A couple of weeks ago, I deleted Instagram off my phone.

Not a big deal for some, and it probably shouldn’t have been such a big deal for me – but the truth is, I was getting so tired of putting so much time and effort into a channel where I was getting very little back and it was exhausting trying to keep up with ‘the race’.

You may have heard a few bloggers recently talking about their engagement on Instagram and how it’s gone down over the past few months quite dramatically. I’m not a tech expert, and to be honest, I don’t think there has been any set in stone reason as to why it has been happening, but I know that the dreaded algorithm is fast becoming an annoyance for the majority of the blogging world.

If you aren’t aware of what the algorithm is, in a nutshell, it has meant that posts are not in chronological order. Instagram uses data collected from your usage of the app to give you a feed that it thinks you want to see.

Ever wondered why your best friend’s posts have stopped showing up on your timeline, or why you keep seeing the same people over and over again? It’s because Instagram has decided that’s what you want, when in reality, it probably isn’t.

It’s a funny one really.

Instagram used to be a place where you’d post your mirror outfit selfies, what you were having for lunch, or a group snap of you and your friends at the weekend – but now it’s a platform where people are earning thousands per post, vlogging their daily activity, and collaborating with global brands.

When Snapchat appeared, Instagram introduced stories; when Twitter ‘live’ began, Instagram enabled the same feature; when Vine became obsolete, Instagram created Boomerang. All of these little updates have ensured that it stays the app at the forefront of the content world and shows that it will always tweak its interface to make sure it stays fresh and relevant and ahead of the game.

So why did I delete Instagram? 

Because it was getting me down. It was becoming a chore. I was constantly thinking about what to post next, worrying that I was losing followers, stressing that I didn’t have enough variety on my feed, comparing my account to others, wondering why I wasn’t getting as high an engagement as everyone else and that I was falling behind when everyone else was powering through.

The platform I used to love so much, that got me into photography, helped me meet new people, work with amazing brands and share my life on social media, just wasn’t enjoyable anymore.

I was finding it impossible to grow my account whilst everyone else around me seemed to be beating the algorithm in their own way, whereas everything I tried was failing. I read countless blogs on it, watched videos and asked for help on twitter, yet nothing was working and eventually I said enough is enough and it was gone from my phone.


And did it work? 

100%

At first I found it really hard to not know what was going on in the rose-gold world that is Instagram, but the more time that went on, the more I actually felt empowered deleting my account – I was finally back in control.

And although I lost followers through it, my mental health massively improved in just that short space of time.
To some people, having a week off a social platform might seem like nothing at all; but when you share so much of your life online I was worried I would be forgotten.

I gain the majority of my unique blog visitors through Instagram (or, I used to at least…) so making the cut was quite worrying for the first day or so and I couldn’t help but think that the traffic to my blog would die a slow death, but in reality, that hasn’t happened at all.

Now, I have changed the way I think and go about Instagram.

No longer is it a place where I want to keep up with other people, share white-washed over-edited photos, or overthink my grid, but it’s a platform for me to engage with my readers, share parts of my life that no one else knows about, and improve my photography skills whilst finally enjoying posting pictures again.

I’ve gone back to old-school sharing.

Maybe I will fall behind in the blogging world; maybe my photos won’t be on the popular pages and maybe I won’t win campaigns with the mishmash that is my life – but at the end of the day, does any of that stuff really matter in the long run if it means I’m happier overall?

I have finally found the right balance for me, and that’s exactly what I needed.

xx

Last week flew by for me because I was only in work for three days before jetting off to Italy with my little travel buddy Hannah.

We had such an amazing time filled with food, drink and visiting all the beautiful Italian architecture. I even re-downloaded Instagram for the occasion (more on that in a post next week) so head on over there to have a look at what we got up to.


1. Banana Bread

Once again, this week I found myself making another banana bread in time for watching bake-off (basically just an excuse to eat cake!) For some reason, I buy enough bananas each week to feed a small family, so they always end up going a bit brown, and they only thing to do then is to make a delicious banana bread each week – at least I know the recipe off by heart now (I use the Mary Berry one if you’re wondering…)

2. Candles

This last couple of weeks, the temperature has massively dropped in the UK, which has given me the perfect excuse to light an abundance of candles in the lounge. My favourite one at the moment was a birthday present from my lovely friend Laura which is rose flavoured and smells like Turkish Delight!

