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? 

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

edited

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.

My favourite Instagram Accounts: Part 1

Instafave

After having such a great response to my blogging favourites a couple of week’s ago (here) I  thought I’d share a few of my instagram favourites. These are three account’s I follow that I just can’t help but like every photo they post.

@melodramablog

This account is run by a fab lady based in the US of A. She is a creative blogger, and is always posting cool and quirky things that she’s either made or found. I love this Vnyl sign, (and the ‘M’ because I just really want one of these for my own bedroom right now!) There is always lots of colour, and fun in her post’s, and the captions are amusing too! What more could you want!

@carnetprune

This beautiful minimalist account is run by a blogger in Paris called Angeline. Now I’m a sucker for any Paris based instagram account, I think the city is pretty much the most aesthetically pleasing place on the planet, and I’ve always had a deep rooted love for it, so I probably am biased. But, basically, I just want all my photo’s to look like her’s all the time. There is a great mix of food, fashion and everything in between. And this lady has got that instagram theme thing DOWN!

@_hollywhite

Holly has one of those accounts where it’s all just lovely and monochrome all the time. She’s got the art of a good pic down to a T. Like Angeline, she has a nice mix of fashion, beauty, lifestyle (and of course the obligatory morning cup of coffee snap). And her account is less of a ‘If only that could be my life’ and more of a ‘That could actually be life if I just spent more time arranging my photo’s’ and I mean that as a good thing. (obvs – she’s in the favourites!)

So if your after some new accounts to follow, these ladies come highly recommended by myself! And (cheeky plug) you can find my account here too, if you would like to come and say hello!

Travelling – Fantasy’s and Fears

Travel

Travel

‘I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list’ 

So if you’ve ever entered the world of pinterest, you may have seen a inspirational travel quote or two floating around, and these are often followed by pictures of lots of incredible places all over the world, that no I have never been to, and in reality probably will never go to. It’s not that I don’t want to. Believe me, I can think of nothing I would rather do than spend the rest of my life seeing those places – that is – as long as I could snap my fingers and be there.

People often talk to me about travelling, and all the marvellous places they’ve been, and want to go to. I always feel a little like I can’t join in when the conversation turns global. I have travelled to a few places, and only ever really on holiday’s. I’ve never been backpacking, I’ve only once been to a different continent and that was to the USA – again on a very comfortable family holiday.

People often tell me I’m just the sort of person who like’s being near home. Although that is I guess in some way the case – I do feel more comfortable at home, of course I do, who doesn’t? But there are several reason’s I’ve not yet made the time to travel.

‘And then I realised. Adventures are the best way to learn’ 

I’ve been busy. Terrible excuse I know but I have been. When everyone else was on a Gap Year – I was doing a foundation course, then already a year behind I couldn’t start uni any later. Every summer I needed to work, or had week’s of work experience and internship’s lined up, and I never made the time to go anywhere. I also thought it was more important, and that I could travel any time, and everywhere would still be there when the time was right.

‘If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine – it’s lethal’ 

Well guess what destinations have always been top of my list?  Venice is sinking, and Cuba’s on the path to Starbucks and Mcdonalds. Suddenly I’ve found myself in a full time job, with quite little holiday time, and restrictions on when I can take it, and I don’t know when I’ll ever be able to go.

But then, I brought this on myself a little. This is surely what I wanted when I put in all those hours over summer volunteering and interning – surely this is what it was for?

But in reality, I didn’t make that choice because I would have rather one than the other. Really I was scared. I was scared of the flights, the trains, the hostel rooms. I was scared of getting mugged (when I live in one of the areas of the country with the highest crime rates…make’s no sense) scared of eating something that has a secret nut in it that might kill me. I’ve made excuses and found reasons not to go, and now my anxiety has come to fill me with fear of what I’ve missed out on.

‘Your heart is free. Have the courage to follow it’ 

Well if you are still reading, I hope you’ll be pleased to know that I’m taking steps to overcome this. I’ve booked a week in Paris in August- it’s not far, and it’s not new – but I am going completely solo! I am terrified, but also excited. Hopefully it will help me get over some of my fears, and I’ll be travelling a little further away from home in no time!

