Wednesday, 30 November 2011

#Right to Strike.

In the UK over 2/3 of the country (who work) work in the public sector and yesterday those people were striking. The majority of nurses, fire fighters, teachers, social workers etc were on the streets enforcing their right to strike.

The reason? Is not to do with pay, like many strikes are. It is to do with our pensions. The government were newly formed in May 2010. We were told that that had to make a saving of £12 billion to sustain our future. I cannot speak for other public sector organisations. But I know for a fact that the government pledged to the NHS (our national health service) that they would leave our pensions alone.

Fast forward to November 2011 and this was all one big fat lie and to say I am angry is an UNDERSTATEMENT!

The government announced plans earlier this year and more clearly last night that public sector workers will have to work longer in order to keep our pensions. We will have to put more money into our pensions ourselves and that the government would TAX US MORE the more we put in. How that makes sense? let alone fair? still puzzles me! In fact I sat down with my Mum this afternoon and with the rate economy is going and the amount (I can just about afford) to put into my pension. I would have to work until I am 81!!!!!


I know I am naive to say this but when 2/3 of your country work within this sector you would have thought your government would use their ears a bit more instead of piss them all off.

I'm a nurse and I am extremely proud to be one. I signed up for this career for the rest of my life. I don't expect perks. I don't expect an amazing pension. I don't expect a fantastic wage. But I do expect support from our government. Especially when they want us to look after the sick, teach our children, stop illegal immigrants from entering the country and supporting families in social crisis! I know many people are saying public sector workers are just making things worse for ourselves and maybe we are, and sometimes, just maybe, we have to take risks!!

So do I totally relate to why people are striking? Yes. 100%!

Am I taking part? No.

I can't sacrifice my job to do it. Not in the sense that I'd be fired (that's a bit extreme) but when I took the oath to be a nurse. I meant it. And I simply can't leave patients ill in a bed needing nursing care desperately, instead to stand with a placard in the street.

I support them. I have signed numerous petitions about my disgust at this plan to "sustain our future" when if they do this the public sector won't have a future! I have written to my local member of parliament and area councillor. I am proud of everyone who protested today and giving us a voice. Thank you!

I refuse to be told I am not taking part, when I am. I just love my job and my patients too much to leave them to take to the streets. 

What has annoyed me the most today is that our government didn't even take the time to address the millions of people who peacefully protested (August rioters take note of that...). All our PM had the audacity to do was say this "the protests have had little effect on our democratic decision today." It just makes my blood boil. Well when the ambulance crews are 50% down, the kids raiding Burger King begging for another day off school, A&E piling up with trauma cases but no nurses to pump chests and illegal immigrants entering the country and stealing off the government budgets. Don't have the nerve to say the protests had no effect....I'm not pleased it came to this but it really has to be a two way street. The government can't sustain a future without us and the public need the government to provide and listen!

But to everyone who went out there and are still there. Good luck and be proud!!!

So what do you think? #right to strike or #wrong to strike?

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

What I'm Loving Lately.

I have never been a lover of diets and crazy fads to stay fit and lose weight etc. In fact, fad diets, pills and weight loss adverts are in my top ten " let's moan about it" subjects haha. 

I have never been obsessed about my weight. I don't calorie count. I watch what I eat but I try to be good when eating. I don't weigh myself either, not because I hate them, but because I know that if my clothes feel to tight I need to lose a little. Anyone else measure by their waistline and not the weighing scales?

In saying that I seem to get myself into a rut every summer. You know when the bikinis come out and your going on holiday? Of course you want to look good. I want to look good! A lot of my friends say they tend to 'let themselves go' after Christmas and in winter. You know when it's warm and all you want to do is snuggle under a duvet and eat chocolate? (that does in fact sound amazing right now!)

I 'let myself go' every summer which to me is the worst time. I wish I knew what it is but I gorge, go out for more meals, eat more than I should on BBQ's and always find when it comes to getting my winter wardrobe out. It feels a tad too tight! It happens every.single.summer and I wish I could blame the sunshine but the UK doesn't get thaaaat many summer heat waves. But I am happier in the summer and when it is lighter outside. The longer the daylight hours the more hours I get to eat, seems only fair right? I wish!

