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Saturday, 28 May 2016

Whether you’re thinking about starting the gym or you want to make sure you’re getting the most from your workouts, this post is perfect for you. Many people go to the gym but they don’t get the best possible results available to them. The following points will help you to enjoy awesome results!

CHALLENGE AND PUSH YOURSELF
It only makes sense that you should challenge and push yourself in the gym. If you’re not truly challenging yourself, you can’t expect to change. Each session should be an improvement on the last. Whether that’s with heavier weights, more reps, or a shorter rest period. Be honest with yourself and don’t just go through the motions while you’re in there. The amount of people you’ll see having a leisurely workout and a chat with their friend is unbelievable!

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EAT TO COMPLIMENT YOUR TRAINING
So, you’re killing it in the gym and doing everything you can. But then you get home and eat a takeaway. You still won’t get the results you could be getting! You need to eat to compliment your training. In fact, your diet is the most important part. Even if you only go to the gym 3 times a week, having an on point diet will help you to get amazing results. You don’t have to work yourself into the ground to look and feel amazing! 

DO A MIX OF DIFFERENT TRAINING STYLES
A mix of different training styles will make sure you’re keeping your body healthy in a balanced way. Some people focus too much on cardio, while others are all about the weights and don’t give cardio a second thought. Some people don’t need cardio to look great, but it’s good for health purposes. Both training styles are important. If you do classes, make sure they contain both resistance and aerobic exercises

HELP MUSCLES RECOVER FASTER
Sometimes, muscles can ache for days. This makes us not want to go to the gym again through fear of injuring ourselves or just not doing very well. There are a few things you can do to help your muscles to recover faster. Deep tissue massage will help to keep your muscles feeling great and ready to workout. You can also try foam rolling, and hot baths. Dynamic warmups and stretching to cool down is a good idea too. believable!

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SET GOALS
If you go in the gym without a goal, how do you ever expect to get results? Do you want to lose fat? Build muscle? Just get fitter physically? Assess where you’re at now so you know the best next step to take. For instance, if you have lots of fat to lose, focus on losing that before building muscle. This doesn’t mean only doing cardio until you’ve lost the weight, it just means a few more cardio sessions and working with weights to hypertrophy. Then when you’re lean enough, you can build the muscle you want with less cardio, heavier weights/less reps, and more food! There’s a plethora of information out there to help you achieve and set goals. Getting results is all about consistency.

Don’t give up!


 *Please note this post has been contributed.

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Thursday, 26 May 2016

I'm kind of a newbie when it comes to camping/music festivals, which might actually come as a surprise to most of you considering I love music, festivals and camping.

Even though I once travelled around the UK/did an epic UK road trip to see my favourite band on their UK tour, I've never really gone to a proper music festival or camped. I've been to day music festivals many a time and I went camping once as a teenager, but this weekend is finally going to be my first proper time!

I suppose I could say this weekend's camping at Lost Village is a bit like a trial run for Reading Festival later this year. Lost Village is a lot smaller, independent and boutique so I'm easing myself in slowly before all the big crowds and inevitable mud!

It's safe to say that when preparing for this weekend, myself and my bestie have focused more on the non-practical stuff as in buying nice outfits, getting our hair and nails done, buying tons of festival accessories. But over the past few weeks we've put our heads together and managed to actually sort out a tent and stuff.

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THE BORING STUFF
So we went for a four man tent which is bigger then we need, but considering this festival is quite arty, we're going to need space to get ready in the mornings and style our hair and stuff. Whereas at a  festival like Reading, you kind of just rock up and pitch a tent without much thought to getting ready or choosing a theme for your outfits.

But tents in general can be super cheap, we found two-men tents for £20 so unless you're going somewhere that's guaranteed to rain a lot, you don't need to spend a lot of money going all out on a tent.

There's little point spending extra money on finding a tent that looks cute or has an arty design, either. Yes, they look so pretty, but unless you're going to festivals all year and using the tent every other weekend, you probably won't let your money's worth.

It's very easy to make tents look homely, also. I bought some cheap battery operated fairy lights from Primark to string around the entrance, and a bright coloured quilt or blanket and some lanterns will transform a tent into looking boutique in no time.

I'd also suggest investing in an air mattress and bringing a spare cover, just to keep warm (British weather is so unpredictable) and to make sure you have a good night sleep.

THE (SLIGHTLY) FUN STUFF
Once the necessary basics are out of the way, it's time to start planning for the actual journey. Tonight, we're going on a quick shop around Tesco for some last minute bits like face wipes, sun screen etc.

I'd also definitely recommend checking with the festival what can and can't be taken in. Some festivals don't allow any food or alcohol whatsoever, whereas some do. Lost Village allows a pack of beer/cider or a bottle of wine per person, which we think is fair. What I'm saying is, don't buy tons of beer and food and rock up on the day only to be told you're not allowed to take it in.

If you have your car, it can be kept in there but sometimes things get confiscated and it's worth just checking beforehand so you don't waste money or have to faffabout at the gate.