Here are my 5 most longed for trips. I may put them on my before 40 bucket list (I think before 30 is probably a bit ambitious, as some will probably be quite expensive, and time consuming!) If you’ve been to any I would love to know your recommendations.

My dream trips 

Thanks for listening to my ramblings!

Thought of the Week: Blog’s I’m loving!

Blogs I'm loving!

So I don’t know about you but I waste a lot of time on the internet, and most of that is spent either online shopping (hello Asos) or reading blogs. Now, since I started blogging myself, I’ve started reading more and more and learning about new bloggers and different genre’s and there are a few that I seem to go back to time and again (every day) and I wanted to spread some love, and share them with you lot! Now I’ve only been in this game for about 4 months now, but these lovely blogs are all inspirations to me, and so if you enjoy my blog I imagine you’ll enjoy theirs as well.

Creativity

Foundsomepaper.com by Uli. 

I love reading Uli’s post’s because they are always so different. Her pictures are colourful, and vibrant and her writing is intelligent and insightful. She describes herself as ‘an advocate of creativity’ and there is always something you can get involved in. Her post ‘Found Some Thoughts on Creativity’ post is one of my favourites.

Fashion/Lifestyle

Iamdaisyalice.com by Daisy Alice

This girls got great style and her food photography always makes me hungry! She’s got a great balance between fashion/style posts and lifestyle, and I love the ‘Shop’ feature on her page (saves me a lot of the afore-mentioned ASOS time wastage!)

Food/Health

Brittonloves.co.uk by Lauren

Lauren is my favourite go-to blogger for healthy lifestyle posts. She has some gorgeous recipe posts, and I love reading her well-being advice. My favourite is her ‘Why you should put happiness first post!’

Photography / Blogging Tips

Mediamarmalade.com by Melissa

Now, I was trying to stick with blogs under 1000 followers, but I also thought I’d put in a blogger that I take mega-inspiration from, and someone who I aspire to have a blog even remotely like some way down the line. Although this technically isn’t a photography blog, but Melissa’s photographs are INCREDIBLE! She post’s some lovely style posts, but my personal favourites are the tips posts, that cover both blogging and general life. One of my recent favourite’s is ‘how to be a success’!

Future Friends

So there you have it 4 of my absolute favourite blogs that I read time and time again. I hope you’ve made some new discoveries!  It feel’s good to share some blogging love, and I’m always looking for more blogs to follow so please always share your links in your comments on my posts, and let me know if you have any favourite bloggers you’d like to see in one of these post’s in the future!

Thought of the Week: Reason’s to be Happy!

Reasons to be Happy

When I started my Thought of the Week series, it was intended as way to talk about the issue I’d thought about most that week.  So far, you guys have seemed to really enjoy reading them, and I’ve really appreciated every thought you’ve left in return. However, the nature of trying to discuss issues that effect people, whether personal, or global, means that these post’s aren’t always the most cheery. So today, I thought, LET’S JUST ONLY TALK ABOUT HAPPY THINGS.

 Puppy love!

Anyone who follows me on Instagram or Twitter will know this already but I’m getting a puppy! (Cue a series of awww’s and ahhh’s). I’m a proper animal lover and have asked for a puppy pretty much every birthday and Christmas since I could say the word! But now it’s finally happening, and she is the most adorable little creature that ever walked the earth! Her name is Sylvie and she will be home with me in just 5 ½ short weeks!

 Dance away the blues!

 I’ve been dancing more again recently. And I don’t mean in clubs or on nights out (I’m too much of an grandma for such things) but I’ve always been a dancer, training in ballet, contemporary and tap, and have recently (well nearly two years ago) taken up Lindy Hop as well! Social dancing is so much more enjoyable than I ever realized (If a little scary sometimes not having choreography to hide behind!) But in the last month, I’ve done a performance, an intensive workshop, been to class every week and a social dance. I’ve also taught more contemporary classes, and started choreographing again!

