30.4.15

The 'I’m Going to BritMums Live 2015' Meme

Name 

Lauren. I also answer to 'Dale's Sister' and Laura for those who find the name Lauren too hard to remember.

Blog

Real Housewife of Suffolk County. A lifestyle, parenting, bit of everything type blog.

Twitter ID

@LaureninSuffolk

Height

5ft 5ish


Hair

Blonde, shoulder length.


Eyes

Two. Both are blue, and generally tend to be surrounded with lots of mascara.

This is my face:

 


Is this your first blogging conference?

No. It is my fourth. It is my first conference which I am helping at though.


Are you attending both days?

I am.


What are you most looking forward to at BritMums Live 2015?

The last two years at Britmums Live involved me being jealous and envious of the room moderators. This year I am in that role myself which I am really excited about.
I also really look forward to the atmosphere, and seeing a room full of people all passionate about the same thing. 
Also, Carol Smillie. And the train journey...two words: FREE COFFEE.

What are you wearing? 

I'm not completely decided yet but it will involve a skirt and/or dress.

What do you hope to gain from BritMums Live 2015?

I think the same as every year. Confidence, meeting new people, and inspiration.


Do you have any tips to pass on to others who may not have been before?

The wine at the BIBs party and ceremony is really lovely....however...make sure you keep count of how many you have and try not to have too many.
And I still stand by my tips from last year:
Plan your sessions in advance, make a list of which ones you want to go to. If you feel shy put a call out on Twitter and ask if anyone else is going to those sessions to see if you can sit with them or walk to the room with them.
Make sure you take your phone charger incase you get lost in London with no battery.
Get to the main room in time for the keynotes on the Friday so you can get a seat at a table.
Don't be afraid to take time out if you need to.


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April: Instagrammed

I'm so envious of people with an interesting and beautiful Instagram feed. I look at mine sometimes and wonder what I'm trying to achieve?
Other people seem to have this style, or theme and it's almost quite narrative. Mine is a mish-mash of allsorts. Some photos are decent enough, and some are an absolute mess.

Maybe then, what I'm actually trying to achieve is a diary of things that I felt were good enough or worth enough to capture and to have a reminder of.

April was a wonderful month, mainly because of our trip to Somerset.
I don't really tend to Instagram a whole lot when I have a day out or a holiday. I think there's nothing worse than someone spamming your timeline and that the odd photo here and there is much better. Photo spamming on a blog post however is totally acceptable.

My pick-of-the-best Instagram photos this month were these.
Bargain Converse. And a warm day where wearing shorts was totally acceptable.
Clevedon Pier. And a boy on a bike. Harry was hilarious! He kept asking my brother to put his engine on and to go fast!
The tastiest Somerset Cider I have ever had. And an evening sat outside, opposite my twin as we both enjoyed the sun and cider.
We were on a flight path and it was fab sitting in the garden and watching the planes fly over. They were so low down that we could make out who the planes belonged to. There were a lot of EasyJet ones! My aunty treated me to this make up bag! I have a few make up bags but my Naked palette doesn't fit in them. This one however is perfect!
Charles went back to school a day later than Harry, so we met our friends at the park and fed some squirrels. This one was super tame! And whilst Charles and his daddy went out on a hire fleet half decker, Harry and I sat at the river side collecting daisies and acorns and made friends with these ducks. Who he named "Harry and Elsa".
I love these photos SO much. We went out for a family meal and I couldn't help but to look at the boys and feel so so proud. The photo on the right was supposed to be just me and Charles but Harry photobombed, which turned out to be wonderful. I love how Charles snuggles his face against mine in a photo...and how Harry very rarely smiles now preferring to pull a funny face instead.
I wanted to enjoy these lighter evenings so I took the opportunity to do some blogging outside, with a mulled cider. I went for a coffee with my friend at our usual hang out. She knows the owner, as do I now, and when she mentioned her new green juices we decided to give them a go. They were DELICIOUS!
My evening walks are so worth it when these are the views I get to enjoy.

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29.4.15

He

He made her happy. He made her smile. He made her feel good about herself.
He brought out her confidence. He made her feel beautiful.

She had expectations. She had an image of how things would be.
She played things out in her mind, of how she imagined things could be.

He confused her. At times she felt he wanted her around. He wanted her to be a part of his life, even in just a small way.
And then he pushed her away. And she felt like nothing.

