2018 Achievements

I thought I'd do a post on the things I have achieved, and fears I have faced this year – because believe me, there have been many!

1. Travelling
I thought I'd start with this because this is what I was doing at the beginning of the year. Although I'd made the decision to go travelling in 2017, I did think I'd only last a few months for many reasons – including the fact that I had stayed in one hostel before and wanted the experience to end immediately. I have never even shared a bathroom, and I cried because I was homesick on every school trip. Well pals, I somehow made it through a whole 11 months of minimal luxury and space-sharing, as well as the most difficult time to be away – Christmas and New Year (in a one bedroom apartment with 5 other girls). Lasting this extra time was amazing because it gave me the opportunity to travel New Zealand, Fiji and Bali with three of my best friends – definitely a rare opportunity, especially at 25, and one I will never forget.



2. Starting new jobs
A scary thing, always. And one that I did about a million times in different locations while travelling. And not all roles were ones I was confident and experienced in. I worked in marketing, waitressing, I was a receptionist, a call centre worker and I also worked in administration. Starting new jobs so frequently and in cities we had just arrived in for the first time might have been a bit scary but it gave me so much experience and knowledge of different roles and working environments. I love seeing how people operate in the workplace and how managers handle things. I have witnessed some of the best and worst management techniques in my time (I'm only 25 but have also done a lot of internships) and therefore feel a lot more confident with how to handle myself in the workplace.

3. Going caving
Lol this was unintentional. I was miss-sold by the Kiwi Experience bus driver in NZ who described this activity as 'like a lazy river through a glow worm cave'. It was not, it was caving and it involved jumping backwards off water falls in freezing cold glowworm caves. Somehow though, I didn't have a panic attack and did not request to be removed from the cave, so I'm counting this as a win.

4. Getting my eyes lasered
I don't really think this takes much justifying as to why it was a nerve-wracking thing. It's something I've wanted to do for years and it was scary because it's your eyeballs and they're important, but also the physical sitting in the laser chair was quite unnerving. But anyway, I'm so proud that I managed to get through it without backing out or having a panic attack. And I had to pay and book in advance so not having major anxiety over that time is something I'm thrilled about. My review of the experience is here.

5. Being in a film
Over summer I got asked by the lovely team at North East Times magazine if I would take part in a short, promotional film for Newcastle Airport and AirFrance when I was home from Australia, involving a weekend in Paris. Admittedly, the idea scared me. I've always loved creating content in every form, including film. But I'd never done so professionally (as the subject as well!)  and with people I didn't know. Luckily I got to meet the airport team and filmographer before we did it and they were lovely, so it turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life and one I will definitely remember forever. Check out the film here, it's so well put together and I'm very proud to have been involved – and flattered to be asked!

As evidenced here, it admittedly was not the most difficult thing... It largely involved me being filmed in my natural environment

6. Driving again after three years
This fear was by far the silliest. I didn't drive when we got rental cars in Oz, or even when we hired a 'Barbie car' (see below) on the empty roads of Magnetic Island because I was convinced I'd get in and realise I'd forgotten how to do it. So when I got home and bought a car I was nervous, but 5 seconds into my first test run I realised it literally is like riding a bike. I was however, always a bit nervous to drive a bunch of friends around as chatting and driving and paying attention to directions is another thing entirely to me, but I have since done a couple of distance journeys and now do not feel nervous of them at all. Could drive the Queen if required. See my blog post on this and my new car here.

7. Posting a YouTube video
People have been saying I should do them for years but I've heard people mock others for it and it is off-putting. I've created some before but not had the balls to actually upload. And I'm also not sure what kind of long-term content would be interesting for people (so if you have any ideas, do let me know). I've made a couple of make-up vlogs as I always love watching those from other people, but again, didn't upload. I am determined to man up and give it a go though, you do only live once and it's not worth holding back with something you enjoy just because you're worried about what other people might think, right? Also, getting back to the one I did upload, it's a laser eye surgery review and I bit the bullet and did it with this subject because I found vlogs on it so helpful when I was going through it. Especially because everyone's experience is different and you can't see right after so it's cool to be able to listen to something. The vid is here.

