Friday, 27 January 2017

How Time Flies: Part Two

elephant nature park Chiang man

The 25th of January marks one year since  Jody and I landed at London Heathrow which means I'm a little bit late for How Time Flies Part Two, oops! (You can read part one here). At the end of Part One we had just spent Christmas in Bali which was just downright weird but in part two I'm gunna talk about our time in Thailand and our homecoming.

Happy reading! (P.S It's a long one!)

After a depressing Christmas in Kuta it was time to move on. We hopped on a plane from Denpasar to Bangkok (four hours) and got a taxi to our hostel. Bangkok wasn't really somewhere that really interested us and after one day there we were ready to move on to our next stop.

We bought our tickets for the 12 hour night train to Chiang Mai and it was a totally new experience for both of us (fun though). We haggled with a taxi driver to take us to our guesthouse and after an hour of driving around she dumped us at the wrong one - Charming right?

We then found a tuk tuk driver who took us to our actual guesthouse at a reduced rate and were greeted by the loveliest hostess ever - She was that lovely that we ended up extending our stay there AND we returned there after a trip North.

We both fell in love with Chiang Mai and I completely understand how people go there and then never leave. The temples, the elephants, nature, the laidback, chilled out way of life..It was absolute bliss.

We even snuck a couple of days in Pai into the Northern Thailand leg of our trip, braving the three hour bus journey and the 762 turns in the road. Most of our time there was spent in our guesthouse with the door wide open, staring at the mountain view and reading books in silence. It as quite possibly the most relaxed I have ever been.

phuket

From the North we headed to the South to explore the islands.

We started in Phuket as it was my birthday and enjoyed two days in a beautiful 4 star hotel complete with infinity pool. After months of slumming it in hostels it was wonderful to be treated like royalty and to sleep in a bed that felt like it was made of clouds.

Whilst in Phuket we also went to Koh Phi Phi and Maya Beach (made famous by The Beach) and were shocked by the sheer amount of people who were in the water and on the sand. Rude passengers on the boat made this one of our worst days in Thailand. However our trip to see another very touristy bit of Thailand - James Bond Island - was much more organised with a much smaller group of tourists.

From here we went on to Koh Lanta where I was unfortunately struck down by the worst cold ever. Despite being poorly we still managed to fit a lot into our time on the island - watching a Muay Thai fight night, enjoying the sunset and spending hours at the beach getting cheap massages. We also went on a day trip to Koh Rok where I found Nemo, Dory and all their friends. I've never been a big snorkeller but that day totally converted me.

The final chapter of our trip was 5 days spent on Koh Tao, where Jody would go scuba diving and I would have some me time on the beach. We snorkelled, we sunbathed and we ate until we couldn't eat anymore. It was like living in paradise.

Koh tao

When the time came to leave our little hut we were beyond devastated as it meant our time in Thailand was coming to a close.

After a 2 hour boat ride and a 9 hour coach journey (where the couple in front of us looked like they were trying to eat each other) we were finally in Bangkok. After a quick pit stop in a hotel to catch up on sleep, it was time to leave one of the most beautiful countries I've ever had the pleasure of visiting.

Our flight from Bangkok to Abu Dhabi was a breeze but the flight from Abu Dhabi to Heathrow? Not so much. The seats we selected online were allocated to someone else and the people sat next to us insisted on taking up as much space as possible. Oh and the engines kept making a noise that suggested sudden death was imminent so that was really fun.

We landed with approximately zero hours sleep and then had a five hour wait for our train back up North. It was a ridiculously long day resulting us been awake for well over 24 hours but by midnight, we were both tucked up in bed at our parent's houses, ready to pick up where we left off.

It was a bit of a shock arriving home I won't lie. It was cold, wet and windy but at least we were home and had some fantastic memories. Our time in the Sydney hostel was really tough on us but Thailand more than made up for that, making all the hard work and saving worth it.

Can you believe it's been a year since I came home?

Read More:
How Time Flies: Part One
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Monday, 23 January 2017

The Xtracold Ice Bar, Amsterdam


Quite a few people told me that I simply had to go to the Xtracold Ice Bar when I was in Amsterdam and if I'm going to be honest I was very sceptical - I mean it's not exactly a traditionally Dutch thing to do is it? They have them all over the world don't they?

I thought it sounded a bit naff and cheesy but the deal sounded pretty good so we decided to go anyway. €18 for 3 drinks isn't too bad, especially in Europe!

Anyway, so you're in the top bar waiting and waiting and this really lame video comes on to set the scene. You go through a curtain and are given a padded coat (although I didn't really need it with my sleeping bag-esque Zara coat) and thermal gloves. Despite the bartender saying how cold it was once inside the ice bar, Jody was saying that he didn't think he would need the coat and that he betted that it wasn't that cold in there.

