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Despite what the look on my face suggests, I am genuinely so happy with these new boots. 

I thought I'd do a quick post featuring some gems I've invested in, from new gold jewellery to on-trend statement boots. Read on for my verdict on transitioning from silver to gold and classic black boot to bold white. Times are changing. 

Please note, I've linked the products and lookalikes at the bottom so if you CBA reading just skip straight down xoxo
Each year when the weather gets colder and the rain starts pouring, I admittedly experience a bit of sadness regarding the loss of summer. However, I then remember it's time to buy new boots and all is g again.  Boots are by far my favourite form of footwear and generally my fave thing to buy. They can make a boring outfit a hell of a lot more interesting (especially if they're bright white), and they look so good and leg lengthening (providing they have a heel) with dresses, workwear, jeans... literally anything, essentially.

This season, the white boot trend is continuing, and TBH I usually stick to boring black because they go with everything, they're easy to keep clean and so on, but after almost 24 years (I'm sure I started shopping aged one) of investing in a classic black ankle boot every September, I decided I was ready for a change. The white boot was happening. I bought a couple of pairs from Asos – both of which are linked in the widget below – one Western style, one with more of a heel – and despite only buying the Western style ones as a bit of a 'Oh, whatever, they're half price' back up, I like them so much more than the others. They're just that bit shorter in the leg, so go perfectly with cropped jeans, and they're also ticking off the Western trend – what a win-win!
Jewellery is another one of my style staples, to me an outfit just doesn't feel complete without the small details being perfect. For years, I have been obsessed with my collection of Rock 'n Rose and Dixi rings, which you can see here, but I decided a couple of months ago it was time to transition to gold jewellery. I say transition cos it has been a long and drawn out process of sourcing the perfect gold necklaces, hoops and watch. If you think you can just pop out and pick up a whole set of gold jewellery – you may be right, but I definitely couldn't.

I was down to just the watch that needed changing when I visited my cousin and noticed she had started wearing her mum's old gold and silver chain link watch (this probs isn't the technical description). It looked really cool and I knew my mum had a very similar one back in the day, so that has now been nabbed ty Andrea. I've linked a similar one below but deffoz ask your mum if she has one chilling in her jewellery box first, it's likely.

I'm loving these cheap as chips gold hoops too, you can see a bit better in the product image below, but rather than being standard gold plain hoops, they're vintage in style and just a bit more interesting.

                   

     

October Fashion Haul

This week I was lucky enough to be invited to sample the restaurants taking part in Sunderland Restaurant Week, along with a bunch of lovely North East bloggers and journalists. During this week (until 16 Sept) you can eat out across participating Sunderland restaurants for £5, £10 or £15 (depending on the restaurant and deal).

As well as providing a great opportunity to catch up with old colleagues and blogger pals, it was amazing to try out Sunderland's new and exciting edible offerings. To be honest, I never go to Sunderland. It's a bit of a trek from my home of Teesside and where I lived in Newcastle, so Sunderland restaurants have never really entered my radar.

HOWEVER, for some of these beauties I will be making a trip back, or at least booking in before the theatre or something.

We were put into groups of 4-6 to sample three different restaurants, one for starters, one for main, and one for dessert (after wine and nibbles at The Albert Pub as well lol). If you saw my Instagram story you will understand just how this resulted in a 'food hangover' for days. I. Was. So. Full.

Starters

For Starters, we went to No.2 Church Lane. The quirky little venue specialises in burgers with a total of 18 on offer (six being vegan or veggie), if you're wondering how on earth there can be that many varieties of the classic dish, here are some examples which may surprise: The Fish and Chip – a large piece of cod served with mushy peas, tartar sauce and a wedge of lemon, Sweet Home Avocado – char-grilled Cajun chicken with avocado chilli jam and lime mayo and The Plucking Swine – panko chicken breast topped with bacon, mozzerella and 'Churchy's sauce'. Anyway, enough about their burgers cos we were actually there to sample their (also quite extensive) list of starters.

