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Sorrento Sightseeing: My Must-See Spots

sorrento hightlights holiday must-see

"Abbey, have you been to Sorrento recently? You should've mentioned it more on your blog, I had absolutely no idea." *teehee* Sorry for the holiday spam lately, folks, but I managed to take so many lovely photos in Sorrento that I just couldn't help but share them all! If you're sick of having your wanderlust kicked up a gear by all of my photos from the Bay of Naples, don't worry! My Italy post series is very nearly complete. So far, I've written about my holiday wardrobe and some very silly things that I learned during my trip, but today's post is all about must-see spots in Sorrento itself. For those of you who aren't aware, Sorrento is a coastal town located in south west Italy, perched atop some pretty stunning cliffs which plunge down into the Tyrrhenian Sea. There is so much to see and do in the city and today's post aims at giving you a flavour of it all. Buckle up, it's going to be a fun one!

8 Things You Learn on Holiday in Sorrento

italy holiday sorrento lemons what learn during travel

Ah, Italy! Land of culture, home of carbs. From the history of the Colosseum in Rome and the photo opportunities provided by the Leaning Tower of Pisa, there's something for any holidaymaker. Even if your main vacation activity is eating (and there's NOTHING wrong with that!), there's plenty on offer. Pizza, pasta, gnocchi, gelato - it all tastes divine. As anyone who follows me on Twitter or Instagram knows all too well, I've just returned from a wonderful week in sunny Sorrento, located in Italy's Bay of Naples. I had an absolutely fantastic time and fell in love with the charming, rustic city. As always with travel, I learned so much on my holiday: some practical things and some that are just silly! I've treated you to the silly ones in today's post, so get ready to giggle! Here are eight things I learned from my holiday in Sorrento.

Travelling Like a Local in Oxford with Pick Me Up*

oxford travel local visit tourist radcliffe camera

Tourist traps are so easy to fall into whilst travelling. Before you know it, you've been sucked into queuing for attractions which are jam-packed with fellow tourists and you may end up paying an extortionate price for the most basic of services. Travelling like a local is definitely the way forward, using the expertise of those who live in the area to sniff out the best deals and real hidden gems. Actually achieving this can be tricky, however, so to help the thousands of tourists who descend on the beautiful city of Oxford every year, I've decided to put together a local's guide to a few attractions that you might not have necessarily considered, as well as an exciting new way of navigating the city. Get ready to expand your horizons! Here are Oxford's best kept secrets.

Summer Holiday Style: What I Wore in Sorrento

women summer holiday clothing fashion dress sunglasses

Selecting your summer holiday wardrobe has to be one of the best bits of getting ready for a vacation. I had a lot of fun packing my suitcase for my recent trip to Sorrento, knowing that sunshine and hot temperatures were awaiting me. As I've mentioned before on my blog, I always look forward to being able to chuck on a dress and leave the house without putting much thought into an outfit, so warm-weather fashions will always be my favourite. However, despite the fun associated with packing, when trying to choose exactly which clothes from your expansive summer wardrobe to take on holiday, it can be pretty tough to narrow it down. This year, I adopted an old proverb to help me out: "something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue." I know, I KNOW, this is usually associated with bridal attire and marriage is a long way off for me yet, but the little rhyme actually worked quite well for my holiday outfits too. Wanna see? Of course you do.

Blogger Book Nook #10: Summer Holiday Romance

blogger book club review song achilles madeline miller romance

The summer sunshine has finally come out to play, making it very much the season for romance. After all, nothing inspires feelings of love more than walks along the beach, snuggling up together under the stars, and sharing an ice cream in the sunshine. Summer is also the season for holidays (I have a LOT of holiday blog content coming up for you very soon!) and sitting by the pool gives us an ideal opportunity to pick up a light and frothy read, with romance being the ideal genre. This month, Tabitha and I challenged our Blogger Book Nook members to select a romance novel and I have *finally* got round to writing my post for the theme - better late than never, right?!

Pack with Me: Summer Holiday Edition*

holiday packing guide checklist essentials summer travel

Who's off on holiday this summer? I sure am and I can't wait! As I mentioned in my recent Looking Forward to Summer post, I'm heading off to Sorrento on vacation with my mum and my sister. Sun, sand, and.. uh.. cocktails here we come! But before we board the plane with thoughts of hitting the beach, the all important job of packing must be completed. Nobody wants to get to the airport and realise they've forgotten their underwear (definitely hasn't happened to me before) so today's post is all about those holiday essentials that you really won't want to leave behind. From fragrances to flip-flops and books to beachwear, here's what I'll be taking on holiday with me. And because I love you guys, I've also put together an exhaustive holiday packing checklist at the end of the post, which you'll be able to print and use for your own travels. Don't say I'm not good to you!