He was wrong.
 
I honestly could not believe how cold it was in there (-10 if you were wondering). At first it didn't seem too bad but the longer you were in there the colder it got, especially in the leg and face area. I persevered though (despite frantically googling frostbite), drinking my drinks and jumping up and down like I was doing a fitness DVD.

The drinks were served in ice glasses which was pretty cool but holding one didn't exactly warm you up! I opted for 2 shots of the whipped cream vodka and I was pretty surprised as it was actually quite nice. It had a sweet delicious taste but sadly that was followed by that horrible vodka afterburn. 

They let quite a lot of people into the bar in one time slot so there wasn't much seating but after around 15 minutes the novelty wore off for a lot of people and slowly but surely the bar emptied and we were able to find a seat whilst we finished our drinks.

We manned about half an hour and by this point I was feeling like Jack Nicolson at the end of The Shining and forced Jody to down his drink so we could go back to the lovely and warm upstairs bar.

We had one more drink in the upstairs bar (I had a sex on the beach) and then we decided it was time to leave the Ice bar and head back to our hotel.

So...Would I go back to the ice bar again?
 
Well no, I probably wouldn't. Let's have it right, it's a total novelty and once you've been once you don't really need to go again do you? 

I'm not snobby about it though and I would definitely recommend visiting an ice bar to people who haven't been to one before. Jody and I actually had a really good laugh whilst we were there and I can totally see why people go (even the locals) because the deal is quite good. 

€18 get's you one drink in the upstairs bar (cocktail, beer or soft drink) and two in the ice bar (Heineken, vodka or soft drink) - So when you consider that the sex on the beach cocktail was retailing at €9 you aren't getting a bad deal are you?

In summary,  if you like a drink and want to have a fun experience that's a little bit different then you should go to at least one ice bar in your life...but I honestly don't think you will be in any rush to go to another one.

Still had a lot of fun though!

Have you ever been to an Ice bar? What are your thoughts? 







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Sunday, 22 January 2017

The Monki Jumper


Monki tartan oversized sweatshirt

I'm a big fan of the old jumper, the baggier the fit the better. My boyfriend has a really cushty jumper for work and I've been trying to get him to persuade his boss to order me one for lounging around in for ages but nope, not happening sob. Sooo instead I've been on the hunt for a dupe, one made of the same cosy material with a similar kind of fit and a loud pattern that yells hey look at me....

After months of searching please say hello to the Monki oversized sweat shirt. Tada!

Okay so I'm being a touch over dramatic as I actually saw this jumper in the Monki store on Carnaby Street (when I went to London in November) but the £30 price tag put me off a bit as I couldn't decide if I liked it that much. I stupidly put it back and I've spent the last two months longing for it.

(Yes I could have bought it online but Monki charge £6 for delivery, WTF).

Anyways, on a whim I decided to have another drool over it on the website and lo and behold, the little devil was half price in the sale. As I had the 50% discount and some leftover birthday money the £6 delivery charge suddenly didn't seem too bad so I thought sod it and ordered it.

It came on Friday and let me tell you, it's the best.

When it says oversized it MEANS oversized so I'm really glad I went for the smaller option but apart from that, it's my dream jumper. It looks awesome paired with my River Island biker jeans (another sales bargain) and is great for wearing in or out of the house. The tartan print clashes horribly with my pastel pink hair but tbh, I kinda like the mismatch.

Are you a fan of Monki? Have you even heard of it?

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Friday, 20 January 2017

The Friday Five #7

pull and bear jumper

Good Morning! At the moment I'm actually really struggling to find images for The Friday Five. Crappy grey weather, dark nights and office job don't make it easy for snapping some pretty images do they? So today you have my current favourite jumper from Pull & Bear. Jody says it looks like a West Ham strip combined with a dead leopard but I'm obviously a fan of that look.

Before I start to babble, here's what I have LOVED this week.

The return of Ed Sheeran
I should have put this on last week's Friday Five really but I forgot, whoops. Ed Sheeran is BACK baby and I think everyone is feeling pretty happy about this. He's released two songs (just incase you were living under a rock) - Castle on the Hill and Shape of You and both are really different, but really good. I can't wait for album and maybe this will be the year I finally get tickets to go see him in the flesh.

The first clear out of the year
I had quite a few clear outs in 2016 and to start 2017 the right way I decided to have another. I find it really hard to part with clothes but I have loads that I never wear so I decided to be brutal and bin as much as possible. Gone are the sparkly hotpants I haven't worn since I was 18 and gone are the bum skimming dresses that haven't seen day light since I was 21. I've also got rid of a shit tonne of books that were just gathering dust. Having more space feels really good and although there is more crap I could bin, I think I've gotten rid of enough for now.