So this winter I decided I need to lose those extra pounds. I go to the gym and do three 30 minute work outs a week which works perfectly for me. It's doesn't always go that way with my eating habits though. I eat more chocolate and biscuits than I care to admit sometimes.

My friend Angie at work told me about this website and phone app called 'My Fitness Pal' and at first I rolled my eyes. Another one of those "we can make you thinner in so many weeks' kinda thing. I wasn't interested. Then I started seeing Angie looking better and better as the weeks went by!

Maybe this thing does work? So I decided to try it out and this is what I am absolutely loving lately!!!!

It's simple. You input what you eat, drink and exercise daily. It works out the calories, fats, sugars, what you should be eating more and less of all for you. At first I kept forgetting to put my food in but if you make a habit of doing it at a set point in the day (I do mine before bed) you get into a routine. I want to not like this but it really does help!!!

It isn't so much the calorie counting and that for me. It has made me realise what pointless things I eat/drink that I don't need to!!! For example last week I ate 4 biscuits at work (not a lot right?) but when I put it into my fitness pal it worked out I could have eaten a whole box of grapes, 2 oranges and a cereal bar for the same amount of calories. It sounds obvious when you think about it but not when your reaching your hand for the biscuit tin. Plus, I don't feel like I am dieting or excluding food one bit. I quite enjoy it in a weird way!

I eat a lot better now. Of course I still eat chocolate (I'd be a freak not to!) but I am more aware of my eating habits. It's funny I had never heard of this app before but as soon as I started using it everyone was raving about it!!!

*pictures credited to my fitness pal.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Priscilla Bus.

Last week after retuning from NYC I also had the pleasure of spending some time in my version English New York too. I got to spend a day in London!

Even though I live a 25 minute train ride from my capital I don't go there as much as I like too and this has got to change. I love London. It has so much to see, do and offer so when Oli came to visit last week I made it a mission to take him there.

At first we visited London Aquarium along the Southbank. I have never been before and I do love the sea! (I'll try and add pictures of the fishes, sharks and penguins when I get them off my camera!). Plus, it made me appreciate the Ocean a little bit more. It really is a whole world down there and us as humans totally take it for granted.

Afterwards Oli and I did a little Christmas shopping in central London. It was SO neat to see all the Christmas lights lit up. I won't lie I felt very festive that evening and it was only mid November! It's never too early in my book.

Then I led Oli home saying we had to get back to do my local pub quiz. Was I lying?

Of course I was.

I have a habit of doing surprises for people and I will give myself credit for this. I am pretty awesome at making them surprises. As we were heading to the station Oli said "We had better get back for the pub quiz? and I said "I think we should hurry and to get to your birthday present!" - his face was priceless!

I had organised weeks before to take him to see Priscilla Queen of the Desert. I love the theatre and whenever Oli is over here in the UK I always make an effort to take him to a show... because London really does do the BEST shows! But he was also going to be meeting some other people too.

Some of my awesome blog friends! Ruth, Mike, Laura Anne, Oli and I.

Last year Ruth, Laura Anne and I tried to go and see this show. We share a love affair for the Aussie soap Home and Away and in particular are fans of Ray Meagher who plays Alf in it. But we couldn't go :(. I went and saw the show in March, met Alf and I just knew I had to see this show again.

It IS camp, hilarious, quite rude in places but such good entertainment. It may not be everyone's cup of tea but it was a brilliant evening out and I think Oli enjoyed his birthday present! I had met Laura Anne back in June and have known Mike for about a year. But it was the first time I had met Ruth. It was so good to finally meet her and also just as good to see Laura again too!

Yay for amazing blog friendships!!! I'm very lucky.

Plus, just to make the night even better....we all got to meet our Aussie LEGEND!  Ray Meagher a.k.a. ALF!!
Thank you to Laura Anne for the pictures, they're priceless. I am so glad we got to do it and thanks to all of you for making Oli feel so welcome.

It was a brilliant day and night that I only wish we could repeat again.

Monday, 21 November 2011

New York Day 3

This was our last day and first we had to pack. I did not like this...we were leaving our lovely hotel room. If you go to NYC stay at the Millennium Hilton. The beds are amazingly comfy, the freebie bath stuff I kindly took home (hehe) and it was really spacious.  Below is a picture of myself in the hotel room with the space ground zero bores behind me. I still find it weird that over 10 years ago this window would have been blocked by the twin towers.

