Friday, 28 February 2014 Workout #1

I don't want to do the same workout every time I go to the gym, or every time I workout at home - not only is it a bit boring, but it actually stops you making gains, as you continually focus on the same muscle groups. I'm still looking to gain muscle as well as tone, so I took to to search for an upper and lower body workout aimed at achieving the aforementioned goal. That said, I don't think changing your workout every week is a good thing either, as it makes it difficult to see strength gains! is an excellent website for many reasons; it is a wealth of information on the fitness industry, from workouts to supplements to fitness celebrity workouts to interviews. You can create your own account and buy supplements from the site, as well as talk to other like-minded individuals. The website also has a feature where it directs you to suitable workouts, however I prefer to look myself.

It can be a bit overwhelming at first, as there are thousands of programmes, so practise a bit of SEO (search engine optimisation) and really think about what you want to achieve. Putting in 'upper body workout' is too vague - do you want to split your workout into upper and lower, or by body parts (back, chest, arms, abs, legs etc)? 

I wanted a separate upper and lower body programme because of time constraints; my passion is horse riding, so as much as I love lifting things up and putting them down, I would rather be at the stables with Mr Ernest than at the gym. That said, I still want to achieve results. The programme I found allows me to heft around heavier weights for less reps, and if I have more time, I add a couple of extra exercises on. 

The regimes I've been doing are in Part One: Alternating Upper and Lower Body Workouts:

The rep range is lower on these exercises, but I do about 8 - 10 reps of each.

If you are doing these at home, you may need to make some changes if you don't have all the equipment - I don't own any barbells or machines. With the Upper Body Workout, all of these can be done with dumbbells. For the weighted dips, just use your body weight and a chair or low table. With the Lower Body Workout, the only one you can't do is the lat pull down. Replace this with a different back exercise, or just miss it out. For the calf raises, do them on your stairs or on the pavement.

I like to add about 4 or 5 different ab exercises at the end, such as crunches, L-sits, bicycle crunches, oblique rolls and jack knifes. 

One of the things I really love about this site is that under each workout is a link to a printable page and a PDF, where you can add details of any cardio you did during the workout, your weight, additional supplement info, etc.

If you've never been on before, go and check it out. It's given me loads of ideas and keeps me inspired.


Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Book review: Heartstone, by C.J. Sansom

Happy Tuesday. I hope everyone is well – I’m feeling under the weather after a busy weekend and eating absolutely rubbish on Sunday. I even had to rearrange yesterday’s gym appointment to Saturday.
In the fifth, and hopefully not final, book of the Shardlake series, our ingenious protagonist travels to the Portsmouth area. I finished this book in December 2013, but then visited Portsmouth with my Korean students in January; we went on a tour of the large warships, as well as visiting the fantastic Mary Rose exhibition.
Spoiler Alert:
The sinking of the Mary Rose was heart breaking to read about, reflecting the waste of human life in war. Seeing it in 2014, after it had been pulled from the bottom of the channel, was truly breathtaking, especially after reading Heartstone. Hundreds of men died on that ship.
Objects which are mundane in 21st century life, such as spoons, bowls and chests, become much more precious when they are centuries old, and when the owners died in such a tragic way. I imagine whose it was and what they would think now, seeing it displayed in its own exhibition.

