My Blogging Fuck Budget


Sarah Knight's book, The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a Fuck, has taken the world by storm. It promises to teach you how to stop spending time you don't have doing things you don't want to do with people you don't like, WITHOUT becoming an arsehole in the process. Sounds great, right? Well, lots of people seem to adore this method! In case you haven't read the book, Sarah recommends writing a 'Fuck Budget', where you decide which aspects of your life are worth devoting your time and energy to, and which you should just stop giving a fuck about! Sarah applies this budgeting to work, family, friends and more in her book, but I thought it might be fun to create a Fuck Budget all about blogging as well! So, without further ado, here are the things that I really give a fuck about when it comes to blogging, and a few others where I really couldn't give a damn...

✅ I give a fuck about GENUINE COMMENTS

These make me so so happy! When somebody reads one of my posts and really engages with it, and leaves a well thought out response in the comment section, it genuinely makes my day! The comments on a post are what I use to judge its quality - I consider the post a successful one if it attracts some really genuine responses. This helps me to know what to write more of in future!

⛔️ I don't give a fuck about DOMAIN AUTHORITY

DA & SEO are the bane of pretty much every blogger out there! Mine was stuck on the same old figure for yonks, and despite reading countless blog posts and other articles on how to increase it,  it just didn't seem to be happening for me, even though I was supposedly doing everything right. *sigh*. However, one day something obviously changed because it suddenly underwent a massive increase! I hadn't started doing anything differently, so I was pretty perplexed! Although DA is very useful, especially if you want to work with brands, it's not the be-all and end-all of blogging. If I was fixated on just improving this little number, I would certainly fall out of love with blogging, so I have decided that I'm just not going to give a fuck about it any more! If it goes up, hooray! If it never improves past its current level of 32, no biggie.


✅ I give a fuck about HOW MY INSTA FEED LOOKS

I definitely don't have an Instagram theme, unless "bright colourful stuff that I see when I'm out and about" counts as a theme? However, it makes me really happy when my feed is looking aesthetically appealing, more for personal enjoyment than because I know it will help me grow my following, which brings me on to the next point...

⛔️ I don't give a fuck about my INSTAGRAM FOLLOW COUNT

Instagram is so fickle that there's really no point worrying about your followers over there. A person can follow you, like all your recent pics, and leave comments about how much they love your feed, and then unfollow you the next day in the hope that you'll continue following them, so really I just don't see an Insta following as something worth obsessing over. If they sorted out their algorithm and stopped shadow banning genuine people, it might be a different story!

✅ I give a fuck about QUALITY and ⛔️ I don't give a fuck about QUANTITY

I mentioned this all the way back in December of last year, in my post about choosing not to do Blogmas. For me, quality is king, and I would rather publish a really kick-arse post once a week, rather than force out a load of mediocre posts just because I feel like I ought to publish three times a week. This is why you won't see me attempting any challenges such as Blogmas or Blogtober. Soz.


✅ I give a fuck about WHAT PEOPLE I CARE ABOUT THINK OF MY BLOG

I have a wonderful group of friends who regularly read and comment on my blog, and I appreciate them all an incredible amount (you know who you are!). I value their opinions immensely and often ask for their advice. If they thought my content was a bit crap or had gone downhill, I know I would have to have a serious rethink and up my game!


⛔️ I don't give a fuck about WHAT STRANGERS THINK OF MY BLOG

On the other hand, if someone I'd never met or interacted with before clicked onto my blog and left me a comment telling me that they thought it was total crap, I probably wouldn't bat an eyelid. I'd send that comment straight to the 'deleted' section and carry on with my day. I've always thought it strange how I'm much more comfortable being judged by strangers on the Internet than by people who I know well, but hey, maybe you feel the same too?


