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

Things that have been irrationally annoying me this week.

Hello gang. It’s me again. I’m not really sure what’s going on with me but it’s like I’ve fallen hook, line and sinker for posting as many times as possible on here. I mean there’s worse things I could have become obsessed with; I just hope my incessant typing/need for all your approval and attention isn’t getting on your nerves haha.

January is legit the longest month of the year. Financially and emotionally speaking of course, it genuinely feels like New Year’s Day was about 3 months ago. Don’t get me wrong it’s been quite a good month for me, I’ve been trying much harder with my blog and smashed my goal for this month as well as beating the amount of pageviews I had for the previous two Januarys. So I’m buzzing with that! With that said, I think as much as I like to keep my blog and my social media’s a relatively upbeat, positive place. That being said I want to take this opportunity, on the eve of brexit, to have a real ranty post. I’ve done a few posts now on listing various weird and wonderful things that make me quite happy so I thought I’d do a similar little same, same but different vibe and have a written moany rant instead.

Should I officially change my name to Simone seeing how much I enjoy a good moan and a whinge?

  • People who ask for your advice then proceed to keep asking you for your advice until you tell them what they want to hear.

This really rattles me cage. I don’t mind this a couple times y’know we all kinda just want to hear what we actually want to hear. It’s nice to feel justified in our feelings and that someone agrees with you. But let’s be real sometimes you need someone to be honest and upfront with you; whether you want to hear that or not.

  • The price of a cocktail.

Look, I like a cocktail as much as the next basic hun but why are they all so expensive? All I want is a pretty drink but why do I have to spend £15 on two sips?

  • People who don’t wave up at crossings or in their car when I let them pass. 

This is not Abbey Road and you are not The Beatles. A simple wave, a hand up, a flick of the wrist.

  • The Weather.

spoken like a true brit.

  • Dumb life quotes you see adorned on mugs or as a wall art decal on the living room wall of the girl that used to bully you at school. 

I’m talking about the ‘live,laugh,love’ people or my LEAST favourite proclaiming I’ve got the same amount of hours in a day as beyonce <<<<3333. Yes we may have the same amount of time in a day, Sharon, If anything, thanks to daylight savings time I might have a fraction more BUT I DO NOT HAVE BEYONCE’S RESOURCES. What type of dumbass thing to live by. Y’know who’s also got the same amount of hours in a day as Beyonce? Charles Manson and so does Donald Trump and so do I. So what point are we trying to prove here?

  • ASMR vids

They’re just not for me. Noisy eating makes me want to vom I don’t wanna hear that even more intensely in my earphones.

  • Business jargon

This. Frys. My. BRAIN. I cannot deal with these silly little phrases that bosses and any form of management use to feel a bit more important excuse me whilst I go ‘cascade my thoughts back down to the lower management team’ someone pls hold my hair back whilst I vom.

  • Cardamom pods

I’m sorry I just don’t like them. It brings me immense sadness when I chomp into one mid indian takeaway.

  • Brexit

As of writing this the United Kingdom has left the United Kingdom and tbh everything to do with BrExIt MeAnS bReXiT has done my head in for the last four years. I’m really hoping and praying that this monumental decision will work out okay for those it’ll affect the most and those generations to come.

  • Coronavirus

I’m trying my best not to freak out about this. I’m anxious at the best of times and I’m trying to figure out whether I actually need a reason to panic about something else. I’m not sure how much of this information I’m reading about is genuine and how much is scaremongering. I’m like is this cold I’ve got the same cold I haven’t been able to shift since Christmas or is it gen Coronavirus?????

  • When you’re telling a story and then realise no one is ACTUALLY listening…

STORY OF MY LIFE. Is there anything more eye-roll worthy than when you realise that you’re speaking about something and no one is actually listening. You try to be that despo person and make eye contact with someone to garner some attention but alas to no avail. Urgh.

  • Other drivers

I like driving but I don’t like many other drivers. Slow drivers always seem to be out in full force especially when you’re already running late (do they know srsly??) fast drivers that are literally right up your butt as you’re driving the speed limit. Drivers that don’t indicate. Drivers that indicate for ages so you have no clue where they’re off too. Want me to go on?

