Six Ways To Simplify Your 2020.

*This is a collaborative post*

Life can be busy.

Life can be cluttered.

Life can be difficult.

And sometimes life can just be really really sucky….technical term there. 

I don’t remember signing up for some of this stress y’know? Agreeing to sign my life away and working full time I don’t think so?? I don’t know why I was never crowned Princess of Genovia at sixteen years old or just get to live my life as a Persian Goddess laying in the sun eating a golden platter of baklava everyday and not putting on an ounce of weight? *patiently waiting*. 

I turn 25 in just under three weeks and according to social pressures I should probably have settled into my own home, a career, a long term relationship and maybe even thought about children and the future by this time too. I can safely tell you aged 24 and 11 months I have achieved a grand total of ZERO of those things. I can easily get myself worked up over these things and whether I’m behind schedule on a schedule I didn’t even know I had. When it dawned on me recently that the only person who would actually be bothered about what I do, whether I’m happy or unhappy, in a career I love and want to work 24/7, mother of the year or childless is only ever going to be me. I need to let this weird, mental idea that I must complete all of these life changing milestones by my 30th birthday or otherwise that’ll be game over. 

Sometimes, it’s very easy to think life is taking over and there is simply not enough time for anything. There are always things to do, places to go, things to buy, things to consume and generally things to think about before you know it life itself can easily become unorganized, cluttered and super stressful. In 2020, I’m going to be making a promise to myself to help simplify my life? Removing what I don’t need, freeing up my own time, clearing my head and being able to set time for just pure conscious relaxation. Before I know it, it will be Christmas and the whole year will have flown by without you realizing what just happened.  

Here are 6 ways to simplify little life things and decisions in 2020 so that you can make the time for yourself, new experiences, self-improvement and give yourself a break in general. 

  1. Switch Off the electronics!

That’s right! I hate to admit it but I probably spend a lot of time watching boxsets on Netflix, endless videos on Youtube and procrastinating on yet another silly Buzzfeed quiz. We have become a nation of Netflix bingers, staying up until 2 am because we simply can’t wait to see what will happen in our latest favorite TV show. I’m guilty of binge watching new series in a matter of hours or days; time is irrelevant when it came to watching You Series Two. I spent a lot of my spare time in 2019 to settling into good books and managed to smash through my target of 30+! Rather than pressurizing myself into not watching the telly or gorging on my favourite Youtubers new video when it became live I tried to dedicate my time carefully. I learnt to select my TV shows carefully, watch them slowly (you don’t have to complete a series in one night) and use TV as a treat rather than your default evening plan. I’m going to try to use my time a bit more constructively for creative projects like reading and writing. If you don’t fancy being creative, work on a skill that could push your career further or reach some personal goals like getting fit by working out or hitting the gym. 

  1. Pay Off Your Debt

If you make any financial decision this year it should include paying off your debt first and foremost. Debt lingers in our subconscious, it affects us even when we don’t realize it and it makes us feel trapped. This year, put all your extra earnings into paying your debt off and by all means stop buying things you can’t afford. Whether you have credit card debt, student loan debt or car debt this year is the year you should proactively try and remove that debt. Clearing debt feels incredible, liberating and can clear your mind. Being debt-free simplifies your life allowing you to start planning how you will create wealth which is positive and exciting. 

  1. Go Minimal

I’ve taken a lot of advice from Marie Kondo and learnt how to part with things that I don’t actually want, need or just don’t spark joy. I can apply this to anything not just home things but my clothes, makeup and accessories too. Clearing your house of any old junk you don’t need is a great start but also think about things that don’t serve you. If your home is full of small trinkets and useless items, try to get rid of them and minimalize your home. We’re not saying you should get rid of everything you own or your fancy hotel quality tablecloths from Richard Haworth but you can get rid of that old yoga mat that is collecting dust in the corner. This year, try buying less, using less and hoarding less. Decluttering your home and limiting your consumerism can actually relieve a lot of stress in your life, plus your bank balance will also thank you.  I don’t know about you but I find decluttering so therapeutic, sure when you’re surrounded by all of your possessions and clothes you regret deciding to sort your wardrobe out more than anything but once it’s done you feel so much better, clearer and relaxed. 

  1. Be Positive

Okaaaaay, so I know this is SO much easier said than done but being in a continuous state of negativity is not serving you or your loved ones. 2020 is a new decade, a fresh start and you will be amazed at what you can achieve in 10 years if you put your mind to it. However, negativity can consume us and our time as we spend hours thinking about what people said to us or what we said to other people. The constant drama in our lives drains us of energy and time. This year, consciously try not to dwell on the negatives. Objectively look at the issue and decide whether it’s really worth the time thinking about and becoming negative over. Nine times out of ten you will find yourself forgetting all about it and refocusing on the important things like your relaxing, your career, love life, social life, and self-improvement. As cut throat as it may sound maybe see this fresh start as a good chance to cut out those negative entities that are weighing you down. If work is constantly leaving you stressed, you deserve SO much more than that, maybe it’s high time to invest in yourself and your mental state and find a role that makes you feel good. If your friends leave you feeling unhappy and a bit rubbish, as much as you like them and regard them as a friend, you also deserve SO much more than that too. Friends are supposed to be your support network, to build each other up when you’re feeling down not to make you feel like you’re in a constant whirlpool of sadness. Find your tribe that make life worth living and you’ll soon notice your lust for life reappearing.  

  1. Plan Your Year

So many people blindly walk through life allowing their environment to determine where they end up. This is a huge issue because if you don’t know where you are going how will you know if you will be happy where you end up? You won’t!  Instead, this year, make a plan. Spend the afternoon figuring out what you want to achieve this year, why you want to achieve it and what you need to do to get there. You can cover all of life’s categories including love, social life, family, parenting, health, career, education, money, spirituality and so on. Once you have your plan, create all the mini-tasks and goals that lead up to your plan becoming a success. Having these goals keeps you focused throughout your year, removes silly doubts about yourself and where you are going. At the end of the year, if you have stayed focused on your plan, it’s likely you will be far happier where you are in life. 

