17 November 2019

Starting a New Job | Lifestyle

So I am nearly 5 months into my new role and I guess I just wanted to start some things I have learned about myself since I started. I am so happy at my new place, the team are great, our clients are great, the location is great but sometimes that impostor syndrome follows you around so lets start with...

I don't take mistakes very well - we are human, we make mistakes but when I do it I don't take it so personally I almost feel physical pain. I messed up on a call and whilst it wasn't the worst thing I could have done I absolutely obsessed about it,

I do actually know some stuff - after being in a company that basically told you, your opinion isn't valid to go to somewhere else where people want to listen to what you say is an adjustment! Turns out, I do sort of know what I am doing!

Work flexibility means a lot - so when it was super hot a few months ago, my trains were fucked but I had no pressure at all to try and come in! I didn't feel like I was gonna be given a warning if I couldn't come in which is a massive difference to the experience I have had at other companies. 

I really love nurturing a team - my favourite part of my role is problem solving client drama for my beautiful team! I love helping them understand different elements of client relationship management, I enjoy being the person they can vent to and then we come together with a solution to make it easier. 

There we have just a few things that I have learned since starting my job, its definitely been a welcomed change in pace and I know now more than ever what I actually like to do and where my skill sets are! 

10 November 2019

Curated Social Media | Opinion

Since my post on "fair weather activists" I have done a lot of thinking about just how much social media has the ability to effect our mental well-being. I follow a variety of bloggers and influencers, both my Instagram and Twitter are linked to my blog and when I first started them, I went through a wave of following almost any blogger who on the surface was like me, which is basically a female blogger! I loved it, I had this little network of people who I could chat to about things that were relatable!

Fast forward 4/5 years and all of a sudden I'm finding myself increasingly disgruntled with both the platforms, I mean I lost the illusion of Instagram a long while ago but one thing I didn't do was mass unfollow. It's only since my last post that I realise I actually have control over what I want to be consuming online and if I don't like someone's opinion, I can hit unfollow and be done with it. I do think there's a danger with only following people who share the same opinions because you get a very one sided view on the world but you can definitely differentiate between someone who is an absolute moron and someone who shares the fundamentals but sees things from a different angle to you.

In the last year or so I have found myself caring about a lot of different things, I don't eat meat anymore but all of the foodie accounts I followed were all juicy burgers and delicious meats and while there is no denying I did like meat and I did enjoy the taste, I should not be following these types of accounts, instead I should be looking for veggie or even vegan options to think about new dinners and meals for me. Honestly just by following a few new veggies accounts all of a sudden I am cooking different meals stuff I love but just didn't even think about before. I have stopped following accounts that I don't have a distinct reaction about, instead I am following account where people may give advise on eco-friendly ways of living that are useful for someone like me who is trying. I want to follow accounts I not only relate to but also can learn something from, no matter how small. 

I have been passively consuming social media accounts for years now and I am finally starting to consider the subconscious impact that could have on me, so I am changing the content I consume to be something I genuinely care about or something that makes me happy.
3 November 2019

Florence, 3 years on | Lifestyle

At the start of this year I had a yearning to go back to Florence so me and the boyf decided that we should go back for my birthday. I haven't been there since I left over 3 years ago so I was excited to see what had changed, what had stayed the same and how I felt about the place! I know you're probably thinking, "oh she was only there for just over a year" or "it hasn't been that long since I lived there" but the reality is, when you move to another country, on your own, without knowing a single soul it changes your life entirely so of course, I have this emotional attachment to the place. So let's start with...

The Pisamover - This was brand new! Just 3 years ago, you had to get a coach to Florence or get a taxi to Pisa train station and then a train to Florence! In all honesty it was a right faff so this new, easy option was brilliant!

The Galleries - I made sure that this time I did a bit of touristy kinda things including visiting galleries.  Once we went to was called Uffizi, it's probably one of the most visited galleries in Florence and showcases lots of pieces from the Renaissance. We saw the Botticelli painting The Birth of Venus  which of course was stunning but ones I personally loved were the paints of unknown people, there's something about them.

The Food - the first thing we ate when we landed was pizza with bufala mozzarella and it was DIVINE! I found myself eating everything (including a little bit of meat), I just don't know how the Italians do it? if you offered me bruchetta topped with tomatoes in the UK I would turn my nose up, but you offer it to me in Italy and its an entirely different thing, the tomatoes genuinely taste better!

The Beauty - In all honesty, I new that when I went back I would fall in love all over again, I mean it's hard to describe because of course Florence is beautiful, the architecture of the Duomo is enough but the thing I really like is the simplistic beauty of Florence. The small, narrow streets, the little pockets of residential living with the buildings are close together as if they were sharing secrets! Everything, just stunning! 

It was lovely to be back, if even for a brief weekend! The way I think of Florence is like a relationship, I am married to London, I adore London but Florence is a love affair that's over but my mind still wanders from time to time!  
27 October 2019

30 Things in 30 Years | Birthday

I've had a little break from the blog, no reason, just couldn't be bothered to post even though I had content in my drafts but I am back now.

