Powered by Blogger.

The Autumn Style Menu with Boohoo

brunette holding up a yellow autumn leaf in front of her face

What is the recipe for fabulous fall fashion? A healthy portion of cable knit, side orders of faux fur and dark denim, topped off with sprinklings of dark red ochre and burnt orange. Yes, it's good fun blending in with the deciduous leaves as they fall off the trees at this time of year! My autumn wardrobe has been given a much needed injection of fall-friendly colour thanks to the lovely people at Boohoo. I was given the opportunity to trial a brand new way of shopping on their site - inspired by the good old student staple of a meal deal! Boohoo now allow you to create your own autumn style menu by selecting a starter (a pair of shoes), a main (a dress, playsuit, or jumpsuit), and a dessert (a handbag) for £30 all in. As a full time student, any chance to update my seasonal wardrobe on a budget is something that I'll grasp with both hands, so keep scrolling to find out what I nabbed from Boohoo!

VIP Dessert Dining at Haute Dolci, Leicester

private dining booth at haute dolci dessert restaurant, Leicester, with rose petals on table

If there's anything that the fine city of Leicester isn't short of, it's restaurants specialising in desserts.  It seems us Midlanders are a sweet-toothed bunch! For those who frequent London Road, Heavenly Desserts is the go-to. Sundaes Gelato on Granby Street is another favourite haunt for ice cream lovers, located in very close proximity to Creams (also on Granby Street) with its famous bubble waffles. With all of these dessert delights on offer, any wannabe competitor has got to do something pretty special to stand out. Thankfully, that's precisely what the new kid on the block has got to offer. Enter Haute Dolci. I was invited along for an exclusive VIP private dining experience before the restaurant opened to the public at on 29th September to sample exactly what Haute Dolci are all about.

Embarrassing Question Q&A

Abbey, a brunette blogger, stands facing the camera looking down with a graffiti wall behind her

It's time to dish the dirt. And nope, before you jump to conclusions, I won't be spreading evil rumours or gossiping away about anybody else - the only embarrassing secrets that I'll be sharing are my own. If you've been needing a massively TMI Q&A in your life, I'm delivering the goods with today's post. Ready for things to get awkward? Here's everything you've ever wanted to know about me but have been too afraid to ask.

When was the last time you let someone take the blame for something you did?

Not that long ago actually! My boyfriend and I were clearing out his fridge because there was some seriously gross stuff in there. A lemon that was so old it was BLACK, for example. Ick. However, I was a bit too over-zealous when throwing things away as I decided to chuck out a bottle of salad dressing that was a few weeks out of date. That evening, my boyfriend's housemate comes home, makes himself a salad, and lo and behold, the dressing he wanted to use was missing. Oops. My boyfriend covered for me and told his pissed off housemate that he'd chucked the dressing out, bless him. 

Home Office Tour

two hands holding a mug of tea surrounded by office equipment such as books, a lamp, pens, notebooks and a photo frame

It's no news to anyone that I've been a bit quiet on ye olde blog in recent weeks. And it's not without good reason, I promise! Life for me has been rather hectic lately, primarily because I've recently moved house. I'm now back in Leicester ready to start the second year of my PhD studies after spending the summer living with my boyfriend. I've moved in to a lovely studio flat and I couldn't be happier with it! I have gorgeous views overlooking the city and I don't have any annoying housemates to steal my food, mess up the bathroom, or keep me up by drying their hair at 1am (yes, that happened a lot in the past *eyeroll*). Living in a studio flat means that my space is very compact, with my bedroom, kitchen, office area, and lounge area all rolled into one. As someone who really enjoys working from home, maximising the small space that I do have for my office is very important. After a few trials of different set ups, I think I've finally cracked the perfect home office space! Here are the four elements that make my home office the ideal workspace for me.

The Vegetarian and Vegan Guide to Paris

a stack of pancakes, topped with fruit, sit on a wooden table, cupcake with Oreo on top in background

When you think of Parisian food, frogs legs and snails are probably the first things that spring to your mind. But never fear, my fellow veggie travellers, for the city does have some gems when it comes to vegetarian and vegan eating as well. I won't lie, sometimes it was a bit tricky to locate suitable food during my recent holiday in France and a lot of wandering up and down the streets, perusing multiple restaurant menus was involved, but I was lucky enough to discover some fantastic places that were really worth recommending. Lots of you really seemed to enjoy my veggie guide to Amsterdam and that's why today's post is the Paris instalment. So, if you're hitting up the French capital in the near future, where should you be eating?

Confidence, Anxiety & Friendship in the Blogging World: My Two Penneth

Do you let an absence of confidence hold you back in life? I know I do. I've written quite openly the past about the things I lack confidence with. Talking candidly about the subject certainly has helped me to boost myself up, but I'm certainly a long way from being crowned Little Miss Self Assured. My issues with confidence most hold me back when it comes to making new friends. And it seems that I'm not alone.

