Monday, 14 August 2017

Why writing is my therapy

Rooi Kate Spade Notebook Review
Kate Spade Notebook

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved writing. Short stories, diaries which contain my teenage heart, angsty poetry published on Bebo, you name it, I’ve done it. I can’t even describe the comfort that writing, whether it’s fingers to keyboard or pen in hand, brings to me. In fact, because reading and writing is all I’ve ever wanted to do, my only tattoo of a book and quill symbolises that.

What I think a lot of people don’t realise is how much writing I do that doesn’t get published on here. I can’t even count the number of posts I’ve written in the heat of the moment, simply to get my thoughts out of my head and onto a page, purely because writing them like a post makes me feel like I’ve expressed pent up emotions, regardless of whether they ever get published. It makes me laugh now to look back at my school days when writing 1,000 words in an essay seemed like a mammoth task, and yet all it takes it one person to piss me off when I’m on my period to prompt a hormonal out pouring of twice as many words. Disclaimer: those words are absolutely not fit for public consumption.

Kate Spade Notebook

Something that I really struggle with is feeling as though I’m in control of my life. I’ve referred to this before as my need of feeling ‘together’. I think this is the negative side effect of being a single girl living alone as for the majority of the time, I’m reliant on myself and nobody else, and physically writing things down, whether it’s practical lists or creative ideas, really helps this. Let’s face it, if I forget to do something, whether it’s something small like making sure I don’t run out or shampoo or something bigger like forgetting to pay a bill, I only have myself to blame and I’m the one to deal with the consequences.

Kate Spade Notebook

Most of the time, for life admin type bits, I’ll record things digitally, either as calendar reminders, emails to myself or in the notes section of my phone, but when it comes to more creative things, I definitely prefer to physically put pen to paper. I’m an absolute stationary fiend and at the moment, I’m loving pretty notebooks with motivational quotes as let’s face it, with creativity comes an Instagram post. Am I sorry to be that blogger cliché? No. Am I the type of person to sit in a cafe writing down blog ideas using cute stationary as I wait for my avocado on toast to arrive? Yes. The one in the photos is by Kate Spade (via Rooi) is my absolute favourite at the moment as it’s a bit bigger and perfect for brainstorming new ideas. I know a lot of people prefer little notebooks that will fit in their handbag but my every day bag could rival Mary Poppins, so a big notebook is perfect for me.

Kate Spade Notebook

I find having ideas sessions with other people just as helpful as having them by myself. So many of my posts have come from other people saying ‘oh but why don’t you write about this’ and it’s an idea that makes 100% sense yet hasn’t even been on my radar. My absolute dream is to spend more time with bloggers just coming up with ideas for content and bouncing it around, writing things down physically in a notebook and creating a web of content themes for our blogs. Of course this would take place in a cute cafe and include a few pics for the old ‘gram. Note to self, make this happen!

So tell me, what does writing mean to you? Are you a lover or a hater? Do you write it down or type it up? Let me know in the comments!

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Appreciating Liverpool

Appreciating Liverpool
I’ve been to Liverpool a few times now but I’ve never really written about why I’m starting to fall in love with the city. As it’s on the opposite side of the country from where I grew up in York, it wasn’t in the day trip zone, so I’ve only really been as an adult, and it’s always been on race weekends where I’ve been there supporting the half marathon.

I headed across the Pennines recently, again to support another race, but ended up having such a lovely time that I wanted to share what I did, where I went and why it’s making me love the city.

I jumped on the train over, which takes about 1hr50 from Leeds to Liverpool Lime Street and spent the entire journey losing myself in Louise Pentland’s new novel, Wilde Like Me. If you’re a chicklit fan, I’d definitely recommend picking up a copy – I actually have two copies as I went to her signing in Manchester recently so I have a signed copy for best and the copy I pre-ordered to actually read. Does anyone else do that when they have a signed book?

Once I arrived, I checked into the Ibis Styles hotel on Dale Street, which is about a 10 minute walk from the station and I don’t know whether it’s because I was on the top floor or because I was at the back of the hotel, but it’s the quietest hotel room I’ve ever been in. My room was ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’ themed and that was pretty cool. The Ibis Styles hotels tend to be a quirky version of the standard hotel, but when I paid just over £100, including breakfast, this definitely did the job. It was functional but the staff were great, room was clean and comfortable, and the continental breakfast was perfect for me (though very carb-heavy so if you’re gluten free/on Slimming world, you might struggle).

