Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Silver Linings

So here we are, once again, at the end of another year! This time last New Year's Eve I was crazy, and I'm not talking: had a few too many wines whilst dancing to Auld Lang Syne with a pair of pink knickers on my head. I'm mean, rocking in my seat, bad thought's running through my brain, crying and pacing the room crazy.
This episode was caused by a medication called Gabapentin, which in extreme cases, causes manic episodes. After Tweeting my symptoms I found that many of my chronic pain suffering friends had, had the same issues. Annoyingly I was on 9 Gabapentin tablets a day, so it took until March/April for me to get the stuff out of my system. As a consequence I don't really remember November 2012 to March 2013, I feel as though I've been cheated out of 5 months!
I always try to see a silver lining to every dark cloud and having such bad mental health has made me grateful for "just" being in physical pain. I am in my usual winter relapse with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, but I much prefer the spasms and furious burning pains to mental anguish, I'm suddenly taking my fairly serious neurological condition with a pinch of salt. Although I have always been considerate and understanding in mental health issues, but now having experienced a minor breakdown I have a new respect for those in metal turmoil.
I've found I'm now more content with life in general and I'm coping with stress a lot better than I ever had - bonus.
Don't worry 2013 wasn't a bad year at all in the end. The highlight being the birth of my niece Abigail in January, followed by 12 days in New York with Mike and finally having work published in our local paper taking a shiny and bright bronze.
So what do I have planned for 2014? Well, I turn 30, finally leaving my weird and wonderful twenties behind. There is a huge possibility that Mikes work will be taking he and I to live Denver, Colorado..... yes the one in America! This being made doubly hard because my sister and her partner Dan are expecting a baby in June!
Niece or Nephew...coming soon! 
I plan on writing more for this blog, local papers and a few other projects on the horizon, you never know what opportunities will pop up. That's why I love the symbolism of New Years Eve and all the traditions of New Years day, time for new starts, new plans and the wonderment of new memories to be made.  
I'll be holding competitions and opening up this blog to new writers and projects, so keep your eyes peeled.
Anyway, I'll keep you no longer, have a wonderful NYE where ever you are and I wish you all a happy and healthy new year!
L x

Monday, 2 December 2013

Chocolate and Detox

So did you enjoy all the New York blogs? Or do you hate me now? If you missed any of the blogs please click the link’s below J

Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6
Day 7 Day 8 Day 9 Day 10 Day 11 Day 12

Christmas Chocolate Goodies!

Forever Living Dextox

After all the over indulgence in New York, I shamefully managed to gain 8lbs in weight - oops!

Every extra pound make my joints hurt even more than they already do, so I needed, not just to lose pounds but to recoup and gain some energy. As much as I loved New York I was exhausted!

Recently Mike became is distributer for a company called Forever Living. Forever are the largest grower, manufacturer and distributor of aloe vera and bee products in the world.

Mike asked if I would try the Clean 9 program, a 9 day detox using Aloe Vera juice as the base for weight loss and increasing energy.

So, I embarked on the detox and here is my honest review.

Day one and two, you take the Aloe Gel drink (it’s not that nice but palatable if you mix it with a fruit juice my choice was Cranberry or Blueberry) and  a combination of Bee Pollen and Garcinia Plus supplements. You forgo food apart from a one Forever Milkshake for the first two day. It is hard, I really missed food and during day one I was HUN.GR.REY!

On days three to nine you carry on taking the Aloe Gel, Bee Pollen and Garcinia but for breakfast and lunch you have a Forever Milkshake and you’re allowed a 600 calorie dinner in the evening. Weirdly by day three I wasn’t hungry but by dinner time but my grilled chicken and vegetables tasted divine!

Forever Living suggests you do at least 20 minutes a day of exercise. For me this wasn’t possible with the pain I’m in, so I just did my daily physiotherapy.

By day nine I’d lost 7lbs and 9inches from my body, including 3inches from my waist alone! I was chuffed to pieces!

Mike did the detox and lost 13lbs, his Dad lost a whole stone! And unlike other detox programs I’ve followed, I have not gained the weight back!

