Friday, 18 September 2020

An Evening at Koop + Craft | AD PR Event

I was delighted to see on the Pompey Bloggers page that Koop + Kraft were hosting an event to try some of their food and drinks. I had actually only ever heard of the restaurant from fellow blogger Kat, she posts about a lot of local restaurants and events - definitely go and check her blog out! My excitement levels were very high from seeing Kat's posts.

Located just on London Road, Waterlooville it's a lovely location just outside of the town centre. The restaurant has a nice cosy feel to it, with aesthetic lights dotted around. I really loved the kooky pattern on the wall pictured above. There are mostly several semi circle booths, which is great for social distancing and keeping to your party, but also enables you to see and talk to everyone. I ended up sharing a booth with Jacob from The Eats Sheets as all of the evening's food was for sharing (I know, I wish I didn't have to share food either) but actually there was too much for the both of us! 

When I saw K+K's rather large drinks menu, I had no idea what I wanted. There's local spirits, so many cocktails and mocktails as well as your usual beers and soft drinks. I went for the Isle of Wight Distillery - Mermaid Pink Gin with lemonade, and my word it was delicious. I've had a few variations of pink gin, and after awhile you start thinking most of them taste the same. But not this one. It had an ever so slight extra sweet fruity flavour to it. I saw a few of the other guests have a Sunrise Sour that is made with a ball of smoke that you can pop before you drink it - I kind of wish I ordered one for myself, but the gin did hit the spot.

I wasn't sure just how much food was on offer for the evening, but when the waitresses started bring over dish after dish, I knew we were in for a challenge. Above we had Chicken Wings, Cheesy Fries, Halloumi Fries, Curry Fries, Cheesy Garlic Bread, more Halloumi Fries, Dirty Fries and Buttermilk Chicken Tenders. A carb lovers dream. I think I've only ever had buttermilk chicken in burgers or BBQ stacks in big chain restaurants. It was nice to read about the process that K+K do to create their buttermilk, and really experience the taste on it's own. It has a very distinct flavour, I was expecting the taste and texture to be similar of southern fried chicken, instead of the outer coating sliding off the chicken in a greasy way, it stays softly to the chicken. I found it to be more of a softer eating experience.

Then we had two halves of two burgers; Cheese Please and Bacon and Black, yup you read that right. "Black" as in black pudding. I was sceptical too. I don't think I've ever had black pudding before, and to be honest I had been put off trying it. However, I thought I'm at a nice event with free food so what's the harm? At first I really couldn't taste much difference, then I asked Jacob what it's supposed to taste like. He described it as a sort of peppery spicy flavour, then I noticed that I could taste it and it wasn't what I expected at all! In a good way. Both burgers were so delicious. 

And some people might call dessert the most exciting part of a meal, I must admit I am one of those people. I bloody love a dessert and I don't care who hears it. I will always make room for pudding. Boy, was I happy to see Churros come out on that platter. Partnered with Deep Fried Oreo's and Kinder Bueno Bites. I had never seen or heard of anyone deep fry an Oreo, but it was amazing. I loved that it was picky puddings, as they felt "lighter" and you had the chance to try a bit of everything.

I had such a lovely evening, the staff were really friendly and helpful and it was great to meet George - the owner as well. I will definitely be back to try more sides and burgers, they also have a variation of classic meals as well as burgers. If you are vegan or veggie, there are options for you as well. I also just saw that they make some tasty looking milkshakes, and one in my favourite flavour at the moment...Biscoff. Since lockdown restrictions have been lifted (sort of) it's been so nice to explore more local independent restaurants and new food. 

Thank you so much to Koop + Kraft for having me, your food and drink were absolutely amazing and I can't wait to introduce more people to the restaurant! Also thank you for the wonderful goodie bag of freebies and discounts for independent and local businesses (Make Up By Hope, Village Gym, Time 4 Nutrition, Prepped By Koop, Elle's Salon, Graceful Scents, Valerie Rose, Gym Buddy, Lixir Drinks and HMS Spirits)

*This opportunity was gifted as a free experience to try some of K+K's menu, all words and opinions are my own, with no obligation to post a positive review. 


Saturday, 15 August 2020

Getting the Chop for The Little Princess Trust


If you know me, you will probably have realised my long hair has been a part of my identity for quite a few years. I rarely ever go short or medium length, because it's my security blanket and my most beloved accessory. Where I've been working in retail I mostly have my hair up when I work, to keep it out of my face and to prevent myself pulling on it. I realised over Lockdown that it had gotten extremely long; I had been struggling to put my hair up in one of my easy buns, due to it's length. It got me thinking; "what could I do with this mane, but also could I use it to help others?". I've always tried to be a charitable person, and help where I can. But I could do more. More donations and more fundraisers. Since my last major chop back in 2011, I have seen many women cutting off their hair for The Little Princess Trust. Yes, my hair is long enough to give a good donation, but it is in no way healthy enough to donate. TLPT ask for a minimum of 7 inches of hair up to 16 inches of hair. It needs to be healthy, no split ends/damage and natural colour or the same "natural" dye. My hair is also multi-coloured because of previous bleach, brown dye, red dye and whatever the sun bleaches it to.

I was disappointed that I couldn't actually donate my hair for wigs to help children who've been through cancer. They are always after donations, and I imagine it's a really hefty job to go through the donations, modify the hair to make the best wigs to make a child smile. I thought the least I could do is raise money for this charity so they can either use it for wigs or research into cancer. I set myself a small goal of £100 because I don't personally do a lot of fundraising, I wanted something achievable otherwise I'd feel let down, and that I'd let the charity down. At the time of this posting the donations come to £135, which I was ecstatic over.