It's that time again, another year older and yet none the wiser, not really a massive fan of my birthday but considering it was a biggie (30, cringe) I thought I would look at my achievements and random things I have done in my 30 bloody years on this planet! 

ONE. Got a dog
TWO. Bought a house
THREE. Started my career
FOUR. Started a blog
FIVE. Learned karate
SIX. Visited 17 cities around the world
SEVEN. Lived in another country for a year
EIGHT. Been a bridesmaid
NINE. Got a degree
TEN. Learned to drive
ELEVEN. Sang at karaoke
TWELVE. Got my nose pierced
THIRTEEN. Cooked Christmas dinner
FOURTEEN. Been to a festival
FIFTEEN. Attended concerts
SIXTEEN. Travelled on a plane alone
SEVENTEEN. Fallen asleep on the train drunk and woken up after my stop
EIGHTEEN. Baked a cake
NINETEEN. Been to a football match
TWENTY. Had a perm
TWENTY-ONE. Dyed my hair red
TWENTY-TWOHosted a gathering
TWENTY-THREE. Written a poem
TWENTY-FOUR. Owned a car
TWENTY-FIVEEaten at a restaurant alone
TWENTY-SIX. I have built a piece of furniture by myself
TWENTY-SEVEN. I have walked to the top of the Duomo in Florence, Italy 
TWENTY-EIGHT. Seen a show at London Fashion Week
TWENTY-NINE. I have seen several musicals in the West end
THIRTY. I bought my first piece of art

So there we have some wonderful (and stupid) things I have done in my 30 years on this damn planet! 
25 August 2019

Fair Weather Activists | Opinion

Buffed Tailed Bumble Bee

When I first wrote this post, I wrote it from a place of frustration and I have tried to edit a little bit so it isn't so much of a judgmental rant but there are some points that I get annoyed with and I think it's perfectly fine to express that on my own blog! I was growing more irritated with social media's cultivation of what I like to call "fair weather" activists or people who just jump on the bandwagon, how it's important today but gone tomorrow and to a degree that's fine but when the cause is relate to the environment or the planet I couldn't help but get a little bitter!

A little while ago we all became very aware of face wipes impact on the sewage systems and the impact they have just being in landfills never decomposing because facewipes are pretty much plastic, they aren't biodegradable. We then saw this huge surge of people saying they no longer use wipes/ they didn't realise the impact until they saw it on social media and this is when we are at our best, when we are sharing knowledge and educating others. It really gained momentum and even I gave up facewipes and I'm glad I have but after a while the noise died down and everyone stopped talking about it. Then I see the same people who were shocked about facewipes starting to use sheet masks which are pretty much identical in composition to facewipes - so all of a sudden the environment doesn't matter or is it just sheet masks are equally as popular on social media? (Attitude much?) I'll see people harp on about how important bees are and then choose to put artificial grass down which doesn't impact the bees as such but impacts all other small insects that live in the grass and, lets face it, you're just slapping down a great big piece of plastic in your garden. 

We even saw it with Pride this year, I saw so many brands update their logos to rainbow colours but how many of those companies actually donated any money to any LGBTQ+ rights? Pride is definitely more that just a rainbow but of course brands didn't want to miss out on the popularity and the visual connection to something much bigger than them

The thing is I understand, we as consumers, live our lives for convenience, we want to do anything that makes our lives easier which is why we have created the problem ourselves (with the help of supermarkets and good marketing teams). I understand that when we see things so plain on social media we want to do better, we want to do good but fall back into everyday habits. I have to still remember that adopting a few smaller changes it better than doing nothing and that it's so easy to sit on my phone and critise other people when I'm nowhere near perfect, heck they may even be people critising me for various things! 

Maybe I should stop thinking about what others are doing or just simply unfollow some people?
18 August 2019

Making More of Free Time | Lifestyle

I find it very easy to get stuck in a rut, especially when I feel a little trapped with work! I easily lose all motivation and can get a little down but now I have a new job I decided I wanted to make a few changes to my free time to encourage a better work/life balance and actually make the most of my free time. Don't get me wrong, I love to do absolutely nothing sometimes but actually as I get older I realise I find more comfort in routine and a little structure so I thought I would share some ideas and tips on how I am trying to make more of my free time.

Weekdays have always been a bit of write off for me, I get home and I just can't be bothered to do anything of any real interest. I go home, I give the pooch a quick walk, I have dinner and I might have a glass of wine in the eve and that's about it. However when it came to the weekend I didn't really know what to do with myself because I hadn't planned anything in advance. One day I just decided that I was going to organise mine and my boyfs calendar so that we have at least one thing each week that we will either do together or with the pooch as well. At first it's a little daunting to try and figure out what we can do with the dog as not everywhere is dog friendly but it only takes a quick phone call or email to confirm whether the places are and so far we've had a lot of luck with that. I know it can seem a little odd that I am organising free time when surely I should be impulsive and free to do whatever I want but I think when you have a little doggo you do have to plan things more.

In June we took Fred to a Beer Festival in our home town and took him to Brighton over night. These were relatively easy things to book and schedule and we want to desensitise him a little to busy environments because we want to take him everywhere, this meant that for a couple of weekends easily had something to do. On the weeks where we weren't really doing anything at the weekend we decided to go out for dinner at places we really liked or haven't been before.

