Staycation Booking Tips

Hi, loves!

Last weekend Matt and I enjoyed a little staycation in our very favourite local hotel; Hotel du Vin, Newcastle. We’ve stayed there many times before and it always feels like such a treat, so much so that we rarely book anywhere else if we’re looking for a luxurious and romantic staycation! We especially love a night or two away from home because it’s just like a mini holiday for us, and we always treat it like that. We pack minimally, play tourist in our own city and just enjoy spending time together. I feel like it’s such a blessing that we’re able to take trips like this and I never want to take it for granted! I totally get this is not everyone’s cup of tea which is fine, but if you’re a fan of nights/weekends away I really hope this is helpful to you.

So, there’s several things to consider when you’re booking a staycation. Are you going to spend a lot of time in the hotel? Does it make sense to splurge a little more on your accommodation as you’re travelling less distance? Does the hotel look comfortable and cosy? Do you know of any friends or family who have stayed there before? Is it a suitable distance to the nightlife of the city/town you’re visiting? Is there anywhere to explore or play tourist nearby? If you want to really relax is there a spa facility?

Our checklist for a romantic weekend trip is pretty standard whether we’re staying close to home or travelling a few hours away. The five top things on our list are:
– a little bit of luxury that feels extra special
– the hotel being based close (ish) to shops restaurants and bars. We love to play tourist even in our own city and we went to make sure we can explore easily
– a roll top bath, because why the heck not?
– beautiful views
– a good deal on the room price, bonus points if it includes breakfast

For us, the benefit of a staycation is we’re jumping in the car and driving less than thirty minutes to our destination, and we want to R E L A X. We spend a lot of time in the hotel room before we go out for dinner, and also like to make the most of our morning there too. A roll top bath is obviously not a necessity for a hotel room, but hey… when in Rome Newcastle… Truthfully we are bath lovers, and a bubble bath sounds like a pretty fun way to spend time during a romantic weekend to me. Little luxuries of boutique hotels like fancy toiletries and a mini bar are great, but we try to take any extras we need… including our own cans of Diet Coke. I wish I was joking, hahaha. We usually book breakfast as an extra little treat because most days we don’t get to eat breakfast together due to our work schedules. And you all know, we love a breakfast date!

Choosing the right hotel for you and your needs is important; I personally think it’s extra special to be in a boutique hotel because there’s so many extra little touches that you don’t get in a large franchised hotel. We’ve stayed at several HdV’s (seriously guys, feel free to work with me!) and all of them have the same feel of a grand building, muted colour tones, huge comfy beds – which makes no difference because we always wake up right on the edge of Matt’s side, oops! – and friendly staff who look after you. I personally think Hotel du Vin’s have a very ‘homey’ feeling, it’s just really relaxing and quiet which is perfect for us. Every time we stay we also go for a walk along the Quayside which feels like something extra special too, because it’s somewhere we both love to be.

BOOKING (& PACKING!) TIPS

– read lots of blog posts and Trip Advisor reviews if you’ve never stayed at the hotel before
– look through the Instagram geotag to see real photos from guests
– check there is parking available on site, but remember it’s often charged separately to your hotel room
– set a budget beforehand so you aren’t tempted to book something too expensive
– plan ahead; if you stay on a Sunday evening you’ll normally get the best rates
– compare prices on different sites before booking, although often the best deal is with the hotel’s own website
– bring your own champagne/wine if you fancy a tipple in the room and you’re going all out on the romantic feeling. Glasses are always provided for free!
– you probably don’t need pj’s because hotel robes are the BEST
– whether you’re eating at the hotel or at a restaurant in the town/city, book ahead of time to avoid disappointment
– don’t overpack on the toiletries, it’s all there for you anyway
– check the hotel’s amenities for things that are important to you. Is there a hairdryer / coffee machine / fridge etc? Chances are, yes!
– make a (rough) itinerary of things to do and places to see so you aren’t tempted to spend all of your time lounging in your beautiful hotel room!
– pack snacks, nobody wants to be getting hangry

I hope this post was helpful to you if you’re thinking of planning a staycation any time soon! I’m still dreaming of that bubble bath… Have you stayed in a Hotel du Vin before? What hotels are your favourite for a luxury staycation? Do you have any additional booking tips to share with me and my readers?!

-G x

Easy Eco-Friendly Beauty Swaps

Hi, loves! Sustainability is something that’s become increasingly important to me over the past few years, and I really try my best to do my best. I am not saying by any means that I’m the most eco friendly person there is; I know I’m not. I do however try, and that’s the most important thing! Living sustainably would be so much easier if lots of people did little things in their everyday life, rather than a handful of people living perfectly. Y’know?

There’s lots of sustainable, eco-friendly things I do day-to-day without even thinking about, such as carrying a re-usable coffee cup with me, using re-usable bags when grocery shopping and Matt and I are making a conscious effort to eat less meat. I really think small changes that just become your way of life over time make such a huge difference, and I wanted to share a few beauty related things with you today. Some of these are things I have done for a long time, and some are things that I want to do in the near future! We’ve all got to start somewhere, right?