Start comprising a list of things you need to take, and perhaps search Google for ideas too. There's always going to be plenty of things you'll forget to add. Things like shampoo or dry shampoo, tampons just in case, your ID etc.

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 Bright & funky accessories never go amiss...

THE REALLY FUN STUFF
Choose your outfits! Look up the weather and pack just enough stuff for one outfit per day (things like shorts or skirts etc can obviously be worn more then once) and then maybe just a spare nice top or playsuit just in case. Remember to pack pyjamas, underwear and a jumper and jeans/jogging bottoms for at night or if it suddenly does get cold or start to rain.

The day before, meet up with whoever you are travelling with and pack the car ready so you can leave first thing in the morning. The night before, have one last pamper and do everything that needs doing, whether that's curling your hair, using a temporary hair spray to dye your hair a funky colour or even just having a long soak in the bath.

Put together a playlist for the journey! And maybe start thinking about what you're going to do when you get there. Are you going to play it by ear? Are there certain bands you're desperate to see and need to put together a set list? Or are you more focused on just chilling out and socialising?

It's always good to make a general plan so you don't arrive there, get set up and then suddenly find you want to rush off to make one band's set which is about to start whilst your friend wants to grab a couple of drinks and get settled in first.

But I think more importantly the two things to remember are to just have fun and be safe. Protect your skin from the sunshine, make new friends and just enjoy it!

Are there any tips I've missed out on, preparing for my first music festival? Let me know!


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Monday, 23 May 2016

Apart from fitness apps and actually wanting to get into a shape, another thing that gets me motivated to work out is all the pretty gear. 

Of course no one really cares what you look like at the gym, but for me personally it helps to have nice workout gear to wear.

I also think it's important to have a set kit when going to the gym. I have a bag I keep in my car at all times and keep stuff in there specifically so I never forget it. I think this is really useful because it means you never have those days where you make excuses for yourself like 'I'm really up for the gym today but I forgot my trainers/workout top/water' etc. 

Here's the general kit I take to the gym and maybe it'll give you some pointers of things you should always keep in your gym bag, too.

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So to begin with, I have this basic but cute bag from Primark. It's sweet and it does the job, but I am on the lookout for a proper gym bag, especially as over the past few months my collection of things to go into the bag has gotten bigger. When I purchased this bag, it would literally just hold my outfit and trainers. But, as you can see from the photo below, I obviously have a lot more things in my kit now.

My Sketcher trainers I actually purchased for my trek around Mexico but as that has been pushed back until next year now, I figured it can't hurt to wear them in. They're really comfortable, and I believe that it's important to get a proper pair of running shoes if you want to run, otherwise you just won't persevere with it.

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So this is my general kit. In the top left corner I have a cute water bottle purchased for something like £1.99 from H&M - it does the job and is better on the environment then continuing to purchase new bottles of water from the shop all the time.

Beside that is a very light and small towel I bought from TK Maxx recently. I don't use this a whole lot as lately all I've been doing at the gym is using the treadmill, but it's important to have one to wipe down machines you've been using and it's of course useful for when I do sweat!

Next is my zombie apocalypse top - oh I do love a good slogan tee. I'll talk about this more in a minute, though. Beside that I have a cheap armband to hold my phone in. I bought this off Amazon recently as I thought now the weather is getting nicer, I'm going to want to start running outdoors soon, once I find the confidence to. This is useful too because it'll help me track my steps and distance properly, which I can't do on a treadmill.

In the very middle I have some ankle socks to wear with my trainers, and some headphones. These were a Christmas gift from my brother a few years back and I get a lot of use out of these. I don't know if it's just me, but I just don't get on with normal small bud headphones that go in your ear. At first I thought it was because of my tragus piercing, but they just never seem to fit properly in my left ear either. And when I try to run with them in..they just constantly fall out. Maybe I just have weird shaped ears. Anyway, these headphones do the job and don't fall off when running!

I wish I knew where I got this sports bra from but I really have no idea. I have a feeling it might have been a blog freebie a few years back or maybe purchased with a voucher. It offers me basic support, but I do need to put some money towards one that offers me more support and is more designed for sport.

Finally, I also have a little spray and a hair brush, just to make sure I look somewhat decent when leaving the gym.

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Here's what I actually wear. 

The leggings are a cute pair I bought from Primark, but I usually swap between these and a similar pair from H&M.

The slogan top I bought off Etsy and the seller was super helpful. As it was out of stock by the time I got round to ordering, she was happy to make another one up for me since most of their tops are customized anyway. So sweet. It's from Abundent Heart Apparel, and I've fallen in love with all their designs since. I love anything zombie related and this ties in really well with the fact that I'm always using Zombies, Run or Zombies 5K for my gym sessions so it definitely motivates me.

I actually have a whole lot of slogan tees for work out wear (and I promise you, they're not corny!) so do let me know if you'd like a post on these specifically.

