Tuesday 29 November 2016

Getting fit after baby number two...

It's been blooming ages since I wrote properly on this little ol' blog of mine (I typed 'wine' instead of 'mine' just then -  Freudian slip for sure!) I've checked in here and there with posts I was obliged to write, or recipes I wanted to share, but we've not had a good old catch up for ages, so here it goes...

If I'm honest and I do always try to be, life is just a little bit hectic right now (understatement of the century)...juggling life with a 3 year old, 6 month old, freelance business which is taking up 12 hours + per week, plus the school run, washing, cooking, cleaning, trying to get fit, my hobbies and having a social life - there really hasn't been a huge amount of room for much blog stuff. Most days I feel like I'm chasing my tail from 7am-2am (genuinely!) Surely there are other people out there that regularly stay up to the wee hours just to get through the 'To Do' list?? 

Anyhow, I'm still here guys!! Slogging away. I hope you haven't forgotten me? I promise to try harder over the coming months... At the moment Bert is only at pre-school for half days, which means I get a few hours every afternoon where it is just Connie and I - this is the best chance for me to do my paid work, but alas, it doesn't always end up that way if Connie decides not to nap and needs her Mummy's undivided attention. Having a baby at home full-time with no childcare, as well as a commitment to 12 hours paid work a week is all fun and games, I'm telling you! Come January, Bert will start doing 2 full days plus one half day at pre-school and so, I'm hoping off the back of that I will start to see a bit more work-life balance...fingers crossed!! 

As well as ploughing on hard with parenting and my business, over the past few months I've also majorly stepped up my fitness regime. 

Mrs Bishop 3 weeks post-partum
Me at the end of June - a few weeks after Connie's arrival. 

After Connie arrived in early June I was feeling bloated, bulky and not myself - the baby weight felt like a heavy chain around my neck and I really hated what I was seeing in the mirror. 

Mrs Bishop August 2016
Liam and I, early August 2016 at our friend's wedding.

Yes, yes I know that my body is amazing and it has grown and birthed two blooming marvellous children, but the reality is also that I had just worked so hard for 2 solid years to get the body I'd wanted my whole life, so it was pretty shattering to see it all squidgy and swollen once again. Don't get me wrong, I know that I was much lighter in this latest pregnancy than I had been with Bert - even at my heaviest during my pregnancy with Connie I still wasn't as heavy as my starting weight before I had Bert, so I do have some perspective, but never the less it was a toughie and I wanted to make changes and start to get back the body I so missed. 

I didn't try that hard for the first few months - they were a blur of middle of the night feeds, colic, sleep deprivation and running on biscuits and hot sweet tea. Then, come September I decided it was time to get serious about getting my body back - so did what any normal person would (!) and I gave up all refined sugar for a whole month! When I do things I don't do them by half! It was a truly  brilliant challenge: it taught me lots about my existing food habits, my relationship with sugar, and made me investigate lots of new refined sugar free recipes and ways of eating. Luckily for me, I didn't experience any of the really bad sugar withdrawals (no headaches etc)...which reassured me that my sugar 'habit' really isn't that bad at all day to day anyhow, but I did feel really good knowing my body wasn't being fuelled by any rubbish and by the end of the month I was so proud of myself for completing a full month minus the white stuff. I even managed to kick having sweetener in my tea and coffee - woo!

Mrs Bishop and Mrs Shilts
Me on my 30th Birthday with my beautiful blogging bestie Emma (Mrs Shilts)

Then October hit, my 30th birthday month, and boy did I celebrate (like for a whole month!!) it was a really excellent month full of brilliant nights out, trips away, wonderful meals and CAKE. I tried hard to not be too silly, and the fallout from my sugar free month has definitely made my day to day sugar consumption drop rapidly, but I enjoyed myself and didn't regret it at all. 

