Thursday 27 November 2014


A couple of weeks ago, we finally headed to the Tower of London to see the poppies. It was already 15th Nov so the volunteers had started to remove them, but mostof the 888,246 were still on display.

It was as beautiful as I knew it would be.

HDR image

Monday 24 November 2014

Happy and healthy

I loved this little article on Cosmo Body yesterday: Three things that healthy people do every day.

The three things were [Spoiler Alert]: laugh, hang out with friends and treat yourself. All things that I've been enjoying recently.

I read recently that people who laugh more sleep better, so I've genuinely been seeking out comedy programs on iplayer and podcasts to listen to in the evenings. Can't say if it's working but it definitely helps me switch my brain off from other stresses.

Hang out with friends
I so need to do this more. This weekend we had friends visit and it was sooooooooo nice. I love chatting and hearing about other people's lives. Note to self: make more plans with friends!

In looking for photos to go with this post, I struggled to find many recent pics of me relaxing with mates. Note to self: really, really make more plans with friends!

Treat yourself
I might be a bit too good at this one. At the moment I'm trying to remember to balance out treating with moderation. Last week I went to the whole foods supermarket which was wonderful fun (and I did buy some healthy fruit and veg!), and this weekend has been very indulgent. Will have to have a very sensible week of eating healthily and budgeting more carefully!

Which one are you good at?

Tuesday 18 November 2014

Fireworks at Kenilworth Castle

As I left the house at stupid-o'clock last week, I made the random decision to tweet my whole day. This is what it's like to work on a firework show - oh, the glamour!

6am Up and out of the house wearing thermals + carrying many layers of clothing. It's going to be a cold, wet day. #fireworks #dayinthelife

7am Meet at the yard, load personal kit onto vans, say hi to firers heading out on different shows #fireworks #dayinthelife

#photo I forgot to include in the last tweet #fireworks #dayinthelife

8am Pause at services for breakfast. Weather starting to turn... #fireworks #dayinthelife

9am 20 mins from site and the heavens have opened. It's going to be a cold, wet rig #fireworks #dayinthelife

10am Unload pyro. 56 boxes! #fireworks #dayinthelife

11:30am Rigging the 5" and 6" shells #fireworks #dayinthelife

1:30pm Wind 1, Gazebo 0 :( #fireworks #dayinthelife

2:30pm Wired in most of the fireworks. Rain seems to have paused #fireworks #dayinthelife

3pm #fireworks #dayinthelife current clothing: full set of thermals, jeans, wproof troos, 2 pairs skiing socks, fleece, hoodie,...

...body warmer, wproof coat, buff, hat, gloves, snow boots. #fireworks #dayinthelife

4:30pm Safety briefing and a million yellow tabards #fireworks #dayinthelife

5:45pm We have pushed three vans back along the muddy track. Now time to suit up (PPE) and wait... #fireworks #dayinthelife

7pm Usher people out of the fall out zone and prepare for fiting. Sustem armed. Crowd count down... #fireworks #dayinthelife

7:15pm Someone (not me) pressed go and the show fired. 7:45pm wait for 15mins cool down and safety check #fireworks #dayinthelife

8:50pm van stuck in mud - 12 crew pushing! #fireworks #dayinthelife

10pm A long derig, including a defender row for one of the vans and lots of pushing. Finally leaving site #fireworks #dayinthelife

10:10pm Spoke too soon. Last van stuck. More pushing and towing required. #boggyfield #fireworks #dayinthelife

10:30 The lovely people @KRTFireworks treat us to pizza and a drink #fireworks #dayinthelife

11:15pm On the road. Just need to drive the van back to the yard, then pick up the car and drive home! #fireworks #dayinthelife

Midnight Very brief stop in motorway services to switch driver (we are a bit tired!) 12:30 Back at yard #fireworks #dayinthelife

1:40am Home at last. Unpack car and stumble bed-wards, via a quick cup of tea. Going to ache tomorrow! #fireworks #dayinthelife

Last tweet before I finally succumb to sleep. @FitbitUK + #fantasticfireworks (@KRTFireworks) = a LOT of exercise...

