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

AD| Testing Out The Pro Co’s Cruelty Free Facial Serums*

*This post contains gifted items from a paid collaboration*

Helloooo! How are you? Here’s a fun fact for you all…Can you believe this is my 100th blog post on here! One hundred?! How mad is that? I thought, what better way to celebrate this milestone than with a fresh new beauty post. It’s been a while since I’ve shared something beauty/skincare related so I’m super eager to be able to write about some new products I’ve received recently and share my thoughts on them with you all.

I’ve become something of a skincare aficionado over the last few years, it’s how I destress and I see it as my time for some self care. I can sit back, relax, pamper and reflect on everything going on in my life and have a few moments of solitude. I started out with a rather simplistic approach, thinking face wipes were the best thing since sliced bread and the occasional dollop of moisturiser here and there. Nowadays i’ve got enough lotions and potions you might mistake my vanity table for a miniature apothecary or just a small Boots store.

When I got offered the chance to try out some new facial serums from The Pro Co I couldn’t believe my luck so of course I said yes pleeeeeaaaaaase! I will admit that this company is one that I hadn’t actually heard of beforehand but nevertheless I’m really glad I’ve discovered them now! I know that sounds dead cliche when it comes to reviews you read online and it’s rare to find someone who doesn’t say that or say something that’s just a non stop glowing report! But I genuinely mean that. I really like the morals and ethics this company holds and they align with those that I look for before purchasing any new beauty products. I’ve been transitioning over to cruelty free brands this year so I was so pleased to see they are one too!

  • As a brand it’s got a much lower environmental impact compared to some others which gets major brownie points from me! The packaging is 98% plastic free.
  • It’s cruelty free.
  • Paraben and SLS free.
  • Vegan.
  • Made from clean ingredients.
  • Good value.
  • Made in the UK too!

I was looking to buy some similar serums in TK Maxx just the other day but as it’s so close to Christmas; I was hoping Santa might have popped some in my stocking! So it was like December 25th came early when I opened this parcel at the weekend.

Cruelty free serums

I received an eye serum, a retinol face serum and a vitamin C and hyaluronic acid super serum too. Each bottle is priced at £7.99 currently and I think considering it’s of good quality and you get 30mls that’s really good value. When you twist the lid off, inside is a squeezy pipette. A little amount goes a long way so this type of investment would last a long time.

Cruelty free serum

So first things first, The Pro Co. recommend you to start off using 1 to 2 drops of the Cruelty Free Super Serum to a fresh, cleansed face first thing in the morning. This’ll set you up for the day giving you a gorgeous glow through whatever life throws at you. The 20% vitamin C serum contains Kakadu plum; which is one of the richest sources of vit C don’tcha know! It also contains orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit, pineapple, watermelon, jasmine, fennel, bergamot and olive extracts giving it a lovely citrusy scent making it super refreshing and the perfect thing to wake you up and refresh you in the morning.  The benefits of this serum are:

  • The vitamin C and all of those gorgeous extracts is that it not only makes it smell amazing but is crammed full of antioxidants which helps with increasing circulation and calming any inflammation too.
  • It also contains hyaluronic acid which helps enhance your skin’s natural radiance and luminosity giving you that fresh, everyday glow.
  • This in turn then helps to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines, age spots and dull looking skin.
  • It also helps to boost hydration and elasticity by stimulating the production of Pro-Collagen-I.

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Once the Vitamin C serum has had a chance to soak into your skin a little bit, they recommend dabbing one drop of the eye rescue serum gently into the skin around your eye (funny that!). This serum contains cocoa butter which helps to reduce signs of aging, as well as grapeseed oil and seaweed extract which can help sooth irritations as well as improving circulation too. This serum and the clinically proven ingredients used within it help to defy signs of aging as well as fading dark circles using advanced lightening effect technology tackling pigmentation and poor microcirculation.

You can use this serum twice daily, if you notice you’re looking a bit tired and weary after a long day dab another drop between your fingers and gently rub in. The skin around your eyes is incredibly delicate so take extra care when applying any lotions and potions in this particular area.

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Step three is applying one to two drops of the retinol serum all over your face just before you go to bed at night to help achieve that much longed for youthful glow. I was really excited to try this as I was eyeing up a retinol serum just the other day and by chance I get sent one so I’m really thankful for this turn of events.

I won’t lie, sometimes in this day and age it feels like you need a chemistry degree to understand half the stuff you’re supposed to be slapping on your face each and every day to look like your own personal Benjamin Button. I’ve heard rave reviews from so many people about the transformation retinol has made to their skin so ever since then it’s been something I’ve been desperate to add into mine.

Retinol is found in the compounds of Vitamin A which is tremendous for skin, hair and nails. It’s a proven anti-aging powerhouse and the Pro Co. have managed to develop their retinol to be micro-encapsulated using carnuba wax, meaning it’ll be extra gentle on the skin as well as penetrating much deeper through the many skin layers so the effects you’ll see when using this will be much greater and last much longer too.

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I’ve only been using these serums a short while so I can’t give you a detailed synopsis of how my skin has benefitted from using all three but I’ll keep you all updated with my thoughts in the coming weeks about using this.