As it was a big birthday I decided to give myself a very special birthday present - a personal trainer. My weight loss since having Connie had been slower compared to my previous weight loss efforts, and I could feel that my body needed me to step things up a gear. I started to think that maybe I should be focussing less on getting to a specific weight, and more on getting fitter, stronger and hopefully watching my shape change in return. I can't pretend to be any sort of fitness expert and have never had much of a clue when it comes to working out in a gym, so I cut out the middle man and hired an expert to put me through my paces once a week - and boy does he do that (Hi Matt, if you're reading this!) ... I've now been seeing him for 10 weeks and I'm feeling fitter and stronger than ever. We concentrate on building and toning muscle, and Matt throws in some general cardio in the form of boxing too (which I LOVE!) I'm thrilled with what my body is achieving in those sessions and I'm excited and eager to watch my body change as the weeks go by. 

Mrs Bishop post-workout Oct 2016
Post-workout selfie - early October 2016

Mrs Bishop - Gym legs
Gym legs! 

As well as seeing Matt once a week, I am also working out twice a week by myself at my local, newly refurbished gym - Fusion at Robinson Pool & Fitness in Bedford (more about this amazing gym another day!) During my solo workouts I tend to work on calorie burning - so I hit the cross trainer, bike, treadmill and power stepper for a combined workout of around an hour. I also walk 40 minutes each way to get to the gym, so it's pretty hardcore in terms of working out. 

Monday to Friday I walk 30 minutes a day to do the school run, and often try to fit in an hours walk (for fun or running errands) during the week too. It's taking up a huge amount of my "spare" time, but it is important to me to get fit and feel good in my own skin once again. 

I've also done something fairly radical (for me) and stopped weighing myself. I was getting so obsessed with the numbers, and saw myself so disappointed when they weren't dropping as quickly as I'd hoped (17 lbs from mid-June to beg-Nov) that I decided enough was enough. Instead of riding that vicious cycle, I want to be concentrating on how fit and strong I feel, how my clothes fit, and the shape/tone of my body. I am not defined by the numbers on the scale (I need this tattooed somewhere!). As someone who spent all of my childhood, teens and most of my twenties massively over weight, I will always have 'the fear' of gaining weight, and so scales aren't something I can throw away in definitely - I can't help but have an end weight in mind (10 stone) but what has changed is I'm no longer in an unrealistic rush to get there! 

Mrs Bishop Nov 2016
Moi (right) with my cousin Vicky (left) in mid-Nov 2016

Weirdly, despite still being a stone and a bit heavier than I was when I fell pregnant with Connie, I am back into about 95% of my pre-Connie wardrobe, and I feel really fit - anything I can achieve from this point onwards is a bonus, and a step in the right direction - I don't need to crash diet or do anything radical or unsustainable long term, for me, it is all about building good habits and attitudes to food and exercise for life, so moving forward I feel confident in my methods and hopeful that I will smash all my targets, eventually. 

What is tough is constantly finding the motivation to get out and workout - especially on these bitterly cold evenings we're having and after a busy day of kids, work, housework, school run etc - normally all I'm lusting after is a lie down on the sofa a big mug of tea/glass of wine/slab of chocolate *delete as appropriate - dependant on day* I know that I without exception always feel better, proud of myself, and have more energy when I do workout (I know, weird right?) S10 weeks in I'm still very motivated and sticking to my 3 times a week workouts. However, I'm also a pretty realistic individual and know that when the proper cold weather hits I might not be as willing to venture out in the evenings as often as I do now, so I went in search of a middle ground that might bridge the gap in-between my weekly personal training sessions when I'm no longer enthused by my lone gym time. That's when I found out that you can hire a running machine from HireFitness.co.uk for a reasonable weekly cost, and I'm definitely considering it in the short-term for the bitterly cold winter months when my motivation for workouts may well wain slightly.

As well as the physical side to my health/fitness I'm also continuing to work on getting my diet right - I still count calories each day using My Fitness Pal - it helps me stay accountable and ensures I don't kid myself into thinking things are better for me, or less calories that they actually are. I try to think of good calories versus bad calories, and work to achieve balance and moderation as much of the time as possible. I don't cut any foods or food groups out - nothing is 'banned', that's a very important part of my philosophy. I love food, cooking, baking and socialising too much to ever feel deprived. I never want to feel guilt when I eat like I used to when I was bigger, so all things in moderation has become my saving grace. 

Hopefully, now that I've stepped up my workouts I will see positive changes, and start to feel increasingly more confident in my own skin....watch this space for updates.

