June Favourites… 

Aaaaand she’s back (back, back, back again..) and since we’re a scary number of days into July I thought I would start of with a June favourites. You know the drill by now. June was actually a pretty busy month for me as it included my birthday and a weeks holiday from work which I crammed as much into as I possibly could. Slight regrets due to my perpetual tiredness but I’d say it was worth it. 

First up on my favourites for last month is Funny Girl, the multi-award winning West End musical which I saw in London on my week off with my best friend (shoutout to Catherine if you’re reading!). The musical is based on a movie musical which is based on a book which is based on the real life events of the one and only Miss Fanny Brice; played in the movie (and originally on Broadway and the West End) by queen of musicals herself, Barbra Streisand. Sheridan Smith was set to revise the role for the first time since Ms Streisand ended her run back in the 60’s, however after a couple of months with the company she was taken ill but is due to return later this month. Sadly for us we didn’t see her perform but we were lucky enough to watch her understudy, Natasha Barnes, and we were not disappointed! The rave reviews she received were more than deserved and after having a starring role in such a prestigious musical I’m sure she’ll go far – she’s definitely earned it. If you like musicals/theatre/stellar performances and have a free afternoon or evening in London, I would highly advise you to grab a ticket for this while you can as it’s only on for a couple more months and for a near perfect view it didn’t cost the earth (like theatre so often can!). One of the best stage shows I’ve seen, it’s got a bit of everything – comedy, heart and some of the best songs in showbiz. 

Next up is another performance, look at me being all cultured! This time it was at the Bristol Colston Hall for Nashville: In Concert which was the tour of the US TV show Nashville. I’m a huge fan of this show and couldn’t be happier that it’s been renewed for a fifth season after momentarily being cancelled… And yes, I did sign the petition to save it. The tour featured four of the main ‘characters’ singing both as they do on the show and as themselves, since they’re all country singers in their own right. Scarlett O’Connor (Claire Bowen), Gunnar Scott (Sam Palladio), Will Lexington (Chris Carmack) and Deacon Claybourne (Charles Esten) introduced each song and explained the stories behind them which made the evening nice and intimate, however they did have us partying in our seats as they danced round the isles of the stalls. It was such an incredibly fun night and the talent in the room that evening was phenomenal, they’re all such gifted performers and I felt lucky to be able to see them perform in person on such a date restricted tour. My friend even managed to get her ticket signed after the show for me (sadly I had to get the bus home and they don’t wait for anybody) by my favourite character Deacon – he wrote my name and everything! *fangirls into the distance* Anyway, if you’re a fan of country music then this show will probably strike a chord with you – I’d start from the beginning as there’s lots to catch up on even though there’s currently only 4 seasons. Enjoy! 

I can’t write a June favourites without including Orange is the New Black. I won’t give anything away in case you’re still catching up but OMG. Just watch it. Watch it now. 

One of my New Years resolutions was to read more books. And I can say, half way through the year that I have read one solitary book. I don’t think I’ve finished a whole book for a good few years so this was some accomplishment for me although it shouldn’t have been so hard because the book was great, hence it being in this list. Around the World in 80 Dates, written by Jennifer Cox, is exactly what it sounds like. Her own true story of how she travelled the world (thanks to her job at Lonely Planet and her well connected friends) one date at a time – all the way to 80. This funny, sweet, romantic yet sassy tale is a perfect book for those of you who love romance, hilarious/perfect/awkward date stories or travel… Or the whole lot combined! It will definitely give you a severe case of wanderlust making you want to pack in your 9-5 and follow in her footsteps. An easy and enjoyable read for holidays, the work commute or bedtime, and from someone who struggles to read full books, I’d highly recommend it. 

A final favourite for June is something a little more sentimental; friendship. I don’t know about you but sometimes I get a feeling, like a pang of gratitude for certain people in my life. Whether it’s just when they message out of the blue, send you a funny meme/gif/photo of someone you don’t like (come on, we all do it!) or whether you spend time with them and you’re like yes, thank you for being my friend, I appreciate you. It can be with new friends, old friends, friends you haven’t seen for years but have reconnected with, literally anyone and for me it’s been a mixture of them all. June was a pretty social month and it was nice to catch up with people I hadn’t seen for a while as well as making time for new friendships; like a trip to a new town with a new friend for afternoon tea in the sunshine. Reconnecting with old friends is such a heartwarming feeling too; the realisation that you’re still the best of friends even though there was a time when you thought you’d grown apart but you’re still the same people with the same goals and ideas and appreciation for each other. So I’m thankful for those friends, the new friends and the pop up every now and again friends. The ones that plan your birthday and make sure you have a great time, the ones that remind you to be your best self everyday and encourage you to do the things you love. I’m grateful for you all. 