I’m not going to stand here and preach to you about planning every second of your life and nor am I planner for that matter either. Whether they’re big or small having things to look forward to certainly changes your outlook. I’ve started to plan one thing per month, something that’s a bit different or I haven’t done before, to look forward to. I can quite easily get myself into a sad little pity puddle and anyone else who knows what they’re like know that they can be difficult to get out of! So by having all these things lined up is giving me hope and a little light for each month that I’ve already got something to look forward to say six months down the line.

  1. Say “NO’

Remember when Elton John said ‘sorry seems to be the hardest word’? Well sorry Elton, you’re very wrong. No, can actually be, one of the hardest words to muster. It’s little and probably super simple for many but being able to stand up for yourself, stand up for your beliefs and put yourself first is one of the most gratifying feelings. So many of us are always so eager to please everyone around us and we find ourselves saying “yes” to lots of things we don’t need or want. Saying “No” is liberating as it stops us from cluttering our lives with jobs, events, and tasks we don’t want to do. You don’t have to go out every weekend and drink yourself silly only to wake up to a hangover during your precious weekend off work. You don’t always have to stay at the office late trying so hard to impress your boss which is never recognized or appreciated. Start saying “no” more often and you will find your life becoming slightly less cluttered and more focused on doing things that positively add to your life.

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

What to see and do in Salisbury, UK.

When you think of Salisbury the first thing that probably comes to mind is a certain news story that hit the headlines last year. Before that you might have belonged to either the camp that had never heard of Salisbury or the one that knew it was near Stonehenge. I know I’m totally biased but I think it’s high time I show that there’s so much more to this beautiful, medieval city than that. Salisbury is my hometown after all so if you aren’t visiting JUST to see the city I was birthed then I want to introduce to you all these wonderful, culture delights.

TOURISTY HOTSPOTS

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Stonehenge

High up on this list of things to see and do has to be Stonehenge. This prehistoric stone circle is found just two miles outside of Amesbury and is probably one of the most famous prehistoric monuments in the world. It attracts visitors from all over the world so whilst you’re so close; why not tick this one off of your bucket list too.

Woodhenge

Not many people have actually heard of Woodhenge as it turns out. I’ll be honest I didn’t even know it was a thing up until last year when I went there in the summer on a day out with a friend. The neolithic timber* circle is just two miles from Stonehenge and you can enjoy some glorious views of the area from here. *I say timber but I think the original timber circles were burnt down and have been replaced with concrete pillars made to look like timber. Sooooo maybe not quite as impressive as the henge made of stone but still pretty cool.

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Cathedral

The infamous Anglican Cathedral. Whether you’re really into early English Gothic architecture (this building is one of the greatest examples of that. The main body took 38 years to build from 1220), a bit of a fan of tall cathedral spires, standing at 404 ft it’s the tallest in England and attracts tourists from Russia all year round! But seriously it’s a totally gorgeous cathedral, go for a meander round the cloisters and you can even take a look at the Magna Carta inside the cathedral too.

Old Sarum

Old Sarum is an english heritage property just a few miles outside of Salisbury city centre. It is the location of the first settlement of Salisbury with evidence of it dating back to 3000 BC. It’s super interesting if you’re interested to hear about the vast history of this place and in the evenings you can catch a stunning sunset there too.

Wilton House and Gardens

Wilton is a small town just on the outskirts of Salisbury and is home to Wilton House and Gardens. It’s been open to the public since the 1950s and has been used in different tv and films, from The Crown, Pride and Prejudice to Tomb Raider. Fancy, eh!

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FOOD AND DRINK

For my favourite part to talk about we move onto the best place to eat, drink and be merry in the city. I could tell you there’s a whole host of chain restaurants you could visit whilst you’re here but regular readers and people who know me, will know that’s really not my thing. Especially when you could try something a bit different why stick to the same meal you could get in any chain restaurant up and down the country.

Tinga

Tinga is an independently owned Mexican bar and restaurant in the middle of Salisbury city centre. As soon as you enter you are completely drawn in by the colourful, eclectic interior and the gorgeous food matches that vibe completely. I’m usually hesitant about places where they say there is a little something for everyone but they cater to meat eaters and not forgetting us pesky vegetarians and vegans too. They specialise in mexican small plates giving you a fresh opportunity to try something a bit different, like cactus enchiladas for instance! Before them I had never even heard of this!

Craft Bar @ Salisbury Arms

One of my favourite pubs in Salisbury. It’s got a really lovely, relaxed feel throughout, they do great cocktails and even better burgers. I cannot rave about these burgers enough.

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Anokaa

Anokaa is a modern Indian restaurant that is always high up on my list of places I recommend around here. It’s such a wonderful dining experience, the food is exquisite and on selected nights they have live entertainment like a magician going from table to table or belly dancers entertaining the diners. They have an offer for a lunchtime buffet as well and that really is worth every penny in itself.

Market Inn

You might have guessed by the name but the Market Inn is in the centre, overlooking the marketplace. They serve great drinks, even better food and make for great company too if you just wanted to pop in, rest your feet and chat with the bar staff over a cup of tea or two.

Allium

Relatively new to Salisbury is the independent, family run, fine dining restaurant; Allium. Situated above the market square, this restaurant is perfect if you want to treat yourselves to a memorable feast.

Baroushka

Baroushka is a fabulous middle eastern restaurant that I adore. Middle eastern food is probably my favourite cuisine and a trip to Baroushka can tickle all my fav taste buds (cheeky). Whether you want to graze over a selection of mezze dishes or jump straight in with one of their mains either way you’ll be in for a treat. Just make sure you’ve left enough room for a pud.