  • Accidental social media liking

Y’know when you’re mid stalk on someone’s Insta profile and aaaaaaaaaaaaccidentally double tap on something and whoops that big red heart appears on the picture and you can feel your belly DROP. Yeah that feeling. There’s only pictures so far back on someone’s grid you can try to blame that on Instagram’s shoddy algorithm.

  • People FaceTiming in public

Live your life, do what you wanna do, it’s a free country but it freaks me out when I’m sat in Bath City Centre happily munching on my 3rd sausage roll on a lunch break when someone sat on the bench next to me gets me in shot as they’re having a video call with their grandma.

  • Smelly food on public transport

Smelly food in office spaces also applies too. Sorry but it’s dead rude to pull out your durian smoothie and your sushi on an already hot, cramped train carriage.

  • Clothes shopping

At the moment this is something that is proper irking me. Lately everything I’ve liked hasn’t looked at all like the image I saw on screen. Shopping in a clothes store gives me the fear as it’s usually so hot and stuffy, busy and every collar has a smudged foundation stain.

  • Katie Hopkins

No explanation needed but she can get in the bin can’t she?

  • People who complain about l i t e r a l l y anything. 

You’ll find these people front and centre of any customers service desk in any shop around the world. They’ll be loud and proud on your local town’s Facebook page annoyed that the local Kebab shop has changed the brand of ketchup and it’s an absolute outrage. Get a life Janice.

  • Hangovers

JEEEESUS. I know when people said that hangovers get worse as you get older but I’ve just turned 25 and felt like death for a few days. Honestly I would welcome intense dental surgery over the after effects of a few tipples now.

  • When you see your online order is coming with a super unreliable company

Is there anything more annoying than seeing your exciting internet present is being delivered by African land snails in 3-5000 business days.

  • Jim Davidson

 

  • When you’re tired but you can’t sleep

Is there anything more annoying than when you’re laying there literally counting down the hours of the amount of sleep you’ll get and the amount is getting less and less. 

  • Applying for jobs and never hearing anything back

The job hunt is a job in itself. From polishing up your CV to scouring your local area and the web for any form of employment. So please don’t be rude and ignore someone’s efforts. A simple round robin email is suffice enough to let someone know you won’t be taking their application any further.

Aight, so that’s that for now. Before I think myself, and you lovely lot, into a proper bad mood. But before that please do indulge me in what annoys you more than anythingggggg.

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! 

Image result for margate dreamland

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. 

 

How to apply false eyelashes*

 

*This post contains gifted items*

Ever since I was young I’ve loved anything to do with makeup, beauty items and skincare. I distinctly remember playing with my Mum’s makeup when I was little, thinking it was all so cool, all these different bits, these lotions and potions and how you could just dab this here, rub that in there and transform the way you look into a movie star. I love being able to experiment with what I wear, the style I carry and the way I  look with a bit of makeup. I see it as so much more than just a thick layer of war paint, a protective coat of armour to make me feel a bit more confident, something to enhance the way I look but also as a way of self expression. I view my face and my skin as a blank canvas and I’m free to decorate it how I see fit. Whether I want a permanent tattoo, semi permanent piercings, hair dyes or a bold statement eye look it’ll reflect me and my personality and I’m so happy changing it as I see fit.

I was recently contacted by Jenny from falseeyelashes.co.uk and she kindly offered to gift me some false eyelashes to share on my blog/social media channels and to show off the fab looks I’ll be creating and the side eye I’ll be serving with these new little beauties. I will admit, I don’t wear false lashes very often; but when I do it’s always for a special occasion or a big night out where I want to be looking my absolute best.

