Monday, 16 July 2018

£25 Outfit Challenge With Clarks Village


Clarks Village is a place that I associate with my childhood. I have so many memories of car journeys down the M5 to buy new school shoes during summer holidays. I even bought my prom dress there. And who could forget the Cadbury's outlet shop? As a kid, I was in awe of this place. It was like chocolate heaven. It was full to the rim with every chocolate bar known to man and even had a little chocolate train that would chug along over your head. What kid wouldn't love that?

So, when I saw Clarks Village were looking to work with bloggers for their 25th anniversary, I knew I couldn't let this opportunity slip between my fingers. I pitched to them the idea of doing a £25 outfit challenge and, much to my delight, they got back in touch saying yes!

I haven't actually been to Clarks Village since I was 16 (many moons ago) so I was excited to see if it was as good as I remember. In all honesty, it was better! There are now more chocolate shops (including a Lindt outlet shop that do pick and mix truffles) which I was very happy about and an awesome pasty shop. Most of the same clothing shops are there but I especially loved browsing in Sugarhill Boutique, Yumi, and Next (which stocked reduced items from brands like Boohoo and Pretty Little Thing as well as their own range). So, I was quietly confident that I would be able to get a full outfit for the £25 and a cute outfit at that.

The first place I looked in was Next as both my parents and my grandparents told me that this was going to be the best place to find a whole outfit within budget. They were right. After about 10 minutes I found this burnt orange leopard print shirt and absolutely fell in love with it. They only had it in a size 8 but I didn't want to let it go so I vowed I would squeeze myself into it by any means possible. I decided that this shirt would look great with a black skirt and shortly found a very wide range of black leather skirts. I chose this shiny fake leather skirt as I thought it was more interesting than just a regular, non-shiny one and I knew these items would look awesome together - albeit slightly Kat Slater-esque. The shirt and the skirt were £6 each bringing my total to £12 so far.

I then headed off in search of shoes and accidentally fell into the Body Shop outlet store where I stocked up on my go-to matte tea tree foundation for £7 instead of the usual £10. I may have also found Ava the cutest little jumpsuit and sunhat set in M&S for £6. But the shoes were definitely still on my mind.

Unfortunately, I didn't find any shoes that fit within my budget. I did find some gorgeous black boots for £24 but I decided to leave them there in favour of a yellow striped t-shirt from Sugarhill Boutique (for just £19!). The shoes I am wearing with this are old Primark heeled boots which, I believe, I bought for £15 which brings our total to £27. Slightly over budget but not far off which shows that you really can put together a smashing outfit on a budget. Especially if you live near Clarks Village.

Disclaimer: the outfit pictured was bought using a gift card gifted to me by Clarks Village

Thursday, 12 July 2018

The Highstreet Beauty Event You Can't Miss

Before I started uni, The Original Factory Shop was my main port of call for buying cheap (and super cute) homeware but the more I shopped there, the more my attention was swayed towards their beauty section. They always had so many big name brands but at amazing prices. My shopping trips soon went from excursions to buy storage and new pens to delving into the depths of the nail varnish counter to find the best shades at the best prices. And I once found a navy and purple shimmery Calvin Klein nail varnish there which I still own and use to this day so I really am testament to the greatness of The Original Factory Shop's beauty section. So, when they got in touch to tell me about their beauty event and all the great deals to be had, I knew I had to be a part of it. The lovely people at TOFS sent out a package full of goodies and a catalogue of everything they are currently stocking - including high end fragrances and best selling highstreet makeup products all at reasonable prices.

The products sent to me were by a brand called DDM Cosmetics which I hadn't heard of before so I was really intrigued by what they had to offer.

Each item came with instructions on how to use which were very useful as some of the products were quite different from my usual go-tos. The mascara* had two separate applicators. One was a usual mascara and the other was a brush with which you apply fibres to your lashes. The mascara wets the lashes, the fibres stick to the lashes making them look longer and thicker, and the mascara then seals the fibres to the lashes. I wore this for a whole day out in the sun and I found that the fibres stayed put well and didn't crumble onto my face or into my eyes which I was worried about. My eyelashes did look longer and I would definitely continue using this product - especially for events and nights out where I want to look like I am wearing falsies but don't want the hassle of actually applying them.

I don't usually use powder but this Mineral Makeover Powder* has been a godsend in the heatwave. The coloured dots are colour correction dots. I can't really vouch for how well they work as I put this on over foundation but I can vouch for the fact that this is a lightweight foundation that doesn't make your foundation go cakey which is a problem I have had with so many powders before.

The HD Fibre Brow* is the one thing I wasn't so sure on but that is probably because I am a eyebrow powder girl through and through. This brow product has the same premise as the mascara in that it uses fibres to make your brows look thicker and better. Personally, I found that my brows looked too intense after using this but, as I said, I am only used to using eyebrow powder.

Overall, I will definitely be popping into The Original Factory Shop to check out there deals (and to stock up on perfume). And you can get a discount online with the code BLOGGER10


Monday, 9 July 2018

Why I Stopped Reading Magazines And Started Reading Blog Posts

My whole life, I have been an avid reader. As a kid, I read all the books in our house (including the encyclopaedia and the dictionary) so, naturally, I started reading magazines in my preteen years. At the end of every week, I would go to the post office and pick up a bag of pic and mix and a copy of Mizz to read over the weekend. Mizz and Shout were my absolute favourites and I would scour them for the best neon crop tops and sparkly hairbands ready to wow whichever boy I had a crush on that week. I would devour the articles and loved the reader writes in section (I once featured in a Mizz magazine talking about my undying love for Mika). This then progressed onto magazines like Look, Glamour, Cosmo, and Company (RIP). I loved everything about magazines. I loved the glamorous lifestyles I saw in these magazines. I wanted to look like the models. I wanted to have as exciting lives as the people in the column sections. I wanted to become a self-styled version of Miranda Priestly - this was my big dream. I wanted to become an editor for one of these big magazines. Hell, that's why I even started blogging - yknow, to have it on my CV ready for my interview at Vouge.

But, once I got into blogging, I started buying less and less magazines and started reading blog posts. Bloggers like Sprinkle of Glitter and Zoella were my original favourites but it wasn't until I got a Bloglovin' account that I found so many more blogs that I love - and written by people just like me too! I really loved the relatability of the blog posts I was reading and that is very much something that I didn't find in magazines. Although I loved reading about the lifestyle these people in magazines led, I couldn't relate to them as a 16 year old working class girl living in Devon wearing size 16 clothes and donning a frizz-ball of a hairstyle (I use the word 'hairstyle' loosely). The women who featured and wrote these magazines were indefinitely middle class, white, and about 28 years old. They lived in London and shopped in Whistles and wrote about Dior makeup and Mulberry handbags. My 16 year old self just wanted Primark hauls and some tips on how to tame my barnet.