Something that really swayed me to these products, other than how they apply so nicely to my skin, I’m left feeling very smooth and not at all greasy all day long, which is something I’d usually expect more so from a luxury beauty item. But their ethics surrounding this brand is something that makes me very happy indeed. Plastic pollution is such a hot topic at the moment and it’s something that is at the forefront of my mind quite a lot when I’m doing any form of shopping. So as these products are 98% plastic packaging free it makes me feel a lot less guilty about indulging and treating myself!

If these The Pro Co products sound right up your street or you’re thinking about treating someone to a nice gift you can currently purchase them for £7.99 or if you use these links beneath to get 20% off bringing them to just £6.39!

Vitamin C Super Serum

Eye Serum

Retinol Serum

Hello Autumn!

Hello Blog Readers. Bet you didn’t think this little treacle would be flinging herself into your inbox again did ya?! But here I am waving a cyber hello to each and everyone of you reading this.

As we slip slide into the darker months of the year, it’s like the blogger in me is waking up from her hibernation ready and raring to go. I don’t know what goes on in my brain running up to June or July time but it’s just like my blogging appetite just seizes up and I revert to a child and just think sod it, I’m off on my Summer holidays I’ll see you in September! So I’m sorry about that; I  feel bad that I have been so inactive over the last few months. Actually all year come to think of it, I’ve been pretty off colour to be quite honest! But I’m hoping, praying I might have finally got my mojo back. I’m also hoping that I can stick to that because I’ve said it in numerous posts beforehand and well if you had a pound for everytime I’ve proclaimed that exact phrase you’d have enough to buy the rights and the domain to this blog and actually post on it yourselves.

 

I feel like the queen of blog post clickbait I’m forever whooping and wailing about all these posts I’m about to drop but they never come to fruition (truth be told they are still there, gathering dust in my draft folder) but I’m hoping, I must have said this about one hundred times now but they’ll be going live sooner rather than later.

So let’s have a little catch up beforehand shall we? Lemme tell you about all the things you’ll be expecting to see from this space in the coming weeks and months and all the things I want to be ranting and raving about. I went on a little Stay-cation  with my family in the middle of September to Devon and Dartmoor which was lovely and tranquil providing the perfect getaway from all the mundane day to day things you get from being at home. I’ve spoken openly about how much I want to explore a lot more of the UK and this provided the perfect opportunity for that as well as eating out plenty too. Expect a lengthy post or two about everything I got up to coming up soon.

Excitingly, I went to my first proper blogger’s event this week (yay!) and I was equal parts excited, intrigued as I was a little bit anxious and nervous. Through blogging, I’ve been lucky enough to have received some fab products all in the name of a gifted asterisk and my humble thoughts, been invited to some incredible places and also forged some wonderful friendships with both bloggers and PR representatives alike. But there was something niggling away at the back of my mind about this particular event; which with hindsight I really regret because I had such a wonderful time. I was super conscious about whether I’d be a massive ball of anxious sweat the whole evening if I agreed. When I was a manager (in a previous job role, which feels like a previous life to me now. I really do feel like I’m the reincarnation of Mr Benn sometimes) and going to regional meetings I’d always be up the night before anxious and worrying about it even though I knew every single person in that room and knew exactly what was going to happen and what pub we’d be going to after… and what drunk train we’d be getting home for that matter.  You wouldn’t believe the types who work in health! I’ve somehow run off on a tangent there, but the more I was overthinking it the more I was putting myself off. I had a superb time, I learnt loads, felt so grateful I was invited and more importantly I learnt the value of leaping outside of my comfort zone. Sometimes there’s really no harm by just saying yes. Unless it’s to drugs. Then really do say a hard no.

By doing this, it’s made me fall head over heels in love with my blog all over again. Making me want to write, to put in the effort and to explore all the different avenues I can go with this. I want to change my tack and where I want to go. I want to write about things that matter to me, things that I want to say not just because I feel like I have to. Off topic slightly but I deleted my Instagram app off of my phone and Ipad in April this year. Mainly because I ran out of storage and it was either Insta or Twitter and I use Twitter to keep in contact with real life people so like that I gave Mr.’Gram the boot. For that time I didn’t feel like I was missing out, if anything I felt much better in myself. It wasn’t being rammed down my throat how chubby I felt compared to everyone else on my feed, that I don’t holiday enough or I’m not living my best life enough. It felt great to switch off from the cyber world and switch back into the real world. I’ve recently joined Instagram again and I’m finding it so much more freeing. I’m posting for me, the here and now and the unairbrushed, honest version.

In my downtime, I’ve been relaxing by binge watching a new series or listening to a podcast. I adore Chris and Rosie Ramsey’s podcast Shagged, Married, Annoyed and it genuinely makes me howl laughing. They’re such a funny pair and I love their relationship. You can’t help but smile when listening to this. Which can often lead to some funny looks when in the public domain. I listen to this when I’m walking my dog and wonder if people catch me grinning and chuckling away like a mad woman.  Similarly, I really like the Off Menu podcast with James Acaster and Ed Gamble. As you can tell I love the simple discussion of food, introduce these two funny lads and a different celebrity each Wednesday and you’ve got yourself a party. It’s really interesting sometimes hearing about the heartwarming reasons why a certain dish or foodie item has become someone’s favourite. Whether it’s your mum’s cracking roast potatoes, the warming cup of tea your dad makes you when coming home to from a bad day or something exotic from far and wide it’s so interesting to hear the stories behind each person’s dream meal. It’s like Desert Island Discs for those who think with their bellies. Also why it’s not called Dessert Island Dish is beyond me.

