When I was younger I tried most of the diets going – from the 5:2 to eating only chicken and rice to replacing meals with shakes and smoothies, much to the disappointment of my body who really only wanted feeding a decent meal. My weight yoyoed whilst I was at school from being slightly larger than the rest of my classmates to unrecognisable the year after. It was unhealthy, but at the time I was so heavily influenced by what everyone else was doing and how they looked alongside the media, that I was crippled with the need to compare myself to others.

It’s only since I’ve become slightly older that I’ve realised that I deserve to feel confident in myself too, and that starts from within. When I used to look at myself in the mirror I would be horrified with what I saw – the remnants of stretch marks, a flabby tummy, legs that were ‘too big’ – but now when I look at my body I see something that has overcome all of these trial and tribulations, kept me alive through the years and has come out the other end even stronger. I have grown to love the way I look and I have become confident in my own skin which is a place I didn’t think I would ever get to.

Body positivity has been around for years, but it has only really been apparent to my life in the past 12 months, mainly through meeting people in the blogging world, either fitness bloggers or those advocating an overall healthy lifestyle.

It’s true what they say, that we’re all our own worst critics, and I have constantly been the one to put myself down over the years, but since being in my mid-twenties, I have found a whole new lease of life when it comes to body positivity, and it has been so refreshing.

When we’re younger, we are programmed to believe that if we think of ourselves in a positive manner or believe that we are beautiful or sexy, it is self-obsessed or big-headed, which is the completely wrong message we should be teaching our younger generations. Every girl (and boy for that matter) is completely unique and they should all be encouraged to feel positive about their appearance and never feel ashamed for believing they are gorgeous, inside and out.

It’s no secret that I enjoy food – eating out is one of my favourite things to do, and I’m even spending more time in the kitchen, and since I have been able to love my body, I have enjoyed food in a new and exciting way because I don’t restrict myself. Yes there are times where all I want to do is sit on the sofa with a packet of biscuits and surround myself with chocolate, and let’s face it, from time to time, we all deserve a bit of a break – but now I know that there’s nothing wrong with having days like that as long as you’re living a balanced and healthy lifestyle the majority of the time.

Once you feel confident on the inside, it starts to show on the outside. I see this when I chose clothes I usually never would have, from the fear that they wouldn’t look right, but now I believe that as long as I am comfortable in what I’m wearing then the positivity shines through. This is also true for choosing underwear that maybe you would usually shy away from, but it is something that can give you so much confidence without even being seen.

I am a complete advocate of body positivity, and although there are still things that I would like to change about my appearance, I no longer let them get me down in the way they would have 5 years ago. There may be little things that I’d like to tweak, but as long as I am leading a happy and healthy lifestyle, then everything else will fall into place.

What is your stance on body positivity? 

xx

Since getting engaged, and the whirlwind affair that was Christmas, there hasn’t really been the chance for Jordan and me to have as many date nights as we would like to spend some quality time together. Instead, we’ve been spending a lot of time making home-cooked meals and spending the wintry nights on the sofa, but recently I’ve really been missing going out for dinner, as it’s one of my favourite things to do.

I was lucky enough to be contacted by the team from The Botanist, who invited us to try some of their new winter favourites on the menu and sample some of their famous cocktails (and although I claimed to be doing Dry January, I gave it up for good reason this night)

We visited the Alderley Edge restaurant on a Friday night, which is one of my local haunts when we go for a drink at work, so I was well versed with it. We were seated upstairs in a booth, in The Rose Room, which is one of the most beautiful bars I’ve ever been in – think rose blossoms hanging from the ceiling, intertwined with fairy lights.

We had a read of the drinks menu, and our server recommended some cocktails – that’s one of the things I love about The Botanist is that all the staff are so knowledgeable. I started with the blackberry and rosemary fizz, which was made with gin, sugar syrup, fresh blackberries and soda (whilst Jordan had a beer) and it went down a treat.

