Wednesday, 28 January 2015

The Scruffy Doodle Diaries

I just love to give kisses!

As Izzy's quite busy with school at the moment, I thought I'd be kind and make my first guest blogger appearance. I had a busy weekend! On Saturday my big but littlest sister Immy came home and so I got lots and lots of cuddles and strokes. I was just so pleased to see her as Christmas felt like absolutely ages ago! I got taken to the big pet shop on Sunday where I got to watch funny furballs running round in glass boxes and I was treated to a new harness. I chewed through my other one- it was an accident, I promise. It happened because when I have stick fun with Dad in the field by our house I get so happy and excited that I put my harness in my mouth and shake, exactly like I do when I've just got out the bath. My new harness is tighter than my old one so I'm not sure I can do that anymore. It's a shame but I've got to grow out of bad habits sometime. I am two after all this year. I can't remember what we did for my first birthday but this year Izzy's promised she'll make me a special puppy cake. If it's anything like that Madeira cake I pinched off the side before it will be delicious....

When we got home from the pet shop on Saturday, Mum made me this super comfortable, fleecy blanket bed. Although I like sleeping on the hard bits of the floor in the day, this is a nice treat for when I snuggle up with Toby-cat at bedtime. It's got pink ribbons on the end which I appreciate but I think my owners do try to make me more girly than I am. They like me to smell nice and I just like to smell of mud! Although I do love being brushed so my fur goes all fluffy; that's my favourite feeling as it gets rid of all my itches. 

On Sunday evening Toby brought a poor mouse inside and it was very sad. Normally I try holding them in my mouth to warm them up but this time I could tell it was too late. I think Toby thinks he's cool bringing the dormice in as presents for me but I don't like it very much. I would much rather they come and live with us and get on with Toby and George and then we could play and snuggle.

I'm off now because it's time for a nap. Then I might try and scrounge some human dinner....I know something's in the oven! Ah, puppy life.....


Sunday, 25 January 2015

Sunday Stories From Essex

This weekend I took a trip to Harlow in Essex to stay with one of my best university friends! I love popping away just for the weekend; it feels like I've had a proper little break and where she lives is absolutely gorgeous. I'm tempted to look up some house prices though I know it's going to be expensive!! The houses are all beautiful; one of the villages we drove through in particular really reminded me of Emmerdale! My friend actually lives on a farm; they have sheep in the back garden and when we arrived her parents were making bread and marmalade from scratch! This obviously left their house smelling delicious! 

On the Saturday evening, Jo took me to Essex's 'best' Indian restaurant where we really pigged out- I had a Rogan Josh as I don't like too much spice and it was the perfect heat for me. Apparently Olly Murs dines in this restaurant so I was all excited but as you might guess we didn't see him! Jo and I had an amazing catch up and then headed home to meet another best friend, Reim who had driven down from her home in the New Forest! We were just sad our threesome wasn't complete as Rea and bump couldn't make it!

Sunday was the cutest day; we put our wellies into the car and drove a couple of miles to nearby Hatfield Forest to walk its beautiful scenic route. It was so peaceful though pretty busy with families and their canine friends happily running everywhere! The forest had a lovely gift shop selling things like country chic plaid blankets, pet accessories, pretty cards and stationary and organic local produce. I really wish I had bought a scrummy looking raspberry curd now to make jam tarts at home. 

After our dose of fresh air we went to nearby Bishop Stortford for lunch. Jo chose to take us to a charming, Cath Kidston esque tea room called Rosy Lea. The decor in there was right up my street- well, I don't know how you couldn't like it really!- with even the china sink in the Ladies being adorned with a gorgeous floral pattern. We ordered an array of sumptuous sandwiches- ginger beer and a salmon and cream cheese sandwich for me- and then it was scones all round. We were each given so much jam and cream that we definitely felt sick afterwards but naturally it was worth it! 

I'm sitting writing this on the train home now and I'm about to get back into my Sex and The City book. I adore the series so when I saw it in a charity shop this week I had to see if Candace Bushnell's writing is as good as her on-screen vision. So far it's an easy and amusing read but it couldn't live up to SJP, Cynthia, Kim and Kristin's chemistry. 