So that's whats in my gym bag on a day to day basis - is there anything you can think of that's missing? Do let me know!

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Friday, 20 May 2016

Cinema has changed greatly over the last five years, with new quirky viewing options popping up all the time.

Gone are the days where we'd go down to our local Cineworld and pay a good £20-£30 for tickets, food and drink for just two people. Although 'other' cinema experiences do tend to be around that price too, the fact of the matter is, doing something a little different offers you a lot more bang for your buck.

I can't believe I've just used that phrase.

But the thing is, people are no longer willing to pay that much when they can do exactly the same thing at home for free. We live a Netflix-and-chill era where when we're not hooking up between (and sometimes during) movies on the sofa at home, we're avid on chasing the next alternative or unusual option out there.

But, this isn't a bad thing. It means independent cinemas are doing better, because whilst there's also out there options like sitting in a hot tub on a roof to watch a movie, a lot of people are also going back to basics and enjoying the historic cinemas that show independent and more classic films.

Now that the weather is getting nicer, it's around about that time to start booking these all in. On one hand, you can choose oddball outdoor showings to soak up the warm weather or perhaps you might want to choose something more basic and indoors, which can always be followed by a slow stroll around the London sunshine.

Here's a quick guide to what's worth booking this summer.

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ROOFTOP FILM CLUB
Chances are, you've already heard of the offbeat Rooftop Film Club. Not only are they a super approachable team (just look at their Twitter), but it's also a wise and popular choice for summer evenings spent in London. Rooftop Film Club are probably one of the most popular alternative cinema events and even host some showings at my ultimate fave, Queen of Hoxton. 

OUTDOOR CINEMA

Okay, 'outdoor cinema' is pretty vague and is probably the most basic (but cheapest) on this list. Outdoor cinema does what it says on the tin - you, er, watch film outdoors. This is quite reliant on the weather, but what's nicer then kicking back on a blanket with the sun setting and watching a film amongst good company? You've got Pop Up Screens for the basic and affordable and take place all over London, whereas The Nomad Cinema, tends to pop up at more quirky locations, such as graveyards and stuff. And there's also the Luna Cinema, which pops up at really picturesque locations, such as the beautiful Warwick Castle this summer. Sundown Cinema is worth a mention too (and includes showings at the beautiful Luton Hoo which is ever so local to me, so is totally on my bucketlist this summer).

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HOT TUB CINEMA

If you can face getting into a hot tub with strangers, then Hot Tub Cinema is for you. And if not - you can rent a hot tub out between just your friends if there are enough of you. Hot Tub Cinema takes place on rooftops around London, Bristol, Birmingham and Manchester. Attendee's are generally encouraged to drink and dress up (or rather, dress down) and if you don't have enough friends interested, don't let this discourage you. The general audience is young quirky types (no old perverted men) so chances are you'll end up getting on with whoever's tub you may end up in.
 
DRIVE IN FILM CLUB
Drive In Film Club is by the same team behind Rooftop Film Club, and I can personally vouch for this experience being awesome. Film showings tend to be set just that little bit later when it's dark, but obvs you won't get cold as you'll be in your car! The tickets are super cheap being that they're per car, meaning you can fit as many people as possible into your motor and split the cost. There's plenty of hot dogs on hand too, and yes, you do get popcorn and drink delivered to your car window. You WILL feel like you're in America.


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PILLOW CINEMA
Pillow Cinema is dubbed the 'cosiest night in night out' and I'm not surprised considering how comfy it all looks - and isn't that what it's all about? I need to be comfy when watching a film, in fact, when I'm at home, I can't sit and watch a film unless I have my blanket with me, even if it's a hot day. Obviously dressing down and lounging about is slightly discouraged at most cinemas but Pillow Cinema encourages it! Personally, I think it's ideal for dates...

ELECTRIC CINEMA
With two locations - one in Portobello and one in the uber cool Shoreditch, Electric Cinema brings plush on a cool level - they're basically very Instagram worthy and chances are you've spotted images from the cinemas on Pinterest already. Each cinema has super comfy chairs and sofas - and one even has beds! Plus there's food and drink that can be taken back to your seats, too, and again, I'm not just talking about your standard local cinema popcorn.

EDIBLE CINEMA
This one's for the foodies. The general process is that it mixes film with food and you attend a showing to be given a tray of small numbered containers on your allocated seat. Throughout the film, a screen-side light box will light up to reveal what package should be opened when - mixing canapes and cocktails with the films. But it's not just popcorn and hot dogs at Edible Cinema - the food is meant to add to the experience of the film. It's probably one of the most unique quirky cinema events out there and worth doing at least once in your life. Plus, you'll feel really cultural afterwards, too.

