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Monday, 31 July 2017

I watch/read/stumble upon so much random stuff online which ends up absolutely fascinating me, making me nearly wee my pants with laughter or squeal inaudible noises as I forward cute teacup pig videos to my boyfriend. Honestly. Facebook used to be filled with people's most boring status's until I unfollowed them and now I thankfully end up discovering some pretty cool stuff on the social networking site.

And therefore, to share such stuff with you all, I actually thought ahead for once and began to bookmark/save links as I went along this month. Check me out!

Here's some cool stuff I've been loving this July.

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | July Favourites

The other day I got the chance to geek out with my boyfriend as we watched this interesting Youtube video that goes deeper into the world of the Cloverfield films. We'd been discussing the film the previous day and as he watches a lot of film theory videos that I end up loving, we searched for one about Cloverfield and lo and behold, found this. I love Cloverfield as you all know and have always been fascinated by the fact that you can take the film as it is or delve further into the history of the monster and where it came from. I thought I knew everything there was to know about the movie. I was wrong. From characters with huge backstories - that don't even appear in the movie but are related to it's history - to whole other companies with accessible websites - it's all covered in this nifty little video that sums up the weird and wonderful world created by the amazing J.J. Abrams.

I'm not going to lie, it's taken me a bloody long time to get into Game of Thrones. I'm only really doing it properly now so me and my boyfriend can watch the new series together and I'm only up to the first episode of the second season. God help me. Anyway, I found this cool map which is really useful for getting my head around it all (I think next I need a family tree as I'm always getting characters mixed up), even if it does have a few tiny spoilers. 

Another one from Cosmo! Continuing on from last months post which focused a little on Instagram (stories), I am loving this Instagram-famous experiment on Cosmo. I'm actually super digging their challenges lately. This one was a fun but tongue-in-cheek read, although the results were not what I expected. Everyone believes a super stylish Instagram theme is the way forward, but this article proved that authenticity trumps everything else. Which is cool, y'know.

I don't know a lot about graffiti, but I do know this street art in New York is pretty damn awesome.

Finally, I decided not to do any music festivals this year to save money and boy am I regretting it. Therefore I bookmarked this post by Red Bull for future reference and it just goes to show that you don't need to drop £200+ on a weekend camping ticket to enjoy a decent music festival. All of these look pretty cool and most of them look really Instagram worthy too.

So there you have it: just a few things I've really loved this month - how about you?!

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Friday, 28 July 2017

I picked up this book a couple months ago after seeing it recommended in a magazine for fans of One Day. I really love romance books that take into account fate or almost-meeting moments, so I was really excited to start reading this story. The cover is really sweet too; it's basic but drew me in.

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Book Review | Miss You | Miss You by Kate Eberlen | Kate Eberlen

The blurb on the back reads -

Tess and Gus are meant to be. They just haven't met properly yet. And perhaps they never will . . .

Today is the first day of the rest of your life is the motto on a plate in the kitchen at home, and Tess can’t get it out of her head, even though she’s in Florence for a final, idyllic holiday before university.

Gus and his parents are also on holiday in Florence – and, for one day, the paths of these two eighteen-year-olds will criss-cross before they each return to England.

Over the course of the next sixteen years, life and love will offer them very different challenges. Separated by distance and chance, there’s no way the two of them are ever going to meet each other properly . . . or is there?

This book was an interesting read, following the characters of Gus and Tess over the span of sixteen years. What I found most interesting was that they actually sort of meet at the beginning of the book, so already it's not a case that they haven't met properly yet. Still, this made it kind of romantic and I loved the overall idea that they (spoiler alert) came together years and years later with a lifetime apart. 

The whole story is filled with what-if's and too-close moments which had me re-reading over and over again. Some chances where they almost met didn't even register to me at first, so I'll likely be giving this book another read. It's bittersweet in a way; they're destined to be together and almost meet by fate so many times, but still manage to spend so long apart. It almost makes you wish they met/got together sooner so they would have had all those years together.

The characters of Gus and Tess were really likeable and relatable and I really loved that even Gus's character had tons of depth. A lot of the time in romance novels, the male lead isn't focused on as much, even when stories are in the same One Day style as this one, so that was refreshing. Although some of both Tess's and Gus's actions and decisions were questionable, the whole story overall was realistic and had a lot of lessons behind it.

I was sad there wasn't more story of them together, so essentially this is a story about each of their lives as opposed to a love story. The story actually reminded me a lot of Love, Rosie too - and of course, One Day - but to sum up, I'd probably say Miss You is just that more favourable to me than Love, Rosie, but not quite up there with One Day. The story definitely moved me though and I found myself in tears on a number of occasions, especially when reading the storyline regarding Tess and her mother's illness. 

So to conclude, the only negatives to this book are that I'd have liked to have read more about the romance between Tess and Gus - or at least their lives after they finally got together - and the fact that though this story was extremely well written, as a whole it has been done before and isn't too dissimilar to books such as One Day and Love, Rosie.