In the tumultuous summer of 1545, England is preparing for war. Men are marching from across the country to Portsmouth, where the French are expected to invade. Fear is widespread. The new coinage Henry VIII has created to fund his war has destabilised the economy, causing anger and unrest.  
Meanwhile, Shardlake is embroiled in a case which will lead him straight to the heart of the battle. He must investigate ‘charges of monstrous wrongdoing’ against the Hobbey family's ward, Hugh Curteys. Against the better judgement of his friends, Shardlake also decides to search for the truth behind Ellen Fettiplace's imprisonment in the Bedlam (we met her in Revelation). When he finds no documentary evidence as to why she is unable to leave, his interrogatory mind is set.
The Hobbey house is eerie and unsettling, with an impending sense of disaster which builds up throughout Shardlake and Barak’s stay. Hugh’s ambivalence and David’s coldness towards his mother are indicators that something is amiss, but it really is impossible to pinpoint what. The backdrop of the impending war infiltrates the household, with the boys regularly practising archery and Shardlake meeting marching soldiers and carts full of ammunition on his secret trips to and from Sussex. 
Abigail, central to the activities in the household, is tormented, creating a palpable sense of nervousness whenever she is around. One particularly callous act towards her, by both Hugh and David, is frightening in its cruelty, as well as the fact that Hugh, the supposedly wronged ward, is a perpetrator.
Shardlake meets a variety of people in Heartstone, providing more minor characters than before; the significance of this is not apparent until much later, but it adds a sense of poignancy at the climax of the story. Sergeant Leacon, whom Shardlake helps in Sovereign, becomes more prominent; an affable character in Sovereign, he is transformed by the siege of Boulogne and the widespread slaughter in France. His shock and personality change echoes that of men returning from the trenches 400 years later.
Heartstone is an explosive end to the series, with the exposure of long-kept secrets and the punishment of old enemies. In a glimmer of hope, Tamasin gives birth to a healthy baby boy, named after the lost men on the Mary Rose.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Book review: Revelation, by C.J. Sansom

What a week. I can't wait to tell you all about my first week of work experience. Until then, let me talk about C.J. Sansom (again)...


Unsurprisingly, this story is based on the Book of Revelation, argued to be the most blood-thirsty and violent gospel in the New Testament. This time, the story becomes much more personal when Shardlake's close friend, Roger Elliard, a kind, philanthropic individual, is murdered. 

Similarly to Dark Fire, Shardlake has two cases to solve: that of Adam Kite, possessed by religious mania and incarcerated in the Bedlam asylum, and the violent murder of his friend.

As the prophecies of Revelation are carried out in the tumultuous spring of 1543, Shardlake finds himself working for Cranmer on a deadly mission, which also brings him into contact with Catherine Parr, the future Queen of England. This novel was more gruesome, more violent and much, much tenser, with Shardlake battling personal emotions throughout.    

The religious mania of Adam Kite is echoed on the streets of London during Shardlake's investigations, with Bishop Bonner attempting a purge of Protestants. The zealousness of people's beliefs is alarming, causing utter blindness to what is happening around them - Adam Kite's priest fasts with him for three days, praying constantly, not realising that Adam is already weak and deeply fearful of evoking the wrath of God. It seems fitting that, with this unrest and bubbling anger, the fifth book is about war. It is also understandable that Shardlake becomes increasingly disillusioned with religion, questioning the presence of God at all in such a volatile and hateful world.

The story touches on the characters' personal lives more than the previous novels, such as Shardlake's and Guy's loneliness and Barak's marital problems - his wife, Tamasin (whom we meet in Sovereign) delivers a stillborn child, causing the couple to struggle with their own feelings of guilt and sadness, thus creating a distance between them.

I am always amazed at the cleverness of C.J. Sansom's plot, and once again, I was dumbfounded when I found out who the murderer was. This is one of the best books in the series - I've tried to decide which is better, Dissolution or Revelation, but I can't!


Thursday, 20 February 2014

Pony Tales: Night School

Yesterday, I went down the yard after getting back from London at around 6:30pm (I'll post about my internship next week - spoiler, it's the best thing I've ever done). Maxx came with me to groom and tack Ernest up while I went to turn the school lights on (it's a little walk away).
I've not ridden in the dark for a long time; instead of being eerie, it's so peaceful. There's something curiously personal about seeing all the horses in their stables when everyone is gone; sometimes when we walk the dogs, people forget to shut their curtains and you can see clearly inside. Being at the stables at night is like looking through the window - they are completely relaxed, not expecting to see anyone. 

