Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.

Monday, 28 August 2017

Weekly Love #34

It's the last Monday of August and this month seems to have flown by, although it seems like it was weeks ago since I was paid, so I'm looking forward to that...

This week was a good one because it ended with a long weekend, but also a sad one because that's the last one of the year!

Here are the things I was loving last week...

1. Magazines

Since I was at university, I have loved having magazines lying around the house to pick up whenever I feel like having a chilled hour or two. I have a tendency to buy magazines like Cosmo, Glamour and Red when they're on offer but never get round to reading them. On Tuesday evening, I had some free time so I finally got round to reading a few that had been piling up on my lounge table. It was nice to be able to switch off for a bit and not have to concentrate too hard.

2. Baking

On Wednesday evening, I had an evening baking for our bake sale at work on the Friday. I ended up making a flapjack and 32 cookies... I didn't realise that doubling the recipe would make so so many, but I wasn't complaining! The bake sale was for such a good cause, cystic fibrosis, and I hope a lot of money was raised. For someone who doesn't enjoy cooking too much, I really do like to bake!

3. Celebrity Masterchef

Although it started last week, Jordan and I didn't round to watching Celebrity Masterchef until this week, and it was great to be able to bulk watch them instead of waiting a few days. I'm a massive fan of any cooking program, especially ones where 'celebrities' (using that term loosely) embarrass themselves because it makes me feel better about my inability to cook.

4. Sushi Catch-up

On Thursday, I had a few friends over to see the house and have a catch-up. There ended up being 4 of us, all of whom went to Ibiza back in April, but we hadn't all been together since then (minus my friend's wedding...) so it was nice to hear what everyone had been up to. Plus one of the girls had just got engaged so we toasted to that!

5. Friday Lunchtime

On Friday lunchtime, a few of us decided we needed a drink, so headed to the Botanist in Alderley edge for a cheeky G&T. It ended up being a bit of an outing for everyone in the office, and we managed to take over quite a bit big of the restaurant. It definitely made the day go quicker!

6. Catch-Ups

Sticking with the theme of Friday drinking, I met my friend Erin (her blog is here) for a catch-up over an after work drink. I hadn't seen her since April, so we had loads to catch up. The weather was playing ball for once, so we sat outside enjoying the sunshine.

7. Trip To Altrincham

For anyone who knows me, you'll know that I used to live in Altrincham, but moved slightly further out when we bought a house. It had been a while since I had been back to my old little town on a Saturday day, so me and Jordan went for a wander on Saturday afternoon. The sun was shining, and there was a music festival going on. It's only been a couple of months since I'd last been, but so many new places had opened, and it's nice to see the town thriving again - (what an old person thing to say...)

8. BBQ

On Saturday afternoon after going to Altrincham, we went to our friends for an impromptu BBQ. The weather was absolutely glorious, and it was really lovely to spend time with everyone whilst eating and drinking our way through the insane amount of food that we bought: We even had smores at the end.

9. Birthday Party

On Sunday, it was my Nan's 90th birthday and my Dad's 64th, so we went to her house to celebrate. She had gone all out with the food and drinks, and had the most insane gold, chocolate cake. She did a little speech, and it was lovely to meet some of her friends and see that side of my family again. She is such an inspiration, and I am so honoured to be related to her.

10. Greek Takeaway

After we got home from the party on Sunday, we were both a bit peckish and decided to get a takeaway instead of cooking - plus we had no food in. After having a look on Just Eat (because apparently, our house isn't good enough for Deliveroo) we found our favourite Greek restaurant on there and decided to have a bit of a feast. Greek food has always been one of my favourites and it's good to know we can get it, if the mood takes us (but maybe not so much for the ol' bank account...)


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Friday, 25 August 2017

9 Reasons I'd 100% Go Back To Berlin

It's coming up to six months since I visited Berlin back in March, but since then, I have been toying with the idea of going back for a few days either at the end of this year or maybe next because it was one of those places that gets under your skin.

Because I had to fly back early to sort out the final paperwork for buying our house, I felt as though my time there was slightly cut short, which meant that there were a few things I didn't get round to doing that were on my list.

There's are some of the reasons that I would definitely go back:

1. The People

I don't know where the connotation that German people aren't friendly because I've never found that to be the case. I had my first experience of their hospitality when I visited Hamburg last Christmas, and Berlin was no different. The Germans are very proud of their country, but they also want to share it with tourists, which is very welcoming.

2. The History

I was recommended a walking tour of Berlin by a friend, and I'm so glad we did it. You see so much more walking around a city with a guide than you do on the top of a bus or trying to figure it out by yourself. We saw where Hitler shot himself in the bunker, where the east and west divide was and learnt all about the Berlin wall, which I had no idea about previously.

3. The Food

Where we stayed in Mitte, we were surrounded by incredible restaurants, and I wish we had have been there longer to try them out. There were loads of Asian inspired ones, burger joints, and classic German cuisine amongst so many others (including an amazing ice cream place!) If you're ever struggling of where to stay in Berlin, I would recommend the Mitte district because it has everything on your doorstep, but is also close to the underground station too. We also went to a food hall in Kreuzberg which had loads of different options and live music.

4. The Graffiti

If there's one thing Berlin does well, it's the graffiti. The city has so much to offer, from building-high murals to random bits on the trams, but it's all amazing and so colourful. One of my favourite memories of the trip was visiting the East-side gallery, which I would definitely recommend if you're visiting the city.

5. The Music Scene

One of the areas I wish we'd had more time to explore was Kreuzberg because from what I did see, it looked absolutely crazy - in the best way possible. I was only there for two nights, so we didn't manage to fit in any of the megaclubs, but the bars we went to really impressed me and the music was very eclectic.