Cafe Diwali

Cafe Diwali serve exciting Indian street food dishes teamed alongside traditional craft beers. It’s such great value for money and you get such a big portion which I LOVE. If you like your Indian food, I’d definitely recommending popping in here for a lunchtime treat. It can get busy (which is ALWAYS a good sign) so best to ring ahead first! I wrote about my first visit here.

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Old Ale and Coffee House

My gastropub of choice when visiting Salisbury I always head here. They serve lush, locally sourced may I add, homely dishes but what’ll keep you coming back again and again is the homely atmosphere, the drinks list as long as a piece of string and the cool decor. Whether you want to stay seated indoors, time it right and join in with the quiz or sit outside (weather permitting) in one of their cosy huts.

Caboose

Caboose is a fun, exciting and new 1920’s themed parlour bar a short hop, skip and jump from Salisbury train station. It’s very art deco, it’s very cool and would make the perf place for an Instagram set up. Cos life is all about the ‘gram sometimes.

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YoYo Bar

YoYo (You’re Only Young Once) is a retro chic bar home to every cocktail you could imagine. Whether you want one to yourself or fancy a kitsch teapot full for two (biscuits included FYI) you’ll have an evening to remember…or not depending on how many cocktails you can drink.

ARTS AND CULTURE

If you’re not dazzled by all the touristy bits, can’t eat anything else in case you might burst and aren’t tempting to wander round all the high street shops you could always check out some of the other things that are going on in and around the city. There’s usually something going on either in Salisbury City Hall or in the Playhouse if you are lucky and can manage to get some last minute tickets to something or if you planned it all in advance.

Just outside of Salisbury is the Sculpture Centre set in the middle of the countryside. They often run events so whether you want to get involved with that or immerse yourself in the exhibits they’re currently holding. You’re sure to have a fun and different day out.

SPAS AND SALONS

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Vita Skin Spa

Vita Skin Spa is home to a broad range of spa, skin and body treatments. Whether you’re male or female, going on your own, as a couple or part of a pamper party you’ll be treated like royalty during your stay.

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Lime Tree Spa

Lime Tree Spa is the boutique spa within Milford Hall hotel offering plenty of different treatments and packages whether you’re looking for a complete switch off from reality or a nice mani/pedi to perk you up and make you feel a bit more special.

WHERE TO STAY

There is an abundance of hotels, b&b’s, Airbnb’s and serviced apartments dotted in and around the Salisbury area so whether you wanted to stay central to the city itself or explore somewhere a bit further afield.

Depending on how you travelled here; there is a station central to the city centre and from there you could get to:

  • Bristol
  • Bath
  • Southampton
  • Winchester
  • Bournemouth
  • Exeter
  • London

Buses throughout the city are fairly regular and reliable (pls don’t hold me to this and come back and tell me off if yours was 3 minutes later than usual tho. Like i’m not magic) so you could go on a sightseeing tour and get to see the touristy bits that way or even head into the New Forest.

I thiiiiink i’ve just about covered everything?! I’m a firm believer there is going to be beauty everywhere and whenever you look for it. I hope you liked reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it up. I’m thinking of going into 2020 with some more of these posts lined up of places i’ve visited in and around my local area. As much as I’d like to travel the world, my budget might not quite cover it plus I’d really love to be able to explore much more of the UK, my own country first as well. There’s so many places I’d love to visit properly and not just double tap on my Instagram explore page.

How To Throw The Perfect Christmas Or New Year’s Party!

*This is a collaborative post*

December really is the month for all the social butterflies out there. Amongst all the evenings spent frequenting pubs, bars and Christmassy market mulled wine tents, work christmas parties, all the other Christmas related festivities in-between and of course pre/post New Year’s celebrations it’s easy to see why it’s the most wooooooonderful time of the year.

You’ve probably been to plenty of parties in your life, for all sorts of occasions. Many will live on in your memories, while others were forgotten about merely days later. If you are throwing a soiree soon, perhaps for Christmas or the New Year, you know which camp you are going to want yours to fall into. However, throwing a party that is remembered for all the right reasons can be particularly tricky at this time of year; especially when the weather is so terrible outside! So whether you’re big on parties or prefer the quieter, chilled nights in, you’re the first to get the booze in or prefer guzzling all the soft drinks and if you are looking to add a bit of sparkle and something special to your party; hopefully there’ll be something for everyone to think about with these handy tips here! 

Location!

The first thing you are going to need to consider before you organise the big bash is where you’re going to host the partaaaay of the year. Are you going to throw it from the comfort of your own home? Or will it be somewhere you’ll need more space like hiring a room at a village hall or a conference room at a hotel? Or pushing the boat out and getting all your mates together for a night away at a bouji AirBnB. Personally, my favourite types of parties are the more lowkey types. The ones where you can comfortably settle in for the night on the sofa with all your friends, shoveling in a handful of crisps and not having to worry about moving onto the next bar or pub every hour!

If you’re going to throw the social occasion of the year at home you’ll need to consider:

  • If you live with other housemates or family members keep any other rooms locked to keep out stray party guests.
  • If you think you all might get a bit carried away whilst having fun, perhaps warn your neighbours beforehand just to stay in their good books!
  • Keep anything you don’t want to get broken out of the way especially if you’ve got clumsy drunken pals.

If you’re throwing a party in a public place like a hall or something similar you’ll need to consider:

  • You’ll have to pay. I feel like this one goes without saying and there may be a waiting list or might be all booked up by now for Christmas dates already.
  • You’ll be allocated a certain amount of time and will have to clean up fully at the end as well. I don’t know about you but in my opinion nothing quite kills my partying buzz like whipping round with a hoover at the end of the night.
  • There might be restrictions on what you can do and whether loud music is permitted.