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SECRET CINEMA
If you don't know what Secret Cinema is yet, then it's probably not up your street. The not-so-secret event is based around a movie and consists of an immersive experience that often encourages attendees to dress up and get in character for, followed by a showing of film in a quirky location. Over the years, they've been praised for their showings of Star Wars and Back To The Future and, most notably, 28 Days Later. You can read my personal vague review of that here. It's pricey, so unless you're willing to throw yourself into it, you're probably not going to enjoy it as much as you could. That said, I'd recommend everyone to try a Secret Cinema event at least once in their life.

BACKYARD CINEMA
Backyard cinema actually started in someone's backyard, so this company really knows what it's like to start from the very beginning and still offer that relaxed home-away-from-home feel. The showings are set in unique locations and are sometimes accompanied by actors and live music. Each event is designed to feel like a night out. Their current big event is a showing of Romeo & Juliet in a church, with a choir, too. Tickets can vary from a basic place either on a deckchair or a sofa, to date night tickets that include a bottle of fizz, ice cream, popcorn and a blanket to share. So cute. 

THE REX CINEMA
The Rex Cinema, Berkhamsted is a resorted art deco cinema which is perfect for you vintage types. Showings include classic and independent films, as well as more modern ones, also. But the venue itself is beyond beautiful, with plush red seats surrounding candlelit tables which, yes, you can get food brought over to. My sister took me once here for my birthday and I loved the whole experience. If I remember rightly, someone even comes on stage to introduce the film!

From hot tubs on a rooftop on a hot summer's day, to snuggling up on plush beds or sofas when the weather is just too cold outside - there's plenty of choice this summer and autumn when the local cinema just doesn't do it for you.

These are all I can think of off the top of my head but there are PLENTY more. Are there any I have missed that should be added to this list? Are there any you'd like to try? Let me know!

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Wednesday, 18 May 2016

One of my favourite perks of having a car is being able to listen to whatever I want on my little car journeys. 

This means Spotify is a must have, as is a million playlists. I've got a playlist I listen to which has a bit of everything for when I'm not quite sure what mood I'm in, and this has well over 100 songs.

But I do find myself migrating back to some albums time and time again.

Here are the albums I've been really digging lately though and have been listening to on repeat.

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HALSEY - BADLANDS
Who the eff is Halsey and why hadn't I heard of her sooner? Basically someone shared some super cute lyrics (belonging to Ghost) on Tumblr so I tracked down the song, fell in love with it, then subsequently fell in love with the album. A few months later I realized she's also super popular and, well, everyone is in love with the album - not just me. I have no idea why I hadn't heard of her before now/then but I can be quite slow when it comes to new music, hence why I spend too much time loving old albums instead of checking out new ones. Anyway. If you haven't yet, have a listen.
 
21 PILOTS - VESSEL
Ahhhh 21 Pilots. This band man. Everyone loves them. And if you don't, it's probably just because you haven't heard their stuff yet. This two-piece band cant really be described genre wise as I guess it's a mixture of rap, rock, pop and punk, but they're impossible not to love. I'll be seeing them at Reading Festival later this year and I'm so effing excited. If you're only going to listen to one song off this album, make it Holding On To You or Guns For Hands. You can thank me later.
 
BUSTED - BUSTED
I know. I know, ok? But I will not be judged! Busted are awesome and everyone loves them now and I'm so glad they're back. I really love popping on this album and singing along to it at the top of my voice on a hot day. I still remember every word and it brings back so many feels. Right now, my absolute favourite off the album is Everything I knew. But who am I kidding?! All the songs are my favourite...
 
COBRA STARSHIP - NIGHT SHADES
This one is another oldie, sort of, and I remember listening to it most when I had this god awful boring job when I first graduated from university. I mean it wasn't that boring, but it was pretty much document processing so consisted of mundane jobs like removing staples from pages, typing up info etc. I needed something upbeat to listen to at the time and, songs like Fool Like Me, F*cked In Love and Disaster Boy were kind of my anthems at the time as I was also going through a break up, too.
 
ALL TIME LOW - DIRTY WORK
I love All Time Low but I have to admit, this album is just purely for singing along to. I love it. On a hot day with the windows down in my car. When I'm cooking. When I'm sitting in the garden reading. I can't say I have any memories about this album as I never really got into All Time Low until recent years, but this album is filled with your standard pop-punk catchy anthems - which isn't a bad thing.

So there you have it. Five albums worth listening to right now. You'll love them. You're welcome.

Do let me know your thoughts and if there's any other albums missing from this list!

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Sunday, 15 May 2016

Keeping your body fit is key to leading an active and happy life. But we shouldn’t just stop at trying to increase our physical fitness. We also need to take good care of our mental fitness as well. If we don’t, then we could be putting ourselves at risk from mental health diseases as well as illnesses such as Alzheimer's and dementia. There are a few different things you can do to look after your brain. Here are some of the easiest. 

