Long Time, No See

So I’m incredibly aware that in January I said my aim this year was to write more. This has absolutely been achieved as I received a promotion at work into the role of Copywriter. Writing product descriptions of tyres and brake levers are out, writing blog posts, scripts, and advice articles are IN.


Alas, this is to the detriment of my own blog. I’d really like to make a renewed effort at writing in here, but I feel my blog lacks purpose, direction. Then again, maybe that is the theme my blog should take; my love of everything! My love of science, history, books, attractive men, gin, and snowy Scandinavian landscapes.


Not forgetting attractive Scandinavian men, of course ❤

SO. This is my pledge to you, person who probably found my blog when wondering how the hell to get their hair from black to blonde (Those posts are here and here. You’ll get there, I promise. Just be prepared to rock short hair for a while.).

I WILL WRITE MORE. I will keep this blog up to date. I will share photos with you of places that I go and things that I do.

For example, this year I have already been to Edinburgh and Dublin with my mom. In Edinburgh I drank Prossecco off an artist’s palette:


Tried some whiskey:


I learnt that I will never like whiskey.

And tried some Edinburgh gin:


But I bloody love gin.

In Dublin I drank Guinness even though I shouldn’t because barley hates me:


Rang the bells of Christ Church Cathedral:


And drank some more gin:


Later this year I’m hoping to go to either Rome or Budapest, and next week I’m doing a few day trips around the UK, so I’ll try to remember to keep you all updated!

Thanks for reading, and ciao for now!

Nikki x




I have a phobia of blood. Silly, when I am a female with monthly female cycles (well, nine-weekly, thanks to running my pill back to back).

The first time I realised I had a phobia of blood, I was working in a nursery and a kid had a nose bleed. Prior to this, blood had just been one of those things that other people dealt with. But when it was my turn to step up to the plate, I freaked out.

A few years later, I tried to donate blood to help get me over this ridiculous phobia. But as I walked into the donation centre, I started to freak out. The relief when they told me they had no spaces was overwhelming. I think what freaked me out the most was how sterile and clinical it all seemed, despite being held in a school hall.

I had to have my blood taken last year to test for coeliac disease. I have the kind of veins that refuse to pop out, and it took the seasoned nurse a fair few times to get the blood to actually flow. So long as I didn’t look at what was going on, I was fine, but the experience still freaked me out.

But this phobia and my failure to donate blood has always annoyed me. I want to be able to donate blood, but I just cannot man up enough to do it. When I accepted I was never going to be able to psych myself up enough to be a blood donor, I registered as an organ donor instead. At least I was doing something.

Which is why I am still shocked that I found myself signing up to the Anthony Nolan stem cell register yesterday morning. What prompted this outpouring of selflessness? match4lara. She is a 24 year old of mixed heritage, who needs a stem cell transplant due to leukaemia. Reading the blog of a girl with cystic fibrosis, Tor, prompted me to sign up to be an organ donor. Reading about Lara did the same.

I guess the thing about being a stem cell donor is that you know that you are directly saving a life that a lot of people couldn’t help. It’s not like being able to receive type O blood, but about having someone who is a genetic match help you out. The fact that 90% of white Britons will find a match whilst only 40% of ethnic minorities will is awful. I can’t help on the ethnic minority front, being white British (with a hint of Italian), but every little helps, as they say!

So, if you’re between he ages of 16-30 and feeling generous, why not sign up over at Anthony Nolan and try to conquer your phobias like me?

Nikki x

T25: Total Body Circuit


As promised, I am back to tell you about the joys of Total Body Circuit!

Oh, did I say joys? I meant hell. 25 minutes of PURE, TORTUROUS HELL.

I felt like I got a good workout, but that came at the expense of having to sit on the floor and catch my breath whilst swearing a fair few times, and also accepting my lack of coordination. You want me to criss cross my legs and jump backwards whilst punching, and then swap sides? Hahahahaha. Ha.