And to round the post off, here's a great photo of the show taken by Alan Ranger:

Sunday 16 November 2014

Turing takes over!

If you follow my Twitter feed then you might be a little tired of hearing about The Imitation Game. Take heart - the film has now been released (in the UK at least, I think the US has to wait another week or so), meaning that I may soon stop going on about it!

The whole thing has been really exciting in two ways: personally and in publicising Alan Turing's name and accomplishments.

Personally, I have walked down the red carpet and met a huge range of celebrities and interesting people. Last week I got to go to Google UK headquarters for a screening, where I met Sir John Scarlett (ex head of MI6) and had a tour of their offices. They really do have sleep pods, a gym and a completely free restaurant/cafeteria!

Turing mentioned as part of a display at Google

But what is truly amazing is the effect that the film is having. My Twitter and Facebook feeds are filling up with positive reviews. It seems to be winning awards left, right and centre. My uncle even had a double page spread in The Times on Thursday (and a mention on the front page)!

Every time someone sees the film, they will realise what a special person Alan Turing was. At the rate we're going, it will touch millions of people, many of whom will never have heard his name before. I continue  to be overwhelmed with pride and excitement on a daily basis.


Sunday 26 October 2014

Sad news

I have lost my fitbit :(

It somehow dislodged itself from my jeans the day after I wrote a post all about it. Am going to have to replace it.

Anyway, here's the original post...

I am loving my fitbit one!

It is small and easy to fix to clothing.

It measures my footsteps, flights of stairs and distance travelled, and calculates calories burnt. 

It can also record my sleep, although I've stopped bothering, and I log my weight every few days. 

I'm finding that having a target (especially for number of steps and flights of stairs) is a good motivator.

And it seems to cope with the rough and tumble of everyday life too - there was an incident a couple of weeks ago involving a washing machine, but it's still going strong! (The fitbit one is not designed to be waterproof, only resistant, so repeating this experiment is not recommended!)

I haven't found a single downside yet. I can always find somewhere on my outfit to attach it and it works brilliantly. Definitely worth trying :)

Last weekend - one of us had been for a morning run. It wasn't me!

Saturday 11 October 2014

Red carpet glamour

I've had the most exciting week ever!

Dress up to the nines CHECK

Stroll down the red carpet in Leicester Square, surrounded by celebrities, TV crews and journalists CHECK

Listen to speeches (including a family name check from Mr Benedict Cumberbatch himself - check out his speech here) CHECK

Watch The Imitation Game CHECK

See my mother, aunts and uncle's names in film credits CHECK

Get whisked off to the after party CHECK

Free champagne in VIP area CHECK

Meet Benedict and Kiera Knightley CHECK

Spend a marvellous evening introducing self to actors (Charles Dance, Mark Strong and Matthew Beard to name a few) and other interesting people (the film's director, producers and many film-industry types) CHECK

Be overwhelmed with how excited everyone is at bringing Alan Turing's name and genius to a wider audience CHECK

Finally make it to bed much later than you should on a weeknight, but very very happy CHECK

The Imitation Game is a new movie based on the life of my great uncle, Alan Turing (played by Benedict Cumberbatch). Wednesday night was the  European Premiere and the opening gala of the BFI London Film Festival. Huge thank you to the team at Studio Canal (the film's UK distributors) for inviting the family to attend this historic event.

The film is on general release in the UK in mid-November, and across the world around the same time. It isn't completely historically accurate, but it is a great film and well worth a watch!

Edit: This post is now featured on IMDb, which is ironic as one of the people I met was Col Needham (founder and CEO of IMDb)!

Edit 2: Photographs taken by the husband, my sister and my brother-in-law.

Friday 29 August 2014


Home at last. After two weeks of travel and exploration I've stumbled home; a bit on the tired side from jetlag and preparing for "normal" to resume.

I really really enjoyed Japan. We visited Tokyo and Osaka and both were exciting, vibrant and full of contrasts.