Quick side note – they also threw in two options of loaded fries so we went for the Heavenly Fries (vegan, with BBQ pulled jackfruit) and the Holy Fries (drenched in beef chilli and melted cheese – not so vegan). I only tried the Heavenly because beef and cheese are not my thing, but I love a bit of vegan cuisine and they definitely were heavenly.


Actual starters-wise, we got Spicy Risotto balls (essentially Arancini, which I had a lot of in Oz so I was bloody thrilled by this), Falafel, Cheeseburger spring rolls (a strange one that I'm still not convinced on tbf), homemade slaw – always a winner, loaded nachos – these were idyllic with plenty of salsa, guac and sour cream, onion rings – I passed on this but they were HUGE and the others said they were excellent, Halloumi fries, Pigs in Blankets (who knew you could get a starter of this lil favourite anywhere) and chicken goujons. As you can imagine, I tried almost everything (soz onion rings and Holy Fries) and was so full, but it was very much worth it in the name of research.


Overall, I'd say Churchy's is definitely the perfect place for a filling post-pub meal, They even do a chip butty.

Mains

So everyone was slightly shocked by this one. For mains, we went to Wetherspoons. Maybe not haute cuisine, but they have introduced a new pizza menu full of thin, crispy and to be fair, quite decent pizzas. We sampled the Pepperoni, BBQ Chicken, garlic bread, and a few more but to be honest, I could only manage the BBQ chicken at this point in time (oh and ofc come of the cookie dough they threw in for good measure because there's always room for dessert). I did bring some home for my parents – it went down extremely well with the older crowd too.


Dessert

Being a tea-lover with a sweet tooth, dessert was my favourite. We went to The Looking Glass, which is a genuinely adorable Alice in Wonderland-inspired venue. Think quirky decor, clocks everywhere, gold leafing on the menus and the most extensive list of teas. By this point I was so full of pizza and risotto balls that I decided the detox tea would be wise, along with a chocolate and orange tart of course.



Find out more about Sunderland Restaurant Week and the deal specifics here.


Sunderland Restaurant Week

Trousers: Topshop
Top: Topshop (old)
Jacket: Topshop
Bag: Bali (similar here)
Boots: Glassons

Anyone else constantly have that nagging feeling that you should be doing something else? Like with work, you question whether you're following the right career path, or doing the right job ATM for your supposed chosen career, or with general life feeling when you're chilling at home that you should be at the gym or when you're out doing something you question whether you should be spending the money? etc etc

 I've always wanted to constantly improve on myself, my appearance and my life - always wanting to move forwards and not stay stagnant, or god forbid, go backwards. But putting this constant pressure on myself, I've figured, is not always the best, most productive thing. Constantly focussing on goals and how we want to be in the future means you're not having fun in the now. And what is the point in a life resulting in achieved goals but minimal enjoyment? 
While I was travelling my skin cleared up, and I became so much happier and de-stressed. Obviously, it's great to be seeing new and exciting places every day and this should make anyone happy, but one of the biggest differences in my travelling self v normal self is that my travelling self (especially while travelling with three friends and going with the flow of whatever they wanted to do) can't plan. While travelling, I wasn't worried about whether I was doing the right thing all the time - I was going with the flow for a set period of months, letting others make the decisions and just focussing on enjoying myself. The dream, right?

The thing I'm realising now, however, is that I could definitely live a little more like this in my normal 9-5 existence. So here are 8 Simple Rules I've set myself:

