Despite tall perimeter fences and countless warnings of security, there was a lone fire exit that been left un-secured: an open invitation for us to explore.
Inside we were greeted by endless winding corridors with melancholy Christmas decorations still hanging on the walls and desks showcasing personal belongings and photos that had long been forgotten by their owners. The staff restaurant’s once welcoming aroma of food had been replaced with damp and the only sounds to be heard were those of the wind howling and the trees outside blowing agressively against the windows.
The building has an apocalyptic feel that sends shivers down your spine as you step over documents that were once filed neatly but now lay water damaged on the ground, and walk past board rooms with paperwork, coffee cups and crockery still set on the table perpetually waiting for the attendees to return and continue their meeting.
With a clock ticking for it’s impending demolition, the days are numbered before fifty years of history is reduced to a pile of crumbled bricks and dust.
As the beam of our flashlight leads the way with only the sound of broken glass crunching beneath our feet to break the silence I had a feeling that we weren't alone. In one damp corner lay a pillow, blanket and a small pile of litter consisting of Nutri Grain bars and empty juice bottles. Had someone been sleeping here? Were they still here? I couldn't help but wonder what their story was.
Manoeuvring our way through corridors that would be in complete darkness if it wasn’t for our sole flashlight made our senses susceptible to even the quietest of noises. As the wind blew wildly through metal vents our minds raced and our heartbeats quickened, converting shadows into haunting figures and raindrops into footsteps that did not belong to us.
Our senses heightened as we got deeper into the building and each turn of a corner was met with a sigh of relief that we were still alone, our only encounter being with a bird frantically flapping it's wings in an attempt to clumsily find it's way back out through a collapsed roof.
Soon the maze of corridors and crooked stairwells brought us back to familiar surroundings, a beam of light from one of the few remaining street lamps spilled through the fire exit and our car - still un-noticed - sat outside waiting. As we drove home, covered in dust and cobwebs, I tried to imagine the building full of workers instead of the solitude in which we found it.
Soon this building will be replaced with something else, but the memories of those who worked here will live on.
But after what I’d class as a pretty uneventful year last year, I feel determined - as cliche as it sounds (and I’m cringing typing this) - to make 2016 my year. I've set myself some goals, with the aim of becoming happy and successful and after one month I'm already seeing changes. Some of my goals are personal goals to myself, but there are a few that I'm happy to share...
BE MORE POSITIVEI want to feel better about myself, be more confident and believe in myself more than I currently do. I think this is probably one of the most challenging of my goals, but when I look at how far I’ve already come over the past few years when it comes to things that I used to struggle with, then I know I’m on the right track.
I used to be the shy girl at school who was too scared to talk to people and hid behind her fringe and the closest book. Nowadays I'm still rocking my fringe, but I don't think twice about introducing myself to new people, speaking out in group situations and I even went to a festival with 50 complete strangers.
As vulnerable as it makes me sound and feel, a lot of it comes down to self esteem and I've already began work on making myself think more positively and give myself a little kick up the butt whenever I think negatively towards something. Something that I already believe is working and when I see a little more success, I'll be sharing on my blog.
LIVE THE ADVENTUREI want to travel more, in particular across Scotland. I live in a beautiful country and it almost embarrasses me how little of it I’ve seen. There’s nothing stopping me hopping in my car and seeing where it takes me. Harris is my ultimate goal (can you believe that this beach is in Scotland…?!), but I look forward to many nights of camping once the warmer weather returns, climbing a mountain or two and exploring many windy roads.
My adventuring goal doesn’t just represent travel though, it represents life in general. I need to say YES! more often, get out of my comfort zone, take more risks and do things that scare me. I'll admit that I’m bloody terrified of change, and that’s one thing that definitely needs to change this year!
GET THE CAREER I DREAM OFI’ve been working with my current employer for seven years now, which is my entire working lifetime. I’m good at my job, I enjoy working for the company and I have endless experience but it just doesn’t give me job satisfaction being in my current role.
I know exactly what I want to be doing, but I’m still trying to figure out the best route to get there but by the end of the year I want to be in a job that makes me happy.
TAKE MORE TIME FOR MERelationships are one thing that I don't mention often on my blog, but 'turbulent' is probably the first word that comes to mind when I describe my love life in 2015. What was once a strong, loving relationship turned toxic and we spent the last few weeks bringing out the worst in each other, and straight after that I hopped into another which started as a breath of fresh air and ended with my trust (and in some ways, my confidence) being shattered into 100s of tiny pieces.