I got used to being spoken to all the time in a language I don't understand. I made a real effort to learn some basic Japanese before we left, which was vital to us eating on a couple of occasions, but most of the time I didn't understand a word. Unlike other languages which you can pare down to key words (e.g. "You want bag?" or "Tray wait here"), the people we met usually stuck to their usual phrases which they merrily repeated. When these needed a response from me, then mime or switching to English often occurred. The result was me smiling blankly until they had finished talking. In any other place I've visited I think I would panic at facing not knowing what was being said so much.

What I'm most enjoying about being home:
- real tea! I've entirely given up on finding a decent cuppa abroad so have enjoyed my first couple of cups
- not having to walk so far in underground stations. In all seriousness we once found ourselfs walking 850m from out platform to the correct station exit. There were stairs, escalators, walking along another platform, etc all with suitcases!

So far I'm missing:
- shop assistants/train staff/etc all bowing at me
- chopsticks. I was actually slightly miffed that they have me noodles with a fork on the plane!
- saying "hai" (yes/I agree/that's everything/I'm content) all the time.
- being away! I love travelling and visiting new places! ✈️

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Adventures in Tokyo

More customs:
- no one talks on the train, well almost no one - mothers with young children and maybe a group of teenagers, but still very quietly
- don't sit on the floor (crouching is ok if you're desperate)

Things that have made me giggle:
- random translations on menus. In general, the English on display is very good, but we have come across some great ones: squid lever, octopus fried without a coat, one pot of guts possibly selecting, shoestring potatoes, deep fried chicken of knee cartilage, etc...
- accidentally choosing an Italian restaurant for lunch - spaghetti and prawns eaten with chopsticks anyone?
- watching my husband negotiate eating a poached egg on top of spaghetti using chopsticks 
- the fact that the tempura restaurant will batter and deep fry everything including the sheet of seaweed

Another scary thing I did:
- stood on glass platform 350m up on the Skytree (cue picture of my feet!)

Best things we've eaten and drunk:
- sushi meal made of a million courses, including beautiful sashimi
- fresh prawn tempura
- homemade gyoza
- chicken and spring onion yakatori
- sake (particularly one named Joan)
- miso soup, served with almost every meal and often containing clams (which are great fun to deal with using chopsticks!)

Monday 18 August 2014

24 hours in Tokyo

Customs I've learnt:
- never put your bag on the floor: use a table, chair, hook or specially provided basket
- place money on the dish provided, not into the vendor's hand
- stand on the left on the escalator
- a nodding bow is good, but if you bow more then you might end up in a over-bowing situation where people keep bowing lower and lower
- you generally stand by the door of a restaurant (don't walk in the door unless you can't get the waiter's attention), then end up sat in a queue on a chair or stool outside until there is a table ready for you
- don't eat or drink outside/on the move (including on the train), it is acceptable if you are sat on a bench

Other observations:
- people who speak English can be found in the oddest of places: a chef who named every type of fish in English (more than 20 types) and the American girl working in a Japanese cafe with amazing cakes
- the pedestrian crossings and train stations often play jingles or even whole songs to signify different events (e.g. train approaching)
- instructions are very clear (which door to use, which side of the stairs to walk, cycle lanes on pavements, etc) and are often laminated sheets stuck up
- due to the no eating whilst walking "rule" there are almost no litter bins on the streets
- most people seem to be really quiet most of the time, unless their job requires them to be noisy (e.g. greeting customers at a restaurant)

Things I have done that were scary or unusual:
- rode on a roller coaster (my first big roller coaster - can't say it's my favourite activity, but I did it!)
- eaten abalone, roe, sea urchin (two types!) and eel. The eel was quite tasty!

Friday 1 August 2014

Summer relaxing Part 1

It has finally got to that part of the summer where work stops and relaxing starts, and I am loving it!

So far my favourite moment was swimming in a pond. I've been meaning to give outdoor swimming a go for a while now, but never quite got round to it, so you can imagine my excitement when I had an invitation to visit a "ladies pond".