1. Don't overthink anything, if you want to do it and have the means - do it, if you don't want to do it - don't do it. Simple yet an under-the-radar concept these days
2. Don't let what other people might think influence you or stop you from doing you
3. Don't ever compare yourself to others, career, job, life, hair-wise. You don't know whether they're happy and really happiness should be the biggest goal in life
4. DO do what makes you feel good and achieved, but if you don't manage to do it constantly, don't beat yourself up over it - just go with the flow. Sometimes after work you might feel too tired to go the gym, don't push yourself if you're going to be miserable, a time will come when you're fully into it and ready to get ripped (coming from someone who snook back past the receptionist 5 mins after entering and pretended to be on the phone having an emergency - was attempting to go worth the anxiety of having to do this - NO)
5. DO do more of the things that calm you down and distract you from your own thoughts. For example, reading, watching films and watching Netflix. I used to feel like these were unproductive activities, but anything that improves your happiness and wellbeing is not unproductive
6. Don't worry about a decision after making it. You made it for a reason so accept it and go with it. In the wise words of Robbie W: No regrets - they only hurt
7. Don't worry in general, what good is that going to do. Easier said than done, I know, but I'm pretty sure that this becomes easier with time, as you realise that nothing is Thaatt big of a deal
8. If you don't like something in your life, and it is on your mind, DO do something about it



OOTD & de-stressing rules

Whether you're an Aussie looking for a new outfit, someone coming to visit the land down under, or someone anywhere in the world just looking for fresh fashion inspo, here are my favourite Australian fashion shops and my current favourite pieces from each...

1. Glassons


Copyright: Glassons

Can't even tell you how much I love this shop. Of all the fashion stores in Aussie malls, Glassons is definitely my favourite. I've bought more from Glassons while over here than I have Topshop, which is significant because Topshop is my favourite shop in the UK (or one of them, alongside Urban Outfitters I guess). Glassons is just so perfect for anything that looks a bit cool, a bit edgy, and very fashion-forward. They know the trends but they adapt them into such a cool girl, youthful style. They're also the best place for basics that aren't too basic if ya know what I mean - so for example, when you have that perfect pair of trousers (case in point, the striped ones below that I actually own lol) and you need a cool top to go with – Glassons is the place to go. Their crop tops, vest tops and blouses are all so nice and not at all basic.



2. Myer

So Myer is a department store and a great place to go for brands – and I don't necessarily mean expensive, high-end ones. Myer stock the likes of All About Eve, and Bardot, as well as my favourite Aussie vintage brand, Miss Brown Vintage.

Hat: $44.99 Bardot

3. Dotti

A cheap 'n cheerful shop, Dotti is the place for a bargain statement jumper, a bag that won't break the bank or an of-the-moment skirt.




4. Sportsgirl

Mainly for their accessories – but as you can see by the trousers and jacket, the clothing isn't all bad either.









5. Universal Store

Another one full of really cool brands from Mink Pink to Tommy Hilfiger, Vans and Dr. Martens. Plus some obscure ones, meaning you're bound to discover a new fave in here.



Let me know what you think of these picks, or if you have any favourite shops I haven't mentioned! :)

Best Fashion Shops in Australia


A scene witnessed in my local supermarket the other night inspired this post. A British girl was stood in the crisp aisle, staring around looking quite amazed and shouting into her iPhone “They do multipack crisps!”. You would think, judging by her demeanour, that they did multipack gold.

This, I realised (not being a crisp fan myself, soz) was one of the many things Brits really miss when they move to Australia and it made me think about the things I miss the most. Here are my top ten:

British girl autumn floral midi dress
Ah the Topshop clothes & historic architecture..


1. Sugar-free dilute juice (I’m looking at you Robinson’s – where are ya?!). It’s nothing special, but it’s something I expect to see on the shelves of a supermarket, and more importantly, in my cupboard. I ain't wasting calories on the full sugar crap.

2. British chocolate
Luckily I'm not that fussy when it comes to chocolate, but I have had to stick to Dairy Milk Oreo as my main chocolate bar of choice because you can definitely tell the difference with plain Dairy Milk. They make it to a different recipe here so that it takes longer to melt in the sun. Practical, but in my experience it still melts and just doesn't taste anywhere near as good. A lot of Brits get it imported and I do not blame them.