Reading and Remembering: Does it matter if we just ... forget?

an open book rests on a pillow on a bed with a blue stripe duvet cover, with a shelf of books in the background

Does anyone else remember comprehension exercises from their time at primary school? In your brightly illustrated textbook there would be a short story or informative article, which you'd have to carefully read all the way through, and then answer questions on what you'd just read, trying not to re-read the text if possible. I'm definitely revealing my nerdy younger self here when I say that I LOVED these comprehension tasks. But now, the days of colourful textbooks and gold stars are over, but the love of reading has stuck by me. This year, I set myself a goal of reading 24 books in 2018, which nicely works out at two per month. To my delight I smashed that goal a couple of months ago, so I have upped my book goal to 36, which I'm well on my way to achieving.

Being the Ugly Duckling

Abbey, a blogger, stands on a cute Cambridge street wearing floral trousers and an off-shoulder black top

I absolutely love going to blogger events. They're a fantastic way of meeting new people with whom you already have something in common, and of seeing in the flesh the friends that you've been chatting away to on the internet for years. However, every single time I attend a blogger event, the same insecurities niggle away at the back of my mind. A little voice whispers in my ear: "You won't fit in there." "You'll stick out like a sore thumb." "People will take one look at you and know you don't belong." A lot of the time, I feel very out of place, like the ugly duckling in the room.

For the Love of Foraging

two hands cupping a portion of blackberries, the words "for the love of foraging" superimposed onto the photo

With the scorching summer heatwave now behind us, everybody's thoughts have now turned to autumn (well, that certainly seems to be the case if my Twitter feed is anything to go by). Now that we're not desperately fanning ourselves with every piece of paper in the office, sweating in places we didn't even think we could sweat, and even contemplating filling the bath with ice to cope in the 35 degree heat, being outside in the rain showers and tepid temperatures might not seem so appealing. But today I'm here to tell you that now is the optimal time to be outside because there are treats aplenty in the autumnal countryside! Recently, I've been doing a lot of foraging - that's harvesting wild foods, in case you didn't know - and this post is all about encouraging you to do the same. 

Millennial Life: Myths vs. Reality*

plate of avocado on toast with poached eggs sitting on top of a property magazine a glass of orange juice to one side

Hands up if you’ve ever been lectured about the evils of the millennial generation. Perhaps it was a relative wagging their finger at you, telling you that you’re a snowflake, or maybe an old lady in the supermarket rolling her eyes as you put an avocado into your trolley, muttering about how you’ll never own a house now. These myths are all too common but what is the reality? I love writing myth-busting posts on my blog, from debunking hair hacks to shattering clichés about humanities students, so today I’ve produced a guide on how to rebuff generational stereotypes with cold, hard facts. Power to the millennials!

Boating on the Norfolk Broads: My #RailAdventure

greater anglia train parked at station with flower bed in foreground

As you're reading this post, I'll be travelling back home after spending a wonderful staycation on the North Norfolk coast. My sister and I booked a getaway in a charming country cottage right by the seafront where we indulged in a week of sun, sea, and sand (oh, and plenty of chips and ice cream as well). As part of our week away, I was invited by Greater Anglia to explore even more of what Norfolk has to offer, in particular when travelling by rail. It won't surprise you to learn that in this blog post, I'll be telling you all about how I got on! But first, here's an introduction to the beautiful county of Norfolk and to the joys of travelling by train. Buckle up and enjoy the ride!

The Vegetarian and Vegan Guide to Amsterdam

amsterdam vegetarian vegan food eating restaurant cafe

If you follow a diet such as vegetarianism or veganism, finding food in a new city can be a bit of a struggle, especially in mainland Europe. I have found when travelling to places such as Portugal and Italy in the past that even finding a sandwich can be difficult. Many food establishments, even in the airport, catered exclusively to meat-eaters. However, on my recent travels to Amsterdam, I was able to find some fantastic veggie and vegan eateries that met my needs exceptionally well. Today, I've decided to share all of these meals with you, so that you too can scope out the best veggie and vegan haunts that Holland's capital has to offer.

My Plant Based Life: Could you and should you go vegan?*

vegan vegetarian plant based diet why how

This post marks a very important first anniversary for me. In August of last year, after a few months of dabbling in pescatarianism, I made the decision to go fully veggie. For 21 years of my life, I hadn't really put much thought into what (or who!) I was eating, but after giving the matter a bit of consideration, I made the leap into vegetarianism and I've never looked back. I even made the transition into veganism in January which took more of an adjustment, but overall I really enjoyed it. I've spoken a lot about vegan lifestyle on my blog in the past, from easy vegan swaps that you can make in a day without breaking the bank, to ensuring that you're eating enough protein as a vegan. However, I've never really touched on my reasons for taking up a plant based life before on my blog, so that's exactly what this post aims to address. Here's why I'm a veggie and proud.

