How to Plan a City Break

Planning a trip

If any of you are like me, then when you go away, whether it be for a short city break, holiday, or a long trip travelling, then you’ll like to be prepared. I mean, packed a few days before, with about 3 different lists, guide books galore, and various maps of your location with hotel, train stations, and airports circled and ready to navigate.

Or maybe, you’re a chilled out traveller, who picks up their currency at the airport, and books accommodation a few days before.

I have done both kinds of holiday, and both have their merits, but everytime I’ve done a city break without planning, I’ve always left regretful that I’ve missed out on things, or not done enough. I’ve always been a planner, and thought I would share my tips for getting the most out of a holiday.

1) Before booking, pick up a guide book…

and see what’s there, check what time’s/days/months the attractions you want to see are open, and make sure your trip cover’s those times. Let me tell you, I once went somewhere in europe for a mini-break on a sunday and monday and there was NOTHING open. We spent about 4 hours watching TV in the hotel room because there was nothing else to do. A mistake I will never again make.

2) Make a shortlist of things you would like to do.

Divide them into ‘Musts’Would like to’s’ and ‘ if we have a day spare’s’  This way you can be flexible when your there – if you are round the corner of a ‘Would like to’ with some time to spare, pop-in. Likewise if you are in the middle of a must, and having so much fun you don’t want to leave and head to that thing that you think might be cool, but you aren’t really that fussed (*cough* me and famous churches *cough*) you don’t have to rush off to make sure you fit it in. It also mean’s if you’ve booked perhaps a few days more than you needed somewhere – you can fit that church/museum in that will make you feel good and cultured.

3) Make sure you can be flexible

Don’t get too caught up in the schedule that you are rushing around and don’t have any time to relax and do the things that you enjoy. Sit at a street-side cafe, do a bit of shopping – whatever makes you feel like your on holiday!

4) Walk.

I always try to walk, or get buses rather than tubes so that I get to see as much of the city as possible. When you are travelling underground, you miss so much of what is going on – and you never know what you might discover. It’s also the best way to get your baring’s in a new place. So don’t forget to schedule in a bit of extra time to take a wander round the back-streets.

5) Know why you are going.

If it’s a girly weekend away, find an alternative guide book and look up a few local shopping hotspots so you don’t just end up in Zara again.

Research some restaurants and bars, you don’t have to go to them – but have some back-up’s if you don’t find something easily. If you are travelling hundreds or thousands of miles to a new city – there’s nothing worse than ending up shopping and eating in places you could’ve gone to down your local high-street because you weren’t prepared and didn’t know where to look to find the gems.

What are your top travelling tips? 

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Show of the Month: Bryony Kimming’s and Tim Grayburn ‘Fake it ’til you Make it’

Bry and Tim

Bryony Kimming’s show’s are always topical. I don’t mean Greece or Syria topical – but that she chooses issues that effect almost every person, but are rarely spoken about in the mainstream media. The last two show’s of her’s I have been to,  at least half the audience has left the theatre weeping hopeful tears. Her shows are always personal to her, but through her truth, it becomes personal to many.

She doesn’t need extravagant sets, or costume to make her shows spectacular. She does it by being herself, and telling stories of real people, and real issues, and that quality is what makes ‘Fake it ’til you Make it’ such a joy – or perhaps, strange hopeful sadness would be more appropriate.

Bryony, and her Fiance Tim stand together or stage, dancing in their underwear and singing a song with bags on their heads. Anyone who has seen a Bryony Kimming’s show before is unsurprised. The set, as I mentioned before, is minimal, only 2 microphone stand’s to start with.

It is Tim’s story that they are telling. It doesn’t have a happy ending, but it doesn’t have a sad one. In fact, it doesn’t really have an ending at all, because Tim is still on this journey, and to give it one would take away from the fact that depression often is a life-long recurring illness. It will have many endings, and many beginnings.

Tim works in advertising normally, and has taken a year off work to make this show. He has very little stage craft. He is a slightly awkward dancer, and doesn’t like looking at the audience. But. It is his story, and frankly, his inexperience and obvious nervous energy only make him more endearing. Although told through silly dance’s and song’s the truth in the words being said is never lost. It is a love story, and the love shown between the two on stage stops the show from falling into the realms of “depressing show about depression” and instead makes it hopeful, makes it real, and most importantly make’s it relatable.