But Miss You is really moving and heartwarming overall and will definitely make you believe in fate if you don't already.

I'm excited to read Miss You once more, as I feel there are a few more 'almost moments' to be picked up on. Overall I'd recommend this story for anyone looking for a romance summer read that has just that bit more depth than your average chick-lit story.

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Monday, 24 July 2017

Things change when you're an adult. I've spoken about this before, but I still find it surprising that now that I'm in my late twenties, I find a certain satisfaction in buying homeware, keeping a room clean and just making a nice living space in general. Really, I thought I'd never see the day.

Being that I now split my time between staying at home and staying at my boyfriend's flat - and with our upcoming plans to move into a new place together (eventually, when funds allow), I spend even more time browsing for home products to make my boyfriend's room just that more homely. I tend to look for products that we can bring to the new place eventually, and since we made the decision to move in together, I've been thinking a whole lot about what we both want from our own place. 

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Collaborative Post | Lifestyle | Home | The Psychology of Colour

So far, my must have's are a separate bathtub and shower (as in, an actual shower and not just a bath tub and shower in one), and his is just a gaming/PC area. Although we'll be renting (so re-painting walls and full redecorating probably won't be an option for us), we can still theme rooms by buying matching products or choosing accessories in specific colours.

Therefore, I found this Psychology of Colour guide super interesting, especially as it touches on the different effects and feelings colours can have on a person (which is something I actually briefly studied in college too when we did a module in advertising, I found it so fascinating). It states things like the colour purple is relaxing and elicits feelings of comfort, which means its ideal for a living room area.

On the other hand, it also states that black is a perfect colour for a bathroom as it adds sophistication and represents luxury. Boy do I love this; I've wanted to paint a bathroom or bedroom black for such a long time now and now I have back up reasons to state that it works and it doesn't just look gothic. Seriously, even my bathroom on The Sims has black walls, a gold bathtub and tons of red hand towels and candles - it's such a lovely look!

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Collaborative Post | Lifestyle | Home | The Psychology of Colour

Overall, I actually found this guide really helpful, as I already know I'm going to feel pretty overwhelmed when being faced with a new and empty space that I have to fill. I'm a sucker for junk and knickknacks, so being able to follow this guide to ensure things match and give off the right feeling is going to be really helpful when the time comes.

Have you ever thought about the colours in your home and the way they effect the feel of a room? Let me know!

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Sunday, 23 July 2017

My boyfriend and I visited Blackpool recently and we packed so much into our short time there, but we're already thinking about returning either this winter or next. The reason being is that Blackpool is the type of place you can visit all year round - in fact, Blackpool's out of season is in the summer as there's just so much to do in winter, which not many people realize.

Here are some reasons you should think about visiting Blackpool this winter.

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Travel | Blackpool

This ones a given, but Blackpool is famous for it's illuminations or, rather, the golden mile (despite the fact that the illuminations actually run for around six miles). The light festival consists a large display of lights running above the main seafront, which people travel in car, coach or bus to view - entirely free, of course. There is often trams and cars alight too. The illuminations are switched on on the 1st of September each year with a concert and with famous people often conducting the switch on - a few years ago it was Tim Burton! All those lights look dazzling at night, especially the closer we get to Christmas.

Really, the list is almost endless. There's Blackpool Tower, The Tower Circus, The Blackpool Tower Dungeon, The Tower Ballroom (where Strictly's final takes place!), SEALIFE Blackpool, the Pleasure Beach, Sandcastle Waterpark, casino's, arcades (and the famous Coral Island!), Ripley's Believe It Or Not!, Madame Tussauds, three piers, lots of shows, the beach and a theatre - to name just a few! Most attractions also offer combined cheaper tickets to help you save money. You definitely won't run out of things to do here.

There's more further afield. In Blackpool, everything is close together and in walking (or tram!) distance, but on the outskirts of the city and in Lancashire in general there's also a lot to do if you're with a car. There's Blackpool Zoo, Ashton Gardens, Fairhaven Lake and more.

I'll be honest with you here: as well as being known for a popular area for stag & den do's, it's also a great place for, ahem, a dirty and/or romantic weekend away. With lots of great bars for laid back drinks, a theatre, tons of shows and even a few lingerie/sex shops dotted about, it's going to be very hard to visit Blackpool on a weekend away with your other half and not feel closer together or rekindle things between you. A kiss at the top of Blackpool Tower is also a must. Plus if it's freezing outside, it's always a good idea to get hot and heavy inside, no?

Lets face it, you don't visit Blackpool to go and lay on the beach to get a tan. You can still visit the beach of course and huddle up on a bench and eat some classic seaside fish and chips. You really don't need nice weather but if you insist on those summer holiday vibes, you can always head over to Sandcastle Waterpark for a giant indoor paradise/water theme park. Some hotel's also offer pools too. For example, the day we went and got caught in the rain, once we got back to the hotel we treated ourselves to a swim, hot tub and sauna to warm up. Plus, as we found, a little bit of overcast meant we had to wait in virtually no lines at The Pleasure Beach too.