6. The Beer

One of the places we visited on our last night was the Hofbrau beer hall, which I'd heard a few people talk about, and I really enjoyed it. They had a selection of different draft beers and the waitress talked us through them all and recommended the different ones based on our personal tastes. We also went to a couple of craft beer bars, where the bar staff were so knowledgeable and gave us loads to try, which went down a treat. If there's one thing the Germans know, it's their beer!

7. The Museums

The one thing I really wish we had more time for was to visit the museums because the walking tour we went on was so interesting. I would have liked to go to the Jewish and the Holocaust museum and have a look around museum island, which I believe is a UNESCO world heritage site itself.

8. The Atmosphere

I've never heard of anyone going to Berlin and not enjoying it, so I had high hopes for the city, which were definitely met. There is so much to do, and incredible events going on throughout the year and the buzz of the place is electric. We saw people spontaneously beat-boxing on the street, piling into the bars and restaurants at all hours of the day, and basically enjoying everything the city had to offer.

9. The Prices

You'd think that with Berlin being a capital city, the cost of things would be extremely high, but I actually found the opposite. We spend about £8-£12 on our evening meals and lunch was cheaper than that. For a stein of beer, it was about £3 and other cocktails weren't much more. The Germans like their happy hour too, so definitely seek these out if you're after a deal!

So there are the 9 reasons I'd 100% go back to Berlin.
I hope that my wish comes true in the next year or so!

Are there any places that you would recommend? 


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Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Living With Anxiety In The Workplace

Since I was diagnosed with generalised anxiety disorder back in 2012, I have had an array of jobs and employers who all react differently to mental health and I thought this would be a good topic to talk about on here.

We spend so much of our life at work that it is important that we feel at ease in our job - life is too short to be constantly worrying and fretting about work, and although it is usually crucial to have a job to fund your lifestyle, your happiness should be the upmost important focus.

If I think about when I first learnt that I had anxiety, it was during the time I was still at university and working part-time in a call centre. Whilst I was working there, I made a close circle of friends, which made me feel much more at ease and my anxiety was never really apparent, and I felt as though I had it under control.

After finishing university, I started work full time straight away, which was such a shock to the system after having a few months of travelling around, going to festivals and spending time with my favourite people. Although I felt anxious day to day about the way my life was going career wise, I was also so busy and learning so many new things that it was always put to the back of my mind. Also, during this job was when me and Jordan became closer (after knowing each other for a few years prior) which gave me someone to talk to on a daily basis who I knew wouldn't judge me if I wasn't feeling myself.

After a few months, I noticed that I was starting to feel more and more anxious going into work and I felt like I had a heavy weight on my shoulders every day, which was a horrible feeling. I didn't think I was getting enough out of my job, and it was making me miserable. I went to the doctors and they prescribed me medication but because I wasn't particularly enjoying my job, I ended up moving departments. At the time, this was a really good move for me; I felt like I fit in more, I had a proper friendship group and people I could talk to in work if I needed to.

My anxiety never went away during this time, and some days it was worse than others but I felt as though I was in the right place work-wise. After I wrote this blog around the same time, my manager took me aside and said she was always there to confide in when I needed it, which made the whole experience much easier.

Writing that blog was incredibly tough, and at one point I wasn't going to post it because I didn't want my work friends or colleagues to read it and think I was strange or feel as though they had to treat me any differently, especially because there was no particular reason why I felt so anxious at the time - but everyone was so incredibly supportive, and a lot of people even said it helped them open up about their mental health, which was such a great reaction.

If we skip forward a bit to my last job, this was where I felt I was struggling more than ever. Although most of the people were nice, one of the turning points was when I overheard someone laughing about a colleague who had been signed off with depression from a different department. Apart from being in complete shock, I felt as though I would be victimised if anyone knew about my past so I kept quiet.

Acting as though nothing was wrong was one of the hardest things I have ever done, and it made going to work harder than ever. I woke up in the night worrying about what the next day would be like and I felt as though my workload was getting on top of me. The doctor prescribed me a different medication because I couldn't handle going into work, but nothing was working.

It got to the point that every email I received with that name sent me into a frenzy - even if the email was a company-wide one. To me it didn't matter; I constantly thought I was in trouble or was going to get sacked, even though I was doing nothing wrong and I could barely concentrate. I used to go home and cry to Jordan about how on edge and irritable I felt there, until one day I decided that enough was enough and I quit.

Quitting my job when I didn't have one to go to was one of the bravest but scariest decisions I'd ever made, but I'm very lucky in the respect that I have a good support network. I knew I would be ok for about a month money-wise, but I also knew my mental health would be so much better out of that environment, and to me, that was the most important factor.

When I finally had some breathing space, I was able to think about what I wanted my next step to be career wise. I luckily got some freelance work straight away and I was doing a few projects for my old manager whilst I decided what my next step was. When I had time to get my head back together, I had chance to properly look for a job and interview with people who I wanted

Being out of that office helped me incredibly: I was myself at home, I was making plans and spending time with my friends and family and I was able to sleep again. It's crazy to think how much having that job affected me mentally, but it was such a big learning curve.

The point of this post isn't to encourage you to quit your job if you're finding it hard, but to think about prioritising your mental health if you are feeling down when it comes to work, and never think you are alone in struggling day to day. Talking about anxiety is something I find incredibly hard, but it is something that I know people shy away from talking about, and I want to help break the stigma.


Monday, 21 August 2017

Weekly Love #33

And so it's Monday yet again, and I can't quite believe how fast these weeks are going by, but autumn is my favourite season, so I for one am happy to welcome the colder days and beautiful colours.

Plus I've got loads of exciting plans in September that I've been looking forward to for ages, so thats something to look forward to.

