Friday, 8 December 2017

2017: 12 Month Goal Review

So it's been pretty quiet here on the blog front of late...

Life has been pretty hectic, mostly good in fairness, but I've definitely had some bouts of just not feeling like posting, and so I haven't. 
Sometimes in the past I've posted just for the sake of posting, but that doesn't always feel natural. So I decided not to force things, and instead to dip my toe back into the blogging world when the time felt right...

With having such a long break, I missed out my 9 month goal review altogether! 
So as I'm feeling inspired to put pen to paper, now seems a good time to update on my goals as the year draws to an end.

Be Better With Money
So I'm going to start on a positive note, not least because I'm pretty bloody pleased with myself but: I BOUGHT A HOUSE! At long last, I finallyyyy saved enought for a deposit, and found myself a little two-bedroomed, sea-facing apartment which has just gone through, meaning I now have the keys in my mitts. I actually can't believe I've done it at last, and I definitely am going to blow my own trumpet over it because not only have I had zero help financially, but it's testament to how much can change in a year, as this time last year everything felt a little hopeless and I was feeling lost after the break-up of my long-term relationship, and to be frank it just seemed like an impossibility. But finally I have a place I can call my own, and I'm so excited to start a new chapter of my life. 

Think Less
Well, I can't expect miracles in a year, so I'm still a chronic overthinker. I have phases where I'm better than others, and since the flat has gone through I've felt a bit of a shift in my attitude and have been feeling more accomplished than I've felt, well ever really. But having another knockback in my personal life over the summer when things seemed to be picking up hit me quite hard, and I needed a couple of months to lick my wounds and re-assess my priorities. Finally though I'm feeling better about things, so now I'm mostly just worrying about money and whether I'll ever be able to afford to eat anything other than beans for tea ever again...

Keep Active
Apart from being a potato every since November 1st when the nights became too dark to do pretty much ANYTHING after 4.30, I've been doing really steadily well with this. Over the summer I bought a bike having been re-introduced to cycling and remembering how much I loved it, and it's been an amazing investment. I've definitely slacked over the past few weeks, but I know things will pick up again after Christmas. I'm still fitting in as many walks as I can in a week so it's not all doom and gloom.

Less Phone, More Living
Hmm, yes and no with this one. During the day in work I'm not bad about checking social media, but I'm still pretty bad for obsessing and comparing myself to pretty much everyone who's ever lived of an evening when I have some downtime. This is still a work in progress and not something I'm gonna beat myself over, particularly as I've crammed loads in over the past 6 months, so I think I'm striking the phone/life balance quite well in general.

Be Kind To Myself
I haven't dedicated quite as much time to looking after myself as I probably should do lately, and who really does at this time of year?! I've been run ragged and haven't been getting as much sleep as I need, but I know this'll change after Christmas. Plus once I'm in my new pad I'll probably just move into the bath so there's plenty of time to rectify this one.

All in all, I'm pretty pleased with how my goals have panned out this year, and I'm definitely in a much happier space than I was this time last year, so I'm going to crack out the wine....

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Porto Photo Diary

Way back in July I headed to the beautiful city of Porto for a few days.
Porto has been on my travel bucket list for quite a while and it definitely didn't disappoint.
It's an amazing combination of old meets new - a vibrant, bustling city with so many extremely old beautiful buildings, cobbled streets mixed with high street shops and crumbling aged sections contrasting against the clean tiles.
The architecture is just incredible, and blue and yellow seem to be the predominant colour schemes in the city. There are beautiful old churches on nearly every street corner, each one incredibly ornate. The stunning Chapel of Souls above is a perfect example, it was built in the 18th Century and is situated in one of the busiest shopping streets in Porto.
One of our favourite places to head to was Ribeira, which is the old town that runs alongside the banks of the Douro. It was so lively and busy, with cobbled streets, buskers, old fashioned boats and plenty of streetside cafes where you can sit and watch the world go by.
Porto is definitely a foodie lovers paradise. Seafood is very prevalent as expected, but there are so many amazing culinary experiences to be had, and the tapas is out of this world. We stumbled upon Antiga Leitaria down a side street, which is a small unobtrusive bistro serving the most amazing local food. 
Other highlights include the huge indoor market, brunch in the iconic Majestic Cafe, the wonderfully ornate Porto Sao Bento train station and a boat trip along the Douro. We went early evening when it was slightly cooler, and just in time to see the magnificent sunset. 
Finally, no trip to Porto would be complete without some Port tasting! As we're not the biggest fans of Port we opted not to do a full day tasting tour (as amazing as it looked) and instead booked a city hop on-hop off bus tour which threw in a free mini Port tour. We headed to the Southern side of the Douro river (Vila Nova de Gaia) which is connected to Ribeira and Porto by the Ponte Luis I Bridge, and is where all the Port houses are situated. We tried some rose and tawny Port which were actually really nice, but not being a Port connoisseur I wouldn't be able to say if there was better out there.  
I really, really loved Porto and would return in a heartbeat. There's so much to see and do, and I'm sure if we went back we'd be able to find numerous things we didn't manage to squeeze in on this trip. 
There were a few 'tourist traps' we avoided, such as the cable car over the Port houses which to us seemed a waste of money as walking through Vila Nova de Gaia provides you with the same views, just without the price tag.
The other thing we wanted to do was Livraria Lello; a traditional bookshop with a huge sweeping spiral staircase and glass ceiling that looks beautiful, but due to the fact that JK Rowling used it as inspiration for Harry Potter, was overrun with tourists queuing as far as the eye could see. I didn't think I'd be able to get a single decent photo inside as it was so packed, so we reluctantly gave it a miss.
Have you ever been to Porto?