Did you do anything special this weekend? xox

Monday, 19 January 2015

Living Room Mood Board: Hillside Hideaway

I felt like creating a little interior design mood board today!
I can see these bits and bobs in a cosy sitting room; with a velvet, buttoned Chesterfield sofa, like ours, but in more of a neutral beige. A roaring fire, a quirky, reclaimed wooden side table like this one from Anthropologie and some dainty fairy lights strung across the fireplace. Take me there!

From top left:

H&M Moss Knit Blanket £49.99 // H&M Cotton Cushion Cover £12.99 // H&M Wooden Teas & Infusions Box with Lid £6.99 // H&M Two Pack Knobs £4.99 // Scented Candle in Citrus £6.99 //Anthropologie Geo Glow Lantern in Votive £8 // Scandanavian Baking, by Trine Hahnemann £16 at Amazon // Laura Ashley Summer Palace Taupe Floral Wallpaper £17.55

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Sunday Stories: Pt 3 (Betty Crocker & A Seaside Getaway!)

This weekend's been a funny one. One of my lovely school children gave me a cold on Wednesday so I've mainly been recovering! I woke up on Saturday and just felt lost. Matt had to go home to do coursework and I had no idea what to do with myself! I ended up driving to a local Tesco superstore- to be honest driving actually de-stresses me, as does spending time alone sometimes! I'm on the hunt for a new laptop so that's the main reason I decided to go, yet I still managed to fill myself a basket of bits! I just kept spotting bargains on my quiet little browse. I needed some new conditioner anyway so when I saw that Alberto Balsam had brought out a new scent, I was always going to grab one. This smells amazing even just sniffing the lid and Alberto products never fail to moisturise my hair. What else did I buy.... it was funny because I'd said on Friday night that I really fancied some of the Kellogg's Variety mini boxes of cereals. As I walked round the store I spotted them reduced to a pound! If you don't know what I'm talking about, they're the kiddy boxes of coco pops, frosties and the like. I was definitely feeling sorry for myself yesterday and I think my purchases reflected that!!

My first thought yesterday morning was to bake some chocolate chip cookies but when I reached the Betty Crocker aisle I was like....pre-made cookies, just add water, oh yes. So much easier and they were, naturally, delicious. Thanks Betty! I grabbed some strawberries too to add to some pancakes I'm making today- recipe up soon!- and a bumper pack of gossip magazines ie. Ok!, New and Star. When I'm feeling down these are always a pick-me-up. It's a great distraction to read about a celeb's crazy lifestyle. Lastly, I was feeling in need of revitalising so I was pleased to see that both the Pukka Detox herbal tea and Innocent Antioxidant Super Smoothie were half price! I've tricked myself into thinking that if I drink lots of these then the Betty Crocker cookies didn't happen... Sorry that this is basically a run down of my shopping list. Though I personally love reading intrusive things like this. Did anyone ever read that weekly feature in Closer Magazine on what's in people's fridges? I have to admit I enjoyed that! 

I've spent a lot of time with Gen-Gen who seems to be getting very whiny when my parents go out! We have a long stool under our living room window and she is obsessed with standing her front paws on it and looking out onto the road. She does it all the time though, like she thinks someone's coming to visit! She just adores everyone and is the friendliest pup ever. I'm actually really sad that when she reaches two in June we won't be able to call her puppy anymore, as that's formally when pups becomes grown up dogs! 

Something I'm excited about this weekend is that Matt and I booked a night away in this gorgeous boutique B&B. It's called Swan House and is in the seaside town of Hastings- about an hour and a half from us by car. I think it's going to be lovely because we both love nearby Rye and we've heard Hastings is very similar in terms of quaint and quirky antique shops and pubs. We're so looking forward to a relaxing getaway and it will be during my half-term off school and birthday week! 

How did you spend the weekend? xox

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Recipe: Lemon & Poppy Seed Loaf

You know when you just fancy baking a cake? Like it's the be all and end all of your weekend? I had that feeling on Sunday. I decided to go for a lemon and poppy-seed after I found the recipe in a random little booklet among the masses of cookbooks in our kitchen. I thought it sounded fairly healthy compared to a chocolate, and I loved the idea of something light and zesty. I was never a fan of lemon cake until I recently tried Matt's Mum's, my friend Rea's nan's, and my Auntie Kate's (in chronological order!) These ladies all make wonderful lemon sponges!!