I have found myself baking a lot more recently, I have always loved baking but sometimes found it difficult to remember to have all of the ingredients, so instead I have bought some bread mix where all you need to add is water. It's something that's really simple and you feel quite accomplished after you have already made it, you don't have to make a big deal out of finding all the correct ingredients. Baking doesn't have to be this massive thing that has to be perfect, simply making something with your own hands can give you a great sense of achievement. In fact, I normally do it on a Sunday afternoon because if I have any time to do absolutely nothing that's when it'll be. Plus I can get on with the house admin whilst the bread is proving/cooking/cooling down! Also, I quite like baking stuff to give to my parents, its a simple gesture that everyone can enjoy!

Even spending 30 minutes at the weekend faffing with my blog feels so much better than just sitting in front of the TV in the evening. I don't think there is anything wrong is just sitting and doing nothing, but for me, for some odd reason, I just get really crabby if I feel like I have done nothing. It's also worth pointing out that sometimes, even though I have planned it, you have to change those plans! We were supposed to go into London with Fred the other weekend but it was just too hot so we didn't and because it was so hot we ended up doing nothing other than buying another damn plant for the balcony (which I low key loved)

11 August 2019

Keeping cool in a New Build | Lifestyle

As I write the post we've had a bit of a heatwave and whilst I love a bit of sunshine being in a newly built property is actually almost unbearable. New Build properties are designed to be more energy efficient by keeping heat in the property, they have lowers ceilings and have "stud" walls etc. At first we really struggled to keep the place cool but now we seem to be getting out heads around it. The reality is you need to start thinking about how your apartment is when you go aboard to hot countries. 

Keep the windows shut, seriously! People think if they open the windows then it will let in a breeze which is fine but when you can't create a draft or there isn't a breeze outside all you are doing is letting in the hot hair into home. I open the windows wide in the morning to let the cool air in and then just as the temperature starts to increase close them and close your curtains! It can seem a bit sad to have your home in darkness the entire day but if you want to have a cool place to retreat to when you come in then you have to make a sacrifice.  

Ditch the duvet and adopt a European style of sleeping with flat sheets! I cannot stand being hot at night, I hate waking up with my hair all stuck to me, but I don't really like being exposed lying on top of the sheets, so a flat sheet is a really simple addition to the bedding. Pick a good quality cotton one and this will aid in keeping you cool at night.  

Buy a damn fan! There are a lot of options out there ranging from really expensive Dyson fans to affordable ones from Asda, I would suggest buying a tall one though because then you do have to clear any surfaces or sides and you can keep it anywhere!

Avoid oven usage! This only really applies if you live in an open plan area with your living room and kitchen like us. Honestly, we've really had to rethink some of the meals we cook on a weekend just because if it involves and oven it's best to avoid! 

So there we have some really simple but effective ways of keeping your property cooler in the warmer weather. 

4 August 2019

What's in my dog handbag | Lifestyle

Today I thought I would share with you guys the contents of my bag now that I have a doggo, obviously I still have a normal handbag but as we are trying to take Fred to more places with us I always want to make sure I have enough stuff. Quite often we need to make sure we have things that can we can distract him with if he is getting a bit restless. In all honesty, I never thought I would need to carry things around with us, my parents have a Chocolate Labrador and they don't really need to carry extra items with us because he is a pretty relaxed dog and will happily sit next to my dad, so I think breed has a lot to do with it. 

Freddie is a French Bulldog and they can be known to have a few health problems, one is definitely getting overheated, heat stroke can be fatal in some cases so we always make sure we carry some water and a bowl for him. To be honest, I would say that Freddie is quite a healthy dog, we keep him lean and he is very active but we know that because of his snorter snout it can restrict the it getting into his nose and therefore his ability to cool himself down. Even if the weather isn't too hot, I think it's still worth us carrying the water on long journeys. I use a simple water bottle that I picked up from Asda that keeps cool water cool. I am looking at getting a collapsible bowl but for now this one works fine. 

I opted for a rucksack because it meant that I can carry all the goodies and still have both hands free to hold his lead or pick his poop up! Also I feel that you can actually get quite a lot of stuff in a rucksack which is handy! 

I carry around A LOT of treats in that little orange container (classic Ikea) the main reason we carry them in a container is to keep them fresh but another reason is because I can't stand dog biscuit crumbs everywhere, I know how dramatic of me, but they get everywhere and some dog treats really smell so I would rather not have them rolling around the bag.Of course no dog owner would be complete without numerous poo bags, I have shown one here but in all honesty I carry about 10 with me because  you just never know! 

Then finally we have a couple of toys with us, Freddie can be a bit obsessed with a tennis ball so it keeps him quite if he is getting a little moany! But as with most dogs they get bored of just one toy so it's always good to carry an extra one! 

I know this isn't the most thrilling of posts but I think if you are looking to get a dog with a short snout or anything like that, then making sure you have the bare essentials is really important! 