Mrs Bishop 7 weeks pregnant versus 6 months post-partum
Me in the same outfit at 7 weeks pregnant with Connie (left) versus this week. Getting my body back. 

How are you all getting on with your health, fitness and weight goals if you've got them? I'd love to hear from you. 

Mrs B


Sunday 20 November 2016

Magical dining at The Blue Grill, Thoresby Hall, Nottinghamshire (Warner Leisure Hotel Review)

Welcome to Thoresby Hall Hotel Warner Leisure

Last week, Liam and I were kindly invited for an adult-only (over 21's) week night escape to Thoresby Hall in Nottinghamshire, one of the 13 Warner Leisure hotels here in the UK. Having never had the pleasure of staying with Warner before we were eager to try out a child-free break, and enjoy all that Thoresby Hall had to offer. 

Thoresby Hall is one Nottinghamshire’s most important houses; a stunning 19th century stately home, with the most enchanting original features which are still enjoyed by guests today. There are deep armchairs in the vaulted splendour of the Great Hall (think Hogwarts for grown ups!), and the house’s broad terrace overlooks a croquet lawn and acres of classic parkland. The rooms vary from historic sumptuous four-poster suites to simpler standard rooms. Plus there’s a extensive range of activities available to enjoy, from fencing to falconry, and excellent live music and entertainment every night. Thoresby also boasts a beautiful Spa complete with swimming pool, steam room, sauna, treatment rooms and gym. 

Thoresby have recently renovated "The Blue Room" within the original historic house, which houses their Blue Grill fine-dining restaurant. Liam and I were lucky enough to enjoy an exquisite dinner in the stunningly restored dining room during our stay as well as making the most of their spa facilities following breakfast on the morning after our overnight stay. 

Our Room

We were delighted to be treated to a night in the house's most impressive suite The Newark, if you're looking for a room to take your breath away then this is it! We opened the heavy wooden door to our suite to find a huge four-poster-bed of dreams draped with the most stunning mustard yellow fabric and flock/paisley design pelmet in matching colour (mustard yellow is my very favourite colour so I was in interiors heaven!). The large window was dressed with curtains in the same fabric, and the bed adorned with matching cushions - the attention to detail in the design of this room was second-to-none. 

The Newark Suite at Thoresby Hall, Nottinghamshire

The suite is brimming full of antique furniture meaning there's plenty of storage space for your clothing and belongings. It's lit with chandeliers and one of the walls and the chimney breast is lined with a rich and opulent black flock wallpaper. The bathroom is very spacious with bath/shower, toilet and large basin area and the humungous bathroom window looks out over the impressive gardens, your privacy and modesty protected by giant wooden shutters and voile curtain. 

The Newark Suite at Thoresby Hall, Nottinghamshire

Huge window in The Newark Suite, Thoresby Hall, Nottinghamshire

My favourite part of the room (aside from the bed of dreams!) was the main window in the suite, with rich and warm full length curtains and two comfy armchairs, the perfect spot to enjoy a hot drink and a read of our books (...without children shouting "Mummy?" "Daddy?" every 10 seconds - BLISS!)

The Newark Suite, Thoresby Hall, Nottinghamshire

The suite also included a stunning original fireplace with a comfy sofa and coffee table, a large flat-screen TV with DVD player, a fridge, tea and coffee making facilities, safe, towels, toiletries, robes, slippers, hairdryer and even complimentary wine and biscuits! Everything you could possibly need for a luxurious night away - Thoresby you covered all the bases!!

Towel lady in the Newark Suite at Thoresby Hall, Nottinghamshire
We even had a towel-lady sitting on our bed - its the little extra touches that make Thoresby Hall so special. 

Coffee making facilities in The Newark Suite at Thoresby Hall, Nottinghamshire

The Library at Thoresby Hall

We were served dinner in The Blue Grill/The Blue Room in the heart of the main house at Thoresby Hall. To enter the dining room you have to pass through The Library and oh my goodness, this room is the stuff that dreams are made of - I genuinely felt like Belle in Beauty and The Beast the minute I stepped into this perfect space. Warm, rich red tones and red and gold flock wallpaper fill the room - wooden bookcases as far as the eye can see, huge arm chairs, roaring fires, wooden shutters and window seats, candles on the tables...I could genuinely have spent all evening cosied up in this amazing space. 