That’s all for the month of June but be sure to keep a look out for my next post… Possibly a July favourites but hopefully something different in between if we’re both lucky! Thanks for reading! 

March/April/May Favourites…

As we all know, I haven’t written anything for a while; in true Sophie style so once again I thought I’d try and slip back in with a favourites post. Some are from March, a few are from April and one or two from May – I know, I’m getting them in early. Let’s get into it.

1. The first one is actually an app, which isn’t exactly on brand for me but I’ll explain. It’s called Dysh and is basically an Instagram style programme but solely for food with the idea that there’s no shame in photographing your food and sharing it with the world. Instagram doesn’t care what you eat, Dysh does. You can photograph, edit, rate, tag and comment on and about your meal so that people in the area can see what’s good (and what’s not good!) to eat and drink. You can also follow other users as well as like and comment on their posts too. It’s been collaborated on, promoted and endorsed by 4 slightly post-millenial American online creators, Grace Helbig, Hannah Hart, Mamrie Hart and Ingrid Nilsen.

This app wouldn’t have come to my attention had I not been an avid fan of all four women but since it has, and more importantly since I love it, I thought I’d share it with you. It’s available to download in the App Store for free. I’d rate it 100 and not just because I’m slightly biased but due to the fact that it’s got pretty much everything you need whilst having an aesthetically pleasing interface. Yeah, take that media degree! My username is sophiehollister if you want to follow me on there.

2. Next on my list is skincare. I’ve had a pretty shoddy skincare routine since about forever. Don’t get me wrong, I’d wash my face as well as tone and moisturise but it wasn’t exactly a ritual. I have to say though, after hearing about Liz Earle (and reading hundreds of reviews online and seeking opinions of users I knew) I took the plunge and purchased the basic set. I’ve been using it for probably just over a month now and it’s still not every day but I’d say at least 5/7 days and my skin has never been better. Thankfully I’ve never had bad skin but Liz Earle has definitely helped keep spots and shine at bay.

The three step process is quick and easy and the products feel light and fresh on your skin (and they smell like a spa which is a bonus). It’s the first “high end” skincare package I’ve bought so it was a little more money than I’m used to paying but no more then its competitors. If you’re looking for something to get you started this is a good one to go for, I’d highly recommended.

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3. Third favourite on the list is Cheerz, a photo printing app. Id been wanting to print some of my travel photos as Polaroids for a while and came across this app which was easy to use and didn’t cost the earth. The photos are good quality too and came in cute little packages. I printed photos and quotes and hung them round my room with decorative string and teeny tiny (adorable) pegs either from Amazon or Etsy and I’m really pleased with how they turned out!

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Yes I did draw, colour and cut out that phrase and stick it on a map #creative


4. I’ve always loved The Body Shop for shower gels and body sprays but I’d never bought make up from them before. However, after I purchased a gift set last month I received a £3 off makeup coupon and only a fool wouldn’t at least see what they have to offer. I found the perfect grey nail varnish, something I’ve been needing since all my clothes are somewhere to the black/white scale, and with the coupon it only cost me £2 – less than a Starbucks! Bargain. One coat was a bit sheer for what I wanted but two was near perfect. It lasted about 3 days without a clear top coat so miiiight stretch to a week had I used one.

 
5. The Estée Lauder double wear foundation has recently become a staple in my makeup bag. After realising my drugstore foundation wasn’t really doing it for me anymore I wanted to branch out and purchase one that really suited my skin, even if that meant spending a little more than usual. I read sooo many reviews and watched so many review videos of it and finally took the plunge. I use the shade 1N1 ivory nude, which I think is one of the lightest shades and it’s the perfect match for my skin tone. It’s classed as a semi matte finish which is definitely what I need as my skin can become quite oily throughout the day and other foundations pretty much fall off my face. The double wear foundation says it lasts 15 hours and although I haven’t had chance to test that out fully yet it already lasts way after I get home from work which is probably near enough that time anyway. It’s a good coverage foundation too and is easily build-able if you want slightly more. I sometimes use my other foundation, Maybelline Satin Finish, on my cheeks and then go over it with the Estée Lauder one just to prevent my face from looking too flat before adding bronzer and the rest.

 
6. Last favourite of the month is my most recent – Crepe Affaire, which is a crepe and waffle cafe at the top of Park Street in Bristol. There are a range of savoury and sweet pancakes along with waffles, smoothies and shakes as well as the usual tea, coffee and cold drinks. I chose the “apple crumble” pancake and it was delicious I’d have it again 100%. The strawberry and banana smoothie was also very yummy. I’d give this place 9/10 – great food, great decor, lovely staff and it was quiet and sunny when I went which made it even better. It’s pricing is pretty average too so it won’t break the bank, definitely a place to keep in mind if you’re in the area!