This was a bitch of a workout, no lie. As I mentioned yesterday, my fitness is kinda intermediate. I’m not a beginner. But this workout made me feel (and probably look) like a newborn foal.

However, by about halfway through the other people in the workout were also matching my moans and groans. One of the guys had a lovely puddle of sweat beneath him. And it made me realise that this workout is hard for everyone; it’s about as hard as you make it. I still refused to follow Tania and modify, but the beauty of this workout is that she offers you a much easier time of it if you’re not quite ready to go at full speed. Now all it needs is someone else who can’t keep in rhythm and I’ll feel even better!

Tomorrow is Ab Intervals. I’m hoping it will be slightly easier than this beast of a workout, but who am I kidding? Shaun T kicks my arse, but I weirdly enjoy it.

Nikki x

Happy New Year! & T25


Hello, and happy new year!

Gosh, I have been such an utter failure at writing in here this past year. I hope to change that this year, but we’ll see. Last year I did manage to achieve my goal of reading more, so maybe this year I shall focus on writing more!

I think I’m going to start writing about fitness regimes again. I managed to complete Zombies 5k last year, but suffered with persistent shin splints that still won’t go, forcing me to give up on the running malarkey. It’s a combination of having low arches but being an underpronator, meaning my feet roll outwards. Because of this, I find it much easier to work out barefoot, which is why I’ve gone back to home workouts. Now I realise why I’ve always hated wearing shoes!

This past year I’ve been pretty successful with working out. There have been set backs (thanks to labyrinthitis, something I may write about in the future), and I have PCOS so no great weight loss has been achieved, but what has been achieved is a level of fitness and defined arm muscles that haven’t ever been seen before!

I usually do Jillian Michaels’ workouts, and my favourite is Ripped in 30. After I finished the second go-round of that, I attempted her 30 Day Slimdown program, which combines 30 Day ShredNo More Trouble Zones, and Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism. My problem with this is I prefer to get my workouts done in as short an amount of time as possible, and NMTZ and BFBM are both 50 min workouts, which made me start to dread them.

So in comes Shaun T’s Focus T25! My aim in getting fit has always been to get to the level where I can do Insanity without ending up on the floor gasping for breath during the warmup (yes, that happened), and I’m still not there yet. Plus, the workouts are LONG. So Focus T25 seemed right up my street. So far I have done the first two days and let me tell you, they are no joke. I heard some people say they’re for beginners; technically they are, but only if you follow the modifications. I consider myself intermediate and I had to take more breaks following Shaun T than I was happy with. Not running in so long has turned my calves back to jelly.

I missed my workout today thanks to the inevitable NYE hangover, so tomorrow I will be picking up where I left off with Total Body Circuit. I’m already dreading it. The first two workouts were mainly cardio but I cannot believe how much my shoulders and back ache; these beats of a workout certainly work every part of your body. So if I remember, I’ll be back tomorrow with an update on how that goes. Wish me luck!

Nikki x

Nous Sommes Paris

I realise I haven’t blogged in a while, apologies! Life has been relatively drama-free so I haven’t had much to write about, but I really ought to get back into the habit of blogging.

Anyway, this is just a quick repost of something I put on Facebook earlier:

Atrocities happen the world over, every day. I think we’re all well aware of that. It’s not that people don’t care, it’s that people are desensitised to it.

A terrorist attack in a peaceful country like France is unexpected and thus shocking. A suicide bomber in one of the many war-torn countries in the Middle East? Not so much.

There is only so much death and destruction the human mind is capable of comprehending – this is why a photograph of a single dead child washed up on a Greek beach stirs the heart more than images of thousands of dead Syrians; we are incapable of comprehending such evil and desperation on such a vast scale. It’s why so many didn’t see the Holocaust when it was happening right under their noses.

If we were to devote the same amount of energy to every single tragedy that happens every day the world over, we’d soon suffer from emotional fatigue. It is simply not possible to deal with it without going mad.

I’m a pacifist and my heart breaks with every single war-related tragedy I hear about, but surely it is understandable to feel more emotion for a stable country with which we share so much; culture, ancestry, history.