I bought this edition of Cosmo just to use as a prop but I did have a nosey through and it was almost laughable how unrelatable the content is for me. The editor's note talks about flying to Nice in its first line. There is a 4 page spread on holiday destinations in the West Indies. The outfit pictures all feature a size 8, white, blonde woman and the clothes are almost all designer. And then there is the beauty section. Nothing says relatability like a white woman talking about foundation shade range, right? And lets not even talk about the hairstyles page which are definitely only achievable if you have straight hair (*flashback to 13 year old me trying to achieve beachy waves and ending up with a more 'dragged from the ocean by her hair' kinda look*). The truth is, magazines are mostly geared towards a certain kinda person. And who can blame them? They know their demographic and they stick to it. But there aren't that many magazines out there for the people who don't fit the demographic and, I think, that is why blogging is really taking off. I can come online and find a hair tutorial that fits my hair type. I can read clothing hauls from shops that are within my budget. And I can identify with the writer on a personal level because they are just like me.

Blogging is an industry that is getting bigger and better by the day. Bloggers are producing magazine level content from the comfort of their homes and, get this, you don't have to pay a single penny to access it. You can talk to the creators and build relationships with them. Blogging is a lot more interactive and has become a space for people to discuss their interests and make friends as well as read up on the latest beauty trends and high street fashion faves. As much as magazines are so much more at the forefront of the fashion and beauty worlds in that they attend the top events and know about trends before we could even imagine them, blogging offers something different. When you read a blog post, you don't feel like you are reading something from an unknown entity but from a friend - sometimes even someone you have met.

Feeling a connection with the writer also means there is an element of trust there. Whilst I take what is in magazines with a pinch of salt, I am much more likely to engage fully with something a blogger has written. Be it a recommendation of a product or an opinion, I feel like bloggers are a lot less biased than many magazines are. In the blogging world, ads are almost always disclosed and gifted campaigns are also transparent whereas I am never sure of the affiliations that magazines have with certain companies and whether they are promoting certain things because someone has actually tried and liked them or are they a sponsor of the magazine or are there close ties between them? Also I feel like there is this sense of integrity that most bloggers try to uphold when they are recommending things and this makes me think I can place my trust into something a blogger is recommending to me.

Overall, I do like magazines and they do continue to have an influence but, personally, blogs are just a lot more personable and engaging which is why I enjoy them a lot more.

Do you prefer blog posts or magazines?

Monday, 2 July 2018

Cake Galore At The Clocktower, Sidmouth

It has been almost a month since we went to The Clocktower in Sidmouth for my birthday but I am finally getting round to writing up about it - and preparing myself for my return visit there. My husband was actually the one who had recommended that we go to The Clocktower for my birthday lunch as he had worked a few shifts there with an agency and was really impressed by the food and location. My husband isn't a big foodie and doesn't care all that much for cake or pretty interiors so I just took his word for it. But I was pleasantly surprised - he was right, it is a lovely place.

To get to the café, you have to climb up a bit of a hill which means that it has a great outlook from the café over the beach and sea. It is situated inside an old clocktower (hence the name) and it really makes the most of the location. The garden area looks like a Spanish orangery with the leafy canopy at the end of the gardens and white tables and chairs on the cobbles. The inside of the café has quite a modern with light, airy colour and some copper accents. There are flowers on the tables and dotted around the windowsills. There are plenty of blackboards displaying specials and lunch menu items which gives it quite a homely vibe. It is mega instagrammable too.

So, we decided to sit at one of the tables upstairs. As I assume it is a listed building, the upper part of the café isn't very accessible (meaning Isaac had to carry the pushchair up a flight of stairs) but the view is really worth the effort if you can manage to make it upstairs. We chose a sticky toffee apple cake to share and two hot chocolates after much deliberation. They even did homemade lemonade which really tempted me. And we were right to decide to share the cake as it was a huge portion - definitely enough for two people. Although my husband did pick up some crisps on the way out after so much sugary food. The cake was so light and fluffy with a real toffee flavour. The centre was toffee flavoured buttercream and, my gosh, it was heavenly. I felt like pushing my husband's fork away and having this delicacy all to myself.

The Clocktower is such a gorgeous café and they do a whole lot of cakes that all look amazing. Whether you feel like a cream tea or a slab of Bruce Bogtrotter style chocolate cake, they really have you covered. And with a view to die for, this is the perfect location to settle down with a mug of tea and just chill out and take in the view.

What is your favourite cake flavour?

Monday, 25 June 2018

Feeling Boxed In By Blogger Pressure

Here I am. It is 12.40 on a Tuesday afternoon. I am waiting in for a parcel. Ava is asleep and Isaac is at work. I have been staring at a blank 'new post' page on Blogger for the last ten minutes like a post will magic itself up out of nowhere. I keep opening unfinished drafts, writing a sentence, then closing them. I want to write but I don't feel like I have anything to say. Or anything meaningful to say.

When I first started this blog, I would post very often - sometimes every night. I would write about everything and anything. I would snap some pics on my camera and upload them totally unedited. There wasn't that much thought going into it and I loved it. And other people loved it too. I would read their blogs and they would read mine. It was like having a whole lot of pen pals - we were all interested in each others lives.

But now I feel this massive pressure when it comes to blogging. I scroll through Bloglovin and everyone has professional photo shoots coupled with really thought-provoking pieces about life and love. I keep hearing that my posts should be long because Google likes that? I worry that a potential brand looking to collaborate could be reading this and quietly judging the fact that I have just written 'potential' three times and I still probably don't have the correct spelling. I feel like I have to alter myself and my writing to be likable, to gain followers, to progress, to get brand deals, to succeed. I have to be the girl next door type. I have to be political but not too much. I have to wear 'girl power' t-shirts and write a paragraph about how feminism is so great and we need to fight the patriarchy without actually talking about anything real. Like how women are producing these t-shirts for pennies on the other side of the world so we can stand up and declare how good a feminist we are. It is like a true irony, right?