When deciding how much to cut off, I thought 10 inches was a good number to try and get people interested and involved in my fundraising. I even umm-ed and ahh-ed if I went shorter would I have any quality hair to donate, but I think a lot of it is damaged from not being looked after, and as previously mentioned too many different colours. Oops. In my fundraising photo I roughly drew where I was having the chop, and just seeing it even just as a drawn line was scary for me. I have quite irrational haircut "anxiety" (I don't know if this is actually a thing). Any sort of change or drastic change; I freak out. I wanted these changes, and imagine them for quite a while. I don't do anything impulsively. After I get these new cuts and dyes, it takes me a while to get used to seeing the new change. In past times I've had a little cry to myself, but then a few days later I'll love it. 

The day of the cut; Friday 14th August.

I washed and brushed my long hair one last time. Sad to see it go, but also happy for a new change. Fae is my hairdresser and we were both excited for this (Fae is mobile and you can also find her at Wispers). I had also decided to go back in time to 2014 and get a fringe again, as well as have a new colour; darker brown mixed with warm tones. The first thing we did was the chop. Fae took chunks off and asked if it was ok, it did feel a lot shorter but I felt I could go a tad further after dyeing. When the dye was done, and my hair dried I assessed the outcome so far. It still looked quite long, but technically short for me and my previous 29 inches of hair. We took some after photos and when I got out my measuring tape Fae said we were at 21 inches, not the 19 inches I had promised everyone. Although the idea of going even shorter was terrifying, I had to keep my morals and have the other two inches off. I went back to the chair and nervously waited for Fae to stop snipping away until we hit 19 inches. I just kept telling myself it was all for a good cause and it'd grow back if I didn't like it.

I forget how different a fresh cut and a good chop feels like. Your hair becomes all bouncy and full of life again. It feels all silky from the new dye. Plus I always love having my hair styled after a trip to the hairdressers! Then it was all over. My old identity laying on the ground beneath my chair, a new colour and fringe that takes me back half a decade. Plus a lovely donation for The Little Princess Trust. It definitely makes me want to look after my hair, not just because you should, but so I can do this again with longer and healthier hair to donate for wigs.

At the moment my Just Giving Page is still open if you are able to donate! Anything will do to help an amazing cause.

Thank you x

Links to information and social media pages:


Sunday, 9 August 2020

25 Things I've Learned Before Turning 25

Hello it's my birthday! 

The big 25. It's a bit weird to think I'm now the equivalent to a quarter of a century...And also edging ever so closer to 30. I'm trying not to worry about it because life happens. To enjoy the moments that I do have. I thought now is a good a time to do one of these "lessons learned" things. I love reading other people's posts, because we all have different journeys that means we all learn slightly different things. 

Well here's what I've learned so far (and probably missing a few but my memory is awful lol)...

Taken by Connor Cleary

1. You can have different friendships of varying qualities, you don't have to be best friends with everyone.
2. Treat yourself like a plant, you need watering, feeding and sunlight - but also maybe like a dog?
3. You don't need to wash your hair everyday. It's too much effort and is bad for your hair.
4. You are the only one in control of your happiness, don't push that responsibility onto anyone else.
5. When you feel like you're going to explode with anger, take a minute and breathe. Let your rational thoughts have time to surface. You don't have to react to everything right away.
6. There is no set path for life, everyone's is different. So stop comparing.
7. Stop living month to month, prepare for the future.
8. Even though having a skincare routine and moisturising your body is a hassle, it's worth it and you'll feel great afterwards.
9. Only buy one extra of essential items. There's no need to clutter cupboards and drawers.
10. You can really do it if you put your mind to it. JUST DO IT.
11. Take breaks from social media, I promise you no one will even notice that you've gone.
12. Sing and dance your heart out in your car, if you don't make eye contact with anyone it's like no one can see you.
13. There's always another side to a story. 
14. Believe in second chances, but always be careful.
15. SPF moisturiser is a game changer.
16. Always make time for self care, whether that's reading, meditation, exercise or face masks, it will make you feel more human. 
17. Family is important. Make time for your loved ones, get off that couch and go grab a coffee with them.
18. It's ok to say no to social events, sometimes it's best not to force yourself to go out.
19. The fear of missing out (FOMO) is ridiculous, only go somewhere that you really want to go.
20. Laughter is the best medicine, be it if it's from a comedy, funny video or out laughing with friends.
21. To do lists are a lifesaver, and really help you stay on stop of things.
22. If you can do it today, do it. Save tomorrow-you the task, you never know what tomorrow will bring.
23. Actions speak louder than words. There are plenty of nice words to say to people, but if you prove it in actions, it's priceless. 
24. Don't be afraid of ageing, it's a blessing to have the opportunity to grow old.
25. Be humble, sometimes you have to realise there's so much more than you in this world.

I hope you've enjoyed my post, I still have plenty in the works (I know even I'm tired of hearing this from me). I have had a lot of little projects going on so certain things have had to take a break but I will be getting more posts out on a semi-regular basis!

What's on your list of things you've learned? 

Thursday, 23 July 2020

Visiting Restaurants in a Pandemic When You Have Anxiety

I don't know about you, but this whole pandemic has really been feeding my anxiety. I've had a lot of moments where I have been feeling quite agoraphobic. Which I haven't felt in quite a few years. In the height of my mental health problems I often felt scared to leave the house, and I had to use public transport a lot which would also set off the feeling trapped part of agoraphobia. I have only left the house when necessary; for work or essential errands. Even then I'd wear a mask and take my hand sanitiser everywhere, and would start to get panicky feelings when someone got too close. Most of the shops I have been in were quick in and out jobs. That is until I had to queue in Wilko's and the system wasn't very clear, a few customers nearly got into an argument over it. That feeling of knowing that people were behind me and too close had me on edge. The queue was going down an aisle, and I started to feel nervous if customers wanted to get to the products next to me. It also didn't help that when I was walking round the shop, the staff didn't seem to care if you were there or not. When I'm wearing a mask it makes me really claustrophobic because it can feel like my breathing's restricted, but it's not. I wear one to protect myself and others, and would rather deal with feeling uncomfortable for a few moments than risk catching or spreading Covid-19.