For mine, you will need:

100g butter
125g caster sugar
2 medium eggs
3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp grated lemon rind
1 tbsp poppy seeds
125g self raising flour

For the glaze:

A few heaped tablespoons of caster sugar
Leftover lemon juice

1. Heat up your oven to 190 degrees/gas mark 5. Grease your chosen cake tin with a bit of butter. I used a silicone, sandwich loaf, novelty cake mould from Lakeland. They're really cool, though I didn't end up making the most of the sandwich shape because I sadly burnt the edges and had to cut them off, making a standard square!

2. Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. This is probably my favourite bit of making a cake mix as it looks really smooth and yum.

3. Take your lemon and cut it in half. Grate the rind with the smaller side of a grater onto a plate or chopping board. You need to end up with a full tablespoon of it!

4. Beat your eggs well in a separate bowl with a fork, then add to the main mixture. Put in your spoon of lemon rind and dose of lemon juice, measured onto three tablespoons. I think you could pretty much add as much as you wanted based on how fruity you want your cake though! I ended up using half a lemon's juice for the main mixture.

5. Stir in the poppy seeds and flour until no powdery bits are left. If it's too doughy you can always add a spoonful of milk.

6. Simply pour the mixture into your cake tin and pop in the oven for 45 minutes. Be sure to keep an eye on it though as it approaches 35 minutes- it will burn fast!

7. Leave your cake to cool down completely when out of the oven. This takes about twenty minutes.

8. Make the tangy lemon glaze by mixing several heaped tablespoons of caster sugar with a generous squeezing of lemon juice. This is merely a guessing game! Keep adding each ingredient until you get the perfect, runny but not too runny consistency.

9. Pour the glaze over the cake in a zigzag motion. It should dry within a few minutes to become an iced topping.

10. Finally, lick out the bowls, obviously- the glaze tastes sooo delicious, I promise you! Not so great for the teeth though!

Will you be trying this simple but delicious loaf cake? xox

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Puppy Pick 'n' Mix!!!

My friend Rea and I are complete suckers for Pets at Home. We get a little obsessed with the cutie rabbits and miniature fluffy animals, all the pet toys and treats, the excited dogs in there with their owners- everything really! Rea has an adorable hammy named Florrie so she always wants to find bits for her, and obviously I look for things for Genevieve! We popped in today and I was aiming to get Gen some Chocolate Drops to try. They're not real chocolate, but a dog friendly substitute, so I just thought they were a sweet treat idea! However I couldn't find any individual packets: only ones in the help-yourself stand of treats. I hadn't really taken note of these stands before, but when I did have a good look, I realised they are such a good idea! The total equivalent of pick and mix sweets but for doggies!!!
There was so much choice, but I stuck mainly to the chocolate theme- going for teeny chocolate drops that look exactly like chocolate buttons, chocolate covered bones, chocolate biscuit bones and choccy biscuit rolls. I then added a gravy bone as Gen's loved those since she was weeny, and some salmon burgers as they looked tasty (to dogs clearly, not me!!) The best part of my puppy pick 'n' mix experience was that when I got to the till my bag was weighed and it came to... wait for it.... 30p!? I was expecting it to come to a lot more, considering all the treats looked great quality and the bones were chunky and heavy! I think this is such a lovely treat bag to bring home for your dog and obviously so affordable. I got to sign up too for a Pets at Home VIP card, and on the application form I was asked to fill in Gen's details such as her birthday. Apparently they will send her letters and birthday cards!!! Lucky Genevieve. I also got to stroke a lovely fellow doodle like Gen, who was a gorgeous auburn; a coat colour I haven't seen before! He kept licking my hands as they obviously had treat residue on them!
The pick 'n' mix has been a huge success, which was inevitable! I am definitely Gen's favourite person tonight. She's had a few chocolate drops and a choccy bone, but only for tricks, such as 'sit', 'down', 'touch' - which is when she touches whichever hand we raise- and 'leave it' which is when she waits for food. We've done these little actions with her since we first got her! I want to say that she does receive a fair amount of treats but only when she is a good girl like this. She also does so much exercise and is a perfect healthy weight so she totally deserves them in moderation, like we deserve goodies on down days!!! 

