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Saturday, 30 July 2016

When it comes to adapting a healthy lifestyle, I have two downfalls.

The first is when I forget to plan ahead of time and often find myself heading home after work, realizing I have nothing healthy at home and grabbing a takeaway on the way back.

The other is snacking.

It's not so bad on a weekend when I go out for dinner with friends, or sleep in late to skip breakfast (and sometimes lunch, too..) so instead stock up on one big meal. But at work, it's the worst. I often find myself reaching into my drawer of goodies, hoping I've got some chocolate in there.

More often then not, I don't, thank god, although I do allow myself a chocolate bar or a treat once a week.

I have found it a lot easier to switch over to a healthy lifestyle just by swapping unhealthy snacks for healthy ones which often taste just as nice - if not more - anyway.

Here's my favourite healthy and mostly vegan (bar one or two) snacks I keep at work and at home, and find myself turning to on a regular basis.

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These are one of my absolute favourite vegan snacks and the Nakd range was an absolute god-send when I went vegan in January for Veganuary 2016. I love the Nakd bars, they are so tasty and really filling, too. Sometimes I substitute these for breakfast on the go but more often then not, I have them as an afternoon treat. The bake well tart one is hands down the best and its ever so tasty, so much though that I don't understand how it can taste so good but still be so healthy and vegan.

I never really got on with Graze subscription boxes as I found a lot of what they sent me I didn't like - I don't like nuts or seeds for example. But after seeing their flapjacks on sale in shops, I've been buying them quite a lot until I realized it would make sense to just buy a bunch online. So I ordered a pack of six and some other snacks I remembered I did like when receiving the boxes, and I'm over the moon with them. They're small enough to fit into your lunchbox but are really filling too, and actually taste so nice. The original fruity flapjacks are my favourite so far, because they have mixed seeds which actually taste okay with these, so it's good for protein and fibre, too things I struggle with. Plus they're vegan too, as are most of the snacks I ordered.

The chocolate pretzels probably aren't the healthiest of Graze snacks, but are still a lot more healthy then an actual chocolate bar.

I'm an English girl through and through so I love my classic tea - mine's two sugars and very milky, btw - and I've never really favoured green tea as such but this tea has become a firm favourite of mine. It's tasty and healthy too and has been a staple in my desk drawer for a long time now. 

And not pictured...

These aren't vegan, but the sour cream and cracked black pepper sunbites are delicious and I think they're healthy too. I don't know how, I just, when I look at them they just seem a lot more healthy then, say, doritos or wotsits, or any greasy crisps, ha. They gave a lot of favour and go great with a sandwich or even just some tomato soup.

I tried these for my blog a while back and was thoroughly impressed. These gluten free and vegan friendly snacks are perfect for on the go and actually have tons of flavour, too. At £1 a pack, they're super cheap also and I'll often have one or two packs stored in my lunchbox.

Oh my. I have become a complete addict to coconut water after having it one day in Ibiza when I was too skint to pay for an alcoholic drink and I love how every time I drink this it reminds me of my time spent in the sun. Trouble is, coconut water can be pricey, so I tend to try and only pick this up when it's as part of a meal deal.

So there you have it - a few of my favourite (and mostly vegan) snacks that help me through the day. 

Obviously it's not always easy choosing a healthier lifestyle, especially on those days when you just crave chocolate, but I can't lie - it has really helped to have a selection of these snacks in my desk drawer or lying about the house.

I don't believe that simply choosing a healthy snack now and then is going to make a huge difference, of course I don't.

But I do believe - and have noticed a difference - in eight or nine times out of ten choosing something from the above as opposed to a chocolate bar. There's nothing wrong with treating yourself to a chocolate bar now and then but making the conscious effort to mostly choose something healthy will make the difference in a long run and, more importantly, put you in the right frame of mind for a healthier lifestyle.

What do you think? Are there any healthy snacks you can recommend? Let me know!

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Tuesday, 26 July 2016

This weekend just gone, my friend Becky and I took a road trip up north to spend some time in Sunderland, a city where we'd both lived and studied around five years ago now.

We both attended the same university and became good friends and she even lived with me for a while. For around three years, back when I was 18 up until I was 21, I lived in Sunderland and it was essentially my home away from home.

We have both been back to visit briefly since, but not properly so this trip was long overdue.

It was exhausting. We packed so much into our short time there and considering it took us so long to drive there and back (the drive is around 4/5 hours long, but obviously this varies depending on traffic and taking time to stop and stretch your legs), I am really, really tired. We were out both nights, too, so haven't had much sleep and if I'm really honest, I found the whole thing emotionally exhausting too.

Being that the little city was my whole world once and the fact that right now, down south, my own world is kind of all over the place, it did bring back a lot of emotions. Seeing where I used to do my local shop, discovering what bars we used to drink in were still was definitely a surreal weekend and we most certainly used it as an excuse to pretend to be 19 again.

Here's a quick recap of what we got up to.

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Friday we were running late so we didn't actually to the hotel till half 12 at night - eeek. I was working until four and had also made the silly, silly excuse of going round a friend's house the night before for a couple of drinks, so I hadn't had much sleep the night before either. Luckily, I was so hyped up to be in the north east once more that the lack of sleep throughout the whole weekend didn't really effect me (although it's hitting me now!).