3. Old buildings
I think the oldest building in Australia is Cooks' House which was shipped all the way over from Great Ayton, 20 minutes from where I come from. And this is how excited I got about it:


A serious case of a gal being away from British heritage for that bit too long

4. Beer gardens
You can't beat a sunny beer garden with a cider in hand. One time we found a place called 'The Beer Garden', which was very exciting until we got inside and realised THERE WAS NO OUTDOOR AREA. WTF Australia?! False hope or what.

5. British fashion
So yes, there are stylish people in Australia, but Aussie style is just not the same. It's too laid back and understated for me, I need some British flamboyance back in my life. They also don't get the buzz about Topshop so a lot of branches across the country are closing. There's something so sad about a derelict Topshop.

6. British fashion shops
So by the previous point you can see there are some, but the lack of Urban Outfitters especially, and Primark is heartbreaking. Plus, Topshop is so expensive over here.

7. The sense of humour
It was strange, but I found myself acting totally different around a Brit girl at work than I do the Aussies. I felt like I was being totally myself, sarcastic etc. No clue who I'm being around the Aussie's though. It's probably a similar difference to how you act around your boss v your best friend at work.

8. Being in the same weather zone as all my favourite fashion bloggers
I miss scrolling through Instagram and seeing my favourite bloggers in amazing clothes that I could then purchase online in one second. I'm loving all the summer clothes people are wearing but they are not going to work in Melbourne's two degree temperatures (yep – not kidding).

Love this outfit by Megan Ellaby, but not okay for Melbs RN 

9. Normal Weetabix
As a cereal fanatic, Australia's answer to Weetabix 'Weet-bix' really gets to me. It's not the same. It's like the cheapest version of Weetabix I once bought in Tesco as a student and immediately regretted. You know the one with corners instead of smooth, rounded edges? The compact cardboard-like square thing? Probs not tbf, as you would never have bought this crap.

10. Cheap Subway salads
I don't know if it's changed in the last nine months, but I used to pay about £2.20 for a tuna salad from Subway. Here, it's about $8-9. Heartbreaking.

Despite missing aaaallll these things about the UK, I'm sure there are way more I'll miss about Oz when I return, such as some of the things in this post. I can already tell Sushi Hub and Sumo Salad are going to be major players. Stay tuned for the moany post from the other side of the world. x

Top 10 Things I Miss About Britain

You might think it's hard to keep up an exercise routine while travelling, especially budget, backpacker-style travelling, which often involves copious amounts of alcohol and the cheapest food you can lay your hands on. However, I have been travelling for over nine months now, and I can tell you it is possible. I struggled for motivation initially. I used the excuse that I didn't have a gym, I was going out and drinking most nights... Therefore it's hopeless. I told myself I was going to have to give up on fitness. Yet, as it turns out, this is totally the wrong attitude and you can definitely stay fit and healthy without a routine, gym, or even steady location to live in. All you need is your own willpower. So here are my top tips and advice - from my experience - on how to achieve it.

Disclaimer: this is a posed run, one normally looks much more bedraggled and lipstick-free

1. Create a specific goal-related routine that you can complete anywhere, any time 
So for me, I generally always want a toned stomach, perky bum and to basically be all-round toned. So I decided to make my routine a good 20-30 minute run/jog, 100 squats and 100 sit ups. Plus my abs and bum apps if I had extra time (which are available here for free). But you can make it anything you want - my friends, for example, do the Couch to 5K routine, which aims to improve your fitness levels and have you doing a 5K in about 10 weeks.

2. Stay focussed
Once you've set your goal and created your routine, choose a specific time each day to do it (preferably in the morning, so no distractions present themselves and stop you from carrying it out), and make sure you think about it and get it done each and every day. It's even a good idea to put a reminder or alarm on your phone.

3. Find a location to complete your routine as quickly as possible
As soon as you arrive at a new destination, or even when driving in on the bus, scout out a good area for your routine. So if it's a run, look for a nice pathway along the beach or through a park, and if it's toning exercises look for a nice patch of grassy land (a park or beach are also great for this).