I know that shops and restaurants have to open up so that people can keep jobs and the economy can keep going, but going to them just terrifies me. I've seen the lack of social distancing and lack of common sense from some of the public. We've all spent three to four months mainly confined to our homes with the same people. I found it really jarring when I could meet up with my friends and family members, because it felt kind of weird. At least in shops and socialising there's usually an easy exit. I just feel like in pubs and restaurants it might not be that easy. I don't want to be in a busy environment. I don't want to feel trapped.

As much as I miss "normality" and going out for food and drinks, I'd rather be cautious about returning to that way of life. To me, nothing about this is normal. This is a whole new world for most of us, and it's better to be safe than sorry. I have made myself relax to a certain extent, to test the water and visit a few places and thought I'd write about my experiences here for you.

My first mini trip out was to Whiteley, Fareham where my other half and I had a meeting at Starbucks (we sat outside), and afterwards we were a bit peckish and stopped by Five Guys. We love their burgers and fries, we usually only have this as an every now and then treat, as we don't indulge in a lot of takeaway food. Whiteley have tried to limit the amount of people visiting their shopping centre by closing off some of the car parks. It was really quiet walking around, and they had a pedestrian traffic system, by keeping customers to the left and having barriers in the middle of the walkway. There were only a few small groups of customers in Five Guys and plenty of spread out seating, we decided it would be ok to sit in as it would be quick. We sat in a booth near an open door so it felt nice and open. I didn't feel worried about sitting inside at all, and the staff were really friendly. Usually at Five Guys, you order at the counter and wait for your number to be called further along the counter. This time however, they gave you a number placeholder to take to your table and brought your order to you, whether you were taking away or sitting in to stop people gathering in the same spot.

Our second trip out was for a nice cheeky lunch meal, we walked from Fareham to Portchester to visit the Salt Cafe as I had heard so much about it online. Unfortunately, it was really busy with their outside seating and I felt uncomfortable being so close to other customers. They had also stopped serving lunch when we got there so we looked for somewhere else nearby for some pub grub. The Wicor Mill was only just up the road, and we had never been there before. When we walked in we were greeted by a member of staff and asked if we had booked, we hadn't but that was fine as there were plenty of tables at that time of day. They took our details for the track and trace of Covid-19 and showed us to an outside table, which was more than 2 metres away from the next tables; perfect. You could either order through the app or order at the bar and the staff bring your food and drinks to you. For some reason the app wasn't working for us so we had to order at the bar, but that wasn't an issue as I said before, it was quiet.

It was a much needed little treat out, and so great to have a couple of pints and enjoy the sunshine. We are both so busy at the moment juggling work and a few other projects, so it was nice to take some time out and get out of the house. We both had steak and melted cheese ciabattas and shared a little portion of chips, it was a gorgeous little lunch meal.

Last but not least, my friend and I had been having some coffee dates at CrumbleJack down Fareham high street. Before lockdown this was one of my favourite places to have avocado and egg on toast, I have no idea what they do to it, but it's so damn delicious. At our first coffee meet up we were able to sit outside (you can see a pattern here) and it was really comfortable. Next time we thought we'd have a bite to eat, and we indulged in their masterpiece. They had perspex screens by the tills and brought food and drinks to the table, and had a little hand sanitiser station as you walk in the coffee shop.

Even though I've only been out a handful of times eating and drinking out, I've been fairly happy with those experiences. A lot of my friends have had successful trips to pubs and restaurants and it's good to hear people enjoying themselves again. I'm just not ready to be sat inside a busy pub or restaurant yet, but I'm getting there.

My advice to you if you haven't been out yet, and are feeling apprehensive is to research the places you want to go to first. I find it helpful to read about how the businesses have altered their establishments to make them safe for customers, and if they have photos of these then that's a bonus. If that doesn't make you feel calmer, then why not pop them a message or call them up? Most independent businesses will get back to you really quickly. If that also doesn't work, just be cautious and have a look from outside when you go to visit. You don't have to commit to staying there if you have walked in and gotten a table, you have the choice to leave if you're uncomfortable. If you do book a table and change your mind before going, please contact the business to let them know so then they can give the table to someone else. I've seen a few posts going around social media where restaurants have lost out on money because people didn't cancel their booking.

Have you been out to any pubs and restaurants yet? Pop me a message in the comments, I'd love to hear about your experiences!

Friday, 5 June 2020

I Am An Ally | Black Lives Matter Portsmouth Protest

Peaceful protest organised by Stand Up to Racism Portsmouth
Over the past week a lot of events have unfolded in the UK and around the world. Everyone's been cooped up and on edge in lockdown. My timeline of hearing about some of the events went like this: Amy Cooper using her white privilege against an African American man in Central Park (US), George Floyd murdered by a police officer in Minneapolis (US), Ahmaud Arbery shot whilst jogging (US), police officers killed Breonna Taylor with eight shots to the chest in a drug raid - they had the wrong house (US), and Belly Mujinga passing from Covid-19 after a member of public claiming to have the virus, spat and coughed at her and her colleague (UK).  