Falseeyelashes.co.uk is a site solely dedicated to all things falsies! Whether you’re looking for something natural and understated, something big, bold and fluttery, faux mink lashes, vegan and cruelty free, something budget friendly or something a bit pricier they’ve got every person, every style and every purse point covered with thousands upon thousands of different brands and styles. If that’s not enough to tickle your pickle they also have an amazing lash subscription service (something I’d never heard of before and think is amazing!) so if you’re totally obsessed with one particular style of lash so all you need to do is simply hit the subscribe button when you purchase and choose whether you want them popping through your letterbox every 2 weeks, every month or every 2 months!

false eyelashes flat lay pic

If you’re new to the false eyelash game and really want to give it a try I want to use this post to share with you some simple, easy ways to learn to get to grips with false lashes and to be able to create fab looks with falsies…and without running the risk of glueing your eye shut or for the lash to fall off mid date! I swear these types of ‘horror’ stories were so common in girly teenage magazines when I was younger; it reeeeaally put me off using them before going to the school disco in case I’d be the one, writing into Mizz Magazine the following week because I, too, was gathered around the hand dryer trying to pry my eyes open.

  • So first and foremost, my advice to lash newbies, or to anyone attempting anything for the first time but this is a bit besides the point right now, is to start off slowly. If you try something for the first time and do it a bit rushed it’s only natural it’s going to be a bit sloppy?!

 

  • Try to take care when taking your false lashes out of it’s packaging. They usually come stuck to a little plastic tray and the best way to remove them without altering their lash line shape is by taking a pair of tweezers (or an eyelash applicator tool) and slowly, gently pulling from the corner to release them.

 

  • Before you put any glue or adhesive on them make sure they are the right size for your eye shape. The simplest way to do this is by simply holding a false eyelash against your natural eyelashes and trim from the outer end.

 

  • Apply the glue/adhesive in a thin layer on the seam of the eyelash strip, leaving it for a few moments to dry and go a bit tacky to the touch.

 

  • Either with a steady hand or tweezers/eyelash applicator gently place your falsies as close to your natural lash line as you possibly can.

 

  • It’s easier to do this if you can position yourself so your hand and the lash is coming down from above rather than directly straight on. This’ll make it a bit easier to apply, to get it in place a bit easier and to give you a bit more control over it.

 

  • Using the tweezers/eyelash applicator to gentle press the lashes into the right place to make sure it lines up,  looks neat and more natural.

 

  • Leave the lashes alone for a few minutes to dry and set in place.

 

  • Once the lashes have set you can then apply mascara on top if needed to make them look a bit more natural. Similarly, using a quick flick of eyeliner on the upper eyelid will help to fill in any obvious gaps from the lashes and give you a fancy, feline look.

 

  • Most false lashes will last nearly all day if not longer but when it comes to removing them it’s just as easy to take them off as it was to put them on. Gently apply some makeup remover/cleanser/coconut oil to a cotton bud, cotton pad or just to your fingertips and gentle massage in. Leaving it for about 30 seconds for the remover to soak in and gently pull the lashes from the outer edge.

 

  • Make sure to check on the packaging of your falsies and what they’re made out of because most sets can be reused plenty of times and you’d want to get your worth from it!

 

 

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.

Little things that make me happy part #2

Long time readers of this site may recall the first post I did of this nature. It was in November on a Saturday and I was in the mood to write but I wasn’t sure what, so I thought, how about I just start by writing a list of things that make me happy and I’ll see where I go from there. See what inspiration I get. Turns out it just made me happy to write and write and write even if it was totally pointless, nonsensical things it made me quite happy to read it back to myself again. A lot of the things I’ve scribbled on here lately have been quite lengthy and quite wordy and that was the first thing I’ve written in a long time that I posted immediately without thinking about it, without second guessing myself or without thinking whether anyone will actually care. So here comes round two! I don’t know if this’ll be a regular feature but we’ll see.

  • Paris.

 

  • Cobbled streets.

 

  • The first bite of something delicious.

 

  • Thank you letters.

 

  • Toasting marshmallows.

 

  • Giving gifts.

 

  • Crumpets that are so thickly laden with butter it oozes out the bottom.

 

  • Long train journeys with pretty views.

 

  • Hot chocolates that are capped with a snowy mountain of whipped cream, marshmallows and other toppings.

 

  • Hotel breakfasts.

 

  • Warm mittens.

 

  • That feeling you get when you’ve been out in the cold and then come back inside and run your hands under cold water and everything feels hot.

 

  • The smell of blown out candles.

 

  • Rock pools.

 

  • Tangerines.

 

  • The smell of hot weather.

