days to see if I could lose some weight, get toned but more importantly eat healthier.

My target was to lose about 12lbs in weight in 90 days; starting at 10st 5lbs (145lbs) I wanted to get down to about 9st 7lbs (133lbs). So how did I do and more importantly how am I doing now?

Well if you've read my previous posts on this blog, or read the page entitled 'Getting Real' you will have a pretty good idea of the outcome. But for those of you who haven't let me give you a quick run down of what I've achieved over the last year and how I've done it.

So after seeing an inspirational film called 'Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead' and a chance conversation with my daughters karate instructor I signed up for a locally run scheme called 'Get Real Fat Loss'. This wasn't a diet, or a weight loss gimmick but rather a new approach to eating and exercise and making it all about a lifestyle choice. Everyone on the challenge was treated as an individual, with daily goals set for your intake of calories, fat, carbohydrates and proteins.

The big difference to my food intake at the time (which I thought was pretty ok!) was a big reduction in the amount of carbohydrates I was eating; this meant cutting out those high sugar, starchy foods - bread, potatoes, pasta, rice, cereals etc. And while it was a little tricky to get used to at first I soon found myself adapting to it and just getting on with it. In fact I wasn't really missing what had up until then been regular items in my day-to-day foods, and when I saw the pounds disappearing too I knew it was all worth it.

Now it wasn't just a change to the way I was eating that took place it was also a change to my exercise routine. Not a lover of exercise I had attempted to do some running and although this had been a bit hit and miss I had managed to keep plugging away at it. But now I stopped running and instead concentrated on core body-weight exercises twice a day; a combination of things like squats, planks, lunges, press-ups etc.

Then by about day 56 I found that I had reached my target of 9st 7lbs (133lbs). I was determined to see it through to the end of the 90 days to see just exactly what I could achieve. Besides I was loving the new me so much and I was determined to keep me that way!

By the time I reached day 90 I weighed in at 9st 0.4lbs (126.4lbs) a total loss of 18.6lbs. I had also managed to lose 6cm from my thighs and waist, 6.5cm from my bust and 7cm from my hips. I was thrilled with the results but also found that this new way of eating and exercising was now just the 'norm'. So I signed up for the 'Lifestyle' section of the 'Get Real Fat Loss' program which aimed to help keep me 'on track' as well as to offer support, advice and guidance.

Around the middle of November last year I had reached a weight of 8st 6.4lbs (118.4lbs), losing a further 1.5cm from my thighs, 2 cm from my bust and 4 cm from my hips. Since then my weight and measurements have remained constant; I have been able to maintain this weight for 7 months!!

So one year on and I have lost approximately 28lbs in weight and 7.5cm from my thighs, 8.5cm from my bust and 11cm from my hips!!

Now for the scary bit...the photos!!! I have worn the exact same set of clothes in each photo, and tried to take them in the same position each time. These have not been 'touched up' or altered, they are exactly as you see them here.
9th June 2014
6th September 2014 - Day 90

7th June 2015 - 1 Year On
Posing - just because I can ;)
This is not a diet, this is a lifestyle, this is the new and improved me! I shall not be going back to my old ways of eating I shall be staying focused and eating what I now know to be the right foods to keep my weight constant and more importantly, keep me healthy.