Thursday, 31 May 2018

May 2018 in numbers

 What beautiful weather we've finally had this May. We were due some sunshine so I'm so pleased that the sun finally made it's appearance for us all. It's been a busy month at work and at home and I cannot believe that May is already over!


5 new plants for our garden. Dan and I headed to a local garden centre and bought some plants to jazz up our garden a little bit.

3 things sorted for the wedding. After finding our venue last month, we've sorted the dessert, our photographer and I've found my wedding dress! It's been an exciting month.

4 books read. I read lots this month, I'd really recommend 'Five Years from Now' but make sure you have some tissues handy - it's a real tear-jerker.

4 new solar lights for the tree in our garden. I am obsessed with these -they are so pretty!

May's been a lovely month, it's so nice for our wedding plans to start coming together, it'll soon be one year to go to our big day.

 I'm hoping for more of the same summer sunshine in June!

How has May been for you?


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Thursday, 26 April 2018

April 2018 in numbers

 Finally, we're starting to get some spring weather! April was the month where we finally sat outside to eat at least once, and it was glorious. Sadly the sunshine hasn't seemed to stuck around but April has been a good month, definitely quieter than March but still lovely.


1 trip to Cambridge to celebrate our engagement with our best friends. It was so lovely to see everyone, we had a great time with our favourites

2 books read and enjoyed! The excitement of everything else has meant my reading has slowed down somewhat, so I only read two books this month but I enjoyed both of them so much. It's so nice to have a bit of extra time in the mornings to read, and I need to remember to pick up my book and not my phone!

1 new house - we've finally moved into our new home, and it is lovely! I'm a mere five minutes away from work which has definitely helps in the general scheme of things and it is so nice to have our own garden too

2 adventures to the bluebells woods near my house - it is amazing that we live minutes away, it's such a pretty woods!

How has April been for you?
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Friday, 13 April 2018

Our engagement story

Friday 16 March 2018 will always be a day I remember. Not only did we complete on our first home, but I also became a fiance when Dan popped the question!


This bungalow will forever be special, because on the first night we had the keys,  I arrived home to a trail of candles and fairy lights leading to the conservatory and found Dan on one knee in a love heart of candles. He said some truly beautiful words (which I had to ask him to repeat after I was over the shock!) and presented me with an absolutely gorgeous ring which I fell instantly in love with. He picked it out all by himself, and I couldn't have chosen a more perfect ring myself - he knows me so well! Whilst we had spoken about getting engaged, and I suspected it would happen at some point in 2018, I had no idea he would surprise me so soon so it's safe to say I was in a state of complete shock and happiness!

To add to the surprise, he also whisked me away to NYC for five days. He started to play 'New York, New York' by Frank Sinatra, and I was completely horrified at the thought that he might have been doing a strip tease (which I would have found so incredibly awkward!). What he had actually planned was a five night trip to New York and we'd be leaving on Thursday! We had the most incredible time in New York, but more on that another time.

The proposal was absolutely perfect, I wouldn't have wanted anything more. He knows me so well - from the fact he chose to propose in private (not in public), the most gorgeous ring (sparkly and delicate because of my tiny fingers) and he booked our trip away for a few days after the proposal (so I had a few days to catch my breath) just reaffirmed how right he is for me! I'm so excited to start planning our wedding.

We had the most lovely evening after he proposed calling our families and eating in our new local pub. That night we slept in our new conservatory under the stars, and ended up listening to some of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone on audible at 3am because we were both too excited to sleep!

Exciting times are ahead, and I'm so glad I get to share them with Dan. We're looking forward to planning our wedding, and setting up our first home together.
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Friday, 6 April 2018

Why the greek islands are the best choice as a holiday destination this year

 I love the Greek islands; the food, the weather and the people. Having visited three now (although I'm not too sure Zakynthos counts!) it's definitely a high contender for future summer holidays. My first trip to the Greek islands was to Zakynthos in 2012, in 2015 I visited Kefalonia and in 2016 we headed to Lindos in Rhodes. On each of my holidays to Greece, I've fallen in love with the country - the weather has always been glorious, the people are always friendly and the views are some of the best I've seen.