FROM: Using makeup wipes
TO: Removing makeup with a cleansing balm and flannel

Okay so the Caroline Hirons fanatic in me cannot comprehend how anyone can use makeup wipes in 2020, but I know that some people still love them. Not only are makeup wipes terrible for your skin, they’re also terrible for the environment. Many opt for the biodegradable options – which often aren’t any better, FYI – but I’m very much with Queen C on this one: she says “wipes are for fannies, festivals or flights”. Nuff said. Using a cleansing balm and flannel instead is such a great alternative; it takes a very short amount of time, although you can totally take your time if you fancy a little more of a pamper night. Similarly to taking off my bra after a long day, I LOVE taking off my makeup too. I do sometimes use micellar water to remove my makeup, but most of the time I reach for my cleansing balm and flannel. I really recommend these flannels from M&S; they’re very soft on my sensitive skin, budget friendly and wash really well. You literally just throw them in the wash after each use and they last forever. My very favourite cleansing balms (which are also cruelty free!) are The Body Shop’s Camomile Cleansing Butter and Elemis Pro Collagen Cleansing Balm. I use them both in the same way; I take a pea-sized amount between my fingers and rub all over my face. I take a little warm water on my fingers and massage the product in; this breaks down the balm to a milky oil consistency. I then wet my flannel with warm water to remove everything, it’s so easy!

FROM: Non-cruelty free brands
TO: Cruelty free brands

I only began to really think about this last year, and overhauled every product I was buying to be only cruelty free. Due to some skin issues caused by doing this I reverted to using some brands that do not fall under the cruelty free umbrella, and now I’m back in a weird phasing out stage again. Looking at the beauty products I buy, approximately 90% of them are cruelty free, and I’m always looking for alternatives to the other 10%. Some of my very favourite brands including Lush, The Body Shop, Too Faced and Dove are cruelty free, and thankfully more and more brands are following suit to become cruelty free. There’s a very fine line with what is defined as ‘cruelty free’ too, as many brands do not test on animals themselves, however they sell in China. As the law stands right now, any beauty products sold in China require animal testing to have the rights to sell.

FROM: Plastic toothbrushes
TO: Bamboo toothbrushes

Matt and I jumped on the bamboo toothbrush train fairly recently, and I have to say I’m SO impressed! We’ve all seen the photos of thousands of multi coloured plastic toothbrushes in landfill sites, and I knew that buying disposable plastic toothbrushes wasn’t something I wanted to carry on doing. We both use our electric toothbrushes most of the time, but for travelling (or when I forget to charge them…) it’s important to have a backup. I love that these are so aesthetically pleasing and for such a basic, everyday item they’re affordable. As toothbrushes are supposed to be replaced every three months they’re a great way to keep our ‘single-use plastic’ usage down. Despite David Attenborough’s pleas and much of what you read in the news, plastic in itself is *NOT* the problem, though. The problem is the way that plastic is disposed of. Or, honestly, the way it’s incorrectly disposed of. I really want to write a whole post talking about this but I’m not sure anyone would be interested!

FROM: Liquid hand wash
TO: Soap bars

I have to admit that there’s something about a bar of soap that makes me think of my grandma (just me?) but when brands such as Diptyque are flying the soap bar flag, I guess they’re cool now?! Buying bars of soap instead of hand wash is a more environmentally friendly way to live as it cuts out the unnecessary disposable plastic packaging. There are other alternatives too such as buying refillable bags to top up containers you already have, as the refillable bags are easier to recycle than a plastic bottle! Or, lots of people like pretty containers to house their soap next to the skin, so you can grab a decorative container and refill that each time.

FROM: Disposable cotton rounds
TO: Re-usable cotton rounds

I swear by re-usable cotton rounds! I made the change from disposable ones almost a year ago and unfortunately it has been a little trial and error finding the right ones, but this brand are my favourite out of all the ones I’ve tried! I use them to apply my toners in the morning and evening, and to remove my makeup with micellar water now and then. The pads allow the product to soak in enough to apply to my face and actually work, but don’t absorb the liquid completely like some other brands I’ve tried do. I just throw them in the washing machine alongside my flannels in the net washing bag they come with, and they come out good as new. Sometimes they stain a little – especially if I’ve used them to remove eyeliner or mascara – but the pads works just as well. They’re also really easy for travel as you can pop however many you’d need for your trip in your skincare bag and just bring them home to wash.

FROM: Regular shampoo/conditioner
TO: Shampoo/conditioner bars

Something I’m yet to try is a shampoo or conditioner bar, because honestly I have a pretty large stash of shampoo and conditioner to work through! The bonus of a hair bar is that there is no extra packaging at all, you can just keep them in re-usable metal tins and replace when the bar is gone. I tended to stock up when my favourites are on offer, and I very kindly was given some more expensive brands for Christmas, so it’s going to be a while before I need to replace them. However, I know lots of people swear by Lush’s hair bars! I’d love to hear your thoughts on these if you’ve tried them? Have they replaced regular shampoo/conditioner for you?