What have I been watching I hear you ask???? Well I’m super glad that The Good Place is back with it’s fourth and final season. It’s one of my favourite shows to grace the small screen and I love the creativity, the weirdness and the ease of watching of this show. I’m going to be a little bit sad when it comes to an end but I think it’ll be at the right time and it won’t be like one of those shows that keeps getting dragged out and gradually gets worse and worse ’til it reaches its bitter end *How I Met Your Mother and The Big Bang Theory I’m looking at you*. I binge watched all of Unbelievable over a weekend and it’s a really thought provoking watch. It contains some quite heavy themes about sexual assault and rape so if you’re sensitive to viewing those types of things it can be quite triggering. I don’t want to give too much of the storyline and the plot away but I was moved by the kick-ass female casting of this show, the stark portrayals of assault and the horrible realities of what it’s actually like. It’s raw and heartbreaking.

Since the last time we spoke I’ve been to the cinema twice, groundbreaking information coming straight to ya. Expect this as a breaking news headline imminently. In the days of streaming services, a gazillion different choices of channels and shows on Sky, endless creative content to watch on Youtube, for me, going to the cinema and actually seeing a new release is quite a big deal. In June or July time, I went to see Danny Boyle’s summer feelgood flick Yesterday and am still happily listening to the soundtrack now. I love The Beatles and I love that this film put a sprinkling of a modern twist on so many of their classic and much loved songs. It’s a perfect Sunday afternoon watch. More recently, however I went to go see It Chapter Two in the cinema with a friend. We saw the first film together, scared ourselves half to death in the circus clown maze at Thorpe Park’s Fright Night shortly after and then promised we’d see the second one together as well. The evening was a mixture of emotions, my car overheated on the way to the cinema, but then we made up for it by gorging on a totaaaaally vegan bbq chicken pizza which was glorious. I’ve been vegetarian for coming up to two years and I’m really noticing the places that have GREAT options or so-so food options. I was so overjoyed to see they did different things aside from a margherita pizza or a mushroom risotto.

On the flipside from our delightful supper, It Chapter Two was about 100 times scarier than the first and everything I read about and more. I’m not sure if I can really, officially count me watching it however, as I had my fingers in my ears for about two thirds of the film and was thinking about what playlist to listen to on the way home and not the big scary clown on screen! Jokes aside though, cinematically it was excellent. The casting for the grown up Losers Club was spot on making the story evolution so natural, believable and perfect. Plus Pennywise was just as frightening as ever. Real talk though, if I lived in Derry, my first words to my parents would be take me to the estate agents I want to move please, please, please. Naturally, it doesn’t go into as much detail as it does in the books (find me a movie that does though) It’s nearly three hours long but so worth it as it really ties everything from the entire franchise so well together.

Soooo I think that’s it from me for now?! I feel like I’ve just spoke at you for about 20 minutes, which is essentially what blogging is when you think about it. Hopefully you’ll be seeing a lot more of me round here. I feel like I say that every few weeks but I’m not going to punish myself if that’s not the case and I’m sure you’re not going to either cos you’re a right lovely bunch. Happy FRIDAY though everyone. I can’t wait to hear/read about what you’re all up to. I’m trying to catch up with my WordPress Reader!

All the love,

Abbie x

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

T’was the Night Before Christmas.

T’was the night before Christmas, and all through the country, dashed irritable shoppers tired and hungry. Every man and their Mother pushed and shoved with their trolley, so much for this being the season to be jolly. When I was a child, Christmas was much more exciting, with the anticipation of Santa bringing presents plus family and loved ones reuniting. The older I’ve gotten the more the festive period makes me wince,from the endless shopping and burgeoning feasts fit for a prince. It makes me sound so selfish, so obnoxious and a bit of a Grinch but I want to treat my loved ones to their own private island but am seriously feeling the pinch. Christmas should be about the presence not the presents around the tree yet here I am stressed about the silly little things that shouldn’t really mean the be all and end all to me. ~ x

 

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So Christmas for a lot of people is seen as such a happy joyous occasion spending time with loved ones, eating and drinking copious amounts of rich, decadent food til you drift off to a drunken snooze in front of the Eastenders Christmas specials. But I can’t lie, this year I have felt the complete opposite of festive and if it wasn’t for the constant reminder on the tv and in shops about Christmas I probably would have been none the wiser!

I just really can’t be dealing with how manic it is at this time of year, how you have to practically hold a black belt in Jiu Jitsu just to manage your way around a TK Maxx throughout the month of December. That you ideally need a car from Wacky Races (always a Penelope Pitstop person if you ask me) to battle for a space in Tesco and the patient of an absolute saint when those relatives ask you those same questions you get every year. Yes I am still single, yes I am *still* a vegetarian and yes my hair is different now but I’m growing out my bangs. Ok now I’m just paraphrasing but you get my drift.

