My Top Place to Visit in England

Whilst I’m all for getting on a plane and jetting off to a different country, sometimes it’s great to see what England can offer.

These are my top 3/4 English places to visit:

Brighton Pride bringing out the best in my future

Brighton – I went to school in a small town called Seaford, not far from Brighton and I’ve always had a soft spot for it. Brighton is as unique as the people who live there. From the pebbled beach and pier to the Laines featuring quirky shops where you can buy everything you didn’t think you needed. It’s also by far the most diverse place I’ve visited. There are so many places to eat and drink, where a Sunday Roast is so readily available…even for vegetarians! Not something I have ever found anywhere else. If the towny thing isn’t for you, or you just need a break, Brighton is ideal for country walks, take a short bus trip and walk along the Seven Sisters.

Colour changing cocktail from the Alchemist

Manchester/Leeds – whilst these places are so very different, the close proximity by train makes it hard for me not to put them together. The nightlife at both of these places is brilliant, from scientific cocktail making bars to live bands, there is definitely something for most people to enjoy. The shops are just that much bigger too, living in Bournemouth, I have to travel to Southampton to get anything remotely interesting, even then I don’t get the giant Primark!

Surfing in Perranporth

Perranporth – I was reluctant to choose this place, I love it so much, to the point I nearly moved here, but I love it because I can escape. To me escaping is not seeing anyone I know and being able to completely switch off and I don’t want the place to be invaded! I thought it was a bit selfish though. In season the beach can get a bit full, but it is great for surfing. The Watering Hole is a dog-friendly pub/restaurant on the beach which is not afraid to let people in without shoes on. It’s the one place in the world where I have felt home (shame there aren’t many jobs).

Where are your favourite places to visit in England and why?

Blog At The Beach – Leeds

I have been actively involved with icelollyholiday’s Twitter chats for a while now and took over their Instagram account in the summer, so when there was an opportunity for me to go to their Blog at the Beach event, I jumped at the chance.

I didn’t entirely think things through, it’s held in January in Leeds…over 250 miles away from where I live. As the event got closer, I thought of cancelling, I’m just about to move house, I shouldn’t really be spending money. I still packed my case and took it into work on the Friday, with the intention to leave around 3 and get the train. Well best laid plans and all that, I left just after 6pm deciding to drive (thanks to strikes and engineering work, I couldn’t handle that stress). I stopped off at the services and booked a hotel, £112 for 2 nights at the Jury’s Inn (not bad at all), I was set to arrive at 10.15pm, but thanks to M1 closures, I ended up getting to the hotel just before midnight *sad sleepy face*.

In the morning, I was weirdly excited, this is not normally my thing, networking scares the shizzle out of me. I had arranged to meet a few bloggers I’d been chatting to on Twitter at the train station. This was the best thing I could have done! We slowly wandered the streets of Leeds takin plenty of photos without judgement, got to know each other and swapped travel ideas.

All about the photos

When I fell through the door of the event, we were greeted with a mulled wine, (this is definitely a company I want to collaborate with!). We found our seats (benches for us as we were too busy chatting to get the comfy chairs), and sat down to listen to Kirsty Leanne, who gave out some fantastic tips about how to reach out to brands…which I will definitely be taking on board. I don’t ever reach out, mainly because I’ve never known what to say, now I do!

After lunch (actually more like snacks, a lot of dips and bread do not make lunch, regardless of how nice it was), we heard from Bee from Queen Beady, and Kaye from Fordtography.

Bee gave some advice (along with chocolates) about how to take the blog to the next level. She asked the question “What makes you unique?” I have struggled with this, as I don’t know if I am unique, I love writing, but doesn’t everyone who blogs? I’m sarcastic and funny (yes I am), but I don’t know that it comes across in my writing. I’m honest, but that’s not unique. So please can you tell me, what makes me unique?

Kaye has convinced me I need to get a camera, my iPhone photos are just not doing anything for my blog, she’s right! I take tonnes of photos to try and get the lighting right, end up editing them and they still don’t look clear. Plan for next month is to buy a proper camera, time to go do some research and play in the shops.

After the event, a few of us headed over to the Alchemist, for some exciting looking cocktails, they tasted pretty good too. As people slowly left, I carried on, drink is my friend and I’m in Leeds! (As I’m writing this, I’m also wondering if drink is really my friend, or if it’s stabbing me in the back when I’m not looking).