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Perfect that guest list!

Now I don’t know about you but sometimes in life it’s nearly impossible to have completed blended friendships groups. You’ve got your family, your friends, your work friends, childhood friends, old family friends the list could go on and on. They’re all great and you adore them all equally but when it comes to hosting a shindig before you click send to all to all your FaceBook pals you might want to just double check who you actually want there, who’ll probably RSVP yes and not even bother to turn up at all and who’ll defo come through for ya and will bring a bucketload of snacks and a playlist to make Steve Aoki quake in his boots.

Have a theme!

When we think of a theme, the first thing that may come to mind is Halloween. In fact, Christmas and New Year particularly lend themselves well to themes – everyone is feeling a little more fun and more prepared to ‘let go’ and immerse themselves in the festivities. It doesn’t have to be anything too over the top (it’s your party you can do what you want to cry if you want to) Dress up to the nines for a Glitz and Glamour Hollywood theme. Have a purely Christmas themed shindig and everyone has to wear the most Christmassy jumper or go a bit wild with it. Or finally, set it to a particular decade or era and get some great pics to cherish forever (as long as everyone is game with a night of fancy dress!) or plan the night around an exciting Murder Mystery event.

Mix up the music!

Music is a must at any party, whether it subtly plays in the background or becomes more of a focal point with a dance floor. If your budget (and space!) can stretch to it, hire a professional DJ – they know exactly how to read a crowd and get them up and on the dance floor. Sometimes the really cheesy ones are the best too, there’s nothing quite like having a giggle with all your mates as you all get up singing and dancing to Living On A Prayer for the third time that night! Similarly, if you’re looking for a much cheaper alternative creating a playlist of all your favourites, cheesy classics are a must I’m afraid (soz I don’t make the rules but ABBA do) ask one of the party attendees to be officially in charge of the Spotify playlist or just simply put the radio/music channel on in the background!

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Consider the entertainment!

For many parties, music is the sole form of entertainment, but if you want your party to be a little bit different, consider other forms of entertainment. When you’re surrounded by all your friends or family sometimes it’s nice to have a little something extra to do as well  (aside from the annual tradition of the character assassination about my work life/ love life and repeat). Board games in recent years have had a real revival. Gone are the days of just spending hours cooped around a small table playing Cluedo and Trivial pursuit til the small hours with your great Aunt Ethel and there’s an ocean of the most hilarious games and activities for groups to do. Whether you want to organise the tradish style drinking games like beer pong or never have I ever? The App Head’s Up is a great way to integrate people and have a laugh. 

I’m really into silly games especially the types where you learn something brand new about innocent Sheila from accounts. I’ve seen a lot of hubbub about Big Potato Games a fun company from the UK who create some really entertaining games for big groups to small gatherings alike. Cards Against Humanity is always an absolute belter for getting everyone in the fun, partying spirit. Similarly you can find loads of fun different games to play if you have a quick search on Amazon.

Usually the idea of organised fun to me sounds as much fun as poking myself in the eye but if you’re after a really fun activity with all your pals this festive period check out what’s going on locally in your area. Pub quizzes are a great way to get together and sometimes (if you’re lucky) win some fun prizes. I’ve never won a pub quiz in my life but we’ve got free rounds for the best team name which is always fun. Or check out Fizz Box to see what exhilarating activities are on offer in your local area.

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Plan your food and drinks!

Food and drink are essential at any party, whether you are planning a fab finger buffet or a three-course formal dinner. However, the last thing you want to be doing is spending all night slaving away in the kitchen and missing out on all of the fun. Order in some pizzas for the group to share and feast on throughout the night. Crisps and dips are the best part about a social gathering if you ask a little piggy like me. Make something fun for everyone to get involved with like a tex-mex station with guests to make fajitas, tacos and overloaded macho nachos. Or if you fancy having a cocktail making and shaking sesh for the evening; grab all your alcoholic beverages, different spirits, soft drinks and fruit juices and make like you’re all fully trained bartenders and enjoy testing out each other’s creations.  

Fingers crossed that these tips will hopefully help you to plan and throw a party that no one will forget this Christmas time. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Search on Depop/Ebay/Facebook Marketplace.

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

  • Shop Second Hand or in Charity Shops. 

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

  • Browse vintage stores. 

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

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  • Host a Clothes Swap.

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

  • Make your own. 

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

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

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

  • Shop smarter.

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

 

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  • Create a capsule wardrobe.

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

  • Quality not quantity.

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

  • Shop Sustainable Brands

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

Know The Origin

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House Of Sunny

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

Why Visiting Stourhead Is A Must in the Autumn!

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

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Image taken from regencyhistory.net. 

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

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

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

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The Temple of Apollo.

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

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Inside of the Grotto looking out onto the lake.

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Inside of the Grotto.

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The Pantheon hidden amongst the Autumnal trees.

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Opposite the till area are these two changing areas.

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five points if you can spot me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What to see and do in Bath.

 

I’m desperate to visit more places around the United Kingdom when I think about it I’ts mad that I’ve never set foot in some places not *reaaaaally* that far away, yet people travel from all over the world to visit. My sister’s friend is from Canada and he would think nothing of driving several hours to the closest city to his hometown, yet there’s so many places in this country that I’ve still never been to. Seeing as I’m lucky enough to live in a comfortable driving distance to Bath, with it being about 30 miles from my front door, I can share with you all of the best places to visit, the must see areas and the places you will definitely want to grab a few drinks in.

Bath is often featured on a lot of people’s bucket list places to visit in the UK. The historic city in Somerset is steeped in history and culture dating back to the Roman times, with plenty of modern shopping districts, spa hotels and an eclectic food and drink scene is it any wonder that people are flocking far and wide to get to know the in’s and out’s of this fabulous place.

