Sunday Catch Up #10

Happy Sunday! I hope you're all having a lovely weekend, mine has so far been spent procrastinating and sitting in bed, so hopefully today will be very productive. I've got an essay to write for a programme I do at uni, and I've left it to basically the last minute and now Im slightly freaking out, a great way to start third year! 

Tomorrow is the first day of September, I can't believe how quick this summer has gone, I feel like I haven't really done anything but I guess thats always the way with summers, they're never as great as you imagine them to be. I always feel like September is the start of a new year, I guess because academically it is. Im going into third year, and i'll be moving back up to Preston in just over a week to start my final year and Im slightly crapping it. 

To go along with a new year I'm making a few minor changes on my blog, mostly I'm going to be posting a little bit less. At the moment I aim to post on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. However that's changing and Im going to be posting on less days, this is just so I don't get overwhelmed and I can keep up a bit easier. With it being my final year at uni I've got to work really hard and not get distracted with blogging, Im going to be planning my time better and making sure I put enough time into both uni and blogging. 

My new posting schedule is going to be;

Monday: Travel or Lifestyle Posts
Wednesday: Healthy Living, Fashion, or Beauty Posts
Friday: Student Life or Other Posts  
Sunday: Catch Up or Life Update Posts 

Just thought I'd let you guys know the new plan so you know when to expect posts, there may occasionally be posts on other days if I feel like it, or I might miss a day or not stick to the right day for a certain topic. I don't want to be too strict on myself for what I have to post, but I find it's always best to have a structure to follow so you can plan and organise. 

Let me know your thoughts on this, I'd also be interested to know how often you post? Do you have a schedule you always follow? Do you post about certain topics on certain days or just whatever you want when you want? Also let me know what are your favourite things to read on this blog? I cover lots of topics but I quite like that as I feel it's true to me and the things I enjoy. 

A Guide To Starting University: Money

Last week I started off my new series 'A Guide To Starting University' with talking about some of the things you need to do before you leave. Today I'm going to carry on with that topic and give you some tips on some other important things you should think about doing before you head off to uni.

This week I'm going to focus on probably one of the most important things to sort out and that's money, because without money you're a little bit screwed. The first step for sorting out money is...

Student Loan
Make sure you've applied for your student loan! Most students need a loan to cover their tuition fees and also a maintenance loan to help with general living costs like accommodation, food and clothes. To apply for your loan go to the student finance website and follow the steps to apply. Your tuition fee loan goes straight to the university so you don't really need to worry about this, the rest of the money is split into 3 payments that are transferred to your bank at the start of each term (September, January & April). 

The amount of money you are given is dependent on the income of your parents. Some students will get a grant from the government and the higher your grant, the lower your loan, and this is again dependent on your parents income. However you don't ever have to pay back your grant unlike your loan which you pay back after you've graduated. 

Student Bank Account
If you're lucky your loan might last you all term, or it might not even cover the cost of your accommodation. Thats why it's important to also get yourself a student bank account. These are specifically tailored to students and most offer interest free overdrafts, meaning you don't have to pay back your overdraft until you've graduated and also that you won't pay interest on the amount you've borrowed either. 

Overdrafts can be quite controversial, and some students say they'd never have one, while others have no choice but to get one, decide what is best for you and don't feel ashamed if you spend all year living in your overdraft if you have to. That's what its there for. Personally, I need an overdraft, and although I spend more than I should, without it I wouldn't be able to eat some months! Different banks offer different overdraft limits, which usually increase each academic year, so make sure to see what's best for you, whether you need a big overdraft or whether you'd rather not have one otherwise you'll spend too much. 

Some banks offer different freebies to entice you in, and these can be good offers such as railcards or NUS cards, however only go for these accounts if the other aspects of the accounts are what you need. Make sure to never go over your overdraft limit as the charges and interest can be very high! If you need to increase your overdraft speak to your bank and they may be able to help you. 

The next logical step is to budget the money you have. Once you've worked out how much money you'll have to play with each month give yourself a budget. This amount will be different for everyone, but be realistic! You're most likely going to spend a lot of money during your first few months while you get use to university life, so if you can, factor this in. 