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Pancake featured on Dysh app (username: sophiehollister)

 

 

A response of sorts…

Ever since my last post I’ve been thinking about what to write next. Three months later and the page is still blank. Yesterday I came across an article (I’ll post the link below) about how to continue writing when “no one gives a shit”.
I’m sure this is a common thought amongst all writers that don’t have a wide audience, deadlines or any kind of job that doesn’t actually include writing. The hardest thing is to keep the momentum going, regardless of whether you think anyone will actually read it or not. If your job doesn’t revolve around writing it can often take a back seat to other, more mundane activities – between work, the gym and sleeping I find there isn’t a lot of time for much else, let alone something that takes as much mental effort as writing a decent blog post does.
If you’ve come to the conclusion that “no one gives a shit” but you still somehow want to write, it has to be for enjoyment above anything else. Personally I think about writing all the time and I’ll say “I need to write something” or “what should I write about?” or perhaps the most common “I haven’t written anything for ages…” but sadly saying those things don’t bring as much inspiration as I’d like.
One of my friends, also an aspiring writer, messaged me saying “I really needed to read that link you just shared” after seeing my post on Facebook and simply knowing that made me feel like I’m not the only one having these thoughts. Another close friend sent me a message the day after saying “I saw the link you shared – I care if you write something”. She may be biased but nevertheless it made me think that maybe that’s all it takes. Perhaps you only need to have one person be affected by something you write. Maybe it could make them laugh or make them think; even if only one person appreciates it, that makes it worth your time. So I guess this is a response of sorts to that article regardless of whether ones person reads this or 100 people. I know no one may care about the original article and if they don’t then they especially won’t care about this one but I guess the most fundamental part of it all is that I care. If I didn’t I wouldn’t mind that no one else did either but I do care and hopefully someone out there will care too.

Here’s the original article, thank you Jennifer Garam for being my source of inspiration. www.jennifergaram.com/blog/2016/1/16/how-to-keep-writing-when-no-one-gives-a-shit

 

 

I thought I’d take a moment…

Hello hello, yes I know it’s been a while. Yet again. It’s been a few weeks since I got back from Madrid and so I thought I’d sit down and write something new for you, although this time it’s a little different. This post takes a bit of a break from travel inspired pieces or monthly favourites and focuses on something a bit more meaningful; at least for me at the moment. I thought I’d take a minute to talk about the people who make a significant difference to our lives because I feel I have a couple of them that need a reminder of just how appreciated they are. I feel I should put a disclaimer here: of course family, best friends etc come under this section but this is for the people who perhaps don’t realise just how much impact they’ve had on you or how much help they’ve been. Or maybe it’s the people you don’t talk to every day or the people you no longer get to spend time with. I guess this could be classed as a thank you note of sorts.

I won’t name anyone directly but hopefully you’ll know who you are.

First up is perhaps my newest friend who quickly became one of my closest after “taking me under her wing” as she likes to say. I can’t disagree though, she did. Her bright, positive, infectious personality is hard to resist – add kindness, fun and a fair amount of sass on top of that and you’ve got yourself one of the funniest and most understanding friends you could ever ask for. Thank you for looking out for me – even when I don’t realise you are, and for encouraging me to be myself. I am forever indebted to you for that. Never stop smiling because you don’t know how many people you inspire by being yourself, myself included. Obviously. 

Now a quick mention to my friends that are far away, whether in different cities or different countries. Regardless of if we speak every day or just once every few months, just know that I appreciate you all – whether it was a specific message to make me laugh, talking about a memory we share or suggesting ideas for future plans, every conversation makes me thankful that I have such an amazing group of friends even if you may not be in touching distance. I promise I’ll see you soon. 

Finally, to someone who’s never read my writing but always encouraged me to pursue it. Someone who definitely didn’t know how much she was appreciated and looked up to (I’m sorry for that, I/we should have told you more often). Someone who impacted people more deeply than she’ll know. I know I only just gave you a similar letter but I just wanted to thank you again. If I can be half the person you are I’ll be happy – thank you for being exactly what I (and what we all) needed. This post is probably a coping mechanism for me because change is hard and things aren’t the same without you. You’re missed. 

Now, if you read all the way through this without knowing any of these people I thank you (and as cliche as it sounds when included in such a post) – I appreciate you and the time you spent here. I hope it made you think of the people in your life that might be in need of a little verbal (or written) appreciation and I encourage you to tell them, whatever form that might take. Write them a card, send them a song, or maybe a simple hug and a thank you could do the trick. Just let them know. And to those of you who know who I’m talking about, or if I’m talking about you, just know that I’m so grateful for you. Thank you for making me feel appreciated too. 