A Weekend in Waterstones

waterstones book review shopping

"Come on now, if we dawdle any longer, we're going to miss the bus! I *know* Waterstones will be open for another five hours yet but I want to get there ASAP! There's something just lovely about browsing through a bookshop on a Saturday morning, isn't there? It doesn't matter if the British weather has failed to deliver more than 30 seconds of sunshine in the past month beacause there are so many books just waiting to whisk you off into sunnier climes, realms of the past, and new worlds you couldn't even imagine! I just love the escape that reading provides, so that's exactly why I wanted to take you along with me to Waterstones this weekend. There are sooo many books that I've read recently and can recommend to you, so be prepared to hear about them all. Oh! Here's the bus, let's flag it down! The bookshop awaits!"

PhD Update: My First Year*

PhD student first year experience museum studies leicester

Although the end of 2018 is still a long way off, my first academic year as a PhD student is now drawing to a close. The approach of the end of the year also meant that last week, it was time for my probation review. Each year, every PhD student here at the University of Leicester undergoes a review process where their work is assessed through written submissions and an oral examination. Success in the annual review means that your research is deemed to be making an original contribution to scholarship and you're given the green light to continue with your research. Failing the review means it's back to the drawing board! So, how did I get on? Spoiler alert - I passed my review! I had some great feedback from my review panel which I'm very happy (not to mention very relieved!) about. To celebrate, today I thought I'd give an update on the progress I've made so far, as well as sharing what's in store for my next academic year! You ready?

Looking forward to Summer



"Don't spend all your time looking forward, you'll wish your life away!" Sure, I've been told this plenty of times but in all honesty, I don't think there's anything wrong with having a few things lined up in the near future that you're really looking forward to. Summer is definitely the season for excitement in my book. Warm weather will always be my favourite so any chance to embrace that puts a spring in my step. I've got plenty of the conventional summery activities to look forward to this year (think holidays, sunbathing, and good food) but there are a few slightly more unconventional things about the summer season that I'm psyched about too. Ready to discover the full list? Here's what I'm looking forward to over the next few months...

A day out: Edinburgh

edinburgh day out tourist sightseeing visit

As a born and bred southerner, having been raised in the East Anglian countryside, I'm pretty ashamed to say that prior to May 2018, the furthest north I'd ever travelled was to Newcastle. I know, I know, I was majorly missing out. However, at the end of last month I was lucky enough to spend a few days in Edinburgh, Scotland's capital city. I spent four action-packed days in the home of bagpipes, haggis, and whiskey, meeting up with a couple of my wonderful blogging friends along the way. I completely fell in love with Edinburgh, walking out of Edinburgh Waverly train station and taking in the amazing landscape and stunning architecture was a "WOW" moment that I'll never forget. I certainly didn't manage to visit everything on my hit-list in the city, but I did cram quite a lot into a very short space of time. In the past I've really enjoyed writing posts about my days out in Oxford, Salisbury, and Norwich, so I couldn't resist putting together a sightseeing guide to Edinburgh as well. Keep reading to find out where my travels took me!

How to Study Smart

study smart student tips revision university exams

It’s pretty scary to sit here and type that I have now been at university for five years. At the age of 23, I’ve completed my undergraduate and Masters degrees at the University of Oxford, and I’m now hard at work on a PhD programme at the University of Leicester. In my long career as a university student, I've recieved pretty much every study tip or piece of advice in the book, some a lot more useful than others. "Don't study hard, study SMART" is a saying that gets bandied about quite a lot, but what does this actually mean? I've learned over the years that there is no simple recipe for studying smart, learning is such an individual process that will take different forms for different people. However, I have picked up some very helpful habits in my student days which I thought I'd share with you today, as well as showcasing some gorgeous personalised stationery from Ryman. I can't promise that all of these tips will work wonders for everybody, but you may just find one or two that make your life as a student that little bit easier. Let's get started!

Five months of running: What I’ve learned

run runner running shoes beginner inov-8

I was a giant cliché when, in January, I decided that my New Year’s resolution would be to get fit. It’s something that everyone seems to aspire to at the start of a new year, am I right? Well, instead of letting my fitness goals fade into the background as February rolled around, I decided to tackle them head on and start something I thought I’d never be able to do: running. When I was younger, I was a lot fitter. I used to go swimming twice a week at try my hand at racing at occasional swimming galas. I really enjoyed being in the pool and it was a fantastic form of exercise. I still love swimming at my university’s pool and I do go occasionally, but as a gym membership here is SO expensive (I’m talking hundreds of pounds), I couldn’t really justify purchasing this on a PhD student’s wage. So, as running is absolutely free, it was a good choice. I’ve now been running consistently for the past five months and I recently completed a fundraising run, the Vista Sunrise Run, starting at 5.30am in central Leicester in aid of a local sight loss charity. I raised over £100 and ran the course in under half an hour, which I’m incredibly proud of. In honour of this, today I thought I would share everything I’ve learned in my short time as a runner to hopefully encourage you to give it a try as well!