You'll probably spend a lot more money than you think you will, so maybe re-budget after a month or so at uni and keep track of what you're spending and see where you can cut back. Maybe you're buying lots of clothes, or shopping at Waitrose rather than Aldi. Maybe you need to keep your bank card at home on nights out, or your spending money on taxis when you could be walking. 

Budgeting is hard, I'm starting my third year of uni and I still haven't got to grips with budgeting so don't be too hard on yourself if you end up having to call on the bank of mum and dad a few times. There is a way to get yourself some more money though...

Part-time Job
This is obviously the best way to get yourself some extra cash, however it might not be as easy as you think. If you know you're going to need a job, start looking asap! Remember you're competing with students from all years, and also remember retail jobs will often only employ you if you're able to work the christmas season. Make sure your CV is up to date and print off lots of copies and walk around your town/city handing them out to as many places as possible. 

One of the best places to try and get a job is your Student's Union, as they understand that you're a student and can usually be flexible if you have assignments to complete, they also understand you might not be around outside of term time. First year is a good time to try and get a job as you have the least amount of work and pressure, where as second and third year have a lot more pressure and you might not want to be working. 

Lots of funding, scholarships and bursaries are available from universities and the government. These usually aren't available to everyone and have different criteria depending on the type of funding. Make sure to have a look on your uni's website to see if there are any you would qualify for. 

Hopefully this post will have helped you sort yourself out money wise for uni. Don't stress too much about money, not many students have much money so you're all kind of in the same boat together. Don't feel pressured to spend more than you want, but also don't feel pressured to not spend, you can do what you want with your money. Just make sure you're prepared and know how much you've got. 

Healthy Living #11 I Should Love My Body

I'm too hard on myself, like most women and girls I'm sure. I constantly criticise and hate on my body, I should be better, slimmer, more beautiful. I have tree trunk thighs, bingo wings and a flabby tummy. I'm spotty and pale and my I hate my boobs.

When I look in the mirror I rarely notice the positives and only see negatively, I scrutinise and take note of all the things I don't like, yet I don't embrace the things I love, I don't see the good things about the bits I hate. I don't love my body. Deep down I know I am beautiful, everyone is, but It's hard to see past the things I think I need to change to become beautiful. 

I've decided it's time to embrace my body, and all its lumps and bumps and learn to love myself. Something that is not going to be easy. The struggle between loving myself but also wanting to better myself is what is keeping me in the constant battle of 'I am beautiful exactly as I am' and, 'I am beautiful but I would be more beautiful if I was slimmer'. 

I talk about wanting to loose weight a bit on this blog and this really is something I want to do, as Im technically over weight according to my BMI, but wanting to loose weight means wanting to change my body because Im not happy with it. I don't know what I want more, to love myself and not change, or to change and love myself more for changing.  Can you do both? Can you love your body exactly as it is, but still want to change it? 

I'd love to hear your opinions on this, as I know body confidence is something most people struggle with, or have struggled with. Personally my view on my body has improved a lot since I was a teenager, but Im still not totally happy or confident in the way I look. I guess it doesn't help that we are constantly bombarded with unrealistic images of women that we are supposed to aspire to look like, and we're reading articles about loosing weight or seeing celebrities being criticised for not looking a certain way. 

I don't know the answers or how to we're supposed to learn to love ourselves, I guess the most important thing is to be happy and remember you are beautiful, whether you feel like it or not. 

I Guess This Is Goodbye Summer

Top: New Look
Shorts: Next
Sandals: Tesco
Hat: Primark
Clutch: Accessorize 
Watch: Marc Jacobs
Necklac: New Look

With Summer clearly on it's way out I thought I'd post this outfit as a last attempt to keep summer going! This outfit is a variation of what I wore basically all summer, in fact I love this New Look top so much I have it in 2 other colours! I love that it's slightly cropped so hits just at the top of my shorts but without showing too much skin, only a slight amount through the detailing. I also love these shorts, I've found when buying shorts they're either very short or too long and a bit too casual looking. My mum found me this pair in Next and I've been wearing them constantly since. I like that they can be rolled up at the bottom to the length I have them here, or they can be rolled down to full length for a slightly longer short. 