So once we arrived at the hotel, we literally threw our stuff down, got changed and headed back out onto the town. A lot of the bars that were there when we were at uni have unfortunately shut down, so we struggled to think of where was good to go! We went to some of our old haunts though, including the ever so awesome Arizona bar which plays tons of corny 80s music. We spent the night sipping on cheap drinks (the north is SO much cheaper then the south) and dancing along to the likes of Steps, Busted and McFly. Good times.

This was followed by a visit to Chillinos, the popular takeaway spot after a night out that does THE BEST PIZZA IN THE WORLD. I was so happy to be reunited with my delicious pizza once more and, sadly, this was one of the highlights of the weekend because I am a complete and utter loser.

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On Saturday, we headed to the seafront for the annual airshow which is a big deal in the north. I'd went just the once when I was studying, but had fond memories of the day. It was a really nice day because everyone really came together and it had a great community feel. We watched the Red Arrows, went on a few fairground rides and bought traditional fish and chips which we scoffed walking along the sea front.

I also took a quick drive to South Shields today which is kind of my happy place. I have so many fond memories of visiting there and sitting along the beach or walking around the seafront themepark. I only parked up for an hour, but sitting on the beach and watching the sea was relaxing and gave me some much needed 'me' time to think about things and how I felt about the weekend.

This was followed by an evening spent in Newcastle, something else that was long overdue! I'd had a night out in Newcastle a few years back with some other friends when we road tripped around the UK, but never actually did so when I was studying in the north.

Here, we went to Wetherspoons for pre-drinks then holed up (or down, rather, considering the bar is in the basement/underground) in Madame Koo for the night which was very fun. It's the perfect smoky but friendly bar to duck into on a night out and played a good selection of music, with even some popular rock music thrown in like songs from Blink 182 and Feeder.

It also reminded me of just how friendly everyone is up north. I lost count of how many times a man grabbed me to spin me around or just danced with us in general - not in a pulling sense - but just because everyone is so laid back and friendly and willing to talk.

I find that down here on a night out, you don't really get that. You can't really 'just' talk to a guy on a night out and if a guy tries to pull you, it's certainly a lot more forward than that - for the most part, anyway.

It was a fun night and I was pleasantly surprised at how cheap the taxi was on the way home, too.

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Today we woke up with sore heads unfortunately! But there was no time to waste as we had to check out of the room. We quickly packed and then drove into Gateshead for a pit-stop visit to the Metrocentre to grab some lunch. We had a brief look round and it was here, before heading off on our journey back, that it really hit home to me just how different life is up north.

I noticed how laid back everyone was and how friendly they'd been towards us all weekend. Everything was just different from a fast-paced life in London and everyone just seemed so settled down and happy, even at a young age.

We didn't plan to, but when we realized how near we were to the famous Angel of the North on the way back, we parked up there to see it in person and take some photos for the first tim ever - even when studying there, I'd never once 'visited' the Angel of the North, which is one thing that Sunderland (well Gateshead) is best known for!

But, back to the point at hand. 

It was odd to think that had I not moved down south after I graduated, that would be my life right now. I have no doubt that I would probably be married with one or two kids and although that was the last thing I wanted at the time, being back up north this weekend has made me think that if I had stuck it out, maybe I would have actually been happy.

Life - it's a weird one, eh?!

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Sunday, 24 July 2016

I’ve always been told – and believed – that one conversation starter, or one question to ask to make things interesting, is ‘If you could throw a dinner party and invite five people – alive or dead, fictional or real – who would you choose?’ 

I’ve always thought it was such an interesting question and so for no reason whatsoever other than that, I’m going to answer it! Some guests have been on my list for years, never changing, and others change all the time. But right now, here is my list of five people I would invite to my dream dinner party. 

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The two famous paranormal investigators absolutely fascinate me and I assume they must have some amazing stories to tell. Most notably, I’d love to hear their experiences in regards to the Amityville House and The Enfield Haunting, but there’s so many paranormal occurrences they have been linked to investigating. Out of the two though, I’d probably most like to speak to Ed, as he sadly passed away in 2006 and so I’d also love to hear about whether his experiences on the other side – if any! – are what he expected. 

aka the lead singer of one of my favourite bands. Even though I’ve met him countless times and hang out with him nearly every time he’s in the UK, I can’t deny that I’d love to sit down and talk to him properly sober (well with a bit of dutch courage) at a dinner party and hear all his stories from on the road. Plus he's super hot so = eye candy.

Failing that, the only other rock star I'd consider is Freddie Mercury, the absolute legend from Queen.

If you don’t know who David Kelly is – get comfortable because this might take a while and you’ll no doubt want to research more into this. David is someone that has always been on this list, and let me tell you why. David Kelly was once a weapons expert, who made some comments about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, following a document analysing his recent visit there. The journalist who interviewed him – and David himself – ended up under extreme pressure in regards to the controversy that the interview caused, and this was followed by David being questioned aggressively about his actions. He was found dead, two days later, presumably by suicide. 

There has been a whole ton of mystery and questions surrounding the whole thing – most especially his death and how it was near impossible for him to have died the way that he did. Basically, there’s a huge conspiracy theory surrounding it and if you read enough into it like I did (there’s far too much to go into on here) then you’ll understand why many people believe he was actually killed, especially in regards to the findings he reported on the weapons in Iraq. 