The show wasn’t made to be a great night out at the theatre after all. It was made to raise awareness of male-depression, and try to break down some of those everlasting taboo’s of mental health being a women’s sickness, and any man who has it as being less “manly.”

Whether or not it achieve’s this I cannot really say, never having bought into the taboo myself, I do not know if this show will change opinion. But what it does do, and what it will carry on doing is telling people; man, woman, child, and everyone else; that it is ok to be depressed. It does not make you weaker. It is ok to ask for help. It does not make you failure. It is ok to have relapses. It does not mean it will last forever.

With one in three people experiencing mental health problems (and those are only the one’s they count!) I think those messages need to be shouted from the rooftops, because if even 1 person goes to the doctor after seeing this show, it could save their life.

Fake It Till You Make It is on at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August.If you aren’t heading that way, keep checking back HERE for tour dates.

 

 

Life Lately: Exploring London, and Finding Good Things

So, since I’ve been a little on and off recently with this blogging malarkey, there are a few things I’ve been up to recently that I haven’t shared, so thought I’d do a little summary post for you all. I’ve been exploring and found some lovely new places around London to head to this summer. All these photo’s are just some snapshots I took quickly on my iphone, the kind of one that you take, and eventually gets deleted (because at the end of the day, there are only so many photo’s of wine a girl needs) so what better place to store them than on here.

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Wine and Puppy’s

Less of a discovery more of just an excellent thing. But sipping on Rose whilst sat outside with a puppy at your feet…bliss.

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The London Riviera 

This fun little pop-up is sat right outside Boris Johnson’s office at More London. It has cocktails, coffee and food, and lots of cute little stripey summer outdoors bed furniture things (you know what I mean) to lie down on and relax if you’ve had a long day shopping or walking in the summer sun. There are also flamingo tables. Yes, that’s right, I said Flamingo tables. Find one. grab a cocktail or coffee depending on your mood and possibly the time of day, and *ahhh* relaxation in the city at it’s most kitsch.

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Eating Ice Cream 

Nothing beats Ice cream when it’s summer in London, and if it comes in a waffle cone then I’m pretty much sorted for the day. This beautiful stuff by the Benugo cafe in Hyde Park was pretty special, and beats a Mr Whippy any day. (I did post about my trip to Hyde Park here if you want more ducks, and summer fun!)

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The Rum Kitchen

What a discovery. I’ve always been a fan of Kingly Court in a kind of walk through or sit and eat a sandwich on the benches, but haven’t really been paying close attention to it. And my word has that place gone through a bit of a transformation. It’s now a thriving little hub of cute restaurants, bars and shops and well worth a visit. We picked the rum kitchen as destination of choice, and all the cocktails (all rum based – unsurprisingly) were gorgeous, and a little bit different from the usual too. Plus sitting in the window and looking out at this view, as the sun sets is a pretty lovely way to spend an evening.

What do you think? Have you made any new discoveries in your city recently?

Being a Day Breaker

ICE TEA

So if you are a regular over here, then you might have guessed from last week’s thought of the week that I’ve been a little bit over-worked and pretty much completely exhausted recently, with the new arrival of a certain someone to boot.

But on Thursday I was lucky enough to score a ticket to Lipton’s Be a Day Breaker event at the Magic Roundabout at Old Street, and I thought – what the hey! One more sleep deprived night won’t hurt, so of I trotted bright and early to attempt to be at Old Street by 7.30am. (It was actually more like 8.15 but shhhh) to see if that old proverb about said early birds, and worm catching really is a thing.

Well, I think maybe they are on to something there, as I had a pretty wonderful start to my Friday, and all before I even had to go to work.

OUTFIT ONE

BURGER

OUTFIT 2

I entered to lots of very awake, very active people dancing around to the DJ’s, and was rather relieved to spot fellow blogger, and gifter of ticket, Hannah, almost immediately (she is a total babe – and took these fab outfit shots for me as well!) and after picking up my rather pinterestable Ice Tea in a jar, we got in the queue for the food.

After a rather angsty half an hour (I’m not good in long queues pre-breakfast) we picked up our breakfast’s from Burger Bear, and my oh my, they were worth the wait. Pork burger, bacon, egg, and cheese. I don’t think I really need to say much more, other than YUMMMMM. It beat my usual cornflakes hands down.

After filling my belly with deliciousness, and lots and lots of Ice tea, we had a mooch around the pretty trendy venue, and sat on a bench that doubled as a swing, which was simultaneously both excellent fun, and slightly terrifying, and took some photos.