28 July 2019

The Old Ship Hotel, Brighton | Dog Friendly

Image Source

Today I  wanted to share my first experience of staying in a hotel with our little Fred because we've never actually spent any real time away from our home but we wanted to try a trip away in the hope that over time Fred would get used to it. At first I really struggled to find a hotel at a reasonable price to have your dog stay because I didn't realise at the time that hotels always charge extra and some charge in excess of £25 for one night which I thought was a little obscene however The Old Ship Hotel only charged £12.50 which is reasonable. I'm going to be honest about the hotel because I feel like sometimes it's really hard to find the right hotel when you have a dog so I would rather this post be helpful as opposed to just being a positive review, I obviously haven't been paid to write this, just putting it out there in case anyone has any suspicions. 

The Old Ship Bathroom

First Impressions 

There is no shadow of a doubt that this is a dog friendly hotel! When I walked in every member of staff wanted to stroke or play with Fred, we felt so welcome even down to the detail of having a jar of dog biscuits next to the jar of mints for the humans! Everyone was smiling and helpful, the foyer was clean and inviting it actually had a very luxurious feel to it and there was a wedding going on so that should give you a little idea of what the first impressions were like. We booked through where I make all of my bookings and the only disappointing thing was that we couldn't check in until 3pm which feels a little later than I would have expected at most hotels but they were fine in letting us just wait around until the room was free. Also, the location is honestly so perfect, it's very close to Brighton pier and right on the seafront! 

The Room 

For me, this is where things start going down hill a little, as you can see the room is fine the decor may be slightly outdated but on the surface I was really happy with it until I started to look a little closer. The first thing I noticed were the carpet stains, I understand that we were in a dog room so of course it's not going to the top tier but it did put me off a little. I know dogs have accidents (ours didn't) but when you sit down and notice the vast amount it was a little disappointing. Also, the sink had a giant crack in it and the chairs had a layer of dust at the back which again was off putting. One nice touch though was that they had put a little dog bed and water bowl in the room which again highlights that dogs are very welcome additions. The room was obscenely hot because of the weather and the fact they left the heated towel rail on but they had a tall stand up fan so that was great! Fred did not like the room at all, it was probably just because it was somewhere new but it was so hot he really struggled to settle down.

The Old Ship

Would I stay again? 

No! This is purely because of the price, the cost of this room was £198 (includes £12.50 dog fee) for one night!! Unfortunately there is no way the quality of the room was worth that cost. I completely understand an appreciate that we would be put in a room of that condition because we have a dog, they are hardly going to place us in a premium room when there's a chance our dog could ruin it but it felt very much like a room that they didn't mind if it did get ruined, if that makes sense? If I was basing my stay purely one the customer service and welcome then I would definitely stay again in a heartbeat and I would probably even stay again if the room was around the £130 (excluding dog fee) mark because the location is good but for me the room doesn't warrant the price tag! 

So there we have my little mini review of the hotel, I think in future I would probably opt for an AirBnB because I think Fred would settle a little easier and because we wouldn't have to worry if Fred did bark but also because it would feel like we would have a more comfortable stay and not feel like we are given a below par room just because we have a dog! 

21 July 2019

Small Changes to Help the Environment | Lifestyle

Small Changes to Help the Environment

I gave up meat at the start of the year and it's probably one of the best decision I made, I do still fancy meat some times but I haven't had anything and I'm quite proud of that! One of the many reasons I gave up was definitely the environmental impact farming has on the planet and this has got me thinking more about how our every day lives are having such a negative impact and I wanted to find ways where I personally could make better decisions. Even the picture I've used above really made me sad because here are the signets in their nest that it surrounded by empty cans and rubbish, of which cans can be easily recycled but, of course, they just end up thrown in the damn river. 

I don't quite know what's happened to me this year but all of a sudden I really care about lots of things, it could be social media making me aware, it could also be old age. I just feel like I need to be doing better, well everyone needs to do better but the only thing I can really control is myself. There are a lot of programmes out there like War on Plastic which is fantastic but you can get a little overwhelmed with the info they give so I thought I would share some easier to digest tips to help the environment .

Reduce the amount of single use plastic - This one is a bloody minefield and I know it's far easier said than done but I have kept it simple like instead of buying shower gels I buy soap, it's zero plastic does the same job. Some soaps can leave my skin feeling a bit weird/dry but Lush also do pretty good shower gel type formulas as well. Also, The Body Shop do a recycling scheme for plastic too, so if you can't recycle a cosmetics/skincare package, take it to boots and they will do it for you! When buying food condiments, I try to opt for the glass jar over the plastic bottle as glass can be easily recycled into more glass products.

Stopped using face wipes - My god this was a difficult one for me, I'm not gonna lie I always knew facewipes weren't good for my skin but never really considered the wider impact until it was plastered all over my social media (and rightly so) I don't have an excuse to use facewipes, I have normal facial cleansers that do the job so why am I reaching for the things so frequently? It's probably just a habit but it's one I am happy I've kicked.

Planted bee friendly flowers - Ok so I have become a little obsessed with my balcony garden at the moment and it's a little ridiculous but all of the plants I have are bee friendly. Honestly imagine a world without our bumbley friends?! Awful! If you are fortunate to have a garden or even an area where you can put some flowers in a pot it's worth it. I'm not ashamed to admit the overwhelming joy seeing a bumble bee on one of my plants brings me!