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Travel | Blackpool

A weekend away doesn't have to be expensive, especially when Christmas is fast approaching and money needs to be saved. As a whole, being up north means most things are cheaper than they are down south, but there are plenty of ways to save money. We got the coach up which saved money and for travelling around Blackpool, we got a fab tram pass which meant for around £11 each, we got unlimited travel on the trams for all three days. Trams were super frequent so this was really useful, especially when we spent the day at The Pleasure Beach and were too tired to walk all the way back to the other side of Blackpool for our hotel. As I mentioned, most attractions do great deals too. The tower offers varied types of tickets depending on what you want to do there (as not everyone will want to pay for the children's play area for example!), and we won a free wristband for The Pleasure Beach by playing the app The Big One. I mean it drove me freakin' mad at times but after playing on and off for a few days, we wracked up enough vouchers for one free wristband which was great. You can also buy wristband's cheaper the earlier you buy them in advance online. This is a tough one as often the weather can be unpredictable, but the park offers a Rainy Day Return deal. If it rains for more than three consecutive hours (or even just rains lightly or spits!), you can return for free the following day or for half price during any Sunday later in the season.

Okay, so this ride is amazing no matter what time of year it is, but it still deserves an honourable mention. The ride begins with a slow ascend to the top to offer a beautiful view of surrounding Blackpool, followed by a stomach clenching steep drop of 205 feet. The rollercoaster broke many records when it was first built, such as the tallest and steepest rollercoaster in the world and the fastest in Europe in 1994. It now still remains as the tallest in the UK. Plus it's just amazing. Need I say more?!

These are just six reasons to visit Blackpool this winter (and some reasons to visit anytime really), but there really are so many reasons and more to discover. For example, I had no idea there was paintball or Stanley Park in Blackpool, nor that there was a model village! Even though we went less than a month ago, writing this post has given me serious nostalgia to go back ASAP...

Have you ever considered Blackpool for a winter weekend away? Let me know!

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Friday, 21 July 2017

I'm not going to lie; this is probably the first of many, many H&M haul posts since I started working there again - but more on my new job later. In the meantime, having worked there for around two weeks now, I finally gave in and used my staff discount for some goodies.

The make-up I'll likely be keeping spare at my boyfriend's house, but first it's a nice little haul for our upcoming holiday in two weeks time (speaking of which, I'm looking for guest post's if anyone is interested...)

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Beauty | Make-up | H&M | H&M Haul | Shopping Haul

I actually only planned to buy a bikini and tried a bunch on before eventually settling on this beautiful printed one. I was quite surprised; most I tried on fit really well which I always find surprising in shops. It's always tough enough trying on bikini's in the horrible lighting in changing rooms and most shops have a lot of varied sizing but H&M was really good for sizing this time. I have two patterned bikini's to take away with me but I'm going to still keep an eye out for a more simple plain one too.

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Beauty | Make-up | H&M | H&M Haul | Shopping Haul

I do really love the detail on this one and the bottoms fit really nice without showing too much. I remember how much I hated shopping for swimwear ready for my Mexico trip as everything in the shops was just really revealing and skimpy so I'm glad H&M has more variety.

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Beauty | Make-up | H&M | H&M Haul | Shopping Haul

I bought these cute glow/highlighter pens just because they're so damn cute. I like the idea of using a 'crayon' as a highlighter as I haven't much experience with highlighters before. These look super easy to use and really versatile and subtle too.

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Beauty | Make-up | H&M | H&M Haul | Shopping Haul

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Beauty | Make-up | H&M | H&M Haul | Shopping Haul

I also purchased this simple highlight palette which has more of a variety of colours; a couple of which that can be doubled up as a blusher. I like the look of this but they looked quite glittery in my swatches so I'll likely just use this palette for an evening look as opposed to a day-to-day one.

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Beauty | Make-up | H&M | H&M Haul | Shopping Haul

I've been after a new liquid eyeliner or so long now as the one I currently use is one I've had for years. I like my eyeliner to be like a felt tip and loved the look of this one, although when I took a swatch on my hand, the line seemed thicker than I originally thought. Still, with practice I think this will serve me well.

Finally, I also picked up a super cute mini brush and makeup sponge kit from the sale. The brush is sooooo soft and I chose to get a sponge too because a) it's cute and b) currently I apply my makeup with like..I don't even know what to call it but probably also a type of makeup sponge but it's really flat and just ugh. So I figured I'd jump on the beauty blogger band wagon and try one of these.

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Beauty | Make-up | H&M | H&M Haul | Shopping Haul

I'm pretty pleased with my purchases and I think they'll serve me well; then again I still need to actually try them out so once I do I'll ensure I get a review up. I think they'll do the job for the price that they cost = I'm not expecting amazing results but I am also only after make-up for an everyday look and it's not like I'll be putting together creative out there looks inspired by Instagram. So for what they are, they're exactly what I need.

What do you think? Have you tried any of H&M's beauty/make-up range? Let me know!