I used to really enjoy the festivities and everything that came along with it but I have been feeling like a right grump in comparison to a lot of people this year. I wish I was feeling it a bit more, giving the fact it is actually Christmas Eve and at the time this goes live in exactly 24 hours the big day will be nearing it’s end. As I get older the thought of all the madness, the craziness when shopping, the fact that someone spend over £850 in my local supermarket, that the shop shelves are nearing on BARE you’d have thought a nuclear apocalypse was on it’s way. God I’m such a misery aren’t I?!

Now, I’m acutely aware that in reality there is far much more to the Christmas period than the buying of gifts or shoppin’ til you droppin’ and I’m probably just feeling it even more so as I’m feeling quite poor and that I wouldn’t be able to indulge others as much as I’d like to. There’s a pressure to show your love and adoration to someone through the gift giving when the bottom line is someone who barely knows you but can exude their wealth could buy you a rolex and someone who cares for you a great deal could write you a thoughtful card that will mean so much more.

So whatever you’re up to this yuletide, on December 25th 2018 I really do hope you have a wonderful one, whether you spend it eating and drinking copious amounts of delicious festive treats, surrounded with your family (even that aunt you don’t really like) or working because as lucky as I am, and the majority are, there are plenty who have to work, or if you don’t celebrate Christmas I hope you have a marvelous day, revelling in the peace and quiet and the one day of the year when the telly has actually quite good things on. But to sum up, you’re all absolutely mint and I hope you have the best day whatever you do. ❤

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What does PR Friendly even mean?

 

The blogging community is a powerful force, one that seems to be growing in vast numbers on an almost daily basis. I’ve been been in and out of the blogging biz since 2012; way back when I was only just 17 years old and used my blog as somewhere to share my rambling thoughts, post grainy shots of what I had bought in Primark or what Barry M nail polish I was using that week. Not quite thought-provoking content with me ever eh?! I started a blog simply as a bit of fun and somewhere to fine tune my writing skills, never really thinking about it in the long term, as an actual viable source of income.

Over the years I’ve been incredibly fortunate and lucky enough to receive items gifted to me by brands for the purpose of me placing on my blog, talking about them and sharing my thoughts and opinions on them with you all. Blogging, in my opinion is fast becoming a lucrative market in which a brand can essentially get a writer, editor, publicist, marketing team, photographer and social media team all rolled into one with a blogger or content writer. Without running the risk of sounding incredibly biased, but now I’m aware of bloggers, vloggers and influencers I would trust their opinions on a gifted item much more than I’d trust that of someone who was on Love Island or Geordie Shore. For the amount of money a company would have had to have forked out to advertise in a magazine or get a celebrity to promote they could tap into the Blogosphere and get a handful of bloggers to support them instead for either just the mere price of the product or a fraction of the cost of using a celebrity to endorse it; it’s a no brainer really. 

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Attracting the attention of a brand or a PR is something I’ve always been fairly curious about if I’m honest. I know it sounds dead cliche, but it isn’t the sole purpose to a blog and if that’s the way you get into it to attract as many freebies as possible you’ll probably become bitterly disappointed. I’m sure you may even agree with me that it is is an incredibly touching thing when someone, anyone, reaches out to you and comments, or likes, or reposts what you’ve said. So when a brand says ‘Ello there! we like you a lot fancy working together?’ (I do not know why Dick Van Dyke is clearly writing them all) It is a such a genuinely nice feeling knowing that your hobby, your cheeky bit on the side, the blog you’d like to turn into a career (potentially, I don’t know maybe you do who knows??) is being noticed by actual proper non blogging folk people. 

Having said all of that I’m also fully aware some people are lucky to be able to use their blog as a source of income relying on gifting opportunities, ads and other such forms of revenue to make a living and I really can’t be any more supportive and really, genuinely happy for them! When I see people posting sponsored content or gifted reviews I’m just as thrilled to read that as I am a regular post from them. 

With being a blogger and practically living your life constantly online; your life is your brand and your brand is your life almost. Towing the line between accepting each and every gifted offer and remaining authentic to yourself can become a bit of a grey area for some. For instance, this one is a bit of an extreme example but I’m a vegetarian and for the last 6 months I have received several emails about posting about Wild Game pate’s on here and as much as I’m sure they are delicious it would be completely wrong of me to have accepted as it would be blatantly obvious I hadn’t tasted it and wouldn’t have been my honest opinions.

Similarly I mean that’s not to say if you have a niche you can only speak about one thing and one thing only. You may have started a beauty blog 6 years ago and have just moved house and want to share your renovating story with your readers. You get my drift. 

So what I’m trying to say, whilst simultaneously interrupting myself about one thousand times over, what is the secret to all of this. Perhaps you too might be one of those people that see the phrase #Prfriendly being used and it always making you wonder what that really means or even who realistically is going to be PR unfriendly? Maybe you’ve seen someone who has a smaller following than you, posts on their blog less than you but still somehow seems to be getting ALL of the PR samples under the sun and you want to be super happy for your internet friends but at the same time it kinda makes you wonder why them and not you? Do those that work in PR really sift through Bloglovin’ and Instagram searches in order to find the best people for their campaign? to what extent do brands look into the people that they ask to work with them? and do those ever popular ‘Comment your blog link, DA score and email address to be added to my PR list’ really work?