No human life is worth more than another, but you cannot blame the human mind for instinctively empathising with one group of people more than another.

Nikki x

New blog!

Stop the clocks! For I have just created a new blog, all about being gluten free. I didn’t want to turn off my more regular readers by posting about a diet they don’t need to follow, so I created a separate one called Gluten Free & The Graceless Girl.

Yes, Graceful Girl would have sounded better, but if you met me, you’d know this was nothing but an out and out lie.

Anyway, pop over there if ingesting a mere Malteser gives you symptoms you’d rather not discuss in polite company (yes, this happened to me yesterday) and share in the gluten free love!

In other news: I’ve started running again. Running is the only exercise I enjoy, and I’m not as bad at it as I think I am. I used to run on a treadmill, but after nearly face planting into one, I lost my confidence in them and I also lost my balance. So this time, I’m running outside. Which is hard. It’s really, really hard! I’m following the Zombies, Run! 5k Training app and I’ve been really, really impressed with it. When I first started running, 2  years ago, I followed the generic C25K programme which is ok, but my god, it is mind numbing. After the first time I did it, I basically went off running and have been trying again and again to get back into it, but the C25K programme makes me want to cry. Zombies, Run! 5k, on the other hand, is amazing. It’s less structured than C25K as it has ‘free run’ sections, where you walk or run as much as you’re able. Basically, it puts the control back in your hands, and I’ve found I trust my abilities a lot more following this programme than I did with the original one. The sessions are longer – the longest session is 52 minutes, and it also intersperses your training with stretches, squats, heel lifts – all things to help you build up your strength. I completed Week 5, Day 1 yesterday, so I’m well on my way to actually achieving it, and outside, too!

The more exciting thing in my life is that I’ve booked to go to Dublin again! It was a bit of an impromptu decision last night, after listening to some Irish drinking songs. I’m going for 4 days in March, and I’m taking my dad with me. His mom is from Dublin and he hasn’t been back since he was about 6, so I’m really excited to show him around, show him the street his mom was born on, get him to drink lots of Guinness… Alas, I can’t drink Guinness (see Malteser incident, above), which slightly diminishes it, but not really! Dublin is the only place I’ve visited where I truly feel like I’m at home. Exciting!

Nikki x

The Great Gluten Free Controversy

So, after a month or so roughly gluten free, I’m starting to feel better again. The bloating is diminishing, and I can go to the toilet like a normal person!

Last week was very touch and go; I felt awful. I was getting really frustrated as I couldn’t see where I was going wrong. Then I found out a colleague of mine came down with d&v the very next day, meaning I had just picked up a bug. Thank fuck for that!

I went GF in the summer last year, but this time I’ve been putting more substitute foods into my diet instead of going all-out low carb. So far, I have discovered that M&S is heaven for us freefromers. Their seeded bread is by far the best I have tried so far (not too keen on Genius, it’s very sweet), and their pizza bases could be mistaken for beautiful gluten filled dough. And we can get party food! Gluten free party food! Thank you, M&S. You are a bloody lifesaver.

Despite Coeliac UK deeming malt vinegar ok to have, I don’t think I’m ok with it. This is something I need to do a bit more testing on which is a shame, as I friggin’ love vinegar. Aspall’s Apple Cider Vinegar is currently my substitute.

I’m also testing out some other foods that are high in FODMAPS and likely to spark trouble in us IBS afflicted beings. I appear to be fine with all veggies and onion. Garlic needs more testing, but I think a lot of fruits are out for me. Which is fine by me, as I have never been a big fruit eater.

I have been finding myself getting a little pissed off lately, however. Not with the diet, it’s working and my tummy is happy, so I’m happy! No, what I’m getting pissed off with is know-it-alls in the media, on the internet, and in real life who basically say, ‘coeliac or GTFO’.