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Herbal Essences Let Me Down!

I genuinely don't like reading criticism, even when it comes to beauty products, but I can see how it's useful to readers. This is a product that if I could reverse time and not buy, I would do just that. I'm talking about the Herbal Essences Ignite My Colour Dry Shampoo. It's so disappointing because Herbal Essences shampoos and conditioners are my go-tos. When I saw this product had come out I made a mental note to purchase it as soon as possible. I have always used Batiste dry shampoo and find it amazing; a real life-saver for those bad hair days in between washes- but I just thought Herbal Essences could have brought out a product to rival it.
Sadly, although the packaging is nice and promising, the product goes completely flat (and the whole point of dry shampoo is to relieve flat, lifeless hair!) It comes out so wet, and even when left for a minute or two and brushed out, your hair is left looking even greasier than before. I've refused to believe that this product is so bad, and I've tried and tried on different occasions to make it work for me. But the truth is, it doesn't deliver like its siblings do, and it's definitely not worth the price tag of £2.99. I managed to pick this up when it was half price, and I still wouldn't pay that. I can't speak highly enough of Herbal Essences as a whole; their intense hair treatments in particular are incredible value for money and leave your hair feeling so revitalised and Rapunzel soft. But dry shampoo wise, until I'm proved otherwise, I still think Batiste is unbeatable.

What's your fail safe dry shampoo? xox

Monday, 12 January 2015

Butternut Squash Mini Pizzas with Mange Tout, Red Pepper & Ham

My new favourite lunch... and a big chunk of your 5 a day!

You Will Need

♥ One butternut squash
♥ 3 tablespoons of passata/tomato puree
♥ Cheddar cheese, grated
♥ Olive oil
♥ Black peppercorns for seasoning
♥ Your toppings of choice - I went for ham, mange tout, red pepper and cherry tomatoes


  Preheat your oven to 180 degrees/gas mark 4. Lightly grease an oven tray with olive oil and leave to heat up.

♥  Chop off each end of the butternut squash, leaving you with the chunky stem. Peel the squash thoroughly, then carefully slice into roughly 5cm thick circular pieces. 

♥  Put the slices onto the oven tray and bake for 25 minutes. Make sure you turn them halfway through so they crisp up on both sides.

♥  Meanwhile prepare your toppings! I chose a selection of what we had in the fridge; so cherry tomatoes, mange tout (which I left raw), red pepper and little squares of ham. 

♥  Once the squash is browning on both sides, take out and spread a generous but neat dose of passata across each slice with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle the cheese on top of each slice.

♥ Arrange your toppings, then finish off with a bit of extra cheese and black pepper. 

♥ Put back in the oven for 5-7 minutes, until the toppings are hot and the cheese bubbling. 

Happy cooking!