1. Salon Success

On Tuesday afternoon, I came home from work to a parcel from Salon Success. The parcel included a range from Kenra and a personalised beanie hat. I love receiving parcels from Salon Success because they are always such good quality, and allow me to try brands that I never would have had the chance to ordinarily, and I've never been disappointed by the quality of them all - and the hat was an added bonus too!

2. Pizza Thursdays

After a pretty stressful couple of days at work, I had started to become a bit under the weather and feeling sorry for myself. Being the absolute babe that she is, Hannah suggested that we should have a chilled night in and get a pizza takeaway. I met her in Chorlton, and we went to one of my favourite pizza places, Double Zero. We got a couple of pizzas to take away plus the antipasti board which I had last time I was in there - it's safe to say that most of it was eaten on the car ride home.

3. Altrincham Market

On Friday evening, Jordan and I decided to go for a couple of drinks and some food at Altrincham Market. It's one of my favourite places to go at the moment, even though it gets ridiculously busy on the weekends, but I love the atmosphere and that you never know who you'll bump into (Altrincham is a small place!)

4. New Boots

One of the things I've noticed about my wardrobe is that I tend to wear the same thing no matter what season it is, and add tights where necessary. With this in mind, I thought it was about time that I invested in a new pair of black boots because my last pair got a bit tattered when we moved house and to me, they're a wardrobe staple. I went for this pair from Boohoo in black, and got 20% discount too, so they only ended up costing me about £22!

5. Topshop Dress

On the same topic of new clothes, one of my goals for the month of August was to find a dress for my cousin's wedding last Saturday. I searched online for ages because I didn't have time to go to the shops, but I didn't find anything I liked. When me and Jordan were in York, I tried on a floral wrap dress, from Topshop, which I think is a great style on me because it hides the fact I have bigger hips. I didn't buy it when we were in York, and regretted it since, so I treated myself to it for the wedding: It's one of those styles that I think I'll be able to get away with in autumn too!

6. Family Lunch

As I just mentioned, it was my cousin's wedding on Saturday in Huddersfield. My Dad drove me, Jordan and my Mum across and we met up with my Nan and a few other members of my extended family for lunch round the corner from the church. A lot of the wedding party had come up from London (where the groom is from) so it was really nice to get to know them before the ceremony started.

7. Wedding

Now onto the wedding - it was amazing! My cousin looked absolutely beautiful, and as soon as we left the church, the sun started shining, which meant we could have the drinks reception outside. I really enjoyed the whole day and spending time with my Dad's side of the family, which I don't often get to do because we're all spread out so far across the country.

8. Sunday Morning Walk

After waking up with no hangover on Sunday, Jordan and I decided to go for a walk around the park opposite our house to clear our heads before the week ahead. It was a really lovely morning, and we ended up walking about 6km without even realising.

9. Superbad

Jordan mentioned to me the other day that it was 10 years since Superbad came out, which is one of my favourite films. We decided to have a chilled Sunday after our walk, and watched it in the afternoon after getting all the boring chores out of the way. I forgot how much I loved the film, and it was such a nice way to switch off on a Sunday.

10. No Makeup Days

For the past few weeks, I've been trying to give my skin a break on one of the weekend days and not wear makeup. As I had the wedding on Saturday, I thought it would be better to do it on Sunday, and I've found that my skin really benefits from having a break every now and again.


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Friday, 18 August 2017

My Current Skincare Favourites

Well... It's been quite a while since I spoke about anything beauty related, hasn't it? That's not to say I'm not still obsessed with skincare and makeup, but I've been focusing more on food, travel and lifestyle content, with a few beauty posts thrown in here and there for good measure.

Today I thought I would share some of my current favourites - the products I'm going back to time and time again. I'm 27 now and this year I have tried to heavily invest in more upmarket skincare products to slow down any signs of ageing (because apparently, I should have started worrying about that when I was 25... who knew?)

1. Liz Earle - Cleanse & Polish £14.50

This is one I mentioned on my Weekly Loves back in May, and since then I have been loving using it. I use about one pump and spread it evenly over my face and eyes. Not only does it smell really fresh, but the consistency isn't too thick, which I've found with other cleansers. I leave it on for about 2-3 minutes and then take it off with a muslin cloth that I've run under warm water. I usually use a micellar water after this to make sure every last bit of makeup is off my skin.

2. Botanics Triple Age Renew Facial Oil - £11.49

I picked this up in the Market Street Boots store at the start of June and I've been using it every night after cleansing and toning. The one I have is slightly different to the one I've linked, but from the same range. I never used to be a fan of oils as my complexion can get quite oily itself, but I've found my skin absolutely loves this. Boots usually have offers on Botanics as it is their premium beauty brand so I would suggest having a look in store over shopping online.

3. Origins Drink Up Intensive Mask - £24

This is a product I only use 1-2 times a week after picking up at Hamburg airport back in December and I'm only about halfway through. This is quite a thick mask to leave on your skin overnight, but it does the trick at supplying a high level of moisture and it smells amazing. At first, I wasn't too convinced by it but now when I use it, the next morning my skin feels so nourished and smooth.

4. Clinique All About Eyes - £27

This is a product I did a lot of research into when I noticed my under eye bags getting worse. I'm not a great sleeper, so, unfortunately, I have to spend quite a lot on under eye creams and concealers. I got this one for my birthday after it was highly regarded in Marie Claire and I love it so far. I've noticed my circles have slightly reduced, but the product itself is really nice to apply in the morning and before bed. The consistency is a sort of gel, but it absorbs quickly and doesn't leave the skin feeling greasy or sticky which I've found with some competitors.