The research gone into his subject touches upon politics and, admittedly, a lot of stuff I don’t understand, but I am a firm believer that there was something odd and suspicious about his supposed cause of death – and I’m not the only one. I’d love to hear his side of the story and discover the truth. 

She's been one of my favourite authors for a long time now and I adore her style of writing. I especially feel it's quite similar to mine so I would love to sit down with her and receive some advice in terms of getting a book published. On top of that, she seems like such a nice person, too. She's so down to earth with a witty sense of humour and she's beyond inspiring.

And, of course, my mum. For obvious reasons. I miss her terribly and would do anything to just see her again, talk to her again or have a catch up, or even just hug her again.

So, there you have it. My five dream dinner party guests. Who would you choose?

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Friday, 22 July 2016

I still can't believe that just a month ago, Anton Yelchin died, aged 27.

He was a wonderful actor and clearly had lots of talent, as well as charisma. It makes me so sad that he died so young and it's the first time a 'celebrity' I genuinely really, really liked has died - it's a weird feeling.

So in honour of the fact that one of his latest movies, Star Trek Beyond, is released today in the UK, I've decided to do a blog post about Anton Yelchin's best films (in my opinion, anyway).

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I've never seen the original of Fright Night, but I love this remake starring Anton, Toni Collette, Colin Farrell, David Tennant, Imogen Poots and even Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Dave Franco. Considering it has such a star-studded cast, I'm surprised it didn't do better commercially. It's a lot different from your average teen horror movie and is really edgy with dark humour. David Tennant's gothic magician character is worth watching alone, but Anton is really great in this film.

Like Crazy
is an independent movie that tells the story of Jacob (Anton) and Anna (Felicity Jones), who fall in love when Anna is studying in America. The film tells the story of their long distance love when she has to move back home, and the struggles that come along with being in a long-distance relationship. I've been in long distance relationships before, so I really reasoned with this film and felt it had some great moments that really showed Anton's diverse acting. It's the only 'emotional' role I've ever seen him in, and he plays the part well.

It's tough to point Anton out in the Star Trek series, as all of the films have such a star-studded cast and it's easy for his acting to be overshadowed. His parts were only small, but they were enjoyable, and the films are overall really great. I can't lie, his character mostly provided eye-candy in these films, and I loved hearing his adorable accent.

I finally got around to watching this last night and have a few different reactions to it. Overall, I think it's a great film with a really edgy storyline about a guy (Anton) who can contact the dead - but it's a lot darker and different from your average film involving people that can communicate with the dead. Anton is great in it, but I felt some parts were corny and his girlfriend just seemed much odder then him with the stuff she came out with and the way she acted. Overall I did like it though and thought it was interesting to see Anton in more of an action role. It's actually based on a book series, which I'm planning to read now.

I haven't actually seen this one yet, but it's on my 'to-watch' list as I've heard good things about it, despite the fact that it received mixed reviews from critics. It's said to be a comedy coming of age film with Anton in the lead role, and I think this was his first lead role. He looks super young on the DVD cover, though! Although I haven't seen this yet, like I said, I've heard good things about this film and it's also one of his most popular ones, so it's likely to be one of his best ones, too. 

These five movies easily show Anton's diverse range of acting abilities, including drama, comedy, romance and action roles.

I'll be watching Charlie Bartlett in memory of Anton Yelchin this weekend and I hope one of you will watch one of his movies too, if even just to be reminded of what a great actor he was. 

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Tuesday, 19 July 2016

So obviously I've only been to Ibiza once so I in no way consider myself an expert, but I'd like to think that during my short time there recently, I did more then just party.

Although I did write a blog post summing up my week, I thought I'd share some of my recommendations for things to do because although it is known as the party capital, there is a lot more to it then that.

So here's my little take on Ibiza!

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As you all know, we stayed at the Ibiza Rocks hotel and this had its ups and downs. The hotel wasn't amazing in terms of quality, but we knew before we went there that it was only a three star hotel so we didn't expect much. It was nice and clean and for a party hotel, we pretty much got what we expected. Some of the staff were very helpful and others, not so much. The food was about the same too. So in terms of places to stay, if you want a party hotel, I would 100% recommend Ibiza Rocks because it is, of course, where all the events happen and I do believe it was a really special feeling being able to just stand on our balcony and watch an actual gig. The party atmosphere was great too. 

If you go to Ibiza for anything other than partying, I would suggest elsewhere. Not because the hotel was bad, just because if you want peace and quiet or something more chilled, this isn't the place to do it (although they did have a more chilled pool which was nice). The budget Ibiza Rocks hotel not too far away sounds like a good place too, that offers the right balance of a party place but with necessary peace and quiet also - at a budget price.

Luckily, Ibiza is a really good place for places to eat, whether you want to try something new or stick to classic English food, like we did for the most part. We spotted lots of Italian places and restaurants serving different cuisines, so whatever you're after, you won't have to look far. In terms of English food, we found tons of nice places on the harbour and even just around the corner from our hotel but one place I must recommend is Leopard, along the harbour. It does the best full English fry-ups (and other stuff, too, the menu is quite extensive) and nine times out of ten, the staff will offer you free margarita also. So, win win, really.