Ibis Styles Liverpool

I headed to Liverpool One, a shopping complex which I’d never really had chance to explore before, to meet my good friend Alex for dinner. It turns out that on the top level of Liverpool One, there’s a rooftop park?! Who knew! I’m now desperate to return to Liverpool to go shopping as they have absolutely every shop ever and I’ve never had chance to explore before. Alex introduced me to Wagamama for the first time, a restaurant that’s been on my ‘to try’ list for a while. We enjoyed a whole load of delicious food – I went for pulled pork gyoza and then a duck dish.

wagamama Liverpool One

After Wagamama, Alex took me to his favourite bar/cafe which is called Leaf – they have a massive tea menu which is perfect for after dinner when Alex doesn’t drink and I had an early start. It’s definitely one of those places you’d never normally go to as it’s a little off the beaten track, but somewhere that’s entirely under-rated for visitors as it’s so chilled. The gin and tonics looked incredible so maybe the next time I’m there...

Leaf Liverpool loose leaf tea

As I mentioned, I was in Liverpool for a race and though I wasn’t even up to walking the race after having been on the verge of death from the plague that week (AKA, had a cold), I still went down to support my sister and her friends who were running the Women’s Running 5 and 10k races. I’ve never met such a fantastic group of women when it comes to running – they get together every year to do this race, wear matching purple tshirts and then have an amazing picnic afterwards. We’re talking ultimate picnic goals!

Women's Running 10k Liverpool Sefton Park Picnic

That weekend definitely made me fall in love with Liverpool and though I always talk about solo travel, this time it was 100% the people that made me leave a little bit of my heart there. I can’t wait to go back, whether it’s to shop by myself or have a full weekend there with friends. I already have plans for my annual trip to support the marathon, but I think I need to get a trip in before then! Do you love Liverpool too? Let me know in the comments.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Lifelong Bucket List

coloured umbrellas
Lifelong Bucket List

Right now, I feel like I don’t have a life plan. At all. I know what I want to do in my career and I’m on my way with that, but that’s the only direction I have right now. I wanted to write a list of the things I really want to do in my life. No time limits, no particular order, but the experiences I want to have. Then the next step will be working out how to achieve them! Here’s my bucket list, my to do before I die list.

Really explore New York
This one is definitely a while off as none of my hard earned cash is being spent in Trump’s America, but I’m desperate to go back and spend time in New York really exploring. I had a fantastic time there when I was 18 but my concerns then were shopping, not sightseeing, and now I want to go back and see it properly. I want to get the feel for the city, to focus on the experiences and to go to the places I’ve read about.

Fly somewhere first class
This is such an indulgent dream to have but I’ve always wanted, just once, to go on a long-haul flight and feel really damn fancy. As this is something which will always be out of my usual budget and I know that it will take a lot of saving up to do, but that in itself, feeling like I’ve really earned it, makes it so much more worth it.

Swim in the sea
I can imagine people reading this and wondering how the hell I’ve got to 25 without swimming in the sea but it’s actually one of my biggest fears – I’m definitely not a water baby, nor a strong swimmer, but I would like to experience it. Preferably somewhere shallow and without sharks.

Do something award-winning
I know that you should work out of passion and not for the recognition but I’d absolutely love to work on a project that wins an award. What can I say, I want to be presented with something shiny that I’ll see when I go into work and be reminded of the time that I did something really fucking good.

See a whale in the wild
I LOVE whales – and that’s from someone who is absolutely not a fan of the sea. I think they’re fascinating creatures, and seeing one in the wild is my absolute dream. In the meantime, I need to go see Dippy the diplodocus’ replacement at the Natural History Museum in London.

Buy my own flat
I currently co-own my flat with my sister but as I knew it was never going to be a forever home, I’ve never been all that emotionally attached to it. Buying my own flat, just in my name and making it my own little home is definitely on my list of things to do as I want to have a space that I feel like I’ve curated.

Get married
This is such an absolute cliché but I really hope that one day I get married. Even if I’m 90 years old and die a week later, at some point, I want to be a bride and experience that rush of energy when you commit to someone you love that much. This is so far away from where I’m at in my life right now (hence why this is categorically NOT a ‘things to do before I’m 30’ post), but I hope at some point, it happens.

Visit Harry Potter World in Florida
I’m just an absolute nerd, OK? I’d love to go and immerse myself in the magic of that world and live my childhood dreams out. That’s not too much to ask, right?

Watch a film with a live orchestra
This is another nerdy one for me but I'm desperate to see a film I love with the music played live in front of me. Either Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban or Jurassic Park would be my dream as I can just imagine it giving me chills.