I've been really struggling with some things lately and I've been questioning if the direction I'm going in is right for me. I'm a big fan of Veronica's work and when this popped up on my feed it really spoke to me (urgh, shoot me for saying that) as I really needed to see it. It put a lot of things into perspective for me and maybe I'll go into things in more detail at a later date but for now I'll leave it at that.

Yorkshire Provender Soup
I fell off the healthy eating wagon in a big way in Amsterdam so this week I've been trying to repair some of the damage done by only eating chips and churros. I wasn't really sure what I wanted for my dinner at work so I ended up grabbing some reduced 'Roast chicken & traditional vegetables' Yorkshire Provender soup and OMG, game changer as it's absolutely delicious. It isn't cheap but as my homemade soups always turn out rank, I don't mind paying £2.50 for them. (Plus there is only 312 calories per pot and a full one contains TWO of your five a day).

Taboo on BBC1
Have any of you been watching Taboo? I wasn't really sure about the first episode but the second one was much, much better. I still have absolutely no idea where they are going with the plot but I'm going to stick with it as I think it's going to get very dark. Tom Hardy is fabulous (and gorgeous) in it as always and Stephen Graham has rocked up now YAY!

Five to Read
 
9 tips for growing your Instagram - Robowecop
I love Instagram but really struggle with engagment and growing my follower count (especially as it's more of a personal account that a blog one so this post from Rhianna is super helpful!

How to be more productive Little Miss Katy
I am super organised but when it comes to actually working through my to do list I really struggle to motivate myself, choosing to scroll through Instagram instead. These tips will definitely come in handy!

Travel:It's not about what you see, it's about what you feel The Wandering Blonde
I really 'got' this post. I love writing about my travels but when it comes to the nitty gritty details I really struggle to remember them because I just don't remember them. I remember all the feeling and emotions though which is why I write mainly about those instead.

A post for small bloggers, who feel like they want to quit Whiskey Tango Flat White
Sometimes I wonder why I put so much effort into something when I'm not really offering anything new or that not that many people read but Maddie's post kinda gave me a kick up the butt and reminded me that I blog for me, not anybody else.

How Travel Improved My Quality Of Life Fresh & Fearless
Aftab's post is beautifully put together and I know exactly what he means. Travel changed me as a person and it made me see things completely different to how I saw them before. I especially loved this quote: 'It teaches you that language is no barrier and race is a sense of diversity, but we’re all the same'

Have a lovely week!
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Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Three of my Favourite Amsterdam Eats

renes croissants desserts

I'm not a very adventurous eater and as a child I was even worse (seriously, I used to live off Hienz spag bol, strawberry splits and Yorkshire puddings) so it will be no surprise to anyone that when I went to Amsterdam I didn't try any Herring or funky cheeses. I didn't even have any pancakes or waffles (mainly because we couldn't find anywhere selling them when we fancied them).

HOWEVER I did take full advantage of all the delicious hand held snack foods that were on offer and remembered to take photos before I demolished them. Amsterdam had some wicked snack food places and whilst they weren't particularly 'Dutch', they were still highly enjoyable. So If you're hoping for a post about the healthy options Amsterdam has to offer then you're in the wrong place 'cos these will destroy your waistline.

chipsy king chips and garlic mayo

Chips with garlic mayo from Chipsy King €4.50
These chips were unreal. So was the garlic mayo. My God, I'm salivating thinking about them. Even the boyf, who isn't the biggest fan of garlic mayo, couldn't get over the greatness of these chips. 5 euros might sound expensive but when it comes to these potato-ey bits of heaven, totally worth it. Plus there is enough to share between two. Ooh and one of the guys told me I had magic eyes and told Jody that he was really lucky to have me. Shucks.

New York pizza, Amsterdam

Cheese pizza from New York Pizza (chain) €3-4 (can't remember exactly soz)
This slice of pizza was huge and despite being reheated in an oven, it was actually really nice. The cheese to tomato ratio was perfect and the crust wasn't too soft or too crunchy - it was just right. Could have done with some garlic mayonnaise but hey ho, I still ate it all. 

renes croissants churros

Churros with icing sugar from Rene's Croissants €6 for a medium cone
Jody ever so kindly pointed out that these churros resemble a bag of dicks and now that's all I can see but don't let their dickish appearance fool you - they were sent by the Gods. I bore on about how much I miss San Churro Chocolateria in Oz and these are a gazillion times better than the ones there. They only have a light dusting of cinnamon so it's not overpowering and the icing sugar zings on the tongue. The churro's themselves are perfectly crisp on the outside and lovely and fluffy on the inside, making them my favourite snack in Amsterdam. Mmm.