I feel boxed in by my own desire to succeed because I know what people like and I am more than aware that I am not that. I am not a Disney princess girl in a fairytale suburban life where everything is unicorns and sparkles and pretty donuts and afternoon lattes and expensive makeup palettes. I am not rich. I am not blonde with blue eyes and a button nose. I am not all of these things that I have tried to pretend that I am throughout my blogging career. I have battled trauma and eating disorders and heartache and poverty over the last 6 years but my Instagram feed has always shown coffee shop avo toast and half-smile selfies. I have been at my very lowest point and I still kept up pretences. And I just feel so done with the falsehood of this industry. I hate curating myself and my experiences into something a little more palatable.

I'm not saying that I don't love taking outfit pictures and reviewing eyeshadows - or reading blog posts like this - but I just don't see people like me in the blogging world, especially succeeding in the blogging world. But maybe that is because people like me are pretending to be something else. I mean, even I am to an extent. I like people to think that I have money to go on fancy holidays or to laze around in coffee shops and have a new outfit on every time I post but I really don't. I like to write about my uni experience like I had an amazing time but really I was miserable and it was the darkest time of my life so far. I act like I didn't have to go to the council and make a homelessness appeal a few months ago. I guess, I act like I am middle class because middle class people are who I see succeeding. And I hate that I didn't share all these things because I know other people have been through them too. I hate that I have pretended and tried to keep up appearances when I could have just been real and been someone that you guys could relate to. But also I don't blame myself too much. If I had written about these things, I don't think that I would have gotten the amazing brand deals I have gotten recently. I do want to succeed and this industry kinda sucks in that there is a real formula for achieving that success. If I don't put up pretty outfit pics coupled with a few paragraphs about self-confidence or toxic friendships, will I make it?

But I don't know where to go from here. Most days I love this industry. I love having a community and seeing other women excel. But I find that I censor myself a lot here and I don't want to anymore.

Monday, 18 June 2018

How I Found Out I Was Pregnant

Finding out that I was pregnant was an absolute surprise. I was in my final term at uni and had only moved in with my husband a couple of weeks before so it was really unexpected. Thinking back, there were quite a few signs that I had overlooked but, at the time, I thought nothing of them.

The first major sign that I had overlooked was that my period was late. I travelled to visit my husband in the Lake District around the 25th of February and expected my period around the 27th. It didn't come but, for some reason, I shrugged it off. I was used to a little irregularity in my periods - especially as I hadn't been eating enough on some crazy diet and with all the final year stress too. So I really thought nothing of it. I had been working like mad doing nights, trying to plan coursework and attend lecture during the day, and fit in a relationship too - I didn't have time to worry about something as small as my period.

On about the 8th of March, my husband moved into my little room in my student accommodation in Cardiff and waved the Lakes goodbye. My period still hadn't raised its ugly head but I still wasn't thinking about it. But the very day that my husband moved in, I was sick as a dog. We had spent the day going around the shops and having food out but I had had the worst stomach cramps all day. I remember thinking it must be either my period finally arriving or a bad bout of food poisoning. I managed to make it home before I was very sick for the first time in my adult life. Somehow pregnancy still didn't cross my mind. I blamed it on some Shake Shack cheesy chips I'd eaten and got on with enjoying having my husband around.

After about another week, I noticed that my sense of smell was so strong. It was crazy. I mean, I could smell Quavers from the other side of the cinema when we went to see a movie. And I had gone off of certain foods and really wanted to drink orange juice. It was weird as I usually eat anything and everything. So, my husband suggested I take a pregnancy test. I just laughed as he bought me one and sent me off to the public loos in St David shopping centre. Flash forward to five mins later and me frantically texting my flatmate telling her that there is a very faint line in the positive window. I was squinting thinking that it must just be my eyes.

When I left the loos, I told my husband that I wasn't sure as there is a mega faint line so I have to take another test in a bit. Later on, I took a test when we stopped off in Wok To Walk (you really would have thought we'd be doing this at home, right?). Same again. Mega faint line.

So, we go to Boots where we got the pregnancy tests from and asked to talk to the pharmacist. He assured me that there is no way that I could be pregnant after I showed him the tests and that they are probably faulty. I mean, the line would be darker, right? To be sure, I invested in a digital one and headed home.

Once we got home, I went into the loo and braved the digital test. Two minutes later, 'pregnant' flashed up in the window. Lord, I almost died. My mind went crazy. Like, how can I be pregnant?! I was literally crying and my husband was hugging me tryna calm me down whilst also panicking himself. We weren't ready for this! After a sleepless night for my husband and a not so sleepless one for me after that day of endless walking and peeing on sticks, we kinda regained some composure. After every word had been said, we woke up assured that we could do this. We were both so scared but I started to feel excited about this journey and now, over a year later, we have a lovely 7 month old girl who we adore and it all worked out for the best. Although I still can't stand the smell of Quavers.

Monday, 11 June 2018

Unpopular Opinion: Blogger Edition

A big part of blogging is the community. I love all my blogging babes and the support we all give each other. It is awesome how the same ladies always like and comment on my things and share my content. I love finding people who like similar things to me and being able to totally fangirl over anything from a lipstick to this one restaurant we both went to in Krakow. But I also feel this pressure to keep up appearances in the blogging community and either be enthusiastic about something I'm not that fussed about or just keep schtum if I'm not into something. Until today! Today I am sharing all the things that bloggers love but I kinda don't like very much (please don't unfollow me!).

I'm not fussed over Disney
Ok, I like some Disney films and I grew up watching the classics but I don't understand the absolute hype over everything Disney. When the Primark merch came out, I was like 'yeah, it's cute but not something I would buy'. Sure, I would go to Disneyland - and I definitely intend to take Ava there one day - but I am not a massive fan girl. Also I am still waiting for a Jewish princess.

Krispy Kreme donuts are really sickly 
Krispy Kreme donuts are another thing that I don't mind but really am not fussed on. If someone buys me one, I would be happy but I could probably only eat half. I mean, I once ate a whole Battenberg over the course of an evening but a whole Krispy Kreme donut? It's too much for me. And they all kinda taste the same to me. Like, give me a Tesco jam donut instead.

Instagram themes are too much effort
I can appreciate the work and creativity that goes into maintaining an Insta theme - if you have one, you are basically Van Gogh of the influencer world - but it is too much effort and sucks all the fun out of Instagram for me. I have tried to keep a theme before but it just made me hate Insta and want to chuck my phone out of the window. I love snapping pics then just putting a filter on them and sharing them - I don't have the time to be planning my grid. Big up people who have a theme but I'm gonna keep my hot mess of a grid myself.