The weather in Greece is pretty much always glorious in the summer. It is roasting hot, with balmy evenings perfect for strolling through pretty streets. It's exactly the kind of weather you want when you think of escaping the UK! The Greek islands are the perfect place to relax and get that all important vitamin D. When we go to Greece it is to escape the 9-5 and it is the best place to sit by a pool all day reading and playing cards. We often take boat trips whilst in Greece too and I've seen both turtles and dolphins whilst on the trips which was pretty incredible. It's amazing to see wild life in the sea.



Possibly my favourite thing about Greece though is the food. Beautiful pitta bread with refreshing and delicious tzatziki is the perfect starter, especially if you're eating on a rooftop, my favourite kind of restaurant. With plenty of choice, even a fussy eater like me enjoys Greek food. I've had some of the meatballs I've ever had in Greece, and Chicken Souvlaki which is easily one of my favourite dishes.



The Greek islands truly are one of the most stunning places I've seen. From beautifully clear sea, to stunning mountain landscapes, it truly is flawless and a lovely place to spend your summer holiday. There's plenty to see, from gorgeous seaside towns to ruins and beaches. The people are also very friendly too, which is always nice when you've gone away for your holiday. I can't wait for my next visit to the Greek islands, I've been eyeing up Santorini for years, and would love to visit mainland Greece too - especially Athens.

Have you been to the Greek islands?
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Friday, 30 March 2018

March 2018 in Numbers

 After the quickest month ever that was February, March was the biggest surprise of the year so far (and I can imagine it being the biggest surprise of 2018 overall!). It certainly wasn't a slower paced month, everything has been so exciting. March is one of my favourite months, because the weather is slowly improving, and the evenings are getting lighter but this month has topped my expectations.


2 trips to the spa. Whilst this is pretty decadent, the first trip was a treat from my parents, and the second trip was due to a fabulous rebooking deal (£49pp for a one course meal, use of the facilities and two x 25 minute treatments). It was exactly what I needed.

1 new house. Dan and I completed on our first home this month, after putting the offer down at the start of January. It's so exciting, and we're starting the make a few changes already! Watch this space.

1 proposal. We're also engaged! Dan was waiting for me on one knee when I arrived at our new home for the first time, and it was so special. 16 March is definitely a day to remember! I'll definitely be writing up a separate engagement post in the future.

1 surprise trip to NYC. To top off all the excitement, Dan started to play 'New York, New York' by Frank Sinatra. Dan then told me we were heading to New York, I was in shock! We spent five nights in one of our favourite cities, exploring downtown and each others company.

What a life-changing month March has been. I've celebrated some really exciting news with my loved ones, and had the best holiday with my lovely Dan! Here's to getting stuck into the wedding planning, and also doing up our new house so it's truly ours.

How has March been for you?

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Friday, 9 March 2018

Swapping my iPhone for a Samsung

I've had an iPhone for the past five years, and never imagined straying from Apple. But when my iPhone started to die at 80%, 50% and 30%, and with the apple store telling me that no, my battery wasn't failing but it was coming to the end of its lifetime (after less than two years!) I knew I'd had enough, so I started researching my options. Samsung came up trumps; their phones apparently held their charge, were easy to use and took brilliant pictures.

I took this image on my new Samsung, I've been impressed so far.

The model I chose to go for was the Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017), and it was a great choice. The size isn't too far off an iPhone 6, and the screen is a very decent size too. I opted for the gold colour (gold sand), and I really like it. It's definitely a very sleek colour, and the phone is overall aesthetically pleasing.

The Samsung is relatively easy to get used to if you're changing from an iPhone. I did message my sister's boyfriend with a few queries but once you get settled into using an Android, for me it was clear I'd made the right change. I was slightly worried that the Samsung wouldn't have all of my usual apps (mainly podcasts!) but actually that's not been an issue for me. I've downloaded castbox so I have access to my fave podcasts and I'm set!