After that, I popped back onto the magical world of public transport and back to work.

I have to say it was totally worth loosing the extra hour or two in bed for. I felt so fresh and happy for the rest of the day, and surprisingly awake as well! I would recommend early morning party’s whole-heartedly to anyone considering it!

Detials

ICE TEA 2

SHOES

What I Wore

Dress / Brandy Melville, Shoes / Topshop, Sunglasses / Monki 

Thank you to Lipton Ice Tea, and Hannah Gale for the wonderful morning!

Meet Sylvie

DSC02133

I told you there would be a little bit of life news for you this week! If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram (if not, you can do, here and here) then you will probably be well aware already, as I have had no shame in spamming your newsfeed’s with this little bundle of loveliness!

photo

I have adopted a little Westie Puppy named Sylvie, and I love her more than I ever thought possible! She is an absolute darling (when she’s not chewing everything in sight) and has giant ears!  If you would like to see more of her face you can follow her on instagram here, because yes, I am that person now!

Here we are on one of her very first walks, the grass is like a desert thanks to this hot weather! Let’s get some rain please, so Sylvie can romp about in some luscious greenery for her next photoshoot! On the plus side – a pretty great view for an evening walk in your local park!

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Yes I am trying a new hair thing out here, no it’s not due to the hot weather, but due to Sylvie having a bit of a thing for long dangly things.

What I wore

Skirt / Topshop, Top / Vintage

Thought of the Week: When Life Gets Busy.

Busy life

Now you may or may not have noticed my absence from the internet for the past 10 days or so. But basically, I’ve been busy. I’ve been busy at work, and I’ve been busy when I’m not at work, and I haven’t found much time to do anything other than work really. That means no exercise, no reading, no seeing friends, no conventional methods of relaxation whatsoever.

(I now have even less time on my hands thank’s to a certain new family member (no not pregnant) but more on that later)

If I’m honest, I probably have had time to do things like read or exercise, it’s just that once you get out of a routine, or habit, it’s much harder to start again – I’m sure at least some of you will agree with me there. It’s what I like to call the ‘It’s not that I don’t want to, it’s just that I can’t be bothered right now’ mentality. And it’s not laziness, I mean, after working a 48 hour week, who wouldn’t choose to lay in front of the telly and watch Netflix over going to a Yoga class? Certainly not me!

Anyway, after trying to re-kindle my affection for my weekly routine, I’ve come up with a few ideas to help get back on track when life throws you off course for a while. Whether that be through tiredness, business, illness or whatever has made you need to take a step back for a while.

1) Take a step back for while, don’t feel guilty. If you have been working really hard, or just need a day of self-care without checking up on your to do list then do it. Eat some chocolate, have a glass of wine if that’s your thing, but relax in whatever way you want to. Who know’s it might even be a trip to the gym for you!

2) Make time. If you are starting to feel guilty about never making it to that fitness class, or never finishing that book. Make some time to do it. Try and switch your brain to focus on nothing but that activity whilst you are doing it! Give it 100% of your attention.

3) Get on top of those stress levels (read my tips for coping with stress and anxiety here)

4) Talk to a friend. Don’t meet up and instagram your lunch. Don’t tweet through dinner – even if you do love the topic of the chat that night. Again, 100% full attention on the task at hand. Face-to-face human interaction. You, and said friend will both have a brilliant time, internet-free.

5) Last resorts, if everything has really got on top of you, and you feel like there just aren’t enough minutes in the day to get what you need to done. (I’m talking that phase when there’s nothing left in your underwear drawer but a pair of old tights, but your washing basket is looking very well fed.) Take a day off. Whether you are able to take it from work, or have to take it cancel plans over the weekend to do it. Don’t feel guilty, or like you’re wasting a perfectly good day doing washing. Always remember – you deserve clean pants.

How do you cope when your life gets a little hectic?

Things I Wish I’d Known Before Leaving University with an Art’s Degree

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So, you were eighteen, you were passionate, you were excited, you wanted to go against everything your teachers/parent’s wanted you to do and you went to study the creative arts. You’ve invested minimum three years, and thousands of pounds, and it has all culminated in one final show / production / piece that you’ve created and you have never been prouder of yourself, or felt more accomplished.

But then, graduation comes and goes, and suddenly your finding yourself looking into the black hole of the now nearly non-existent Ideastap Jobs Board and wondering what went wrong in your life.