Being a working class blogger is hard
People like to say 'hard work pays' whenever anyone raises a class issue but the influencer world is definitely geared towards those with excess cash (dosh, wonga). Like, I'm not gonna post a house tour because we don't even have carpets in our house as the council didn't put any flooring down and we're still saving to do it. As a working class blogger, I feel like I have to pretend and act like I am living a lifestyle which really isn't my reality.

Copper wire baskets are rubbish
Remember those copper wire baskets we all bought from Primark? Absolute trash. They're the storage equivalent of eating soup out of a sieve. I swapped mine out for a lined wicker basket because, get this, stuff doesn't fall out the second you put it in there. What can you even keep in there? The holes are too big. Nothing stay in there. It is ridiculous.

Freakshakes are just that - freaky
It is milkshake and cream and sprinkles and cakes and Lord knows what else stuffed into a mason jar and sold for like £5? When I could just a milkshake from McDonald's? I'll pass. I like a milkshake as much as the next girl but freakshakes are next level and I'm not into it. They are just too much of everything.

I hope you liked my brutal honesty and haven't unfollowed yet. Now it is your turn - what are your unpopular opinions that you haven't dared to share with your blogging pals?

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Things We Learnt Living Without WiFi For Two Months

For most millennials, this is a modern day nightmare but, up until a couple of weeks ago, this was our reality. We had switched to Talk Talk as our broadband provider a month before we moved house but when we got to our new house, there were so many issues setting up the broadband. Engineers kept booking and cancelling. Some came but didn't manage to fix the problem. Talk Talk kept pushing the date back. In the end, what was meant to only be a couple of weeks turned into a couple of months. And for two young people, this was pretty difficult. I'm sure some people would scoff at us but the internet has become such a massive part of all of our daily lives so to suddenly not have it did cause some issues. But we did learn a few things.

Libraries are super important
These two months have taught me that we need to preserve libraries at all costs. To start with, I was using Costa as a place to settle down in for a couple of hours with my laptop and a coffee but then I thought about how much I was spending in a week just to use their wifi and decided I needed a new place to camp out in. That's when we discovered the idyll which is the local library. It is free. It is quiet. The wifi is unlimited. And you can even print stuff. We need more places like this.

I use my phone too much
For the first few weeks, I kept buying data add-ons so that I could continuing scrolling through Insta but, by the end, I wasn't actually so fussed about using my phone. I spent time doing other things like making bread, playing silly games with Ava, going on long walks, and actually watching films without giving a running commentary of the action on Twitter. This time showed me that I am hugely reliant on my phone in so many ways. Instead of looking up recipes, I trusted my gut and experimented. Instead of walking the route that Google Maps told me, I explored different places. In all honesty, I kinda didn't want to use my phone anymore by the end of the two months because I realised that I was wasting so much time on it that could have been used doing other things - more beneficial things.

Social media can be bad for your mental health
Social media is a great place to make friends and find a community of people with similar interests to you. But it can also be a very negative place and I find too much of it really draining. Whether it is the bigots of Twitter bringing you down with their misogyny or the unworldly beauty of Insta models making you feel not so good about your rolls and not so shiny hair, social media isn't all unicorns and rainbows. Sometimes you really need to just take a time out and breathe. And remember that no one is perfect and that bigots are not worth the energy of even thinking about.

The internet is a super useful tool
Despite loving my time offline - and kinda never wanting to return again - there is no getting away from just how useful the internet is. Anything you want an answer to is a quick type into Google away. Personally, I love using the internet for finding new recipes to try and different places to plan to travel to (and for a cheeky ASOS browse). I think once you've had the internet, it is super difficult to live without it as it makes some things so much easier.

At the end of these two months, I feel like I have learnt that I need to moderate my internet use more and spend less time aimlessly scrolling. I want to make a conscious effort from now on to put my phone in another room and spend time just being. I want to give Ava my undivided attention more often and I feel like spending less time online will be a big step in the right direction.

Would you be able to live without wifi?

Saturday, 26 May 2018

Should Content Creators Be Relatable?

Whenever I open Instagram, I seem to be met with Gucci belts and Chloe bags and expensive makeup palettes. Slim, beautiful women with tanned skin and shimmering hair sipping espresso martinis and posing candidly at exclusive bars. The wedding cake houses of Kensington are always the backdrop of every outfit picture taken on a glittering rose gold iPhone or high-spec camera.

Everything we post online is in some way artificial. We want to create a certain reaction. Whether you want to appear to be the 'it girl' or a friend to your audience, content is never created without a desired effect. Whether it is at the front of our minds or not. But have some content creators become too far removed from the reality of their audience? Or are influencers meant to create something for their audience to escape into?

I have been pondering these questions lately. Personally, I prefer content that I can relate to. I like mummy bloggers who write with passion and emotion about their children and their roles as mothers but also aren't afraid to share the less glamorous parts of their lives too. I like that reassurance that not everyone has their shit together 100% of the time. I like bloggers who write about mental health and body positivity and are relatable. I like bloggers who address racial biases within the blogging industry. I like people who aren't afraid to speak out and have an opinion. I just can't relate to Louboutin wearing, private party attending, juice cleanse doing influencers. But somehow they still draw me in. I enjoy the beautiful candids somehow taken walking in the roads of New York with yellow taxis just behind them. I enjoy the pictures of their manicured hands clasping lattes as they recline back in a hipster coffee shop with a book that they have probably met the author of. I enjoy seeing their impossibly flat stomachs in pretty bikinis as they sit on the white sand beaches of a luxury location dipping their toes in the sea. I can't relate but I wish I could. Maybe that is what draws us in.

Following some influencers feels like window shopping for a lifestyle I will probably never have. Their Tuesday lounging on a white sand beach in the Maldives is very different to my Tuesday trying to drag a crying baby around Tesco. And, in all honesty, that is probably why I still follow them.

I know that I sound jealous. In all honesty, I am a little bit. But with every picture of a blonde-haired, doe-eyed, button-nosed girl laughing into an iced tea or clasping a donut she definitely won't eat, I find myself crying out for a change. I want to see people of all ethnicities and nationalities scoring top brand collaboration deals. I want to see plus size women becoming faces of generic brands - and not just for plus size brands. I want to see something different. I am hungry for something new. Someone relatable. Someone who isn't an 'it girl'.