The charge is one of the best things about the phone, it really does hold; in the first five days of having the phone I only charged it twice which is fantastic. I like knowing that my phone isn't going to die when I'm out for the day, or just as I'm leaving work. The charger also seems to charge my phone really quickly (it went from 2% to 100% in a matter of hours which is very handy too!). So far, I've been really impressed with the charge.

Whilst I haven't had a proper chance to take the camera for a spin, the quality is clearly very good. The images are crisp and clear, and I can see myself using the camera for my blog photos and travel memories as well. I took the picture above of my afternoon tea at the spa recently, and I was so impressed with the quality of the image.

Have you ever thought about changing from iPhone to Samsung?

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Friday, 2 March 2018

February 2018 in Numbers

 The evenings are starting to get lighter, and this is one of my favourite times of the year. Winter is still here, but the signs of Spring are starting to show and it's an exciting feeling after the freezing few months we've just had/the bitter end of February! It's been a good month, although I am ready for a bit more sunshine now.


3 books read, including Stacey Dooley's new book which was fantastic. It was so insightful, as her work always is, and I really enjoyed reading it. Stacey's work is so important, and I've always admired what she does.

1 country walk. My Mum and I headed to Wandlebury near Cambridge for a sunny Saturday walk which was lovely.

2 lovely meals with my Grandparents. Spending time with my grandparents is always great so it was nice to see both my parents' parents this month.

1 new phone. I've traded my iPhone in for a Samsung A3, and I'm loving it so far! I definitely made the right decision; the camera and battery life are so impressive.

1 night out with my best friends from school. It was so nice to catch up, and we had a great night in the local pubs!

How has February been for you? Are you looking forward to Spring?
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Friday, 23 February 2018

Exploring my hometown and surrounding areas

When I finished uni back in 2015, I dreaded the thought of moving back home. Every corner would be a reminder of something I didn't want to think about, and moving away made me feel like I'd just rather not return. How wrong I was, I loved being back home but almost three years on, I'm finally starting to truly appreciate my hometown. It's small, but incredibly pretty. It may not have the best shops, but it does have friends and family.


A few weeks ago, I headed into town with Georgia to take some outfit pictures. We wandered the pretty streets, and headed to a playing fields a mere walk from the town centre. A lot of time was spent there in our teens; playing games, drinking lambrini and building on our friendships that are still going strong ten years later.

Then, at the weekend my Mum and I took a trip to Wandlebury, a place we visited on occasion when we were younger. It is such a lovely country park, and it made me so grateful to live in such a gorgeous place in England. We have everything; from cities like Cambridge, to beautiful country parks and small market towns full of lovely memories. I'm so lucky to have grown up in such an idyllic place.

I've made a vow to explore more of my hometown and surrounding areas. Rather than spend my weekends snuggled up on the sofa, I want to get outside and explore more of my home town and the surrounding areas. My hometown is so gorgeous, and I should be making the most of the wonderful place I am lucky enough to live in!

Do you appreciate your hometown?
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Friday, 16 February 2018

4 things to do on your first ski trip

Whilst it may have been seven years since my last (and first) ski trip, heading back to the mountains has been on my mind recently. My friend Georgia (from Mapped Out) and I went to Falcade in the Dolomite mountains in Italy for a week in February 2011 with our school, and we had the best time. Despite it being so long ago, my memories of that trip are so good and there are four things I'd recommend you need to do on your first ski trip!


Have a good breakfast
It's day one, and we've just arrived at the top of the mountain after a hilarious introduction to the ski lift (we were both so nervous about not being able to get on or off). The scenery is beautiful, and we're part way into our ski lesson when I begin to feel really rather ill. After a quick lay down on the snow to recover from the altitude sickness, I vowed to make sure I ate a good breakfast every morning because I knew that skipping breakfast had not helped my situation, rookie error.