Hike - it rewards you with good views too. This is Mount Batur in Bali


4. Take days off the drinking and excessive eating occasionally
As much as I love Kate Moss and her 'Why the hell can't I have fun all the time' attitude, for me, personally, my fun can only be continued if I have a few 'detox days'. In every area of my life, not just exercise and diet. Variety is key.

5. Look to Instagram
It's free and full of fitness fanatics to motivate and inspire. If you don't want to follow lots of fitness accounts that will spam your feed, just search hashtags such as #fitfam or #fitness whenever you want that extra bit of motivation.

6. Join in all 'active' activities on offer 
Climb mountains, explore on foot, walk instead of Uber (you'll save money and burn calories, what's not to love), free day? Go on a bike ride or surf or hike... every country and every environment will offer a fun outdoorsy exercise experience. Even if it's just swimming in a pool

Get on yer bike


7. And finally, if you really just bloody love an exercise class and need that 'stranger shouting at you' vibe to get going...
There are tons of pay-as-you-go classes. Just Google 'fitness classes [insert location]'. My faves were:

Brisbane - Lagree Fitness at Studio 45 - I heard Meghan Markle swears by it and fake marketing ploy or not, I was there

Melbourne/Sydney - (and almost everywhere else in Aus) - F45 - a 45 minute workout that is guaranteed to have you covered in sweat. Whether that's your own or other people's, as the room itself gets so gross, idk, but it made me feel faint and ache so make of that what you will

Seminyak, Bali - Motion Fitness - a really fun studio with a fab variety of fitness classes for about £7.50 a go.


Let me know if you have any more tips!



Fitness & travel: motivation



Photos from top to bottom:
1. Lake Mattheson 2. the road to Milford Sound (it was a misty day and yeah it was misty on the boat around the Sound also hence I have no photos here), 3. The road back to Auckland near Tongariro National Park (where Lord of the Rings' Mount Doom is located – the flat top volcano is Mount Doom itself soz to name drop) 4. Black swans and rocks on the road from Taupo to Auckland – fun game if you're really looking to kill time; can you guess which are rocks and which are swans?) 5. Sunset over the thermal lake at Taupo 6. Lunch near Tongariro National Park 7. The beaut location of the Nevis Bungy, taken from the bridge you jump off (I just watched, of course) 8. Me a at the bottom of the melting Franz Josef glacier (one of the most beautiful walks I've ever done thanks to rainbow waterfalls, a white glacial river and snow in the sun) 9. Hobbiton 10. Again more Tongariro clearly love this place 11. The lone tree within the lake at Wanaka (there were about 200 people sat by the river bed with expensive looking cameras waiting for the sun to go down behind this phenomena) 12. Me on top of Mountain Iron near Wanaka. 


New Zealand has never appealed to me. I've never seen, or heard, anything about NZ that made me think 'Wow, I've really got to go there'. Unlike the vast beaches and surfer lifestyle of Australia, and the white sands, beautiful turquoise waters and exotic temples of Fiji and Bali, I just didn't feel a pull. Perhaps for a similar reason to the one that stopped me interrailing around Europe – it just seemed so similar, or familiar (climate and landscape-wise, at least) to the UK. Close-minded, maybe, but this was just how I felt.

So when my friends were planning to leave Australia to travel New Zealand after our six amazing months travelling and working (a lil bit) in Oz (read more about that here), I had a decision to make. NZ wasn't going to be cheap (the bus ticket alone was $800AUD), and I had never planned to go anyway, however, despite believing I'd hate the traveller lifestyle and want to return to England a couple months in (max), I surprised myself by absolutely loving every minute, or almost every minute because to be fair who could love extinguishing hostel room cockroaches in order to sleep peacefully. It's all part of the experience though.

Anyway, eventually I decided, YOLO, I'm so far around the world that I might as well make the most of discovering this side of the hemisphere. I also would have major FOMO if it did, in fact, turn out to be an amazing trip.

Luckily for my indecisive self, it did indeed prove to be amazing, and I would have had the worst FOMO of life if I had decided against going.

