Things to do while social distancing.

Unless you’ve been in the desert with Jared Leto and you also didn’t have any idea about Coronavirus/Covid-19 sweeping it’s way across the globe.

People all around the world are being told to engage in social distancing not only for their own health and wellbeing but also to help stop the spread of this deadly virus reaching those with underlying health conditions, those with weakened immunity, the young and the elderly.

Beforehand, social distancing sounds like a term that Gwyneth Paltrow would use to excuse herself from an event she just didn’t fancy going to.

Social distancing is supposed to work by helping to stop the spread of this virus is by keeping more people out of social environments, public areas and anywhere that isn’t essential really, thus decreasing the amount of people that could potentially come into contact with someone who’s already got covid-19 and stop it spreading further. Oh and it’ll also help lessen the strain on the health services. Win win really!

As an introvert, you didn’t need to ask me twice to stay away from busy areas, stay indoors and read as many books as I possibly could. It hasn’t quite sunk in for me how long social distancing may continue and what I’ll do once I’ve reached peak levels of cabin fever and how I’ll cope being mentally and emotionally. But I do feel quite lucky that I live in a little village, I have a garden so I could go and exercise or get some fresh air on my own.

For those of you out there that are struggling with knowing what you can to do with your time I’ve compiled a list of things you could consider to do with all your extra free time.

Read. 

Now is the perfect time to finally start making a way through your ever growing To Be Read pile that is sitting pretty on your bookshelf. Download audiobooks, E-books and start ticking off some of those classics you’ve always wanted to read but never got round to, or read some non fiction greats and educate yourselves on a brand new topic.

Hive is a brilliant place to look for new reads as they support family, community and independent book sellers.

Similarly, most libraries have either an online service or an App you can borrow an e-book from.

Create.

If I hear one more time that William Shakespeare wrote King Lear whilst he was in quarantine from the plague I swear I’ll be splitting my possessions between the loved ones that profess the most amount of love to me and running onto the moors screaming and wailing like a banshee.

There’s a weird, little undercurrent of pressure now you’ve got all this spare time to be doing something useful and productive with your time rather than just eating malteasers and watching telly. If you’re a creative and have always dreamed of following this path then why not sit down and spend a couple hours jotting down any ideas you’ve got and seeing where you could take them.

I swear you can’t be a struggling artist/writer without a struggle and tbh I think being quarantined in your own home not really sure what’s going to happen next or whether you’re going to have to eat toilet roll sandwiches for tea is a pretty solid one.

(On a real side note though…What are all these people doing with all their panic bought loo rolls?)

Take up a hobby.

I for one have always wanted to be better at making my own things. I’d love to be able to knit or cross stitch, because, not only will I be able to make my own cosy knitwear (hypothetically speaking of course…as of right now I can barely even thread a needle) but also it looks so therapeutic. I’d love to be able to gift my wares to friends and family and they can wear my crafted, scraggly scarves with joy knowing I made it just for them.

Depending where you live and what the rules are at the moment, I know that a lot of places say that you should only leave the house for work, to buy food, go to the pharmacy or an emergency. But if you have access to charity shops, they sell so much wool, knitting needles and patterns. Not only that but a lot of charity shops could do with more support than ever right now even better if you can access them online.

Similarly, I’ve always wanted to be able to properly play a musical instrument or learn to cook and bake better. Now with all this extra time on my hands I’d love to be able to browse the interweb for recipe ideas that might take a bit longer than normal and spend a little extra time and effort curating a lovely evening meal for my whole family to enjoy (hopefully).

Use sites like Pinterest to get ideas or Etsy to buy arts and crafts from independent sellers.

Play games

There’s so many fun games you can whittle away the hours with. Whether it’s online games like The Sims (they are currently heavily discounted on Origin if you wanna be tempted even further to buy a game when it’s cheap) Xbox, Playstation or even board games are a great way from switching off from the ‘real world’ and immersing yourself in another for a couple hours.

Whether you want to stick to the classics like Monopoly, Cluedo or a humble pack of cards or trying something a little different and fun I’d definitely recommend having a look online or through Big Potato Games. I know I’ve mentioned them a few times but I love the creativity and imagination they’ve put into all of their games. You’d never be bored if you’re in isolation with your family or roommates with one of their products to hand!

Jigsaw puzzles are a great way to relax and switch off too.

Learn

Do you remember when Kylie Jenner said that 2016 was the year of learning stuff? WELL turns out she had no blimmin’ clue what was coming up in 2020 did she? How is it that these past three months have felt longer and more problematic than so many previous years combined! We’ve had the threat of war between the US and Iran, the Australian wildfires were still burning and now a deadly pandemic. At this rate, would anyone be shocked if there was an alien invasion in April??

All jokes aside, if you are currently self isolating/social distancing/ in lockdown/ bored and don’t really know what to do with yourself than this might be of interest to you. The internet is a fountain of knowledge when you know where to find it all and my lovely friend Tanya, author of Glam Glitz Gloss and The Live Review,¬† has shared this brilliant idea with us all. The Centre of Excellence (an online learning centre) are currently offering courses for as little as ¬£15. So if you’ve got the spare time on your hands and have always fancied learning something new or polishing up on some skills you’ve already got, this would be a fantastic way to go about it!

Money saving sites like Groupon, Wowcher and Livingsocial are also great places to look out for some good deals and they quite often also do heavily discounted online courses as well.

Use Youtube to your advantage and spend the time watching some TED Talks videos, or learn how to do some banging makeup looks from the plethora of beauty gurus on there.

Subscription boxes

Do you know how many different types of subscription boxes there are out there?? This is a rhetorical I have no idea and I can’t imagine anyone will know the exact figure either but there must be THOUSANDS. The possibilities are actually endless. Whether you’re simply obsessed with skincare, after the hottest makeup and beauty trends, obsessed with pale ales and craft beers, perhaps you’re a fan of Japanese candy and Japanese candy only or you want to do some art with the children there will be a cool subscription parcel making its way in the post to you.

I’ve worked with UOpen in the past (I shared my thoughts on the pub supper box)and was so impressed with the wide range of different boxes they offer to suit practically everyone.

Things to do

As much as I feel like I’ve seen so many examples of the worst displays of humanity lately, from people fist fighting over the last packet of toilet roll, a group of stupid teens spitting and coughing at an elderly couple or that people have been setting fire to or slashing the tyres of ambulances. I cannot simply comprehend as to why someone would do these things??? Especially at a time like this where simple decency and kindness goes such a long way.

To counteract all of this I’ve seen so many nice, random acts of kindness. I’ve witnessed so many genuinely good people wanting to help others and to all get through this and come out on the other side together. From local butchers and bakers offering home delivery services to their local customers, teachers running online classes for those missing out on learning, museums and art galleries are running online virtual tours.¬† If you want to use this rare, once in a lifetime moment and take some good from it why not see if there’s anything available for you to do in your local community. See if there are any voluntary roles available, check in with your neighbours especially vulnerable people or the elderly. If there’s not anything in place why don’t you offer to do a paper round, pick up essential groceries or walk dogs for those who can’t get out. Lots of supermarkets are crying out for help at the moment so if you’re really feeling the pressure of a lockdown and want to do something productive with your time why don’t you sling your CV that way and you’ll come out on the other side of this with a purse full of dolla.

Obvs it goes without saying I don’t want you to put yourselves at any extra unnecessary risk but it’s definitely something worth considering.

Watch

I am always the person in my friendship group that is behind the times. I haven’t seen a good majority of the cult classic tv series that is often met with gasps when I tell my friends I’ve never seen Lord of The Rings/Game of Thrones/Peaky Blinders/Breaking Bad/Orange is The New Black/Eastenders (Delete where necessary). Take advantage of that streaming service you fork out for every month and watch some of those shows or films you always want to but haven’t got round to yet. Disney+ has just landed in the UK sooooo I don’t want to tell you what to do with your free time but The Emperor’s New Groove is one of the greatest films of all time and if you want to solely watch that on repeat for the foreseeable future I totes wouldn’t judge you.