I am tired of the it girl aesthetic.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

3 Hidden Gems You Need To Add To Your Travel Bucket List*

The Rhine, Germany

It's no secret that I love to travel. I love exploring new places, trying food that I can't even pronounce, and kicking back in king-size hotel beds with a mug of tea in hand. When I am not visiting different destinations, reading travel blogs, and trying my hand at recreating foreign cuisine, I am scouring websites like Holiday Gems looking for new destinations to add to my ever-expanding travel bucket list. So, you can rest assured that I have a few hidden gems on that list - places full of history and culture (and sunshine) but not so full of tourists. And today I am going to share them with you lovely lot - and I ask you all to just pray that later this year I will be able to say that I booked a holiday to Gran Canaria.

When it comes to sunny European destinations, most people instantly think of places like Italy, Spain, and Greece. But, personally, I have had my eyes on Malta for quite a while. The island boasts three UNESCO world heritage sites - including monuments that date back centuries. Although Malta is becoming ever-popular as a travel destination, it is nowhere near as bustling with tourists as places like Venice or Madrid. The capital, Valletta, has an abundance of amazing castles, churches, and theatres. There are multiple museums and city tours so that you can soak up the culture.

Of all the places in Germany that I have visited, I found that Rudesheim was the most picturesque and traditionally beautiful place that I went to. The whole town is full of timber-front houses and pubs selling pint after pint of German beer. The surrounding hills are filled with grape vines to make their local wine that they have been making for over a thousand years. The town is a UNESCO world heritage site and it is easy to see why. The best part of this town was a street named Drosselgasse. It was a small, cobbled street with buildings on either side. They play live music in the wine taverns situated on this street through the summer and have open-air garden seating so you can enjoy a bottle of wine as the summer evening draws in. 

Charmouth, Devon

I had to put a staycation in this list too, didn't I? The UK is full of lovely locations and Cornwall is definitely the perfect place for a short stay. As a kid, we would visit Tintagel religiously and I always felt like I was missing out by not going abroad but now I feel grateful that my parents opened my eyes to the great places there are to visit in the UK. Tintagel is a picturesque seaside town with all the traditional British seaside charm that you'd want in a beach holiday. In the height of summer, the sea tends to be quite clear and there is a stretch of sandy beaches. There are also rockpools and caves that I spent many hours exploring as a child. As well as this, there are the ruins of a castle said to have been inhabited by King Arthur and a traditional town where you can get a cream tea or some homemade fudge. Although this place is always quite busy during summer months, it isn't as revered as places like Bude so it is definitely a bit of a hidden gem.

What are your hidden gems?

Friday, 18 May 2018

Making Exercise Fun With Nicce

Anyone who knows me will know that 'exercise' and 'fun' are two words that I would very rarely use in the same sentence but, to the shock of my friends and family, I have actually started to exercise - and am actually enjoying it. But this has not always been the case. In my mind, exercise has always seemed like a bit of a chore. I was always that chubby kid hiding in the loos during PE or faking a devastating leg injury to avoid cross country. My school PE teachers despaired at my inability to do the simplest of activities - to be honest, I can't do a forward roll even now. But, as a kid, I did love activities that didn't seem like exercise but kinda were. I loved long walks and was very proud of myself for doing the Exmoor Challenge and DofE. I used to play '40 40 In' with the other kids on our block and maybe a cheeky game of the forbidden 'British Bulldog'. And that's what I realised recently - that exercise didn't have to be this regimental, enforced thing that I only did when I was a diet but it could be implemented into my daily life and it could actually be enjoyable.

So, I have put together a list of things that I have found helpful on this journey to becoming fitter.

Buy Gym Clothes
Investing in a lot of gym clothes because they make me feel so much more motivated to move around. So, when the lovely people at Nicce got in touch to ask if I wanted to collaborate, I was overjoyed. I had had my eyes on their womens black hoodie for a while now but I decided to go for something a little more colourful - and I love it! The absolute best thing about this hoodie is that it has a soft, fluffy lining which makes it so snug. But, if you're not a hoodie kinda person, then you don't have to worry. They do everything from swimming costumes to caps to yoga pants. All with their iconic logo on and in a range of fun colours - I love all their mustard yellow items they're bringing out at the moment.

Start Small
I know I may never be the next Mo Farah but I still feel proud of the small milestones I pass. When I first started jogging, I could only run for about 1 min before feeling like I was going to collapse. Now I am reaching 5 minutes and I am happy with this improvement. Knowing your limits and listening to your body are really important when you exercise so if I start to feel tired then I stop and have a rest. But not having overly ambitious goals has really helped me to be persistent and get into a routine with exercise.

Be Patient With The Results
This is one thing that my husband often has to remind me. Just because I've gone for a hike, doesn't mean I can climb Everest the following week. It takes time for your muscles to grow and your body to become more able to do certain activities. It can seem like you're doing so much for so little return but in a few months you'll look back and realise how far you have come.

Pick An Activity That You Can Do Everyday 
I'm not saying you should exercise everyday but picking an activity that is easily accessible will make it so much easier to keep up with. If you decide to go for polo but don't have a horse and live in central London, this probably won't be something you can do regularly in the long term. Choosing something like walking, yoga, or football will mean that you can do this often without having to take too much time out of your day to travel to a certain place. Personally, I try to go for a jog maybe once or twice a week and I also try to go on one long walk a day - preferably up a hill - with the pushchair. I've found this really fits in well with my lifestyle as I don't have enough time to go to a gym alone but bringing Ava along on walks gets us both out of the house and allows me to exercise.

What I'm Wearing:

Nicce Pink Hoodie*

Primark Yoga Pants (similar)

Puma Gazelle Trainers (here)

How do you exercise?

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Products You Need To Become The Next Zoella

Blogging is a fickle mistress. One minute everyone is raving over Ikea plant pots and MAC lipsticks, the next minute it's all about white marble and poloroids. This, of course, makes it near on impossible for our friends and family to try to buy us anything that we could feature on the blog without completely missing the mark and getting us something way back from 2014 blogging. So, I have scoured Instagram and put together a cohesive list of all the products that bloggers are going crazy for at the moment.

Novelty mugs
Everybody loves a mug - especially one full of hot chocolate - but novelty mugs are all the rage right now. I love this one by Blogging Mode because it lets everyone know that I am the boss (a fact that my husband is yet to fully accept). They also do a range of other fun blogger themed gifts which are all equally fabulous.

Paperchase is my go-to location for cute stationary so when I discovered their postcards, I literally fell in love. I really like all the catchy slogans and cute prints. I recently bought one with a sloth on it - if that doesn't convince you that they do the best postcards then nothing will. Grab one, find a pretty location, paint your nails a pastel colour (or just your thumb - we've all done it), and voila! You have a perfect pic.