The Library at Thoresby Hall, Nottinghamshire

Thoresby was made all the more magical as it is now dressed for Christmas - garlands, Christmas trees, fairy lights and baubles adorn each room making it seem even more fairytale-like.

Running with the Christmas theme we were served Christmas-themed cocktails (mine came in an actual bauble!!) to enjoy in the library before being shown to our table in The Blue Room. 

Christmas cocktails in The Library at Thoresby Hall, Nottinghamshire

The Blue Grill in The Blue Room at Thoresby Hall 

Having never visited Thoresby before, I had zero expectations for what The Blue Room might look like and so upon entering the space I genuinely felt the view take my breath away. I can hand-on-heart say that I have never been in a room any more beautiful than The Blue Room at Thoresby. Think of the most opulent palace, the grandest castle, the most exquisite stately home you might have visited and this still won't capture quite how beautiful this room is. The pictures I took don't even do it justice. Eating in a room as breathtaking as this was such a thrill, and is now a night I will never forget, for all the right reasons. 

The Blue Room at Thoresby Hall, Nottinghamshire

Aptly named, the Blue Room's colour-scheme is (of course!) mostly blue - with accents of cream and gold along with some wooden panelling. Huge chandeliers adorn the majestic ceiling and the walls are genuinely lined with 100% silk which cost £1000 per drop! No expense has been spared in this overwhelmingly magical space.

There are two huge fireplaces, one of which still has its original marble surround, and despite having a dining room that can accommodate multiple covers, somehow each table within dining room feels private, romantic and secluded. 

The Blue Room at Thoresby Hall, Nottinghamshire

Fireplace in The Blue Room at Thoresby Hall, Nottinghamshire

The menu at The Blue Grill is simple but perfectly formed - offering a selection of seasonal starters, and varied choice of grilled meat or fish: from the butchers block, from the farm, or from the sea. Your choice of grilled meat or fish is then accompanied by a grilled topping, a sauce and a side to build your perfect main course. There is also always a vegetarian 'dish of the day' available. 

Our meal started with two large glasses of glorious red wine, following on from our Christmas cocktails, and within minutes of being seated we were served a selection of white and brown freshly baked (still warm!) rolls and butter. 

Freshly baked bread rolls at The Blue Grill, Thoresby Hall, Nottinghamshire

For our starter we opted for the sharing platter - which gave Liam and I a taste of five of the starters in miniature. I love these sorts of platters because as an obsessive 'foodie' I hate having to choose only one meal from the menu - being able to try all five was brilliant. 

Our started consisted of:
  • Butternut squash velouté
  • Posh Lobster fish finger
  • Pigeon breast with beetroot
  • Crab tian
  • Confit pork 

Every element of the starter was fabulous; beautiful ingredients that delivered bags of flavour in a classic but quirky style. The butternut squash velouté was particularly memorable, and we loved the concept of a 'posh' fish finger, how fun! 

Our Sharing Platter Starter at The Blue Grill, Thoresby Hall, Nottinghamshire

For our main courses we both chose beef options. I ordered an 8oz rib eye steak topped with Cafe de Paris butter, with a peppercorn sauce and side of triple cooked chips. Heaven on a plate! 

Liam ordered the super-special Wagyu steak which is prized for its incredible flavour in its native Japan, he topped his steak with grilled Tiger prawns and a Bearnaise sauce, again served with a side of triple cooked chips. 

Wagyu Steak, Tiger Prawns, Triple Cooked Chips at The Blue Grill, Thoresby Hall, Nottinghamshire

We both ordered our steaks rare, and they were cooked to perfection. The chefs at Thoresby clearly have a deep respect for the ingredients they use, and this respect is evident in the eating. 