Try to make the best of it

I know it’s easy for me to say as I write this from the comfort of my own bed and as someone who still lives at home and gets along well with my family. But if we are all, globally, facing a health crisis where the government and hospital workers are urging us to stay indoors unless for work, to buy food or an emergency. Staying indoors and feeling a bit bored will be the least of your concern compared to the potential grisly alternative. If you’re blessed with good health and feel like this virus isn’t something that’ll necessarily affect you then I urge you to please share a thought for those that this will affect and have consequences for. Spare a thought for your elderly relatives, your friends relatives, your friends, your colleagues, your neighbours, people on low income, homeless people, I could go on but I hope you get the gist. At times like this, kindness and compassion is key; after all we are going to go through this together.

If you’re still feeling a bit uninspired feel free to browse this incredibly silly list beneath of alternative options; but please don’t hold me accountable if you dye your hair yellow.

  • Watch a film or tv show and ring a friend at the same time and it’ll be like you’re watching it together. ‚̧ Like the cliche moments in all the chick flicks I watched as a youth. Paul Rudd not included sorry.
  • Clean
  • Declutter your wardrobe
  • Do the cooking one evening
  • Take it in turns for your household to cook…Like come dine with me but if you rate your mam a 2 you’ll have to put up with the consequences a lot longer aaaaaaaand I don’t think you’ll get a cash prize.
  • Learn a language.
  • Give up learning a language cos it’s actually very hard
  • Watch Eastenders/Coronation Street/Emmerdale/Any other soap opera from the very beginning and try to catch up to present day
  • Give yourself a makeover
  • Get someone else to give you a makeover
  • Cry when you’ve given yourself a terrible makeover
  • Cry harder when someone else has given you an even worse makeover
  • Give yourself a fringe (DON’T! SERIOUSLY! Honestly unless you have Rihanna’s bone structure pls don’t come for me when this all goes wrong)
  • Watch every Youtube video in existence
  • Facetime friends
  • Ring your nan
  • Send a letter
  • Find a pen pal
  • Learn a dance
  • Post the dance on IG/TikTok
  • Realise no one actually cares for your dance
  • Ponder existence
  • Read all the books you’ve been hoarding
  • Eat lots of chocolate biscuits
  • See how many biscuits you’ll have to eat before you get asked to become the official face of McVities
  • Check in with your friends
  • Get the drinks in and facetime your friends and it’ll be like your having a right royal knees up
  • Learn all the words to any good song so when lockdown is over and we’re allowed to go out to play again you’ll kill it at Karaoke night
  • Wonder why you ever got rid of your PS2 cos The Simpsons Hit n Run was the best game ever to play.
  • Do a puzzle
  • CHECK IN WITH ALL YOUR LOVED ONES
  • Have a pamper night
  • Try to disengage with the news if you’re finding yourself getting anxious and stressed more often
  • Make a playlist of happy songs
  • Start a podcast
  • Make stopmotion videos
  • Paint
  • Get some outside time if you can
  • Do a buzzfeed quiz
  • Meditate
  • Take up yoga
  • Stargaze
  • Appreciate how quiet the world is without all the traffic and noise
  • Go for a walk early in the morning and see what the world looks like at 5am
  • Listen to the birds
  • Do something for charity
  • Write
  • Start a lockdown diary
  • Check in with people
  • Write positive reviews for all your fav pubs,bars and restaurants so when they reopen they’ll see all the nice things people have said about them.

 

On a real note though. I hope everyone is okay and is staying safe and well. I’m sending you all so much love and light at these difficult times and hoping we can all get through this together. I hope that if we can take anything from these darker times of life is that we cannot take anything or anyone for granted.

Until next time x

The Sun Shines Hot and The Wind Blows Cold.

Hello fellow humans.

It’s me again. It’s dawned on me recently, after nearly eight years (on and off) of blogging, I still haven’t got this whole ‘regular scheduling and posting’ malarkey down to a T.¬† Turns out I’m really just not very good at this organisation thing? As much as I’d love to say I am a Type A person and have a plan, list and solution for every eventuality but soz lads that really ain’t me.

Well..whew. So far 2020 hasn’t really gone the way any of us had planned has it? When I said new year new me I wasn’t thinking this new me was going to be even more of an anxious wreck than last year but c’est la vie!

I’ve been umming and ahhing about what words to use and what to say in this post. I’m trying to be extra careful with the language I use as I’m usually an upbeat, positive person, to the point where I might seem like I’m burying my head in the sand as I just really don’t want to talk about the bad things. Simply because it stresses me out, gives me anxiety and I don’t want to create a space that might stress someone else out too. I know that a lot of people might think that’s a bad stance to take and it’s not real life. I know and you know that bad things happen. No one’s life is as perfect as their instagram feed may lead you to believe. So the sole reason I do this is because it’s better for my mental health to have a space where these bad things don’t exist. Even if it’s just talking about skincare, joking about the latest tv series I’m watching or sharing all the details about the latest book I’m reading.

It seems a bit redundant in this current climate to not even mention coronavirus or Covid-19 if you’re on first name terms with the little rotter. This virus has swept it’s way around the globe, gripping the nations in a state of panic as it goes on it’s travels and I, for one, am trying (failing) to do my best to keep my head up and stay treading water amongst the madness.

I’m not going to lie. But I’m a bit scared about the future and what it holds not just for me, my family and my friends but for everyone else around the world. I’m scared for the older generations, the retail workers, the health workers, the business owners, the sick, the poorly, the homeless, freelancers, self employed, part time staff, temp staff, the low income households and everyone else in between. I don’t think I’ve got enough worry to go around to be quite honest. I’m worried about the impact that this will have globally on everyone, physically, mentally and financially.

In some lighter news, as a ray of sunshine in and amongst the dark skies right now, I’e seen so many wonderful news stories and pictures from around the world of how the environment and natural life has truly flourished since the vast decrease in pollution of late. Pictures have circulated of the water in the canals of Venice running clear for the first time in decades!

I hope when this dark time becomes lighter, things become a bit easier that we all as a human race can learn from this. The utter depravity witnessed in supermarkets of people clearing the shelves of absolutely everything is completely ludicrous and near on apocalyptic. No wonder everyone is panicking when your local supermarket resembles 28 Days Later and you fist fight Barb your neighbour for the last packet of loo roll.

Please remember in these times to support your local independent shops, show kindness as often as you can and stay safe.

If there’s any advice I can offer to those who are also suffering with anxiety and stress related to this stressful situation please go easy on yourself. I’ve deleted social media apps off of my phone that were feeding my worries and giving me stress. I couldn’t cope with the endless updates and news concerning what was happening. I avoided watching or reading the news as it was starting to consume me and really trouble me. I know it’s really ignorant of me to completely switch off from it but it was one of the few ways I could regain control of what I was reading and what was playing on my mind.

I spent my spare time devouring new tv shows, films and books spending my precious spare time with things that genuinely helped me switch off. I’ve finally started getting through my ever growing ‘To Be Read’ pile of books and have only just got around to watching Derry Girls…I’m sorry I slept on this show for so long because I now ADORE it.

In the words of Daniel Bedingfield…we gotta get thru this. Can you believe when William Shakespeare was quarantined from the plague he wrote King Lear and I’ve just finished off this post with a lyric from a Daniel Bedingfield song. Alas.

Until next time. Stay safe. x

Places I’d Love To Visit Across The British Isles

I really enjoy travelling to new places and exploring somewhere I’ve never been before; whether abroad or in my home country.¬† I’ve lived in the UK my whole life and I haven’t actually seen a lot of it, I always feel a bit silly when I think of all the tourists that come from all over the world that come to stay on these British Islands and I’ve barely seen the places other than a double tap on Insta! If you follow me on instagram you might have seen I’ve been a lot more active over on my page in the last month or two sharing my photography, what I’ve did, done and seen. Most of which is from these wonderful British Isles.

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So as you can see i’m a big advocate of exploring what’s on my own doorstep, although as much as I’d love to travel the world, I’ve developed a bit more of earth conscious over recent months and my purse is a bit conscious of excessive travelling too! Having said that I still don’t think I could afford to travel all over the UK; I’ve devised this list to share some of the fabulous places I want to add to my UK bucket list.