Embrace the Apres Ski
The evenings were such good fun! As we were sixth formers, we all had drinks in the evenings whilst on the trip. Every evening was hilarious (with the added bonus that we didn't get hangovers yet - score!). I'm pretty sure one of our faves was La Stua where we would drink and dance the night away before heading back to our chalet style hotel.

Layer up
I made the mistake of not wearing layers one day, and because you are actually working pretty hard by lunchtime I was roasting but had to keep my long-sleeved thermals off because it's not hugely appropriate to sit and eat in your bra! I made sure to wear layers the next day so I could swiftly remove my thermals at lunch and cool down.

Take in the views
When I think back to our trip, one of my favourite memories is how stunning the mountains were. Travelling up and down in the ski lift gave us 5-10 minutes a day to just relax and take it all in.

Skiing was such a fun, and different, holiday. It was so unlike anything I'd ever done before and I was so glad I went. The dolomite mountains were truly stunning, and I'd love to go back to ski again one day.

Have you ever been skiing before?
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Friday, 9 February 2018

3 ways to fight against period poverty

 One of the best things about social media, is the ability for people to share their ideas on a much bigger platform. I was recently scrolling through my feed when I found a post about a girl named Amika George who has started a petition for girls who have free school meals to get free sanitary products. It really struck a chord with me, and I was so pleased to see someone so young campaigning for something SO important.


Growing up, I always felt incredibly self conscious whenever I was on my period. I was lucky enough to grow up in a family who could afford these products, but imagine if you had to go through a period every month without access to sanitary products. Reading more about what Amika was campaigning for made the campaign make even more sense to me, and what a brilliant idea I think it is. If the government could provide free sanitary products for girls who have free school meals, many young girls might stop missing school, or using unhygienic methods when their periods come around every month.

After some further research, I also came across Bloody Good Period, which is a charity that aims to provide sanitary products for those who can't afford them. Gabby Edlin, the brains behind Bloody Good Period, noticed that food banks and asylum seeker drop in centres were not providing sanitary products to women. Women who cannot afford sanitary products are forced to use toilet paper, or not to use anything at all which is bound to make that time of the  month even worse.

So, here are three things you can do to help stop period poverty.

1. Sign Amika's #FreePeriods petition, which you can do here. She's so close to 150,000 signatures!

2. Donate money to, or volunteer for, Bloody Good Period.

3. Write to your local MP about the petition. Here's a template of what I sent to my local MP!

Dear X,

I am local resident and wanted to email you about a campaign I think you might be interested in.

Recently, I came across the #FreePeriods campaign which aims to get free menstrual products for all children on free school meals. Please see below for a link to the petition.

https://www.change.org/p/theresa-may-mp-free-menstrual-products-for-all-children-on-free-school-meals-freeperiods

I think this is a fantastic petition, and wondered if there was something you could do about this - perhaps there is a local school that might be able to trial this campaign. As a young woman, I feel very strongly about the importance of this campaign. Whilst I recognise that it might take some years for this scheme to come into practice, it would be great to know that my local MP is aware of the petition.

Periods are bad enough without having to worry about whether you have access to sanitary products.

Please let me know your thoughts.

Thank you in advance.

X

Whilst this is a brief template, and you may want to send something entirely your own, I've had a response from one of the MP's I contacted who is now aware of the campaign which is progress in itself. Hopefully the more people that email their local MP's, the more people who learn more about tackling the issue of period poverty.

If you have any ideas on how I can fight against period poverty, I'd love to know what else I could be doing!
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Friday, 2 February 2018

January 2018 in Numbers

 January is never the quickest month, but luckily this one hasn't dragged TOO much! There are some exciting things ahead and it's been a good start to 2018. Having said that I'm grateful that the evenings are slowly beginning to lighten up. Let's get to it, shall we?