We spent the morning shopping and we spent the majority of this down 5th Avenue where all the expensive shops are. No lie outside the Cartier shop you had to go round with a personal security guard (what a way to make a tourist feel happy to shop there!). However the best shop? Here's a clue...

You can do easily get lost in there!!! But we all LOVED Macy's - LOVEEEED IT! Everyone says how awesome NYC is for shopping and I totally agree. I could have bought so much more. There were some great deals and some not so great deals (like the make up? OUCH!) but on clothes and shoes = amazing! We fell in love with this place.We spent two hours in there shopping. I bought some black boots (reduced from $150 to $79!) and some Christmas goodies for my friends. Nicola did all her Christmas shopping too! I really could have stayed in there all day. We also went to Century 21 but it gave me a headache - it was a mess, good deals, but I couldn't work my way round from tripping up on clothes haha.

The one thing we didn't get to do was go up the Empire State building. We were tempted to go up on this day but because we had gone up Rockerfella we thought was a waste of money. We still went a stood outside which was ace!

We then went back to Times Square as Nicola and Robbie wanted to get some baby stuff. We bought the baby a gift too...too cute right?

 She's 16 weeks now and her bump is finally starting to make an appearance!

Nic and Robbie in Times Square.

After lunch we headed down into China Town and Little Italy. I did not have my camera out for this point but it was an interesting contrast to central NYC. Last but not least we headed to Brooklyn bridge - it was blustery!

I was surprised how long a stretch it was to walk across. It took us a good 45 minutes! Then we headed back to the hotel to grab our cases to head to JFK. Picture moment this was too....I was so excited to go in a yellow Taxi (just Robbie got in the way!)

As we were driving to the airport I won't lie...I had a little cry to myself. I really did not want to go home, despite the cruddy feeling in the beginning. I had the best time! On our way we went through Times Square and I took this picture on my sister's camera. This sums up New York perfectly...

Full to the brim with life. Busy. Vibrant. Exciting. Almost like a different planet and it's because of this as to why people return. I will return again someday. I just know I will. Now I can safely and happily say New York is crossed off my 'to visit list'

Thursday, 17 November 2011

New York Day 2

Waking up on day 2 felt so much better. We were all in a much better mood and the jet lag wasn't so bad. This was my favourite day out of the entire stay.

First thing we did was breakfast - nom nom! I had heard about this diner in Manhattan that was Glee style. It was called the Stardust Diner situated on Broadway. All the waiters were aspiring singers, dancers and choreographers and they all sung whilst you were eating your food. I LOVED it! I know it isn't everyone's cup of tea but it was neat to be somewhere so different. I'll repeat again but we don't get places like that here in the UK.

Stardust Diner - Micah singing!

Then after breakfast we headed off to this beautiful place. Central Park was in my top 3 places to go to. It looked so pretty in Autumn and it is HUGE!!! You can so easily get lost in there. 

We decided the best way to see all of Central Park was do a Horse and Cart ride around it. It was fairly priced and something different. This is us 4 in the Horse/Cart below before setting off. It's $110 for 45 minutes which between the four of us wasn't bad. I recommend it!

The guy who was carting us also gave us a good tour guide of places like the boathouse, the Dakota building where John Lennon was killed, the rocks where the Home Alone kid met the old bird woman and this place...(sorry for the blurry picture).

F.R.I.E.N.D.S fountain. This is the fountain they filmed in for the opening credits. Rach and I were so excited when the tour guide said this because it was watching re-runs of Friends back from 1998 that made us want to visit NYC!

We then got lunch and then did something I have ALWAYS wanted to do in NYC. That's see a show on Broadway! Nicola and I really wanted to see Wicked but it was sold out so we settled on Chicago. It was brilliant. I have never seen Chicago before so in that aspect I loved it. I won't lie though I prefer the theatre back at home. It's much more spectacular and London Broadway really goes to town with things. In saying that I would still see a show in New York again!