Il-LUMA-nating Hammersmith at the LUMA Concept Hotel

luma concept hotel hammersmith naked stay review

As someone who travels to London frequently as part of a PhD research programme, I know the importance of finding comfortable, conveniently located accommodation all too well. After all, a good night's sleep is key to making the most of conferences, meetings, and events on any business related trip. In a huge city such as the capital, selecting the ideal place to stay can seem like a very daunting task, with more hotel options than you could ever need. Now that choice has been made a little easier with the launch of the LUMA Concept Hotel a little over one year ago. Located in the arty riverside district of Hammersmith in west London, the LUMA Hotel is just a short hop on the tube away from the main central attractions such as the Victoria and Albert Museum, Buckingham Palace and Hyde Park, making it ideal for tourist visits to the capital as well as for business travellers. I was kindly offered a complimentary stay at the LUMA Hotel to test out the venue for myself, keep reading to find out how I got on!

Blogger Book Nook #9: Time Machine

book club historical fiction

Another month means another Blogger Book Nook prompt! If you're not familiar with the Blogger Book Nook by now, BBN is a blogger's reading group set up by myself and my good friend Tabitha from What Tabitha Loves. Each month, we put together a new reading prompt to challenge our members to read something a little bit different! Themes in the past have ranged from Books On Screen to Judging a Book By Its Cover. During May, Tabitha and I encouraged our readers to take journey back in time to experience the world of historical fiction! Our challenge for this month was to fire up the TARDIS and pick a read that’s set in the past - whether it’s as early as the 90’s or a trip back to an ancient world. As always, our prompt is accompanied by a series of questions for our readers to turn their books into blog posts. We reveal a new prompt and the associated questions at the start of each month on our Facebook group, which is always open to new members, should you like to join in!

Student Life at the University of Oxford

university oxford student life experience undergraduate

The University of Oxford, famous for historic buildings, rowing, and for being home to the country's largest concentration of geeks. Located in the city of dreaming spires, steeped in tradition, it's one of the world's most prestigious academic institutions. But what is it actually like to study here? Are student lives really scripted in the manner of The Riot Club? After the lovely comments that I received on my post on the subject of my current PhD studies, I thought I'd share my insider info on my previous Oxford education as well. I gained my BA in Classical Archaeology and Ancient History at Merton College in 2016, followed by my Masters degree in Classical Archaeology in 2017, also at Merton. I had a very positive experience in my four years in Oxford so keep scrolling to find out more about it!

East Midlands Eats

best east midlands restaurants cafe review recommendations

Now I don't know about you, but for me, checking out brand new restaurants and cafés is one of the best parts of moving to a new city. After growing up in the Suffolk countryside, followed by studying in Oxford, I have now been a Leicester resident for eight months! As well as taking in the history of Leicester, exploring the East Midlands' eateries has been a real highlight of my time here. I've had the pleasure of experiencing fine dining French-style at Bistrot Pierre in the city center, as well as a fun night out at the Head of Steam, Leicester's newest pub venue. However, this is not by any means all that the East Mids has to offer in terms of food and drink. Today I'm venturing a little further afield, to Nottingham and Wigston, to share even more of my favourite, as well as a few that are closer to home.

Why I'm a Proud National Trust Member

national trust reasons join

What kind of person springs to mind when you think of a typical National Trust member? Perhaps its an elderly lady taking a break from the Bingo hall, pottering around with her walking stick. Or maybe its a grey old gent with a pipe in one hand and his dentures in the other. Well, today I'm here to bust exactly that stereotype. Although the majority of the adverts in the National Trust magazine that I receive do mention grandchildren, stairlifts and retirement cottages, I'm a loud and proud National Trust member at the ripe old age of 23 nevertheless. In this post, I'm going to be telling you all about why I love being a part of this fantastic conservation institution.

6 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Me

things didn't know me blogger

One of the beauties of blogging is that you can learn a lot about someone just by reading their thoughts online. But some recent conversations with blogger friends who I've met in real life have really got me thinking. They've mentioned a few things that have surpised them when meeting me in the flesh and this has made me realise that we may not know our internet pals quite as well as we think. So, in the name of remedying that, today's post is all about the things that you probably wouldn't be able to tell about me just from reading my blog. In short, it's the blog post that nobody asked for, but it's one you're getting anyway. You ready? You'd better be.

