Thursday, 7 June 2012

'It is finished'.

three years. twelve pieces of coursework. nine exams. fifty-four essays.

In the immortal words of Jesus himself, 'It is finished!'

This week's selfies make up for a month of absense - here i am soaked in Champagne after my last exam ever (well, unless i go crazy and become a postgrad.)

A very good moment indeed.

Sunday, 22 April 2012


For today's 'lately' post i'm linking up with the salad days blog. 
In the build up to exams, reading the Salad days blog posts is quite literally one of the highlights of my day. Sarah is an american expat living just outside Oxford with the most adorable little girl, a great sense of music and a real gift for making you feel as if you're living her life alongside her. Check the blog out, i promise you'll enjoy it!

So here is my first entry to her 'Catch yourself' portrait club. The idea is to take a photo that offers a glimpse of your life. So here i am; curled up on my window seat in sweatpants, studying and watching the world go by. Its not the most exciting picture, but then again my life is not the most exciting right now :)

Friday, 6 April 2012


Today has been a relatively normal day. I just posted a post about shoes, for goodness sakes.

But in the last fifteen minutes, something in me has changed. I have come to a difficult realisation and in response I have sat here and sobbed, alone in the house.

I read this post about a beautiful woman who, having become aware of massive infidelity on her husband's part, rang each one of his mistresses to tell them that she forgave them. Something in this tale struck a cord with me. My husband has never been unfaithful but, as you know, my life has gone through some huge, traumatic changes this last month and i have come to realise how much unforgiveness i am harbouring in my heart against those who have offended my family. In brutal honesty, there have been times this month where i have been full of hatred for these people because of what they have done, and because of their lack of remorse. This is a feeling that i have never felt before, and it has had a massive toll on who i have been lately, and how i have been acting. It has stopped me from living my life freely.

So reading this story, today of all days, made something in my heart break. This woman called those who knew they had wronged her, who had played a part in the destruction of her marriage - not because she had to, or because she had been in the wrong - but because she was aware that forgiveness is something we are called to do. It feels painful to be at this point, knowing that i too need to forgive, regardless of whether my offenders will ever know the true extent of their actions.

Today is good friday; the anniversary of the day that Jesus took up his cross and died for the sins of all humanity. He forgave me. And you know what, knowing that, how can i not forgive those who have hurt me? I really need to try.

Ephesians 4: 31-32 - Get rid of all the bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.


So i went on a splurge and bought new shoes, three pairs to be precise. I swear i've been cooped up in this house so long, i've forgotten the art of self- control whilst shopping. It's a fact, I should no longer be let out of the house. 

These fabulous purchases were made on a rare day out with my best friend. I'm maid of honour at her Christmas wedding this year, so we spent a lovely day at the florist, at wedding dress fittings (man, i wish i could post a pic. This girl is stunning, and her dress is out of this world!) and obviously, a couple of shops here and there...

I justified my purchases with two thoughts. I haven't bought a new pair of shoes for AGES (i held onto this thought until i got home, and was greeted by a pair of pretty-new ankle boots i had conveniently forgotten purchasing); and the shoes were all ridiculously reduced. Those beauties on the bottom (the teal stilettos that scream out 'Maddie!', they were £7! They were only pair left in the store, my exact size and £7 - it would have been rude not to. Luckily, my husband wholeheartedly agreed. I knew there was a reason i married him.

As a side note, i also bought some ridiculously cheap scented candles from primark. Who knew the shop held such treasures. i seriously will never cough up more than £2 for a candle again and given how frequently i buy candles (almost every time i visit the shops - despite a depressing clause in my rental agreement that prohibits me from lighting them!) this is quite a significant promise.

Sunday, 25 March 2012


Apologises for my lack of blogging recently. I have so many half finished entries clogging up my post board, i promise i will get round to them eventually. Things are still hectic here. Life is still a mess, and i now have the added pressure of 20,000 words to write in the next two weeks.. stressed is not the word.

But regardless, here are some snaps from some of the happier times from the last two weeks. They were few and far between, but here they are - little gems on an otherwise bleak horizon.

 1. Summer is finally here. The Flip flops have been retrieved from the very back of the wardrobe.
2. A celebration in honour of our last lecture ever!
3. Some idiot broke our wing mirror. But i fixed it, alone. Superwoman.
4. Working at all hours of the day. My productive hours are from 4am until sunrise ha.
5. St Paddy's day with my wonderful daddy. 
6. My beautiful mum on Mother's day. Lunch at the Beauport was gorgeous.
7. Rye in the sunshine. I love this cottage, it makes my heart skip.
8. Piggies ordering dessert. 
9. My lovely brother and his girl on a family day out. I've missed these guys.
10. Saturday nights in with the man and trashy TV. Emotional recovery.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

The best man.