This detox is becoming so popular it was featured in the December Issue of Cosmopolitan Magazine (UK page 261)

Forever in Cosmo

Mike has kindly offered 1 Diary of Freedom reader to a Forever Living Clean 9 discount! The first person to contact me will get the detox for £85 (Our RRP is £119.24). Mike can take payment via paypal, bank transfer or cheque. If you do the detox I’d love to feature you on this blog in the near future!

I’ll be trying various Forever Living Products of the coming months (I will not recommend anything unless I’ve tried it or seen the benefits of them) so keep your eyes peels for future deals! Until then check out Mike's online store here: Feel Better! .

L xxx

Monday, 11 November 2013

New York - Day 12

If you've missed any of the 12 New York blogs click the links below!

New York - Day 12

Our alarms went off at 5am, not for an early flight or pre dawn check out. I wanted a photo with the Wall Street Bull, without a million people crowding round it! The business district is very quite on weekends like in any city but the Bull constantly had people surrounding it.

Our 5am date with the Wall Street Bull

So with just one police car for company we took it in turn for pictures and a quick rub of the Bulls balls (it’s good luck, there are defined rub marks!) before heading back to our hotel to pack. Again, I mean Mike packed, carefully rolling up our clothes, protecting our gifts and trinkets. I on the other had fallen asleep in an armchair gracefully dribbling over my left shoulder - sexy!

Once I had woken, Mike had finished packing and we had checked out; we went to lovely restaurant for brunch and New York staple! For bloody Mary’s and Eggs Benedict! 

With a couple of hours until our airport bus would arrive, we went to the Hilton Hotel bar. Mike on his laptop me reading when I fell asleep with my head in the book that was lying on the table - where a now infamous phone was taken!

A tad sleep

Our bus arrived 2 hours early so we had a lot of waiting around in the airport even resorting to playing eye spy! When we eventually were able to check our luggage in United Airlines were atrociously bad mannered and unhelpful. The check in support woman proceeded to mock our accents (and not in a cute way!) and when we asked about checking in the wheelchair she told us it wasn’t her job and that being a member of their miles club was irrelevant even if I had prebooked support before making the trip.

We had time to kill and dollars to use up, looking for a few last minute bits, when I needed to use the bathroom and whilst in there a woman actually asked me “Don’t you people have your own bathroom?” bloody cheeky mare!

When we got to our gate we spoke to a lady called Laura who said she’d see what she could do since we’d been placed at the back of the plane with no assistance or paperwork for the wheelchair.

Annoyingly Laura came back and said that there was no where else for us to be seated and proceeded to look blankly at us. So a said “So.... how am I getting to my seat?” to which she replied “I don’t know” - Helpful!

I then asked if they had the aisle wheelchairs available and the United staff were like “Oh yeah, great idea” - I wanted to bang my head against the wall at this point.

When we eventually got to our seats and got comfy, my instructions to Mike were that I would be going to sleep, I didn’t want any food, drinks or loo trips. That’s exactly what I did, I slept the whole 8 hours home. Mike didn’t, he was awake all night watching movies trying to stay on US time as we were getting home Monday Morning and he was flying straight back to work in California the following day - poor dude!

We got to Heathrow and Mike’s Mum picked us up. Arriving home we had to unpack immediately so that Mike could repack all over again, no rest for the wicked!

On Tuesday Mike had left by 6am and I sat in our living room alone, thinking “A week ago I was sailing on the Hudson and sitting on top of the Empire State Building” I couldn’t help be a tad sad!

New York is an amazing city and we had the most spectacular time. I would highly recommend visiting such a vibrant and energetic place, it is very expensive but if you plan your trip and look up deals it doesn’t have to be so pricey. If you’re a movie or TV fan it’s so much fun to see all the places from your favourites.

Despite 12 days in New York there was so much more we didn’t get to do, Mike and I have decided to return to the city for our 35th Birthdays in 5 years for another big city adventure!

L x

P.S... I leave you with this awesome Squirl who was working his angles.....

 ....work it, my furry friend.... work it!

L x

New York - Day 11

If you have missed any of the previous New York Blog click the links below!