Winchester

Winchester is a city and the county town of Hampshire. It actually isn’t too far from where I live and for some reason I’ve still not got around to getting there myself! They’ve got a wonderful Christmas market each year, plenty of historic sites including the Cathedral and so many interesting independent shops and foodie spots I’m dying to try.¬†

London

I’ve been to London plenty of times before but there’s still so much of it I’m yet to see and do. One of my aims for 2020 is to FINALLY get round to meeting my fave ginger person and dear blogging friend, Tanya, from Glamglitzgloss fame! as she’s a fully fledged Londoner I’m hoping when we get round to meeting up when we can venture round some of the best kept secrets!¬†

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Margate

Margate is one of Kent’s most famous seaside towns and has been voted the third trendiest place in the UK. I really like the architecture I’ve seen and the amusement park Dreamland looks dead cool. I’m not sure who decided it was the trendiest place though mind, is it a bit like when your mum says you look reeeeeeeeeaaaaallyyyyy trendy…as you quickly go and change your clothes again because you probably don’t look all that trendy?

Channel Islands

I’ve been to Guernsey once when I was little and Jersey a couple years ago for a week for a work thing but I’d love to go back. If you visited these little islands in the English Channel you’d mistaken for thinking you were somewhere in the Med. They’re steeped in history, quaint and have so much character. I’d really like to go back and visit Jersey again as the main town was so lovely as were all the people.¬†

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Cotswolds

I’d really like to take a trip or two to all the sweet little villages dotted in an around the Cotswolds area. It’s very picture perfect and the type of towns you’d imagine on the front of a pretty postcard.¬†

Yorkshire

I’d like to explore the towns and villages of the Yorkshire dales. Preferably in an old land rover, wearing welly boots and a barbour jacket like I’m actually in Emmerdale.¬†

Liverpool

Can you tell I’m an absolute sucker for influencer marketing. I’ve been thoroughly influenced to travel up to L’Pool ASAP based solely on the things i’ve seen people getting up to, photographing and eating in and around the Scouse city. I’m a big fan of The Beatles so I’d like to see all of the touristy bits to do with that as well as exploring all the fab foodie finds.

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Newcastle

Howaaaay man how could the wonderful Newcastle not make it onto the list. I’ve been lusting after this place ever since I can remember as I’m a liiiiiittle bit obsessed with how you all speak; there must be a reason you’ve all been voted as having the friendliest accent. I want to walk alongside the Tyne river, take a trip through the underground city tunnels and go on a proper exciting bar crawl through the city like I’m actually on Geordie Shore but hopefully I won’t embarrass myself half as much.¬†

Edinburgh

I’ve never been to Scotland but would love to go. As a Harry Potter fan there are so many places throughout Edinburgh that I’d like to pay a visit too. I’d like to amble up to Arthur’s Seat and take in the views before venturing back into the main city and eating myself silly on all of the shortbread and tablet. Well anything else carby that I can lay my eyes on to be honest.¬†

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Scottish Highlands

Sticking to the Scottish style here i’d love to take a roadtrip to the Scottish Highlands. My friend and I have discussed doing it before and the logistics of getting there, where we’d want to visit and how much it’d all cost etc. I think it’s just such a beautiful part of the world with such strong, stunning scenery from the rolling hills, steep mountains and fluffy cows, it’s definitely somewhere I’d love to explore with a camera in hand.¬†

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Dublin

Dublin is somewhere I’d love to take a trip to. Dublin on St Patricks Day is somewhere I’d LOVE LOVE LOVE to take a trip to. I’d want to have a guinness at a traditional Irish pub, visit the brewery, trek around the pretty cobbled streets and eat enough soda bread and mashed potato to sink a ship.

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Portmeirion

Last but no means least is the pretty town of Portmeirion in Wales. I’m not really sure of the history of this place and why it’s so colourful and beautiful but looking at this picture you wouldn’t be shocked to find out this is actually a quaint little village off of the Amalfi Coast would you?

Is there anywhere you’d particularly like to visit in the UK?¬†

25 Things I’ve Learnt In 25 Years.

Hello reader, as you’re reading this it’ll be the 27th of January and that is my big fat birthday. So I am now 25. Twenty five. toooooooooooweeeeeeenttttyyyyyyyyy fiiiiive. Quarter of a century. Twen tee five. I’m lowkey freaking out about this as you might be able to tell as that is an actual, proper age. It sounds older than 23 or 24 did and I feel like I’m not mentally prepared for the responsibility of being a grown up. Not now or ever to be honest.¬†

Society says I should have my life together by now. Hollywood films say I should be living in a cute apartment with an exposed brick wall with all my besties by now, or about to meet the love of my life in some sort of random meet cute scenario but none of that actually happened sooooooo HOORAY for me! Turns out life isn’t exactly word for word like the fairytale teen blockbuster with the pop-punk soundtrack and that’s okay. Life isn’t all sunshine, rainbows and fighting dragons to get to the princess who’s actually a part time ogre and that’s also okay. I feel like in your twenties there’s a lot of pressure to succeed and exceed and I’m not here for it. I just want to be happy. SO happy in fact it makes others a little bit nausous. I want to be so happy being me that other people look at me like ffs can’t she just give someone else a chance?!¬†

So I’m writing this very cliche list of 25 things I’ve learnt on this awesome planet to remind myself and you lovely readers on some wonderful things I’ve learnt, adapted to and am trying to live by.¬†

  • It’s okay not to be okay.

Everyone has great days, everyone has good days and everyone also has bad days too. Sometimes those bad days happen more and more and all of a sudden it’s become a bad week, bad month or become a bad year but please try to not let it define you. It’s taken me a long time to learn to accept that sometimes not everything goes the way I want it to but you’ve got to try and make the best out of every situation. I’m definitely the type of person that could very easily wallow in my own little pity puddle and it can be incredibly hard to lift yourself out of that frame of mine. Just know that however you’re feeling, whatever you’re going through; you’re loved and you’re never alone. ‚̧

  • It’s more than okay to be on your own.¬†

Do you have any idea how freeing it is to be alone. Not lonely but alone. Go on a solo movie trip, grab a bite to eat on your own, travel solo? It’s honestly one of the most liberating feelings and I wish I had the confidence to adopt this mentality sooner.¬†

  • Say Yes.

I’ve tried so hard to push myself out of my comfort zone and say yes or do things I wouldn’t normally just to see or just to try it once. I’ve become so much more confident in myself and my abilities and every single time I’ve had a blast and have been so pleased I said that little Y word.¬†

  • Don’t believe all you see online.

What you see on social media is not real life. It is simply the highlight reel, no one is going to be posting about their boring dead end job, the fact they spent 2 hours deep cleaning their oven to no avail and the fact that age 23 they found their first grey hair. I found that the way I perceived my own life compared to the lives I saw on Instagram was really affecting me last year and I came off of it for a few months. I came back again later on in the year and changed my focus. I unfollowed a lot of accounts and changed the way I used the platform, sharing my love of photography instead, and I love it again! 

  • Take compliments.

I honestly find this so difficult when someone says something nice to me to not go bright red, flash a dorky smile and bash their kind compliment down with a generous helping of self depreciation. Next time someone says something nice, believe them and say thank you. Manners cost nothing y’know!

  • Have faith in the universe.¬†

I’ve had a rocky couple of years and it’s affected the way I outwardly look at things. I’m lucky I’ve got a wonderful fam that support me through thick and thin but I don’t think I could have coped either if it wasn’t for my kooky sense of trusting the powers of the universe (pls don’t click off I promise I’m not crazy). I know that everything will work out okay in the end because it just HAS to.¬†

  • Trust your gut.

I’m not just talking about those gurgly feels I get after I eat brioche…do you know how linked your stomach and your brain are? When something feels off, trust that vibe and run with it.¬†

  • Have a cheat day and/or a treat day.

Life is far too short to not eat the cake. I am a huge advocate of any form of therapy whether it’s seeking professional help, self care, journalling, retail therapy whatever you do to make yourself feel better. I’m a big believer in self care and self love and I wish more people were head over heels in love with themselves as much as they love other people. Treat yourself to that item you’ve been lusting after for ages, take yourself to the cinema or to a spa on a date day. Do whatever you need to do to make yourself feel like the centre of your own universe.¬†

  • You don’t need to wash your hair everyday.

Honestly….I don’t know how I have been conditioned (soz for the pun) to believe that was normal. My hair feels so much better and shinier since I stopped with this madness.

  • Some relationships don’t last forever and that’s just the way it was meant to be.

I am strong believer in full time people and part time people. I think everyone who comes into your life is there for a reason, sometimes good, sometimes bad (sometimes ugly too) but the important thing is to remember to cherish those who you love and tell them as often as you can. Learn from those who treat you how you don’t wish to be treated and don’t give them a second more of your time. Life is a journey but most importantly it’s your journey; who you want to bring along with you is down to you.