I had an amazing time this weekend, I’m so glad I didn’t cancel. Shout out to the following people who made it even better (in order of meeting, before any of you moan 😛 ):

Jess from
April from
Sam from
Natalie from
Janessa from
and Reema who works for icelolly…just in case she didn’t tell anyone enough, she’s a Business Analyst though!

I guess I had better get up now, I’m off to Mrs Atha’s for breakfast, I’ve heard it’s where it’s at, then I need to drag my butt back down south…can someone else drive me?

Would you give it all up?

When I was 19 I decided that life had just got a little bit too much. I had come out of an on/off relationship which was soul destroying. I had been manipulated into returning to this destructive relationship so many times and I knew I needed to get away.

I didn’t have any reason not to go, except for my job. I worked for a company where I was treated like family, they paid for my driving lessons and I could always rely on them for help with anything. It just wasn’t enough for me, I needed to leave.

I saw an advert looking for outgoing people to do a training course in Dunstable and sell holidays. It was the first step and I leapt at the chance and said goodbye to my friends.

My Mum was very negative about it and didn’t want me to go, my Dad on the other hand was keen for me to make my own mistakes and learn from them. They helped me pack a bag and drove me to the depths of despair (Dunstable)!

When I arrived in Dunstable, I was expecting to be staying in a shared flat, instead I turned up at a B&B next to 7 takeaways. I settled on an Indian and went to bed, where I was woken hourly by various sirens…this should have been my first warning!

On my first day of training, I found out I was going to be selling timeshare for canal boats, not quite the glamorous holidays I was expecting. I had said goodbye to everyone though, so I couldn’t go back, I would have to stick it out and learn to love it. I didn’t have to worry though, because on the 2nd day I was told I had been selected for a job in Tenerife (seriously 1 day’s training and they thought I was good enough…second warning).

I headed to the airport ready to see what luxuries awaited me. On arrival our group of “carefully selected” young adults were herded off to a hotel far from the main strip and excitement and with zero luxuries. We were to find our own accommodation the following day.

On arrival at the air conditioned basement of a Los Cristianos hotel, I was told how to sell the timeshare, basically don’t stop talking until they sign. I was then thrown in at the deep end and given my first group to sell to.

So it turns out I cannot sell ice to an Eskimo and I was pretty shocking at trying to sell a product to a family with screaming bored children and a frustrated sweaty man. It was not a surprise when I was sent to a different part of the company to deal with telesales after 2 weeks of not making a penny (commission only jobs, great!)

Telesales was a bit more fun, my name had to be changed (hmmm sounds ominous, but of course I did not question it), we got a basic salary and I made a few friends. I was still rubbish, but I felt better about it, I wasn’t forcing someone to buy something they didn’t want, or at least that is what I chose to believe.

The basic salary was not great, I had enough to pay my rent and get a Chinese takeaway, which tasted amazing after the third day of eating it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The other 4 days of the week consisted of a 25 cent roll and spaghetti with chicken stock for flavour. I got other jobs where I could, including hairdressing, which I had blagged my way into after helping a friend study for her NVQ, I was not qualified, but nobody’s hair fell out.

After 3 months, my Mum phoned me up to ask if I could come home for Christmas and as I would be there, why don’t I stay. I thought about my time in Tenerife, it had been crazy, fun, sunny, but I just couldn’t take it anymore, I was starving! I had dropped down to a size 6, if it wasn’t for my tan, I would have looked ill. I needed to go home.

Reading this you may think I regret dropping everything and leaving, but I would do it again. I learnt so much about how strong I am, how I can do anything I put my mind to (except selling timeshare), I learnt how to be alone. Sometimes life throws you an option, it might not be the right choice, but I’m glad I tried and failed rather than sitting here with regrets.

My life has moved on, I have responsibilities, I won’t be able to do anything that spontaneous for a long time. If you’re in a similar situation, with nothing to lose, my advice would be take the risk now, when will you next get the chance?!

10 Things to do before you go on holiday

Going on holiday is always exciting, but if you’re like me and leave things to the last minute, panic can set in during those final hours before getting on the plane. Here are my go to things to do before going on holiday:

1. Make sure your passport is in date – actually probably best you check this before you even book your holiday. Some countries require 6 months from your return date, so best check beforehand, especially as passport offices can be particularly busy during certain times of the year. One year my daughter’s passport turned up 2 days before I flew, not something I ever want to repeat!