Day - 2

New York - Day 11

Day 11 - Our penultimate day in New York. After a epic 12 hour lay in we decided to leave the city and head for Brooklyn. After breakfast we made our way to City Hall and watched some street performers before trekking across Brooklyn Bridge. I loved that people left messages, locks and their twitter handles all over the walkway.

Brooklyns Locks of love
The bridges of New York are as iconic as the city it’s self. Brooklyn, Manhattan & Washington (A.k.a BMW) are very distinctive in design and my favourite was the Manhattan a majestic blue suspension bridge with three lanes, four subway tracks, a walkway and a bikeway.

We didn’t go far into Brooklyn, I have to admit I was a little worried as the streets were not busy and I had become accustomed to being constantly surrounded by the huddled safety of the other tourists, but we found it to be a lovely friendly place with really cute houses and cafe’s.  

Brooklyn Bridge
On Brooklyn’s river front there was a gorgeous carousel and beautiful seated/picnic areas where lots of kids birthday parties being held and families were flying kites. We watched several couples having their engagement and wedding photos plus there were several cute first or early dates taking place on tartan blankets with wicker baskets.

We stopped for some gelato, in between taking lots of photographs and already starting to reminisce about how great the holiday, neither of us wanting to come home!

We headed back to the city on the Manhattan Bridge; don’t expect to have a decent conversation as there trains are every few minutes, we walked mostly in silence, catching the last sunset in New York City.

Manhattan Bridge

We headed back to our hotel via a luggage shop to accommodate all books we had bought during the trip! 

City View from the Manhattan Bridge

We decided to have dinner at the Hilton Hotel restaurant; Mike had steak and I have a pear, walnut and salmon salad but made a very English mistake - ordering chips with my meal and of course a big bowl of crisps turned up - doh!

Back in our room, as much as I wanted to make the most of our last night in New York, my pain and tiredness got the better of me and we ate cookies in bed whilst watching another pay per movie - so rock and roll!

L x

Sunday, 27 October 2013

New York - Day 10

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New York - Day 10

Day 10 signalled the end of our time living it up in Midtown Manhattan, we were moving to the Southern tip of the island within the business district. We packed.... well Mike packed I shoved everything in my suit case much to his horror!

We had a couple of hours spare before we had to check out so we went and looked for the newest Cake Boss patisserie just passed Hells Kitchen and gorged on cream horns, peanut butter and chocolate cupcakes and large coffee’s! - Making the most of the last few days!

So much cake, so little time!

Mike being the lovely guy that he is then pushed me two miles just so we could buy the make up my youngest sister Nicola asked us to find. We found one of the two shops in New York that stocked the brand and Nicola was a very happy bunny as we’d managed all but one of the products she’d requested.

We got back to the Manhattan Club hotel picked up our “much heavier than when we arrived” luggage and caught a yellow taxi to the Millennium Hilton Hotel opposite the World Trade Centre plots. Our room was spacious, clean, with a humongous queen size bed with city/river views and a mini bar that we avoided after looking at the prices - £5 for a can of Coke anyone?

After we’d settled in we decided to wander around the financial district and see if we could catch another boat ride included in the New York City Pass, but after lunch I had a complete toddler-esque melt down. Exhausted and in a great deal of pain I ask Mike if I could go home for a nap! How rock and roll am I?!?

My nap turned into an epic 5hr full stop kip, whilst Mike went out and continued to wander the city alone. When I eventually woke, we watched a beautiful sunset over the Hudson, got a take away from Chipotle - a fresh and healthy range of Mexican taco’s, fajitas and burritos, and watched a pay per view movie - White 

Sunset over the Hudson River

Once the movie had finished I went back to sleep and didn’t surface until 12hrs later!! BOOM!

L x 

New York - Day 9

If you’ve missed any of the previous New York Blogs please click the links below!

New York - Day 9

By day 9 in New York I was exhausted! My pain level was going through the roof so we decided on a less intense day. We were up early as always so we picked up some giant Jumba Juices for breakfast and wandered through Central Park to the American Natural History Museum (again included in the New York City Pass).