Monday, 4 September 2017

Holiday Wardrobes

We all love 'em, we all want 'em.

The other thing we do is buy things we don't need for 'em.
Holidays are so expensive, and are definitely a luxury for most of us. But all I see these days online is people over-spending on holiday wardrobes for each holiday they go on, and I often wonder if that's really necessary.

I can't remember the last time I bought anything new purely to take away on holiday with me.
Our wonderful British climate means my summer clothes are generally underworn and therefore my dresses and shorts get barely an outing all year. I love being able to wear things I haven't worn in ages, because they basically feel like new clothes.
Holiday wear rarely goes out of fashion so I tend to rotate my clothes on a two yearly basis (the dresses I'm taking to Lisbon haven't been worn since I went to Palma in 2015 so case in point)
I know so many people who buy loads of cheap items for their holidays with the view of leaving what they don't want behind. To me that is so excessive and an example of consumption at its finest.

Over this past year, I've really tried hard to work on curbing my spending. It's made me feel so much happier, and I guess what they say about feng shui is true, because having less around me has made me feel calmer and more content. 

As someone who is a fairly frequent traveller, I like to think I've got my packing now down to a fine art. For my upcoming trip to Lisbon (today!) I managed to pack in less than 10 minutes. 
For me the key is definitely less is more and my packing mantra tends to be:
  • I rarely ever take hold luggage because most of my holidays tend to be short breaks, so I try and take the minimal amount and mix and match my items together as much as possible.
  • I never take more than 2 pairs of shoes on a short break and I never ever take heels because for me it's all about the comfort on holiday, and whenever I have taken heels they've been unworn.
  • I utilise any free samples I have to take in my toiletries bag, things such as moisturisers, perfume samples and shampoo are particularly handy as they take up so little room and can be thrown away to save space coming back.

What are your thoughts on holiday wardrobes?


Friday, 14 July 2017

Oliver Bonas Wishlist

Saying that Oliver Bonas have some amazing things in stock at the moment is a bit of a pointless statement because they ALWAYS have amazing things in stock...but it seems like right now they're totally nailing it and it's making me want basically everything. 

I'm a total sucker for coffee table books, statement jewellry and quirky homeware, which I guess is preeeeety obvious from this wishlist. 

I've decided to try and be kind to my bank balance so I've whittled it down to my 9 favourite items, but from browsing the website they do seem to have the uncanny ability to constantly deliver and make your dreams of a Pinterest-worthy home that little bit more realistic. Obviously some of these are pretty pricey, but a girl can dream.

What do you think of my picks?

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

2017: 6 Month Goal Review

And just like that, we're halfway into the year...
Not only has it shocked me to find that 6 months has passed already, but it's also been over a month since I last posted! Which probably isn't much of a deal for most, but it's been my longest ever bloggy break (for a number of reasons)

But onto the point in hand, it's time to log back on so I can update on how I've been getting on with my goals for 2017. I won't lie, despite purposely picking vague goals that aren't easy to break, I've not exactly stuck to them like glue. I've made vague improvements here and there but meh, they're a work in progress and I have 6 more months to work on them...

Be Better With Money
Lets start with a positive...this goal is actually going quite well. I wouldn't say I'm perfectly balancing my bills each month, but I've definitely curbed my spending somewhat. I haven't been buying clothes and make-up the minute payday strikes, but I'm still not exactly living within my means all the time. But I'm getting better and I've managed to save a fair bit over the past 6 months meaning I've now got a deposit at long last! Yay!

Think Less
Hmm, nope. Not happening. If I'm being kind to myself I'd say I've started to improve on a few occasions, but then life gets in the way and I'm back to square one. Over the past few weeks I've definitely done better (and been happier for it) but tonight for example, I've been in an over-analytical tizz. So this is still a work in progress.