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Sunday Stories: Pt 2

After a really busy week, I'd been looking forward to a relaxing two days off. And relaxing it has been, though I still seem to have crammed a fair bit in! On Friday I went to Matt's where we literally just sat in front of the telly all night with a snuggle blanket. Bliss! Yesterday, I attempted to get a bit of work done but ended up spending most of my time photographing and listing a few new pieces for Patricia Mary Vintage. Yay! This adorable weeny elephant is up on there, though there's already been interest, so he's one to snap up! I love elephants so much; they seem like one of the most tranquil animals, when they are not in danger obviously. I don't understand why anyone in their right mind could hunt them; it's awful. On a lighter note, yes, happy vintage browsing- there's a good pop of colour in the shop now to brighten up these bleary days!
Mum and Dad have taken yet another house project upon themselves- we are forever editing our interior decor if you didn't know- not that we're not happy with it; we all love our little house but I think Mum especially likes to push to see what more she can do with a small space. Dad has in just one week cladded and painted the whole dining room, which looks really nice. It had nice, cream walls before but this has just smartened it up and weirdly made the room look larger. Mum's next job- and I might help out if she'll let me- is to paint the back of the dining room dresser with this Annie Sloan paint in Scandinavian Pink. This is the nicest brand of paint, along with Farrow and Ball; I absolutely love both their colour palettes. Annie Sloan's can be modern and vibrant but they have a lot of very vintage, French inspired shades like soft greys and duck-egg blue.
I have my own DIY project going on- I have been desperate to create a cat bed for Tobes and George out of an old suitcase. I haven't managed to find one, so I had the genius idea of saving a drawer from my knackered, cream chest of drawers we were chucking out. I wanted to ideally put sponge in the bottom and then line it with fabric, but I think now, as I'm stretched for time with work, I'm going to search for some vintage patchwork blankets and cushions and pad the drawer out with those.
Something I have been loving this week is this Cath Kidston Flora Geranium Lipbalm. The formula is mildly sticky but it moisturises my lips so well in this harsh cold, plus it has become one of my favourite new scents. It smells strongly of flower gardens and peaches and the scent lingers for ages which is lovely.
The rest of the weekend has been taken up with receiving my new Liberty edition Nike hi-tops (second hand but in great condition) and going for a run in them with Mum.  I have also done a considerable amount of baking, which I wanted to do as I find it de-stresses me (apart from when I can't work out the conversion of oz to kilos on the scales!!) On Saturday I made one of Mum's classic recipes: a Debden Chocolate pudding, which is essentially a sponge cake or kind of fondant if it goes really well (!) with runny toffee sauce. The method though is a bit strange and definitely clever.... I hope to post a recipe another time, but I need to make the aesthetic better for future photographing!
Today I have experimented with making butternut squash pizzas for lunch and I also baked a lemon and poppy-seed cake in the amazing loaf mould I received for work's Secret Santa this year! Look out for recipe posts on those....
A short story on the lemon and poppy cake.... I basically found a whole jar of poppy seeds on our kitchen spice rack and asked Mum if I could use them. She said yes but they were a bit out of date but they'd be fine. When I checked, they were from 1998 so SEVENTEEN years out of date!! I assure you that we don't ever use the old spices on the rack; they're more for decoration. I decided to give using those an absolute miss!

I hope you've all had lovely weekends! xox 

My Fitness Routine

I'm writing this having just got out of an incredible bath using this La Maison De Senteurs, Fleur L'oranges bath cream from Marks and Spencers. A bubble bath was needed because... I've just been for my first run in about three months. I tend to try and do fitness splurges every few months, as in all honesty I am lazy and I never push myself to exercise. I do feel guilty about it but at the same time I walk my pup regularly and my job involves walking round school all day so I do get a bit of movement and air! One of my New Year resolutions though was to make myself do a bit more. I would love to join an activity group, where I can socialise, as I enjoy team sport. I'm having a look around for one of these, but for now I've made a pact with my Mum to run three times a week if we can fit it in. My Mum used to be a great long distance runner but she is feeling the same as me: too much Christmas chocolate!

This morning, we put our running gear on and followed our route which was about 2 miles in total. We wanted to start slowly and steadily as I have read that running for just ten minutes a day can be very beneficial. We ended up being out for about twenty minutes, due to me stopping to walk part of the way. This was fast walking though! I'm still pleased with what I achieved- I must have ran about a mile and a half in all. For me, as I haven't run for a long time, separating your route into walk and run sections is a lot less daunting. I set myself little goals as I go- for instance, run to that white house, to a particular corner, to the top of that hill (I did not make the hill though which was a shame!). It's about doing what you can do, realising when you need a break, but then making a mental note of where you failed so you can improve your targets next time you go out. I think I am scared of hills; my body seems to cower away on the approach, so my next aim is to go for it with a steep gradient. I always take a bottle of water on runs and sip every now and then without stopping. I find it helps to keep my breathing under control. Another tip is to shake out your body as you run if you start to ache or want to give up (yes it looks a bit silly but it loosens you up again!)