As some of you may know, this is not the correct timeline of events. Whilst the media across the world has been consumed with the current pandemic, these horrific acts of violence have taken place since the end of February. I heard about the Central Park birding incident on Tuesday 26th May first, and was so angry at seeing the video footage (of a middle class white woman threatening an African American man by calling the police, because her dog was off the leash in a bird sanctuary where it was illegal). I couldn't believe that this woman had the balls to feign distress on a 911 call, of which could end in this man getting attacked or assaulted by police. We've all seen evidence of this before on the news, police hear a black male may have a weapon or may be a suspect and they adapt the "shoot first ask questions later" approach. Luckily, in that case no one was harmed (except the dog being practically choked by his owner as she still had not put the dog back on the lead). I was already high on emotions, and then the next day I saw the video of George Floyd (he passed away on Monday 25th May). Pinned down by an officer Derek Chauvin's knee, handcuffed and unable to breathe. This lasted for nine minutes until he was unconscious or near death.

Everyone became outraged as the video and news coverage made the rounds. Rightly so. The four police officers involved knew they were being recorded, and it didn't phase them or make them change their behaviour. At the time of writing this all four officers have been fired from the police department, and they are all facing various charges in connection with George's murder.

In the following days #blacklivesmatter rose to the forefront to use these unfortunate events to again bring around our attention to the unjust treatment of black people and people of colour. It's been nearly seven years since BLM was founded, because of the tragic death of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman of which he served zero time. It does not feel like it's been seven years, but I imagine for black people who have to see and suffer from acts of racism daily, it feels like forever.

People around the world have snapped. They want change. They want laws. They want justice. Too many people have died, especially at the hands of police and not had the justice they deserve. They are supposed to be here to protect us, not kill us. Not be judge, jury and executioner. You might be sitting there thinking "well it only happens in America", you would be very wrong. Racism isn't just calling someone a racial slur, or abusing someone because of their skin colour. There are also micro aggressions that can affect black people from day to day. This all builds up to a misconception of black people and people of colour.

The Protest - Thursday 4th June 2020 1:00pm

I had seen and heard of various protests being set up around the country for George Floyd, but also for everything that happens on our own soil. If you think the British people are just protesting for America, then you are clearly blind to the events and treatment of black people here. I thought about this a lot, and was nervous to go. I've been very vocal about following all of the government rules during lockdown, but I made the decision to join in the protest (which we are well within our rights to do) to show my support as an ally. I got myself a fabric face mask (so I can wash and re-use it) and approached the protest apprehensively, as I wasn't sure what it'd be like. I've never been to a protest before. For the whole hour or so leading up to the protest my anxiety levels were through the roof. When I parked up near the city centre and put my mask on, it got worse. The fact that my mouth and nose were now covered up made me feel claustrophobic. I tried to keep as calm as possible as I knew I was slightly overreacting.

When I joined the back of the protest in Portsmouth Guildhall, I could see that everyone was socially distanced and it wasn't overcrowded. There were two police officers (wearing some pretty hefty blue vests, potentially stab proof) on bicycles interacting with some of the attendees. I heard one say "you alright?" to a middle aged gentleman behind me, I turned and heard him say "oh well it's not very aesthetic is it? Lots of white people here" to which the officer replied "well that's a good thing isn't it?". The officer is right. Not just black people had to attend to fight for their rights and their voice, white people have a job to do as well. It was good to see that so many people from all races and backgrounds came to show their support. With so many variants of messages on signs. Almost everyone had face masks on and was social distancing (obviously it's unclear whether small groups were from the same household but they kept to themselves).

Portsmouth Guildhall knelt in complete silence
I was born and raised in Portsmouth for around five years before moving off the island, but I still attended school in Portsmouth for another year or so. It's always been a multi-cultural place to me, with people from all races and backgrounds. I saw their race, their religion and I saw them as human beings. I played with them in the playgrounds regardless; how were they any different to me? Admittedly this observation is partially incorrect. That's just how I saw it as a five year old. I didn't and still don't judge people on their race or religion. I judge people on their actions. We need a better education system, to teach us about our differences; but not to treat people differently because of it. This is everything that I'm learning now. As a twenty four year old white woman. This is what I heard from the passionate speakers at this protest. Yes, I was shocked when I saw a police officer in America kill a man with his knee. Yes, I was shocked to hear how justice is not always served in these cases. Yes, I was shocked to hear the truths of racism and abuse received in my hometown. I didn't want it to be true. The city that I grew up in, the city that I'm from was racist? People getting beaten up, turned away from job interviews because of the colour of their skin? On my doorstep?! No, this isn't right.

Here are some notable moments from the speakers that stuck with me:

"We are told to go back to our country when you brought us here, you took us from our country and made us slaves, profited from us. Now you want us to go back to where we came from?"

"Please stop touching my hair"

"Portsmouth has the highest rates of stop and search by police in Hampshire"

"I'm 14 and I'm having to stand here and fight"

"Where is the love?"

"I got beaten up for being the only black person at school"

"This girl kicked me, so I kicked her back. Guess who got in trouble"

"When I was younger and I pictured myself as an adult, I saw a white blonde woman. I made all of my Mii characters white, blonde with blue eyes."

"My hair is damaged from chemicals trying to straighten my hair to fit in"

"You look more white with straight hair"

"I didn't see another black person until I was seven years old."

There were so many passionate, angry and upset people speaking. It really moved me and helped me try and understand what it's like to live in this part of the country as a black person. I had no idea. I was so confused and outraged at what had been done or said to them. One of the men was technically a white British male, but has black skin. His parents are both white, his siblings are white. He grew up in the area I'm living in now, a mostly white middle class populated area. He's thirty years old now, and at the time he was born the world was even more backwards than it is now. We keep thinking we are "woke", we aren't. We might be more now, as more people are standing up and speaking out about this. We need to keep it moving and enforce change. This is a movement, not a trend. Posting black squares on Instagram had good intentions but drowned out the black voices, and it means nothing if you don't try to change. If you don't try to challenge not just your own, but other people's behaviour and language. This is an every day battle for black people, and we need to make it everyone's battle for equality.