She felt discarded. She felt sad. She lost her smile.
She no longer felt good about herself. Her confidence faded.
She felt ugly.

She tried to pick herself up. She plastered a fake smile on her face. She tried to make herself look nice. She tried to be a different person.
She tried to make him interested again.

She chased. Just like she always did. She felt like all she ever did was to chase people, to keep them interested, to keep them in her life.

She saw glimmers of hope. The confidence started to come back a little.
But soon enough. It was gone.

She didn't know what to do.

She felt silly.
She relied on him so much.
And as much as she realised that she needed to accept that he was fine without her in his life. And that he didn't miss her, and that he could let go of her so easily.
She couldn't do the same.
However much she tried.

She felt stuck.
The urge to chase was forever there.
She didn't feel this was a bad thing in a way, because it was proof that there was part of her that felt she was good enough. And that she was worth it.
But as much as she tried she couldn't convince him of that.

He made her question herself. He made her discover a lot about herself. In a good way but also in another way too.

She expected more from him.
He expected nothing from her.



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28.4.15

Holidays on the Suffolk Coast

Living on the Norfolk Suffolk Coast means I get the best of both worlds. With various cute villages in both counties, stately homes to visit, parks, castles and so on we are quite lucky.
The best thing though has to be the beaches we have right on our doorstep. We are spoilt for choice with the many beaches we can go to.

Comparing the two I always have this image in my mind of Norfolk being a big more rugged and of Suffolk being a bit more composed I suppose.

We tend to explore Norfolk a little more than we do Suffolk, however when it comes to Suffolk we have our own special places and towns we like to visit.


Aldeburgh

Where to visit: The Red House where composer Benjamin Britten and his partner, Peter Pears, lived and worked.
Today The Red House is the home of the Britten-Pears Foundation, inviting you to discover Britten’s music in the place where much of it was written.
The Studio where Britten composed is open to visitors year-round, as is the Gallery, the historic Library and the Gardens. The House itself is open during the summer months.

Where to eat: Although located in Saxmundham, The Cafe Restaurant at Friday Street Farm is amazing! The atmosphere is wonderful, and the food is amazing!

Where to stay: This beautiful cottage on the Aldeburgh coast has a sea view, roadside parking, located on the beach it is only a short walk from the town centre with shops and pubs nearby.

Thorpeness

Where to visit: Thorpeness Meare, a boating lake with islands and covers sixty acres with forty acres of water. The Meare is perfectly safe for children with the water being no deeper than three feet. 
There are a variety of boats to hire, dinghies, kayaks, large family rowing boats, canoes, punts and sailing boats, most of which being original 1913 boats.
Where to eat: The Kitchen is located just opposite the meare and serves a range of beautiful cakes, ice creams and coffee. It's also very dog friendly and has free wifi for those who can't tear themselves away from technology.
Where to stay: A short walk from the beach and Meare, is this cute cottage set in the heart of Thorpeness. 


Walberswick

Where to visit: The beach is beautiful at Walberswick and if you visit in the Summer months I urge you to bring a net, some bait, and a bucket and to go crabbing. This is extremely popular so either get there early or expect to have to squeeze between other eager locals and tourists.
Where to eat: One of my favourite pubs in Suffolk is The Bell Inn. With a lovely cosy atmosphere in the winter and the chance to enjoy the sun in the beer garden in the Summer they serve a variety of local beers and the most amazing food.
Where to stay: This Walberswick cottage has the perfect location being just a short walk to the pub, beach and the village green. Pets are welcome, and there is private parking for up to two cars.

Snaptrip's aim is to make finding the right cottage at the best price as easy for you as possible. Working closely with cottage owners, and carefully selecting the properties they feature, they ensure high levels of customer service and satisfaction offering everything you want on one site, instant bookings at great discounts.
See their Suffolk Cottage breaks for details on some amazing coastal holidays.

Disclosure 
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27.4.15

Life Experiences | The Motorbike

This year I seem to have this attitude that I don't really recognise, but quite like.
I am fully embracing the fact that I have a big birthday in September and as a result I'm saying yes to a lot more opportunities and experiences, that maybe I have turned down before or would never have considered.