The network links into Bath are great. Whether you’re coming from outside of England the nearest airport would be in Bristol which is about 45 minutes away. With a bustling train and bus station in the centre of the city with frequent trains from London Paddington, Cardiff and Penzance, getting to Bath Spa station shouldn’t be a problem. If you’re driving to Bath there are plenty of car parks dotted around the city, but like any busy city it can be a nightmare scrambling for a space all day long and then remortgaging your home just to pay for parking. There are a few different Park and Ride systems throughout Bath as well if you wanted to save a few pennies.

What to see.

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Image obtained from Visit Bath.

You can’t visit Bath and not find yourself gazing over the Pulteney Bridge and the sweeping horseshoe weir. Completed in 1774 it is one of the few bridges that have shops on both sides of it. Definitely a great photo op stop first thing in the morning with a view of the sunrise. Any Musical theatre buffs might also recognise this from Les Miserables.

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Image obtained from Visit Bath.

Prior Park a Landscape Garden surrounding the Prior Park estate, located to the south of Bath itself. It’s now owned by the National Trust and is a perfect place for a peaceful walk or take the perfect candid on the Palladian Bridge like you’re supposed to be in Pride and Prejudice.

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Image obtained from Discovering Britain

I just can’t help but find all of Bath’s buildings and architecture just so beautiful. This is The Circus a few moment’s walk away from the Royal Crescent. The houses are picture perfect, I feel like literally nothing can go wrong in your life when you own a home this pretty. I mean I might be wrong but I’d be bursting out of my curtains singing to my neighbours every morning ’til they put an asbo on me if I lived here.

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The Crescent is a short walk away from The Circus and I would definitely recommend seeing it in all its grandeur. If you’ve got the time and want to learn more about the history of this lovely place then pay a visit to the museum at No.1 Royal Crescent. The rooms are decorated just like they would have been in the late 1700s and it’s so fascinating to see and learn what life was like in the Georgian City.

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Image obtained from originalwild.com

If you’re a keen runner or cyclist you can follow the Bristol to Bath cyclepath or even along the Kennet and Avon canal path for some stunning views. Equally paddleboarding or punting on the River Avon are also becoming more and more popular and a more interesting way to see aspects of the City.

Depending when you’re visiting and whether Bath Rugby are playing at home you can either soak up the atmosphere in one of the many fab pubs and watch the game with a pint of wine. Or similarly try and nab yourselves some tickets. Surely you don’t need me to tell you that bit though?

Bath, Somerset. UK

Other great ways to take in the local sights is by climbing onboard one of the many Sightseeing Tour Buses you’ll see all around Bath. You can hop on and off at as many of the stop as you please as well as taking full advantage of the in depth audio commentary included.

Bath Abbey
I took this photo after a dinner out with friends and looking back at it now the man in front actually looks quite creepy BUT it was a cold and wet evening hence why he looks like he’s dressed like the Grim Reaper.

Bath Abbey’s gothic architecture is just as stunning at nighttime as it it during the daytime and I’d definitely say it’s one of the things you must see whilst you’re here just because it’s so iconic to Bath. During the day, you can pay to enter inside the Abbey and the tour lasts roughly about 45 minutes. Or just take in the craftsmanship from the outside; and enjoy all the street performers that gather between the Abbey and The Roman Baths here too.

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The Roman Baths are probably the most famous part of this beautiful city. It costs £20 for an adult ticket but it’s definitely well worth it to learn about the rich history, culture and the incredible Roman Empire. It can get incredibly busy and the queues can get quite heavy so book early on would be my advice plus you might be able to make a saving on a special offer. Pay a special visit to The Pump Room restaurant for one of their lavish afternoon teas for an extra memorable treat.

If you’re visiting Bath during the Summer months or up until October the Roman Baths stay open until 10pm at night; so if you’re into photography you could get some fantastic shots. I’m in it for the ‘gram.

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Photo from SkyScanner.net

Take a dip and bathe in Britain’s only naturally warm, mineral-rich waters just like the Celts and Romans did over 2,000 years ago in the award winning Thermae Spa right in the centre of Bath. One of my favourite sights is the real juxtaposition of the modern spa against the old golden bath stone buildings in the background. You get a two hour time slot to use the rooftop pool, the indoor Minerva bath or to spoil yourself with some of the 40+ spa treatments they have on offer.

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Image obtained from Great Spa Guide of the spa at NO 15 Great Pulteney.

Similarly, if you’re looking for the ultimate pamper weekend and want to look into the other spas you could try out a treatment in the Lush Spa, The Royal Crescent Hotel and Spa also have a wonderful spa with timeless treatments. The Gainsborough Hotel have a Spa Village which looks so tranquil and perfect for soaking away all your worries and troubles. Last but not least is Spa 15 at No 15 Great Pulteney. It’s wonderfully different and chic interior gives it a unique edge over everything else seen on this list. Beneath the well trodden street harbours this spa as Bath’s best kept secret.

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Bath city centre is full to the brim of fabulous shops, whether you’re looking to shop ’til you drop in the usual high street stores or potter around the unique, independent ones. The Southgate shopping district is directly opposite the train station and is relatively new to Bath and has lots of the high street faves and plenty of restaurants to choose from as well. Amble through the side streets and you’ll stumble on gold wherever you tread. Some of my favourite independent stores are Pug and Puffin, a wonderful homewares store that have lots of gorgeous pieces for your pooch too. Vinegar Hill has some gorgeous pieces; I could spend a fortune in there. And then there’s Heavens Bazaar a wonderful emporium of high end, vintage fashions.

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Image obtained from Beardy Vulcan on Flickr

Take a peek around the Guildhall Market a couple minutes walk from the Abbey. My favourite stall is the Costume jewellery one. I think my spirit animal might actually be Pat Butcher.