  • Dairy Milk Caramel tastes infinitely better after it’s been in the freezer.

I don’t have anything else to add to that statement. Just try it and let me know your thoughts alright.

  • Pursue what makes you happy

Life is the longest thing we’ll ever do so you might as well do something you love.¬†

  • You’re responsible for your own happiness.

Genuinely i’m starting to sound like a motivational canvas you’d see on pinterest and I’m not sure I’m alright with that. But this is something that flickers through my mind everytime I’m having a whinge about how sucky something in my life is. The only person that can change it is me.¬†

  • Find your cheerleaders.¬†

Find the people that’ll be constantly in your corner, boosting you up and treating you like the gift you are. No one wants a negative nancy.¬†

  • A job isn’t the be all and end all.

I cannot stress this enough. It reeks of privilege but I’ve been in a position where I had my mental health wrecked because of a terrible employer and it’s one of my biggest regrets that I stuck it out for so long. I wish I quit sooner, I wish I had a cool quitting story, where I told my boss to stick it in a boardroom meeting and made history as I high fived with every other scorned worker but alas that was not the case. Working as an early morning cleaner has taught me more about my character than any other role has.¬†

  • Try to save where you can.

I’m obsessed with getting a good bargain, who isn’t though, amirite?! Financially challenged is the legit story of my life but one day I’d quite like to move out of my parents house and live in my own little home and I’ve been saving the pennies where I can. I’m not being too hard on myself and if I want a treat or to go out socially I do but it’s surprising how a few coins here and there in another bank account soon adds up.¬†

  • Be more present.¬†

I am the absolute worst for being on my phone all the time. Whether I’m chatting with friends, surfing the socials or taking happy snaps of what I’m doing, embarassingly, I find it difficult to not put my phone away and live in the moment. My thought is that if I take a picture or a video of that moment then it’s saved in time and I can come back and look at it again and again. Unless it’s for a special occasion (or just pretty food…) I try to leave my phone in my bag when I’m out with family and friends and spend the most time enjoying their company.¬† ¬†

  • Try new things.

Oooooh look at me, my name’s Abbie and I tried an olive the other day and didn’t gag so I think I know everything about trying new stuff. But srsly try everything once (except bad, super illegal stuff, like don’t be stupid) and if you don’t like it at least you gave it your best shot.¬†

  • Don’t save things for best/a rainy day.

I’ve been thinking about death a lot recently. Morbid start to any sentence I know. But that might be a potential late night blog post I touch on soon…Not to bring down the mood or anything but when you die, everything that’s important to you or special to you probably isn’t going to be that special to anyone else so you might as well wear that bouji outfit that cost you a tonne of money whilst you still can; you never know what’s around the corner.¬†

  • Get to know yourself and your body.

Get to know who you are, everything about you, your mind, your soul, your spirit and your body. It sounds silly but you’re more likely to notice little changes once you know what’s normal for you and what’s not.¬†

  • Never underestimate having a good hairdresser.¬†

A good hairdresser is one to be cherished. Finding one that is good, reliable and not too expenny is like finding the bermuda triangle. 

  • Find a hobby.

Even though blogging and reading are my hobbies I sometimes find them a bit on the stressful side if I put pressure on myself through it. If I’ve set myself a goal of how many books i’d like to read in a year I feel guilty if I don’t get anywhere close or if I haven’t written online in awhile I feel guilty that I’m not applying myself enough to write more. In my spare time I actually really enjoy photography, crossword puzzles and antiques. I know it makes me sound like an 80 year old off on another bus trip but I loooove it.

  • Be curious.

Never stop being curious, asking questions, learning more about different people, places and cultures. Travel to new places far and wide and come up with your own narrative on something rather than adopting something you’ve heard from an unreliable source.¬†

  • Develop your own skincare routine.

Doing me face is the technical term of applying all of my lotions and potions, creams and oils on to my facial region when I arise from my slumber and just before I go to bed. It’s fast become one of my favourite things to do because I feel quite at peace when I’m doing it, it’s relaxing and I feel like I’m doing something quite positive to my life.¬†

  • Celebrate; always.

Celebrate the good things and the bad things and even the really boring, mundane things. Life is as good as you make it and I for one would like to be remembered as someone who loved hard, laughed a lot and was a pretty terrible dancer even Theresa May would grimace. 

 

BOOK REVIEW: Reader, I Married Me!*

*This post contains a gifted item*

Hello, hello! It’s been a little while since I properly shared a book review on here, I posted all the books I read in 2019 in a long old blog post (here) but it wasn’t hugely in depth on each read, so I thought I’d share with you a little write up on the book; Reader, I Married Me! that I read at the very end of 2019. I’m not sure how to best go about reviewing this as I’m cautious I’m going to just end up giving every little detail along the way. So I’m hoping I’ll say enough to entice you to pick it up but leave enough mystery and surprise to leave you all happily hooked on what happens!

I was kindly sent this by Sophie, the author and my new second sister! We got chatting and emailing back and forth and soon realised that we actually have SO much in common. Not only do we share similar outlooks on life BUT also happen to share the same surname and her Mum lives not too far from where I live too! I’m not sure I believe in fate and all things like that but what a weird coincidence all of this has turned out to be?! Between our natterings, Soph, told me all about how the idea of this book came about. It’s ever so slightly based around her own true life events, she decided to pen this book after going through a particularly bad break up. As many people can sympathise with, it genuinely can feel like the worst thing in the world had just happened. But looking back and reflecting on it she discovered it was one of the best things to have ever happened to her! She chose to stop chasing the ‘happily ever after’ and start living for herself and for the ‘happily ever now!’. What a babe!

Sophie discovered she really didn’t need someone else to ‘complete’ her or for someone to be her ‘better half’ so decided to take vows of self-commitment and married herself in sunny Brighton in 2015.

Some people reading this might now be thinking that sounds a liiiiiiiiiittle bit mad! But Sophie wanted to be able to use this and her platform to be able to start conversations about self love and why on earth shouldn’t you see yourself as just as important (if not more) than a significant other or why self love isn’t deemed as important as romantic love?

From an early age we are taught about, and raised on, the different types of love we will feel. From the love you have for your family members, to the love you have for friends, the love you have for food and the wonderful/sometimes less than wonderful romantic love you’ll share with someone special.¬†

But for some reason, self love, is still seen as a bit controversial or like a taboo subject. As if it’s a bit weird that someone actually likes themselves and wants to celebrate who they are as a person! Shouldn’t that be the love that we focus on and encourage from a young age, to inspire generations to have confidence in themselves and to be able to stand strong on their own no matter what life may throw at them? It’s certainly something to think about isn’t it.

Her novel, Reader, I Married Me, is very loosely based on Sophie’s own life experiences and her experience of sologamy (aka marrying yourself!). We follow the story of Chloe Usher, the loveable 35 year old lady, who’s happily sailing her way through life when she finds out the heart shattering news that her longterm boyf has cheated on her. She battles her way through modern day dating and using different dating apps. Then after one particularly bad date she heads straight over to her best friends house, trying to forget all about her rubbish evening with alcohol and karaoke! Booze fuelled she half jokingly suggests that she’s just going to marry herself and drunkenly shares her news with her loyal followers on her blog. Waking up the next morning with a fuzzy hangover head she’s greeted with the news that her and her solo wedding has become an overnight sensation; getting both positive and negative feedback from all around the globe.¬†

We join Chloe on her fabulous journey as she plans her solo wedding, juggling her own emotions as well as from the people nearest and dearest to her as they try and get their heads around her upcoming nuptials as a single woman. It’s not just Chloe we witness going on a personal journey either, she realised that we society might have conditioned us to be wishing our lives away waiting for the fairytale happy ending or waiting for ‘the one’ when, in fact, YOU are the one you should be soul searching for all along.

This romcom (without the typical rom) is a perfect read if you’re looking for something a little bit different or want to challenge ways in which we come to think about ourselves and the labels we put on ourselves and on love. 

So…you want to know my thoughts on it?

I read this within the space of about three days so if that doesn’t tell you something I don’t know what will! I really enjoyed this book actually, it’s a little bit different to the usual chick lit novel I’d normally read or you might normally see on the shelf which I actually really liked. Most of them have the usual element of ‘aaaaaaaaand the woman fell in love with the man, the man fell in love with the woman and they all lived happily ever after theeeeeeee end’ which is nice but those fairy tale stories never really happen in real life do they?

