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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.

Blogger Book Nook #6: Sharing the Love of Books

a court thorns roses review book

Valentine's Day is fast approaching and since February is the month of love, Tabitha and I decided that it couldn't be a better time to share our love of books with those around us! That's why this month's Blogger Book Nook reading prompt is "book swap". We've been encouraging the wonderful Book Nook members on our Facebook group to find a fellow bibliophile with whom to exchange reads, whether it's a friend, colleague, or family member, or another Book Nook blogger from the group. Tabitha kindly offered to send one of her all time favourite books to me, and I returned the favour! I'll be sharing my mini review of Sarah J. Maas's A Court of Thorns and Roses later on in this post, but first we have a Q&A which combines book swapping and LURRRRVE! What could be better?

Growing Up Online

growing up online pro con
It's not news to anyone that growing up online is good and evil in equal parts. Growing up on the internet with its heavily edited Instagram imagery and online trolling can make adolescence an intimidating and overwhelming time. But let's not write the internet off completely. Recently I've been thinking a lot about how the online world has impacted positively upon my formative years and I have come to the conclusion that there are plenty of silver linings to the online cloud. Today I thought I'd share just a few things that I'm so grateful to the internet for bringing into my life as I've grown up. Maybe it'll inspire you to reflect on your experiences too!

growing up online good or bad

Checking My Privilege

I am a white, heterosexual, cis-gender, able-bodied atheist. I am PRIVILEGED AS FUCK. Self-awareness about these kinds of issues isn't something that anyone is born with, however. The fact that I've started to recognise and check my privilege is entirely down to growing up on the internet. Being online, watching and taking part in discussions, and reading blogs and news articles has been a major education for me. Posts written by amazing people like Shona have taught me to stop and consider people with circumstances which are different to mine. For example, how disabled individuals might in fact really suffer from a decision that at first sounds trivial to an able-bodied person, like getting rid of pre-cut fruit and vegetables in the supermarket. In short, growing up on the internet has taught me that sometimes, I need to shut up and let other voices be heard, or even better, to be an ally and attempt to amplify the voices of those who need to be listened to. I'm not saying that I do everything right or that I've got all of this figured out. I most definitely have not, but thanks to the internet, I will keep living and learning.

growing up online positive negative

Living My Best Life

Along the same vein of raising awareness, another way in which the internet has helped me grow as a person is in the area of ethics. Before joining the blogging community, I hadn't even considered vegetarianism as a lifestyle, let alone veganism, but the people I've met online have played a major part in my decision to go plant-based. The internet has provided me with countless resources and a method of researching how I want to live my life, whether it's through conversations I've had with online friends, or by watching videos or reading articles about ethical living. Even researching for blog posts I've written myself about being eco-friendly and going meat free have prompted me to make real and lasting changes in my life. None of this would have happened without the internet and for that, I'm eternally grateful.

growing up online good bad

Finding My People

Growing up can be quite hard when you don't really feel like anyone gets you. I had (and still have) many wonderful friends who I've met without the influence of the internet and I value them immensely, but very often, I still felt like the odd one out in a group. I was the person who didn't quite fit in; everyone seemed to have hobbies and interests in common except me. However, the internet has connected me to people with whom I share truly genuine connections. People with the same passions as me. People I can chatter away to on WhatsApp for hours on end every single day without getting bored or running out of conversation topics. People who I simply never would have crossed paths with otherwise. In this respect, I feel that growing up without the internet would've been a whole lot harder because I wouldn't have had these amazing people helping me along the way.

P.S. Shoutout to Chloe and her fab post on finding her people which inspired this section!
P.P.S. Thank you to Hels (who is very much one of "my people") for taking these snaps of me!

positives negatives growing up online

Yes, we all gripe about living life online. It sure isn't perfect and it can be full of drama and bitchiness from time to time but hey, tell me something that isn't! On the whole, I am glad that I've been growing up online. I think that I'd be far worse off as a human being without it.

How about you? Has the internet helped you to grow as a person? Leave a comment down below!

Until next time,

A x

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Vegan Protein Sources*

vegan protein sources ideas plant based
Besides "don't you miss bacon?!", the question that I was asked with greatest frequency during veganuary was "but where do you get your PROTEIN?" This is probably due to the fact that one of the biggest misconceptions surrounding a vegan diet is that it does not provide enough protein. The word protein is stereotypically associated with a slab of red meat or a chicken breast, but there are plant-based protein sources aplenty. I was spoiled for choice when seeking out protein-rich foods during veganuary, so today I will be sharing just a few of them, all in the name of mythbusting!

One thing that all veggies and vegans should be aware of when seeking plant-based protein sources is the difference between COMPLETE VS. INCOMPLETE PROTEINS. Most meat-based protein sources are complete, meaning that they contain all of the requisite amino acids for our bodies to maximise protein absorbtion. This is not the case for some plant-based protein sources, they are known as incomplete proteins. However, all is not lost for us veggie types! Different vegetable proteins can be combined easily to turn vegetarian and vegan meals into complete protein sources. Let me show you how!

Be Your Own Valentine

It's Valentine's! Cupid has been sharpening his arrows for weeks in preparation for a day of romance, candles, chocolates, bouquets of roses and (of course) lost virginities. But what about the people who don't have a significant other, or those whose partner can't be with them this February 14th? Don't worry girls, I've got you covered. Now I'm no stranger to the joys of dating yourself, I am a huge advocate of solo dates and making YOURSELF feel special. This goes for every day of the year, and V-Day is absolutely no exception. So, without further ado, here's my whistle-stop guide to being your own Valentine!