For somewhere a bit more classy, I'd recommend Mint Lounge Ibiza, a real chic sort of place along sunset strip that overlooks the beach. It's a bit more pricey then your average cafe or so, but I wouldn't say it's expensive and we went there on our final night. It's the perfect place to go for just a really nice dinner, to celebrate or to end the holiday. We scoffed on Italian food and had some delicious cocktails, too. It was busy though, so get there early, and be aware that the later you go, the more busy the strip gets as other places turn from lounge bars into party bars. So, if you go in the evening, there will be lots of action, fire throwers on the beach and stuff, but also loud music and crowds of people constantly walking past. Early evening or late afternoon however is the perfect time, especially if you can catch the sunset.

Ah, the fun part! Obviously Ibiza is filled with its big clubs and stuff so that's another section altogether, but there are lots of other places in Ibiza great for chilled pre-drinks. One place I absolutely loved was Tulip Bar, along the harbour way down by Ocean Beach. This extremely quirky/chic bar was so cute with mismatched decor, the most amazing cocktail list and even hammocks. HAMMOCKS.

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I was perfectly content here just kicking my shoes off, sitting in the corner and making my way through the cocktail menu one afternoon. As it goes, we only actually had time for one drink, but if you're in Ibiza for a chilled girly holiday, you must make a stop here. It's not too pricey either, which is a welcome change in Ibiza.

I would also recommend the Ibiza Rocks bar (along the harbour, not one of the bars in the hotel) as this too had a very fun vibe to it. Although it seemed like more of a club in the evening and was where a lot of the after parties were held, the cocktails are worth visiting this place for alone. I loved that some of them were themed and named after famous artists, such as Fizzee Rascal (I'm still giggling at this one) - which is tanqueray gin, cointreau, lemon and sugar topped with soda and Arctic Monkey, which is fresh bananas, captain morgans spiced rum and banana liquor. This place is great for pre-drinks and more often then not, someone (well, a member of staff) will be hanging around to offer you some drinks deals like free shots or half price beers. Do talk to them because it's worth saving money where you can, and do flirt a little (like I did. But only with the hotties, of course - of which there are many) to get some extra discount/shots etc thrown in.

One thing I would say about the clubs in Ibiza is they are all so far away. I would not recommend getting a taxi and instead look into getting a bus - most of which are party buses, anyway.

So, Ibiza Rocks is again good for it's pool parties and events, plus if you're gonna go to Ibiza, you need to go to Ibiza Rocks at least once.

Ocean Beach is really cool for pool parties and chilled day-time partying. It has a very VIP feel to it and drinks are expensive, as are things like tables, beds etc. But again I'd suggest going at least once - if even just for a day pool party - as it just oozes sophistication. It's very modern with a great vibe and you feel effortlessly cool once there, almost like you're surrounded by celebrities.

On the other hand, The Zoo Project is definitely quite raw and stripped back as opposed to Ocean Beach. It's set at an abandoned zoo with different themed areas and this is the place to go for something a bit different and, again, outdoor partying. We had a lot of fun here and it's also a great excuse to dress up and get artsy. There are plenty of places along the strip that offer glitter painting or animal painting to help you get in the mood, and I would suggest doing so!

Amnesia is one of those big 'wow' clubs that kind of takes your breath away. Even though it really only has two rooms (that we could see, anyway) the venue itself is massive and beyond impressive with the way it's themed and it's party attitude. It's hard to explain a club, but out of Ibiza's big clubs, this was definitely the one that had the wow factor for me. For a proper Ibiza club night, this is the place to be.

We didn't go to Es Paradis, but really wanted to after my friend recommended it. I really, really regret not going because it looks amazing. Apparently they throw epic water parties there, so much so that in one room the floor kinda half sinks down to turn into a fountain or something. I'm not sure, I just know I watched her snapchat and it looked AMAZING. Plus, it's situated right in the centre of San Antonio, right along the harbour, so if you're staying at a central hotel like Ibiza Rocks, you can just walk there without wasting money on a bus or anything.

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Watching the sunset on sunset strip is an absolute MUST and is the perfect end to your holiday if you choose to do that last. You can sit in one of the many cafes and bars overlooking the beach, but I'd recommend grabbing a couple of cheap drinks from the shop and just settling down on the actual sand/rocks. The moment the sun sets, everyone claps and cheers and it's a really lovely moment. Many people refer to Cafe Mambo as the place to go for this, but really, Cafe Mambo is just one of many places along the strip so if someone invites you to watch the sunset at Cafe Mambo - say yes!

On the Saturday, we took a boat trip with Chili Pepper Charters - who are based along the harbour but can also be found on Facebook. We knew we liked the idea of a boat trip but walking around the harbour, we found there was so much choice. In the end we settled for these guys, because their trip stood out for us and I loved that they were made up of a daughter and dad team, with another friendly lady. They offer two trips - an afternoon one and a sunset one, the latter of which was unfortunately booked up. They limit their trips to around 12 people per trip which is really nice because it means it's very laid back and intimate. The trip tends to generally be just a trip around the island with plenty of opportunities to stop - it varies really on what the sailor thinks is best for that day.