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Picture from Ticketweb.uk

For all you culture vultures out there, if you fancy immersing yourself in some of the Arts scene head towards Kingsmead Square where you’ll be opposite to Komedia if you want to catch some live music or comedy gigs. Or go to The Theatre Royal, a grade II listed building which is just as spectacular on the inside as it is on the outside. It’s home to amazing theatre, comedy, opera, dance and pantomime productions.

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Where to eat.

There are a plenty of generic, high street chains I could tell you that are in Bath or the surrounding area but we all know that’s not where I’d want to go myself if I was visiting somewhere new for the first time. As we (we being me, myself and my jeans inner thigh material) are very aware I’m a massive foodie. So I’m going to break down the best bit for you into sections, where’s best to go for a pitstop coffee, for breakfast or brunch, dinner and even throw in some fab vegetarian and vegan options too.

Breakfast and Brunch:

Wild Cafe

Wild Cafe uses only fresh, locally sourced ingredients and everything is cooked to order and cooked to absolute perfection as well. They’re nestled away in one of Bath’s many hidden streets but once you find it you’ll be glad to settle in with one of their famous pancake stacks or treat yourself to gorgeous plate of Eggs Benedict.

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Photo of the Good Day Cafe from Interiors.Family

Good Day Cafe

Steph and the team have certainly struck gold with this place. The Good Day Cafe is like an actual Instagram haven with millennial pink, marble and succulents throughout and let’s not forget about the food and drink they serve. I’d recommend the toasted banana bread. Delish!

Cafe Au Lait

This lovely little cafe is situated right opposite the train station so is the perfect first pitstop.  So whether you’re looking for a quick coffee before a day of shopping, a leisurely brunch whilst you decide where you’re going to head first (I’d recommend any of their pancake stacks) Or even if you just need to drop off your luggage (£3 per item) they cater for every need.

Rooted Cafe

Try The Full Indian Breakfast for a cool take on a classic brekkie choice.

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Cascara

If my Instagram and Pinterest feed came to life this is what it would look like. It’s ultra modern and ultra cool, totes vegz and does the best beetroot lattes and chocolate cake I’ve ever had.

Lunch stops:

Same-Same But Different

I first went here a few years ago and had their small plates whilst lunching with a friend and completely fell in love with their food. Nowadays I think they only do the small plates and tapas with their evening service but still it’s a great lunch shout for one of their sandwiches and opt for a bowl of chunky chips on the side too.

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The Whole Bagel

The only bagel shop in the whole city, great if you want to grab something quick whilst on the go and they can make up your bagel right in front of you whilst you wait.

Schwartz Bros.

A brilliant take out place to head to if you’re a burger lover. With a great big menu covering everything from beefburgers, to chicken burgers, veggie burgers or chickless ones. Get yourself one of their lush thick milkshakes whilst you’re there; thank me later.

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Image from Tripadvisor.

Juno Bar and Kitchen

Juno is VERY cool and as it’s just on the cusp of the Southgate Shopping complex it’s a great place to get some munch before you hit the shops again. They do great pizzas, play awesome music and also make great cocktails…need I go on?

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The Scallop Shell

I had to put this somewhere on the list I just really didn’t know where! There’s a reason why The Scallop Shell have finished in the Top 6 of the National Fish and Chip Awards 2019, they serve up fresh (sustainably caught, may I add) fish and chips everyday and it’s not just your usual cod and chip establishment. Whether you want shellfish, straight outta the sea fish, chicken or the spicy chickpea fritters they’ve got something for all. I will admit I’m not sure if the chickpea fritters are vegan but they’re a dead friendly bunch; there’s no harm in asking.

Phat Yaks

Phat Yaks

A cafe and takeaway in Kingsmead Square serving the most tantalising Nepalese street foods. One of their filled baguettes like the one above costs as little as a fiver.

ChaiWalla

The fragrant spices fill the air so you’ll know you’re getting closer to it. Either that or you’ll walk into the queue of customers waiting to order. The onion bhaji roti wrap is dreamy.

Afternoon Teas & Sweet Treats

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Sweet Little Thing

Bath’s answer to Peggy Porschen’s/Elan Cafe. They do breakfast and lunches as well but I think it’s a lovely place to have a slice of cake, a cup of tea and a few happy snaps against this GORG flower wall. Plus there’s a swing?!

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Royal Crescent

Dine like Kings and Queens and enjoy a lavish afternoon tea in the grounds of The Royal Crescent Hotel. I reviewed my experience of the vegetarian Afternoon Tea (read here) and it was utterly sublime.

Sally Lunn’s

Try a Bath delicacy, a famous Sally Lunn Bunn. It’s a delightful cross between something cakey and something bready. Also something you’ll struggle to find outside of Bath as well!

Bath Bun Shop

Enjoy a traditional cream tea, afternoon tea or one of the famous Bath Buns. I spoke about them in a lot more detail in this post here. Really interesting and definitely worth trying.

Fudge Kitchen

This fudge shop is a few steps away from the Abbey and the Roman Baths and if you’re not drawn in by the rich, sweet aroma, then watching the theatrics of them making the fudge in front of you definitely will. I’m a sucker for my favourite flavours like the OG sea salted caramel and cherry bakewell. They’ve also got a few vegan options too!

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Swoon

They say Gelato to fall in love with and they’re not wrong. The chocolate sorbetto is something dreams are made of.

Ben’s Cookies

There’s always a queue and that to me is always a good sign. There’s a Ben’s Cookies in a quite a few places around the world but it’s a great place to stop by and grab a snack. The ginger and dark chocolate is my absolute ride or die.

Maison Georges Lanicol

This shop is absolutely gorgeous and the pretty window display of pastries and macarons makes me feel like I’m walking the streets of Paris.