[Source]
CHALLENGE YOURSELF
The brain loves getting stuck into puzzles. The kinds that you find in the back of newspapers are ideal! Things like crosswords and sudokus can keep our mind stimulated, preventing it from aging prematurely. There are many other ways you can challenge your brain. Learning languages is another good one. And the best thing about a new language is that it will open up an exciting new culture to you!
HEALTHY EATING
Some foods can boost your brainpower! Sticking to a vegetarian or vegan diet can be very beneficial to your brain. Fruits, vegetables, and cereals are where all the healthy goodness that your brain loves can be found! If you are still eating meat, make sure to eat lots of oily fish. They contain high levels of Omega 3 fatty acids, which can help your brain to function properly.
TAKE SUPPLEMENTS
If you are a strict vegetarian or vegan, you can still enjoy the benefits of oily fish by taking Omega 3 supplements. Your local supermarket should sell them in capsule form. There are some other supplements that can help your brain as well, such as Citicoline. There are certain Citicoline indications that are warning signs. If you notice them, your brain isn’t producing enough naturally. If you are having problems with your memory or thinking logically, it could be worth taking this supplement to help your brain out.


[Source]
TAKE A TRIP
Your brain thrives when it has a change of scenery. When there are new things for it to focus on, it will reignite neurons that could have been dormant for some time. Don’t worry if you can’t afford a holiday, though. You can help your brain even just by walking a different route to university or work. And I’m sure you’ll be able to find loads of exciting new places you’ve yet to explore in your local area!
WORK OUT
Keeping your body fit also keeps your mind fit. So you are killing two birds with one stone! By being active, we are promoting blood flow up to our head, and it also encourages the development of new brain cells and neurons. This then prevents it from aging before its time. Not only that but exercise reduces stress, which can have a very negative effect on your brain and mental health. You don’t have to start running marathons to feel the benefits. Just walk more instead of driving everywhere!
By keeping your brain and body healthy, you are giving yourself the best chance to live a happy and healthy life!
 *Please note this post has been contributed.

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Friday, 13 May 2016

Last weekend, my sister and I headed into St Albans to have a girly evening out. We hadn't really had the chance to catch up recently before then and what with her due date fast approaching, we knew Saturday nights spent going out for food and drinks (non-alcoholic for her, of course) would not come around so often anymore.

I actually really like St Albans and it's known to have a really nice vibe to it with plenty of laid-back chic bars. I've been there often shopping with my nan and, at the other end, to The Horn which is a great gig venue, but I've never really gone there for evening drinks or food.

So we made ourselves look pretty, made a pit stop at a nice laid back bar called The Peahen then carried on round to Jamie's Italian. I've always wanted to try Jamie's Italian because, well, I love Italian food and I find that unfortunately I'm not very good at making it myself.

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For me, pasta sauces are always a big no-no.

So anyway, I'm no good at describing the deco of a place but it was much like the style of his other restaurants - dark, but with plenty of soft lighting and a very rustic feel to it all.

To begin, we had a giant (and I mean giant) sharing platter between us, which was the antiplank. This included:artisan fennel salami, mortadella, prosciutto, spiced chicken-liver pâté, Cobble Lane bresaola & pork scratchings with grissini & music bread Italian nachos, mini buffalo mozzarella, aged pecorino & chilli jam, olives & pickles, grilled marinated peppers & rainbow slaw - phew!

Right now my diet is mostly vegan/veggie, allowing myself one night a week to cheat if I want to or if, like this meal, I was going out and didn't fancy the vegan option on the menu.

Basically, there was no way I wasn't going to try the meat platter that I'd heard so many good things about.

It arrived on a giant plank (so long we had to actually adjoin another table to ours to fit) and I thought it was the perfect starter. It was finger food and I always find nibbles and such to be a very social food.

I love starters too and much prefer them to desert so the giant platter was more than worth it. The only qualm I had was the price - at £10.50 per person, it just seemed that it was priced odd. Why not just add a set price as it's obvious that it's to share, anyway?

Nonetheless, it was worth what we paid.

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For the main course, I had the veggie burger which was a toasted brioche bun with a herby chickpea, soya bean & six-seed patty, cottage cheese, balsamic onions, gem lettuce & tomato, served with a chopped salad.

It was LUSH but unfortunately, I did not have the chance to finish it. My eyes are bigger then my belly. What I loved was that the 'burger' aka the patty was just as big as the bun - if not, bigger, which is value for money.

I've never tried a chickpea, soya bean & six-seed patty before but the flavours worked together really well and there was a lot of flavour - basically, I didn't miss a 'proper' burger in it's place one bit. The texture reminded me a lot of a falafal too - slightly crumbly but oh-so-delicious.

I cannot for the life of me remember what my sister had but it was lush, also.

As a whole, the meal cost us around £25 each, including two courses and some drinks - and off course, in general, a nice evening out.

I suppose some people would say that's pricey compared to other places which, I guess compared to perhaps local pubs or something a bit more causal, it is. But it's the going price for a more 'classy' I guess evening out, in fact it was cheaper then I thought it would be and it was well worth the money.

I'd definitely recommend Jamie's Italian if you're ever in St Albans!