There appears to have been an influx of articles recently calling out gluten free as a fad. Sales are up, so of course we’re all just big fakey fakers, replacing delicious food with mediocre, overpriced alternatives just for the sheer fun of it. It’s all in our heads don’t you know. The placebo effect. Quite how me not having Guinness makes me feel better is a placebo, god knows. I miss it guys. So much. *sob*

I know a lot of people who can’t eat dairy, because if they do they get symptoms very similar to what I get after eating ciabatta. Nobody questions if their unfortunate bowel habits are real; being dairy free is fine! So why the problem with gluten? What is it about this silly little protein that gets people so riled up?

I spend a lot of my time on reddit, which is both good and bad. There is a good gluten free and coeliac community there, but the entirety of reddit is also full of idiots, so it’s swings and roundabouts. I have read of a waitress refusing to believe someone had a problem with gluten because she finished her meal off with coffee. (a) People with coeliac disease/NCGS can have coffee, because coffee doesn’t contain gluten. And (b) who the fuck are you to be judging what other people are eating, you hateful jerk?! (I responded to her, she claimed it was because of cross-reactivity, despite there being no solid evidence of this.)

And then there was the FODMPAS controversy. There were so many posts pointing out gleefully that NCGS didn’t exist, that it was all down to FODMAPS. I mean, duh, how stupid are we? To follow a gluten free diet and feel better on it because grains that contain gluten are also high in FODMAPS. LOL I no rite?!1!

So these idiots who find people avoiding gluten irritating, were actually saying, ‘Guys! It’s not gluten! It’s still wheat, barley and rye, but it’s also tons of other shit, like onions and garlic and cabbage and cauliflower and beans and apples!’ They were annoyed about people restricting one thing from their diet, and instead telling them to restrict even more things.

…Yeah. I don’t follow. What is the beef with gluten?!

I talk to a lot of coeliacs, and 99% of them are happy with the rest of us that avoid gluten. They don’t give a shit why, they’re just happy that restaurants now cater for them and they have three choices of bread instead of one subpar vacuum packed monstrosity.

If my uncooperative tummy pisses you off, I’m not sorry. I can’t help it. Just like how I can’t help that I’m pigeon toed and knock kneed, I can’t help that my tummy can’t tolerate certain things. I can’t help that I tested negative for coeliac, despite showing all the symptoms of it and improving on the same diet.

If you think it’s all in my head, you stay with me for 24 hours after I drink some Guinness. You may start to rethink!

Nikki x

Gluten. Gluten everywhere.


I haven’t been writing here much recently because, honestly, not much has been going on in my life! The job is going well, my love life is non-existent, the puppy is now a year old and has calmed down considerably… things are constant.

One thing that has changed, however, is me seeking a diagnosis for what I like to call my ‘uncooperative tummy’. For years I have had ‘tummy issues’; without delving into detail, I am sure you can imagine what this consists of! Earlier this year, I was getting a bit fed up of my stomach bloating up by 2 inches every evening (yep, I measured!) and the constant gnawing pain in my gut. So I did what every 20-something hypochondriac does and googled that shit. Wheat came out as the top cause of tummy issues, so I cut it out. To no avail. What I had done was replace wheat with rye bread, so after a few weeks of trying this approach, I did some more research and cut out gluten. Now this wasn’t an easy decision, as I had recently discovered I quite like the taste of ale, but ale doesn’t like me. So fast forward a month or so and lo and behold, the stomach aches had vanished. The bloat was still there, but not quite as drastic. I hadn’t had a tummy ache in weeks. I was onto something!

Then I did what I always do, and became obsessed. Just cutting out gluten wasn’t good enough for me, oh no! I have PCOS and had read that the best diet for those of us with a stubborn metabolism is the ketogenic diet. I did this for about 6 weeks, and I lost a few pounds and all was dandy. Who doesn’t like living on eggs and steak and butter? Well I’ll tell you; me. As delicious as this diet is, another medical problem I have to add to my myriad of medical problems is LPR. LPR (Laryngopharyngeal Reflux) is acid reflux where you don’t get heartburn, but instead get an insanely burny throat and post nasal drip. It’s not great, especially since I like to sing! Since April I’ve been on Lansoprazole twice a day which seems to keep it bay. Or rather it did, until I upped my fat intake for the ketogenic diet. So to make the burny feeling go away, I slowly eased myself out of keto; kept my diet low carb but lowered my fat intake too.