5. Nivea Peach Shine Lip Balm - £1.95

This was a very spontaneous purchase after my lips seemed to be quite sunburnt one summer day and I love it. I have a handbag full of different kinds of lip balms but I keep going back to this one at the moment because it smells so fruity and has a slight coral tint to it if you're not in the mood to wear lipstick.

I hope you enjoyed this slightly different post than usual!
What are you skincare favourites?


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Wednesday, 16 August 2017

8 Reasons You Should Start A Blog

I've been blogging on and off now for about six years, and I can honestly say that I would be lost without my little corner of the internet.

For me, blogging is much more than putting words on a page; it's about expressing myself, sharing the things I love and sometimes its a place to get my head straight and re-focus.

I've always loved English - at school I took both Language and Literature, at university I studied it, and I have always written as part of my job. I won't lie and say that sometimes writing doesn't come easily to me, but it has always been something I have enjoyed so much, and something that I hope to continue into the future.

One of the things I hear a lot is that people don't have time to blog, and even though I completely understand that sometimes it can feel like it's a lot to squeeze in when you work full time, once you get into the habit of writing, it will come naturally.

I've put together a few different reasons that I think people should start a blog, especially if you've been umming and ahhing about it for a while.

1. It Gives You A Place To Get Your Head Straight

After I had a personal tragedy last year, I found that having a blog and writing things down massively helped me to get my thoughts down into a post to process my emotions. I have loads of blogs that I wrote but never published from that time in my life, which are always good to go back to and see how far I've come. Emotions are hard enough to deal with day to day, especially when you feel so many at once, so writing them down, even if it would only make sense to you, is definitely a way to relieve your brain of the stress.

2. It Can Be A Creative Outlet

For a lot of us, our full-time jobs might not enable us to be as creative as we would like, so having a blog lets you tap into that side much more. Whether you want to try your hand at photography, creating graphics or just writing in general, having a blog lets you do all of the things that you might not get to day in and day out.

3. It Helps You To Be More Confident

When I first started going to blogging events, I was so shy that I usually would only stay with the person I went with, and very rarely broke free from that cycle. It was only until I was invited to events by myself that I couldn't have a plus 1 for, or my blogging friends were busy for, that I eventually came out of my shell a bit, and I am so glad that I did. I'm not saying its the easiest thing to turn up somewhere where you don't know anyone, but it is definitely worth it in the long run - and trust me, you won't be the only one thats feeling awkward to begin with.

4. You Meet Inspiring People And Friends

On the same topic as the last point, some of the girls I have met through blogging have become some of my closest friends who I see within the social side of my life and not in a blogging setup. Lots of the girls I know through having a blog our self-employed and run some amazing companies, which I find really inspiring, and I love following their journeys. It's always interesting to meet people who have the same passion as you for writing.

5. You Get To Try Things You Never Normally Would

At the start of the year, my blogger bezzie Hannah took me to an event with Magna Pass at Rock over Climbing in Manchester - somewhere I had never been before. Rock climbing is something I had tried as a child, but completely failed at, so I was intrigued to give it another go. I feel that when you start to write about things that you are passionate about, you get to try things with people who share your passions as well.

6. It Helps Build Your Transferrable Skills

I'm not saying employers are going to want you to know the different types of lens for your Olympus Pen (but wouldn't that be the dream job...) but for people in the Marketing, Social and PR world, skills such as writing, scheduling, social media and balancing time are key to excelling in your career - and it also helps if you know your way around the keyboard. Never be embarrassed to mention that you have a blog in your interview because it shows that you are passionate about something outside of work and that you are able to keep something going in your spare time.

7. You Never Know Where It Will Take You 

This is a really important one to me, because you absolutely have no idea where blogging will take you in the future. One of my favourite bloggers, Hannah Gale, only became a full-time blogger after she went viral after writing this post, just when she had quit her job. A very close friend of mine got her current job because her employer had seen that she wrote a blog and thought she would be a great match. I'm not saying that everyone catches their big break because of their little slice of the bloggersphere, but its exciting to think you don't know whats around the corner.

8. It's Nice To Be Proud Of Something

Without having a child to talk about, or a really cute animal to show pictures of, it's sometimes nice to have something that you're really proud of to tell people about. I know a lot of bloggers who have business cards to give out at events, and although I'm personally not at the point because my blog isn't as big, I never shy away from telling people about it and where I hope it will get to one day.

So there you have it, my eight reasons to start a blog. I hope you enjoyed them.

What do you think about them? Are there any others that you would suggest?  


Monday, 14 August 2017

Weekly Love #32

I can't believe it is Monday yet again... but I'm not complaining as I had such a jam packed week and saw lots of my favourite people, and it has put me in such a good mood to start the new week.

1. Pub Quiz

On Monday evening, a few of us went to go and do a pub quiz at Pi in Altrincham. It's been a while since I've done one, and I don't really have a specialist subject, but we managed to come first and all won £15, which is pretty good seen as it only cost us £2 to enter.

2. Porta

If you read this post last week, you'll know that my friend Rosie and I went for a catch up meal to Porta in Altrincham. The food was such good quality, and I really enjoyed catching up with her because it had been a while since we last saw each other. We went to the market for a glass of sangria afterwards which was much appreciated!

3. Power

Hannah bought me Power for my birthday in June, but I hadn't got round to starting it, so this week I made it my mission to do so. I'm really enjoying it so far and I can see why it has been so highly commended. Definitely give it a go if you're looking for a new read.

4. Nails

On the topic of my birthday, Hannah also treated me to get my nails done at Beauty Tonic in Didsbury, but I didn't really have an occasion to do it for. My cousin is getting married on Saturday so I thought it would be a good excuse to finally get booked in. I went for a light pink shade because I still don't know what I'm wearing, so I'm hoping this will go with everything!