As it’s hot and sunny…

As it’s hot and sunny and I’m actually able to enjoy it on my one day off after working the past six, I thought I’d do a bit of blogging… Well at least try anyway. I actually hand wrote the first copy of this, my laptop is on its last legs and taking outside is probably just a step too far. Handwriting things makes you think about what you’re actually putting on the page though, like, “is this worth me writing?” Or “no one will care if I leave that out”. Hopefully though you will care about this post as I think it’s something a lot of you might feel a resonance with. 

After graduating in July last year I travelled for a month using my life savings and came back with a whole host of amazing memories but not a lot else. I was back home, I had little money and no job and only one or two friends that were close by. September soon came round and I found a job in retail which (unless you’ve worked in retail) is looked down on as not being a “proper job” – I’m guessing that’s because I’m not using my degree. That is a fair point although good luck trying to find someone I work with that doesn’t have a degree – everything from art to psychology to business studies. 

However there are those people that managed to get a job in their chosen field and I congratulate you whole heartedly as we all know how difficult that can be. One of my best friends did just that. While I was moving back home and readjusting to home life she was moving into a house, making new friends and starting an amazing job and I can’t say I wasn’t jealous. 

It’s been nearly a year since I started my job and although sometimes the hours aren’t great and rude customers leave clothes on the floor and there’s never enough staff, I wouldn’t have changed it for the world. Last year wasn’t the best for me for a variety of reasons and so to finally have more friends, a job with incredible people that are honestly like a little family to me (I don’t even care how cheesy that is, I know they’d all agree), to be happy to go to work (and offer to go in on my day off must mean I’ve got a good thing going) but just to be generally happy is a really great thing. Having the job you think you should have (or a job others think you should have) may be okay for a while but if it’s not making you happy, what’s the point? All the love and hugs to my best friend who left her job for exactly that reason – I have every faith you’ll find something even better. Shout out to the people that got the job they wanted and love it by the way, congrats and full steam ahead for you!! 

So just because I may not be using my degree now doesn’t mean I never will, and I don’t want to use it if the job it gets me makes me miserable. So if you’re in the same boat try not to be swayed by others because if you’re happy and making some kind of living/working towards something else be it moving out, travel or another venture – you do you. You’re doing better than you think. I’m so grateful to my little work family for helping me realise that, thank you. 

Take a trip with me…

After many many months of having no online blogging presence (and a lot of comments from my friends and family about how I should “write more”) I thought I’d start again with a post about my recent trip to Barcelona. I say “recent” – it’s been two weeks since I got back and writing this has been slow progress, bare with me i’ll get back into the swing of things soon. I’ve been to lots of the islands around Spain but Barcelona had always been first on my list to visit on the mainland and I’m not sure why… possibly from the poster of the Sagrada Familia that my grandparents used to have on the wall in their spare room or maybe just because of the generally stunning architecture, culture and of course, weather. To make this as comprehensible as it can be I’ve written about each site we went to as well as writing a little bit about the hotel, because quite frankly it was gorgeous.

Actually I’ll start with the hotel since that was our first stop. Silken Diagonal Hotel, incidentally it was on Avenue Diagonal, which is actually one of the main roads in Barcelona (we didn’t quite appreciate this until our last day) and was situated next to Torre Agbar, a skyscraper that marks the “gateway to the technological district” – thanks to Wikipedia for that information. It was a pretty cool building though, it light up at night so it wasn’t an eyesore; I’ll insert a photo below. We realised pretty soon after arriving at the hotel that we must have secured a good deal with Expedia as the price we paid was much less than the hotel deserved; shout-out to Alan on reception for being so friendly and helpful. Seriously though, the rooms were incredible although perhaps a little more suited to couples than friends as there was only glass separating the bathroom from the bedroom but we managed to sort out a lighting system (electronic window blinds up works best, just in case you’re thinking of going!). A mini bar, room service and the cleaning service were all great, the cleaners could have been a little quieter in the mornings but that would be my only complaint.

The hotel also had a foyer bar, restaurant, roof top bar and pool and although perhaps not an actual feature but the coolest lifts ever. There’s a video on their Facebook page about them so I can’t be the only one that was amazed. The roof top pool was very small and apparently very cold, admittedly I didn’t try it but the yelps of others kept me informed, but the roof top bar was great although a little expensive (as is the rest of Barcelona for drinks). I think the most impressive thing about the roof was of course the view which kinda goes without saying. You could walk round the top of the hotel 360° and look out at the whole of the city, including the Sagrada Familia which I got a little too excited about but I mean come on, I could see it from my hotel – how cool?!

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The location of the hotel was perfect, only a short bus or metro ride to the centre yet it was about 20 minutes walking distance from the beach and across the road from a shopping centre, Plaça de les Glories, which had the most amazing food court you could imagine, anything from octopus to waffles to ice cream.