Athens: An Archaeologist's Travel Guide*

archaeology travel guide athens sightseeing

Everyone has travelled to that special city which, when they arrive, they never want to leave. For me, this city is Athens. As someone with two degrees in classical archaeology (that is, the material culture of ancient Greece and Rome), it's probably unsurprising that I have such a strong affection for the place. The entire city of Athens is an open-air museum for its history, culture, and heritage, there's something around every corner to immerse you in the distant past. I've visited Athens twice over two consecutive summers and each time, I've fallen a little bit more in love. Previously on my blog, I've shared my other travels across Greece (including an amazing road trip across the Argolid) but Athens deserves a post of its very own. Here are the sites you simply must see if Greece is on your hit list for this summer!

A Country Childhood: Growing up in rural Suffolk*

countryside living growing up rural childhood

Growing up is a topic that I've tackled on my blog several times in the past. One of my first ever blog posts (which I cringe a little bit at now) shared my experience of growing up as the home schooled kid and more recently, I've discussed the topic of growing up online, and whether it really is such a bad thing. Today, however, I am speaking about growing up from a slightly different angle - talking about where I grew up. My family home is located in the East Anglian countryside. To give you some idea of exactly how rural my home is, our closest neighbours are about 3/4 of a mile away and our house never shows up on any sat navs either! I definitely feel that this rural upbringing has shaped me as a person. As with any childhood environment, growing up in a countryside setting has its pros and cons, so this post is dedicated to discussing both in equal measure. Let's start with a few downsides to a country childhood...

My Plastic Free Week

plastic free reduce eco friendly

Did you know that 79% of plastic waste ever created by humankind still remains in our environment? This is due to the fact that over half of the plastic that we use on a day-to-day basis is used just once and then thrown away, where it takes between 500 to 1000 years to fully degrade. Plastic waste ends up polluting our earth and oceans, resulting in devastating effects on the land, water, animals, and us as humans too. Thankfully, the plastic reduction movement has been gathering more and more steam lately, with intiatives such as WWF's #EarthHour being instrumental in educating people about just how damaging plastic use is for our planet. WWF aren't the only organisation doing great things for encouraging us to think more about our environmental impact. Steamer Trading Cookshop are doing their bit by challenging people to go plastic-free for an entire week as part of their #ReduceAndReuseWithSteamer campaign. They kindly invited me to be a part of their sustainability drive and have sent me a whole host of products from their eco-friendly range to help me along the way. This post shares a series of tips based on my plastic free week experience, showing exactly how I put Steamer Trading Cookshop's products to good use. Keep scrolling to find out what I learned!

Reading Round-Up: April 2018

book reviews reading story novel fiction adult

When I set my New Year goals for 2018, a reading challenge wasn't initially on my list, so I was a little late to the party when I decided to embark on one this month. Better late than never though, am I right? Delving into a novel always helps me to recharge my batteries, so I have now set myself the goal of reading 24 books this year. I always find that  reading round-up style posts from my fellow bloggers keep me feeling so motivated to pick up a book of my own as I discover so many titles that I had never previously considered. That's exactly why today's post is my very own version of this! I'll be sharing a selection of the very varied novels I've tackled already this year, as well as a few books that are on my TBR list. It is also an extra special post as I am participating in my first ever weekend book blitz with Neverland Book Tours, featuring Krysten Lindsay Hager's Can Dreams Come True?. There is a giveaway associated with the book tour at the end of the post so keep an eye out for that! But for now, let's explore my recent reading list!

Blogger Book Nook #8: Murder in the Library


This month, the Blogger Book Nook invited its members to embrace the twists and turns of Crime and Thriller fiction, asking the question WHO DUNNIT?! Our readers are primed and ready to play detective, taking on a grisly case and solving the murder before the final page. But before we immerse ourselves in a world of suspense and mystery, allow me to introduce the Blogger Book Nook once more! If you're not already familiar with it from my previous posts, the Blogger Book Nook is a blogger reading group created by me and Tabitha from What Tabitha Loves. Each month we produce a reading prompt aimed at encouraging our members to pick up a new book. Our monthly themes are very diverse, covering everything from young adult fiction to book swaps! We have a lovely community of Book Nookers on our Facebook group which is open for all bloggers with an interest in reading to join, it's a place to share your bookish blog posts, engage in discussion about your favourite novels and generally up your reading motivation! Do join us there if you haven't already!