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On our trip, we ambled on and set sail to the sound of laid-back music and sipping at our (free!) drinks. We stopped at the cave of love, and at other points in clear blue waters where we were encouraged to jump off the boat and try our hand at basic snorkeling. This was a lovely experience and something I really enjoyed, being able to swim in the warm and crystal clear Spanish waters whilst spotting beautiful fish swimming by.

This was by far one of my favourite parts of the holiday, and the team were so friendly and laid back too! I'd 100% recommend these guys if you're looking for a boat trip that's intimate, laid back and a tad off the beaten track. There was nothing commercial about it and I loved how the tour and activities varied - depending on where you go you can try cliff jumping, too.

Oh, and I suppose I'd also recommend the giant total wipeout style inflatable assault course in the sea. I know nothing about it, only that it's near Ocean Beach, it is a complete challenge but it's also a laugh and worth attempting.

So these are just a few suggestions from my personal experience (except for Es Paradis), on what was kind of a half party but half chilled holiday. So if you're looking to go to Ibiza but want a mixture of both, you'll likely find something mentioned above. Of course, there is so much to see and do, but it's also nice to know that Ibiza isn't just a party place and there's plenty to do that doesn't involve partying.

Have you ever been to Ibiza? Do you have any recommendations? Let me know!

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Sunday, 17 July 2016

I’m staying at my nan’s house right now, and as my nan doesn’t believe in the internet, I’ve had to turn to DVD box sets to keep me sane.

One of these is the Scrubs boxset that I’ve owned for many years and watched many times. It has been a good few years since I’ve last had a Scrubs binge though, so I decided it was time for another.

One episode in and I was quickly reminded of why this show is still one of my favourite shows of all time. (And why it should be yours, too!)

Here's ten reasons why I still love Scrubs and believe that it will never grow old.

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This show has everything. Essentially it’s a comedy – based in a hospital – so you already know the humour is going to be a bit different being that death is a subject that comes up quite often. Scrubs deals with the idea of death in a really approachable way and the show has so many different elements to it including comedy, romance, friendship and drama. You also sort of feel like you learn a bit with the characters as you learn more about what it’s like to work in a hospital, and the show has its fair share of serious moments too – and an awesome soundtrack. 

JD is kind of a hottie. He's a geek, but also a hottie. That is all.

The characters are so different, yet lovable too. Even though to begin with, Dr Kelso is a total dick, as the seasons go on, he ends up becoming funnier and funnier. Yet what I loved the most is that there are still some scenes in the later episodes where, even though we’ve come to love-to-hate him with many of his actions still kinda bad but laughable too, the show doesn’t lose sight of who he is. He still does make some dick moves, rather then turning into a complete good character, which is nice.

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JD and Elliot. Relationship goals or what?! I love these two and I think these were perhaps my first ever ship. They have a will-they-wont-they relationship over the years – enough to rival Ross and Rachel – but of course we all know they’re going to end up together, right?! Well I won’t spoil it for you in case you haven’t seen the show but it does keep you guessing until the very end. 

JD and Turk. I don’t really have to explain this one. I’m pretty sure that they were the first example of a bromance on TV and I love the fact that they are still best friends in real life.

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Elliot. Elliot is my favourite character by far (well apart from JD) and I absolutely love watching her evolve over the seasons from a timid girl with low self-esteem who wants to please everyone, to someone who ends up so confident in herself and really comes into her own. She grows so much as a person, and I love her little crazy side too. Plus she has the coolest makeover scene in season three as soon as I saw this episode, I went out and got my hair cut exactly like hers.

They're both so hilarious and I love Dr Cox's speeches. I fact, I don't know why I'm bothering to list characters because I just love them all. Carla is so lovely too, and even the Janitor makes me laugh my head off. But JD is my favourite. And Elliot. And Turk. And..okay, they're all my favourite and I'll shut up now...

There’s also tons of guest stars over the years, including Tara Reid, Ryan Reynolds, Matthew Perry, Aziz Ansari, Colin Farrell, Tara Reid, Courtney Cox, Elizabeth Banks, and my personal favourites, Heather Grahem, Micheal J Fox(!!!) and Brendan Fraser.

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The sadder moments really get me, but they’re really necessary to the show. You can’t set a show in a hospital and base it around junior doctors without people dying, although not all the sad moments are to do with this. It’s handled so well and I whole wholeheartedly believe each sad moment in the show has an important lesson behind it.

In fact, I’m pretty sure nearly every single episode has some sort of important message to it, or that you can at least take something away from each episode. Even if it's just something small, like in one of the early episodes JD chases after Elliot (in one of my favourite scenes of all time) only to realize it's better for them to be friends for the meantime when she knocks him back. It just goes to show that sometimes all you need is a friend, and it doesn't mean it won't turn into more in future. JD played the long game and it paid off. Nice guys don't always finish last!

It ran for eight (okay, nine, but we do not speak of that ninth season with the lack of original cast) seasons and never got old. The characters grew throughout the series and the themes steadily became more serious (but there was still humour too) and it worked. Scrubs had the capacity to show for all these seasons without people getting bored or without over staying it's welcome, and that's just further proof of why it was such a great show.

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Do any of you love Scrubs and can share some reasons why? Let me know!

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Friday, 15 July 2016

I am no way considered a big blogger or as someone who has an overly successful blog, but I am proud of what I do have and I'm very proud that I've managed to keep my blog running for over five years now.