⛔️ I don't give a fuck about HAVING A NICHE

The piece of advice that I was given most frequently before I started blogging was to work out what my niche was going to be, and then sticking to it. But very quickly, I realised that I didn't want to cover just one genre. If I blogged only about books, I'd really miss my travel posts. If I shared only fashion, I'd perhaps miss the opportunity to talk about university, recipes, or mental health. I don't like to pigeon-hole myself - I'm interested in so many things and have made this blog a success (or so I'd like to think!) despite the fact that I cover 101 different topics with equal enthusiasm!


⛔️ I don't give a fuck about WHAT I "SHOULD" BE BLOGGING ABOUT

If blogging about outfits, days out, and what I eat for breakfast is branded "unimportant" and "pointless" by some arsewipes other members of the blogging community, so be it. Let those people be petty and spew out hate whilst you're having a lovely time snapping your flatlays and swatching your latest makeup purchases BECAUSE YOU LOVE IT. Do what makes you happy and don't let anyone tell you that's not important!

⛔️ I don't give a fuck about WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT BLOGGER PODS

Pods - whether they're for Instagram or blog comments, everyone seems to have an opinion. Some view them as fake interaction, others swear by them. I find Instagram pods a bit too intense and hard to keep up with, but I'm a huge fan of blogger comment pods - they enable me to keep up with my favourite bloggers and introduce me to blogs I wouldn't necessarily have otherwise come across, all whilst increasing engagement with my own site, so it's a win win in my book! If you hate them, I really couldn't care less.

What do you give a fuck about when it comes to blogging? Do we have anything in common? Let me know in the comments, I'd be intrigued to hear your perspective!

Until next time,

A x

*This post contains affiliate links

Interview with a PR Exec

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Working with PR executives and brands has become part and parcel of blogging in 2017. It's not only the big names like Zoella who are teaming up with companies to create collaborative content - us little guys are doing it too! However, knowing exactly how to attract PR opportunities can sometimes be baffling. Could your blog be sending out all the wrong signals without you even being aware of it? How can you make sure that your name is top of the PR's list? 

To answer all of these burning questions and more, I've drafted in an experienced PR executive: Alice Davies of Freshfield Marketing Communications Consultancy. Alice has been working in digital marketing since 2013, having completed her BA in Creative Writing & English Literature, and her MA in Modern & Contemporary Fiction at the University of Chester. Alice loves her work at Freshfield as it matches with her values and ethics, and she says that she loves going to work every day! I've collaborated with Alice on a couple of occasions, on eco-friendly and interior design posts, and she was a pleasure to work with each time! Keep scrolling to benefit from Alice's extensive expertise!

How do you find bloggers to work with?

I use a number of different methods. We have a tool called Buzzsumo, which allows me to search for social media influencers based on their following and tweet ratios, and then I can visit each website to see if they’re right for the brand I’m working with. Followerwonk is another great tool that works in a similar way.

I do spend a lot of time on Twitter searching for the right people too as I think this is how you get a genuine ‘feel’ for the blogger. I tend to approach bloggers on this platform as well, as this makes me more approachable and enables me to create a genuine relationship with the blogger, rather than just an automated PR email that can be easily ignored. I’ll also post quite a few tweets with the hashtags #prrequest #bloggerswanted #bloggersrequired etc. which tends to attract a lot of attention from PR friendly bloggers. So, if you are on the lookout for paid opportunities, keep an eye on these hashtags!

Creating relationships is probably the most important part of the job because if I do decide to work with a blogger, then I want to continue that relationship afterwards; they might be a good fit for another brand I work with, so it’s always good to keep in touch. For example, Abbey and I interact via tweets and likes etc. and I also really love seeing Tania’s posts on Instagram. There are also blogger networks which you can sign up to and pay each month to post an idea to an appropriate group of bloggers, who will then get in touch with me; TOTS100 is a good example of this.

What are your blogger turn ons?

Aspects of someone's blog/social media presence that would encourage me to work with them include:
  • Actually having a media pack with information on your social statistics (as this saves me a hell of a lot of time!)
  • Being friendly and open to opportunities, but also honest if you don’t think a brand / idea works for your blog
  • Being active on social media, not automated. I realise scheduling tweets is something we all have to do, but I love seeing a blogger like and engage with other people on a genuine basis
  • Talking to me after we’ve worked together!