Walk to the shops - I have got pretty damn lazy recently, when I lived in Italy, I walked flippin' everywhere (I had no choice) and over time since being back in the UK I have got lazier with each month it would seem so when the weekend comes I try to walk more which includes walking to the shops to pick up some groceries. I don't really need to be driven to the shops when for me it is walking distance.

Bring in lunch at work - This one is still a bit of a work in progress, working in London you have some many coffee shops and food places, a sandwich in a lunchbox can look incredibly unappealing by comparison. However all those quick food options use a huge amount of single use plastic so if I can move to bringing in my own lunch at least 4 days a week then not only will I be helping reduce waste, I will also be saving a little money each week!

The problem is, we as a society do a lot of damaging things to the environment  due to convenience, the way we shop has never been more easier than what it is now. I think the supermarkets have a massive part to play, they waste an obscene amount of plastic and they are charging more money for unpackaged items/ plastic free than the ones in plastic wrap, of course everyone is going to purchase whichever is the cheapest.

Also, it's worth pointing out that I know there are circumstances where not everyone can give up single use plastics, they may have disabilities and illnesses whereby they need convenient products, I have no problem whatsoever with this and do not think we should demonise everyone for using products that actually make their quality of life better. My issue is there are the people like myself who don't have any excuses to not try at least to make small changes. We've done so much irreversible damage already, I just don't want to continue to make it worse. I'm not perfect, I am definitely still wasteful but I am trying and that's the most important thing right? Hopefully!
14 July 2019

Stranger Things 3 | Opinion

Never on my blog have I written about a TV series, it isn't my style but after watching Stranger Things 3 I just have a lot of feelings and thought why they hell not?! I have to point out that this blog post will contain spoilers so if you haven't quite finished yet just skip this have been warned.

I'm going to tell you straight that I found this season really disappointing, for various reasons, but i'm going to start with the feel of the series from episode 1! Stranger Things 3 started full of colour and laughter, there was this comedic tone throughout at least the first 4 episodes and I'm not a complete troll like some parts were amusing, my issue is the way they dumbed some of the characters down like Hopper! I'm sorry but this one really annoyed me, Hopper was a fantastic character, he was gritty, grumpy but had a heart however in this season he was a bumbling fool who comes across as desperate to date Joyce and obsessed with El dating Mike, his character actually became quite embarrassing which is why I am happy they killed him off, I wouldn't want to see him decline any further, but is he really dead? Also, poor Will they made him look quite pathetic didn't they? I felt like there were two many storylines running through this season when all I really wanted was the core gang to come together and just sort the mindflayer out! Instead we had to watch drama with El and Mike, Hopper and Joyce, Nancy and Johnathan, Billy and mike's mum, Steve and his almost love interest, though that one changed by the end of it, the main undertone was just about love interests which is fine and I get it  but the reason I watch stranger things is for the the strange thing not normal life!

I also found the idea of having Russians working underneath a shopping mall a little too far fetched for me, give me mindflayers and I can get my head around that but why Russians, why are they opening the gate, why under a shopping mall? Also, why did Steve and this new gang break into the Russian lair and manage to escape? It's a step too far for me! And I know how ridiculous that sounds because it's Stranger Things and the whole concept is made up anyway.

We knew this season had a lot more money thrown at it because we knew about all of the collaborations with different brands and for the most part I think it was quite subtle but the Coke ad in episode 7...oh my god, too much! The problem was it felt like an ad.
I just have to bring up the Dustin and Suzie singing thing which was f*cking cringe but the concept was fine and if he just mumble sang into the walkie-talkie then that would have been funny and not detract too much from the storyline but oh no, they had to make it into this big duet with a split screen...while the mindflayer is literally on the gang! WTF!

There were moments of brilliance though and I cannot deny how great the graphics were this season, I was hooked with gaping mouth as I watch El and Billy meet in the upside down! Actually, all of the Billy scenes were brilliant and not just because he is obscenely handsome! Watching Nancy and Johnathan being hunted in hospital had my pulse racing! Even the character development of Murray I really bloody liked, he was a great addition. To be fair, all of the female characters were pretty badass! These were all really great parts and I wish we had more of them, I wish I was on the edge of my seat throughout the whole thing but I just wasn't, it didn't have the same darkness it had before! The season only really started for me from episode 5 which in an 8 part series is a little too late but of course I will watch the next season! 
7 July 2019

Garden Balcony Tips | Lifestyle

Balcony Garden

We moved into our first home just over a year ago now, I've written a few posts about it but some of you may not know is that our home is actually a Coach House so it's basically somewhere between a flat and a house. We have the entire property, we don't have anyone either side or above us but we have car ports directly underneath the property meaning everything is on first level as opposed to ground level!

The only downside to our home in my opinion is that we don't have a garden and this may some as a bit of a surprise to you but I actually really love plants and a little bit of gardening! A plus side however is that we do have a little balcony which has meant that I've had to get a little creative with my plants! I wanted to share some tips in case someone else was in a similar situation and didn't quite know where to begin.