So, that’s my bucket list for now, and I’m sure I’ll add to it. What’s on your bucket list? Let me know in the comments!

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Little things that make me smile

Little things that make me smile
Bee happy jar

It’s important to take note of the little things that make you smile. Big things like buying houses, marriages, promotions and everything else might be big milestones to celebrations, but sometimes it’s nice to take stock of the little things that make you happy. I was inspired to do this after reading Sophie Cliff's post about things that give her joy and it made me want to write my own, just as a reminder to myself that there's a lot of things I love in life. Here’s my list.

1. Fresh bedding washed with your favourite laundry detergent.

2. Summer days that feel autumnal and are a reason to stay inside with tea, candles and Netflix.

3. Guilt free boxset binging.

4. Getting organised for the week ahead.

5. Waking up and actually getting out of bed instead of hitting snooze.

6. Listening to Harry Potter audio books on my walk to work.

7. Loose leaf tea brewed in a teapot.

8. Standing on the Juliette balcony in my flat and watching the world go by.

9. Being able to share the opportunities I get through blogging with my friends and family.

10. Spending loyalty card points on something indulgent.

11. Laughing at the same viral video that always makes you giggle no matter how many times you see it.

12. Doing sensible life admin like backing up your laptop just in case.

13. Losing hours to a new book.

14. Cheering people on at races as running is really bloody hard.

15. Taking off your makeup properly in a full skincare routine for the first time in ages.

16. Opening a new reed diffuser.

17. Having all of your clothes put away and the 24 hours before your floordrobe returns.

18. Buying myself fresh flowers for no reason.

What brightens up your day? Share the love in the comments.


Friday, 4 August 2017

Delicious Desserts at Kaspas, Leeds

Kaspas Leeds Review
Kaspas Leeds The Core Desserts

I think we all know by now that I have an off the scale sweet tooth so I was pretty excited to be invited to try Kaspas, a new dessert spot in Leeds. I took my best friend Catherine with me (as she appreciates my love of sweet stuff) to try some sugary goodness after work. I’m not actually a full on lover of desserts, I’m more of a straight up chocolate kinda gal, but a trip to Kaspas has definitely brought me back round to dessert appreciation. And dessert appreciation is important.

Kaspas Leeds The Core Desserts

Kaspas is situated in The Core in Leeds and opens late on evenings and for me, it’s the kind of place you’d go with your friends when you fancy something sweet but don’t want to commit to going for dinner. It’s family-friendly too and actually, I can imagine it being the kind of place where teens would go to hang out on weekends together. I can only imagine the teenage romances that could blossom in there over cookie dough.

Kaspas Leeds The Core Desserts drinks

Kaspas is very much of a diner-style and feels quite American in that it has booths and an icecream-parlour feel at the counter. On the menu, there are waffles, crepes, icecream and cookie dough galore, with a load of options to personalise your choice, which I’m definitely down with. I went for a chocolate fudge cookie dough with vanilla and cookies and cream icecream and despite that sounding like diabetes on a plate, it wasn’t as overwhelmingly sickly as you’d expect. The cookie dough was chocolatey and gooey and the icecream was rich and creamy – it tasted like Italian gelato, not mass-produced icecream, which is the dream.

Kaspas Leeds The Core Desserts cookie dough

Catherine went for the strawberry shortcake waffle, which she had on a M&M waffle. Her dessert came with vanilla Mr Whippy type icecream and her waffle was topped with strawberry slices, white chocolate and digestive biscuits. I tried a little bit of her dessert and it was really good – a bit too sweet for me personally as I’m not a white chocolate fan, but I’d definitely have it with another topping.

Kaspas Leeds The Core Desserts strawberry shortcake waffle

Kaspas is definitely a new addition to Leeds as I don’t know of anywhere else which specifically sells desserts. Whilst I don’t think it would be somewhere I’d go regularly, I’d definitely recommend it for families, especially for those long shopping days, or for younger people who aren’t quite old enough to go to a bar, but don’t want to hang around in McDonalds either. It’s a great location, reasonably priced and we had a lovely (and fit) waiter. What more could you ask for?

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Birthday celebrations with Roxy Lanes

Roxy Lanes Leeds
Roxy Lanes Leeds

If you’re from the Leeds area, you’re probably already familiar with Roxy Lanes, the sister bar or Roxy Ballroom in Leeds. They seem to be taking over as they now have bars in Huddersfield and Liverpool too.