Keep Active
I'm doing fairly well with this one, because I love being outside and it makes everything seem better somehow. Though I'm not practically able to crack 10k steps a day I am walking as much as possible and I've seen an improvement in my fitness. I'm getting out most lunch times and evenings, which is definitely more doable when the weather's good!

Less Phone, More Living
Gah, no. This one was going really well, but me being me means I couldn't stop for long. Whenever one door closes another opens they say, and my frenzied little brain loves to second guess everything. So I'm definitely not switching off as much as I should which is a shame because I feel so much better when I do. On the living front though I'm definitely doing more than I was a few months back, so it's swings and roundabouts.

Be Kind To Myself
Last but not least...this one is also a work in progress. I haven't been getting any more sleep (damn you Parks & Recreation!) and I'm not always getting my full intake of water, but I'm not being too bad. I don't like baths in the summer so I'm not having the time to pamper quite as much, but I'm still taking care of my skin and trying to listen to my body when I'm tired, so that's something.

All in all, I'm still not quite where I want to be 6 months on. I've had a couple of setbacks, but I'm also doing better than I was emotionally in many ways and am feeling stronger in myself.

How are you getting on with your goals/resolutions?


Sunday, 14 May 2017

Chateau Rhianfa, Menai Bridge

A couple of weekends ago, my Mum and I booked an overnight stay at Chateau Rhianfa on the spur of the moment, in order to have a night of rest and relaxation.
Described as a 'Welsh Fairytale Hotel', which is a pretty fitting description, luckily for us Chateau Rhianfa is right on our doorstep so there wasn't much travel needed.
I've been lucky enough to stay here a few times before, as well as attend a couple of weddings, but no matter how many times I visit it still feels like a real treat. 
Our room was a standard double, with beautiful views across the perfectly manicured lawns and a large modern and luxurious wetroom. The bedroom itself was decorated in a classic country style, but each room in the hotel is unique and individually decorated to the highest standard. One of the suites for example, (The Duchess Suite, named after Kate) has a beautiful free-standing roll-top bath in the window! My personal favourite has to be this room, which I've added a link for as unfortunately I've never been lucky to stay in the amazing round bed on any of my stays, but a girl can dream.
After a few hours of unwinding in our room, we ventured downstairs to the Dragon Rouge restaurant for a slap up three course dinner, complete with two amuse bouche (bonus extra courses are always a winner in my book!) of a goats cheese roulade and a mushroom arancini - both of which were delicious. For my meal I had the locally caught scallops to start (which were so darn tasty I didn't even stop to take a photo, but believe me were incredible), the blade of beef complete with potatoes and Yorkshire pudding, and the deconstructed rhubarb crumble for dessert. The food was melt-in-your-mouth good, and we left feeling very full and very satisfied.
To walk off all the food we'd consumed, we decided to explore the rest of the hotel. Each corridor is like a labyrinth of hidden treasures, filled with trinkets and oozing old-school luxury. From the grand piano, to the chandelier, to the overstuffed leather sofas and soft table lamp light, each room is a sight to behold and manages to be both grand and cosy, as opposed to imposing.
The following morning we awoke to the sun streaming through our window, and headed downstairs for breakfast. There was a generous choice of continental food on offer; pastries, fresh fruit, yoghurts and breads, as well as hot food cooked freshly to order. I opted for the eggs royale which were absolutely delicious, and tasted all the better for being eaten while admiring the views across the Menai Strait.
After checkout, we went for a leisurely walk around the grounds; the hotel has other features such as a hot tub, tennis courts, summer house and even its own private jetty! There are so many cosy corners in the grounds I imagine it would be perfect to relax with a book and take in the fresh sea air. 

If staying in a luxury fairytale castle is your thing, Chateau Rhianfa is the place for you. I'm so proud to live in an area where we're blessed with so many amazing venues, and already can't wait for my next trip!


Tuesday, 2 May 2017


Life has certainly had it's challenges lately. And while there is always something good amongst the bad, at the moment for me it's felt like these moments are few and far between.

Despite all the gloom, I'm still finding things that always cheer me up. I'm still laughing, I'm still yearning to explore, and I'm still enjoying the things that make me, me
So it's not all bad.

This weekend, I've spent a fair amount of time walking. Not walking to reach any particular destination, but instead just to enjoy my surroundings. And what beautiful surroundings I have!
Pretty pastel painted houses I can only dream of living in, fresh flowers reminding me that Spring is on its way, and as always, breathing in the sea and letting it wash away my worries. 
For me the sea will always be my leveller, it's always there and it always reminds me that things are only temporary. Enjoying my beautiful coastline made me realise that life is always going to be what I make it.

And even if this weekend I've done nothing of more value than walk, stretch my legs, marvel at the stunning scenery I call home, and eat one of my first ice creams of the year, maybe that's in fact all I needed to do.
Maybe in fact, that is life.
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