10 Tips to Faro

I am writing this after a rude awakening this morning, from my stomach (I’ll leave it there, but you can probably guess what I mean).

I am lying awake in a hotel bed on the Portuguese coast of Praia de Faro. When I first arrived in the hotel Aeromar, I laughed at how dated it was, with its woollen blankets, dark wood furniture and the bathroom with its 50’s style hairdryer and dodgy shower. I broke the shower head as it fell from the wall within seconds and didn’t really hold out much hope for the rest of the stay. In my best Portuguese (thanks Google translate), I went down to reception to explain what had happened, half expecting a “meh” response, the guy didn’t bat an eyelid though, said he couldn’t promise it would be fixed straight away, but would be done that day. When I got back to the room a few hours later, it was all sorted, I then started to feel the charm about this small hotel by the beach.

The location is perfect, only a few minutes by bus from the airport, beach on one side, nature reserve (great for spotting long beaked birds (I know nothing about birds!)) on the other side, 20 minutes by bus to Faro city, where you can catch a train or boat to various locations and sunrises/sets to boast about. The loud Portuguese music that plays on a Tuesday night till midnight adds to the charm. Being so close to the airport I considered the noise, but in fact the planes are more of a rumble, in Faro city however, they can be quite loud as they fly overhead.

Here are some of my tips if you visit:

1. Learn some basic phrases, a little bit of effort to speak the language goes a long way. The Portuguese are very friendly and seem proud of their language, so will happily help you pick up more. Here is some key ones to help along with my weird pronunciation guide:

Thank you – Obrigado (male), Obrigada (female) – Ob-ree-guard-oh

Please – Por favor – Pour-fah-vore

I don’t understand – Eu nao intentendo – Ooh-no-intend-oh

Do you speak English? – Voce fala Ingles? – Voss-fal-ah-ing-lays

2. Visit the cathedral in Faro city and climb the bell tower and take in the views. Be sure to take some binoculars (I admit I’m a geek).

3. Wear comfortable shoes. A lot of places along the Algarve have slippery cobbled stones, flip flops and heels won’t cut it.

4. Walk down the side streets. Some of the tiled walls and architecture of the buildings are fantastic to look at, I wish the UK had more colourful houses.

5. Take a boat trip. I was told by a local to take the train to Lagos, as the best caves are over there. Sadly, it is just under 2 hours by train and we didn’t get up early enough, so instead we got the hotel to book a trip from Vilamoura marina which included the taxi there and back. It was convenient, but I felt I cheated a bit. I was still able to swim in the freezing sea and go into the caves.

6. April is not normally as warm as it has been for us, so take a long sleeved top. The coast is renowned for being windy and in the evenings it can get quite cold, especially if you’re eating outside.

7. Take a train along the coast. We visited Tavira, it was very pretty along the river and the views from the castle are fantastic. There is a walled garden which smelt so sweet, and sounded like a film as a busker played softly in the background.

8. Try some local fish. Even if you aren’t keen on seafood, ask for a taster. Some of the restaurants will do a tapas style dish you can have alongside your main if you are unsure about your choice, just ask.

9. Wear sunscreen! This should be a given, but my friend didn’t listen to my warnings, assuring me she doesn’t burn *cue eye roll*, yes she burnt on day one, when it didn’t even feel that warm, but the breeze here can definitely make it feel cooler. She learnt her lesson and used my P20, which is ideal for me as I only need to apply it once a day (you may need it more depending on your skin type).

10. Have fun! This may seem obvious, but the amount of people I hear moaning when on holiday, makes you wonder if they are encouraging sadness. So your hotel may not be perfect, laugh about it, you aren’t really going to spend that much time in it. The plane might be delayed, play a game, talk to strangers (don’t go off alone with them though). Your friend is snoring, put a pillow over her head and hold it there until she shuts up, she won’t snore again! (I’m joking, I promise she’s still alive…for now!).


For more photos go to my Facebook page here


March Update

I’ve been a bit quiet on here recently, partly because I haven’t had the motivation to write, partly because I finally had my knee surgery, so fun hasn’t been my top priority. Here’s a quick summary of what’s happened:

* ACL and meniscus reconstruction – surgery went well, nobody told me I would need to inject myself with blood thinners for a week afterwards!

* Holiday booked – I’m off to Faro with a friend, it was kind of a last minute decision, as my daughter is off on a ski trip and I felt it was unfair, as it will be over my birthday week.

* I’ve travelled to all corners of the UK and not seen more than motorways and Premier Inns. Work travel can be dull, so I am making it my mission to see more of the places I visit. Glasgow on Monday, so feel free to give me ideas.