As well as doing the running with Mum, I'm attemping to follow a routine for legs and core muscular endurance that I found a while ago on Pinterest. When I did it three times a week last summer, I saw a visible and quick improvement on my muscle tone and stamina. I'm not going to pressure myself to do this three times a week. I've picked out Wednesdays and Sundays as days I can fit this in but I'm not going to wind myself up if I have to skip it due to time.

The routine goes like this:

-20 squats
-30 lunges
-40 calf raises
-50 second wall squat
-100 jumping jacks
-50 second wall squat
-40 sumo squats
-30 leg raises
-20 squats

When I started this routine I had to YouTube a few of the positions to get a clear picture on how to do them, but I like this workout in particular because once you do it for the first time, each move is straight-forward and the routine is memorable. Plus it only takes 15 minutes and you don't need too much space. I do it in my bedroom and can use my door for the wall squat as I don't have a full spare wall. I like to put my Robert's radio on while I do the routine; you can have a little sing and the time flies by! I just want to point out that I haven't made my own fitness plan to lose weight. I want to do this so that I become generally fitter and see healthy exercise as part of my lifestyle.

As you can see, I love to wind down after exercising with a relaxing soak in the bath to ease any muscle ache. I then put on some nice, loose but cosy clothing to keep my muscles warm but give them some breathing space. I'm feeling really calm right now yet I can tell I've exercised well, as my chest is still a bit tight- a good sign that I've raised my heart and breathing rate sufficiently.

What's your fitness routine? xox

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Seaside Chips & Charity Shops!

The vibrant charm of Sea Bells...
I was obviously wrong in saying that I wouldn't have time to write this week, as here's another short diary post for you! This afternoon I met up with one of my closest friends, Rea, in the seaside town she lives in. Although it was drizzling, we had already decided we'd venture down the high street, browse the charity shops and try a lovely looking tearoom she hadn't been to before. Unfortunately the tearoom was closed but we ended up eating in a cute little fish and chip cafe named Sea Bells! Rea kindly treated me to my sausage and chips, which was yummy! I love getting traditional chip shop dinners; it's one of the things I really appreciate about living in Kent and by the coast. 

The charity shops we went into were the best I've ever been in! Unfortunately a huge one that we wanted to look in was closed but we still found some beautiful bargains. I found this really cool, tweedy, checked scarf, which is fairly thin but it will go so well with my camel coat and over chunky knits. I also dug out these shearling lined gloves, which sort of match! They came from an amazing bucket of woolly and silk scarves, hats and other accessories, all of which were £1. I wish I'd picked up this cute, forest-green beanie I saw now, that had a retro 'adventure camp' logo on it. But there's always next time! To be honest, I saw a few more bits I could have bought- a few gorgeous teacup and saucer sets, a tartan vanity case (that smelt a bit musty though!!) and a wonderful edition of Oliver Twist. I didn't end up getting it as it had pencil marks all over the lovely leather cover, but now I'm thinking it could have rubbed off. Anyway, I reined my spends in, with my purchases coming to a grand total of.....£2.50. The 50p came from this book by Sarah Winman, called When God was a Rabbit. I've heard a lot about this novel and I can't wait to add it to my reading pile!
Rea bought some £1 wellies for beach walks and a near-perfect condition, interactive toy with farm animals on for her little man, who she is expecting in April!! I am ridiculously excited to meet him! She has her own blog that she's aptly called Mummy In Grandad Jumpers (she does have the best Grandad jumpers I've ever seen). It's such an adorable account of how she's getting on in her pregnancy.