What are your blogger turn offs?

Aspects of someone's blog/social media presence that would discourage me from working with them include:
  • Pestering me to get back in touch with you. I know this sounds selfish, but I have a lot of bloggers I’m in touch with and also a lot of client work, so if I don’t respond straight away, I’m not ignoring you or being flaky, I’m just really busy! (As I’m sure you all are).
  • Not knowing your stats. Your blog is your brand and it’s important that you have some idea of how much traffic is coming to your site, domain authority, social media figures etc.
  • Asking for too much money – or not asking for enough! Know your worth.

Do you ask bloggers to write posts with do-follow links? Why / why not?

I would never ever ask a blogger to use a follow link for a sponsored post. This is against Google’s guidelines and generally just bad SEO practice. The whole idea of blogger outreach is to reach an audience for my client that they might not normally be exposed to, as well as the post being promoted over social media. 

SEO has been my specialism since I started my career, so I think it’s really important for bloggers to read up and be informed on changes to Google’s guidelines and algorithms. This is vital both for adhering to the rules and ensuring your blog is as successful as it can be.

Do you prefer to work with a small group of the same bloggers regularly, or are you always on the lookout for new people?

I’m always on the lookout for new people, but I do have my favourites. Because I work with so many different clients, it’s important that I don’t limit myself to the same bloggers over and over again. However, if these bloggers are a good fit for the brand and I know they’ve gained good results for me before, I will definitely use them again.

Is there a minimum threshold of followers / DA for your sponsored opps?

Personally, I don’t think domain authority holds as much weight as it used to, so when I’m doing my research, if a blogger has a low DA (say below 20), but an amazing social following and a great looking website with engaging content, I would still get in touch and utilise them.

As a rule, I will tend to look for DAs higher than 20, but like I said, it’s not the be all and end all for me if you don’t. Social following is important because this is where your audience will probably tend to find out you have a new post up, so again, I will look for a Twitter following of at least 1.5K, but if other platforms are higher, then this can fluctuate.

Do you ever receive "pitching" emails from bloggers wanting to work with you? If so, what makes a successful email?

I do! So, I would say it works the same way as when I send bloggers an email. It needs to be personalised for me, it needs to show you’ve done your research, and it needs a good hook to get me interested. Oh, and your media pack.

If you've worked with a blogger once, what makes you want to collaborate with them again?

Gaining good results for my client, so referral traffic from your website, increase in social media engagement etc. but also being friendly afterwards – a like here and a retweet there goes a long way. Also, sending me the appropriate information I need after the post has gone live, such as the results, social shares etc. If I don’t have this information, I can’t prove to the client how successful the post was and I probably won’t work with that blogger again.

Can you tell if an influencer has bought their followers? Is this something that you check for with any regularity when choosing who to work with?

Ah, this is that new argument all the bloggers are having haha. Social Blade I think it’s called? I don’t use anything currently because, as I mentioned before, I tend to build relationships with bloggers first, get to know them, and then I can generally work out whether they’re genuine or not. I think we can be too harsh to judge people on issues like this to be honest. If you’re a new blogger starting out and are struggling to gain exposure, then buying followers probably seems like a good idea. I mean, it isn’t in the long run, but I get why people do it. It’s so hard nowadays to grow social accounts organically, but it can be done, so persevere.

Are bloggers a priority in your marketing strategies?

Depends on the client / brand, but I think they should be a priority. Bloggers have such an influence on people and there are so many different bloggers who write about different things that there’s always something new to discover. For me, I will always try and see if we can incorporate blogger outreach into a client’s marketing strategy because I know it works and it gains great results.

A huge thank you goes out to Alice for answering all of these questions and shedding such a valuable insight on blogger/PR relations from the public relations perspective! Did you discover anything new from this post? Are there any further questions that you'd like to put to Alice in a follow-up post? Please let me know in the comments below!