* I got back on the dating scene (well sort of) – I met a guy online (I know eye roll, but where else am I going to meet someone?). We had such a fun date, it was actually like being on First Dates, the staff were hilarious and we kept looking out for cameras, all of a sudden the shots started appearing…I knew I was drunk after pronouncing “that was really nice” to a shot of gin…I hate gin! It ended very messily with me falling through the door and hitting my head (I now have a scar), followed by quite a bit of reverse shots. Whilst I thought we had a great first and second date (yes he did return after that), I felt it starting to fizzle by the third and there was no more. I did get a lovely message saying how fun I was and that he would love to spend more time with me, even if it’s just as FRIENDS! I have not heard from him again, but it has made me open up to the possibility of getting back out there.

* I’ve successfully given up meat for lent and am happy to continue for now. There is so much choice available now, which I was worried about, but even my favourite burger joint has vegetarian options.

I’m looking forward to discovering new places this spring, follow me on Instagram to keep an eye on where I end up.

No Money, More Food

Well who wants to throw January in the “What’s the point of this” bin?! I definitely do!

January has been the hardest month for me in a long time and for possibly the most pathetic reason, no money! Me and everyone else I speak to seems to have this issue, so I shouldn’t moan too much.

The reason I’m annoyed about it, is because it’s purely been my own fault. I fluttered money away on this and that and living in the moment, that I am now in a position where it’s all I seem to think about. On the plus side, it has taught me how little I can actually live off. I spent £90 on food instead of my usual £300+, I’ve had to prepare my own lunches and think about what I’m going to eat during the week, which in turn has me eating healthier food.

As I sit in Coffee#1 I am feeling like I have an impulsive streak, and just like to waste money. The reality of it is that I’m using the leftover money from my food shop. I was shocked at the savings in Lidl. I had to buy the usual expensive items, dishwasher products, Persil, toothpaste, so when I started scanning it, I was dreading the cost. It actually all came to just £35.04.

I will make a veggie cottage pie, meat-free chicken fajitas (loving Quorn right now), veggie spaghetti bolognaise and a number of other delicious dishes. I was hoping to go vegan for February, but as I am due to have my knee operation on the 9 February, I figured I’m going to need to make it as easy as possible. I am aiming to stick to the pescatarian/vegetarian diet though, with a few days of vegan mixed in.

A positive to the knee op, is that I can’t go out and spend money aimlessly, but I will have to block my internet if I can’t stay away from the online shops.

As hard as it is now, if I stick to my strict budget, by next month I will have enough money to book a holiday…and that’s all I ever want to “waste” my money on in future.

Saving to Travel More

I always have plans to go on holiday, but a few things get in the way; money, work, and being a responsible parent!

As my daughter is getting older, this is becoming less of a struggle, she has a great group of friends with amazing parents, who happily (at least that’s what they tell me!) look after her.

Work is a necessary evil, but it does support the money side!

Money, this is the main reason I don’t travel as much as I would like to. This year, I really want to focus on saving to holiday more, to do this I need an action plan.

1. Limit takeaways to one a month.
Approx. saving £70 per month.

2. Do a weekly shop. I’m a nightmare for shopping on my way back from work, when I’m tired and hungry, often meaning I shop in the more expensive convenience stores. I tried this for the first time this week, I spent just under £30, instead of my usual £15 per day (including lunch). Approx. saving £330 per month. WOW!!!!

3. Make my own lunches, not only is it healthier, but the saving on canteen food is so much better. Approx. saving £included above.

4. Unsubscribe from emails. This isn’t an obvious one, but I am a marketeers’ dream! I see something online and without having time to think, I’ve added it to my basket…I don’t even have any space in my wardrobe for anymore clothes/shoes. Approx. saving £20 per month (I’m not always bad, so have averaged this over a year).

All in all, this will save approximately £420 per month, around £5k in one year!!!!

This is an incredible amount of money, but at the end of the year, I don’t expect to see any of it, as I really want to work to live, living for me is seeing the world.

Have you got any tips on saving? What are you saving for?

2016 wasn’t that bad

Everyone seems to be super excited that 2016 is over, like it was cursed. Yes, there were some political factors that are potentially worrying, but as a lot of people voted for these changes, there’s not much point in moaning about it now.

I also lost a couple of family members, which was sad, but they were both suffering and I can only hope that they are in a better place now.

So enough of the negatives and congratulations to those that got married this year, and to the 4 I was invited to, thank you for letting me a part of it.

In addition there were some special birthdays; my daughter turned 13, my grandmother turned 80 and a friend had her 40th.

Robot Wars for 13th B’day

At the backend of 2015, I wrote about where I was hoping to go on holiday this year (European Holiday Planning). Whilst I didn’t make it to most of them, I did make it to Budapest and a few others including Berlin. I even managed to squeeze in a quick festival and a break to Manchester and Leeds.