Firstly, I think one of the most important things to consider is how much sun your balcony area gets during the day. I say this because our balcony is in sunshine literally all day which means we can't really go for plants that need shaded areas because they simply won't thrive where they are! In recent months I have opted for Snapdragons because they love direct sunlight so I know with proper care (lots of watering they should be pretty happy)

Balcony Garden Tips

Think about the type of plants you buy, whether they are going to be low maintenance or require a bit of time and training (trailing plants for example). I bought a Lavender bush, for a few reasons really one being bumble bees however I realised that Lavender is actually a pretty hardy plant and quite low maintenance in the sense that there was time I forgot to water the thing and this year he has come back really happy and healthy so far!

The primroses in the first picture died on us so quickly it was really disappointing but I knew this would happen because it said they would only flower until May so it's pretty important to check the blossom months if you want to have pretty flowers. In fact, it wasn't just that the flowers dropped of the plants actually died so I'm not sure they were too happy where they were so we decided to plant some Snapdragons in their place and they are thriving! If you want to keep your flowers looking fresh then pruning is really important, some plants only need the dead petals to be removed and that's really simple, a gentle tug and you're done! Whereas my lavender, I literally don't touch until late summer when the flowers have died then I trim the lavender stems right back! If you don't know how to prune certain things then there are loads on online tutorials or ask some family members if they are into gardening.

Balcony Garden

I'm lucky because I know exactly what types of flowers I want and it's just from past experience and other people's gardens that I do know what they are called but I think if you're struggling to know what you may like then pre-made planters might be a great option. We stumbled across ours in Homebase and it was just full of different types of beautiful flowers and it just looked great, the bees love it!

I think it doesn't matter how big your area is outside, having little bursts of colours around it can't help but make you smile and the bees will thank you for sure.
30 June 2019

Interview Preparation | Lifestyle

If you read my post the other week on handling rejection from job interviews then you will know I have been on the hunt for a new  role and it has been a ROLLERCOASTER of emotions but now I have managed to get myself a lovely new job (thank god). During the interview process I notice how much the landscape had changed and thought I would share with you guys some tips/things to be aware of.

Video Calls - Ok so video phone calls are a thing now, a lot of companies that I applied for asked to have a video call even though we were in the same damn city and just around the corner. There are many things to consider with video call such as location, connection, phone or laptop and the major one for me is that sometimes the interviewer will forget they are visible so may yawn which can be really off putting and equally they can see you so be mindful of how your come across.

2 hour long interviews - This one took me by surprise and it could just be the fact I was applying for jobs that were Director level but the expectations are high these days. It mean you have to take time off work whether you use holiday or throw a sickie which actually makes things really hard. One company expected me to have 7 interviews and a presentation, the 2 hour interview was set up of 30 min presentation followed by three 30 minute back to back interviews with 3 different people and that wasn't even the last stage. I didn't go ahead with the rest of the interviews because I didn't think the role was worth it.

Questions - In the many months of interviewing it took me to find a job this was one area I actually got a lot better at. There are many things I like to ask but the two that I think you get the most honesty from are "What are the biggest challenges you face as a company" and "How do you measure success for the person in this role". The first question gives you an insight into where potential struggles could arise in the future but also how well the person knows their business. The second question gives you an understanding as to what the expectations will be of you, whether it's purely about client retention or whether you'll be measured by the revenue your digital channel drives.

Rejection - I don't want to say you should be prepared to not get the job because it will put you in the wrong frame of mind when going for the interview but I guess it's more about understanding that rejection can be a part of the process. Wouldn't it be amazing if we all got the job we interviewed for first? But that's just unrealistic.

For me, I think the best interviews are always going to be face to face with a person you can get a vibe from, sometimes you instantly thing "I can work for that guy" and if I feel that then I am far more likely to go for that role if offered. You have to go with your gut, know what you want and what your limitations are, don't just accept a role because they have offered be sure that they are giving you what you really want, whether it be salary, responsibilities or work/life balance.  
23 June 2019

5 things Since Re-launching my Blog | Blogging

I have been blogging consistently again now for a couple of months and it's quite interesting how in that short space of time things have changed. I'm happy to at least be doing something again but I wanted to share with you guys some things I've noticed since being back and blogging.

No one reads it - Facts are facts! I mean, in all honesty I've always had a teeny tiny readership so I wasn't expecting much when I did relaunch again but in all honesty, no one cares and no one is reading! There's a part of me that's a little sad about it but actually in some respects it's nice to have a hobby and write about anything I want to!

I am lazy at promoting it - literally so lazy! For about a month and a half I just didn't schedule any tweets at all telling people I was writing new content, the thing is I got so out of the routine of the whole blogging space that I forgot entirely that I had to promote that damn thing. Not gonna lie, that might be some of the reason why no one is reading this little corner of the internet!

Lucky that I wrote loads of content before launching it - I launched with 8 weeks worth of posts (only one a week, so 8 posts) and once I relaunched and had all those pieces scheduled I literally didn't log back into Blogger again for at least a month, so if I didn't have the content ready and waiting I very much would have had a gap and then the posts would have felt forced and it would have been a hot mess!