Until next time,

A x

On the Power of Influencers

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Blogger, influencer, gal who posts stuff on the internet - whatever you call yourself, you are POWERFUL. Whether you influence a following of thousands, or if your crowd is still small, you are making a valuable and important contribution. I don't know about you, but I am way more likely to invest in a new purchase because one of my favourite bloggers has used it, reviewed it, or styled it than because it's been endorsed by a celebrity in an TV advert or promoted in a magazine. This power that normal girls (and guys!) on the internet possess is the reason why magazines such as Cosmopolitan are threatened by bloggers and seek to demean and chastise us in ever-more-common articles. So, to fight back against this and CELEBRATE the incredible and powerful force that we influencers have in the online world, I thought I would showcase just what an effect some of my favourite influencers have had on me by sharing a wishlist, entirely inspired by the blogs I read and love. Let's go!

First off, how could I not include Breanna's gorgeous New York City outfit?! Her beautiful dress, carried off by Bre's ever-present confidence and photogenic charm, has made me fall head over heels in love with gingham. Top of my gingham wishlist is this gorgeous tie-shoulder top, it is floaty, flirty, and the contrast between the small checks of the sleeves and ruffles and the large checks of the bodice is just charming!

In her "Florals? Groundbreaking?" post, inspired by the iconic film The Devil Wears Prada, my lovely friend Kate looked fit to be on the cover of Vogue in her embroidered floral dress, which has got me lusting after the stunning combo of black and florals as well! I've had my beady eye on this embroidered mesh skater dress for a while now, and it may have to make it into my shopping basket sooner rather than later... Any excuse to be twinning with your friend, right?!

Now, a blogger with a very different style to me, who I nevertheless admire very much, is the fabulous Robyn. Robyn absolutely killed it when styling black tie-front culottes with her characteristic goth vibe. Her outfits are always showcase her individuality, and this was no exception. She rocked these trousers so much that I am dying to invest in a pair of my own tailored culottes, and this pastel pink pair fits my aesthetic perfectly!

Emily Hallock is the QUEEN of retro and pin-up fashion, never to be seen in a OOTD post without a poofy petticoat, a confident pose, and a radiant smile. During #WiggleWeek, Emily challenged herself to wear a wiggle dress every day for a week and as usual, she looked radiant in every choice! Inspired by Emily's vintage flair, I'd love to pick up this Vanessa wiggle dress from Lindy Bop, although I'd definitely have to ask Emily's advice on what to pair it with!

Last but certainly by no means least, we come to the stylish Sophie. Effortless and well-put-together are the buzzwords for this elegant lady, contrasting with historic Norwich in her stunning photographs! This summer, Sophie has been embracing the colour yellow, and it's really been working for her. Her gorgeous ruffled skirt really caused this ditsy printed asymmetrical dress to catch my eye - if only I could pull the yellow print off as well as Soph!

If you're an influencer like these glorious gals, I applaud you! You work hard, contribute to a vibrant community, and remain true to yourselves. Be proud of what you do because you never know just how many people out there you could be influencing...

Has the power of bloggers impacted upon your shopping basket? Tell me which items a blogger has influenced you to splurge on in the comments below! It can be clothing, makeup, homeware - anything!

Until next time,

A x

*Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links

Holiday Lookbook


If you hadn't already guessed from the number of posts littering your timeline, last week I jetted off to a yoga retreat in Portugal and of course I took with me a suitcase crammed with summery clothes that I just don't get the chance to wear in rainy England! I have not one but four outfits to share in this lookbook, so don't hesitate to let me know which was your favourite in the comments below! Especially for my holiday, I was also lucky enough to be gifted some gorgeous footwear from the kind folks at Ego Shoes, so I'll be sharing exactly how I styled those in today's post. Bring on outfit number one!