We all have experienced fear in this pandemic. Fear of leaving the house and catching Covid-19, and scared to get within two metres of another human being. Imagine what it's been like for black people having that feeling every single day. Not feeling safe, ever.

It's time for change, it's time to educate and it's time for equality.

No justice, no peace.

Helpful resources, petitions and fundraising:

Black Lives Matter
Justice for George Floyd (if you need a zip code for petitions use 90015)
Daughter of George Floyd Fund
Memorial Fund For George Floyd
Glamour: How to Support Black Lives Matter
Glamour: How To Be a White Ally
Glamour: Racism in 2020
The Trayvon Martin Law
Justice for Breonna Taylor
Justice for Ahmaud Arbery
Justice for Belly Mujinga

*All photos used in this post were safely taken by me.

Friday, 29 May 2020

Budgeting for NYC Whilst in Debt

I decided last summer that Connor and I were going to go on holiday for our anniversary in January, because I wanted to work towards something exciting, and to truly celebrate our ten years together. At that moment I was still £2,000 in debt and owed my mum money for buying my car, when my old one was too expensive to fix. I knew I needed to knuckle down and come up with some numbers.

I started investigating holiday prices in the first place for trips in Europe and New York, I was trying to work out the best place to go for that time of the year. I worked out that we could get flights and a hotel for various destinations for around £400-£500 each for four to five nights. When I finally landed on the idea of New York, as it'd be quieter and cute if it snowed. I started to research affordable restaurants. I made a Pinterest board of things to do and places to eat that looked different and appealing, and made a document detailing rough prices of meals.

See, I love doing all of this research and budgeting (when I stick to it), my plan was to get out of my overdraft by January, and pay my mum off by February/March. I knew I couldn't overspend on our holiday if I still wanted to get fully out of debt. I had decided that I was not going to go shopping or get souvenirs (as I had already been to New York a few years ago and bought way too much, I did not want to do that again). I worked out when we were going to arrive, and how many meals we would need to buy each day. I had originally scrapped buying breakfast on day one, however we ended up buying it anyway! I put a budget of $10 per breakfast and lunch, and $30 for dinner. That's a total of $250 for just food for the holiday.

Then from my list of fun things to do I worked out what was free and what would cost me more dollars*:

Weekly unlimited subway card $34
Central Park Zoo $19.95
Pedicab Tour $30 each (if pre-booked through Facebook)
Empire State Building $42
Top of the Rock $38
Roosevelt Island Cable Car $3 each way

Total: $169.95

When we were planning what we wanted to do each day and if there were more things to do in that area, I looked into travel passes and saw that Groupon did a good deal. We got a three attraction pass that you can use at anytime during your holiday for £69 each ($83) and it includes so many attractions it's really worth it. This meant that we automatically saved money through this pass rather than exclusively buying tickets for the Empire State Building and Top of the Rock, and we decided we'd pay the 9/11 Museum a visit as well. The one thing I'd recommend with the Groupon pass is make sure you do it before you go on holiday, as I had a delay in receiving my confirmation email as I booked it at the airport when we were about to leave...luckily, I got it later that day and could finish the confirmation. If you can, try and print the voucher as they will scan it at each attraction or exchange it for one of their tickets. Plus, you don't have to commit to what attraction you want to use the passes for, so it gives you flexibility if you change your mind.

We didn't end up doing all of the attractions on my list, so we saved in some areas and spent more on food in others. Each day I would assess my budget and move over my daily amounts to my Monzo card. I highly recommend Monzo, it's an app only bank of which you get a physical card and it's super easy to transfer money. One of my favourite components is that you can round up your spends to put the extra change into a savings pot, it also works out the exchange rate as soon as you've bought something.

I had about £130/$156 left in my spending account, which was great as that was then left as my savings whilst knowing that I was out of debt. I had about a maximum of $500 I could spend, but I wanted to make sure I came back with plenty leftover.

With regards to my addiction to spending and shopping, we did go into malls and the massive Macys and Bloomingdales just to have a look. To be honest there wasn't really anything I wanted or needed, it was just nice to get a feel of the place. I think I had been so strict on my thought process before we went that it stuck with me and I didn't stray. Except, when I got a little bag of pick and mix from M&M World which I allowed as it was only $7.99 and delicious.

This was the first holiday I'd been on where I had done all of this research and worked out budgets, and honestly it was the best thing I could've done. I really regret my previous trips where I would just flash my contactless card and worry about the amount I'd spent later. Having that daily budget was just great to help me keep me on track, and be smart about where we ate and what we did. Obviously, I didn't want to be in a position where I was worried about money whilst away for our anniversary, but that's why it helped to know that I had room in my budget. I had worked hard to make sure that I wouldn't be anxious about money.

I still can't believe that we actually went away on a holiday together, and I managed to scrape any extra pennies and birthday/Christmas money together to make it happen. I've added helpful links throughout this post, and if you have any other questions about budgeting drop me a comment below!

Other New York content will be coming soon...

*all prices were correct at the original publishing date, prices may vary due to inflation or different deals.

Wednesday, 29 April 2020

How I'm Managing My Money in 2020

Ok, so again I haven't posted much this year. It's not for lack of trying, or lack of ideas. Sometimes it's down to not having photo content yet (I find having at least one image per post is preferable, rather than having just a block of text), or sometimes I get a bit afraid of publishing my own words and my own opinions online for everyone to see, and judge.