The accessories are what makes this outfit in my opinion. The hat I picked up from Primark after searching for a cheaper black floppy hat as I wasn't going to pay £30 for one from Topshop! At £8 this hat is a bargain and I won't feel too guilty if It doesn't get too much wear. The clutch I picked up from Accessorize in May after featuring it in my Summer Wish List. The colour is one of my favourite colours and I want to buy anything I see in this colour, the clutch also comes with a long strap so It can be worn across the body which is always handy especially on nights out!

Are you still clinging on to Summer, or have you got out the jumpers, jeans and boots ready for winter? 

A Guide To Starting University: Before You Go.

When you're preparing to head off to uni it can seem like there are a million and one things you need to get done before you've even started. When preparing uni there are a few important things you need to make sure you think about before you start. It's best to get things sorted before you head off, as you won't remember to do them when you've just moved in and you're sitting around a table playing ring of fire with people you've only know for a few hours.

So for my first instalment in my 'Guide To Starting University' Im going to talk you through some of the things you should be doing before you start. It's quite a long guide but I didn't want to miss anything out. 

First up is sorting out accommodation, obviously for people who are attending a uni close to their homes and commuting in this won't be a step they need to consider, however even if you are going to a uni in your area make sure to think about the pros and cons to both sides before making the decision not to live in halls.

As first years the best option for student accommodation is Uni owned (or leased) accommodation, this means you apply through the university and you are allocated a room within a halls of residence. All Unis are different in the types of halls they have, with catered, en suite, shared bathroom, first years only and mature student halls. When you apply make sure to look through all the options and decide what is best for you and take into consideration the price. 

I'd recommend self catering halls rather than catered as it gives you more independence and freedom to eat when you want and what you want. Also don't worry to much if you're sharing a bathroom with others, after a few weeks you'll become used to it, and it won't bother you as much. 

If you've already secured a place in halls then make sure to keep watching your emails and letterbox for any information they may send through or forms that you need to send back. If you haven't got a place in halls yet and you want one, get on it! In some unis places can go quickly and you might miss out. However don't worry if you don't get a place, or you don't want to live in halls, there are other options, some unis have the option of uni owned shared houses or flats. You can also find a privately rented house share, just make sure to check the university's approved list of landlords. 

From my own experience I'd recommend living in halls if you want the Freshers experience, you meet so many people and make lots of friends through flat parties and friends of friends. It's also a life changing experience living with people you don't know and having to look after yourself. 

Living with random people may seem daunting but don't worry, you may also find your flatmates become your new family, you may find you don't get along with all of them but thats fine. A good way to get to know who you're going to be living with before you move in is via Facebook. A lot of unis have Facebook groups created for each Halls of residence where you can join and find others living in your flat and start chatting! 

Your Course 
With moving across the country, making friends and freshers being at the front of your mind you may forget the main reason you're attending university, to get a degree! Preparing for your course is also important before you go. Each course will obviously be different so the best way to make sure you've done everything you need to do before you go is to keep up to date with all the information you get sent. 

Reading lists are common within a lot of subjects, so make sure you check these out, however don't go buying all the books straight away, check to see if it's mandatory reading or recommended. If there is a core course book try to get that one to start out, and then maybe buy any others once you've started and can ask the lecturers which ones they would recommend buying. Also remember your library will probably have all the books on the list so if you can't afford to buy them new you can always check them out from there, however there will only be a limited amount and not one for everyone on the course!

If your course has any other pre-starting requirements make sure you do these, you don't want to be behind before you're even started. Most uni's won't ask much of you before you start however, as they're aware how big of a life change starting uni can be! Also a lot of unis ask you to enrol before your course starts, this is normally online and is where you give all your information and confirm you are starting the course. 

As well as receiving information about your course, you'll also be getting lots of info about other uni related things. It will feel like an overload of information but try to sieve through to find the important parts, whether thats the Freshers timetable, the gym opening times or how to register at the doctors. Side point, make sure to register at your new doctors asap!