Photo contains gifted products

FROM: Plastic tampons/disposable applicators
TO: Cotton tampons with a re-usable applicator

Okay so I’ve tried the MoonCup for several months now and I’m still not completely sold. I like it – as much as you can like a period product – but I don’t necessarily feel comfortable using it in public or at work. As a result I only use the MoonCup at night time when I have the comfort of my own bathroom in the evening/morning! I was very kindly sent some Dame tampons by the lovely girls at Dame, and they are completely revolutionary. Dame markets themselves as ‘the only climate positive brand’ and their tampons don’t contain any plastics, chemicals or harsh additives which makes them better for both your body and the planet. Their applicator is sold for £24.99, but it’s re-usable with a patented ‘self cleaning’ technology, and the whole idea behind it is you never need to buy another applicator again. I really love this brand and I think their products are fantastic, I highly recommend them but I do wish the tampons were a little cheaper to purchase. Also, Dame is just as discreet as a regular tampon so you don’t ever need to worry about using it in public.

FROM: Plastic cotton buds
TO: Bamboo cotton buds

This is such a small change I feel like it’s not even something you’ll notice being different to what you normally use once you buy them. Bamboo cotton buds are biodegradable, and as a product we all use that’s really important. One thing to be careful of is many bamboo / recyclable cotton buds are packaged in plastic packaging, which kind of defeats the point of cutting down on plastic… I really like these ones, especially because they last forever as they come in a pack of 600. They’re also priced really well which makes a huge difference as many of the recyclable eco-friendly products are (in my opinion) quite expensive or overpriced.

Thank you so much for reading! I hope this post was helpful and maybe gave you a few ideas of things to buy next time you run out of any of the things mentioned in this post. What are your favourite eco-friendly beauty swaps? Have you tried any of the products I talked about in this post?

-G x

Winter Reading List

Happy Wednesday, loves! One of the things I really want to include more of in my blog this year is my love of reading. I read at least twenty minutes per day, but I really try to read for around an hour if I can. Honestly this totally depends on my day; if I have spare time in the morning like when Matt leaves for work, or if I’m taking a long bath in the evening I often read for longer than hour. I’ve set myself a target to read twenty six books this year but I’ve just finished book #5 of 2020, so I’m pretty sure I’ll surpass that goal quickly!

If you’ve missed me talking about it approximately 400 times on the blog, Matthew very kindly bought me a Kindle Paperwhite for Christmas. I am absolutely in love with it (full first impressions/review will be coming in the next few weeks) and I’m so so grateful he gifted it to me! I’ve only read books on my Kindle since Christmas Day, and I honestly haven’t missed having a ‘real’ book at all, which was something I was a little worried about. I decided to mix this review up with a few books I’ve read and a few books I’m planning on reading; let me know if you’d like to see more review-style lists on what I’ve already read, rather than what I’m planning to!

The Mother In Law by Sally Hepworth
Real talk: I’ve never met a Sally Hepworth book I didn’t like. Ha! I first found Sally through Shay and I loved her writing style from the very beginning. I always feel like her characters are very well written and have that real feeling to them that makes connecting to their story so effortless. I love the mystery linked in to this book; the plot surrounds Lucy’s mother-in-law, Diana, being found dead, next to a suicide note that makes no sense. All of the family have something to hide, and the book is a whodunnit style which I’m sure will have me gripped based on the reviews I’ve read. Fun fact: after girly ‘rom com’ style of book, whodunnit is my second favourite kind of book to read! I can’t wait to get stuck in!

The Flat Share by Beth O’Leary
This was the fifth book I read this year, and it’s definitely my favourite of the bunch so far! I LOVED it so much. The story is told by the two main characters – Tiffy and Leon – in a diary-like format, although I have to admit when I first started reading I didn’t know if I’d like that. After a few chapters I really enjoyed this way of story telling; it was interesting to hear both points of view and still have my own opinion/thoughts as the reader. Right from the very beginning I just adored Tiffy; she’s found with nowhere to live and her only option is to live in Leon’s flat (and bed!) when he’s not there. Sounds strange doesn’t it? It is, but it’s wonderful. This is just a lovely story of two personalities intertwining and it’s definitely not your typical boy-meets-girl. It’s also laugh out loud funny. This should be next on your ‘to read’ list for sure!

One Day In December by Josie Silver
I ordered this book as it was recommended to me on Amazon back in December and I am SO glad I did! I read it within a few days and I loved every. single. second. The story follows two best friends, and a boy they are both in love with. The new characters that are introduced fit in so well, and the story has so many twists and turns it’s not the predictable easy read I assumed it was. I really felt like I couldn’t put this down and would recommend to everyone; also the title is a little misleading as I thought this was a Christmas themed book but it’s definitely not, you could read this any time of year. This was hands down my favourite book of 2019! I can’t wait to read more from Josie, her new book comes out in March and I’m very excited to get my hands on it!