5. Laundrette Lunch

On Friday I was working from our offices in Manchester, when someone suggested that we go to The Laundrette for lunch. My company have shares in this place, and after going to the Chorlton branch the week before and drooling over all the food, I was up for trying it. I shared the truffle mac and cheese and a rosemary garlic bread with cheese with my friend Alex and it was incredible. I'll definitely be back there all the time!

6. Didsbury Drinks

After work on Friday, I jumped on the tram to Didsbury to meet my friend Laura. We had a quick G&T before heading to a few bars down Burton Road. It had been a while since we had done it just the two of us, and it was really good to catch up with her and hear about her upcoming trip around the world. I always feel as though going out on a Friday evening makes the weekend feel a lot longer.

7. Bottomless Brunch

On Saturday morning, I headed to Neighbourhood in Manchester for Bottomless brunch with a few friends. We've been trying to book this in for ages, and this was the first weekend that the majority of us were free! It got messy very quickly, but the food and company (and unlimited prosecco) were definitely worth it and I can't wait to go back!

8. Karaoke

After becoming extremely messy quite early on, my friend Emily suggested going to karaoke to keep the party going. I won't lie, this part of the day is quite hazy, but the pictures made it look like we all had a great time. We went to Tiger Tiger in the Printworks, and it was such a good laugh, and good to reminisce about all of the drunken times I've had there over the years. My throat was quite sore the next day and the thing I remember most is putting a lot of Christmas songs on... Who else eh?

9. Friends Fest

As a massive Friends fan, I jumped at the chance to go to Friends Fest when my friend Sarah mentioned it back in April because I've always wanted to go to something to do with the show I grew up loving. Luckily the weather was bright shining sunshine and the whole experience was so much fun. There were sets from the program, the famous orange couch from the start and loads of food and drink stores from the show.

10. Nandos

One of my favourite things to do when we were younger was to go out for dinner on a Sunday in a way to prolong the weekend, and it's something I definitely want to bring back. Nandos have just opened a restaurant in Altrincham so I thought that would be the perfect excuse to go out for a meal with some of our friends.


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Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Food | Porta, Altrincham

I love love love tapas: I've always been a fan. To me, there's nothing better than trying loads of different dishes and sharing them with your nearest and dearest.

When I found out a tapas restaurant was opening in Altrincham (my hometown) I was overly excited, yet, I left it until last night to actually make a visit. I've been to Porta in Chester and thought it was amazing (plus the location is right next to the Roman walls, which is just picturesque).

I've walked past Porta loads of times when it's been nice weather and people chose to sit outside which is one of my favourite things to do (it doesn't' take much to impress me...) Unfortunately, the Great British weather didn't want to play ball yesterday and it rained for the entire afternoon into the evening, meaning that we had to sit inside.

The restaurant itself is very quaint and authentic and smells amazing as soon as you walk in. I was meeting my friend Rosie there, but as I was the first, I thought it would be wise to get a table as it looked busy. When I walked in, I was greeted straight away by one of the waitresses who asked if we would be ok by the bar; obviously, that was fine with me, and only made the experience feel much more 'Spanish'.

We walked past the bar which was piled high with Spanish delicacies, and she showed me to our seats and handed over a menu. Although the menu wasn't huge, it had some favourites on - deep fried squid, patatas bravas, cured meats, the usual you would expect from a tapas restaurant. The price point was around £3-9, which for the quality of the food, is totally worth it.

I had a quick look at the drinks menu and ordered a glass of merlot, which was reasonably priced at £3.15. Rosie arrived shortly after and ordered a wine herself and we had a catch-up whilst perusing the menu.

The waitress brought her wine over and went through the special with us (marinated chicken skewers with tzatziki) and gave us a few minutes to decide what we wanted. Because the idea of tapas is to share a number of different dishes, we ordered six between the two of us and it was the perfect amount.

We went for the chicken special, patatas bravas, deep fried squid, chorizo and lentil stew, ham croquettes and manchego cheese with quince. The dishes come as soon as they're ready (which is exactly what I like #impatient) and it only took a few minutes for the first one to come.

Because the plates were quite small, I was worried that it wouldn't fill us up, but it really did. All the dishes were so homey and tasty, and even Rosie, who went to Barcelona earlier in the year, mentioned that it was the best tapas she had ever had, and I would have to agree.

I think with tapas, it's quite easy to get it wrong, especially if you go to a chain restaurant, so it was refreshing that every dish was perfect. The whole meal cost us £36, which I think is really reasonable for the size of the portions and the quality of the food.

If you live locally or are visiting Altrincham, I think it is definitely worth a visit. Have a read of the whole menu here.


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Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Life With Two Cats

I've officially made it - I have become a crazy cat lady. So I thought for International Cat Day, I would write a little post about our life now we have a new fur baby.

If you know me personally, you'll know that I have already been a crazy cat lady since the day we brought Simba home - to me, he has been like a fluffy child - but now, I feel like being 27 with two cats has definitely reached a new level of craziness...

Jordan and I had been toying with the idea of adopting another cat for a while, but we had never found the right time to do some research into what we wanted and what would be best for Simba.

After we moved out of my parents with him, I felt as though our house would definitely benefit from more cat toys all over the floor, double the cost in cat food, and bits of litter strewn all over the carpet... I kid... but I definitely thought that a little brother or sister for Simba would be a welcome addition to our little family.

If you know anything about cats, you will probably know that they are quite volatile animals. Simba has been the only cat for the last three years, and at times can come across as quite spoilt (yes, I'm still talking about my cat...) but he can also be the sweetest and cuddliest boy when he wants to be. He can be an affectionate cat, but always on his terms, but he always likes to be close to us and runs to the door when we get home, which I find quite sweet.