Full steam ahead...? My Head of Steam Leicester Review

Head of Steam Leicester pub food review

The year 1995 gave the world some truly great things. And no, I'm not just saying that because it's my birth year. Although that is a pretty good reason. In 1995, eBay was founded, the DVD was first devised, Disney created Pocohontas, and Head of Steam opened their first pub. If you're a born and bred southerner such as myself and have never heard of them before, Head of Steam originally hail from the north, but are aiming to connect London with Scotland through a chain of pubs in every major city with a train station. Along this route, the Head of Steam are now branching out into the Midlands, with venues in Nottingham, Birmingham and, of course, Leicester.

Recharging your Batteries in 5 Easy Steps*

recharging physically mentally health energy mind

Wouldn't life be amazing if you could simply plug your brain in to the mains at the end of a long, tiring day and feel instantly recharged? Sadly, the reality isn't quite that simple. Right now, I have a lot in common with my iPhone battery. Let me explain. Even after hours of attempted recharging, my internal battery only makes it to the halfway point and when I hit 20%, I cut out altogether. And attempting to do more than two tasks? Forget about it, I crash as quickly as iOS when attempting to open more than one app. Sigh. Since my poor frazzled brain sadly can't get a Genius Bar appointment (more's the pity), I've been taking action myself in order to start recharging again. Today I thought I'd share my five favourite recharging methods.

No Business Like Snow Business: Skiing at Snozone

skiing snozone milton keynes beginner lessons snowsport

Snow and ice have been no strangers to us lucky UK residents this spring. The wintry weather certainly isn't your friend when you're digging your car out of a snowdrift or rueing your third public transport cancellation of the day, but it can provide a lot of fun as well! I'm not just talking building a snowman or pelting snowballs at your unsuspecting friends, I've got something a bit more action-packed in mind: SNOWSPORTS. If, like me, you were mesmerised by the performances of the figure skaters, snowboarders and skiiers in the recent Winter Olympics held in PyeongChang, chances are that you've been tempted to don a pair of skates or skis yourself. Luckily for me, I was offered the chance to do exactly that last week at Snozone in Milton Keynes. I took to the slopes to experience one of the UK's premier snowsport venues, where you even get to ski on real snow! Keep reading to find out how I got on...

New Season Style: Spring 2018*


Anyone who has been reading my blog for a little while now knows that I am by no means the most fashionable person on the planet. Quite the opposite in fact. You're more likely to find me dressing in threads fit for your grandma or sporting the same old jeans and t-shirt combo than wearing anything that can be described as runway ready. However, it is always fun to read glossy magazine articles at the start of every season, just to get a heads-up of what you can expect plastered to be all over the rails of Topshop in the upcoming months. So, on a cold and wet Sunday afternoon (because OBVIOUSLY the weather hasn't got the message that it's spring yet *sigh*), I delved into a few fashion articles to find out what the hottest spring trends for 2018 will be. To my delight, there were quite a few things that caught my eye, so this post aims at showcasing my existing spring style and how I want to upgrade it with this year's fashions. I'll be talking a few trends that I'll be avoiding too. Keep reading to find out what they are!

Things to be Grateful for

things to be grateful for gratitude

A wise man once said that “the secret of happiness is to count your blessings while others are adding up their troubles.” But sometimes it is all too easy to forget the things that we are grateful for. When we're having a bad day, it seems to be a fact of human nature that we push our positive memories and feelings of gratitude aside and focus on the things we're less happy with. However, as a new season is very nearly upon us, today I am encouraging you to come on a spring awakening with me, bringing all the good things in our lives to the fore. I'm a big believer in the law of attraction, namely that if you focus on the positive, you can bring more happiness and light into your life. Sure, this isn't an easy fix for every problem that you experience but hey, a few positive thoughts never hurt anyone! By being more grateful for what I already have, I hope to manifest more things worthy of being appreciated in my life. So, here is a post about just a few things that I'm grateful for.

Leicester: A History Tour

leicester history cathedral guildhall richard III

For me, one of the best things about visiting a new city is immersing yourself in its history and culture. As a Museum Studies student, it's unsurprising that I tend to gravitate towards sites of historical interest on my travels, as my visits to York and Salisbury document all too well! However, instead of adding a new destination to my list this week, I thought I would share some of my favourite historic haunts in my current hometown of Leicester. The lovely Hayley inspired me to create this post with her fantastic guide to Leicester's attractions, foodie highlights and Instagram hotspots, so today here is my recreation of that post with a historical twist. Hop onboard the TARDIS, strap yourself into the DeLorean, or give your time turner a spin, we're in for an exciting ride!