You might be a bit bored of me going on and on about being in debt, and always trying to get out and failing. Well, I have some good news for you all. I am finally DEBT FREE. Yep, you heard me. In one of my last posts about my plans for this year, I mentioned that I had really made a difference to my bank account. For the past year I really dug my head in the sand and worked hard to earn the money I needed to pay bills, and made a few plans to pay off my overdraft and pay back my mum (who had kindly bought my car back in November 2018). I always had enough money for my bills, but I must admit I did sometimes struggle to complete my 'get out of debt' schemes. The reason for this (and I talk about my mindset with money when I talk about my addiction in a post late last year) is that I've had to completely retrain my brain when it comes to money. Ever since I earned my first pay packet in 2012 I had been going off the rails, financially. I had my own money to spend on whatever I wanted. This became a bit of a challenge though when I was having to borrow money from friends, my parents and eventually caving in and getting an interest free student overdraft; of which I just saw as more free money. Bad Saffron.

Last year I had decided that I was going to say "no" to more socials, or find the cheapest way to do that because getting out of debt and not having this anxiety everyday about my finances was my dream. A life I hadn't really lived since before I got my first job. On 17th January this year, I woke up to a notification from my bank that a bunch of money was deposited. I was confused. Who would just give me that much money? Turns out, I had forgotten it was payday. It was my pay check. When I clicked on my banking app and saw how many figures where in the pluses, YES PLUSES. I cried. It's hard to say what emotion this was exactly, because I was crying but it was about something good. Something I had achieved on my own. However, I was sad because I'd never felt this way before. In all the other times I had temporarily gotten out of debt, I didn't stick to it and fell right back to rock bottom. Rock bottom being at the end of my £2,000 overdraft, with my £2,300 Macbook to pay off (may have been a stupid idea at the time) and my £2,300 something debt to my mum.

Although I was out of my overdraft, I still had a significant amount to pay back to my mum. I had another plan for this, you see. I had this all worked out in advance since before Christmas. I was a woman with a plan. I earned enough to pay for my bills, and whatever was left over the next two months I paid to my mum to get that debt over and done with. I wanted a debt free 2020, and I was getting it. Only two big lump sums and it was all over. Flash forward to 9th April and I received my first lot of wages where I didn't have to pay off my overdraft, my Macbook or my mum. My money is mine. Even though it's been three or so months of technically being out of my overdraft, it still hasn't sunk in. I was able to put away some spare money after leaving enough for this months bills into my savings account and I can't believe that I'm someone right now, who has a good head start with a savings account. It's something that's been on numerous new years resolutions and goals lists, and has never happened until now. I just want to shout from the rooftops, because this is a big moment for me.

My other half; Connor, I think still doesn't completely believe me when I say I've changed and I'm going to work hard to stay out of debt. I don't blame him. I was lying to myself all of the other times I got out of debt. I guess that's part of being an addict? In the end you don't even know if you're lying to yourself, and believing your own lies. I kept my finances to myself for quite a few years, and would lie about how bad it was. I wanted to fix it myself, but being the spending addict I was it was so much worse bottling it up. The moment that I spoke more to Connor and my parents about my situation, I didn't feel as though I was living two lives anymore, and having to hide my payslips or banking information. A weight was lifted. All of them had at some point offered to help in one way or another, but it got to a point where I really didn't want to borrow any more money. Enough was enough. I'm an adult, I put myself in this mess and I need to learn to get myself out of it. It's been a huge learning curve, and I really hope that this is a new start.

I have started to track and manage my money using this awesome spreadsheet that Rhianna set up (she's got some banging posts all about getting out of debt, saving, and budgeting which I've found super helpful), she goes through each section on the spreadsheet to help you set up. I had already been pulling my hair out when trying to get out of debt, so it's been handy to customise this spreadsheet for my needs. I must admit I haven't been tracking my money that much, I've done a few months using it and it's so good if you stick to writing down your spends and what they were for. I started a section where I've written down all of the occasions this year where I will need to spend money, be it birthdays, hen do's and Christmas. I now have a set budget for how much I need to put aside to financially prepare for all of these events. I have never done this before. I've lived month by month for so long, I don't know why I hadn't thought of it before. I also created a tab where I've put down all of the monthly outgoings so I know for sure how much goes straight out of my account, so I can see what's left to play with each month.

My next plan, is to open a Lifetime ISA to help save up for a house. I think it will really help putting my money into a dedicated account that I can't just transfer in and out of. Plus, if I reach the maximum £4,000 a year (which according to my plan I could hit that target by the end of this year) the government give you an extra £1000 into that account. There's more information in this article by Money Saving Expert, which I've found really helpful. I'm really serious about Connor and I moving out and getting our own place. I've moved around and lived in other people's houses for so long, I just really want a place of our own. Our own four walls with a sturdy roof. I really don't see the benefit of moving out to just rent, (unless I had to move away for work) because it just costs so much and I really don't earn enough to be able to pay rent and save up for a deposit.

In summary; all of my money is now my own, I use a bad ass spreadsheet to monitor my incomings and outgoings with forecasts for each month and the year, and essentially putting as much leftover wages into a savings account. This is how I'm managing my money in 2020. No more unnecessary shops and hauls, and smart spending not blind spending.

Let me know if you have had enough of my little rants about money, I hope it's not too bad now that I'm out on the other side! Also pop me a message if you would like to see any posts in the future updating you all on my progress.

Thank you for reading, this has felt like the longest journey.

Tuesday, 28 April 2020

I am a Key Worker

This year has been absolutely crazy. I started off the year by paying off my overdraft (finally), and celebrating ten years together with my boyfriend. Just before we went away to New York, China had been broadcasting that a potentially lethal virus originated in Wuhan. We didn't know very much about this virus at the time, and there were no cases in either the UK or America, and airline companies only had warnings for people who had recently travelled to Asia or Wuhan directly. I was taking this seriously in January, and I'm taking it seriously now. I equipped myself with hand sanitiser everywhere I went, especially in public places.

I did not imagine that life would come to this. For over a month we've been in lockdown. I've lived through Bird Flu and Swine Flu, my mum even reckons that I may have caught a mild strand of swine flu. Back then, we were all still working and going to school, so the fact that on Monday 23rd March, a national lockdown was put in place was scary. I saw this coming, but seeing it at the same time as everyone else in the country; I had goosebumps.