One of which is going on a motorbike. Even now, after doing it, I still get a bit freaked out by it and still have this "DID I ACTUALLY DO THAT?!" feeling.
My brother has a motorbike. I couldn't really tell you the engine size and stuff, but the colour is nice.
He joined us when we were staying at the barn in Somerset, and travelled from Reading on his bike. I knew that the plan for the week was for me to get on the back of the bike at some point and I agreed. I know it's something my brother wanted me to do and other than being petrified I had no other reason to say no.

With my mums bike jacket and helmet on I climbed onto the back of the bike. Seriously climbed, it's quite high up! And clung on tightly to a belt my brother was wearing and rested the other hand against the tank.
I think I pretty much froze in one position the whole time. I didn't really look around much at all, but at the same time didn't keep my eyes closed as I had expected to.
The feeling was so weird. It was odd to be on this big machine and not to be strapped on in any way.
You feel really open, and quite vulnerable, and very aware of the space around you and so on. However, it was also quite an amazing feeling. Being open like that, and also putting your trust in the person riding the bike.
I don't think I could go on the back of a bike with anyone other than my brother. I trust him completely. Hell, going on the back of a motorbike with him means I well and truly trust him with my life!

Getting off my legs felt like jelly and I felt a bit emotional. I was really quite surprised that I enjoyed it, I thought I would hate it but really...it was FANTASTIC!

I've said before, and I'm quite honest, about how much I adore my brother and I felt proud of myself for fighting against my anxiety and my fears to do something that I know meant a lot to him.
It was nice for me too that we had that time together. We weren't talking (other than when he told me I needed to lean over as we went round a roundabout) but we were enjoying that time.
Sharing that experience is something that meant a lot to me, probably because I am super soppy and a bit ridiculous.
Knowing I had that experience with him, and because of him, made it extra special and even more fun.

And in just over 5 weeks I will trust him with my life again as I go on the back of the bike again...except faster. 


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20.4.15

Five Things | Lifestyle Changes

Last year was a big year for me in terms of my lifestyle. I made major improvements to how I lived and now it feels quite silly to have waited so long to do those things because the changes were so simple.
I somehow lost my way in June which I think was down to Charles' birthday, Britmums Live and I found it hard to find my way again. As a result I've been around the same weight ever since. Although over Christmas and my two holidays I have put on weight but something has clicked and I've been able to get back into that frame of mind to get back on track.

1. Food

Food was the biggest change for me last year. Cutting out takeaways, reducing portion sizes, reducing bread intake, checking calories, eating more vegetables, simple changes really that now seem so obvious and like things I should have been doing for years anyway.
I really enjoy putting together lunches and dinners for myself and do come up with some weird combinations but I think the fun thing is to try different foods together and seeing what you can come up with.
My latest obsession is with raw beetroot. Before I would buy it pickled or already cooked in the vacuum packed bags, or if I bought it in the fresh bunches I would cook them first and then add them to a meal. Then I Googled to see if they could be eaten raw and then....well then I fell in love and became addicted (I have 3 bunches on order from Sainsburys for this Tuesday, which excites me more than it should).
I also love using Philidelphia Lightest as a base to make my own sauces, and am really becoming obsessed with that mixed with sweetcorn. This week I also mixed it with some cauliflower, broccoli, onions and sweetcorn, served alongside some Calamari. Oh my goodness it was DELICIOUS.

2. Fitness

I found the best way to introduce exercise into my life was simply to start walking in the evenings, and walking to school with Charles. I found this really helped me to lose that "easy weight" but recently it doesn't seem to be enough. I am still carrying on with it though as I can feel the benefits of it and set myself targets of either walking so many miles or getting to a certain point on the trail I usually walk until I turn around and walk back.
Up until recently I have been mainly using a running app on my phone to track my walks but needed an alternative as I've found the one I use has become a little unreliable.
Aldi have recently launched a running range with essentials including clothing, trainers, a heart rate monitor and an activity tracker.
The activity tracker, £39.99, is a multifunctional wristband which measures daily activity, time, steps and more.
• Set daily goals
• 7-day data storage 
• USB battery charging
• Interchangeable straps
• Water-resistant up to 3 bar
• Detailed reports available via Smartphone, Tablet and on cranesportsconnect.com
• Automatic synchronisation
• Available in 4 colours
 As with all of Aldi's Specialbuys these are only available whilst stocks last.The running range hit stores on April 16th so be quick if you want to check out what is still available.

