That time we went to Wales and climbed three mountains for charity

 

“Why are we doing this?” 

“Because… you can.”

Last weekend I found myself engaging in something quite out of character: I hiked up (and back down) not one but three rather large peaks in Wales – all in aid of charity.

And let me tell you, it was, quite honestly, the hardest thing I have ever done — ever. Not to be dramatic, (okay, a little) but as a girl who would rather poke her own eyes out than actively purchase a pair of hiking boots and who loves nothing more than a warm evening in front of a fire cocooned in blankets and eating chocolate, this really pushed me to the limit. And for that, I am actually mega grateful.

It all began with a flippant conversation between a group of girls trying to think of something ‘a little different’ to do to raise money for their chosen work charity of the year, The Royal Voluntary Service.

“Let’s climb up the Welsh Three Peaks?”, Charlotte said.

“Oh yes, what a fabulous idea!”, we said.

And so, just like that, our journey to the peaks began.

The first obstacle was making sure we had everything we needed. And, unsurprisingly, I had none of those things. The ‘essentials’ list was endless: boots, head torch, thermals, waterproofs, wool socks, compass, walking poles, gloves, hat to name but a few. And then there’s the blister plasters, micropore tape (to keep your toenails on *cry face*), truck load of painkillers, sweets and a small bottle of prosecco to cheers the completion (this was on the essentials list).

Skimming over ‘emergency shelter’ and ‘safety blanket’ whilst studying the list, it dawned on me that this might not be as easy as I had first presumed… I had only started collecting pieces of hiking kit and rallying around for donations a few days before due to sheer denial; and despite my valiant efforts to ignore it, it didn’t go away!

So, the day of the challenge flew around at the speed of light and we made our way, with all the gear and no idea, to Chester train station for collection.

Mountain 1 (1085 m)

The first mountain on our to-do list was Snowdon. Bit of context for ya: Snowdon is the largest mountain in Wales and the highest point in the British Isles outside of Scotland. Yep, pretty darn high that thing (smug hair flick). It is also breathtakingly beautiful and if you have any David Bailey photography skills – of which I do not – you would LOVE it.

It was approximately one-third of the way up this mountain when I realised how grossly I had underestimated the ordeal that lay before us. ‘Ice’, one of our charming, chappy Mountain Leaders (who also took on the role of counsellor, passive-aggressive deflector, and motivational mentor) advised us that we would be doing a fair bit of ‘scrambling’.

For those of you unsure what scrambling is — ie. me last week — it’s when three points of your body are on a mountain at any one time. I thought he was joking – but, turns out, he wasn’t.

So, just as Ice had said, the path disappeared, and instead, we had to haul our sopping-wet little selves up the rocks with our cold claws paws and high into the clouds (1085 m to be exact).

Side note – Yes, you read that right, his name was ‘Ice’. I’m going with self-appointed to give him a bit of an outdoorsy, ‘I’m at one with nature’ edge; however, we later found out his name was Darren which, FYI Darren, we all thought was perfectly acceptable and far cooler than Ice. But whatevs, y’know.

After three hours we reached the summit and were greeted with weather that can only be described as stepping into a washing machine full of arctic water and pins that stabbed us in the face — all while our hands froze off and we tried desperately not to get blown over the edge. We huddled together for a quick photo, smiled winced with mascara sliding down our faces and prepared for the descent down the other side. Just to note, a fair bit of this was done on our bums — so as not to plummet down and break a leg (or nail).

Coming down was slightly uncomfortable due to my feet really giving me jip and aching. The only way I can describe it is, you know the pain you get after a night out when you have been walking in heels for hours? Or after a long day on your feet shopping? Yeah, that’s the ticket. I know you know.

Three hours later and we made it! A few gentle tumbles in streams of water were had but no major injuries sustained. And, despite being completely drenched, we had succeeded in completing mountain number 1! HOORAY.

Mountain 2 (893 m)

So, back to the bus we trudged. We refuelled with a bacon bap and cup of soup and an hour later arrived at destination number 2, Cadair Idris.

By this point (about 7:30 pm) it was pitch black and the trusty (and extremely fetching) head torches came out to play. Which, secretly, I had been quite excited about sporting since I had lovingly packed it the day before. And so, a little tired and a lot wet, up the second mountain we went.

Thinking back, I pushed myself a smidge too hard too soon on this one. In my desperation to get the burning leg pain out of the way, I charged up the mountain chatting away in a state of mild, over-tired, bacon-butty-fuelled delirium. This caused me to suffer what I describe as a catastrophic sugar crash – and what most would describe as mild fatigue due to lack of proper eating.

After having a minor episode of “how the **** am I going to get down this mountain when my arms and legs feel detached from my body”, and subsequently being force-fed Haribo, a Mars Bar, and sugar tablets, I sprung back good-to-go and pinged my way down the rest of the mountain.

Mountain 3 (886 m)

Four hours on the bus later — taking us to the cheery time of 3 am — we arrived at Pen y Fan: the final hurdle. We had royally had enough by this point and didn’t we make the Mountain Leaders know it. I’m sure one of them, Sam, even feigned an eye injury to stop from having to put up with another minute of our moaning. He actually waited on the bus until we were done, lol.