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Wednesday, 11 May 2016

I can be quite nifty when it comes to saving money, even if I do say so myself.

I'm definitely not the most thrifty out there and I'd love to have the time and patience to enter endless competitions to win holidays and the like. And I suppose, for the most part, the money I do save tends to just go on clothes/nights out/general spending anyway.

But I do pride myself on finding bargains here and there and when myself and some friends agreed to finally book a holiday to Ibiza this year, I knew I'd have to really knuckle down considering how expensive Ibiza can be.

Here's how I pretty much booked a £500 holiday to Ibiza for free.

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PACKAGE HOLIDAYS | TOGETHER WEEK 
There's a huge divide on whether or not to go with a package holiday or do-it-all-yourself when booking a break and both sides have very valid points. If you're willing to put in the time, effort and research to find cheaper options then it probably does work out better to book flights/hotel/everything else separately.

But when it came to Ibiza, it was actually a promotion for Together Week that sparked my interest - offering a good for value holiday. Now don't get me wrong, when the holiday was first priced at around £200 per person, I knew it wasn't actually going to be that cheap. But when me and my friends looked into it, we realized what we were saving and that for this particular holiday, a package deal was best.

Ibiza is a party island - there's no doubt about it and had we booked everything separately, we would have been shelling out tons of money for daily activities and events, club entries (most of which can be anything from up to £50 upwards). Together Week includes activities every single day and parties/club events every single night, meaning this is already paid for in bulk in advance.

In the end, the holiday cost around £500, with the standard set price of everything at £412, then around £500 once choosing adds on (airport transfers, shuttle bus to events and flights) - which, if you ask me, isn't a bad deal at all.

Although it's just a general assumption, the company we booked with released a little price comparison chart suggesting that 'doing it alone' could cost around £700 upwards per person. That's already £200 more than going through a package holiday.

MONEY I WAS (SORT OF) OWED | £488
Next, I thought about any money I had outstanding. Things like funds left over on People Per Hour (PPH) that I hadn't yet withdrawn, money left in my paypal and things like that. All in all, so far, this has totalled to about £488 with more to come. I had £294 to claim back from my deposit for Mexico holiday, which I've had to push back to another year, so rather then having the money sitting there when I didn't have a date for when I'd be going, I figured it would be better off going towards this holiday. My best friend owed me £75 for Lost Village Festival, as the money was coming from my account, so rather then getting her to pay me the money back I asked her to transfer it straight into the funds for the holiday.

So that was £372 put straight towards the holiday without any waiting around, except a day or so for the PPH funds to transfer across.

Next, I headed to cash back websites. Recently I've bought car insurance and upgraded to a new phone, so by the time the holiday rolls around this will be ready to withdraw giving me £119 to put towards the holiday.
It was all little things here and there, but it all added up to a lot. If you tend to try and save money quite a lot like me or you've ever used cash back websites such as Quidco or Swagbucks, I'd really recommend you spending some time to log onto each and see if you have any left over cash. A lot of these websites I tend to use throughout the year with no specific aim to spend the money, generally I'll just cash it in when I need it like at Christmas or now.

Obviously, my deposit for Mexico was quite a lot and so anyone else might not just have a holiday deposit to cash in. My point is to just sit and think about where else money might be sitting around, especially any you might have forgotten about.

Hint - If you still have a while before your holiday, it might be worth using a website like YouGov or GlobalTestMarket to earn some extra cash. A few hours put aside every Sunday could very easily earn you an extra £50-£100 spending money for your holiday.

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FREELANCE WORK | £257 (TO DATE)
And, of course, there was sitting down and actually putting some work in to earn more money. I also wanted to save some extra cash for the holiday in general as obviously I need spending money, and I'm also going to another music festival at the end of this month so I've been trying to earn as much extra cash as possible lately.

At the time of writing this post, I've earned £257, which gives me the last £12 (lol) to pay off the holiday, and a further £245 for spending money, plus whatever else I'll earn between now and then.

Simple.

Please note, this post is in no way whatsoever to brag, but I'm simply showing you two sides. 1) You can easily book a holiday and, if you put your mind to it, pay for it with money from everywhere BUT your actual paycheck so extra cash etc or 2) One way you can treat yourself if you sat down and worked out all the places where you may have money lying about or have forgotten about.

Do you have lots of money lying around in different accounts that could be put towards a holiday? Let me know!

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Monday, 9 May 2016

I don't run.

Anyone that knows me will tell you that I really, honestly do not run. When my brother and some friends did a 5k colour run last summer, I spent 95% of it walking and the only few times I did attempt to run, my brother took the p*ss out of how feeble I was.

I couldn't run for more than 30 seconds or so without regretting my decision. And it's not like I'm overweight or super unhealthy, I've just never enjoyed running and have never had that stamina.

This year, I was determined to change this though.

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For the past couple of years, I have been using Zombies, Run which has set me on the right path in terms of general fitness. Because with this app you can run or walk, I'd mostly walk and again, do short bounts of running. But it was very irregular - I'd use the app loads for a month and then the following month I'd use it less and use it just for walking.