The truth is, I'm not very good at remaining single for very long. But I'm consciously making more time for myself this year. I'm going to do what makes me happy, be the best version of myself (I'm full of the cliches today, it seems) and prove my mean ex wrong by showing everyone that actually, I am a "strong independent woman".
Here's to 2016!
I love circuits as they get my heart rate right up, create a sweat and burn off lots of calories! I love mixing cardio with bodyweight exercises and adding a few weights here and there. It keeps things varied and stops me from getting bored.
I also have a LOT of competitiveness and love timing myself and trying to beat my time on each circuit, which is why this timed circuit is one of my favourites. I always try to beat my time on the main exercises, leaving longer to plank at the end. Sounds like torture, but I get a kick from it!
Equipment: The only essential equipment is a bench or a box for box steps, however if you don't have access to a gym or equipment then the rest can be done without. However I do recommend adding in some Kettlebells or dumbbells for the squats as detailed below to push up the intensity and really get your muscles working!
BENCH BURPEESPerform a step up on your box/bench (see the step below). After placing both feet back on the floor rest your hands on the edge of the bench and extend your legs until you are in the push up position. Sink down and do a push up, before using your momentum and completing the move as a standard burped: thrusting your feet back to your hands and jumping up. Try and repeat this as quickly and fluidly as you can.
Beginners can simply use their bodyweight, but a dumbbell in each hand can be added for a bit more resistance, I would recommend a 3-6kg weight to start with. More experienced exercisers can load a barbell and rest it on your shoulders instead.
SQUATSStart by standing up tall with your feet about shoulder width apart. With all your weight on your heels, inhale as you squat back by bending at the knee and sticking your butt back as you lower. Keep your head and chest up, and your eyes looking forward.
If you find these easy, add a light kettlebell (I started as low as 4kg, gradually moving to 6kg, 8kg etc as it got easier) by holding it by the horns close to your chest as you squat down.
MOUNTAIN CLIMBERSLay down a mat and begin this move in a pushup position; on your hands and toes. Bring the right knee in towards the chest until your knee is approximately under the hip. Quickly alternate legs as bringing the left foot in and the right foot back. Continue alternating the feet as fast as you can until all repetitions are completed.
PLANKGet in the pushup position, only putting your forearms on the ground instead of your hands. Squeeze your glutes and tighten your abdominals. Try to keep your body as flat and straight as possible (picture a plank of wood) without lifting your behind!
It doesn't look like much, but by the end of this you will definitely feel the burn in your legs! I usually do some cardio (usually spin bike or versa climber) on either side of the circuit and often add in a similar length circuit to focus on abs at the end too.
I'd love to hear if any of you try this out! Also, please let me know if you have any other requests for exercise posts.
For the past year or so there's always been a supply of Peanut Hottie in my kitchen cupboards and it's seen me through more cold winter nights than I can count. Whilst I don't enjoy hot chocolate, I am a huge peanut butter addict (but you knew that already, right?) and this drink is incredible. It's hot, creamy, tastes exactly like peanut butter and is the perfect sweet treat - without being too sweet!
My tub usually gets pushed to the back of the cupboard when the warmer months arrive, and when an email from Peanut Hottie arrived in my inbox suggesting I try mixing up a Peanut Hottie milkshake I couldn't believe that I hadn't thought of doing this sooner. The drink is just as delicious cold as it is hot, and the chocolate version - with some whipped cream added as a treat - tastes so indulgent! However at just 83 calories per serving, it's not going to ruin your diet.
I whipped up two different versions - one for cheat day and one for those days where you're trying to be good but fancy something sweet...
indulgent chocolate milkshake
- 3 teaspoons of Chocolate Peanut Hottie
- 200ml milk of your choice
- whipped cream
- a grated Snickers bar, with a chopped piece to decorate
banana peanut butter milkshake
- 3 teaspoons of original Peanut Hottie
- 200ml milk of your choice
- 1 small banana
- a banana chip to garnish
methodIt couldn't be easier, simply mix your Peanut Hottie with the milk, blend your banana (if you're using one) and add your toppings of choice. I used my Blend Active smoothie maker to make them since it mixes everything up well and leaves you with a nice foamy top.
Have you tried Peanut Hottie?