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?
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