Here’s the link to the hotel www.hoteles-silken.com/en/destinations/barcelona/

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Our first ‘tourist attraction’ would probably have been the shopping centre opposite the hotel had we known what it was but since we didn’t we caught the bus (super easy and super cheap) from outside our hotel which took us directly to Park Guell – the home of most of Gaudi’s architecture. The actual park requires a €15 ticket which may or may not have an allotted time slot depending how busy it is at the time. If you have to wait for a select time like we did there’s the rest of the park that you can wander round and its beautiful; lots of winding paths and stunning views out across the city as far as the ocean. Musicians were dotted along the pathways, taking shelter in the shade where little audiences would gather – all were incredibly talented and given very little persuasion I would have purchased a CD from each of them (those of you that follow me on snapchat or Instagram might have seen 10 seconds of Spanish guitar). After a quick pit stop lunch at the very busy baguette stall, more like a hole in the wall… quite literally, we made our way round to wait for our time in the park. I took this inconvenient time to feel faint – so much so that I couldn’t see and had to sit on the gravel, so refined. Becky was being nurse “Sophie sit on the floor and drink this” she said handing me a bottle of water and walking off to the (most likely illegal) water bottle seller, and bought an ice cold one; “put this on your wrist, it’ll cool you down”. I took a few minutes and stood up, thinking I was fine. I wasn’t. Back onto the sandy floor I went. After a little while longer we made our way to a shady area where I perched on a rock and Becky kept a beady eye on me. Two street artists thought this would be the appropriate time to chat to us – I’m not looking my best it had to be said – hot and sweaty and faint is not my usual brand but here we were. After a somewhat awkward (on my part) conversation about how I was like “ a classic painting” or “Cleopatra” and could they both have my contact details (which I politely declined), I gave Becky ‘the eye’ and we made our way to the park entrance.  The rest of the day wasn’t quite as eventful but did include relaxing by the pool on the roof of our hotel before our night out – it’s a hard life.

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Now the club we were originally planning on going to was Opium however to cut a long story short we decided against it and found a place where it was €20 for as many drinks as you wanted and then free entry and queue jumping to either Shoko or Pacha – we tried out both but Pacha was empty (that’s not an exaggeration, there must have been about 20 people in there…). Shoko however was another story; I could have stayed there forever. Two rooms, one inside which had the mainstream pop/chart/club tunes and one outside, a step away from the beach with no roof and still great songs slightly more “indie” but even I knew 80% of them so still great for dancing and singing along to. Clubs don’t open until 1am which leaves plenty of time for partying into the night (well, morning). *inserts mandatory selfie*

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The following day was a busy very chilled – proper holiday style. We woke up late and order room service BECAUSE WE COULD and it was such a goddamn novelty and spent the morning watching Spanish/German TV – whichever we could understand the most of because surprisingly there was only one English speaking channel which included world news and stock market figures which wasn’t quite the mood we were going for. After a 20 minute walk to the beach we set up residence on some FREE (I’m still shocked) sun loungers and spent the afternoon basking in the sun. We ventured into the ocean although it was only our ankles that felt the water as the water was pretty cold being the first few days of June. A Spanish child decided it would be hilarious to splash us though. Not funny. After Becky got a little too angry at the splash culprit we went for an afternoon snack at a little beach-side café, which didn’t tell us they couldn’t serve cooked food until we’d ordered drinks. We opted for toasties and then swiftly left for the tram back to the hotel for another quick blast of sun on the roof terrace before ordering more room service – which were incidentally the best burgers we’ve ever eaten. I took a photo but it didn’t do it justice. That night was chilled as I had a tight schedule planned for the last day.

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The Sagrada Familia was first on the list for our final day. I was excited as I’d seen so many photos, I mean who hasn’t, but wow – that building is impressive and probably the most impressive one I’ve seen to date. It’s hard to describe such a place to someone who hasn’t been but if you’re in Barcelona and haven’t visited before it’s definitely worth a visit. Its €15 to go inside but I’d say totally worth it if you’re up for gorgeous stained glass windows, architecture and a glimpse of Gaudi’s resting place. I’ll let some photos show you how amazing it was as I don’t have enough words.