Prior to this, when everyone was gossiping and spreading rumours because they know someone who knows someone, and "the military are getting involved" I knew that I was still going to have to work in a global pandemic. The past year has been tough for me, I've been working in the hospitality and retail sectors to pay my bills whilst I still try and work my way into my dream career. I never would've imagined that whilst people are self isolating and social distancing, that I was still stacking shelves in a supermarket where numerous members of the public come in each day. Of course I knew that during a lockdown a supermarket was going to be open in one way or another, people need food to eat. It was just really odd to be called a "key worker" and have a letter giving permission to leave the house in case I'm stopped by police.

I feel lucky (in a sense), that I am still able to go to work and earn my regular income. All of my previous jobs, retail or otherwise have ceased to let people work. I would've been out of work and essentially screwed if I was still in my last job, a zero hour seasonal role. I'm not someone who has existing conditions so I'm still healthy enough to work, let's ignore the fact that my immune system is shocking at the best of times. I've got a lot of friends around me who have begun to work from home, have been furloughed, and I know a lot of people who are completely out of work and who will be hoping to get that government grant in June. It's a strange time, to see that when the chips fall down which people still need to go to work to keep society moving.

I don't feel like a key worker. Yes, I turn up to work knowing the risks. I use my sleeves or feet to open doors, and sanitise and wash my hands regularly and before eating. We have social distancing measures in place, and have altered the times that customers enter the store. I work night shifts between 9pm - 7am, so I don't really see customers anymore which takes out part of the risk. However, it is a HUGE place to work. You have no idea who's touched something before you, if they are being as cautious as you.

Yet, I constantly know how much worse other people have it. Walking into a building where you know patients or people have Covid-19 symptoms, or confirmed cases. I have had friends and even strangers outside of my work thanking me, for what? I appreciate the sentiment but I'm just doing my job, which I'm grateful for. I imagine there are some people that work in the care sector and hospitals that feel the same, they signed up to a job they wanted to do - albeit take out the pandemic we're having and most of them probably enjoy it to some extent, or just want to do good and look after people.

I have had to watch as customers panic bought "essential" items, and changed their buying behaviours just because everyone else was buying those products. The sign says they can have five; so they will take five. It has been jarring to have been on the "front line" to that extent. Our company joining together with other supermarkets to Feed the Nation. Quite often I would feel anger towards customers for being selfish and acting like a herd of sheep. I had recently been making donations to my local food bank, and the minute the panic buying started I feared for what stock would be left for those less fortunate. When I had finished my ten hour night shift I'd make a list of the items I wanted to get for the food bank, and I even went home on a Sunday morning and came back at 9.30am to be able to get some toilet roll and hand wash. I could feel people look at me when I had five of each item, but I didn't care. I was doing this for others. I didn't care about myself, I wanted to help the community, and I wanted others to see that and do the same. I would walk around the store and each day the panic buying got worse, it would move around the aisles. As if customers couldn't get one thing, they would panic buy whatever else was available. It's taken a while for the store to keep up with the demand of customers buying multiples of EVERYTHING. People just didn't understand that they couldn't buy in lots of one product as they were trying to replenish everything, and customers would buy it all within seconds as soon as the store opened. Every time I saw more empty shelves, my heart sank for the vulnerable, the elderly and the less fortunate.

Luckily, the supply levels are doing much better now. I guess people realised they spent too much money, didn't have any more space in their house and that there was no reason to panic buy in the first place. Things aren't perfect, but an improvement. There's more online shopping available, and you would have seen the priority shopping times for NHS/Care Workers and elderly customers on the news. It's still an odd sight to see these customers start queuing at 7am when they can't enter the store until 7.30am/8am. Even though my local food bank had to shut due to lack of staff available to work, and they couldn't keep everyone safe. Acts of Kindness have been able to take donations from multiple drop off sites, and you can arrange collections. Through this, I have joined a few Facebook groups for my community for food banks and the homeless. If there's anything I can do to help, I will do it.

Through this crazy and horrible experience, I have learned what truly matters. I generally try to be a kind and thoughtful person, but I have made more of an effort. I reached out to friends, family and nearby neighbours. If they needed something I would get it for them, I had the opportunity to get things as soon as they came into the store (I just want to make it clear, I'm not taking advantage of my position, I would only buy the bare minimum so there'd be plenty left for other customers). As I had everything I needed, I wanted to make sure others could have what they needed. I check in on those closest to me, as some are self isolating I want to check how they are doing. It's a hard time for a lot of us, and I wanted to let people know if they need to talk to someone; I'm always here. It's important to talk to one another and message your friends and family, but considering it can be hard holed up and away from friends and family, we need to give people space to process and reply when they feel like it.

We lived in such a fast paced, instant and prejudiced society. Now that we've all had to slow down, we can really assess our behaviours. Everyone moves at a different pace, if you want to do home DIY projects then do it. If you want to binge watch TV and films, then do it. Do what makes you happy, and what makes you feel better mentally. We don't know how much longer lockdown has to go on for, but also how long certain restrictions and social distancing will go on for. I know people are getting impatient and frustrated, but for most people all you have to do is sit at home and protect others lives. We're all missing our old lives and our families, I don't know when I'll be able to see my mum and step mum and hug them again, as they both work in the NHS. Even though I still leave the house to work around four nights a week, I'm starting to go a bit Lockdown Loco.

I thought that this was an important topic to post on my blog, as I have been very private about my work life for the past year. I use this blog to talk about and document parts of my life, and well it would be a missed opportunity to not write about these crazy times. I also wanted to be honest with my readers about what I'm going through, but also to think about what other's are having to go through.