Bertinet Bakery

Great coffees, great brownies and pastries and incredible sourdough loaves.

Places for dinner:

The Oven

The Oven pizza’s are some of the best I’ve had. I love the flavours they use in their toppings as well as the taste that using the wood fired oven gives each pizza crust. Plus this was the first place I ever tried a dessert pizza topped with nutella, hazelnuts and mascarpone nibs and it was SO good.

Opa

A traditional Greek restaurant, serving delicious, authentic dishes. Home to such helpful staff and a lovely outdoor seating area; perfect for the summer too.

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Koffman and Mr White’s. Photo obtained from Wowcher.

Koffman and Mr White’s

This restaurant is in The Abbey Hotel and is a joint venture between Pierre Koffman and Marco Pierre White bringing all the best culinary delights between these French and English chefs.

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The Mint Room

The Mint Room

A fine dining Indian Restaurant a short distance from Bath City Centre. Everyone that I’ve spoken to that’s visited here speaks so highly of the food and the service. It’s definitely got the wow factor and is totally different to the norm when it comes to eating out at Indian restaurants.

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Sotto Sotto

Real, authentic Italian dining in the gorgeous aesthetics of the stone arched basement. It’s charming and relaxing and the service can’t be faulted either.

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The Chequers

If you’re a real foodie and enjoy good food then I’d wholly recommend The Chequers. This charming gastro pub is home to a locally sourced menu and a wonderful team of staff who you can tell who are enthusiastic and actually like their job. I’d urge you to go on a Sunday for their roast.

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Clayton’s Kitchen

High quality food and is a great choice to go for a special occasion.

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Dough

My sister raves about Dough and it’s probably her and her boyfriend’s go-to restaurant in Bath. I love that you can see the chefs tossing the pizza dough and making your dinner right in front of you. The menu has lots of choices and I really like that you can choose from a variety of different bases as well. Whether you want to stick to regular sourdough or try something a bit different like turmeric, hemp, seaweed and a few more speciality ones too. They also offer a gluten free dough too.

Koh Thai

A chain of cool Thai tapas restaurants dotted around the South West of England. They always have loads of great offers on and a cracking cocktail menu to boot. I can’t get enough of their cashew stir fry and the Blushing Lotus cocktail is to die for.

Fab Veggie/Vegan spots:

Most places these days offer something for vegetarian/vegan diets but sometimes it’s quite nice to be able to go somewhere wholly suitable for the vegheads out there.

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Image obtained from Happycow.net

Roots and Shoots

Is a lush vegan eatery right by the station and I love that they even stock loads of vegan ice creams too.

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Acorn

What I love about the menu at Acorn is that it just goes to show that plant based food is anything but boring. For vegans, vegetarians and those who want to try some remarkable dishes I would 100% recommend going here.

Beyond the Kale

Inside Green Park Station is Beyond the Kale cafe. It’s a wonderful little breakfast or lunch spot and they do some of the best veggie wraps.

The Green Rocket

A nice, chilled and relaxed cafe with lovely coffee and cakes.

Nourish

The best plant based lasagne (walnut, red pepper and cashew lasagne with garlic bread and salad on the side and an extra helping of YUM on the side of that.)

Nightlife.

There’s loads of great places to visit if you want a tipple (or five) in the city centre. Whether you’re a fan of clubs, bars, or an old man pub you’ll find something to suit you. Obvs you’ve got the usual ones you’d get in most towns or cities, like ‘Spoons, All Bar One, Be At One, Revolutions and Slug and Lettuce but if you’re after a bar crawl with a difference; try some of these out for size.

The Boater

My favourite pub to visit in the whole city. You’re spoilt for choice with four different bars, three different dining areas and a huge list of different craft beers and cask ales enough to sink a ship. It’s got a great big list of bar snack style tapas plus it’s got the biggest beer garden overlooking the river and the Pulteney Bridge I guarantee a good night out here.

 

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Hall and Woodhouse

Not only do they stock great food and good drinks but I’d recommend visiting here just for the views from their gorgeous roof terrace. Plus the sweeping, spiral staircases throughout make for the perfect backdrop for a pose, especially when they light up at night time. Like I say…I’m in it for the ‘gram.

 

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The Botanist

The Botanist is still fairly new to the city and the stunning interiors are enough to entice me in. They do food as well but if you’re just after a few drinks they’ve got a great cocktail list.

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The Canary Gin Bar

As an absolute gin lover this place is always top of my list of recommendations. Yep, you guessed it, gin is the speciality here and they have over 200 gins on offer and have an extensive ‘Gin’ Austen cocktail menu as well.

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Fidel Rum Bar

I love the atmosphere and style in this cosy bar. It’s cool, edgy and has a speciality for rums but they do offer a few other spirits as well. The bar staff are excellent and make incredible cocktails.

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The Ivy Bath Brasserie

If you’re not already sold on the utterly gorgeous decor then let me take you by your hand and sweep you off your feet with their delicious menus. It’s great for brunch, afternoon tea or dinner but I’m sliding this one in here as a great place to go for pre drinks as well. The bar area is beautiful and the Ivy Sling is mouthwatering, you’ll look like you’ve been sent from a cool 1920s New York bar perching on one of these barstools.

Where to stay.

There’s a whole host of places to stay in and around Bath depending on your budget. With plenty of purse friendly hotels and hostels in and around the city centre, gorgeous townhouse Airbnb’s you can fall in love with and the most instagrammable serviced apartments to stay at as well.

Photo obtained from The Halcyon Apartments

Well… We are now over 3500 words and I thiiiink…I think that brings us neatly to the end of our Bath tour, don’t you? I’d like to think I touched on all possible subjects and bases. But if you have any q’s I can kindly try to give you my a’s!

A Vegetarian Afternoon Tea at The Royal Crescent Hotel, Bath.