What's your best charity shop buy? Hope you're all well! xox

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Sunday Stories: Pt 1

I thought I'd squeeze in a post as I have a feeling I won't be blogging much this coming week! I have my PGCE interview for teacher training on Tuesday and I've spent more or less all day preparing for it (Christmas Ferrero Rochers got me through!) We did get out in the morning though for a lovely trek across the fields in our village with Gen. It was so misty; I didn't quite realise just how much fog there was until we were in the middle of a field that usually stretches for miles, and we could only see just a bit ahead of us. It felt a bit like a sci-fi film and we were trapped in this mysterious, supernatural bubble! It wasn't that cold once we got walking, though I was well layered up! I can't take my bobble hat off at the moment- I'm just addicted to its coziness, even when I'm indoors! Getting fresh country air is one of my favourite things to do, which you've probably gathered by now! We're always out and about in our wellies with a very muddy pup! We actually said a farewell to my little sister this afternoon, who's gone back to college in Newcastle for about 3 weeks. Then she's popping back for a last weekend, before heading off to Florida to join the Disney Cruises team as a trainee deck officer! We're not jealous at all... With Immy leaving us it was time to take down all the Christmas decorations. I always feel sad seeing them in their box but then a teeny bit of excitement sets in for next year! Our living room looks absolutely huge now; does anyone else feel like that when they take their tree down?!
This is only a short post but I thought these misty pictures were really cool. I'm thinking of going back to blogging on Sundays as it's the only free day I get really now! Matt always does uni assignments on Sunday so it's my me-time day. That's why I've called this post 'Sunday Stories'- hopefully I will manage to give you a new part every weekend!

What did you get up to today? xox

Saturday, 3 January 2015

The Theory of Everything Review

Today I went to see The Theory of Everything with my family. I didn't really have any expectations other than that I knew I was definitely going to well up, as I did watching the trailer! It sounds really ignorant but I wasn't aware of that many aspects of Stephen Hawking's life, so The Theory of Everything was so enlightening above all yet also a beautiful piece of film making.
I knew what a horrific disease Motor Neurones is as my Mum knew someone personally who had it, but I couldn't believe how harrowing it came across in the film. Eddie Redmayne was indescribable really; I don't think any word could actually do his performance justice! He really came into his own in this film and was unrecognisable from his Burberry ads. Not only was he cast perfectly, being a ringer for Stephen as a twenty something year old, but his use of movement - the body language showing the excruciating effect of the muscular disease- and the emotion he portrayed from the get go were just stunning. Obviously I don't think anyone can fully understand the everyday trials a sufferer of this disease has to face. But this film genuinely and candidly gives you some sort of an idea. Both Redmayne and Felicity Jones (playing Hawking's wife) did meet sufferers and their carers, as well as spending time with Hawking and ex wife Jane, to observe the symbiotic relationship they were to reenact firsthand. The heart-breaking image that absolutely stayed with me is one where Stephen's disease has matured significantly. He is struggling to pull himself up the stairs in his home, while his toddler daughter watches through the stair gate.

What I find so amazing about Stephen Hawking's life is how it has actually been quite underwhelming; at least, it's portrayed in the film that he has an ordinary house, ordinary, pub-crawling teenage friends and a loving family who try to do everything the norm. What I mean is that he still managed to have an identifiable life despite his life-threatening condition. The style of the film itself reminds me of those wonderful romantic comedies that you can't help but adore- it's got the charm, heart and humour of Richard Curtis' About Time for example. Yet the fact that over and over again while watching, you think to yourself, "this is a real story", makes it so much more captivating and very, very emotional. I had a packet of tissues but I was too embarrassed to rustle around and use them so I ended up with such a damp sleeve and I think Matt's jumper soaked up some tears too!
The film is shot in a very realistic and sometimes vintage effect to add to the central theme of memory and loss. Certain scenes played in a gorgeous retro tint (shown in the wedding picture below), including ones where time skipped forward and back. Hawkings obviously never lost his great mind, but what wrecks havoc emotionally in the film is the fact that Stephen was at one point a normal teenager, and the two lovers started out in a conventional relationship. A scene where Stephen watches, frustrated, as friends around him conduct the things we take for granted in life, such as eating with a knife and fork, displayed the almost torturous effect of keeping a sustained mind with ALS.

Stephen's wife, Jane, played by Felicity Jones was also spellbinding. Not only is she so naturally beautiful and eloquent in my book, but she made her character so relatable and believable. Her and Eddie's chemistry was enchanting to watch. I can't stress enough how much this movie needs to be seen; as an important piece of today's culture and in celebration really of Hawkings' inspirational willpower and achievements. Yes, we all came out of the cinema debating the validity of physics, and it definitely brought up some baffling philosophical questions, but it's a film I'm still thinking about hours later. James Marsh, the director has done the most fantastic job and I really hope this film and its two main actors win numerous awards.