So Lucky by Dawn O’Porter
I’m not sure if it’s just me but I feel like this book is EVERYWHERE at the moment. I have to say, I love the cover so much I almost bought the paperback instead of downloading the Kindle version, ha! I just started reading this and I’m really enjoying it. The book is told (so far) from the perspective of two women, and also features an influencer’s social media posts, obviously showing off her perfect life. I have a feeling there are a lot of cracks that will show soon! So far none of the women have met but I can see how their lives are about to intertwine. I love Beth already, her character is SO funny and I’ve laughed out loud several times in her parts of the book! I’ve seen from reviews there’s a less in here regarding not believing things as you see them on social media, and I think that’s a lesson we could all do with being told over and over again. I’m really excited to see what happens (and why Ruby is the way she is…)

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris
I have wanted to read this book for SO long; I know it’s very loved and it’s a best-seller, but I’ve kinda put it off because I know it’s going to be a hard read. Matt and I love to watch movies set during wartime but every time I read a book set around the war I can’t finish it, I have no idea how but to me reading is so much more powerful than a TV show/movie and my heart hurts so much I can’t take it! This story centres around two people on very different sides of the camp falling in love, and I just know it’s going to be a heartbreaking read! It’s a bestseller and so many people have told me to read it, so I really need to get to it.

Meet Cute by Helena Hunting
I read this book super quickly, and I’d definitely recommend for an easy read that actually covers some very hard life events. Warning: it can get a little raunchy! Ha! I did not know that when I picked it up, but nonetheless I enjoyed it. Caitlin, the main character, is so lovable and someone you’re immediately connected to and rooting for from the beginning. I love when I immediately like or can relate to the main character as I think that is a huge part of how much I enjoy books. She is a super successful lawyer and when her ex-nemesis from college is needing a favour from her, she seems to find a whole new side of herself. I also LOVE Emme’s character! I can’t say much more without spoiling it, just add it to your reading list ASAP!

Gotta Get Theroux This: My Life And Strange Times In Television
Matt bought me Louis’ book for Christmas which was so sweet because he knew I was planning on buying it. Something you may not know about us is that we LOVE Louis Theroux! His documentaries are some of our favourites (Queen Stace gets the top spot, obvs) and we binge watch his old ones all the time. I especially love Louis’ interviewing style; he’s never afraid to say what he thinks and he has met some of the most controversial people! I really am so excited to delve into this to see a behind-the-scenes aspect.

One Winter Morning by Isabelle Broom
This book was also recommended to me by Amazon after reading One Day In December, so I have pretty high hopes. The story is based on a girl figuring out her own grief and finding her biological mother in the process, and these kind of heart wrenching stories make for some of my favourites! It’s also set in New Zealand and I love when a book is set somewhere I’ve never been before. I really enjoy a family based drama within a book, and this book is described as moving and emotional, which we all know means I’ll be crying my way through it!

The Matchmaker by Catriona Innes
This was the first book I read in 2020, and I loved it so much I wish I could unread it and read it again! The story was not at all what I thought and I think that’s actually a really good thing; I love when a book takes you by surprise and has lots more to offer than it appears on the surface. The Matchmaker covers some very hard circumstances you’d never want to experience in your own life, but it also is funny. Caitlin, the main character, is someone I immediately liked, and thought it was so interesting that she runs her own matchmaking agency. I don’t want to spoil for you why she’s against sharing her perfect life with her perfect husband – after all, it’s been the selling point of her agency for a very long time – but I just need you to buy it! Warning: I sobbed several times reading this book. You know those big, fat tears that just don’t stop? Buy tissues!

Thank you so much for reading! I hope this inspired you to grab your book (or Kindle) and snuggle in to read for a few hours this afternoon. I just get so much joy from reading, I want everyone else to enjoy it just as much as I do! I’m still trying to convince Matthew to pick up a book… Have you read any of the books I talk about in this post? Do you have any recommendations for me of what I should order next?

-G x

Four Things I Do Every Week To Be Productive

Hi, loves! There’s a few things I do each and every week that helps make me feel like I’m being the best version of me. I often feel like I’m trying to do too many things at once because running a blog whilst having a full time job, still making time for my social life and being able to run errands and other mundane things can sometimes feel like a lot. If I need to take time out to just relax and recharge, I’m (slowly) becoming okay with not completing my to-do list if I’m just not in the headspace to do it.

My default downtime/self care regime is often just a night in with Matthew bugging him to do a face mask with me, eat pick n mix and watch a few episodes of The Office, but I really wanted to share a few little things I do throughout each week to help me feel more productive, fulfilled and happy. Being able to do these things (among others, of course) really allows me to be productive when I have to be; downtime is so important and honestly being ‘busy’ all the time is not something I want to aim for.