 

Can you think of anything more quintessentially British than enjoying a splendid afternoon tea in the Royal Crescent Hotel which is nestled in the heart of historic Bath’s crescent? Unless The Queen and Mr Bean were sat at the adjacent table.

I visited The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa for the first time a few weeks ago with my sister and it’s just as grand and luxurious as one would imagine and I cannot wait to share my wonderful dining experience with you all.

We were promptly lead through the house, into the tranquil gardens and taken into the foyer of The Dower House restaurant where we were offered the choice of eating indoors or choosing one of the many tables outside. Seeing as it was such a beautifully sunny and warm day we opted for the latter. The resident robin even joined us at our table on many occasions throughout our visit. You’d hasten to forget you were in the middle of a beautiful, busy and bustling city as it was just so relaxing and quiet in the grounds of the hotel.

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We were seated at our table and handed some menus to choose which type of afternoon tea we’d like and which blend of tea we want to accompany it as well. The Royal Crescent really do cater for everyone with their choices of afternoon teas. First up was the Royal Crescent Afternoon Tea (£37.50 per person) which they say is designed more for those with a savoury palate. The sandwich choices you receive with this are:

  • clarence court egg, smoked cheddar, spring onion and mustard cress.
  • Roast beef with a horseradish mayonnaise and watercress.
  • Corn fed chicken and a basil and lemon hummus.
  • And finally a smoked salmon sandwich with a lemon and chive cream cheese.

The savoury options for this particular afternoon tea are:

  • Smoked salmon toast, smoked paprika, lemon zest and topped with caviar.
  • A bite sized sausage roll topped with a honey and onion seed glaze.
  • Bath chap (which is a cut of pork) with a mustard mayonnaise, pickled radish and sorrel.
  • Cucumber filled with a caraway spiced goats curd and topped with a charcoal emulsion.
  • Saffron and honey yoghurt topped with mackerel tartar and a fennel and red onion salad.

This afternoon tea is then simply finished off with an individual verrine topped with a crescent biscuit, a warm scone, Devonshire clotted cream, strawberry preserve and a bath bun with cinnamon butter.

If you have a sweeter palate or want to opt for the more traditional afternoon tea, the Authentic Afternoon Tea (also £37.50 per person) This offers all the same sandwiches as above but rather than getting a plate of savoury minis you get seasonally changing homemade cakes, pastries and sweet delicacies.

If that’s not all they even offer a children’s Afternoon Tea (£19.50 per child) which I think is the sweetest idea. The thought of a little party of children dressed up in posh frocks and polished shoes having a fancy garden tea party makes even me feel gooey and smiling like the Cheshire cat.

My sister opted for the Royal Crescent Afternoon Tea and I chose to have the vegetarian one with a copious amounts of earl grey to wash it all down with. I really liked that, if you’re having an afternoon tea with someone you don’t necessarily have to have the same one. Makes life a lot smoother for those with dietary requirements as they also cater for those who are vegan or nut/gluten intolerant as well.

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The dainty finger sandwiches I had were filled to the brim of these delectable fillings:

  • Avocado, guacamole and mustard leaf.
  • Roast red pepper with a basil and lemon hummus.
  • Cucumber, dill, black pepper and lime
  • And finally it was a little tomato and chutney sandwich.

They were delightful, fresh and different to what you’d usually get with an afternoon tea which I really enjoyed.

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The savouries I had included in this afternoon tea were delicious and so different to what I was expecting. Starting from the top item at the back was a bite sized mushroom and truffle sausage roll topped with a honey and onion seed glaze. The depth of flavours from the rich umami flavours from the truffle and mushrooms to the sweet, delectable hit from the honey at the end really finished off this little treat.  To the right of that was a warm truffle, brie and grape tart. Brie and grape is just a marriage made in perfect food heaven, combine that with a warm, buttery pastry and you’ve got yourself this little bite of happiness. Beneath that is a savoury choux bun, something of which I had never tried before and was really intrigued by. It was filled with a mouthwatering tomato, basil and lemon cream making it such a lovely and delicate light bite. Next from that was a thick slice of cucumber, which had been partially hollowed out and filled with a caraway spiced goat’s curd and topped with a charcoal emulsion. This too was something I had come across nor tried before and was eager to try it for myself. It was refreshingly cool and wonderfully unique to something you’d expect to adorn your plate. I loved the addition of the very on trend charcoal emulsion as well. Last but definitely not least was the saffron and honey yoghurt you can see in the glass jar on the plate. The silky smooth yoghurt was topped with feta cheese, ribbons of red onion and a fennel salad. Before I start to sound like a broken record I can honestly say I’ve never tasted anything like the things I tried here. The amber hued yoghurt had the subtle floral flavours of saffron combined with the saltiness of the feta and the tartness of the red onion it was completely sublime. I don’t think I could have wolfed it down any faster!

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A close up shot of the saffron and honey yoghurt pot.

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The warm truffle, brie and grape tart in all its glory.

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In between the savoury and sweet tiers we had these delightful lime posset verrine’s topped with a crescent biscuit. It was gorgeously creamy and tangy serving as the perfect palate cleanser.

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Now moving onto the pinnacle of an afternoon tea, it’s not complete without scones with jam and clotted cream. Their warm scones were perfect, so you can just tear them in two with your hands. Whether you eat your scones with jam and cream or cream and jam; these’ll go down a treat.

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If these are new to you as well they are sweet enriched dough buns, studded with sultanas, sprinkled with sugar and a sugar lump placed in the middle.

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As you can see the sugar lump hidden inside the bath bun still remains nearly completely intact. These are perfect with lashings of jam and cream or slathered in cinnamon butter.

I absolutely loved my visit to The Royal Crescent Hotel and am definitely thinking about when I’ll next be returning or even sampling some of their main restaurant menu.