Ernest greeted me by lifting his head, putting his ears forward (this is a good sign, like a human smile) and walking to the stable door. Normally, he likes to be left alone in his 'bedroom', but yesterday evening he welcomed company. I came round the corner from getting changed and Maxx was fussing around Ernest, whose ears were still forward. 

He was very alert walking through the woods to the school, our path lit intermittently. I could hear the generator as we neared the school, but Ernest barely registered it. He wasn't as explosive as the lesson on Sunday, which also happened to be when Maxx had his first canter (oops), but he was certainly energised! 

I practiced transitions - walk to canter was easy. We even got halt to canter. The downwards ones still need work, particularly canter to trot; I need to prepare more and keep my leg on, which will to stop him falling into it and then becoming unbalanced. I wasn't really asking for a contact or roundness, but he did become more rounded in the trot as we warmed up. I watched our shadow moving fluidly round the school, and saw the minute drops of rain blowing towards us in the orange lights. 

When we'd finished, I groomed Ernest in the stable. I could see him, my view encompassing the curve of his back into his neck and head, watching Maxx bringing a wheelbarrow for me to tidy his stable. I love how he is constantly curious and alert, observing the world around him. 

Whenever I see Ernest, my anxiety about the future evaporates. He commands my attention by being such a big character, making me laugh and knowing when I need to just be quiet. The stables at night really are a different world, and I felt like we'd been on a little adventure, even if it was just forty minutes of schooling.


Sunday, 16 February 2014

Book review: Sovereign, by C.J. Sansom

Happy Sunday everyone. The weather outside is bright and beautiful - I'm hoping it stays like this as I have a riding lesson at 3! 

Without further ado, here's installment number trois...


The story opens in 1541, with Shardlake and Barak, who is now in Shardlake's employment, arriving at York. They are there to process petitions to the King, who is on a Progress to the North to receive submissions by the York rebels. However, there is also a special mission assigned to Shardlake by Archbishop Cranmer - ensure the welfare of a conspirator, Sir Edward Broderick, who is to be brought to London and questioned about his involvement.

The murder of a York glazier, and the discovery of secret papers in his home, involves them in a mystery connected to Broderick and Henry VIII himself. 

Sansom recreates the excitement and activity surrounding the preparations for the King's arrival, from putting up the royal tents to practicing the correct way to greet him. When the group, Shardlake included, travel out to meet the King, the tension and anxiety literally emanated from the book. Henry VIII is infamous for his temper as well as sheer bulk - his belittlement of Shardlake in front of the Royal procession, because of his hunched form, displays the King as a cruel, ignorant ruler.

The plot is intricate and complicated, neatly sewing together characters who are partly or completely involved in the glazier's murder and the conspiracy. Dissolution and Dark Fire have their share of brutality, however Sovereign demonstrates just how inhumane this period was. Visitors to York are met with body parts nailed to the city's gates, as well as the skeleton of Robert Aske hanging from the castle as a reminder of what happens to rebels. Animals are both food and entertainment; bears are captured and baited as courtly amusement, which Shardlake (thankfully) refuses to watch. As the Royal procession travels to the North, their waste damages the land they travel through, rendering it useless to the owners.

The morality of the tale, for me, rested on Shardlake's mission. As Broderick reminds him, his attentiveness to Broderick's health is only preserving him for worse horrors in the Tower, where he will be professionally questioned - tortured.

I've rated Sovereign as 8/10 because, while the plot was incredibly detailed, it simply wasn't my favourite of the series. The sheer depth of the story, a credit to Sansom, meant that the story became quite drawn out, although all the threads are tied neatly together at the end.


Saturday, 15 February 2014

Book review: Dark Fire, by C.J. Sansom

I was thinking this morning that I've never actually bought a C.J. Sansom book myself. All five of them were gifts: the first from a friend, the other four from Maxx. Since then, I've decided I'm not going to choose books for myself anymore - letting other (trusted!) people recommend them means I've been introduced to more authors and genres. 