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I’ve spent the last month or so, trying to get down to the nitty gritty of it all and have the points of view from a real life PR Guru, a full time freelance writer and also from a brand who works within the blogging community too, to see what they’ve all got to say on it. I really hope this post may interest you, help you or at least pique your interest and possibly create conversation about the ins and outs of Blogger outreach. 

Jessica

Firstly to start off with we have the incredibly helpful and totally fab Jessica Pardoe also known as a PR aficionado and an all round absolute gem. She’s been a complete angel in helping me out with this. Jessica specialises in PR and blogger outreach so was the perfect person for me to quiz about everything and anything to be quite honest! I couldn’t have done this all without her help and support and if you aren’t sold on Jess enough by now please do have a browse over on her blog here at Thoughts Of Jessica. Or send a funny gif on Twitter here

what do PRs/brands look for when reaching out to bloggers?

The top thing is a blogger that fits what I’m looking for I.E. if I’m looking for someone to review a hotel, or talk about travel then I’ll only go for a travel blogger or for a blogger who’s written these kinds of posts before. It really irks me when I put out a request for bloggers and ask for something like, someone to write a recipe, and then you can tell the blogger hasn’t even properly read the request and their blog is nothing about food and they’ve never posted a recipe before. Do you get me? It just kind wastes both of our time. In terms of what I specifically look for, I like giving opportunities to bloggers who are genuine and don’t just blog for the paid posts. Cause I can’t imagine those blogs get many reads. If I head to a blog and it’s just sponsored post after sponsored post (and if the posts don’t all fit a theme) then I’ll probably blacklist it. If a blogger is genuine, and if the opportunity fits their brand then I’ll be looking to contact them. At work, we look at something called DA which is short for domain authority and it basically ranks how well established your site is. Bloggers can work on their DA in ways, but more often than not it builds itself naturally as you blog normally. I do look at social followers too, but this isn’t always relevant. It depends on the campaign and the type of sponsored opportunity.

Do they take into account the numbers/stats/media kits or do they base it off their blog content?

It’s normally blog content for me. Sometimes clients will have specific details as to how many followers they want the bloggers to have, so then it does come down to numbers, but most of the time I like to make sure the blogger is genuine, that their content suits the opportunity and above all – that they blog for their readers, and that their site isn’t just cluttered with sponsored posts that aren’t valuable. I’ll also check a sponsored post and see what the blogger’s attitude is towards them. I’ve seen bloggers before having a 100 word or less sponsored post, which is literally just a few words on a page that has no story behind it or anything. The best kind of sponsored posts are done by bloggers who make it their own, and who you can tell genuinely have an interest in the brand they’re promoting. Those are the kind of bloggers I aim to work with.

What is the best way for a blogger to reach out them and what to say?

Personally, I get a lot of pitching emails and a lot of them are so impersonal that they go straight to the trash bin. I had one the other day that read something like ‘Hi, Any posts this month?’ I had to follow up and ask what she meant, and she proceeded to say she meant sponsored posts. But I’d never worked with this blogger before. It all felt quite impersonal… Spending a few extra seconds to make your pitch relate to the PR can go a long way, we can tell when it’s a generic email. I’d say, if you have a genuine interest to work with a brand, it’s good to send an email saying why, and maybe even exampling similar work. It might take a little longer, but those extra touches go a long way and could make the difference between securing a collab and not. I also do tend to work with bloggers that I have a relationship with. If I’ve worked with them before, and they’ve got the post back to me on time and it’s been good quality, then I’ll normally contact them with new campaigns that are relevant to their blog and see if they’d like to take part before I outreach to the wider blogging community. So it pays to build those relationships.

Is there anything that would put them off like swearing in posts etc?

Not really. I think if someones f-ing and blinding on every post then I’m like, my client wouldn’t want to work with this blogger. But most of the time, this isn’t a major red flag for me. I still wouldn’t recommend it though. The biggest thing that puts me off is what I mentioned above… When you can tell a blogger is accepting every collab for the sake of things, and their blog begins to look like an advertising ground. I come across a lot of blogs where their site is 100% sponsored content, and I can’t find a genuine post they’ve written because they wanted to, or for the interest of their readers. I stay away from those bloggers because it all feels really fake. I like to work with those who have a genuine passion for blogging, and who’ll really engage with the brand.

It’s murky waters in the blogger biz at the moment but do they check for fake engagement/bots usage before reaching out?

Yessss 10000000%. I wish every PR did. At the moment there are still tools that are being developed that’ll make our lives easier in spotting fake engagement. But for now, I do always check a bloggers followers if I’m looking to work with them on a social campaign. I check their followers and their likes on Instagram normally. I can spot bots from a mile off, and I won’t work with a blogger if I do. It’s not fair on bloggers who genuinely work to get a great following. Plus, fake engagement would be of no benefit for my client, so it’s a massive no-go for me!

Arma Chameleon

From the point of view of a freelancer / blogger we’ve got the HILARIOUS lady behind @ActualAr. She’s a hoot and a half and if you don’t already stalk her Instagram stories or Twitter feed like I do (I have literally no shame…but find her tweetin’ here) check out her blog here as well. I love her honest, relaxed and down to earth approach. I don’t actually even know her name it’s like it’s kept as a Government secret I can only assume the Ar is short for Aristotle cos I actually adore everything she writes. She could rewrite my local chinese takeaway menu and it would somehow come across as the most hilarious, witty and compelling thing. 