However, this mountain was my favourite. Not only was the end in sight but it was a relatively kind incline— at least compared to the first two. And there were no huge rocks to scale and it had stopped raining so we could see without huge droplets of water splashing in our eyes (winner)! The sky was so clear we were even able to turn our trusty head torches off and plod by moonlight under the stars. I mean, it could have been quite pleasant had I not been awake all night, up a mountain in Wales, very cold and very far from bed.

Side note We liked to think of ourselves on this expedition as comedy moaners. Grumbling under your breath about how much you hate the Mountain Leader, mountains and Wales, whilst peeping out the hood of a ‘waterproof’ jacket and looking like a walking bin bag really helped pass the time. Even if none of the above was true (deep, deep down).

So, we finally completed the third mountain at 7 am, 19 hours and 20 miles since we first stepped foot onto Snowdon! We made it! ‘Euphoria’ was how we described it at the time.

Bedraggled and tired we attempted to celebrate with a glass of bubbles, gripping proudly onto our certificates, but opted for a warm and very sweet cup of tea instead. AND, to top it off, we finished with a 6000 calorie deficit – YES!

“When you go out of your comfort zone and it works, there’s nothing more satisfying.” – Kristen wig

Between the first and second peak, whilst I was rummaging around in my backpack searching for spare batteries for my head torch (totally normal Saturday night behaviour), I uttered in frustration, “Why are we even doing this?!” to which, out from the dark next to me, a nice old fella named Peter replied, “Because, you can.” Peter had lost his wife two years ago and he was doing the peaks to raise money for the hospice she spent time in. Heartbreaking. If anything was going to humble my grumpy little attitude problem it was that. I held onto that thought during the second two mountains and it helped me remember how lucky I was to be there, why we were doing it in the first place — and to appreciate how special this adventure really was.

And, before I wrap this rather long ol’ post up, I’d like to give a special mention to the team of mountaineers that completed this challenge with me – Louise, Gaby, Charlotte, Nicki and, of course, Pete. You are all amazing and I’m one lucky hiker to have been able to experience this with such a genuine, spirited and hysterically funny crew. When are the National Three Peaks, eh?

This challenge was so good for me. It showed me what I am capable of and catapulted me out of my comfort zone. It also made me realise how good it is for the soul to put yourself to the test and that it’s okay to take pride in yourself and celebrate your achievements when you are done. I am also aware I have written this as though we have climbed Everest (hikers and climbers of the world, I take my proverbial hat off to you-you legends!) and it did, at times, feel like we had!

Despite all the moaning and achey muscles, I loved every minute. I mean, don’t get me wrong, hiking isn’t going to be my new ‘thing’, but I enjoyed this new adventure.

If anyone feels so inclined or takes pity on us, please feel free to donate here to a really worthy cause.

 

“Don’t be afraid to take an unfamiliar path, sometimes they are the ones that take you to the best places.”

 


 

 

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Help Required:Wedding Planning for Beginners

Good morning, friends!

So, after recently taking a small blogging hiatus — due to birthdays consuming the entirety of January and February — I think it’s time to broach the subject of the wedding! If you have perused the ‘About Me’ section of my blog or had a peep at some of my older posts, you will know Joel and I are getting married! Full blown, proper-legit hitched! And I couldn’t be happier. I’m so lucky to be marrying the love-of-my-life — but that’s not quite what this post is about.

This is a cry for reassurance from all you lovers out there who have tied the knot, are planning your nuptials too, or are one of those ethereal ‘organised-types’ who has their ‘wedmin’ sewn up from the moment of proposal (I wish I was more like you!). I’m just checking, it’s okay to have absolutely no clue where to start, right?

I mean, it’s not like most of us have been here before — this is brand-new terrority. And it’s a daunting world full of very beautiful, sparkly things.

So, for all those who haven’t stumbled across my blog before (hiya!) we are planning to say our vows on the stunning island of Santorini, Greece. And apart from the overriding feeling of sheer elation — of which I can’t describe, that this is actually the plan for our day — I have this gnawing guilt. So far I have booked the date — and that’s it. And to be fair, we have over a year to go, but as I have previously described in my post on the bullet journal organisation isn’t an attribute of mine. As of right now, no one is getting fed, we have no flowers, and no clothes to wear. And the enormity of it all makes me super anxious.

Without skipping too far down memory lane, I was never one to daydream about weddings when I was younger; I assumed it would probably/maybe happen one day, but until recently (or until Joel) I hadn’t given it much thought. Despite having lots of perfectly in-love couples around me coming from a broken home slightly skewed my vision of marriage. I remember being told, “when you know, you know” and thinking “well that’s bullsh*t — how can you possibly just KNOW?” You end up marrying someone you love/like/lust over/think’s fine. Who is ever 100% about anything? I can barely make a decision between chips and sweet potato fries. But, without getting all cliché and gross on you, I do truly believe that now! And here I am putting pen to paper, writing copious lists, and planning a wedding! (Or at least blogging about starting to plan a wedding. Progress!)