3. Clothes

I had to buy new clothes when I lost weight, obviously. It wasn't until this weekend when I was having a wardrobe sort out that I realised how big I was, and how different my body shape is now.
Last week I wore shorts. I felt a bit paranoid, and self conscious, and like my thighs are too big to be able to wear them, but I still did it anyway.
I think that wearing clothes is all down to confidence, and if you are not confident in what you are wearing then you won't look as good. This isn't an excuse to wear something see through, or two sizes too small and so on. But more like "I like my legs, so I will wear shorts. I don't care if you think my thighs aren't quite right for them".
I've worked so hard to change my body from what it was and although I'm not where I want to be yet, I don't think I look too bad but realise I still have a way to go and work to do. However, I will celebrate and take the opportunity to wear shorts whenever I can now.

4. Frame of Mind

I'm not silly and I think when losing weight or wanting to improve your lifestyle it is best to be realistic and sensible. There are times I get frustrated and can't understand why I didn't lose a stone by walking Charles to school.
I found a quote recently, when feeling a bit deflated, and felt it was perfect. It reminds me how far I've come, and of the differences I have made so far.
I do have a target to reach by September and I think that, even if the progress is slow, I can definitely reach it.

5. Skincare

I am so lazy when it comes to skincare, I anger myself. I have so many lotions, potions and oils and I go through phases of being in a good skincare routine, and then completely lose it. I've been really stressed recently and noticed how it has affected my skin so have taken action and started a proper routine which actually doesn't take too long and is pretty simple.
I think the secret is to get into a routine that is quick, isn't too fussy but also can be adapted if needed. So, with my current skincare routine it's all about using my Liz Earle Hot Cloth Cleanser twice a day, using a face oil twice a day, moisturising twice a day, using a Liz Earle tonic once or twice a day, but also when needed adding a face scrub or face mask, eye cream and so on.
It's amazing how quickly I noticed a difference in my skin from having no routine and being lazy by using face wipes (which I think may have been part of the cause of problems recently) to using good quality products and spending time pampering myself.
 I think one of the best things for me, and my skincare, is being subscribed to Birchbox. A lot of the products I use are ones I discovered because of the Birchbox, or are full size products I have received one month.


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19.4.15

Somerset: Instragrammed

When we went to Somerset I wanted to share some of what we were doing on Instagram. It was kind of a contradiction to my earlier post "Don't Tell the Internet"...however, this was slightly different to our holiday in Cyprus where internet access was limited and I really wanted to switch off.
For me, Somerset is like a home away from home I suppose. There's something about it that feels so comforting and I felt that as long as I wasn't interrupting family time, or neglecting anyone, or sitting on my phone when we were entertaining or being entertained then I was free to Instagram the odd photo.

We had quite a busy week seeing family, going on days out and so on so it's nice to look at these photos because they show a moment when I was able to rest and to take in what we were doing, or how I was feeling.
The fact that there are a lack of "days out" photos makes me quite proud really because it shows that I was able to withdraw and to not constantly take photos to share with strangers on the internet, and instead was able to enjoy the time I was spending with my family.

"First Five Guys OMG!"

"I am staying here forever. Charles is being brave and is in his own room until @dalecross29 joins us on Monday. That means I get the double bed all to myself for 3 nights. #winning. This is such a beautiful room and it's SO peaceful"

"Loving life!"

"Cath's Christmas PJ bottoms. #winning"

 "My aunty brought us a lemon cake and I'm finishing off yesterdays champagne. Cheers!"

 

"When in Somerset...."

"Sunset"

"Morning"

 "I am a happy girl right now"

 "This cider is so good. Reason #278 of why I love Somerset"

"Flight path"

 "New make up bag"

 "Cider. Somerset. Sibling. Sun. #winning"

"I don't want to get up"

"Laptop time"

 "Safety first!"


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15.4.15

Cheddar Gorge

One of my favourite places in Somerset is Cheddar. I think it's so beautiful and it's one of those places I could spend hours visiting. Either walking along admiring the gorge, or walking in and out, and back in, and back out of the lovely little shops, drooling over cheese and cider.