With me having a few days off between finishing my last job and starting my new one, we thought that this would be the perfect time to get him a sibling. When I was coming up to the end of my notice, I started getting in touch with local animal shelters to see if they had any kittens that needed rehoming. We decided to get a kitten instead of an older cat after speaking to vet who advised that this would be the best route to go down.

In my head, I thought that an older boy cat would get on better with a girl kitten, but apparently, this isn't the case; if anything, boys will get on better with boy kittens. I contacted the RSPCA in Macclesfield who said that they didn't have any kittens in their branch, but one of their volunteers had just taken in a litter of kittens which had three left, but they hadn't been to have their injections yet.

I spoke to the volunteer on the phone in the morning, and when Jordan had finished work, we drove over to her house to meet the little bundles of joy. I found this way so much easier to do because going into an actual animal sanctuary would have been too hard for me and I definitely would have left with more than one.

We met the three kittens, who were all adorable and so playful when we arrived. The volunteer told us that she wasn't sure which were girls, and which were boys because they hadn't been to the vet, which the centre had warned us about. We had to make a really hard decision as to which one to take, but there was one in particular who had been clambering all over us since we arrived, so we chose that one.

The car journey back was quite hard because there were lots of cries coming from the carrier and we had to pull over a couple of times to open it. From the squeals being quite high pitched, we assumed that it was a female kitten, and chose the name Luna when we got home.

We had made up our spare room for the new arrival, equipped with new blankets, a new bed, boxes (if you have a cat, you'll know) fresh litter and lots of new toys for the little angel. We kept Simba completely separate and took it, in turn, to sit with the kitten, whilst the other entertained our resident cat.

One afternoon, I took Luna to the vets myself, to be told that we had, in fact, adopted a male kitten, which took me by surprise, as I had it in my head that he was a girl - but after speaking to Jordan, we decided to keep the name - plus, I'm claiming that it's short for Lunatic, which he definitely can be...

Simba was intrigued as to what was behind the door, but he mostly got on with his normal perusal of the house, plus Luna was quite a quiet kitten, which helped. We swapped their blankets and toys over the course of 3-4 days so the scents could mix, and fed them on either side of the door - all of which we had read on various different websites. We also took Luna out of the room he was kept in and let Simba roam around it so he would recognise the scent of his new brother.

After a weekend of leaving Luna for longer periods of time by himself to play, we thought it was about time to introduce the two. If you are ever going to be introducing two cats, make sure that you do as much research as possible, but also have in the back of your head that every experience will be different.

Luckily (I say that flippantly...) our shower door came off when we moved in, and we had it lying about in the garage to eventually get put back on, but it came in handy for their first meeting. I'd read a lot of things saying that if there's hissing and swiping from the resident cat that it's completely normal because they see the kitten as an 'intruder' to their space, but Simba was more intrigued by him: We were also worried that Luna would be scared of him because he's such a big cat but he just wanted to meet him properly.

After a few more meetings through the shower door, we let them meet face to face by holding Luna and letting Simba sniff him. They were really good together and didn't hiss or fight and just wanted to get to know each other, which was the biggest weight off my shoulders ever because it could have gone completely the other way.

For the first few days of having them together, I spent a lot of time with them both in the house to make sure there were no fights, and on the first few days of me going back to work, we kept them separate until we got home.

Over the first weekend of them having met, we decided to take the plunge and leave them in the house alone to do whatever they pleased and have done ever since. Although we have no idea what goes on when we're not there, they are usually asleep on the bed together when we get in.

Simba has always been a chilled cat, but Luna definitely keeps him on his toes (or paws...) and they play a lot together, which makes my heart melt because it's so cute! There have been a few times when we've had to separate them because Luna has so much energy and Simba just likes to relax now and again, but apart from that, they've really got on well and even groom each other when they get up in the morning. They have very different personalities, but I think that is why they have got on so well.

If you're ever going to introduce two cats, my advice would be to a) make sure the first cat is up to date with their injections b) do some research into what would be best for that particular breed c) read up as much as you possibly can.

And obviously, have as much fun as you can with it. It can be stressful at first, but getting a second cat was such a good decision and I am so happy we went through with it!


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Monday, 7 August 2017

Weekly Love #31

I've had an odd one this week. I started the week still full of a cold, but progressively got better until Friday hit and I got a horrendous headache - I know, woe is me.

But it was Jordan's birthday on Friday and we had a really love time together this weekend, which was welcome after a crazy week.

1. Nourish Lunch

On Wednesday, a couple of the work girls and I went to a cafe in Wilmslow called Nourish for some lunch. There used to be one in Hale round the corner from my parent's house, but it's recently closed down so I was excited to see what this place was all about. I used to also drive past the Wilmslow every day on my way to work, but I'd still never been. I went for a Cajun chicken wrap with a side of halloumi, and now every lunchtime I dream about cheese... It was really good and filled me up for the rest of the day.

2. The Drop

For Jordan's birthday meal on Friday evening, we went to a restaurant in Chorlton called The Drop (full review here). If you're a fan of Caribbean food, I would highly recommend it because the portions are huge, the dishes are incredible and it's not expensive either.

3. Laundrette

Before we went for the birthday meal, we decided to go to one of our favourite bars, The Laundrette in Chorlton Green and sit outside because it was such nice weather. I went for a blueberry gin mojito (great choice) and a glass of wine and the birthday boy had two pints. It's such a cool restaurant, and the vibe was so chilled because of the weather: Definitely one to try if you're in the area.