Enjoy downtime in the mornings and evenings
I adore having a chilled morning or evening, especially when I can take my time over the mundane everyday things too. I try to wake up at least twenty to thirty minutes before I actually need to every day, whether it’s a work day or not, and this means I’m able to take my time a little more. Matt and I try to take an extra five minutes in bed together once our alarms have gone off, then we have a cup of tea every morning. I sometimes will a candle on my vanity table whilst I get ready, and I try to take my time doing my hair and makeup. One of my favourite parts of a weekend morning is picking my outfit for the day; I love to be able to pick clothing based on my mood that day! Is that weird?! I much prefer evenings where I have time to take a bath as showering just isn’t as relaxing to me, and I also take time to blog or read as much as I can too. I also LOVE to cook in the evenings it’s one of my favourite times of day.

Take time out to plan healthy meals
Cooking is a huge part of my night routine; whether Matt’s working late or he’s home before me it’s always a priority that we eat something hearty and healthy! I’m that weirdo that really enjoys meal planning and grocery shopping (genuinely, it’s my favourite errand to run… hahaha) and I find it really helps how I feel mentally to eat good foods. I’ve always ate lots of fruit and veggies but now more than ever Matt and I are trying to pack as many as we can into our daily meals, and cut out some of the rubbish. This year I was determined to take lunch to work with me everyday (and for Matt to do this, too!) because we were constantly eating food that made us feel crap and cost a fortune. I know we’re only two weeks into the work year but we’ve both really enjoyed eating a healthy lunch during the day, it just helps you to feel more energetic and productive. I also try to drink water as often as possible, but I’ll forever be obsessed with Diet Coke!

Read
I have no idea how people can not read books, honestly! Reading a good book is something I intentionally make time for each day, and I can’t tell you how much I love to get lost in a fictional world. I recently started to read during my lunch breaks at work which has quickly become one of my favourite times to read, I just find it the best way to escape the work environment for half an hour. In the evenings I take a bath I read in there, and I try to take at least twenty minutes before bed if I can too. Of course every day is so different; sometimes Matt and I watch TV (we’re currently obsessed with Jack Ryan!) right up until we go to sleep, and others we have a little more time to do our own thing. I’m sharing my current reading list on Wednesday, there’s so many good books in there!

Listen to motivational podcasts whilst driving
Driving is something that makes me so happy, and funnily enough I get so many blogging ideas whilst driving too. I really enjoy my alone time (I’m sure my regular readers will be quite surprised to hear that, actually) but being alone is how I re-charge. I’m an introvert and I really feel rested and relaxed after spending a little time alone each day; the only constant in this alone time during the week is my drives to and from work. I love to listen to podcasts and I find that this a perfect time to really indulge in the stories and conversations. My ultimate favourite podcast is Shagged, Married, Annoyed by my most favourite couple, Rosie & Chris Ramsey. BUT, when I want to feel inspired, motivated or just enjoy a chilled conversation, my go-to’s are How To Fail by Elizabeth Day, Happy Place by Fearne Cotton and The Estee Lalonde Show. It’s so interesting especially when I’m feeling a little bit unmotivated to hear another perspective (even on completely different situations) and it always helps me to count my blessings a little more.

Thank you so much for reading, I appreciate it more than you know. If you’re struggling with feeling unproductive or unmotivated right now, please know you have all my love and support, you’ve got this! What do you do day-to-day that makes you feel productive and prepared for your to-do list? Do you do any of the things I do, too? I’d love to know of other things I should incorporate into my life to make being productive feel that little bit easier!

-G x

The Slow Cooker Recipe You Need This Winter

Hi, loves! I’ve shared this recipe (well, similar) before but I figured it needed to be brought back to your attention this Winter season. Matt and I quite literally started our year with this; he was working New Year’s Day so I prepped everything in the morning ready for him coming home, and it was such a great way to start the day! Minimal prep for this meal means it’s so easy to prepare and leave cooking whilst you’re busy during the day. Coming home from work when it’s cold and icy to a A CrockPot meal ready and waiting is one of the simple joys in life, and this one is so delicious, healthy and filling! The recipe could not be more simple and I’d say it takes maximum 10 – 15 minutes to prepare and throw everything together.

Spanish Chicken Stew

*This recipe makes around six large dinner servings and is easily refrigerated/freezer safe*

Ingredients:
– 500g chicken breast, diced
– 2 x large peppers
– 1 x large onion
– 8 x celery stalks (approx)
– 15 x plum tomatoes (approx)
– Chicken Tonight Spanish sauce (to save time) OR 600g x passata, 2 x tbsp olive oil, 3 x small chilis – blended in Nutribullet to create sauce
– salt, pepper, oregano, turmeric, paprika, garlic seasoning to taste
– rice/potatoes/salad to serve

Step by step:
1. Chop peppers, onion, celery stalks and tomatoes into small chunks. We tend to keep the celery and tomato quite large as they shrink so much whilst cooking.
2. Add your chicken to the CrockPot, seasoning with whatever you prefer.
3. Stir in vegetables, mixing together everything as you go.
4. Add a little more seasoning, and stir in to ensure everything is coated.
5. Pour over pre-made Chicken Tonight sauce or homemade sauce, and stir in. You don’t need to add water as celery has a huge water content, and the rest of the veggies are super juicy.
6. Cook on medium heat for 6 – 8 hours, or high for 3-4 hours.
7. Serve with whatever you’d like; we love to eat with salad, roasted sweet potatoes or whole-wheat rice!