2. Consider hand luggage only – do you really need 8 pairs of shoes? If you’re trying to save money, taking hand luggage only is a great way to save. The only set back is getting liquids on board, but if you decant your favourite shampoo/moisturiser into smaller pots (100ml or less) you can squeeze quite a few items into the small clear bags. You can also share the allowance with friends. Each person is allowed 1 clear bag, so fill up as many as possible. If you aren’t allowed to take a handbag (EasyJet can be strict on this), grab a duty free bag (they might charge 5p) and put your handbag in that before boarding the plane.

3. Check in online – this might sound obvious, but if you don’t, you could end up with unexpected charges at the airport. In addition, if you have your boarding pass on your phone, make sure you have enough battery to get you through to the plane.

4. Write a list – ok, so I know this is a list, but often there are other bits that need to be done in the lead up to going on holiday (getting money, packing toothbrush, put the bins out etc.). It’s best to write a list and put it somewhere you’re likely to see it, cross off as you have done things, that way it’ll be clearer to see what’s left to do.

5. Empty the fridge – this is from personal experience…green stinky cheese, soggy veg and lumpy milk is not something you want to come back to after a week or 2 away.

6. Pack, unpack then pack again – most people pack way too much, me included! I like to grab all the clothes out on the bed that I WANT to take, sort outfits with shoes, pack, realise I don’t have 14 suitcases, empty the bag and start again. This time working out how many outfits I can wear with each pair of shoes, ditching ones which don’t have multiple wears. I still manage to have a different evening outfit for every night.

7. Turn off unnecessary electrics (air fresheners etc.) – it won’t just save money, but will reduce the risk of fire.

8. Close the windows – most insurance companies won’t pay out if you have left the house unsecured, you are also more at risk of burglary if the windows are open and there hasn’t been any movement in the house for a few days.

9. Ask a friend/family to keep an eye on the house – 99% of the time, there won’t be a problem, but if you did forget to close the window, it’s best to get someone to check the house is safe.

10. Clean the house – the last thing you want to do when you come back from holiday is to clean, but with the holiday washing to do, there will be an inevitable amount, why make it worse by leaving the house in a mess.

Now you should be relaxed enough to enjoy a glass of wine at the airport (yes it is acceptable at 7am!), but keep an eye on the screens, DON’T MISS YOUR FLIGHT!

5 Reasons I Won’t Do All Inclusive

  • Don’t get me wrong, I have done all inclusive before and there is something of a luxury feel about it, but it just isn’t for me. Here are some reasons why I am not likely to do it again.

1. I do not want to fight over sun beds. If you haven’t seen the videos of tourists queuing up at some silly hour in the morning, just to make sure they get a sun lounger, then look it up on YouTube, it’s quite depressing.

2. I like real food. I appreciate that some all inclusive resorts do provide more than the standard buffets, but I want to try the local food, how they cook it, not just mass prepared.

3. Being all inclusive often means you want to get your money’s worth, which often means you don’t tend to leave the resort as much as you would if you had to go and find somewhere to eat/drink. I love walking around the local towns and getting “lost” where I can.

4. You aren’t helping the local economy; you might think you are just by being there, but the small independent shops, restaurants and bars are losing money because people aren’t eating/drinking out as much. Towns are becoming more sun spots than points of interest.

5. You can often get better deals by booking the flights and hotels separately. By shopping around and being more flexible, you can tailor the price to suit your needs.

How often do you stay all inclusive? Would you consider switching?

6 things you might want to know

I’m writing this whilst sat on a plane, flying to Kos. I have had the standard questions asked, so I thought I would share the answers to some of those questions with you:

You’re looking brown, do you live in (insert destination)?

No, I have been to Italy and Portugal recently, plus I am half Maltese, so tan easily.

Wow! So how do you afford to go on so many holidays?

I have a strict budget; I shop at Lidl, I stick to a shopping list and I book in advance, after looking at the best deals. At the beginning of the year, I wrote a post about how I would save so I could travel, these tips worked for me, so give them a go.

What about work, how do you get so much time off?

I get 28 days plus bank holidays. It’s a reasonable amount, I book as many as possible at the beginning of the year. This means that I know the dates I am planning on going away, it also means I can search the best flight prices, so even if I can’t afford to book the flights straight away, I know that the prices will be the cheapest for that time. I can always change the holiday dates at work. Also by booking early, I can plan as many holidays as possible around the bank holidays, so I use less days.

You have a daughter and a dog though, where do they go?