For Valentine's Day, Maxx bought me three more books: one by the well-known author and historian Alison Weir, whose books I am already a fan of, and the other two by authors I've never heard of but are apparently very successful. I started Kate Morton's The House at Riverton last night, and now can't wait to start commuting to London again so I can read it on the train.

Anyway, as promised, here is the second installment of my C.J. Sansom reviews...

Dark Fire

Appropriately, Dark Fire is set during the hottest summer of the sixteenth century, in 1540. After Shardlake's dangerous adventures in Scarnsea, he is now trying to lie low in the bustling city of London, convinced he is not in favour with Thomas Cromwell. Cromwell is increasingly unstable himself, as he tries to save the King's fourth marriage to Anne of Cleves.

There are two competing investigations in this fast-paced, brutal second novel, both of which need to be solved in 12 action-packed days. An official of the Court of Augmentations has discovered the formula for Greek Fire, a petrol-based weapon which the Byzantines used to defeat the Arab navies with, in a dissolved London monastery. When Shardlake is sent to recover it, he finds the official and his alchemist brother horrifically murdered and the formula missing. 

At the same time, Shardlake must investigate the case of Elizabeth Wentworth; accused of murdering her young cousin Ralph, she has refused to speak since, languishing in Newgate prison with less than two weeks until she is executed.

As with Dissolution, the story twists to its explosive ending; my mind was literally running to keep up. The reader is introduced to one of Shardlake's greatest enemies, Sir Richard Rich, as well as new ally and partner Jack Barak. Appointed by Cromwell, Barak adds a rougher sense of adventure to Shardlake's investigations, particularly when they break into the Wentworth's property. While Barak's coarse language grates on his superior, his interest in the welfare of the lower classes is poignant, particularly when he reveals to Shardlake that his 'incompetent' aid at the courts is actually half blind. 

Dark Fire is rich with moral dilemma, class difference and racial tension. Guy Malton, the ex-monk from Scarnsea, is now living a quiet life as an apothecary; he provides a source of moral righteousness throughout Shardlake's search for the Greek Fire formula, arguing that if he was able to make it, he would not give the formula to his friend because of the destructive purpose it would be used for. Shardlake's increasing disillusion about religious reform, and the presence of God in general, is substantiated by the reformists' increasing violence in the name of their cause.

Sansom has an excellent aptitude for writing very human, complex characters; Barak is initially suspicious and rude about Guy, even though he too is mocked for being racially different (he is of Jewish descent). Eventually, Shardlake and Barak, and Barak and Guy, become firm friends, but neither are written as inferior, even if the books are from Shardlake's perspective.

I have given Dark Fire 9/10 because, even though it was thrilling, I felt the Greek Fire investigation became too drawn out. I actually thought the story of Elizabeth Wentworth was more intriguing, but this could have been because it was not the only plot of the novel. Even so, Sansom paces this story excellently, revealing kind characters to be cruelly deceptive and hard characters to be fiercely loyal.


Wednesday, 12 February 2014

The Alphabet Travel Game

Having a week off between teaching and my next internship (so excited - editorial and rights!) means I have lots of time to ride and gym and generally be outdoors. This also means I get to experience the weather in all its glory - yesterday, Ernest and I were lucky as it was sunny and pleasant. I only had four layers on top, not five! Today, who knows. It's very grey outside.

Coupled with the dismal weather and the stresses of job hunting, my mind has been wandering. I have a list of things I will do once I'm employed, from trivial things, such as getting a monthly beauty treatment of some sort, to the much more important saving for a mortgage, but one of the most common daydreams of mine is where I would like to travel to next. I've already visited quite a few places, such as Rome last year, but there are dozens more places I would love to visit.