There will also be lots of information online about the services offered by the uni and your student's union. If you know you're going to need a certain service or want advice go find the information and take note. Unis and students unions have lots of services including mental health support, financial help and advice, job shops, societies and sports teams etc. Whatever you think you'll need or you want to know more about the odds are your uni will have information about it online.

So those are the first few things you should be thinking about when you're getting ready to start university. I'll be looking at some other very important things in next weeks post so make sure to check that out as well. Hopefully this has been useful to some of you, and let me know if you're starting uni soon and feel free to ask any questions you may have about starting uni. 

[photo source]

Healthy Living #10 NHS Couch to 5k App Review

If you follow me on twitter or have read some of my previous posts you will probably be aware that I am currently training for a 10 kilometre run. As someone who has always hated running and could barely run for 10 seconds without feeling like I was dying, I knew I needed to be gradually eased into it. That's where the NHS Couch to 5k (C25K) app came in to play. 

I'd heard lots of things about this NHS programme designed to get you from 'the couch' to being able to run 5k in 9 weeks through running 3 days a week following their plan involving a combination of walking and running. Each week the length of the running intervals would increase until you were running without stopping for 30 minutes. This programme seemed like the best way to get started with my training and as it was free I downloaded the iphone app and got started. 

Although the programme recommends running 3 times a week for 9 weeks I decided to aim to run 6 times a week and therefore complete the plan in 4/5 weeks as I needed to be able to run 10k by the end of September. Although most weeks I ran for 5 days I don't think that by running more than the recommended 3 times I was hindered or put more at risk for injury. The only possible downside I could see is that you may not be ready for the next week and might be discouraged if you can't complete a run. 

The Programme
The programme is designed to gradually improve your fitness, for example in the first week you alternate running for 60 seconds, then walking for 90 seconds, something I found a big struggle to begin with, however by the 4th week (my 2nd) I was able to run for 5 minutes straight something that made me so happy I nearly cried. 

I've now been following the plan for just over a month and Im on week 8 and running for 28 minutes at a time. This is a massive improvement to see in just over a month and something I am very proud of. Without this programme I doubt I would have been able to run for this long or would have stuck to my training. I really recommend this programme for anyone wanting to get into running. 

The App
Now to review the actual iphone app. To begin you are greeted by the above picture from which you can scroll across to find the week and day you are on. It gives you a description of what you'll be doing in that session which can be a bit scary. When you start the session you are spoken to by Laura who introduces you to session and then talks to you throughout the run letting you know when to stop and start running, and how long you've got left during the longer runs. This was one of the best aspects of the app, she was very encouraging and motivated you to keep going, she also praised you at the end and gave tips to help improve your run. 

You can listen to music along with the app which is definitely a bonus, you can also look at the app to see how long you've got left, how long your next walk or run is and how far into the session you are. 

I did find the app to be a bit difficult to use in that it sometimes wouldn't load and I'd have to close it and open it again, however while running it was okay. A major issue I found occurred around the week 5 mark where I began running longer distances of 8 minutes. After the 5 minute warm up walk when I would start to run I would check the time on my phone clock and work out the time it would be when I would stop running and walk again, after what my phone said was 8 minutes the app said I had only done 4 minutes. This meant I kept running and would have then run for 12 minutes or so. To start with I was unsure whether I had miscalculated or maybe accidentally paused the app, however this happened again on other days. 

When I got to the end of week 6 and had to run for 25 minutes straight it happened again and said I'd only done 5 minutes when I'd done 10 or so. I became very angry and stopped the app deciding to instead time myself using my phone timer as this was more reliable. I've now given up using the app and moved onto using the Nike Running app which measures your distance and time. As Im now running for much longer solid blocks of time I don't find I need the encouragement off the app. 

Overall I think the programme behind the app is an amazing way to get someone into starting running, without it I doubt I would have got to where I am now, I liked Laura and how encouraging and motivating she was. I also like the progress wall where you could see how far you had come and also rate each run on how you felt it went. However the glitch or problem with the app not correctly registering the time I had run was a serious negative point. Im not sure If it was just my app, my phone or even me but it was incredibly disheartening thinking/knowing you'd run for longer than you were being told. 