The most valuable advice I received for these trips was to download the Triposo app. I was so pleased that I could download the app and use offline to see the sites and even view my location on the interactive map. I will definitely be using it in future for city breaks in and out of the UK.

Trips for 2017 haven’t been confirmed yet, other than a short trip to Italy for my friend’s wedding. I am hoping to see more European cities this year as well as some places I didn’t tick off last year’s list.

Who knows what 2017 will hold, but if it’s half as fun as 2016, I will be happy.

Wishing you all the best for 2017.

I’m a teenager again!

I didn’t want to go to the gym this morning, I was tired and had major DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness – or something similar) from the painting this weekend.

I couldn’t justify having 2 mornings off in a row (doctor again tomorrow), so off I went. I was really glad I did, as I managed a personal best dead lift of 70kgs (2 sets of 6 after a few lighter weights beforehand).

I left feeling really proud of myself, and was actually looking forward to my weights and measurements being done this evening.

A few weeks ago I was struggling with a kettle bell

A few weeks ago I was struggling with a kettle bell

Everything just seemed to click today, 3 people commented on how much thinner I was looking and I didn’t feel like I needed to eat all the cake.

Total results so far

Total results so far

I couldn’t be happier, it just shows that weight alone is not important. If I was just looking at that, I would be seriously upset with myself. Sometimes it’s that buzz of being able to fit comfortably into a pair of denim shorts which have always been tight, other times it’s about being able to wake up at 6am every morning and workout other times it’s about getting your metabolic age down from 32 to 19, which is what I have done, I’m a teenager again!!!!!!

What have been your non-scale victories recently?

With a spring in my step I headed off to Boogie Bounce, and was able to push myself harder than I have for a few weeks. I did have to take it a bit easy still as my knee isn’t completely healed.

Tonight's effort

Tonight’s effort

I am suitably sweaty now and ready for a shower then bed!

Weekly Windup

I thought I’d give you all a quick update on my life, you might be interested!

Firstly, if you’ve read my previous posts, you’ll see that I was struggling with injuries and they were hampering my training at the gym. I am pretty much there with the recovery now, and am starting to load the weights again. My personal best on a back squat is 50kg and 65kg deadlift.

Front squat 35kg

Front squat 35kg

I’m determined to increase this though, especially after the newbies at the gym casually stated they were lifting 70kg and 60kg after starting 2 weeks ago *cue angry face*. I’m super competitive, but this is ridiculous, why am I so weak?! I am putting it down to being overly flexible, that must be it right!

In addition to going to the gym, I have been working on my garden. I have lived in my flat for 4 years and never had a garden. I had a huge, ugly, asbestos garage, which I rarely entered…mainly because I lost the key 2 years ago, but also because my driveway is too narrow to fit a car down. Even when I had the Smart car, I couldn’t get through the gap between the houses.

I decided to turn the garage into a garden, this was never going to be cheap, but I eventually got enough savings together to get the garage taken down and put up the fencing.

Post demolition

Post demolition

After shifting 2 tonnes of rubble and sand, the garden is ready for the artificial grass. I really want an easy to maintain garden that looks good all year round.

Enjoying the sandpit

Enjoying the sandpit

It turns out fake grass is super expensive! After going £1000 over budget, because I wanted the nicer wood and the bigger shed, I am pretty much skint now, so have decided to stick with the beach look for a few months, then look at getting the grass in the winter…it is nice to be by the seaside after all (honestly, I’m so sad that I can’t finish it yet!).

It’s not all bad though, last weekend I went to Brighton for Kemptown Carnival. Admittedly we missed the parade because my friends and I went for Bottomless Brunch at North Laines Brewhouse and turned into the Mimosa Monsters!

Mimosa Monsters

Mimosa Monsters

£20 for delicious food (I had eggs royale, a vegetarian option was also available) and unlimited Mimosas or Bloody Marys from 11am till 3pm.

I laughed loads and with the help of my selfieclip, managed to get some photos of us…most of which I can’t show you!

Jelly shots in the street

Jelly shots in the street

We ended up chilling in an antiques store, eating street food, seeing the Eastend Cabaret as part of the Brighton Fringe, dancing at a random street party with out of date Corona and watching a Burlesque show.

Needless to say, I was a bit tired on Sunday, so was looking forward to relaxing in my garden this weekend.

In typical British weather, however, the sun has decided to bog off this weekend, so I shall be spending it painting my downstairs hallway a few shades of grey and purple, who needs to relax anyway. I hope you’re all enjoying your weekend xoxo

Fighting Back

Last week I was I a really bad place mentally. My leg was sore, I just wanted to eat everything in sight and I was fed up of moaning about everything, so much so, that I wrote down my misery and didn’t post it for all to see.