Usefully, a few more of my qualities have reared their unhelpful heads since the start of ‘the wedmin’. Not only do I have issues with organisation but I am also a slightly neurotic perfectionist who is extremely indecisive (what a combination). Even looking at bouquets, dresses, and centrepieces makes me anxious. How are you meant to choose? (Btw, Joel, if for some unknown reason you find yourself on this post and have bothered to read this far down — I’m perfect and none of the above is true!!)

And there’s me thinking wedding planning would be a breeze (due to one of my more desirable qualities being to chill-the-hell-out). Despite this, upon telling my wedding planner I’m (almost) always super-chill, she laughed and responded with “oh….you wait.” And I am beginning to see why!

So, I know what you must be thinking “Boo hoo, poor girl! A wedding in Santorini to the love of your life, my heart breaks for you.” I know, I sound like a twerp. But I’m a worrier. And marrying a perfect man calls for a perfect day — no pressure Lils.

As I said, I’m looking for a shred of reassurance. I hope I am not the only one who feels (or has felt) well out of her depth. I need a wedding planner to help my wedding planner plan!

And that takes us up to the present day; the one where I am writing this blog post instead of deciding what desserts to serve or what our wedding favours should be. Without further ado, I am off to assemble my bride-tribe to nail some of these finer details. Any advice on remaining calm in the face of ‘the wedmin’ will be gratefully received!

Love,

xxxx

PS. Just one more quick question — how many times is it okay to envision eloping? Asking for a friend…

 

 

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Book Club

 

Good morning!

I promised a book review a while ago and have only recently found the time to throw one together. With Christmas and my birthday all crammed into just under a month, it’s all been a bit manic! But I can now breathe and concentrate on my rekindled love affair with reading.

This new-found book hunger came about late last year: I made the decision I was spending far too much time watching telly in bed, and not enough nourishing my brain with words of any substance. So, I’ve been making a conscious effort to read more. 

Growing up I was always a big reader. My favourite week of the school year was book week, where my sister and I would enter into competition with each other as to who could devour the most –unfortunately, she always won (she wins everything), but I still chugged on, because I loved to read.

But over the years my book consumption slowed. It’s not that I wasn’t reading at all, it’s that I rarely lost myself in a book. I’d often pick one up and give it a go, and after chapter one if I wasn’t hooked, I’d write it off. (Sorry books, I’m so offensive!) Plus, in my defense, it is difficult to find the time, and Netflix has some bloody good stuff on at the moment (i.e. Silent Witness re-runs from 2010, guilts).

I’ve been working on my attention span and reading more lately – pushing on and not giving up at the first sign of a lull in the story (I sound so proud of myself!). And now it feels quite alien not to have a book on my bedside table. All credit for my reignited passion goes to ‘Girl on The Train’ (which I thought was A-mazing – along with the rest of civilisation – bravo, Paula Hawkins). There’s nothing quite like a thriller whilst tucked up in bed with a good cuppa tea.

So, in tribute to my revived reading prowess, I thought I would share with you some of the recent reads that caught my attention! (All fiction btw if you’re into escapism.)

Watching Edie – Camilla Way

This is Camilla Way’s most recent novel, and it’s one heck of a creepy, psychological thriller. Centered around school friends, Edie and Heather, the plot weaves between the present day and the time of an ‘incident’ that 18 years later both women are struggling to move on from…

Edie is living in London after leaving the Midlands and is trying to put the past behind her. Until unexpectedly, Heather comes back into her life and rocks her simple existence. This book leads you up the garden path and back again. Likened to Girl on the Train, it’s unsettling and super addictive.

I’ll be honest, it’s not for everyone. At times, I struggled to keep reading. But the curiosity of needing to know the outcome overrode my desire for a happy tale about fairies and kittens. If darker books are your guilty pleasure, this one’s for you.

I See You – Clare Macintosh

This is an awesome thriller and it’s one of the best I’ve read in a while. Based in London, the plot is split into two characters, Zoe-a 39-year-old mum — who works in the city, and Kelly, a British Transport Police Officer — trying to prove her worth in the force.

On her normal, claustrophobic tube ride to work, Zoe finds a grainy photograph of herself in the classified adverts of a London newspaper – alongside a website and phone number. Convinced it’s her she confides in family and friends, but they persuade her otherwise. Zoe sees images of more women over the following days, and then she recognises one of the women on the news…

I read this book on the recommendation of my sister who also has a penchant for this genre. Slow at first, it gets going a couple of chapters in. Keep at it and I promise you won’t be able to put it down!

Big Little Lies – Lianne Moriaty

Written by Australian author Lianne Moriaty, this is SUCH a good book. It falls into the chic-lit category but is a borderline thriller.

Set in a Sydney suburb, the plot is about the lives of three very different women. Jane is a young, single mother; Celeste’s married to a millionaire; and Madeline, a feisty socialite on her second marriage. The women become friends when their children start school together, and they all have one thing in common — they keep secrets.