Thank you so much for reading! I hope this recipe inspired you to grab the ingredients during your next grocery shop and make this soon. Matt and I really want to step up our CrockPot meal game this year – thanks to a wonderful cookbook I got from Matt’s grandma this Christmas we have lots of inspiration! – so I’d love to share more CrockPot recipes with you, too. What’s your favourite easy CrockPot meal? Have you ever tried this recipe from my previous posts? Please let me know if you give it a whirl, and what you think!

-G x

#NEwhereToGo: A Sunday Afternoon In Tynemouth

Hi, loves! I am so excited to share today’s blog post with you because it’s the very first in my new series, #NEwhereToGo! Every few weeks I’ll be sharing one of my very favourite places in the North East (#NEwhere… anywhere… get it :)?) from things to do, places to eat or just beautiful places to see. I’ve never took for granted where I live – Matt and I are the biggest advocates of the North East not getting the credit it deserves – but seriously, it is so beautiful here. Right on our doorstep we have the countryside, world famous (yes, really!) beaches, and our favourite city, Newcastle Upon Tyne. From where we live it’s literally a ten to twenty minute drive in different directions to get to all of these places, how lucky are we?! The North is known for being a bloody cold place, but it’s also known for how friendly the people are, the local businesses, the amazing coastlines, the countryside and a whole host of incredible food places. I’ll be sharing all of my favourites and I’m so excited!

All of the below photos are from a Sunday spent in Tynemouth, one of Matt and I’s very favourite places. The town is right on the coast and the view in every direction is just so pretty, even on an incredibly grey day like this one. There’s several little coves along the front, and our first stop is usually right by Tynemouth Sailing Club. This area of the coast is much more quiet, and the views are still so pretty. The walks through town are great but walking along the coastline is our favourite; we love to go out on the pier and walk all the way along to the lighthouse. The views back into the mainland are incredible, and you can see for miles out to sea. Unfortunately on the day we went the winds were too high and the waves were crazy -splashing right over the walls – so the pier was closed to the public. This didn’t stop us from walking onto the viewing platform to the left of the pier; it’s such a cosy spot to take in the view and a little bit of a hidden gem as you’d never know it was there unless you walked right up to the pier.

It’s a pretty steep uphill walk from that part of the coastline to the main town, but it’s so worth it! The views are breathtaking all the way up, and you’re right next to (what’s left of) Tynemouth Priory. This area has it all; the views over King Edward’s Bay are the very best. It’s often a lot busier in this part as this is the ‘pretty part’ that tourists want to see too, and everywhere around you I can guarantee people are eating fish. The place to go in town for fish and chips to takeaway is absolutely Longsands Fish Kitchen! It’s the place everyone knows and flocks to, especially in the warmer months of the year. Also, just in the bay below is Riley’s Fish Shack; another local favourite that has so many unique fish options!

After a walk around the Priory (you can pay to go in and tour inside, but we chose not to on this particular day) we went right into the town centre. The centre is always the busiest; it’s lined with quirky local stores like To The Moon & Back – we found these gin glasses with the Newcastle Upon Tyne skyline along the top in there, how sweet?! – and Razzberry Bazaar are so worth a look. You can find incredible one-off items here, that I guarantee you’d never find anywhere else! We love to wander in and out of the cute independent stores, and it’s so nice to #shoplocal when possible.

Tynemouth is known for being a little bit quirky and one of the sweetest things, in my opinion, is an old church-turned-shopping-centre. It has all the original structure outside and the stained glass windows are so beautiful! Named Green Ginger Shopping Arcade the former church hosts a bunch of independent stores, including Longsands clothing which you will absolutely see people wearing anywhere in the town! There’s some incredible cake and chocolate sold in here, and there is a teeny tiny cafe upstairs that literally is like something from a movie. Downstairs you’ll find a Peaky Blinders themed bar – aptly named Blinders – that is SO small yet packed with personality and all the fun of one of Matt and I’s favourite TV shows.