The Hampstead Heath Ladies' Pond (also called the Kenwood Ladies' Pond) is a beautiful stretch of water surrounded by trees and small grassy areas for sitting and reading/chatting/sunbathing. It is "manned" by lifeguards and is generally idyllic. Swimming is one of my favourite activities, and swimming with a couple of friends and some Canada geese was pretty much perfect. 

It's not the sort of place to take photos, so this is the only one I have:

I hope you can imagine how glorious it was!

Saturday 26 July 2014

Turing takes over the world

Or so it seems at least.

This week has been a whirlwind of Alan Turing related activities - it is all so exciting.

It started with the announcement that the Benedict Cumberbatch movie, The Imitation Game, will open the London film Festival:

Wow! That is just super exciting. I have even been in contact with one of the producers at Black Bear Productions about a special family screening and other exciting film events.

And then I also discovered (via The Turing Years twitter feed, run by the wonderful and incredibly busy Prof Barry Cooper) that the Pet Shop Boys were performing a new Turing-inspired piece of music. Further investigation revealed that it was an opera which was being premiered at the Royal Albert Hall as part of the BBC Proms. Wow.

Wednesday evening involved me rushing across London, expecting to stand in a queue for a couple of hours in the hope of getting a "promming" ticket (standing in the arena or gallery). Instead, I was incredibly lucky and managed to buy a returned ticket from the box office.

It's hard to explain the feeling. I grew up being told by my mother that my great uncle had done amazing things and was the father of modern computing, but almost no one had heard of him. Then here I was with around 1500 people (very rough estimate) and a much larger number listening to the live broadcast, witnessing a performance all about his life. Crazy.

The opera/musical biography "A Man For the Future" was pretty special. It combined a full orchestra, the electronic musical style of the Pet Shop Boys, choral singing and a narrator speaking over the music. It focused on his work in WWII and his struggles with authority over his sexuality, hinting at some of his other academic successes and genius.

In other Turing news, there are plays and tribute artwork popping up all over the place. The Duchess of Cambridge visited Bletchley Park (WWII code breaking central) last month too. I can barely keep up!

Wednesday 25 June 2014

Mid-week lull and learning good habits

Finally! A week where I'm not chasing my tail or working every waking hour. Loving it.

Of course, you might expect that I've had a better week on the workout front, given that work stress has relaxed. But you'd be wrong. I really am a lazy creature and totally enjoyed doing nothing for a couple of days.

It has taken until Wednesday for me to get out to the gym, and the only way I did it was to get in from work, change immediately and go straight back out the door; if I manage to sit on the sofa or glance at the fridge then that is it for the evening!

It's safe to say that self-control is not my natural talent. It's almost like I have to trick or convince myself to get out the door and workout.

My very first before/after workout selfies :)

I don't really believe the spinning machine when it says I've burnt off almost 500 calories. It might be because (although I tried my best) I wasn't always standing on the pedals when it told me to:

One thing that has been working better for me, especially during the week, is eating relatively sensibly. Yesterday I treated myself to a virgin bloody mary and a salad, before my (light and healthy) dinner.

Right, just need to keep it up...

Saturday 21 June 2014

Fireworks, royal palace, ballet and brunch

Summer's here! Hurrah! And I've even had the time to make the most of  the weather :)

Last Saturday we rigged a firework show at Hampton Court Palace. We drove through the gardens and set up behind a beautiful fountain, unfortunately ruining many tourists' photos of the gardens. One of the most picturesque locations I've fired.

No pictures of the actual fireworks I'm afraid because I was on fire/crowd watch.

Then on Thursday I was treated to a night at the ballet! English National Ballet at the Royal Albert Hall. I loved every second! We were sat very close to the action (about 5 rows back), and because of the venue (and very large stage) the performance was "in the round" and the cast was huge. Wonderful.

And today has been perfectly lazy - brunch at my favourite cafe with a new friend, a spot of shopping (new earrings! Yay!) and sunshine :)

What's your favourite way of enjoying the nice weather?