It's not an easy task.

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Bearing in mind that blogging is constantly involving and growing, so many people are jumping on board every single day and it's near impossible to stand out anymore. This makes it hard to even find the motivation to blog because, well, if there's so many people out there writing about the same thing as you but they're better at it and no one is reading your content, then what's the point?

Well to begin with, the main point is that you should blog for you and not everyone else. I am a firm believer that at the end of the day, no matter how much you see your blog as a brand or a business, when it stops being fun and feels more like a chore, that's when it's time to take a step back and come back to basics.

That being said, I also beleive that when the time is right, it is helpful to start looking at ways to expand and better your blog. But this is hard, especially with working full time, having a life and, not to mention, other stuff that gets thrown up now and again.

I'm not the best person to advise anyone in terms of blogging advice because let's face it, my blog isn't the most successful out there, but there are a few tips I'd like to share anyway.

But not so much that it leaves you ripping your hair out or doesn't give you any wiggle room. It's a great idea to plan blog posts in advance and stick to a schedule, but if you usually blog on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday but something comes up on a Friday, don't beat yourself up. If you have a chance to go out and do something fun instead, go and bloody do it. You are not tied to your blog and I know everyone says it's important to keep up with a general schedule because that's what people expect of you - but do they really? Is anyone going to care that much that you don't blog on a Friday like expected? Or are they simply going to look another day instead? I do think it's a good idea to stick to a general schedule - if even because it helps me in terms of planning - but that's as far as it goes. 

If you have a free weekend to sit down and write a bunch of posts in advance - awesome, go ahead and do that. Schedule them in, but be aware that other more valuable content might come up too.

My best tip for things like this is to have a few posts saved in drafts, ones that can be posted at anytime whatsoever, such as book reviews or something like that. That way, if there's a time you're too busy to pop up a post, you can just make one of these live, instead.

Or not. Because like I said, you are not chained to your blog.

Lack of inspiration or motivation is one of the hardest things about blogging and although it again helps to have some posts saved in drafts for when this does occur, it's not ideal when you just can't get out of that funk.

I'm afraid there's not too much I can offer in terms of advice here because everyone is different. You simply can't force creativity. But what helps me is reading through other people's blogs - if something in particular stands out I'll sometimes do something similar with my own twist and, importantly, admit that I've got the idea from them and link back to them.

There's a fine line between stealing content and being inspired by it.

Sometimes I go through Bloglovin' and use the save feature on there for different ideas or blogging tips. Sometimes I just look at pretty blogs and think about what works overall. Pinterest is helpful, and sometimes it's a good idea to just sit down and think about what you've done lately. Seen a good movie? Review it. Been eating particularly healthy one week? Talk about the changes you've made to do so. 

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Lists help a lot and as you can see, these are generally the way I get anything done. Even though I currently just use a simple list of what I want to write and note down dates beside it, there are whole guides dedicated to making 'blogging to do lists' as simple or as comprehensive as you like. I have to say, in line with scheduling, the internet is great for tools like this. Even a simple word document that can be edited easily is ideal, because you can quickly see what post is going up when and can list other things you need to do related to your blog, like remove dud links once a month or reply to comments. 

Spreadsheets are really helpful too. One I really like the look of online is this one. It's super comprehensive and great for if you're really looking at your blog long term, i.e trying to gain new followers each month and track your growth so it's great, but maybe not for someone who's new to using spreadsheets or lists.

But I think it's very easy to create your own spreadsheet to keep on top of things as that way it's easier for you to find what kind of schedule and spreadsheet works for you.

I carry one around everywhere with me and it's really useful. It's just a good idea so that you can jot down an idea on a whim and keep all your ideas in one place.

These are just some tips that may help with 'keeping on top of things' in terms of blogging, which can be tough when you work full time/have no inspiration/struggle to keep organised. But, as I said before, I do believe it's important to have a life too and see your blog as a hobby as opposed to a job.

Are there any other tips you can suggest? Let me know!

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Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Boux Avenue has been a favourite brand of mine for a long, long time. 

I find the luxury lingerie brand is a cross between Ann Summers and La Senza - back in the day, before it went into administration - and that Boux Avenue is just a bit more classy and glamorous.

But it's probably the excellent customer service I received in their Watford store recently that inspired me to write this post.

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I'd gone into the store in hopes to buy a bikini for holiday. 

I did.

But I also 'accidentally' spent £160 on said bikini, pajamas and lingerie. Oops.

The customer service I received in particular exceeded my expectations. I find it important to get measured regularly and so I decided to get myself professionally measured during my visit and the lady who measured me was beyond lovely and professional.

She took her time and was ever so patient as I tried on, admittedly, so many different styles (I honestly wanted to buy the whole store), which is exactly what you need when being measured.

It might not seem like a big deal, but wearing the right bra size is very important and so when getting measured, there's a lot to keep in mind. Obviously you have to be comfortable, but not too comfortable as the bra still needs to fit very well, so to find the perfect size which is a combination of well-fitting and comfortable but not too relaxed can be tough. 

I was over the moon with the lady that helped me, who didn't complain once and was happy to go out of her way to help me. She also made me feel very comfortable too, which is a bonus.

It can be very easy to just give in and say something fits okay because you don't want to take up anymore of somebody's time, but she made sure I didn't feel like this.