When deciding where we would like to go on holiday last year, I invented (I say invented, but I'm sure someone will have done this before) this little game to see where Maxx and I would both like to visit, and to see how many of the places were the same. Then, as the years draw on, we can cross off where we've been.
  • You need a piece of paper, with A - Z written in a column, and possibly a list of all the countries in the world.
  • Write down a country you would like to visit next to each letter. You can only choose one!
  • If you have a partner, ask them to do the same on the other side.
  • Compare afterwards. If you don't have a partner, it doesn't matter, you can do this with whoever you normally go on holiday with!

Here's my list (in bold are my top 5 places):

Germany (I've only been there for one day, so that doesn't count. Same for Greece)
Korea (South - to see my lovely ex-students! They can be the teacher this time)
Morocco (this was extremely hard to decide)
New Zealand
O... (there's actually only one option and that's Oman - not sure if I'd want to visit this area right now)
Q... (same as Oman)
W... (no places begin with W)
X... (as above)
Y... (same as Oman)
Z... (two options here, but not sure I'd want to visit these countries right now)

Where would you like to visit? Have you been to any of the places listed above? If so, would you recommend going there?


Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Book review: Dissolution, by C.J. Sansom

Firstly, let me explain how no amount of adjectives can truly describe how gripping these books are - I would exhaust my Oxford Thesaurus (that sounds like a breed of dinosaur... I digress). In addition, they are factually accurate, believable and well-written, with a brief author's note at the back describing where authorial liberties were taken and why. The Matthew Shardlake series is my favourite book series ever, so when I finished it in December I was genuinely lost. Well, I'm hoping he'll write a sixth story but there's no word of it yet on his website.

Over the next couple of weeks, I'm going to write a review of each book, thus giving myself more space to gush over each one than if I posted about all five now!


I was given Dissolution by my friend for my birthday last August, but didn't start reading it until one annoyingly sleepless night in Rome in September. Prior to this series, I'd not read much crime fiction before. 

Set in 1537 during the dissolution of the monasteries, the protagonist, lawyer Matthew Shardlake, travels to Scarnsea to investigate the murder of Robin Singleton, one of Thomas Cromwell's commissioners. However, his investigation reveals far more than he bargained for...

Shardlake is a fascinating character, partly because he is a hunchback; the reader is constantly made aware of his disfigurement, through his own references to it and how characters react to him. Hunchbacks were symbols of bad luck during this period, and many characters whom he meets throughout the series are very rude and judgmental. I like Shardlake, because he can be ill-tempered and makes mistakes, experiencing the frustration of his cases rather than solving them with ease. Perhaps this is why the books are so gripping - there are so many revelations and surprises, it's impossible to predict what is going to happen.

Sansom successfully recreates Tudor England, with it's bleak sights and unpleasant smells. The brutality and fear are palpable, making the story even more engaging as Shardlake uncovers the truth behind Singleton's murder. The ending is cataclysmic, cleverly combining the fate of Mark Smeaton and Queen Anne Boleyn (executed in 1536 after 3 years as Henry VIII's second queen), as well as the monks of Scarnsea. I gasped when the murderer was revealed, as I really could not have guessed who was guilty.

Although I said earlier that many of the characters are unkind to Shardlake, Dissolution introduces one man who features in the rest of the series: Guy Malton. As a Catholic monk from Malaga, he is also treated with fear and suspicion due to his dark skin, but he proves to be a gentle, kind and intelligent friend to Shardlake. Interestingly, many of the characters in this series are outside of society, through race, religion, health, gender or sexuality; I appreciate how Sansom encompasses the people whom history has tried to 'write out'. 

I cannot recommend this book enough; I read it solidly for four hours, and have been raving about it ever since. I felt truly transported to Shardlake's world, completely absorbed in the story until the very last page.


Sunday, 9 February 2014

Gym Story #1

Do you know what's better than a productive day? Nothing. Nothing is better than a productive day. I've crossed off no less than 10 things from next week's 'to do' list, and I feel great.