This felt a lot more relatable. As nice as it is to read lovey-dovey romcoms with princesses, princes and prince charming riding in on a white stallion at the end and saving the day¬† they’re not as thought provoking because to me, that isn’t normal or reality.¬† With this, I felt like I really empathised with Chloe and I felt like I understood her character as someone I could relate with or someone I could imagine myself being friends with. I liked that this book really has stuck with me and has made me think about the different ways I view myself and the outlook I can have on love and relationships.

It struck a chord especially as quite often, self love, self worth and loving yourself can be placed further down the pecking order, or you can be seen as big headed or with an ego the size of the moon if you actually really quite like yourself. Which is quite bizarre when you think about it really? In the UK, at least, if you aren’t self depreciating there must be something wrong with you!

It’s made me want to challenge myself and how I view doing things on my own. I think being content in your own company is one of the most liberating things a person can do. From small things like going for a coffee, a lunch or to the cinema on your own to a holiday or living by yourself. Once you’re at that stage over no longer caring about whether people are looking at that poor love sitting and eating on their own or being financially independent enough to be able live on your means and not have to argue over what to watch on telly it’s like the next shift change in your life begins.

This is something I’ve been trying to get better at and a solo cinema date really is on my agenda for 2020.

This book, will definitely be the type that I’ll recommend to a lot of my friends and readers on here to read. It’s something that has really challenged the way I think and view things, which is really the type of books I long to read anyway! It’s not written in a preachy sense it’s still got the elements of the rom com without the typical ‘rom’ bit!

Life is one of the longest things we’ll ever do but it’s also one of the shortest, try to spend that time being kind to yourself, kind and loving to others and being able to stand tall amongst the crowd, adjust your own fabulous crown and fall truly, madly, deeply in love with yourself; as beautifully, strongly and eternally as you’d love someone else too.

The Devil Wears Primark…Once. (And Then Returns It)

If you go to a fast food restaurant you can get a meal of a burger, fries and a drink for about a fiver on average. Will that meal fill you up and curb those hunger pangs? Yes. Will it be delicious? Yeaaaaaah probably…I mean I’m 24 going on 25 and yet to have a bad McDonalds (other fast food chains are available but I’m a McDonalds gal thru and thru) Will it be nutritious? Debatable. If it what’s you can afford and what you fancy; having it every once in a while won’t do you any harm.

Now if you think about the flip side to this, if you were to dine out somewhere else, having a near identical meal (handmade burger, triple cooked chips, fancy soft drink… can ya picture the type of gastropub I mean), somewhere that sourced local produce, paid the farmers, the cleaners, the waiting staff, the chefs all properly and fairly. Somewhere that considered the food miles that occurred to make that single plate of food and the overall environmental impact of each dish. Would it taste the same as a fast food option? Absolutely not.¬† Would it cost as little as ¬£5? Also a hard no.

When it comes to food and what we’re consuming, we’re all pretty much aware of where our food comes from or what things we should be eating.¬† We know that if we had the money and the budget, ideally, we should be purchasing fresh, organic produce. It’s easy for me to preach that behind a computer screen, knowing that not everyone can afford that lifestyle; I certainly can’t! We’re raised to think about our ethical footprint when it comes to the food we consume but why in this current climate is it taking us so long to consider our fashion footprint and how to become a conscious consumer of clothes?

Up until quite recently, I was really naive to what fast fashion and being a conscious consumer really meant. To me I’d hear the phrase ‘conscious consumer’ and think of someone dressed head to toe in hessian sacks and singing kumbaya. I had my head stuck in the sand when I’d shop ’til I dropped; , contently filling my basket with all the latest garms. Within the last 18 months, you see these phrases more frequently used in the press and in informative documentaries all about what goes on behind the scenes, teaching the audience to be more mindful; and how to put their most conscientious, ethical (but still bang on trend) foot forward.

If the term fast fashion is completely new to you, let me bring you up to speed a bit.¬† Within the last few decades, the way in which consumers shop for clothes has changed massively. With an influx of more and more fashion retailers adorning each and every high street and each corner of the internet; it’s easy to see why low cost, fast fashion retailers really took off. They take the styles and designs seen from top, high end fashion houses, reproducing them quickly for a lower cost (and quality) for the consumer. This then in turn gives the customer the ability to get on board with the identical trend for a fraction of the price.

So what does this have to do with being ethical and how does it negatively impact the planet? So these practices often rely on offshore manufacturing processes where labour is so much cheaper; paying low wages and not taking into account if there are adequate health and safety practices in place. Not only is it not ethical for humanitarian reasons. For other human beings to pay the price for some cheap garments but by the time your outfit gets to store it’s got more air miles on it than the average gap year student.

Becoming a conscious consumer isn’t dressing head to toe in hessian sacks and singing Kumbaya.

To maintain the cheap price of these fast fashion items, often the materials used are of a cheaper, lower quality so they don’t last as long and then get thrown away after a small handful of uses.

Now, I completely understand that the price of clothes is something of a sticking point. Not everyone can afford to buy high quality clothing. Not everyone can physically access shops that stock items like these. I realise there is an amount of privilege that comes with being able to afford to shop this way. I don’t want to offend or isolate anybody with what I’ve written here, I’d be deeply troubled with myself if that was the case. I just wanted to share some ways that even if you can’t quit your fast fashion habits, or you can’t find clothes to fit you from other stores, how you may benefit from some of these simple solutions.

  • Search on Depop/Ebay/Facebook Marketplace.

There are numerous different apps and sites like this. Whether you’re looking at it as a simple way to make some extra dosh or even peruse the shelves of other online wardrobes. It’s an ideal way to find a new outfit on the cheap, whether you’re looking for something from a high street brand, something a bit off the cuff or a designer label; apps like this have got you covered. It can be a bit of a hassle going through the to-ing and fro-ing with individual sellers but the good majority of the time the individual sellers are good. With most corners of the internet you’ll find¬†those¬†types of people trying their luck, to get a vintage, one of a kind item for about 34 pence with postage and packaging chucked in too as if you’re doing them the favour! Nah.

  • Shop Second Hand or in Charity Shops.¬†

One of my all time favourite pastimes is spending time browsing in different charity shops. Not only will you feel good for getting a top notch bargain but you’ll also get that warm, fuzzy feeling inside knowing the money you’ve spent in store is being put to a good use. Compared to buying in a high street, conventional shop, it might be harder to find the exact thing you’re after but you might come home with something even better or even something designer. Ask the staff if you’re looking for something in particular they might see something come in and keep it aside for you or let you know when they’re restocking days are. Some charity shops aren’t the most accessible to everyone from not stocking a wider range of sizes, being quite small and narrow which isn’t ideal if you’re wheelchair bound. I recently was invited to the Julia’s House new superstore in Poole, Dorset to have a nose around click the link here to have a read of what I thought (and what I purchased!)

  • Browse vintage stores.¬†

If I had all the money in the world I’d love to be able to spend a fortune in vintage or antique stores. Preferably with someone just a few paces behind me with a big bag picking up everything I scream ‘OMG WANT THIS’ at. I like that the clothes (books and home bits too) have more character to them and you definitely won’t see someone wearing the exact same outfit at an event. If shops like this are a bit few and far between near you online sites like eBay or Antiques Trails Maps are great to search for a particular piece.

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  • Host a Clothes Swap.

If you’re like me and have a wardrobe that’s pretty much busting at the seams, get all your friends together, invite them over for a night in of nibbles, drinks and tell them to bring all their unwanted clothes. One (wo)man’s trash is another (wo)man’s treasure and all that jazz? You never know, that top you’ve been eyeing up that your mate wore before, they might be planning to get rid of it and it’s your ideal time to swoop in. OR similarly, if you want to be tooootally extra and definitely end up in The Good Place; organise something like this on a much grander scale. Find somewhere locally, village hall, school hall or something and do it for charity. Inspire your local community to come along with all of their unwanted wears and feel like a mini Gok Wan with all the sustainable clothes swapping going on around you.

  • Make your own.¬†

To some, this might sound utterly AWFUL and the sheer thought of trying to make your own clothes is as tempting as heading out the door wearing a bin bag and empty cheese & onion crisp packets as shoes. If this sounds like something you’d be genuinely interested in doing or at least trying out there are hundreds and hundreds of of guides, templates and kits to get you started on these types of things. They’re available online on sites like Etsy, in haberdashery shops or places like Hobbycraft. Or just simply hang onto that mini sewing kit that comes in your cracker at Christmas, spend some time with your nan and learn how to re-sew on a button or how to make something that’s slightly worn look like you bought it that way.