4. York

For Jordan's birthday, we had arranged to go to Brighton for the weekend, but with me starting my new job, we decided to put it on hold for a bit, and decided to go to York for a day trip instead. We've been to York loads of times before, but not since last Autumn, so I was really excited to go. We chose not to stay over because Luna is still a baby so we wanted to get back to him and Simba, but it was nice to do something different on a Saturday. The weather was perfect for it to!

5. Chocolate Workshop

As massive lovers of chocolate, I thought it would be a fun thing for us to do a chocolate workshop whilst we in York as part of Jordan's birthday celebrations. After researching it online, we went for one at the York Cocoa House. It was just us and another couple doing the workshop, but it meant that it was much more in depth. I'm going to do a full post on it in the next couple of weeks, so keep an eye out for a full review!

6. Breaking The Gin Virginity

When we were in York, it was so lovely and sunny that we decided to get a drink and sit in the Shambles market. I went for my favourite at the moment - a rhubarb gin with ginger beer with a garnish of strawberries from The Angel's Gin Bar - and Jordan enjoyed it so much that he bought one himself (making me feel better about buying him tickets to the gin festival for his birthday!)

7. Brunch

On Sunday morning, I decided to get up a little bit earlier and treat Jordan to one final birthday brunch in bed. I'm not the best cook, but I whipped up scrambled eggs on a bagel with crushed avocado and smoked salmon - one of his favourites. And let's face it - is it even a Sunday without brunch?

8. 'Spring' Clean

This is going to make me sound like I've aged 50 years overnight, but on Sunday morning, we had such a good clear up of the house and got so much washing and other errands done, and it has really put me in a better headspace to start the week. Just call it a spring clean in the middle of summer...

9. Sunday Walk

After spending the afternoon cooking, cleaning and cat parenting, we decided we best get out of the house for a little while, and went for a walk around Sale Water Park before heading to The Woodstock in Didsbury because they were doing 241 on Aperol Spritz (I won't lie and say I didn't have them both now...) It was a lovely way to finish the weekend off and we even ran into a couple of friends.

10. Arcade Fire

This week I've had quite a bit on at work, which has meant me having my headphones in, listening to music most days to get it done. I had heard good things about Arcade Fire's new album, Everything Now, so I decided to give it a go as I've been a fan of theirs for a while, and it didn't disappoint. Now I just need someone to treat me to tickets to see them next year!


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Saturday, 5 August 2017

Food | The Drop

As a lover of trying new food, Jordan and I celebrated his birthday at The Drop in Chorlton. I really enjoy spicy food, and absolutely love Caribbean cuisine, so it was a welcome change to the places that we usually go.

The only real experience of Caribbean food I have is Turtle Bay and a few different street markets over the years, but what I have tried, I have massively enjoyed.

The Drop is one of those places that you've probably driven past, but never taken any notice of: I'd only ever heard of it because it is on the same row of shops as one of my favourite pizza places in Manchester.

It started off in Chorlton, but they recently branched out and opened a second site in Altrincham, which I can't wait to take a few friends to, because the food was incredible.

When we arrived, the outside of the restaurant was full of al fresco diners, and there was a queue of people by the door (tip - if you want to try this place, 100% book it!)

We were greeted by a very smiley waitress who showed us to our table in the multi-coloured restaurant. We thought we would be able to stretch out because it was a table for four, but once we had put in our drink order, two more people turned up and squeezed in. For a Friday night it was absolutely packed, with people turning up and opting for takeaways because they couldn't fit anyone else in.

The overall vibe of the restaurant is really chilled, with everyone enjoying the ambiance and each other's company. There was no couple on their phones, families were laughing and joking, and people were talking to complete strangers because we were all sat so close - that may not be for everyone, but I really enjoy it. There was music playing, but we were able to hear each other no problem (which might be one of the adult remarks I have ever made...)

There was so much choice on the menu that we took a good 10 minutes before we decided what we wanted. In the meantime we had some drinks - a red stripe for Jordan and a cherry amaretto sours for me, which was divine!

We decided to get the Hench Drop Box with jerk chicken and peppered steak (it also comes with dumplings, rice, coleslaw, salad, plantain) with the jerk halloumi main (with the nicest and freshest pomegranate salad) and a side of dumplings because Jordan didn't think one would be enough (it definitely would have been...)

I thought with the restaurant being busy, the food might have taken a while to come, but it only took about 10 minutes, which is pretty amazing in my eyes.

I've eaten a lot of halloumi in my time, but with the jerk glaze and the mango salsa, avocado humous and pumpkin seeds, this was hands down the best halloumi I've ever eaten.

The Hench Drop box was also amazing. The chicken was chargrilled and really flavoursome, and the steak was so tender and fell apart. The next time I go I definitely want to try the saltfish with ackee, which is apparently one of their most popular dishes.

If you've never had plantain, it's essentially a 'cooking banana' but is used a lot in Caribbean food. The dumplings were a welcome accompaniment to soak up all of the juices from the halloumi and the meat, but they are incredibly filling.

Strangely though, my favourite part of the whole meal was the coleslaw three ways. I'm never a huge fan of coleslaw usually, but the way this was presented, and the ingredients, made it so tasty, and it really helped with the spice of the rest of the dish.

Overall I would highly recommend The Drop, and I can't wait to go back. The whole meal cost us around £35, which for the amount of food, is definitely worth it. But remember to book!

Visit their website here


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Friday, 4 August 2017

Living With IBS

I've spoken about my mental health on here a lot over the years, but something I've never spoken about in detail is my physical health. Overall, I would say I'm in quite good health - I eat a balanced diet, enjoy the odd drink, go to the gym a few times a week - but something that I've had a problem with for as long as I can remember is IBS.

Incase you weren't aware, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) affects the large intestine and can cause abdominal pain, bloating and cramps (and a few other symptoms that I won't go into). IBS sufferers are primarily women aged 20 and over, and it is generally believed that up to 15% of the world's population suffer from the illness.