I'd love to hear what you have achieved in 2018 for a bit of inspo! Or what your resolutions are for 2019 as I still haven't completely decided on mine... I've got a few hours! x

Festive Fashion Wish List 2018

Seeing as it's December and therefore the perfect excuse to invest in all things sparkly, jazzy and generally OTT I thought I'd put together a little festive fashion wish list.

I've called it 'festive fashion' rather than party wear, because it covers things like Christmas day options (I'm thinking the blazer, midi skirt, flares and silk top etc) and most of it you can dress up or down for pretty much any occasion. I've always been a fan of separates for this reason!

The only item I have invested in so far this season is this jumpsuit, it got so many compliments. The best one being that my friend wished she could borrow it to go see an ABBA show in – fashion goals achieved!

It really is beaut though, isn't it? I just wish there was a petite version as it doesn't fit me very well but YOLO.

Scroll down for this wish list (and to see how this jumpsuit looks on a lengthy model rather than myself!) xxx

UK fashion blogger party wear 2018
UK fashion blogger topshop geo jumpsuit 2018


           



UK fashion blogger topshop geo jumpsuit 2018

       

LASEK laser eye surgery








I had LASEK at Optimax in Newcastle two months ago and have since experienced the ups and downs of the recovery. During my first week all I wanted to do was watch (well, listen to) YouTube videos to hear what other people had experienced at the stage I was at. So here I've put together the ups and downs from surgery day to today (two months later), as it seems everyone's experience is different.

If you've had it, please share your experience too – I'd love to hear!

AW18 trend wish list

colour blocking 

Copyright: Moschino
From Marc Jacobs and Marni to Moschino and Eudon Choi, eye-catching brights were everywhere on the AW18 catwalks. At Moschino block colours were combined with sophisticated silhouettes and Pop Art accessories. One of my favourite colour combos was the teal and red above, which feels so fresh and of-the-moment.

Another of my favourite looks was Eudon Choi's pastel pink trouser suit. I'm still trying to decide whether I can get away with such head-to-toe boldness. For now I might start off with a bright jumper and contrasting coat.
         

 animal print

Copyright: Tom Ford
Unfortunately for anyone opposed to leopard print – it's not going anywhere. In fact, expect to see even more of it in the form of suits (yes, I'm a bit obsessed with them atm), different colourways and Eighties silhouettes.

Personally, I'm loving the Réalisation Par midi-skirt look (without the RP cost – check the examples below). I'd also like to give a two-piece a go, and a headscarf with a chic black swimsuit if I was going on hol... Anyone want to pop to the Amalfi Coast with me so I can wear this look? 

         
         
        

checks

Copyright: Stella McCartney
Shock, horror – checks are on trend for winter. Being a classic that comes around each year, this one's well worth investing in. Again, I'm really feeling the suit form of this trend, which Stella McCartney championed. Checks on less typical garments such as the bomber jacket below are a great way to give the trend a 2K18 twist too.

With this trend, I think I might start with a blazer, or trouser suit with a T-shirt, gold jewellery and a link bag such as the one I'm wearing here. Footwear-wise, a great way to dress the suit down is to opt for trainers (chunky white ones would look v 2018) rather than boots or heels.          



cowboy boots


Copyright: Chloe
Western-style boots are everywhere – on the Chloé, Ganni, Fendi and Off-White catwalks to name just a few. Fashion houses wanted them in their collections, and I think they're the most 'important' way to nod to the Western trend this season. 

As mentioned in this post,  boot shopping is an annual (or bi-annual, tri-annual... Sometimes quite frequent tbf) event for me. It's something I really look forward to because a good boot can make or break so many outfits, and a little heel makes my short self feel so much better. I've already invested in a white Western-style boot but I'm definitely considering some proper 'cowboy' boots too. They look great with midi skirts, jeans (straight-legged and not tucked in like this) and dresses.
       


quilting

Kim Shui


I've spent many years remaining unconvinced by the puffer jacket trend, however, things changed this year as they appeared all over the AW18 catwalks and in shops in shapes and styles so statement and unique that I have now been converted. 

Earlier this year when I was heading off to travel New Zealand (read about that experience and see some snaps here, including the jacket, if you fancy), I invested in a pillar-box red cropped puffer similar to the one below and wore it to death, next, I'd like to invest in a sporty striped ski jacket style or a corduroy puffer for something a little different.   