 

We ordered our starters, and I went for the smoked haddock fondue with a herb crumb, poached egg and bread (because it sounded hella interesting) and Jordan went for the calamari – which I obviously had some of because it’s my fave – and both were delicious and really good portion sizes as I couldn’t wait for my main.

For the main, what else could we have gone for but the famous hanging kebab – so famous its actually trademarked. I ordered the jerk salmon (but opted for the sweet potato fries over the rice and peas, obvs) and Jordan had the salt and pepper pork with skin-on fries. My only piece of advice here would be, if you’re ordering the salmon, it is very spicy – but perfect for this girl who likes hot food.

Once the kebabs are served, the waitress poured over the garlic butter, and it was ultimate food porn. The butter makes the kebabs so nice and moist and goes into the fries – I’m actually salivating just thinking about it. If you take one thing away from this blog it would be to ORDER THE HANGING KEBAB – and it’s in caps so you gotta!

After the mains, the waitress twisted our arm to have another cocktail (but it didn’t take much twisting, let’s be honest) and we moved into the next room to have these ones and take some photos. I went for the strawberry and cucumber breeze, made with gin and strawberry liqueur with apple, cranberry and lemon juice, and Jordan went for a very manly passionfruit and basil crush made with Disaronno and Drambuie – both of them went down a treat (and probably far too easily by this point).

After having a read of the dessert menu, there was no way that we could say no to them – the choice was incredible, with the likes of sticky toffee pudding, baked chocolate chip cookie dough and apple crumble – but the one that caught our eye was the smores pudding, made with warm chocolate brownie, peanut butter, chocolate ganache, toasted marshmallows and vanilla ice cream – talk about a way to end the meal!

Overall the food completely exceeded my expectations and the staff were incredible, so attentive and full of knowledge of the dishes and drinks.

And the best news? If you use this code you will get 20% off your booking at The Botanist on Deansgate in Manchester!

xx

Happy February everyone!

I hope you’ve had a wonderful start to the month – I already feel as though this one is going to fly by, but I can’t complain as the lighter mornings are making it feel as though spring is just around the corner!

1. Vegan Menu At Tampopo

I’ve worked with Tampopo a couple of times in the past, and I was very lucky to be invited to their Vegan Tasting Menu on Wednesday. I invited my friend Charlotte as I hadn’t seen her since before Christmas and it was the last day of her doing Veganuary. The food was amazing, and the flavours were all balanced so well.

2. Work Night Out

On Friday afternoon, my team had a meeting in Manchester, and we had a work night out afterwards. We started off at The Laundrette for food and drinks (the butternut squash pizza was amazing) before heading to Gasworks and then on to beer pong at Bunny Jacksons. I had such a fun night and woke up hangover free – bonus!

3. The White Closet

If you’re from the Manchester area (in particular, Didsbury) you probably will have heard of The White Closet on Burton Road. I made an appointment back in January as this was the first one I could get, and I’m so glad I waited for it. I went with my Mum and we had the loveliest experience. The woman who was showing us the dresses was so knowledgeable and showed us different ways to dress them up. I would highly recommend booking an appointment if you’re from around here.

4. Surprise Birthday Party

After the dress appointment, I whizzed over to my friend Abi’s house for her surprise birthday party with a group of friends. We all brought food and drink and she had no idea. It was such a lovely afternoon spending time with everyone.

5. Come Dine With Me

As you may know, if you read my blog a lot, a group of friends and I do a ‘Come Dine With Me’ where we go through the letters of the alphabet and chose a country beginning with that letter. This time it was R for Russia, and the food was very different to anything we’d had before, but tasty all the same. It was great to catch up with everyone as well as I hadn’t seen them since we got engaged so they had lots of questions!

6. Tatton Wedding Show

On Sunday afternoon, I went to the Bride: The Wedding Show at Tatton Park. It was one of the best shows I’ve been to so far. The catwalk show was incredible and I came away with lots of inspiration and suppliers I want to get in touch with.

7. Proove Pizza

After working up an appetite walking around the show, Jordan and I treated ourselves to a pizza at one of our favourite places, Proove in West Didsbury. Going out for dinner on a Sunday evening is one of my favourite things to do as it always makes the weekend feel a little bit longer (and pizza is my fave!)