I’m very lucky! This I will admit is not the easiest thing to arrange. My family don’t live close by, so I can’t ask them to look after my girls. I do, however, have some fantastic friends, who have been so kind in looking after them both. I am always happy to have their daughter/dog in return, as I understand people need a break from their loved ones…even if they are closer to them than I am mine!

Where are you going next?

My next holiday is a family holiday. I’m making my annual trip to Malta to spend time with the family. This is the one trip I wish I could take the dog with me, but until Ryanair allow dogs on the planes, I will have to keep hoping my friends stay as generous as they are.

Do you ever travel alone?

Yes! I flew to Orlando a few years back on my own and drove around. I got lost a fair bit and didn’t plan my stays very well (who knew you needed a credit card for most hotels!), but I got out of my comfort zone, I did something I always wanted to do, and I met some nice people along the way.

I would do it again, but I would definitely plan it a bit better. I would also get sat nav in the car!

I don’t know where to start!

Ask yourself what you want from your holiday; is it a quick break, a city trip, anywhere with sun, time out from family. By knowing what you want, you can plan, save and book. Ultimately, the only thing stopping you, is you!

Sunrise after a long night

Inspiring Me Lately

I’ve been on a bit of an emotional roller coaster this month, but a few people have inspired me to remain positive along the way.

I managed my first proper solo gym sessions without my personal trainer. I’m always a bit nervous when I go to the gym on my own, as I think I’m doing things wrong, but the trainers and users of 180 Strength are really supportive and help me through my workouts. (Special thanks to Lucy, who I’d never met before, for lending me her water bottle after I smashed mine).

Squeezing all the muscles haha

On Tuesday I had a bit of a mental breakdown followed by a breakthrough. Rob Stewart, my PT, got me doing box step ups, which I had avoided since tearing my ACL. There were tears, but only after I had got out of my head and achieved what I needed to, so tears of success. Rob always pushes me enough to get me through the task, without making me want to throw weights at him!

I went to see Wonder Woman last weekend, walked out of the cinema feeling like I could take on the world. I’ve never considered myself as a feminist, but I really felt a strong female role model was needed, and she does that. I liked it so much, I went to see it again on Wednesday.

(Side note) I’ve not been having a great time at work lately, but received a PRIDE award following a nomination from my colleague. Sometimes, a small bit of gratitude makes the biggest difference. So remember, if someone has helped you, make sure you acknowledge it. Biscuiteers do a great thank you biscuit selection, if you are stuck for ideas, but if you didn’t want to spend money, just a quick message to let them know how much they’re appreciated.

I hope I inspire you to do something positive, but if not me, then who has inspired you lately?

This time next year – May 2018

Well thanks for this Louise Bodle, I’m so useless at setting to goals, I normally blame it on not knowing where I want to be, but really it’s fear for the increased risk of failure.

This is the second time this subject has come up this week, so here goes:

-Thank the person who tagged you – check out Louise’s goals here
-Set yourself some goals for the next year
-Explain how you’re going to achieve these goals
-Tag at least five of your blogger friends
-And finally in a years time, 365 days write a post reflecting on your goals and what you managed to achieve. 

1. I start back at the gym tomorrow after a long period off following an injury. My first goal is to keep it up. My size fluctuates greatly and for once I’d like to look back over the year and see progress, not failure in maintaining.

2. Start saving for travelling. I previously wrote about how I would start to save here, I have managed to book a few holidays, but I really want to think about the long term and taking a year out to see more of the world.

3. Increase my social media following, this is probably the hardest, as I can’t control what other people like to read, but if I can be more social physically, I hope it will increase naturally.

4. Improve my self-esteem and trust issues. This is the most important to me, as it has impacted on my life negatively for so long. I can only improve this by letting people in, so say “hi”, let’s meet for dinner and enjoy being friends.

Well they’re some pretty tough goals for me, let’s see how I go next year (setting myself a reminder in case I forget). I will tag some people on twitter, can’t wait to read your goals.

Yo! Eat Me

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know I love my food, if you don’t, WHY NOT?! I was invited* to Yo! (Formally known as Yo! Sushi ) to try the new Japanese street style menu. People immediately declined the invite because they “don’t do sushi” which is frustrating as sushi is just the style of rice and not just raw fish. They missed out as there were loads of tasty dishes to try.

I stupidly gave up meat for lent and decided not to eat it afterwards (except once by choice, and possibly another time when drunk and unable to work out if it had meat in or not). I’ve continued to eat seafood, it’s just too nice!