1 trip to the spa with my mum - we spent the day relaxing, catching up and reading. I had such a lovely facial and back massage, it was exactly what we needed for the first weekend in January

books read - It's a good start to my 60 books in 2018 challenge. I've read books by Marian Keyes, Rupi Kaur, Ali McNamara, Lauren Juliff and Scarlett Moffatt

2 new restaurants explored. Dan and I visited a local pub, and I also headed to Carluccio's for the first time ever - both were great, and it was nice to do something a little different

1 visit back to Canterbury to see my friend Mary. As always, we had a lovely time and it was exactly what I needed halfway through January

1 trip abroad booked! In August, I'll be heading to Budapest. It will be my first time in Hungary, and I'm so excited to explore somewhere new

How has January been for you?





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Friday, 26 January 2018

24 hours in Canterbury, Kent

If you've been around for a while, you'll know that I lived in Canterbury for three years whilst studying towards my degree. It's a stunning city, with plenty of things to do and see. If you've never ventured down to the Garden of England, Canterbury is a very good place to start. Here's what I'd do if I only had 24 hours!


10.00 - arrive early. You can catch a train from London into either of the stations in Canterbury, although it's a faster journey from St Pancras to Canterbury West

11.00 - stroll into the city centre, via the King's Mile. Whilst this is slightly out of your way from the station, it's worth the detour - I'd especially recommend stopping in Siesta on Palace Street. The main city centre is busy and bustling (especially at weekends!) but it's worth a look. I'd also recommend having a look in Canterbury Cathedral, which is absolutely stunning

13.30 - it's lunch time! There are plenty of places to eat in Canterbury for lunch. You might fancy Kitch if you're looking for something healthier, but Chambers does some delicious pancakes

14.30 - lunch is over, but there's still plenty to see! Head to St Augustine's Abbey to explore the ruins of a monastery founded in 598. Canterbury is full of history, and these ruins are worth a visit - especially when you think about how old they are - it's quite amazing really

15.30 - head to the Chocolate Cafe for an afternoon snack. This cafe is incredible - from waffles, to cups of pure chocolate, it is the perfect place to relax after a busy afternoon exploring in Canterbury

16.30 - if you're heading out tonight, you might fancy a couple of hours relaxing at your hotel.

18.30 - go for a quick drink at The Pound before dinner. This bar is in the old jail building, and it's the perfect setting for a cocktail.

19.30 - grab some dinner. My favourite Italian is Pinnoccio's which you can find at 64 Castle Street. With it's family run feel, and absolutely delicious food, you're in for a treat

22.00 - after a delicious meal, you might like to sample some of the nightlife in Canterbury. Start at The Ballroom for some good music, and delicious cocktails. It's quite hard to get a seat here though, so you'll probably want to move on pretty swiftly. There are various places for a dance in Canterbury - The Cuban if you fancy something a little classier, or Club Chem which is a little more rough n' ready

01.30 - head back to your hotel for a good night's sleep after a jam-packed day! I'd recommend the Travel Lodge based in the city centre. It may not be fancy but it's clean and in a great location

10.00 - it's (sadly!) time to leave. At least you know it's only an hour or so back to London

Canterbury truly is a Southern gem, and the perfect place to visit if you fancy somewhere new without going too far from London. There's so much to see and do but even wandering the gorgeous cobbled streets will be a real treat!

Have you ever been to Canterbury?

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Friday, 19 January 2018

3 things to do to boost your mood in January

 It's no secret that January can be one of the toughest months of the year. It's hard to get back into the swing of life when you've had some time off and January always seems to be especially cold and tough on the soul. We're over halfway through now, but here are three things I've done to boost my mood this January.


Visit a friend
I headed back to Canterbury to visit my friend Mary, and it was just what I needed. We ate out, watched some rubbish telly, gossiped and danced the night away. Whilst I was tired after the weekend, seeing friends always boosts my spirits and it's the perfect way to beat the January blues.

Keep your house (and life admin!) in check
Before Christmas I was really struggling to stay motivated with housework, and life admin. I've been trying my hardest to keep on top of things, so that once the dinner is cooked and washing up is done the evening is mine to enjoy. Yes, we may have only just taken down our Christmas tree up, but my clothes are clean and the kitchen is tidy! It's all about balance.