But I'm not here to talk about my day. I'm here to talk about Tuesday. I was pumped to hit the gym after finding a new workout from to aid me in my muscle-building quest (post coming later this week - they even have printable workout logs! Amazing!), so I arrived at 8.30 pm feeling optimistic, and not a little excited to pick up some barbells and put them down again several times. 

However, arriving at this time meant I had to go into the mixed gym. I don't like going in here, because I actually feel quite intimidated; when I started going, one of the trainers did an excellent job of making me feel like a complete imbecile because I didn't know what every machine did. Torn between going another day and my desperate desire to play with the barbells, I decided to man up. 

After a successful and sweaty workout whereby I caught a couple of admiring glances for deadlifting 30kg (4 sets of 10 reps, yessss), I stepped confidently on to the treadmill to cool down. When I was finished, I stepped off the treadmill and walked to the exit.

I forgot there was a step down from the treadmill area. I did one of those awkward, fall-but-not-falls. My arms flailed. I did what any human would do in this situation - pretended to find it really funny and quickly left, hoping nobody had seen. 

But I have to go back... The barbells...

This week, the redesign should commence, so I'm planning lots of regular features I want to start including on my blog. Gym mishaps will definitely be one of them, as will interesting tales from my life with Ernest. If you have any suggestions, let me know!


Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Culture: Weald & Downland Open Air Museum

On Saturday, I went on an excursion to the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum in Chichester with my students. This was the trip I was most excited about on the Winter School, as I haven’t been here for 14 years. One of my most vivid memories is of visiting the museum and being chased by a goose down a small slope when I was at primary school; I re-enacted this event to my students earlier in the week, to their great amusement.

The Weald and Downland Open Air Museum is a collection of buildings, from the 16th to 20th century, which were saved from the surrounding areas in the 60s when these precious old buildings were being torn down. The guide, Ken, told us that the museum has just been granted lottery money, which is going to be used to put up more of the buildings they have in storage.

I was really grateful to be able to ask Ken and the other guides lots of questions, as I learnt many interesting facts; for example, if a house was built after the Tudor period but in the Tudor style, it would still be called a Tudor house. This may sound obvious, but I assumed that if a house was built in 1610, it would be called a Stuart house – however, if it is built in the Tudor style, it would be called Tudor, even though the Tudor reign ended in 1603 when Elizabeth I died. Historians are also able to tell what people did, depending on whether the house had a plot of land attached; so, if there is no land, we can assume that the owner was, for example, a cobbler, as he would not have needed land for his trade.

Until this trip, I’d never really thought about how our livelihoods are portrayed by the houses in which we live. It makes me question what the future generations will conclude about the way we live now.

It was fascinating to go inside these old houses, which are furnished with real artefacts as well as realistic, recreated furniture from the appropriate time period, including beds, a toilet, chests and tables. For someone with a zealous interest in the Tudor period, I was extremely excited to look around a house from 1540; it fed my imagination about who would have been living here and what was happening at the time (in this year, Henry VIII married and divorced Anne of Cleves, then married Catherine Howard on the day Thomas Cromwell was executed for treason). I find that when I visit old houses and historic buildings, I like to touch the walls and woodwork; it probably seems really strange, but I like to imagine the people who have been there hundreds of years before me, in the very same place I’m standing.

Unsurprisingly, I was also excited to see the animals. There was a beautiful Shire horse, Mac, who was pulling a cart around the farm to collect the used straw in the other animals’ pen, as well as very friendly chickens, sheep, and cows, but my absolute favourites were the geese. They all waddled over to us in a line, with one very curious goose sticking his head through the fence to see if we had any food. I was really happy to see geese still at the museum, but also glad not to be chased this time. There was also a lot of ducks, which followed you if they suspected you had any treats for them!

Overall, I think this is an excellent trip out for any age group. They have plenty of helpers who are open to you asking as many questions as you can think of, as well as a cafĂ© selling delicious, homemade food and a well-stocked gift shop (I bought a wooden duck). It’s important to note that many of the helpers are actually volunteers, whom I really applaud for being so passionate about the museum and so helpful if the students or I had any queries.