The relationship between a father and his daughter is something very powerful. I am proud to be my father's daughter and there is nothing on earth that will change that. 
My father is the best man and i count my lucky stars that God gave me a man so wonderful and so talented to learn from. This man has been to hell and back (multiple times!) and yet he is so courageous, so patient and so forgiving. His nature is not one of brute strength, but his strength comes from his calm acceptance of life and the horrors it can throw at him. His strength is found in his sense of dignity and his habitual honesty. I am so blessed.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

i am sorry.

This post is an apology in advance. I am not going to be around very much in the next few weeks. My family right now is battling the biggest trail, and i am emotionally spent.

If you are of the praying persuasion, please pray for us - we need it.
Today i am grateful for my husband - my rock, and for both of my wonderful parents. No-one deserves this, least of all them.

Thursday, 8 March 2012



1. The final push toward Coursework deadlines means long days in the UL reading room.
2. This snap was taken at 6.30am on a very misty morning on the river. Stunning, but treacherous to steer through. 
3. Dismantling and trailering 'Sarah' and 'John' for WEHORR (see previous post!)
4. Some much needed girl time, with some much needed ice-cream.
5. I am so lazy when it comes to hair. Here's me attempting a new style. I got bored, it didn't last more than five minutes after this photo was taken. 
6. Lunch today with Pia. You guessed it, Giraffe's deli lunch burger. I swear i alone could keep that restaurant in profit.. (if it wasn't already always packed out!)

'Row, row, row your boat'

Last weekend i had the immense privilege of coxing the 'Woman's eights head of the river race' on the Thames. It was without a doubt THE most terrifying, but most fulfilling moment of my short coxing experience.

For those of you who don't know what it entails, the race is a 7.5 km (15k there and back!!) international competition along the river Thames. It follows the route of the Oxford/Cambridge boat race but instead of just two crews, the river is littered with over three hundred woman's boats. Its a logistical nightmare but an incredible experience. 

For you to get a flavour, heres a short clip from the Thames rowing club this year: 

As the cox, i am the feisty lady steering and motivating those poor exhausted woman in the boat and, trust me, by 6km rowing against the Thames' choppy waters those girls were tired.

Our day started at 5am. It did not start particularly well. In my sleepy state i grabbed a bag of raw bacon out of the fridge, instead of my sandwich! I felt very silly come lunchtime when, instead of my lovingly prepared chorizo sandwich, all i had to eat was raw back rashers that had been sitting in the sun ha!

Nonetheless, after very nearly missing our taxi we made it to the station and started the long journey to the river. Typically, the whole victoria line was out of action so after some nifty iphone route-planning, we finally made it to the WRONG boathouse where all our boats and coach nowhere to be seen.

We assumed that at this point, all our misfortune would have been used up and went about rigging the boats for the race. Unfortunately, no one connected the two wires that connected the microphone to the speakers. Cue some very panicked fumbling about in the boat moments before the race was due to start, and some very difficult marshalling.

Despite all the set backs, my girls raced beautifully. Here they are in all their glory:

Copyright: Jet photographic, Cambridge.
(and there's me, in my bright pink waterproofs and some bedraggled wet hair!)

Amazingly, we managed to complete the course in 25mins!!! And jumped up nine rankings in the process. (thats a big deal!) I honestly could not be more proud of these ladies and their dedication. 

We rowed home completely unaccompanied. There were no marshalls and no instructions, just the calm abandoned waters of the river Thames. Naturally we sang disney songs and took it in turns dropping out of the stroke to eat mint cake. 

 Heres a glimpse of our journey home:

Unfortunately, we couldn't rest for long. Saturday night marked the end of the woman's racing season and so we had to scrub up in record time to attend Boat Club Dinner. For the most part it was a civilised affair, with profiterole swans and plenty of port.

Excuse the iphone quality. Blame a very drunk captain of the boats.
However, soon the lack of sleep and wine caught up with us and our night descended into this. It was unfortunate, but somewhat inevitable ;)

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

KONY 2012

Please put down your work, essays, children or whatever else is occupying your hands at this moment and watch this film. 

Its 29mins, but please do not be tempted to skip. It is so important. Use it for procrastination if that works for you. 

It has become so easy in our modern world to have become desensitised to issues such as this but these children matter. They matter to me, and i surely hope that they matter to you. 

Disclaimer: To be clear, i do not wholly support Invisible Children's way of going about this. These reservations are based on allegations to do with their chosen military strategies. 
However i do believe that trying to help is better than sitting back in our comfortable lives and doing nothing. I also think that awareness of these children's plights can not be a bad thing. Just please read both sides of the story and make up your own mind, before giving any monetary donations or supporting their cause beyond raising awareness.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

A month in photos :)

So i am in love with Instagram. Its official, and there is no denying it.  So to celebrate this new found obsession i took up a monthly photo challenge - you know, so i have an excuse to go crazy with my instagram feed :) Enjoy my month of, often pointless, photos.