In conclusion, I adore Zombies, Run and love to use it for a quick work out and improving my stamina and running in the long run.

But I wanted to get a bit more serious about my running so that I could use Zombies, Run to, well, run the whole time if I wanted to, rather then walk.

So I decided to try one of these couch to 5k apps and naturally, had to choose the one which is kind of a sister app to Zombies, Run from the same company - especially when I saw they were doing a virtual 5K race (which I just missed out on signing up to).

I've now been using the app for two weeks and what a difference it has made. I can now run for around a minute and a half to two minutes (or, in my terms, almost a full song length) and I can do this repeatedly by breaking it up with walking breaks, too.

This may not seem like a big deal but compared to before, it is, to me.

For people who run anyway or have been able to run for longer amounts of time all their lives, it seems so easy.

But for us lazy buggars, it's not. Which is where the general couch to 5k apps come in and, so far, I can vouch for the fact that this one works!

What I love is that it really breaks it up, too. It's not simply pushing yourself for a run on your first go, it really is about the build up and stretches get added in during later weeks, too.

Some of the later sessions include squats, knee lifts, a free form run and stretching. This is great because it feels like an all over work out and that I'm not just improving my stamina, but my health and fitness in general.


The free form runs are where the app really gets you, though. You're encouraged to do whatever you're comfortable with - walking, jogging, slow running, fast running or simply a mix of running and walking like before.

But this is the part that I've found most surprising as I find myself being able to run for longer without getting out of breath or having to stop. Obviously, I can't run for the whole ten minutes. But going from 15 minute bounts to a minute or so on the free form run really gives me that motivation and makes me feel like I'm going somewhere.

The only thing I'm not 100% about is the lack of, erm, zombies. There isn't really a storyline, although this makes sense as it's meant to be an add on or separate to the main Zombies, Run app, so that it doesn't interfere with that storyline.

On one hand it works because there's still that element of running away from zombies, but on the other hand, it's definitely not as immersive as the other one.

Regardless, it's still a hell of a lot more fun then normal couch to 5k apps and I'd recommend it for anyone wanting a boost into getting fit.

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Thursday, 5 May 2016

Yesterday, I discreetly plugged my headphones into my phone on my lunch break at work and, expecting something upbeat but not surprising, typed up a blog post whilst listening to Busted's first song in 12 years.

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I was wrong.

Their new single, Coming Home, is surprising - then again, the three-piece that hail from Southend-On-Sea have been announcing lots of surprises lately.

No one expected them to reform. No one expected them to reform with Charlie. No one expected a new tour, album or single. And I certainly didn't expect a single like this.

This blog post is not a review - however I will say this on the subject of the single - it doesn't sound like the old Busted AT ALL, however, if it had, would we be disappointed that after 12 years, they still sound exactly the same? It's a more grown up and matured version, more from what you'd expect from a band 12 years on, even though we didn't expect it at all. Of course we all hoped for a similar sound to what we heard when they were first together, but would that have worked? It's different - but is it too different?

Nonetheless, it gets my vote. I really bloody like it.

Anyway. I gave it a listen. Then a few more listens. Then I drove home that evening, the sun high in the sky and their first debut album blaring out of my speakers, a smile on my face as I sung along at the top of my voice.

I still knew all the words.

And it got me thinking - how much had changed between then and now?

A bloody lot, it would seem.

Busted had such a huge impact on my life back in the day - they were who really introduced me to music (but not rock music - I have one or two other special bands to thank for that). Until then, I didn't really get music. I just liked the same old sh*t that everyone else liked for the sake of it.

But then they came onto our TV screens and I remember the day like it was yesterday. I'd headed round to my best friend Nichola's house to do what our 14 year old selfs did best - play Neopets, visit Habbo Hotel and generally get into trouble. She insisted on showing me a band she'd heard and really liked and when they came on MTV or The Box (I can't remember which), I stood in front of the TV to watch.

Big mistake.

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One of the oldest photos in existance of me as a teen, likely at the height of my Busted obsession
I was instantly blown over by their poppy-but-still-slightly-edgy (for me, anyway) sound, that seemed ever so different to Westlife and whoever was popular then. They had guitars. They played guitars. I was hooked instantly.

It didn't take me long to fall for Matt's bad boy persona and James ever so sweet charm, and it took even less time for me to convince myself I would one day grow up and marry Charlie (and those ever so sexy eyebrows).

Every girl needs her first (or only) fangirl phase and that phase was Busted for me. It has since grown to The Maine, who I adore on that level, but who couldn't replace Charlie, Matt and James.

The thing is, Busted really tapped into our younger audience back then and they did it well. Sex sells, and to girls my age at the time, it really did. I'd never had a crush on a celebrity like that before, or a crush like at all. It worked and tapped into that lust filled side we all had - I mean, just listen to All The Way. It didn't make me want to go out and have sex, but it certainly got me thinking about it in a way I hadn't before.