Initially I had quite a few reservations when it came to the Kiwi Experience. It’s a well-known tour company, both around New Zealand where small town residents must get so sick of seeing the big green bus roll up with 30-50, often hungover, millenials, all ready to swarm the local supermarket in search of microwave noodles, but also throughout the world, or at least the world of travellers. However, this was the only fact (knowing so many had gone before me) that convinced me the ticket was worth the money.

To put the cost into context, our discounted (because there are four of us, and you can always haggle) Kiwi Experience ticket, which we needed only to get us around NZ for one month, was almost double the price of our Greyhound ticket, which took us all the way along the East Coast of Australia from September to December. To be fair we got one of the most comprehensive tickets available, we added on extra destinations such as Bay of Islands and Milford Sound, and when you get to NZ and realise how much all the activities cost there (almost $500 to skydive and roam the Franz Josef Glacier etc) you may well, like I did, change your opinion on the cost of the bus ticket, file it away under ‘bargain purchases’ and forget all about it.

Another thing I didn’t realise (because I literally did zero research and just let my friend sort and book everything), is that Kiwi does actually take you to many amazing places that you just wouldn’t know about, well unless you did extensive research and itinerary planning but who has time for that when you can pay someone else to do it for you. Plus, they basically give you a guided tour of the entire country as you drive around it, hand out useful little sheets of activities such as bungy jumping (totally didn’t realise you spelt bungy like that either, but I swear it’s how they spell it in NZ), rafting, horseriding, Maori stone carving blablabla as you’re on the way to the destination where said activity can be completed. This is particularly useful if you’re travelling alone or hoping to make friends when you arrive, because you can check what they’re doing and stalk their itinerary if you wish.

Additionally, still on the subject of the driver guides because they were my potential highlight of the entire experience, they are so entertaining. The driver we had for the majority of our trip, Simon, was honestly the most hilarious commentator. Sometimes when guides start talking and you’re listening to a really dece song/drifting off you just don’t want to bother making the effort to listen but with Simon I always sacrificed my headphones for his ramblings. He’d often tell facts that turned out to be utter bullshit but I’m not going to lie, those were my faves. He also let a 10 year old drive our bus at one point, which was my personal adrenaline activity of New Zealand. He later told us that three years prior the same boy (aged seven!?) had reversed the bus into a hostel, knocked a wall down and despite not injuring anyone was understandably traumatised for quite some time. Shockingly I don’t think this was one of the bullshit tales.

Anyway, moving on to the rest of the experience. The drivers were totally worth a whole paragraph lol. Would I, cost considered, do it by car/campervan if I was doing it again? I mean, potentially for a bit of variety as I’ve already done the Kiwi Experience once, but no, if you haven’t done it I one-hundred-percent recommend Kiwi Ex. You meet so many like-minded travellers along the way, which you simply wouldn’t going it alone, even if you were staying in hostels. Kiwi organise social events like bar crawls (the Queenstown bar crawl was so good and featured the best pizza from London halfway through), and a fancy dress party. We met some lovely people, had a hilarious time and I’m pretty certain we’ve made friends for life, or if nothing else, gained plentiful Instagram followers.


Kiwi Experience summary:


How it works: You choose your ticket (you can opt for one covering just the North Island, just the South Island, both, or both plus extras such as Bay of Islands, Deep South, Milford Sound (the latter is just a day trip really). Once you have your ticket you can call or email the office, let them know what dates you’ll be travelling from or two (it’s valid for a year or two but the entire circuit can be done in a month, which is how most people do it). When you’re there you can change dates of travel to and from certain places if you change your mind about what you want to do, or make friends and want to stick with them. in high season the buses go every day but they reduce this in May.

Our pass cost: $800

Places covered: Everywhere major across the North and South Islands, including Bay of Islands (optional extra) and Milford Sound (same). The only place we didn’t visit as far as I’m aware is the Deep South.

Unforeseen expenses: The bloody ferries to and from the South Island, which were $55 each way.

New Zealand & Kiwi Experience