8. Arrested Development

This last fortnight I’ve been in London a couple of times for work, and each time I’ve gotten back into watching Arrested Development on the train. It used to be one of my favourite shows a few years ago and I forgot how much I enjoyed it.

What have you been loving this week? 

xx

Happy 1st February everyone! The longest month in existence is over, and we can finally start 2018 again without Dry January, fad diets and everything else that happens on the 1st of the year.

The problem with January is that it makes February seems even shorter by comparison, and it’ll be spring before you know it – not that I’m complaining, I can’t wait for lighter nights now.

Anyway, here are all the things I’m wishing for this month.

1. Discover Bath
Next weekend, Jordan and I will be heading to Bath for a couple of nights, which has been on our list for a while. Since the start of the year, we haven’t had a full weekend to get away somewhere, so I’m excited for a bit of downtime with my favourite person. If you have any recommendations, please send them my way!

2. Have An Evening A Week To Switch Off

I wasn’t very well towards the end of January, and I think it was body telling me to take it a bit more easier. Now things are starting to pick up again in the blogging world, I’m vowing to have at least one evening off social media per week (maybe more if I feel I need it) to do absolutely nothing.

3. Enjoy Dinner With My Friends

We have our next ‘Alphabet Come Dine With Me’ scheduled in for this weekend, and it will be the first time we’ve all been together since before Christmas. The country is Russia, and it is at my friend’s house in Chester, which I haven’t yet been to – I can’t wait!

4. Restaurant Launch

In a couple of weeks, I will be attending a restaurant launch in my hometown of Altrincham, which is really exciting because the vibe of the place sounds right up my street – pizza and chicken! I can’t wait to see what the place will look like as two of my very close friends have been working on this for months.

5. Wedding Fair

This month I’ve also got a wedding fair to attend at Tatton Park with my married friend and my engaged friend (can you tell everyone else is sick of me by this point!) It’ll be really lovely to spend time with them both, and hopefully pick up some inspiration for the big day!

6. Work Night Out

We have our first work night out of the year tomorrow, and I’m really looking forward to letting my hair down and having a few drinks with everyone. Last time we went out with work people, it got a little bit messy and we ended up in Chinese karaoke until 2am in the morning – not my finest hour.

7. Enjoy Trying A New Restaurant

I’ve been really lucky this month that I’ve been invited to try out a classic restaurant in Manchester towards the end of February, which is a place I’ve always wanted to go to. I won’t say too much about it, but if you’re from the city, I reckon you definitely will have heard of it.

8. Bake Something New

I haven’t baked anything since November, so this month I’m making it my mission to get back in the kitchen and whip up some sweet treats. I’m a novice in the kitchen until it comes to baking, which is something I really enjoy – if you have any recipes, in particular, you’d think I’d like, please let me know in the comments.

9. Try To Save Some Money

Now that I’ve pretty much paid off Christmas, I’m hoping to be able to start saving some money again this month and I’ve got quite a few things this year planned that I’m going to have to pay off soon. We’ve also started saving for the wedding which has made everything seem so much more real (and exciting!)

10. Continue To Search For THE Dress

I’ve been to a couple of wedding shops so far looking for a dress, but I’ve still yet to find the one for me. I have a set style in my head that I’d like, and so far I haven’t seen it anywhere, so here’s hoping this month I do. If there are any boho-style shops out there that you’d think it’s worth me looking into, drop me a message as I’m all for recommendations.

And there you have my wishlist for this month.

What are you hoping for in February? 

xx

I’ve decided to dedicate one post a month to our wedding, plans, things I’ve enjoyed, things that have stressed me out and everything else in between. I feel as though I’m getting to that age now where a lot of my readers might be engaged, already married or just interested in the whole process, which is why I wanted to share my experiences on here with you.