Bright, slogan tees
Following the lead of blogger goddess Hannah Gale, everyone is donning bright yellow tees with catchy slogans on them. Extra points if you find a pink wall to pose in front of. And a guaranteed extra 100 followers if you're laughing into an iced tea from Starbucks.

A Doughnut Time Doughnut 
Doughtnut Time have recently opened their first UK branch in London and people are going mad for their giant, delicious donuts. A few of my fave Insta queens have posted pics posing with a donut outside their pastel green shop and it really makes me want like 5 donuts. But, yeah, donuts are here to stay (thank the Lord).

I love using Polaroids in pictures but unfortunately I really can't afford to splash out on an Instax so I use online companies like Printiki instead. You just send over your pics, they print them out (you can even add captions!), then they send them back. Like having a polaroid without the price tag.

A Blogger Box From My New Business
Yes, this is a cheeky self promo. No, I'm not ashamed. So, I am starting a business selling all the things bloggers need to create the perfect flatlays. Everything is still developing at the moment but you can follow me on social media to keep up to date with everything that's going on. My business Twitter is here and my Insta is here.

What do you think makes a perfect blog photo?

Friday, 27 April 2018

Things To Do In Ambleside, Lake District

For those of you who don't know, Isaac and I used to live in Ambleside back when we were newly married and it was an absolutely amazing place to live. In the summer, it was always bustling with tourists and work in hospitality was so easy to come across. And the views - I believe that the Lake District must be the most beautiful part of the UK. For a fairly small town, there are quite a few things to do in Ambleside - other than sit gawping at the mountains and lakes all day (which is an acceptable way to spend the day, by the way).

Get a hot chocolate at a local café 
We first lived in Ambleside in the summer then returned in the winter and, trust me, that place gets cold. So, there is nothing nicer than unwinding in a café drinking a gallon of hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows in one of the local cafés. I would recommend Waterhead Coffee Shop for the most amazing, homemade goodies, a shabby chic interior, and an amazing view.

Test the menus in the many local restaurants
When I was in Ambleside, I ate out at quite a few different restaurants (and worked in a few of them as well). Our favourite was Zeffirellis which doubled up as an independent cinema and vegetarian restaurant. Closely followed by the place where Isaac and I both worked - Lucy's On A Plate - which produced an eclectic mix of different foods (even some South African dishes) and two pages of dessert options. They also made their own bread and served toffee vodka - what more do you want from a restaurant? Another favourite of ours was Wateredge Inn which is a restaurant perched right beside the lake. I worked there when I first came to Ambleside. It has a lovely, country pub vibe and you can sit outside beside the lake in the summer and take in the view.

Take a boat ride on the lake
This is something that I am really happy that I did whilst I was in Ambleside. It was lovely to travel across the lake. Although Isaac did try to touch the water and almost fell in so I'd advise keeping a firm grip on your husbands at all time.

Swim in the lake
This is certainly not one for the faint hearted but definitely something fun to do. So, Isaac and I went down to the lake and spontaneously decided we should go for a swim. It was a really warm day and we must have been feeling a little crazy. So we stripped down to our underwear and jumped in. It was freezing!! But lying back floating across the water was really fun. Well, until I noticed people from my work could see me (oops!).

Have drinks at YHA
The YHA is pretty much a hidden gem in Ambleside. It is a hostel next to the lake but it also does great food and cheap drinks. It is perfect for sitting outside as the evening draws in with a glass of Jack Daniels and coke that you got mega keep and have a good gossip with the girls.

Go for a hike
You can't go to the Lake District and not take a trek into the mountains. Pull on your walking boots and anorak, load up your pockets with Kendal mint cake, and get out there. I found that the scenery was just as beautiful in the dead of winter when everything was very grey, misty, and Wuthering Heights-esque as it was in the height of summer when everything was lush and green. The best way to see the Lake District is on foot - or maybe on bike if your legs are strong enough.

Have you ever been to the Lake District?

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Instagram Changed My Life

Before I start, I have to admit that I have done my fair share of complaining about Instagram. The whole perfectionism and the infamous algorithm have annoyed me more than they should have done. But, in all honesty, Instagram has really changed how I view things and I am thankful for that.

I first joined Insta back in January 2017. Yes, I was pretty late to the party but I found keeping up with my blog and Twitter account was enough for me. But curiosity got the better of me and I signed up. I originally created a fitness themed account (laughable, I know) as I was making the transition out of dangerously obsessive calorie controlling into eating what was good for me. I felt like keeping tracks of my food and being inspired by insta fitness gurus would help me to patch up my own relationship with food.

After a little while, I was kinda back on track. I wasn't obsessing over calories and I had even deleted the fitness app which I had previously used to track everything religiously. Then I got pregnant and that is when I really fell in love with Instagram. I had so much spare time and I loved how I could channel my creativity into my posts. I loved being able to document this new chapter of my life and have something to look back on. It really got my butt in gear in terms of blogging too. Seeing other bloggers creating amazing content inspired me and made me more dedicated than ever to growing my own blog.

It has been over a year since I have joined Instagram and the main difference I see now is that I appreciate the little things. Yes, most of the time I am scouting for pink walls and hipster coffee shops but I love that something I would have walked past without even giving a second thought is now a source of inspiration. It has made me fall in love with my town - the town that some people call 'rough' - as my want to always find the next shot has got me noticing small pockets of beauty wherever I go.

Yes, we all like to complain about Instagram. Sometimes it is a bit staged and it is annoying when your feed is full of posts from 4 days ago but I love how Instagram has provided me with a creative outlet and an appreciation for the little things that make our lives great.

If you'd like to follow my Insta, just click here or check the tab in my sidebar.

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Creating More Worthwhile Content

When I first started blogging, I have to admit that the goodies that other bloggers were being sent was a big incentive but my main purpose for starting a blog was to have a creative outlet and develop my writing style. I loved writing and I hoped blogging would be something good to have my CV when I applied for editorial work with magazine companies (basically, I'd watched The Devil Wears Prada and got ideas). Blogging wasn't a big thing back in 2012. People did tags and Primark hauls and photo an hour challenges. We shared our favourite Mac lipsticks and bought Ikea plant pots. Yes, people were sharing stuff they had bought but it was mostly small, inexpensive items. The kinda thing that we'd buy with the little extra we'd saved from our waitressing jobs. Photos were taken on phones or a basic digital camera you borrowed off your parents. Everything was casual.