Is there anything you’d suggest before contacting a brand or PR?

If you haven’t already done so, it’s worth putting a media kit together. You can create your own using a design app like Canva, but it’s a lot easier to use something called Webfluential (You can find the link for that here) which basically helps you put one together and collates a lot of your stats for you based on your social media profiles. It’s free too, which helps! Other things that you should try and get to grips with are your details from analytics. Brands often like to know your demographics, so who is actually reading your blog? How old are they? What are they interested in? Remember it’s important to cater to your readers when you’re looking to work with brands and PRs – it’s not going to sit well if you suddenly start reviewing washing machines if you’re a sports blogger, for example!

If someone wanted to start earning from their blog but didn’t have the foggiest clue on how much to charge how would you suggest they go about figuring that out? 

Work out what you will charge, and stick to it. It’s so easy to undervalue your work when you’re hoping to get a collaboration with a brand, but remember the time and effort that you’ll put into the post, so pitch your fee structure accordingly. Don’t let them take the piss, because if you do it once, you’ll do it again, and then you’ll never really gain traction with paid jobs.Make sure you have a terms and conditions/disclosure for work with brands and check the internet advertising guidelines carefully so you don’t end up with a nasty fine either!(Side note- I really had NO clue about this at all but here is the disclosure form from Actual Ar’s site which is so clear and concise)However tempting as it may be, don’t lift someone else’s work and use it for your own. Your blog is unique to you, and you need to make sure you set your terms and disclosures accordingly, or you will end up in murky waters. Be clear on what you will and won’t write about – it’s tempting to write any old shite for the sake of the money, but really it’s not a good strategy in the long term!

Indigo Herbs

Lastly, and no means not least I have quizzed the lovely Claire from Indigo Herbs, a Health and Wellbeing company from Somerset, England who often work with bloggers and post campaigns through Bloggers Required.

What do you look for when reaching out to work alongside a blogger?

From my perspective I’m looking for high value relevant links from the bloggers website to our product pages. For the purposes of referral and SEO. So I’m looking for a good Domain Authority; as defined by moz https://moz.com/home. (Moz measures the SEO power of website as defined by google ) so a good domain authority means the site is well indexed and visible. Social media mentions are also great as this is like personal recommendation. Anything like a giveaway of products on social media can help raise engagement of a social media post.If a blogger was to reach out to you and pitch an idea of a post what type of things would you like to see?When you are pitching you do want to share your statistics of your blog, Domain authority, monthly page visits and preferably a bit about the demographic of your audience so the brand can work out if its a good fit.

Thank you so, so much for making it to the final few words of this post. I just wanted to say a massive thank you to Jessica, Actual Ar and Claire for being so lovely and so helpful in terms of putting this all together. I’d really love to know what your thoughts are on this topic too! Have you ever reached out to a PR or a brand before? Has this post been at all helpful to you? Is there anything you agree with or possibly even disagree with?!

Once again, Thank you for reading!! A.x 

What’s in my handbag?

Hiya huns! How’s your weekend been? Mine has been quite outdoorsy for a change. It’s been really sunny and warm which I think is a little bit weird for the UK nearing the end of October; considering it’s usually a bit colder and wetter around about this time!

I thought for today’s post I would share an absolute blogger favourite AND blogger basic. It’s almost like a rite of passage to bloggerhood to post the notorious ‘what’s in my handbag’ post.I fancied throwing it back to my old blog days with engaging in more tag posts and more personal posts so you can get a chance to get to know a little bit more about me. Or if you want to mug me in the not so distant future, think of this as a preview or what you could have won.

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For my everyday handbag I actually have a backpack from H&M I purchased last year. I like a handbag or a shoulder bag but sometimes I find that it makes my arms and shoulder really ache whereas I can just shove all my stuff in a backpack and carry it with ease. So many shops have such funky types these days. Especially ones that really don’t look like you’re about to hike up Everest which is always a massive plus.

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Aside from the loose change, endless wrappers, hairbands and receipts stashed in my bag I nearly always carry these items. I always like to make sure I’ve got paper, in the form of this lovely red leather bound notebook I picked up in TK Maxx last year and a pen. It’s so useful if I need to write a list or if I need to remember something. I mean a pen and paper are always going to be handy?! I always carry a pair of sunglasses with me as you never know when you might need some shades!

I’ve got a River Island tapestry style purse that I purchased YEARS ago actually. I like it because the pattern is a bit different and it’s actually reaally big with a clasped section one side and a card holdeer on the flap as well as a big coin section.

I carry some perfume at the moment I’ve got Paco Rabanne Black XS. It’s quite a sweet, fruity and floral scent you can wear either day or night so it’s perfect for any occasion.

I think it’s always super handy to keep a little pot of Nivea’s all purpose body creme. I love the smell it always reminds me of my Mum. Plus it’s great to use as a hand cream, to feel a bit fresher or even in the colder months to dab onto skin to avoid it drying out.

I’ve pretty much always got a couple of lipsticks floating around the bottom of my bag usually in nude tones and a pair of earphones.