3. Rome

I couldn’t write about my week last week without mentioning my trip to Italy with Hannah. We flew to Rome very early Thursday morning and made our way to the Air BNB we were staying in which was in the Trastevere area of Rome, which, if you’re visiting, I would highly recommend staying in. The food was amazing, the drinks were flowing, and the company was the best.



4. Florence

After we had spent a couple of days in Rome, we went to Florence on the train. I was surprised as to how different Florence is to Rome (much more Gothic, rich and grand) and the vibe was a total contrast. We stayed about 10 minutes walk from the centre which was the perfect distance to wander the streets.

5. Pisa

We had one night and day in Florence before moving to our last destination of Pisa. Pisa was a lot smaller than both of the other cities and much quieter. We had almost a full day there and managed to see all of the sites within about three hours, which shows the size of it. We finished the trip off with a delicious meal and a couple of glasses of wine before our flight home.



6. Air BNB 

I’ve stayed in my fair share of Air BNBs over the years, but I wanted to mention the three that we stayed in in Italy. The first was in a really cool area of Rome, the second was an incredibly trendy loft, and the third was bigger than my first flat. All the hosts were so helpful and one even picked us up from the train station and dropped us at the airport the next day. I would always recommend staying in an Air BNB over a hotel because you get the extra space and experience the city like the locals do.

xx

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If you’ve followed my blog over the last few months (or have had to endure me talking about it…) you will know that I am on a mission to reduce my meat intake – I’m not saying I’ve ever going to be 100% vegetarian, but every little helps in my opinion.

A while back, I was invited to Tampopo to try their new menu with some of my blogger pals at their restaurant in the Corn Exchange in Manchester. I’ve been here a few times before, but it had been a while and the decor had changed quite and was a lot more authentic.

I joined Hannah and Liz and a girl called Sarah who I was sharing a table with, in the downstairs part of the restaurant. As she was vegetarian, we shared a starter which was a selection of different dishes including spring rolls, deep fried tofu, sweetcorn fritters and vegetable tempura. It was really nice to go for a different option than what I would usually get, and the vegetarian platter was definitely a good choice and something I’d 100% order again. If you wanted to order this, it would set you back £15.90, which is reasonable for the amount of food you get to try.

For the main, we both went for the spicy rebus noodle soup, which was yellow noodles, cherry tomatoes, spring onions, bean sprouts, sweet potato broth and a seasoned egg. I thought I would miss having meat in my main course, but the flavours were so vibrant and interesting, that it really didn’t phase me. The vegetarian version cost £8.95 and with pork belly, it would have been £9.95.

Instead of having a dessert, we all opted for an Aperol spritz, which some may say a strange choice in an Asian restaurant, but nonetheless, it was delicious!

I love Tampopo and would recommend it if you’re ever in the city centre because of the chilled atmosphere, the menu has something for everyone and the staff are so friendly and knowledgeable, which it comes to helping you with what to order if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed!

The next time I go, I will definitely look out for the other vegetarian options, because the soup dish I had had so many different flavours and textures in that I wouldn’t have got to try otherwise.

 

 

xx

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*my meal at Tampopo was complimentary. All opinions are my own. 

And just like that, it’s Monday again! How did the weekend happen so quickly?

I’m not one to complain though as I only have a three-day week until Hannah and I are jetting off to Italy for a long weekend, and I for one am in need of a holiday!

I spent two days this week recovering from a migraine, which wasn’t how I wanted to spend my time, but I think it was my body’s way of telling me to take it easy for a bit.

Regardless of that though, I still managed to pull together some of the things that made me smile.

1. Jamie Oliver

I’ve seen a few clips here and there of Jamie Oliver’s new programme where he only uses five ingredients, and this week I got stuck in with watching some of the episodes I’d missed. You might not know that I am a big fan of his, and cooking programmes in general, and I might even get the book now seen as some of the recipes were super easy and looked amazing!

2. Work Lunch

On Friday, I found myself alone on my work table as most of my team were away. A couple of the girls from different teams invited me for lunch and we ended up going to The Alchemist in Alderley Edge, which was a nice surprise. I got a few starters with one of the other girls to share, which turned out to be quite a lot of food, but incredibly tasty!