The story takes place over six months, leading up to the finale (a school trivia night) where a character is murdered (FYI – this is not a spoiler, you find this out early on).

Although lighter than the others, it’s so ace. And I can’t be wrong as HBO have recently turned it into a mini-series starring mega-babes Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon. I literally cannot wait to watch it!

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street – Natasha Pulley

Unlike the previous books, this falls into the steampunk sub-genre of science fiction. It’s Natasha Pulley’s  first novel and an international best seller (which speaks for itself!) This a long, intricate read and took me a while to finish – one best not read tired. But, as you’re on my blog and chances are my wavelength, I think you’ll like it.

Thaniel Steepleton is the protagonist and lives an average existence in 1800’s London. One day he arrives home to find a pocket watch on his pillow, which (by setting off an alarm) saves his life from a bomb explosion six months later. Curious to his deliberate saving, he searches for the watchmaker and finds a seemingly kind-natured Chinese immigrant, Keita Mori. Alongside their friendship, Thaniel builds a relationship with Oxford graduate, Grace Carrow. She dislikes and disbelieves Mori’s good intentions, and this tests Thaniel’s loyalties between the pair.

The story flits between 1884 London and Japan just over ten years earlier. If you have a soft spot for English history and love a touch of make-believe, you’ll enjoy it. Also, one of the characters is a clockwork octopus. Need I say more?

So, there we go! My recent reading list. If you are feeling a little lost on what to pick up next, hopefully, these give you some inspiration.

What are your books of the moment? I would love to know as I’m always looking for my next fix!

Happy reading,

Love,

xxxx

 

 

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January Feels.

 

Hi, all!

I hope you are enjoying the first month of this brand-new year and keeping up with all of your resolutions? How quickly is January flying by? It’s bloody scary if you ask me. I turned 28 last Wednesday and it feels like I was only 22 a week ago.

I’ve been particularly pensive this week, which I tend to get like around my birthday. With it being the start of a new year, and us being one month in, I’m feeling rather fidgety at how I’m not ‘progressing’ quickly enough. I set so many goals as to where I thought I’d be by the end of January, and I’m unsure whether I’m going to meet them. Which is silly, and to be honest, quite unrealistic (I never claim that I am a rational human being).

But, admittedly, it’s not like I’m not working my tush off. Last week I finally finished a course in public relations, which took a whole two and a half years to complete, YAY. (I differed it due to our Australian move — my excuse was the time zone difference; not the fact I wanted to play on the beach all day instead, I swear.) So, that’s pretty monumental for me. And I’m currently partway through a copywriting course — which I am thoroughly enjoying. I’ve always adored writing but after university, and due to one reason or another, my career path took a slight detour. It feels good to be finally finding my feet and my direction again.

But even with those recent wins under my belt, I find myself still feeling a tad blue. Speaking collectively here, like so many of the women around me, I am particularly hard on myself. I set goals with ridiculous and most of the time actually unachievable expectations, and I wonder why I haven’t met my target.

However, whilst perusing Instagram recently, a post from the fabulous Monica Beatrice of The Elgin Avenue graced my screen and has since stuck with me. So, I thought I would share it with you too. She points out that great things are built on strong foundations, and it’s okay to start slowly. As long as you have a focus or a general idea of where you are headed, you don’t need to rush. Or set yourself unrealistic goals and get all sour puss when they aren’t achieved as quickly as you would like.

 

“Foundations first (including looking after YOU)

and the rest will follow.”

 

I truly love this sentiment. It’s certainly not my go-to mindset, and despite patience not being a virtue of mine, I’m going to give it a go.

One of the beautiful things about the internet – as damaging and destructive a monster it can be – you don’t have to look far for a source of inspiration or a pick me up. There’s endless advice to be gained and so much positivity floating around the social ether (if you know how to channel it and where to look).

So, I’m writing this post as a reminder to take a step back. To reaffirm to myself, too, that forward is forward, no matter how fast you are going. And to focus a little harder on what I want to achieve — not the time it’s taking to do so. I’m not the self-congratulatory type, but also, to give myself credit every now and again for working hard.

I’m excited to see what this year holds. (Preferably a new job, set of abs, and a house for Joel and I!) But, more realistically, lots of focus and less pressure, courtesy of me!

If you are feeling anything like me, I hope this mindset helps a little. Let’s not forget to give ourselves a break, we are doing our best! 

Nice checking in, friends,

Love,

xxxx

 

 

 

 

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Bullet Journal – Why I love mine and why you will too!

 

Organisation isn’t one of my strong points; which is why I’m always trying to find ways to make life simpler, calmer, and easier to manage. Last week I decided to take 2017 by the horns and get my act together. I created my very own bullet journal, and I’m still pretty pleased with my decision! It was so out of character – which is exactly what I needed.

For me, trying to keep up with wedding planning, job applications, the ridiculous number of courses I do, and general life admin, was becoming slightly difficult to mentally juggle. I have lists and planners all over the place, and I’m no good at spinning plates. That combined with my questionable short term memory, I was encouraged to rethink my life logistics.