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I suggested finding some of Gaudi’s other architectural works and so we set off on many metro rides to find the houses that had been noted on our trusty city map. We found them all which was pretty cool but once again we also found a café that didn’t serve food. They did however have a sink that Becky washed her feet in. That’s my girl! We eventually made our way to La Rambla which was really cool and I wish we could have spent a little more time exploring but we needed food pretty desperately and so we found a restaurant with food – who knew?! I had the most amazing prawn fajitas and a piña colada and once we’d eaten and rested we high-tailed it back to the hotel to collect our suitcases and take the metro to the airport. Or so we thought. We made it to the train station and then retraced our steps through the underground and back up to the station about three times, each time more confused than the last at where signs for the airport had gone. I think helping a woman carry a pram up a flight of stairs made me lose concentration and for a minute I thought we were lost. Turns out we weren’t and we actually had to get a train to the airport which was fine and worked out pretty well and even saw the sunset on the way, which if you’ve been reading for a while/know me well, you know that pretty much made my day. By the time we reached our departure gate we were tired, if not a bit sunburnt and after waiting for an extra 30 minutes in the queue and being told to put my handbag in my suitcase by an extra stroppy staff member – which by the way there was no chance of happening, was she kidding me? – we were ready to be on our way home.

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If you haven’t already, I would highly suggest visiting Barcelona, I’m so glad I can tick if off my list. The transport is cheap but so easy and reliable to use and the food is obviously amazing; I ate more paella than I should have (which was the best) however I won’t leave prawn de-shelling to Becky again, half of it ended up being flung on the floor although admittedly it did make me cry-laugh so it was worth the loss of the prawn. The people are so friendly and helpful with undeniably impressive English but if you want a city break that includes sun, culture, beaches and alcohol that isn’t measured – Barcelona may be just the place.

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March Favourites…

It’s not even the middle of March, let alone the end of it yet but I thought I’d do my March favourites early because I already have a few. Maybe I’ll do another one at the end of the month too, if I remember (and have anything else to add).

Okay, let’s get into it.

1. I’m not one to change foundations very often, I’ve been using Maybelline’s “Stay Matte Mousse” for over three years but this month I decided to have a change. This was due to the fact that I needed better coverage for the days when I’m at work and at the gym. The matte mousse isn’t great for oily skin either which I think I have… So this month I purchased Maybelline’s “Super Stay 24” foundation and I couldn’t love it more. The coverage is much much better and stays on even after I’ve been to the gym which is all I ever needed. I’m getting used to the liquid formula, something I haven’t used before but I recommend it if you want to try a new foundation that has good coverage and stays for as long as you need!

2. pastelclouds.co.uk might be my new favourite website for jewellery and watches. I’d been needing a new watch since I started my job back in September as my old one was catching on everything (not great when you’re around £400 dresses) and so I was on a constant look out. A colleague at work recommended the website above after I complimented her watch and I subsequently found the perfect one. The clock face is nice and big so I can glance at it easily aaaaand it has a map as the background which is perfect for a travel lover like myself. They’re all really reasonable prices and with postage and packaging, which included gift wrapping and a little drawstring bag (so cute!), I think mine was still under £10 so highly recommended!!

3. I know I’m so behind the times with this one but I’ve started watching Girls, starring Lena Dunham. I’m already well into season 2 as its on my go to binge watching list for my days off, I just can’t help myself. I love all the characters, either you are one (or have aspects of them) or you know someone like them, which makes it even more relatable and funny. If I didn’t already want a tiny New York apartment, I definitely do now. Lena’s character in particular is so raw and just, well… human. I’m so glad they’re all kind of bumbling along with not much idea of who they are or what they want, because frankly, aren’t we all like that at the moment? Keep it coming Lena, I’m a fan.

4. Okay my fourth favourite this month is the gym. I’ve been going for almost a month (I think my family thought I’d flake out after the first session) and I Iove it. I try to go three or four times a week which varies depending on my shifts at work but I couldn’t praise The Gym enough, there are always staff around if you need anything, it’s never completely full (or completely empty) which is great and the changing rooms and showers are always immaculate. I have however fallen over in the shower, as did another girl, so there’s that. Oh the only thing that would be good is a hairdryer or two. If you’re in two minds about joining, just do it. Almost everyone goes alone and no one cares whether you’re walking on the treadmill or practising your sprints; you do you.

5. Finally, my favourite album at the moment is Brave by The Shires, the first UK country act to be signed by a major Nashville label (Universal Music Group Nashville). I love country music, old and new, and listening to these songs I wouldn’t have guessed they were from the UK (until I got to the song “Made in England” which was a slight giveaway) because their sound is so genuinely country. One of my favourite things about this genre of music is the way lyrics are used, I think lyrics are beautiful anyway but they way they’re used here really tell stories and make me want to cruise down Route 66 with these songs (and all other country songs) blasting. Give them a listen here and see what you think, this one will put you in a good mood whether you want to like it or not youtu.be/ExH0x1JRz7w

That’s all from me today but let me know some of your favourites this month in the comments if you like or feel free to let me know what you thought of mine – thank you!