We saw a matinee showing so when we got out it was dark. We then decided we would do Empire State or Rockerfella centre. Then we heard that Empire state was closed due to the wind - it was really windy in NYC that day. My hair sure told me about it that night trying to get the knots out! So we headed to Rockerfella and I was SO impressed.

 I absolutely LOVE this photo I took of the Rockerfella building!

I was so excited to get the the top. The atmosphere was really festive down below on the ground. They were building the Christmas Tree whilst we were there. Plus, I also saw the infamous Today Show set across the street. Up at the top was another venture. I cannot put into words how taken aback by the scene I was!

Remarkable isn't it? 
Plus I still got to see The Empire State all lit up!

After spending about an hour up there we headed to Ruby Tuesdays near Times Square for dinner. It was our first proper meal out there so we devoured our food. I just remember coming back to the hotel that night saying to my sister how an Earth did we manage to fit in so much?! And the sad fact was we had more day left in this magical city :(.

Day 3 will be posted soon! Enjoy! 

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

New York: Day 1

I think the best way for me to chronicle my trip is to document each day I was there. So be prepared for an overhaul of pictures - ready?

I do want to say first and foremost a massive shout out to Virgin Atlantic airways. They have been the best airline I have ever flown with. Their in flight entertainment system was brilliant (I watched Friends with Benefits, The Help and Harry Potter on the way out). Plus, the food was actually edible and I slept as well. Rach had a few tears at first but as soon as she had the sweets and pop corn for the movie watching she was much better. Thanks Virgin!

We arrived really late at night on the 10.11.11. New York is 5 hours behind so it was actually early morning UK time when we got to bed. As I said in my previous post I didn't think I would suffer with a 5 hour difference. I was wrong.

I woke up the next morning with the worst headache and I felt so dizzy, it was rotten. But when I opened my hotel curtains this is what I saw.

 Ground Zero.

In the above photo you can see two squares and that's where the twin towers stood. They have made a stunning water feature for each one with all the names of the people who died engraved in the marble. The rest of it will be trees and a museum. Sadly, we couldn't go inside because this weekend was open to veterans only. As awesome as it was to see the construction and rebuild it was also heartbreaking. The area is much bigger than it appears and there is a constant sense that something is 'missing' there. New York towers above you, you have to crook your head to see the top of buildings and to have this gap just didn't feel right at all. Also, at first I didn't notice but on my last day, there were a couple of loud planes that went over head by the hotel and New Yorkers would instantly look up with 'that look' - it was just another reminder that still 10 years on the fear is still tangible. 

After having pancakes for breakfast we went on the Staten Island cruise and visited Staten, Liberty and Ellis Island. To say I was excited was an understatement. I was about to see the iconic NYC skyline and it didn't disappoint.

 I've seen this so many times in pictures. To see it in front of me was amazing!

We boarded into Liberty Island first. It was my favourite of the islands due to the fact it was picturesque!

My best Miss Liberty impression. She looks absolutely massive up close but in comparison to the skyline she is quite a small tinker!

We then sailed to Ellis Island. This is the island immigrants went to register before being allowed entry to the USA. I am not a museum girl but the museum here is a must see. It has a step by step guide from room to room of how the 'accepting' process went. I found it really interesting and they still have the registry book with all the signatures. Incredible!

 The registry room. Three centuries ago this room was filled with immigrants wanting to start a new life in USA.

Sailing back to Manhattan.

It was at this point in the afternoon that jet lag really began to affect me. I felt so unwell and disorientated. I was popping paracetamol and codeine intermittently every 2 hours to get rid of the pain but nothing was shifting it. I was really annoyed because I was in this magnificent city but all I wanted was my bed!

Afterwards we got the subway (most confusing thing ever!!! Everything is labelled with a colour and a letter. Why can't it just be every subway sticks to one coloured line like London without throwing in letters?! rant over). We got the subway to grand central station where we got Starbucks - nom nom!

 Anyone recognise the Friends with Benefits dancing scene from here?

Then we watched the Veterans Day Parade - I loved it. It made me feel so much better seeing the floats and marching bands. We don't really have that in the UK. 

We then headed to one of my favourite places whilst in NYC. 