Dress: Zara (similar)
Those who have been following my blog from the very beginning (hi guys!) might remember this gorgeous floaty white dress from Zara - I snagged it at the unbeatable price of £19.99 last summer and shared it as part of my Bargain Haul. While the dress is *technically* a pool cover up, I like to wear it as an evening dress, because I am a passionate advocate of doing whatever the hell you want!! So, when we had a little celebration at the end of my yoga retreat, accompanied by a couple of glasses of wine from the local vineyard, I donned this beautiful number for the occasion. I always feel a little ethereal when I wear this dress, it's one of my favourite items in my summer wardrobe!

Whisper Lace Up Espadrille Flatform in Yellow Faux Suede Ego Shoes
Dress: H&M (similar)
Shoes: Ego Shoes
The stars of the show in my second outfit are undoubtedly these fabulous espadrille flatforms! The bold mustard yellow gave a real pop of colour to the grey maxi dress which I paired them with! As I'm not exactly an afficionado at walking in heels, the flatform shoe gave me that extra height with a bit of added security - no tottering around as I would do in a pair of stilettos! The faux suede of the tie-ups was soft and comfy, and I easily strolled around the pool all afternoon with no rubbing or blisters. I really love the H&M dress that I wore with the flatforms because it's just so easy to throw on! It gives a put-together look in seconds and it's super comfy for both the pool and for a meal out.

Swimsuit: UK Swimwear
Trousers: Primark (similar)
Sunglasses: Primark (similar)
Let's head into the woods for my third outfit! I couldn't resist teaming the gorgeous cut-out swimsuit that I shared in my last fashion post with a pair of flared trousers for a walk along the Portuguese mountainside. The trousers tie together at the front and their floaty legs allow for plenty of air to be circulated whilst you're walking, ensuring that you keep your cool. I actually wore these trousers for travelling on the plane and really loved them! They look way more classy than you'd expect for a cheap impulse buy from Primark! I decided to wear the swimsuit just as you'd wear a bodysuit, which did make going to the loo a little more difficult (soz TMI) but I was really pleased with the overall look!

Logan Diamande Slider in Silver Patent Ego Shoes
Hat: From an independent boutique in Athens (similar)
Dress: ASOS (similar)
Shoes: Ego Shoes
Sunglasses: Primark (similar)
Aaaand finally, after this stunning red dress received so many compliments in my charity shop haul, how could I not share how I'd styled it? I wore this out to a picnic and it was the perfect breezy wardrobe choice for wandering along the riverbank. I chose to wear these snazzy diamande sliders with the dress, and they worked together perfectly! The shoes are sparkly, effortlessly glam, and fit for a princess! They're easy to slip on and off, and they'd be ideally suited to both lounging by the pool or heading out to a show or an event, so a really versatile option!

Which of these looks was your favourite? What are your holiday wardrobe staples? Comment down below! Massive thanks again goes out to Ego Shoes for giving me the chance to share their gorgeous footwear! 

Until next time,

A x

Poolside Glamour

 

Hello and welcome to the first of a series of posts where I'll be sharing my holiday wardrobe! As you'll know from my last update, I recently spent a week on a yoga retreat in Portugal, where one of my favourite activities was (naturally) sunbathing like a cat in the glorious 30-degree heat. And thanks to the lovely people over at UK Swimwear, I was able to do this in style! I was gifted two gorgeous bathing suits to share with you in this post, and I surprisingly had a lot of fun taking these snaps for you - although as I'm sure most of my fellow bloggers can testify, it is BLOODY HARD trying to do this only using self-timer! #bloggerproblems! But without further ado, let's get into the photos!