We love Tynemouth on a weekend especially because they have an incredible market held at Tynemouth Station; it has different stalls on a Saturday (including a football memorabilia one that Matt just LOVES!) to a Sunday, but both days are packed with bric-a-brac, old books, homemade treats and amazing food! The station is still fully functioning, so whilst you’re shopping trains are coming in and out. Some of the homemade goods are incredibly cool and equally as wacky, we stumbled across these fire-extinguishers-turned-loo-roll-holders this time around… it’s never dull, I promise! The vendors are all incredibly friendly and there really are some gems to be found, especially if you have a love for anything vintage. Our go-to food place at the market is Acropolis Street Food; their chicken gyros are pretty much famous here I swear! The guys who run it are always so sweet to us, and the taste takes us straight back to Kos.

The cute, quaint streets surrounding the centre are also worth a wander; the houses are so big and beautiful, and it’s just such a nice place to walk around. I have loved Tynemouth since I was a little girl, and Matt and I often find ourselves there on a weekend just to look around and enjoy the views. It can be a little bit of a tourist trap in the summer, but we honestly love to visit in all seasons. I’d love to share Tynemouth again with you as the seasons change, but you can’t deny it still looks so beautiful on a grey January day!

Thank you so much for reading! I hope you enjoyed this post – are you now desperate to explore in Tynemouth?! ME TOO! We also love the nightlife side of Tynemouth, I’d love to talk about that in another post if that’s something you’d be interested in? There are so many great independent restaurants (and chains, too) and bars that we love here, it’s a great way to spend a Friday night. Have you visited Tynemouth before? Where is your favourite place along the coast to visit?

-G x

Winter Bucket List

Hi, loves! My bucket list posts are some of my most loved and re-read, and Matt and I also check back in on them too. I’m a planner, I love setting things in the diary for us to achieve and I also am really cautious that I never want to run out of ideas of fun things for Matt and I to do! We used to keep these things personal, and just pick an idea out each time we managed to get a day or two together during each season, but sharing them is so much fun. We really hope to tick off as many of these ideas as we can! Also, Winter is absolutely my least favourite season… I don’t love how cold it is, and I’m genuinely fearful for the day(s) of snow – I cannot and will not drive in snowy weather! So, let’s see what we’re checking off over the next few months…

– Try a new restaurant for date night
– Go to see an NUFC game
– Take a fun road trip to somewhere new
– Have a spa afternoon
– Take lunch to work every day! (We’re all prepped for the first work week of the year so fingers crossed we can be super intentional with this. I talked about this in my previous post)
– Bake cookies on a cold weekend day
– Stay consistent with meal prep for lunches/dinners
– Spend cosy evenings at home completing jigsaw puzzles
– Eat lots of Sunday roasts in our favourite pub
– Celebrate our third Valentine’s Day together
– Go for all of the cold, blustery beach walks
– Make hot chocolate in the slow cooker… every week
– Breakfast dates. ALL of the breakfast dates
– Buy my new car! I’m so scared of driving something new and will miss my cute lil car terribly, but I’m trying to get excited about a new vehicle
– Plan a fun weekend getaway/city break
– Join a yoga class
– Take another football stadium tour
– Enjoy a cold afternoon binge-watching funny movies
– Eat vegetarian more often
– Visit Glasgow
– Go sledding (if it snows)! We’re definitely too old for this but, hey ho
– Spend lots of time outside enjoying the colder weather
– Go bowling for date night
– Grab a new blogging opportunity

Thank you so much for reading! What are your bucket list goals for this Winter season? I’m already dreaming of sunny Spring days and blossoming flowers, but I’m also excited to make the most of my (least favourite) season with my favourite person! Leave in the comments your favourite things to do in the Winter season!

-G x

2020: My Goals For The New Year

Happy new year, my loves! I hope you had a great evening ringing in 2020, however you spent it. Matt and I watched the fireworks over Newcastle’s Quayside with our friends, and I’m feeling happy and hopeful at the thought of a whole new year right at our feet. I can’t lie, I’m pretty happy to see the back of 2019. For me, it was a building year. I didn’t have a fantastic year, but I did have some fantastic times and I’m so truly grateful for those.

Instead of focusing on the things I didn’t love, I wanted to share a few things about 2019 that were just amazing. Matt and I travelled! We got to spend time in Croatia, we enjoyed several staycations and weekend trips in the UK. I completely fell in love with my blog and my mind is brimming with new content ideas for the new year. Matt and I have learned so much about cooking in 2019, and we love to experiment with new foods and flavours. I finally became a (mostly) confident driver, after years of driving anxiety this was huge for me. We spent so much time with our friends and family, and truly tried to enjoy each day as it came. From every date night to celebration to beach walk to binge-watching Netflix session to road trip, I’m so thankful for another year with my best friend! Matthew, I love you and I’m so happy to do life with you.

I’m going to level with you, I’m really not a huge fan of ‘New Year’ and all of the extremely high expectations it brings; we’re still the same people living the same lives with the same blessings and the same problems… right? The clock does not magically strike midnight and we find ourselves in a Cinderella-like moment, our whole world about to change forever. I do however like to set myself goals – not resolutions – which are like mini challenges and intentions for the year. Truth be told, if nothing much changed between today, January 1st 2020 and December 31st 2020, I’d still be very bloody lucky and happy. I am so grateful for my life as it is right now; my boyfriend, our families, jobs, my blog etc are huge blessings and I think it’s important to keep that at the front of our minds. I really want to express gratitude more this year, I recognise how lucky I am to have the life I do and I’m truly so thankful.