I've been suffering from IBS since I was about 14: During that time, I've had good spurts which have been totally controlled by medication, but on the other end of the spectrum, I've also I've been hospitalised because of it.

The reason I chose to write this post is because recently, I've been in a bad period of it. For some, IBS is triggered by what they eat, but for me that's never really been the case. When I was at school, it was mainly caused by a lack of sleep and not really being in a proper routine; at university, I would say it was more caused by stress, drinking too much and my lifestyle but recently, I can't seem to put my finger on what is causing it.

The main symptom I suffer with is painful bloating: It's a really strange one - I can eat a whole meal and feel absolutely fine, but I can sometimes eat a piece of fruit, a bowl of cereal or even just a piece of toast and be so bloated that it physically hurts for me to move.

I've eliminated different things out of my diet (chocolate, dairy, alcohol etc.) tried medication prescribed by the doctor and increased my water intake, but nothing seems to help. At the moment, I am trying to eat a balanced diet, take regular breaks at work where I get up and walk about, and not slouch on the sofa after a meal; so here's hoping that something improves it soon.

In my last job, my manager suffered from IBS for years with similar problems to me, and he said the only thing that helped was having reflexology. I've never really thought about it too much, but it does make sense as everything in your body is linked.

I guess the point on this post is to raise awareness for something that a lot of people suffer from and to encourage you to get professional help if you feel as though something isn't right. It can be a long process trying to figure out what is causing it, and you might never get to the bottom of it, but it is so important to listen to your body.

If anyone has any advice or is in a similar position, please get in touch with what is working for you.


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Wednesday, 2 August 2017

August Wish List

So it's the start of August, and I'm just wondering if anyone can tell me what they did with July?

Anyway, back to today's post...

I'd been thinking for a few weeks about doing a post at the start of every month with things that I've had my eye on for a while or things I've been loving, and although I love watching and reading 'favourites' posts, I don't think they're for me.

I've done a few wish lists here and there over the years including beauty, fashion and homeware, so I thought I would do something a bit different: Instead of bombarding you with links and photos about things I'm lusting after, I've decided to do a list of things that I hope will happen and some mini goals I would like to achieve throughout August.

Although I'm never one who works to targets in my personal life, I think having some direction of where I want to be at the start of September will help me grow as an individual and help this blog develop.

1. Try a new restaurant in Manchester - would you have guessed that the first thing on the list would be about food? Probably! Every time I go into Manchester now, I feel as though there is always somewhere new to try, and I'm going to make it my mission this month to go somewhere I have never been before.

2. Find a dress for my friend's wedding - I have two weddings coming up in the next couple of months (my cousin, and a close friend) and I have been looking for a dress for a while but have yet to find out I like. I'm on a mission to find one that isn't overly pricey and one I'll get a lot of wear out of.

3. Work with a new brand - I've read a couple of posts recently about bloggers going to brands directly in order to collaborate with them, and it really resonated with me. I've been lucky to have had the chance to work with some great brands this year, but I definitely think it's about time to bite the bullet and made the first move.

4. Start a recipes series - if you know me, you'll know that I'm actually not a huge fan of cooking. Since buying our own house, one of the things I wanted to do was make more recipes to share on my blog, but I've yet to get round to it. This month seems like a good a time as any to start!

5. Finish a book - at the start of the year, I was doing really well with reading every night before I went to sleep, but with moving house, starting a new job, and trying to blog more, I've felt as though I don't have the time to do so. This month I'm going to actively make sure I have some down time before I sleep, and hopefully finish a new book.

6. Book a trip - I love discovering new places, whether it's a trip I've been dreaming of for years, a city break in the UK, or just a different part of my hometown and this month I want to book something to look forward to in the months leading up to Christmas.

7. Make plans with friends - quite a cliche one, but recently I've made so many good memories with my closest friends, and I really want it to continue.

8. Upload my billions of photos - this may seem like a silly one really, but I've still got over 500 photos that need editing and uploading to Facebook and my blog that are clogging up my phone (and have meant that I've had to upgrade to a different iCloud plan...) this month I'm definitely going to have a clear out - watch this space!

9. Insta stories - one of my goals for the year was to start vlogging properly; well, it's August, and I still haven't. When Hannah and I went to Paris back in June, I vlogged the whole trip, but I wasn't happy with the end result (I may still upload it in the future, I haven't decided). I'm going to take that as a test run and hopefully make a few by the time the year is up. To gain some confidence in this area though, I thought the best place to start was with Instagram stories.

10. Continue to enjoy work - I've mentioned to a fair few people how much I am enjoying work at the moment, and I really want it to continue for the foreseeable future. Not only is the job very suited to my skillset, the people I am working with have made me feel so welcome, and I haven't felt this content in a long time.

11. Up my fitness routine - let's just take a moment to appreciate the fact that I'm actually talking about fitness... but in reality, having a best friend who is a fitness blogger was always going to take its toll (I kid) but she has inspired me to actually mix up my routine in the gym. Back at the start of the year, I incorporated more weights into my routine, and I loved the feeling of getting stronger. Six months later, and I have completely lost that strength. If I'm being honest, I'm finding it harder to fit in the gym with my longer hours and commute, but it is definitely something I hope to get back on track this month.

12. Enjoy every day - I talk a lot on this blog about not sweating the small stuff, being positive and that life is what you make it, and this month I am actually going to take my own advice and listen to my body and mind. My anxiety has been all over the place this year as I've been through some pretty big life events, but now I finally feel as though I am on the right track, and I really want that to stay.

And that marks the end of my August wish list. Make sure you visit back in September to see how many of the things I actually managed to achieve.


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