Cue, bullet journal. Since its creation, this little pad has become my new best friend.

Okay, for those who don’t know what one is (me last week), a bullet journal is a diary, to do list, calendar and jotter in one. They are the most useful, portable, functional creatures. Designed to make a busy life run more smoothly.

I read about the idea whilst perusing ‘Career Girl Daily’. (A site I love, btw. Check it out here if you fancy reading articles from boss women with awesome career advice.) There’s lots of information online on how to create your journal and what to include, but my favourite’s from Buzzfeed: ‘WTF is a bullet Journal and why you should start one? An explainer.’ They describe the concept in a simplistic way, so you don’t false start and mess up your sexy new pad.

Bullet Journals are broken down into:

Index – Your reference page at the front of the pad. (You need to number each page for this to work.)

Year Overview/ Future Log –  For jotting down events over the next year that you know are coming up (e.g. birthdays, weddings)

Monthly Task List – One page for all the things you need to do that month (e.g. Buy Dad’s birthday present.)

Daily Log – For notes, to-do’s, lists, life updates, thoughts.

Collection Pages – These are what make your journal more than a diary. And they can appear whenever you like. (For example, if you add a new page for the books you’d like to read in the middle of February, just add it to your index!) They can be goals for the year, books to read, diet tips and meal plans, exercise regimes, blog posts – to name a few ideas. These pages help you organise your thoughts and keep track of your progress throughout the year.

How to piece it together:

I have tried to type an explanation countless times on how to set up your journal, but I can’t come close to Buzzfeed. Click the link above if you would like to read an easy how-to! What I will say is it takes minimal time to get going and is progressive, so you can add to it and update as you go – all you need to start is a plain writing pad and a pen.

Why you should start one:

One of my favourite parts of my journal is the inclusion of a ‘Daily Gratitude’ page each month. I think it’s a really sweet addition to your diary. You take one page and number it with the days down the left-hand side. Every day you write one line about something that made you happy. Even if it’s small, the sentiment is designed to be humbling; it’s the little things that count. I used to feel like a bit of a plonker doing things like this, but this is a good life tactic and helps in the quest for mindfulness!

Some of you may be thinking right now, ‘a life journal sounds great but that’s what your iphone is for.’ And you are right, it can be. So I’d say in that instance, you’re good, a bullet journal isn’t for you. However, if, like me, writing your thoughts and to-do’s down paper and pen style helps, I’d give it a whirl. Also, if you’re into pretty stationary, you’ll love it even more.

I’ve high hopes for myself since the implementation of my journal. I plan to no longer only remember ‘the fun stuff’ in life (as Joel would say) and to turn up to the dentist on the right day!

I hope this helps with any organisational chaos you may be experiencing. I’m so glad I stumbled upon the idea of a bullet journal, and hope it’s a habit I stick to throughout 2017.

Here’s to a well planned and calm year ahead!

Let me know how you get on with yours 🙂

Love,

xxxx

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Happy New Year!

Image via City Farmhouse

 

Hiya friends and hello 2017!

So, here we go into a brand-new, shiny, year! I hope you enjoyed the festivities, and are heading into January festively plump, warm, and content. We can all collectively breathe a sigh of relief after the turbulent year that 2016 turned out to be. The world sure threw some curveballs; let’s hope 2017 is kinder, hey.

At the risk of being ‘that girl’, last year was a good one for me. In-between the world’s craziness, I had one of the most memorable years of my life. I spent a third of it living in Melbourne ‘the most livable city in the world’, to then come home to wonderful family and friends; I fulfilled a dream of cage-diving with Great White Sharks; and said yes to marrying my soul mate. After a few years of anxiety and stress, I really enjoyed every second of last year’s good fortune and am grateful for every moment. I spent most of it not quite believing my luck!

What are your thoughts on resolutions? I didn’t bother this year. Mine’s consistent, every, single, January 1st- lose weight. I’m bloody ridiculous. I turn 28 in a couple of weeks and still haven’t accepted my slightly above average sized booty, and the loss of my 21-year-old thighs. So, this year I’m giving myself a break. Everything in moderation. Although I haven’t actively made any resolutions, I think perhaps I’ll just try and be a better me, drink more water, get better sleep and exercise more.

I’m also going to try to shake off stress this year. I’m getting slightly better at dealing with it with age, but I have a tendency to overthink and overanalyse, without looking at the bigger picture. I’m not an un-positive person by nature, I’m definitely a glass-half-full type of girl, but I am a worrier. The buzzword of the moment is ‘mindfulness’ and I couldn’t agree more with its sentiment – to take comfort and enjoyment from the little things, and be present in the moment. Taking time to breathe and get some perspective, s’all good for the soul.

This year will certainly be less jet-setty for us. It’s all about the squirreling away and saving for our first home and future adventures, (and puppy!) – but that’s okay. Sometimes all you need is your loved ones and a night on the sofa, topping up with cups of tea.