Much like The Met you need an entire day dedicated to the Natural History Museum, we had three hours! We whizzed around as many displays and floors as possible, my favourite parts of the museum were the Mammal Halls, there were so many animals I’d never even heard of!

I have no idea what these are!

The Hall of Ocean Life was spectacular with a 94ft long model of a blue whale hanging from the ceiling and all manner of underwater creatures displayed beautifully around the hall.

This photo does not to justice!

Lastly I was very excited by the Dinosaurs; the mighty skeletons of all different types were an impressive sight although I had a thankful moment that they are extinct!

Dino - Note the size of the people!

After a whole morning at The American Natural History Museum we were due to meet a family friend of Mike’s for lunch.

We met up with Rob whole lives between the UK and New York depending on his partners work as a theatre and film Producer/Director. We met at Hotel Edison where they have a very casual diner in the foyer. 

We lunched on huge sandwiches (that took away most of in a doggy bag) and unlimited coffees.
In the 8 years Mike and I have been together I had never met Rob. I was excited to talk all things theatre, TV, movies and celebs but Rob was hilariously clueless in film stars and mentioned “that Sarah girl” from Sex and the City film, or was it TV? Lol! Of course he was talking about Sarah Jessica Parker and casually chatted about meeting Lynn Redgrave and Julie Andrews at the Tony awards! We had a really lovely relaxing afternoon!

After lunch we decided we’d book tickets to see Avenue Q at the New World Stages Theatre on West 50th Street. When we got to the theatre we were offered tickets between $70-$90 and as we were deciding the box office clerk suddenly said “Unless you come back for 20/20” we found out that 20/20 was a post Summer discount scheme were you can see 40 off Broadway shows for $20 each if you queue at the theatre 20 minute from the show - bonus!

So we went back to our hotel to start packing as we were moving to our last hotel the next morning got some frozen yogurt before the show at got back to the New World Stages at 6 to be in with a good chance of tickets (which sell on first come first served basis) there were only 5 people ahead of us and we got chatting to a young actor who was waiting for his dancer fiancé. Sadly when 7pm came round the dancer still hadn’t appeared and one of the rules of 20/20 is that all parties attending a show should be present at show time!

Mike and I got our 20/20 tickets saving ourselves a maximum of $140 and were guided to the theatres basement. Within the New World Stages venue there are several small auditoriums showing all different shows with bars and merchandise stalls in the middle of it all.

We had great seats and waited for the madness to begin! If you’ve not heard about Avenue Q you’re in for a uproarious evening watching an adult puppet musical! With songs like “The Internet is for porn” and “Everyone’s a little bit racist” and a full on puppet sex scene it is not a show for the easily offended or embarrassed. We loved it - make of that as you will!

By the time we came out of the show we were starving and wandered home looking for somewhere to eat we were getting closer to the hotel when eventually I suggested Hooters which was conveniently situated opposite our hotel! Hooters is, of course the restaurant where the waitress’ are in skimpy orange shorts and tight white t-shirts plus it’s a sports bar to boot!

In my wisdom I thought - “Boom! Girlfriend points - Ker-ching!” but I will warn you now that it you are remotely having a fat day do not go to Hooters! All of the girls are gorgeous and tiny! Luckily despite my every widening waistline I wasn’t feeling too down on myself and all the girls and bar staff were lovely!

Mike had a huge spicy burger and I went for fish tacos which were very tasty. I had to laugh at one point when Mike commented that he couldn’t read the slogan on the girls t-shirts.... Yes, Mike it was the slogans you were looking at! I couldn’t blame him at that point I was starting to look rough with pain, tiredness and all the naughty food I was eating - but I did not care - I was making the absolute most of the wonderful city I was learning to love a little bit more with everyday!

L x

Sunday, 20 October 2013

New York - Day 8

If you’ve missed the previous New York Blogs please click the links below.

New York - Day 8

Day 8 was an incredibly hot (33c 93f) with over 80% humidity! Mike was not at happy boy! Even at 8:30am as we chugged on huge and tasty Jumba Juices’ Mike of course still had to push my ever increasing arse around - my boy was struggling.