After week 6 the runs are all long continuous runs for 25, 28 and 30 minutes, and I think by this point you could move onto an app that records both your distance and time as you don't need to be told when to stop and start running or need as much encouragement. 

In summary I'd recommend the app for the first few weeks of the programme to get you into the routine of running and also to encourage and motivate you to keep going. However once you're running for longer periods of time without stopping and starting again I'd recommend moving on to a the Nike Running app and also taking note of the distance you're running. Just make sure to stay motivate to run regularly and keep improving your run each time. 

Have you ever tried to Couch to 5k app, if so what did you think? Are you an avid runner or are you a bit of a novice like me? 

10 Beauty Things I Suck At.

Curling my hair. Straighteners or curlers I just can't do it. It just looks like one big half kinky, half straight mess. 

Hairstyles. It's not just curly hair that I fail at, messy buns, plaits, anything other than straight or a pony tail is too hard for me.

Plucking my eyebrows. This is more just laziness, other than a small amount of necessary maintenance they pretty much get left until Im force to have them waxed.

Fake Tan. Being very pale means fake tan can be a bit of a disaster, and I tend to stay away. Even some gradual tanners can look streaky on me if Im not careful!

Washing my brushes. Something Im sure most girls struggle with. It just takes so long!

Eyeliner. I've given up trying on this one, Im never going to be able to rock a winged liner look. 

Contouring. I can't be the only person who can't get to grips with contouring, or maybe I just have non existent cheekbones that will never appear even with the help of make up. 

- False Eyelashes. Just no, it's never happening.

Skincare. Beauty bloggers will hate me for this one, but I suck at skincare. I use face wipes to take off my make up, and I don't even know the purpose of toner! Maybe one day when Im a real adult with a real job I'll be able afford a proper skin care regime. 

Haircuts. Im poor and therefore can't afford a haircut so it just keeps growing and growing. 

These are the reasons why I will never be a beauty blogger! Let me know if you also suck at any of these beauty things, or maybe you're amazing at one of them and have some tips you can send my way! 

My UK Travel Wish List

I love visiting new places, whether thats abroad or here in the UK. Recently I've done a bit of exploring around places in the UK including Wales and York, and it's made me fall in love with the UK again. Both of these visits were very different, one being a small town by the sea and another being a big city with amazing architecture, however I loved them both. I've decided to create a little UK travel wish list of some of the places I really want to visit in the UK. 

I've never been to Scotland and I feel like it's somewhere I need to go and my love for castles draws me to Edinburgh, I also want to make the climb to Arthur's seat, wander around the streets and try a Scottish Whisky. I'd love to be there during the Fringe Festival as well. 

I love the British seaside as much as any European beach and Brighton is a must with the Piers. A visit here with my girls would be a really fun few days, and nights out in Brighton are supposed to be pretty good! Also shopping in all the quirky shops in the Lanes and then finishing it off with an ice cream and a visit to the Pavilion. 

A walk around the University buildings would have to be done when visiting Cambridge, theres so much history and it looks like such a pretty city to wander around. A punt along the river in a boat is also necessary, probably finished off with some food and a drink in a pub. Simple but still perfect.  

It's a wonder of the world and one of the most famous man made monuments, yet I still haven't been to see it. Although I'm unsure the reasoning behind the circle of stones it is still an amazing piece of history and something that is definitely on my list. 

Beautiful beaches is what Cornwall is known for, and this is what makes me want to visit. I'll be soaking up the sun on the beach as well as taking in the beautiful views from the cliff walks, and maybe attempting a bit of surfing even though we know that won't go well! 

These places are all a bit closer to home than my other Travel Wish List, so hopefully I'll soon be able to tick them off. Where in the UK would you love to visit and what place is your top recommendation?

Sunday Catch Up #9

I'm missing uni. Im bored of being at home and Im counting down the days until Im back at uni. Im ready for learning again, and I want to see all my friends, I miss the independence of living away from home. However I'm still enjoying being at home, and I need to make the most of it as it's my last summer as a student. So here's ten things that have made me happy this week. 