I’m sad to see the back of the festive season and all that sparkles, but I’m looking forward to fresh starts into 2017. There’s lots going on in our house right now, I’m on the job hunt and Joel’s business is kicking off and all consuming. We have lots of grafting to get stuck into this year!

I know lots didn’t enjoy 2016, with good reason. And to you, most of all, I wish for a healthy, happy, prosperous year! Here’s to fresh starts and positive vibes!

Did you bother with any New Year’s resolutions? Or are you, like me, just trying to be a better human? lols.

Love,

xx

 

 

 

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The Monday Edit | Weekly Round Up

winchester

Hiya all!

I hope you had a rejuvenating weekend, or if you are less of an old soul like me, partied hard and are over your hangover by now. I know I’m not. A friend of ours visited for the weekend and boy, do I have a sore head. I was feeling a bit ropey anyway (our house has been infected by winter lurgies) but I figured a few mulled wines at the Southampton Christmas Market might have the potential to heal me. (At least that’s the yarn I spun for myself.)

Turns out, I can’t drink anymore, I have no stamina! And drinking when sick, yeah probably won’t do that again for a while. I have to say though, it was so much fun and worth hanging like a basket. Yes to Christmas shindigs with fabulous friends!

So, I’m a fair few cups of honey and lemon in since then, and having spent all of Sunday in my onesie, I’m just about returning to normal! Hoorah.

Anyway, enough of my life story, let’s get back to the point of today’s Monday Edit.

Well, my little elves, we are well into December, five chocolates to be exact. And with all the sparkly lights and festive cheer, it’s probably one of the easiest times to remain chipper. Different to my usual posts, I have put together a round up of some of the things that have given me positive vibes this week:

Winchester Christmas Market

Is oh-so beautiful. If you get the chance to visit, you must  — I’m pretty sure it’s one of the best around. It’s got the Christmas- Market-vibe down. It has a quaint, oldy-wordly feel with period-style stalls selling roasted chestnuts and mulled wine. Wandering around, I genuinely felt the Christmas magic. Plus, it’s in the grounds of the breathtaking Winchester Cathedral, has a delish choice of festive eats, and has an ice skating rink. So many wins.

I have to admit that perhaps I’m slightly biased towards Winchester; I’ve spent a generous amount of time in the city over the years. I studied at the Uni, landed my first job there, and living in the New Forest, it’s only just up the road. So yeah, get to the market, it’s so pretty!

 

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Winter skin care

I am not about to profess that I’m a skincare guru; infact most of the time I don’t have a clue and figure out my favourites through trial and error. But, after finding a little treasure this week (that I was sure I’d lost) I thought I’d share the love with you. Enter facial godsend, rosehip oil. I was gifted this from a dear friend, and I haven’t looked back since. Mine’s from gorgeous skincare brand Pai, which you can check out here, but it’s available all over the show.

You only need a couple of tiny drops, so it will last you ages. The instructions are to dab onto your skin, post cleanse, but I like to mix it in with my night cream and put it on before bed.

If like me, your skin tends to dry out from all this brisk winter air, give it try. It’s the best and deals with all manner of skin complaints. It’s full of vitamins and antioxidants that correct dark spots, rehydrate, and reduces scarring and fine lines. If you need more persuasion see this convincing post from beauty site xovain.com.  Plus, Miranda Kerr swears by it, so anything girlfriend recommends is cool with me.
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Early nights

I read somewhere that the hours you get in before midnight are worth twice any hours after, and I truly believe this. My usual vibe is to run on empty, so I thought I would treat myself to a couple of early bed times this week. And I’ve felt loads better for it.

I have been trying to switch off and put everything down by nine; which has meant no phone, no laptop, no iPad, just a good book. Lately I have been reading tons (I have a book review post coming your way shortly) and I find it the perfect way to send me to sleep.

Here’s why being ‘less digital’ before bed is a good idea and something we can all benefit from doing.

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image via Modern Hepburn

 

Lazy Sundays at The Lime Wood Hotel

Living in the Forest we aren’t short of cosy venues to rest our muddy boots in. There’s always a roaring fire beckoning and a roast dinner around every corner. It must be a fact that you can’t be more than a five minute walk from a pub/hotel at any one point (foresters have got it so-right).

We have been making it our mission to explore all our local eateries, and last weekend we popped into the extremely beautiful Lime Wood Hotel. (Which fyi, has both open fires and roast dinners, but I probably wouldn’t wear my muddy boots, lols.)

Its location is on the border of Lyndhurst and Beaulieu, and is often frequented by the rich and famous. (And also us who are neither of the above.) It’s home to a spa, restaurant, smoke house, wine cellar, hosts festivals, events, and has its own cookery school.

The interiors are divine, and now with the Christmas decs in full festive swing, it really is a dreamy place to be. We nipped in for a coffee (Joel) and hot chocolate with baileys (me), and were given a host of freebies to nibble alongside. If you are passing, pop your head in and have a nose. The food looks spectacular too!

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Thanks for reading guys, that’s my rambling done for the day!