Monday, 3 February 2014

Peanut Butter Protein Balls

I've been looking for delicious, clean dessert recipes and hit on these protein balls. The recipe comes from Tiffani Bachus of Oxygen magazine, but I found it on Fitsugar on this page.

They're described as a pre-workout snack, but I think they're suitable for any time of day. I've been increasing my protein intake as I'm trying to build muscle, so these are handy hits of protein that also happen to taste delicious.

My ingredients, and yes I lick the spoon. Don't act like you don't.

They take around 10 minutes to make, and you need:

1/3 cup natural peanut butter
1/4 cup honey
1 scoop chocolate whey protein powder (I use GNC's soya protein)
3 tablespoons ground flaxseed (good for omega 3)
3 tablespoons dark chocolate chips (I think if you use milk chocolate they will be too sweet)

The advice is to put everything in a bowl, mix together, roll into little balls and refrigerate. I found that roughly mixing the dry ingredients together first, then adding the (microwaved) honey, made them mix together really easily. They do taste better refrigerated.

Three stages to yumminess.

Depending on the size of the ball, they contain around 105 calories and 4.5g of protein - not the highest amount, but higher than your average go-to snack. I found the sweetness was perfect for a dessert as I didn't want another one after - a miracle for me! The sugar content is a little high, but I suppose to lower it you could substitute the honey for water. I think these would be great for long-distance runs and I've noticed that just one ball does fend off hunger until I'm able to have a proper meal.


Saturday, 1 February 2014

January Round Up

Yes everyone is writing about January and what happened during the wettest month on record, blee blah bloo. But it's a good time to evaluate the goals you optimistically set 31 days ago, so I'm writing about it too.

My aims (detailed list here) were:

  1. Get a career job
  2. Don't dye my hair
  3. Compete in SJ
  4. Run another half marathon
  5. Improve my French
  6. Visit a new country
  7. Lower my body fat.

I've certainly not been lazy in my pursuit of finding a career job, and I have been shortlisted for an editorial assistant role. I'm nervous and excited, and crossing all my digits that I get through the first round - if not, I'll have to be stoic, but at least I was actually shortlisted rather than completely ignored this time! Cross your everythings for me...

Not dying my hair has been painful, especially since one of my students has beautifully vibrant red hair. Oh the temptation... 

Last week was my first showjumping lesson of the year, working on turns rather than height. We've actually been doing excellently with our dressage, finally finally achieving medium trot which I believe would get a good 7/10 in a test. His medium canter is his strength of the two moves, but now I'm pumping him with energy-giving nutrients, it's just transformed his movement (I know that sounds really dramatic but trust me, I've been blown away by how much better he's training and how much more energy he has to do the harder work). It's been like riding a rocking horse in the canter, all up in front and bouncy like a real dressage pony. 
When you think of a pony trotting, that's working trot. Medium trot is when you ask for a lengthened stride. It's often mistaken for going faster. Extended trot is an even bigger stride, when the leg is really extended out in front.

I've been for one run this year so far. Given the weather, I'm not too worried about this, but I do need to start scheduling a weekly run. Self-kick up butt.

I've not been actively studying French so I probably haven't improved, but I would like to take up lessons again once I start working full-time.

Maxx has told me he's taking me to Berlin for our next holiday! So excited! We just need to decide when we're going. 

Last month, I ate better consistently and worked out more, and can definitely see that I am getting more slender. I've started cooking more and researching healthy dessert recipes, so look out for my attempt at making peanut butter protein balls!

This month, I would like to get out to a competition and get that job!

How was your January? What are you hoping to achieve this month?


PS - get a copy of Men's Fitness, March 2014 issue. Not only is it a great magazine and you should buy it anyway, but some of my work is in there! My big feature on road running shoes comes out next month... so buy that one too.