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Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Oh yes, the Mexican BLT tour related posts aren't over yet!

I've spoken a lot about what I got up to on my trek around Mexico with Trek America back in April, but I haven't yet spoken about my feelings about the tour overall and the company that hosted the tour. Although, spoiler alert, my thoughts are generally pretty damn positive.

I'd wanted to book onto a Trek America tour for years and years before I finally took the plunge and it left me feeling like everyone should take one of their tours at least once in their life. They're all so varied and provide such amazing opportunities that it's hard to decide which one to choose.

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Travel | Mexico | Trek America | Trek America Mexican BLT Tour |

The first thing to be aware of is that the tours can be pricey - as it's obviously not your average holiday - but for what the tour actually includes, the price is really fair. Of course it does add up when you add on your flight and spending money, but I personally felt the price was worth it for such an amazing once in a lifetime opportunity. Plus, there's always lots of sale's taking place on the site and last minute offers with up to 25% off so there's definitely ways to save further.

One argument against the tour is that it could be cheaper if you did the same tour on your own terms/without the company. I'm not so sure. Obviously you pay for a tour guide and the help, knowledge and experience they provide cannot be achieved if you were to do a tour alone/without Trek America. Booking the flights, accommodation and trips etc alone could be around about the same price but only if you're an expert and know what you're doing. 

For example, now I feel confident that I could head back to Mexico cheaper and do similar things than what I did on the tour - but simply because I have that knowledge of the hidden gem's and top tips from already doing the tour if that makes sense.

The people I was on the tour with were great. Obviously the tours are designed for a younger audience, but Trek America are really good at making sure you're travelling with like minded people. I got on with everyone as there was a real mix of people and although I had no issues with anyone, I do feel confident in the fact that any issues would have been dealt with in a great manner by the company.

Our tour guide was knowledgeable, friendly and knew tons of hidden gems like great places to eat and such. At points, he seemed a little less enthusiastic about the tour than we would have liked, which we felt was odd as when you first begin a tour with six other people you don't really know, you want a guide who is pumped and enthusiastic about the day ahead. We also noticed that once or twice he failed/forgot to mention a couple of extra excursions we could have booked onto and when it came to the nocturnal jungle tour for example, he seemed very disorganised to the point that those who took part had to push it back to the following evening. 

He did however offer up a lot of knowledge on new places and answered our questions in detail. He was friendly and often felt like part of the group as opposed to just a leader/guide and seemed to genuinely enjoy most of the tour. He was much better than what I was expecting, which was someone similar to a club rep or something. Overall, Delai was great, bar a few points that could probably be improved on with time.

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Travel | Mexico | Trek America | Trek America Mexican BLT Tour |

The actual activities themselves on the tour were great and so varied. We did jungle trek's, boat rides, beach days and visited many ruins. It was the perfect way to see all different areas of Mexico and really feel at home in a country as opposed to a tourist. I felt what the tour did involve was well worth the money.

My only qualm - which I've noticed other people have expressed too - is that there was more downtime than expected. I personally enjoyed the downtime we had throughout the tour, as it was spread out and well deserved, but come the last couple of days of the tour, I felt like we were on our own. Our guide was still on hand to take us to dinner, but our last two days really just consisted of beach days and we weren't given any guides to what else there was to do in each place or any extra activities we could have booked onto. It was nice to have downtime at the end, but perhaps not that much as overall it really felt like we'd paid for a nine day tour that actually only seemed to last seven or so days.

It wasn't a huge issue, but as I'd arranged to stay on a few more days for my own downtime, this time felt a little wasted. I think perhaps the tour could be shorter or a tad cheaper to avoid paying money for two days just spent on the beach or doing our own thing.

Overall though, I haven't been able to stop recommending the tour to everyone I know. Despite one or two small negatives, I had the time of my life and enjoyed the tour from start to finish. It was one of the most amazing experiences that I'll never forget and has only really left me feeling like I want to book even more trips with Trek America!

The price was worth it, the people were great and the week was jam-packed, offering us a real authentic glimpse into Mexican life. What more could a girl ask for on an adventure around Mexico?

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If you're considering booking a tour with TrekAmerica after reading my experiences on my Mexican BLT adventure, you can visit their website to see the variety of tours on offer.

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Monday, 17 July 2017

Ah, the festival season. The yearly ritual of donning our wellies, packing as many Pot Noodles as possible into backpacks and checking we have every type of waterproof clothing, is already in full swing and so far it’s been memorable.

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Music | Music Festivals | Guest Blog

We’ve seen Ed Sheeran woo the crowds on the Pyramid stage at Glastonbury, Aerosmith make their final UK appearance at Download and Rod Stewart charm everyone at the Isle of Wight Festival. We’re not even half way through the season, so we can still expect to see some fantastic performances by some of the biggest names in music too!

So, what is it exactly that we love about festivals? Here are our top five reasons why the festival season is our favourite (who needs Autumn and Winter anyway?).


Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Music | Music Festivals | Guest Blog

The weather is probably one of the most dreaded things about festivals. The lack of showers and sleep?
Not a problem. But the risk of downpours dampening the mood? Not ok. But despite the risk of the odd shower, the weather is one of the most memorable aspects of our festival experiences. Of course wellies are a must, as well as any waterproof garment you can think of. Those foot-deep mud pathways? Not a problem when you’re armed with your trusty pair of wellington boots and waterproof poncho.

We always like to check the weather as far in advance as possible, and if you’re heading to V Festival this year, it’s been estimated that there could be a 39% chance of rain, so make sure to pack those rain ponchos and wellies!


Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Music | Music Festivals | Guest Blog

Festivals are actually perfect for getting some vitamin D (on the proviso that the weather is on our side!) and taking in the clean, fresh air. You might not be able to get a peaceful night’s sleep when camping, but there is no better medicine to life’s worries than watching the sunset, surrounded by fresh air and friends.


Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Music | Music Festivals | Guest Blog

When else could you have the opportunity to wear a sequin catsuit?! Dressing for festivals has always been the perfect opportunity to wear the outfits that you would normally never dare venture out in. Sequins, feathers and glitter are the common staples of festival get-ups, which are all ideal for allowing us to channel our inner diva!

The makeup is just as important as the clothes, and glitter and neon face paint is always a winner. Festivals are the perfect excuse to rock bold eyeliner, bright lipstick and delicate stick on gems.


Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Music | Music Festivals | Guest Blog

It’s fairly obvious that festivals are playgrounds for the rich and famous, with some of the biggest names in music adoring the many stages during the festival season. It’s not just on stage where the celebrities are flocking, but you could be in with a chance to spot the odd celeb rocking within the crowds.

At Reading Festival, they have had their fair share stars attending the festival over the years, including actress Emma Thompson, Game of Thrones Star Emilia Clarke and Radio 1 DJ Annie Mac, to name a few.


Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Music | Music Festivals | Guest Blog

Festivals are an amazing experience and one that we aren’t quick to forget. Even after the mud has washed away, the glitter has disappeared from our faces and we’ve caught up on our sleep, we’re still remembering the fun times we had, the friends we made and the bands we saw live. Taking lots of photos, either on your phone, using a Polaroid camera or buying a cheap disposable camera for that ‘old skool’ vibe, can really help keep the memories alive.

And with that being said, let’s pack our festival gear!

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Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Food is the way to a girl's heart and one of the favourite things my boyfriend and I like to do is discover hidden gems of restaurants and cafes. Being that he is entirely vegan, we often have to think out of the box when it comes to visiting a new place. Of course, we know of a lot of restaurants that offer vegan options, but it's always a rarity to find an actual vegan restaurant.

Therefore, we were super happy to stumble across Faringo's restaurant during our time in Blackpool recently. It was one of those ones where we weren't quite sure to begin with - it's not a chain, so we weren't 100% sure it was still open, and it was right next to Blackpool Pleasure Beach and looked like it was tucked away down an alley on the map.

Still, I know that sometimes the best places are found in the most weird and oddball locations, so we persevered and were ecstatic when we stepped inside the warm and inviting restaurant. The menu really was entirely vegan and it was extremely varied too, with vegan pizza, pasta and curry on offer - and even a vegan roast dinner!

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Formidable Joy Blog | Food | Faringo's | Faringo's Vegan Restaurant | Vegan | Blackpool

We were spoilt for choice but as we tried to decide, we took time to speak to the owner. He explained that Faringo's was the first entirely vegan restaurant in Blackpool and had only converted to fully vegan a week prior. The idea came to him when he was asked to put together vegan options for breakfast in the hotel and, despite not being vegan himself, he decided to venture into going entirely vegan.

The result was Faringo's and what a result. The thing is, being that he wasn't vegan himself and that it was the only vegan restaurant in Blackpool, we weren't sure what we expected. Of course we expected the food to be nice, but a lot of places don't know a lot about vegan food so cook with the wrong oils or offer real basic food = this wasn't the issue here.

The owner knew exactly what he was doing and we spent much of our conversation sharing tips. The food was beyond delicious too and full of flavour - let's just say there was no avocado on toast on the menu; only delicious filling food.

The first night, we gorged on cheesy garlic bread and garlic mushrooms for starters, whereas for a main Vincent went for a pizza and I opted for pasta. I loved the unique take on garlic mushrooms and the owner explained that people are always surprised to see their meal served up, having become used to mushrooms covered in breadcrumbs. Instead, the mushroom arrived in a tasty garlic sauce.

I couldn't say much about my boyfriend's pizza as it was a little too spicy for me, but the pasta was delicious and filling.

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Formidable Joy Blog | Food | Faringo's | Faringo's Vegan Restauraunt | Vegan | Blackpool

As usual, my photos suck so I just have the one. It was kind of dark inside the restaurant but in a lovely way, with lots of pretty fairy lights. It gave it a real homely and romantic feel.

The food was so delicious that we returned for a second night, this time having garlic bread and pate for starters and both choosing a pizza for main. Much like the previous night, it was all delicious.