Flash forward and the blogging game has changed a lot. Bloggers are producing incredible content. We pay professional photographers for our outfit pictures (no more phone pics in a dusty mirror for us) and a fair few of us own Chloe bags and Gucci belts. Blogging has become associated with a certain kind of lifestyle - and that lifestyle is a luxurious one. Be it our picture perfect morning coffees or even the shots of us giggling in our satin PJs as we frolic in a meringue nest of a bed, everything seems so picture perfect. The magazine industry are struggling to compete and a big blogger's opinion of a product or brand can sometimes be make or break. What once was a way to get into the magazine industry has now become an industry in its own right. One that prides itself on community, transparency, and creative freedom. But there is, of course, a certain recognised aesthetic to the whole thing.

I feel this perfection that I see a lot in this industry has started to affect me and the kind of content I want to produce. I get offered a lot of products to review and I find myself saying yes a lot more than I should. I know that most people aren't that interested in a new brand of ketchup but I still say yes. Every time I put up a post that I don't find that interesting, I kick myself. I feel like a sell out. I love writing and having a platform to share my opinions without being censored but I see that I am being drawn in by the consumerist aspect of blogging. And I don't like it.

From here on in, I have decided that I want to change my content. I don't want to promote anything unless it seems like a great fit for my blog. I want to go back to my blogging roots of writing about day trips and holidays. Doing little hauls and just writing about anything I have an opinion on. I want this blog to document my life rather than become a catalogue of things that you could buy.

What kind of posts do you like to read?

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Veggie BBQ Hacks

There is nothing like a BBQ on a hot summer's evening. I love catching up with friends and family over some delicious burgers and maybe a little cheeky punch too. BBQs were always something that I have loved but, back when I was vegetarian as a teen, I struggled to find BBQ foods that were delicious and meat free. Thankfully, times have changed and there is a whole host of delicious veggie products on the market. So, I am here today to share my veggie BBQ hacks.

The English Provender Co Chutneys and Pickles*
This classic British company make a whole host of pickles and I find that they are great with veggie burgers and sausages. Their chutneys and pickles are vegan and they have so many different flavour combinations. I love their Moroccan Spiced Chutney as it brings a whole different set of flavours to a burger (especially if you've opted for a chickpea patty). The English Provender Co also have some recipes on their website and I found this cous cous recipe using the Moroccan Spiced Chutney and it looks incredible - the perfect accompaniment to any salad.

Veggie Sausages
I am a big fan of veggie sausages - I think I even prefer them to meat sausages. They have more flavour and are often better for you. My absolute favourite veggie sausages are by Cauldron (they also make amazing falafel) and they don't have the high salt content that many veggie sausages do.

Grilled Caramel Banana
This is something that my auntie made us when we had a BBQ as a kid and I still remember it. Basically you get a banana and cover it in caramel sauce (you can also opt for honey or chocolate sauce). Then you wrap it in kitchen foil and put it on the BBQ. It ends up having that delicious grilled taste and the caramel seeps into the banana - yum!

All the salad
As a kid, I always thought that salad was just filler that people always made for BBQs but no one really liked. Boy, have I changed my tune! I love a good salad now. Salad is so versatile and has so much potential for deliciousness. My favourite salad as a fattoush salad (it has little squares of fried pitta bread on it mixed with pomegranate seeds, mint, and sumac) but a salad with cubes of watermelon is perfect for the summer too.

Is it even summer without a big bowl of punch? I love Pimms in the summer especially with strawberries and cucumber in it. But also mixing some Malibu with a load of fruit juices works just as well. And for those who aren't so into alcohol, mix some lemonade with juices and pop in a variety of fruits for the same affect minus the headache the next morning.

What makes a great BBQ for you?

Friday, 30 March 2018

An Alternative Easter Gift

When it comes to chocolate, I don't discriminate. I love chocolate in every form and every variety - milk, dark, and white. I have been known to even eat that 20p value chocolate you get in the supermarkets. So, inevitably, Easter is a very good time of year for me. Maybe not for my bank balance or waist band but definitely for my stomach. I am a big fan of Easter eggs but having a few of my family members being diagnosed with a range of allergies this year, it has opened my eyes up to the fact that not everyone can gorge on chocolate to the extent that I do (I go true Bruce Bogtrotter style). That's why I wanted to share with you a product that is delicious but can also be eaten by my dairy and gluten free friends.

And that is cake. Yes, hear me out. Bakerdays are a company that make cakes and send them straight to your door - what more could a girl want, right? You just have to have a look through their extensive range of cakes on their website (they really have one for every occasion). Then you select the type of sponge you'd like - be in chocolate, lemon drizzle, dairy free, or gluten free. You can even personalise it.

For my cake, I chose a lovely Easter design chocolate cake and personalised it to say 'Happy Easter from Lauren, Isaac, and Ava' (mostly for the gram, to be fair). My cake arrived very promptly in a lovely little tin with a couple of mini chocolate eggs and it was eaten by the end of the day - mostly by me, oops! The chocolate sponge was delicious and the chocolate icing that attached the ready roll style icing to the cake. I am not a huge fan of icing so that is my only complaint but the cake itself was amazing. They also do cupcakes so don't be surprised if you see a massive cupcake haul coming up soon.

If you're thinking of buying yourself a massive cake to eat by yourself - I mean, you could share but what's the fun in that? - then use this code to get a 15% discount: EMERALDDOVE15.

Have you ever tried a Bakerdays cake?

Thursday, 29 March 2018

What To Buy The Man Who Has Everything

At the start of March, it was my husband's birthday. And my husband is notoriously difficult to buy for. His main interests include football (but not one specific team), business/stock trading, Ugandan music, and personal grooming. There's not much that fit those categories on the high street aside from the exhausted options of beard trimmers, shower gels, and moisturisers. I was desperate to give him something different. Something a bit unusual - and memorable.

I ended up buying him a range of things that I found in Tesco. I bought him honeycomb, whole nut chocolate, a portable phone charger, and a new moisturiser. But then Vanacci got in touch offering to send me one of their products to review and I was excited - maybe this was the long-awaited gift that my husband would cherish. I looked on the website and it was full of necklaces and bracelets for men and women that really looked expensive and well made - but were actually reasonably priced. They had solar themed bracelets but what really caught my attention was the lockstone collection. Basically, some of their bracelets, necklaces, and cufflinks come with lockstone (aka terraforce)attached to it. So, you spray the stone with perfume, let the stone absorb it for 4 minutes, then it slowly diffuses the scent throughout the day.