πŸ‘™ Sex on the Beach Swimsuit πŸ‘™

 

The name of this all-in-one suit definitely raised my eyebrows when I first saw it, bringing to mind a skimpy thong and perhaps some matching nipple-tassles! However, it really wasn't as revealing as the name perhaps suggests! This suit is an elegant yet comfortable new take on the classic one piece, with small cut-outs down the length of each side, a plunging back, and a high neckline. The built-in cups keep you feeling secure even if (like me!) you're a fairly energetic swimmer! The back straps on the costume are adjustable, meaning that you can wear the suit bra-style as I have here, or as a racerback if you prefer. The polymide and elastane mix from which the costume is made is thick and durable, and doesn't give the static-feel you often get when running your hands down swimsuit material. This is a super flattering swimsuit and perfect if you're looking for something a little bit different! Just watch out for some potentially interesting tan lines! My only piece of advice would be to size up if you're tall - I'm 5ft 7 and I take a size 10, and the built in cups were just a teeny bit too low on me, so I would highly recommend that tall girls take a size bigger just to make sure you're in total comfort.

πŸ‘™ Bali Charm Triangle Bikini πŸ‘™

 

And now for something completely different! To allow me to compare both the one-piece and the two-piece options on their site, UK Swimwear also sent me this stunning triangle bikini! The bright colours really bring to mind a tropical island, the print is eyecatching and unique, and I received so many compliments whilst wearing it! I loved the colour so much that I even had my nails painted to match! As well as being stylish, the soft and silky material from which the bikini is made is also very comfortable. Both the top and bottom pieces are thickly lined throughout, so if you're worried about flashing your nips when your swimsuit gets wet, you'll have no concerns with this bikini. The details really are stunning; small spirals of beads are wrapped around the string securing the top, and the cups are beautifully embellished with hand-stitched sequins. However, some of the sequins did start to come loose during the week, which was a little disappointing. Still, wearing this bikini really did up my confidence and make me feel glamorous at the poolside!

Are you an all-in-one or a bikini kinda girl? Which of my swimsuits do you prefer? Leave a comment down below and let me know! Huge thanks again to UK Swimwear for these gorgeous pieces!

Until next time,

A x

*The swimwear featured in this post was sent to me for free in exchange for an honest review. This post contains affiliate links.

My Yoga Evolution


As you may remember from my Summer Goals post, it was one of my ambitions this year to go on a travelling adventure all by myself! Well, today I'm here to tell you that my mission has been accomplished! If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you'll know that for the past week, I have been sunning myself in the beautiful Portuguese mountains whilst on a yoga holiday with Yoga Evolution Retreats! The retreat that I attended focused on Ashtanga Vinyasa & Yin Yoga, which was a real learning experience for me as I hadn't previously had much experience with either practice. Despite my yoga-novice status, I had an absolutely fantastic time and came home feeling incredibly grounded and relaxed, so I couldn't resist sharing my experience with you all! Keep reading to find out more about my holiday!

 

🌴 Setting 🌴

As you can probably tell from the beautiful photos, the venue for the retreat was located on a secluded mountainside, a short distance from the small town of Oleiros. The views were absolutely breathtaking! Peter and Sue, our yogis for the week, have restored the once-dilapidated farm buildings into comfortable and welcoming guest rooms. The buildings on-site were very much inkeeping with the rustic setting, including the purpose-built wooden yoga chalet where we engaged in our twice-daily practices. The 15m swimming pool, tucked away down the sloping mountain, was my hub for many of the free afternoons - it provided the perfect spot for sunbathing whilst taking in the forested landscape! One of the optional extra activities offered on the retreat is a herb-gathering walk through the surrounding countryside. I didn't take up this opportunity myself (the sun lounger was calling me!) but many of the guests who went along really enjoyed a foray into the picturesque terrain.

🌴 Accommodation 🌴

Guests at the retreat have the option of staying in the guest houses, a private stone cottage, or in a gypsy caravan or a tent for an experience closer to nature! My room was located in the main house, close to the Moroccan style guest lounge, fully stocked library, and kitchen. One bathroom, equipped with all of the expected modern features, served the four guests residing in the main house but there was never a fight over bathroom use, which is always a worry with communal facilites! You certainly couldn't complain about the cleanliness of the facilities, I couldn't find fault with anything. I really liked the fact that the accommodation felt less like a hotel and more like a guest bedroom in someone's house, which added greatly to the relaxing and homely atmosphere at the retreat.