Dancing has always made me happy but post-uni it’s hard to keep it up, the industry is notoriously difficult to make a living in, but I’m trying to get better at not thinking about that too much, and just enjoying being able to dance for fun!

 Tidy house, tidy mind!

I’ve become a tidy person. Anyone who I’ve ever lived with, or stayed in a room with for more than 1 hour will know that this is an incredible development in my life. I always thought I was more likely to be the first woman on Mars than to become a tidy person. But it’s happened. I’m really enjoying it at the moment. All my things look so nice, and my clothes are always clean and I can always find everything I’m looking for! I really should’ve done this earlier! (On a side note slightly worrying as it makes me stressed when things aren’t tidy now, but for the meantime I’m enjoying my new pristine living space!

 Ireland and People

On a less personal note! WOO GO IRELAND! I don’t remember a time when there was such a pro-other people display of love and respect anywhere in the world. I think people with extreme views are too much in charge of everything. And it’s great that Ireland just said, Hey hold up! We may believe in different things, but that doesn’t mean we can’t live side by side peacefully, and it definitely doesn’t mean you are any less than anyone else! It’s quite spectacular, and I think more things like this need to happen. If we just looked out for each other a bit more, not necessarily in huge political referendum’s but also just in everyday life, then the world would be a better, happier, and more peaceful place.

On that note, have you got any happy news to share! I’d love to do a round-up of other people’s happy things, so we can celebrate all our success, news and lives together! Let me know in a comment if you would like to be included!

Thought of the Week: Confidence, Self-Belief and Positivity.

Confidence

So, you may have noticed that I’ve been absent for a few days. I’d like to tell you that it was because I was really busy, and just didn’t have the time – but that really wasn’t the case. If I’m honest, I just didn’t feel like I could write anything last week. I wasn’t happy with anything I tried to write, any topic I came up with or any photographs I took. I then got trapped into a bit of a vicious cycle of negative thoughts, and lost all confidence in myself and my blog.

I’m pretty sure it all started with anxiety over the general election. That was quickly replaced with anxiety about the outcome – and that was then replaced with anxiety about all the stupid people on the Internet who don’t seem to understand how democracy works. (Lets move on swiftly because that is another rant for another time). The trigger is not of so much importance in this conversation. But you can read up on my coping strategies for Anxiety here if you would like to.

It’s amazing how the tiniest indication of vulnerability can leak into all aspects of someone’s life. I went from being concerned about politics to believing I wasn’t good enough at just about everything. A small concern can morph so rapidly until eventually a whole week of your life has been wasted worrying about the quality of your Instagram photo’s, or comparing yourself to every other person on the internet.

How can confidence decrease so rapidly?

If there was no one to compare myself to, then would I be more content with my life/job/blog? Would I be more confident with it? 

Last week, I had a negative thought about the future prospects for the country and the world and it bred so quickly until every thought I had was negative. I wasn’t good enough at my job, my blog, my life because there were other people out there who were more successful than me.

If a person wants to do something, and they believe they can, they are probably much more likely to achieve. But if they don’t think there is any point because the world’s falling apart anyway or whatever excuse they might be giving, then they are much less likely to even try. There will always be room for improvement,  and without that drive to improve and succeed, life would probably be quite boring.

Maybe we need to compare ourselves to others for motivation? We all need something to aspire to, but we need to make sure our thoughts in relation to the comparison’s are positive ones. I think it’s time we start viewing each other as inspiration, rather than competition. We are all individual people, we will have individual lives, and even though we may think we want to land at the same destination as someone else, it is highly likely our journey’s will be very different. If we are constantly comparing ourselves to each other with the view of it being unachievable we will only be increasing our insecurities. If we stay positive, and believe in ourselves then even when something does go wrong, hopefully, we will be able to move forward more easily, and more successfully than before.

So, again, I don’t really know where I’m going with this. But I hope it either helped a little, or made you think. You may well be the most confident, positive person out there – in which case – hopefully you’ll just remember that not everyone is, all of the time. So yes, stay positive, believe in yourself and have confidence in your abilities because somebody has to be successful and it may just as well be you!