Rib eye steak, Cafe de Paris butter, Triple cooked chips at The Blue Grill, Thoresby Hall

A really fun "extra" during our dining experience was our lovely waitress bringing over an ornate wooden box displaying an impressive selection of different coloured handled steak knives; we were able to select whichever knife we wanted to use from the box - Liam of course made a reference to Harry Potter when he selects his wand...I'm pretty sure the waitress thought we were slightly potty - but the whole place kept reminding us of Hogwarts in its opulence and grandeur, so I totally 'got' the reference. Wielding our specially chosen steak knives we devoured our main course with a beautiful glass of their house red wine, which was the ideal accompaniment. 

For dessert we opted for fun and ordered their 'Fairground Attraction' sharing dessert, and I'm so glad we did. 

Fairground Attraction dessert at The Blue Grill, Thoresby Hall, Nottinghamshire

This briliantly-quirky dessert is served in it's very own ferris wheel! Like the starter, it contains a selection of six small 'tasters', which combined made for the perfect final course of the meal. 

Fairground Attraction included:
  • Homemade lemon ice cream in cones
  • White Chocolate Fudge
  • Rose Marshamallow
  • Mini Toffee Apples
  • Candyfloss
  • Sugared ring doughnut
As a keen baker, I kept looking at this dessert and thinking about the sheer amount of work that would have gone into creating it. An impressive course - which would be especially popular with younger diners or those that love a bit of whimsical theatre! 

Homemade truffles at The Blue Grill, Thoresby Hall, Nottinghamshire

Our meal was completed with coffee and a selection of homemade truffles while we revelled in our stunning surroundings for the final moments. We were both totally in awe of the stunning room, and each time we glanced around we noticed something else magnificent about the space. 

The Blue Room at Thoresby Hall, Nottinghamshire

Impressive ceiling in The Blue Room at Thoresby Hall, Nottinghamshire
The incredible ceiling and chandeliers in The Blue Room at Thoresby Hall

The whole room was tastefully adorned with blue, silver and gold Christmas decorations which complimented the decor of the room perfectly. The mantle of the fireplace was decked with a huge fir garland, twinkly lights and towering candles, and in the corner stood an impressive and tasteful tree. The piece de resistance for me was the classic Christmas carols which played faintly in the backgrounding creating the perfect festive environment. I sat at my table imagining the grand Christmases of the past which had been played out in that very room. 

Christmas tree in The Blue Room at Thoresby Hall, Nottinghamshire

Christmas comes to Thoresby Hall, Nottinghamshire

Silk walls in The Blue Room at Thoresby Hall in Nottinghamshire
Real silk walls - have you ever heard of such opulence?

Stunning window treatments in The Blue Room at Thoresby Hall

After our fabulous dinner we had a lovely chat with the Hotel Manager and Head Chef, whom we thanked profusely for our meal, before we retired to our room to relax with a glass of wine and get a long (un-interupted) night's sleep in the HUUUUGE bed.  

It was as blissful as it sounded. 


The morning saw us wake to a crisp, clear Autumnal morning looking out onto the beautiful gardens. 

The gardens at Thoresby Hall, Nottinghamshire

We ate a tasty buffet-style full English and continental breakfast, before heading to my second-favourite room of Thoresby (after The Blue Room), The Great Hall. This central hall really is absolutely epic both in size and style - a fireplace standing taller than 6ft with a roaring fire inside, vaulted ceiling with stone pillars, Stags' head on the walls, a grand piano for entertainment in the evenings and tons of gloriously comfy armchairs and sofas for guests to kick-back and enjoy some quiet time. Liam and I cuddled up on a sofa next to the fire with our books and enjoyed two hours of unadulterated pleasure in the form of peace and quiet - a rarity for parents of a 5 month old and 3 year old! 

It's worth noting here that Warner's over 21's only rule is one that I absolutely 'get' now that I've visited one of their hotels - I'm all for inclusion and family-friendly getaways but Thoresby really is a place to be savoured, to take slowly and investigate in peace, it's a place for unwinding, relaxing and reconnecting - and let's be honest, that vocabulary rarely enters into the world of parenting! We kept laughing at how different the trip would have been had the children been with us, and vowed to make the most of the 27 hours that we were just Liam and Lucy again, rather than Mummy and Daddy. 