For those of you who are just leaving university and getting ready to enter the big wide world – I’m not trying to put you off. And those considering going to university to do it – trust me it will be a brilliant decision, and you’ll have the best time of your life whilst you’re studying.

 Jobs

When you leave, it’s going to be hard, it’s going to be so, so hard. You are going to doubt every decision you’ve ever made, you may be filled with so much anxiety at times you no longer want to leave your house. You will put in endless hours on bars, and in shops, and feel like your life is going no where, but always remember that as long as you keep working, going to class, attending other people’s shows, and trying really hard to do what you want to do,  then everything will work out. And I’m not guaranteeing you’ll get the job of your dreams, and live your life as an actor or artist forever because you might not. But you will have tried, and it will be worth it.

You might apply for 100 jobs before you get an interview. You might get the first one you apply for. But you all will eventually get an interview, and you will eventually get a job. No one has ever been eternally jobless for no reason. It will happen for you.

Homes

You might move in with your parents to save on rent and you will sacrifice a lot of the independence you’ve been enjoying throughout university. But, if it means you can put in a few more hours a week chasing your dream rather than serving someone’s drinks then it might just be worth it.

It also might not be worth it depending on what kind of person you are – but I will tell you from experience it is nearly impossible to hold down a full-time job, and continue to practice, or better yet work, in the field you actually want to be in. Also, if you want to life in London then paying rent will eat all of your probably measly wages, and you’ll have to live of baked beans and fish fingers again. (This bit is actually quite a lot like being at uni in reflection.)

Motivation

It is this hard for everyone, not just for you. At the end of the day, it is the people who strive the longest who are likely to have more success. It’s the people with the most motivation, and often the most to lose who will work harder. Hard work tends to lead to greater achievement.

Likewise if you realise early on that the artist lifestyle isn’t actually for you. That’s fine too. Find something else your interested in, volunteer, intern, change fields completely if you want to.

Friends

You will no longer see your friends everyday. In fact, you may go months in between meet-ups. But when you do see them, it won’t be any different. Those who you don’t see anymore, or who when you meet-up with them you no longer have much in common. It’s OK to let them go. It will happen naturally, but don’t feel guilty or sad. You’ll meet plenty more people, and make new friends, and have a fabulous time.

Life

Essentially the point I’m getting at is that life is hard. After uni, what happens is life. When your in education, there is always something that’s certain, regardless of what happens in your personal or family life, your education has a structure, there is always a next step and there is also someone to guide you through it. In life, suddenly nothing is certain. It’s a hard adjustment. But it does get easier. Just keep trying, and live life how you want to. Be a nice person, help people, do small things to help make the world a little bit better. Or big things if you can and want to. At the end of the day, your career doesn’t have to define you. The way you choose to live your life as a person is just as important.

Wishlist: Pick of the Sales

It’s that time again! When everything you’ve already bought is a little bit cheaper, and every thing you put off buying is now affordable. BUT in order to get there you have to trawl through a load of people standing around your rail, dropping things on the floor, wiping their hands on stuff you want, and just general being awful. OR spend about 4 hours online shopping only to realise when you go to checkout everything you wanted is sold out in your size. So as I was busying myself with option number 2, I thought it would be nice to take the pain out of sales shopping for some of you if I could.

Accessories 

accessories

I’m in love with these sunglasses, but I know the shape won’t suit my face. Please, someone give them a loving home! Also – these shoes…I’ve seen them in real life and I just want to stroke them again!

Shoes – Whistles – £70 / Sunglasses – Zara – £12.99 / Hat – Whistles – £22.50

Dresses, Playsuits, and some Culottes for good measure. 

dresses

This black playsuit though. It may not be the most summery of colours – but it will see you through all the season’s because black tights. I also desperately want some culottes, but I am far too scared to order any online as I can predict the future when they are just weirdly full length on my little legs.

Dress – Topshop – £20 / Playsuit – Zara – £25.99 / Culottes  – Topshop (branded)  – £75)

Tops

Tops

This glittery sweatshirt is so perfect for that moment in the evening at a BBQ or on the beach when it just gets a little bit too chilly, but theres no way your ready to go inside! Also  – suede and denim. They need no further explanation.

Suede – Zara – £17.99 / Sweatshirt – Whistles – £60 / Denim shirt – Zara – £17.99

Happy Shopping Everybody!