In today’s post, I wanted to share with you the story of how we got engaged. If you’re looking for a romantic, dreamy, fairytale, then, unfortunately, I cannot give you that: I can, however, give you the true story, that emulates the fact that life very rarely goes to plan. As the nosey person I am naturally, I really enjoy reading people’s stories, and I hope you enjoy mine.

Back before Christmas, Jordan planned a trip to France for us to have a pre-anniversary celebration. We arrived in Lille early afternoon on the Tuesday and spent the day wandering around and getting our bearings. We stopped at a few bars, sampling the local wine and beers before heading for cheese and mussels – how French! We spent some time exploring the Christmas markets and looking around the old town before heading back to our hotel.

If you’ve read my blog for a while, you’ll remember that we did a trip to Belgium back in March, visiting Brussels and Bruges, but one of the places we didn’t manage to fit into the holiday was Ghent. After speaking to a couple at dinner about how easy it was to get there, we decided to spend our next afternoon there. They also recommended a restaurant for us back in Lille for dinner the next night, so we swung by on the way home to book a table and have something to look forward to.

I’ve been to Europe loads of times on holiday, and every time, I’ve been on some form of public transport with no problem at all, until this trip. We got to Ghent absolutely fine and spent a lovely afternoon discovering the shops, walking down the canals and eating our way around the markets.

We decided to get the 6.30pm train home, meaning that we would be back in France and at the restaurant to make our 8pm reservation. I wasn’t anxious at all about getting the train home, as the journey there was so seamless, but after the platform of the train changed and it was brought forward by a few minutes, I started to feel a little on edge.

The first half an hour of the journey went by incredibly quickly and I even nodded off for a bit, but I woke up just as we got into a station where we waited for 20 minutes. We weren’t too concerned at first seen as the train to Belgium had done something similar but after the longest wait at the station, we started to go backwards.

We both knew that something wasn’t right at this point, and went to find the conductor to see where we had gone wrong. He was incredibly helpful and told us that the train we were on had split into two separate trains (which apparently is quite common in Europe) and half had gone to Lille and the other half had gone further into Belgium – and we were on that half.

By this point, Jordan’s phone was dead and mine was on very low battery and I went into a full panic mode. The conductor told us we had to go back to the original station where the train split and wait for the next train back to Lille which was arriving on a different platform, 6 minutes later. It all sounded very doable, but I was really worried that we would miss it and couldn’t calm myself down.

It was another hour until we got to the station, and once we got there we asked everyone we could to make sure we were on the right platform. After a few minutes, our train turned up, and although it said Lille on the front, we asked the new conductor and a few other passengers to make sure we were on the right one – which we were.

After we got back to France, we had missed our reservation and we were exhausted so decided to get a takeaway pizza and a bottle of wine and head back to the hotel to watch TV and sleep. Little did I know what was about to happen next.

Once we got back to the hotel, Jordan was being slightly jittery and spilt wine all over the table whilst he was pouring it. I didn’t think anything of it and headed to the bathroom to take my makeup off. I realised I’d left my cotton wool pads in the room and asked him to pass me them, and the next thing I knew, he was on one knee, holding a ring.

After such a draining evening, my emotions sky-rocketed and I jumped into his arms as he asked me to marry him and burst into tears. It wasn’t the proposal he was hoping for (apparently it would have been in a cute little park on the walk back from dinner) but the fact that he couldn’t wait any longer to ask me, made it even more special – and who can say they spent their engagement night eating pizza and drinking wine in bed?

I was really close to ringing my mum that night, but it was late and I wanted to tell her face to face the next day when we were home, and it felt nice having our little secret for a while. The next day I couldn’t stop smiling and had to keep checking down at my hand to make sure I hadn’t dreamt it. We had a lovely last day wandering around the old town and even got some champagne to have on the Eurostar home to celebrate.

And the rest is history.

Reading the story back now it all seems incredibly dramatic, and although the evening put me on the verge of a panic attack, the outcome made me the happiest girl in the world.

I hope you enjoyed reading our engagement story and are looking forward to the rest of the wedding content that you’ll be getting over the next few months.

xx