On top of that, I've always found Boux Avenue to be an amazing brand.

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Formidable Joy - UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Fashion | For the love of Boux Avenue; Formidable Joy; Formidable Joy Blog; Boux Avenue

As you can see from above, the lingerie is delicate, girly and slightly sexy, too. I've always found that anything I've ordered from Boux Avenue has been good quality and has lasted me many years.

And oh my, it's packaging is beyond beautiful, too. Every time I put in an online order, I find myself looking forward to the packaging as much as I do to whats inside!

It just boasts glamour and class, but with affordable prices, but although they specialize in lingerie, you can also buy babydolls, basques, bikinis, pajamas and small, sweet home accessories in the store, too.

If you haven't yet stepped foot in one of their stores - do so. The store itself is always welcoming and bright and spacious, but I think perhaps my favourite part is the changing rooms. Each one is named differently (such as silk or satin) and is decorated beautifully. You can also change the lighting in the room, from daylight to evening etc, and can even press a button to request someone come help you without you having to leave the room, which is of course the last thing you want to do when trying on lingerie.

And the changing rooms are actually really spacious too! Paired with the ideal lighting, it makes sense really, considering you're taking the time to purchase a good fitting bra or otherwise and really want to take your time and make sure you look your best and feel comfortable.

Shopping at Boux Avenue is a lovely experience, start to finish.

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Monday, 11 July 2016

Interested in what I got up to in Ibiza? Read on...

During my recent holiday to Ibiza, five out of seven days were spent with Together Week, which was a package week covering our accommodation and activities both day and night for the week. 

We figured this was the best way to go, because things like entry into clubs can be so expensive in Ibiza and, as it goes, even going through a package week we still struggled to afford drinks in the clubs.

But was it worth it?


It would have been a lot more expensive otherwise.

Here's what we got up to.

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We arrived on Sunday, enjoying the sunshine the moment we stepped off the plane and feeling ever so excited for our week ahead. We were staying at Ibiza Rocks hotel, and it was definitely a cool feeling arriving at the iconic hotel. We had a bit of a faffabout with our room in that despite paying for a pool/stage view, we were given a room behind the stage which allowed us to see lots of scaffolding and just one little corner of the stage, which wasn't ideal. The staff did explain to us that a pool view room doesn't necessarily guarantee a view of the stage, but I had checked all this in advance. I wouldn't have minded so much, but we did splurge especially for a decent room with a decent view as we figured we'd go all out for our first time in Ibiza.

Luckily, the staff kindly upgraded us to a larger top floor room which included a huge balcony overlooking the pool and stage. We were much happier with this, and once we were able to settle in, it finally felt like our holiday was beginning.

On our first evening, we took the short two minute walk to Hotel Tropical, the meeting point for Together Week events and what generally became a hub for hours spent chilled by the pool throughout the week. From there, we met our reps who took us on a mini pub crawl around the main parts of Ibiza, such as the strip and the harbour. This was really helpful because along with the drinks deals, we got a feel of where the main 'party' part of Ibiza was, how far away it was (a mere ten minute walk) and what bars were worth visiting.

It was a nice introduction to the week ahead.

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Formidable Joy - UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Travel Diaries | Ibiza with Together Week; Formidable Joy; Formidable Joy Blog; Ibiza; Together Week; Together Week Ibiza; The Zoo Project
 Covered in paint & glitter for The Zoo Project

Monday was a pretty chilled one, in the day. There was a pre-party at Hotel Tropical for the evening's events and so we headed down there for some pre drinks and some hours in the sun. It was nice that it was quite laid back because although we had lots of activities planned, we did want a few hours spent just relaxing too.

This was followed by a paint party at The Zoo Project in the afternoon which was, essentially, just a zoo. Well, an abandoned zoo. The venue was awesome and very unique, but a lot of it wasn't accessible on the day which is a shame as it would have been nice to explore. 

I also felt by the time we arrived, we'd already missed most of the action - there was a pool party that was just ending, and everyone was well on their way to being drunk. We bought one or two drinks - it was here that the drinks prices really hit us - and decided to forgo getting drunk and just enjoy the music. Once we did that, we really enjoyed ourselves and it was a lot of fun getting covered in dry paint and throwing it all around in time to the music.

When it came to leaving, we did accidentally end up getting a dodgy cab - eek. It wasn't that he wasn't safe or anything (well apart from insisting I take selfies with him during driving) but the price was far more than it should have been. We split the cost between five of us though so it wasn't too bad and I suppose the journey itself was fun as it was a little like a party taxi!

That night we just went to Sankeys which was fun! The music was more drum and bass so I think I enjoyed it more than my friends did - even though I'm not a big fan of drum and bass but give me the right atmosphere and I can dance to anything. This was in another area of Ibiza filled with perhaps more hip bars, we did plan to return to this area later in the week but didn't have time.

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 Posing in front of graffi outside/after Amensia
Tuesday was a pool party at the Jet Apartments in Playa D'en Bossa beach and was definitely one of my highlights of the holiday! It was so nice to finally visit the beach, to feel the sand beneath my feet and to go into the warm sea. I could have stayed there all day. Alas, instead we decided to jump onto a friends pedalo, which then 'broke' in the sea. When some fit men 'pedalled' over to investigate, they also decided to rescue myself and my bestie so we jumped from our pedalo to theirs and floated back to shore with fit men and free alcohol. Perfect.