Next time I go to Amsterdam I'm probably going to be a bit more adventurous with what I eat and fingers crossed my budget will allow me to eat in restaurants with tables and chairs but hey ho, the food was still awesome (especially the churros).

What has been the best thing you've ever eaten on your travels? 
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Monday, 16 January 2017

Ten things you may or may not know about me

AMSTERDAM TOURIST SELFIE

As I'm feeling very motivated to blog at the moment I figured it was maybe time to reintroduce myself with one of those standard blog posts that all bloggers seem to do at some point...

'Ten things you may or may not know about me'

- My natural hair colour is the usual mousy brown but bar a couple of centimetres of rootyness, I haven't seen it properly since I was 10 or 11. I've also been pretty much every colour possible too - Perks of having a hairdresser Momma I guess.

- If I could pick any decade to grow up during I would probably pick the 80's - The music was unreal and love it or hate it, it was such a fun decade for fashion, make up and hair.

- My spirit animals are probably sloths and Grumpy Cat. So I guess I'm very lazy, like to sleep and don't like fun or people (Just kidding, I like my kind of fun and a select group of people).

- I have had cars that have cost less than my MacBook. In fact all three of them cost less (possibly even combined now that I think about it). Oh dear.

- Dogs love me. Fact. And I love them. I am the dog whisperer and my main goal in life is to be a dog mama, rescuing unwanted doggys and giving them the life they deserve.

- I have scoliosis - Basically my spine is in the shape of an S instead of straight. I never had to have an operation on it as the curve's degree's aren't quite severe enough to warrant one but if you look closely you can see that I'm a bit wonky.

- I have four tattoos (my gorgeous mountain tattoo, my crap swallow, a Beatles lyric and a lightening bolt behind my ear) and over the years I've had 15 piercings but only have 5 in now.

- I first met my boyfriend on NYE 2009 and he was absolutely plastered so impressions weren't great. I met him again three months later through a mutual friend and even though I thought he was a massive chav, he was a good laugh and we got on really well. 7 years later and here we are.

- Despite being an A grade, top set student in high school I dropped out of A levels after 6 weeks, quit my Art BTec after a year and ditched my hairdressing qualification with one unit to go (I did go back and finish it though so there's that). I used to get really upset about all of my failures but nowadays I don't really care - I've done so many awesome things since.

-  I hate fancy dress. And not just in an 'oh it's just a bit naff' kind of way, I mean I loathe it entirely. Animal ears are about as far as I go.

Annnnd there we have it...Happy Monday!
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Friday, 13 January 2017

The Friday Five #6

amsterdam

As this is the 6th Friday Five post I think you guys get the gist of it now so instead of boring on, I'm just gunna crack on with it..

Amsterdamage
Obviously the highlight of this week was my weekend trip to Amsterdam with my boyfriend. I've already fired out a post on the matter (and have a bazillion more lined up) so I won't babble on too much but we had such a lovely time. We haven't left the country since Thailand so it was nice to have a few days away in a country we've never visited before.

25 baby
The whole point of our trip to Amsterdam was to celebrate my 25th birthday and if we weren't away it would have felt like any other day. When your a kid birthday's are so important but the older you get the less you care. My birthday is so close to Christmas and New Year that more of an inconvenience than anything else.

NYX Lid Lingerie in Morning Sky
When I was in Amsterdam I was walking down across Dam Square when a beautiful sight caught my eye - A NYX STORE. I went in and managed to resist a lot of temptation but did come away with a couple of buys. I bought two 'Glam' glitter lip glosses (because apparently I turned 12 not 25) and the above lid lingerie eyeshadow. The consistency is really creamy, application is super easy with the lip gloss style wand and the colour is eye catching and bold (but it doesn't look as trashy on as it does in the tube). New favourite eyeshadow.

I've been on the hunt for some basic tops for ages now but find that in most shops they either fit badly, are too expensive or come in really horrible colours. A friend recommended the Misguided crew neck ribbed tops and now I'm in love. I have three now (in black, greyish pink and burgundy) and I'm probably gunna repurchase all of them as they fit perfectly and are ever so comfy.

Getting back on the healthy eating bandwagon
One of my 2017 goals was to start eating a little bit healthier- I did okay for the first week and then it all went to shit when I was in Amsterdam. I'm back on the good food train now though and I've found a few new recipes that I want to try over the weekend. I'm starting to get a little bit more adventurous with vegetables and spices now so I'm excited to see what my eating habits are like this time time next year.