Going to Yo! I thought I would be fed plenty of fish and veggie dishes, but there were lots of meaty dishes too. I nearly caved at the Chicken Bullet Train Katsu Sando (chicken sandwich), which was the first dish to come out. It smelt so good! The head chef gave me some of the sauce to try, which was good, but pretty sure not as amazing as it would have been smothered on the chicken.

Bullet Train Katsu Sando

The night got more difficult for me as the the Fruity Beef Katsu came out, basically a Japanese beef burger patty, but I powered through and drank green cocktails instead!

Fruity Beef Katsu

One of the waiting staff, Dee, saw I was struggling with not eating (my hangry face was coming out), so got me some Harusame Aubergine, I didn’t expect to like it as aubergine can be quite dull, but I was pleasantly surprised.

Harusame Aubergine

As the night went on, I tried lots of new dishes, the Sweet & Sour Cod Nanbanzuke was my favourite and from around the benches seemed to be most people’s favourite. I was most disappointed by the Osaka-Style Squid, I love squid, but this was just too salty for me.

Sweet & Sour Cod Nanbanzuke

I was full after 3 dishes (I was concerned I wouldn’t get full from the small tapas style dishes), which would have cost me around £15.00, which I think is reasonable for a meal out. The dishes are colour coded by price ranging from £2.20 to £6.00 per dish (or £9.00 if you want to “Sumo” size it). See the full menu here

Will I go back?! YES! I love sushi anyway, so I want to try more, but I also want to try more of the hot street-style food.

Blossom – prawn with avocado and tuna sushi

Seared Beef & Pickle Roll

Natalie from Yo! – matching outfit to menu, good work

*I didn’t pay, nor did I get paid, nobody asked me to write this post, it’s my own opinion blah blah blah.

Malta Travel Tips

I can’t believe having visited my family in Malta so many times over the years, I have never written a blog post with tips. Following a twitter HolidayChat with Ice Lolly Holiday I was asked for suggestions, so here goes:

1. Avoid driving! Whilst the Maltese drive on the same side of the road as the UK, the drivers haven’t got the same attitude to the Highway Code. The public transport isn’t great, but you can pretty much get a bus over the island if you’re prepared to wait. I previously wrote about the best way to travel, this still stands.

2. Eat Maltese food, but if you want the tastiest choices, go before 12pm.
These are my favourites:

Imqaret – best ones from the gates of Valetta – date filled sweet pastry

Pastizzi – best ones from outside Mosta Rotunda – ricotta or pea stuffed flaky pastry

Tuna Ftira – I’ve never had a bad one, although they are slightly different in Gozo – a massive tuna sandwich, but that does not do it justice

3. Visit during a feast. Ok well Malta has festas pretty much all year round, but it is worth checking to see what’s on when you go, Festas often have lots of fireworks that would make you think they’ll never end! Malta is a catholic country and still pride themselves on celebrating traditions.

4. The Maltese learn English from an early age, and whilst I would always suggest learning basic words when travelling abroad, the Maltese will not hold it against you for not trying. That being said, my grandparents would be disappointed if I didn’t offer help (as with my Faro tips, complete with dodgy pronunciation):

Please – jekk jogħġbok (yeck yorsh bock)
Thank you – grazzi (grat see)
I don’t understand – jien ma nifhimx (yen mah nif him sshh)

5. There are plenty of places to visit and this post would go on forever if I listed all the places I love, but here are a few must see places

Valetta (get a 5 minute ferry from St Julian’s) – be sure to visit Upper Barrakka Gardens at 12pm or 4pm to see The Saluting Battery (cannon goes kaboom).

From Valetta you can get a bus to most places on the island.

Marsaxlokk is a fishing village at the south of the island, filled with colourful boats, fresh fish and on a Sunday morning markets full of things to see and buy.

Mosta Rotunda, famous for its unexploded WWII bomb, which came through the roof and miraculously killed no one. The bomb is still there today.

Gozo is an island which is north of Malta, and whilst it is Maltese, it has its differences. Gozo used to be famous for the Azure Window rock formation, which sadly fell into the sea earlier this year, but there are still plenty of places to wander around.

Mdina is actually my favourite place in Malta. The walled city, often called silent city, as not many cars can drive inside it, has small walkways and shops as well as museums squeezed into its protective shell. I can’t explain the feeling I get when I drive past on the way to my parents, but I suppose the best description would be beautifully safe.

Part of me wanted to send this off to my family to cross check, but I have visited so much, I’m starting to consider it a second home…much to my Dad’s despair! Have you been? Where was your favourite place?

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