At 9, most of 5th Avenue was still closed but we wandered into Trump Towers where there was a coffee stall. What can I say about the infamous Towers? Built by Millionaire Donald Trump... well it is exactly what I expected; pink marble floor to ceiling, gold fixtures, fittings and elevators and the foyer was a Trump trading room where you can buy all of Mr Trumps books, clothing range and even Trump Champagne - class all the way ;).

We were booked in to go on a NBC studio tour, on the way we saw The Today Show being filmed (UK This is the equivalent of This Morning in the US) outside the Rockerfella Centre.

It was September 11th so the show, among many, were remembering the events of that fateful day 12 years ago. As we walked around the city we saw many churches holding special services in memory of the fallen and even many of the shops cleared windows to place tributes too.

NBC (National Broadcasting Company) is where Saturday Night Live (SNL) and the Jimmy Fallon Show are filmed, but it has also been the home network for shows like F.R.I.E.N.D.S, The Voice & Ironside.
Our two tour guide’s Ariel and Carmen were warm, welcoming and as all tour guides are in New York - bloomin’ happy! We went into the SNL studio where the girls asked who wanted tickets to the show... and then shot us down by telling us there was a 3 year waiting list!

From one tour to another we walked to Radio CityHall where we met Joyce and Emily our next hosts. Radio City is another Rockerfeller marvel built in the Great Depression as was the Rockerfella Centre. Known as the “American People’s Palace” it’s a huge 12 acre plot that over 3 million people come to see it every year. 

Radio City Hall Foyer

Radio City Hall is beautiful, a real place of opulence and old school glamour, even the restrooms are decked out in original art deco furniture! Unfortunately we were not allowed to take any photos of the magnificent auditorium, which, at the time of our visit, was being set up to house America’s Got Talent for the series final. It is truly one of the most glorious theatres I’ve ever seen. Before we left we had an intimate Q and A with a world famous Rockette and had our photo’s taken with her too!

Art Deco Loos!

From Radio City we went to Central Park! We stopped in a little cafe’ for lunch then started to have a wander but It. Is. Huge! 778 Acre’s of huge! You can see why New Yorkers and tourists love the city haven it has become!

We found the Belvedere Castle and the Carousel but the heat was so intense we decided to take refuge in The Metropolitan Museum ofArt (The Met). As you all know by now I’m a history geek so I loved it! We had three hours at the Met but this was nowhere near long enough, you could plan a whole day dedicated to the astonishing collections, and we’ve agreed that when we return to the Big Apple we’ll do just that!

Just some of the beautiful art at the MET

We returned to Central Park where we found the famous boathouse, (featured in the movie 27 Dresses) on such a sunny day it was picturesque but all the boat’s were being put been put away for the day - muchos sadness as I was desperate to have my own chick flick rom com moment, Michael rowing me around lake, me parasol in hand - pure cheese!

The Central Park Boat House 

Sadly as we came upon the Central Park Mall as beautiful as it was, the evening was drawing in there were gangs of teenagers and groups homeless people hanging around. I suppose this is something that happens every day in every major city in the world but it was a tad unnerving, especially when police cars started patrolling the length of the Mall up, down and back again.

The Mall

After all the walking Mike was hot, and very hungry so we stopped at the Brooklyn Diner - an obvious favourite with the rich and famous with hundreds of golden plaques etched with their names dotted around the place. I enjoyed my first Lobster Roll whist Mike went for Mojito flavoured chicken - both amazing and a scrumptious end to another fabulous day in New York.

Lobster Roll - Amazeballs!

L x 

New York - Day 7

If you've missed any of the previous New York Blogs please click the links below.

New York - Day 7

After a week in New York, I was finally used to the accents, used to the madness of the yellow taxis and size of the coffees. So what else could we do to make ourselves at home in the Big Apple? Go on TV - of course!

Our hotel was 5 minutes from the studio/theatre where the David Letterman Late Show is filmed. So, after a quick Google, we found that if you go to the theatre at 10am, you had a chance of sign up for tickets BUT there is an extensive waiting list, so we were not too hopeful. Much like the lottery you’ve got to be in it to win it so we went along anyway.