I can confirm that my husband absolutely loved the gift. It came in a box and looked really sophisticated. I loved the shiny black pearls and the engravement of the company name on a silver bead. Also it holds the scent really nicely.

This is definitely a lovely present for the man in your life. In all honesty, I like this product so much that I may have to steal it back from my husband.

Lockstone One Range Black Pearl Bracelet* - £24.99

Have you tried any products by Vanacci?

Saturday, 24 March 2018

Tips For Teething Stage Survival

It has begun - the dreaded teething stage. My relaxed, peaceful baby has gone and has been replaced by a whiney, drooly, teething monster. Ok, maybe I am exaggerating a little but when she won't settle for her nap and is putting everything she can lay her hands on in her mouth, that's how I feel. The worst part? I can't even see the teeth yet. The health visitor said they are probably just moving about in the gums causing her discomfort. But how long will this last? Will she ever get a tooth and return to the chill kid that I know and love? It has been a month of teeth moving around the gums and I feel like she may be 18 before the tooth makes an appearance. I am despairing. But, in this anguish, I have managed to find some solutions - well, things to stop her howling quite as much anyway - and that is what I am sharing with you today.

Teething Toys
The lovely people at Bespoke Baby London recently sent me out a wooden teething ring for Ava and it is an absolute godsend. It has a ring of little rubber balls that Ava loves to chew on and it is just the right size to fit in her hands. I have tried other teething rings (the type you put in the fridge) but they're all too big for her to hold and she didn't like the bobbly plastic texture of them. So, this toy is the perfect solution. Also it is a great size to pop into your bag when you go out.

Teething Gel
Being a first time mum, I wasn't really aware that teething gel even existed until my mum bought me some for Ava. I kinda smirked at her saying that Ava won't be teething for a long time yet. A couple of weeks later, she started drooling like a trooper and I realised that the teething gel was actually very necessary. For the first two weeks of teething, it was the only thing that would pacify Ava - especially in the night when she woke up screaming. I tried it on my own gums just for fun (I like an exciting life) and it was really tingly and numbing so I can say this is definitely a tried and tested product. In terms of brand, I just get whichever is cheapest.

Putting A Dummy In The Fridge
After Ava out and out refused the cold teething toys, I got a bit inventive. I knew the coldness would be soothing on her gums so I tried putting a dummy in the fridge and she loved it. She took it straight away then had a long nap. It was perfect.

Plastic Bibs
I swear by those bibs that are normal at the front but having a plastic back. I pick them up in Primark and they are amazing. I found that normal bibs just let the milk (or, in this case, baby slime) seep through and then her sleepsuits keep getting soaked. But these bibs hold a lot more liquid so I would highly recommend them. My only tip is if you are someone who likes to hand wash clothes (I know it's the 21st century but we didn't used to have a washing machine) then these aren't that easy to wash. But pop them in the washing machine and there's no issue.

Relaxing The Rules
Let the baby co-sleep with you if they are really unhappy. Give them hugs and let them forgo tummy time if they don't feel like it. Routine is good for babies but sometimes all they want is their mum.

Bespoke Baby London Small Teething Toy - £5*

What are your teething hacks?

Monday, 19 March 2018

7 Things To Do In And Around Exeter

 When it comes to days out, I am a big fan of exploring your local area because there is always so much more to discover than just the H&M in the city centre (although I do love a good rummage around in H&M). There's definitely a strong argument for staying local too: it saves money, you are paying into your own local economy, you can support local small business owners, and you just don't have to travel as far. That's not to say that I don't love travelling but with a little bubba in tow, the less time we are sat in one place (for example, on a train) the better.

Exeter is my local city and I have been going there for shopping trips since I was about 13 years old but there are still new things that I am learning about the city and different restaurants and places that I am yet to experience. Today I want to share with you the gems I have uncovered in the city and surrounding areas so far.

Have lunch on Cathedral Green beside the cathedral
Cathedral Green is such a lovely place to sit down with some friends, order a pesto, tomato, and goats cheese panini, crack open the elderflower cordial, and soak up the historical surroundings. The cathedral was founded in 1050 and completed by 1400. There are lots of old buildings surrounding the cathedral as well and some traditional cobblestones to give you that old-worldy vibe (and to break your ankle if you attempt to wear you heeled boots). I would recommend Tea on the Green for delicious food and outdoors seating (perfect for pretending you are a glamorous Italian woman laughing over her salad on the sunny Continent). Also Cakeadoodledoo is a must-visit location just down the road from the cathedral.

Travel underground through the tunnels
Although I grew up around here (and had many a school trip to the city), I only recently found out that there are underground tunnels beneath Exeter. And they are open to the public! So, I went with my family and the tour was really interesting - apparently people lived in these tunnels during the war! I mean, it is every kid's dream to find that there are secret tunnels under your feet so definitely one for the family. But then my dad kept bumping his head on the roof of the tunnel so maybe for the shorter family members. Also it is only £18 for a family ticket.

Visit the Royal Albert Memorial Museum
As you know, I am basically an old woman. I go on coach trips. I love markets and fetes. And I am a big fan of anything historical. I mean, this blog might as well be sponsored by the National Trust the amount I talk about them. But one other thing that I absolutely adore is a good museum. One with interesting items - especially those that are a bit wacky and out there.

A La Ronde
I write about A La Ronde on this blog all the way back in 2015 and I recently revisited it with my family. It is such an interesting building - definitely would be a hit with the architects that live amongst us - as it is hexagonal and built so the light follows you around the house. It is definitely worth a visit.

Drinks at the quay
The quay in Exeter is somewhere that I don't go very often but I know that many people go there in the summer to sip cocktails overlooking the water. This is definitely something I want to do this summer too. But the quay also offers things like canoeing and bike riding which sounds slightly more exciting to me. In fact, I have been canoeing on the quay before - back when I was in my teens - and we managed not to capsize and I am still proud of that years later.

Hike on Exmoor
I haven't been on Exmoor since the years of primary school enforced hiking but it is somewhere that I want to visit again. Exmoor is a national park - which means it is a protected part of the country - and it is inhabited by the Exmoor ponies which are ponies that are native to this part of the country but are also endangered. It is lovely to see animals free in their natural habitat - and this is a rarity in the UK where most of our animals are either in captivity or are domesticated.

Exmouth is another place to I have written about before. I have been going to Exmouth since I was a teenager and I love it. It has everything a coastal town should - a sandy beach, multiple ice cream parlours and fish and chip shops, and a lovely, quaint town. And a KFC. Gotta love a KFC.

Have you ever been to Devon?
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