3. Friday Evening

Because I had been cooped up in the house all week, Jordan and I decided to go for a Friday night outing to The Trafford Centre to get me out of the house. I had seen a coat in Primark the week before but they didn’t have my size, and because there is a small Primark concession in Selfridges, I thought I may as well try there – and they had it! If you’re wondering, it’s a faux leather jacket, with a fur lining in black, and is so so cosy; it’s making me cross my fingers for some colder weather!

4. Wedding

On Saturday, we made our way to a beautiful church in Chorlton for my friend, Siobhan’s wedding to her lovely husband, Nick. The service was lovely, and the rest of the day was filled with so many happy memories with some great friends. I always love a wedding and seeing two people who are totally besotted with each other just makes my heart feel full.

5. Family Party

The morning after the wedding, I was feeling a little worse for wear, but I had told the bride  I would take her and her new husband from their hotel to their to her parent’s house, so I knew I had to pull my act together. When I dropped them off, I ended up staying for a couple of hours, talking about the day before with all her family, and it was really lovely to see everyone again.

6. Cheese Festival

If you follow me on Twitter or have me on Facebook, you might have seen that me and Jordan went to a cheese festival in Leeds yesterday afternoon. We’d bought tickets a while ago, and I knew it would be a good cure if we were feeling a bit hungover. There was a mixture of hot and cold food stalls, and we made our way around them for a couple of hours. The same festival is coming to Manchester in February next year, and I already can’t wait to go again.

7. The Girls

I had been after a new book for a while, and a few people had recommended The Girls by Emma Cline to me, and this week I ordered it from Amazon. I haven’t read too much about it so it’s a bit of a surprise, but I’m excited to give it a go!

8. NBA’s

Although I couldn’t make it to the Northern Blog Awards on Saturday, I am so happy they were such a success and I loved reading all of the tweets and seeing the photos from the evening – it was like I was there. And big congratulations to everyone who won an award; you’re all amazing! I can’t wait for next years already!

xx

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You must know by now that I like going out for meals; it’s one of my favourite things to do, especially when it’s somewhere new.

Manchester is amidst the recent foodie movement, with new places popping up all the time and I for one love discovering new places in the city that is on my doorstep.

You may remember that Jordan and I went to Belgium at the start of the year, but one thing I don’t think we made the most of was the traditional Belgium food (except the waffles and chocolate of course…)

When I found out that a Belgium restaurant had opened in the city, I was very intrigued to find out what that entailed. After a bit of research, we found out that they did a roast dinner fondue, which just seemed like the best idea ever. We booked it for last Sunday and I was so excited to try it.

The restaurant itself is about a 5-minute walk from St. Peter’s Square station, and a couple of roads back from the town hall.

We arrived at the restaurant a few minutes early but were seated straight away. The decor was really cosy with a big log fire burning downstairs. We were shown to our table which was upstairs and was a table for 4 people, which I always prefer so you don’t feel cramped when you’re eating.

The waiter recommended a couple of beers to us, and we went for a trio of smaller glasses so we could try a few different ones. One of my favourite beers was Bruge Zot, which we went to the brewery of when we were in Bruges, so I chose this for one of my choices.

We knew exactly what we wanted when we arrived so didn’t need to have a look through the menu (just as an FYI, they also do a standard cheese fondue and chocolate fondue too!) The table next to us got the cheese one, and it looked amazing – definitely going back to try this!

The one thing I was concerned about was that there wouldn’t be enough food for the two of us because it was a sharing board, but boy was I wrong. It arrived on a board with meat, potatoes and Yorkshire pudding waffles, with vegetables on the side.

And then the pot of gravy arrived…

It was served in a traditional copper pot with a flame underneath to keep it warm, and something to put the flame out in case it became too hot. It wasn’t like normal gravy that we would make in the UK – it was a lot more herby and flavoursome. The meat was cooked to perfection, as were the potatoes and veg, but my favourite part had to be the Yorkshire puddings: To me, they are the best part of any roast dinner, and even better in waffle form!

Overall the experience of the roast dinner was very impressive. I’ll definitely be back for another one soon!

xx