 

🌴 Yoga 🌴

And now for the reason for my attendance at the retreat - the yoga! Our practices lasted for four hours each day, with Ashtanga yoga led by Peter from 8-10am, and Yin yoga taught by Sue from 6-8pm. At first I was rather daunted by the thought of such long practices, but they went by in such a flash and I felt so refreshed after each one! The Ashtanga practice is physical and energetic, all to do with building your inner fire! Peter guided us step by step through sun salutations and the first standing series. Each day's practice built on the last, which meant it wasn't too overwhelming for those such as myself who were unfamiliar with many of the postures. However, the more experienced yogis on the retreat still seemed to get a lot out of each practice. During our evening session of Yin, Sue took us through fewer postures which we stayed in for a longer time. These enabled us to engage with and work on the bandhas (also known as body locks) and the body's meridians including those attached to the kidneys, stomach, heart and lungs, and intestines, promoting health and wellbeing. Although I thoroughly enjoyed the Ashtanga practices, I feel that I got the most out of the Yin yoga. Sue provided so much useful information about the benefits of all of the postures and I really felt them working their magic on my body!

 
 

🌴 Food 🌴

I could wax lyrical about the retreat diet all day! Selina, a chef and nutritional therapist, looked after us for the week, providing a varied mix of vegetarian and vegan food, all of which was included in the price of the retreat. For breakfast we enjoyed porridge made with nut milk topped stewed fruit, as well as rice cakes with jam or home-made nut butter. At lunch, there was always a mix of salads with fresh, organic, and locally sourced ingredients. A particular culinary highlight for me was the vegan sushi that was served towards the end of the week, which was truly delicious! At lunch as well as between meals, fresh fruit was in plentiful supply. Dinners were again top quality, with a delicious dahl being a stand-out dish for me! The food couldn't be faulted and even those who usually ate a lot more meat in their diets found it easy to adjust to the vegetarian offering.

🌴 My Highlights 🌴

Although it is pretty hard to select just a few highlights from such a wonderful experience, there were a few things that really made this trip special for me! The first was something called morning silence. We practiced morning silence every day except two on the retreat, meaning that in the morning before practice, throughout practice, and during breakfast which was immediately afterwards, nobody spoke. As someone who isn't always a massive talker and often finds it difficult to be the lead person in a conversation, this provided me with some much needed space to breathe, be with my own thoughts, and feel ready for the day ahead. I wish morning silence could be implemented in my everyday life!

My second highlight was an excursion to a nearby river that Peter and Sue kindly organised for us on the penultimate day. A picnic was packed for us and we headed to the river (about 20 minutes away from the retreat centre) for an afternoon of swimming and sunbathing. This provided some gorgeous photo opportunities as well as another venue for relaxation and I had a wonderful time!

 
 

🌴 Was it worth it? 🌴

I paid £475 for my single room occupancy at the retreat and I can safely say that it was worth every penny. This was the best value yoga retreat that I researched online, and the glowing reviews that Peter and Sue receive on their Facebook page is testament to the amazing experience they provide! I would highly recommend that anyone interested in a yoga holiday checks out what's on offer on the Yoga Evolution website - I'd love to go back!

Have you been on holiday this year? If so, what did you make of it? If not, where is your dream holiday destination? Share with me in the comments below!

Until next time,

A x

Home Office Heaven*


"You don't gotta go to work, work, work, work..." Anyone else still obsessed with the Fifth Harmony song Work from Home? Maybe it's just me! By contrast, if you regularly shun the office and work from home, you're certainly not alone! In 2016, an estimated 1.5 million people worked from home - a far larger figure than I was expecting when I first started researching for this post! Although, I am confident that pretty much every blogger reading this post will be able to relate to working from home, as most people (myself included) run their entire blogs from the comfort of their bedrooms, and perhaps the occasional coffee shop. So, when the office interior design experts at the Penketh Group invited me to share some home office inspiration, I leapt at the chance! If you want to find out what makes a heavenly home office, just keep scrolling!