Wedding Guest Guide: What to Wear, How to Accessorize and What to Give*

wedding guest guide outfit wear accessories giving present gift

Do you hear the church bells ringing? Oh yes, wedding season 2018 is fast approaching. Chances are, your letterboxes have been rattling with 'save the date' notices for a while now and before you know it, the big days will be kicking off. This month is a prime time for tying the knot, with 1.4 million couples registered on one wedding website getting hitched on August 18th alone! However, after the excitement of sending back your RSVP to the blushing bride to be, sometimes wedding worries can set in. Choosing the ideal outfit, accessorizing appropriately, and selecting the perfect wedding gift for the happy couple can be a bit of a daunting prospect. But thanks to the joys of the internet, it's easier than ever to get things right. I've put together a guide to what to wear, how to accessorise, and how to select the perfect gift, which you can shop directly from your sofa. 

Fuel Yourself Fit*

After *that* incident with Kim Kardashian and the appetite-suppressing lollipops earlier this year (shudder), it has become more important than ever to start conversations about healthy and balanced diets, as well as fuelling yourself appropriately for exercise. I feel that this is an especially important thing to do online, as for a lot of people, the internet is a major source of insecurities about their bodies. Seeing airbrushed swimsuit models on your Instagram feed, or scrolling through pics your favourite celebrities with teeny tiny waists can be extremely bad for our mental wellbeing, not to mention our physical health, if those internet-inspired insecurities turn us towards a programme of disordered eating and over exercising.

Exploring Amsterdam: My Top Three Attractions

exploring Amsterdam top three attractions sightseeing visit

As the capital of the Netherlands, Amsterdam is famous for its amazing art and culture, its impressive network of canals, and (of course) its coffeeshops. I recently paid a visit to the city on a press trip and I had an absolutely fantastic time! Two full days were certainly not enough but I nevertheless managed to pack in quite an impressive programme of activities, which has enabled me to put together this "top three" guide to the must-see sights in Amsterdam. In this post, I'll be covering museums, canals, neighbourhoods, green spaces, and free attractions, guiding you through everything you need to know for a short break in the city! My sightseeing in Amsterdam was all facilitated by the amazing I amsterdam City Card. This handy smart card gives you access to public transport in the city as well as to an enormous selection of over 60 attractions - all for free! A swipe of the card will also get you discounted dining at a wide selection of restaurants, as well as free giveaways, and money off at even more attractions. Keep reading to see what I got up to!

How to Cope in the Summer Heat*

summer heat hot weather cope survive

Stepping off the plane at Stansted airport and being met not with dark clouds and torrential rain but sunshine and 28 degree heat was definitely an oddity a few weeks ago! I’m now back from my holiday in Sorrento and I’m absolutely delighted that summer in the UK is in full swing. I’m a huge fan of the hot weather and the barbeques, sunbathing, and bronzed tans that this brings, but coping with the warmth and humidity of the British summer can be a challenge, especially if you’re not naturally comfortable in the heat. While I was away in Sorrento, temperatures hit the high 20’s most days and when you’re out and about exploring a new city, the heat can really take it out of you. That’s exactly why I’ve put together this list of top tips for enjoying the summer without suffering due to the heat, advice which is just as applicable in Portugal as Preston! Let’s get started.

Spend or Save: What's Your Gameplan?

giffgaff gameplan finance money cash save spend

Are you a saver or a spender? It can be hard to hit our savings targets especially with temptations such as takeaways, ASOS sales, and bargain flights on skyscanner just a few clicks away. Being typically British, speaking about money doesn't always come naturally but last week, the giffgaff team got a whole group of Midlands bloggers together to do exactly that, talking all things financial in honour of their new giffgaff Gameplan service. Gameplan is certainly going to be a game changer *teehee* when it comes to managing your money but before I tell you all about what I learned at the event, here's something a little more light hearted! All of the lovely bloggers at the event were invited to play the 'Spend or Save' board game to get us thinking about managing our money. Here's how it went down...

Reasons to Love North East England

north east england love visit durham cathedral

The North East of England holds a very special place in my heart. Although I'm a southerner born and bred, having been raised in the rural Suffolk countryside, I absolutely love Newcastle, York, Durham and the surrounding areas. I've spent many a summer holiday up in the north enjoying all the delights that it has to offer and this year has been no exception. This time I was technically there for work, as I was on the organising committee of a PhD study day held at the Laing Gallery in Newcastle, but I also found the time to squeeze in a day trip to one of my favourite cities: Durham. We were very lucky with the weather and enjoyed a beautiful sunny day in the city, so to give me a chance to share all the lovely photos, I've written an ode to the North East, sharing all of the reasons why I love this beautiful part of the world.

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.