The Great Hall at Warner Leisure's Thoresby Hall in Nottinghamshire

The Great Hall at Thoresby Hall in Nottinghamshire
He's staring at me! Stags head in The Great Hall at Thoresby.

After our jaunt in The Great Hall we headed to the hotel's Spa where we enjoyed a 35 minute workout in their fully equipped gym, followed by a dip in the pool and jacuzzi and a session in both the sauna and steam room. The facilities are brilliant: modern, chic, clean and all the staff were bright, helpful and welcoming. We couldn't have asked for more.

Before we left we enjoyed a walk in the vast grounds of Thoresby Hall and took in the breathtaking scenery that surrounds the epic house. 

Warner Leisure's Thoresby Hall in Nottinghamshire

The grounds at Warner Leisure's Thoresby Hall in Nottinghamshire
The grounds at Thoresby Hall

Warner Leisure's Thoresby Hall in Nottinghamshire
Me enjoying a 'Lady of the Manor' moment! 

A huge thank you to all at Thoresby Hall and Warner Leisure for making our stay so memorable, and we are sure we'll be back before long - wild horses couldn't stop us! We've already shouted about it to our friends and family, waxing lyrical about our beautiful escape. 

Warner Leisure are able to take booking for The Blue Grill from non-Warner guests, which means you can enjoy a magical dining experience in this exquisite dining room without needing to book an overnight stay. I genuinely urge you if you're a Nottinghamshire local (or even if you're not!) to book yourself a table. 

If you're looking for the perfect adult-retreat then Thoresby Hall is a winner on every level, but if an overnight stay isn't within your budget, or you're simply looking for a stunning venue for a celebratory dinner then booking a table at The Blue Room is a sure-fire way to knock your accompanying guests' socks off! 

We were gifted our evening meal, overnight stay, breakfast and Spa experience at Thoresby Hall in return for this honest review. All words and images are my own. 

Sunday 6 November 2016

Personalised Laptop Sleeve from Case Company * Review & Giveaway *

Last week I was sent a stunning personalised neoprene soft laptop sleeve for my MacBook laptop from Case Company, and I'm excited to share it with you today. 

On the Case Company website you can order a range of hard and soft cases for various gadgets - from phones of all makes/generations to iPads, iPods and laptops, and even a range of wooden cases. 

Ordering from Case Company was such an easy process - you simply choose which device you are looking at protecting - select it from the list (I wanted a case from my 13 inch macbook pro laptop), next you choose your design: you can either select one of Case Company's original designs, or you can import your own design/photos. 

I knew I wanted to personalise my case with photos of my family, and it was super speedy to connect Case Company's website up to my Instagram account, and take the photographs I wanted to use directly from there. 

I'd designed my case and sent the order off in just a few minutes, fabulous! No messing around, no faffing, nothing complicated - perfect. 

My case arrived in just 4 days, which I thought was particularly speedy for something personalised. I was so excited to see how it had come out...

personalised neoprene laptop sleeve from Case Company
My fabulous neoprene laptop sleeve from Case Company. 

I selected four of my favourite family photos to make a photo collage for my sleeve - and simply drag and dropped my images into place. I was thrilled with the final product  - the quality of the print and colour in the photos are really good, the neoprene material is strong and the case is very well made. 

personalised neoprene laptop sleeve from Case Company
Awww, a beautiful reminder of what a lucky lady I am to have such a wonderful family. 

I wanted a laptop sleeve for when I transport my laptop around and about for work meetings - I wanted something slimline and non-bulky, something light but ultimately protective - and the neoprene sleeve ticked all those boxes for me. 

personalised neoprene laptop sleeve from Case Company
Well made, vibrant colours: I love my new laptop sleeve! 

The case is the perfect size for my 13 inch laptop, and I'm eager to get out and about now to have an excuse to use it! 

personalised neoprene laptop sleeve from Case Company
Carrying my family wherever I go! 


win a case of your choosing from case company world

If you'd like to be in with a chance of winning a case of your choosing from the Case Company website then head over to my Instagram account here@lucybishop2012 ) to enter my simple Instagram giveaway! 

The giveaway ends on the 30th November 2016 at 11:59pm.

Good luck lovely people! 

Mrs B