When we visited Somerset last week we planned a day out at Cheddar, which was exciting enough but what made it even better was that my two aunties and my uncle were joining us. Whenever we visit Somerset we have a few days out with one of my aunties, but the other we tend to see for dinner or will spend a Sunday afternoon with. So going out with her, and my uncle, was such a treat.
We sat down for a drink and a scone outside enjoying the beautiful sun and I felt a mixture of emotions. I was so happy to be there with my aunty and uncle and it almost felt quite surreal. I kept getting butterflies and getting a bit teary (thank goodness for dark sunglasses). At the same time I felt sad because I knew that it would be a while until we got to have a day like this again, and that it's not a regular thing we can enjoy.
I adore my aunty and feel disappointed that I don't really get to see her much or spend quality time with her.

After our drinks and a light snack we looked around the shops some more. We bought some gifts for people, and had gifts bought for us which was rather lovely. My aunty bought a cup of mulled cider and shared some of it with me, as did my mum. Oh hello proper Somerset cider, mulled to perfection...I was winning at life right there! And my other aunty bought me a lovely make up bag and a carton of mulled cider to warm up at home. Again....winning at life!

We even went in a Christmas shop! OH YES! Cheddar, as if I didn't love you enough already!

We were so lucky with the weather and after our long walk back to the car as we walked up the gorge I was quite sad to be going back to the barn.
We'd had such a lovely day and I feel this odd feeling with Cheddar. Like a piece of my heart is there. I know it sounds weird but it really is one of my most favourite places in the UK.


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14.4.15

Five Things | Things I Don't Suck At

I'm one of those people who struggles with eye contact. I don't know why. I just find it quite intense and I get a bit embarrassed by it.
Recently I was told that I 'suck' when it comes to eye contact, especially eye contact and smiling at the same time. It wasn't an insult, I hasten to add, but this person was completely right.
So, being that paranoid over-thinker that I am I thought I would come up with 5 things that I don't suck at.



1.Putting on a front.

I'm pretty good at hiding what is going on in my head or any struggles I'm going through. I've always felt like I'd rather people think I'm ok, and think I'm having a good day than for them to feel they have to ask me what is wrong and then feel forced into asking if I want to talk about it.
It also stops people judging me, or making assumptions about me.

2. Challenging myself.

I like to set myself personal challenges, and I like to praise myself when I complete them, or at least if I try.
Going to London for Britmums Live the last two years was a massive challenge for me, as was driving to Hayleys, deciding to lose weight and take up exercising, driving to Somerset, booking a break to the Isle of Man with my brother and so on.


3. Sticking up for myself.

I used to be so bad at this, and I probably still am in some ways. However, the last few years I have really began to stand up for what I believe in, and also stand up to people if I feel they have been unreasonable or offensive.
I kind of live by the motto "You don't deserve that" and when I feel that maybe someone is treating me in a way that they shouldn't, I ask myself if I deserve that treatment. If the answer is no, then I stand up for myself.


4. Forgiving others and giving people chances.

I've probably been a bit of a fool in the past when it comes to forgiveness. And I have given some people far too many chances, but now that I am capable of sticking up for myself I can accept when it is time to move on in a relationship or friendship, and then whether or not to rekindle that relationship or friendship once we have had space and time to sort out ourselves/differences and to understand ourselves and each other.
I don't completely forgive people, I'm not one of those people who can forget any hurt that someone has caused. However I am able to gloss over it to move on.
I am also aware now of how many chances people should be given, and when people should be given a second, third, forth or fifth chance.


5. Putting others first and making people feel good.

I always put others before myself. As a mum I have done it for 6 years now. It's a rule I follow for most of my family members, and my friends...and strangers too sometimes. I tend to put other peoples happiness before mine sometimes, and their needs which can be quite selfish of me when it comes to what I need and my happiness.
However, it makes me a good person, right?
I am all for compliments and making people feel good about themselves. I think people do not compliment others enough, in fear of possibly offending, making someone feel uncomfortable or because it could be considered or mistaken as flirting, which makes me quite angry really.
I don't have a problem telling someone if I think they look nice, if their hair looks nice or if I think they have done their make up in a particularly nice way that day. 
I don't have a problem telling someone if I think they are funny, talented, or if their actions cause me or someone around me to be happy.
I know some people find it uncomfortable to receive compliments, my best friend hates it, but I still do it because I think it's important to let people know they have done something that has been appreciated, whether it be something small or something big.
I would rather someone feels uncomfortable for a couple of minutes or so but is left with a feeling of pride and with a smile on their face than for someone to end the day disappointed that no one noticed their new glasses, or the effort they had put into looking nice that day, or for something they did or organised.
Again, it makes me a good person, right?

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