Think about the year ahead
January is normally the time of year that I book up a few trips for the year ahead! Whilst we have no trips booked as of yet, I have two trips in the pipe-line that I'm very excited about. Having something to look forward to always boosts my spirits, especially in a month like January.

January may not be a crowd-pleaser of a month, but it has some worth. Think of it as the foundation month of the year where you catch up with your friends after a busy festive period, or book something fun to look forward to in the months ahead!

What do you do in January to boost your mood?


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Friday, 12 January 2018

4 books to read in 2018

Reading is one of my favourite things to do to relax. I read some really great books last year, but there were four that really stood out for me, and I just had to share these on my blog. If you're looking for something new to read, I'd highly recommend picking up one of these books this year to get stuck into!

The Power - Naomi Alderman 

The Power was a great read, and something different. I really like to read books that are about the world as it is with a huge difference (if that makes sense - books like the Hunger Games!) and The Power ticks that box. What would happen in a world if women were the ones with the power? This book is very thought-provoking!


The Hate U Give - Angie Thomas

Starr witnesses her best friend being fatally shot by a police officer, and this a story of how the people around her react. She lives two lives as such, swapping between her persona in the poor neighbourhood she lives in and the upper class school she attends with her siblings. This is such a topical book, and whilst upsetting, it's a very good read! I really liked Starr as a character as well, which makes all the difference when you're reading a book.



The Story of a Secret State - Jan Karski

Jan Karski was a member of the Polish underground state during world war two. This book tells his story, and the story of so many others, and it was so interesting. I learnt so much when I read this book, and sadly it sheds light on a few harsh realities about the second world war. Whilst it's a hard-hitting read, you should definitely give this book a go in 2018!


Homecoming - Yaa Gyasi

I loved this book, it is easily in my top four books of 2017. Whilst it was heartbreaking at times, it was beautiful alongside that as you read about each character and their story. It was so different to anything I've read before but it really drew me in, and touched on some incredible sensitive but important issues in such a stunning way.


All four of these books were incredible, and touched on some subjects that I think are so important to be discussing today.  After finishing each of these books, I couldn't help but think that they should all be read in schools. Perhaps reading one of these books would introduce a serious subject to someone who hadn't even considered it, or help a student learn more about a subject they were already beginning to consider.

Have you read any of these books? What did you think?
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Friday, 5 January 2018

2018

Something about this year feels different. I can't quite put my finger on it, but usually the first day of a new year is spend reflecting on the previous year, and looking for ways to improve things for the next year. Goals are set, and not always achieved, but they are thought about. This year though, and I think it's because 2017 was so fantastic and because I'm pretty bloody happy, there hasn't been such a fierce feeling of wanting to improve myself and do better.


Having said all of the above, there are a few things I'm hoping to do in 2018.

Volunteer more

I recently read this post by Hayley from Honestly Russell, and it really struck a cord. When I was younger, I was so involved in issues I cared about - collecting money for a charity that aimed to improve the quality of life in Rajasthan and getting involved in a campaign against bullying at school. Whilst I've done the odd thing over the years since, I want 2018 to be the year I volunteer again.

Read 60 books

Last year I read 54 books, and I relished in the challenge. This year, I'd like to hit 60 books. Spending my evenings reading books, rather than being absorbed in my laptop did wonders for me last year and I'd like to continue as I mean to go on. Here's to another year of good books!

Boost my savings

2017 was quite an expensive year, especially after 2016 where we managed to save a lot of money towards a house. I'd like to save a bit more this year so we can head further afield on an adventure in the coming year(s) or just do lots of smaller trips! I'm not sure how I'm going to do this yet, but I love the idea of a challenge so we'll see how this one goes.

I'm so looking forward to what 2018 has in store. Whilst I doubt it will be as busy as 2017 was, I've got a really good feeling about this year.

What are you hoping to do in 2018?


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