Still struggling to get into it - I'm still very much trying to find my voice on this blog, a lot has changed in a year and when I first started again I knew that I wanted to go in a slightly different direction and not just be about things and stuff. So I have tried to focus a lot of my content to be opinion based and current to how I am feeling at that moment in time but it has taken  a little while to get back into it.

Enjoying the freedom of writing whatever I want - I eluded to this in the first point but since no one is reading my damn blog anyway, it's actually quite freeing to not have any expectations or constraints into what I write! Now, I know I'm hardly writing about anything ground breaking but I would never have written about fur becoming mainstream or separating the art from the artist or even why I gave up meat so I'm happy that I do now!

So even though the relaunch has been a little meh in terms of readership and I have definitely taken my sweet time to get back into the routine the main thing is I am still pretty positive about my blog and I'm happy I started again. I think when you take a break from blogging it's easy to think "oh why should I bother" but it's about identifying your objectives. Are you blogging because you want to be seen? If so, have your shit together before you start and make sure you scream about it from everywhere!  Are you blogging because you just want to write again? If so, then just do it! It doesn't matter whether you have a consistent routine or think you're writing about nothing, do it for you!

16 June 2019

Self improvement | Lifestyle

The first thing you should know about me is that I love my career and the industry I have chosen, it has taken me all over the world, I have spoken on a panel at an event, I have lived in another country, I love it! Recently work changed  and I wrote a post highlighting that I was looking for something new because things got pretty bad. The thing is I didn't quite realise just what sort of impact this was having mentally and I realised things really needed to change, I needed to switch my brain back on again! I met up with a friend who I used to work with and she made me think about my own wellbeing and that I should start thinking of self improvement and invest more in myself, this was a little eye opening I must admit.

The hardest part for me was deciding where to start, there were so many areas of myself I was utterly miserable with so which one should I begin with? After a while I thought the thing that made most sense was starting my blog back up, I mean I pretty much had a year out and no wonder I felt like my brain was decaying, it was because I lost my hobby/interest! Instead of thinking about something new to write, I just locked it away and just said "I'm uninspired, I can't write" which is true but the only way to get inspired is to bloody do something, to write words down, to go out on a walk to do small little things and just get the brain working again! I think I didn't really like my blog for a while but now I feel like I am at a bit of a turning point and I hope to keep this blog as more of a personal space to write my thoughts down and not just a review site (nothing wrong with a review blog though).

Another thing I started doing is any form of exercise whether it's going for a walk or a 10 minute workout videos on days where I was feeling very sloth like I found doing something made me feel a lot better. I didn't really wanna join a gym because I worried about how to fit it into my life. I get up early enough as it is and get home pretty late, did I really want to limit my time even more with Chris and the pooch during the week? Definitely not! I started to change my thought process and understand that I can and should be doing some form of activity (before anyone starts, I'm speaking from an "abled" perspective, I understand that not everyone can be active for 10 minutes and that "active" is different for different people) I know for a fact I could easily fit 10 minutes in my day to start with. I'm also fortunate because we have a dog and he will always be up for going on a walk even if it's just around the streets! 

You may have seen my post about Short Stories and it's really changed my reading habits, I find myself picking my kindle up far more these days, than what I did before so much so I have actually stopped listening to music on my commute. I have no problem with people walking around in headphones but the issue is some become so isolated that they completely forget what's going on around them, in fact I could write a whole other post on that so let's stop there! I find if I am reading on my commute it makes me feel more relaxed and just a little more focused in general because the genre I choose to read always leaves me guessing which I think is a good think to keep the brain ticking over.

I think quality time with myself is another thing I have completely given up, it's a easy as having a bath with a bit of music and a glass of wine, it's having a train journey to somewhere else, I actually really like spending time on my own and it's something that I should do more often! Even if it's just grabbing a coffee after I get my nails done instead of rushing straight back home, just a bit of time to faff! 

One really small but actually quite important thing I have recently started to do is take a damn vitamin! I know for a fact that I do not eat enough veggies, I eat more now since going meat free but I know it's not quite enough so to try and change that a little I have started to have a Berocca in the morning or if I miss that I will have a vitamin b complex tablet to just try and keep my energy levels up!

These are the absolute basics but the problem was I wasn't even doing the basic things so it comes as no surprise that I was feeling so crap! I know it sounds so simple but in all honesty it is very small changes that make a difference or could lead onto bigger changes. The thing I have to remind myself of is that self improvement is a constant thing, it's something that needs to evolve with me as I grow and change.

9 June 2019

Dealing with Rejection when Job Hunting | Lifestyle

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay 

Getting a new job is bloody hard guys isn't it? If you're anything like me then even whittling it down to the places you'd want to work is tough enough and then you have to actually go through the interview process. I have seen it too often where people jump into roles because they are simply fed up of their current situation but they often end up not as happy as they thought they would be because the industry is still the same regardless of company. I only apply for job that I genuinely think I would love to do which means I'm a little fussier than most but I don't think that's a bad thing as such.