Roxy Lanes turned three recently and I was invited down to help them celebrate, which turned into a really fun evening. I hadn’t been to Roxy Lanes in about a year, having actually been there for my own birthday celebrations last year, but I’d loved it then and still love it now! It’s grown up, childhood fun – because who doesn’t love bowling with a Pornstar Martini in hand?

Roxy Lanes Leeds

They have so many games there, including pingpong and crazy golf, but I’m still desperate to go there to play beer pong. On the night of the party, I realised exactly how terrible I am at bowling without the sides up and was dangerously close to a toddler style tantrum at the number of gutter balls I got. It was embarrassing, I’m not going to deny it. I do love Roxy for bowling though as whilst it’s a little more expensive than your standard bowling alley, it’s the atmosphere, location and the fact that there’s a great bar and food on offer that you’re paying for. Usually you can get a couple of games of bowling and a main meal for about £15 which I think it a decent way to spend a Saturday afternoon! I’ve always found that Pink Gorilla has good deals for Roxy Lanes so if you’re planning on going any time soon, check them out first as you’ll easily save yourself a few quid.

Roxy Lanes Leeds

Roxy Lanes Leeds

I’m a long-time fan of Roxy and it’ll always be on my list of places that I love going as it’s just fun. It’s reverting to childhood, getting competitive, and the best place for friend dates, date dates and after work drinks dates. I’m actually heading to Roxy in Huddersfield soon as they’ve just launched their ‘bottomless lunch’ which is 90mins of cocktails and a main course for £20 – definitely a deal I’m down with.

So tell me, how the hell does anyone actually do bowling successfully without having the sides up? Tell me your secrets in the comments!

Monday, 31 July 2017

A new Leeds lunch spot

Hive Eat Leeds
Hive Leeds lunch food

If you’ve been following me on social, you’ll know that I recently started a new job in Leeds city centre and being typical me, the biggest things I worried about were the logistics, not the job itself. I know I can do my job, and I know that anything I can’t do, I can learn. But it’s the little things like how long my walk to work will take and where to go for lunch that made me a little more anxious. Is that weird? Tell me it’s not weird.

Once I had the basics down (21 minute walk in case anyone’s interested), I started looking for new places to go for lunch as food is life and a good lunch is a game changer  for a good afternoon. Now I’m based in the city centre, the world is my oyster, and I’m no longer restricted to the delightful Tesco meal deal section for on the go food. Thank god. If I see another hoisin duck wrap, it will not be a good day.

I was invited to go and review Hive which is a new healthy, cafe-come-deli-come-lunchspot which is based just near Leeds railway station and a convenient 15 minute walk from my office, making it the perfect place to go when I fancy a walk out on lunchtime. For me, it’s perfect for sunny days when I can have a peaceful walk down the canal and play a game of ‘dodge the lunchtime runners’ on my way down.

My first impression of Hive was that the staff were so friendly, which makes all the difference when you’re going out of your way to support an independent, and it makes me want to go back even more. They’ve only been there a few weeks and when I walked in at lunchtime, it was already fairly busy, so it’s definitely a hit with the businesses in the area – it’s definitely the kind of place where you’d take an off-site meeting.

Hive Leeds lunch food

Hive Leeds lunch food

I really wanted to sit in as it has such a relaxed atmosphere but I was tight on time when I went in so opted to take away a Vietnamese pulled chicken salad, crisps, a bottle of pomegranate and green tea and a chocolate orange brownie. The staff were incredibly generous and gave me some hot drinks vouchers to share with my team too, so now they’re all keen to go down too, especially after seeing my lunch in the office.

The salad I had was huge – they definitely don’t scrimp on the portion sizes. It was packed with kale, green veggies and loads of delicious pulled chicken, so it was incredibly filling. They do load of delicious salads that have all of the nutritional breakdown, so perfect for those who are being good – my salad had two portions of my five a day in it. I was really impressed  as they have both hot and cold food to take out and that includes hot pots like chicken and chorizo with beans etc. They’re really good for catering for dietary requirements too, so it’s a winner all round.

Hive Leeds lunch food

Hive Leeds lunch food

Hive Leeds lunch food

The brownie I had went down an absolute treat too as I shared it with some of the girls in the office. It tasted like it had been made that morning and was another very generous portion – less healthy but perfect if there’s a couple of you and you want to have a taste of something sweet.

Overall, Hive is definitely a winner for me. So far I haven’t found anywhere that offers so much variation of healthy options for lunchtime which is so full of flavour. I’m a self confessed salad snob (I refuse to eat most pre-packed salads) as I make such an effort with the salads I take to work, but Hive is a game changer for me. Will you be trying it out soon? Let me know in the comments! 
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