I dubbed this 'Crazy Town' because it really is. It's just full of lights, televisions, advertisements and people! Lots and lots of people that you almost feel like your in a different universe. I walked round like a rabbit in headlights and almost felt like I was a little kid saying "I want to go in there" and "Oh I want this! I have to get this!" Haha!!! It really is surreal. My sister's fiance said you just can';t take it all in. There is so much there that you simply can't. For me it was the best place to go shopping.

By 6pm we had burnt out. I needed sleep. Nicola had a sudden onset on pregnancy sickness and we were all just zonked. So Rach and I watched F.R.I.E.N.D.S with a burger king in our hotel beds til we fell asleep.

Best sleep ever! Stick around for Day 2 soon...

Monday, 14 November 2011

New York Minute

Well I arrived home - very tired - this morning from what I can only describe as an insanely awesome trip to New York. It sounds silly but I am still taking it in and I still feel giddy at the fact I even went! One thing that surprised me was the 5 hour time difference but boy did it. I don't actually think 5 hours is all that much but I have never had such bad headaches and dizziness in my life. Just hope the more I long distance travel the more I'll get used to it!

I will do more in depth blog posts during the week. I have Oli coming to stay this week and we have some things lined up before I head back to work Thursday. I plan to get them up with the colossus amount of pictures this week! (I'll probably break it up into 3 posts or something as I want to document EVERYTHING!!!)

All in all I really did have the best time. I won't lie when I was in the taxi on the way to JKF I even shed a little tear (too silly?). I'm just so glad I finally went after 13 years of wanting to go so badly! For now I will leave you with a sneak peek picture of me in what was my favourite place. Take an (obvious) guess?

13/11/11 - Times Square Centre Steps.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Remember Them

"And in Flanders field where the poppies blow, where the war dead sleep and the poppies will continue to grow..." - based on John McCrae

When my sisters and I were discussing our New York trip last week there was one thing we knew we had to do. Take part in Remembrance day. Every year we wear our poppies and every year we watch the remembrance service on the Sunday.

This year we are not at home but in New York City. So we felt it was only fitting to visit Ground Zero on 11.11.11 and we will hold a 2 minute silence together at the 11th minute past the 11th hour (USA time). So that's where we will be today.

There is no denying that war takes up a lot of our news stories, our newspapers and a lot of our history. Even though it isn't nice to think about a lot of the time the world is continually at war with each other in some way.

But there's no mistaking one thing. There are thousands of heroes out there willing to sacrifice it all to allow us to live in freedom, to protect us and who do it so willingly.

So to those who are on the front-line now, to those who have served and earned their medals and to the ones who have sadly lost their lives.

Thank you.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Nearly there NYC!

Tomorrow is a very VERY very exciting day for me. It sounds really corny to say this but a dream is coming true tomorrow for me.

"Now your're in NEW YORRRRKKK, these streets will make you feel brand new, the lights will inspire you" - Alicia Keys

I'm going to NEW YORK CITY! And, again, this sounds really silly but I really have to pinch myself that I am actually going. I have wanted to visit this city for so long!!! It was the first place I added to my 'to visit list' back in 2007.

At the moment I am shattered. I can't be bothered to pack but instead reading my NYC pocket guide. I haven't got my passport out yet but instead looking up the entry fee to Empire State Building. I still need to book my travel insurance but instead looking up the weather to see if it is UGGS season (FYI it certainly is!)

You catch my drift haha.  

This trip means the world to me and so much more. I cannot wait to share the trip with you guys on here. It really will be a keepsake.

There are some things I'd like you to keep your thoughts and fingers crossed for. Nicola is very nervous about flying pregnant. It's all safe and everything for her to fly but for a first time Mum to be she keeps thinking the worse. My main worry is my little sister, Rach. She HATES flying, in fact she made herself sick with nerves last night to the point she was actually sick poor girl! She has managed a 2 hour flight before but even then she pretty much cried the whole time so I am scared for her to experience a 6 hour flight!

Rach and I have wanted to visit NYC ever since we started watching F.R.I.E.N.D.S back in 1998! So it is just as an amazing trip for her as it is for me.

I'm excited for Times Square, Broadway, The GLEE cafe!!, sailing past the Statue of Liberty, eating a hot dog in central park, having a Manhattan cocktail in Manhattan and ultimately buying the I <3 NY top of course!

Don't get me started!!! See you next week guys.
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