Since I can remember I’ve wanted to stop worrying and overthinking things I can’t change. I am a very anxious person by nature and I get myself so stressed out over so many things I have no control over. Talking things through helps me a lot, and I kind of want to start journaling this year because I know that can be so beneficial to how you view your problems (and things that aren’t really problems). If anyone journals daily to help with this please let me know your thoughts! Yoga is a love of mine that I’ve hugely neglected over the past few months, but I want to practice yoga at least four times per week; it makes me feel good, it helps me to feel strong and boy oh boy does it help with my anxiety.

I want to intentionally eat better food. For the most part, my breakfasts and dinners are healthy, but my lunches and any snacks I eat during the day are not. I love fruit and I love veggies, and I really want to incorporate even more into my diet! Matt and I – along with pretty much everyone else, I think – have eaten so much rubbish over the Christmas break that I am so ready to feed my body with all good things. We fell in love with cooking over the past few years and this year we really want to step up our game with new ingredients and flavours. It would also be great if I could lose a stone or three this year, let’s be real. Small things like taking lunch to work every day will make such a huge difference with this; it literally takes a few minutes the night before to prepare lunches so Matt and I will really be making the most of forward planning a little more with our food in 2020!

I put everyone else’s needs in front of my own, and contrary to what some may think, this is not a good trait. I want to *sometimes* put myself first, and be a little more selfish with my time. Of course Matt and our families are different – they’ll always come first! – but I am generally so concerned about other people’s opinions and thoughts that I often work around what works best for them. Maybe 2020 is the year I’ll stop being the World’s Biggest People Pleaser? I am so excited to travel more in 2020, Matt and I really want to do one or two fun city breaks and we’re headed to Florida with my family to celebrate my dad’s 60th later in the year! I also desperately want to pack up the car, head to the Scottish borders (literally an hour or so from where we live) and just find a random B&B. Maybe being spontaneous is a whole goal in itself this year?

Alongside putting other people’s needs and wants ahead of mine, I’m also very quick to dismiss my own abilities, and this year I want to push myself to achieve new things and allow myself to try. This links into one of my personal goals I’m not sharing on the blog (or with anyone else except Matt and our families, to be honest) but I know that I’m capable of so many more things than I actually believe I am. I am always scared to do ‘more’ with my blog, but this year is going to be about grabbing every opportunity that comes my way – if it’s right for my blog and my readers – and I cannot wait to see what will happen!

A goal for every day/week/month since Matt and I got together has been to spend more quality time with each other. We’re pretty good at getting date nights in the calendar and we love to treat each other to fun activities, but I want to enjoy the little things more too. The every day things; breakfast dates, beach walks, turning the TV off a little earlier each night, long car rides, shopping together etc mean SO much to me and Matthew, and I want to create all of the free time we possibly can to just enjoy being in each other’s company. In the next year or so we’re hoping to buy our first house, and that is going to be so amazing. We just have a little time right now to live our lives and check things off, and that is something I’m so very grateful for! Right now, our lives are busy and hectic, but our little piece of quality time with our favourite people is so important and it’s something I think we can all be a little more mindful of. This also goes for time with our friends/families, I just want to be more present and enjoy every minute we get to spend together.

I love reading, and I want to grab little snippets of time throughout the day to read more. As you all know, Matt bought me a Kindle Paperwhite for Christmas and it’s truly the best present EVER! Whether the extra time comes from Matt being due home lots later than me, or Matt leaving earlier than me for work, or when I’m in the bath, or before I get ready for work, or on my lunch break, I want to read more. Basically, I know I can squeeze in more reading time and I’m determined to do it. I also never take a lunch break away from my desk, and I must start doing that, too!

I really want to be more intentional with my spending in the new year, and only buy things that truly make my heart happy. I stopped buying fast fashion pieces that I didn’t need in 2019, and I want to make this even more clear and concise this year. As a beauty lover/beauty blogger I love to buy and try new products more than anything. I love it so much that I find myself opening things before I’ve finished what I was using and it’s not good for my bank balance or the environment! I also want to do more to help the environment, because surely drinking milk alternatives and taking a re-usable cup to Costa isn’t going to save the world?

Thank you so much for reading, my loves! Thank you also for all of the love and support over the past year, I appreciate all of you and my blog wouldn’t be what it is without you lovely people reading it. If you feel the same as I do about the hype of New Years and the high level of expectations, don’t worry! Today is, quite literally, a fresh start. A blank canvas and an opportunity to create yourself goals you want to achieve over the next twelve months. It doesn’t hold the same pressure it used to for me, and I’m on the right path to figuring out what I want my life to be! What are your goals for the new year?

-G x