My #PromiseForThePlanet: An Ethical Shopping Wishlist

WWF promise planet ethical shopping vegan plastic

Tonight (Saturday 24th March) at 8.30pm, #EarthHour begins. Earth Hour is a global movement to go off the grid for an entire hour, switching off your lights, phone, TV (in fact all electrical devices!) as part of a powerful show of support for action on climate change. In honour of this year's Earth Hour, the organising body, WWF, are asking everyone taking part to make a pledge to protect the planet. For every #PromiseForThePlanet made, Ariel are donating £1 to support the incredible work that WWF carry out. There has never been a better time to get involved; stats from WWF's website indicate that as a direct result of climate change, 1 in six of the planet's species are now in danger of extinction and that 80% and 50% of freshwater and land species respectively have declined. That's pretty scary stuff and definitely something that we, as the pollutors of the planet, have a duty to tackle.

But this post isn't all doom and gloom! Let's talk my #EarthHour promise. My pledge for 2018 is to shop more ethically, using less plastic and buying more vegan friendly products from sustainable sources. This brings me on to the main subject of this post - my wishlist! I'm hoping to show through this post that making a few small changes for your Earth Hour pledge couldn't be easier. And it'll give you an excuse to invest in some lovely new things too, win-win! Here's my lust list...

35 Ways to Save*

saving money food clothing beauty travel

Hands up if you still haven't quite mastered the art of budgeting yet. Let's face it, it's a tough nut to crack. When it approaches the the end of the month, our bank balance can make for painful reading. We curse every Starbucks coffee and Uber journey that we took just after payday when we were feeling flush. But it's ok, we've all been there. For that reason, today I'm going to share with you some of my top saving tips for the three areas where most of us tend to splurge - food, clothing, and travelling - as well as some motivation aids for when you inevitably start to flag! There are no less than 35 tips packed in to this post, so I'm confident you'll come across some golden advice you haven't heard before.

Blogger Book Nook #7: Books on Screen

book movie film adapations TV

This month on the Blogger Book Nook, we're talking adaptations. Whether you love or hate them, books being adapted for film, TV, and theatre are big business. A new movie based on Beatrix Potter's tender tale of Peter Rabbit hit the big screens this year and the film version of popular novel Ready Player One will be joining it in movie theaters very soon. It seems that there's never been a better time to see your favourite books in the big screen! That's why, in March, Tabitha and I decided to challenge the lovely ladies in our Facebook group to select a book with an adaptation to read this month and as always, there's a Q&A to match. Huge thanks to our wonderful members Abbie, Em, Hels, Fleur, Steph, and Zoe for doing an amazing job with the February prompt! Let's dive right in to March's questions...

Living a Minimalist Life*

minimalism how to lifestyle wardrobe

My Mum always used to tell me when I was young that a tidy bedroom equaled a tidy mind. I will admit to rolling my eyes at this in the past, because what 13 year old really wants to clear up after herself? Better to be ankle-deep in your floordrobe every time you open the bedroom door, right? WRONG. Now I’ve got my own place, I finally understand my Mother’s wisdom (sorry for the years of messiness, Mother dear). Fewer possessions equal far less stress in my book. Having mountains of stuff spread across the entire room makes me feel so unfocussed and overwhelmed, whilst de-cluttering leaves me feeling more organized and a lot calmer. As I’ve discovered, however, minimalism is not something that you achieve in one fell swoop. It’s a constant process of evaluating the possessions that you amalgamate and working towards the home you want to live in. Today I thought I’d share my four top tips for embracing minimalism in the hope that they can bring as much calm to your life as they’ve brought to mine!

What I Eat In A Day

what i eat day diet vegan food

Is anyone else out there a total Nosey Parker? I don't know about you, but I absolutely love reading blog posts and watching YouTube videos all about people's everyday lives. Even if they're just in the house all day playing with their dogs (yes Julian Solomita who I'm SURE is reading this, I am talking about you), it's compulsive viewing. Really though, it doesn't matter if you're a blogging megastar like Zoella or an average Joe off the street, other people are endlessly fascinating to me! Everyday food content is among my favourites because it gives me so many ideas for meals of my own. Today, I thought I'd jump on an ever-popular bandwagon and share what I eat in a day.

International Women's Day: Diversity in the Blogging World

international womens day diversity blogger

Diversity in the blogging world is a topic that is fast gathering more attention. And rightly so. It is incredibly important that bloggers of every race, sexual orientation, gender identity and disability feel represented. After all, seeing someone that looks like you in the blogosphere really can make you feel like you belong. This is something that us white girls can easily take for granted but for those who are not so well represented, it is a big deal. When blogging awards roll around, talk about diversity and representation reaches fever pitch.

