sleep good


bed time

bed time

The benefits of a good night sleep are obvious. Longer concentration span, quicker reactions, happier. I’m prone to being a little grumpy pre 11 am. This may be due to my natural disposition however it can be kept at bay by a good nights sleep.

Here are a few pointers i find work for me, atleast some of the time:

1. don’t eat large meals just before clambering into the sack, the body will struggle to digest when you’re lying flat out on your back.

2. try to avoid drinks with caffeine in as these will kick in just when you’re sheep start jumping. also, drinks last thing mean pit stops during the night.

3. make a list. jot down all those tasks/events/thoughts which you’ll worry about remembering until the morning. this helps to clear the mind ready to make room for some rich dreams.

4. arguments and serious conversations aren’t good in bed. tempting, as it’s a quiet time perhaps for you and your loved/not loved one, however it often leads to tension and anxiety which doesn’t make for a blissful night sleep.

5. take some end of the day deep breaths. this helps bring a conclusion to your day, then try and slow your breathing and in turn your heart rate down which helps relax the mind.

6. make your bedroom a place you want to be. stick up a few nice prints/paintings, puff up your pillows and have a good book or two by the bed.

7. open the window. even if just a little open, fresh air will help make you feel cosy and comfortable in bed and it’s good for you!

8. lastly, and possibly the most effective, is to try and keep your eyes open. sounds daft i know but you’ll soon see what i mean.

Especially in these hard times, it’s probably more important now then ever to make sure you get a good nights kip.


One hell of a blast! The whinlatter trail, completed mid summer 2008 is the latest addition to the Cumbrian mountain biking scene. Being from Brighton i have become soft riding the chalky, undulating hills of the south downs. Although a fan of the local southern pastures i was truly taken aback by the aggressive and raw feel to the mountains of north England.

Partly due to my lack of skill on a mountain bike i was introduced to downhilling in dense forestry, drop offs, steep banking turns and slate tracks. It was however fun, fast, muddy, snowy, steep and furious. I learn’t a lot.

Although this particular Altura trail is a red route (difficulty level) i still think it’s accessible to the majority of hearty an healthy folk. The bike shop at the top of the car park offers lessons, bike hire, head cam hire (see here for short vid of the track). Rocking up at the carpark i was a little intimidated by the amount of full sus bikes around but my trusty stead saw me through.

me @ start of whinlatter trail

me @ start of whinlatter trail

I would not be doing the area justice though without saying that Cumbria is a natural playing ground and although this man made trail is excellent there is a lot to be said for self exploration. Worth a look around Borrowdale for some more views like this…….

views to pedal for

views to pedal for

google readerI hope being introduced to google reader will make it a little easier for everyone to enjoy my new blog ‘vanilla sponge’ with relative ease. Vanilla sponge hopes to offer a slice of whats nice, touching on crafts,culture and lifestyles.

Through word of mouth i was beginning to acquire a large bank of good cultural and artistic blogs. Fantastic. However, my ability to remember and organize all these blogs was seriously out of control. Now i’m sure this is no secret to the highly computer literate that, using google reader is great for organizing all your RSS feeds from interesting blogs. But, I have to assume that their are folk  like myself who rarely discover these things at their embryonic stages but once introduced are in awe of their efficiency.

Once signed up to a google account you can organize various elements of your life using the calendar, mail boxes, document folders and photo galleries. However, for the purpose of getting all your blogs organized in one place google reader is excellent. RSS feed icons can usually be found on your favourite blogs which will link through to your google reader account, otherwise you can copy and paste the URL to where it says ‘add a subscription’ at the top of your google reader page.

Once set up you only ever need to go to your reader account to follow all your favourite blogs. You can sort them into folders under ‘subscriptions’ and also star or rate feeds to make them easier to refer back to.

hearth & home


On buying my first flat at the height of the housing market boom, i ensured an above the odds price was paid for the bricks and mortar and, an ‘at least the figure can only down from here’ percentage on my mortgage payments.
With this less than sparkling deal in place i felt i’d try and at least take control of making the place feel like home. Home previously had always been where the parents resided, however, having a mortgage (hitting maturity) i felt i should try and make this place home, and not just somewhere that feels like home.

Helpful touches to throw at your home:
1. The chair pictured is a mock, well used wing back Chesterfield. Bought from the flea/antique markets of the Brighton Lanes, along with a matching (well almost) 2 seater sofa with invitingly rich red leather, pinned with brass buttons, offering an understated grandeur. Glaring out from the corner of the sitting room under the stairs it gives myself, and other visiting mates, the opportunity to sit back, relax and survey what’s yours. At £200 for the both, IKEA is yet to find a place in my heart.

my chesterfield

my chesterfield.

2. Unpack all your books. Put them all around your house. Like paintings they tell people what you’re like and what you’re into. Think of it as a subtle facebook or twitter. There’s something about having little piles of novels/plays/poems on each step of your staircase that releases creativity into the air.
3. Perhaps most controversial of my pointers is, the proposition of taking the TV out the limelight. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing better than taking on an unwaveringly inert position of laziness on the couch, in your boxers, eating cheesy wotsits and taking in a good film. However, this i suggest should be confined to certain times and appropriate situations. As a guest in other peoples homes it’s a distraction to be presented with a TV, centre stage above the mantle piece. Perhaps it’s the overpowering draw to the screen, or my lack of integral will power, either way it doesn’t feel good in a home.
4. Lastly, purchase yourself a wholesomely round tea pot. I acquired mine as a birthday present. A really good birthday present as it’s something i wouldn’t go out and buy myself and, once you own won there’s no going back. Perhaps from Sunday afternoons spent with the grand parents (you must admire the unnaturally high tea consumption levels the older generation can achieve), tea drinking incites a nostalgic security only ever achieved by family and home.