1. My view from my window seat 2. The Word:John 1:1 3.Hands 4. a sneaky stranger shot.
5. 10am snowman building. 6. Dinner at Midsummer house 7. buttons. 8. Liquid sunshine!
9. Front door 10. Self portrait 11. Something that makes you happy. 12. Inside my wardrobe
13: Blue skies. 14. Loveheart jelly bean :) 15. Phone. 16: My new pink blazer.
17. Time. 18. Drink 19. Something i hate to do. 20. Handwriting.
21. My fave childhood photo. 22. Where i work. 23. Shoes!

24: My lack of bathroom cabinet: mess! 25. Green pool table 26: St Pauls at night - dinner with in laws

27. What i ate: lots of sugary goodness. 28: money, or lack of. 29. Listening to the boats being set up for the river

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

A Sugar feast.

Last friday, we held one of our infamous pudding parties. These nights are always such a big hit among our group of friends, and this time we enforced a 'no pudding, no entry' policy - it made for a huge variety of dessert goodness but also more leftovers than we could have guessed. Who'd of though that no-one can polish off the equivalent of a whole pecan pie to themselves?!!
Our selection this year included eton mess (amazing!!), banana bread, various pies, brownies, some indescribable pudding made of sponge, baileys and chocolate (dessert of the night!) and Benedict's Gin and tonic jelly, that had so much gin it blew you away - good in theory, execution needed improving.

So to the point of the post: pudding goodness. 
Here are two very simple recipes for two of my favourites: pecan pie and banoffee pie. The pecan pie recipe in particular has been through a lot of tweaking in recent months, i think i've finally got it just right. The original recipe can be found here.The Banoffee is just so simple, it barely requires any thinking, and no baking (what a plus!)

Chocolate Pecan Pie

80g of chocolate (40g milk, 40g dark). Broken into tiny pieces. 
You could use all dark, but it's too bitter for my tastes.
45g unsalted butter.
160g granulated sugar.
230 ml golden syrup.
3 whole eggs.
1.5 tsp of vanilla extract
180g pecans, chopped. Leave a few pecan halves for decoration.

I must confess, i am normally pretty lazy when it comes to this recipe and use pre-made pastry. (a life saver when you don't have the time to spare to be fiddling around with dough!). Sainsbury's fresh shortcrust pastry is the best and biggest sheet for your money, with Jus-roll a close second (though i find the sheets a little too sticky and square for this recipe).

1. Two hours or so before you're ready to make the pie, line a pie tin with the ready made pastry sheet, cutting off excess. Prick base several times with a fork, and leave in the fridge to chill until you are ready to make the filling.
See how easy that step was?! ;)

2. Melt the butter and chocolate together in a heat proof bowl over boiling water, until a smooth runny texture. Stir continuously to stop the chocolate from burning. Set mixture aside to cool.

3. In a separate saucepan, combine the sugar, golden syrup and bring to the boil. Again stir continuously until thin in texture, and all lumps of sugar have melted. Set aside to cool.

4. Beat the eggs in a large bowl, then combine with the cooled chocolate mixture. And continue to beat in the golden syrup mixture, until thoroughly combined and think in texture. Add in the chopped pecans (be careful when chopping, i sliced open a thumb - not fun!) and vanilla essence.

5. At this point i filled the pie crust with filling and left the whole thing in the fridge to cool. You could alternatively, cool the mix before pouring it in the base, but either way should work fine.

6. Bake the pie for 20 mins, at 210'C. At 20 mins, lower temperature to 180'C and bake until the crust is golden and the filling is firm when prodded. 
If, like me, this process has made you hungry take this opportunity to make yourself some lunch. Heres mine:

7. When baked, take your pie out of the oven and enjoy. Amazing, with creme fraiche (especially for breakfast :) or vanilla ice cream.

Banoffee pie


Digestive biscuits, crushed.
A knob of butter.
1 can of condensed milk.
2/3 Bananas (the riper the better), sliced into circles.
250ml of double/whipping cream.
Chocolate/coffee granules

1. Melt knob of butter in saucepan over medium heat. Add crushed digestive biscuits and stir together, until a crumbly paste has formed.

2. When combined, pour into a pie dish to form a biscuit base. Put pressure on the mixture with the back of a large wooden spoon, until the base is very firm and evenly spread. Chill in the fridge for a minimum of two hours.

3. Put the can of condensed milk in a saucepan of simmering water. Make sure the can is completely covered and boil for 3.5 hours, regularly topping up the saucepan with water. Do not let the water line fall below the can. This isn't as mundane as it sounds, just check every half hour.

Alternatively, you could miss out this stage by buying a can of prepared caramel. However i am a firm believer that the taste is nowhere near as good as the condensed milk - for me, its worth the extra effort.

4. When ready, pour your new caramel into the pie base and spread evenly with a knife.

5. Cover caramel layer evenly with banana pieces.

6. Whip cream in large bowl and generously spread over the banana layer of the pie. The more cream, the better.

7. Finally, grate chocolate on top of the pie, and if to your taste sprinkle coffee granules.