  • Try to shop as trans-seasonably as you can.

It seems like fashion these days cover literally eventuality you could possibly imagine. Once upon a time people bought clothes to wear until they either physically grew out of them or to the point they were beyond repair. These items would be turned into handmedowns or sometimes even used as old cleaning rags. I know I’ve been in the position if I’ve got a party or an event coming up rather than raiding my own wardrobe and wearing that little black dress I’ve worn for the umpteenth time it is far more tempting to hop onto my laptop and check out what dress I can find online for a tenner with next day delivery thrown in you say??? Count me in! Rather than buying something that’ll be in style here and now, perhaps consider something that’ll last a lot longer over the years and you’ll be comfortable to wear it for a multitude of different occasions.

  • Shop smarter.

Emma Watson is endorsing the 30-wear promise which is the ethos that before purchasing an item you need to consider if you’ll wear it 30+ times. This is something that I’m trying to consider when I shop for clothes more often. My personality and style can be quite spontaneous and often I’d pick out items on a whim that I think looks cool at the time and then take it home and sit on my bed staring at this garish crop top covered in Furbies and I’ll catch myself and think ‘….What was I THINKING?!’. So next if you’re like me and considering trying this new shopping stance too, next time you buy something new, think about whether you genuinely will wear it more than just the once and then after that it’ll just sit in the back of your wardrobe until the dreaded annual wardrobe-clearing-out task.

 

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  • Create a capsule wardrobe.

I religiously watched Gok’s Fashion Fix when I was in my teens, not only because it seemed like it was the only thing on telly at the weekends when I was avoiding doing my homework but also because I found it fascinating watching this guy on tv completely transform a rather regular piece of clothing with such ease. His outfit would be pitted against the designer equivalent and nearly always his would win. Probably wouldn’t make ideal viewing really would it if everyone actually voted to say the Prada one was far, far nicer than his safety pin improved number though, would it? My point being is that not only would Gok teach regular folk from up and down the UK how to jazz up a plain outfit but he’d teach something also vitally important; body confidence and how to create the perfect capsule wardrobe. Learning how to create different, fabulous looks from the same few items of clothes, jazzing them up for some occasions, dressing them down for others.

  • Quality not quantity.

I know, that statement kinda stinks of privilege. Personally, I can’t afford to shop high end and often you can get several outfits for the same price as one singular fashion item in a pricier store. I’ve bought numerous items basic items from high street shops for just a couple of pounds and then I whinge and moan when they fall apart just a few wears later. Rather than buying five ¬£5 basic t-shirts would it have been more cost effective if I bought one ¬£25 t-shirt that didn’t fade and

  • Shop Sustainable Brands

A lot of high street retailers often seem to be cashing in on the whole sustainable. Call me a cynic, but if you want to make an impact and actually be an ethical trader don’t limit that to just a few shelves out of a bustling shop full. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a start, a step in the right direction but surely it’s no more or less ethical. I’ve noticed more lately that there is a real uprising of ethical traders and brands coming through with gorgeous pieces of clothing.

Know The Origin

Doc Cotton

House Of Sunny

Beulah London

Ninety Percent

Sometimes, what you need to consider is that if you’re paying a lower cost for an item, someone, somewhere else is picking up the rest of the tab for that. When you shop locally with an independent retailer. You are supporting a person, you’re supporting a family, a household with income. You might be helping a Mother pay her mortgage, a Father help to pay for his child to go for extra curricular lessons or just helping a person chase their dream and afford to actually live. When you buy from a big fast fashion retailer you are only lining the pockets of the fat cats at the top.

Why Visiting Stourhead Is A Must in the Autumn!

Stourhead House and Gardens is a picturesque National Trust property on the Wiltshire/Somerset border in England. It’s one of my favourite beauty spots near me, as it’s a wonderful place to go for a tranquil nature walk, take in the colours of the season or just to absorb yourself in some gorgeous architecture and local history.

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Image taken from regencyhistory.net. 

The estate was previously owned by various different wealthy families before being sold to the National Trust in 1946. The house had suffered a fire in the early 1900s but was rebuilt shortly afterwards near on identically. The gardens have been adapted over it’s time with architect, Henry Flitcroft, adding the Temple of Ceres in 1744, the Temple of Hercules in 1754 and the Temple of Apollo in 1765.

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The lake was artificially created with a path surrounding it which is meant to evoke the journey of Aeneas descent into the Underworld. Henry Hoare, a member of the Hoare family who owned this estate for many generations, was an renowned art lover and collector; basing the design and concept of the gardens on one of his favourite artists pieces, Aeneas At Delos.

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The five arched palladian bridge looks pretty against every seasonal backdrop and just like the setting of Pride and Prejudice.

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The Temple of Apollo.

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On the left is a view of the Grotto and on the right is the Temple of Flora.

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Inside of the Grotto looking out onto the lake.

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Inside of the Grotto.

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The Pantheon hidden amongst the Autumnal trees.

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As mentioned previously, this is a National Trust property and you have to pay on entry unless you have a membership. If you’re visiting the area and are interested in nature/ history and architecture I’d say Stourhead is well worth a visit. It’s a short drive away from the a303 and as far as I’m aware there aren’t any buses to get there so it’s only really accessible by car.

For those that are wheelchair reliant, or are taking pushchairs, the paths around the gardens and running adjacent to the lake are fairly flat but unfortunately there are steps to get inside a lot of the Temples and the Grotto. To get from the gravelled car park down to the house and gardens is a series of slopes. There are free, all-terrain wheelchairs to borrow and a six seat buggy to go around the gardens as well.

 

Visiting The New Julia’s House Charity Shop in Creekmoor, Poole, Dorset. *

Last Tuesday, I was kindly invited by Sarah from Julia’s House to attend an exclusive blogger’s evening at their newly refurbished store in Creekmoor, Poole. Not only was I excited because this was my first proper blogger event invite, one with other, actual bloggers present (yay!) but Julia’s House is a well known charity foundation in my area and naturally I was so thrilled to be personally invited by them. Oh and also because I am a massive¬†charity shop fan. I’m always on the hunt for a good bargain. I’m like the personification of a magpie for these sorts of things.

Speaking of being a massive charity shop fan. I became a literal massive charity shop fan. The Creekmoor site is one of the biggest charity shops on the south coast. Facts on toast from here on out.

So when Mum and I arrived,¬† we were greeted by one of the staff members, taken through the store, eyeing up stuff as we went (on the evening we were lucky enough to be given 20% off of everything we purchased. So if you can hold on until the end to see all of my new goodies I promise it’ll be worth it!) and were lead out to a meeting room, waiting with all the other bloggers. Sarah, led a short talk explaining to us all about their story, what they do and showed us a video of one of their parents of a Julia’s House child and their experience.

For those of you reading this who aren’t based in the South West of England you might not be fully aware of what Julia’s House is, what they’re about and the work they do. Prior to Tuesday evening, my knowledge wasn’t hugely extensive on all the exact ins and outs either to be honest. I knew they were a children’s hospice and had a lot of charity shops in my local area but that was about it.

So, Julia’s House was created from an idea a paediatric nurse named Julia Perks had. As she worked in the healthcare industry and with very poorly children, she noticed there was something¬†still missing. She dreamed of creating a space or support network for the families who are struggling with caring for a life-limited child. Somewhere, where the child can receive the care and support they need as well as it being a place where the whole family can go or can turn to and feel like they’ve also got a lifeline. In a devastating turn of events, Julia sadly died from cancer and never got to see her dream become a reality. Her friend, Mike Wise, and a small group of dedicated supporters to kindly took the reigns of her brilliant idea and through their tireless efforts and fundraising they got the charity off the ground, employing their first two community nurses; who’d offer families some respite by visiting directly at their homes.¬†Now, one of the first community nurses is still working within Julia’s House and is the Director of Care!