There's not too much I can say about the actual pool party as most of our time was spent on the beach, but the vibe was good and the cocktails were a little more affordable here.

Tuesday night was spent at Amensia and again, this was probably another highlight of the week. Although the drinks were expensive, I loved it here, the atmosphere and vibe was amazing meaning you didn't really have to drink to get up and dance and plus the club itself is amazing theatrically with its deco and lighting. We saw Rudimental here who was great, and this was probably one of the nights that we stayed out the latest. Out of all the 'big' clubs, Amensia was by far my favourite.

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 The view of the sunset from our room one evening

Wednesday was the day for the boat party and watersports - aka what I'd been looking forward to all along! It was essentially the photo of the giant inflatable assault course in the sea that made me discover Together Week and go ahead and book the holiday. After a long, long walk to the area where the assault course was (the other side of the marina, so perhaps a half an hour walk over all but it was really hot so we were really slow), we got kitted up and went for it.

Although it was fun, I can't deny it was challenging. I am so weak and constantly struggled to pull myself back up onto the inflatable every time I fell into the water. The problem was, getting onto the inflatable at first was tough enough as it was because there was a ladder but once you climbed on, it kind of floated under the float so you were horizontal instead of vertical. We all had to help each other on. And there were no other ladders around the rest of the course. So I can safely say although this looked fun, it was really bloody hard and lets just say trying to constantly get on the floats and always falling over made us all look very unladylike. 

It was so much fun though, and I'm so glad we did it.

This was followed by a very boozy boat party which was super fun too because it felt like an evening activity rolled into a day one. We could actually drink and dance on the boat which was nice, or head downstairs and watch the sun setting or the scenery passing by. 

Wednesday night was the night for Pacha but, um, me and my friend got into a real big fight so didn't go. I was quite disappointed, but following the fight I knew I wouldn't be in the mood for it and some others that had gone later told us that they personally thought it was overrated. So hopefully I didn't miss out on much.

We did go out later on, this time to the official Ibiza Rocks bar! I loved it here, this was where they threw most of the after parties and they also had lots of really awesome themed cocktails like one named after the Arctic Monkeys and another called Fizzee Rascal! This was also probably the only night of the whole holiday that I genuinely got drunk, so much so that on the return to the hotel, I feared I was going to be sick so went into the bathroom, but ended up passing out/falling asleep on the bathroom floor for an hour.

Then when I woke up, I decided to leave some very embarrassing voicemails on an ex's phone.


I blame the Absinth, as we decided to buy a bottle of the hard stuff for pre-drinks.

Well, I can't exactly say it didn't work..

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Ocean Beach (above) and the famous Ibiza sunset on the final night (bottom)
This was the final day of our package week and we spent it at Ocean Beach for a VIP Ministry of Sound Pool party. I really enjoyed this too as the atmosphere was really relaxed, although the only thing I didn't like was all the beds and such you had to pay for. It was very hard finding a) what was free and b) space. We ended up sitting by the pool with our feet dangling in but I'm glad we did because most of the action went on here. There were pool jets and even a mini stage that appeared in the water at one point for some of the dancers to dance on. Ocean Beach really does go all out and I think it's somewhere I'd definitely go again.

For the final evening, we headed down to Sunset Strip for that famous Ibiza sunset. We settled on the beach with a couple of beers from the shop and watched in awe. It really was beautiful and I can't lie, the moment the sun went down and everyone clapped and cheered - I got goosebumps. It was a really lovely moment, and the perfect way to end our package week.

For the remainder of the holiday, we didn't do much and instead chose to relax. This was the ideal way to regroup after a week of (mostly) partying and I was really craving a day just spent in the sun, reading my book and napping. And that's exactly what we did! 

We booked a boat trip for the Saturday which was another great end to our holiday and I will talk about this in further detail in a recommendations post, but this intimate trip basically involved sailing around the island and pausing to swim and snorkel in the clear blue waters.

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Overall, the week had its ups and downs but I didn't regret it one bit. I'm really glad we went through Together Week because not only did we save money that way, but there was always something going on, in the days as well as the evenings. Everyone was really welcoming and we even befriended a few people who had come on holiday alone.

The only qualms I did have was the lack of communication between Together Week staff and Together Week and the hotel. We had another issue with our room towards the end of the week because some paperwork hadn't been processed correctly from Together Week, but they sorted this promptly and refunded us a night for our trouble. It was more the worry that annoyed me, considering worry is the last thing you want on a holiday! 

I also feel there was a bit of a lack of communication between Together Week and us, in terms of coach times and meeting points. One evening, the coach for one of the big clubs had left a full fifteen minutes early without anyone informing us and so we had to make our own way there. 

However, it was the first week of the season, so I'm aware that some things obviously need ironing out. I think in future it would be a good idea if an app was developed or some sort of texting list so that for any last minute changes, everyone is informed promptly.

I am ever so glad we picked a package week and that we chose Together Week for our first package holiday. I know these things can be a gamble sometimes, but for us, really paid off and left us with memories to last a lifetime.

Keep an eye out for a future post about my recommendations of places to eat, drink and other things to do.

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