I hope you are batting away those winter bugs and enjoying all the festive fun, 

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xx

 

 

 

 

 

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The Monday Edit | City Vibes

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Image via The Crazy Tourist 

Hiya all,

I hope you’re starting this week with a smile, even in the gloom of this Monday’s weather.

It’s pretty bleak out isn’t it? We’re approaching that awkward phase in weather between Autumn and Winter, where all the gorgeous leaves turn to slush and everything is uncomfortably damp. Roll on those pretty Winter frosts, hey.

So, it’s that time again, where I cobble together a post in an attempt to keep those endorphins flowing throughout the week.

Get yourself comfy, tuck your toes under a blanket, and curl up and have a read.

Get festive in London

I’m feeling pretty positive this morning after an extremely festive trip to London. As far back as I can remember, an annual visit to the Big Smoke has been a family tradition. We’d all bundle up and march the streets, peering, noses pressed against the glass, at all the beautiful window displays and sparkling lights. Not much has changed; I’m still dazzled by Christmas in London every time I go. This year makes no exception. The lights are just beautiful and there is so much to see and do.

If you get the chance to pop up before Christmas, do it. Especially if you’re feeling Grinchy and yet to embrace the first signs of the best season ever, it’ll put you in the Christmas spirit.

Here’s a peak at what’s on this Christmas in London.

If bustling London isn’t for you, visit a different city or place, even if it’s local.

I’m a total advocate for a change of scenery and know how mood boosting a sneaky trip away from home can be.

Have a mindful Christmas 

It’s easy to let the festivities throw you into a whirl. There can be a lot of pressure, to buy the perfect gifts, cook perfect meals and have a perfect time. It’s helpful to remain mindful at this time of year and remember not to let festive anxiety get the better of us. See this post from Career Girl Daily, with some helpful advice on keeping your head and not succumbing to Christmas stress.

We all love hot chocolate

Since giving up coffee (absurd I know, I’ll save that story for another post), I’m really into hot chocolate. As last week’s recipe was a healthy one, this week’s will restore the indulgence balance.

Take a look at Yummly.com for lots of delicious hot choccie ideas, there’s actually too many to chose from. I’ve managed to whittle it down to my two favourites, my achilles heel of all drinks, White Chocolate with Baileys and this scrummy Salted Caramel treat.

Take some time out to..do nothing

It’s healthy to take some time out.

There is guilt in doing nothing, I know because I feel it, but it’s important to take time out of your schedule to recharge. If my Sunday lie in extends too long, or if I have had a particularly unproductive day, I’m inclined to give myself a telling off. This article from the Guardian explains why we shouldn’t be so hard on ourselves and how doing nothing, can actually increase productivity. There you go, friends, enjoy those cosy nights in even more. (You’re welcome.)

Keep organised 

Keep lists and write things down. I am a paper and pen kinda gal. I have to be the worst millennial, ever. I can’t even get to grips with using my phone as a calendar (six years post having an iPhone). So instead, I like to keep a little notepad and diary in my bag, in an attempt to keep on top of things. Being disorganised and out of sync can create ripples through your life. I’m not renowned for organisation so here are some useful apps from the pro’s at Vogue on keeping yourself in check, just in time for Christmas.

 

Enjoy your week and remember to find time to do nothing!

 

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xx

 

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The Monday Edit | Positively Toasty

 

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Image via Lindsay Marcella

I’m thinking warm and happy thoughts on today’s Monday Edit, and this post is going to keep you positively toasty!

I always feel the cold. In my last job I was that girl in the office who sat with her scarf draped across her legs and coat on, buttoned up, until well after 10am.

As soon as October arrives, out comes my winter gear. I’m rugged up and need to be surgically detached from my hot water bottle.

Despite my Christmas obsession, I basically cease to function if I get too cold. My hands seize up into little pink claws and I tend to resemble a walking coat stand.

So, with the cold weather settling in, I have bundled together some ideas on staying warm this winter:

Mulled wine

A winter favourite of mine. I’m a self confessed wine-lover and I make no exception for a mulled. There is nothing I like more than wandering around a Christmas market, rosey-cheeked from the red stuff.

If you need a little direction on which to choose, Good Housekeeping have made a list of this years top six festive blends, according to taste and value. A mulled rosé even makes the cut! And I didn’t even know that was a thing.

Want to make your own? There are tons of recipes online, so you can get your vat of hot cinnamon-wine bubbling. My top pick is Jamie Oliver’s mulled wine. Rated as ‘super easy’ on his website, the recipe is simple (even I can follow it) and he adds nutritional information to keep track of your calories.

If you love mulled wine but draw the short straw and find yourself designated driver, here’s a non-alcoholic recipe from Delia Smith. It tastes and looks just like the real deal, so you don’t have to miss out.

And, guess what, it’s good for your health too. It’s full of antioxidants which reduce cholesterol and are also known to fight the signs of ageing. Um, Win. (Obviously and unfortunately it’s only good for you if consumed in moderation. Boo.)

Hot chocolate (don’t forget the marshmallows)

If refraining from wine, hot chocolate might be next in line as your winter- warming beverage.