1.  Getting to see all my girls together for a night out in London. We haven't all been together in too long and it was so good to just hang out, catch up and drink some wine!

2. Running for 25 minutes. It's the longest I've run so far and I'm really proud of myself, I feel like Im starting to get into it a bit more now. 

3. Seeing Tilly play with another dog. My little girl is very old now and struggles with walking so we don't take her out often, but this week my friend brought her dog over to visit and watching them play in the garden and seeing Tilly happy and bouncy made my heart burst a little bit. 

4. George Ezra's album Wanted on Voyage. It's the perfect album to just chill to and Im loving it. 

5. Getting overtime at work. All overtime was cut at work, and I'd been relying on overtime to get enough money this summer so that sucked. However this week I was manage to get some overtime for next week and I was a very happy bunny.

6. Sainsbury's cookies eaten whilst drunk on the way home. Perfect.

7. Booking trains to Josh's for next weekend. I haven't seen him in nearly 3 weeks so I'm very excited to go visit him over the bank holiday weekend. 

8. Chocolate Wheatabix Minis. These are my all time favourite cereal, which I don't usually get as I eat far too many, but this week I got them as a treat and I look forward to breakfast every morning!

9. Catching up on blogs. I constantly feel like Im behind and I need to read more blogs, but this week I've managed to catch up on some of my favourites and also find a few new ones I know Im going to love. 

10. The weather getting cooler. Although the rain isn't great Im really glad It's finally getting a bit cooler, makes running during the day easier, and also means I can get back into jeans again.

Hope you're all having a lovely weekend and lots of things have made you happy this week. I think it's nice sometimes to look back on the little things that have made you happy in the week. 

A Guide To Starting University: Intro

So it's Friday the 15th August and that means yesterday was A Level Results Day. For a lot of people that will have meant a very exciting, stressful, upsetting or nerve wracking day waiting on results or phoning unis hoping to get a place through clearing. So congratulations on making it through your A Levels and getting in to uni. Hopefully everyone has either got their place at the uni they hoped for, or has found another option through clearing and you're now ready to start preparing for your university experience! 

Im currently going in to my third and final year of uni and I thought I'd use my experience to offer up some advice to those just about to start their exciting university lives. So I've created 'A Guide To Starting Uni' and for the next 8 weeks I'll be posting advice and tips on all the different aspects of starting uni! 

Obviously I am no expert and I can only use my own knowledge and experiences, everyone has an individual experience of university life, but a lot of people starting uni have similar feelings or questions and may experience similar things which I'll hopefully be able to help with through this series. 

I'll be covering the before you move in areas such as planning, packing and making sure you've done everything you can to be as prepared as possible. I'll also make sure to prepare you guys for actually moving in and starting uni, from Freshers Week to starting your course, homesickness and how to make the most of your first year at uni. 

If you've got anything you'd really like to me to cover in a post, please leave me a comment, or if you've got any questions about anything to do with university, student life or  anything else feel free to message me on twitter or send me a email.

3 Ways to Wear a Checkered Shirt*

When The Hut Group got in touch with me and asked me if I'd like to sample an item from The Hut's new collection I had to say yes. Having scoped through their website and found so many items I loved I knew their new collection would be just as good. I chose this checkered shirt* as it's something I knew I'd get a lot of wear out of throughout the year and fits with my relaxed style.

To give you guys a good look at the shirt I figured I'd show you 3 of the ways I'd wear a checkered shirt. 

The first outfit is great for a British Summer, high waisted denim shorts with a loose fitting white top tucked in and then a checkered shirt round the waist, ready to pull on if it gets a bit chilly. Paired with my 6 year old converse which are just about still living!

White Top - New Look
Denim Shorts - New Look
Converse - Office

This outfit is the most 'me', the checkered shirt works perfectly with my old primark jeans that I spent hours ripping holes in for a 90s themed party! They've now become one of my favourite pairs of jeans as they're so comfy! A pair of worn in flip flops keeps this outfit easy and relaxed. My kind of style. 