Five to Read

Finding my place online as a woman of colour Cattitude & Co (guest post by Areeba)

8 things you need to know before your first African safari A Dangerous Business

My 2016 goals: How did I do? Never Ending Footsteps

Wellness bloggers have never heard of clean eating apparently. Ok. Whiskey Tango Flat White

Losing my style mojo The Devil Wears Tartan

Have a lovely week!
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Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Three days in...Amsterdam



If you follow me on Instagram (Jessdrury9 if you're interested) you will have been inundated with photo spam from my birthday trip to Amsterdam. I had a wonderful time and it was actually one of Jody and I's more successful trips to date despite the lack of organisation and money. 

Neither of us expected to fall in love with Amsterdam like we did and we are already planning another trip there when it's a bit warmer (Jody usually point blank refuses to go to the same place twice so he must have really loved Amsterdam). I was only going to do a couple of posts on my three day trip but I've ended up with 8, oops. They will be cropping up over the next few weeks but for now, here's a little summary of my mini adventure.

Who did we fly with?
We flew from Leeds/Bradford with KLM, opting to park in the long stay car park for £27. Our flights cost £89 each and we weren't expecting much from the operator at all but they turned out to be great. There was enough leg room that my 6 foot 4 boyfriend didn't feel uncomfortable and free snacks and drinks were handed out on both flights.

Our flight from LBA-AMS was delayed as wintery conditions in Amsterdam meant they were late taking off but we still arrived in Amsterdam bang on time so I can't fault them.

How did we get from the airport to the hotel?
For 5.40 euros you can get the train from the airport straight to Amsterdam Central and it is easy peasy. It takes 5-10 minutes and aslong as you have access to google maps (or can read an actual map), you will find it quite easy to get to your hotel if you decide to stay near Dam Square. Apparently a taxi will cost around 50 euros so if you have the confidence to get the train and find you own way, then I recommend you do so.
 
Where did we stay?
We stayed at Die Port Van Cleve, a 4* hotel that was a five minute walk from Central station and a minute walk to Dam Square. It wasn't the cheapest hotel (£260 for 2 nights) but as it was our first holiday/break in a while (and my birthday), we decided to splurge.

I'm so glad we did as the hotel was fantastic. The staff were super helpful and the restaurant and bar were cosy and no more expensive than any of the others in the area. Jody also said the bed was the comfiest bed he has ever stayed in and I have to agree with him on that one.

I would definitely stay there again as the hotel was itself quiet and peaceful without being too far away from all the action.
 
What did we do?
Amsterdam was the first time Jody and I have ever been anywhere without a concrete plan and itinerary. I found it really hard to let go and just relax but eventually I managed and just went with the flow A lot of our time was spent nestled in bars having a laugh, eating scrummy food or wandering around taking it all in but we did have a giggle in the sex museum, visit the Anne Frank house and freeze our tits off in the ice bar. They weren't necessarily the most traditional dutch experiences but man we had such a good time.

What was the weather like?
It was grey the whole time we were away but that didn't really bother either of us (it is January after all). It drizzled Saturday, was dry Sunday and drizzled heavily for most of Monday. It wasn't as cold as I was expecting but I did take my Zara coat that has a mahoosive fur hood and is quite sleeping bag like.

What did I take in my carry on?
Obviously I didn't really feel the need to take checked baggage for two days so instead I took my Dr Martens backpack. I took 2 x long sleeved tops, a t shirt, 2 x pairs of jeans, 1 x jumper and as mentioned, my thick Winter coat. I also took a freezer bag of make up and toiletries, pants/socks, my pill, various chargers, gloves, a beanie and a scarf. I definitely took enough and managed to stay warm but it's your call.

How much did I spend?
So our flight + hotel cost £219 each and I ended up spending 170 Euros/148 pounds. My spending was quite low because the boyf was very generous when it came to buying drinks (with it being my birthday and all) and we only had one sit down restaurant meal as the street vendors had some lovely goods on offer.

Overall total? £367. Not too shabby really.

I had such a good time in Amsterdam and whilst I'm sad it's over, it means our holiday to Vegas and NYC is even closer! I'll be sharing some more photos from my trip over the next few weeks so watch this space.
 
Have you been to Amsterdam? Did you fall in love with it like I did or did you dislike it? 
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Monday, 9 January 2017

Turning 25

 Amsterdam selfie

This is a pre-scheduled post as I'm in Amsterdam. Hopefully I did it right and this is going out when it's supposed too. If not, oops.

Today I turn 25. I'm now a quarter of a century old, closer to 30 than 20 and I no longer tick the 18-24 box on important forms but do you know what? Getting older doesn't really bother me.