     

suits

Huishan Zhang
And finally, my favourite trend of all the AW18 trends. The Suit. As I've mentioned, checked suits, bright suits and leopard suits are all hot rn, but I also felt suits deserved their own section because they're definitely a trend in their own right. 

For a fresh, AW18 look, opt for the double breasted variety, skirt suits, or of course a check print, leopard print or bright. 



     


biscuit brown

Roksanda
Most of my Insta feed has turned a chic shade of tan/nude and that is probably because a lot of designers went head over camel-toned heels for this Seventies-esque biscuit colour. I especially love these bloggers for styling Inspo as they literally wear the same three colours (brown, black and white) yet make them interesting.

One of my favourite looks was the Roksanda one above, which combined statement shaggy fur (I think), with tan trousers and boots, and a stylish circle-handle bag. It combines a lot of on-trend pieces in one. Personally I would take elements of this outfit and pair them with other items, such as the trousers with a white T-shirt and blazer or the jacket with jeans and trainers.

         


eighties

Marc Jacobs
The Eighties are definitely back, primarily in the form of the iconic silhouettes the decade brought us – think bold shoulders, baggy top with skin tight trousers or leggings, glitz, bold colour combos and cinched in waists.
I love this masculine look by Marc Jacobs - a bright, shoulder-padded blazer would definitely make any outfit a statement one, even if it's just jeans and heels. The eighties-style leather jacket (like below), with skin-tight trousers or leggings is another styling option I'm totally down for.
         

the midi and jumper combination

Oscar de la Renta

This trend's all about the styling. If you haven't already noticed bloggers, influencers and fashionable individuals in general, donning a midi-skirt and jumper combo, you will soon. I'm seeing it more and more on my Insta feed, with trainers, heels, boots... They all look great and are such an easy look to wear.


         
        
Thanks for reading! What are your favourite trends this season?

Outfit and car chat


If you follow me on Insta (if you don't,  pls do now, I'd appreciate it v much – @sophiespaldin), you may know I have a new car. It's a Mini and essentially, it's the same car I had in 2015, I've just bought it again in a different colour (my last one was red). Most mini owners re-purchase... they're a good car!

Anyway, I swear this is not a sponsored post. Primarily, I wanted to discuss the fact that I hadn't driven for THREE YEARS and was bloody terrified to get behind the wheel again. So much so that over the last year in Australia I chose to forgo doing so at all costs (well, bar the time I gave the automatic we rented for the Great Ocean Road a go in an empty car park for the lols, and believe me – there were lols. My brain just couldn't accept the brake was not the clutch). 



So after a year of avoiding driving rental cars, Barbie cars and 4WD's, I discovered driving literally is like riding a bike. Ppl were not wrong. I think it helped that I'd driven a mini before, but still, if you haven't driven in a while, or are getting a new car, or passed your test yonks ago and are scared to drive, don't be. The main things to remember are the rules of the road, I had a millisecond freak out at a junction when I just couldn't remember if I was supposed to chill in the centre for a bit while turning right. Oh and I gotta add I'm very on edge when parking as I have extremely little spacial awareness, but this was the case when I drove every day for five years so that ain't gonna change, I'm always going to be perpetuating the female stereotype in this instance soz gals.

Anyway, moving on to less bank-busting purchases, how beaut is this Topshop chain bag?! I've been using my little round, straw bag featured below and in this blog post (it's the one EVERYONE in Bali, and a lot of other people globally, had in 2018), for evening, or any occasion that warranted a small bag, however, moving into Autumn and AW18 styling, I felt a refresh was required and when I saw this beauty I knew it was the one. Chain bags and any with metal or plastic detailing on are huuuge this season so it ticks off a major trend, as well and generally being eye-catching and a great accessory to jazz up any outfit day or night. 



Let me know if you also have a phobia of parking, I'd love to empathise with someone on this/receive tips on how to parallel park when lacking spatial awareness skills. xo


         
         


October Fashion Haul

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.

                   

     

Sunderland Restaurant Week

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.


OOTD & de-stressing rules

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



Best Fashion Shops in Australia

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! :)