Easy Vegan Meal Alternatives

vegan meal ideas alternatives easy
It probably hasn't escaped your attention that veganism is EVERYWHERE at the moment. #Veganuary is in its final stages, supermarkets are producing vegan ready meals, and we're even getting vegan Cornettos soon. Now I don't know about you, but I think that's a massive win. But before I delve into this post about easy vegan alternatives that I've personally loved this month, it's time for me to talk about something that I haven't been liking so much...

Outdoor Activities for Winter

outside outdoor winter activities ideas

When searching online for inspiration for how to spend time outside on a wintry weekend, I came across plenty of articles advising everything from making snow angels to cross country skiing. However, here in the UK we're not normally blessed with more than a couple of centimeters of snow at a time in the winter (and even that tiny amount sends public services into meltdown) so sledging and ice fishing are unfortunately off limits. (Yes, ice fishing was a genuine suggestion in one article). Sensing a gap in the market when it comes to snowless winter fun ideas, I've decided to put together my own post of UK-suitable outdoor activites to inspire you to wrap up warm and get outside!

wintry outside fun activity inspiration

But first, why the hell do I recommend getting outside in the winter? I'm a country girl at heart. I grew up on a farm in rural Suffolk with no neighbours, no road noise (aside from the occasional tractor), and birdsong aplenty. These are things that I miss so much now that I live in a big city. Don't get me wrong, I love Leicester and the lovely flat I live in here, but sometimes, I crave that peace and quiet, without a car in earshot. Walking through a blissful green field with only your own thoughts for company is an introvert's dream. It's an important opportunity to recharge and ground yourself, something I try to do regularly, whatever the season. But enough of my ramblings, let's get into the guide of how you can embrace the outdoor life just like me!

cold weather ideas activity

Go on a photography adventure

This post is actually brought to you by a photography adventure that I went on last weekend! I was lucky enough to receive a new camera lens for Christmas so I was dying to try it out on some new subjects. I found so much inspiration for new angles and ways of using my lens (even having a play around on manual mode, eek) in the outdoor environments of the Cambridge Botanical Gardens, which brings me on to my second outdoor activity idea... 

Visit your city's Botanical Gardens

Cambridge isn't the only city with gorgeous Botanical Gardens, you can find them in Sheffield (beautifully shown off by Jessica and James in their day out post), as well as Oxford, Newcastle, Birmingham and many more! Botanical Gardens are a lovely mix of wide open spaces as well as greenhouses and indoor areas to explore if you're feeling a little chilly - ideal for a winter's day!

Walk a journey you'd usually drive

The perks of this are endless: first off, it's free AND an environmentally friendly choice! Even if you won't be venturing out of the city on this walk, you'll still be getting those all-important exercise benefits, and you may even discover some new things to love about your hometown that you'd never noticed before, such as a house with a beautiful garden, an adorable puppy going on his walk, or a new cafe you'd really like to pop in to!

things to do winter outside

Make your own scavenger hunt

This is a really fun activity to do with children, or even just a group of enthusiastic friends! Make it a competition amongst your outdoorsy group to find a selection of objects - they can be anything you choose. For example, an acorn, a stone, a feather, a clover leaf. You can even add a few silly things like a stick the exact length of your middle finger or the prettiest leaf you come across!

Take a winter picnic

Picnics are by no means a summer exclusive! Pack yourself a thermos full of soup, some good old fashioned sarnies, and a blanket to wrap yourself up in as well as one to sit on. It'd be rude not to treat yourself to a few sweet treats as well, you need the sugar to keep you warm, right?!

Visit a National Trust Property

History, scenery and the promise of some amazing scones in the ever-present cafe, what more could you ask for? I love visiting National Trust places (including those in Salisbury and York) because there's always something new to discover. I've been to art exhibitions, amazing garden installations, and even miniature train rides at National Trust venues and I'm not ashamed to admit how much I enjoy them!

things to do winter cold ideas

Go birdwatching 

This might seem like something your grandparents might do on a weekend, but you'll be surprised how enthralling bird watching can get when you start to get into it! I mentioned above my love of birdsong, and I find that there's nothing like seeing a little robin flitting around to bring a smile to your face. If you've brought your camera along, you can challenge yourself to take a few snaps of the birds you spot as well! 

Make bark rubbings from trees

We're going from activities suitable for the over eighty-fives to those appropriate for under fives in one swoop, but who cares?! Taking bark rubbings from trees using a piece of paper and a crayon was something I loved doing as a child. You can get creative with your rubbings once you're home too - they'd make a great scrapbook background to memorialise your day out, or you could turn them into cards, envelopes, anything you like!

Plan a pub / cafe walk

Before you slip your welly boots on and prepare to jump in all the muddy puddles you can find, plan yourself a walking route that passes by a couple of pubs or cafes. These will break up your journey, give you the chance to sit down and warm up over a steaming mug of coffee or something a little stronger, and make your afternoon stroll all the more enjoyable!

winter cold ideas things to do activities

And there we have it, my top nine ideas for outdoor activities perfectly suited to the colder months! If you have anything to add to my list, don't hesitate to comment below!

Are you an indoor or an outdoor person?

Until next time,

A x

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