All in all, it's clear to see that Faringo's is going to do well. Not just because it's the first vegan restaurant in Blackpool but because the food is actually amazing and the staff are ever so lovely. Eating in the restaurant sold the whole place to us and now we're set on staying there upon our next return to Blackpool.

I'm so glad we found this hidden gem and would definitely recommend a visit to Faringo's if you're ever in Blackpool.

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Sunday, 9 July 2017

So although I still have a few more travel/lifestyle related posts regarding my time in Blackpool, when going through my planned posts for this month, I realised I still had some content to post about Mexico!

Though I've come to the end of my posts talking all about what I got up to on Trek America's Mexican BLT tour, as many of you know, I actually stayed on a few days after the tour. The reason for this was so that I still had a little experience of travelling/being in a new place/country alone, and also because I really wanted to visit Xcaret Park.

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Formidable Joy Blog | Travel | Mexico | Xcaret | Xcaret Park | Cancun

Xcaret Park was actually one of the first things that sold me on Mexico and it was the reason why I first thought about staying on after the tour. I'd hoped to round up some buddies from the hostel I was staying in to come with me, but unfortunately this did not happen because a lot of them had been in Mexico a while and already done that and the weather actually rained quite a bit for many of the days I was there. I had to play it by ear, and so when we finally got a somewhat nice day, most people already had plans (to head to the beach no doubt!).

I was super nervous but I persevered. I think the worst part was getting there; I was to be picked up at the hostel and taken to the park but being the only one going from my hostel, I was really worried they'd forget about me, I wouldn't understand where to meet back at the coach afterwards etc. It was actually all fine though, but I did worry at one point when we stopped in what seemed like an abandoned (or maybe it just hadn't opened yet as it was early in the morning) small shopping mall to collect our tickets, and then be split into groups to change coach. Of course I was separated from everyone else because it's just my luck but it made sense as Xcaret actually has a bunch of other parks which I think are under the same management.

Anyway. We were on our way and soon arrived and a lovely man who spoke really good English explained everything to me; what my wristband involved, where to meet afterwards, what time and who to look out for and to remember sunscreen - all that type of thing. He also gave me some recommendations on how to explore the park as I was just there for the day and there was so much to see and do.

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Formidable Joy Blog | Travel | Mexico | Xcaret | Xcaret Park | Cancun

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Formidable Joy Blog | Travel | Mexico | Xcaret | Xcaret Park | Cancun

I was so sad I didn't have time to do everything, but what I did manage to pack in made it an amazing day overall. I swam two of the underground rivers, which are essentially both underground and open air rivers that run around the park. They're entirely natural and are a fun way to see the different nature. Some of the caves had bats in them! And one of the rivers runs through the re-constructed Mayan village too. These rivers were so much fun and so smart; basically you start at one end and give the staff your bag with all your items in it; they give you a necklace with a key on and when you get out of the river at the other end (each swim can take up to an hour or more), your bag has been transported there with all your stuff, ready to dry off.

Another favourite part was visiting the Mexican cemetery and seeing all the bright and beautiful graves. I really love the tradition of the graves representing the personalities of those lost. Unfortunately the weather was rainy for a few hours so the photos I did get simply do not show the colours justice. Beneath was a beautiful temple/religious area.

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Formidable Joy Blog | Travel | Mexico | Xcaret | Xcaret Park | Cancun

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Formidable Joy Blog | Travel | Mexico | Xcaret | Xcaret Park | Cancun

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Formidable Joy Blog | Travel | Mexico | Xcaret | Xcaret Park | Cancun

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Formidable Joy Blog | Travel | Mexico | Xcaret | Xcaret Park | Cancun

I also managed to walk around the Mayan village and the rest of the park in awe as even without taking part in any of the attractions, there's so much to see and do. The park is also home to many animals (including flamingos and jaguars!). I also took a ride on the scenic tower to see the park and the surrounding nature from high up, and took a very relaxing ride on the paradise river boat. It had literally just stopped raining so I was the only one on there, but it was so beautiful.

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Formidable Joy Blog | Travel | Mexico | Xcaret | Xcaret Park | Cancun

Finally, as the day drew to a close, everyone headed to the main arena for the much anticipated Xcaret Mexico Espectacular, a show which is made up of performances of Mexico's history, legends and festivities. More than 300 actors take part with original costumes and the set design is amazing - this show is definitely one to see and you'd be mad to miss it. At the end, when everyone stood up to give a standing ovation, I even felt a little emotional!

After, it was time to head back. By the time I arrived back at my hostel I'd been gone for over twelve hours and I was exhausted but happy. Xcaret Park is unlike anything I've ever done before. It's been described as a sort of Mexican Disneyworld and I have to agree with that as it's just so amazing. Though pricey, it's well worth it, especially as there's something for everyone. If you're looking to go however, do ask around as you'll get entry cheaper elsewhere. I went through my hostel and my ticket price included transport there and back and a meal/unlimited buffet, plus access to a VIP guest area (which I think was just more changing rooms).