If you like to try your hand at a healthy option, here’s a super food hot choccie recipe from Deliciously Ella. She’s created a healthy take on the standard hot chocolate, using almond milk, cacao and date syrup. If you are trying to save calories where you can this Christmas, this blend has all of the taste and none of the guilt.

Baking

By baking tasty treats, you warm yourself on the inside and the outside. If, like me, you are a baking novice, the heat will come from the stress of the mess you have created, and inability to follow basic cooking instructions.

I’d love to add baking as a string to my bow, so lately I’ve been perusing Poires au Chocolat, by london based Food Blogger, Emma Gardener. Her delicious blog includes hundreds of baking and dessert recipes, including an enticing Christmas section. Although she is no longer actively blogging, Emma regularly edits her posts to keep them up to date.

Baths 

Baths are the best. Sometimes a piping hot bath is the only cure for thawing out frost-bitten toes. Finding the time for one is the perfect way to destress and to bring you back to an acceptable temperature. Add a few scented candles, bring a book and that’s my therapy session for the week.

To have a bath without bubbles is against the law. Lush have an adorable Christmas selection available this year, so even your ‘me time’ can be festive.

Uggs

Now here me out. Uggs are making a come back. Admittedly, they are no shoe boots. And are certainly not the most glamorous of shoes, but they might just be up there with the warmest.  I’m not talking about the bend at the heel ones, that walk with a scuff. But the legit sheepskin kind.

After living in Australia for a year I feel a slight affiliation with all things Aussie. And it has to be said, these shoes are warm, cosy and really ward off toe-freeze. If you need more persuasion, model and stylist, Alexa Chung, has agreed to work with UGG as an art director in their first collaboration. She’s bringing them back.

Blanket scarfs

How glorious a piece of clothing is the blanket scarf? They have become the staple wardrobe item in the last couple of years. Investing in one is a must for looking stylish and more importantly, keeping toasty.

They are all over the highstreet at the moment but my favourites are from H&M. I’m loving their huge accessories section, including all the scarfs and shawls and it’s all super pocket friendly. I have had my enormous H&M scarf for three winters and I still love it just as much as the day I bought it.

Blogging babe, Alyson Haley, at Sequins and Things, has put together a video on how you can style your blanket scarf, if you don’t want to just drape around yourself, like me.

And if you fancy going one step further, see this post from Vogue on how this year the trend is to wear an actual blanket or throw as your scarf!

 

I hope this random collection of recipes, retail and ramblings, help to keep you warm this winter. I’m no good with the cold, so let me know your winter warming tips!

 

 

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xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Monday Edit | Let’s Get Festive

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Image via Cox and Cox

The second instalment of The Monday Edit is coming to you bursting with positivity, so you can hit Tuesday with some Wintery get-go.

As a rule I don’t find Tuesdays as bad as Wednesdays. For some reason I find a glimmer of hope in a Tuesday. It’s the day of the week I tend to do most in the evenings, something about still having energy from Monday’s early night.

For those with less of a love affair with Tuesdays or those whose weekdays merge into one long plod, this post includes tips and blogs to boost your week.

Just a pre-warning, Christmas features heavily, as it will in all posts for the foreseeable…

Start your Christmas shopping

Avoid the angst I regularly put myself through and load up early on present buying. Start now and join the other smugly organised shoppers with their mulled wines at the markets, instead of battling your way through the December crowds.

Incase you need a little prompting, here are a few ideas to get the Christmas cogs moving:

Books are a beautiful gift all year round, but there is something special about a hardback book at Christmas. Waterstones is my go-to for these. I have just purchased Rick Stein’s Long Weekends for my Grandad, which is full of gorgeous dishes from across Europe. (Here’s to hoping he’ll use me as a guinea pig for the recipies.)

Marks and Spencers festive range is glorious (as ever). If you are after a one-stop-shop to your gift problems, their Christmas Shop has all your answers. Whether it’s for him or for her, families or couples, you are well catered for. And FYI, Rosie for Autograph has a gorgeous nightwear collection if you fancy a sneaky present for you.

Hotel Chocolat is always a favourite of mine. My love of Christmas and chocolate combined. My favourite is the White Chocolate section, if anyone’s asking…

If you are anything like me and love personalised gifts, try Not on the High Street. You can find all sorts of wonders, from candles to cheese boards and the personalisation gives your gift a touch of magic.

Christmas creations (for your tum)

I tend to hibernate in winter. I’m quite the social bunny in the summer months, but as soon as the clocks change, as does my attitude towards leaving the house. The nights are drawing in and I’m looking for ‘inside activities’. This post from Buzzfeed will not only help you get into the Christmas spirit but also keep you well fed throughout the winter months. And they are cute too.

The art of layering

Another plus about this chilly time of year is layering. Winter clothes are the very best. They hide all manner of over-indulgences and allow you to look warm and stylish whilst doing it.

If you fancy a little layering direction, super-stunner and Lifestyle Blogger, Lauren Conrad, has penned a post on How to wear layers like a pro.

Have fun and let me know your go-to pressie ideas!

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xx

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