 

  • Lava lamps.

 

  • Big, exuberant pieces of costume jewellery.

 

  • Licking the cake mix bowl.

 

  • Going out for coffee or brunch.

 

  • Dipping buttery bread into hot soup.

 

  • Mr Whippy ice creams.

 

  • Those two pence arcade machines at the seaside.

 

  • Photo booth pictures with friends.

 

  • Sugar lumps.

 

  • Coffee shops with steamy windows.

 

  • The smell after the rain.

 

  • Little villages where everyone says hello to one another.

 

  • Big cities where no one knows your name.

 

  • The colour magenta.

 

  • The word magenta.

 

  • Mashed potato.

 

  • Chasing the sun.

 

  • Dogs in little coats.

 

  • Fresh herbs and spices.

 

  • Twinkly lights.

 

  • Twinkly eyes.

 

  • Turning the radio on and your favourite song comes on.

 

  • Long hugs between old friends.

 

  • Dessert.

 

  • Vanilla pods.

 

  • Love.

 

  • When someone remembers a small detail about you.

 

  • Window seats.

 

  • Kind, chatty taxi drivers.

 

  • Exploring somewhere new.

 

  • Hidden treasures.

 

  • Fictional pirates.

 

  • Childhood teddy bears.

 

  • Roaring fires.

 

  • Old pubs.

 

  • Old pubs with roaring fires.

 

  • Old pubs with roaring fires and a pub dog too.

 

  • Long, hot baths.

 

  • Quick, cold showers.

 

  • Getting something for a cheaper price than you anticipated.

 

  • Brighton.

 

  • Honeycomb.

 

  • Food markets.

 

  • The smell of fresh fruit.

 

  • Belly laughs.

 

  • Family.

 

  • Pizza.

 

  • Fierce loyalty.

 

  • Cheesy chips.

 

  • Rocking chairs. Unless they rock on their own then they can get far, far away from me.

 

  • New beginnings.

 

  • Genuine smiles.

 

  • When the fresh heat hits you in the face when you get off of an airplane.

 

  • Afternoon teas.

 

  • Midnight feasts.

 

  • Tales from someone’s youth.

 

  • Tattoos.

 

  • Freckles.

 

  • Mint chocolate chip ice cream.

 

  • Snow days off of school.

 

  • Singing loudly in the car.

 

  • Stars.

 

  • Free food.

 

  • Writing on the first page of new stationary.

 

  • Glam makeup.

 

  • Poloroids.

 

  • Quick downloads.

 

  • Kindness between two strangers.

 

  • The Beatles.

 

  • VW Beetles.

 

  • Actual beetles.

 

  • Seeing people who actually enjoy their jobs.

 

  • Babies laughter.

 

  • Mojitos.

 

  • Actually any cocktails really.

 

  • People with natural style.

 

  • Having that Friday feelin’.

 

  • Long weekends.

 

  • Jennifer Aniston’s agelessness.

 

  • Red lipstick.

 

  • The weird yet wonderful names of different paint shades.

 

  • Terracotta.

 

  • Writing poetry.

 

  • Receiving poetry.

 

  • Wandering around supermarkets late at night.

 

  • Creative souls.

 

  • Black cats.

 

  • The stillness after a storm.

 

  • British seaside towns.

 

  • Piers. (As in the long promenade stretching out to sea…not the egotistical Morgan kind that presents breakfast telly).

 

  • Boozy brunches.

 

  • Board games.

 

  • Nicely filed and polished nails.

 

  • People with gumption.

 

  • The word gumption.

 

  • Castles.

 

  • Cosy jumpers.

 

  • Scratching an itch that’s been bothering you all day.

 

  • Spa treatments.

 

  • Reaching the top of a steep climb. Both metaphorically and literally. Well done you.

 

  • Proving people wrong.

 

  • Family traditions.

 

  • Odd sayings only mums/middle aged people use.

 

  • Luck.

 

  • Power of magpies.

 

  • Cream cakes.

 

  • The feeling after a run.

How I Decorated My Chocolate MEGA Cake!