They’ve got a hospice in Poole, Dorset and another one in Devizes, Wiltshire which provides either day or overnight care to the poorly little ones and gives the affected families a chance to have some time out for themselves, to catch up on day to day things or spend with their other children whilst knowing their child is in a safe, home away from home environment. That’s one of the brilliant things I took away from this evening is that Julia’s House don’t just care about the affected child they care for the entire family. Offering and providing experiences such as shopping or spa trips for tired Mums, motor racing day trips to Thruxton for weary Dads, week long residential trips for the siblings to get to know other children/teenagers in a very similar position and giving them a good chance to get away from it all and all their worries. They cover all grounds, making sure no one is left behind and have launched something called Great Mates. A social get together for all the aunties, uncles, nannys, grandads, grans, grandpas, family friends and basically anyone who’s closely involved with the care of a Julia’s House child.

Considering only¬†5% of Julia’s House is government funded it really humbled me to think, firstly, just how lucky I am to be who I am. I’ve never struggled and I don’t know where the children, the families, the friends, the nurses and the staff get their strength and resilience from to wear a brave face, smile and carry on each day. How do people just learn to cope when they’re told the worst? Secondly it really brought it home to me, just how charities like this must really rely on their fundraisers, their donations, their sponsors, patrons and the customers in each of their charity shops.

So now you’re as clued up on everything Julia’s House as I am; let’s get onto the topic of the new Creekmoor store I visited. I wasn’t really sure what I was going to be expecting. I’d seen a few pictures on twitter and heard raving reviews about it but like all these things you always want to make your mind up for yourself. Upon arrival, I was instantly drawn in by their wicked Halloween display. After years of working in retail I know the pain and the pleasures of pulling off an A* dressed window and how it can entice someone into a store. I was told this wasn’t going to be like any other, ordinary charity shop. There was no dingy and damp smell and definitely no moth ball in sight! It truly lived up to the hype of being an Instagrammer’s dream.¬† From childrenswear, to designer garms, homeware, a cosy library nook and even an exclusive, bridal suite this definitely didn’t feel like any ordinary charity shop. Toto we defo aren’t in Kansas anymore!

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After Sarah had finished her talk with us all we were shown around the shop by the manager, Dave. In this day and age, not only is fashion sustainability something that is at the forefront of a lot of people’s minds but the importance of reusing and recycling is too. The team here made sure they put everything to good use that they could possibly and the surplus furniture they didn’t know where to place they fashioned into display cabinets. It’s super quirky and fabulous.

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This is the children’s section with this incredible Doctor Who style tardis changing room for children. This was handmade just for this store, and strangely enough, in a bizarre turn of events it’s not the only one they have in here either! Someone from Wiltshire heard about it and gave it to the store. It’s weird and wonderful and totally sums up this whole store. On the outside it looks like any other Julia’s House shop but once you’re inside it’s so¬†much bigger and better than you’d have envisaged. Oh and not forgetting the fab lady stood in front. That’s Claire and she was on hand as our very own personal stylist for the evening.¬† She oozed, style, passion and charisma and was the perfect person to be championing the store and also me into buying loads. They were all so passionate about this place, the cause and you could tell they were all so proud of the newly refurbished store. After all, they were the ones that had¬†literally¬†put in all the hard work!

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Never have I seen so many Tardis’s in one place?! The attention to detail to every inch of this store is so inventive.

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To the left of the children’s area was the gorgeous Bridal room. To access it, you have to book an appointment in order to treat yourself to a proper Say Yes to The Dress style experience for a fraction of the cost. As we all gathered inside, I was taken aback by the glitz and glamour and was a little bit shocked to see such beautiful gowns! Not that I was expecting them to be horrible but they all looked lovely. All the gowns were either donated as secondhand or from bridal shops that had closed locally. All the dresses are priced under ¬£300 and as wedding shopping / budgeting goes that’s still a massive bargain!

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It’s a lovely and big secluded area of the shop so you can try on and get a feel of what your style is.

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It just goes to show not everything you’d see in a charity shop looks like something your great Aunt Ethel would have worn in the early 1900s. These gowns are utterly fabulous and you wouldn’t believe you could get it for such a cheap price in a charity shop?!

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I love the extra little touches dotted around from the classy chandelier in this room and the big glass full of flowers.

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You can see even more dresses and wedding outfits available here too. Whether you’re looking for bridesmaids, or for little lads to look dapper on the big day there’s so much choice.

Similarly, they also did some nice prom style dresses. After speaking to Sarah at the end of the evening I found out that the team at Julia’s House went to one of the nearby schools with loads of Prom dresses and gowns, some drinks and nibbles and the school girls sorted their outfits out in style and for a good cause too. Prom can be such a big deal at school, well everything seems like a big deal at school at least! Everything from the outfit, the makeup, the hair, the vehicle you arrive in is seen by the rest of your year group and it feels like the biggest event in the world at the time. So to be able to get a decent dress much cheaper and much more ethically would have meant a great deal to those school children.

From the bridal room we then moved into my favourite place in any charity shop; the book section. I can’t help but raid the shelves and see what new read I can find and Creekmoor offered an even better alternative to the usual few shelves. A whole library room!

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Complete with this comfy leather sofa and a few chairs dotted about the room; this space just looks ridiculously cosy to settle in and sink your teeth into a new book. As mentioned previously (and I’m sure i’m going to mention it a few more times before this post is out) I love all the tiny details the team have used to tie each room together. The cowhide rug, the rustic makeshift table, the vintage typewriter (not for sale unfortunately for me) could confuse you for being in a vintage store, Urban Outfitters or somewhere similar to that! You could easily wile away your time in just this section alone before perusing the shelves and grabbing an armful of new books. They’re ¬£1 each or two books for ¬£1.50 unless marked otherwise and in my opinion you can never have too many books!

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I really love the ingeniousness of using these surplus to requirement snowboards as¬† bookshelves. It’s so clever, so good to reuse them for another purpose and it also looks SO cool.¬† Notice anything peculiar about the wall either??? Well, it’s wooden doors!? Seriously I’m astounded at the creativity that went into organising this site and into making it what it is. It’s beyond clever.

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The vintage typewriter. There were several items like this dotted around the store. It gives the place so much character, adds to the character and I’ve noticed in my local Julia’s House charity shop they have some donated items just for display purposes.

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Coming out of the library nook is the men’s section. The way Dave and the team spoke about it made me realise how some charity shops are actually quite poor when it comes to bits for men. It got me thinking whether it’s a just a slight difference between the shopping habits between men and women. Are men more likely to go into a shop knowing exactly what they want to purchase, buy that specific item and leave whereas women are perhaps more prone to enjoy the general shopping experience and like to browse as they go. Is the Great British high street and fashion retail in general primarily aimed at women more than men. There are endless shops just for women’s fashion compared to how many there are just for men; so is it inevitable that there are going to be more women’s clothes ending up in charity shops and as secondhand items compared to men’s? I feel like I’ve run away with myself on a real tangent there but it’s something you can think about, ponder on and get back to me with your thoughts!

Creekmoor, stocked a big range of men’s clothes, a huge wall of shelving of dvds and games as well as a super impressive, big vinyl record collection.

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Right by the front door is a large area of women’s clothes, shoes and bags. Ranging from designer labels like lovely Hobbs dresses to high street togs from the likes of Zara, Marks & Spencer and Topshop. Everything felt of good quality and

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As you can see, I was quite snap happy this evening. Rows of old fashioned Singer sewing machines adorned the top shelves of the shoes section.

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On the other side of the shop was all of the homewares. They laid it out like it was a proper department store. With a kitchenwares section with electronic items to plates, glasses and other little knick-knacks. A bathroom section almost with an array of different skincare and beauty products all unused and unopened, perfect if you’re on a budget. They used donated wallpaper or off cuts to create the look for each section and each room and I’m really impressed with the thought and attention to detail here. It’s something I’d have never thought of and probably wouldn’t have even realised had it not been brought to my attention. I sound like a broken record but I’m honestly so impressed with all this effort. It helps customers visualise each item when they draw it all together and lowkey makes you want to get more as it all looks so good altogether!!

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I love the quirky furnishings. I can’t wait to deck out my future home with funky little pieces like this. It’ll be like a storybook of random pieces and like Phoebe Buffay did my shopping.

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This section had real Cosy Club / Lounge vibes. It’s eclectic and fun. In my opinion vintage or vintage style pieces like this have so much more life and character about them compared to a simple (Read boring) frame.

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Opposite the till area are these two changing areas.

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five points if you can spot me.