Lastly, and probably most weirdly. I carry dog kibble. I have a dog and I think I must have left them in their from when I take him out on his walkies. I always carry them with me now, luckily they don’t make my bag smell!

What are your essentials you always carry with you?

MUCH LOVE. X

Blogtober day 19.

Hiyaaaaa can you actually believe it is it day 19 of Blogtober and I haven’t forgotten/given up/been blocked by the whole entire Internet for constantly rabbiting on, on here. I’m not going to lie, there have been occasions where I’ve come close, overcome with the thought of what am I ACTUALLY doing this for, all it’s doing is clogging your reader page and probably annoying you. Plus I’d usually get way too deep into the thoughts of why I’m actually blogging and whether it’ll ever really pay off for me or whether I am just genuinely wasting my spare time by talking about cake and cheese on the internet. The latter is a thought I try and quash quite regularly just in case it’s the truer of the two options.

I was hoping to use this month or Blogtober debacle to showcase my writing, my skillz and impress you all with some thought provoking, good fun, good humoured content that would result in at least 5 Pulitzer prizes. It’s built in my very core to aim high even if I’ll spectacularly fail. I’ve got an embarrassing amount of drafts on here filled with half written entities that I honestly don’t know what I’m going to do with. Some of them are complete jargon I was writing at about 5 am when I wake up ridiculously early, some of them read like the ramblings of a drunk crackhead and some of them are just dog memes I don’t know where to save. Maya Angelou eat your heart out, I think not.

For me, I just love writing. Even Christmas cards, notes to the DPD driver as I’m just heading out or customer feedback surveys for restaurants and stores I’ve shopped in. I suppose one of the side effects of becoming/being a writer is the inevitable ‘struggle’ that you have to go through or face at one stage or another. Struggling writers and struggling artists are what the creative arts are almost built on. No one wants to know about Little Miss Sophia that had it all. People like to hear stories about someone that worked tirelessly, that came from nothing, that typed their fingers to the bone whilst working 3 deadend jobs and an internship, raising triplets and living on the streets all for the off chance it might make a difference and they might actually do that thing, where they work their dream job. No pressure huns.

I think I read something online recently that said that the majority of Millennial’s (‘scuse me whilst I go gag,  I actually hate that word so much. Usually because it is twinned with an equal ridiculous sentence like ‘..Millennial’s can’t afford to get on the property ladder because they’re buying too many avocado’s…’. Firstly who is making these correlations?! Secondly unless you haven’t noticed rising house prices and a dire minimum wage don’t exactly go hand in hand. Thirdly….Iceland sell a bag of 8 avo halves for £3.50.) are a lot more likely to be working in jobs they don’t want to be doing compared to the older generations. I went to a school where they practically drummed it into you to aim high, aim high, aim high and basically saying that you don’t want to aspire to work in McDonalds or as a bin collector. Shady school I know but that’s a subject for another day. But can *every* single person chase their dreams and get what they want? Surely someone has to aspire to be a happy go lucky bin collector. The ones who do it in my village look like some of the happiest people I’ve ever seen. They’re always smiling, laughing and joking with each other. They carry dog treats in case they see a dog and they get to hang about in the fresh air for a living.

Has this sense of seeking perfection always been prevalent or is it because it’s nearly 11pm on a Friday night and I’m overthinking and questioning all of my life choices up until now. Like if only I stuck with my recorder lessons back at primary school I could be the first person in the world selling sold out stadium tours with me and my recorder. If only I actually paid attention in History in my GCSEs rather than looking out the window and trying not to drift off under the spell of my teachers monotonous voice. I swear that man could make a chess game between a seal and a top hat wearing grizzly bear sound dull.

Or maybe it’s just me, overthinking everything as per usual. Feeling very much like I’m the only person in the world that isn’t living their best life or travelling Greek islands via super yacht every single summer. Wondering what if I never achieve these hopes, goals and dreams and will spend my final years cursing my younger self in my youth for not working harder and for wasting too much time toiling away in a job I despise. But maaaaaybe it’s also the weather. Like I’m just feeling a little bit lacklustre at the moment. Almost as if it’s the calm before the storm and I’m waiting for something huge to come along and shake me up and set me in a new, much more exciting direction. Or maybe I’m just sleep deprived. Who knows.

So for now, I’m going to bid you goodnight.

MUCH LOVE. X

 

Spooky things to do this October!

Host a Halloween Party.

If the thought of being the hostess with the mostess doesn’t make chills run down your spine enough at the thought of all the clearing up the next day, then plan a spooktacular Halloween party with all your nearest and dearest. Scary costumes are a must, make a awesome witches punch bowl cocktail and play games like apple bobbing, hold a pumpkin carving competition with some mini pumpkins, beer pong but fill some cups with some nice things and maybe some not so nice things or just play some good old fashioned drinking games, like never have I ever or one of my favourites if you get everyone around a table and tear up lots of little bits of paper everyone writes down as many famous people’s names as you can and put them all into a hat or a bowl. Each player gets 60 seconds to try and get through as many pieces of paper as they can, describing the celebrity without saying their name. All made so much more fun with drinks and against the clock.

Go to a Pumpkin Patch.