Now around this time it was my birthday, and I work in an office. There were cakes. There were lunches out. There was BEER. My diet went out the window. And slowly the bloat returned. The stomach aches made a reappearance. Other things I won’t mention started to happen again. I was not a happy bunny. So I manned up, and visited the doctor.

My doctor was convinced I had IBS. I was a ‘textbook case’. But because of the NICE guidelines, I was tested for lots of other things. Which wasn’t fun, because I have a blood phobia. But I was determined to get to the bottom of it! Fast forward to two weeks later, and I’m sat in my doctor’s office as she says that I tested negative for coeliac, thyroid problems, inflammation (which could indicate chron’s), anaemia, and my immune system response was as it should be. There was nothing wrong with me that they could test for, so thanks to my symptoms and my results on a gluten-free diet, I was diagnosed with IBS with non-coeliac gluten sensitivity. Woooo. Don’t you just love that catch-all diagnosis of IBS?!

In a way, I’m a bit skeptical for testing negative for Coeliac Disease as I didn’t actually eat gluten for the 8 weeks prior to the test; I ate it for maybe three? But I felt so shit eating it that I just couldn’t wait to get it over and done with. There’s a lot of research coming out about NCGS; some link it to FODMAPS, which I don’t think is my problem as when I was doing keto I ate a LOT of garlic and cauliflower. Others believe that gluten intolerance is a spectrum, with NCGS at one end and coeliac at the other. Some don’t believe NCGS is a real thing, but all the major charities and research centres recognise it, including Coeliac UK, National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, Celiac Disease Foundation and  the University of Chicago’s Celiac Disease Center. Whatever it is, I know that I need to avoid it. To celebrate my not being coeliac, mom and I went out for dinner and I had a burger. Since then I have had constant stomach issues, and this was 5 days ago. (My mom also had the burger and was fine, so no, no boar burger food poisoning!) Feeling like this is so not worth the taste of bread, as delicious as bread is!

So in light of this diagnosis and my new way of eating, I think I will try and keep this blog updated a bit more. I’m lucky that I’m not coeliac, but the treatment is still the same, and in a way I feel like my body must be telling me something when you look at the way it reacts. I’m not doing this to be trendy; nothing is more embarrassing than asking a bored waitress the ingredients of everything on the menu. And I really like Guinness’ West Indies Porter! That I can’t drink that ever again (unless I want to feel like shit for a week) is punishment enough. I admit it could be another component of grain, as I don’t think I can tolerate oats either (currently testing this one out), but I still have to avoid the same stuff so does it really matter?

Wish me luck!

The Genographic Project

For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated with my ancestry. Where I come from, who my ancestors were, what connections to other countries we have.

What I do know isn’t very interesting. My dad’s mom was from Dublin, but she was brought up by nuns and we know little of her family. Esther Mary O’Connor; what a perfect Irish name. Her mother’s maiden name was Taaffe, and aside from the street she was born on (I have a copy of her birth certificate), we know nothing else about that side of the family. There are rumours that her brothers were involved with the IRA (what fun!), but it’s all just speculation. My dad just never thought to ask the questions that come to me, and she died in the ’80s, when I was a baby.

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Working 8.45 to 5

look-at-all-this-work-i-have-not-done-yet-funny-memeSince a large part of this blog was written whilst I was unemployed, and thus followed me through the nightmare of signing on, I thought it best to keep you all informed on what I’m doing and maybe even offer some tips to those still unfortunately unemployed.

As of yesterday, I got a full-time, permanent job! It’s at the company I was on a temp contract for. A week before that contract ended, I interviewed for a Merchandising Assistant job and I walked into it the day after my old contract ended. If I believed in fate, this is it.

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