Well done for making it this far! This is probably my personal record for the most pictures used in a blog post. So I do apologize if it’s quite laggy to open and load this blog post but trust me it’ll be so worth it! As I mentioned previously, we got given 20% off of everything we purchased on the night and I picked out some bargains I want to show off to you all.

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I picked up this faux succulent for my room. I redecorated my bedroom back in August going with a really neutral vibe with white walls, keeping the same furniture and generally having a bit of a clear out. I’m using soft furnishings and duvet covers to bring in splashes of colour here and there and also means I can change the theme as I wish. At the moment I’m alternating between a green leafy duvet cover and then a pink and grey floral design. This was only ¬£2 as well?!

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I love little trinkets and quirky pieces and spotted this old fashioned, vintage atomizer nestled in amongst some other homewares. I just thought it was quite pretty and I can’t wait to feel like Sophia Loren spritzing myself with my fancy schmancy new atomiser.

As I was browsing the clothes I proudly proclaimed that I’ve got SOOOOO much black clothing and couldn’t possibly need anymore, that I was finally going to get something with a bit of colour. Flash forward to about 15 minutes later when I spotted this off the shoulder sheer blouse; it slipped right into my basket without even a second thought. I love items like this though, whether you want to dress it up with some skinny, cigarette trousers for a smart casual look or layer it with a mini skirt and tonnes of black kohl eyeliner and some silver jewellery for a cool going out out style.

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Lastly I picked up this hefty and totally random selection of books. I love reading as you may have already guessed by now! But something I’m really proud of is that my taste in the genre of books I read is fluid and always changing. I’m really keen to broaden my mind as and when I can. As much as I love reading a light hearted chick lit novel I also really enjoy reading social psychology books and things that make me really think. I picked up Single, White Female by John Lutz; the book the film is based on. I love books that you can’t put down until the very end and I definitely think this book will be just like that. I got The Circle by Dave Eggers which I picked up after a skim read of the blurb. The Circle is about a company (called The Circle obvs) that runs the internet and now basically runs everything. The main character starts working for them and slowly but surely notices a sinister truth about this place. Sounds interesting, right!

Next up is Big Bones by Laura Dockrill which is all about the day to day trials and tribulations of a young fat girl. It sounds fun and honest and as someone who was also the young fat girl I’m so glad to see she’s not the laughing stock, the cliche butt of the joke because she’s a larger person. I got Wilde Like Me by Louise Pentland. I know I’m a bit late the party with this one but it was ¬£1 and I like nice to read chick lit which I’ve heard this is.

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Like I say, my reading history is eclectic and random as anything, my next purchase was Jon Ronson’s Them: Adventures With Extremists. Jon talks about his experiences of meeting different extremists around the world and discovered the one thing they all have in common. Probably not an ideal book to reading on the train or in Costa to avoid funny looks. I got Worth Dying For by Tim Marshall which is all about trying to understand the histories, the power and politics of the symbols that people rally around, the symbols that unite us and also divide us.¬†Aaaaaand last but by no means not least; I got Tequila Mockingbird combining my two favourite things, alcohol and literary based puns. This book contains a glorious collection of all the best tipples and I can’t wait to put this book to good use. Y’know for research purposes obvs…I’m doing this for you guys.

I’m so glad I said yes to going along to this fabulous event I got loads of great new bits, learnt loads about this wonderful foundation and feel like the money I spent that evening will have inevitably helped even just a tiny bit. If you’re local to the area I’d really recommend popping in if you’re near to Poole or Bournemouth. This really isn’t like any old charity shop you’d find on your local high street.

Or simply, if you can take anything away from this blog post I implore you to have a root through your local charity shops. Not only will you be giving back to those who need it most, it’s more sustainable than buying brand new clothes or homewares and most of the time you really wouldn’t even know it’s from a charity shop! Plus it’s much cheaper way of shopping plus you never know what might take your fancy!

*I got invited to this blogger event in exchange for writing a blog post / review about it. Even though it was an invited experience all my thoughts, feelings and opinions remain authentic, true to me and genuine.

Whistling Down The Wind.

Hello how you diddling? It’s been a little while hasn’t it?! I’ve been stopping and starting with writing on here for too long now for the silliest of all reasons. Either I wasn’t really feeling it, I didn’t like what or I was writing or I kept starting it off by saying ‘Hey Hey’ and that sounded more like Krusty the clown from The Simpsons than it felt like I was being cool and quirky. So hello, how’s that for size?

I’ve neglected this blog and nearly all my social medias recently I think means a proper little chatty catch up post is definitely in order. So settle in grab a cuppa and a slice of something delicious and let’s have a little catchy uppy shall we?

So where on earth do I start…Theresa May resigned from being Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Game Of Thrones came to an end, Britain flopped (as per usual) in Eurovision all in the same month that I had a complete social media purge and deleted Whatsapp, Instagram and Twitter off of my phone and from my life. I’m not saying I hold that much of an impact and my ego is the size of the moon BUT it’s a bit of a coincidence isn’t it just?!

I deleted a few of my socials for a number of reasons really. Firstly, I have literally no storage space on my phone and I value other apps and a plethora of saved memes over me constantly scrolling on Insta like there’s no tomorrow. Secondly, without sounding like a knockoff Marie Kondo, but these apps didn’t spark any joy so why did I really¬†have them? I felt like I was mindlessly clicking on it, almost out of habit, seeing that my life wasn’t nowhere near as good or well put together like others online. I know that with Instagram you only ever see the good aspects of peoples lives; no matter how gratifying it would be to know your favourite fashion blogger or influencer spends all morning cleaning her oven and then eats own brand cheesy beans on toast for tea.

Without all these apps I’ve found that I’ve actually spent a lot less time aimlessly on my phone. God knows how people procrastinated before the telly, internet and social media were invented?! Because of this, I’ve been quite productive in other aspects of my life (apart from on here apparently!) and now I¬† feel a lot less inclined to post something for the sake of posting, or to keep up with a theme or because I haven’t posted in a few days and I might lose a follower. In the grand scheme of things for me, Life is far too short to worry about tiny, little details like that in my opinion.

I’ve become quite lax, maybe a little bit too much so, with posting on here. Which to be honest makes me quite sad. Blogging used to be one of my favourite pastimes and something I could always rely on lifting me out of a funk and lately it’s felt like a blimmin’ chore more than anything. I’ve questioned whether this whole thing is even for me, whether i’m good enough, whether there’s space for me and this little old blog in this growing community anymore and whether anyone actually even really cares. Then once I got over myself I realised I do this for me. To have my own personal journal online for me to look back on and see how far I’ve come, what I’ve been doing and for you all to judge if you so wish.

But, I’ve been toiling away on loads of new content, which I realise makes me sound like such an arse. Like I’m an actual investigative journalist covering topics of civil war in third world countries not that you’re getting one rambled post about cookies once every three months. Can’t win ’em all. Jokes aside I’d love to be able to write about the former, covering such huge topics and bringing them to light, I honestly don’t think I’d have the brain power or the vocabulary to speak about such subjects in a way. I’ve had a bit of a shake up and rebrand around here so it may look a bit different and some new ideas will be coming out to play as well. Think of me like a hermit crab, the exterior may look a bit different but on the inside it’s still the same old, Ab (salty, crabby and always walking sideways apparently)

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I’ve been going through the motions a lot in my own head recently. I’m 24 and I just feel like I haven’t achieved anything of significance in my life so far. Like I didn’t expect I’d have amounted to much but I was hoping my roaring twenties would have been more fulfilling than it has been so far. For all those pop culture vultures out there, do you remember when Gemma Collins was in Big Brother and she exclaimed to Tiffany Pollard ‘This is gonna be a long slog, this life for me’ well I FEEL that.

So rather than sit back, mope around like I’m about to sing the sad song in the prelude in the musical of my life. I’m going to try my best to push myself out of my comfort zones and do things, make memories, create stories and genuinely live my best life. Not just look like I am online. I’ve got a notebook, a very cool leatherbound one and I’ve filled it with everything I hope to do or achieve in life. From big things to little things from finding a career I fall head over heels in love with to learning to drink whisky like a cool girl in a smoky parisian jazz bar. It’s probably not something I’m willing to share online right now mainly cos it might read like the ramblings of a mad woman who just really wants to learn how to ride a pony. But I’m hoping this’ll give me a sparkle and a newfound lease on life.

Hopefully it won’t be too long til the next time you hear from me. Have a fab weekend. Ab x