I already want to go back and I also want to visit some of the other parks. However, I'm glad I chose Xcaret as the other parks are more varied - one is adrenaline focused, one is nature focused and includes tons of water sports etc. Xcaret had a bit of everything which I loved.

If you are ever in Mexico, do not miss your opportunity to visit Xcaret. It will be something you'll never forget!

You can find all other posts relating to My Mexican Adventure or my Mexican BLT tour with Trek America here.

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Friday, 7 July 2017

Have you ever spotted an item and fallen in love with it so badly that you can't stop thinking about it? 

I was in TK Maxx recently and came across the most sweet and beautiful unicorn year planner - it was pastel pink and colourful and filled with inspirational quotes between its pages. I didn't really need a planner per say - but I was in love. And the moment I left TK Maxx I regretted not getting it.

So a few days later, my boyfriend and I took a two hour journey into St Albans for a day out, lunch at a cool restaurant I'd found and, mostly, to get my damn planner.

It was still there thank god, although something was off. It wasn't as pretty as I remembered but it was okay. Until I spotted the planner next to it.

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Lifestyle | Planner | Stationary | Mara-Mi | Roobee | Roobee by Mara-Mi

The planner was sleek, sophisticated and totally Instragram worthy. And that's when I knew I'd made my decision. I'd fallen in love with the unicorn planner and thank god I came back to St Albans to get it - only to walk away with another.

So it has the basics - a notes section, a month and week view; oh, and did I mention stickers?! It's totally Instagram worthy too. The only problem is, it's so pretty that I'm actually too scared to write anything in it yet. Oops.

Boy I love my new planner.

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Lifestyle | Planner | Stationary | Mara-Mi | Roobee | Roobee by Mara-Mi

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Lifestyle | Planner | Stationary | Mara-Mi | Roobee | Roobee by Mara-Mi

Isn't it damn cute?

What do you think?!

Not bad for a tenna, eh?

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Wednesday, 5 July 2017

I'd stayed at his flat plenty of times before. There had been the first night we spent together. The time two-days-accidentally-turned-into-a-whole-week. Days where he'd worked and I'd tidied, cooked and washed clothes and dishes in between playing The Sims.

But when I was offered some temporary work at his bar - and couldn't say no to the idea of some extra cash - there was no question that I'd be spending more time there than normal.

After all, he lived a mere five minutes away from work. Now, with no car, my journey would take me between fourty minutes and an hour and a half, and with shifts starting early in the morning, the bus wasn't always an option.

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Personal

So with this in mind, I packed an even heavier bag than normal. More clothes. Makeup. A couple of bits that would now stay at his permanently. 

I'd been meaning to do it for a long time really - gather some things like dry shampoo and makeup to keep here all the time. But I just didn't get around to it.

That day, I kept his key so I could let myself in whilst he was at work. I took a hot shower, changed into my pajamas and sat down to write this post - on his computer, even though I had my laptop with me of course.

And something just felt weird - but not in a bad way.

Not just weird.

Good. Secure. Long term.

We'd already discussed moving in together later this year and although me staying whilst working isn't permanent - I'll still be popping home on my days off really - it felt weird that I didn't know when I'd next spend a night in my own bedroom. It felt weird leaving things here and trying to find my own little area to keep them (I haven't scoped out an area yet).

It felt like our future was turning into less of a fantasy and more of a reality.

And I really like that. 

Here's to the beginning of the future - our future.

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Monday, 3 July 2017

Last week, my lovely boyfriend took me away to Blackpool for a midweek break. He'd kept it a secret up until a couple of weeks beforehand (as I no longer have a car so we had to discuss travel issues) and I can't tell you how happy I was when I found out - I almost cried!

To some, Blackpool might not seem like much, especially compared to weekends away abroad and the like. And even though some parts are said to be tacky/rundown (though I insist its all part of it's charm!), Blackpool is a place that has always been special to me. Not only is there so much to do there, but I have fond memories of visiting as a child with my family. 

I've spent a long time waiting and wishing to meet not only a special guy but a guy who actually knows me well enough to take me to such a place, and despite numerous hints to ex boyfriends, it never happened. So of course, I was over the moon to find out that Vincent would be taking me there for two nights/three days (though it worked out more like two-and-a-bit-days - but boy did we pack a lot in during that time!).

Here's what we got up to.

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Travel | Blackpool | Blackpool Pleasure Beach | Blackpool Tower

Due to no longer having a car, we actually took the coach there and back with National Express. I had no issues with this as I used to travel a lot with National Express when I lived up North for uni, so I've had plenty of experience of long, long coach trips. As it goes, they've actually updated their coaches a bit.

We took an overnight coach on the way there so that we would have a whole day as opposed to half a day upon arrival. This was fine - we did struggle to sleep, but it was worth it for the extra time there. We just had one issue when we had to change coaches and ended up on a super packed coach, meaning we didn't get a seat at first as some passengers were rude and wouldn't move their feet. But we got some seats together in the end.