Hello! It’s been a while since I’ve done a foodie post and I’ve been meaning to post this for AGES. So seeing as it’s mine and my Mum’s birthday in less than three weeks and then my sisters the following month; now seems like the perfect time to get prepared for birthdays, cakes and even more bigger, brilliant birthday cakes.

So I before I get into all the nitty gritty baking delights (and disasters), I want to just clarify that I am definitely not a qualified baker or anything like that. I just really quite enjoy cooking and baking and it’s always fun to just have a go isn’t it? Plus, I really like getting to eat delicious cake at the end of it all sooooo no one is missing out here?!

If you’re not a great baker I want to share with you these easy steps I took to transform a chocolate sponge cake into looking like this one I made. I’ve seen cakes like this in bakeries, or on Instagram or Pinterest and always thought how blimmin’ awesome they look?! As much as I love my sis I didn’t know how much I’d have to end up forking out on a cake like this; especially a little last minute as well!

So, underneath all of these gorgeously indulgent layers is a relatively simple chocolate cake. One of which I haven’t yet mastered. I’ve tried a variety of different recipes adding things like yogurt, buttermilk, extra oil etc etc into it to make the sponge more moist (sorry to those who don’t love the M word) but nothing seemed to do the trick. I was a bit worried the dry sponge was going to let the whole cake down but I drenched each cake layer with a generous amount of simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water boiled in a pan until it reduces and there are no sugar crystals left. Wait for it to fully cool before using) and then filled with a salted caramel and chocolate ganache.

birthday cake

On the outside of the cake I used a thin amount of chocolate buttercream as a crumb coat. Which basically helps to lock in all the crumbs from the sponge layers so when you let it chill in the fridge and set up you’ll be able to get a much cleaner, crumb free, final buttercream coating. I used a straight and an angled palette knife to smooth out the buttercream on the cake. Theoretically it helps give you a smoother, more defined finish. You can buy them in most cooking/bakeware/homeware stores, Hobbycraft, Lakeland or online too. You can get them so they’re a straight edge for really neat edge or even ones that are ridged if you want to create a lined effect.

Similarly, if you don’t have one of these or don’t want to purchase something you may not use that often if you can find a flimsy piece of clean plastic or something similar to smoothly run against the frosting it’ll help create a smoothed appearance!

Once I had finished the final buttercream frosting and I was happy with it, I popped the cake in the fridge to set up and for the frosting to harden. Usually I’d be a bit cautious about putting a cake in the fridge in case it dried out but as I had simple syrup’ed each cake layer and there was a lot of ganache and buttercream involved already I was hoping it’d be ok.

To recreate the on trend dribbly bits down the side of the cake I made a salted caramel sauce (if you don’t want to do that then cut the middle man out and just buy some!) and poured it into the centre of the top of the cake and spooning it around the top of the cake until it had gently dribbled around the outer edge and letting bigger blobs dribble down the side until I was happy with how it all looked. I was quite quick doing this part, a bit worried it’d quickly harden or that if it went wrong it would ruin the whole appearance. But I found that, unlike how I approach most things in life, if you go slower and with less haste it is so much easier to control the outcome. Who knew eh!?

Then the fun bit begins! I picked up some Kitkats, Kinder Buenos, a Kinder Egg, Mikado (or pocky) sticks, chocolate coated pretzels, Galaxy golden eggs and two chocolatey doughnuts from the supermarket in order to go crazy with the toppings for this. I found some gold food colouring spray in the cupboard beforehand and thought it would be quite fun and make the cake look really luxe by spraying certain things, leaving some bare and part spraying some others. I cut some things diagonally and splayed out the different treats at different angles giving it some dimension and really because I liked how it looked.

It was actually really good fun making this type of cake and doing all the decorating too! I added some ferrero rocher chocolates around the bottom to make it look even more special ( it is a birthday after all!) and also helps if you need to cover anything up you could add a layer of fruit or chocolates and make it look part of the decoration.

There’s something extra special about receiving a homemade cake especially for a birthday treat, knowing someone has put a lot of time and effort into making something yummy for you to eat. So, have fun with whatever you’re creating, don’t worry about whether it’ll look a bit bodged or not because it’ll still go down the same way regardless!