But very often, it never goes beyond talk. "I believe in diversity!" we shout, "How come there are so few black bloggers nominated in this year's awards?!" we complain. Yet how many of us actually DO something to help make the blogging world a more diverse place? Today, instead of just paying lip service to the idea of greater diversity, the aim of this post is to be active in the fight to promote under-represented groups. Shall we get started?

Making My Blog Work for Me

blogging advice work for me

Recently, my blog has undergone a transformation. You've definitely noticed, right? I mean, everything looks SO different around here. Just kidding. The changes that I've been making are so small that nobody has really noticed. Nevertheless, switching things up has been a very meaningful process. Implementing a few small changes has meant that I've fallen back in love with blogging again. Today I thought I'd talk you through the important alterations that I've been putting in place in order to make blogging work for me. Intrigued? I hope so.

A Day in the Life of a PhD Student

phd student day in life

As some of you may know, I am currently in my first year of a PhD programme at the University of Leicester's Department of Museum Studies. Studying for a PhD is very different to the undergraduate and Masters degrees I've completed in the past and adjusting was quite a learning curve! Today I thought I'd give you a bit of an insight into my life and answer the burning question of "So, what does a PhD student actually do all day?" Hopefully this post won't end up being too boring...

What's involved in completing a PhD?

The aim of a PhD project is to produce an 80,000 word thesis. I have three years to complete this. There are no traditional written exams, but I will have a viva voce examination at the end my my three years, in which I'll be expected to defend my thesis to a team of experts in the field. If you pass your viva, you'll become a Doctor!

My Project

My PhD is on the subject of archaeological plaster casts. These are exact replicas of ancient Greek and Roman statues that were manufactured in the eighteenth and ninteenth century using Plaster of Paris. Archaeological plaster casts have somewhat of a bad reputation in museums; they are often considered "fakes". My project aims to understand how to present these sculptures as objects in their own right and how to convey their complex individual histories. It is an incredibly interesting interdisciplinary project in which I am investigating issues of authenticity, authority, and value in a museum context. If you have no idea of what an archaeological plaster cast looks like, the photos for this post were taken in the Cast Courts of the V&A Museum in London, to give you a bit of a flavour of the objects I'm working on!

phd day life student

Friendships vs. Cliques in the Blogging World

blogging friendship cliques

Having a group of friends is a perfectly natural thing. You had them at school. You had them at uni. You've probably got them at work. This is entirely normal - you might gravitate towards certain people because you share a hobby, or perhaps you simply have a similar outlook on live that draws you closer. In a community as diverse as the one created through blogging, it makes sense that you'll come across people with whom you have interests in common. You may even come across several people that you share a real connection with and this shared connection may develop into a friendship group, complete with a group chat on Whatsapp. And all of this is good right? The Internet is a great place to make friends.

But what if it's not? What happens when friends turn into cliques? I asked on Twitter whether my followers felt that cliques were a big problem in the blogging community and the majority of people answered YES.


Today, I thought I'd delve a little deeper into this issue. Are we bloggers really cliquey?

cliques blogging community
Mesh Bodysuit: Boohoo
Meek Grande Watch: Adexe

A clique is defined as a group of people who actively exclude anyone from outside of their friendship circle. The word clique is associated with bitchiness and spiteful behaviour. The members of a clique thrive on making others feel small and unwelcome. Essentially, a clique is a friendship group gone TOXIC. Let's hear some examples of that, shall we?

...


Well. This is awkward. When I asked people on Twitter for examples of cliquey behaviour that they'd experienced, this turned up very few responses, despite 74% of people viewing cliques as a serious problem. I also asked several people privately and although a few very isolated incidents of clique-y behaviour were reported, the vast majority of people couldn't think of a single example.

clique blogging community blogger

It seems to me that what we think about cliques is basically a series of big fat assumptions.

"I bet all Ellen, Steph and Ashleigh do in their group chat is bitch about others!" 

People seem to think that every group of bloggers in a Whatsapp chat uses that chat exclusively to bitch about others. I'm not saying that this categorically does not occur, because I'm sure that in some cases it does, but should we really be assuming that EVERY SINGLE PERSON in a group chat actively uses that to spread rumours and talk shit? Pffft. I don't think so. I don't know about your group chats, but in mine, we discuss everything from boy dramas and outfit advice to Olaf the snowman and ideas for our new Instagram themes. There's very little time left to bitch about people. Frankly, we've got better stuff to do.

"Poppy tags Rachel, Tamsin and Lucy in every #FF, they won't want to talk to me!"