After going to the doctor and being told to take off the bandage on my knee (I was told it was doing more psychological damage and not doing much to help my knee), I instantly felt better. I was told I could do light exercise and gently load the knee. I was booked in for an X-ray on my shoulder and referred for an MRI on my knee.

Since then, I have been re-assessed at the gym and have lost 2% body fat, 14cm across my body and reduced my metabolic age to 23 (9 years off where I started and 11 years off my actual age). My MyZone maximum heart rate has been reassessed 3 times, as I’m finally able to work it.


I have moved onto phase 2 of the fitness program and am reassessing what I can eat. High protein is key, honestly, this is the hardest thing I have done since trying Whole30, but I’m starting to get the hang of it.

I may have gone a bit overboard on some exercises, and pushed myself beyond my body’s capabilities (much to people’s better judgement), but this is my body and I know my pain threshold as well as my recovery rate. I am not going to be defeated mentally, and regardless of how many people tell me to rest, they are not me, and they can whistle! I am modifying exercises as per the trainers’ advice and am working the good muscles harder to make up for it. You can keep up to date with my progress on Instagram.

My X-Ray results came back as nothing broken and no arthritis (great news), so hopefully tendinitis which should start to recover in a couple of weeks. The doc was happy to see the exercises I had been doing were what she would have recommended, bonus!

I am definitely feeling more positive.

Positive attitude with the selfieclip

Positive attitude with the selfieclip

Carbs or No Carbs!

I have hit an emotional wall with my training. I’m well aware that to shed fat, I need to eat healthily as well as exercise, so this isn’t me asking for a sympathy card saying “sorry you’re fat, but cut out the cakes”.

I thought I was eating a pretty balanced diet, which includes a small treat. I adopted quite a lot of the Whole30 ideas and definitely reduced the added sugar I was putting into my body. So when I was told that for the first 10 days of my fitness plan, I shouldn’t be eating carbohydrates, I went into melt down.

I’m a firm believer that you shouldn’t cut out ANY food group, they all have their own purpose. Having had it explained to me that the first 10 days are critical to retrain my bodies insulin production and some other sciencey stuff I zoned out for, I feel I should at least try. I’m paying a lot of money for me to ignore the process.

All of a sudden I am having to re-read food packaging, give up foods that helped me through Whole30, and struggle to stomach breakfast again.

Carbohydrates are in sooooo much, this is ridiculous! I’m not sleeping well, I’m constantly thinking about food and because I don’t have a convenience equivalent, I’m ending going hangry (no I did not misspell that!).

Hangry definition

At work it seems to be birthdays everyday, there are cakes and sweets all over the desks. I’m ignoring them as best as I can, and boring my colleagues by repeating at constant intervals “I WANT CAKE, nope nope NO!”

Haribo Cakes

Rob (my trainer), has asked me to text him “I did not flinch” every time I successfully manage to not eat a naughty treat. This is really helpful, until I want to murder him for thinking I picked a healthy lunch and him then telling me how many carbs are in it…IT’S NOT F’ING CAKE THOUGH IS IT?!?!?!?

The most annoying part of all of this, is that I don’t even like blooming cake, I just want it because I have been told I can’t have it.

As I sit here drinking my coffee with milk (another no no!), I realise that I am never going to have an Instagram body, and that maybe an odd roast potato isn’t going to kill me, unless I choke on it! I will however, try and reduce the carb intake for a few more days, I don’t want to be the only person not achieving their goals at the gym.

And rest!

I’m not very good at being told what to do or even what not to do, so when I was told not to exercise for 2 weeks and rest my knee, my gut reaction was to find ways I could work out without injuring myself further.

I didn’t completely ignore the doctor. I rested my knee in the evenings and have kept it compressed. I have even learnt to sleep in the most awkward position, with my leg in the air (I prefer to sleep in the foetal position).

I have been doing upper body exercises and trying to work through the pain of what is possibly a frozen shoulder. I have learnt to do push-ups with 1 leg in the air. I have been trying to push the weights up, but am getting a massive wobble on when reaching my flexibility limit. I’m hoping I don’t end up with wonky muscle growth!

Lateral pull downs with Resistance bands

Lateral pull downs with Resistance bands

At the weekend I did a fair bit of walking, which seemed to be ok, so last night I decided to attempt Boogie Bounce. I have had better ideas in my life!

At first I thought I would be able to join in at the same speed, I quickly found that that involves a lot more movement than expected. As I gently bounced and tried to balance, I realised that perhaps the doctor was right (what does a degree mean these days *eye roll*).

Today was meant to be a rest day, which I was extremely grateful for. As I hobbled around Southampton airport, waiting for my flight to Newcastle, I soon realised that wasn’t going to be the case.

On my flight back, 2 people asked if I needed assistance and 1 offered me a wheelchair! Feeling like a fake, I declined with a smile and attempted to stop limping.

Safely home now and where are my painkillers!?

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