“We’re gonna win because we’re different and that makes us special”

I keep getting writer’s block. I don’t know whether it’s because I want to be writing about travel, and I’m not travelling at the moment (kinda vital for that plan) or because the ideas I do have just seem a bit bland, so I thought I’d just pick one and roll with wherever it went. The idea that won is about Glee… I know you may not watch it, you may hate it or you may love it but stick with me on this – they’re doing something great and everyone needs to hear it.

I’ve been a lover of Glee since it started in 2009, back when I was 16 and so were the students of William McKinley High and since then we’ve grown up together. That sounds cliché and although some of the storylines were a bit unrealistic, most of them had a moral or lesson or something that could apply the life of any teenager. It was easy to see yourself as one of them, there was a character for everyone – I’m sure even Tina was someone’s favourite. The reason I’m writing about Glee now is not just to go on about how much I love it but because the final episode is being aired in a few weeks. Six years, 121 episodes and over 700 songs. The plot lines got a little kinda, well… crap towards the end of season 4 and during season 5 however season 6 has bought Glee back to how it used to be with the characters that we all love the most. The narratives in this season are also 100 percent better with real issues such as being transgender and gay marriage which have been brought into the spotlight. Glee is not the only show to have covered these issues, Orange is the New Black, Grey’s Anatomy, Orphan Black, The Fosters and many others have also represented one or both of these issues in the past few years. I’m so glad that Glee as well as the other programmes has chosen to represent, support and whole heartedly celebrate the gay and transgender communities because showing diversity and a reflection of society is important for children and young people; the fans of these shows, to understand and accept everyone that they may come across. Glee prides itself on spreading love and harmony between all groups of people, whether within the school setting or in the wider world and by enforcing these much needed real-life narratives into the mainstream media hopefully we will see positive change within our real-life society as well. That may seem like a sugar-coated view of what I’d like to see happen but the media is a powerful tool and with writers and directors like Ryan Murphy (Glee) and Shonda Rhimes (Grey’s Anatomy) pushing for equality and acceptance for all, it’s only a matter of time. With that, I’d like to say a huge well done and thank you to Glee for an amazing six years, and I know myself and all your other fans will truly miss you.

“We’re gonna win because we’re different and that makes us special” – Rachel Berry

January/February Favourites…

January has a reputation for being the worst month; everyone’s feeling the after Christmas blues, the come down after all the celebration and money’s tight. Having said that, we’ve come out the other side and personally, I find it to be too bad – ignoring the fact that I work in retail and every day before and after Christmas is its own little nightmare, it’s been fine. Anyway, in this post I thought I’d do a sort of January/February favourites some of which you may love like I do or they may not appeal at all – each to their own. Let’s begin.

  1. Urban Outfitters holographic nail varnish might just be my most favourite thing of the moment. It’s beautiful. I didn’t actually find this myself, it was through a YouTuber’s beauty haul; yes I know I live online too much you don’t have to mention it. Seriously though if you like sparkly/glittery/super shiny/eighties-esque nails, this is the polish for you. I tried to take a photo but the camera really doesn’t do it justice, so you’ll have to take my word. Now I’m not usually one that spends £12 on a nail varnish, I wince if it gets to £8 (yes I’m looking at you Sally Hansen, god dam you and your perfect spectrum of colours) but this one it totally worth spending a little extra on, I can’t stop admiring it.
  2. For Christmas I was given a ‘list book’ by my mother – how well she knows me. It’s exactly what it sounds like, basically a notebook but specially designed to write lists in it. Ingenious. It’s from Paperchase, my favourite shop and it’s so cute, I love using it so much. It’s also a great size so it’ll fit into my handbag easily which is great for jotting things down on the go. Adorable.

list book

  1. Also from my mum I received a smoothie maker. Which. Is. Awesome. Because I love smoothies. It saves me using the massive food processor and this maker is so compact the container you use to blend the fruit becomes the mug, which has a close-cap lid so you can take it places with you. Super handy. It’s also really easy to clean which is great because, let’s face it, everyone hates washing up. I think my favourite smoothie at the moment is frozen mixed berries, either mango or banana (or maybe both! Crazy!) and then natural yoghurt and a splash of milk – whiz it all together and you’re good to go!
  2. This month (February) I invested in a lip scrub from Lush after using my best friends and realising I’d been half a person without it in my life. It’s the best purchase I’ve made in a while. It cost just under £5 which I thought was a little pricey but I think it’ll last me a long time and it really does what it says on the pot so I’m happy happy happy. In the winter months I’m prone to dry, chapped lips (and because I bite them all the time) so this little pot is a life saver and gives me super soft lips whenever they’re in need of a little TLC. Oh, and they come in three flavours; mint, bubble gum and popcorn – I have the popcorn one and it gets a 10/10 from me.
  3. Finally, I thought I’d include some music (because who doesn’t love that?!). This month’s favourite is the newly released track ‘Something Good’ from the upcoming album Sweet Soul Music by The Overtones. First heard with my best friend getting ready for a night out, it was played on repeat until we left the house because number one, we both love whatever they produce and number two, you can’t help but sing, dance and smile along it’s so infectious. If you like doo-wop/swing/1950’s style music mixed with a pop/R&B vibe with some incredible harmonies thrown in, then you’ll love these guys. They’re amazing to see live too – I’ll be going for the third time this year and I can’t wait. True stars.
    Click here to see for yourselves: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NYlCU1-2DdU