Boyfriend Jeans - Primark (Rips by yours truly)
Flip Flops - Tesco (years ago)

This outfit is a favourite, I love pairing a checkered shirt with a dress to make it a bit more casual and add some colour. I've paired it with some biker boots and my new black floppy hat which I was so excited to pick up from Primark as I've been after a cheap one for months. This oufit is something a bit out of my comfort zone, but I love it none the less. 

Dress - New Look
Boots - New Look
Hat - Primark

I'm really happy with this shirt, the colours look lovely together and will fit perfectly into my wardrobe, I can see myself getting a lot of wear out of it. The shirt is priced at £25, which is probably more than I'd pay for a checkered shirt, but I do think it's worth it's price as the quality is great and the fabric feels lovely and soft. I don't see this shirt loosing buttons or having to be thrown away after a month or so like something you might pick up for cheaper. I'd also say that although the shirt does gape slightly across my boobs this is something I find with most shirts and it fits well everywhere else, but I'd recommend bigger busted ladies to maybe go up a size. 

This checkered shirt, along with other items from their new collection will be released on their website soon. I'd recommend checking out The Hut as they've got some great clothing as well as beauty, sports and gifts. I'd especially check their sale if you're looking for a bargain! 

I was provided with this checkered shirt by The Hut for the purpose of a review. However all opinions are my own. 

Let's Get Personal: Hurdles

Sometimes I feel like I put too much on myself. I write to do lists, and have plans, and expect so much of myself. I want to achieve and be the best I can possibly be and I can see my goals right in front of me just waiting for me to get there, but theres so many hurdles in between. 

Sometimes those hurdles are barley off the ground and can be jumped without a second thought, but sometimes the hurdles seem so high they’re impossible and there is no point even trying. Most of the time they’re somewhere in between, a height that just might be possible If I jump my highest, but I might also stumble and fall and feel stupid for trying. 

I’m emotional, lazy, a procrastinator, a planner and I’m also ambitious. Together these things make for a bit of a roller coaster ride. My ambitions lead to setting goals and planning how to reach them, but the lazy procrastinator in me tries as hard as it can to stop me getting close to these goals. Then I get emotional, I give up, what’s the point in trying Im never going to get there. I’m not going to write this essay, apply for that job, or go on a run. I’m going to eat cake, and watch telly. I was never good enough anyway. 

One moment Im ambitious and motivated and excited, then I trip up over a hurdle and it all comes crashing down and seems impossible. I stop trying, I sabotage myself and make reaching that goal harder by doing the opposite of what I need to.

I’m trying to improve, to anticipate the hurdles and better prepare for them. Im learning to cope better when I do stumble, to not be disheartened and pick myself up and carry on. I also need to understand that Im going to have bad days, and sad days and mad days. I’ll have days where everything becomes too much, or I feel lost or scared, but thats okay, It’s just one day and tomorrow will be better. 

I’m not sure where I was going with this post, but I just wanted to write and this is what came out. I want my blog to be real and honest, I want to be able to be open and talk about personal things, I want to start conversations and get advice, or give advice. Sometimes blogging can be another one of the goals that I never reach, hurdles keep getting in my way,  stopping me from getting where I want to be, but like I said Im trying to not let those hurdles get too big, and not to be discouraged when I do stumble. 

Does anyone else ever feel like this? How do you stay motivated when you stumble at a hurdle?  

Exploring York

A city I've always wanted to visit is York, and after my boyfriend raved about how great it was when he spent a week working there I knew we had to visit. After scouring the internet to find a hotel we decided on Hedley House  it was a good price, had a car park and was walking distance into the city centre. The reviews on trip advisor were good and it included breakfast, my favourite meal of the day, we were sold!

Arriving in York after a long drive we checked into our hotel, left the car and walked through the Museum Gardens and into the centre. This took no more than 5 minutes and we were surprised how close our hotel was!

With it being an absolutely gorgeous, if not too hot, day, we decided to spend the day walking around exploring the city. The first sight we came across was the York Minster, something you'd struggle to miss if you were ever in York due to it being a huge Cathedral! We were going to venture inside and possibly climb up the tower, but we thought it was quite expensive and instead thought we'd enjoy the architecture from outside. 