I think these are becoming a lot more common over the years in the UK and they seem to be sprouting up all over the place, especially across my Instagram feed at the moment. They’re really child friendly if you want to take your little ones along for a fun afternoon picking your favourite pumpkin. Or even just go along take some snaps for the ‘gram and get into that Halloween’y spirit. Did you know pumpkin carving started from an ancient Celtic tradition to help ward off evil spirits  but back in the day they used turnips. Everyday is a learning day with Abfab.

Visit a psychic medium.

I’ve visited a psychic twice and had my tarot cards read once, I’d like to think I’m quite a spiritual person and strongly believe in things like this. I went for the first time last May and wasn’t really sure what to expect nor was my friends. But we went into it with an open mind and the lady we saw did get quite a lot of things eerily correct, however she did say that I was going to get pregnant within the next 18 months and that was May 2017…

Fancy dress club nights

Bunker 51 in London are hosting the first Purge:Lockdown event, hideout in the only safe house in London and party the night away with a selection of the best DJs and live performers.

Tickle your tastebuds with a dining experience.

I don’t know about you but this sounds like an absolute HOOT. This 4 course banquet at the Ivory Vaults complete with unlimited drinks and a medieval show, acrobats and live music. Find out more from their website here. Alcotraz Penitentiary bar in London acts as a BYOB style cocktail bar decorated JUST like Alcatraz itself along with the orange prisons jumpsuits too. Check out their website here to book tickets to visit.

Scary film marathon.

Staying in is the new going out and if you’re anything like me and the thought of cuddling up on the sofa by the fire and lots of snacks sounds way more appealing than covering yourself in SFX makeup to look like Harley Quinn after a night in a Yates then Netflix or Amazon Prime have a load of great selections of Horror or Thriller films at the moment. Or scour your local charity shops and see if you can any second hand dvds to watch.

Spend a night at a museum.

Fancy getting your inner Ben Stiller on and go to a museum after dark? The Museums at Night festival is sweeping through the UK from the 27th to the 29th of October check out if there is somewhere near you just here. Similarly if these type of spooky shenanigans are up your alley why not check out the Tower of London or if that doesn’t tickle your haunted pickle why not brave the London Dungeons.

Visit a Haunted House or Haunted Hotel.

Ok for the majority of people this probably sounds a liiiiittle bit terrifying. But if you’re like me and are super intrigued and interested by the paranormal have a look on Haunted Happening’s website (Here) to see if there is somewhere near you to channel your inner Yvette Fielding. Or if you’re really feeling brave you could even stay overnight in a haunted building. Gives me the chills just at the thought of this!

Escape rooms.

Most big towns or cities have one of these and they’re a super fun way to spend an evening with friends putting your heads together to work through complicated challenges. Or if you’re after something with a bit more of a bump in the night Immersive Events are running an event in Shepton Mallet Prison called The Hole (more info here) offering several activities through the evening as well as a bar! There’s loads of these style dotted around the country. I simply typed in Halloween events near me on google map and this was the first one that shot up.

Fright Night at Thorpe Park.

I went to this on Halloween last year with one of my best mates and we had such a blast. We got there about lunchtime ish so we got through a fair few of the rides by the time it got to the evening and the fun began! We ended up queuing for the Derren Brown Experience ride for about 3 hours and by the time we were about to step foot through the door the ride had a malfunctioning problem. But luckily we got issued a fast track ticket for any one ride so decided to use it on that if it reopened again which it did and it was so good, I’d definitely recommend checking it out! They really dress the place up for Fright Night and if that is your cup of tea, as well as rollercoasters obvs, you’d really enjoy this! There’s a handful of things there specially for Fright Night including several scare mazes and the whole place has this spooky feel to it. Maybe cos it’s after dark and it feels a bit weird to be there too! It was so much fun!

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Alton Towers also have their Scarefest which I’ve just seen which looks SO COOL. I love the fact they cater for both little kiddies if they want to get into the Halloween spirit as well as for thrill seeking adults too!

Ghost walk.

I haven’t ever done one of these but I’ve always been really interested in doing one. There’s the famous Jack the Ripper walk tour you can do in London on a pinpointed route and I believe you finish off at the pub The Ten Bells where the infamous serial killer murdered two of his victims. There are many others ghost walks similar to this style in towns and cities up and down the country From Bristol to Liverpool, Bath to York it’d be a really interesting insight into the place you live.

Club nights.

Most clubs will do some sort of Halloween dress up event or something so if you fancy getting totally Chaka Khan’d dressed up as a scary zombie Noel Edmonds (Or whatever you want to go as butttttt that’s a totally good suggestion fyi). Or if you wanted to get your Halloween in true Horror film spirit Bunker 51 in London are hosting the first Purge:Lockdown event, hideout in the only safe house in London and party the night away with a selection of the best DJs and live performers.

Now if none of these options frighten you enough, you could always sit at home, with a bottle of Echo Falls and facebook stalk your exes and people you went to school with. I don’t know about you, but I know which one sounds the most haunting to me now….

What are your plans this Halloween?

Ps, sorry if I haven’t included any fun things to do in your country, I wish I could have researched everywhere because I found it honestly so interesting and so much fun! But this is almost at 1500 words as it is and I doubt people will actually read this far! It’s crazy to think I would have rather eaten my own liver than have written a 2000 word essay and now look at me, doing this type of thing for FUN. Madness isn’t it?!

Much love x