A letter of sorts…

Since my younger sister is leaving for university in just over a month I’ve been reminiscing (mainly to myself) about how much has changed and how different I was when I left home to do the same thing almost four years ago. With those memories in mind I thought I’d write a letter of sorts to my 18 year old self, or perhaps to my sister, of things I wish I’d known, things I needn’t have worried about and a few tips about being away from home and finally becoming yourself.

Let’s start with a few tips:

  1. Find time to do some exercise. If you join the gym and stick to it – congrats! If the gym isn’t your thing, grab a friend and go for a jog or a swim… if that’s still not doing the trick maybe try a Zumba workout video on YouTube, trust me, there are plenty of them.
  2. Make sure you always have a couple of cans of soup, some milk, something with carbs and toilet paper available – for the days you’re too lazy to leave the house.
  3. Once you’ve learnt your alcohol limit, remember it. Being the hot mess is fine once or twice but don’t make a habit of it; it’s not fun for the people looking after you.
  4. At the start, skype will be your best friend for talking to people you’ve left behind at home and that’s great, it’s nice to talk to a familiar face. Don’t feel bad if you start to use it less and less though, your family may be wondering where you are but it’s better for you if you’ve got more important things to be doing!
  5. Write letters to your friends whether they’re at home or at other universities because it’s always exciting to get post and it’ll give you something to look forward to. It’s nice to look back on them too and laugh about the kind of things you spoke about.
  6. Finally, you can do whatever you want whenever you want, don’t forget that! Go to the cinema at midnight or order pizza at 3am – have fun! (Believe me; you’ll miss that when you’re living back at home…).

Right, let’s go through a few things that you don’t need to worry about. Honestly I can’t really remember if I had any major fears but the things I’m about to say may apply anyway, even if you hadn’t really thought about it yet.
First of all, you’ll make friends. Knowing a million people is great but if none of them will pick you up off the floor when you’ve thrown up in the corridor or hold you whilst you cry over a boy (or anything) and you’re too fragile to be left alone, then it’s not worth it. Find a couple that will walk to the ends of the earth for you (well, to Tesco and back when you’re too lazy to buy Doritos) and you’re set. The ones that become your friends for life may not be found in the first week, month or even year but when you find them (and you will) they’ll be the ones leaving you squash by your bed and leaving you cute notes under your door. Secondly, if you don’t want to go to a party because you’d rather study or watch a movie or read a book, that’s fine! Everyone has those days/nights. Just remember to have fun with real life humans too, as much as Ross and Rachel make you laugh they won’t be the ones putting you to bed after one too many – real friends are outside your room. Okay now, the reason you’re at university is to go to lectures but missing one won’t make you fail; just don’t let it become routine. On that note, as long as you tried your best on a piece of work and you’re proud of your grade it doesn’t matter what anyone else got. Finally, going back to my first point; as long as you’re a nice person people will like you.

Now for some things I wish I’d known – again, I can’t remember now, having done it but hopefully these things will be of some help to you.

  1. It goes incredibly fast. That’ll be one of the first things they tell you and you’ll believe them half-heartedly but trust me, they’re right. Make the most of every second because you’ll miss it like nothing else when it’s over.
  2. If a boy breaks your heart, try your best to forget him. He’s not worth it – you are.
  3. You will never need your friends more – remember to let them lean on you when they need to.
  4. It’s okay to cry. Cry because you miss home, because you’re stressed, because you’re sad (or because you’re happy!), just do it if you want to, everyone else is.
  5. You’ll experience every emotion possible at some point, it’s scary and amazing at the same time, just try not to freak out.
  6. No one knows what they want to do when they graduate, and if they do, they’re lucky. Don’t panic, even if it takes a year or two (or three…) afterwards, you’ll get there – what’s the rush?
  7. You’ll miss hugs more than you realise and the first time you hug your new friends will make you see that – try and remember that moment.
  8. You’ll be a different person when you leave than you were when you started and that’s okay, so many things will have shaped you and I promise it’ll be for the better (even if sometimes it doesn’t feel like it).

Now I know mum always said this to me but you never know when you may need to so just remember, you can always come home.

Now it's your turn...

Now it’s your turn…