People also seem to think that just because the same group of friends tag each other in #FF every damn week that these people won't talk to anyone else. And that just isn't the case. I don't think I've ever come across a blogger who exclusively talks to people within their friendship group. I am a member of several friendship groups and I've never been made to feel bad or unwelcome because I have friends who aren't within these groups. 

friendship blogging clique

All this talk about cliques really brings me down. What's really happening when we put the label of "clique" onto EVERY SINGLE FRIEND GROUP is that we're judging people for the simple human action of having friends. I'm not saying that the blogging world doesn't have a single clique, it most likely does. But we need to remember that not every friendship group is a clique. On that note, I'm going to conclude this post with a question, Carrie Bradshaw style. 

When we make assumptions about "cliques", are WE the real bitches?


cliques friends blogging community

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this post. If you have experienced cliquey behaviour, do let me know in the comments below - let's have a discussion! Please also show your appreciation for Hayley and her ace photography skills in this post!

Until next time,

A x


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Why I Love Neal's Yard Remedies Skincare

neal's yard remedies skincare recommendations
In a world where there are a million different makeup and skincare options, brand loyalty is a pretty big deal. It's all too easy to walk into Boots or Superdrug every time you run out of moisturizer or cleanser and select an entirely new product that you've never tried before. That life is not for me, however. For years now, there has been only one brand of skincare on my bathroom shelf and that is Neal's Yard Remedies. So today, to get into the spirit of Valentine's Day, I thought I'd share a love letter not to my partner (sorry pal) but to this brand to show exactly why my ardour for their products is so strong.

neal's yard remedies skincare natural recommend

I love NYR because.. They change the way I feel about myself

I have prominent dark undereye circles. Always have, always will. Whether I've slept for 10 minutes or 10 hours, they're an omnipresent part of my face. As I mentioned in my makeup free month post, I always used to pack on concealer to try and disguise these eye bags but to no avail. I felt that they were the most noticable part of my face and I was incredibly self-conscious about them. However, a product from Neal's Yard Remedies has gone a long way to changing how I feel about my eyes. My Mum introduced me to their White Tea Toning Eye Gel a couple of years ago and from my first use, I fell in love. I apply a tiny bit of this gel under each eye every morning and it really brightens up my eyes. I feel more awake and as the product tones the skin under my eyes, I feel like my eye bags are firmer and much less noticable. The gel is light and and non-sticky, ideally suited to the delicate undereye area. Plus, like all Neal's Yard products, it smells AMAZING. Yes, I am still self-conscious about my eyes but wearing this eye gel helps me feel more confident every single day.

neal's yard remedies white tea eye gel review

I love NYR because.. The products are worth every penny

When I rave to pretty much anyone who will listen about Neal's Yard Remedies products, the response that I get most of the time is "... yeahhhh but they're EXPENSIVE." And yes, that definitely is true. Whilst they're not quite on the level of high-end designer brands like Dior or Estée Lauder, they are pricier than your standard Boots own-brand face wash. However, with Neal's Yard products I genuinely believe that you get what you pay for. A little of their products does go a long way. For example, with one of my long-standing favourites, their Wild Rose Beauty Balm, which you can use as a cleanser, moisturizer, makeup remover, and even as a highlighter, I only need a pea-sized amount of product to cover my entire face, leaving it on overnight for an intense nourishing treatment. What's more, the price really does reflect the quality. Every product is so gentle yet effective, which the Geranium and Orange Body Scrub demonstrates perfectly. I have tested out other body scrubs but this wins hands down. Its coarse texture really does make you feel like you're giving your legs / arms / whatever an invigorating polish, but at the same time it is deeply moisturizing and I often don't need to apply another moisturizing product once I've stepped out of the shower.

neal's yard remedies body scrub review natural

I love NYR because.. They're cruelty free and mostly vegan

No bunnies (or any other animal for that matter) will be harmed in the testing of Neal's Yard products as they're 100% vegetarian and certified by Cruelty-Free International. Most products are suitable for vegans too, although a small number do contain beeswax and honey, so if you are vegan make sure you check labels or consult a vegan product list. The rest of the Ethics page on the Neal's Yard website makes for pretty happy reading too. All of their products are sustainably sourced, organic, and fair-trade guaranteed. They were also the first high street retailer to be officially declared carbon neutral, using recyclable packaging and manufacturing their products in a purpose-built eco-factory to minimise resource wastage. Whenever I head into a NYR store, I know that I'll be shopping guilt-free, which is massively important to me.

neal's yard remedies beauty balm review natural

To sum it all up one sentence: I love Neal's Yard Remedies skincare because it loves me back. 


Do you have a go-to skincare brand? Or do you like to try new things? Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time,

A x

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*This was not a sponsored post and I was not sent any products by NYR to review. This post is based on many years of testing (and loving!) NYR products.