Please be patient, be kind and most importantly stay home.

Wednesday, 8 January 2020

Rise of the bodysuit | Lust List*

This past year I managed to lose a bit of weight and attempted (at times) to keep it off. Upon seeing more of my figure underneath the extra pounds I decided I wanted to alter my wardrobe to show that I don't still have my unwanted flubber.

I kept saying to myself that I'd never be the girl who could wear a bodysuit. One day I muted that voice and just go and try some on and see for myself. And actually, they didn't look too bad. Yes, I still have a belly I probably always will have one but I could actually feel comfortable in my own skin in something tight fitting. Who am I??

My mum and I went for a little window shopping the other day and I found myself looking at some gorgeous bodysuits, and there were quite a few pieces that made their way into my camera roll...So, I thought a little lust list had formed itself, why not share my finds with you lot?

Let me know your thoughts, or if you're as obsessed as me with a certain style of clothing!

From left to right:

Grey Ribbed Long Sleeve Bodysuit

Burgundy Ruffle Plunge Neck Bodysuit

Rust Ribbed Crew Neck Bodysuit

Black Leopard Flocked Bustier Bodysuit

Purple Velvet Glitter Wrap Bodysuit

*this post contains affiliate links of which I can make a small commission

Tuesday, 7 January 2020

My Plans for 2020

Happy New Year readers! I know it's a smidge late, but I have a little post for you all about how I want to spend my 2020.

I had written a 2019 goals list in my notes app on my phone, but I guess I was a bit unsure of what I could actually do last year. With the redundancy and financial issues I felt a bit limited. I was a bit over ambitious with jobs and writing in those goals. The only things I'd say I had accomplished from that list was my "size" for Connor's uncle's wedding in August (which I felt so glam for), and eventually towards the end of the year made more progress with getting out of debt.

This years list I feel is more of a follow on from what I've already achieved, and maybe to push the boat out and try more things. Especially, now that I may have a bit more time on my hands as I won't have to completely work my socks off to be in a better financial situation.


If you've been following my social media, you'll have seen that in May I started the Couch to 5k app to ease me back into running. I used to love running when I was at school and would enter into a lot of the races at sports day - although I enjoyed it, I wouldn't say I was that good because I wouldn't train that much and had an unhealthy mindset. Using the app was just a godsend, I'm planning to do more of an in depth post about my fitness and the tools I used to help me soon - let me know if you would be interested in reading about this! As well as running and gym sessions I had very active jobs last year which has helped my weight shift and show a bit more of a figure which I didn't know existed beneath the extra pounds.

On to this year, I'm going to keep running 5k's and get my time back down until I start upping the distance. I'd love to do the Race for Life for real this year, whether it's the 5k/10k I think it'll be good to get involved in a proper run, I also want to achieve The Great South Run. My Dad is a veteran of this run and it'd mean the world to me to train alongside him and both be in the same race. If I stay on track I have plenty of time to get up to running 10 miles.

I don't really have a set weight or dress size that I want to be, from the weight loss already I feel so much more me and more confident in my skin. I want to keep up this mindset and just become more toned and powerful, there's nothing like the feeling of lifting a heavier weight or running even faster and feeling the strength in your body.


In 2018 and the beginning of 2019 I really got back into reading, and having the Kindle app on my phone helped me read wherever I was. With being so busy with work and exercise already I dropped the ball on keeping up with it. I think a reading goal is a bit too much pressure, so my plan is to make a short list of books I want to read first and set aside time each week to have a reading session and see how I get on. I love the escapism of reading, and I feel that I have so much to explore in the literary world. I'd love some recommendations of books you've loved reading, I'm not fussy on genre!


As you may have seen, I haven't published much on here in the last year. I believe it's been my quietest year...she admits shamefully. I have lots of ideas and plans for posts on here and writing off of the internet and potentially into book form. My blog is my space, my corner of the interwebs to write whatever I want. I like the lack of pressure on here, although I'd love to be commissioned for collaborations and perhaps look into monetising my blog, as it wouldn't hurt to earn a few more pennies on the side! However, I am looking into pitching ideas to magazines both online and print which would just make my life.


Yes, yes everyone always talks about money in these things. BUT and a big but at that, I made so much progress last year and have firm dates to be completely debt free and I actually have faith in myself this time. Plus, I want to stay that way. I will get rid of my planned overdraft when the time is right to get rid of temptation and make sure I check my finances on a regular basis. Being that this year I will be 25 in August (a very adult looking age) I don't have much to show for the life I've lived. I don't really have a career and no home of my own. Whilst I've picked a rather tricky industry to get into I will keep at it. With the house side of things; once I'm out of debt I'm going to start up a Lifetime ISA to help buy a house. I know I sound so grown up! We will probably have to save up for a couple of years to achieve this but as it's my next priority I will try and really grow that pot of money.

Tidy Room, Tidy Mind

For most of my life my bedrooms have been somewhat messy, untidy and unorganised (sorry Mum). In the past year I have tried to make my drawers and wardrobe more organised rather than just shoving things into drawers, but the tops of drawers and sides are still looking rather messy and it's just an eye sore. I want to really work at being more minimalist and only buy things I need or have actually run out of, rather than bulk buying and more or less hoarding. It's not a healthy lifestyle.

Plan Plan Plan

I already have a few exciting things planned this year, but the severe lack of things I had planned last year definitely contributed to me feeling depressed. Usually each year I'll start to pencil or book things in and then pop them on a countdown app. I find this really helps when each year passes. This also involves planning my money to be comfortable to pay for or have spending money for these plans.

I'd like to think this is a fairly simple guide to how I'd want my 2020 to turn out, yet it's still a big question mark. I am very excited to see what this year holds, especially after a relatively tough one last year.

Do you have any goals or plans for 2020?
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