The production staff were lively, chatty and incredibly enthusiastic about.... well everything! Firstly they loved our accents (we got that a lot during the trip!) then they sadly they found out we live in Essex  and they started shouting “Shut Up” and “Well Jel” across the studio, they were so impressed I’ve been to the infamous Sugar Hut in Brentwood and I think we made some new friends despite our tedious link to Towie (The Only Wayis Essex - UK TV show). We were told to call the team in an hour’s time to see whether we had been successful.

To kill time we went to have a look around Columbus Circle and just had to have a look in the renowned FAO Schwartz. If you’ve not heard of FAO, have you seen the Tom Hanks film Big? It’s where Hanks’ character plays the giant piano with his feet! I didn’t have a go because knowing my luck I would slip straight on my arse and break it, and since it’s worth $250,000 I was not game enough to even try!

Also in FAO they have the actual Zoltar fortune teller machine from Big so excitedly both had to have a go on that! I got a romantic one and Mike, a success fortune which you can all read below.

In FAO Schwartz they have a huge sweet pick and mix section, a build your own Muppets Puppet workshop, massive Lego displays and a whole floor dedicated to babies and toddlers, it’s a New York landmark that the world has enjoyed since 1856.

Next we visited Bloomingdales; featured in F.R.I.E.N.D.S and the movie Splash, it is another of the cities crowd drawers. We had a look inside but I hadn’t realised just how high end the stores would be! I was worried leaving a finger print on a $600 handbag would result in a forced sale! The stores and all their products were beautiful but I wasn’t going to buy anything until..... We found another Magnolia Bakery and HAD to have another red devil and chocolate butter cream cupcake - yum!!

Bloomin' lovely

Better than any designer handbag!

We finally spoke to the staff at the Late Show and low and behold we won tickets! We were told to dress smartly, avoid bright clothing and to be there by 2:30pm (Yes, the late show is actually filmed at tea time!).

We arrived at the studio to see a huge queue going around the block, luckily one of the ushers saw us and took us in to the waiting area for special accesses, away from the crowds. After a pep talk where we taught how to laugh, were warned not to “whoop!” and told to have lots of fun, we finally went into the very cold studio. 

We won the chat show lottery! 

We had a great view, we were not allowed to take photos but as you can guess I was very excited! 

After a warm up guy did a few jokes and being introduced to the Late Show House band (who were amazing!) David Letterman came on and did a little warm up chat with members of the audience; David is a complete pro after 39 years on American TV!

Finally the show started and the first guest was actor Billy Crystal, he was hilarious! Promoting his book “Still Foolin' 'Em: Where I've Been, Where I'm Going, and Where the Hell Are My Keys?” and after a long comedic and film career the whole time he was talking all I could think of was his character Mike Wazowski from Monsters Inc!

The next guest was Sheryl Crow who is tiny, and despite being 51 years old looked younger, slimmer and generally better than my 29 year old self! She sang her latest single completely live and I’m now a fan, she was superb!

After the show we got talking to an usher who asked whether we had booked our trip around the show, and when we told him that we had only rocked up this morning, he swore and couldn’t believe it - we felt rather smug!

As we’d finished recording The Late Show and it was only 5:30pm, we decided to head over to the Rockefella Centre in time for Sunset.

Mike and the mighty Rock!

The Rockefella Centre is in the heart of Midtown, opening in 1930 after being built by 40,000 New Yorkers during the great depression. 850ft from the streets you can go to the “Top of the Rock” for a 360º view of the city.

Empire State Building and the 9/11 Tribute Beams

A tip for fellow disabled people is DON’T go to the rock at sunset in a wheelchair! You will have to fight or argue with people to see the view. It was packed! I had all but given up and just told Mike to go fill his boots and take loads of pictures. Luckily a security guard saw me trapped in the middle of the crowd and started moving people round so that I could have a few minutes overlooking Central Park and the spectacularly lit up Empire State Building. After about three minutes I could hear people huffing, puffing and comments like “it’s unfair she get’s priority” so I graciously retreated indoors where we managed some great photos from the large and very clean windows so “ner” you grumpy tourists!

L x