All I can really remember from being a teenager is being miserable. Picked on for my spots, my braces, the way I dressed, my intelligence, my music taste...I just don't remember ever being that happy.

Leaving school and hitting 18 was a turning point for me: I had new, older friends, I was earning my own money and I'd gained some much needed weight and confidence.

And since then things have only gotten better.

I've travelled to places I never thought I would see, I'm close to my family, I have a solid group of friends, I've got a fiancee who's alright I guess (Only kidding he's lovely I just know that he reads this), I'm saving to buy a house, I've got a fairly decent job and earn good money...The older I get the better things seem to be.

With this in mind, I'm looking forward to what 25 brings me. I think it's gunna be a good one.
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Friday, 6 January 2017

The Friday Five #5

border terrier

Good morning and happy Friday. Welcome to today's friday five!

I stayed in on New Year's Eve
The big news this week was that I - yes ME - stayed in on New Year's Eve. After some discussion, Jody and I decided that we just couldn't be bothered. It's over rated and it never ends up being that good of a night anyway. Throughout the day we went to an all you can eat Chinese that we love before FINALLY watching Moana. On the night we watched Sons of anarchy, had a bath and were tucked up in bed for 11. Turned out to be one of our better NYE's.

The Moana soundtrack
In my movie round up post you will have seen me gushing over Disney's latest offering Moana and how much I loved the soundtrack. Well I loved it that much that I bought the soundtrack. We have a cd for the car and I have the download on my phone...I just can't get enough of it. It's not just me who loves it though, Jody can't stop singing it either - He even mentioned going to see it in the cinema again.

One pot chicken fajita pasta 
In this post I stated that one of my 'goals' for 2017 was eat a little bit healthier this year. I wouldn't say I'm on a diet but I'm definitely being a lot more conscious of what I eat - Less takeaways, more home cooked meals. The first jazzy new meal I made this year was this one pot chicken fajita recipe from Buzzfeed. Let me tell you, it's delicious. I made with with normal cheddar cheese so it wasn't too spicy (I'm a wuss) and whilst the sauce didn't go as thick as I would have liked, it still hit the spot. Definitely going to be looking on Buzzfeed for some more recipes.

Oh yeah, I go to Amsterdam tomorrow!
I turn 25 on Monday and as I've spent my last two birthdays abroad (Perth, Phuket) I really wanted to have a birthday away for a third year running. As money is tight due to Christmas and our May trip to Vegas and NYC, I settled on Amsterdam as a lot of friends had total me that it wasn't that much of a budget buster. It's my first time on a plane in nearly a year so I'm a little bit nervous but I can't wait to dust off my passport and go on a new mini adventure.

A hair cut
I got my hair dyed a couple of weeks and this week I had it cut for the first time since April. My mum was under strict instructions not to hack it off (she gets a bit scissor happy) and now I have a just under the chin length bob with a nice bit of fringe. It feels a lot lighter than before and I'm so glad I got it cut before my trip to Amsterdam.

Five to read

Words for a new year Kelsey J Barnes

The right way to travel Love From Berlin (A guest post written by Jane from Deluminators)

A Day with Orang Utans and Sunbears in Malaysian Borneo Bitten by the Travel Bug

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Thursday, 5 January 2017

December What I Watched

alright blondie movie round up

Welcome to another round up of what I've watched over the previous month (it's a bit late sorry). This month I've managed to squeeze in a lot more new to me movies than last month and they've pretty much all been great. I hope this trend continues into 2017 and as always, if anyone has any recommendations, please let me know in the comments! 

BRIDGET JONES BABY (3.5/5)
Bridget's focus on single life and her career is interrupted when she finds herself pregnant, but with one hitch ... she can only be fifty percent sure of the identity of her baby's father.
Renee Zellweger, Colin Firth, Patrick Dempsey, Sarah Solemani

Despite only being 9 when it came out, Bridget Jones Diary is one of my favourite films. I wasn't a huge fan of the second one and after such a long hiatus, they really had to pull it out of the bag with this one. It's cheesy and extremely cringy but it's okay. Emma Thompson totally steals the show as Bridge's doctor though.

GET SANTA (4/5)
A father and son who team up to save Christmas once they discover Santa Claus sleeping in their garage after crashing his sleigh and finding himself on the run from the police.
Jim Broadbent, Rafe Spall and Kit Connor

A lot of Christmas films are stuffed to the brim with cheese but Get Santa (thankfully) wasn't. It had jokes that adults and kids could enjoy and Jim Broadbent was great as the naive and goofy Santa Claus. It was very different to most of the Christmas films I've seen AND Stephen Graham is in it so it was a winner for me.

ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY (5/5)
The Rebellion makes a risky move to steal the plans to the Death Star, setting up the epic saga to follow.
Felicity Jones, Mads Mikkelson and Forest Whitaker

As a huge Star Wars fan I wasn't really sure how I felt about Rogue One - A prequel to the original 1977 movie, with mostly unknown characters, sandwiched in between the reboots? Before I went in, I thought it was a bit of a pointless film as we know what happens in A New Hope but I ended up loving it. It gave us a bit more insight into the Death Star itself and there were a few cameos from some well known characters from the original movies. It was great and if you're in two minds over going to see it, ignore the naysayers and go anyways.

FINDING DORY (5/5)
The friendly but forgetful blue tang fish begins a search for her long-lost parents, and everyone learns a few things about the real meaning of family along the way.
Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Ed O Neill, Kaitlin Olson, Ty Burrell.

When we were gifted a free £13.99 movie from Sky we selected this but I didn't expect much from it as numerous people had told me that it was absolutely rubbish, especially in comparison with the first movie. Much like Rogue One, the naysayers were wrong and it was a wonderful movie. Baby Dory is without a doubt one of the cutest animated critters you will ever see and her backstory will melt even the coldest of hearts.

MOANA (5/5)
A young woman uses her navigational talents to set sail for a fabled island. Joining her on the adventure is her hero, the legendary demi-god Maui.
Auli'i Cravalho and Dwayne Johnson

The last new to me film that I watched in 2016 was Disney's newest offering, Moana. It was absolutely stunning and ticked every box for things I look for in a film. I'm going to go as far as to say that I liked it more than Tangled AND Frozen (on par with Zootropolis though). The soundtrack was amazing (totally buying the cd when it comes back into stock on Amazon), the special effects and the colour palette used were beautiful (seriously I came out of the cinema desperate to book a beach/snorkel holiday) and it was wonderful to see Disney depicting the Polynesian culture. Also Moana doesn't have a love interest and she manages just fine without one thank you very much.
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Wednesday, 4 January 2017

16 things I learned in 2016


1. You are never too old to watch Disney movies, buy a t shirt just cause it has a cute dog on it or have fish finger sandwiches for tea. If anyone tells you otherwise then cut them out of your life because you don't need that kind of negativity.

2. Nothing brings joy to a family like a brand new baby. I don't even like kids that much but the arrival of my niece seems to have brought the family closer to together and everyone seems so happy when they are in her presence.

3. Melted cheese really is the tits. For so long I despised it but boy was I wrong - Pizzas, burgers, beans...All improved with lashings of the stuff.

4. Once you've been bitten by the travel bug it will never really leave you. I spent 13 months away but there's still so much of the world I want to see.

5. Sometimes all you need a big dirty night out with your mates, one where you have a stinking hangover the next day and don't get out of bed or brush your teeth. I wouldn't advise having one of them every weekend but sometimes they are needed in order to rid your brain of all the bad juju you have swirling around in there.

6. It's okay to be interested in and passionate about politics/human rights, even if the people surrounding you aren't. You should never dumb yourself down or keep quiet just to please others.

7. Once you get past a certain age, you're gunna put weight on. You'll most definitely have some extra goo around your waist and thighs and if you're lucky, your boobs. It's a bit scary at first but eventually realise that it's normal and chances are, noone really cares that much apart from you.

8. Palmers cocoa butter is a god send for brand new tattoos (providing you're not allergic of course!). I always used Bepanthem but after hearing cocoa butter is a great alternative I'm now a convert. My tattoo wasn't really healing then I applied some and BAM, an hour later it was scabbing nicely. Hurrah for cocoa butter! (PS if you hadn't already guessed the photo above is a quick snap on my newish tattoo).

9. Steak is definitely best when it's cooked rare. For so long we had it medium-ish but now it's pretty much in and out of the pan, seared just enough that the outside is brown but the inside is a juicy and tender pink.

10. The best friendships are the ones where you don't talk or see each other for months on end yet when you meet up it's like no time has passed at all.

11. If you don't want to do something, don't do it. Simple as.

12. Also, you also can't please everyone. As you get older you have to make sacrifices when it comes to socialising (eg like saying no to birthday party invites) for your own benefit (eg for your bank balance). If people don't like that then tough.

13. It's definitely worth travelling all around the country to see your favourite band live. Nothing tops that buzz you get when you hear some of your favourite songs in the flesh and dance and sweat for two hours straight

14. Primark are the kings of nightwear and I dare you to say I'm wrong.

15. The older you get, the worse your hangover will be. So maybe go steady when it comes to number 5.

16. Living in the real world and nurturing your actual relationships is much more important that your life online. 2017 I'm going to be focusing a lot more on living in the present - i.e not taking a million photos on a day out because it 'will be good for the blog' or scrolling mindlessly through Twitter when I should be paying attention to what I'm watching with Jody.