 ✏️ Why bother with a home office? πŸ’Ό

It's super tempting when working or blogging just to snuggle up in bed to get your latest post done, am I right? However, trying to be productive in a space that is most importantly used for sleep can be detrimental. Firstly, being in a relaxing place can keep you from focusing, leading to procrastination! Secondly, working in your relaxation space can prevent you from sleeping and chilling out in the evening, as you start to subconsciously associate that place with thinking and working! So, what's the solution? Not all of us have a spare room to craft into our perfect home office, but there are simple things that you can try! You can still divide your space between work and rest - just having a desk designated for work in the corner of your bedroom can really help focus your mind when you sit down there!
 

 ✏️ Let's get down to business... πŸ’Ό

TO DEFEAT THE HUNS! I'm sorry, I couldn't resist! Aaaaanyway, to furnish your office space, you can find blogger-friendly white desks at relatively inexpensive prices on Amazon. Perfect for blog photos as well as productive post writing! Kitting yourself out with an ergonomic chair which supports your back and a footrest to props up your tootsies is another must - although a little bit of yoga can really help soothe any aching muscles, prevention is way better than cure. You may also consider investing in a storage unit or filing cabinet for your paperwork and files. If you want to channel your inner Barbie during your organising process, you can even buy a bright pink filing cabinet! Who said that office supplies had to be boring?! So, now we've sorted the basics, let's get a little more creative!

 ✏️ Make your Space (P)Interesting! πŸ’Ό

(Get it? I laughed too hard at my own joke!) Just because your home office is a place for productivity doesn't mean that it has to be bland and boring! My lovely blogger friend Ellis, who works from home full-time as an illustrator, says that although her home office is the place where she gets her business head on, she still makes it very personal: "I love having little things like a cushion on my chair with a fluffy blanket draped across the back just in case I get a bit chilly. I also have a moodboard above my computer where I pop other people's business cards, photos, or inspiring artwork, and I have some art on the walls too." Making your home office warm, inviting, and Pinterest-worthy is definitely an essential as it'll mean that you're even more motivated to sit down there and get your shit done! Get some photos printed for free using the FreePrints app to personalise your office, or pay a visit to Ellis's shop to nab yourself a beautiful print!


✏️ Staying Motivated πŸ’Ό

It's all well and good having a gorgeous home office setup, but keeping up your motivation to work can still be tricky at home, as there are always distractions! Using an app like Toggl which runs in the background of your computer, tracking exactly how much time you're spending on certain programmes (INCLUDING FACEBOOK *cough*) can show you where you're wasting time, so you can work to avoid it. Setting yourself a schedule, or even just having a rough to-do list of what you want to achieve each day can also be really handy. The simple act of getting dressed can work wonders for your motivation too - although sitting in your dressing gown can be tempting, dressing like you mean business can really help you feel professional and power through! Working with the pomodoro technique is another winner in my book: set a timer giving yourself 20 minutes to work, followed by 5 minutes break, and repeat until the task is done! I get things done so much faster with this trick!

✏️ And now for some pure fantasy... πŸ’Ό

By now we've covered all of the practicalities of designing your dream home office, so it's time for a little bit of daydreaming! Let's talk about the office features that you really want, such as a shirtless Zac Efron lookalike to feed you chocolate when you get peckish, or a desk chair that massages you as you type! That'd be pretty great, eh? While we're at it, I'll ensure that my home office is in fact located on a beautiful desert island with an unlimited supply of cocktails - feel free to join me!


And there we have it - my home office heaven is now complete! A huge thank you goes out to the wonderful Ellis for helping me out so much with this post, her insight as a full time home office aficionado couldn't have been more valuable. I'll hopefully be bringing all of this to life (without the Zac Efron lookalikes, *sob*) in October when I start my PhD, as I like to do most of my writing in my flat! Wish me luck!

Do you have a home office setup? If so, what are your essentials? Please share in the comments!

Until next time,

A x

*This is a collaborative post with the Penketh Group and contains affiliate links
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