Anyway, eventually we arrived in Blackpool bright and early - to lots of rain. But this didn't dampen our spirits - after all it's a well known fact that you don't go to somewhere like Blackpool to sunbathe! Our first duty was to grab some breakfast and then head to our hotel - The Imperial. 

We couldn't actually check in until 3pm but we were able to leave our luggage with them in a safe location - and they even allowed us into the gym/pool area to use the changing rooms to change and freshen up which was a nice gesture.

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Travel | Blackpool | Blackpool Tower

After this, we headed straight to Blackpool Tower. Here, we experienced The Blackpool Tower Dungeon, the Blackpool Tower Circus and the Blackpool Tower Eye (which actually refers to going up the tower). I was really excited to do the dungeons as I hadn't done them at Blackpool Tower before - I know they had something similar when I was younger, but if I remember rightly it was part of Madame Tussauds when it was still in the tower and was actually just gruesome/horror waxworks. I try and do the dungeons anywhere they have them when I visit a new place. 

The dungeons were so much fun and a lot better than I thought they'd be. As I've done a few, I didn't expect it to be much different, although sometimes a couple of the subjects change based on the location's history. This time, nearly everything was new so I took in lots. The visuals were stunning too and I loved the area all about the Pendle witches, which took place in a fake forest. Very cool.

Next, we popped into my favourite arcade, Coral Island, as we had about an hour to spare before the circus (but not long enough to go up the tower in that time). Then we came back for the circus. Going to the circus when I was younger is one of my favourite memories and I've always remembered parts of it. It was super funny and the talent/performances were amazing. Apparently, the clowns Mooky and Mr Boo have been part of the show for 25 years (the actors too), so it was the same people I saw each time when I was young as well. It was really lovely coming back here to watch the circus now that I'm a little older - but it was just as funny and jaw dropping as it's always been.

We then headed up the tower (after a quick 4D movie) to take in the sights of Blackpool - it was so windy and we were able to see so far. We also braved the glass walk. I'd last done this alone in October, where I'd reminisced about going there with my family and my mum. This time around, I also reminisced, but it was a bit different as I had my boyfriend with me, who I consider to be part of my family now. It was a weird feeling coming back in such different circumstances, but somehow made me feel positive about the future. I also felt that if my mum could have seen me then, she would have been happy to see how happy I was.

After the tower, we headed back to the hotel to check in. Our room was lovely and the hotel itself was gorgeous and classic, but some parts were a little outdated and could do with some upkeep. Still, the boy did good and the room was very plush. We then headed out to dinner at this gorgeous fully vegan restauraunt up by the Pleasure Beach. I have so much to say about this amazing restaurant so I will be writing a separate post on this. After a filling meal, we headed back to the hotel for an early night!

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Travel | Blackpool | Blackpool Pleasure Beach

The following day we headed over to Blackpool Pleasure Beach - a huge waterfront themepark. We really messed up on the weather though as today was a day when it rained nearly the whole day - really we would have been better doing the tower on this day and doing the Pleasure Beach the day we arrived, but nevermind. It's not like it was cold - only our first stop at the themepark was a ride on Valhalla which is an amazing and visually stunning water ride. Unfortunately this left us drenched for the rest of the day! We did the rounds, riding the biggest and oldest coasters, getting lost in a maze etc and of course going on The Big One, which dominates the whole park. Despite the cold, it was a really fun day and we got to go on everything we wanted to. Also, because the weather was crap, the lines were super short for everything.

Tired and gripping a Panda teddy won from Donkey Derby, we headed back to the hotel before dinner. Because we were so cold, we took an hour out to go for a swim, jacuzzi and sauna in the hotel's leisure area which was nice. The jacuzzi was beyond warm and was well deserved after being in the cold all day. Afterwards, we dressed up nice (as today was also technically our four month anniversary!) and headed back to our hidden gem of a vegan restaurant for dinner. We wanted to head into town afterwards but we were just too tired so ended up back at the hotel for a celebratory drink.

Our coach was picking us up at 2:50, so after check out, we spent a busy morning doing all the last small things we wanted to do in Blackpool. We popped back into Coral Island to try and win some tickets and go on the mini ride there (yes there's a ride in the amusement arcade and a ghost train), then ordered some traditional seaside chips. It just had to be done. We also took a walk along the pier and very windy beach, had a game of old school 10p bingo (which was ever so confusing but I won without realizing!) and generally had a mooch around. We had a bit of a rush catching the coach as the tram was real slow (and we lost track of time in Coral Island), and the coach was also late into Manchester so we literally made our second coach with a minute and a half to spare, but eventually we were on our way home.

It was an amazing weekend and one of my favourite breaks/holidays yet. It was so lovely showing my boyfriend around places I used to love as a child and have such great memories of. It was also great doing things as a 'first' together, like the dungeons and a kiss at the top of the tower (n'awww). It was great to get away from Luton/Hitchin too and although we packed so much in, it felt like a really relaxed few days away and we're already planning to go back soon, perhaps for the illuminations.

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