Sure, they were the typical boy band targeted at teenage girls and we loved them for it. But they also gained other fans too, which I'll touch upon later.

They had the romance on point, too. I cried a hell of a lot over Losing You and 3am - hell, I even found Psycho girl romantic. In a world we live in now where if you text a guy one too many times you are deemed psycho and thrown aside, back then, the Busted boys sung about it. They sung about still loving their psycho girl and wanting to fight for that relationship.

Busted were different - they wrote their own songs and played their own instruments for a start. They also single handledly launched the idea of street teaming in the UK, a term that was relevantly unheard of until then. 

The thing is, since then, I've noticed loads of other people liked them too. They were successful and always in media - on the TV, on the pages of newspapers, but not in an over-the-top love-hate way like with One Direction. Looking through a UK Pop Punk group on Facebook now shows guys in their 20s openly admitting they were fans of Busted once and they're pleased that they are reforming.

There's even a Busted tribute band.

Because even though some of us had our fangirl phase over the band, even though I sometimes cringe at my behaviour back then, it wasn't uncool to like Busted. Liking Busted was a phase nearly everyone went through and now that they're back, we're reminiscing in a way that reminds us of not only their music, but who we were back then.

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Back then, their style & look was a hell of a lot different too, although I can't say they've aged much since then!
So in conclusion, a hell of a lot has changed between then and now. Back then, I was young and naive and cared nothing more about enjoying being young, one day being a writer and getting a boyfriend.

And now? I've had all of those things. I have my dream job. I still enjoy being young. I've had boyfriends and those '3am' moments.

Thank you, Busted, for helping remind me of that and what I should be grateful for.

Oh, and thanks for reforming and bringing out new music. I can't wait to dance along to it on Wednesday at Wembley Arena!

Welcome back, Busted.

We missed you.

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Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Now, obviously I'm no expert, but going from a bonafide meat eater who loves bacon to a complete vegan for a whole month, I think there are some tips I can share.

Mainly, some advice I wish I'd known before going cold turkey because it was tough and changing a diet so drastically shouldn't be done overnight without preparing first.

Aka, don't get horribly drunk the night before and forget to go shopping beforehand and spend your first day being vegan eating ice and rice. Like me.

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So here are my top tips on preparing to go veggie/vegan.
  • First of all, if you're going vegan, consider going vegetarian first to ease the transition - if only just for a week or two. Although essentially you'll be cutting out all the crap, you still want to give your body time to adjust. And it will likely make it a lot easier too, giving up just meat as opposed to meat and dairy in one go.
  • Do your research. Do all the research! Veganuary was a big help, as was PETA (and that list of accidentally vegan snacks, oh yes) but it's not just about discovering what food you can and can't have. It's definitely worth researching what to avoid in food labels (and maybe how to understand food labels), what vegan products supermarkets offer (Tesco do an extensive list, I'm not sure about other supermarkets though) and even why you're doing it. I didn't watch any documentaries because like I said, I've always been quite ignorant to that stuff, but I do still plan to at some point. Earthlings and Cowspiracy are popular ones.
  • Shop online. This may take a while, in fact I'd set aside an afternoon two to three days before your 'vegan start date' to do this. It's so much easier to shop online, if even just for your first big shop. You can patiently double check what is and isn't vegan, research recipes (really helpful if you like to stick to a meal plan) and just take your time - you're also likely to save money this way too. Don't do what I did and wait till the second day of being vegan to run around Tesco like a headless chicken.
    Also - I say 2 to 3 days beforehand because if you're shopping online, you'll want to get it delivered or picked up. Usually all the slots go if you leave it as late as a day before, and you don't want to be stuck starving with nothing vegan to eat.
  • Do meal plans. Grown up and boring? Yes. But SO helpful.
  • ...but stock up on alternatives too. As mentioned before, Fry's Family Foods are super great for this. I'd recommend the traditional sausages and the schnitzels.
  • Don't be afraid to treat yourself. Sure, some crisps and chocolate that are vegan may not be the healthiest thing, but it's still healthier then most. Stock up on vegan/veggie snacks for when you're hungry, else you'll resort back to grabbing whatever is in your fridge - vegan or not.
  • Look into where you'll be getting your protein instead, too. I wasn't very good at this, but it's definitely something you should do to make up what you're losing by not eating meat.
  • Finally, be proud of yourself. You've made a decision to make a great change to both your body and the earth - and you're saving animals too.
And I think that's about it! The main important things to remember are to research and prepare beforehand, and enjoy yourself while doing so. It's a really positive change you'll be making and it'll better yourself too - I'm still really happy that the challenged pushed me to cook more and actually gave me a genuine interest in cooking. And this is coming from a girl who can mess up scrambled eggs on toast. That's a skill that will stay with me for life (learning to cook more, not failing to make scrambled eggs) - which, on top of everything, makes the decision I made more than worth it.

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