I recently went for my dream job, it was somewhere I really respected, somewhere I have wanted to work for such a long time and it was a role I had no shred of doubt I could 100% do and do it well in fact. I didn't get the job, 3 interviews including one presentation the whole process dragged on for over a month with very little updates and little information. The whole thing was am emotional rollercoaster and I was devastated when I didn't get the job but the honest truth is I wasn't good enough and there was someone better.

Unfortunately recently this seemed to be a common theme with my job opportunites, someone is better or I'm just not what they are looking for! It's not even that I have a bad CV because it does get me through the door, in fact it gets me through the door and then I get to the final stage and for a variety of reasons I just don't get the job. I'm not going to sit here and say that I'm perfect, another role I went for I completely messed up because nerves got the better of me, it was a video call and I got distracted by little things the interviewers were doing and I know I didn't answer many things right, I knew as soon as I put the phone down that I had messed up. When the recruiter confirmed my suspicions, I cried like a bloody baby, I mean don't get me wrong I kept composure whilst in the office but I had to go to the bathroom a couple of times to just have a cry because not getting a job you have invested so much time into is soul destroying! Sometimes it's not even just the fact you didn't get the job, sometimes it's the thought of not being able to leave the job you're so miserable in which is the hardest part. Then the feedback comes and you end up feeling really pissed off because some of their reasons you don't agree with or they are "stock" answers which shows how little they know you, an excuse basically.

In all honesty, I didn't handle rejection very well it had the biggest impact on me and I just didn't know how to make it better, the one thing I didn't do was give up. I still kept checking every day, I didn't apply everyday because otherwise I could end up with something I really didn't even want but I kept looking. I also didn't quit my job, now there seems to be a narrative online where people tell others "you more of what makes you happy", "don't do something if it's bad for your health", "I quit my job and look how happy I am" but unfortunately none of those things will pay your damn bills but unless you are in a very privileged position to do that, it isn't realistic. I knew I would get a job eventually but I just had to continue on and keep my head down to get through each day but I have to admit it definitely felt like I wouldn't find anything at times.

You are absolutely allowed to feel like sh*t, you are absolutely allowed to be angry, you are absolutely allowed to tell people to shut up when they try and make you feel better the generic comments about how the company "doesn't know what they're missing" but remember these pals just want to support you in any way they know how. The only thing you shouldn't do is give up, just keep pushing up that hill because the job will come and it will feel even better when it does.
2 June 2019

Why I Stopped Following Huge Influencers | Blogging

Image by kropekk_pl from Pixabay

I used to watch a hell of a lot of YouTube videos, I mean hours upon hours a day just consuming the video content of the big YouTubers and I used to really love watching little snippets of peoples lives or the odd make up tutorial here and there however all of a sudden I just stopped watching them. It was literally like a switch, one minute I am rushing to the channels to see the latest upload and the next I literally could not give a shit and then it hit me, I no longer found these YouTubers, relatable, aspirational nor inspirational. 

I know a lot of people have been feeling this sort of way with some of the really big YouTubers and I just want to stress before someone labels me as "jealous" - I think it's incredible that people can make vast amounts of money from their channels, that alone could be considered aspirational and I would totally understand but that type of content doesn't interest me, I like to see normal people with normal lives, not people buying Gucci every damn week. I like honest, funny content, not fake smiles and perfect angles.

I used to watch a fair amount of Zoella videos, in an almost guilty pleasure kinda way because I felt a lot of her content was probably more tailored to school girls and I am a quite a bit older than that but I still watched them. I came to really enjoy her vlogs and her Christmas content because there was a real personality behind it. That said, I have never and probably would never buy any of her products because the brand doesn't resonate with me. When she moved into her new house, I watched the first few vlogs more from a voyeuristic point of view and then the content just seemed to stagnate, yes her house is stunning and you're damn right she deserves to show it off and be happy in a space she has worked hard for but when did it become just about the money? She released an advent calendar, which was obscenely priced and then uploaded an apology video because of the backlash which was possibly the most insincere thing I have ever watched which shows how out of touch she is from her audiences - the girl knew exactly what the price of the calendar would be because she would have been aware of the profit she would make from each sale, so let's not go there. Her boyf is even more problematic with the amount of wasteful things he spends his money on, and yes, it could be argued that it's his money so therefore he can use it however he sees fit but it's the culture he is breeding that concerns me a little more. 

Lets be honest, those guys are incredibly easy targets but it's not just these influencers who have lost touch with their audiences it's also the ones who aren't relatable. Some style influencers I have loved for the longest time but sometimes as you see their content evolve and become even more beautiful and even more creative which lead me to feel a little disconnected because I no longer felt like their content was relevant to me, it's for people who can spend obscene amount of money on fashion and travel the world, I just can't. I think sometimes you personally change as an individual which means the type of content you want to see will inevitably change as well, which isn't a bad thing at all. I don't watch a lot of big beauty gurus anymore because they don't talk about cruelty free brands but insist on promoting brands just because they get shit tone of stuff for free - which I understand but I'm not interested. 

I think my tastes have definitely changed in the content I want to see, I no longer want to see heavily curated content, I want to see content that means something, that is showing me something good or giving a true opinion, I would love to see content that makes a damn difference without being told I should buy this or use this code.