Our next stop was The Shambles, one of Britains most popular streets, it's definitely a tourist destination and was filled with people. I'd still recommend taking a peak if you're ever in York as it's such a quirky and interesting place. The buildings have this unusual design where each floor comes out further than the one before. Josh explained to me that it had something to do with beams bending or something. I don't know, nor care, I just like how it looks, like the street has just stepped out of a period drama.

Our exploring of The Shambles came to an end when we saw The York Roast Co. offering delicious sandwiches with the option of pulled pork, roast beef or turkey. Both Josh and I went for turkey, stuffing and cranberry in a bun, and it was good and reminded me of Christmas. We sat and people watched whilst eating our lunch, one of my favourite things to do, and then we carried on mooching around York. I loved all the bunting that was up across the city, it gave it such a summery feeling.

We spent the rest of the day relaxing in the park before heading out to dinner and then an early night after exhausting ourselves exploring. The next day we decided to check out a Museum, as both Josh and I are big history fans we decided the York Castle Museum looked the most interesting, and we were not disappointed. The museum has exhibits from across history, with two 'high streets' that have been created to look as realistic as possible. The first high street is 'Kirkgate' the Victorian Street, featuring shops showing items from the time, a backstreet showing the poverty experienced by many, and also a life-size horse and carriage. 

The exhibit I enjoyed the most was The Sixties, another high street with shops displaying clothes, and other items from the era, there was also a juke box playing 60s music and a moped, the colours were bright and It made me wish I was around during that time.  There was also a special exhibit to mark the 100 year anniversary of WW1, it displayed items from the war as well as teaching about all the different aspects of war. Again it was an interactive exhibit where you could walk through the trenches.

At the end of the WW1 exhibit there was a room covered in a blackboard with chalk to write your thoughts and feelings about the exhibit. This was amazing to read, with everybody commenting on the importance of Peace and the horror of war, as well as leaving thanks to all those who served our country. The Castle Museum was probably one of the best Museums I've been to, it covered so many different eras, much more than just those I've mentioned, including the York Prison, where Josh locked me in a cell! I'd definitely recommend visiting, and it's reasonably priced.

Our trip to York was definitely a great one, and It's a place I'd recommend to everyone. This trip, along with our visit to Wales has reminded me of all the places I've yet to visit within the UK. Im now adding more places to my Travel Wish List, but this time there a little bit closer to home.

I'd love to hear your recommendations of places in the UK I should visit in the future. 

Healthy Living #9 My Attempt at Raspberry Ripple

After the success of my Sugar Free Chocolate Biscuits I decided to have a go at another recipe from my 'I Quit Sugar' book. After a quick flick through I landed on this yummy looking delight, that the author claims is one of her most popular recipes.  It looked delicious in the book and didn't sound too difficult to make, with only a few ingredients and very little cooking involved.

I did have a struggle trying to find rice malt syrup and eventually had to turn to amazon to find something suitable. Although Im sure I ordered rice malt syrup I ended up being delivered barley malt syrup, a quick google reassured me that this was basically the same and wouldn't make a difference.

50g frozen raspberries
40g coconut flakes (I used desiccated)
75g coconut oil
80g salted butter
2tbps cacao powder
2-3tbps rice malt syrup (can be found on amazon)

The first step is to line a dinner place with baking paper and scatter the berries and coconut across the plate. I added a few extra raspberries as 50g didn't seem to be enough.

The next step is to melt the oil and butter in a saucepan over a low heat, and then stir in the cacao powder and syrup until its all melted and mixed together. Then you pour the mixture over the berries making sure it covers the entire area.

Then simply pop the plate into the freezer for about 30-45 minutes until firm. It can then be cut into wedges or just snapped up into small pieces to serve. 

As you can see, my ripple did not turn out exactly like the picture, I think maybe too much chocolate mixture and not enough raspberries, and maybe it needed flakes rather than desiccated coconut. However although it may not look as delicious, it did taste great. It's quite a sweet treat and a small amount is all you need, and the raspberries definitely make the recipe. 

Im not sure if I'd make this recipe again, as it didn't look amazing, and although it tasted great i'd rather try other different healthy options.