You will be glad to know this is the last of my 2016/2017/New Year posts! Regular programming will resume tomorrow.
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Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Some really good things that happened in 2016

reflecting on 2016

Don't you just love my crappy arts and crafts skills? I mean, look at that cutting phwoar! The clue for what this post is about is in the title - Some really good things that happened to me in 2016.

I finally experienced Thailand.

I've wanted to go to Thailand for years but it was never really an option on the money was on. Due to my wonderful Aussie wages travelling home via Thailand was do-able and on Boxing Day 2015 we were on the plane to Bangkok. I stroked elephants, fell in love with snorkelling, got a cracking tan and I found true happiness on a beach in Koh Tao. It was everything I hoped it would be and more.

I became an Auntie.

My highlight of 2016 was probably the arrival of my niece Ivy Bo. She is nearly 8 months old now and she's so cute. She has such a lovely smile and she loves having all eyes on her. I think she's going to be a very mischievous toddler and I can't wait until she's a bit older and I can start taking her on my adventures.

I saved nearly £6000.

When we came home we had to decide what it was we wanted. Did we want to travel again, did we want to rent or did we want to buy? We have fluctuated between all three many a times but ultimately we always decide that buying a house is the best course of action. It's been a hard slog of saying no to new opportunities and staying in a lot but we are so close now. I never imagined I would be able to save so much so I'm pretty chuffed with myself.

I saw The View three times.

This is just a small one compared to the others really but seeing my favourite band three times definitely makes it on to the highlight reel. We saw them once in York and twice in Scotland and let me telling you, seeing them in their home country is a whole different experience to seeing them here. The crowds are crazy and the buzz is unlike any other. Can't wait to see them again in 2017.

I started to earn decent money.

Lucky me was offered a job at my old place of work, in a better position on a better wage. I'm not living the dream but I've never earned this much money in my life. I know people think that money doesn't necessarily make you happy but it does make things a lot easier.

I bought a MacBook.
I only bought my baby last week but it is probably the best investment I have ever made. It's so much quicker than my old laptop and I'm hoping that having a MacBook will inspire me start writing 'properly' again - I've always loved writing but I've never had the confidence to submit articles elsewhere so this year I'm going to push myself and give it ago.

I'm closer to my family now than ever before.

Travelling long term without your support network definitely makes you put things into perspective. This year I've made a conscious effort to check in with my parents more (even if it's just a text) and I've tried to see other family members when I can. I feel like we are a lot closer than we used to be (although we still aren't huggers) and I like that a lot. Plus, babies really bring a lot of joy to a family so there's that too.

Did any really good things happen to you in 2016? They can be as big or as small as you like!
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Monday, 2 January 2017

Some goals for 2017


Man I bet you're all sick of these posts now huh? Well here's another one to add to the pile. 

Buy a house.

The biggie, the one that I've spent the last 10 months saving my butt off for. We are really, really hoping that towards the end of the year we will have enough money scraped together for a mortgage deposit and can start the house buying process. This is my main aim and I have everything crossed that this is achieved.

Start reading books again instead of scrolling mindlessly through Instagram when I'm bored.

I'm one of those horrible mindless ghouls that will just sit and scroll through their phone instead of watching the tv or talking to the people I'm with. It's a horrible habit and one that I'm hoping to break in 2017. I used to be an avid reader and I'm hoping that the less attention I pay to my phone, the more I can pay to the world of paper and words.

Eat a bit better and move a bit more.

This is one of my resolutions every year and every year I fail. I don't beat myself up about it because I know I'm a good weight for my height but I would like to be that little bit fitter. Since coming home from Oz Jody and I have both gained a little bit of weight and gotten a bit very lazy so we have decided that we are going to try and be good together.

Visit as many new places as possible.

This year we have quite a few trips pencilled in - Amsterdam at the weekend, Vegas and NYC in May then Berlin in October - and as I want to buy a house at some point in the near future that's more than my bank balance can manage. That doesn't mean I can't carry on visiting new to me places in the UK though does it? Brighton, Cambridge, Oban, Dublin...The possibilities are endless.

Have the confidence to write articles and submit them to other sites.

I love writing and whilst this blog is a good place to share what I have to say, it's quite informal and I don't write about certain subjects because I don't feel like they have place on here. In 2017 I want to improve my writing skills, write articles that are longer than a blog post would be and push myself to submit them to other sites for publication. It might not happen, I might be rubbish but at least I can say I tried.

What are your goals for the year ahead?
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